Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our Tot School Space

Sophie is 12 months.

We had our first "official" week of Tot School last week, and it was a lot of fun!  Since we traveled this weekend and everything was so new, we're keeping the same activities this week.  I'll share my specific activities later this week.

I'm really excited about our Tot School space.  We didn't have a spot in a room where I could close it off from her when we weren't using it, so I had to improvise!  I turned the corner of our living room into her Tot School corner and it is working out much better than I anticipated.  I was worried about being able to leave my activities out in a way that she couldn't get into them without my help or supervision, but also didn't want to haul them out every morning and put them away when we were done.  (I know myself...we would be much less likely to do Tot School that way!)

I brought out an old bookshelf we had that was the perfect size and made a curtain that I attached with velcro.  That way I can keep it covered up from curious little fingers (and mouths!) when we're not using it and my living room doesn't look more cluttered! I added her little book basket and rocking chair and we were good to go!

When I move the curtain you can see her Tot Trays, our sensory bin, and her puzzle.  I can also store her little coloring desk on the shelf.  

The laminated picture of Sophie is an idea I got from The Kavanaugh Report.  We will use this to talk about body parts (nose, eyes, etc.)  She loves looking at pictures of herself!  (This was the very first thing she went to on our first day of Tot School!)

I'm really happy with how the space turned out.  So far, she hasn't ventured to the shelf on her own (except for the book basket), but she goes right for it when I point to it and ask if she wants to "play Tot School" with me.  We'll see how long it is before I have to put the small pieces up!

I'm linking up this post (for the first time!) at Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cheese, Cheerios, and Poisoned Apricots

Sophie has entered a picky stage of eating.  My once fabulous eater whose favorite foods included avocado and spinach now refuses to touch anything green.  She is much too mature for purees (unless they are straight out of a pouch), yet hates to have dirty hands so she doesn't like to pick up anything sticky.  It was just recently that her love of bananas triumphed over her unwillingness to pick up pieces of gooey banana by herself.  (Prior to that my little princess liked others to place them delicately in her open and waiting mouth.  Quickly, please.)

Some days it seems I am the world's best chef for the incredible way I slice blueberries, while other days she's appalled that I would serve her something so disgusting.

Today's dining fit protested the fact that I tried to serve her apricots and mandarin oranges.  When we had a picnic lunch last week, Sophie was very interested in her friend's lunch which included these fruits.  He kindly shared a piece and Sophie would have been content to pilfer the rest of this poor boy's lunch.  So, being the kind, caring (read: desperate to get my daughter to eat fruits or veggies) mother that I am, I picked her some of these new-to-her fruits up at the store today.  As I cut them up I thought that surely I was about to be named "Top Chef" for this culinary masterpiece.

Little did I know that I had apparently purchased the poisoned variety of these orange fruits, something I had no idea Publix even carried.  They were obviously the most disgusting thing I had ever put in front of her.  Shame on me.  After several minutes of attempting to demonstrate just how delicious her lunch was, I threw in the towel and broke out the cheese and crackers.

I sent Clay a text asking if it was possible to raise a healthy child whose diet consists solely of cheese, cheerios, and wheat crackers.  Especially since she was sick last week, I've allowed her to eat pretty much whatever she will eat these last few days because she had eaten so little before.  But now I'm starting to wonder if I've doomed myself to a toddler who refuses to eat anything but cheese and crackers.

The story doesn't end there.  Approximately thirty minutes later, she saw the plate of apricots and oranges still on the table.  Her points and adorable little grunts indicated that she really wanted that food, as soon as possible.  How could I have been so flighty as to not have offered these to her at lunch time?  Silly mommy! So, I give her a piece of apricot.  She looks at me with her adorable surprise face (my new favorite), grunts, and nods yes (Sophie speak for "yes, more!")  She proceeds to eat the whole apricot I've cut up for her.  So I figure, what the heck, let's try the orange.  She scarfs it all the way down as well.  Score one for Mom, even if it was a delayed reaction.

I know this is (*hopefully*?) just a phase she will one day outgrow.  It's easy to get frustrated when something she loved yesterday is world's nastiest food today.  But I'll just hold on tight and keep putting new things in front of her, hoping that one day soon I'll receive the much coveted "more" grunt!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Birthday Week!

Sophie turned one this week, and as it is with all of our milestones, it wasn't without it's own kind of excitement!

We started our week rather uneventfully, as I didn't do much in the way of deliberate activities with her this week.  I've been pulling things together for the "official" launch of our Tot School, but was bad about setting anything up for her.

She got a new puzzle in the mail from a good friend, and she really enjoyed playing with that.  It was the first thing she went to from her toy basket every morning!  Each piece has some kind of rattle, squeak, etc.  Her favorite piece (of course) is the heart with the mirror.  She did a cute little double take the first time she noticed herself in it!

On Wednesday, we went to the Strawberry Farm with a couple of Sophie's little friends.  We didn't actually pick strawberries, but they had a picnic area and a little "petting" zoo barnyard.  Sophie LOVED seeing the animals!  I wasn't able to get very many good pictures of her looking at the animals since there were two of us watching three one-year-olds, but you can see her sweet face.  She would point and "talk," wanting to make sure I saw all of the animals.  She even mimicked "cock-a-doodle-doo!" :)

She ended up getting a fever the day before her birthday, and by the big day, it was up to almost 103.  The poor baby was pitiful.  You could just tell she didn't feel good, but she was trying so hard to be happy.  We read her new book, Ten Little Ladybugs, from her "Aunt" Valerie at least twelve times.  No exaggeration.  She was loving her some ladybugs. (And momma didn't mind the cuddling...)

Friday was full of meltdowns.  She still didn't feel good and just couldn't figure out what to do about it.  I was out of ideas so we packed up and went to play with water on the back porch.  She loved me pouring water from the cup into her hand - she kept trying to grab at it. This killed a good twenty minutes to get us to naptime for a sleepy, sick girl.

We got her a swing for her birthday, and today her daddy spent all afternoon and evening making her a frame so we could hang the swing for her.  She absolutely loved it!  She only pitched a minor fit when we had to get her out of it to get ready for bedtime.  I imagine there will be many hours spent giggling in this swing!  (This pic was taken before we moved the frame to the won't stay in our driveway! ;))

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Getting Started!

My baby is turning one in a week!  I cannot believe how fast the time has flown.  I love the time I get to spend with her every day and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be home with her.  I've been meaning to become a little bit more deliberate in our play time and start planning some activities for Sophie for a while now.  My plan is to use this blog to keep track of and organize all my learning ideas for future reference and to (maybe one day!) share with others.

In looking for fun play learning activities to share with her, I came across the idea of "Tot School" at 1+1+1=1.  I started exploring the ideas there and I really think this will be a good thing for both of us!  Sophie loves one on one time, and she knows so much more than I give her credit for.  I'm surprised everyday by the things she's capable of, and I know there's more that I just haven't given her opportunity to experience yet.  I love that Tot School is all about creating opportunities for her to be exposed to new concepts, objects, and experiences.  Basically, my job is to set up and prepare these opportunities and then step back, let her take the lead, and encourage her to explore new things.  If at any point something isn't fun, then we stop and try something else! 

It will be good for me as well, because anyone who knows me knows that I love a good opportunity to organize and plan.  I adore being home with my sweet baby, but I also love being a teacher.  This gives me a better chance to do both!  I don't have any real experience with early childhood education, so this will make me do some research and grow in my abilities.  Also, sometimes I struggle with playing.  I have a hard time moving beyond the same few things when we play together, and this will keep me on my toes working to come up with new ways to play with her toys.

Our Plan

After reading a few fabulous Tot School blogs (a few which I'll link to when I post the activities we're doing) I think I have a loose plan for how we will get started with things. I really like the way Mrs. Mommy set up her Tot School and will follow her lead to get started.  For now, I will have a sensory bin of some sort each week, ideally relating to the theme or concept I'm focusing on. Sophie puts EVERYTHING in her mouth still, even with direct supervision, so the sensory bins will really just be collections of items related to our themes as opposed to some of the more unique sensory activities.  We will also have a puzzle each week.  This is something we really haven't done much of, so I think it will be good to introduce these to Sophie one at a time.  I will also set up three Tot Trays.  Tot Trays are really just prepared activities that Sophie can explore and play with to expose her to different concepts.  It may be a toy such as a shape sorter or stacking cups, or an activity to work on fine motor skills, or eventually sorting and matching activities.  They will be set out and Sophie will get to play and explore as she chooses - if she never touches a tray that's okay!  I also want to try to do some crafts and art with her.  I've been too scared to try anything like finger painting, but I think she would really like it.

I'm setting up a little corner of our living room to house her Tot School activities.  I will keep it covered by a fabric curtain when we aren't doing Tot School.  Some activities will include items that are unsafe for her to play with unsupervised (pom poms, small blocks, etc.), but are fine to use with me sitting right there playing with her.  I still need to get the shelf and get it all set up, but I am excited about getting started.

We'll start with colors as our themes unless something special comes up that would make a good theme - holidays, water fun, beach, etc.  Eventually when she's older we'll do letters and numbers, but that's WAY down the road.

Our First Unofficial Week

I decided that if I waited until I had everything perfectly prepared I would never start.  So I tried to just do several deliberate activities with her this week.  Here's what we did:

She played in the paper from our shredder.  I was surprised that she started touching one tiny piece at a time, but it didn't take long for her to dive in with both hands!  I placed an empty bowl next to her and she immediately began transferring the paper on her own.
 Later, I buried her cell phone in the container and she dug to find it.

I brought out her stacking cups this week.  She's had them for a while, but they have been stored packed up like a ball, so she hadn't really seen them as toys to stack.  She liked stacking them like bowls.

I set out a muffin tin with a cotton ball in each compartment for her to explore as well.  She thought the cotton balls were funny and liked taking them out and handing them to me.  Later she did try really hard to eat them, but Momma won out. :)  When I got them out again the next day, she enjoyed pulling them apart into smaller pieces and putting those small pieces into one of her stacking cups.

We also played with a wrapping paper tube and plastic balls.  First she made it into an instrument by banging the balls on the tube.  But once I showed her how to place the ball into the tube and let it roll, she caught on quickly.  She liked watching the balls roll away!

We also took our first trip to the library this week!  (I know, shame on me for not taking her before now!) She liked the toys they had and the swings at the park just next outside!

I don't know that next week will be anymore "official" than this one was.  I need to gather a few more things, but honestly, the main difference will be that I have these activities prepared in advance instead of just finding something fun to do and prepping it during nap time!