Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Crafts

I set up some trays with Easter crafts for J and M to work on when they felt like it. They often get up early on the weekends, and I'd rather they have something to work on instead of just watching television. These were all done on their own, with J helping M when needed.

First, is a hand print sheep. They traced their hands (J helped M) on black construction paper. The thumb makes the head and the other four fingers are legs. They glued on cotton balls for the body and, of course, a googly eye.

Next, I had cut out a number of large egg shapes from thick white paper. The kids watercolor painted the eggs in their own designs. (I prefer watercolors when I am not directly supervising as they are less messy, but any art medium would work.)

Finally, I had in mind for them to make mosaic crosses. I cut the crosses and the squares out of foam sheets, and they just had to glue the squares on in a pattern. Of course, M only wanted to glue a few squares on, while J was much more into the mosaic aspect of the craft.

All very easy crafts, but ones the kids enjoyed and that worked for both ages groups (J is 10 and M is 2).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Science Center

I finally got time to organize a science center - something I have wanted to do for M for a while. I gathered objects we already had around the house, so this isn't anything fancy. These are on her shelves and completely accessible when she wants to play with them. We have:

Science Tools: Right now it includes a mirror, magnifying glass, bug observation kit, prisms, slinky, and spinning tops. I added some locks and keys and a pinwheel after I took the photo. I also want to add magnet wands, a flashlight, color mixing paddles and some crystals.

Her viewmaster with animals slides and some binoculars.

Nature Box: These are all things M collected herself. I am hoping to get her to expand the objects she collects this spring on our nature walks.

Plastic animals: These are not very realistic looking but M loves playing with them and grouping them by types.

Animal bingo game and ocean life floor puzzle. I like this game because it uses real photographs and very specific animal names (pygmy marmoset for example).

I plan to make a texture board for this area, some discovery bottles and some sound shakers. J has some wonderful, and delicate, science tools like polyopticons (left from when my brother was little) and snap circuits which we will be leaving in his room and safely up out of her reach until M is older.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Magnetic Pattern Blocks

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a blog contest being held by Natalie at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. This was my first win ever! The prize was to select the toy or game of my choice from CSN stores for under $20. They had the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Pattern Blocks and I snagged those.

They came this weekend, and M is in love with them!! She has already done all of the patterns at least once, and will sit and do several at a time. Each time she matches the block with the pattern she says "I made a match!" and give me the biggest grin.

Thank you Natalie, for this great giveaway!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alphabet Easter Eggs

Plastic eggs abound at Easter, and they are a great Tot Tool. Last year, when M was around 18 months old, we made sound matching eggs. She really enjoyed these, and played with them long after Easter had passed.

This year, we are doing alphabet eggs. This is not a new idea as I have seen it many places, but I love that it gives us a way to work on phonics in a physical way, and that there are so many ways we can use these same eggs.

First, I just wrote upper and lower case letters on each side of a plastic egg with a permanent marker. I separate the halves of the eggs, and M works on matching the upper and lower case letters and putting the eggs back together. I also made a game by putting a group of eggs into the basket, and then ask M to find me the egg with a specific letter on it. She loves this mini egg hunt.

She also works on lining them up in alphabetical order (I did these - this is still VERY hard for her to do without lots of help.)
Next, I filled each egg with a phonetic object. So when she opens an egg, we discuss what letter was on the egg, the sound it makes, and reinforce it with a concrete object. I also select a small group of eggs, remove the objects and have her match them back to the correct eggs.

(Shown here are an apple, bell, car, duck, egg, fish, and goat.)

M loves doing these, and I love that we are working on phonics in a fun way!

For more language activities, see the Mondays Montessori Moment link-up at Mommy Moment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tot School: St Patrick's Day

Tot School
(M is 31 months old)

This week we didn't do a lot for Tot School. J was home for Spring Break, we were all was sick with colds, and everyone wanted to play outside when they could.

After 70 degree weather all week, the first day of Spring brought us....SNOW!

Earlier in the week we did do St. Patrick's activities, which I blogged about here.

M also spent some time working with her Handwriting Without Tears Roll-A-Dough letters. She really likes working with these tools, and often requests to do them.

M has taken swimming lessons since she was 6 months old. She is quite a little fish, and loves to go every week. This week, J was along and acted as photographer.

We also bought a bunch of new games for M to play at a super clearance sale. This week's favorite was what we call bunny blocks (they are Giant Rabbit Blocks). M loves to do blocks and legos of any kind, but these are a favorite because they are larger sized. We have had lots of airplanes, cars and horses made and ridden around this week.

That was our eclectic week in Tot School. We will be spending the next two weeks working on Easter and Lent activities. To see what others have done in Tot School, see Carisa's blog at 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

We have spent some time the last few days (between coughing and sneezing) working on some St. Patrick's Day projects.

Sorting, counting and size sequencing foam shamrock stickers and lady bugs:

Gluing fruit loops to make a rainbow (from Kidssoup):

Color by letter Leprechaun (from Kidssoup):
Painting rocks green to make our own blarney stones:

Hope you all have a fun day, and don't forget to keep an eye out for those leprechauns!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rainy Day Favorites

It's a gray, rainy day and both kids have colds, so we have resorted to an old favorite - table forts. Take one dining room table, add some sheets and clothespins and you have two happy kids. On a side note, our camera is still refusing to focus so I will be going camera-shopping this week. Any suggestions on a camera you like?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tot School: Zoo

Tot School
(M is 31 months old)

We did do some Tot School this week, although since the weather was finally warm we spent a lot of our time outside playing. When we were inside, our Tot School time focused on the zoo, especially zebras. M has received a subscription to Zootles magazine from my Dad, and she loves the issue she received on zebras, so I just extended it this week.

I found some great zebra lapbook printables from Homeschool Share, including this cut and paste "Z is for..." book. M loved doing this, and insisted on reading me her "Z book" all week. The items are zero, zebra, zipper and zoo.

M also glued stripes to make the letter Z into a zebra. We read how each zebra's stripes are unique, like fingerprints, and she made her own stripe pattern. Of course, a googly eye was necessary.

Finally she did some letter stamping. I let her pick whatever letters she wanted to stamp, but she had to tell me what each letter was and the sound it makes.

I printed and cut out 20 small zebras, and we spent our math time counting zebras. For some reason, I didn't get any pictures of this. M counts to 20 in English, and has recently learned to count to five in Spanish.

We did plenty of arts and crafts projects as always. One morning M made a glitter glue collage. This didn't have anything to do with the zoo, but the squeezing of the tubes helps strengthen her fingers and she LOVES the glitter glue.

I found some small wooden lion and tiger cutouts at the craft store, and M colored them with markers.

She also painted some ceramic monkeys. This was her first experience painting anything 3-D, and she was very into it. We will need to do more of this in the future.

Finally we made an elephant paper bag puppet. The pieces come from a book I have for making ABC puppets.

M and I also did this color-your-own zoo animals journal that I found in the $1 section at Michael's. The journal is M's to draw and write in whenever she wants. Even though she is not forming letters yet, having her own journal to write in is a great way to encourage her for later. Both of our kids are always supplied with spiral notepads, blank books made from stapled papers, colored paper and other fun writing supplies. When J was M's age he scribbled like she does. As he got older he progressed to writing letters, words, sentences and eventually stories. Even now, at 10, he still loves to have journals of his own to write/create in whenever he chooses.

M learned to play on the Wii Fit this week. Here she is ski jumping.

She also continues with her imaginative play. While we played with our zoo puppets and masks a lot this week, she also found time to play with her dress-up clothes. When I was cooking dinner one day, she came to show me how she had put her gloves on her feet!

Finally, J took this photo of M. She was laying on the floor looking through a book and telling him the story that went with each page.

To see what others did in their Tot School this week, visit Carisa's blog at 1+1+1=1.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Cat in the Hat

We enjoy Dr. Seuss books around here and did a craft to celebrate his birthday, which is March 2. We have done go-alongs for other Dr. Seuss books before, but this time we did the Cat in the Hat.

We traced M's foot to make the face shape, then cut and glued the parts for the hat stripes and the bow tie. I helped by drawing the face. The blue is because M loves to use colored glue, but doesn't always get it right where it needs to go.