selecting toys to buy
From Superkids by Jean Marzollo - Illustrations by Irene Trivas


supertotSupertots like the familiar, and they can go along for several regular days being super to live with.

But sometimes, if things change, one- and two ­year-olds lose their stride; and when they do, they let everyone know it. Anything can set them off: company, illness, rain, frustration with having to share their toys too much, sensing that something is troubling you ­ who knows?
If you are feeling generally okay, you can usually help your child feel better. But if you feel rotten too, it's hard. Don't waste time mourning the fact that you are not a superparent in a superfamily. There's no such thing, so don't let the title of this book mislead you. I only hope some of the ideas in these pages will help you cope on awful days and other unusual days, too. Birthday days and new-baby days have their trying moments too. Dealing with the uncomfortable as it comes up can leave you with energy to focus on the expected and unexpected delights of parenthood as they occur. Fortunately, there are many.

Very bad days when you can't get out

Very bad days happen to everyone. You can be sick, your child can be sick, the car can be in the repair shop, it can be raining for the tenth day in a row, you can be worried about money, you can be fighting with a spouse or friend, both you and your supertot can be in a rotten mood. The worst thing you can do is take out your rage and frustration on your child, even though momentarily your child may seem to be the cause of all your problems. The best thing you can do is find a way to get comfort. Get a babysitter, if you know one that can come on short notice.

Forget about accomplishing anything for the day. Cuddle up on the sofa with your child and watch anything on TV together, as long as it's not scary for your child.

Yake a walk with your child, even if it's raining.

Call a friend and be honest. Ask your friend to come over and help you get through the day

supertotWhat to feed your child when you can't stand to cook

Supertots can be finicky eaters. Don't knock yourself out making elaborate casseroles that they won't eat. Prepare simple foods that are easy to cook: little hamburger patties, diced chicken, tuna fish, macaroni mixed with butter and parmesan cheese, spaghetti and tomato sauce, canned creamed corn, corn on the cob, popcorn, sliced tomatoes, carrot sticks, whole wheat toast, boiled rice, puddings, and gelatin desserts. On a bad day, if you don't feel like cooking anything at all, offer your tot a limited menu.

How to keep your child happy when your friends come over

Keep a few favorite toys put away for times when friends come by and you want to give them your undivided attention. Don't make a big deal about it; but after they've said hello, played with your child a bit, and settled down for a cup of coffee, bring out a favorite toy and set it on the floor nearby. With luck, your child will play contentedly alone for a while. But don't expect miracles. If you can get this technique to work half the time, you're batting 500, and that's good. You may prefer to invite friends (especially those who don't have kids) over while your child is sleeping.


Activities that supertots can do pretty well by themselves

Play with little things (cars, people, animals) and things to put them in (boxes, houses, barns).

Poke pegs into peg boards. (Caution: make sure they don't eat the pegs or poke them into their eyes.)

Play with cars and trucks.

Play with water. (Stay nearby.)


Getting out and having fun

Supertots are super to live with, but they can get on your nerves. They are still babies and need you to take care of most of their needs. They are learning about their own powers, and the main way they learn this is by testing you. Supertots can, at times, be dreadful, uncivilized beasts around the house.

Give yourself a break. You work hard at your job of being a parent and deserve to get out by yourself sometimes. Find a babysitter you trust, train this person well, and then say good-bye to your child, push needless guilty feelings aside,relax, have fun, and indulge yourself.

Rainy day idea 1: masking tape

It's raining and the plumber comes and your child is in the way: what can you get to occupy your child while you try to get an estimate from the plumber? Masking tape. Keep a roll of it in the kitchen for times when you can't think. All you have to do is tear off short pieces one at a time and hand them absentmindedly to your child, who will stick them to his or her tray, hands, clothes, and head quite contentedly.


Rainy day idea 2: paint with water

This activity, deliberately placed in this chapter instead of in the art activities chapter, consists of painting water onto coloring-book-like pages that already have dry paint printed on them. You can buy paint-with-water books at many discount stores; they're a good buy for the money. But know what you're getting: a book that teaches some manipulative skills but not artistic ones. Despite good arguments against providing such a noncreative painting experience, it's quite true that most two-year-olds enjoy this kind of water-play/ paint-play immensely. If you save it for times when you need your supertot to be quiet, you'll appreciate these books. To help your child avoid spilling, use a weighted training cup and fill it only half full.

Rainy day idea 3: cards

Brought out infrequently, a deck of cards can surprise and amuse a one- or two-year-old. The reason for bringing the cards out infrequently is: (a) to keep the novelty fresh, (b) to protect the cards from the kind of wear and tear that things get when they're scattered around the house, and (c) to keep the cards together. A one-year-old will probably be interested only in seeing what the cards taste like, but a slightly older supertot may enjoy:

Dropping the cards into a cardboard box.

"Mailing" the cards in a homemade mailbox.

Laying them down on the floor and picking them up again.

Recognizing some of the numbers. (From Sesame Street children learn the names of numerals and like to pretend to identify them even when they are wrong. You can correct them in fun, but don't make a big deal about teaching numbers at this age. They'll learn them when their minds have developed enough to understand what numbers mean.)

Rainy day idea 4: a big magnet

A magnet and some metal washers (nails could be dangerous) can be a source of interest on a rainy day. Because the washers are small and because exploring a magnet's properties requires a coordinated adult to move things about, this is a good activity to save for when you feel like doing something together.


Experiments to try:

Pick up the washers with a magnet.

Put the washers in a box and the magnet under the box. What happens when you move the magnet? Let your child try.

Stick the magnets on the refrigerator.

New babynew baby

It's not easy for a supertot to get used to the idea that a new baby may now live in his or her family. Here are some ideas and activities that can help if your supertot has to make the transition from being an only child to being an older sister or brother.

Be sure that your supertot has a chance to be alone with each parent each day.

It doesn't matter much what you do; just do something together without the baby. Some ideas: go to the store together while a babysitter watches the baby, read together, watch Sesame Street together and talk about it, fold the laundry together while the baby sleeps.


Buy or make a baby doll for your supertot

Put a blanket in the bottom of a cardboard box to make a doll's crib, and suggest that your supertot give his or her doll a name. Buy a baby bottle (a real one or a toy one) so your supertot can feed his or her baby along
with you.

supertotKeep some new toys ready for when visitors bring the baby a present

It's natural for your supertot to feel left out when the baby gets
both attention and presents. Your neighborhood dollar store probably has lots of inexpensive things your child would like to get as "older­ brother - or - sister" presents. You can bring one out each time visitors come.

Discuss your feelings about the baby

Talk casually about your own positive and negative feelings about the baby so that your child learns to accept his or her own changing emotions. Be firm about not letting your child hurt the baby. Stop him or her immediately and say, Hitting hurts. It's okay to be mad at the baby, but you can't hit the baby.



Birthday party for a one turning two

Keep it simple. Invite no more than five children; specify the time the party starts and ends (one hour is perfect); serve juice and birthday cake soon after the guests arrive and before the children get too wound up. You can serve it on a paper tablecloth spread on the floor or lawn. Don't forget to serve something (such as coffee, tea, wine, birthday cake) to the parents too. Take some photographs. If you can get this much accomplished without either you or your child throwing a tantrum, you've accomplished a great deal. Decorations, candy baskets, and other extra stuff aren't necessary for your child's enjoyment, so don't bother with them. You don't need special activities either; the other children will be happy to play with your child's toys. Beforehand, explain to your child that several children will be coming to the party and that they would like to share your child's toys. If there are certain toys your child does not want to share, decide together ahead of time what they are and put them away.
If you think having a successful birthday party with other children for a two-year-old sounds too difficult, you are probably right. Skip it and have a simple family celebration at dinnertime.

Ideas for favors:

  • bells safely sewn on elastic wrist holders
  • small plastic replicas of people (you can buy them by the bagful in a discount or dollar store)
  • toy horns



Birthday party for a two turning three

Again, keep it simple. No more than five children, unless some are older and able to help the younger ones play well. Decorations can be fun, especially if your child helps you make them or shop for them, but they're not fun if all they do is create an atmosphere of such excited anticipation that the birthday party itself is a letdown. If you want to initiate a special activity for the party (you don't really need to; the guests will be glad simply to play with your child's toys or with their favors), you can try a parade. Toward the end of the party, give each child a party hat and a noisemaker. See if the kids will march around the room with you.

Ideas for favors:

  • little plastic wristwatches (very cheap at discount and dollar stores)
  • little cars
  • noisemakers
  • party hats

Caution: Some noisemakers can be taken apart easily by supertots. The parts inside could be accidentally swallowed so supervise the use of noisemakers carefully.



CLICK HERE for Chapter Ten: Starting a Supertots' Playgroup

For more BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS, click here:

birthday parties


Based on the book SUPERTOT: Creative Learning Activities for Children One to Three
and Sympathetic Advice for Their Parents
Text © Jean Marzollo, Illustrations © Irene Trivas

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