From the Archives: Bathtime Meditations

Today I’m revisiting the Simple Kids archives to share one of the first articles I wrote after taking over Simple Kids last spring.  We have added so many new readers to our community since that time!  Now that the summer season has drawn to a close and many families have settled into familiar rhythms and routines, I thought it would be timely to revisit a universal aspect of parenting: bathtime.

bathtubfunphoto courtesy of Ernst Moeksis

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual. For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls.

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer

As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude

Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation

This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter went through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Real Simple or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  But every now and again, I pause and remember to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

What makes bathtime special for you and your children?

20 Activities Under $10

I am excited to share this guest post from Christie – the very creative and clever Aussie mum and writer of Childhood 101:


As part of the Nuffnang Coles Myer Group challenge, I set myself the task of spending my $10 giftcard at a Coles Supermarket to find a minimum of 10 fun activities that Mums can easily do at home with their children. Can it be done? Of course it can!

So what did we buy?

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Some flour, salt, rice, 2 bottles of food colouring, shaving cream, 2 lemons, a potato and an onion (and we also acquired a couple of lovely Coles catalogues that are free and very useful for all sorts of activities!) I spent a total of $9.91 and by adding a few basics from the recycling box I created not 10 but 20 easy activity ideas!

Activity #1: Food colouring can be used as a great tool for beginning painters.

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It is non toxic and washes up easily and has a nice vivid colour. As it is thin and drippy, I put the colouring into a butter tub on a sheet of paper towel. That way Immy could dip her brush in and out, saying “Dip, dip” as she did so, without flicking it all over the room.

Activity #2: If you don’t have a small paintbrush, cotton buds work well when painting with food colouring.

Activity #3: For older children: (with more hand strength and co-ordination) dilute food colouring with water into spray bottles for painting outdoors. Hang large sheets of paper (or fabric) on a fence and squirt the paint on. It’s great fun.

Activity #4: Combine a little water with food colouring and make ice cubes to do some ice painting, its lots of fun especially on a warm day.

Activity #5: Add food colouring to your water play and use clear jars and containers. This adds an extra dimension to the water play as your toddler is more easily able to see it as they pour from container to container.

Activity #6: Regular readers will remember that I am a fan of rice play as a wet weather alternative to the sandpit.

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I coloured the rice with the food colouring by adding a few drops at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until I had the desired depth of colour. I then spread the rice onto a baking tray for a little while to let it dry out.

I put down a large tablecloth on the ground to help define a play space. It also makes clean up much easier as you just collect up the edges of the cloth to gather any spilt rice into one spot. Immy played with the rice together with some plastic containers and kitchen utensils; spooning and stirring, transferring rice from container to container.

Recycling tip: Scoops from infant formula and from washing powder are great for rice play.

Activity #7: As an alternative, hide small toys or household items under the rice for your child to find. Give them a strainer to sift the rice and find the goodies.

Activity #8: Treasure hunt in a bottle

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I have seen versions of this activity on a number of blogs and decided to give it a go. I am glad I did as Immy has been revisiting the treasure hunt bottle over and over again for days now.

Hide small toys or household items in a clear plastic water bottle and fill with rice (I filled ours about 3/4 full). As Immy does not yet have many tiny toys (due to the choking hazard of her still mouthing small items), I had to think creatively about what to put inside. Our bottle contains a peg, a key, some coloured shapes cut out of craft foam, a coin, a button and a little chicken.

This would be a great ‘in the car’ activity as you could make a number of small bottles with different objects.

Activity #9: For older children, make the treasure hunt trickier by using small items of one colour and the same coloured rice.

Activity #10: Fruit and vegie printing

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An oldie but a goodie, fruit and vegie printing is easy for even the youngest child and is lots of fun. I cut the onion and each lemon in half and cut our quite long potato into thirds. To make shapes on the potato I used metal cookie cutters, pressing them in and then cutting around the outside with a small knife.

Again we used the food colouring as our paint. Pour a little of the food colouring onto a kitchen sponge or some paper towel in a plastic container for the pieces to be pressed onto and then print away.

Activity #11: Collage with flour and water glue and pictures from the Coles catalogues.

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I mixed a little flour with some water into a thick paste to use as glue. Flour and water glue is perfectly adequate for sticking together lightweight papers.

I wasn’t sure if Immy was ready for collage as we had never tried gluing before but she loved it. She first spread the glue over her paper and after I showed her how to push a picture onto the glue she had it down pat.

Activity #12: For us, the collage experience was just about Immy getting the idea of spreading glue and then sticking things down. You could however add an additional element to the learning potential of this activity by asking your child to find certain items from the collection of pictures. For example, “Can you find an apple?” or “Can you find something yellow?”

Activity #13: Add a little food colouring to your glue to help your child see where they have spread it.

Activity #14: Make a salt dough or no cook playdough.

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We tried the uncooked playdough recipe and I found that it required a lot more kneading than the cooked version that I have used before. I added the juice of half a lemon to add an additional sensory element to the play.

Activity #15: Mixing Rainbow Salt Crystals

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I saw this activity over at Kids Craft Weekly and thought that it would be a fun one to try as Immy loves stirring. Just drop a few drops of food colouring into some salt and then stir the salt until all of the crystals are coloured. We did this one outside to reduce the likelihood of mess if the salt was spilt. Immy really enjoyed stirring and stirring and then pouring the salt from container to container. Kids Craft Weekly shows how you can use the salt crystals to make pictures or store the coloured salt in shakers for use on craft projects.

Activity #16: Shaving cream in the shower

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A few months ago Immy started to dislike having showers (she really is a bath girl like her Mum!) So DH would spray some of his shaving cream onto the tiles or shower screen for her to play with. It is a nice sensory experience for toddlers though obviously they need close supervision to make sure they don’t put it in their mouths. Some nights there is even a friendly face already in the shower to greet Immy as she gets in!

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Activity #17: Shaving cream colour mixing (the messy version!)
Spread some shaving cream onto a baking tray (not too much as it really does go a long way). Allow your child to spread it out and then add a few drops of food colouring for them to mix in. We started with yellow and then added a little of the red.

Once finished you can take a print onto some paper but it really is only temporary art as the foam flakes off once dry.

Activity #18: Shaving cream colour mixing (the UNmessy version!)

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Pop some shaving cream and some drops of food colouring into a ziploc bag (this is a recycled one from a recent delivery), zip it up and then get squeezing and pummelling, both great gross motor skills. Talk to your child about the changes happening as the colours mix. We taped our bag to the window and it looks really cool with the sunlight behind. I can imagine a whole line of them in different colours.

Activity#19: For older children, use your Coles catalogues for some origami. Try Origami for Kids for everthing from drinking cups to hats to animals.

We made a paper plane and Immy had a great time chasing it around the yard.

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Activity #20: Let your toddler have fun ripping and tearing your used catalogues. Ripping and tearing develop both fine and gross motor muscles and toddlers love ripping stuff!

This post was originally published on August 31, 2009 at Childhood 101Childhood 101 aims to explore all the things that go into making a memorable, healthy childhood, with lots of ideas, tips and information for families.

Christie is an experienced Early Childhood Teacher and a Mum and has worked with families of children from 0-8 years of age.  She has also trained early childhood staff for preschool and long day care about the Emergent Curriculum approach to early education and using art materials with young children.

September 11th: SK Showcase

It is with great relief that I can say we are fully up-and-running and back online in my home.  It was truly a restful, slowed-down week without so much as access to email, let alone blog surfing and Facebooking!  I am, however, grateful and appreciative to be back amongst friends in our community as this week ends.

Casey of Live Your Art sent me this very cool idea to showcase this week:

The kids and I created a project recently that I thought I would share.

tagchart1I created a fabric tag chart  to a) hold a list of ideas my kids can choose from for activities or chores b) to use as a count down chart for our future trip to Disneyland and c) I had some really cute fabric that I wanted to use!

tagchart2The kids used my paper scraps to punch tags, then decorated them with paint and markers. My eldest numbered them from 30 to 1, and we strung each one with yarn.  Right now, the chart is filled with tags I wrote naming games and exercises they can choose from when they are bored (“Go choose a tag!” is a common refrain in my home), but as vacation nears, we will replace them with the numbered tags, removing one each day as we count down to the trip.

A tutorial for making the chart can be found on my blog.

Thank you, Casey!

And now, your weekend reading:

Simply Practical

Obviously the weight of today’s date hangs heavily for many of us.  I appreciated Gabi Larson’s article “Helping Families Understand 9/11: A Parent’s Guide for Teaching Children about September 11, 2001.”

Digital Photography School: Lifestyle Photography – Photographing Children in their Element
Simple Mom: What To Do With Kids’ Artwork
Alpha Mom: Free Printable Lunchbox Notes, Tags, and Stickers

Simply Delicious

Tiny Morsels: Three Bears Porridge
Full Bellies, Happy Kids: Easy Butter Cookies

Inspired Projects

Wee Wonderfuls: Phoebe’s baby clothes quilt!
The Crafty Crow: Make a Felt Caterpillar

Inspired Images

Eckenrode Family: 30 Days of Happiness: Taking a Risk, Finding Bliss
Katherine Marie Photography: Goodbye Summer

Inspired Words

Keeper of the Home: How to Nurture Generosity in Your Children (guest post from Jamie of Steady Mom)
This Vintage Chica: Enjoying Him, Being Present

What We’re Reading Wednesday: September 9th

Welcome to this week’s edition of What We’re Reading Wednesday!

Baby and Toddler

from Catherine of Adventures with Kids

Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet

fuzzyyellowducklingsIn this lift-the-flap book,  each page shows a textured shape.  When you lift the flap, it’s not a shape, but an animal – so, fuzzy yellow circle becomes fuzzy yellow ducklings.  The final page of the book folds out to show all the shapes and animals working to build a tower.

This book offers simple concepts – shape, colour and texture – to fascinate the baby and intricate illustrations to interest and challenge the older child.  My 11 month old son, loves to lift the flaps and run his fingers over the textures.   Since my baby likes to have something to do when we’re reading, this book keeps him involved and focussed.  My 3 year old son also loves this book – he likes to talk about what the animals are doing in each of the illustrations and to find and name all the animals and shapes on the final page.

My family really enjoys this simple, playful book and I think your family will love it too.

Early Elementary

from Amy of Let’s Explore

bigorangesplotOne of our all-time, absolute favorite books is The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. An oldie-but-goodie from the 1970s, this picture book is bursting with vivid colors and an engaging story.

Mr. Plumbean lives on a neat and tidy street, where all the houses are the same.  One day, a seagull mysteriously flies over Mr. Plumbean’s house and drops a bucket of orange paint, leaving a big orange splot on his roof.

The neighbors wait for Mr. Plumbean to paint his house so their street can be neat and tidy again.  Mr. Plumbean surprises them with his painting job, which turns out to be wild and crazy and colorful!  He says to his neighbors:

“My house is me and I am it.  My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams…”

One by one, the neighbors try to convince Mr. Plumbean to change his house back, but instead, he convinces them to create their own dream houses.  There are some neat dream house illustrations including a castle, a hot-air balloon, a ship, and more.  I have shared this book with many groups of children, and they are always immediately inspired to draw or paint their own dream houses!  I love a book with an easy art connection.

The Big Orange Splot is a lovely story celebrating individual expression and believing in your dreams – I hope you and your kids enjoy sharing this book together!

What We’re Listenting To – September

Please welcome back Jennifer with this month’s What We’re Listening To feature.

As September rolls around, and summer really feels like it’s coming to an end in many places throughout the world; many of us are starting to hear the buzz of a new school year beginning.  I don’t have school-age children, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a part of that back to school buzz personally, but I still love to get caught up in the nostalgia of a new school year, even if I have to do so vicariously through other people’s children or even a fresh box of crayons for our own home.

This month’s selection has a school-vibe to it that should get everyone in “back to school mode” whether someone in your family is going this month or not.  If you hear mention of the 3 R’s and you automatically think about Reading, Writing and Arithmetic then I’m afraid it’s definitely back to school for you!  Don’t worry you won’t have to pack a lunch, just pop some new tunes in your music player and learn that theses days the 3 R’s stand for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Jack Johnson

album_curiousgeorge_thumb.jpgYou’ll find this and other school-inspired songs on a delightful album by one of my favorite artists, Jack Johnson:  “Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George.”  Even if you haven’t seen the film your family will love the singable songs on this album.  Your kids will learn without even realizing it when they’re singing about making friends, trying new things, sharing and of course recycling.  It brings a smile to my face when my son is singing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with abandon!  Since it looks more and more like being environmentally aware is becoming a way of life for this generation, I love that we can get started reinforcing those ideas with our kids early and in such a fun way!

I absolutely have to recommend that you try out Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George (Jack Johnson)

The majority of the songs are for upbeat fun with a few tracks at the end that fit the lullaby theme, but not to any extreme that you can’t enjoy the whole album when you’re wide awake!  I encourage those parents who haven’t heard of this artist before, as you may find yourself pleasantly surprised and adopt one of your kid’s favorite musicians as your own.

Listening samples and a free video are available on Jack Johnson’s webpage for this album.

While you’re there, check out Banana Pancakes on “In Between Dreams” it’s another favorite in our house!

Please note that there is an Amazon affiliate link in this post.  Thank you!

What are you listening to with your kids?