Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth of July Crafts

We spent part of today working on some 4th of July crafts. First, we tried to make these fireworks paintings from Preschool Playbook. Neither of the kids had the patience for painting the doilies, however, and after trying one decided to free-hand them. This is what we ended up with (M is on the left, J on the right.)
Next, J made this great hanging mobile from Explorations. We painted two paper plates and cut them into spirals for the mobile. Then we cut out stars from construction paper, painted them with glue and sprinkled on glitter. When they were dry we punched holes and attached everything with wrapping paper ribbon.

We also read the book "The Flag We Love" by Pam Munoz Ryan. (Thanks Mom!)

We will have to see if tomorrow's crafts turn out any closer to the originals!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tot School for June 21-27, 2009

We started out the week with a plan full of activities, but somehow didn't end up doing most of them. Here is what we did do this week:

Circle time, which we added new this week, was a huge success! We do a prayer, sing some songs (nursery rhymes, ABCs), read a book and do any story stretchers along with it, and then do some music and movement time. M really enjoyed this time, as J joined us, and she got to play with her parachute!
M had her Tot Trays this week, but really only showed an interest in two of them. She loved using a glue stick to make tissue paper collages, and she loved pushing colored golf tees into a styrofoam cube. Whenever I have seen this one done, it usually involves a hammer, but I bought softer floral foam and M was able to push them in by hand. She really enjoyed this one!
We painted with icecubes to blend our water color pencils, and with colored ice cubes (this idea came from Chasing Cheerios).

Our Friday Field Trip to the local fire station was not well received. M was afraid of the noises the trucks made, and of the firemen in their gear, so she really didn't enjoy this one very much. J loved it, however.

We also went to the Art Museum for a day of crafting and improv theater, which both kids enjoyed!
It was too hot to turn on the oven any extra this week, so we did a non-baking project and made rainbow jello. It took two days because each layer had to set, but M loved watching each layer go in and loved eating it!
Finally, we spent a lot of time in our new reading area!
That was our week at Tot School. For more Tot School ideas, go to Carisa's blog here!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Improv and Art

We took the kids to the local art museum today. They were having an interactive Theater exhibit for kids.
First, we stopped by their texture table, and the kids made free-art using a variety of mediums. M and I made a doll with fabric, cardboard, sea shells and straw.
Then they made their own costumes and props. J made a treasure map, M just made a glue collage.


Finally, we attended an improv theater workshop, where J played the part of the hunter in a Wild West version of Little Red Riding Hood. That's a skunk cap (rather than racoon skin) on his head.
Before we left for the day, M had to try out their texture wall. (The exhibit allows you to write reactions on sticky notes and add them to the exhibit.) She loved the corrugated cardboard and as you can see rubbed it over and over again!

A fun day of art and improv, and I got several new ideas we will be trying out over the next few weeks as well!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Painting with Ice

Normally I would do these activities outside, but since it is so hot here (think surface of the sun hot-seriously we are 101 with a heat index over 110) our ice would have melted too fast.

We started by using watercolor pencils to draw our scences on paper. (Be sure you use watercolor paper or other thick paper.) Then, we took a simple, plain ice cube and rubbed it over the drawings. The melting icecube blended our pencils beautifully! (There's an icecube under that little hand.)
Next, we borrowed an idea from Chasing Cheerios and made icecubes using food coloring and water (we froze straws inside for handles). We used a piece of white cardboard and painted away with our popsicle paintbrushes. Of course, M had to paint herself as well, and since food coloring stains we'll have a rainbow baby for a few days!

Both kids enjoyed these ice paintings, and it was a nice change from our usual brushes and water!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Circle Time

I have debated about this for a while, but decided to start doing a circle time with M in the mornings. We will begin with a small prayer, read a story and do any story stretchers (felt board, finger puppets, etc.) and then do some music & movement. We have a variety of kids CDs, and I recently bought a mini parachute to do some actitivities with, along with our silk scarves, egg shakers and hula hoop. These are all activities I want to do with M, but forget to do throughout the day, so I am hoping that by setting aside 15 minutes each day I can remember to do these things with her. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reading Corner

Our house is filled with books. We have bags of books to go back to the library, stacks of books waiting to be read, and bookcases filled with favorites we can't bear to part with. We have bookcases in every bedroom, and several bookcases downstairs as well. Usually someone can be found laying on a bed, lounging in a chair, or out on our back deck reading.

What we didn't have, until recently, is a reading corner for M & J specifically. After observing the kids for a while we found that they both prefer to lay on the floor to read, rather than sitting on any of our furniture. So, in a quiet corner of our formal living room, we created their own reading nook. The books on the windowsill are changed frequently to reflect their current favorites and we are planning to add a CD player for books on tape.
It is not fancy and it didn't cost us anything to make, but since we created this space, the kids are both most often found here, in their own little quiet corner.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tot School June 14-20, 2009

J had cub scout camp this week, so M and I spent a lot of time at the pool, playing outside, and missing her brother. I had a hard time getting pictures this week, because every time I tried to take one M stopped what she was doing and gave me this cheesy grin!
M's favorite Tot Tray this week was transferring water with an eye dropper. I found a very easy to squeeze dropper, and used two small metal pails. I filled one half full of water and let her transfer between the two. In Montessori fashion, we fill the left pail first so she is transferring from left to right (this helps with reading order later). M did this several times a day, every day.

Another tray she enjoyed was made by poking straws into floral foam and then having her stack her wooden tracing beads on them. We worked on stacking by color and shape.
M wanted to keep playing with the mini clothespins from last week, so I used them as a transfer object this week. She had fun putting them into the spice jar. There were 12 clothespins set out, and we worked on counting them as we dropped them in. (This picture isn't the best, but she is pushing them through the opening in the spice jar lid.)
M has mastered the matching jars to lids tray - she can match them the first time and get the lids screwed on and off with no help, so this is probably the last time we'll do this tray.
We also had trays for tearing paper (M never did this tray) and for transferring mini pompoms into an icecube tray to continue our work on 1:1 correspondence.

We worked on textures some more this week, using different textured fabrics including netting, brocade, fleece, denim, fake fur and corduroy. I eventually will make these into a matching fabrics game, but for now we are just comparing how they feel. (M decided her legs needed to check the texture, too!)
I saw on another Tot School blog (I can't remember which one, sorry) where a toddler was having fun fishing toys out of their pool. Not having an inground pool, I modified this to fit our yard. Add a wading pool, some bath toys and the net we use with our fish tank and you have instant fun! M spent the longest time fishing the toys out of the pool. Eventually this turned into all kinds of water games, especially splashing Mommy, and we ended the day soaking wet and happy!
Another activity she loved this week was transferring alphabet stickers onto black construction paper.
For art this week we made our Father's Day cards.

We also made these Dad's Day Dessert Ties as our baking project.
We played dress-up a lot of times this week!
Finally, my favorite picture of the week is this one of M helping me to recover our dining room chairs. Look at the concentration on that little face! That was our week in Tot School. Check out what other's are doing in their Tot School this week here!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dad's Day Dessert Ties

If you are looking for a quick, easy baking project for the kids to top off Father's Day with, try these. We made them tonight and the kids had fun, and the end results tasted good.To make them, cut flour tortillas into bow-tie shapes. We placed them on a cookie sheet, and brushed them with melted butter. Sprinkle on a cinnamon-sugar mixture (equal parts each). Bake for 5-8 minutes at 400 degree until the sugar is melted, brown and bubbly. Let them cool and enjoy!

We ate them just like this, but you could drizzle melted chocolate or caramel over the top, or serve them with vanilla icecream.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Father's Day Cards

This year for Father's Day we got T a gift certificate to a music store (he plays the trumpet). We are reusing an old idea that we did when J was about 4 for a gift-card holder. It is a simple, folded-paper card made to look like a dress shirt and tie. I folded the paper shirts for them, and then let them go to town decorating with their favorite medium - dot painters. It was easy and fun for both kids to do! (If you can't tell, J's is on the left and M's on the right.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Magnetic Family

My M tends to be very shy with anybody she doesn't see on a daily basis. We have a family reunion coming up in late July, and as I was looking through pictures for a family collage, I thought I might get some together for M so we can get her familiar with faces. Since she loves her magnets on her cookie tray so much, I cut the photographs out, ran them through my Xyron machine, and turned them into magnets.They turned out so cute, and she is having a great time playing with them and naming everybody in them. We will have to see if it helps when the reunion rolls around.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tot School June 7-13 2009

We had a lot of nature study this week, beginning with our texture touch walk on Sunday, playing at several different parks throughout the week, swimming at the community center, and ending with our trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

I plan to do several different nature walks with the kids this summer, focusing on different elements each time. This week was our touch/texture walk. Besides discussing how everything we encountered felt (smooth, rough, bumpy, cool, etc.) we made nature bangle bracelets, and did texture rubbings with the items we collected on our walk.

Trays for this week included: gluing foam shapes onto construction paper (M used up the whole bucket of foam shapes on the first day so we moved to gluing squares of paper later in the week); a 2-part color matching puzzle that involved matching two different items of the same color; flower arranging (we used a real glass vase but substituted silk flowers), clipping mini clothespins onto canning jar lids. This was too hard for M to do on her own, although she did get better at opening the clips as the week went on.

Bean pouring (which turned into bean scooping when M asked to add her mini ladle and sorting tray); and finally the texture balloons from Chasing Cheerios. The balloons are filled with rice, dried beans, cornstarch, and lentils and there are two balloons for each texture. The goal is to squeeze them and match the same textures. M loved this game, and we did it all week. M also played her color matching game using the painted craft sticks. She matches them with no problems, but she loves this game so I get it down whenever she requests it. We are still working on learning the names of the colors - so far yellow and white are the only ones she gets correct every time. For a craft project this week we made paper plate masks. M wanted to be a kitty cat (I cut out the pieces -she colored and chose where to put them).
We also worked on a music appreciation lesson for J that included listening to works by Frederic Mendelsohn. Turns out M LOVES classical music, and she has been asking for "songs" all week.

M also started her first counting this week. She knows how to count 1 to 12, but this was the first week she started counting objects with a one-to-one recognition. Here she is cutting flower shapes out of white playdough and counting as she does them.

M loved baking cookies with J this week, her first official baking project.
We had a very rainy end to the week, and ended up doing a lot of unplanned art projects. We did free art using dot painters, and lots of painting work. The kids did Puddle painting, which involved folding a piece of paper in half and putting puddles of paint inside and then refolding it and using a window scraper to smoosh the paint around. We also did painting with water (not my kid's favorite activity - too restrictive for them).

Some of our Montessori work this week in addition to our trays included practicing snapping using a variety of clothing items (here it's a cloth diaper) and doing open and close activities with jar lids. She easily distinguishes which lid fits which jar (all different sized lids) and is getting better at getting them on and off. Of course, she then added the pasta she was stringing on pipe cleaners into the jars and turned them into maracas.

Finally, here is M playing with her animal magnets on her cookie sheet. The magnets are from an Animals Magnet Magic book, but she prefers just free playing with them on the sheets.That was our week in Tot School. Don't forget to check out what other's are doing this week at Carisa's Tot School blog!