Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thanksgiving Countdown

Now that the Halloween festivities are over, it's time to look forward to Thanksgiving!  For the past 2 years I have done a Thanksgiving countdown with my kids.  Each day in November, up until Thanksgiving, they pull out a piece of paper that says something we are thankful for and an activity to go along with it (I will put examples at the bottom of this post).  In the past I made our countdown, but this year I found an adorable countdown calendar at TJ Maxx and couldn't resist! I used festive orange paper to print out the activities, then cut them apart and put them in the pouches on the calendar.
This is what I did for the past 2 years.  I just made a VERY simple leaf garland and numbered the leaves.  The kids would take off a leaf every day and the note with that day's activity was stapled to the back.  This is really fun for the kids and gives us a chance to focus on the things we are grateful for throughout the month.  Here are some of the activities we will be doing this year:

We are thankful for our GRANDPARENTS!
Send our grandmas and grandpas a letter or a picture.

We are thankful for COUSINS!
Talk to one of our cousins on Skype today.

  We are thankful for PARKS!
Go and play at one of our parks.

We are thankful for our MOUTHS!
Make a yummy treat and eat it together.
We are thankful for our HANDS!
Do an art project using our hands.

We are thankful for our healthy BODIES!
Set up an obstacle course and use your body to get through it!

We are thankful for CUDDLING!
Cuddle together while we watch a movie.

We are thankful for JESUS!
Read scripture stories about Jesus and sing songs about him.

We are thankful for FRIENDS!
Have a friend over for a playdate today.
We are thankful for our FAMILY!
Play a game together as a family.

We are thankful for TURKEYS!
Make a turkey craft today.
We are thankful for ICE CREAM!
Go out for ice cream!

We are thankful for DADDY!
Go to Daddy's work and leave him a treat in his car.




Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tot School: Monsters Part 2

Tot School

K is currently 34 months old
This week we continued our monster theme.  Here are some of the highlights!
 We did another Go Away Big Green Monster activity from Making Learning Fun.  It consists of several cards to print out that have various parts of the monster face, and K arranged his own monster face to recreate the card he picked.
 We got out our Shape Monster book again.  This week I printed out a monster image and taped it to an old Ritz box, the cut a hole in the mouth.  K would "feed" the monster the shape I called out.  I was inspired by the cute Feed the Frog game I saw on Life With My Giggly Girls.
 Feeding his monster was so fun! (though he told me it looked more like an alien - oh, well)
 We spent more time using the Monsters Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1.  K's favorite is the Monster Eyes activity.
 We used the Shapes activity from the tot pack to play a fun game.  I laid them all on the floor, then put on some music.  (Right now we're enjoying Wee Sing for Halloween!)  We danced around the room, and then I would randomly stop the music and call out a shape.  K would run to pick up the monster that was made from that shape as fast as he could and put it in our basket.  Then I would start the music and we'd dance some more.  We repeated this until all the monsters had been picked up.  K LOVED this game!
 We played our Build a Monster felt board game, which you can read about in detail here.
 We used play-doh to make "monsters" using potato head accessories.
 K also had fun squishing, squashing, and cutting the play-doh.

Mom's Favorites
 K being silly, trying to wear the Potato Head glasses himself!  I think they were just a tad small . . . :)
My oldest reading a Spiderman book to K.  When I walk into a room and see a sight like this, it just makes my day!
See what other moms & tots are up to at 1+1+1=1!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Build a Monster Felt Board Game

 This game is a cross between the scarecrow felt board game I saw at Let's Explore and the various "Roll a _______" games I have seen around the web (there's a good list of sources at The Activity Mom).  To prepare it, I cut out 3 monster faces and various parts out of felt (I made 3 so there will be enough when I play this with my two older sons).  I am not very artistic, but the wonderful thing about making monsters is it doesn't matter!  Silly and weird is good in this case. :)  Then, I made a key that shows what each number represents.  1=face, 2=eyes, 3=nose, etc.  I grabbed a large die that I bought at the Dollar Tree, and we were ready to play!
 I played with just K first.  We took turns rolling the die, and then choosing whatever part that corresponded to the number we rolled.  Just rolling the die was fun for K!
 Here is K building his monster (yes, he had chosen to be Spiderman that day).
Our finished monsters.  I played later with my oldest (while the others napped), and he enjoyed it, too.  He also spent a while playing it on his own.  I am thinking of lots of possibilities for the future:  build a turkey, build a Christmas tree, build a snowman, etc.  I may even make some smaller versions for a long car trip we have coming up!

Pumpkin Erasers

I found some super cute pumpkin (jack-o-lantern, to be exact) erasers at Target recently. I've been trying to think of various ways to use them with my kiddos so that I could get my $4 worth. :)  Here's what I've come up with so far:
 I put numbers in a muffin pan and had K put the correct number of pumpkins in each spot.
 I gave K and J the erasers and various containers and let them fill, dump, and repeat.  Simple, but they liked it!
 Here is K doing more filling and dumping . . .
 We added some to our Halloween sensory box.
My oldest did subtraction and addition problems and used the pumpkins for manipulatives.  Then, when he was tired of that, he used them to make a face.  He said it was me. :)  So, I think we're getting our money's worth!  Especially since we can use them again next October!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tot School: Monsters!

Tot School
This week our theme was Monsters!  My boys have an obsession with monsters so I knew it would be a hit.

 We used Carisa's Happy Monsters tot pack for some of our activities.  Here is K putting googly eyes on the monsters - great for counting and fine motor skills!
When he started to lose interest, I pretended that the monsters couldn't see without their googly eyes and made them "walk" and crash into K.  As you can see, he thought this was hilarious and was more than happy to "save the day" by putting their eyes back on. :)
Another activity from the tot pack is "My monster has a shape on his head!" but K insisted on putting ALL the shapes on the monster's head.
We read Go Away, Big Green Monster and used the monster face I made a while back to create and take away the face as we went.  I just colored, cut out, and laminated all the pieces and then attached velcro so we could remove the parts.  All 3 of my boys love playing with the monster face.
I printed out a Shape Monster book from Hubbard's Cupboard and laminated it.  I read it to K, and then we used this monster puppet (from Target's Dollar section about a year ago) and our button shapes to act it out.  I held the puppet and K would feed it shapes.  This was another fun activity that all 3 of my boys could participate in.
We did this activity using a printable from Making Learning Fun.  K would pull a letter magnet out of a bag and then color the corresponding letter on the monster.  He had a hard time coloring just one letter at a time, so I ended up doing most of the coloring for him.  He did enjoy pulling letters out and trying to find the one that matched, though.
We made an "M is for monster" craft.  I had to wait until A was home from school to do this because he loves doing the letter crafts, too!

Another printable from Making Learning Fun - M & M color sort.  It was really hard to keep K from just eating the M & Ms!
We made sugar cookies and decorated them with monster faces.  The boys LOVED this and I was impressed at their creativity.  We also watched Monsters, Inc. for Family Movie Night.  We had so much fun with monsters (and didn't get to everything I wanted to) so we'll probably continue this theme for another week.
Head on over to 1+1+1=1 to see what other moms & tots are doing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Sensory Box

 Even though I already made a Fall Sensory Box, I couldn't resist making a Halloween box as well.  I'm so glad I did!  This is the boys' favorite sensory box yet!  It contains:  black beans, black eyed peas, Halloween erasers, small jack-o-lantern candy holders, small stretchy mice and spiders, and one big plastic spider.
 Here are the boys digging in for the first time.
 K loves burying his hands under the beans and saying, "Where did my hands go?" He also loves the little mice, and calls them his pets. My rodent hating mom would just love that! :)
 Even my oldest, who was not very excited about the Fall sensory box, loves this one.  He asked to play with it again first thing this morning . . . unfortunately, he had to go to school instead.
Baby J likes it, too!  I have to put his binky in his mouth before I let him play, and that way all the little stuff stays out of his mouth.  I pulled out some containers after a while (like Cool Whip containers and empty plastic jars) and the boys had fun pouring and dumping with those and using them as cages for their "pet" mice.

I Didn't Die!

"I didn't die!"
K, age 3, after jumping off the edge of the couch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's In the Box?

My sweet hubby has noticed that I've been saving EVERYTHING lately (paper towel rolls, egg cartons, lids, etc.) for Tot School.  Last week at his work, he saw some little black boxes in the junk bin, and thought I might be able to use them for something.  I've already found one use:  a "What's in the box?' game.
Here's how you play:  put a small object in a box (or other container), and then give your child clues and have them try to guess what it is.  We used some Halloween erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree last week, so K was just trying to guess whether it was the candy corn, witch, Frankenstein, cat, or spider. I gave clues like, "It's black.  It says meow."  After playing it a few times, he wanted to hide an object and have me guess.  It was so cute because even when he was the one doing the hiding, he still closed his eyes. :)  He wasn't very good at giving me clues (he would usually just tell me what it was) but he sure had fun!
As you can probably tell by his smile, K really liked this game.  We will definitely be playing it again.  I think I will try it with my 5 year-old also and just make the clues a little more challenging.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween Charades

Last weekend we had a visit from two of my nephews, who are 4 and 8 years old.  I wanted to do some fun activities with all the boys, and one thing the boys all enjoyed was playing Halloween Charades.  I just got out some festive orange paper, and the boys helped me think of things that have to do with Halloween.  They thought of things like pumpkins, trick-or-treating, black cats, ghosts, costumes, candy, etc. After we had these all written down, I cut them apart, folded them up, and put them in a cute Halloween bucket.  Then, we just took turns drawing out a paper and acting it out, while the others tried to guess the word.  Pretty simple, but lots of fun!  We've done this game before with other themes as well, such as Christmas, animals, scripture stories, etc.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homemade Apple Pie . . . the Play Dough Kind

 To go along with the Apple Theme we had been doing, I thought it would be fun to let the boys make pretend apple pies out of play dough.  I made homemade play dough for this, but didn't color it as I normally would so it would look more like pie crust.  I also added a little bit of cinnamon so it would smell more like the real thing.  First, the boys and I rolled out our dough.
Next, we put half of it in the bottom of our mini pans.
 Then, we used red Play-doh (the store bought kind) to make "apples."
 We cut the rest of the dough into strips.  A was really concentrating when he did this!
Lastly, we laid the strips on top of the pie.  The boys had so much fun doing this.  Anything with play dough is always a hit!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tot School: Community Helpers and More!

Tot School

Our theme this week was "Community Helpers," specifically mail carriers, garbage men, and grocery workers.  Before I get into that, here is the non-theme stuff we did:
1.)  K did the Lock and Key activity, which I wrote about here.  This was the favorite of the week!
2.) We played Button Soup.
3.) He worked with his Bottle Name Tops.
4.  All 3 boys played with our Fall Sensory Box.

Theme Activities:  Mail

Most of my theme ideas/printables this week came from 2 Teaching Mommies. I  downloaded the mail carrier hat from here, and K wore it while he put "mail" into our play mailbox.  I wrote names of characters he likes (such as The Cat in the Hat and Elmo) and his stuffed animals (Cuddle Bear) on envelopes, then let him put a "stamp" (some flag stickers I had) on them before he pretended to mail them.

He did this beginning writing page, trying to lead the mail carrier to the mailbox. He really likes using dry erase markers, and at first he just wanted to scribble.  But eventually I convinced him to try to stay on the line and he was able to do it!
I made this little mailbox activity from a cereal box (it's supposed to look similar to our actual mailbox).  K matched the numbers to the number on the "mailbox" and stuck them in.
We watched our mailman deliver the mail!  (This is actually something we do almost daily - K gets so excited when he comes and often shouts "Hi Mailman!" through the window at him).

Garbage Man

K dressed up as a garbage man (sort of).
We made a Shape Garbage Truck (inspired by No Time For Flash Cards).

The Grocer

K laced grocery items onto pipe cleaners (again, this printable came from 2 Teaching Mommies).
We cut out items from the grocery store ads and made a "G is for Groceries" craft.  We also played "Grocery Store" which I posted about here.

Just For Fun

K got some Knight dress up stuff at the Dollar store this week and he is obsessed!  He spent a lot of time wearing this throughout the week - my boys love to dress up.
This one just cracks me up - this is K with the bowl we used for Button Soup.

I have not been very good about including J in our official Tot School yet (we usually do Tot school when J is napping), but I wanted to include something about him!  His big accomplishment recently is that he started walking!  So he spends most of his time walking around and exploring, and especially enjoys any chance he gets to go outside!
Check out what other moms & tots are doing at 1+1+1=1.
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