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. πŸ™‚Β 

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:Β 

Board games for preschoolers

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Gifts for your toddler 18 mo and 2.5 year old

Thanksgiving Day is next week and this means Black Friday ads are out! Many of you have probably started making a list of β€œwhat should we get for the kids?” so I thought I’d share a list of things that may be good for your toddler, who is becoming more adventurous, independent, talkative, and imaginative – it’s fun to watch their world expand πŸ˜€

If you’re looking for gifts for children age 12-18 months old, click here

Art supplies: 

There are so many independent activities and guided projects that you can with your toddler. Stock up on art supplies. Crayola often has some great deals on Zulily and Amazon (up to 60% off). Michaels has buy one get one off sales or use their store coupons to score some great art supplies. Here are what get used the most in our house:

  • washable kids paint, washable markers (pip squeaks markers from Crayola are small enough for toddlers to open and close the lids by themselves), colored pencils, crayons (the triangular crayons are good for toddlers to practice pencil grip), water color paint
  • smock
  • no-spill cups and brushes  as seen on the pics above (they contain the mess when you do painting)
  • construction papers
  • glue (we mainly use Elmer’s glue)
  • art easel and the rolled paper (preferably an easel that is height adjustable and foldable).

Fine motor skills, sensorial work, language development:

Many of the toys used to enhance her fine motor skills, senses, and language skills were bought when she turned 1 (see this post for more details). As she gets older, we have elaborated on how we use the materials. We began focusing on names and attributes of colors, shapes, sizes, emotions, animals and their features, etc. For instance, now when Alia plays with this peg board from Haba, she makes patterns or we take turns calling out on different colored pegs to put on the board. She now uses a pair of tongs to sort the pretend fruits (sorting material from Learning Resources). And we have used stickers in a more deliberate way like matching numbers.

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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, suchΒ 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.Β 

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 toysΒ (if possible): they’re more durable, have textures that feel good on a child’s hands, andΒ since they’re naturally made things, they can be recycled.Β 

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

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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!Β 

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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 OXOΒ till now).Β Β 

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.Β 

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. πŸ˜€Β 

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.Β 

knob puzzle -1

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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 MayΒ 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! πŸ˜€

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

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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)

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Learning using a #diy Light Box

Have you ever seen or played withΒ a light table? If you see one, try it. But wait, what is a light table anyway? It’s essentially a table illuminated with light. Many people use a light table or light box to do photography, drafting, and art work. But it’s also beneficial for children as it becomes a source of visual input and it offers a different means of discovery and learning. More info on what a light table is and its purpose, you can read here.

Light table is one of those things that I learned while browsing Instagram for ideas during night feedings :p After reading about the benefits and the different engaging activities to do on a light table, I wanted one. But they’re quite pricey $$$ like this one for example. Β Thankfully, there are many parents who have shared their #diy light table or light box. I followed the directions from this website. It’s super easy…

light box

– 67 Qt. storage bin with a transparent lid (I think it was around $35 at Home Depot); you can easily store this underneath your couch/bed.

– LED string light ($8 from Amazon)

– aluminum foil

– tape

(pardon Alia’s light box manner then :p)

 

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