Make and Take Pack: Simple Straw Activity

When out with toddlers and young children, it is helpful to have activities on hand to entertain. Ideally, activities should be quick to prepare, versatile – with multiple play options, and easy to pack. Fortunately, I have numerous ideas up my sleeve (and I enjoy testing them). So, here’s something I threw together for a long day out. It worked so well, my toddler was requesting to play with it again today.

This activity is based on a game I used in a pre-k classroom. I have adapted it for a Make and Take Pack by removing all structure and allowing my toddler to play as he likes.

NOTE: Younger children can only play independently for short bursts of time, so many Make and Take Packs will only entertain toddlers if you are on hand to participate or observe.


Preparation

If you have children over 3, the preparation for this Make and Take Pack makes a fun rainy day activity. If you have younger children, it is probably better to throw it together yourself.

Prep Time

  • Alone: about 3 minutes
  • With kids: about 10-15 minutes

Materials

  • 2-3 pom-poms (per child)
  • 2-3 pipe cleaners (per child)
  • straws (different colors)
  • scissors (safety scissors if using with children)
  • a small bag or small box to store activity in

Materials

Instructions

  1. Wrap one end of the pipe cleaner around a pom pom to make a “PomPom Stick”
  2. Chop straws into pieces (kids love this, plus it is great scissor practice)
  3. Pack!

Threading collagePlay time! Kids enjoy:

  • threading straws onto PomPom Sticks
  • taking straws off again
  • counting straws
  • matching colors
  • making patterns
  • waving the PomPom Sticks
  • and much more…

Bonus game (for 4-6 year olds)

  1. Give each child 3 PomPom Sticks.
  2. Take turns rolling a dice.*
  3. Count the dots and thread an equal number of straws onto the PomPom Sticks.
  4. Try to fill each stick with 10 straws
  5. Or… play in reverse:
    Remove straws, based on the roll of a dice, and try to be the first person to get down to zero!

PRO TIP

For quick and fun clean up: race kids to find all the “red” straws, then all the “yellow” straws, until everything is cleaned up.

Keep buzzin’

*The New Oxford Dictionary of English, Judy Pearsall, Patrick Hanks (1998) states that “In modern standard English, the singular die (rather than dice) is uncommon. Dice is used for both the singular and the plural.”
SOURCE:  dice – Wiktionary https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dice

8 Habits That Help Me Parent, Even on Tough Days [Short Read]

I love being around kids. I feel alive in their company. But, some days are HARD. Some days, exhaustion can consume and overwhelm. Some days, multiple things demand your attention. Some days, everything is going really well and then…

kid, ski, fail.gif

I am fortunate that I spent so many years working with and being around children. The range of experience has helped me form habits that make the most stressful parenting moments more manageable. These habits are not a magic solution, but they do make life easier (and more fun).

1. Hold on to happy

Awesome days happen. Soak in them. Drink them up. Record them in whatever way you prefer (photos, journals, videos, etc…). Have those records on hand for the days that aren’t awesome. They cheer you up AND they cheer your children up!

2. Accept Chaos

Chaos and destruction are guaranteed. Mistakes happen. Emotions explode. Problems pile up. Sometimes, we have to let things go and just roll with it. If you can, ask for help. If not, take a few moments for yourself. Breathe. Then, forget everything else and be fully present with your child. Know that this too shall pass.

Good and fine

3. Slow down

The easiest way to encourage kids to hurry up, is to slow down. It may sound counter-intuitive, but as much as children like to do things “fast,” they struggle with hurrying. The stress causes them to shut down, become distracted, or even meltdown completely. Slowing down your speech and your movements helps calm both you and the child.

4. Trust

Trust your kids, they will communicate their needs (and wants). They may not communicate calmly or efficiently, but they will let you know when they need something.

Trust yourself. You know your kids. Take some time to understand what is needed then find a kind way to deal with the request calmly and kindly, especially when saying, “No.”

5. Be kind

Approach everything with kindness (you can still be firm, confident, and consistent). Kindness is not passiveness; it simply sets the tone, determines boundaries, and encourages empathy. Kindness simplifies every decision. In difficult situations, choose the kindest option (this is not always the easiest one); everything else will fall into place.

Oh, and don’t forget, be kind to yourself.

6. Forgive, learn, and start again

Bad days. Mistakes. Emotional breakdowns. Anxiety. Stress. Poor choices. All human. So, forgive yourself. Forgive your kids. If you need to apologise, do so. Then, figure out what you can do better next time. Mistakes are simply opportunities to learn and be better.

7. Treat yourself

Whatever your budget, whatever your circumstances, whatever your history, you are worthy of happiness. In the midst of a storm, it is good to know there is a little piece of joy that is just for you. I choose chocolate and always have a secret supply for emergencies. Most of the time, it’s enough to know it is there.

eat chocolate

8. Smile

This is perhaps the simplest and most effective strategy of all. A private smile works, but if you can share a smile with your little ones nothing else matters. This is a great time to remind yourself, just how awesome you are.

self high 5.gif

There are probably a thousand more habits and strategies out there. What do you do to get through the tough days or moments? I love hearing new ideas or inspiration from others. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

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Stay kind and keep buzzin’.