Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tot school

Tot School
R is 38 months old

These Step 2 jumbo foam blocks were out as our toy of the week so R sorted blocks this week. First she sorted them by color and then she sorted them by shape. Of course, she built castles with them too.

R still loves How to Build an A and is always willing to make letters during tot school. I am considering purchasing the wooden manipulatives from Handwriting Without Tears. If you have them, do you think they are a good investment?

This magnetic alphabet book from Melissa and Doug is one of R's favorite tot school activities lately. The letters and the pictures for each letter are magnetic. There are a lot of pieces though so this stays up on a shelf and is only used for tot school.

I made this tot school tool myself! It is just a ziploc bag with a piece of construction paper inside (because there is writing on one side of the bag). I then formed letters on the outside of the bags with dot stickers. I put the correct number of buttons inside each bag (actually, I put in a few extra just in case) and R can take out the buttons and place them on the dots to form letters. We usually bring a few of these to restaurants or to Grandma's house. Obviously, this is not for a child that puts things in his or her mouth.

We also learned about New York this week because we will be heading to New York city for a vacation soon. Check out our New York crafts: the state bug of NY and the Statue of Liberty. We are going to learn about all fifty states so be sure to follow us on our adventures!

Thank you for visiting and don't forget to visit the other blogs that participate in tot school!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun with blocks

I recently decided to bring out a different toy or set of toys each week for C and R. They have access to almost all of their toys, but the toy that I put out each week is something that can stay out in the living room for an entire week. They don't have to put it away until the week is over. This has been a huge success. C and R are playing with toys that were often ignored and they are using their imaginations in new ways. This week, the toy of choice is this set of Step 2 jumbo foam blocks.
C noticed that if he put these two shapes together, they made a rectangle.

C and R worked together to sort the blocks by color.

Then, they sorted them by shape.

C even used the blocks to create animals. This is his block elephant.

I love that C and R are playing with some different toys and using their imaginations. They now look forward to playing with the toy of the week.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Statue of Liberty

As part of our New York project, we learned about the Statue of Liberty. We read New York, New York The Big Apple from A to Z by Laura Krauss Melmed and Frane Lessac. The "S" page is devoted to the Statue of Liberty. There are a few facts on the page that we found interesting but C's favorite was the fact that the statue's nose is 4 feet 6 inches long from top to tip.

C and R were so intrigued by the statue that we decided to do a craft. I found the idea at the Family Fun website.

First, you cut two paper plates to form a headband that fits your child. I cut about two inches off the bottom of the plate and then cut out the center.Second, we cut triangles out of green foam sheets. I had some sparkly sheets and some plain so we mixed it up. The Family Fun website says to cut six triangles but the statue's crown actually has seven rays that stand for the seven continents and seven seas. We went back and fixed ours but I took these pictures before we did that. Staple the triangles between the two paper plate headbands.

Last, paint the paper plate headbands green and let dry.We also made torches. C and R painted toilet paper tubes green and then we stapled yellow tissue paper to the inside of the tube.

We made these because we are learning about New York but this would be a great project for the 4th of July too!

The Grouchy Ladybug

We made ladybugs as part of our New York project because the ladybug is the state bug of New York. Since we had the ladybugs, we decided to use them to tell the story of The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. I know a lot of people do not like this book because the grouchy ladybug is not very nice and asks all of the animals if they want to fight, but we talk about the ladybug's behavior and try to learn from the book. The grouchy ladybug does not have good manners through most of the book and we talk about how he should behave and how the other animals might feel when he asks them to fight. We also talk about how the grouchy ladybug feels at the end of the book, and how nice the friendly ladybug is at the beginning and end. This book is also a great introduction to telling time.

C wanted to use blocks to make the other animals from the book. I loved his creativity. Here he has made a rhinoceros.
This is his elephant.
I was going to print pictures of all of the animals the grouchy ladybug encounters in the book, but I am so happy that I didn't. C had a great opportunity to use his imagination with the blocks and he loved every minute.

Don't give up on this book; use it to teach a valuable lesson!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday T!

This is T, my firstborn. Today he is twelve. Where does time go? It seems like just yesterday that he was born and now he is almost a teenager. He plays baseball, soccer, and basketball and loves video games. I am also proud to say that he has made the honor roll every term this year! T is an amazing big brother. He is seven years older than C and almost 9 years older than R but he always makes time for them, plays with them, and loves them with all his heart. Happy Birthday T!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New York

This week we are learning about New York! This is what we have done so far:

We added the New York state quarter to our State Series Quarters Collector Map.

C and R loved the illustrations in This is New York by M. Sasek.

We found New York on all of our maps. We have a rug that is a map of the United States in our play area, a placemat map of the U.S., an atlas, and a few other maps.

The state bug of New York is a ladybug so we made ladybugs from the directions at Enchanted Learning.

We will have more to share about New York tomorrow so be sure to come back!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scrub Club

Scrub Club is an educational web site that teaches children the proper way to wash their hands. With all of the germs our children are exposed to, focusing on hand washing as an important routine is something we should all spend more time doing. Check it out at where you will find a Webisode, interactive games, music, downloadable activities, and educational materials. The site is designed for children ages 3 to 8.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Street Performers

This past weekend we went to a festival of street performers in Boston. All three of my children loved watching all of the performers.

Even though we didn't have to pay to see the performers, it wasn't exactly a cheap outing. We ate lunch there, bought ice cream, paid for parking, and gave a lot of tips.
That's okay. They had a lot of fun, and Tom and I had a lot of fun watching them react to the performances.
I am also happy to support people who provide entertainment for my family while continuing an art form that means something to them.
Even if it is just standing on a board on top of a ball!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tot school & Growth chart day 4

Tot School
I bought this cute teddy bear puzzle months ago from the dollar section at Target. While the puzzle is really easy, what I really love about it is the different expressions on the faces. R loves to dress the bear in different outfits and then I will ask her if the bear is happy, sad, angry, sleepy, surprised, or ill.

We planted sunflower seeds and read Big Yellow Sunflower by Frances Barry. R hates to get her hands dirty and she was not thrilled with this activity at all. Hopefully, she will get excited about it when the sunflower starts to grow. I know it is my fault that she doesn't like to get dirty because I do not like to get dirty either and I am embarrassed to admit that I do not do yard work.

I cut out pictures of fruits and vegetables from a grocery circular and R sorted them into one pile for fruits and one pile for vegetables. Then she glued the vegetables onto the letter V.

Since I put the magna doodles and magnetic boards up on the lovely paneled (circa 1978) wall, they get a lot more use. I used Scotch Reclosable Fasteners (like velcro) to hang them so that they can also be removed to take in the car. I got the idea to hang them from Jennifer at My Two Happy Homeschoolers.

We measured a cup of penne and a cup of rigatoni in straight lines and were amazed by the difference in length. Check out my post if you want to learn more.

Cranium Hullabaloo is a favorite in our house and we play a lot.

The potato heads were played with every day this week.

We put some "Magic Creatures" in water and charted their "growth". Today is day 4 and the caterpillar has doubled in size to 6", the fish grew another 1/2" to 4 1/2", and the lizard grew another 1 1/2" to 12". The butterfly only grew one day and has remained at 3" since then. C and R are still excited about measuring the creatures every morning.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Growth chart day 3

Still growing!*

The caterpillar grew 1/2" and is now 4" long, the fish grew 1" and is now 4" long, the lizard grew 2 1/2" and is now 10 1/2" long, and the butterfly stayed the same - 3" long.

C and R look forward to this every day.

*Yes, I know that the creatures are not really growing and I have been telling C and R that they are expanding because they are retaining water! They understand that completely, of course.

Too many toys

We have too many toys. Way too many toys. It is ridiculous how many toys we have. Unfortunately, every time I think that my children have outgrown a toy or just don't have an interest in that toy any longer, they start playing with it again. I was so certain that the potato heads were ready to bring joy to a new little boy or girl. I boxed them up and put them in the garage to be donated. Two days later, C asked for them and he and R have not stopped playing with them since.

Do you rotate toys? I have been meaning to do this for years and I think that it might work well in our house.

I also would like to implement a rule that every time a toy comes into the house, a toy has to leave the house. Do you do this?

Also, I think we have too many bins for toys. If we had fewer containers, then we would have to have fewer toys, I think.

How do you manage toy chaos? How do your children deal with saying goodbye to old toys?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Button letters

I used gallon size ziploc bags and placed a piece of paper inside each bag. I placed the paper in there only because there was writing on the bag and it would get in the way of our letters. Then, I used color coding labels to make the shape of each letter of the alphabet - one on each bag. C and R place buttons on top of the dots to make the letters. You can even put the correct number of buttons in each bag and zip it up to take these with you. That is why I use the ziploc bags, so I can put the buttons in the bag and take whatever letters we are currently working on out to restaurants or Grandma's house. Obviously, this is intended for children who do not put things in their mouths. R is three and C is almost five, and they both enjoy this activity.

Growth chart day 2

They grew!

The caterpillar grew 1/2 an inch and is now 3 1/2", the fish grew 1 inch and is now 3", the lizard grew 4 inches and is now 8", and the butterfly grew 1 1/4" and is now 3".

C and R were so excited to measure the creatures and see how much they have grown!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yo-yo painting

What do you get when you combine beans, nylons, paint, and a couple of kids? Yo-yo painting, of course. I got this idea from The Snail's Trail and it was so much fun. I cut the legs off of a pair of nylons and put about a cup of dried beans in each leg. I tied a knot right above the beans to keep them in the stockings. C and R loved that they bounced up and down like yo yos, but C preferred to call his a slingshot. He wanted to pretend that he was David defeating Goliath.
They bounced the stockings into a pan of paint and then onto large pieces of paper. This works best if you just dip it into the paint once and then drop it on the paper a few times. If you use a lot of paint (constantly dipping in the paint) then you don't really get the cool design made by the beans in the stocking.

*If you look at the screen door in the first photo, you can see our puppy. She had a cone on her head because she was spayed a few days before the photo was taken and the cone was to keep her from chewing or licking the staples.

Growth chart day 1

I bought a package of four plastic creatures that you put in a container of water and watch grow. We are going to chart their growth over the next few days. Before placing them in the water, C and R measured the creatures.

We have a: caterpillar - 3", fish - 2", lizard - 4", and a butterfly - 1 3/4".

C and R cannot wait to see them grow.