What 1-2-3 Just Play With Me Can do for YOU!

At first glance or mention you might think 1-2-3 Just Play With Me is just for new parents.  However, over the years since developing it we have discovered that 1-2-3 Just Play With Me is essential and supplemental to many other “professions” besides parenting.  Take a look, where can 1-2-3 Just Play With Me fit into your life? How can it enhance the “job” you are doing with an infant or toddler?  1-2-3 Just Play With Me is a “toolbox” of knowledge that benefits so many!  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and take advantage of our FREE shipping!  Where can we send your 1-2-3 Just Play With Me box too?!

DIY Adaptive Summer Seating

Equipment for individuals with special healthcare needs have come a long way. The field is always evolving to higher levels of performance and patient friendly options, but the problem generally still exists that many items are bulky, heavy, and expensive.

A family I work with in early intervention is well equipped with equipment to ensure that their daily activities as a family are as easy as possible, including adaptive seating and mobility options for community outings, playtime, and daily routines like bathing and eating.

With spring finally deciding to show up around here, this family (like many) is busy planning more ways to enjoy time together outside. One area they identified as a challenge was helping their son to sit on their deck and at the park or beach. Yes, they are fortunate to have specialized strollers, but the reality is that for a quick trip, something light or something that doesn’t take up the whole trunk was desired.

Today during our session, for under $10, his mother and I created something that filled the need for his family. If you or someone you know could benefit from something similar, we are happy to share what we did and what we learned.

Supplies:

1 simple plastic chair ($5):

TIPS:

Fit to size for your child.

We preferred one with the bottom lower than the knee area (to prevent sliding).

Highly recommend a chair with slits to help with attaching supports.

2 Pool Noodles ($1 each).

Scissors to cut noodles.

Two bags of large zip ties ($1.87 each).

Plastic or wire cutters to trim zip ties once attached.

 

Assembly:

  1. We chose to start with the child in the chair and observe his posture. Where did he struggle to maintain neutral and upright positioning?
  2. With him in the seat, cut noodles to accommodate his size and weaker areas. For him this included: back of head, on each side of the trunk under arm pits to base of hips (vertically), on sides of lap from knees to hips (horizontally), a smaller piece on top of these horizontal pieces to support the elbows as needed (these were added after the photo shown above), and a small piece in between the legs as a pummel to prevent sliding.
  3. Attached noodles with zip ties by lacing through chair slits (note: we realized after the fact, but it would be recommended to have the fastener part of the tie on the backside of the chair to prevent rubbing/irritating the skin). 
  4. We attached a loose scarf of moms through slits and around his upper trunk, not as a firm support, but a light reminder for him to avoid slouching.

We were thrilled with the results and so was he! With an adaptive tray he could easily access his I-pad (used for vision work and communication) in his new “desk!” His mom and I were quickly able to identify many potential uses – kicking in the baby pool, outdoor movies, on the sidelines at siblings games, at grandma’s house!

We believe play keeps us all happy, healthy, and smart! When I can help adapt something simple to make joyful activities easier for families, it’s just a really good day.

 

 

 

Earth Day Discoveries – what you can learn about your family and your world.

Have you ever heard the term biophilia?

Edward O. Wilson introduced this concept based on his work, describing biophilia as the notion that that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. 

Simple really if you break down the word. Bio=life, including organisms, species, habitats, processes and objects in their natural surroundings. And Philia= attraction or positive feeling toward.

Do you think Mr. Wilson considered the need for sunscreen without cancer causing agents and natural bug sprays, the increase in child predators creeping in suburban neighborhoods, increased presence of bullies, the risks of getting nice clothing dirty, getting precious children dirty, the norm of fenced yards providing safe perimeters, expectation of themed and scheduled playdates, and the fact that no adult is available to be present every single minute of every single daylight hour in order for a child to play?

This leads to the question of — are we interfering with a child’s natural biophilia? Or our own for that matter?

Earth day is coming up on Sunday April 22, 2018. What better day to discover your family’s natural biophilia?

Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas that might please your whole crew.

  1. Hike.
  2. Freeze Tag.
  3. Climb a tree (you know you’d still love to).
  4. Find some big rocks and sit and read.
  5. Go fishing.
  6. Try geocaching (our fav!) More here.
  7. Go on a nature treasure hunt and fill buckets with treasures.
  8. Wade in a stream with rain boots and record all the organisms you find.
  9. Bird watching. Print a sheet of birds common to your area and let the kids circle what you see.
  10. Set up a drawing or painting station in the yard and create art inspired by nature’s beauty.
  11. Collect rocks – simply to save or to build or create with later.
  12. Hit the lake or river with a boat or float.
  13. Bike – in your neighborhood or local trail.
  14. Beautify – choose a park or street to clean up/remove trash.
  15. Be brave and actually let them play in the mud (they’ll never forget it).
  16. Visit a local orchard or farm and learn how real food grows.
  17. Skip rocks in a stream.
  18. Grab large flat pieces of cardboard and slide down the best grassy hill near you.
  19. Plant a simple potted garden on your porch or in your yard that everyone can help care for.
  20. Gaze at the clouds and tell stories about what you see.

According to the Child Mind Institute, the average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen. Simply put – people (children included) are happier and healthy when they engage with their outdoor environment. No better day to start than today!

 

Opt Outside and Discover a New Treasure – Geocaching!

Motivated to get your family outside this spring? Geocaching is a great way for the whole family to PLAY!

Regarded as the world’s greatest treasure hunt, there are geocaches (or hidden treasures) all around the world – likely in and among places where you are every day. Encouraging discovery, exploration, and adventure, geocaching encourages staying healthy and being outside with friends and family.  My children LOVE geocaching and I LOVE that they want to do something with us that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. My husband first discovered it and we quickly learned how easy and fun it is to do!

If you are interested in hunting down a geocache, simply go the official geocaching website or app and discover marked caches close to where ever you are (even if you are on vacation!).  Using the app, GPS, or if you are brave a good old fashioned compass (we don’t do this!), search for the desired cache using clues and location information. You might agree with us that the search for the cache is almost as fun as finding it, but once you actually locate it, it is customary to record the date, your name, and a message if you like in the log (small notebook) that usually accompanies most caches. If the cache also includes a collection of “treasures,” it is tradition to take one only if you leave one in return. Some examples are small erasers, stickers, bracelets, seashells etc. You can be creative with what you leave or you can find things inside your car like we’ve done from time time (keeping it real). Some caches are in official geocache containers and some are in tupperware – you never know what you’ll find!

Whether you been searching for caches for years or head out on your maiden hunt this week, we’d love to see the pictures of the treasures your family discovers.

 

FOREVER TOYS – What are they and where can you find them?

If you have ever asked Nicole and I for toy recommendations then you are familiar with the term “FOREVER TOYS”. FOREVER TOYS are what Nicole and I lovingly refer to as toys that stand the test of time (and we don’t just mean durability). FOREVER TOYS are those toys that kids can play with for many years, at multiple stages in development; toys that don’t take batteries to work but a child’s imagination instead!

Forever toys are harder to find in mainstream toy stores.  They are NOT toys related to the most popular kids’ movie or television show or iPad app.  They are toys that have no identification to a character.  They are toys that don’t require batteries.  They are toys that occupy their space on the toy store shelf for many years because they appeal to all generations no matter what the latest trend in toy manufacturing.  FOREVER TOYS are most commonly found in small, locally owned toy stores that understand the importance of these types of toys to our kids’ growth and development.  On your next shopping trip take a look at what’s on the shelves of the toy aisles.  Look more critically for toys that will challenge your child, toys that don’t do it all for them.  Consider these types of toys for their next birthday or holiday.  Your child’s imagination will blossom and no doubt, their creativity will impress you!

My mother-in-law saved these Construx toys that once belonged to my husband for many years. My son loves them! With them he has created a multitude of things from a “backpack buddy robot” to a bow and arrow. Although Fisher Price no longer makes Construx, they would qualify as a FOREVER TOY in my book! This building toy could be used to supplement a math lesson about shapes, connected to create a fence to contain toy animals, shaped into letters for a multi-sensory spelling lesson, or used to create weapons for a pretend battle just as my son did!  Manufactured over 30 years ago, Construx have stood the test of time and are most definitely what Nicole and I consider a FOREVER TOY!

What toys do your kids have that would be considered a FOREVER TOY? Do the toys your kids gravitate toward most stretch their imagination and challenge their creativity?

Owen proudly displaying his creations!

An ax, bow and arrow, shield and sword – all made with imagination and Construx!

A Must Have Baby Book (with a purpose).

When we created 1-2-3 Just Play With Me, we did so with some very specific considerations. One was choosing a card format vs. a book because while the content on those cards are therapist inspired, we created the product we wanted (and had time for) as busy moms AND therapists.

One benefit we envisioned was the ability to stick a few at a time (appropriate for baby’s age and/or stage) on the refrigerator or nursery shelf,  empowering families to learn the many beautiful details of early development by playing with their baby purposefully, while being present in that specific moment in time and not getting overwhelmed with the many changes that come in the first few years.

 

Along the way, we’ve discovered (with the help of many of you) more creatives ways our sweet cards could be practical in every day life. One of our favorites is using the cards as your personal “baby book.”  As you enjoy reading detailed milestones to watch for at each age and in each developmental domain, customize your cards with what you are seeing your baby doing! Add first words, dates that milestones were achieved, and funny or cute experiences.  That’s right take a pen right to those beautiful cards!  Not only will you have a detailed account of your baby’s development, you can also share their individual developmental path with your pediatrician at your child’s next appointment.

 

Don’t have your copy of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me yet? Pick one up for you, or as a gift and explore why Today’s Parent calls 1-2-3 Just Play With Me a “Product That Will Make New Parent’s Lives Easier.” (Also available via Amazon Prime, in ebook format, and select retailers).

Supplemental Learning At Home

Milestones & Miracles is based in West Virginia and if you’ve turned on the national news, you may have noticed we are headed into Day 8 of a school closing where our brave teachers and school personnel are standing for a better future for themselves and a more sustainable and stronger education system for our children. It’s been stressful.  As a parent to children who have been going to public schools every day for 8 years, it is a very unsettling feeling.  Parents are scrambling for ideas to keep their young minds busy at home, so I thought it might be a good time to add a resource centered blog to share ideas for supplemental learning at home.

You don’t have to be in a state without a functioning public education program (I’m trying to keep smiling here) to use these. Bookmark for times your kiddo has an illness, you are seeking extra support around a certain topic or subject, or to encourage learning through the summer. Lacy and I stand firmly in believing that real learning occurs in context by doing, playing, practicing, and experiencing and that parents working as an active part of the team WITH educators always leads to positive experiences. Hope this is helpful and maybe even fun!

Resources listed start with Pre-K ages/skills and progress. Many thanks to the teachers that assisted in creating this list. In addition, there’s always good old fashioned reading (take a trip to the library!), writing (perfect time in our state to practice letter writing to a favorite teacher or more than one legislator), or daily living skills (plan a budget, prep and cook a meal, open their own bank account and balance a check book).

Our thoughts, prayers, and support are with many educators and students we admire and love.

 

ABC MOUSE

Reading, Math, Science, Arts & Colors for kids 2-8

 

CHATTER PIX APP

Encourage literacy and language by taking a picture of anything, record your voice or a story, and make it talk!

 

We’ve collected hundreds of purposeful play ideas on the following Pinterest Boards:

PLAY WITH A PURPOSE BOARD    

FUN IDEAS WITH BOOKS BOARD

SENSORY/SCHOOL MOVEMENT IDEA BOARD

MOTOR PLAY

 

READ ACROSS AMERICA

Dr. Seuss themed learning

GO NOODLE

Movement and mindfulness for any age

EPIC

Leading digital library for kids 12 & under

READING EGGS

Online reading games and activities

MATH SEEDS

Core math and problem solving skills made fun

SPELLING CITY

Building reading comprehension & vocabulary

KAHN ACADEMY

Our top pick and personal favorite for math, science, computing, engineering, test prep, arts, and more

PRODIGY

Curriculum aligned math games

NEWSELA

Read current events articles and take a short comprehension test for understanding

READWORKS

Online reading materials for social studies, science, reading and more

COOL MATH

Online math games

ENGLISH GRAMMAR 101

Online grammar lessons

I-CIVICS

Online civics lessons and games

HOUR OF CODE

Online coding

PEARSON REALIZE SPANISH

Spanish learning drills and activities

 

 

Holiday Shopping Guide 2017 – Unique Finds for 1 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

1 year olds are the stars of their first holiday experiences. And while they may be more interested in the wrapping than than the box, it still such an exciting time to try and figure out some special finds just for them!  Their first toys are really their first tools of play — so enjoy buying for them. Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Kangaroo Jack-in-the-box

 

 

 

 

 

PipSquigz Loops

 

 

 

 

 

Square Clutching Rattle

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds For 2 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

2 year olds are some of our favorites to shop for. They are just SO So EXCITED about everything. And they are finally old enough that this may be the year that the toy becomes more exciting than the box! Here’s our picks for this group this year!

 

 

1. Cuddle + Kind

2. Pop Up Pals Cause and Effect Learning Toy

3. Smart Max

4. Fisher Price Tape Player

5. Fisher Price Record Player

 

 6. Felt Food from Target

7. Tool Set

8. Y-bike

9. Melissa & Doug Match & Roll Shape Sorter

10. Play Tunnel

11. Easel

12. Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks

13. 1-2-3 Just Play With Me (perfect for parents wanting to guide early learning through play!)

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 3-4 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

3-4 year olds are developing their creativity and acting out real life scenarios through imaginative play.  Here are some of our favorite picks to support that developing brain through PLAY!

Choo Choo Shoes