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!

E is for Egg

This week we didn't do too much and it led into the next a bit.  Both kids had the stomach virus this week, which meant it was a pretty lazy week. 

Most of the basic activities we did this week came from the totschool packet from 1+1+1=1 for E.  Patrick really great at completing these activities now.  We probably need to start adding more work that challenges him a little more but I like the constant review of the letter along with colors, shapes and numbers. 

Throughout the week we slowly matched all the upper and lower case letters on eggs.  We did 5 or 6 at a time.  I have tired having him match upper and lower case letters before giving him all the letters, which overwhelms him.  Doing it in small batches meant that he was mostly successful.  There were only two letters in the whole alphabet that he was unable to match.

We practiced writing in salt.  It was fun and he really enjoyed it.

Since he was sick this week a lot of time was spent in bed sleeping.  Here he is curled up with his sister.

The highlight of the week for him was an experiment using milk, food coloring and dish soap.  He absolutely loved this experiment.  I had him draw what happened too on his paper.  One before, during and after.  If Patrick had his way we would have done this experiment like twenty times.  In the end I let him use a toothpick to mix up the milk. 
Overall this week we didn't do some of the activities I had planned simply because we lost two days with him being sick.  I probably could have tried doing school time when he was sick but I wanted to let him rest. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sensory Play with Half the Mess

I love giving my kids a chance for sensory play.  And I understand there will be mess.  However we don't really have a good place for them to create a mess. Our kitchen is fairly tiny and narrow with no good spaces for the kids to play so that's out.  Our deck needs to be power washed and the kids come in covered in dirt if they even go out here little less if I let them sit on the ground out there.  I think it's so dirty because of my husband's beloved charcoal grill.  Out front there are steps that my daughter loves to go up and down limiting her already limited baby attention span. 
That leaves our carpeted basement, bathroom and the rest of the house that has hard wood floors.  So nowhere really ideal for something like rice.  I wouldn't mind the basement but it's been out of commission for six months due to some flooding and if I vacuum afterwards then most of the rice might get sucked up leaving less for next time.  I really like to reuse the sensory bins I create not have to add new rice each time.  So I've come up with a couple short cuts to cut down on the mess.
I first tried putting down a blanket.  It worked pretty well but pieces of rice inevitably fell off of it and since it had little areas where rice could get it stuck it was difficult to really get it 100% cleaned off.  Here the kids are using a St. Patrick's Day bin on it.
Next I tried a sheet.  I thought a Queen size sheet would give more space so less would end up off it and it would allow me to gather it up easily.  It did work fine for something things like the coffee beans my son is playing with in the picture.  But it was still tricky to clean up and stuff ended going off accidentally especially with rice.

Then I got a Kusiner toy box from IKEA.  I love it!  It's just big enough for both kids to sit together with a small bin.  Or they could use it independently with a larger one.  Stuff does still come out especially when they are getting in and out or if my daughter throws a handful or two.  But I feel like I have it more contained.  Plus the box folds up when we're done for easy storage.  Makes it a lot easier then a small baby pool, which was another idea I had at one point.  Now the downside is rice will get stuck in the grooves.  But that's not too big of an issues since we only get it out for sensory play.  Being able to clean up quickly and easily lets us do sensory play more often.  Also for really messy play like shaving cream then I just put them in the tub. 

Baby School 14 Months

This week in baby school we actually did quite a bit on a couple days due to short naps.  Mary is fourteen months old.
We got out our yellow sensory big again.  Just yellow rice and yellow objects.
I tried to get her to do some coloring.  She wasn't really into it at this moment but for the most part she is starting to enjoy coloring.

She tried sticking golf tees into Styrofoam.  Later we got out hammers to hit them.  This was a little too difficult for her.

Ice cube tray plus some spikey balls equaled quite a bit of fun.  She loved putting them into the slots and taking them out again.  I added some pom poms so she could fill the tray.

 We did play doh but she didn't really get super into it.  She also still tries desperately to eat it making it hard to keep it out for too long.

Not baby school related but she had her first day of swimming class.

We got out a shape sorter and well sorted the shapes.  Mary can do it if she has the shape that is closest to her but she hasn't caught on to trying different holes yet.  She finds circles the easiest since there is less turning.

We colored in a box!  Just an box bigger then her and some crayons.  She loved this activity. 

T is for Tools

This week we focused on the letter T with a theme of tools.  It worked very well since my husband worked on a building project this weekend causing us to spend a decent time at Loewe's.  Patrick really enjoyed some of the hands on activities we did this week.  For more Tot School ideas check out the gathering at 1+1+1=1.
We used parts from the letter H for hammer tot school printables from 1+1+1=1.  Even though we were working on T not H it still had lots of nice additions.  Patrick is getting pretty awesome with his colors.  He did the coloring hammers page with almost no assistance.

We used wiki sticks to spell out PAT.  He had trouble doing the letters besides T.

Absolutely his favorite activity was hammering golf tees into Styrofoam.  He did this activity again and again pretty much every day during the week. 

We used screws to work on some fine motor skills with loosening and tightening them.

We built things with play doh then identified their beginning sound.  Here Patrick is making and cutting up his pizza, which he correctly identified started with the letter P.  He still struggles with isolating the beginning sound without help but is getting better at it.

We got some big deliveries recently and had two large boxes so the children colored in them. 

We got out the yellow sensory bin again. 
We also got out some magnets and Patrick went around finding objects that were magnetic.  He really enjoyed this activity but I didn't have a chance to grab my camera and take a picture. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baby School

This week we didn't do a ton of stuff for baby school.  But I tried to make an effort to work with Mary one on one at least a little bit.  While Patrick was in school we went to a storytime.  It didn't go well and we left halfway through but I'm hoping that we can start going weekly so that she will learn to sit and listen. 
We did egg shape sorters.  Mary can't put the eggs together yet but she had fun putting them into the carton.  I think it works on one to one correspondence.  She loves putting objects into other objects. 

We got out some blocks and did some building.  Mary wasn't feeling very well today.  But she had some fun building towers. 
At the actual beach we had lots of time to play in the sand.  Mary couldn't quite figure out how to dig with a shove but she loved picking up some sand with her fingers and put it into the shovel.

Tot School Beach Vacation

If you want to find more Tot School Ideas go here.  This week has really been kind of a bad week for schooltime at home.  Monday was Labor Day and Patrick started going to his preschool so he was gone two mornings this week.  I didn't take any pictures of Patrick working on the pack from Gift of Curiosity.  His favorite activities were the sun glass shape match, memory game with flip flops and star fish size sorting.  He struggled with the shadow match, which picture doesn't belong and the coloring according to the key.  He did OK with the flip flop color matching and the color maze.  We also got out some shape eggs from the library. 

Patrick spent a lot of time on the ipad on Thursday.  Mary wasn't feeling well and I had to pack for our trip.  I would rather not admit exactly how much time he spent on it.  He did play some endless alphabet and mostly watched documentaries.  He's really into watching marble runs too.  I wish we could get out some marbles and make our own but he put some in his mouth last time they were out so we're taking a break from marbles. 

While at the beach Patrick had a really wonderful time.  However one part that many might not have considered as wonderful was spying a dead dolphin on the beach.  Patrick thought it was quite interesting though and has given us lots of opportunities to talk about death. 

Patrick loved playing the sand at the beach.  He really loved scooping it up with shovels and putting in his bucket.  Lots of pouring and digging this weekend. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Baby School

I felt like I started really working on Patrick learning things a little late.  So I've decided to start doing some baby school activities with Mary.  She is 14 months old.  The big issue is that she's not speaking yet.  By doing activities with her I'm hoping that it will give us even more time for talking and perhaps that will help encourage her language.  Right now we're doing them all together with Patrick involved since this week Patrick didn't have preschool and lost TV all week.  But I still tried to focus in on her while we worked. 
We did pudding painting of their names.  This was a lot of fun and started just working on the idea that she has a name and it involves letters.  Plus a fun sensory experience. 
We did lots of pom-pom play this week.  Mary loved sticking them into a container.  She was pretty awesome at it and even managed to pick them up using tongs!  Really great since my son couldn't do that yet at this age or even until he was around two years old. 

I made a yellow sensory bin.  Patrick helped me find the objects and I added some yellow rice.

They had a blast playing in the sensory bin.  Lots of fun!  I'm not really working too hard on colors yet but figured it's a great time to start introducing the concept and once again this was a fun sensory experience for her.

F is for Firefighter

Here is what we did in tot school during the week.  Here is a link to the Tot School Gathering.  We were pretty lazy about the summer about doing school time but I wanted to get back into it since while we do send him to a preschool it's not a very academic one.  I really want to work on letter sounds with him so I decided to start a letter of the week.  The great part of this is that once Mary gets big enough to really join in then she'll be able to participate as well just with some adjusted activities.  Right now Patrick is  41 months old.
Patrick decided to add stickers
Since we're  working on Patrick writing the letter we're doing to do them in order of their difficulty starting with letters that are just straight lines.  I wanted to start with something that would immediately have his attention so I decided to do F for Firefighters.  He has been obcessed with firefighters for the past year.  All week he was eager to do school time.  We also made it part of his behavior chart so he earns a star each day that he does school time and if he gets 20 stars at the end of the week (for doing school time, not harming anyone, getting dressed and other things) then he get a treat of some sort that has been selected at the start of the week.  This is making both of us stay on top of making sure he does school time each day.
He loved his fireman printables from Home School Creations
I downloaded a lot of different things online to put together our F is for Firefighters activities.  I used pieces from both the letter F tot school pack and Reading Rock Stars letter F tracing from 1+1+1=1.  I also used the Firemen printables from Homeschool Creations.  He really loved coloring the fire trucks, which is usually something he does not enjoy.  Patrick's favorite activity though was getting out some shape flashcards and driving his fire truck over them while calling out the shape.  He has his basic shapes down but still gets confused by some less common ones.  He kept calling an octagon an octopus. 
His absolute favorite activity of the week was a sink or float experiment.  I have been getting bad about doing science with him.  He really does enjoy them a lot.  I gathered various objects for him and had him sort them first into what he predicted would sink or float.  Then I recorded these predictions on a piece of paper.  After we'd predicted he tested it out.  I wrote down all the objects and when he had the result he used S and F stickers to record his observations.  He did the experiment over and over although it did turn into just water play at the end. 
Pudding painting was also a big hit.  I have a whole post about just that activity.  This week I also started integrating Mary into some of our activities and visa versa.  I decided to create a yellow sensory bin for her and Patrick helped by gathering yellow objects for it.  Then they played with it together. 
As a special treat to end the week I printed off some Fireman Sam coloring pages for him to color.  He's obcessed with that show and they were definitely a highlight of the week.  We also did a lot of reading of fiction and non-fiction books about firemen. We also talked about the difference between a fiction book and a non-fiction book.  Pom-pom play was also a big hit with both kids this week.