Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dinosaur Sensory Box

 This week I put together a dinosaur sensory box.  It includes all of our toy dinos, a couple of toy trees, and some decorative rocks from IKEA.  The boys and I also went for a walk and gathered stuff outside to add to it:  leaves, rocks, sticks, bark, etc.  This was a fun activity in and of itself!
 Because the box is kind of crowded, I got out a cookie sheet when they played with it so they could make "dino scenes."
 K likes to pretend that one dinosaur is trying to eat another dinosaur.  Or sometimes, he makes little families and tells me which one is the Mommy, Daddy, baby, etc.  
 J mainly likes carrying the dinosaurs around.  Oh, and throwing the rocks ... we had to remove a big rock we'd found from the box because it was getting a little dangerous...
K decided to make it a full sensory experience and taste test the bark.
This hasn't been as big of a hit as our last sensory box, but it didn't cost me anything to make (I used only things we already had or that we found outside), and it has provided some good pretend play.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tot School: Rainy Days

K is 39 months and J is 18 months.
It rained here ALL WEEK, so we spent our days like this ...

Just kidding!
(We only did that some of the time).
Here's what we really did:

-spent time with this weeks tot trays (click here to see them)
-made Rain Art

We also did LOTS of puzzles ...
 This was SO fun.
 We highly recommend it. :)
Make sure you go to 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots have been up to!

Tot School

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tot Trays

This is what we had on our trays this week:
An assortment of wooden cutouts from Michael's.  With J, I let him pull them out and explore them, and we would say the name of each one together (and make the animal sound, if it was an animal).  With K, I showed him how to use these to make up simple stories.  For example, "Once upon a time,  there was a bee chasing a cat.  The cat was scared and hid behind a tree ..." and so on, using as many of the cutouts as you can).  He was pretty good at it!
We had another Open/Close basket, except this time the containers were all the same.  They were heart shaped containers I got at Wal-Mart during Valentine's Day clearance sales.  I put a little foam shape inside each one so that we could also talk about shapes.
I recently purchased the Melissa and Doug Magnetic Hide and Seek Board, so I introduced it on their trays.  It's a good matching activity (i.e., the cow goes in the barn, the gold goes in the treasure chest, etc.) and both boys like opening and closing the doors.
The Hide and Squeak eggs are always a hit with both of them as well.
The Favorite
The favorite tray has definitely been this one.  I paired a golf tee play set from the Dollar Tree with some marbles.  The boys put the golf tees in the holes on the triangle, then balance a marble on top of each tee.  I mainly thought K would use this one, but have been surprised by how much J loves it too!  That little hand in the picture is actually J's - what great fine motor skill work for him!  (By the way, this is NOT my original idea.  I've seen it in a few places, but unfortunately can't find where I saw it to link back!)

Rain Art

 It's been raining here all week, so I've been racking my brain trying to think of ways to keep us from going crazy stuck inside.  One thing we tried was Rain Art.  First, we drew pictures with washable markers (or in K's case, scribbled).
 Then we set them outside in the rain (the spoons are there to weigh them down, since our rain was accompanied by wind).
 K kept going to the window to check on them.
Finally, we went outside and collected our art! It's fun for the kids to see how the colors bleed together when they get wet.
We found that the more color we used on our page, the better it looked when it was done.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm Thinking of a Letter ...

 Today we were doing puzzles and ended up playing an impromptu game with our letter puzzle.  We have this Melissa and Doug puzzle (I love Melissa and Doug stuff!).  I would say something like, "I'm thinking of a letter that is brown and blue and says 'mmm' and K's job was to find that letter and remove it from the puzzle.  I was trying to give him some exposure to the sounds the letters make, but since he only knows a few of his letter sounds, the color clues were really helpful.  Once he knows the sounds, we'll  probably play this game without color clues.
K doesn't have a strong interest in letters yet, so I have to try to think of ways to make letter activities fun enough to hold his attention.  This one was super simple, but it worked!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Painting with Pudding

 When I let my older two boys finger paint the other day, I needed something for J to do.  I decided to try letting him paint with pudding!  I took out a snack sized vanilla pudding (pre-made), divided it in half, and used food coloring to make half of it blue and half of it yellow.  Then I put it on J's high chair tray and let him have fun swirling it around. 
 I loved that I didn't have to worry about it going in his mouth because it was just pudding!   Funny thing is though, he didn't even try ... yet the real paint always ends up in his mouth.  What a silly boy!  

Painting Shamrocks and Rainbows

 My boys love to finger paint.  This week we pulled out the finger paint and made some St. Patrick's Day masterpieces.  My 6 year-old used his fingerprints to make little shamrocks.  K made two shamrocks, and then started just swirling the paint around.  Oh, well.  Whatever floats his boat. :)
I also pulled out some q-tips to let them try painting with those.  Once again, K swirled, and A used them to make a cute little rainbow.

Tot Trays: St. Patrick's Theme Continued

We kept the same theme this week, but I changed up or trays a bit.  I love how excited the boys are to see the new trays each week.  Here's what they were:
Muffin pan with numbered shamrocks and green glass beads.  K puts a shamrock in each muffin hole (he insists on doing it in order) and then counts out the correct number of beads in each hole.
Open/Close Basket.  Just a variety of containers that open and close, with a small green "surprise" in each one.  This has definitely been the favorite!  I saw this idea on Counting Coconuts.
Letter sorting activity.  I decided to start doing some activities that just focus on a few letters at a time so K isn't overwhelmed.  I wrote the letters E, F, and G on small shamrocks and he sorts them into their correct container.  
Stirring sticks and a soda bottle.  This one was mainly for J, but K chose to play with it several times as well.  Instead of just putting the sticks in the container like J does, I found K also using his sticks to make shapes.  Love when they do that kind of stuff all on their own!  (And it worked out nicely that Sprite is my favorite kind of soda, because it meant I just happened to have a green bottle on hand to fit with our green theme. :))

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Search for the Pot of Gold" Game

I came across this game idea at My Montessori Journey.  She made her game board using St. Patrick's Day themed stickers, but I couldn't find the right kind of stickers to make my own.  So, my very supportive (and much more talented) hubby made me this for me using Photoshop.  Click here if you'd like to print your own copy.

You will need:  a die, a marker of some sort for each person playing (we used Little People), a small cup or bucket to use as a "pot", and fake gold coins.
How to play:  Put your markers on the "Start" space.  One player rolls the die and moves their marker that number of spaces. If a player lands on a gold coin space, they get to take a fake gold coin from the "pot." Keep going until both players reach the "pot of gold."  The player with the most number of gold coins at the end wins!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tot School: St. Patrick's Day Theme

Tot School

K is 39 months old and J is 18 months.

We had a fun week doing some St. Patrick's Day themed activities as well as some non-themed stuff. Here is our week in review:

-We had a blast doing Puppet Shows.
-K did a B is for Boo Boo and Band-Aid letter craft.
-The boys explored our new St. Patrick's Day Sensory Box.
-We made Fruit Loop rainbows.

The boys also spent a lot of time with this week's tot trays. Here are a few shots in action. Click here to see a description of what was on our trays this week.
Be sure to visit 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots have been up to!

Fruit Loop Rainbows

A and K made fruit loop rainbows this week.
 First I had the boys sort the fruit loops by color.  Surprisingly, this was their favorite part!  Of course, several of them never made it into a bowl ... they went straight into they boys' mouths. :)
Next, I traced a semi-circle on K's paper, then put a line of glue over it.  A did his own gluing.  The boys each chose a color to start with, and put fruit loops on until the whole line was covered.
They repeated the last two steps with each color until they had made a rainbow!  Easy, fun, and tasty! 

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Box

This week I introduced our St. Patrick's Day sensory box.  It's very simple, just a few bags of split peas, some fake gold coins, a few green foam shamrocks, and some measuring cups for scooping.
I quickly saw that the boys needed something else to scoop the peas into, or else they'd end up all over the floor.  I brought out some big plastic bowls, and K had a blast scooping the peas back and forth.
J loves this box, too, though unfortunately,  thinks it's hilarious to throw the peas.
Here is K pouring some peas he'd scooped back into the box.  This seriously kept him occupied for so long!
Even though I had a blanket down the first time, peas ended up everywhere.  So the next time we got it out (when A was also home) I brought our kiddie pool inside and told them the peas needed to stay in there.  This contained the mess so much better, because when they were done, I just picked up the pool, folded the sides in, and poured everything back in the box.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We Love Monkeys

I have a love for all things monkey.  Anytime I see monkey pajamas, shirts, or toys, I am so tempted to buy them because I just think they're so cute.  Usually, I restrain myself.  But when I saw these adorable Nesting Monkeys at Target, I did not hold back - I snapped them up.  I figured it was justifiable because they would make a great tot school toy.  And they do!  They are great for size ordering, size matching, motor skills (putting them together and taking them apart), and talking about feelings because they have different facial expressions.  They have become a favorite of my 6 year-old, 3 year-old, AND 1 year-old.  Score!
 Here is K putting them in their "beds" (the packaging they came in) and giving them a kiss good-night. :)
J likes to take them apart and put them back together.
And in case you're wondering, I was not paid to say this stuff. :)  I just wanted to share our awesome find!
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