Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tot School: Yellow

Sophie is 13 months old.

Sophie really seemed to enjoy Yellow week in Tot School.  She and I skype with my mom almost every morning and Sophie wanted to play Tot School with Grandma two different times this week.  She'll crawl over and point at her shelf, saying what I can only assume to be her version of "Tot School".  How can I say no to that?

Sensory Bin

Her sensory bin was full of yellow items this week.  This one was a good bit harder for me than the other weeks!  Apparently I don't have much yellow. Her two favorite items in the bin were a yellow bean bag (when you shake it it makes noise...the girl loves a good instrument) and a yellow "koosh"-type lamb that flashes colored lights when you bounce it.  She was fascinated by that little thing but seemed a little concerned about how it felt in her hands.  She kept trying to pick it up by one little string.

Puzzle and Book Bin

Her puzzle this week was her Melissa and Doug Shape puzzle.  She did really well with this!  She's starting to figure out the idea behind puzzles and is getting pretty good at putting pieces in.  She also really enjoyed the puzzles at the library!

During our library trip, we got a few color books including Brown Bear, Brown Bear and some general "First Words" books.  Her favorite, though, was Quick, Duck.  (Future note to self: This book would be fabulous to focus on prepositions through the grass, over the stones, in the water, etc..  It would make such a fun gross motor "obstacle course" when Sophie is older!)  She is really loving books these days and nothing could make me happier!

Tot Trays

Sophie really enjoyed all three Tot Trays this week.  Her first tray was her little hand broom and yellow pom poms.  (A great idea I got from Melanie at Teach What Counts).  She enjoyed sweeping them up, but got really interested when one stuck to the bristles.  After that discovery she spent most of her time trying to get them to stick to the broom.

Her second tray was putting yellow pipe cleaners into a parmesan cheese container.  She worked hard at this one and eventually got the hang of it.  It seemed a little too hard for her at first, so I took the lid off and tried to just get her to put them in the cup.  This little determined girl wanted nothing to do with momma making things easier for her and wanted the lid back on.  A few more tries and she had it!  She also discovered that it was really fun to take the pom poms from her other tray and shake them up in the canister.

Her third tray was definitely the favorite.  I took some of her Melissa and Doug magnets (only the animals) and put them on a little pan.  She got pretty good at identifying several of them (dog, horse, goat, monkey) and making some animal sounds.  This is a picture of her "loving" the animal.  She did this all the time! :)

Other Activities

This week she painted with yellow do-a-dot paint (which she loves!) and played with Play-doh for the first time.  She was pretty timid at first (she doesn't really like "messy" hands) but got more interested as we played.  Her favorite thing to do was to take some little balls I made and put them in the canister (pretty much her go-to game). :)

She also spent a lot of time with music this week.  I'm teaching the children's music for our Vacation Bible School and was working on learning the songs and motions.  Sophie LOVED the dvd and wanted me to play it over and over again (it shows kids dancing and singing).  She played her drum with them and eventually started trying some motions.  It was precious.
We won't do official Tot School this week because of VBS - it's just too busy and she's getting lots of fun activities at church with her friends.  She came home with a sensory bottle with sparkle confetti today! We'll start back up the following week, probably with the color green.

Places I'm linking up:
Tot School Tuesday at See Vanessa Craft
Tuesday Tots at Rainy Day Mum

Monday, June 17, 2013

Planting Seeds of Thankfulness in Little Ones

In my few years as a teacher and short time as a mommy, I know for sure that kids understand and are capable of much more than we grownups typically give them credit for.  There is an ever-growing list of words we have to be careful speaking in our house (you know, dangerous ones like "cheese", "puffs", "outside", and "bye-bye") because Sophie definitely understands them and knows that she wants those things!   It almost always takes me by surprise to discover a new word or idea she understands.

She is listening to us and picking up on so much more than I realize.  This makes me want to be really intentional in the things we do together and really think about what we are teaching her through our daily life activities.  One thing I definitely want to help cultivate in her is thankfulness towards others, but especially towards God.

I've been working on her signing "thank you" after we give her something (often its more like blowing a kiss, but that works too!).  Sometimes she'll even mimic saying "thank you" - it's super precious.  I know she doesn't really understand what this means yet, but that understanding will come with time.

She just had her first birthday party a couple weeks ago (pictures to come eventually!) she was blessed with some wonderful gifts from family and friends!  I am working on her thank you notes and wanted to include her in them somehow in a way that would begin to plant the seeds of thankfulness her in tiny heart.  So I wrote the notes (obviously) and then we sat together and she colored on them (translation: stacked her crayons and moved them around on the desk, but it made a pretty picture nonetheless!).  It makes for a really sweet little note.

But more important than just having a pretty picture to send with the thank you notes, I talk about the gift the person gave,  how nice it was of them to give it, and how much fun we have playing with it or using it.  I tell her about how much the person loves her and how we were telling them thank you with this note.  At this point she usually signs thank you (because she's adorable...), and then, most importantly, I hold her tiny little hands together in mine and say a short prayer thanking God for the person who sent the gift. "Thank you God for Aunt Becca, Amen." Then she adds, "ah-ahh" - (you know, Amen).

Granted, it is taking exponentially longer to get her thank you notes in the mail as we pretty much only get to one per day this way, but I like to think that on some level this is sinking into her heart.  And if I'm wrong, we're certainly no worse off, and it's good for me to reminded of all these things as well.  Double win!

What ideas do you have to cultivate thankfulness in little ones?  I'd love to hear ways you work on this with your sweet littles.  :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tot School: Blue Week

Sophie is 12.5 months old.

Sophie continues to enjoy Tot School - sometimes we even do it more than once in a day if she crawls over and indicates she wants to play! This week was all about the color blue.  

Sensory Bin

Her sensory bin was filled with all sorts of blue toys and household items.  Some favorites included a hand broom, her blue cup, and a frozen ice pack.  She hardly explored this bin this week.  Her favorite thing was to take the little cup, put her paci in, shake it up until the paci flew out and then repeat. 

Tot Trays

The first Tot Tray was laminated family pictures.  We had just spent the week with my family (who lives in St. Louis) and I figured it was the best time to work on the family name vocabulary while they were fresh in her mind.  She really loved this tray - it was definitely her favorite all week.  She did a lot of pointing and saying "dat" (translation: who's that?) and I would tell her.  Sometimes she would mimic the name, sometimes not.  After she found Daddy's picture, though, she didn't really want anything to do with the others (unless she was looking for Daddy).  So the game quickly became "Is that Daddy?...."noooo"..."That's so and so".  I found it interesting that she would always turn the pictures the right way up (so no one was upside down) before she would ask.  She definitely knew which way the picture was supposed to go.
Her second tray was her shape sorter.  I removed the stars and the cross shapes, leaving only the circles, squares, and triangles.  She did a really great job getting them in when she felt like it.  As soon as she would get frustrated, we just turned it into a game of fill the bucket and dump the bucket.  She definitely improved with this during the week though.

Her final Tot Tray this week, and one I *thought* she would love, was blue post-it notes on blue paper.  (I've got to instill a love of brightly color coded office supplies early, you know).  She loved playing with my grocery list post-it note stuck in my notebook at the grocery store last week, so I thought for sure free reign to stick and unstick would be a hit.  But she really didn't care very much until Friday when she figured out they would stick to her as well.  After that she was very intent on getting one to stick to her leg. After a few minutes of readjusting she was finally victorious and we could move on to the fun game of sticking them to Daddy's picture.  Once again, Daddy's picture.  Not bitter or anything. ;)  (Disclaimer: I seriously LOVE that Sophie is a Daddy's girl! I just give him a hard time about the fact that I'm chopped liver as soon as she has the option to play with him instead!)

 Other Activities

She discovered a fun new gross motor activity this week - chair pushing!  She pushed our bar stool all the way across the room several times this week.  Way more fun than a musical toy purchased solely for the purpose of pushing around the room.  Toys are overrated. ;)  In related news, we are SO close to having a walker.  She's taking lots more independent steps these days, but crawling is still the way to go when efficiency is required.

She "read" her Bible to Grandma over Skype one morning.  Precious.  For real.

 And finally, we tried Do-a-Dot painting for the first time this week!  It was a big hit!  Her first piece of artwork was to paint on Daddy's Father's Day card.  We will definitely be bringing these back out soon!  (Check out that concentration!  Love it!)

Next week will be all about yellow! Perfect for summer!

Places I'm linking up:
Tot School Tuesday at See Vanessa Craft
Tuesday Tots

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tot School at the Beach! (and Daily "Chores")

 Sophie is 12.5 months.

Tot School at the Beach

We spent the last week at the beach with my family, so we didn't have our standard Tot School.  But Sophie had lots of fun experiencing sand, the ocean, and the pool for the first time!  (Well, she had been in the pool as an infant, but totally different experience now!)

She was very curious about the ocean, but would get scared whenever we got too close.  She didn't even like it to touch my feet while I was holding her.  But everyday when we went out she wanted to go look at it. 

She absolutely loved playing in the sand though - a natural sensory bin!  She would sit on her little mat and play with her bucket and shovel for a good fifteen minutes, just scooping, transferring, raking, and ultimately throwing the sand.  She also explored the difference between wet and dry sand and felt sea shells.  She had a great time and would point to go outside with her bucket several times each day!

She loved the pool as well.  This girl has turned into a regular little fish in the past week!  By the end of the week she had learned to kick her legs and splash.  She was still timid when it came to sitting in her floaty and preferred to be in someone's arms instead.

 She got lots of quality time with my family (who is normally 14 hours away).  They taught her to make monkey noises and say "ewwww!" while scrunching up her face and shoulders, and she learned how to give her baby a bottle.  She also got lots of silly time with Grandpa, tea parties with Grandma, and lots of love and attention from Great Grandma and aunts and uncles.  Next week with just Mommy to play with is going to be boring! ;)

 Our Daily "Chores"

One of Sophie's favorite parts of our day is when it's time to do laundry.  Seriously.  In fact, I have to be careful not to say the word "laundry" or she gets disappointed if it's not time!  Whenever the buzzer for the dryer goes off, she points to the laundry room until we go get started.  I started having her help me do laundry when she was about 8 months old.  I would hold her by the washing machine and hand her one clothing item at a time to drop it. 

As she got older I would have her help me take the wet clothes and put them in the dryer the same way.  The she learned to take the clothes out of the dryer and put them in the laundry basket, which she pushes to our living room and pulls out the clothes for me to fold.  I joke that all I have left to get her excited about is putting them away for me! 

This daily activity is how she learned the concept of "in" and "out" and feels the differences between wet and dry.  If only I could keep her loving this as she gets older! :)

Places I'm linking up:
Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1 
Tot School Tuesday at See Vanessa Craft

Sunday, June 2, 2013

First Offical Week of Tot School: Red

Sophie is 12.5 months old.

Well, I got my act together to try Tot School "officially" this past week.  I decided we would start with using the colors as a theme as a way to introduce them and make planning easier for me!  This week was all about red.

Sophie really seemed to enjoy "playing Tot School." When she went to bed the night before our first day, our little Tot School corner didn't even exist, so she noticed right away that something was different in the morning!  Her picture was the very first thing she noticed (no self-esteem issues in this house!).  Honestly, the tape on the back was way more exciting than the picture itself or the body parts I tried to point out.

Sensory Bin

Our sensory bin this week was full of red items, some familiar and some brand new.  Her favorite items were my velcro hair rollers, a maraca, and tinsel.  She also liked the plastic ice cubes (frozen of course!), but they kept going to her mouth and were a really bad size, so I didn't put them in after the first day.  I was surprised that she was so timid about exploring the basket.  I expected her to dive in gung ho, but it took her a little bit to warm up to it.  By the end of the week she knew exactly which items she wanted to go for.

Tot Trays

Her first Tot Tray was putting stickers on red paper.  She liked playing with the stickers and by the end of the week was (mostly) able to put them on the paper if I handed them to her just right.  A big improvement from our first day attempt! :)  She seemed to enjoy it, though.  Definitely one we will repeat in the future.

 Her second tray was her stacking cups.  This is a toy that is typically in her toy basket, but she doesn't usually play with it.  She did a little bit of stacking with it, but mostly she "drank" from them and put her puff balls into the hole (a fun game Daddy taught her).
I love the concentration on her face!
Her third Tot Tray was red puff balls in a paint pallet.  She LOVED the puff balls.  She immediately started taking them from the pallet and putting them in the little cup.  She later found other fun things to do with them like putting them on the shelf or in her chair.  The only problem was that she constantly wanted to put them in her mouth.  She did alright if she had a paci in, but if it came out she could get one to her mouth crazy fast.  This is one determined little girl.  

Book Bin

She loved reading books in her rocking chair!  She actually learned how to climb up into the chair by herself this week and would then point to whichever book she wanted to look at.  Her favorite is still Ten Little Ladybugs, but she also really liked My First Body Book and The Little Red Hen.

Other Fun

We finally got the hang of coloring this week!  I made her some muffin tin crayons that were easier for her to work with, and for the first time she really seem to enjoy coloring.

We also had our first real week of water fun!  Her little friend next door has a water activity table and she loved splashing and playing.  She also got a kiddie pool for her birthday and got to play in it for the first time.  I think we have a long summer of being soaked ahead of us!