Monday, March 14, 2011

Tot School - Letters R & S

Well, as has become typical for me lately, I have not been doing a very good job of taking pictures or of posting my Tot School on time - so here are two different weeks of Tot School, posted together once again at a random time of my choosing. :) Well, we did take the time to study R and S these last two weeks, and we had a lot of fun with it! I love that Natalie (14 months) is old enough to learn & explore the things we're doing (sometimes) right alongside Zachary (39 months)! :)

Well, I don't have a picture of our morning board from our letter R week, but our verse was "Remember your Creator while you are still young" and Zachary learned it well. Our Bible story was about Creation. :)

I made a simple slider out of a piece of cardstock to go along with our clothespin cards, and we've used it for two weeks now, but I have forgotten to take a picture of it - it is a card with two slits cut in it so you can slide the clothespin card into it & only see one letter at a time - Z enjoys using it to show me which baby letter matches the BIG letter on the card. :)

We also used our Wikki Stix with our #4 playdough mat to make a number 4! And we played with the Wikki Stix & let Natalie experience them, too - she really enjoys sitting at the little table with us & playing with the wikki stix! :)

Zachary took this picture of the 4 we made!

Z & Nat played with our Melissa & Doug sound puzzles - we have the vehicles & musical instruments - and they both love them! Natalie can't put them in the right spots yet but she has figured out how to cover up the sensors so the puzzles make noise. :)

We made an R with Red Rice! I dyed some rice red by using a recipe I found online with vinegar & red food coloring - Zachary helped me shake it up & then we waited for it to dry. Then we put plenty of Z's favorite - GLUE! - on the R collage page!

Then we sprinkled on the red rice! (Side note: I only had brown rice on hand, and no white rice, so I think the rice would have been redder if I had the right kind!)

We even got rice on our hands! :)

PLENTY of rice on the R.... :)

And then we shook the extra back into the bowl & I dumped the leftovers into a sensory tub with some dry beans that we play with sometimes! :) Here is our finished Red Rice R!

We played our Schoolhouse Math game that I found on this site. It is a cute board game - the cards say +1 or -1 (numbers 1-6) - and there's even a 0! Zachary really likes to get 0! :) He doesn't get the concept of plus and minus yet, so we just use the numbers & count forwards that many & see who gets to the end first. :) It was fun! :)

Then last week, we studied the letter S! Here is a picture of our morning board before an unfortunate incident caused our verse pocket to become detached from the board, so I couldn't get another picture! :) Z is putting the S is for Sit-ups card on the board. :) Our verse was 'sing a new song to the Lord' and we read a psalm for our Bible story! We discussed how God likes us to sing old songs to Him, but also to make up new songs for Him! :) Our song was Blessed Assurance, and I loved hearing him sing the chorus at other non-school times throughout the week, too! :)

On a side note, Z loves music! It is so neat how he picks up the tunes & the words to songs, even when he hasn't heard them very many times! We recently traded our car in for a van & it came with a subscription for satellite radio so we've been listening to the Christian station on there with the kids a lot lately! At one point during the week, Z was singing & stopped & said, 'You're listening to the Message on Sirius XM' which is the station we always listen to - it totally cracked me up! :) I also overheard him singing the chorus to a newer song we've only heard a few times on the radio called Seventy Times Seven, about forgiveness! I am so thankful that he loves music & it is such a blessing to hear him singing old & new songs to God! :)

Well, for our letter S collage, we used stamps & stickers of things that started with S! This was a really fun collage to make! :)

Z just really loves stamping...he must take after his mother... (I love stamping cards & scrapbooking, when I have time!) :)

Nat enjoyed taking the stamp pads out of the box & putting them back in. :)

getting ready to put on the stickers...

Here are the stamps we used - a snake, a snowflake, and a star! Z did a good job 'stamping in the lines'! :)

And here is our finished S! It looks so cheerful up on the wall!

We also made this paper chain, which I love! :) It counts down the days until our vacation, and now it only has 3 loops on it!!!! Z said this morning, "Wow, it is getting really short!!!" Woo-hoo!!! We are going to TN & getting together with my Hubby's whole family, and I can't wait! :)

Z played with his uppercase/lowercase matching puzzle this week & had a good time matching the letters & making the pictures look like they're supposed to! :)

We also played Potato Heads! :)

And Z looooves writing with wipe-off markers! This kept him busy 2 days in a row, for about 20 minutes each time...until the incident I mentioned in my previous post... :)

We also made this spider craft, which Z loves playing with! The legs are supposed to be made of felt, unfortunately, ours are made of construction paper because I had no felt! :( Felt would work a lot better - I think 4 of our legs are already taped back together! :) We also had to tape the eyes on because the glue would not hold them on! But it was a fun craft & really cute - I found it here and I was very thankful to have found an old film canister that I kept for some beads in my sewing kit!!!

I was excited to find this Clock Puzzle at our Dollar Tree store, for only $1 of course! We played with this one day & Z enjoyed it but Natalie kept trying to eat all the pieces, and some of them are small, so she ended up having to wait in her bed till we were done. :( This will be a 'Natalie's naptime' activity next time!

The kids watched Word World this week - I love this show & so do they, obviously! :) Actually, Nat isn't much for TV, she'll only watch for a second, then come find me. She does like when Elmo is on Sesame Street, but that's about it. :) Z watched Toy Story this week, though, for the first time (actually he has watched it twice now) and enjoyed that. :)

And I love this picture that Z snapped of me reading to Natalie! She loves to read books - for about 30 seconds per book! :) She loves her Curious George board books & can point to George if you ask her where he is! She also loves this big Elmo book, and another book by Sandra Boynton called Perfect Piggies - when we were reading it yesterday she made a piggy sound that was sooooo cute! :) And she can say 'oof oof' when she sees a dog! :) Although our neighbor's dog who always comes to our house & we tell him, "Go home!", she calls "Go". :)

To close, here are some cuuuuute pictures of the kids - I made these collages on picnik. Have I told you how much I love picnik lately??? :)

Here is Natalie - I love the precious face in the first picture, the yogurt face in the 2nd, and the general cuteness in the third. :)

And here's Zachary - somehow Mr. Potato Head time always evolves into dress-up....Natalie started it by putting the glasses on her neck, it was so cute. Then Zachary took some of his own pictures of himself (on the ends), and then I took one of him, too! :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed our random Tot School posting! We're taking a 3 week spring break to get ready & go on vacation & we'll be back with more random posts in April if all goes as planned! :) To see what everyone else has been up to for Tot School, head over to 1+1+1=1!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Opportunity Yells?

I have shared before, on this blog, and with many of my 'real life' friends how I am much more easily frustrated and impatient as a mother than I ever thought I would be. This is something that I have really struggled with, especially lately. At a Bible study that I attend along with some ladies from our church, we are going through a book called Becoming a Woman of Excellence. It is a great book, and is definitely spurring me on to a more excellent life in Christ!

Anyhow, last week, there was a quote in our chapter that was even more convicting than usual. The author was discussing the importance of discretion and of being 'slow to anger', and she included a quote from Jerry Bridges that said (in discussing the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, found in Matthew 18:21-35) "We are like the unmerciful servant when we lose our patience under provocation. We ignore God's extreme patience with us. We discipline our children out of anger, while God disciplines us out of love. We are eager to punish the person who provokes us, while God is eager to forgive. This kind of patience does not ignore the provocations of others; it simply seeks to respond to them in a godly manner."

So, during our small group prayer time, I asked my prayer partners to specifically pray for me this week as I discipline and care for my children, that I would respond to them in a godly manner, and not in an angry, selfish way as I have too often. Throughout the week, I have been specifically praying that God would give me wisdom in each situation, and help me to see each annoying, frustrating, disobedient action as an opportunity instead of an annoyance or an interruption.

And He has really done that! Just this morning, Zachary had been happily using a wipe-off marker to write on a wipe-off book at the dining room table for several minutes while I cleaned the kitchen after breakfast, when he chose to climb down and draw instead on the seat of my dining room chair (which is covered in cream colored fabric). In case you were wondering, nope, wipe-off markers do NOT wipe off of fabric. Or wash out. Ever. As you can imagine, I was not very happy.

I immediately sent him to sit on his bed and set a timer for 3 minutes, to give me time to calm down & him time to think about what he had done. When the timer went off, he came out, and I gave him a wet washcloth and we worked together, wiping at the black stains on the chair seat. Of course, it did no good, and I explained that this kind of marker will not ever come off of this chair seat. God led me to take a minute to sit with Z on the hearth and discuss the way that our daily words and actions are like the black marks on the chair - they can never be taken back, and we can't do anything on our own to cleanse ourselves from the sinful actions and words that we do!

It turned out to become a great object lesson, and a truly teachable moment, when it could have so easily been just yet another instance when I had lost my patience and responded in anger. God has also led my husband and I to view Zachary's frustrated responses - he often yells or screams out in anger when something doesn't go his way or something he's trying to do isn't working for him - as opportunities to discuss the fruit of the Spirit that is called self-control. I believe that as young toddlers, children use tantrums to express their emotions, and before children are verbal, crying and even yelling are the only ways they have to express their needs and feelings. Natalie, for example, often cries or tantrums when she's hungry - she is 14 months old and doesn't know any better. However, at age 3, Zachary is very verbal! He is ready to begin choosing to control his actions and respond in more constructive ways when he is frustrated, such as asking for help or expressing his feelings with calm words.

One of the discipline situations that frustrates me the most is when Z is unkind to his little sister. My children truly love each other, and typically play together very well, but when Z pushes or hurts little Natalie, it makes me so sad! This afternoon, Z was frustrated with Natalie because he was attempting to build a block tower and Natalie kept knocking it down (and then laughing, she thought it was hilarious). Zachary got angry & pushed Natalie down. After comforting her, I had Z come sit on my lap, and we discussed the concept of 'What is more important to God? Building a big block tower, or choosing to be kind to your sister?' I wasn't sure if he really understood, but the next time he built a tower, he cheerfully allowed her to knock it down, so that's something. :)

I am not sharing this so that my friends will pat me on the back and say, "Wow, great job! Way to go not yelling at your kids!". I share the ways that God is working in my life so that others who may be struggling with the same things can see that God can help - and maybe this can be a reminder for someone else that those daily discipline frustrations really are meant to be opportunities and learning experiences for both us and our children! I also share in order to keep myself accountable - I don't want this to be the only week that I see God working in me and helping me control my responses to my children! I didn't say I did a good job all week, either...there is still plenty of opportunity for growth, believe me! :)

How have any of you dealt with similar situations in your parenting careers? Do you have similar success stories to share? Or any encouragement would be appreciated! :)