Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tot School

We did a partial Tot School week last week since we had a playdate every day.  Playdates are always interesting. Some days Turbo plays with the other child and other days he just wants to do his own thing.  Mostly during park playdates or with shy kids he tends to go his own way. When we're at home or when he's with older kids (12-18 months older), he plays much more interactivly with them.   It's very interesting to watch the transition from parallel play to interactive play.  Of course Mommy is his biggest playmate right now, and that's just fine with me. The time will quickly come that I'm just the taxi, so for now, I'll enjoy the attention from him!

Cow Milking ~ As a follow up to our Farm Animal week, we 'milked a cow' using a latex glove.  Just fill a glove with water, tie at the top, prick a little pin hole in the tip of a finger, then squeeze like you're milking a cow. FUN!  This made it real for him and he thought this was a very fun and silly activity. Thanks to my friend Sarah for the gloves!!

Do you remember our sensory table from last week - it was dirt.  Well, it rained and I forgot to cover it. So this week we had....MUD!  Turbo didn't love it.  No mud pies for us. He just used the barn to scoop and pour a bit - then asked to wash his hands. 

Speaking of scooping and pouring, he asked for his dried beans again.  Let me tell you they still work! I get at least 30 minutes - if not 45- of mostly quiet while he plays.  I *heart* dried beans!!

Basket Play ~ I brought down a laundry basket to add to our day. It's always fun to see what he'll do with it. This time he was the band.  I tried to sing along with him - only to be told "Don't sing. You are the story teacher. I'm the song teacher"  HA!

Have I posted about his Strider Running Bike?  I saw this first on a review Carisa did last year and made a note this would be a great Christmas gift for Turbo.  Rick's parents bought it for him and we've had it since February. It is AWESOME!! He rides it every day, all the time! You'd think I'd have a better picture of him balancing, but no. He's usually riding while I'm doing chores and such, so this the picture I have.  I have no idea where his other sock or his pants went.   He gets going quite fast and is able to balance for several seconds without putting his feet down and it's usually just to give himself more momentum.  I've been very impressed at the quality of the bike and how much he loves it.  

We're doing a lot of cutting practice. In addition to cutting paper, he cut playdough into small pieces. He still struggles a bit with keeping the scissors in the correct position. I like that it challenges him and yet he still asks to do it. 

We're putting things on our head and trying to balance them for a few seconds.  He just likes to goof around with this activity right now. It's actually a lot of fun, good practice and a great opportunity for us to get silly with each other!

That's about it for Tot School last week. This week we're doing 'BIRDS and Nests.  I have some more resources to share so stay tuned for next week's post!

SNEAK PEEK ~  I have a GIVE-A-WAY coming at the end of this week! It's going to be about a Super Cool product I recently found. (hint!). 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Something SUPER cool!

I have a backyard and my son loves to play out there.  He plays well independently outside for a little bit, but really wants to be able to see me or check on me in the house. So we end up leaving the backdoor open. Since I don't have a screen door - that also means we have flies.  One day last summer, we had 6 - SIX - annoying flies buzzing around this house.  UGH.  I know you can relate!-right?

I've been putting off getting a screen door because I didn't think it would really be the best solution.  Here's what I wanted

NO yelling - close the screen door
NO damages - by running into it
NO slamming/banging - when it closes
No fussing around with the door when my hands are full
NO high costs
NO bugs

Sounds like I need a curtain right? That's what I thought too. Since I know how to sew now, I googled "make screen curtain" to get some patterns.   I didn't find a pattern, but I found a solution!!!

It's a screen curtain! Yep, someone already thought of the idea.  It's better than I could make it for sure.  The screen is a nice mesh, there are two panels that close together with magnets to enable hands-free use and then will close behind you. There are weights in the bottom to prevent it from blowing all around. It comes with the rod to hang. Seriously, this is exactly, exactly what I wanted.  The price - terrific!  I immediately purchased mine (I bought off amazon), received it quickly and put it up in 3 minutes!


If you need a quality, inexpensive and easy screen for your door - (tall, short, sliding, french) - take a look at BugOff Instant Screen.  I'm seriously in love with ours.  My house is full of fresh air, we're playing out back and there are no flies in my house! WOO HOO! Just wanted to share this amazing product.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tot School - Late

Turbo is 33 months & Sweet Pea is 8 months

Ok, so this is totally late! I didn't have internet since over the weekend. Sheesh! What did people do before computers, the net and blogs! Thank goodness for my iPhone or I would have been so sad!

Rick had to leave on Easter for a business trip and was gone until the following Monday.  While we really missed him, the days went quickly and we had a great time on all of our activities.  I had a full schedule to ensure we didn't go stir crazy!

I totally thought I took more pictures!  It seems I spend a lot of time holding something - a baby, a hand, a bag. The camera is an oft forgotten bystander. 

Here's some Tot School Activities:

Cutting: He's getting SOO much better! We haven't cut for awhile and he surprised me by doing a great job! I had been a little discouraged that he wasn't able to do a great job a couple months ago. Patience was the key here. His coordination, muscles and such just needed a bit more time. 

Letter of the Week activities:  Our letter this week was A for animals, ants etc.  I used Confessions of a Homeschooler's printables for our activities. For some reason I only took this one picture of all the letter activities!! So here's Turbo tracing. He's doing such a great job. We're working on holding the pen - I find that the taller the pen the more space he uses for his hand. I might try putting black electrical tape in two places so he knows where I want him to keep his hand. 

We also did our art from last weeks' letter of the week. Z for Zoo/Zebra.  We had such a great week last week - I wanted to use our pictures as a part of our letter. So we made a Zebra Z then used mini pictures of him at the zoo with his friends, the animals and such to glue around the paper. Voila!

Word Building: We love these Melissa & Doug See & Spell boards. There's 10 or so boards and tons of letters for them to use.  Each board is double sided too! It's all wood pieces and very sturdy. To set things up, I find the right letters for the boards I'm giving him and put them all on his tray along with the boards. At first I let him find and place the letters in the order he wants. Then we do it together placing the letters one at a time in the correct order - Sounding out the word as we go. He LOVES it.  
Sensory Tub:  As we're focusing on Animals our sensory table this week is DIRT.  Oh what fun was had with this one. Thankfully the weather cooperated!  We brought out our barn & farm animals (target dollar spot) and created our own farm, pens and lots of other farm pretend activities.  We had been to Little Farm just that morning so it was fresh in his mind.

Still, we continue to play with the Rainbow Rice. Its hard to put that away after just a week or two!! Check out my Rainbow Rice Tutorial  to make your very own!

Art: Our friend's babyshower was this weekend, so we painted her wrapping paper. I buy nice white wrapping paper as our base, then let Turbo paint all over it. I really love this personal touch. It also makes him feel like he was part of the gift too.  He surprised me with wanting to finger/hand paint!! Normally, messy hands are not to his liking!

In addition to playdates and other friend activities, we went to the Zoo again and also to Little Farm.  Little Farm seemed to be a large petting zoo. So there wasn't much 'farm' learning. However it was a great place to see farm animals up close and personal! Next week we're going to a real working farm! I'm really looking forward to that! 

Here's my favorite picture of the two kids this week.  Sweet Pea has such a look of happiness, awe and love for her brother. Melts my heart!

A few other things we did:
I posted some cute pictures of Turbo 'nursing' his baby doll.  Seriously sweet!!
Also in my Zoo week post, you can see the Zoo Animals Ring Book I made for Turbo and download a copy for yourself!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fun Week - already!

WOW, what a fun and busy week this week already.  The weekend was full of Easter activities and some sewing/crafting. I'll be posting all about it this weekend!  I'm really not very creative, but I can be crafty (read: I can follow directions well!)  Anyway, it's great to have so many projects checked off my list!

Monday we spent a lot of time outside enjoying our lovely weather. Turbo absolutely loves riding his Strider Running Bike.  Seriously, this thing is so cool.  It's a little bike with no pedals. He sits on the seat and uses his feet to push off. After just a day or so, my cautious little guy was already lifting his feet and gliding a bit. He really goes far and fast now! Our neighbors came out and the kids played together.  Its really a special thing to have a sense of community and friendship around us.

Tuesday we went to the zoo again with a friend and her kids. We all had a great time. I wasn't sure that going again so soon would be fun for him, but it really was.  He likes the familiarity of seeing the same animals and knowing what to expect. There was a lot of discussion about Siamang monkeys! I think he really likes saying Siamang.  Plus he had a whole week with the Zoo Animals Ring Book I made him, so he could tell me more about the animals. I added four extra pages to his Ring Book for Goat, Sheep, Bat and multiple Reptiles.

Today we did some TotSchool and errands in the morning. Then after an unsuccessful nap attempt, we went to a BBQ with a girlfriend that was visiting from out of town. We got home just in time for the kids' bedtime (AHHHH).  Both kids are wiped out and went down without a peep! So is Mommy and I should be going to bed too!

Tomorrow is another fun-filled day with a visit to one of our large city parks. There's a little farm onsite along with rides, a steam train, botanical garden, and more. Turbo is so excited to go and we're meeting a good friend so that makes it extra special.

What I realized tonight while preparing for next weeks tot school is that we didn't do as many theme related TotSchool activities as I had planned. That's not a bad thing at all, but I decided to extend Farm / Animal theme for another week to give us more time to do explore the theme after such great outings.  I think the outing/activity/stories combination is really going to work for us.

Ok now for some Sweet Pictures. I know I'll have to remove these in a couple years when he's mortified about them, but for right now, I have to share! 
getting his 'nursing cover'
 Aww, aren't those so sweet!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Zoo Week!

This week was our Z / Zoo week.  I really like tying our letters of the week with a main theme/activity.  Monday our playgroup headed to the zoo.  I was a bit nervous about taking both kids, but it was super fun.

The night before I made this booklet for him with animal pictures, name and facts. He LOVED it! I brought along star stickers so he could mark the animals he saw.We also used the start stickers to mark animals off on the zoo map.  For the first few animals he was really into it, but then we put it away so he could run around.   The whole way home he read looked through it again and again. He still asks for it.  Are you going to the zoo?   Leave me a comment or email me (there's a link in my profile) and I'll email it to you!   
 OK, I think I have a link for all of you!! HOORAAY!
Should you have any problems at all with the file, leave me a comment and I'll get right back to you!

In addition to the zoo and fun playdates here's some of our other learning activities:Build a zoo from blocks - The monkey is on a 'platform' just like at the zoo!

Rainbow Rice ~ LOVE THIS!! Seriously this enables me to have many a phone conversation in peace. I have a couple little spoons, funnel, cup he uses too. I always put this container on a larger tray and he is required to keep all the rice, toys and items on the tray. If not, we're done. While there's always a little to clean up from the floor, it's very minimal! Learn how to make your own in my little tutorial.

As I mentioned in this blog post, I'm going to be using resources others create for most of our letter activities. These are from here.

Letter Activities

Puzzle ~ now that I have a laminator (LOVE IT!) Turbo likes these activities so much more! The pieces are much sturdier and that really helps.  However, it also makes things more slippery. So I put our puzzle backsheet (printed in b/w) on a cookie sheet. Then I use glue dots to secure thin magnets to the puzzle pieces (printed in color). ~ Ok, not a letter of the week activity, but I wanted to give some kudos to this great resource. It's a message board where you post if you have something to OFFER or WANTED. I needed some thin magnets for the above activity & others so posted a request. Here's what I got and there's more waiting for me to pick up tomorrow! WOO HOO!  I've been using it for years and have been happy to both give and receive.

More fun with our Do-A-Dot markers

Number sequencing on our super-cool new pocket chart

Color Matching puzzles. Daddy cut these up and did a great job!

Music ~ Lots of Music as usual around here.  He's getting back into playing his keyboard. Until recently his guitar captured all his attention.
Puppets.  Got these ages ago on clearance and was so excited to make them. Then was disappointed because the bags were so small they didn't really fit my hand. Turbo didn't enjoy them - much to my surprise - so we'll save them for another time.  I have visions of Turbo and Sweet Pea putting on puppet shows for me in a couple years. 

Photography: He's very, very interested in taking pictures with my camera. While he has several cameras and a couple that actually work, he wants to learn mine. He got so much better the next day. As you can see, he wanted to take pictures of his Mommy. Awwww.

This week also marks the start of a few things.
1) Really asking "WHY?" about everything. I mean everything. Seriously. The wonderment of childhood!
2) Making up names for characters without one. For instance: The Cat in the Hat: the boy and the fish do not have names. They are now Drop and Gingoam respectively.  Although tonight the boy's name was changed to Ringack.  Hysterical.
3) Funny, I can't remember what I was going to type... Guess I need to go to bed!  Hmm, Maybe it's that he is saying "I DID IT" about everything he does. Very sweet.  I enjoy seeing his sense of accomplishment. 

This has been going on for awhile, but I haven't mentioned it yet. This kid knows the make of every single car he sees! It's so funny.  "That's a Dodge Ram" "That's the old Dodge Logo" (when he sees the old pentagon/star logo), Cadillac, Honda, Chevy, Corvette, Ford mustang, Oldsmobile, Mercury, Audi, Buick - you name it, he knows it.  Today was the first day in a long time he saw one that threw him off - a Daewoo.  This has been happening since late January.   Of course he knows the VW bugs. Every time he sees a Prius he calls it the "Toyota bug". I can't possibly correct him, it's so cute!!

Here's some cute Sweet Pea pictures - She's 8 months today!: