Board Games, for Your 3 Year Old (and You)

Growing up, my favorite pastime with my family was playing board games. I remember my mom coming home from yard sales with boxes of board games like Chutes and Ladders, Mastermind, and Guess Who. I happened to marry a man who also loves playing board game (in fact, I met him for the first time during a game of Settlers of Catan heheheh…), and that’s why we have a tall bookshelf full of board games. 🙂 

Once I became a mom, one of the first things I look for when going to consignment sales are board games. We started playing board games with Alia when she was around 2.5 years old. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game was her first board game. It’s a game with simple rules and involves color matching. Now that Alia is 3 years old, we have played several games that we have come to love. I thought I’d share some of them with you here: 

Board games for preschoolers

Continue reading

Your child turns 1! What to get? Toys for 12-18 months old

One of the things that I do when Alia takes a nap is online shopping. Hehehhe, I know, such a productive way of spending my precious me time, right? :p Anyway, yesterday I came across this under the kids category on Zulily.com – Fun for Year Two: 12 to 18 Months

Screenshot (14)Alia is closer to becoming 2 years old, but I was curious what they’re selling. Honestly, despite the discounted price, I wouldn’t buy most of the toys there because I think many of them are overstimulating, short-lived, and serve little benefit for a child. 

So I thought that I’d give my share of opinions of things to get for children at the age of 12-18 months old. I get most of Alia’s toys either at thrift stores, consignment sales, or online (Amazon and Zuliy) when they’re on sale. And I look for these things when getting toys for young toddlers:
– purposeful: the toys that could be to enhance gross or fine motor skills, color and shape recognition, etc.
– open-ended: there are many ways of playing with the toys, using their imagination and creativity — I call these toys “passive toys” since it requires and makes an active child for the toys to come alive
– have good shelf life: the child can grow with the toys
– wooden toys (if possible): they’re more durable, have textures that feel good on a child’s hands, and since they’re naturally made things, they can be recycled. 

Here are the toys that we love and recommend because the fit some or all of the criteria above. Alia still plays with many of them, so they’re still in our toy rotation! YEAH! 😀

Continue reading

Learn through Play with Baby Alia 9-12 months old

Another super late post by yours truly :p I just finished going through our online photo albums to look for pictures to use in this post, and wow… We sure were busy during this time of the year (thus a very long post)! A lot of outdoor activities and “jalan-jalan” aka sightseeing to new places, plenty of (very messy) sensory play, the beginning of self feeding, more #diytoys! 

IMG_20150630_095116

Baby-led weaning (by accident): Why by accident? Well, we didn’t start off with baby-led weaning (BLW) when Alia started solids at 6 months old. But for whatever reason, around 10 months old, she refused to eat puree and took more interest in self-feeding. I did my reading homework, online and using this book, and we said goodbye to all the purees. For those of you doing BLW, you’re familiar with the process – super messy hahah! At the beginning, she mainly used her hands (she still does now) and slowly we introduced utensils. When we went out, we brought disposable placemat like these ones, a bib, and her utensils (we use the ones from OXO till now).  

She only became an enthusiastic eater recently (since we stopped nursing) – YEAH!!! Before that? Continue reading

Toy Review #4: Knob Puzzles

This past weekend, I felt so accomplished for finding three large knob puzzles for Alia at a consignment sale, specifically these vintage ones from Melissa and Doug. Aren’t they beautiful? With real animal pictures as supposed to the animated, cartoonish images like the ones sold these days. 

My eyes twinkle when I see jigsaw puzzles, and I think I’ve become a puzzle hoarder. Hehehe… There are so many benefits of playing puzzles for children such as developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, attention, and concentration (more on the benefits, click here). Plus, isn’t fun when you’ve put all the pieces together? Well, I’ve seen that big smile on Alia’s face whenever she completes a set. 😀 

To accommodate those tiny hands of her, we buy large knob puzzles from Melissa and Doug. It’s also recommended that they play with puzzles that have one piece per separate hole. This was her first puzzle which we bought when she was 10 months old. 

knob puzzle -1

Continue reading

Learn through Play with Baby Alia 6-9 months old

Obviously this post is long overdue… I mean Alia is two weeks away from becoming 20 months old :p But hey, it’s better late than never right?

So things were slightly different between February and May of 2015 since I had to go back to New York during the weekdays to finish grad school. Yes, I was a loyal customer of the Chinatown bus every Friday evening and Sunday night. Alia was with her paternal grandparents for the first two months, and then we put her in a daycare center for the remaining time .It was definitely a long semester, very exhausting, physically and emotionally. But we all survived! All because of the support of Alia’s dad and her grandparents, and because of my resilient lil’ Alia! 😀

I got through my days being away from her because my dearest husband sent me this kind of picture in the morning. Boy, I miss those chubby cheeks! Hehehehe

IMG-20150224-WA0000

This was the story of my life every week – carrying a storage box full of gold liquid from NYC, followed by making a week worth of meal for Alia.

In between grading students’ papers, making lesson plans, and catching up on some sleep, we still did many explorations over the weekend.

Finger painting using yogurt for baby and food coloring (be sure that your child isn’t allergic to any of the ingredients)

Continue reading

Learn through Play with Baby Alia 0-6 months old

I was recently asked by a friend who’s expecting his first baby whether we got any sleep when Alia was a newborn. My quick answer was: We’re still not really sleeping :p And we miss sleeping in on weekends heheh… So when you have a newborn, feeding the baby and getting enough sleep are the main priorities of many parents. While I was on leave for the first 6 months of being Alia’s mom, I missed teaching my students. So in between nursing and taking some catnaps, I decided to be Alia’s very first teacher! 😀 

Here’s a glimpse of our lives then… Feel free to ask me any questions about the activities or materials that we used. 😀 

Water play: our very first messy play

Alia has always liked bath time so I thought she’d like to play with water in some other way. So I created a super mini and shallow pool for her.

Continue reading

Traveling with a toddler

Traveling with a baby/toddler means you no longer can only bring one backpack and leave. Is it just me or do you also feel that you have to bring a million things for a week trip? Seriously, I had to pack an entire carry on bag just for our beloved lil’ Alia! :p  

Whenever we travel, I always pack a few toys and books. But this time, I brought more than usual to keep her engaged in the car and at the restaurants/friend’s house. 

IMG_20151201_211119.jpg

 

papers and a clipboard, crayons, sticker book, blocks, and several #diytoys: pom pom drop, straw drop, and button bank

Continue reading

Toy Review #2: Stack ’em high! Plan Toy Stacking Ring

Disclaimer: Everything here is based on our family’s experience playing with the toy, not a sponsored post.

stacking ring

One of the toys on “must buy” list was stacking rings since I believe that there are so many concepts that a child can learn as they play with them: hand-eye coordination, colors, size, and counting. 

At the library, Alia has been playing with the plastic one (by Fisher Price). They’re OK, but I wanted something different. We decided to purchase the Plan Toy Stacking Ring, and we couldn’t be happier! Continue reading