Chefs Plate Canada’s most affordable meal kit, why I put my stamp of approval.

This post is sponsored by Chefs Plate, I am a Chefs Plate food box subscription customer and have been for years, this review and recommendation is honest and truthful.

I LOVE to cook, its cathartic, relaxing and is apart of my self care. Cooking is a ritual that I grew to love when my partner and I purchased our first home together, however making a meal from start to finish has been influenced in my upbringing and apart of my families Italian heritage.

I was put on modified bed rest at 24 weeks pregnant and wasn’t able to spend too much time on my feet so, shopping, prepping and cooking was out of the question. During this time I started this blog, my bed rest passion project. I had a lot of down time to think, and over think, what life might be like as a new mom. What the routines would look like, day to day tasks, what physical supports I would have access too, how my mental health would fair, the list goes on and on.

I was diagnosed at 3 months postpartum with postpartum depression and Anxiety. I worked with my team of health practitioners and therapists to come up with supports that would help me work through my emotions and feelings during this time and one of those things was to practice self care.

Introducing cooking back into my life as a new mother was important and Chefs Plate Food Subscription Box made sure I was eating properly, actually made it possible to have food in my fridge to cook, made the days that were tough better as it took the prep and time to grocery shop out of the equation. The convenience, dependability, food quality and affordability was important to me then as much as it is today.

With my now toddler he gets excited for our weekly Chefs Plate Delivery, He pushes the box all the way to the kitchen, helps me unload the recipes, bags and protein. Most nights he is excited to be apart of the cooking process, and with the easy to follow recipes and everything prepared its a joy to have him be involved. Taking the stress out of the process helps connect me to those moments of taking care of myself and teaching him amazing life skills. The days Amadeo doesn’t want to be involved I put on his favorite show and enjoy that me time, while still being a mom but so much more.

The number one question I recieve from parents is how many portions do I order for myself, my partner and toddler. Amadeo doesn’t have the biggest appetite but he is adventurous in trying new foods, so every Chefs Plate is modified for a toddler in serving size and spice level. We order the portion for 2 people and we have always felt satisfied, I also add a fruit or veggie from the fridge for Amadeo to go with some of the meals.

As Back to School approaches so does adjusting to new routines, packing lunches for your child(ren), homework and Chefs Plate wants to help make it easier to fall back into a cooking routine. They will help make dinnertime easy and stress-free by skipping the prep and shopping so all you have to worry about is cooking the healthy delicious meals either solo or time well spent with the family!

 From Start to finish Chefs Plate make your entire meal cooking experience easy and stress free. All of the healthy and fresh ingredients are at your finger tips, separated, organized and ready to cook. ( in the 15 minute meal options items are cut and prepped for you)

There are so many options to choose from each week and it gives me and my family the opportunity to learn and appreciate food from many different cultures, enjoy new flavors without the huge spice collection, and have such amazing variety from week to week. I have yet to choose the same recipe twice in two years!

To save use the affiliate link below ( I will get a small percentage at no extra cost to you) to save 50% off your first two boxes!!! On going!

https://chefs-plate.chx3kt.net/c/2222988/863318/10020

Click the link Above to save and use code : MYLAMB2X50

If you have any questions about the Chefs Plate Food Kits let me know in the comments, I’d be happy to help in any way possible!

Vanessa Ravalico

Lovevery Playkit Review

Toddler Play Kits by Lovevery

This Blog Post has affiliated links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, all opinions and recommendations are honest, truthful and my own.

I reached out to Lovevery a couple months ago after almost two years of parents asking me if I would recommend the Montessori style learning subscription box and asked if they would send me a kit to review.

I have spent the last couple years on my blog building genuine relationships with parents with the goal that when I recommend a product or service it is because A. I’m already a customer and spend my own money or B. I have reviewed a product or service and I would spend my own money on it. So in this case and review of the Lovevery Subscription boxes its B.

Lovevery sent us The Realist Play Kit (19,20,21 months) & The Companion Play Kits (22,23,24 months)

Amadeo was a year and a half when we received our Play Kits and he will be two years old in two months. He was INSTANTLY drawn to the unboxing of the items in the Play Kits and wanted to explore and test out each items before moving on to the next.

My review is going to consist of these 5 key points, mostly pulled from FAQ you ask me about the kits.

  1. Quality
  2. Usability/ Longevity of play
  3. Price Point
  4. Company Ethics
  5. Is it worth it/ Do I recommend you purchasing
Toddler Play Kits by Lovevery
  1. Quality

Hands down this is the number one question that parents want to know my opinion on, and I’d like to believe its because I’m quite the connoisseur of toys in the Early Developmental Years.

Amadeo has been playing ( roughly ) for over two months with the toys in and out of rotation and they have completely with stood my crazy toddler.

Seriously every item including the books, bags, puzzles, plastic toys and wooden toys are built PHENOMENALLY!!!!

The materials, the colours of the products all have purpose and intention behind them and as an educator and parent that is important for me when I’m considering what toys and materials will come into our home and Amadeo’s Playroom.

The Play Kits by Lovevery

2. Usability/ Longevity of play

I was getting asked questions that related to how long in my opinion would your children play and engage with the items in the subscription kits. So to start out I’m going to share what items came in The Realist and The Companion Kits.

What’s Inside
The Realist Play Kit

THE LOCKBOX

Tinkering with mechanical thinking all on his own—and perfectly portable for problem-solving with little hands

HIDEAWAY BALLS

Three little balls to hide and find in the Lockbox

COMMUNITY GARDEN PUZZLE

Practice pincer grasp with her first nature puzzle

‘LEO AND MELODY AT THE FARM’ BOARD BOOK

Explore life on a farm through touch, feel, and sensory play

QUILTED CRITTER POCKETS

Matching and tucking the organic cotton critters takes focus, dexterity, and tenacity

GROOVED PITCHER AND GLASS

A Montessori classic we’ve perfected—pouring practice helps develop hand and eye control

WOODEN STACKING PEG BOARD

Fit small objects into small spaces while building colorful towers

DRAWSTRING BAG

An organic cotton pouch for the peg board pieces

REALLY REAL FLASHLIGHT

A toddler usable flashlight

‘MANY AND FEW’ MINI BOARD BOOK

It’s not too early to build quantitative skills (subitizing, anyone?)

‘BEING SILLY’ MINI BOARD BOOK

Knowing you can make people laugh builds self‑esteem

‘BEDTIME FOR ZOE’ BOARD BOOK

Ease into bedtime—an introduction to routine, sequence, and time

PLAY GUIDE MONTHS 19, 20, 21

Ideas for how to play during months 19, 20, 21,
backed by all the
research you don’t
have time to read

Free ground shipping for orders $75+ in contiguous US and Canada at Lovevery.com!

The items in this kit that will last years in your toddlers play rotation are ; The Really Real Flash Light, The Lock Box with the Hideaway Balls , The Grooved Pitcher and Glass, the Wooden Stacking Pegboard and the Drawstring Bag.

In a toy rotation I have changed up which items I present with the Lock Box, I’ve added recycled food pouch lids, pompoms, animal figures, you name it, if it fits and Amadeo is interested in them they have gone in the lock box.

The Grooved Pitcher and Glass I have brought outside, used it in the kitchen and bathroom sinks for some sink play, the bath tub and some wet easy sensory set ups. Bringing toys that are usually played with in one environment into another will help create new motivation and curiosity to continue to explore.

The Wooden Stacking Pegboard I have set up with rainbow rice, a colour sort activity as well as encourage and model incorporating them in block play.

In my opinion the books, puzzles and a couple of the items that have the purpose of mastering certain fine motor skills will maybe last one year of intentional play. I’m predicting that after Amadeo is Three years old I don’t think items will interesting to him and wont be engaged with.

That being said I do think almost all of the items that come in these boxes can be used and presented in different ways or environments within a toy rotation and will be engaged with MUCH longer then the three months that the kits cover.

The added bonus to these kits are definitely the Play Guide as it will give you so many ideas of how to present the toys, invitation to play, as well as interact and help aid in your child’s development at that stage.

Toddler Play Kits by Lovevery

What’s Inside
The Companion Play Kit

LITTLE QUINN

Welcome Quinn!
A soft, organic companion for pretend play

MOSAIC BUTTON BOARD

Work on fine motor strength while making three-dimensional art

‘GRAHAM TURNS TWO’ BOARD BOOK

Help make sense of
the big feelings that come
with turning two

‘BEA GETS A CHECKUP’ BOARD BOOK

Going to the doctor can be fun—so long as we’re prepared!

MONTESSORI ANIMAL MATCH

A Montessori sorting game for learning about similarities and differences

DRAWSTRING BAG

An organic cotton bag for putting away the animals and wood tiles

LARGE NESTING STACKING DRIPDROP CUPS

Supersized stacking and water play cups! Do it all: nest, stack, contain, pour. Add on to your baby Drip Drop Cups for an even taller tower!

TRANSFER TWEEZERS AND FELT STARS

Pick up these felt stars—a fine motor pincer activity

THE BUCKLE BARREL

Keep busy with no-pinch buckles while building hand strength and practicing bilateral coordination on this organic pillow

CHUNKY WOODEN JIGSAW PUZZLE

A puzzle that’s easy to hold—and a challenge to solve

TWO-PIECE PUZZLES

Practice “right side up” with this set of four simple puzzles

PUZZLES TO GO BOX

Take the puzzles on the go

CARRY-ALONG KIT

Carry whatever you need to craft or play on the go

PLAY GUIDE MONTHS 22, 23, 24

Ideas for how to play during months 22, 23, 24,
backed by all the
research you don’t
have time to read

The items in the Companion Kit have been a HUGE hit with Amadeo and his interests. My favourite part of this box by FAR is the Bea gets a check up book. Amadeo and I read it over and over a couple weeks before we went into get his booster shots and I SHIT YOU NOT, even with the new Covid protocols and it just being me there not both his dad and I, he knew exactly what was going on, what to expect. He barely cried, I didn’t even need to hold him while they did the shot!

The items that I know will grow with your children are; Little Quin, Montessori Animal Match, Drawstring Bag, Carry Along Kit, Large Nesting Stacking Cups, The Buckle Barrel, Mosaic Button Board, and Tweezers and Felt Stars.

All of these items we have used in different play invitations and they have endless opportunities to be modified as your child grows.

Free ground shipping for orders $75+ in contiguous US and Canada at Lovevery.com!

3. Price Point

When I spend money on toys and or a service that will make my life easier and add value to my child’s I expect to pay a pretty hefty price tag but these Subscription kits are only $120.00 for three months of play, that works out to $40.00 a month.

I did a little research for you guys on the world wide web because one of my favourite pass times is sourcing and price matching toys and resources. I compared the toys that are offered in the Play Kits for similar quality from other companies would cost to purchase individually. For each of the Play Kits I have for Amadeo easily it would cost over $350.00!

Here’s the most valuable aspect about these kits to me, The Play Guides that come with the Subscription boxes I would personally value at $120.00 alone!

Hands down I think this the most affordable play kits available on the market when you factor in the quality of the toys and materials and education added.

The best is they now have Toddler Playkits all the way up to 36 months old.

Shop the new 2 Year Old Kits – available now!

4.Company Ethics

I’ve found the products included in The Play Kits by Lovevery to be very inclusive and diverse in representation, however that was from an personal opinion formulated from a place of privilege. I reached out to their Social Media team and asked how they will be moving forward to continue to better the representation of Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour within their products for families. I received an immediate response expressing appreciation that I’m holding them accountable as a affiliate influencer and a parent. They have continued to share their plans moving forward within their company to grow and share their ethics through their products and provide resources to parents navigating educating their children to be anti-racist and allies to the LGBTQ+ community.

They are a company that I’m proud to work with and promote to parents, I believe their products will add value to your families lives and make a positive impact.

If you want to learn more about Lovevery’s story and the company click the link below.

https://lovevery.com/pages/about-us

Toddler Play Kits by Lovevery

5.Is it worth it/ Do I recommend you purchasing

I really do think its more then worth it and I highly recommend adding this subscription to help foster skills in your child’s early development.

Lovevery has a couple products that you can also purchase separately that you can check out below, The Block Set looks UNREAL!

Shop the NEW Block Set from Lovevery!

If you have any questions let me know in the comment box below ! Happy Shopping!

Vanessa Ravalico

Let’s get to know each other

Social media and more specifically Instagram was a platform created to form genuine connections. I know with how the app is presented we can easily get lost in the “scroll roll” or looking up information that we may need from experts, but the magic behind MY LITTLE LAMB for me has always been these amazing conversations and relationships that have formed through this community in my direct messages.

Now more then ever I try to use this platform as how it was intended. Bridging that gap between screens and filling that horrible void of feeling isolated and alone. Parenthood is hard enough, we need to build up supports. I’m hoping that you will take a little bit from me and read others submissions to see if there are commonalities. When you are going through similar struggles as someone else and have the same interests or children around the same age, we can support each other and offer solidarity.

After reading my submissions in LET’S GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER , copy and paste these to your notes, fill in the answers and post in the comments on my latest Instagram post on my feed with this picture ……

Name:

Age:

Profession:

Number of Children:

Name & Age of Child/Children:

Favourite Pastime:

Hobbies/ Interests:

Biggest struggles as a parent:

I cant wait to get to know you better! The name of the game is feeling less like we are on a deserted island, we truly are all in this together!

Basic Baby Co.

Basic Baby Co. 

basic baby co

Business Highlight 

This blog post is sponsored and I have been compensated for my time and work put into this piece, the opinions are honest and true to my beliefs.  

When I was two months postpartum with Amadeo, my first birth, I wrote a blog post, 5 Postpartum Care Must Haves for Mom. 

https://mylittlelamb.ca/2018/10/22/5-postpartum-care-musts-for-mom/

With the experience of a traumatic birth (in the sense of person vaginal injury) recovery from said birth and what my postpartum right after baby looked like, I knew what I wanted to do differently next time and the advice I would give to future mamas out there.

At the time I followed on Instagram and reviewed online Basic Baby Co. and all of the amazing products they offered for after baby comes and my FAVOURITE product and package they carry was/is their, Postpartum Bundle.

It’s embedded deep within our culture to make sure mom is okay, has everything she needs, support her physically, mentally and emotionally while pregnant, but within 24 hours of that beautiful baby being born we are now, sadly, officially an after thought. I will never stop being vocal about how absolutely wrong that is. We need to be a thought after birth not an after thought.

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A bit about how Basic Baby Co. was started from the owner Sheila,

Basic baby co. launched about three years ago and it was my lemonade at a time when I was feeling the lemons. I have a Masters in Counselling Psychology and after over a decade working with and counselling people experiencing substance use issues, involvement with the justice system, trauma, mental health, and other challenges, I was burnt out.

More than that, I arrived at a place where the experiences and traumas from my own life had caught up with me – I was exhausted and overwhelmed by anxiety to the point of it being totally crippling. I have never been good at sitting idle, but I was also forced to accept that I need to make some changes and give myself some time to heal.

I didn’t really realize it at the time, nor had this ever been part of my “life plan”, but as it turned out, part of that healing process came in the form of starting a business – a business that was completely different from my career and provided an opportunity to have something that was mine, be creative, and celebrate some of the more joyous and heartwarming parts of life. So, with the unwavering support that my Mum has always provided, I saw an opportunity, followed a feeling I had, and basic baby co. was born!

After months of building it, I actually went back to work in the healthcare system doing consulting work about the same time basic baby co. launched. It has been a busy few years, but I am so grateful for this business and the people that support it because it affords me a wonderful balance and place to be creative in my life.

Everyone loves to celebrate the arrival of babies, but often people don’t know what to get and/or cannot always be there in person or know when would be a good time to visit a new parent. So, basic baby co. is really about making it easy for people to celebrate their loved ones during this amazing and life-changing time of life!

More than that, it is about sending a gift that is not just thoughtful, but also practical! So often new parents get all sorts of gifts that they never have the chance or need to use. Personally, I don’t like getting someone a present just for the sake of getting them something… I like to give someone something that is good quality and something they will actually use and truly appreciate. So, that’s basic baby co. … carefully curated and perfectly practical!

-Sheila

Basic Baby Co. is a mother-daughter venture – a testament to the life-long relationship of unconditional love, support, and friendship between parent and child. Located in Vancouver, BC, basic baby co. is a proudly Canadian company.

Now more then ever we are hyper aware of supporting Canadian companies and supporting those we love during their pregnancy and post birth during this pandemic in any way we can while respecting social distancing and the boundaries in order to keep baby and mama healthy and safe.
A Basic Baby Co. bundle will be that perfect gift sent directly to mama and baby to show your love and support.
baby
To view and shop all bundles click the link below 
At checkout use code MYLITTLELAMB to save 10% 

Pregnancy Affirmations

Art Exhibit Blog Banner

 

One of my biggest tools in my Mental Health Tool Belt is my constant use of affirmations and mantras to help ground me. When you’re nervous system is in high alert, you’re experiencing anxiety, maybe on your way to panic attack territory, reciting affirmations and mantras can help reprogram the subconscious mind and encourages us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it.

In a time were you are experiencing pregnancy in isolation and social distancing visualization and positive thinking practices will help you stay calm and stress free in moments that want to pull you in another direction.

Practicing affirmations and mantras when you are at a neutral energy will be important as you will be better equip to implement these during times of struggle.

When I was on the delivery bed almost two years ago about to birth my son, I got out my cell phone and started reciting my grounding mantra. As soon as the nurse said I was to start pushing and this was happening I felt my mind wander and starting to spiral and as soon as I started saying my mantra and took deep breaths it helped me find that inner strength and confidence in knowing that my body wouldn’t let me down, that I was safe and doing to do exactly what I needed to do in the next however many minutes to meet my son for the first time. It was a beautiful and magical moment of empowerment that I did for myself!

Below are some Beautiful Pregnancy Affirmations from Pinterest:

 

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Start practicing by reciting these daily or creating your present pregnancy mantras that will help manifest all that you want to achieve in regards to your pregnancy and birth.

You’ve Got This Mama.

BuyBuyBABY Gift Registry

Buy Buy Baby Canada Gift Registry 

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This blog post is sponsored and I have been compensated for my time and work put into this piece, the opinions are honest and true to my beliefs. All Recommendations are from my Baby Registry with Buy Buy Baby Canada from 2018 that were purchased by us, family or friends. 

I Can still remember this moment like it was yesterday, knowing that I would have to create a registry filled with items that I knew we would need and actually use that our friends and family could so generously gift us during our first pregnancy.

The problem was that we didn’t know what which items were wants and which were needs? How many of each item would we need? Which brands were tried and true? Which items should we invest in? How long would Amadeo need and use these products? We knew nothing!

Thankfully one day while scrolling Facebook I stumbled upon a free event hosted at a Buy Buy Baby in my city. It was a Mother’s Market with local vendor’s, sleep consultants, baby wearing experts, infant massage and sign language classes, a goody bag, gift card and discounts! My sister in law went and we were BLOWN away at the store and all that it had to offer! It truly was a one stop shop for all things babies.

After the event came and went my husband and I made the decision of creating our baby registry with Buy Buy Baby manly because we had such a GREAT experience with our wedding registry with Bed Bath and Beyond.

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Why was this blog post written….. 

Now before we go into the nitty gretty of what we put on our registry and I absolutely loved as a mother and would recommend, I want to share how and why this blog post was written.

We are currently in a pandemic. We have been practicing social distancing and self isolation with very little contact and for the most part no physical contact with our family and friends. The support systems put in place while women are pregnant during this time look different due to health concerns and keeping you and your baby safe.

BuyBuyBaby Canada reached out to me because we have worked together successfully in the past, and wanted to know if I had any ideas of how they can reach mothers and show support during this time. I pictured something that would be dedicated to all of  you INCREDIBLY strong women who are currently pregnant during this Pandemic.

  At this point I have had hundreds of conversations with amazing women across Canada who are expecting, and the overwhelming feeling that was being expressed was that they felt alone, confused, isolated, unsupported, uncertain, all while trying to really enjoy these beautiful moments of becoming a mother and creating a new life.

I had a rough go at my pregnancy with Amadeo, it was not what I expected. I’m very open and honest about how I struggled mentally, emotionally and physically with my pregnancy. The unicorn pregnancy, milk bath photo shoot , cherishing every minute of those 9 months that I was sold pre-pregnancy was NOT what I experienced. Now looking back now with my almost 2 year old, even though it was not what I had planned, It truly shaped me into the bad ass mother that I am today!

I wanted to share this because I want each and everyone of you to know that this is really hard, its not what was planned for your pregnancy and in my opinion its not fair, however being pregnant through this Pandemic will make you resilient, it will give you this unbelievable strength you never knew you could have starting this new chapter of motherhood.

BuyBuyBaby Canada wants to be present for all mothers supporting a new chapter or continued one. They want you to know that the employees are still there in store everyday and a phone call away to give advice and recommendations. They will walk the store with you and explain the items, brands and everything that has to do with your baby or child just like I experienced as a customer. I know this was the hardest part for me and we are working together to help make it easier on you.

BuyBuy Baby Canada Registry 

The BuyBuy Baby Canada Registry Website is extremely easy to use, awesome benefits and tools to help make the whole process stress free!

in-store experts

In-Store Experts

Our registry consultants are here to help you create the perfect wish list. This can all be done virtually at this time by calling your local BuyBuy Baby Canada Store.

completion discount

Completion Discount

After your big day, any remaining items on your registry can be purchased at a discount. This was the BEST, it is how we were able to afford all those big ticket items on our registry.

price match guarantee

Price Match Guarantee

Find a lower price somewhere else? Simple. We’ll match it!

Easy Returns/Exchanges

We want you to love what you buy. In case you do not, we’ll do our best to help you! Their customer support is AMAZING! They helped us with anything we needed and rectified anything right away.

Interactive Checklist

The easy way to make sure your registry includes everything you need. This is so helpful if you are like me and have NO IDEA were to begin!

5-Star iOS / Android App

Easily manage your registry anytime, anywhere. Even scan barcodes in-store. Scrolling easily while horizontal in bed with my snoogle was a must!

Registry Analyzer

Helps you balance your registry with great gifts in every price range.

Thank You Manager

Tracking gifts online helps streamline the task of sending thank you notes.

YES YES AND MORE YES!

 

Listed below are my Favourite and Most Recommended Registry Items that I had on my registry and LOVED! 

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1.Swaddles : I absolutely ADORED my Aden+Anais Swaddles sets with Amadeo. He was born in August and they were the perfect light weight material to keep him covered and cool. We also received the heavy blanket which was perfect for fall and winter weather. They washed really well with all of his other clothing, sheets and towels on a normal cycle and dyer. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/aden-reg-by-aden-anais-reg-safari-babes-4-pack-classic-muslin-swaddles/1061426665?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=aden-and-anais-swaddle

crib sheet

2. Crib sheets: We had a couple sets of the Burts Bees fitted crib sheets as well as the Change pad covers. Still love them to this day, they wash beautifully and are amazing quality! https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/burt-39-s-bees-baby-reg-organic-cotton-jersey-fitted-crib-sheet-in-heather-grey/5405938?keyword=burts-bees-crib-sheet

3. Mattress Protector : In hindsight because we were lucky enough to inherit a crib mattress from our family and it wasn’t material we didn’t need mattress pad protectors, but we had two sets of these and they wash beautifully and we still use them. If you have a mattress that is fabric 100% you need at least two sets. Leaks, blow outs and throw up with not be your best friend and you’re going to want protection for your mattress. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/tl-care-reg-waterproof-crib-fitted-mattress-cover-made-with-organic-cotton-in-natural/1016143090?keyword=organic-crib-matress-protector-cover

angel care

4. Baby Monitor: I get asked all the time which monitor I have when I share to my stories because the image is so clear. I wanted a monitor that wasn’t wireless and my friends recommended the sensor pad to help ease my mind of SIDS when we would transfer to the crib. I love this monitor, the sensory pad we only used for a week and then took it out. Because of how Amadoe’s crib was built sometimes it would go off randomly and that was no bueno when there was a sleeping infant on top. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/angelcare-reg-ac527-baby-breathing-monitor-with-5-inch-video-and-wireless-breathing-sensor-pad/5351468?keyword=angel-care-monitor

daiper pail

5. Diaper Pail: We purchased the Bubula Diaper Pail for two reasons. 1. It’s modern and sleek looking. 2. You can use the Costco kitchen bags! Many other diaper pails require special sold separately diaper bag inserts and they can be pricey, this was the perfect solution! Bonus points, until its really full you don’t really smell much unless its when you open the pail! https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/bubula-diaper-pail/3335684?keyword=diaper-pail

glider

6. Gliders : This is the glider that we purchased and even though its beautiful now spending many many hours, most of them in the middle of the night while tired and sore, I would recommend one with a build it foot rest that can be pulled up and pushed in, lazy boy style.

We own: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/davinci-sierra-swivel-glider-with-gliding-ottoman/5189553?keyword=rockers-and-gliders

I would recommend: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/westwood-design-elsa-manual-glider-recliner/5454880?keyword=rockers-and-gliders

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7. Car Seats : We purchased two car seats from our registry, The Uppa Baby Bucket Seat and Base plus the 4-Ever Graco Car seat which Amadeo is currently rear facing. When I was in those bucket seat days I wished I was out of them but I tell yea wow were they easier. The Uppa Baby Bucket Seat was a dream! If you’re considering purchasing the Uppa Baby Strollers I would recommend getting the bucket seat as they are compatible and very easy to work together.

Uppa Baby Mesa: https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/uppababy-reg-mesa-2018-infant-car-seat-in-jordan/5041462?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=uppa-baby-car-seat

4- Graco 4-Ever : https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/graco-reg-4ever-trade-all-in-1-convertible-car-seat-in-rockweave-trade/1061206281?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=graco-4-in-1-car-seat

stroller

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8. Stroller: When we were trying out strollers I originally had my eye on a City Select, however when we were in the store both Thomas and I couldn’t open and close it easily, let alone one handed. We both fell in love with the Uppa Baby stroller and in the end went with the Vista and used the bassinet as part of the stroller but also for nap and bed time. We had a stand lent to us from our cousins that worked perfectly. By far this was my favourite item off of our registry that I still use effortlessly today! We also purchased another toddler seat for the eventual baby number two. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/uppababy-reg-vista-v2-stroller/5492632?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=uppa-baby-vista

9. Infant Swing: This was all Thomas but I’m SO glad he pushed me to purchase the MamaRoo by 4moms. Seriously this saved my life in the first three weeks especially. It’s the ONLY thing Amadeo would sleep in. It was the ONLY break we got was when we was in this thing with the white noise playing and moving around and around. At this point looking back I would have paid double for what this piece of equipment did for my sanity. My friend recently borrowed it for her baby and loved it as well. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/4moms-reg-mamaroo-reg-4-cool-mesh-infant-seat-in-dark-grey/5292578?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=mamroo

bottle

10. Bottle Sterilizer: This one is if you end up exclusively bottle feeding. This piece of machinery saved me so much time and energy. It’s so easy to use, fits a great amount of bottles and since I was able to use it with such ease and it also dried the bottles We used this until Amadeo was a year old. A great tip that the employees gave me when choosing your bottles for your registry is to only put one single bottle with new born nipples for a couple brands. Don’t put a whole set, you baby may be particular on which bottle and nipple they prefer, Amadeo was and still to this day will only drink from his Avent Bottles. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/babybrezza-reg-steri-dry-steam-sterilizer/1061908895?opbthead=true&ta=typeahead&keyword=baby-brezza

 

Click this link to create and or add to your BuyBuyBaby Canada Registry and don’t hesitate to call your Local BuyBuyBaby store and have their In-Store experts help assist you and support you through your decision making so you can feel confident,excited and prepared for your little ones arrival. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/gift-registry/gift

On Behalf of My Little Lamb and Buy Buy Baby Canada we wish you healthy and happy pregnancy and birth journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Activity Round Up

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 Easy Activity Round Up 

For a couple months now I have like many of you amazing mamas, are at home working my day job, with my toddler and the million other things to tackle that have come along with this pandemic.

Almost immediately my inbox messages on Instagram jumped to around 1200-1400 in a 24 hour period!  Most of what was filling my inbox was a plea for easy activities to do with your child/children now that they are at home full time 24/7!

As a blogger, one who has spent most of this time creating and curating beautiful activity content for you on https://www.instagram.com/mylittlelambblog/ I felt like I was letting you all down because I 100% did not have the time or mental capacity during this to create that content for you.

My solution to be able to support you all through this time was to use my expertise in Early Learning to search through Instagram and share to my stories activities every evening, created by other talented creators that I know would be achievable for you during this time. I highly recommend checking out this accounts and showing them some love for all the hard work and dedication they do to provide amazing content to make our lives easier and help support our children’s development.

This post is going to be a permanent resource that I will share those activities with you so you can reference and do with your child/children when it works best for YOU ( because that’s important) and your family.

 

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@momentswithmiss

Letter Match Sensory Play

Want to spice up your kiddos’ learning this week? Turn it into sensory play! We used our dyed beans as a way to practice uppercase and lowercase letters but you could do letters in their name, numbers, shapes, or even finding letters and building sight words for older kiddos.👍🏼

Other sensory bin fillers you might have on hand: rice, dried black beans, coffee beans, cereal (Cheerios, fruit loops, Chex), uncooked pasta, oats, chickpeas, feathers, cotton balls, pom poms, cut up plastic straws. – Post Caption 

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@momentswithmiss

Trace the Rain Pre-Writing

Here’s a quick, easy pre-writing activity to go along with the rainy days we’re having over here (😩 anyone else?).

I drew dotted lines going in different directions from each rain cloud for Kade to trace. For the slanted lines, we were able to talk about and make connections to the way he writes the letter “K” in his name.

It’s important to focus on nailing down the simple strokes before really trying to push turning them into actual letters- that will come much easier if they are comfortable with the different types of lines and curves!✏️ – Post Caption

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@momentswithmiss

Nature Paintbrushes

This was so fun! Kade and I went out in our yard with a bucket and collected items we thought might be fun to paint with. We grabbed a few sticks and then brought it all inside and I used rubber bands to turn them into paintbrushes!

I put some paint on a paper plate and we painted away. We loved seeing what we could do with the different textures and I loved watching Kade get creative. He used brush strokes, swirled the brushes, splattered paint with them and tried making prints with them.

Such a simple, fun way to get outside, engage in a sensory experience and also be creative.🌿🎨 -Post Caption

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@toddleratplay

FLOWER THREADING ACTIVITY 🌸

This Flower Threading Activity is an easy and fun way to use up old flowers. Isn’t it nice to have an activity ready for your toddlers without heading out to the store for supplies? I love it!

Threading activities are one of our favorites. Kids are always thrilled to create their own designs, patterns and choose colors. Better yet, they’re having a whole lot of fun and improving many skills all at the same time. Fine motor, concentration, focus, creativity and in dependency are all areas of childs’ development involved in this activity. How awesome! –Post Caption

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@toddleratplay

 DANDELION CARD CRAFT


It’s quite simple to make, so even the littlest ones can follow along. They’ll love using the q-tips to make the dandelion which makes this card craft a unique one! – Post Caption

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@play_at_home_mummy

LAUNDRY PULL 

Turning a NO into a YES!

I decided to turn her love of pulling clothes out of the cupboard/basket/washing line into an activity!

My biggest tip for baby play (or any age play really), is to turn all the things you find yourself saying “NO” to, into play 👌🏻 you won’t go wrong 😜 (eg. See my ‘no-tub’ post from a couple of weeks ago!) .
There were two parts to this:
1. Pull the clothes off the wall
2. Walk around the house with them draped over her shoulders 🤣

Miss 11 months is very much in the Envelopment schema right now and loves draping things over herself and walking around with them. So the second part to this activity was important 😜

An activity like this develops:
👉🏻 Gross motor skills – reaching high and pulling hard develops large muscle groups 👉🏻 Can fulfil the enveloping (wrapping self in clothes) trajectory (pulling down) and transporting (carrying clothes around) schemas 👉🏻 Hand/eye coordination 👉🏻 Emotional development – fulfilling an observed interest and saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’
Post Caption 

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@play_at_home_mummy

THE NO TUB

Something we’ve used for a long time, when the temptations of all the ‘no’ objects get a little too much!

The no tub is personal to each child – anything that you find yourself saying ‘no’ to them having, place in a tub and make them as safe as possible for baby to explore – eg. Wind up cables and put masking tape around them, remove batteries from remotes, use an old phone, clean keys etc .
The idea is to take the ‘power’ out of these objects that babies become obsessed over, because they hold a lot of power through curiosity! Babies want to explore everything – it’s only natural that the things we won’t let them explore, drive more curiosity. .
People often as me how I deal with a baby and an open art area (for example), but the truth is – the art area has become so normal, because it’s there all the time, that she doesn’t obsess over the things in it – most of the time, she doesn’t even go there! I’m using the same concept with this tub – make ‘exciting’ things into ‘normal’ things .
This activity is great for:
👉🏻 Curiosity – they get to explore things that are new and exciting, in a safe way
👉🏻 Fine motor skills – manipulating the objects 👉🏻 Normalising everyday objects .
.
*** if you are using objects that pose a safety risk, make sure you are supervising closely and remove those objects if you leave the room . -Post Caption

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@play_at_home_mummy

RIBBON DRAWERS

I can almost guarantee you’ve got everything you need for this activity already 🙌🏻 if you don’t have ribbons, use pieces of string, streamers etc .
I set this up last night as a distraction for Miss 11 months (and the big girls) this morning, because I desperately need time to wake myself up before being climbed on in the morning 😬
This would work really well in the kitchen drawers as well, as a way to buy you a bit of time prepping meals!

Just cut different lengths of ribbon and place them inside drawers, with a little bit sticking out to pull on!

An activity like this is great for: 👉🏻 Fine motor skills – grabbing the small pieces encourages the pincer grip (thumb and forefinger) 👉🏻 Gross motor skills – reaching, crawling, standing and pulling 👉🏻 Cognitive development – making connections between action and reaction, thus developing understanding of cause and effect .
** always supervise baby activities, ribbons can pose a strangulation hazard! Make sure any free standing drawers are anchored . -Post Caption

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@play_at_home_mummy

POM POM BATH

1. POM POM BATH – pom poms, food colouring (no it won’t stain their skin!) and a bath 🙌🏻 originally got the idea from @simply.play.today

Post Caption

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@littlepinelearners

Dandelion Rock Family

These are super simple to make and you can recreate them over and over.
They look so cute when finished and you can make up your own story about your dandelion family. We infused interesting dandelion facts into our story. Meet our dandelion family: 👩🏻‍🦰Momma rock loves her new purple earnings,👨🏼 papa rock’s beard is filling in nicely, 👶baby rock needs a quarantine haircut, and 🦁 dandy-lion in looking cute as ever! They live happily among the dandelions and love playing in the sunshine! They welcome the bees on their fancy hairdos and their flowers open in the morning to greet the sun and close at night when the go to sleep. -Post Caption 

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@littlepinelearners

Stacking Rocks

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@kidsplaytricks

DIY LAVA LAMP

This classic lava lamp science experiment is a perfect one for toddlers and preschoolers. It uses just a few materials from around the house, is practically mess free, and is mesmerizing to observe 🙌🏼. I loved how simple this experiment was to prepare and was amazed with how long it kept Em (3Y) engaged.

You’ll need: vegetable oil, water, food coloring, clear glass, Alka Seltzer tablets
1️⃣ Color about 1/2 cup of water with food coloring.
2️⃣ Break the Alka Seltzer tablets into 2 or 3 pieces and place in a small container.
3️⃣ Fill a clear glass about 3/4 full with vegetable oil. Then add the colored water. Don’t fill the cup more than about 2 inches from the top.
4️⃣ Add a piece of an Alka Seltzer tablet to the cup.
5️⃣ Watch the blobs of colored water travel up and down the cup like a lava lamp!

-Post Caption

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@kidsplaytricks

Infants love staring at faces! Your baby might be staring because they love you so much they just can’t look away…but research also shows that babies, even those less than an hour old, tend to stare at face-like images longer than any other pattern. This simple activity is perfect for infants and toddlers (and is also a sweet activity while staying distant from family and friends during the pandemic).

You’ll need: photos of family/friends, tape or frame
1️⃣ Collect photos of family and friends- I printed these from our printer at home on card stock paper
2️⃣ Hang, laminate, or frame the photos- I used plastic standing frames from Ikea, they are child-friendly! You could easily just tape photos to the wall instead.
3️⃣ Select up to four photos for your child to observe at a time. This is great for practicing tummy time or sidelying.
This activity requires adult supervision. -Post Caption

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@sonnysmontessori

PRACTICAL LIFE PLAY

🧽 Outdoor practical life work is not only engaging and fun, but also purposeful. Toddlers especially love anything that involves a water + sponge. I set this large bowl up with water and Sonny-sized sponges and demonstrated how to wipe the dirt off the garage door. ⁣

He had fun wiping, splashing and working on an activity that took me seconds to prepare. My expectation was not to have a sparkling clean door, but rather introduce Sonny to real work we do at home that he can also be a part of. 💦⁣

As the weather gets nicer, we will be looking for lots of ways to work outside. Cleaning the garage door will certainly be a work to return to. ⁣-Post Caption

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@kristinatoddlerapproved

LEGO SORT & DROP 

All you need are two things and you probably already have them. LEGO bricks & a box! I wrapped our box in white paper to make the colors stand out, but that’s optional.
Use a knife to make a different slot for each color brick, outline it with color, and then let the kids drop them in! Easy peasy! We’ve been doing this for years! Kids can repeat it again and again.
This works on color recognition, color sorting, and some simple motor skills. -Post Caption

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@kristinatoddlerapproved

PAINTING UNDER THE TABLE!! 🎨

 I’ve done this with students before and thought it was high time to try it with my kids! 🙌 Annabelle was SO EXCITED and thought it was pretty funny that we were going to pretend to paint the “ceiling” like Michelangelo… but instead paint UNDER the table.
WHAT YOU NEED: paper, painters tape, scissors, WASHABLE paint, paint brushes, somewhere to put your paint, and a table or chair. You can find most of our favorite art supplies linked in our Amazon shop. ☝️
SET UP: Tape pieces of paper on the underside of your table. Bigger is better. Try to tape most of the way around the paper to hold it in place. I used my feet to hold up some corners while I was doing this under bigger tables.🤣
WHAT TO DO: Since we’re talking about Famous Artists this week, we told kids a little bit about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel before we got started with this and how he painted the ceiling… but you can also just introduce this as a fun painting activity!
Encourge kids to lie on their backs or sit up under the table to paint! Each kid will have their own style. You can see ME and my kids in action doing this in stories right now. ☝️🤣 It was pretty entertaining trying to fit under my daughter’s tiny table. 😜 -Post Caption

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@kristinatoddlerapproved

COLORFUL POM POM WALL!! 🌈 

Do you remember the paper tunnels we love to make for balls and cars? We thought we’d change them up a bit and use them on the WALL, instead of the floor! All you need is paper, Pom Poms, and painter’s tape! We also grabbed a few paper tubes from our recycling bin! This is an activity we love to do again and again!!
Just fold the paper into tunnels and tubes, tape them together and stick them to the wall. Easy peasy! This is a great way to use up all of your TP rolls too! -Post Caption

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@mommy84blog

This is done with paper towel and fine tip markers, how fun!

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@madetomontessori

If you’ve never made a bubble tower, here’s how it works…
⠀⠀
– Fill a small bowl with water
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– Add a drop of food coloring for a fun “pop” of color 😉
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– Squeeze in a few drops of dish soap
⠀⠀
– Give the kids a straw and start blowing bubbles until they begin to topple over!!
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And of course remember to remind your children to always blow OUT of the straw so not to accidentally suck in the soapy liquid 😝. For safety, this activity is likely best for children over age three!
⠀⠀
I hope this fun little activity brings you just as much joy as it brought these little cuties!!!
      -Post Caption

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@madetomontessori

✨Beads on a Line✨

Today we tried a new activity I like to call “beads on a line”. Not only did it provide a rare moment of peace and quiet, but it also worked to strengthen those important fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. The tactile sensation of the glass beads was also a beautiful and irresistible addition. Simply spread out a large piece of paper, draw a few squiggly lines, and pair it with whatever small objects you might have on hand- glass beads, coins, beans, or even legos! Once the older kids had their fill of fun, Teddy jumped in and happily turned clean up into a bead transferring activity 🙌🏼 -Post Caption

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@early_childhood_fun101

A tray of baking soda and coloured vinegar. 💥⁣

Such a fun and easy exploration for kids that incorporates ⁣
colour mixing. 🌈⁣ -Post Caption 

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@easy_childhood_fun101

One of our favourite little activities: play dough puzzle. ⁣

Find some objects and make some imprints in the dough for your child to match up. ⁣

My kids then always enjoy making imprints for me to match up. ⁣

It may last a few minutes then lead to more play dough play… or they may do it for a while. ⁣

Either ways, it’s great for developing fine motor and problem solving skills. ⁣-Post Caption

 

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@mombrainactivities

A simple nature tray! 🌿🌼⁣

I set up this #invitaitontoexplore for Ben, and while he was looking at and touching the different items we would end up going over what they were called! ⁣we reused our @melissaanddougtoys tray to set this up #recycleandplay ⁣
He’s so into finding different things outside that I knew this would be a hit, after a while he started collecting his own items and putting them in the tray 🙌🏻 I would label them as he would bring them, and he would try to say the word.⁣

I love how much early literacy can be explored through just everyday simple play! 🎉            -Post Caption

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@mombrainactivities

COLOUR SORTING WITH NATURAL ITEMS 🎨🌿⁣

Here is a simple diy colour sorting activity. All you need are some wood slices from a fallen branch (I actually bought mine from the dollar tree) and some acrylic paint!⁣

Paint a portion of the wood slice in the colours you want and you will have a colour sorting activity that can be used for so many other things as well. ⁣

For older children you can turn it into a memory matching game! Swipe ➡️ to see. ⁣

For toddlers, it’s a great way to start introducing colours and how to sort them. You can bring this activity indoors or keep it outdoors (stored properly). ⁣

I LOVE using natural elements for play and learning and usually find children super receptive to theses items 💚⁣I can’t wait to use them in our classroom! ⁣
TIP: Have your children participate in searching for the wood/sticks and help with the painting part 👍🏻⁣ -Post Caption


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Modern Rascals

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Business Highlight 

This blog post is sponsored and I have been compensated for my time and work put into this piece, the opinions are honest and true to my beliefs.  

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If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen Modern Rascals mentioned in my posts, stories, highlights, and IGTV videos. My relationship with Jana and this amazing local business that she owns is on a customer basis, personal basis (we have commonality and passion about business and all things early development) and business. Jana trusted me only a few months ago to take over her Modern Rascals Instagram account and speak to her audience and customers all about my beliefs and expertise with open ended toys and loose parts in regards to early learning and development.

 

 

When I decided it was time to start growing Amadeo’s, Grimm’s ( https://modernrascals.ca/collections/grimms ) and Grapat ( https://modernrascals.ca/collections/grapat ) collection, I wanted to purchase from a Canadian Business, Run by a (bad ass) Woman with ecological and humanitarian ethics behind the brand. Jana- Modern Rascals, checked off all criteria and then some!

 

I asked Jana if she would be willing to share with us her “why”, one of the biggest reasons I rally and support this brand the way I do in this community is Jana herself. She is a kind and caring human being with high standards with the brands she carries from clothing to toys taking into account from the salaries and conditions the makers who creates these beautiful products are in, all the way to how these products will impact and add value for us, her consumers, in a positive way. I’ll never forget she had a question box in her Instagram stories, of ask me anything, while she was passing the time during a tattoo session and I asked, “What do you love most about the products you sell”, to which she responded, “That the workers are making a living wage and the bright rainbow colours make me happy”.

I Absolutely Love that! I’m more then happy to invest in quality toys for my child and support a Canadian business owner who genuinely cares about the impact her company is making on the world the way that Jana does!

Here is Jana’s “Why”

 

jana mr

When my firstborn was little, I cobbled together happy colourful clothes from a variety of big stores. As he got bigger the choices got more gendered and the colours and prints were limited. I wanted clothes to be open-ended (or at the very least not inherently limiting) and so off I went on many late-night google searches. I eventually found bright happy prints in Scandinavian brands like DUNS Sweden and Maxomorra.

Fast forward to a parental leave career change and that moment where I jumped off a cliff and launched Modern Rascals. For the first year we only sold clothes. As we got bigger (and my own kids got bigger) I started looking for the same open-ended and non-limiting choices in toys as well. And let’s face it the toys we carry are just as happy and bright as the clothes that we love 😀


Jana & the Modern Rascals team

Insta: @modernrascals

 

 

To this date Amadeo’s Wooden toy and open-ended toy collection includes these amazing brands purchased from modern rascals:

Grimms : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/grimms

Grapat : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/grapat

Folkmanis : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/folkmanis

Holztiger : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/holztiger

Papoose: https://modernrascals.ca/collections/papoose

Way To Play : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/waytoplay

Wobbel : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/wobbel

Erzi : https://modernrascals.ca/collections/erzi

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When I’m looking at what to purchase in regards to toys for Amadeo, I consider these three things…..

 

1.Safety : This touches on what quality of materials the toys was made out of. Where the toy was produced and what their safety standards and practices are in regards to production of the finale product. Age suitability, I’m a huge believer in more mature play and exposure to toys that may be suitable for older children however safety is always a top priority when thinking of the toys you’d like to offer to your child unsupervised.

2. Life Span : If I’m purchasing a toy especially,  at a higher price point, you best believe it will be open-ended and my child will be playing, exploring and discovering new ways to interact and create with the materials over many years. Spending $120.00 on a Grimms Rainbow that can be played with from birth to 12 years old ( at least) ends up costing you only $10.00 a year! The investment is essentially in the amount of years it will be enjoyed.

3.Will this help my child evolve: Children’s most important work in their early learning and development is accomplished through play.  Investing in open-ended toys will help support your child explore the world, through play.  With play that emphasizes the process or experience rather than the final product children will be able to build on who they are as a person and what interests and makes them happy. This to me is worth ever penny I invest in Amadeo’s Toy collection.

For more on open-ended play and toys visit : https://mylittlelamb.ca/2020/03/28/open-ended-play/

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When I go through the beautifully designed and incredibly user (  mom brain ) friendly website that is https://modernrascals.ca/ , all of the toys that Jana sources hit my top three credentials of what I look at when I purchase toys, resources and materials either for Amadeo, for my programs or parent and child classes.

What are my Top toy recommendations per age that Modern Rascals sells you ask ……

I created some graphics for when I took over Modern Rascals Instagram account and here they are, keep in mind almost all of these toys, because they open ended will be played with for many years to come not just exclusively for that month.

one month
One Month 

two months
Two Months 

three months
Three Months 

four months
Four Months 

five months
Five Months

six months
Six Months 

seven months
Seven Months 

eight months
Eight Months

nine months
Nine Months 

ten months
Ten Months 

11 months
Eleven Months 

12 months
Twelve Months 

kinder and schoolage
Kinder & School Age 

I put my HUGE stamp of approval on all things Modern Rascals and recommend taking some time to visit their site ( https://modernrascals.ca/ ) to explore their beautiful clothing, reusable’s and extraordinary open ended toy collection!

Because Jana is so amazing she has offered the My Little Lamb community a 10% your entire first toy order with code : MYLITTLELAMB ( this is not affiliated)

Thank you Jana for all that you do in regards to your business!

 

 

Open-ended Play

Open-ended Play

What is it?

How can I provide open-ended play opportunities?

I will be answering and explaining frequently asked questions that I receive about open-ended play in this post.

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Amadeo is exploring the new Lola set we got from Modern Rascals and his Discover castle block set we go from Winners. He spent most of his time stacking ( one of his new skills ) tearing down, and putting the little Lola people in and out of their cylinder homes.

What is Open-ended Play?

I’m going to answer this question as simply and easily as possible, children are naturally curious and explore the world around them through play experiences. This is why experiencing learning through play is so valuable. Open-ended play can be described as play that has no pre-determined limitations, children simply lead with their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their creativity and interests at that time, takes them. As there are no set outcomes, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with open-ended play.

IMG_9643
Amadeo spent most of his play using his whole body to explore and balance on his natural Grimms half circles we got from Modern Rascals. I wanted to create beautiful mandala art but he had other ideas for the play, so I sat back and encouraged the big movements. 

One of the most valuable assets to open-ended play is that its not limited by developmental stages, milestones or ages. How your child explores the world, toys and resources that you provide will be completely controlled and determined by them. Children as they grow, yearn for independence and control, the more open-ended play opportunities available to them the more that will be fulfilled. With play that emphasizes the process or experience rather than the final product children will be able to build on who they are as a person and what interests and makes them happy.

What are the benefits to Open-ended Play?

Providing opportunities for children to lead their own play that supports their early development will have long lasting benefits for your child/children in so many ways.

  1. Helps build confidence and self-esteem; Fear of making mistakes is one of the greatest barriers to learning – adults experience this as well. Open ended play provides a low stress environment where children can take risks. Play is one space where it is safe to make mistakes. This makes play one of the greatest tools for learning. Open ended play can teach children that it is okay to make mistakes, and that making mistakes is one of the most important ways we learn.

2.  Helps build social and emotional intelligence ; As children communicate with one another or parental figures in open ended play, they learn how to read social cues and respond appropriately. They are able to do this because of the low stress environment created by open ended play. Children explore a range of emotions through pretend play, and its a great opportunity to help highlight those and honour those processes throughout. As they express and respond to the emotions expressed by their peers and adults, they develop emotional intelligence.

3. Allows children to teach themselves; when your child/children are playing and exploring, you will see that they are teaching themselves through their play. They will discover physics theories, language, discovery with their senses, the list goes on and on.

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Amadeo is HUGE anything that involves Farm Animals at the moment. We started this play with cars and racing but as he went to get his farm animals from his basket I draped one of his silks over his wobble board and he started placing the animals in the tunnel. As he was placing them I was asking him the name and sound of the animal.  

How can I provide Open-ended Play opportunities ?

My two suggestions to help provide Open-ended Play opportunities more often for your child/children involves which toys, resources, and materials are provided for them to play with as well as environmental and routine changes that can help support open-ended play.

Part 1 ; What kinds of materials and play equipment encourage open-ended play?

Simple materials can provide so many possibilities for developing and fostering your child’s creativity and imagination.  Here are some examples of toys, materials and resources that are considered open-ended. You probably already own many!

Blocks: There’s no one way to play with blocks, making them the perfect foundation for open-ended play. Because there are so many different blocks on the market I recommend starting your child’s collection with blocks that can be versatile and provide many opportunities to explore at different ages and stages.

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The block sets from Guide Craft are AMAZING for versatility and can grow with your children, they are also professional quality at an amazing price point for parents. 

Play–Doh: Play-Doh is probably already in your home or you can easily whip up a home made batch. Your child can create anything and everything out of Play-Doh that they can think of! I love setting up invitations to play with Play-Doh to help spark the creativity and or set the stage for a theme I would like to introduce, you can also pair it with items that your child’s interested in.

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Adding natural elements to your Play-Doh invitation can be an extra element to the activity as you and your child/children can search for them together. 

 

Small toy vehicles, characters and animal figures : Your child/children can create their own amazing worlds with these kinds of small toys if left to their own devices. I love to create dinner small world, and active world invitations for Amadeo and the children in my programs. Especially if your child/children are older and they aren’t used to playing and creating with their imagination setting up play invitations can be the little spark they need to continue and use their creativity and imagination to continue on the play on their own.

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Amadeo LOVES his farm animal figures, I’ve paired it with the Melissa and doug wooden farm and he spends so much time placing them in and out of the spaces. 

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Boxes, cardboard tubes, empty bottles: Your child/children can build with them, connect them, break them, put things in them … and they’re already sitting in your recycling bin, ready to play!

Sand/ Sensory bases: I’ll use the example of sand, with Amadeo I use kinetic sand in his play invitations because it is the kind of excellent shape-shifter that children will be able to see all sorts of possibilities in.

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I set up a turtle habitat invitation to explore for Amadeo with some glass beads. Any time there are potential chocking hazards you need to be supervising at all times. 

Water : Most children LOVE exploring and playing with water and it’s a simple way to foster open-ended play. You can set up intentional opportunities or just know that during bath time they are developing and fostering those imagination and creative juices in their brain. Please be sure to always closely supervise kids when they play with water.

 

Craft materials: Glue, paper, feathers, paint, glitter (the herpes of craft materials lol). Providing these materials with no specific outcome is one of the best ways for open-ended play, creativity and imagination to be fostered.

Part 2 : How can parents encourage open-ended play?

There are lots of ways you can set the stage for this kind of play – and it’s very, very important that you allow child/children to explore and create on their own, as much as possible.

You can help foster open-ended play by:

Scheduling free time: Free time is key, allowing your child to explore with materials and toys in their own time and in their own way.

Reducing screen-time: I’m a believer in having a balance of both, I have screen time and sometimes just the tv playing in the back ground while we do an activity or play in the other room, but finding the balance with your specific, child/ children will be key to helping support their open-ended play opportunities.

Avoiding micro-management: Allow your child the time and space to act out the possibilities of the play and take action – without your help.

Open-ended Play is appropriate for all ages, remember it is providing opportunities for your children to lead their exploration and discovery of what toys, materials, and resources are in front of them.

Happy Playing!

Toy Rotation

Toy Rotation 

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This storage unit is the Ikea Kallax in white. Its perfect for displaying the toys that our out in rotation. Its inviting and less overwhelming for your child, the outcome will be more purposeful exploration and play with their toys.

This has by far been one of the most FAQ and I’m so excited to provide this post as a guiding tool on how you can start implementing toy rotation with your child/children at any age.

What is toy rotation? 

Toy Rotation is the practice of parental regulation of how many toys are accessible to your child/children at one time. The rest of the toys and resources are storage away and in regular intervals swapped out. This helps keep the interest of your child/children play at a high level, which is optimal for behavior management, creativity, imagination and development.

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Where to begin? 

The easiest way to implement toy rotation and being consistent is truly keeping the time of when you swap out the toys as quick and easily as possible, because truly a mothers motto is “I ain’t got time for that”. How to achieve a successful toy rotation is having a organized and easily accessible system for the toys that will be away in storage awaiting to be swapped out.

I wrote a blog post on different ways to implement easy toy storage solutions in your home with different items. Take a look and come back to this page for the next step.

https://mylittlelamb.ca/2019/12/30/easy-toy-storage-solutions/

 

How many toys do I put out at one time?

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The toy rotation rule of thumb is 10% of your child/children’s toy collection out and accessible to them at once and 90% away out of sight out of mind.

When I rotate Amadeo’s toys on his Ikea kallax unit, to which he has complete access to ( nothing that is left on this shelf could be unsafe without supervision) there will be 8 individual sets of toys in baskets or displayed in an inviting way in the boxes itself and then top will consist of a couple larger items that don’t fit in the box.

At one time Amadeo has around 11 sets of toys total out in the playroom that are accessible to him to explore and create with.

When you rotate that 10% of your child/children’s toys you are bringing the toys out at different developmental stages, and points of interest, their old toys become new again and more of a novelty. The way they play and explore will most likely evolve and change as well.

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How does Implementing Toy Rotation in our home benefit my child? 

One of the biggest reasons you’re finding that your child is bored of their toys and no longer playing with the majority of them is that by having all of their toys out and accessible at once they become over stimulated and unable to focus on the toy they would like to explore.

Children thrive with new experiences. Usually this is why if you bring your child to a museum, play date or even daycare they are more focused on what they are interacting with an added bonus because they are focused and interested their great behavior goes hand in hand with this. Children’s brains are hardwired to intake information with their senses, when a child is challenged with exploring a new experience or to create and explore something new the brain is creating new pathways of connections in the front end of their brain. It is those changes in the prefrontal cortex during childhood that help with regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems. If they are constantly presented with the same toys or activities they become predictable to your child and that is when they loose interest.

What kinds of toys should be out together at one time?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. How I recommend to approach which items you have accessible to your child during rotations is based primarily on their interest. Sometimes you have to put out a couple different items to see what they are drawn to play and explore.

To start off you can have one set of blocks or building materials, animal figures, a puzzle, cars, dramatic play, loose parts etc. Once you observe and see that maybe your child at that time is more drawn to building you have a couple different options of blocks, maybe a stacking toy, Lego if appropriate to their age etc.

There have been many times that I put out a toy that Amadeo literally doesn’t touch, in that case I try to move it maybe to a different vantage point, if it was in a basket I would try to place it on the shelf by itself to see if he decides to play with it. Even still after my attempts Amadeo still may not touch the toy so that’s when I put it away and will put it back into rotation in a couple weeks.IMG_9467

How do I know when to rotate the toys ?

In a traditional sense of toy rotation you would rotate the toys every couple of weeks, from my perspective and how I recommend rotating the toys that are accessible to your child is purely by their behaviour.

Children will show us with their behaviour if they are interested in playing and exploring with their toys. When they are bored with their toys children usually don’t play with them “as intended”,  engage with the toy for a short amount of time, or don’t touch the toys at all and instead get into other household items to create their own play that interests them more.

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What if my child doesn’t have very many toys to begin with? 

I get asked these questions a lot from parents who are concerned they might not have enough toys to do a toy rotation. I still recommend following the 10% out at a time and 90% away. Less toys around and accessible to your child the better for focus and concentration. too many toys can be overstimulating especially at a young age!

Another thing I recommend to parents who would like to provide more opportunities for exploration and rotate different types of toys more often but don’t have the space to store many toys, to use your cities public toy libraries. Its just like taking out books from a library and its free!

What’s the best way to display toys to help engage my child?

I get asked this question a lot. Having the toys directly on the shelf or in a low basket will be more inviting to your child. They should be able to look at a shelf or into a basket and know exactly what materials and toys are inside to make that split-second decision if its something they would like to play with or not. Having a large bin or basket with many different types of toys is going to overwhelm your child and be less appealing to engage with.

I purchased Amadeo’s baskets at the Dollarama and Walmart a long time ago and haven’t seen them since but I’ve found a couple great options on amazon if you search Montessori toy baskets, many options and price points come up like these.

 

 

In your opinion what are the benefits to doing a toy rotation with our children?

When you look at the big picture of how a child learns, develops, behaves etc. it all stems back to the environment and routines.

*Implementing a toy rotation will ease behaviours due to your child feeling less overwhelmed and over stimulated with have access, physically and visually in the space.

*Toy rotation will help give a clear picture to your child on where the toys belong, thus making clean up faster and with more ease for you and your child.

*Your child/children’s interest will be clear as you will be able to see what toys your child is gravitating to at that time.

*Toy rotation helps you keep a minimalist approach to your children’s toy collection since you will constantly be cycling through and keeping their current toys new and fresh!

How do I introduce this to my children?

I get a lot of questions of concerns that it may be too late to implement a toy rotation because their child/children have come accustom to having all their toys accessible and aren’t sure how to get their child/children ” on board” with this change.

Explaining what will be happening and getting your children involved (depending on their age) can be beneficial. Having them be involved in the sorting toys and storing them will give them responsibility and ownership in this process. They can help decide which toys they would like to have out and play with.

You can explain that the toys in storage are “resting” or “taking a break” from being played with but make sure you express that the toys aren’t being put away due to punishment.

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Will you come to my home and help organize and set the Toy Rotation system? 

I get asked this question on the daily, and if you’re local to Ottawa in the (hopefully) near future I will offer consulting services that would fall under this at an hourly rate. I hope this post will help give you the confidence to implement a toy rotation in your home. Take a step back and know this is suppose to be easy once implemented and we are really bringing things back to the basics for your children’s development, imagination, creativity, emotional well being, and behaviours.