Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tot School: Snow!

Tot School

K is 38 months and J is 17 months. 

I finally got tot trays going this week, so click here to see what was on our trays.

We took a day trip to the mountains to play in the snow last Monday, so I decided to go with a Snow/Cold Weather theme this week. 

Snow/Cold Themed Activities:
 We read The Mitten by Jan Brett, and then I printed off the animals from this website.  K colored the animals, and I laminated and cut them out.  Then I made a mitten out of white felt (I just cut out two mitten shapes and hot-glued them together).  I retold the story to K and he put the animals in the mitten in the right order.  Then he had fun pretended the bear was sneezing and making all the animals fly out
I made "snow" play-doh using the recipe from Counting Coconuts.  I just didn't add any food coloring, but I added in some silver glitter to make it sparkly.  I cut little scarves out of felt so they could make snowmen.  We also took out their Arctic Toob  and their Penguin Toob and they made snow scenes.
Here is one of K's snow scenes.  The boys get so creative with play-doh and will play with it for long periods of time ... I love that stuff!
We read some facts about Snowy Owls, and did this Snowy Owl craft.  My husband found us some pine cones near his work, and we pulled apart cotton balls and stuffed it in the pine cone.  I hot-glued the eyes, nose, and wings on for the boys - I'm not sure any other type of glue would have worked.
We made a special treat we called "Snowballs."  I found the recipe here.  This is a great one for kids to help with because they can help roll the chocolate mixture into balls and dip it into the powdered sugar.  They are yummy, too!
We put water and food coloring in a few plastic containers and froze them overnight.  The next day, K melted them in some warm water and watched the colors mix together to make new colors! 

We also did a C is for C-C-C Cold! letter craft this week.

Learning Toys
J has been in LOVE with this Fisher Price Barnyard Bingo game I found at a thrift store a while back.  It got tons of play time this week.
My boys had a renewed interest in their play food this week, so they served me lots of pretend ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, and pizza. :) I love it when they re-discover toys they haven't played with in a while.  Some of our favorite play food sets are the Melissa and Doug Slice and Bake Cookies, Smart Snack Rainbow Color Cones, and Smart Snack Sorting Shapes Cupcakes.
K continues to enjoy puzzles.  When Daddy was off work for President's Day, he helped K do a 100 piece dinosaur puzzle.  I was really surprised that K had the attention span to stick with it, but they finished the whole thing!

Out and About
I can't resist adding a couple of pictures from our snow trip!  J wasn't the biggest fan of the cold snow, but he sure looked cute all bundled up! :)

K had a blast playing in the snow and sledding down the hill.
Head over to 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots have been up to!

Friday, February 25, 2011

C is for Cold

We visited this snow this week, so my boys really found out what "cold" feels like.  I thought it'd be fitting to do a "C is for C-C-C Cold!" craft.  I had K color the blue paper with a white crayon (to make snow) and he also colored a little scarf (sort of ... my boys are not very big on coloring).  I printed the hat from Google images and cut it out, drew some teeth (they're supposed to be chattering), and K glued everything on (with some help, of course).

Tot Trays in Small Spaces

Ever since I first saw the idea of tot trays on 1+1+1=1, I really wanted to use them.  My problem?  Our family of 5 lives in a 1500 square foot townhouse, so I have absolutely no place to put a shelf just for tot trays.  I tried keeping all the stuff in my closet and just bringing them out for tot school time, but it was a hassle putting them back together every day.  I wanted somewhere I could put them, prepared, when the kids were in bed, and leave them there throughout the week.  Then my husband had the brilliant idea of clearing out a cupboard in our hallway upstairs (that was filled with linens we hardly use anyway) and making that our tot tray cupboard.  He even added a couple of shelves for me!  
Here is our new tot tray cupboard:
You'll notice I also have a couple of rugs rolled up in there (from IKEA), because I'm also trying out the Montessori idea of having the boys do their work on a rug.  I'm also putting one of our games in the cupboard, and plan to rotate it each week.  Most of our games are kept out of the boys' reach (lest they be destroyed when Mommy's not looking) so this is a way to make sure I remember to bring them out. Here's what our trays had on them this week:
An old parmesan cheese container and q-tips, so J could use his fine motor skills to put the q-tips through the small holes.  I planned this with J in mind, but K played with it some, too.
K used tweezers to put these little porcupine balls onto a small paint palette.  He really enjoyed this, and made some patterns with the colors as well.
I cut a slot in the top of a container and the boys put coins through it.  This was a huge hit with both of them - I will provide two containers next time because they fought over it a lot!  I also tried to point out to K the names of the coins he was dropping in (quarter, nickel, penny).  J got frustrated with the quarters sometimes (they were harder to push through), but with some encouragement and modeling figured it out pretty quickly.  I would say, "You did it!" when he got a one through, so he has added, "Did it" to his vocabulary.  It is so cute. :)
Another tray contained our wooden "String a Farm" set.  The boys took turns stringing animals on and we sang "Old McDonald Had a Farm" as they did it.  They both really enjoyed these, especially J (who is really excited about farm animals right now).
Here is J taking his turn with the animals.
Since we visited the snow this week, I added a tonging activity using cotton balls, and we called them "snowballs."  It was a little tricky because they stuck together a bit, but K did well with it.  Then after he had filled the ice cube tray, he would turn it upside down and shake it so the cotton balls would fall out, and we'd say, "It's snowing!"
J just used his hands to put the cotton balls in the tray, though he thought the tongs were a pretty great necklace. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tot School

Tot School

K is currently 38 months.  J is 17 months.
 We started our week with a few more Valentine's activities.  We did a math activity using some of the boys' animals/toys and some gummy heart candies.  I would say something like, "Curious George has 6 hearts" so we'd count out 6 hearts for him.  Then I would say, "He wants to give 2 to each of his friends" and we'd count out some for his friends.  I made up some more difficult scenarios for the Biggest Brother (since he was home from school when we did this) that required adding and subtracting.
 We used some of 2 Teaching Mommies awesome Valentine's printables.  We did the Graphing and the Roll and Cover Sweethearts game.
 I picked up some fingerpaint recently from Lakeshore Learning, so we tried it out this week.  The boys LOVED it!  K went crazy mixing colors and swirling the paint around - he did about 10 paintings in one sitting.
 J liked it too, he also dug right in and started smearing it on the paper.  In the past he's been kind of funny about having stuff on his hands, so I was glad to see he's overcome that.  He painted one picture and then his hands started moving toward his mouth, so we stopped at that point. :)
 A few of K's pictures - I thought they turned out looking pretty cool!
 J's masterpiece :)
 The Biggest Brother had a couple of school holidays this week, and we all tried out a new game together.  It's one of the Eric Carle games called Go Wild.  It involved a lot of moving around (jumping, crawling, running, dancing, etc) and acting like various animals, so it was great for the giving the boys some movement on one of our rainy days!  It is also very simple, so it's a great one for the 3 year-old crowd.
 I don't remember what kind of animal K was acting like in this picture, but it cracks me up!  It really is a fun game for little ones.

Out and About
 K started a gymnastics class at our local community center this week - here he is posing beforehand.  He was shy at first (which was a shock) but after he warmed up he LOVED it!  I am excited to be able to enroll J as well when he hits the 18 month mark next month.
See what other tots are doing at 1+1+1=1!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tot School: Hearts, Hearts, and More Hearts

Tot School

K is 38 months and J is 17 months
This week, pretty much everything we did was heart shaped (what can I say, I love Valentine's Day!).  We finished making our homemade valentines and sent them off to cousins/grandparents. 
I cut out some hearts from foam and wrote numbers on the front and the letters of K's name on the back.  He could put them in order by number, then flip them over and they would spell his name!  By doing this activity a few times, he totally mastered putting the letters of his name in the correct order.  Yay for K!
I drew this quick little chart, and had K count out foam hearts and put the correct number of hearts in each column.  He is getting so much better at counting.
The boys decorated long strips of easel paper using paint and heart shaped stamps (which I made by cutting heart shapes out of cheap sponges).  I'm going to use this as wrapping paper for their Valentine surprises tomorrow.
K played a heart fishing game - pretty much this except heart shapes.  I wrote letters on the back of each heart, so he'd catch a heart and then identify the letter on the back. 
I made heart shaped ice paints for them to paint with - this fun idea came from 2 Teaching Mommies.
Out and About
K and J went to their first Valentine's Day party.  Here they are sitting at the table getting ready to decorate some cookies (though all J did was eat the candies!)
K has developed a lot more interest in Legos lately, and several times this week got the Legos out by  himself and started building (it's nice that we are finally at the stage where K being quiet does not necessarily mean he's doing something mischievous!)
J had fun putting stirring sticks into a soda bottle, then dumping them out ... then repeat.  I love how the simplest things are so fun for him!
Mom's Favorite
On Saturday, K and A helped their daddy fix a gate.  They had to get all decked out in their Home Depot aprons and safety goggles.  They looked so cute, and were so proud to be Daddy's helpers!
See what other tots are doing at 1+1+1=1!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homemade Valentine's Day Cards

Here are a few fun ideas for homemade valentines:
My oldest gave these to his preschool class two years ago.  We put teddy grahams and a few gummy bears in small baggies and attached it to a note that said "Bear Hugs!"  I actually just printed the "Bear Hugs" and "to/from" part on big labels, so they were easy for A to stick onto the cardstock.
These are the cards A is giving to his class this year.  We found this adorable idea on Make and Takes.  On the front it says "Valentine ..." and on the inside it says, "I've got my eye on you!"  I cut out the monster shapes using a Cricut, and we attached the eyes with glue dots.  I just discovered glue dots, by the way (in the craft section of Wal-Mart), and they are awesome!
When K was painting one day we experimented with using some different objects to make prints, and we made some prints using a couple of old keys.  We made it into a valentine by cutting it into a heart shape and writing, "You hold the key to my heart!"  I couldn't resist adding a cute picture of K as well. :)  (These will be for grandparents).
 I mentioned in my tot school post that I let K paint some heart shapes with cars dipped in red paint (idea from Monkeyin' Around), and was planning on making valentines with them.  I glued the hearts onto red paper, wrote a message (some say what is in the picture, others say "You're TIRE-IFFIC!), and then let K add Cars stickers.  We'll be sending these to his cousins.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beating Winter Boredom

I have to admit that our family is very lucky because we live in a place with very mild winters (it got up to 70 degrees here today ... in February).  But we do have our fair share of yucky days, and even Californians sometimes get the Winter Blues. :)  I came upon a great resource recently on the Let's Explore blog.  Amy is compiling a one page printable each month with "10 Ways to Play."  She lists some fun, creative, but simple ways to keep our kiddos entertained.  I love this!  I stuck it on my fridge so I wouldn't forget about it, and we have already used a couple of her ideas this month.
One of the ideas for February is to play vet hospital.  My boys had a blast gathering up all their stuffed animals, making "tickets" for each one, and helping them all to feel better.   As you can see, K even got all decked out in his doctor dress up - and didn't take it off for the rest of the day!

Here are a few of my own ideas for indoor fun, all tested and approved by my own kids :

-Let your kids play with shaving cream
-Set up play food and a pretend cash register, and play "store"
-Make your own cheap ball pit
-Set up a tent in your living room and have an indoor campout
-Play "movie theater." Have your kids make pretend movie tickets and decorate bags for popcorn.  Have someone collect the movie tickets and pretend to sell the popcorn (use play money)
-When all else fails, grab some blankets and build a fort.  At least I know this works for boys! :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tot School

Tot School
K is currently 38 months and J is 17 months.

We had fun this week doing lots of Valentine's Day related stuff.

-The boys played with and explored our Valentine's Sensory Box
-We did an "H is for Heart" craft
 -We played a "Musical Hearts" game

I saw the idea on Monkeyin' Around to make valentines by painting heart shapes using cars, then using phrases like "You make my heart race" or "You're tire-iffic."  I loved this idea, so K painted hearts to make Valentines for his grandparents and cousins.
J did a little bit of painting, too!  This was his first time ever painting.  It didn't keep his attention long (he didn't like getting paint on his hands) but he enjoyed it for a few minutes. :)
I cut the centers out of some of the hearts K had painted, put contact paper over them, and let him put tissue paper inside.  Then we used these and some other hearts to make a cute Valentine garland.
Knowing of his superhero obsession, my mom recently bought K a Marvel Superheroes Color Wonder set.  He loves it and spent lots of time painting and coloring his superheroes.  And it really was mess free!
K is loving this ABC floor puzzle that he got for Christmas. I enjoyed helping him put it together and seeing how excited he got each time we finished it.  I really like this brand, the pieces are super sturdy (which is what I need with 3 boys!)
I've been teaching J his body parts (eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, etc) and he is getting really good at saying them and pointing them out.  Here he is showing me his tummy - which he says more like "mummy" but it's so cute! :)
Check out 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots have been up to!
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