Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tot School - Activities for Toddlers / Preschooler

Tot School
Turbo is 26 months and Sweet Pea is 7 weeks
What a terrific week!  We had several days of unexpected company this week which was tons of fun.  Still we got in a lot of Tot School!!  I'm not sure if Turbo is still a Toddler or a Preschooler. I suppose he's in that middle area of being 2! Either way, these are fun activities to do with Little Kids!

Art  - We did a bean mosaic for Open Ended Art - See what we did and the difference between Crash's and Turbo's  HERE

Alphabet Puzzle - Several new concepts for Turbo - from how the pieces fit together to matching pictures with letters.  We only worked with our recent letters of the week.  This will be a weekly staple to our Letter of the Week work.

Sorting - This was Turbo's first time playing with these. As such, I should know he wants to do his own thing vs anything I planned.  What was intended to be sorting activity turned into free play with the sticks.  Inspired by an idea from my friend Stephanie, I decided to start making letters with the sticks. I'd make the letter and show it to Turbo. He thought it was very cool. After a bit, he holds up two sticks in the shape of a V and beaming says "Mommy, V! V says va, va, va"  I was so proud that he was able to form the letter!! (ok, I still am!!).

Sorting Beans - We did a bean mosaic for Open Ended Art - See it HERE.  Turbo is crazy about beans right now. He wants to touch them, sort them, peel them, bite them, shake them, etc.  So we got out the beans many times this week!

Life Skills - Washing Babies at Mommy & Me. It was fun watching him do all the steps. His favorite part was holding the soap bar.

His favorite area at Mommy & Me preschool is the kitchen. He serves up a lot of pretend food to his friends.

Story Corner: As usual, we're reading many books this week. However, my focus book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see?.  With all our company and activities, we didn't get to doing all the Brown Bear story stretchers I had.   So we'll continue this book into next week to do the activities more.  Other favorites we've been reading are "Caps for Sale", "My n Book" - Turbo just loves that one for some reason. So N will be our letter next week. 

Fun Play - Here's some pics of Turbo and Crash out having fun. Its so cute how they incorporate Life Skills into their play. Turbo is carrying around the pail because he's "working on a project" and Crash is cleaning toys with the scrubby.  They both are all about repeating those things they see the adults doing. Sooo cute!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Friend Visit

Today was a terrific day on so many fronts. It started with a surprise visit from my closest friend from when I was 12, whom I haven't seen in over 7 years!! Her Mom (like a mom to me) and her Grandma were with her too. They were on holiday in my area, driving down the freeway and realized I lived close by - called and were all at my house 10 minutes later!  It was such a joy to give them a huge hug and reconnect after so long.  It's a special friendship that you can pick up like you saw each other yesterday. Despite time and distance our friendship still stands.  I'm reminded of how easy it is to get caught up in the daily routine with kids, hubby, work, household that we forget to tend our adult friendships.  Not just acquaintances or the online chat/email buddies. I'm talking about the real, in person, 'sit-down together and have a cup of coffee' friendships that fill our souls and warm our hearts. There's a few friendships that could use a bit of tending after a long summer and a new baby.  I'll be making some phone calls tomorrow.

To continue the terrific day, I was able to accomplish a great organization project for Turbo's TotSchool items.  You can read about it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting Organized

I was warned!  Those more experienced said to get organized before buying too many things.   Did I listen, nope.  My pantry was proof! There were shopping bags everywhere with the back to school items I purchased and didn't know where to put.  The last straw came when I wanted to do some projects with Turbo this week, but couldn't find the supplies as they were stashed in one of three places that are also disorganized. 

I decided during Turbos nap I would collect all of the supplies, sort them and find a home for all of it.  I anticipated doing it in phases - collecting today, sorting tomorrow, etc.  So I gathered everything and put it into a bin.  Now it was more disorganized than ever and I had no idea how to get it organized in a reasonable way with the space and tools I have.  I took a step back and  thought about the goal -  to know what I have and find it when I want to use it.

It came to me.... EVERNOTE!  My new tool that I'm loving right now.  If you don't know about Evernote, you can check it out here  Essentially it is a resource where you can store and manage all of your ideas.  You can clip a portion of a webpage or a blog that is of interest to you, send it to Evernote, tag it for further organization and sort them into different notebooks for structure. I use it for recipes, crafts, blog posts I really want to do with Turbo and more.

I decided I would take a picture of all our materials - mostly individually, but some in small groups like crayons and markers.  Then I would upload the pictures to evernote, tag each with the type of supply and the location.  GENIUS!  I was able to completely sort, photograph and find a home for all of our supplies within his nap today!! The home for most items is some boxes that are very, very roughly organized.  With the photos and tags within Evernote, my goal is accomplished. I have a visual inventory of our supplies and know exactly where to go to find it.  Is there room for improvment - YES, but I believe in the 80/20 principle. In this case, 80% of the benefit comes from the first 20% of the work. I could spend another month and $$ further organizing into labled containers and such - but it wouldn't get me much further than I am right now.  Plus, now I can easly add new items. Just photograph and add to evernote, tagging with the type and location.  Then, when we consume something, I can retag the item with a "to restock" or just delete it.

Sometimes we just need to start heading in the right direction and the solution will come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Open Ended Art - Bean Mosic

It's our first week participating in Open Ended Art hosted by Growing and Learning by Leaps and Bounds. The theme was Bean Mosaics and it was a TOTAL hit!  Turbo was very excited to use the beans and to make it even more fun, we had his best buddy Crash over today too.  We've been reading and learning about Fall, so I printed off a leaf template for the boys to glue their beans.

I did mention I was going to try to work with beans (a lot of beans) and glue with two 2 year old boys, right?  In efforts to make an easy outcome for the clean up crew, we spent about 30 minutes playing outside to wear them out a bit. Oh so smart!

There was excitement in the air as I put them in their chairs as they couldn't wait to get started! They were terrific with the beans and spilled very few of them. It was most adorable to see the different way they used the beans. They both started by putting down some glue and then placing a few beans at a time.

Then Turbo started playing with the beans being disinterested in the project.  It was sooo hard not to do it for him - even just placing one or two to get him started again. Yea, I resisted!  After a bit, I encouraged him back to the beans. He was into putting drops of glue everywhere on the leaf as he loves to squeeze the glue. Then (with encouragement) he scooped out most of his beans onto the leaf and then smoothed them around.  While he loved the project, he would have been very happy making glue art and playing with the beans.

Crash had a different approach. After placing a few at a time, he squeeze more glue on top of them and place more beans. He enjoyed placing a few at a time then adding more glue on top of them and adding more beans - forming a taller pile in the middle. He stayed focused on the project the whole time and really enjoyed it.   I was so proud of both boys for a job very well done!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Kid Break!

Ok, I realize this is only my 6th post and 2 of them have been crafty types.  As such, it's a bit misleading.   Let me clarify - I'm not crafty.  Or maybe I'm a bit crafty but not creative. Yes, that's a better fit. Best said - I can follow directions well.

Now that we've settled that, let me show you the new crafty thing I did today during nap time!   Actually got two things done.  First I made another owlie for Turbo's best buddy Crash.

Second, I followed this tutorial (AKA directions) for Baby Legs. Those are the adorable leg warmers for babies. They keep legs warm during diaper changes, under dresses for cool mornings and for cushioning knees while crawling.  I originally found it on Make it and Love it. Such a cute site! I also think this is sooo adorable, but it's not in my skill level anytime soon. 

Found some cute women socks in the dollar section and knew they'd be perfect for Halloween itty-bitty baby legs. I should have thought to take a before picture. So after sewing the first one and cursing the slippery fabric, then having some gaps where the layers didn't connect (UGH!) I remembered that pinning the layers together help.  Yep, I often forget about those useful pins. The second one turned out much nicer.  They look so cute on Sweet Pea!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kid Break!

Fall is coming and so is Halloween!  I saw some cute Owl Stuffies on the net and wanted to make one of my own!  I was so excited that I created one that very night! He's made out of felt and stuffing. Super cute and Super Easy!

Letter of the Week - T t

 Letter Learning! - T t
week of 9/13/09

This was a busy week with all of our activities starting.  Our mornings are full each day with playgroups, MOPS, music class or Mommy & Me preschool. Then we have lunch and nap.  There's so many things I wanted to do for T t week, but the afternoons are always for playing outside, so we squeeze in what we can before nap and after dinner.

T is for Trains, Teddy Bears and Trees

Train:  Turbo loves paperclips, so I thought this would be a fun craft for us. I cut an empty paper towel roll in half for the train cars (found that much easier than trying to get every little tiny piece of TP off the TP rolls.) The smoke stack is a clothespin. Since we didn't have black paint, I used my broad tip Sharpie and colored it. (Didn't want my son loose with a sharpie).

We also played with our trains/tracks and then pretended to be trains.  Super fun!!  Turbo loves these pretend activities where Mommy gets silly with him.  We laugh and laugh.

Teddy Bear & Trees: 

Since I didn't have craft paper, I used our local newspaper to cover the cereal boxes. While it's not the most attractive, I remind myself it's the process not the product that counts right now.  Better to do the activity than wait for the perfect supplies! I cut the bear shape out of a kitchen sponge to be our stamp and he stamped away.  Mostly he rubbed the stamp on the boxes (HA!) Stamping is a skill we'll work on more.  We had a lot of fun making this T!

Reading Corner: We gathered some  teddy bears and got ready for circle time.  We acted out:
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, reach up high
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, wink one eye,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, slap your knees,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down please.

After the rhyme, we read -Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall. Then pretend to be a Tree and got our paper leaves and have them fall all around us. Turbo loved this!! (see pics above)

T is for MESS!  We traced T t into shaving cream. So messy and so much fun!

Tot School - Preschool, Music and more!

Tot School 
TotSchool - Week of 9/14/09 
Turbo is 26 months old, Sweet Pea is 6 weeks old

What an exciting week of new fall activities! While it was very busy, it is nice to start into a routine after the summer and our Sweet Pea addition.  I decided that our new activities were enough structure for this week and our home time was spent playing in our everyday way.

Preschool ~ Monday was Turbo's first day at Mommy & Me Preschool.  In the morning, I told him we were going to do something new, go to Preschool. Oh my goodness, he was over the moon excited.  He jumped up and down saying "excited, excited" "Lets go to preschool".  Heart-melting! (and a bit funny since he didn't know what preschool is!).  This looks to be a great class. The room is nicely organized with many different things for the kids to do. Right by the door is the sensory table with beans. He spent a ton of time there -scooping, pouring, raking and more. He also spent a lot of time between the painting easel and the play-kitchen area. He would play with the food (pretend cutting and eating), wash the dishes, then run back to the easel to continue his "masterpiece in the making".  It was adorable.  He also did some lacing with small beads.  He even sat for circle time!!! Seriously!  Of course I forgot to bring my camera! UGH!! Thankfully we had so many friends in the class that took pictures. Hopefully I'll update the post with some soon.

Music Together ~ We've been in Music Together since Turbo was 7 months old. He has and continues to love it. This spring he started singing the songs while he's playing his drums or other instruments at home, plus he wants to "read" the song books every night.  I have been looking forward to this session all summer!  Turbo was so excited to see his teacher again and had a wonderful time in class. We'll continue to look forward to this every week! (picture is from March '08)

MOPS ~ Mother of Preschoolers. This is at our local church. Ok, so this one is really for me and he goes to childcare - or at least that's the idea anyway. He does really well if I drop him off or have someone watch him. He's always seemed so secure in that way. At MOPS last semester, there were bouts of separation anxiety, but he calmed down quickly and had a great time.  This time, he cried when I was going to leave, I calmed him down and left.  A bit later, they came to get me as he had started crying again and wouldn't stay calmed down.  We went back to his class together ~ where I stayed for the rest of the session. I couldn't be away from his side without him getting anxious or coming over to me. When it was playtime outside, I got him to go with the assurance I would stay in the classroom. He played great for about 15 minutes and then burst into sobs on the playground. Those of you who know Turbo know this is a HUGE change in his personality to be so insecure. It absolutely broke my heart.  Is it because of the baby? Have we been insensitive to him in someway that makes him think I'm not coming back for him? Oh the questions go on and so does the Mommy guilt. We're still going to go to MOPS, although I'll likely spend a lot of time in child care.  I'm going to get him a little heart he can keep with him so he knows Mommy will be back after class. We'll just take it slowly, talk about it and see how it goes. 

Playgroup ~ Turbo's playgroup was loads of fun as usual! The kids are at most 7 months apart. We've been together for over a year and have formed great bonds. I love watching them move from total parallel play towards interactive. They have little discussions with each other, know names and look forward to seeing one another.  It's very special to have these relationships forming at such a young age.

Swim Lessons ~ This is a Daddy and Turbo activity. I didn't go this time as I was exhausted from a busy week and used the opportunity to take a nap with Sweet Pea! (picture from Feb '08)

Other than all those activites, we did a lot of the usual play at home ~ laughing and learning along the way!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letter of the Week - H h

Letter Learning! - H h
week of 9/6/09

FUN TIMES ~~ We've started doing a letter of the week! Turbo is great with his letters. He can identify all uppercase letters and knows the sounds of all but 4 of them.  He doesn't know his lower case letters as well, so that's our focus!

This week is H h.  In Turbo's room, I tape up a large Uppercase H and Lower case h along with a sheet that has many words that begin with H.  I forgot to take a picture before we took it down, but check out our letter of the week post next week for a picture.

Craft Activities:  Craft activities are hit or miss with my son. He prefers unstructured art play and has little patience for something more structured. So we just do a little at a time.   Our craft this week was Hole Punching - it was something new, so he was very, very interested.  He punched holes in the H h template and had a great time. We were going to sprinkle the holes back on to the paper and glue them, but he had enough of holes, so we moved on.

Play Activities - We've had so much fun with H activities.   
Hopping is always a big hit, espeically when we do it together and all silly-like making the h sound as we go.
Pretend Happy Birthday - Oh it doesn't get better than this! He uses our large plastic cups (like the large drink cups from fast food) and puts his flashlight down on the top of them to pretend its a candle and sings happy birthday.  We must have done this a hundred times this week.
Hokey Pokey - this was a bust. He's so into music, I thought he'd love it. Nope, just looked at me like I was dumb for shaking it all about.  HA!
Hide and Seek - Turbo is a very good hider. He will sit still and quietly while I look for him - even if I take a very long time.  It makes the game very fun for both of us!
Hop Scotch - My expectations were a bit high with this one.  Once we just jumpped on the numbers it was better.  Next time I'll use our letters in the boxes!

Reading Corner:  We read My "h" Book by Jane Belk Moncure every day (sometimes several times) as it's cute, focuses on the letter and Turbo really likes it.  It is so cute to hear him reciting part of the book in the car.   "Little h had a box...." We borrowed the book from the library.
Then I'll pick another one of his books that a current favorite to read with a focus on the letter of the week.  This week it was Jolly Barnyard - Little Golden Book.  Farmer Brown is having a birthday and feeds all the animals. Several H words (happy birthday, horse, hen etc), so it works!

Nursery Rhymes: Turbo loves rhymes so we recited Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock and Hey Diddle Diddle several times this week making funny H sounds and acting out the stories.

Letter T t is next week!  I'm looking forward to all our T activities!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tot School - Week of 9/6/09

Tot School
Turbo is 26 months old.  Sweet Pea is 5 weeks.

My first Tot School Post! As someone who's followed so many Tot-School posters, it's going to be fun to join in with everyone. Plus, I'm excited to have a blog to post about it!! I hope you join us each week for some great ideas and fun learning.

Here's what we did for Tot School the week of 9/6/09. I'm still getting used to having my camera within arms reach to get pictures of everything - so some have pics and others you'll have to use your imagination!

Letter of the week -  Our letter this week was H h. I will put up another post specifically about our H h activities.  Read about it HERE

Lacing Snake - Turbo continues to ask for this activity. He's been threading for a long time now, so I'm not sure why this still holds his interest, but he loves it.

GeoBoard - My dear friend made this board for us after I sent her the idea from Spinner's End Nursery School  We've only played with it a couple of times and he's getting the idea of how it works now. At first he takes all the bands off, then puts them around two pegs each. Then I showed him how to make a triangle and he was all about it. I didn't get pictures of that - next time!


Erasers and Pattern Cards - Turbo loves his Note Erasers from the Dollar Tree. I can't believe how many hours he's played with these things and they only cost $1!!  It was another idea from Spinners End Nursery School She created a pattern card using pictures that look just like the note erasers. Turbo is getting the idea of patterns and starting to enjoy this activity. While he asks for his erasers often, he doesn't always want the pattern cards too. That's ok, I use them next to him and he joins in when he's ready.

Scooping and Pouring - While he loves this activity, it really doesn't end well - at least for the clean up crew.  I need to monitor him more closely for when he's getting tired of the activity and sends things flying.  However, he has a lot of fun scooping and pouring the lentils.

Toddler Teasers - These are an group of iPhone Applications.  Turbo asks for them every day. I knew he knew his shapes, colors, numbers 1-9 and capital letters, but seeing him get all the questions right and really love to play it is so much fun. There's another application called Teach Me Toddler that I really like too. You can set it to use lower case letters as well as numbers through 20. I haven't shown it to him yet. Once he's board with Toddler Teasers we'll move on.

Jumping off the hearth - Turbo is great at jumping up and down and has been doing that for a long time. He's a cautious one (yes I know how blessed I am!), so he's not been jumping off things. He more, um, steps, sort of.  So we're working on jumping up and out. I started this activity by just getting up on the hearth and jumping off. WOW! Did that ever get his attention. He though it was so funny that Mommy was standing on the hearth and then jumped. We did this for a long time and I'm sure will be doing more as the week progresses :-)

Color Wheel - One of my favorite blogs - Little Hands, Big Work  (don't you just LOVE that name) had this great post about a Wheel of Learning. So I made one for Turbo and he loves it.  At first he only wanted to play with the clothes pins since they were new to him. Now he removes the pins, matches the colors, stacks the pins etc.  He doesn't often ask for this, but is always happy to play when I get it out. 

We also had a lot of outings to the library, outdoors to play and nature walks.  Of course we did a lot of reading too.   

Thanks for joining us this week. Stay tuned for more coming soon!