Tag Archives: Toddler

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

This past weekend was a 3-day holiday weekend here in the U.S. thanks to Labor Day. My husband announced we would be painting our powder room. I love color in my house, so I he didn’t have to ask twice. But of course I never DIY something halfway, so I was immediately brainstorming ways to involve Jax in the decorating.

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers  IMG_2918

Once we chose a lovely spring green called Pear by Behr, I was inspired to try watercolor painting with my toddler! The bright citrus color just begged for some sweet watercolor paintings to be hung on it! Don’t be afraid to try watercolors. It is great medium for young kids!

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

The materials you need are: watercolor paper, watercolor paints, a pencil and eraser and an art pen. I have a fine art degree, so I bought nicer watercolor paints that I could add to my fine art supplies as well as use with Jax. Mine is the Cotman Watercolor Compact Set. I have this 11″ X 15″ Watercolor Paper Pad that was 40% off at the craft store for back-to-school. I used a Faber-Castell Pitt Artists’ Pen, also from the craft store (with a 50% off coupon.) I also used a bunch of old thrift and dollar store picture frames and a can of white spray paint.

Start by having your little one draw pictures on the watercolor paper with a pencil. Remind them they don’t need to color anything in at that point. We are just making the outlines. I LOVE that Jax loves to draw actual pictures now instead of just rainbows and scribbles. (He still loves drawing rainbows, though!)

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

While they are drawing their second picture, trace their pencil lines with the waterproof artist’s pen. Jax got ahead of me to I send him to the school shelves to choose an activity to do until I finished tracing. When you are finished tracing and the ink is dry, erase the pencil lines.

And then comes the fun part! Painting!

Painting his rainbow.

Painting his rainbow.

I started out loading and cleaning Jax’s brushes for him. I showed him how he could get extra water on his brush to spread the paint more if it starts to get dry. We explored the different marks each brush made.

I let him do some careful paint loading, and also let him help mix colors in the tray. When he painted his house scene, he asked that we “work together” on the sky, so I helped fill it in. I think he was worried he’d mess it up.

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

Jax really enjoyed painting!



"Fruits & Veggies"

“Fruits & Veggies”



He was so proud to see them hanging up in the finished powder room.

Have you tried watercolor paints with your toddler? When Jax was even younger, I painted outside with him on canvas with acrylics.

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

Watercolor Painting with Toddlers

How can you not smile when you see art like this?

Toddler Crafts: Painted Tree Garland


Jax and I made some decorations this week. We don’t have our tree yet, but we’ve enjoyed bringing out some of our Christmas items early. Jax asked to do some painting, so I put together a little project for him.

We started with a roll of craft paper from the dollar store. I rolled out some and used paper tape to mark off a bunch of triangle shapes. I set Jax up with paint brushes and crafts paints in red, green and silver. He had a lot of fun painting all the triangles!

At the end, I helped him do some drip painting to add some silver dots. We set our paintings aside to dry, and I let him paint some $1 wooden ornaments he’d picked out at the craft store. We also used a dollar store foam ABC puzzle as stamps and stamped out “peace”, “love” and “joy”. Jax found the letters we needed and helped press them onto the paper.

Decorating Ornaments

Today after breakfast, I pulled off the tape and cut out all the triangles. I set us up at Jax’s school table with baker’s twine, green and red paper and a glue stick.

I cut out red and green triangles to match our little trees, as well as shapes to match the backs of the words. Jax helped me put glue all over the backing papers then we pressed them together with the twine sandwiched between.

We did a pattern of three trees followed by a word. I have a nice pile of trees leftover that will become gift tags on gifts going under the tree.

I wasn’t sure where to hang it at first. I wanted it on the stairs, but Jax thought it would be great to tug on there. So, it ended up hung on the wall in the foyer.

Too Tempting…

Jax was very proud of himself! He keeps reading the letters to me and and asking what the words mean. Well done, little man!

Recycling Old Crayons

We eat out more than most families – I’m vegetarian and my husband is not. It can be hard to cook meals that satisfy us both. It can be easier (and often cheaper) for us to each pick out what we want in a restaurant instead of us having to cook two dinners at home.

One side effect to eating out with a toddler is I end up with a lot of kids’ menu crayons in my purse. I’ve been collecting them in a baggy for some time (as well as broken ones from home and party leftovers) and was finally ready to create something new with them.

There are plenty of recycled crayon tutorials online, though we just winged it. I heated the oven to 275° F and sat down at lunch time to rip the wrappers off. Ugh! Easier said than done! I ended up dropping the crayons into a glass of warm water. After a little soak, 90% of then peeled right off. Some of them were difficult to peel regardless of what I did. I think the baggy got left in the car at one point.

Sorting by color is a great toddler activity!

When the crayons were all peeled, I broke them up into a bowl. Jax loves to sort items by color right now, so he helped me put all the like colors together into cupcake tins. I also did a rainbow one with some extras. My tins are Reynolds Wrap Fun Shapes I’ve had forever, but you could use a normal tin or a silicone mold.

We stuck them in the oven and I watched until they were all melted. It was maybe 20 minutes. The deeper the crayons, the longer it takes. Quality crayons like Crayolas melt the best and color the best. Cheap, waxy crayons (which we unfortunately had a lot of) don’t melt as well or color as dark. I’d recommend Crayolas if you are making these as a gift. I made a trio of crayons (not shown) with just some of the primary color Crayolas we’ve collected, and they color great.

When they were fully melted, I  took them out of the oven to cool. I sped up the cooling by sticking them in the fridge. They popped right out of the tins once solid again. They look so cute all stacked in a treat bag! Jax loves then, even though some of them don’t color very dark due to the cheap crayons. I’ll definitely be making these again!

Toddler iPad App Review – Toca Store

We will be reviewing the many iPad apps Jax has been trying out recently. The iPad is great for car rides and waiting in restaurants. I stick mostly to educational and pretend-play when choosing apps for him.

Toca Store by Toca Boca is a free-play app that is a great introduction to money and commerce. What little kid doesn’t like to play store at some point? Toca Store gives you everything you need to open shop with the cute and colorful graphics we’ve come to expect from their apps.


When you enter the “store” you find empty baskets ready to be filled with goods to sell. Click on each basket to choose from 3 dozen colorful items from fruits and veggies to toothbrushes and toy robots. When all the baskets are filled, the shop is open for business!

None of the items in the store catalog have prices, so you are free to assign a price ranging from 1 to 5 coins. The “customer” (often Jax will play both roles, saying, “Store! Buy it!”) places their desired item on the counter and the “shopkeeper” puts in the number of coins it costs. You start out with 10 coins in your purse and each round of shopping continues until you run out. If you try to buy something and don’t have enough coins left, a silly winking coin purse will give you 5 more.


Once the payment is placed in the till, you press the sale button to complete the transaction. A cute animated shopping bag starts hopping up and down, and it is time to put your purchase in the bag.

Jax loves this game and plays it solo in addition to us playing it together. What would I change? It is hard to keep track of how many coins are left. You can’t open the purse to check until the price is already locked in and you can’t see your receipt clearly until the end. So often, if I haven’t been paying close attention, we end up over-budget!

This app is one that will grow with Jax as he starts to really comprehend the concepts of money, buying and selling. I’m hoping they keep adding to the cute catalog of items to keep it fresh and exciting!

For a limited time, another app by Toca Boca is free! It’s a silly hair salon that our whole family enjoys! Of course it went free a couple days after I bought it… 😛

Toddler iPad App Reviews & Giveaway – Spinlight Studio

We will be reviewing the many iPad apps Jax has been trying out recently. The iPad is great for car rides and waiting in restaurants. I stick mostly to educational and pretend-play when choosing apps for him.

We are giving away one of each of these iPad apps! See below for details!

We have had AlphaTots and TallyTots on our iPad for quite a while now. I was really excited when I found then because Jax was just starting to get into letters and numbers. When Spinlight Studio contacted me to try their other apps, TableTots and Swapsies, Jax and I were happy to oblige!

Don’t purchase TableTots thinking you are buying an educational game – you’ll be disappointed! Think of it as an educational tool. Imagine buying a bunch of learning placemats and all the shapes, letters, numbers, coins and more that go with them (with the added bonus of no little pieces to clean up!) That’s TableTots!


Jax just turned 2, so some might say he is too young for a teaching tool like this. But he adores letters and numbers and I am teaching him every day while he is so enthusiastic. Because he is so young, I do let him free-play with the app more often than when I quiz him with it. He chooses the board and the pieces, and I’ll ask him to find a letter or count the coins. He loves the dominoes and it has become one of his new favorite words. This app is helping me teach him to count objects and associate quantity with the numbers he has already learned to recognize. Later on we can move on to simple math, spelling and learning about money. But, even just with free-play, he learns so much because the objects all say what they are when he touches them.

What would I change? My biggest gripe is there is no multi-touch. This is an app a parent/teacher and child play together, yet only one of us can move an object on the screen at a time. I also don’t like how the pieces are randomly tossed on top of each board, covering up the writing. It makes it hard for Jax to understand that he should sort objects into their correct places.

It would be nice if there were color names. There is a screen that give you a circle of every color to lay out in a color wheel, but when you touch each one, it just says “Circle!” There is a “peek-a-boo” curtain that can be dragged across the screen that I don’t really understand, but that can be turned off.

I think TableTots would be a great buy for anyone who does preschool learning with their child, whether informally or as a part of home schooling. This is an app that parents and children play together, and it is always great when you can combine learning, technology and time spent with your child!

AlphaTots & TallyTots
AlphaTots is a great interactive alphabet game. I give this app a lot of credit for Jax learning his ABC’s so quickly. What sets it apart from similar apps is that each letter is represented by an action, not an object, so you don’t have the same old “xylophones” and yo-yos”. Instead, you “x-ray” some presents and “yank” on a cord to fill and empty a tub of water.


TallyTots is very similar, but deals with the numbers 1 – 20. Jax has learned all those numbers, though he has trouble counting on his own past 13 just yet. This app has unique activities for each number as well. Jax loves to build sandwiches, feed flies to the frog and look at tiny cupcakes under a magnifying glass.

When you choose a letter, They tell you its name and the sounds it makes, then you are presented with an activity. When you complete the activity, you can move on to the next letter. You can also switch to a different letter by pressing an holding one of the letter tabs until the meter fills up. This is a great feature because it prevents clumsy hands from bumping a tab and switching letters accidentally. It doesn’t stop Jax from navigating the app. He quickly figured out how to do it.

What would I change? Not much – just the stability of both apps. We have very few problems with our iPad 1, but AlphaTots and TallyTots are our number 1 crashes. Jax learned to say “sorry” because they were crashing so often and that is what I’d always say to him. AlphaTots likes to crash most spectacularly: it freezes on the loading screen for a minute or two, then the whole iPad reboots. Yikes! The frequency of crashes tends to change whenever they update the apps, and it seems like it is happening a lot less often right now.

Crashing troubles aside, I would definitely recommend these apps for toddlers! With so many activities per app, Jax never gets bored. He picked up on his letters and numbers so quickly and takes pride in getting them correct. I think Jax’s favorite feature of both games are the songs. He loves to hum along and dance around.


I’d seen Swapsies in the iTunes App Store before but had passed it over. I just didn’t think Jax would be that into it. And, so far, he isn’t. We have a sticker book game with a page of both boy and girl dolls that he enjoys dressing – especially putting glasses on them! This app is different. It isn’t free-play, but matching. I think it’s a great idea, but Jax hasn’t really latched on to it yet.

You have your choice of a few boys and girls and buttons for three items of clothing: hats, tops, and bottoms. The clothes are all typical “what I want to be when I grow up” outfits. Police officer, astronaut, train engineer, etc… While gender neutral, they all tend to be masculine.

To play, you drag an item to the boy or girl and if you complete the outfit, a little button appears to play a reward sound. Jax thinks the sounds are funny, but they haven’t been enough incentive for him to match the outfits himself.

What would I change? The interface is a bit awkward. The clothing choices are presented in three round buttons which make Jax think he should press to choose them, not drag them to the body. This quickly frustrates him and makes him lose interest. I think if there was more of a celebration when a match is made, he might better understand the goal of the game. Perhaps a gallery of all the completed outfits with a word/audio telling what they are. Jax just doesn’t instinctively know what a mail carrier or “rancher” wears.

As with all apps I get that Jax isn’t into, it will stay on the iPad just in case he likes it later. This has happened more often than not! I don’t think we would have bought this one, but it could be fun for a child who is into what they want to be when they grow up.

The graphics on all of Spinlight’s games are cute, crisp and colorful! I love when my son’s favorite games are pretty to look at, in addition to being educational. Their apps are available in both the Apple App Store and the Android Market for Android devices. They are currently on sale for 99 cents each!

Here is a video of Jax playing Alpha and TallyTots, plus a clip of Swapsies:

Would you like to win one of these great apps?

Jax & I have four free app codes to give away (one for each app) to four lucky winners. To enter, leave a comment on this entry. Four random winners will be chosen at noon on Monday, February 13th. Each winner will receive a code good for one of the above apps (my choice, as I only have one of each.) Good luck!

Full Disclosure: We purchased AlphaTots and TallyTots ourselves. Spinlight Studio provided us with free copies of TableTots and Swapsies to review and a copy of each to give away. This review is my own, honest opinion.

If you have a toddler or preschool app you’d like Jax and I to review, please contact me with details. We have an iPad 1 and an iPhone 4.

Toddler iPad App Reviews – Zoo Train

We will be reviewing the many iPad apps Jax has been trying out recently. The iPad is great for car rides and waiting in restaurants. I stick mostly to educational and pretend-play when choosing apps for him.

Zoo Train

Zoo Train is an app by Busy Bee Studios. It has 5 little games in one that are great for preschoolers. It includes: Picture Puzzles, Whistle Music, Train Builder, Word Builder and Track Tycoon.


This was Jax’s first “favorite” app on the iPad. He has impressed so many people, both relatives and strangers, while solving the word puzzles. At first he’d just drag any letter to any spot, but he quickly realized that he needed to match them and started looking for similar shapes. He still gets confused with some letters like “m” and “n” but really does great. He LOVES that the game gives him stickers after he solves three words (you also get stickers every 3 picture and train track puzzles.) He gets so excited and exclaims “Oh! Stickers!!”


The picture puzzles were the first of that style of game he’d done. He was having a hard time with a wooden puzzle he had in real life, but after playing the puzzle game a bit he started to be able to solve it. He didn’t understand the track puzzles for quite a while and would ask me to do it for him so he could see the train go around the completed track. Then one day I looked over and he was solving it like it was no big deal.

Jax enjoys the train building game. You don’t get any rewards for this one, but it is cute. You get to choose a train engine and then 4 cars. All of them have really cute zoo animals. Once your train is built you choose a scene from 4 choices and watch your train drive by. We like to point out things in the scenery that we’ve spelled in the Word Builder, like “cloud” and “ship”.

The section of the app that gets the least use is the musical train whistles. He occasionally goes into it but he isn’t patient enough to let a song play out.

I would definitely recommend this app to other parents of young toddlers. Jax has learned a lot of early literacy skills just from playing these simple, fun games. They have given him a good foundation for learning to recognize  letters and put them into words. The app has also helped with his fine motor skills.

We got this app quite a while ago and I’m pretty sure it was either free or 99 cents at the time. It goes for $1.99 and I think it is a fair price. It includes an iPhone version. I do wish they would add more words to the Word Builder and more Picture Puzzles. Jax can do the puzzles in about 15 seconds each now! I think we’d even pay an extra dollar for an upgrade pack if it were to double our content.

If you have a toddler or preschool app you’d like Jax and I to review, please contact me with details. We have an iPad 1 and an iPhone 4.

Changing to a Toddler Bed

When did you switch your little one from a crib to a toddler bed?

We cosleep, but I have been thinking long term and want to establish Jax’s room as a safe, calming place for him to sleep in on his own down the road. Since he can no longer be in his crib unsupervised at all (he launches himself out headfirst without anything in there to help him!), I decided to switch his crib to a toddler bed.

My plan is to have regular “quiet, night-night time” with him in the bad, and if he falls asleep – great! I mainly want to show him this is another place to sleep. Eventually, I’d love for naps to happen here, but I’m focusing on after dark for now.

On his first night with a big boy bed, I laid down in it and we did all our stories and nursing there. He had the wiggles for about 40 minutes and was playing with the slats with his feet (I put the mesh bumper back on so his feet wouldn’t get stuck), then crashed hard.

He ended up sleeping there for 2.5 hours! Go Jax!

He really loves being able to get in and out of the bed now. He room adjoins ours so it will be easy for him to come to us if he needs us.

When did you change your little one from a crib to a bed?

iPad Games for Toddlers

A reader asked if I had suggestions for iPad game that toddlers would enjoy. Here are a few that Jax loves!

For young babies, Look Baby! is great!It has four simple activities: a teddy bear you can tickle, a butterfly that changes color, bubbles you pop and shapes that bounce around. Jax sends himself into a fit of giggle when he “tickles” the teddy bear and it laughs at him!

The graphic designer in me loves Interactive Alphabet. The illustrations are so bright and fun! Ever letter has a fun activity, plus you can sing along to the ABC song and watch a robot dance (the robot, of course!) at the end. Jax adores the train, the hamster hiding under a hat and the zipper. It’s on sale right now, so snap this one up!

The first game he fell in love with was Peekaboo Pets. We got it when it was free – it now costs $1.99. It would have been money well spent. Jax learned many animal sounds from pushing the buttons and popping the animals out. He calls the iad “Baa” because of the sheep in that game. He also learned to use one finger to push the button after starting out smacking it with his whole hand.

A more recent purchase was Nighty Night. Jax was enchanted by this half ebook/half game as soon as the narrator started to speak. The graphics are beautiful and the animations and sounds are cute. You can interact with all the farm house animals, then put the light switches to put them to bed. Jax used to just wave “night night” to them, but now he clicks off the lights and is so proud of himself! He loves the fish pond because the fish make silly faces and sounds.

I also recommend all of Sandra Boyton’s ebooks: The Going to Bed Book, Moo, Baa, La La La! and Blue Hat, Green Hat. It’s fun to be able to read those books when we are away from home. Plus, they all have fun interactive elements.

We most recently got Pat the Bunny. It is adorable! You can record your own auto, which I did on the iPad, and if you have a camera (like I do on my iPhone) your baby can see himself in the “mirror”. Every page has a different activity. Jax’s favorites are the nesting dolls, the velcro shoes and the kitchen band.

Hope these suggestions help!

When Did You Cut Your Baby’s Hair?

When did you first cut your baby’s hair?

I’ve had my heart set on growing out Jax’s hair a bit. He’s my nature-loving hippie boy and drum-loving rocker boy. But his hair has other plans.

He was born with a thick head of dark brown hair. At 3 months old, he started losing it – but only on the top of his head! We called him Costanza. We had a lot of hats. By 7 months, the ring of hair he had left was really patchy and looked like he had mange, so I shaved it off. Blond peach fuzz was growing in where the hair had fallen out of top.

Today, he has dark blond hair that is long at the neckline and a strip like a mohawk down the middle. The sides have short patches. His temples still haven’t filled in, though there is a bit of fuzz at the edges. It’s finally thickening up a bit – I can see short hairs sticking through when I comb back the longer parts. But, it’s a hot mess. There’s nothing I can do to make it look good at so many different lengths.

So I think my dreams of his hair being long will be out on hold, and we’ll get his hair cut this week when his daddy goes. I’ll be sad, but hair grows back!

When did you take your baby for their first haircut? How did it go?