Getting Competitive With A Toddler

Do you ever think to yourself:

“You know, self, I really wish there was a game I could play against toddlers that was competitive, where I don’t have to let them fake win.”

?

No?

Okay, well maybe I am the only one. But whether or not you ever yearned for a game that fits that description, you will still love this game I made up.

It’s awesome if I do say so myself.

So all you need are some Mega Blocks and a toddler. I use two toddlers because I have them handy, but you will have more success if you aren’t double teamed. Mega Blocks are basically just huge Legos. You shouldn’t try to use any crazy specialty shapes- you just need the basic set. For the girls I watch, I use two complete sets because they have two. The more blocks you use the more challenging for the adult. The less blocks you use, the more challenging for the toddler.

Now, the great thing about this game is that you will not have to explain the rules or give any instruction to the toddlder (at least I have never had to.) The driving force for this game is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

The second law of thermodynamics is probably a pretty complicated thing, but basically, in a nut shell, it is that things will naturally be chaotic and disorganized. If you want to read more you can on this children’s site

Okay so your goal-

You need to work as quickly as you can to stack all LIKE blocks together into one long chain. For example, every red block with two prongs needs to be connected in a long chain. Every green square block with four prongs needs to be connected. Every blue single pronged block should be connected. You continue this task madly, and trust me, the toddler should know naturally what their job is. They will be driven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics-

They will begin to tear apart every chain you make.

You will make some chains that the toddler destroys. You will have to go back and reassemble those chains. You can’t use your strength to pry the blocks from their hands. You can only pick up blocks they are not holding. You can reassemble the chains as many times as you need to.

If you successfully connect every single block in the set,, you have won. If you fail to do this (basically just give up because the toddler you are playing with is a really good destroyer) you lose.

If the game is too easy for you, or your competitor is too slow, you can play a variation where you give yourself specific patterns to make with the blocks rather than just connecting like ones. That’ll make it a bit more challenging for you and give the destroyer more time to destroy.

This game is about perseverance, speed, and strategy. Toddlers have great perseverance and speed (at least when it comes to destroying things). You will need to beat them with your strategy. The more excited you get about your job, the more excited they will get about theirs.

Good luck! I want to hear about it if you give this a try! It’s super fun.

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My Main Man Rupert

Meet Rupert.

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He’s a sock.

Well, he was a sock until he became a Rupert.

Now he’s a furry little guy who lives in my purse and comes out when there are children around to marvel in his magic.

I made him for an assignment in my Elementary Art Education class as a closing project. He is created from a sock, two googly eyes, some feathers, two cardboard triangles inside that provide structure to the mouth, and hot glue. Our teacher thought we could make them to take to our own classes one day and use as instructional tools. I might do that too, when the time comes, but in the mean time I have a better idea!

The kids I babysit love Rupert! He intrigues them in a way an ordinary toy couldn’t because he comes alive and interacts with them. The eighteen month old twins don’t understand that he is attached to my arm, or that it is my vocal cords that power his speech. All they know is that he is furry, he can tickle them, he talks, he moves all around, and he gives them lots of kisses!

On a car ride sitting in the back seat with children, out he comes.

When someone is fussy and can’t be consoled, out he comes.

I love that he is just a simple sock, too, because if I am using him to entertain one baby, and then the other baby gets into mischief (an extremely common and rapidly occurring event), I can quickly snatch her up or take a dangerous object from her hand while still wearing Rupert!

Sometimes Rupert comes on too strong, though. When the girls first met Rupert, they were interested in him, but also very confused and uneasy. He had to slowly gain their trust in order to acquire tickle and kisses rights- just like a person. Also, when kids first wake up is not a good time for Rupert to be excited or affectionate. Babies need their time and space to wake up, too!

If you’re looking for a fun activity to make with a child four years or older, I would suggest making a sock puppet with him or her! Make it a grand event with an important emphasis given to naming, creativity, and craftsmanship. You can develop a story of where your new friend came from and how they came to live with you. Pick a special place in the house where it will “live” and provide some washcloths or old baby blankets for a bed.

For younger children like the ones I watch, they can still appreciate the mystery of a sock puppet you make ahead of time and present to them. As a babysitter, I don’t leave Rupert at the kids’ house, but he does have a designated place where he can always be found- my bag.

If you are good at impressions, choose a funny accent to use when you are playing with your puppet. (I’ll admit I am inconsistent with Rupert’s voice. Sometimes he is a high pitched southern voice, sometimes he is a sophisticated Englishman.)

For children learning to read, use the puppet as a reading buddy! Reading aloud can help children build confidence, and an expert adult reader may seem like an intimidating audience. The child can slip their puppet friend onto their hand, find a quiet place, and read to their friend.

Some other ideas for how to use your sock puppet-

– For older children in an argument, your sock puppet can listen to both sides of the story and mediate conflict resolution.
– Your puppet can sing songs the children are learning (in a different voice than you normally sing it it) to reinforce the melody and words.
– The obvious way to use a puppet is to put on a play! You may have to show them first, but after a while older kids will be able to put on their own impromptu or even planned production.

Be creative and enjoy your puppet. I would LOVE to hear any other puppet use ideas, or different materials to make them with.

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Knock on Wood

Know where the saying “Knock On Wood” comes from? I don’t either but I have heard a theory.

The theory I heard one time is that it comes from some ancient religious people with lots of gods, and one of them was the tree God. When they needed a little extra luck or blessing or whatever you call it, they would tap some wood to summon the tree god and they’d get a little lovin from the guy with the power. And so now, when we do or say something that makes us nervous or superstitious feeling, we too summon the wood god by knocking on his wooden door.

Trying to figure out if this theory was right I used mine and Maven’s BFF, Google, to see if he knew. He wasn’t sure either. I did find this site that offers five theories, one very similar to mine (the one I heard that I have claimed as my own). I like mine best though.

Anyways, this whole rant came about because I was thinking about how my allergies have been very mild so far this spring. Then I thought- Knock on Wood!

The original intent of this post was to be a very generic, feel good, read about the arrival of spring. You guys know how great spring is though… You really do. Depending on how old you are, you have probably experienced very many springs. I was going to tell you how cute it was when I took the little twins I babysit to the park. I was also going to tell you that I am on a hunt for an 1)affordable 2)effective 3)easy to purchase 4) organic 5)feels good on your skin SUNSCREEN. I don’t think it is possible to find a product with alll of these amazing qualities, but a girl can dream right? Also, a girl can ask everyone who reads her blog if they have suggestions, right? Right.

I’ll take this time while I am avoiding being corny about spring (it is often very hard for me to avoid being corny) to mention that I found something about the gym I don’t like:

I don’t like seeing people I know there!

I mean, really. It’s like, what am I supposed to say to you?

      -I’m not going to ask you for an update on your life- I am trying to work out here and so are you! Also, I probably already know all about your life because of all the over sharing we are guilty of on social media. I literally introduced my boyfriend to an old high school teacher yesterday at the gym and his response was “Yeah, I’ve seen him on Instagram.”

    -I’m not going to ask you what you are doing here. You are either working out or trying to appear like you are working out. So I’ve got a 50/50 shot just guessing.

     -I’m not going to talk about the weather.

     -I’m not going to say that we should hang out sometime and that you should contact me and we’ll make plans. Because, well, we probably won’t.

So this is the end of my unorganized, non-corny, non-generic, post that mentions spring but also mentions other very loosely related topics such as the gym, sunscreen, allergies, and theories about a common saying. Next post will have more structure- I pinky promise. It’s just that today I didn’t feel like structure.

Knock on Wood.

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