The Ultimate Bath Activity Table

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is the new buzzword in education, and in our world, the toy world. We were deilighted, however, to see a new push for ARTS to be included in a well-rounded STEM education, changing the acronym to STEAM. Our kids, a boy and a girl, both love art and that passion in that area of their education bleeds into other core curriculum. "Scale in geometry is the same thing as perspective in art, one teacher points out." Read on for an insightful article from U.S. News and World Report.


We founded Tubby Table Toys, Inc. to help solve bath and bedtime challenges for parents, and we are always interested in new stories we read about that help us to confirm we not the only challenged parents on the planet. And so we share the HuffPost Parents article below.  Who doesn't love a little Whack a Mole and House of Cards .... What? Read on ....  

I let Craig handle last night's round of "Whack-a-Mole" (bedtime) and settled into the couch at 7:45. It's like my victory lap -- that couch settling.

Day is done, gone the son, gone the girls and the the fights and the whiiiiines. All is calm -- Bravo ooooon -- sleep is nigh....

One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning -- when we're fresh and kind and sweet -- and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts -- dinner and baths and bedtime -- arrive at the end of the day, when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, Internet or glass of wine -- whatever our victory lap includes.

It doesn't help that in our mommy minds, we have this idea that bedtime is supposed to be the most peaceful, loving time of day. That we are supposed to send our lovies off to dreamland with songs, stories, soft, sweet voices and strokes of their cherubic heads. Sometimes bedtime happens this way for us. Not often.

Each of our kids gets a story at bedtime. They never pick a good one, they pick the longest one.

And the little one wants to "help read" her book. So, let's see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don't specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die. And I know I'm supposed to be SUPPORTING her reading. I mean it's good -- this is good stuff, this wanting to read. I was a reading teacher, I know this is GOOD stuff about which I am supposed to be EXCITED. But for me, exhaustion trumps excitement every single time. And I can't help but notice that the ONLY TIME SHE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT READING IT HERSELF IS AT BEDTIME. When she can hold me hostage and stay up six minutes later with every sounded-out word. And so while I'm supposed to be thinking sweet thoughts, all I can think is: OH MY GOD. I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO JUMP RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN. YOU SUCK AT READING. YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. PLEASE GOD. PLEASE MAKE THIS BOOK... just... just... DISAPPEAR so I can take my victory lap. I DESERVE MY VICTORY LAP!

But No. Nope. No help from above. So it goes on. And on. "S....o.......soooooooooo t-h-e....tuuuuu---huuuuuu---eeeeeeeeee?" says Amma. I am held hostage for 45 minutes. When she is finally done, I decide that after that debacle there is NO WAY that the Universe also expects me to sing the "song" that is also part of her "bedtime routine." I say good night and pray she'll forget.

But they never forget. They PRETEND to forget ONLY so that they have another excuse to pop out of their rooms and remind you of what you forgot.

So three minutes later, when I think I'm in the clear, here comes my littlest mole. "You forgot my song," she says. And I stare at her for a long second and admit to myself two things.

1. She is unbelievably cute and precious and one day I will miss these visits, especially when she starts sneaking out of her room to party with her friends instead of to find me to sing to her.

2. Doesn't matter. I'm going to lose it.

And so I sing her song. But I sing it like an insane person. Eyes wide, teeth clenched, just a little too loud. No sweetness. Like a robot. "You. Are. My. Sun. SHINE. My. Only. Sun. SHINE." I sing it like there are implied curse words between every lyric.

And then. Then I am done. It is time. I am a Freedom Fighter and I have fought long and hard for my OWN FREEDOM and it is here. Now is the time I raise my mommy arms in the air and breathe deeply and eat cookies alone. My hand is on the child's doorknob. I can see I can feel I can hear I can TASTE those couch cushions. And then. Amma speaks again. I freeze.

Mooooooommy. Tell me about God.


WHY DOES EVERY KID BECOME A FREAKING THEOLOGIAN AND NATURALIST AND INQUIRING MIND ABOUT WORLD ISSUES AT BEDTIME???? I THINK WE KNOW WHY. Oh, yes. I think we know why. Because there is a secret rite of passage we don't know about. When they are babies, some older kid at the playground sneaks a book into their strollers called "BEDTIME HOSTAGE QUESTIONS: A Treasury of Inquiries Yo Mama Will Feel Too Guilty Not To Answer." On the back cover it reads: "Guaranteed to buy you 10 extra minutes each night or your money back."

But I know the drill. I KNOW THIS DRILL. AND I LOVE GOD, SURE. I love teaching kids about God -- I'm a freaking Sunday School teacher for Christ's sake (literally). BUT GOD LOVES ME, TOO. AND GOD WANTS ME ON THE COUCH NOW SO EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE CAN LIVE TO DIE ANOTHER DAY.

And so I look back at Amma and say, "Honey, I'd love to talk to you about God. If you are still interested tomorrow during YOUR TV TIME WE WILL CHAT. HOW 'BOUT THAT?" ON YOUR TIME, SISTER. Ba-BAM. HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, AMMA????

She gets it. She finally goes to sleep. They know when mommy's done. When I start gesturing like a cage fighter instead of a mama, they know it's time. It's not pretty, but it's effective. I am Glinda the Good Witch until 7:45 and then at 7:46 it's nothing but green faces, warts, cackles and threats. And often that's the best I can do.

So last night as I waited for Craig to whack the last mole, I half-listened to the bedroom doors re-open and the typical mole-y excuses: "I can't sleep because my elbow hurts!" "I need ICE COLD water, not reg-a-lar water." "My closet doors are open." "There's an elephant shadow on my window." Whack-Whack-Whack-Whack. Nothing new. The moles are not too creative tonight, I thought. But then, I hear a door open and one appears to say to poor Craig -- mallet in hand, sitting against the wall in the hallway -- "I can't sleep because my finger smells because I keep scratching my bottom."

Hmm. Not bad, I thought, and I giggled, because it's funny when it's not your turn. Craig says, "OK. Go wash your hand." I hear the water run, hallway waddling, child returns to her room. Two minutes later, door re-opens, child-mole re-appears. "My finger still...." "GO WASH YOUR HAND AGAIN," Craig says with that very even, controlled tone that indicates the Whack-a-Mole machine is about to BUST. Water starts, child-mole slowly creeps back to her room. A minute later, door re-opens. Mole child says, "My finger still..." THEN STOP SCRATCHING YOUR BUTT. AND STOP SMELLING YOUR FINGER! OR PUT IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW. HOLD YOUR BREATH. WHATEVER IT TAKES. JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!

Mole child gets it. She is out of quarters. Daddy's broke. Machine is done for the day.

No more doors open.

Craig comes downstairs.

He joins me with tea and House of Cards for our victory lap. He's asleep within 10 minutes.

All Moles Whacked. Me and my cookies and quiet. Glinda is back.

Carry On, Warriors.


The Worst Bedtime Family in the History of the Whole Entire Universe



Bestselling Author, Carry On, Warrior and Founder of Momastery

This post originally appeared on Momastery.


Huffpost Link:

We wanted to share this wonderful article about indoor and outdoor water play for children. I think we all understand how fun it is for your kids or grandkids to play in the water, but who knew how educational it can be? Read on ....

Water Play: Wet and Wonderful

By Angie Dorrell, M.A.

Splish, splash, bubble, bubble, pop! Water play, both indoor and outdoor, is a unique activity for children because it’s always available, open-ended, and provides opportunities for extended learning. The following ideas, written for preschoolers, will give you more detailed information about the creative learning that takes place during water play, hints for easy water play, and ideas for fun outdoor water activities, many of which can be adapted to indoor experiences.

All They’re Doing Is Splashing, Right?
Wrong! Water play fosters learning in all developmental areas. It provides opportunities for children to experiment with math and science concepts, strengthen their physical skills, advance their social and emotional skills, and enhance language development (Crosser, 1994; Hendrick, 1996).

Problem-Solving Skills. As children manipulate water play materials, they begin to understand why and how things happen. For example, given sinking and floating objects, a child will soon discover that just because something is large in size does not mean it will sink.

Math. Children begin to understand and experiment with concepts such as more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than, and counting (Crosser, 1994). Science.Water gives children an avenue to contemplate issues such as: What makes rain? Where does water come from? What makes mud? (James & Granovetter, 1987). Children also learn physics principles such as the effects of force (increasing the water flow through increased force); effects of gravity (water runs downhill); and change in state (solid, liquid, gas).

Physical Development. Water play encourages the development of eye/hand coordination through pouring, squeezing, stirring, painting, scrubbing, and squirting. Children strengthen their gross motor skills by running, dodging water drops, and hopping through a sprinkler. They widen their sensory experiences as they put their hands in different textures (gritty, squishy, and slimy) and different temperatures (warm, cool, and cold) (Hendrick, 1998).

Social and Emotional Development. Water play is one of the most relaxing activities children can experience. After all, many adults relax in a warm bubble bath or hot shower! Water play relieves tension by encouraging children to release their emotions with pouring, pounding, and swooshing. In addition, social skills expand as children play cooperatively; negotiate; and share equipment, space, and materials.

Language Development. Children learn new vocabulary such as sieve, funnel, eggbeater, stream, bubbly, moisture, and evaporation. Water play is such a meaningful experience for young children that it can be extended to writing experiences as well. Children may draw pictures of sprinkler play, then dictate a description or story to the teacher. Another valuable writing experience involves the teacher writing down children’s predictions, such as how long it will take ice cubes to melt in the sand box or how many babies one batch of soapy water will wash.

Creative Development. Water encourages children to use their imagination. As the children play, they may pretend that they work at a car wash or live in a castle. Water also encourages children to try out new ideas and solutions to problems in a safe environment.

Tips for Successful Water Play
Because of its perceived mess, water play is not always encouraged in the early childhood curriculum. However, just as with any other worthwhile activity, a little planning and foresight considerably reduces the mess. The following tips will make activities involving water fun, yet easy to manage and clean up.

  • If parents need to bring in special items, communicate with them a few days before the activity. Provide extra items as needed, so every child can participate.
  • Every child and teacher should have a complete change of clothes.
  • If the weather permits, wear swimsuits and allow hosing off for easy clean up. Otherwise, supply plastic smocks or aprons to protect clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen to everyone before going outside. Reapply often. (This may require special permission slips. Check with your state regulatory agency.)
  • Offer indoor and outdoor water play often. Limiting water play to one “water day” a week doesn’t offer the children enough exploratory opportunities.
  • On very warm days, offer water play under shade as well as in the sun.
  • Provide a dry area where the children can lie in the sun or wrap up in towels to dry.
  • Stop outdoor water play in time for children to dry off before going outside.
  • Even with all the water around, don’t forget to offer plenty of drinking water to the children. For a nice change, have the children squeeze lemon juice into candy or ice cube molds. Freeze the juice. After it’s frozen, have the children place one or two cubes in cups (write their names on the cups), and fill with water. Add one or two sugar cubes. As the juice cubes melt, the children will have homemade lemonade!
  • Use large plastic containers or buckets to store water play accessories.
  • Always dump the water out of any containers before coming inside.

Outdoor Water Play Ideas
Listed below are some outdoor dramatic play themes as well as a list of suggested play materials.

  • Fun in the Sun– Add water to the sandbox, towels, beach bags, containers for sand molding, child-size beach chairs, and sunglasses.
  • Bath Time– Warm, sudsy water, clear water, dish tubs or water table, washable baby dolls, washcloths, bath toys, and towels.
  • Bakery– Sand or mud, dirt, water, pie tins, plastic spoons, plastic knives, craft sticks, grass, small sticks, leaves, and cottonwood.
  • Firefighter– Water, hats, boots, gloves, windbreakers, garden hoses or plastic tubing, and buckets.
  • Paint Shop– Buckets of water, different sizes of brushes used to paint houses, rollers, sidewalk, walls, fence, etc.

Water Table Add-Ins
The water table is not just for indoor play. Bring it outdoors or use any large plastic container the children can reach into or a small plastic wading pool placed on a low table. Try adding some of these materials to water to expand children’s learning.

  • Sand or aquarium rocks, scoops, water play animals
  • Squirts of detergent, kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons, eggbeaters, slotted spoons, plastic ladles, sieves
  • Dirt or sand for islands, some water, plastic trees, waterproof manipulatives
  • Add scent to the water with extracts and small amounts of food coloring that corresponds with the scent. For example, red food coloring with peppermint scent and yellow food coloring with pineapple extract. Add appropriate props: On pineapple day, add real and pretend fruit; on red day add only red items.

Angie Dorrell, M.A., serves as a NAEYC accreditation validator and former commissioner. She is the proud mother of two young daughters.


To read the article online:



 Toy and Game Awards Rising Star Inventors Finalist.  Well, we didn't win last Friday night. It's ok though; the family got dressed up so at least we could take a good holiday photo in time to get cards made. In case you're not on our holiday list, I've shared the photo here. Really the reason I wanted to win was so that I could thank  all  the people in our lives who worked so hard for us this past year.  And if you ever need an acceptance speech, you can use some of mine. 

It's not copywritten. 

Thank you so much.  And thank goodness for unruly toddlers in the bath tub, specifically our kids, Sam and Maddy, who inspired us to make the Tubby Table. I am Julie and  this is Mary, the one who drew the Tubby Table in pencil on a sheet of drafting paper about 8 years, ago. 3 years, ago, we quit our jobs and took that drawing to an action figure toy designer to build us a prototype by hand. I took that prototype and a mocked up product box to Babies r Us and with the buyer's feedback,  we went into production. You must know that what matters most to an entrepreneur is affirmation that our products are a good idea and lots of people will buy them. Well ok making a profit and actually taking a salary is high up there too...especially the salary part. 

We are not lucky to be able to do this. We worked hard; and we took a chance, a huge risk. And did I mention no salary? This means the world to us to have been nominated and to win (well, feel like winners), for Team Tubby Table, our kids, for our investors,  for our customers, for our families and for our industry. Thank you for your support. We hope we make you proud.

Congratulations Team Tubby Table. Happy Thanksgiving! 


With a few days before the crush of family and food let’s compare notes on what we’re thankful for, shall we?

How does your thanks compare to ours?

  1. Earlier this year it was the Polar Vortex. Now it’s the Omega Block. We’re thankful that we live in California
  2. We are thankful for Google so we can quickly look up answers to questions our children ask that we SHOULD already know.
  3. We’re thankful that there’s only one year left of middle school for our kids. Weird, weird 3 years. Middle school is just weird.
  4. We’re thankful that the Christmas music ONLY started this week and not before Halloween.
  5. We’re thankful for having been nominated for Toy Inventors of the Year even though we had to travel to Chicago. See #1
  6. We’re thankful that our kids watch Master Chef Kids so they are learning to cook and can help us this holiday.
  7. Our dog Guiness is thankful when the tv remote goes “click” to turn off so that he can jump up on the bed and go to sleep.
  8. We’re thankful that there are is basically only one way to make pumpkin pie.
  9. We are thankful that the organic food community has brought back real sweet potatoes instead of canned sweet potatoes with marshmallows.
  10. We are thankful that we can unplug from the digital world and just take a nice, warm tubby.  Although we have had plenty of adults ask us to make an adult Tubby Table to hold their glass of wine and their Ipad.  

About the Authors

This blog is written by Mary Barney (L) and Julie Gibbs (R), founders of Tubby Table Toys, Inc. with educational backgrounds in early learning and business in the toy and games industries who are also  moms of twins. Our blog will feature content that we hope is relevant to you, with advice on bathtub play, learning and child development.  Please send us your stories and tips on bathtub/water play/your child’s development and we will share them in the Tubby Table Blog!


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