Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Toddler Tactics: How Do You Handle Meltdowns?

Meltdowns is part of parenting a toddler(S). It just gets a bit out of hand when there are two of them. 2 with the same needs. Causes of meltdowns in our household is mainly due to:
  1. Tiredness
  2. Frustration
  3. Seeking Attention
I could still counter the first 2 but when it's due to number 3, it can get a bit tricky, especially when it's both of them seeking my attention at the same time. I'm always so torn between them.

Here's how I handle their meltdowns (not that I'm a pro and I can't always do this but on good day when I can, they sometimes work.)
  • Take a deep breath and get a hold of myself. Their meltdowns is highly contagious.
  • Pretend everything is ok even when I'm fuming mad or when everything is actually NOT OK.
  • Figure out the cause of the meltdown, if I can.
  • Empathize with them even when I totally couldn't relate to the screaming all because their banana broke into 2 and they couldn't accept a new banana.
  • Distract. Reading an interesting book or a book they like sometimes work. If all else fails, ipod touch is god sent. But only when I'm handling one kid because another fight will occur when they start to fight over which application they want to see.
  • Isolate. As the tantrum escalate or before it begin to escalate, I will remove them from the situation and bring them to my room to "calm down". It will usually aggravate the situation, sending them kicking and screaming even louder.
Once they reach their calm down place aka my room, they will usually not calm down. They will go full blast for a few minutes (it depends on the kid, it's usually few mins for Y and can be a long long time for K), then they will tell me what they want. Usually it's to "go out". And I will tell them they can only go out when they are ready, that is, no more crying and screaming. And when they are ready, I want them to say "Mummy, I'm ready to go play." When they could mouth these words, they are usually ready. 

It's not easy to calm them down when they go into their full blast screaming mode. Here are my calming tactics:
  • Have a different view. I let them look out of the window and ask them what they see. They could see cars coming out of the car park from our windows and I always have to pray hard for a taxi as they love Taxis.
  • Blow. My boys still don't understand how to take deep breaths. So, I ask them to blow. Since we need to take a breath to blow isn't it? This is still not working on them yet but I hope they will get it soon.
  • Sing a song. Sing a calming song but usually a silly song works better.
  • Read a book. I will read a book aloud while they cry. Sometimes it agitate them but on days that work, they calm down and move over to see what I'm reading.
When they have been crying for a very very long time, that is, for a few hours (this happens with K) and nothing works, I will turn on my computer to show them photographs or a video and this would at least calm the screaming.

At the end of all these, I'm usually exhausted and drained, physically (from the abusive kicking, they could really do some damage!) and mentally. When I'm out with one and faced with another waiting for his turn, it's time out for ME, (that is when my mum is here and they are not left alone to vent their frustration on each other.) 

How do you handle your toddler's meltdown? I would love to hear and learn more tactics!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Theme of the Week: Egg

We are doing an Egg theme this week.

Here's our lesson plan for Day 1:

Books: Chickens by Loriji Metz (Non-Ficion)
Songs (Chinese): 荷包蛋儿歌 (Video Link here) & 我的公鸡不见了儿歌 (MP3 Download Link)
  • Coloring
Color Rooster, Egg and Chick (Download Coloring Page here)
  • Mystery Box – Egg
Let the children explore the egg.
Break the egg into a bowl and introduce egg white and egg yolk.
Let them crush the egg shells

We did coloring. As you can see from this picture, kids are never quite cooperative.
But I'm still happy that Y cooperated.
And K too eventually.
K asked for a blank paper after he finished his coloring and started scribbling. He kept shouting "I" and I wondered why. Upon one look, I was surprised to see that he was actually trying to write the letter "I"!! And they do look like "I"! Y was impressed, he said "Didi draw I so nice!" What a sweet brother.:)
They explored the egg shells by destroying them.
And the egg, playing with it like Goop!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Printables: Lesson Plan Template

I'm starting to go into more thematic structured learning with them and have came up with this Lesson Plan Template. The lesson plan is based on a 5 days programme. Well, kids (or Mommy) need a break during the weekends too! And I'm sharing my template with you, you can download the template at this link below.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crayons on Construction Cars

This saved me from a meltdown one evening. They were already in their PJs when they asked to color. They soon got bored with crayons and asked to paint. It was close to their bedtime and I really don't want to do a major clean up. So, I refused and they were all ready to rant. They had their Bob the Builder toys with them and I quickly took out a roll of masking tape and taped the crayons to the builders to make it look interesting. Phew... thank god, this got their attention and they calmed down. I doubt I will be able to handle another double meltdowns. I've had too many for the day.

What You Need:
Any cars
Masking Tape

K, rolling his tractor with crayons. The crayons were taped really badly in my haste.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cooking with Toddlers: Pizza Making

My boys love Pizza. I guess this is the power of media. They have been seeing Pizza on books and TV. And they asked for Pizza before they even know how it taste. We brought them to Pasta Mania one day for Pizza and they were so so so happy. Thereafter, they keep asking for Pizza for their meals. We thought it's healthier to have homemade pizza and why not make it with them. So, here we have, our first family cooking activity.

What You Need:
Tortilla Wrap
Ingredients for Pizza (we use Brown Mushrooms, Ham, Bell Pepper)
Tomato Paste 

I used Tortilla Wrap as the base. There are ready made frozen pizza crust at supermarkets too or if you are a good cook, you can make your own dough for the base. Cut up all the ingredients and give them to the kids to place on the base. Spread some tomato paste or ready made pasta sauce on the base. Top it with cheese before popping it in the oven.
K putting the ingredients for his Pizza

Nothing to do with Pizza but I just love this shot of Y.


K, waiting patiently for Daddy to cut up the Pizza.


K: "I can't wait!!!"
The happy boy who just finished his Pizza.
K: "Yum"

K: "Yum Yum"

"Pizza pizza, nothing beats a pizza. It's my tummy's favorite." Song from Barney's Adventure Bus,

Car Marble Painting

This is Marble Painting with a twist. If you are not new to this blog, you should know by now that my boys are cars fanatics. Their cars are usually within their reach during craft time. Marble Painting is a regular craft for us. We do it every now and then. Especially during times when I'm short of time but the boys are desperately asking for their activity time. Today, the boys did their marble painting a little differently and I welcome the change. Instead of holding the sides of the box to roll their marbles around, they used their cars to push the marbles. This was entirely their own initiative. How creative! I love it when they show me how things can be played in different ways. While we as parents will usually think that we are the ones teaching them, I often think they are the ones teaching us and showing us how the world can work in different ways.

What You Need: 
Some sort of tray or box cover to contain the paper and marbles (and cars in this case)

Just push or hit the marbles with the cars and it will roll the paint all over, creating patterns. My sons love the sound of the cars hitting the marbles. And they were thrilled when the marble they pushed hit another marble. Have fun!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Storage Ideas: Storing Kids Puzzles

I used to put all our inset puzzles in a bag and I hate it when the puzzle pieces fall out. I have a few bags of puzzles and it takes some time it takes some time to locate the pieces when you have a few in a bag. I make sure no puzzle pieces go missing. I'm not a neat freak but I'm very particular when it comes to the kids' toys. I hate it when I see kids throwing the toys into the toy bin. So, I never have one. All their toys are placed on shelves. I hope they can learn to take care of their toys and to appreciate what they have. If a toy goes missing, the whole family join in the search. I'm proud to say we have not lost any toys so far, the few times we couldn't locate them was because my domestic helper kept them at some obscure places by mistake or it went real deep under the bed.  

Ok, back to the puzzles. I now keep each puzzle in individual plastic bags (yeah... I know, it's not environmental friendly but I doubt I will ever find the time to sew fabric ones), those that are slightly bigger than A4 size will fit most standard sized puzzles, like those from Melissa & Doug. (we have lots of those) So, it's easy for me and them to just pick up the puzzle and all the puzzle pieces will be contained in that bag. Once we are done with it, we just put it back. It has been working great. I got my plastic bags from SKP. I chose those that have a resealable seal. It's not expensive, few dollars for a hundred pieces and I have been using the bags for many other purposes too, like storing their artworks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Photo Shapes Puzzle

I was inspired by Pink and Green Mama with her Homemade Christmas Gift. I used this Shapes Photo Puzzle to lure my sleep fighting 2 years old in to the bedroom for their naptime. It's hard to get them in the bathroom and it's harder to get them in the bedroom as they know it's going to be sleep after books. So, again, I had to crack my brain to think of ways to lure them in. This was really easy and I finished it when they were in school.

I did it a bit differently. It was not meant to be a gift and I want to be able to use the puzzle again. So, I laminated the photos. I did the first version just using paper though.

What You Need:
A Shape Puzzle
Photos of family members
Laminator (optional, just print on card stock if you don't have one)

  1. Find portraits of family members.
  2. Resize accordingly and print them.
  3. Laminate.
  4. Use the shapes to trace the photos for the puzzle holes.
  5. Cut 
  6. Put them in the puzzle and cover with the inset.
I played Peeka-Boo with them with the puzzle and they were so surprised to see photos of family members in them! They were thrilled! And we had a lot of fun. Here are variations to add some learning elements to this.
  • Play Memory Games 
- After showing them a round of the photos, I put all the insets back and ask them who is behind each shape. They got them all correct!
  • Photo Hunt
- I asked them where is Papa and they are supposed to pick up the inset to reveal the photo under it.
  • Put the photos back
- This was by accident and they were giggling so much over it. One of the photos fell out and they were laughing and shouting "Mummy fall out!" and they went on to make all the other people "fall". To make it "educational", I made them tell me what shape the family member fell from. And after taking them all out, I asked that they put them back to the respective shapes and name them. So, it's "Popo in an oval" and "Kor Kor in a square", etc.

What I like about not sticking the photos on the puzzles is that I can always change them and change the sequence for more memory games and keep the interest high.

Why everyone should have a child (or children)

  • They'll make you believe that's there's such a thing called unconditional love
  • They'll make you want to be a better person.
  • They'll make you want to have more children (ok... only for a few seconds when they are angelic at the SAME time which "thankfully" didn't happen a lot)
  • They'll make you believe that your children is the greatest or the most amazing "thing" that you've ever created
  • They'll make you a more patient person. (or a screaming mom with your hair standing)
  • They'll make you realize your flaws.
  • They'll make you want to take care of yourself and afraid of dying
  • They'll make you mind your language.
  • They'll make you want to earn more
  • They'll offer you a brand new perspective to things. 
  • They'll let you have a taste of your own medicine.
  • They'll make you appreciate and understand your mother better.
  • They'll make you want to have a complete family.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Toilet Roll Painting

The boys have been asking to paint... a lot... and we ended up painting twice a day sometimes. After a few sessions of open ended painting, I thought it would be good to introduce something new for them to paint with to keep the interest. I looked into my recycle bin for crafting and I saw many toilet rolls. Yes, I have a bin where I keep things that I think can be put to good use to the children's crafts. This has been extremely useful. I used to see a craft, then collect materials and I never get to that craft. So, these days, I just look in my bin and see what I have. It's so much easier.

What You Need:
Toilet Rolls

They shouted "circle" while painting
K, can't bear to let go of his car while painting.
Y tried to use the rolls to stamp each other.
The toilet roll became a tunnel for his car to go through.
And K couldn't resist and invited his car to join in the painting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fine Motor Skills - Toothpicks + Styrofoam

What You Need:
Styrofoam Block (Many things that comes in a box often have these)

This activity requires close adult supervision. Never leave your young toddler alone with this! Especially if you have two. 

K was quite good with this and he thus he enjoyed it more than Y. He poked all the toothpicks into the block, took them out and did it all over again. Y got frustrated. He was having problems holding the toothpicks with his fingers. He gave up and was observing how his brother did it. I like it when they learn from each other.

I think this activity is still pretty safe if you only have a 2 year old toddler but it's extremely dangerous when you have two as they could hurt each other with the picks if they get frustrated. Or worse, start fighting over a toothpick that looked the same as the rest. I stayed close to prevent any accidents from happening. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Toddler Tactics: How do you avoid Bath Struggles?

There are days when they will be fighting for their turns to take their bath/shower, refusing to get out of the bath and there will be days when they just refuse to step foot into the bathroom. Those are days when I have to crack my brains to think of tricks to get them to cooperate with me. Attempting to shower a screaming toddler is fighting a losing battle. I've tried and after the shower, they are as good as not being showered with the perspiration they get from their screaming and crying.

So, here are some tactics I've tried and worked (but only for a while, I'm very lucky if I can use the same tactics more than 3 times):

  1. Bath Toys - Boats, Squirters, Rubber Duckies. 
  2. Bubbles - I got a bubble gun specially for this purpose as it's impossible for me to blow and bathe them at the time. The bubble produce enough bubbles to keep them entertained while I undress them.
  3. Alphabet/Number Foam - Those that you can stick on your bathroom walls with water works great to get them busy with their letter/number hunt.
  4. Shaving Foam - I spray them on the wall and they draw. 
  5. Change a bathroom - I invited them to my bathroom to take a shower. They are curious about the new environment.
  6. Bath Balls - The bath balls didn't dissolve in the bath, they were holding them so tight that I couldn't even get the plastic off them. They ended up throwing them around like a "ball". haha...
  7. Car Wash - Get them to get their dirty plastic cars in for a car wash. 
  8. Get them to shower their bath toy animals - I place their dinos, ducky, fish (rubber bath toys) on the floor and let them hold the shower head to shower them. 
  9. Let them hold the shower head - The toddler wants to be in control. Just be prepared to get wet. 
  10. Let them on and off the tap - At your command. 
  11. Let them bathe together - Get a sibling to join, the more the merrier. (or maybe you can join in but I doubt I will try.)
  12. Bribe Reward them after the bath - TV time or Stickers works for them. 
All the above 12 tactics are NOT working now. It's a pain trying to get them to bathe these days! I've just bought 2 spray bottles and they are going to be my tool for bath time tomorrow. Wish me luck. 

What other tactics have you tried to get your reluctant toddler to bathe/shower? Please share! They get bored so fast and I'm running out of ideas. 

Doodles @ 23 Months Old

Y likes to draw so I have a basket of paper and color pencils available to them. They will pick up the paper and pencils almost everyday to draw. Y drew these when he was 23 months old and I was quite impressed with them, maybe because I'm their Mum. He told me he was drawing the Open Top Bus after we came back from the tour and when he finished and showed me his drawing, I was taken aback that what he drew really looked like one. If you look closely at the top of the bus, it looked like he was trying to draw the railings of the bus. I can only say I'm so proud of these drawings. I just regretted that I provided recycled paper for these doodles.

Y's version of buses and cars

Y's artist impression of the Open Top Bus

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Transfering Water

We have not been doing many new activities since they started school. We used to do activities in the morning and outdoor activities in the afternoon. I'm still trying find suitable times to do our learning activities. The real reason behind the lack of new activities is really because I'm totally drained at night with K waking up screaming. So, I have been doing old favorites like Easel Painting, Scooping Beans, Paint Table, etc.  Managed to pulled together a new activity to share with you.

What You Need:
Food Coloring (optional)
Y squeezing the colored water and transfering to the other container

Left: K, Right: Y

I call the thing "dropper" because I'm not sure what it's called or meant to be used. I saw it at Daiso and thought it's a fun tool to include in our learning activities. I added color to the water so they could see how the water move clearly. 
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