Thursday, February 26, 2009

Great job, T!

T made that free throw shot and had a great game. He also made the honor roll for the term! We are so proud.

Unplugged Play

Last week we went to the Children's Museum in Providence, RI. While we were there I happened to notice a copy of the book Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner, and after flipping through it, I knew it was a book I wanted to own. I am thrilled to say that I received my copy in the mail today and there are so many wonderful ideas in the book. I am also excited because I bought the book used for only a few dollars.

We will be trying a lot of the ideas in the book and I plan on posting them here. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tot school for R and phone number practice for C

Tot School
First of all, I am so amazed that I made that button appear! I am not very computer savvy. I have been following and participating in Tot school for quite a while, but this is the first time that I am actually posting our participation.

R enjoys retelling The Three Little Pigs with this playset.

This alphabet train helped C learn the entire alphabet before he was two. R doesn't like it as much as he did, but she will play with it on occasion. Each cloth animal has the corresponding letter on the back of it and everything zips up into a cute carrying case. My only problem with this toy is that U is for unicorn. All of the other animals are real.

This Melissa and Doug puzzle is great for practicing shapes and colors. It goes beyond the standard square, circle, triangle, etc and includes great shapes like the rhombus and trapezoid!

We received a free calendar that we don't need so I glued the photo pages to cardboard and turned them into puzzles. The first one I made was too challenging for R, but these two were just right.

AND....This week C is:

trying to learn our phone number. Right now I have him putting these Melissa and Doug magnetic numbers on a magnet board. I also have some clothespins with numbers that I will have him clip onto a board with our phone number on it. Any other ideas for phone number learning?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

We happen to own Mouse Cookies & More A Treasury by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. The treasury includes If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Take a Mouse To School, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, and If You Give a Moose a Muffin. All of the books are great individually, but this treasury is amazing because it also includes recipes, songs, activities, and a CD with songs and celebrity recordings!

So, we had a great time with If You Give a Pig a Pancake. We read the book several times and listened to it read by David Hyde Pierce on the CD. We also listened and danced to "Flippin the Flapjacks" and "The Piggy Polka" on the CD. The songs describe dances that are easy and fun!

Pig masks were a necessity!

C & R made their own paper pancakes and added lots of butter (great cutting practice - I gave them strips of yellow paper to cut into butter pats) and syrup (those brown squiggly strips are supposed to be syrup). We made real pancakes, of course. I happened to have a pig pancake mold that I used, but I also got creative and made my own pig pancakes. We also read Pancakes Pancakes by Eric Carle because we love that book and always read it when we make pancakes.

Finally, we took a few pictures with the pig masks and mailed them to some friends (just like the pig in the book). This was a great opportunity to talk about how the post office works. We talked about addressing envelopes, stamps, and how mail can travel all over the world. We went to the post office to mail our letters and thanked the postal workers for the great job they do in our community!
We had a lot of fun with this challenge!

Monday, February 23, 2009

J is for Jazz

We finished up the letter J with a little bit of jazz. C and R really enjoyed reading This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt. I love this book. It introduces children to jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and more. In addition to this great jazz introduction, the book also reinforces counting from one to ten. After reading the book, we listened to some jazz music by the musicians featured in the book. C and R both love the song, What a Wonderful World sung by Louis Armstrong. We have been singing this a lot lately because we have also been reading the book of the same title. The book features the lyrics of the song by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele with beautiful illustrations by Ashley Bryan.

C and R also completed the Jack and Jill puzzle and a jellyfish puzzle that we forgot we had.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rhyming and counting and more

C and R had fun making potato print Valentines!

Valentines have filled our house, but now that the holiday is over we are back to basics. I know that rhyming is an important step in learning to read so we have been doing a lot of rhyming lately. One of C's favorite things to do is read rhyming books (Dr. Seuss is great). I will read the first line, emphasizing the last word. Then I read the second line and leave out the last word for C to fill in with the appropriate rhyming word. We also do this with nursery rhymes. For example, I will say, "Jack and Jill went up the ___________" and C or R will fill in the blank. Then we will talk about how Jill and hill have the same ending sound and try to think of other words that also rhyme.

I recently introduced 1 to 100 counting by 1s mazes to C. This is helping him learn how to count to 100 and I am very impressed with his progress. I found some great mazes at

R is working on matching lowercase and uppercase letters with clothespins and a cardboard box. She loves squeezing the clips and I love that this activity has peaked her interest in this skill.

C and R cannot get enough of the book, Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. They both love to play I Spy and this book is perfectly challenging for both of them. Some of the I Spy books we have read in the past have been too difficult, but this book is just right.
We are still on the letter J because Valentine's Day interrupted letter work for a while. I found a Jack and Jill puzzle at Marshall's for $2.00 so we will do that over the next few days. I plan on moving on to our next letter early next week. We don't go in order; I let their interests guide our alphabet journey.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


On the one mild day we had this week, we played outside with our puppy, Kelly. We also made some Hugging Valentines (this idea came from No Time for Flashcards). C & R enjoyed reading about Groundhog Day and making this groundhog that pops up out of the cup and looks for his shadow.
With more snow on the ground and freezing temperatures this week, we stayed inside and made paper plate snowmen. I think this craft idea came from a Montessori blog.
We also made the letter "J" out of jelly beans and played the Arthur jelly bean game (this is on the back cover of the book, "Arthur's Jelly Beans" by Marc Brown). Finally, we did a lot of jumping - forward, sideways, and backwards, as well as jumping jacks.
We didn't get to our bear activities this week, maybe next week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The week ahead

This week we have a few things planned:

1. We will learn about Groundhog Day and hopefully make the pop-up groundhog puppet from the Enchanted Learning website;
2. Our current letter of the week is "J" so we will do some work on that; and
3. I have a few bear projects up my sleeve.

I am also back to work this week (after having two months off) so I have to manage my time better. I teach an academic support class at a nearby law school and I only work ten hours a week but it still requires me to be a bit more organized with my meal planning and housework.