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.