Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Fun Methods of Open-Ended Art Activity

By Guest Blogger: Azalia Suhaimi of Littlest Hands

I have always loved creating and the joy that comes in completing an art project. It came as no surprise that when I became a mother, I naturally had to introduce that same joy and beauty to my child. Only to discover a different kind of joy that is simply priceless. That it is all truly in the process and not the product.

I could plan and intend to make a paper plate monkey craft for example, but my two-year-old could turn it into an entirely different activity of imaginative play whereby brown paint becomes puddles, and paintbrushes become happy stick figures jumping on muddy puddles. There may or may not be a paper plate monkey craft at the end of the session, and that’s fine. Because it ‘s a beautiful process and time spent together. She gets to freely explore her imagination without the limitations of my own ideas. We get to engage in a fun discussion throughout the process as she expands her vocabulary. And most importantly, we get to create more memories together.

Here are some of our favorite open-ended art activities with no specific end products, but ones that have certainly brought us many fun memories together:
1.) Stamping with Sponge

Or make that fun-shaped sponge. I would cut these sponges into easy shapes such as hearts, circles or triangles, then pass them to my toddler with some paint and paper. And just like that, she’d have endless fun. While the toddler would enjoy the sensory experience of paint & sponge, and the joy of stamping them around while practicing some fine motor skills, we could also bring it up a notch by turning the session into a shape-recognition activity. As they stamp, we name the shapes together.

2.) Stamping with Cardboard Tubes/Toilet Paper Rolls

Again, make these fun-shaped ones. We could bend and shape the ends of the cardboard tubes into our desired shapes. Pass them to our toddler together with some paint and paper, and let the stamping joy begin! This too could become a shape-recognition activity.

3.) Stamping with Toys

You could use Lego or dinosaur figurines or anything up to your imagination, really. We chose some wild animal figurines and turned it into a footprint-stamping activity. While it was meant to be an open-ended art activity, with my toddler truly having a ball soaking those animals in paint and stamping them endlessly, the end product turned out pretty wonderful too! As there were different shapes of footprints with multiple vibrant colors involved, I really could turn these prints into postcards or wrapping papers! The best part about this activity is it really uses your imagination to no end. We played pretend with these animals, I introduced her to the names and sounds of each animal, she told me they were “swimming” and then “jumping in muddy puddles” – it really was a limitless fun of imaginative play!

4.) Painting with Pom-Poms Clipped on Clothes Pegs

We love to get adventurous with our painting methods while creating art other than using the conventional paintbrush. One of our favorite DIY paintbrush or stamping tool includes pom-poms clipped on clothes pegs. Pom-poms are such staple items in the world of toddler activities, so it’s only fair and complete to incorporate them into our art activities as well. They can be used for mere stamping fun over hours of an open-ended art session. Or they can be used to create a specific craft as well, like this paper-plate watermelon, whereby my toddler helped to stamp some pom-poms soaked with red and green paint on those paper-plate halves.

5.) Painting with Nature

Perhaps the best combination ever; nature and art. As we go on nature adventures with our kids, don’t forget to add on the fun by collecting some nature items to bring back for even more adventures – with art.  We could use leaves or branches or rocks. Over here we used some fallen leaves. The list of art activities that we could do with them is endless. We could stamp them using some paint on paper, and we could even paint on the leaves themselves. Over here, we attempted a leaf silhouette spray-painting activity, whereby we placed some leaves on papers, and spray-painted our way all over them. Let them dry, pick up the leaves, and voila! A masterpiece.

About Azalia:

Azalia Suhaimi is the founder of LittlestHands (@littlesthands on Instagram), a social media platform that shares all sorts of toddler activities to aid parents and caregivers from all over the world.  Learn more about her at

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rock 'n Lull Giveaway

We're thrilled to partner up with WavHello to celebrate the launch of their new soother and bluetooth speaker, SoundBub. 

One lucky winner will receive:
1. An adorable SoundBub from WavHello to help lull your baby to sleep.

2. The Palomino Rocking Horse from Plan Toys so your little one can rock to his delight. Made from organic recycled rubber wood.

3. A Hoppi Box filled with developmental toys tailored to your baby's age and milestones.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Sensory Play Helps Early Childhood Development


Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development. It lets children explore and learn about their world through what they do best – play. 

As much as children love sensory play – parents can often dread it. Sensory play can be messy and a daunting task for adults to keep up with. So the key is to approach sensory play with the right mind-set. First, it is important to remember that children learn best when they can actually touch, see, smell, taste, hear, and manipulate the materials in their world.

As children scoop up seeds or rice or other small items and fill up a container, they are discovering how much that container can hold before it overflows. Sensory play promotes special awareness, mathematical thinking, and scientific exploration and discovery.

Sometimes sensory play is simply a great way for children to relieve their stress. Sensory play can be very soothing and relaxing to a young child. It is also a great way to foster fine motor development. Rolling and cutting up play dough or scooping and pouring water and beans all involve eye -hand coordination and fine motor control. In the process of playing with these materials, children are building the skills and strengths they will need for handwriting and other more formal educational processes down the road.

Sensory Play Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Babies may be limited by their mobility and dexterity, but not their ability to interact with the world. Babies can enjoy the feeling of water in a pool or bath, take in the movement of wind on a walk, and respond to the sounds of music. As babies become toddlers, they’ll want to feel a variety of materials, scoop and sort small objects, and experiment with the properties of cause and effect.

Water Scooping:
Playing with water is a favorite activity for babies. Fill a large, shallow bowl with water and provide your upright baby with simple scooping tools for open-ended exploration.

Bean Bowl Exploration:
Fill a large bowl or shallow tub with water jelly beads. Or try using things you already have in your cupboard such as dry beans, rice, sand, or wheat berries. Babies will enjoy sifting these materials through fingers, picking them up, and pouring them out. Use your best judgement and pay close attention when introducing young children to small objects.

Tearing and Feeling Wet Paper:

The simple ingredients of paper, water, and a large tub make this engaging activity fun for your child and easy for you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hoppi Box Turns 1 Giveaway!

Hoppi Box is turning one! We're celebrating by giving away this prize pack from a few of our friends. Enter below for your chance to win:

1. Special Travel Edition Hoppi Box

2. Moby Bamboo Wrap (in winner's choice of color).

3. "Celebrate Our 50 States" flashcards from Bright Eyed Baby.

4. Bijou Teething Necklace & Bracelet from Maya & May by Moby

5.  Set of NumNum GOOtensils

6. Bundle of Joy Blanket from To the Market.

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5 Things You Should Know About Your Toddler


You might have come across parenting and self help books that promise to guide you on raising sweet beautiful children. Well, they may not always work. Every child is unique and there can be no one rules for all. Here is a list of 5 things that you must know about your toddler. These are not guides or rules but are philosophies about toddlers that will help you understand your child better and work your way around him/her. 


           1. It’s all about power – As parents we take all the decisions about what our
              child eats, wears, does or where he goes. So what does a child do? They try
              to control the food they will actually eat, their clothes, what they’ll say, when
              they’ll sleep etc. And these are the areas where parents have the most trouble
              with their kids. During this stage they are learning to take decisions, so let
              them have control wherever possible. Give them a few options (not many),
              so they feel in control. If you try to battle it out, your child will continue the
              battle with greater force. 

2. They need to fall so that they know how to get back up – We want to
              give a perfect world to our children, protect them from every fall, bruise and
              failure. But, to move forward they must make mistakes and learn from, them.
              Help your toddlers get over their failures and learn to face adversity and be
              flexible, for that is what they’ll need later in life.

          3. Toddlers are the happiest when they feel secure - A little recognition
              can go a long way. Help them through adversity, encourage them with a “you
              can handle it”, help them understand what they are feeling by giving a label
              to the emotion. 

          4. They have no sense of time -That is simply because their brains are still
              developing and cannot understand the concept of time yet. They will only
              understand what you tell them to do “now”. The best way to manage this
              is to tell them the order in which things need to be done. First we do this,
              then this and then this. 

         5. Challenging behavior is just a part of learning to communicate and  
             become independent. Your child's curiosity, persistence and stubbornness may
             make you crazy, but these are the traits that will help them thrive in the future.
             By expressing their likes and dislikes and asserting themselves, they are gaining
             self confidence and learning how to be independent.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spring Giveaway!

Spring is in the air and to celebrate we are giving away a few of our favorite spring essentials! Enter below for your chance to win:

1. Special Travel Edition Hoppi Box

2. $70 store credit from Livie and Luca

3. goumijamms from goumikids

4. Classic MOBY wrap in Moss

5. Chewbeads silicone links and Jane necklace

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

3 Tips on Setting Up Invitations To Play

By Megan Schiller, Guest Blogger

An Invitation To Play is simply a thoughtful display of a few toys or materials, set up in an inviting way.  They are a great way to encourage independent play and stimulate a child’s imagination. It’s best to set something up while your child isn’t around and let him or her stumble upon it.

1) Set up a few items in an inviting/intriguing way so that your child is drawn to play with them. It can be as simple as putting a few stuffed animals in a circle, a tea set in the middle, along with a plate of cotton balls or river rocks to get their imaginations going. When you include one interesting item that isn’t usually used with the other items, it sparks curiosity and imagination.

A few other ideas:
  • Blocks, small cars, cardboard tubes
  • Playdough, toothpicks, beads
  • Paper, envelopes, stickers, markers

2) Set it up at night while your child is sleeping (so he or she finds it in the morning). Or for an afternoon activity, set it up while your child is at school or taking a nap.

3) Try setting up one Invitation To Play every day for a week. You may begin to notice a difference in how your child interacts with the toys or art supplies. If you stop after a week, don’t be surprised if your child asks for more! The more you do it, the more fun it becomes to think of new, fun ways to set up Invitations To Play.

About Megan:

Megan Schiller is the founder of The Art Pantry, a design studio specializing in children’s creative play spaces. As a former Reggio-inspired preschool teacher and art educator, Megan’s mission is to encourage creative independence and learning through inspired design. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, she has launched a series of DIY guides and other resources to support more people on this journey. Megan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two young daughters.