Wednesday, December 4, 2013

P is for Pilgrim

 For more tot school ideas check out the gathering.  Last week we did P is for Pilgrim with the big theme obviously being Thanksgiving.  We read two books this week one being a book about the first Thanksgiving that I paraphrased the entire book and really we just used the pictures.  Patrick really liked the boat.  We also read Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes.  We talked about what we were thankful for a lot.  At school Patrick said watching television but I got a few better ones like me, which was really sweet. 
We got a lot of our worksheets from 1+1+1=1.  Patrick did really well with the color by number turkey.  I was really impressed that he did so well with it since he has only recently really started learning his numerals.  Another favorite activity (in the picture) was using cotton balls as pretend cool whip from Mudpies and Makeup.  He did really well until we reached the number eight then let me do nine and ten.  He's really come a long way though with numbers because just a couple months ago he would have struggled with all of them. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Q is for Quarterback

  For more tot school ideas check out the gathering.  Q is a very difficult letter.  There aren't many words that start with it so we've done Q is for quarterback for two years now.  It's really just a week of a football theme.  I don't have any really great pictures this week since my son has decided that he doesn't want his picture taken. 
This week we did a lot of activities from 3 Dinosaurs.  He really enjoyed the coloring the footballs.  Recently he's taken more of an interest in cutting so he's been randomly cutting paper a lot.  I'm hoping this will help his emerging scissor skills.
Awhile ago I got some stickers in the mail with helmets for all the NFL teams.  We used those this week to practice his fine motor skills.  We also read My Football Book by Gail Gibbons and his T is for Touchdown book.  He also got a history lesson about the Greatest Game ever played from my husband who is a football nut. 
I've really wanted to start doing sight words and we did some work on the word the.  We also worked on Patrick's name using the tiles and putting in the letters.  He is awesome at matching the letters but I'm not sure if he's completely understanding the whole idea that these are words.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Baby School at 16 months

We were really busy this month with lots of things to do at home and outside of the house.  We had a lot of fun.  Here are some of the fun educational things my 16 month old enjoyed.
We got out our fall sensory bin.  It's seen lots of use this past month and we'll continue to play with it until December.  She definitely prefers the sensory bins involving rice to the leaves and beans.  But she has fun dumping it out.
We're working on teacher her the various parts of her body.  A simple fun game we play together is to put the leaf on various parts and sing a little song "The leaf is on your _____, the leaf is on your ______"

As I mentioned we've not been just staying at home.  Here she is enjoying a jumping pillow at a local farm fall festival.  She had a hard time staying up on it but she loved it!
We also visited the zoo.  She really likes turtles.  I think they're her favorite animal.

We played a lot with our homemade orange Halloween play doh.  I found the recipe here.  We really enjoyed it however I don't think I added enough seasoning because it didn't smell different from regular play doh. 

Somebody gave my son giant coins for Halloween when he was trick or treating.  Mary loved sticking them into a wipe container.  I tried to get her to attempt to get them out again by sticking her hand in but she was not interested in it at all.

Random day where she didn't nap and we were trying to find some stuff that she could quietly play with while her bother took his first nap in six months (figures she did not nap that day!).  The eggs are actually his for matching upper and lower case letters but she had fun just trying to take them apart and put them together.  She wasn't able to do it but it was fun and since she doesn't use her hands together frequently a good way to practice that skill.

J is for Jedi

This week we did a Star Wars theme with our letter theme being J is for Jedi.  For more tot school ideas check out the gathering.  Our big exciting development is a portable desk to allow with more flexibility with our location.  Patrick loves his new desk!  Most of this week focused on this pack from Homeschool Creations.  He particularly enjoyed making the book about the star fighter.

I put a highlighter into his desk and he's been really into using it for completing his activities this week.  He pretty much did no writing with anything but the highlighter.

We also did some shaving cream play this week.  He was supposed to write his letters in it but he wasn't interested in that so we just played with it.  He really enjoyed the sensory experience.  It didn't go so well for my daughter though and we had to call poison control because she ate a handful of it super quickly.  Luckily she was fine.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

H is for Halloween

We've been busy and I forgot to post our Halloween activities.  There aren't a ton of pictures since my delightful son has decided that he doesn't want his picture taken a lot recently.
We did candy corn math.  Last year Patrick struggled with this activity but this year he did great with it.  He did have some trouble lining up the candy corn correctly and I should have gotten him some candy corn for a reward/to see it since I don't think he knew what I was talking about with it.

I found these skeletons last year they're kind of bendy and he LOVED sorting them by color.  I think he must have sorted them over twenty times during the week.  He had so much fun doing it and we've reached the point that sorting colors is super easy.  He also used the chip dip bowl to sort, which I think was more fun then just piles or last year putting them on the correct color construction paper. 

We got out the sensory bin I made last year for Halloween.  It was fun for him.

Friday, October 25, 2013

V is for Vehicles

For more tot school ideas check out the gathering.  Last week I felt like we were doing a lot of worksheets.  It's not really how I want Patrick to be learning not that I don't think they have their benefits but schooltime shouldn't mean doing a stack of worksheets each week.  So this week I decided to branch out a little bit and try some new things.  We're also finishing up this theme early so we have plenty of time for next week's theme of Halloween.  This week the only worksheet we did was tracing the letter V, which really needed to be done as a worksheet since he needs practice tracing while using a pencil.  I also forgot to take pictures of Monday when we got out his cars and did some math activities with them.  We counted them and drove them around on some shapes.  
Since Patrick loves vehicles we have a lot of toys that are themed for them.  We did a puzzle together.  Patrick is all right with puzzles but still struggles a little bit with puzzles that aren't pieces with spots they belong.  This puzzle he did great with once I helped with the first pieces and offered some tips like starting with the corners.

Favorite activity this week was science.  We made a ramp and rolled various vehicles down it.  We adjusted the ramp to various heights and inclines and compared how fast and far the vehicles went while going down it.

Patrick also went down it.

We played with his Leap Frog magnetic alphabet singing thing. 

We sorted alphabet beads into a dip dish.  The beads had the letters X, W and of course V.  He always has struggled more with the end of the alphabet getting letters confused so it was a great way to work on distinguishing them.  I wanted to include Us and Vs since they look so similar but we didn't have enough letter U beads.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

U is for Umbrella

For more tot school ideas check out the gathering. So I didn't do so great with taking pictures this past week.  We did U is for Umbrella with a weather theme.  It was perfect since the weather is changing from warm to cool right now.  For literacy we read nonfiction and fiction books about weather and compared the two talking about the difference.  We did the tot school packet from 1+1+1=1, which included numbers up to 20.  Patrick really doesn't know numbers past 10 so this was a new topic for us.  We also went outside and experimented on a windy day.  Seeing what it would blow and what happened to the objects.  We also finished up this topic today by reading The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins.  Patrick did great for predicting the next object the wind would blow away. 
He's coming along further with his writing and is writing letters beyond his name although he tends to want to work on a single letter and not write his name or write them out of order. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I is for Instrument

This week we worked on the letter I.  Our theme for the week was instruments.  For more tot school ideas check out the gathering.  We used the book Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! and used the pack from Mudpies and Make-up.  Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!  Has always been one of Patrick's favorite books.   Here is Patrick working on the clip cards from the packet.  He struggled with the clothes pins but it was some good fine motor skill practice.  He did better with counting and finding the numbers then I expected but still needed plenty of help.  He also didn't do as well as I'd expected with identifying the instruments.  He used to really be great at this but we have kind of been focusing on other things and last year he tore up our copy of the book and we haven't replaced it.  He really did enjoy getting to read the copy I got from the library every chance he had this week.   
Another activity from the packet was arranging violins by size.  He did very well with this activity.  We tried doing this packet last year and it didn't go so well so it's amazing how much easier it was this year.  We really talked a lot about the different families of instruments and he started correctly identifying some but it was more that he memorized them and less understanding why a violin is a string instrument and a trombone is a brass instrument.
An activity that I saw on Pinterest was Q-tip painting.  And it really was great for working on a correct pencil grip.  He immediately held the Q-tip the correct way.  He loved this activity and has been requesting that we do it again.  This week we also made orange play doh.  I wanted to add pumpkin pie spice to it but we were all out.  I added some cinnamon and nutmeg but the smell isn't very strong.  I might try adding some later since it's been a hit this week with both kids.   
We also did a science experiment today.  We put some rice on a drum and hit the drum to make the rice move.  This led to a discussion about vibrations and sound.  I also had him buzz his lips and we made a zither, which we had done last time we talked about instruments.  It was a nice way to add a little science to our week.  I'm really trying to do some science and social studies each week.  We also talked about where we might hear instruments but he wasn't too interested and didn't add to the discussion.  He has been spending a lot of time using the Handwriting without Tears app for our ipad.  He really struggled with making any of the letters on there at first but after just a week has been improving.  I've been letting him have extra ipad time if he's working on his letters. 
And I think that brings me to my big news for the week!  After practicing the letter I, he announced that he wanted to write his name.  So he wrote it!  His first attempt at an A looked too much like an H even for him so he tried again.  Which resulted in him writing PHAT.  I'm really proud of him.  I didn't give him anything to trace for this nor did I write his name above for him to copy.  He took the blank side of a piece of paper and did it all on his own!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking small children out to eat

We have been without a kitchen for the last couple weeks while some repairs were done on ours.  This means we've eaten out pretty much every meal or at least every lunch or dinner.  And we had our two small children in tow.  Overall everything went pretty well with us only have to have each child need to leave a restaurant one time.  Even when we don't have to eat out for every meal it's something we enjoy doing and although typically it's not more then once a week since it's so expensive we budget to allow us to eat out occasionally.  Here are some things that help us make it go smoothly.

1. We always try to avoid busy times.  And if we are going out to eat at six o'clock on a Saturday we pick our location accordingly and visit somewhere like Jason's Deli.  That is not a good time to choose a sit down restaurant.  During two weeks of eating out we only had to wait to be seated once and it was for less then fifteen minutes.  Also be wary of Chipotle during busy times.  I almost find that worse then having the kids sitting and waiting since you can end up in a very long line.

2.  Pick places where there is immediate food.  If you're going to do a sit down restaurant try to pick somewhere that there will be something very quickly.  Ruby Tuesdays has a salad bar, most Mexican places serve tortilla chips and salsa and lots of places off bread although we tend to avoid those because the kids will fill up on just bread.  If there is something for the kids to eat they'll manage a lot better waiting for their food.

3.  If you're taking kids out alone accept help when it's offered.  Most of the lunches it was just me and the kids.  When somebody offered to get me a high chair it really helped me out.  Even places like Panera where typically you get your own food will sometimes help you carry everything.  Also baby carriers that allow you to wear the baby on your back are a godsend for times when you are going to need to carry a tray, high chair or drinks.  Much easier then pushing a stroller since your hands are free.  I also make my son help.  He can carry closed drinks like juice boxes or milks. 

4.  When trying to entertain kids when possible use what is already available.  We always bring one car for each child for playing while we wait for our food.  But we also use straws for babies who want to gnaw on something.  Also for a baby learning to drink from a straw it's amazing how much they enjoy practicing that new skill while you wait for your food.  I try to avoid bringing a lot of things from home because they can end up getting dirty from food on the table or from landing on the floor. 

5.  Get the check when you get your food.  I find this makes it a lot easier to leave when the kids are finished eating.  We rarely ever get dessert at a sit down restaurant since the dinner portions are so big. 

6.  If you have to bus your own table sit by the trash can.  This makes life so much easier.  This way you can start throwing things out while the kids finish their food.  It also gives something for my three year old to do once he's finished.  I also recommend trying to be close to the soda fountain since it makes everything go smoother if you don't have to go far to fill up or refill your cup.

7.  Remember the baby wipes!  I forgot mine once and it is so much more difficult to wipe up the mess afterwards with wet napkins. 

8.  Know what you're going to get before you arrive at the restaurant.  Most menus are online nowadays and it makes things so easy if you can place the entire order when the server comes to take your drinks.  It also helps my three year old if we can get him excited about what he's going to get to eat.  So if we know they have pizza then we'll talk about pizza when we tell him where we're going. 

9.  If you have a very young one then wipe the table clean in their area and put the food directly on it.  This saves you having to worry about them throwing a plate of food onto the floor.  My fifteen month old is just starting to get nearly past this point.  It does cause extra clean up when they're finished but not really that much extra since my little ones never keep the food on their plate anyways.  We learned this the hard way when my son was around a year and threw a whole plate onto the floor at an Olive Garden.

10.  If the weather is nice eat outside.  I worry less about the kids making a little bit of noise if we're outside since we tend to be one of few people there and the noise doesn't feel as noisy in as in a quiet restaurant.  Also outside there may be a plane that will fly over or birds or something that will help entertain them.  Also my son loves to eat outside so we tell him if he wants to eat outside then he needs to listen. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

G is for Goats

I knew this week we were going to spend some time at some local farms so I decided to skip around a bit and do G is for Goat/Farm theme this week.  Patrick is actually terrified of goats but he loved the farm theme and did well with the activities this week.  We didn't do a ton of creative school activities but we did visit two farms this week and have some candid conversations about where his food comes from especially his meat.  We mostly did the tot pack from 1+1+1=1.  You can also check here for more tot school activities.
We got out the Fall Sensory bin again.  As always it was a big hit.  Since Mary took an extra long nap on Monday Patrick got to play with it by himself.  He really enjoyed the chance to have the bin to himself. 

This week he used a cow pen to do some writing practice.  Probably not the best material for a developing writer but he had a lot of fun using it.  The pen actually moos when you press the head.

 He enjoyed the coloring more this week then some weeks.  We had a couple light days where he would do a paper and then we'd read some books.  We did read Mrs. Wishy-Washy then retell the story using Little People animals and people.  Favorite book was Farmer John's Tractor by Sally Sutton.  I can not count how many times we've read that book this week!

We did pom poms to match up with the goats after he colored them.  He's got his colors down pretty well although gets confused with grey, black, white and brown.  Patrick decided to use tongs with this activity, which was nice to fit in some extra fine motor work!
The highlight of our week were two farm visits.  Patrick had a lot of fun although he did avoid the animals.  Luckily there were plenty of non-animal things to do there. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Patrick's Second Birthday

We celebrated Patrick's second birthday with a Dr. Seuss themed party. We played tape the hat on the Cat. No blindfold since there were only three kids and two of them were only two years old. We ate Trufulla fruit from the Lorax (grapes) and green deviled eggs for appetizers. We had ham, noodle eating poodle noodles (mac and cheese) and Lorax trees (broccoli) for dinner. With Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes for dessert with ice cream. It was lots of fun and my husband made amazingly delicious gluten free red velvet cupcakes that we topped with cream cheese icing and blue cotton candy. They were adorable and very yummy.  Patrick devoured two of them! Since we couldn't find any Dr. Seuss decorations or paper products at Party City we opted for blue and red for plates, table cloths and balloons. It was adorable. 

Sensory Bins

Here are some of the sensory bins that I've put together. 
Our Fall Sensory bin.  It's just fake leaves, beans, fake squashes and a rake.  It had fake pumpkins at one point but I'm having trouble locating them.

The yellow sensory bin is the first of hopefully several sensory bins focused on a single color.  Patrick helped me make it from dying the rice to finding yellow objects. 

Last year for St. Patrick's Day I made a sensory bin.  It has green rice, shamrocks, a leprechaun hat, pennies, green foam letters and random green objects.  It also has PATRICK spelled out with white letters.
This is my favorite bin for smells.  It's just coffee beans, an ice cream scoop and a tea set.  It spells so lovely and Patrick loves playing with it.  Mary doesn't do this one yet since she keeps trying to eat the coffee beans.  I hope to rework this one at some point and make it more interesting.

Our colors bin.  Rainbow rice, some tub toys, random single colored objects and some foam color squares.  It also has two scoops.  This is one of the favorite bins for the kids.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baby School at 15 Months

Here are activities from the least two weeks.  I combined them since one week both kids were sick and not much was done.  Mary is now 15 months old!
We visited a nature center that has the most amazing playground.  Mary loved the sand box!  She also really enjoyed finding acorns as we walked around and putting them into a pot.

I had her match shoes.  I got out four pairs of shoes that were a mix of sizes and types then had her match them.  She struggled with it at first but got it down pretty well once I started having her match them by handing her one and asking her to find it's match from the other shoes. 

She's been really into stacking cups recently.  She loves to stack them and put objects inside them. 

We've been using this bottle as a bit of a shaker for awhile.  I had her put the beads into it.  She enjoys any activity that involves putting one object into another object.  She really excelled with this one and did it very quickly. 

Believe it or not Mary actually did better with this one then Patrick.  We went outside and gathered leaves then went inside and glued them down to paper.  Patrick mostly just glued and put one leaf down.  Mary enjoyed putting a bunch of leaves onto her paper.  She did need a little help with the pressing them down but overall did very well.

Simple little activity of sorting shapes.  

I gave her three sorting cups and two matching balls (couldn't find the yellow ball).  She had fun for quite some time with this activity. 
You may notice that a lot more of her school time is happening in the high chair.  On days that she takes a short nap or I don't get around to doing school time with Patrick during her nap then I have to put her in the high chair because otherwise she gets all over his stuff.  She is very eager to join in with him and color and whatnot.  By putting her in her high chair with her own activity it's easier to go back and forth between the two kids and have both of them working on stuff without bugging each other.

L is for Leaf

This week we did L is for Leaf and a general Fall theme.  For more Tot School ideas be sure the check out the Gathering at 1+1+1=1.  Patrick is 3 1/2.  We did a lot of the activities from 1+1+1=1's tot school printables and Fall printables.  One activity that he did great with was a shape patch with scarecrows.  I was really impressed since he's still learning some of the more complicated shapes.  It was the first time he was able to correctly identify a octagon.
Another activity was the cutting leafs.  We're still really working on scissor skills so it was nice to have a simple cutting activity.  He struggled with it but persevered and managed to cut all the leafs by himself.  I was pretty proud.  We also did all the normal tot school pack items.  He has a lot of those activities down very well.  He even decided that he wanted to cut out the tot schools shapes.  We did some letter L tracing and he did pretty well with that as well.  Also although no picture exists he drew a circle with sidewalk chalk for the first time!  Overall it was a very good week. 
We went for a walk outside this week and gathered leafs to create a nature collage.  Patrick really enjoyed gathering the leaves and putting on the glue but in the end he only glued down one leaf.  I also had him sort some paper leafs by color and shape.  He struggled with the shape sorting.  We tried to make patterns with the leaves and that failed miserably. 
 We talked a lot about Fall and what fun things we want to do this Fall.  Patrick still remembers some things from last year and is very excited about a trip to a farm. 
We visited local nature center one day.  It gave us lots of fun playing outside and exploring nature.  However one activity that Patrick just loved was leaf sorting.  It fit perfectly with this week's theme and he was very good at sorting the leaves into the right holes.  We talked a lot about the types of leaves and how different leaves come from different trees.  The nature center had a lot of other awesome things and we saw a turtle, looked at the lines on a tree trunk along with the leaf sorting.  Since you can't see in this picture the leaves are really thick wooden pieces that can get placed into the right holes then fall through so it's a never ending game.  
 Our final activity this week was that we got out our Fall sensory bin.  It's just beans with leaves and a rake.  Oh and a few plastic squashes.  It had pumpkins but those got misplaced with our Halloween items.  It was a hit with both kids.  And oh my is cleaning up beans easier then cleaning up colored rice!