This past week was ROUGH. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It was a combination of things: the news, my hormones, the broken laptop screen.
I don’t want to get into the details, but let’s just say I had a minute left on my workout video playing from my laptop and Hudson decided he needed a way to fully get mommy’s attention. And it worked. I lost my mind on him. And we both were crying hysterically. A very low moment of my week. Not solely because of the laptop. Definitely not ideal and an expensive mistake, but that moment was ultimately a low because I felt so terrible at how quickly I lost my cool with sweet Hudson. Not my best mom moment. But, it was humbling. It was the first moment I ever needed to really ask my son for forgiveness. I know this will absolutely be the first of many and my continued prayer is that God will continue to give me the grace and humility to openly admit to my children when I am wrong.
With that said, it was not just the laptop incident. It was an overall feeling that seemed to not leave me all week. Simply put, it was not my week. I was not my best self.
In this week of weakness, one of the things that pulled me through and kept me focused was the color RED.
That might sound strange, but let me explain.
Why Themed Weeks of Play?
Pinterest overwhelms me. Like big time. Quite frankly, it makes me feel frozen. All at once I am flooded with thousands of brilliant toddler activities and crafts, and I don’t even know where to start. So I pin a bunch of things and never do any of it.
I had an epiphany this week and realized I needed to be more focused when I went to Pinterest. If I go to Pinterest to find an activity to do with Hudson and search “toddler indoor activities” I will become frozen with comparison and doubt. If I search: “simple toddler ladybug craft” I will quickly become inspired and make it happen that afternoon. See the difference?
This concept of being more focused and choosing themed weeks for play-based learning was all inspired by an amazing blog I found, Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten. Her blog is beautiful and full of amazing curriculum ideas at home for babies to big kids. I happened to discover her blog in one of my many overwhelmed moments on Pinterest. It was through her website that I realized I just needed greater focus when it comes to planning activities and crafts for H.
This has been a game-changer. It will be a rhythm I will definitely keep post-quarantine.
At first glance this might seem like a lot of extra work that only really creative and organized moms do, but I am convinced that is just not true. It is actually quite simple and literally has been saving my sanity. On Sunday, I quickly jotted down one red-themed activity for each day. I made adjustments as the week got going. It was flexible, simple, and a helpful tool to really focus on one specific color with H. He still mostly just says everything is “blue,” but I noticed towards the end of the week, even the way he said “red” was becoming more clear.
Week 1: The Color Red
This is what our week of RED looked like:
Red books of the week
Monday: Red Sensory Bin + Red Scavenger Walk
For the bin, I took an aluminum food tray from Costco and literally just went around the playroom gathering everything that was red. This took me minutes to complete and it was a bin I had had out for him to play with all week. It is a great way for his eyes to really focus on the color and play with certain toys he usually doesn’t touch.
Our red bin consisted of: Elmo, lots of fire trucks, red letters, big red legos, red cars, red shapes, red balls, a red monkey, red pegs, toy apple, and a few other random red things.
We go on morning walks every day with our dog. On our first walk of the week, we went on a “red scavenger walk” and together tried to point out as many red things as possible. A lot of it is still me showing him the flowers, cars, and stop signs that are red, but I think this type of dialogue is important.
Tuesday: Red Tower Building + Red Line
We used the same bin set-up from Monday. Using the red legos, we built towers together! After some tower-building fun, I brought out one of our favorite books, The Line-Up Book by Marisabina Russo. This was a favorite book from my childhood and thankfully my mom kept it! It is not only a perfect book for toddlers who love lining things up, it is also a great book to pair with a follow-up activity. After reading this book, we created our own line with the different red objects from the bin.
Wednesday: Ladybug Thumbprint Craft + Red Picnic
For this week’s craft, we made these cute ladybugs (inspired by the blog, I Heart Crafty Things). We used his thumbprints to make the spots! They turned out really cute and would be the perfect idea for a card. In all honestly, crafting with Hudson is a bit of a challenge. The process for this craft would have been a lot easier if I precut the shapes and set out all materials before he woke up from his nap.
Materials: white card stock; black construction paper cut into small circles (head), larger circle (body), and thin rectangles (antennas); 2 googly eyes; red construction paper or origami paper cut into two semi-circles (wings;, green construction or origami paper leaf (option for child to decorate leaf with crayons); glue stick; and black paint for thumbprints.
Hudson is really into picnics right now. Each week of our color-themed week, I plan to have an outdoor picnic will feature foods of that color. This week, we simply cut up strawberries together and ate those. In future weeks, I hope to get creative with some of the foods of that color. This could be a good opportunity to introduce little ones to different kinds of food.
Thursday: Paint the Red Lines on Baseballs + Red Water Play
Hudson is obsessed with baseballs. I thought it would be fun for him to paint red lines onto circles I drew on card stock. I drew lines for him to trace with his paintbrush, but developmentally this would be a better project for 3-4 year-olds. He still had fun wildly painting the “baseballs” red.
In an aluminum tray, I created a red pouring station. I simply used a red color tablet we use during bath time and brought out cups and bottles for him to pour with.
Friday: Red Collage
As inspired by Mrs. Plemon’s Kindergarten blog, we will be making a color collage at the end of every week. Once we have gone through all the colors, I will bind it into a simple book for him to flip through! This will be a fun keepsake and a great learning tool to practice color recognition.
For this collage activity, I set it up as he was napping, which did help make it a smoother process. I simply gathered all the red art supplies we had (most of which is found from the Dollar Store).
Materials: White card stock paper, feathers, popsicle sticks, red aloha shirt card, foam shapes, pom poms, cupcake liners, and pipe cleaners.
TIP: If you have a toddler, like mine, that is not so into arts + crafts, keep materials out on an accessible table for them to come to work on when they feel like it. Hudson really cannot be pushed when it comes to doing art.
There you go. Our RED week! It kept our week fun and full with activities that were all done with materials we had around the house (minus a few of the collage materials- I had to do a quick Dollar Tree run for those).
If you are considering doing themed weeks with your little ones, I hope this gets you inspired! Don’t feel like you have to do everything the same. It has been a really great creative outlet for me to think of that particular color and things that Hudson has interest in, such as firetrucks + the stitches on a baseball. Tailor activities that match with the interests of your child! It will definitely increase engagement. It might not be Pinterest-perfect, but it will be the perfect thing for your unique child and that is what matters.