Friday, December 31, 2010

Gingerbread House

While we were in Ohio Jacob's Auntie Johnna invited us over to decorate a Gingerbread House! She was so sweet to think of an activity to do just for him! He was happy to have the opportunity to 'work' on something!
Johnna planned ahead and had books for Jake to enjoy as well as a coloring book. Everything was set up and ready for us when we arrived! She put the house together before we got there so it would have time to harden as well. 
We started with the gingerbread man and went from there. Jake watched us put some 'balls' on the cookie and quickly got the idea. Although, he changed his mind quite a bit switching the balls!

 He had some help from us but did a good job considering the fact that it actually takes some precision. He did not even eat any of the pieces as we worked! He does not eat candy but has had a candy cane so when he saw the mints he said, "mmmmmm." But no munching. It was as if he knew that these were for a project!
The final project did not look exactly like the picture on the box, but nonetheless cute! This was a fun project I think we will have to make it a tradition! Thanks Auntie Johnna!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Field Trip: Cosi Science Center

Cosi is a amazing Science Center in Columbus, Ohio. It is in an old High School building that has been renovated. There is so much to see and do there, that it is every kid's dream! They have different areas, theme rooms. PLUS, they have a toddler room, well it is not just for toddlers but younger children!  So many places are just too big for toddlers but this Science Center designated a spot for the small ones!! Thank you, Cosi!
Jake driving a boat
We went with friends and although the children are still in solo-play I think they enjoyed each others company. The favorite part of the small children's area was the balls. Jake liked to push the balls down to watch the air compressor shoot the balls out again.

They have a lot of things to drive, a favorite activity for young ones! Jake even let his friend have a turn! (For a minute!) The idea behind this area is real world play. There is a kitchen, a doctor's office, an ambulance...

Feeding his friends

And himself

Cleaning up after! I wish he could do this at home! :)

One area of this space has water to play with! They provide coats to prevent the kids from getting too wet. This room could entertain a child for a year! They can splash, pour, float boats and even squirt water.

We had an amazing day and Jake fell asleep practically before we were out of the parking lot! Science centers are a great winter activity place to exude some energy and to learn at the same time! These types of centers are all over the country. We have one in Nashville too. It is not half of Cosi but we will take what we can get! Look for one in your area this winter!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday Season! We enjoyed an exciting Christmas morning!

Jake's face was priceless when he saw all the new toys and games! Santa gave him the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe car. He was very excited to jump in and ride around!
I made this car mat for him and found some cute cars and a train to drive around on it!

Choo, Choo!

He also received some books, of course!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas! Enjoy the day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gifts from Baby! -part 3

We have been busy visiting family out of town and I have fallen behind on my posts!

I wanted to make sure I posted the final project for our Christmas gifts.
I bought small composition notebooks from the Dollar Tree. They came in packages of 3 for $1. I then took construction paper and covered the front of the notebooks. I chose red and green paper to cover the notebooks for the Christmas theme. I then hand printed Jacob's hand in yellow, white and blue paint. He does not love finger painting but he did well with the hand printing. I held his hand as we did this activity and dramatically made pushing sounds when we made the print. He enjoyed himself.
These are the 3 projects; Coasters, Stirrer, and notebook. we put together for the Gifts from Baby. We added a little candy cane and put all the items in a gift bag wrapped with a ribbon. 
Front of the bag

Back of the bag

I put all the bags in a basket and will have Jacob pass them out to each individual on Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gifts from Baby! -part 2

Christmas is creeping in on us so I thought it was time to make another part of our Christmas gifts from baby. Today we made Stirring Spoons. These can be used in hot tea or coffee to give a taste of chocolate and candy cane.
We started with plastic spoons, chocolate and candy canes. At this age when small toddlers do not understand everything you say to them having a 'hook' is a great way to get them excited about an activity. For this activity the hook was crushing the candy canes.
We are at my mom's house, out of town, and he does not seem so interested in helping in the kitchen as he does at home. As I was preparing for the activity he was running around playing. To get him to join me I asked him if he wanted to bang, band in the kitchen with me. He loves all things construction and bang, banging to him is hitting things and making a noise. Crushing candy cane? Yep that is going to make a noise. We started with this part. I put them in a baggies and modeled for him how to hit the candy canes with the rolling pin. 
He, of course, loved this and said, "bang, bang," as he hit the candy. While he did that I put the chocolate in a bowl and melted it in the microwave. 
I put the candy canes on a plate and pulled out the chocolate, stirred it up and put it on a plate as well. By microwaving the chocolate it does not get as hot so it is safer around a little one. (BUT, needless to say always monitor for safety!) I modeled the process- dip spoon in chocolate getting it covered and thick, then sprinkle candy canes on it and lay it on the parchment paper. 
Then he took over and made the spoons with no problem he enjoyed stirring and sprinkling. All of which are skills he can do without difficulty. He did not even mind handing them over to me to put on the paper. I worried that he would just want to sit and stir but he appeared to truly understand what we were doing. 
I looked over and saw this sweet face!! I guess I cannot blame him! We all have to taste test once in a while.

Here are the final product. I let them dry then cleaned off the spoon handles. They should be a nice sweet treat in coffees on Christmas. And what a way to show gift giving and doing for others! 
Part 3 coming!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Field Trip: Going to See Santa

As part of our Field Trips this month we went to visit Santa at the mall. I was really worried about this because most early toddlers cry when they have to sit on Santa's lap. We took Jacob last year and he was great, sure he was 4 months old but still! This time I was hoping it would be ok because we have read so much about Santa and when he sees Santa in books he gets very excited and always waves and hugs him!
When we got to the mall there was a line so we let Jake run around while we took turns holding our spot in line. He was great! He ran up to where Santa was sitting and pointed at him. He appeared to be very excited.
Finally it was his turn...
He was in great spirits and I think that is key! There were parents not allowing their children to walk around or to get a closer look. Small children did not understand what they were waiting for and were getting very upset. Then when it was their turn they screamed and screamed. Jacob was excited to get up to Santa because we walked up and down the area. He was picked up to look around in the area where Santa was sitting. I also brought a truck that Jake loves. I gave it to him just before he went on Santa's lap and I told Jake to show Santa his truck. That worked perfectly because he was distracted with the truck and just sat and stared at Santa as he drove Jake's truck around on his leg. You can see it in Santa's hand in the picture. 
Jake's lip started quivering a little at the very end and I quickly picked him up. I did not want Santa to be a terrifying experience for him! He waved goodbye and the experience stayed positive. It was a fun field trip!

Imaginary Play: Being Reindeer

This month for Imaginary Play I decided we would pretend to be reindeer. I found antlers at a craft store and thought it would be fun for us to prance around our Structured Play room. I bought two pair; one for Jake and one for me.
He loves animals so when we started reading Christmas stories he quickly became enthralled with reindeer. He points them out in stories and makes a horse sound when he sees them. It is hard to do a lot of imaginary play at this age. He sometimes loses interest if there is too much imagining to do. (Unless we are in the kitchen). He did go over to our Sensory Box and pretend to eat. As if it was the deer's food dish. 
It was hard to take pictures but we pranced around the room and shook our antlers. We even put them on the  dog! (He never leaves our side) 
It was fun to play and Jake wore the antlers. This shows me he enjoyed pretending because he hates to put things on his head! Especially hats!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finger Painting a Christmas Tree

Today Jacob decided he wanted to paint. I thought we would go ahead and follow our plans to Finger Paint a Christmas Tree. I cut a tree out of green construction paper and passed it along to Jacob. He took it from there! As I explained before he no longer enjoys finger painting but LOVES painting, so I modified the plans.
We used the Bingo Markers again. He loves these because they are so easy to use and because the make a "ball" when you "bang, bang" them on the paper! :) 
We used regular paint as well. I pulled out some green and yellow. I told Jacob to paint lights on the tree with the yellow paint and paintbrush. In the picture above, he is pointing to the colors and saying, "ball, ball." He did the same for the yellow lights, "ight, ight." It pleased me to see him do this because it shows me that he understands what a Christmas tree is and that can use his imagination to create his own!
I encouraged Jake to put a star at the top of the tree but he went on adding his 'balls' so I put the star on the tree. He was able to point to the star at the top of the tree when I ask, "Where is the star?"

abc button

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Showcase

I have decided to start a new post series call Sunday Showcase. This will be an opportunity for followers to show off some of what they have taught, practiced and created using the ideas they have found here at Structured Play!
This week we are starting with Susana from Spain. She and her 17 month old daughter have been busy at work! These projects are from November. (I am late getting things rolling!) Pictured above is the painting project where we used the child's hand an arm for the truck and  finger prints for the leaves. Emma did a great job! I love the blue sky as well!
They have also started using Sensory Boxes! Here is her autumn box with pine cones, beans, leaves and some seeds. Everyone loves the Sensory Boxes!!

It makes me so happy to see others using my plans and having a fun, learning experience from them! Thank you Susana for sharing your experiences! And keep them coming! You can see more of what Emma and Susana are up to at

If you are interested in sharing some of your projects, successes or even lessons learned please send an email with your story!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Field Trip to the Library

[Nashville Public Library]
Today we headed out for field trip! We went to the downtown Nashville Library for a Puppet Show. We have lived in three different States and I can honestly say that a good library system is so important. We luckily have a wonderful library system here in Nashville. There are three libraries within 10 miles of our house! After living in a community without a good library system I can appreciate this luxury more than ever!
The library puts on AMAZING marionette shows! I have truly never seen anything like them! Believe it or not they are so good with lights, smoke and sounds that they can make an active 15 month old sit still for 30-40 minutes! This show was Cinderella. The puppet masters are no less than magical with their performance and we enjoyed every moment of the show!
Being the library they do not stop with the show. Outside the theater they had a variety of Cinderella stories and coloring pages for the children to take home. This takes the experience one step further than just getting out of the house! Now you can take the story home and reinforce what they have learned or experienced at the library.
Across from the theater there is a arts and crafts room. It is as cute as can be! All the tables and chairs are children's size and the room is not intimidating at all. They have an employee working in the room to help children complete a monthly craft. This month they were decorating paper pine-cones to use as ornaments. The women was excellent helping Jacob decorate the paper. She showed him what to do then stepped back so he could do it himself. (Something a lot of people have trouble doing with toddlers.) He was able to decorate two; one for the library display and one to take home. He really enjoyed himself and even tried to help a little girl that came in after us. 
We also took some time to read, of course. Jake absolutely loves the child size chairs and love-seats. He picked his own books and pulled himself up on the chair to read. A couple people stopped to tell me how cute he was sitting there reading and that they could not believe that a small child would sit there like that looking at the pictures. I had to smile and thank them, but the whole time I knew that it is our Structured Play time that helps facilitates this behavior. He loves to 'read' because he knows how!

I hope that you have an excellent library system in your community! Get out and enjoy what it has to offer! If not, look into community centers for similar activities. These outings can prove to be a great learning experiences! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Polar Express with a Toddler

The Polar Express is a favorite book of mine, yes book, it started as a book! It is such a special book that I wanted to start a tradition where we read this story every year. I knew that the story was not a 'toddler' story and that keeping Jacob's interest during the story could be tricky. 
I picked up some bells from the Dollar Tree to help tell the story and keep his interest. 
I started by showing Jake the book cover with a train on it. (Knew that would help hook him) I also pointed out the falling snow. It snowed here last weekend and he was able to enjoy the new weather condition. He is very excited by snow!
Jake stayed engaged for the first few pages. He enjoyed pointing out items that he recognized: snow, train, moon, lights. I did not show him the bells, I kept them behind me so that would be excited when I introduced them. 
He did lose interest and run off to the Sensory Box. But I continued reading. It is important to allow them to come and go. A toddler can not sit still and listen to long stories and stay engaged. Allowing them to move around and multi-task helps them stay engaged.  
Just because they get up and go does not mean they are not still listening.

But he came back and was very excited to see Santa! Using the bells helped! The amazing part was that while I shook the bell behind the book he never looked for it! (Ah the innocence of being a small child!) It was as if he could hear the bells in the story! How magical! When Santa handed over the bell, I gave Jacob a bell.  

What an amazing first experience with The Polar Express! 
After we finished the story together, Jacob went on to 'read' it on his own!

I hope you are enjoying Holiday books as well!
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