Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tot School - Letter C


It was good to take last week off, and take a nice vacation with my Hubby's family, and then unpack and relax the rest of the week, but it was nice to get back to school this week, too. :) We tackled the letter C, and enjoyed it very much. :)

Here is our morning board for the week:

Z learned his verse very well, and if you can't tell, the song is O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E from Patch the Pirate, a favorite from my childhood, and he learned that really well, too, so we sing it often - such great words about obedience! Our Bible story was Jonah, and when we reviewed it today I asked him where God asked Jonah to go, and he answered "Nineveh!" :)

Here he is doing his Starfall calendar:

We play Starfall most every day, he will play while I'm folding laundry behind him.

He earned a few more new sight words this week! He also earned 'up' later in the week, too, but I didn't get a picture of the wall again. Also - though he knows these words on these cards, he can't always recognize them in books - is that weird? Does that mean he doesn't really know the sight words? A friend suggested that it is because of the different fonts in children's books, and I thought that was a very logical explanation. Anyone else have any tips/ideas?

We picked up an Aqua Doodle mat at our local thrift store last week for fifty cents! We have been using an envelope sealer as a marker, since it didn't come with any markers or anything. Z loves it! He drew a potato - can you see it (near his head)? :)

We also used the back of the mat when he played with his bottle cap word cards, but it was slippery and we almost fell a couple times, so we won't do this often - but maybe on the living room carpet, it might keep these kind of learning activities that have little pieces more contained! When I got the word cards out, he found his name by sight, so that was exciting, and he also found the m and p from camp & matched them up before getting distracted by something else. :)

We used our consonant cards to introduce the letter C (and review B).


We also did our A-C clothespin cards, but I didn't take any pictures. :)

We used our C playdough mat this week - here's Z showing off his ring (he wanted to keep it on till Daddy got home, but I talked him into just taking a picture instead):

We also traced on the mat with wipe-off markers:

He played with his alphabet desk this week, and was able to find several of the lowercase letters!

We always have a good time with our letter collages! We added glue to our letter C this week...

and then we stuck on some cotton balls! Z loves cotton balls!!!

Here's our letter C:

Then we mixed up some puffy paint (3/4 cup shaving cream with 1/4 cup white glue), though we put too much shaving cream in ours this time and it didn't dry well! :( Anyhow, we measured it out...

mixed it up...

and had fun with it!

We made clouds on blue paper, which was a lot of fun!

We even painted with the spatula some!

We went for a bike ride this week, and Z pedaled around quite well on his little trike!

He rode all the way down a kind of big hill from the basketball court at camp to our house - I was very proud! When we bought the bike in April, he had no clue how to pedal and had a really hard time with it, so he has learned a lot in the last few months! :)

My Tiny Tot

Natalie's biggest accomplishment this week was pulling up to stand! She will pull up on boxes & stuff around the house, but she hadn't pulled up in her crib yet. Then Friday night I laid her in bed, and after a few minutes, she started SCREAMING, so I ran in to see what was wrong. The poor thing was standing in her crib, with a death grip on the bars, petrified about falling, and with no idea how to get down. Hilarious! :) I calmed her down and she went right to sleep and to my knowledge it hasn't happened again! :) Here she is standing up one morning:

I got a new hiking backpack for $1 at a local thrift store - here she is enjoying it on our walk this week:

And, for her next trick, she will read a book! :) Okay, not really, but she loves to play with books and I thought it was cute:

I try to read a book every day with just her before she goes down for her nap (and after Z lays down). She loves reading already!!!! :) I especially enjoy reading touch and feel books to babies at this age, they are so enthralled by the textures. :)

Here she is sleeping like a rock just when it is time to leave for church (just for fun!):

Well, that's it for us this week! To see what others are doing for Tot School this week, head over to 1+1+1=1!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tot School - Letter B

We had another great week with Tot School this week! Here is a picture of our morning board:

Our verse and song focused on being kind this week, and our story was about the Good Samaritan - I read him the story on Wednesday, and then again on Friday. After I taught his Sunday School class, and witnessed him running around like a little two-year-old hooligan during the lesson, and then asked his assistant teacher, "Is he always like this?" and she answered, "Yes.", I knew it was time to work on sitting still! So we worked on that during our Bible story time each day! Z did very well with his sight words this week, we added 'a' and 'me' to the wall! He struggled a little with his verse this week, and every time Daddy would ask him to say it, he would say, "Be kind. That's all." :) At least he got that out of it! :) I forgot to mention last week, that we really haven't been doing a calendar during morning time, but occasionally (when I remember, that is) we use the 'calendar' game on starfall.com, and sing our 'Months of the Year' (Ten Little Indians) and 'Days of the Week' (Addams Family Theme) songs along with that.

Our letter focus of the week was B, and our unit is still 'vehicles'. We didn't do much with vehicles this week, Natalie had a couple of rough days, and I didn't feel so hot a couple days (once on the same day- be glad you were not here to experience me on THAT cheery day - woo!)...anyhoo... a couple of our activities fell through the cracks this week. But we still managed to learn a lot!

We started out on Tuesday with our letter B collage - we colored in our letter B with brown and blue markers.

Then we placed PLENTY of glue ALL over our B.

PLENTY of glue!

And we added some Buttons!

Here is our finished collage! It did eventually dry. :)


I found this cute page in some kind of early childhood book - I picked up about 8 books like this at a thrift store recently (for free!). The sticker pages were done, but the rest of the pages weren't touched! We're using them throughout the year! I cut out his picture & he helped me glue it on, then we colored the truck with crayons.

We used these clothespin cards this week (we did this with just A last week, too, I just didn't share a picture). Z correctly identified the baby letters on the first try!

Then we used this adorable idea - shape viewers - with the circle this week! I laminated these shapes, and then cut them out, and then taped on a large craft stick with packing tape. We walked around the house searching for circles one morning - it was fun. We found Natalie's doorknob...


a face (of course - is this not the first thing you would do with this? - I know I would (um, did...last week...))

a bottle of Natalie's gripe water stuff...etc. I think this was the grouchy day, so that's all the pictures I have, but we did search all around the house & had a lot of fun with it.


We used our letter B playdough mat again this week - here is the finished product:

Z didn't actually do this on his own, obviously. We made snakes, together, actually I made most of the snakes, and then I asked him where they should go, and he used the pieces I made to build the B's. Then we made more snakes and lots of 'ssssss' sounds were involved. Then Natalie woke up so our playdough fun got cut short. But it was fun. :)


On Friday, we played this animal match game (sorry, no pictures), and this (pictured) muffin cup letter matching game. You can see how long actually matching the uppercase letter magnets to the lowercase muffin cups lasted. By the time I grabbed the camera, Z was eating pretend muffins. :)


In our Book Basket this week:

My Little Word Book (Spanish/English Bilingual) by Roger Priddy
One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
Trucks Roll! by George Ella Lyon
Thruway by Anne & Harlow Rockwell
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Elmo's ABC Book by Sarah Albee
How Will We Get to the Beach? by Brigitte Luciani & Eve Tharlet
A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa by Johnathan London
Sesame Street Animal Alphabet by Kara McMahon
Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton
Busy Beavers by Lydia Dabcovich
Maisy Drives the Bus by Lucy Cousins
Maisy's Bedtime by Lucy Cousins
Bugs! by Christopher Nicholas
And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

Our favorite book of the week was Maisy's Bedtime - he had me read it many, many times. :)

I overheard Z 'reading' a book this week! We have a small board book of "Go Dog Go" by Dr. Seuss, and he was reading some of the words (he knows the word go, so I was practicing reading it with him earlier in the week). I'm sure he just has it memorized but it was pretty neat to overhear him saying the right words while looking at the pages! :)

Z had some pretend play time this week - I was feeding Natalie, and he was in the kitchen saying, "I am making muffins for Daddy. Making muffins. I need some peanut butter for Daddy's muffins. Oops, I spilled the peanut butter. I will get a rag to wipe it up. Spill...wipe, wipe. Spill...wipe, wipe. I am making eggs. I need some tuna for my eggs." :) He is getting to be quite imaginative! This is what I found when I came into the kitchen a minute later:


He wanted to cover up with this blanket while watching Sesame Street this week - super cute! :)

My Two Tots

Here is Zachary pushing Natalie on the swing on our porch! He is so fun with her, and loves to play with her. She was giggling really hard right BEFORE I grabbed my camera, of course. :) Today, on the way home from church, Natalie took a little nap, and Z informed me that she was asleep. A few minutes later, I knew she had woken up when I heard Zachary coo, "Did you have a good nap, sweetie?" :) Cuteness! :)

My Tiny Tot

Natalie is into EVERYTHING - one of my frustrations with her this week (other than teething- aargh!) was her constant fascination with this table!!! She crawls onto the bottom shelf of it. Then she can't get back down, so she cries for help. Or she tries to get down on her own and falls on her head. CONSTANTLY!!! I keep thinking maybe she'll learn not to get up there, but it hasn't happened yet!!! But she is cute...don't you think???



We'll be out of town part of this next week, so I don't plan to do 'school' next week, we'll probably just do some of the activities we missed out on this week after we get home, and I probably won't worry about posting. But you can check out what everybody else is doing and get some great ideas over at 1+1+1=1! :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Is In the Air?

Can it really be fall already?

I know it's the middle of September (!). I live in western NY state, and our leaves start changing colors and dropping off in August. My porch has leaves all over it. It has been cool and rainy most of this week and last week). The signs are all there, but somehow I just refuse to be reconciled to the fact that it's fall. I read on Facebook that someone was getting out their fall decorations, and I thought, "No. I can't. Way too early." but then I realized it isn't.

It seems to have come too early this year. Z asks if he can wade in the creek and I want to say yes, but instead I have to say, "No, it's too rainy/cold today. You're wearing tennis shoes and socks. And a sweatshirt. Maybe it will be warmer tomorrow." But soon I will not be able to say that, and I will have to say, "next spring..."

And we never rode on a paddle boat in the pond. And we didn't do nearly enough swimming. Or creek-walking (but there could never, ever be enough creek-walking in a summer). And we didn't go to the park nearly as much as we could have.

I wonder if most of the reason I'm not excited about fall this year is because fall is one season closer to December...and not that I mind December, in theory. In fact, I love Christmas...and decorating for Christmas...

but December means I'll have a THREE-year-old. AND a one-year-old. And no more babies!

And while part of me is greatly looking forward to that transition OUT of mothering this baby and into two toddlers who have slightly more flexible schedules...

another (big) part of me is wondering how it can possibly be fall. And just where exactly did these last eight and a half months (no, three years, really) go? And who gave them permission to go there so quickly?

And I remember the big changes between Z playing at the park a year ago in the fall, and when we were able to go back this spring and he could do so much more, and I think about how each of them will change over the winter, and all they'll each be able to do by spring, and I want fall (and time) to just STOP already! (or 'put it on pause', as Z would say)

Is anybody else just not ready for fall this year???

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tot School - Letter A!

This week was back to Tot School for our family! I was SO excited (and even nervous) about starting! We had a great time, and I was pleased to learn some things that Zachary already knew, and to see what he's picked up on, even in this first week! We tried out a new morning schedule to go along with our school routine, too, and it has worked okay for us, with a few tweaks here and there. :) Sorry, this post is going to be long, since it's our first week, I want to share about our weekly routine along with some specific activities that we did!

We started our morning 'circle time' this week, and this was my favorite part! Here is a picture of this week's morning board:

We started out by saying our verse together each day, and then singing our song together. This song was too hard for Zachary to pick up on the words, but I want to expose him to hymns along with praise songs and children's songs, and I thought he would enjoy chiming in on 'Hallelujah! What a Savior!' at the end of each verse, which he did pick up on. Then we looked at our sight words, and Z picked up I and go this week! The other words we worked on were is, it, in and a. He is close on each of them, but not quite there. I really thought 'a' would be the simplest word ever, but he says 'duh' every time I show it to him- this morning, I said, "THIS IS NOT A D!!!" :) Maybe soon... :) We will add a couple more words next week (me and my) since he mastered the two. Our verse this week was Isaiah 53:6, which he memorized and I got it on video, but I can't get it to upload! Hopefully I will get it to work out soon- sorry! (We are not memorizing references yet, since he doesn't understand how to find them in the Bible and can't read - we are focusing on hiding Scripture in his little heart.)

Our Bible story this week was the story of the Lost Sheep. We searched for a toy sheep that I hid in the living room and talked about how we are each lost, and need Christ, and God searches for us just like the Good Shepherd. Z enjoyed searching for the sheep and talked about it every day afterward.

On Friday, we had a non-school day, since we had to go shopping in town, and we got some great deals at the Dollar Tree! The dot markers were $1 each, but the playdough was all FOUR cans for $1, and the craft foam was 36 small sheets for $1.

They had foam puzzles - uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers! We picked up the lowercase letters, since we don't have a lot of teaching tools for those (most of my stuff is uppercase).

They also had some nice workbooks that are a little too advanced for Z this year, but for $1, we'll save them & use them next year or the year after!

And their 2011 calendars are out now, so we picked up some of those! I thought Z would want puppies (like he's had for the past 2 years), but he chose horses instead, so that surprised me!


On Tuesday (we take Mondays 'off' since that's my Hubby's day off), we introduced the letter A with a letter A scavenger hunt - he went straight to his room, found his stuffed letters, and pulled out the A. Then we found the A in a couple of pictures/signs on his wall that have his name on them, etc. He had a lot of fun with that! Later that day, we attacked our letter A collage (found here). We cut an apple in half and stamped in on our A page, and then glued the apple seeds on.



Zachary also stamped his arm quite well. :)

Here is our finished product!
Since Z loves his dot markers so much, I printed off some number sheets to use with them. You can find these here. I didn't know how he would do, but he did a GREAT job dotting in the holes, and even using the right colors!



Then we had free drawing time (on the back), and he drew a picture of Daddy - with dots for the eyes! This is the first time he's done any representational drawing, I'm so proud! :)

We played with pom-poms, and used these number cards to count the pom-poms. We made through numbers 1-4, then Z wanted to skip to ten, then our activity degenerated into throwing the pom-poms around, as always. :) Z loves pom-poms. :)


We have used starfall.com several times this week (and the past weeks) to help Z learn more of his phonics - it is an AWESOME free website, with all kinds of games/activities that kids can play/watch for each letter - I love it. Some days, he stands and plays on my laptop while I do dishes or fold laundry, and he can do it mostly by himself, I just stand by and help if I'm needed. :) It has really helped him learn the sounds that the letters make!

We used play-doh mats a couple of times this week - we used a #1 mat that I found here, and then on Saturday, we finished up the week with this A mat, which can be found here. The #1 mat was not a hit, he was distracted by something else, but then on Friday we bought the new playdough, so he was excited to play with that on Saturday, and did better making the A's. (I made the one in the picture just for illustration purposes). After this picture, we made more ropes/snakes out of playdough & placed them on the big A & he put it together himself. :)

Then we used the paper (in a plastic page protector) for tracing with a wipe-off marker. Honestly, I didn't plan any tracing for this year, because Z hasn't been interested in writing/tracing at all yet, but I traced the letters, and then gave him a turn, and I thought he did awesome!!!

Our weekly plan involves four 'school days' - we ended up doing three school days and two 'half days' this week - divided up the last day between Friday and Saturday. It worked really well for us - just the right amount of activities planned, not too much or too little, so I was glad for that. (My husband works Saturdays and has Mondays off, in case you think I'm weird for doing school on Saturday.) :) One new thing that we added to our schedule this week was individual play time in their rooms (actually, Natalie's schedule was off this week, so she never did get this time,
but Z did it two days) - he played by himself in his room for about 15 minutes (while I fed Natalie). I picked up this idea from Jessica's blog. It worked out really well because Natalie was having some nursing issues this week, so I really needed the quiet time with just her while she ate. The first day, he took his cars in his room, and lasted about 4 minutes before calling out the
gate to me. The second day, he took the pom-poms in his room, and his morning snack, and he was quiet the whole 15 minutes! He really hates being/playing by himself, so I think this will be a really good lesson for him!

Here's a list of what we read in our book basket this week:

My Little Word Book (Spanish/English Bilingual) by Roger Priddy
One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
Trucks Roll! by George Ella Lyon
ABC Animals by Darice Bailer
ABC with Pooh by Cassandra Case
Thruway by Anne & Harlow Rockwell
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Elmo's ABC Book by Sarah Albee
How Will We Get to the Beach? by Brigitte Luciani & Eve Tharlet
A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa by Johnathan London
Sesame Street Treasury: Volume 1 (Letter A and Number 1) by CTW
Sesame Street Animal Alphabet by Kara McMahon

Our favorite book was from the library - the 'How Will We Get to the Beach?' book - they want to take five things, but every mode of transportation leaves one thing out, and you have to guess which one - it is so fun -we read this book at least twice each day. :) I plan to keep most of these books the same, maybe adding in a couple of books that have to do with Boats or other B things. :)

Our 'unit' focus this month is vehicles, so we did one little counting activity that had to do with wheels on vehicles, we watched a video about cars one rainy afternoon, and we chugga-chugga-choo-chooed around the house a couple of different days (TIP: Asking your child if they want to Chugga-choo-choo to their room to get their diaper changed works MUCH better than asking them if they want to GO to their room!). :) Also, you can see that many of the books in our basket were chosen with the monthly theme in mind.

My Two Tots

Oh, I just love watching my two littles interact - it is SO much fun, I know I say it every week, but what a joy! I never realized how having two kids, though it is definitely twice the work, multiplies your joy WAY more than twice!!! :) Here are Zachary and Natalie playing together in the hallway, where Natalie ended up after crawling there, and sitting herself up. :)

My Tiny Tot

Natalie can crawl around now, and eats most anything she finds, so we have to be more careful about what's on the floors! :) Also, she can sit up from crawling, but she's too scared to fall back down, so when I hear her fussing, I usually look out to find her like this:

Here she is playing with her favorite toy, her turtle shape sorter from her Auntie Beth. The shapes rattle, and she crawls right over and rattles the circle each morning. :)

And here she is trying to pull up on the edge of our living room table. :) She is so fun, and usually so happy, but has been off her schedule this week for some reason. :(


Well, we've had great fun with school this week! Z enjoyed it so much that Friday, I pulled the morning board out to put velcro on our weather cards, and Z said, "Oh, we didn't do circle time today! Can we do circle time?" so we did. :)

To see what others are doing for Tot School this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1!

If you want to start doing Tot School with your little one(s), but don't know where to get started, 1+1+1=1 has some excellent resources for you!