Monday, November 30, 2009

Hans Hoffman Inspired Art

Hans Hoffman is the inspiration for this week at Open Ended Art.  I created a collage of Hoffman's work and posted it on the wall in Turbo's playroom.  We also looked at Hoffman art on the computer. Turbo looked at 10 or more pieces (a new record) and really enjoyed identifying colors and shapes on the art. His favorites were Autumn Gold and Landscape.

The supplies were paper, cut rectangles of various colors and sizes and a new painting tool - the roller.  Oh my, he was in heaven!!  He had so much fun painting with that roller!
He painted....

and painted...

and painted.

MUCH to my surprise he got his hands in the paint. It started with squishing the roller then proceeded to full finger painting!! 

This is hysterical because he does not like paint on his hands (at all!!) and I've been wanting to make handprint painted turkeys all month. He absolutely would not do it - even when Daddy and I both did. Now that he's broken the ice, I'm hopefull he'll do it again!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Overwhelmed and making adjustments

I've been a bit overwhelmed with Rick's seemingly non-stop travel and the added responsibilities of the new baby. It has been challenging to work in all the daily duties, our classes, playgroups, playdates and our tot-school activities. An extra pair of parental hands helps so much and I miss it when they're gone. My heart goes out to the military wives who have husbands deployed. They are true heroes in my book.

Until a class ended last week, we've only had 1 morning a week open. That quickly got filled with errands and such.  There just hasn't been enough time to do all the things I wanted to with Turbo and Sweet Pea. It's funny how just one short activity outside the house can require an additional hour or more for getting ready, commuting to and from, then getting settled at home again. Mornings are golden hours for learning and they've been disappearing during the week.

I've learned so much from all my TotSchool peers here in bloggy-land that I'm more confident than ever in my ability to teach and productivly play with my kids. I no longer feel like I need to have several classes to keep my kid(s) occupied. I know I can do that myself!  2010 is going to be a terrific year.

That being said, I've decided to cut back on outside activities next year. We won't be doing Mommy and Me preschool since the class wasn't well managed and the activities required so much parental involvement - I ended up doing several myself (and I'm ALL for the openness of art.).  We have two playgroups each week and I'll have to see how it works out. At this point I think I'll skip one playgroup day(each) per month. I'm sad to say I will likely drop MOPS this time around too. That will give us at 2 or 3 open mornings each week.  Music Together is the only class we're keeping, because Turbo absolutely loves it. In addition, it's the only class that is targeted for ages 0 - 5 in the same class - and actually works well!  

I'm excited about our upcoming TotSchool week. I have a lot on our plan and hope to accomplish most of it.  When we first started TotSchool, I was doing a letter of the week. We're getting back to that with the letter R  ~ inspired by a Rainbow we saw on Friday.

Stay tuned for some fun posts this week. I have several coming up....including a little gift sent our way!!!!

Are you adjusting your schedule in the new year? What changes are you making?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Life School!

This past week we had Rick's sister, her husband and their two wonderful girls here for a visit.  It was such a special time to share our home and lives with them for a short time. I'm so grateful for Rick's wonderful family and wish that we lived closer to all of them. Turbo was in HEAVEN with his two cousins ages 11 & 7.  Both girls were great with him and Sweet Pea. They were a joy to have around and we all miss them already.

As they hadn't been to Northern California before, we spent a couple days in San Francisco and then a couple days closer to home.

Here's some pictures of all our fun! (When I finally find my camera, I can post pictures of our other adventures / activities.)

Turbo and the two girls. 

Almost everyone (Brother in law is taking the picture & Sweet Pea and I are at home)

In one of the cells on Alcatraz

Just hanging around

Our weekly Music Together class

Me, Turbo and the girls making spin art and marble paintings (SOO FUN!!!). Turbo was not at all interested in doing the art - he wanted to wash dishes in the sink.  It worked out perfectly!

I'll find my camera soon - I hope. Pictures on my iPhone just don't cut it for the blog!! So happy to be back after our little break!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kids Bathroom Decor

The bathroom next to Turbo's new room needed some kid decor in a bad way. Until he moved into his new room, all his teeth brushing and such was done in our Master Bath - so the hallway bath hadn't been a priority.  Ages ago I found this idea and decided it was time to just get it down.  Here's the new pictures.

Super cute shower curtain, matching towels, a couple themed accessories and a Bulletin Board Under Sea Life pack from the school supply store (laminated) = DONE!  No painting required (thank the Lord!)

Turbo had so much fun placing some of the sea creatures and telling me where the others should go. Great thing is we can move them around or swap them out easily. Seriously fun!



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Walk, Run or take a Bus - Get to a Toys R Us!

Can you feel the heat? That's because this is a smokin' hot deal on Hasbro Games.
Toys R Us has great games for $3.99, $7.99 or $9.99.  If that wasn't sweet enough, you can score extra savings!
  • Spend $25+ on these games & TRU will give you a $10 gift card!   
  • Hasbro has a rebate offer of at least $2 for most of the sale games.   

Here's what I did.
Purchase #1 
7 of the $3.99 games that are also on Rebate - (See my game list below)
Total $27.93
$10 gift card
$14 rebate
= $3.93  ($0.56 per game!!!)

Purchase #2
2 $9.99 games and 2 $3.99 games (that are also on rebate See my game list below)
Total $27.96
$10 gift card
$8 rebate
= $9.97 ($2.49 per game!)
* They say your gift card will be activated in 6 hours, but mine worked right away on my second purchase.

All in all I purchased these 11 games (there are others available!) for $13.90.  WOOHOOO!!

$3.99 games:
Ants in the Pants
Don't Spill the Beans
Don't Break the Ice
Hi-Ho-Cherry-o (x2)
Chutes and Ladders
Memory (all versions)

$9.99 games
Connect 4

Between this deal and the Weekly Reader Deal, my gift closet is stocked for all those birthday parties next year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Correction & Praise

While these are usually two sides of the same coin, I try to make praise my 'go-to' side. As most kids, Turbo learns the best through praise, praise and more praise.  Lately, I've started creating opportunity for that praise.  Here's an example.

Turbo had been taking off his diaper during nap, then playing and finally peeing in his bed. This went on for weeks, almost everyday. I was never mad about it. I just spoke to him several times about not taking off his diaper (blah, blah, blah), then washed the sheets. I tried putting his diaper on backwards and that worked for a week. Then I decided to potty train. I didn't know what else to do and didn't think he should be punished for removing his diaper.  Turbo got sick and we had to postpone the training. With Rick out of town and company coming, we now couldn't do it until Dec or Jan. So, I came up with a different approach - Create an opportunity for him to "do" what I wanted and praise him for it. 

I decided to 'catch' him with his diaper on. I put him down for his nap and went back in after 10 minutes (since he was still playing). His diaper was off, but no pee. I made a big, happy deal about there not being any pee in his bed, put his diaper/clothes on reminded him to keep his diaper on then laid him back down. He continued playing. I went in after another 10 minutes. His diaper was on! To say I made a big deal would be an understatement. I looked like a lunatic - cheering, jumping, hooting, hollering, spinning, shouting "YEA Turbo", picking him up and swinging him around. All because he left his diaper on.  You should have seen his face. He was beaming with pride, smiling ear to ear and cheering along with me.  I set out to catch him in the act of doing what I wanted. It's a small change in tactic, but one that's really working for us.

Guess what, every day since then he's left his diaper on. Every single day. The first thing he says when I get him is "YEA! I left diaper on!!" every time. And I praise him for it.

The words we use with our children live in their hearts and minds. They genuinely want to please us and live for our acceptance and approval. Sometimes catching them in the act of being good is the best motivator.

I have a lot to learn about being a good parent, picking the right battles and making the right choices for correction. Some days I do better than others. Typically I'm at my worst when I'm tired and we're in a new place where I'm distracted. He's curious and wants to find/test the limits of the new location and I'm trying to keep up with him, manage Sweet Pea and talk/shop whatever.  I just need to avoid that situation when I'm too tired to handle things correctly. (what, I'm NOT superwoman? LOL~Nope!)  So, it's nice to have a strategy that work and builds up my son, his confidence, his security and our relationship.

I was inspired to write this by a post at Tired, Need Sleep. She's reading The Minds of Boys and wrote up some tid-bits on Love and Learning. It's interesting to see how the two are tied together. She has a great blog, so check out her other posts while you're there.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tot School

Cross Off Game:  Formerly known as Number Race, it was renamed by Turbo. He loved this game. We rolled the die, counted the dots and crossed off one shape next to the number rolled. Similar to this activity. I love that I had Turbo focusing on marking one spot on the paper. After about 10 rolls, he was done counting dots. We switched to using cards and we finished the paper.

Then we sorted the cards (You can use any cards at all - we used crazy 8 cards, you can even make your own)

We sorted things by their beginning letter.  It was soooo difficult to find something to use for J. Thankfully I hadn't put away our Halloween stuff yet, so I had a Jack-o-lantern.  I purposely used items from the house and mostly his toys to continue associating the letter sounds with our everyday things.

Drawing - he was calling out all the letters he was 'writing'. So so cute.

Color Round up!  - He get so excited to start the activity, but quickly get distracted while looking through the toys. We have a ton of things with red. Here's what we gathered before he was completely onto something new.

Our New Game - Lucky Duck. My friend Christy gave this to us (THANK YOU!) and he plays it many time a day.  While we were playing this game with Daddy, Sweet Pea laughed for the first time! Oh sweet music to my ears.  We were all there to see and hear it!!

Cleaning with feathers - next week is feathers for Open Ended Art.  I bought the duster at the dollar tree. Turbo is having a lot of fun with it before we dismantle it for our project.

Singing Yankee Doddle - "...feather in his cap..."  Me, I'm LMAO!  I'm so happy I had the camera handy.

Of course we did Open Ended Art, check out our Matisse inspired art.

Check out our 5 Senses Pumpkin Activity

To see what other families are doing - visit these two weekly linkys and be inspired!
1+1+1=1 and My Family Forever 

Pumpkins and 5 senses

I wanted to do a 5 senses pumpkin activity with Turbo for weeks. This week we finally had time!

While Turbo was napping, I put our workmat on the kitchen floor with the pumpkin in the middle. When we came down he was immediately interested. "why is the pumpkin there, what are we doing, why is the desk on the play mat...."

We sat next to the pumpkin, I told him he had 5 senses and asked if he wanted to use them. I played a guessing game to introduce the senses.  "Ok, here's number one, can you guess what it is?" Then point to my ear. Of course he said ear and I said, "Yes, and the ear hears things. Hearing is a sense."  We did all five very quickly.

Then we went through the 5 senses while exploring the outside of our pumpkin.  For instance, I asked him to touch the pumpkin and how it felt.  If he didn't give an answer right away, I asked leading questions "does it feel smooth, sticky, rough, soft etc." Then he would say yes/no.   I asked him to guess what it tasted like since I didn't want him licking the outside of the pumpkin.

His answers:
TOUCH: Smooth, soft*, hard, bumpy, heavy. Stem was rough and poky
SMELL: good and dirty (um, ok)
HEARING: quiet and butter (I'm at a loss on that one)
SIGHT: round and orange
TASTE: he projected it would taste sweet.
 * I made a mental note to explain the difference between smooth and soft as he described pumpkin skin as both. 

After his exploration and a good game of Pumpkin rolling, I asked what he thought was inside it.  He said toys! To show me he got a little toy and put the pumpkin on top.

After carving it open, Turbo pulled off the top and said "There are SEEDS, Lots and lots of seeds. Toys, nope."

He spent TONS of time scooping out seeds!  When he was done with scooping out, he scooped them back in. 

Then we talked about the 5 senses again for the inside of the pumpkin:
TOUCH: Slimy (this was his word, he said it so matter of factually)
Hearing: Quiet
Sight: Messy
Taste: Yummy. I gave him a very tiny sliver of raw pumpkin.

Carving a pumpkin face isn't something I wanted my 2 year old doing. Since things work out better on activities where he's the primary doer and I'm the observer, we saved that for next year.  I gave him a marker and he was happy as could be!!  He also learned about smearing. 

Good thing I waited until we had time. We spent 75 minutes on this one! Seriously, we've never ever spent this long on any single themed activity before.  I even ended it before he was showing signs of being done.  Got to love Open Ended toys!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Inspired by Henri Matisse

This week's Open Ended Art theme is the artist Henri Matisse.  After reviewing his art, I chose to do something like Le Gerbe.  I bought a leaf punch and we set to work.

The punch required a bit of arm muscle, so I held the paper while Turbo used two hands on the punch. When he first started, he couldn't get the punch without a little help from me. Then he figured out the leverage and pressure and was able to do it by himself with just stabilization help.  He absolutely loved punching the paper!

He's never used a glue stick before.  I'm not sure he realized it was glue - he likely thought it was a fat purple crayon!  

Then the experience went a bit south. It was completely my doing.  My sweet Turbo was experimenting with his materials (as we always do), fiddling with the punch and crumpling his leaves with happiness. Me, I sat and got frustrated ("don't do that" was heard more than once).  I tried to encourage him (ok, told him in a frustrated voice) to place his leaves...  It was everything I could do to keep my paws off his art. This is the first time I've felt this way about our projects.  Probably because it's the first time I've really had an expectation of the outcome. Plus, I really liked my idea - found a great art, bought a new I'm sure there was a bit of ego investment.

He did a terrific job, but it wasn't the art he wanted to create. I was a bit too involved and invested on this one.  Of course I'll have a lot more chances to practice and improve. Good learning experience for the Mommy today.

Go visit Mommies Wise Little Bookworms to see some other Matisse inspired art!  Then join in!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tot School

Turbo is 28 months. Sweet Pea is 12 weeks.

We had a terrific and week. It was busy with activites and Halloween parties, still we were able to get in a good amount of Tot School. Here some of the highlights.

Our Art Journal - We started an Art Journal. You can read all about it here.

We played with our bugs a lot this week.  Here Turbo is transferring and identifying all the bugs.

Honestly, I thought this would be a hit. Hiding his bugs in a container of rice. He loves the sensory aspect of working with rice and he loves his bugs. Good combo, right? Nope. It was like pulling teeth to get him to remove all his bugs. Go figure.

We quickly moved beans. He asked to scoop and pour, but ended up dumping them out and sorting. 30 minutes!! Yes, 30 and I ended the activity because it was time for dinner. I seriously am in love with these beans right now.


Walking while balancing a pasta on a spoon.  I've learned that he is not very interested in doing an activity if he doesn't get it right away. This was one of those activites. It required a lot of instruction and encouragement from me to keep him engaged in this. It was worth it. He learned a lot and was very, very proud of himself each time he made it to the destination.

Problem Solving - I'm driving, he and Sweet Pea are in their carseats. The sun is right in his eyes and he's yelling "TOO BRIGHT" over and over. I tell him to close his eyes or look away. He continues yelling. Then he's quiet. I look back. He's obviously assessed his surroundings and found a solution. He took Sweet Pea's blanket off her car seat and used it to cover his head. I was very proud. Thankfully Sweet Pea still faces backwards so she was fine.

Piano Playing by Elivs :-)

Pinata fun.  He did fairly well with hitting the target too.

Soap Play - this was an *ahem* unscheduled activity.  He decided to dump out all the liquid baby soap I'd left within his reach (opps) while I changed Sweet Pea's diaper. Not to let it go completely to waste, we learned about the thick texture of soap, how to rub it and get it foamy, we made letters and drawings in our soap, then 'erased' them and of course some cleaning practice.

Nature Bracelet - This was a BLAST!  I put a wide Masking Tape (you could also use packing tape or painters tape), sticky side out around his wrist to make a braclet. Then we went on a Nature Walk.  He stuck different things onto his bracelet. Some things were too large or heavy and fell off. We talked about why that happened.  He loved this activity and is asking for it a lot now.

Circle Time - Most every day, we gather his stuffed animals and Sweet Pea to have circle time where we sing a bit and read stories. While we sing and read a lot through out the day, there's something special about circle time.  It's so heartwarming and fun to see Turbo absolutely in love with Sweet Pea.

Kite Flying - Windy days = Kite! Check out my post here for a quick paper kite tutorial.

Color Round-up. We did Black this week. Turbo had a terrific time and has a great eye. I first saw this idea at 1+1+1=1.

Open Ended Art - This week was pumpkins. Check out what we did here. 

To see what others are doing with their kids head over to 1+1+1=1 and My Family Forever  (yep, found another terrific site that hosts a link up - go check it out!!)