Friday, October 22, 2010


Hopefully your child loves music as much as mine! We are by no means a musical family but Jacob has loved music from the beginning. Now I have to admit I was not the mom who played music to her belly, did not have music playing while I delivered, nor did I listen to music besides while in the car. But some how my little man loves music anyway! 
It did not take me long to find out that singing to my man calmed him right down. The best part is his favorite song, the song that ALWAYS calms him down, is The ABCs! How funny for a teacher's son to love the ABCs! I really do not know why he loves this song, but one afternoon we were driving home from a doctor's appointment and he was screaming, as usual. (My boy is the only baby in the world that hates the car, I am convinced!) I was singing every song I could think of to keep him calm when, out of pure desperation, the alphabet popped into my head and sure enough the little guy calmed right down. It has been a favorite since that day! (I know funny!) 
You do not have to be a musician or a music teacher to infuse music into the lives of your children. First and foremost, play music and do it often. It does not need to just be children's music. In addition to listening to music it is important to make your own music. That can be you singing, shaking a rattle, or banging on a pan. Children do not know that the pie pan is not a drum. Have 'instruments' for them to play and get down and play them as well. 
In*stru*ment: a contrivance or apparatus for producing musical sounds
The kitchen is a great place to find instruments; grab a wooden spoon and a pot. Pie pans are especially good instruments. For infants place the pie pans at their kicking feet to help them make their own sounds even if they lack the motor skills to hold a spoon. 
In our selection of musical instruments we have a big round tin. This was a 'gift' from a neighborhood boyscout selling popcorn. We received this big tin and I knew it was a perfect drum! We have quite a few shakers, bells, a keyboard and our newest addition; a xylophone. We found the xylophone at World Market. They had quite a nice selection of inexpensive instruments. Our music bin is getting full we are having a great time making all kinds of noise! :)
My sweet Jacob is the only person alive who loves my singing so I will sing and sing loud as long as I am appreciated!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Favorite Books

The importance of reading to babies is something that we have all heard over and over. We know it is important but, there are days when you wonder is he even listening? Does he even like books?
Well, those days of questioning are past us! Jacob has found the love of reading! He even has favorite books. Let me just say, there is nothing more satisfying to a teacher than seeing your child find the joy of reading!
We go to the library weekly, we have hundreds of picture books at home (thanks to my teaching years) and what does he love? First word books, of course! These books are often overlooked for their importance. They have simple pictures that are sometimes partnered with the vocabulary word. 
Basically, these are great books for small children because toddlers are able to identify pictures of words they are learning and practice their vocabulary.
Jacob loves to  look through the books for pictures that he knows. He will find a ball, point and say, "ball, ball, ball, ball...." and on and on. It is very cute because he is truly toddler 'reading' the book! Let me tell you, it does get fairly annoying but it is cute. He also uses sign language when identifying the pictures. He has basically created his own sign language. For example, in the picture above he takes his finger and rubs his lip to symbolize the toothbrush. 
On these pages he calls everything, "brooooooom, broooom," but he says it with his arms in the air for the airplane. He spends quite a lot of time looking through books and identifying the objects. He does this with other books as well. He points out the pumpkins, apples, hats, balls, babies, cats, etc. (When he sees a cat his voice goes up about 3 octaves and he says, "kitty, kitty, cat!") 

First Word books are great resources to have around the house. We tend not to lean their way because you do not really read them to kids. Board books can get expensive but try used books stores. You can usually find them there and in good shape. 
One last thing, if anyone's child hates the car as much as mine, books are a great option! 
Keep reading!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paper Bag Pumpkin

This is a traditional preschool project but fun nonetheless. I went ahead and stuffed the bag and tied it off without Jake's help. I wanted him to 'see' it as a pumpkin rather than a stuffed bag. Then I pulled the supplies together so that once the paint was exposed there would be no mishaps! (HA, that is what I thought!)
I did forget one important supply, BABY WIPES! These are essential! The paint is water based so the baby wipes are perfect to get paint off of; hands, clothes and furniture, in a hurry. DO NOT FORGET THE WIPES!
Jake jumped right in and began painting. Like most children he loves to paint. I learned after last time to just put a little bit of paint down at at a time. That way things do not get out of control. 
He did a great job painting the "ummmmmm," his new name for pumpkin. After we roasted the pumpkin he calls them ummmms guess he liked it! :) And it is an improvement over ball! When we are on our walks and he sees a pumpkin he says, "ummm, ummm, ummm!" Love that kiddo!
The pumpkin bag turned out pretty cute. He did not paint the bag completely but he surely got the idea. The paint made a mess but that is part of a toddler's job and part of the process. Plus he learns an important skill, cleaning up! We now have the pumpkin out as part of our Fall decorations. Whenever he sees it he says, "ummm!" 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Dramatic Play- Pumpkin Bread, YUM!

After our successful Pumpkin Dramatic Play in the kitchen I knew we had to do more! I pureed the rest of the roasted pumpkin and froze it in baggies of a cup serving. Today, on this cool- rainy day,  I decided pumpkin bread would totally hit the spot. 
With Jacob on his stool we got started. He was so excited to 'help' that things got a little fast pace. He was vigorously stirring the dry ingredients as I added them. Once we turned the mixer on Jake was in heaven! He loved the sound of the motor and watching the mix go around and around. 
I wasn't able to get many pictures as we went along because I needed all my hands! Jake sure did enjoy himself and he was saying mmmmmmm the entire time. He still does not quite understanding the concept of cook time! But we were able to make it through the hour it took to bake the bread with a few distraction techniques. 
And when we finally enjoyed the bread, boy was it worth it! I think he would have eaten the whole loaf if I would have let him! (I would have too, if I let myself!)
 Another fun day in the kitchen!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unifix Cubes are Fun!

One of the activities this month is a game using unifix cubes. (Plans found here) Unifix cubes are linking blocks that can be found at most teacher stores. For this activity you could use any kind of block or even ball. I used the unifix cubes because I had them on hand (thanks to my teaching days) and because I wanted something that we had not used before. I also knew that if I used balls they would be thrown and the game would be missed!
I placed the cubes, separated, in the lid of an egg carton. I chose Halloween colors but that did not make a difference for the game. I modeled the concept for Jake a couple of days before he 'got' it. 
This is a photograph of me modeling it to Jacob. He added the pig finger puppet. Next he was able to help me place the pieces in each egg space. When he eventually did it on his own he did not separate the colors but that was not the point of the game. He was able to put the cubes in the spaces and I consider that success! We will continue to play this game and he should continue to make progress and maybe just maybe we will get to separating colors, but if not hand-eye coordination and the following directions is enough! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Carving Pumpkins

I initially I had planned to carve the pumpkin closer to Halloween and make a Jack O' Lantern. But Jake loves food, he knows that pumpkins are to eat and he keeps trying to eat the pumpkins we picked. I saw a blog post from one of my favorite websites (If you do not know about this website check it out. It is very helpful if you are interested in making baby food or just want to know when it is appropriate to introduce foods.) So I decided that we would cut and roast a pumpkin.
We picked up a Pie Pumpkin at the grocery store this morning.
We followed the directions from the blog post. I had Jake with me throughout the process. He loves the kitchen especially when he is able to help. 
He could not wait to eat the pumpkin! He picked it up and tried to take a bite!
When I started digging out the seeds, Jake laughed and did not want to touch it but eventually helped. 
We will save the seeds and have them another day. So I sliced the pumpkin and placed it into a baking dish and about 1 inch of water. We sprinkled a little cinnamon on top too.
After everything cooled down I gave Jake a little snack. He ate it up and loved it! What a great dramatic play kitchen activity! We will still do the Jack O' Lantern closer to Halloween. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October Puppets

Ok, so they are not real puppets but we are using them as such. 
These are the scarecrow and the pumpkins that we are using this month for puppets. The little play/song/poem thingy, that goes along with these is:

 Scarecrow, Scarecrow, 
They say you could scare a crow off a tree.
You scared the pumpkins
(Shake pumpkins and have them run away) 
But you didn't scare me!
(Shout “BOO!” to the scarecrow puppet and have it run away)
This is a fun, easy and quick little activity to play. It is also something that is great for your little one to mimic you doing. After watching you a one year old can easily shake the pumpkins and make them run away. You will find yourself saying this poem in your sleep because you have had to repeat it so many times this month! I already have it memorized! You can also take it a step further and add your own dialog; have the scarecrow talk to the pumpkins or to you to try to convince you to be scared, etc... 
Fun little activity! Enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Story Board

As outlined in the October Plans we are working on identifying the parts of a face. To practice this skill I decided to make a pumpkin and a scarecrow for the Story Board
I used felt that I had around the house to make a pumpkin and shapes to create a Jack O' Lantern. 
For the scarecrow I glued the hair to the face to eliminate a step. I want Jake to focus on the facial features and I thought the hair would be too much. I also glued the pupil to the green eye, once again to eliminate a step. 
We worked on this skill today and to say it was precious is an understatement! I started with the pumpkin and put each piece on one at a time while saying the name of the feature while I placed it on the pumpkin face. After I put all the pieces on, Jacob gave the pumpkin a huge smile and then kissed it! (This boy is a lover! So stinkin' cute!!) After I did the same for the scarecrow he clapped and kissed it! I then took the pieces off leaving only the pumpkin and asked Jake to put his eyes on. He did not quite understand so I showed him again slowly and talking my way through the process. 
I anticipate that with continued practice he will learn the parts of the face for the pumpkin, scarecrow and hopefully himself. He can identify my facial features but does not seem to realize the items on his own face.  :) 
abc button

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

I wanted to head to the Pumpkin Patch early this month because I found the Apple Orchard so rewarding in terms of a learning experience. I wanted to ensure that Jacob understood that pumpkins grew from he ground and can be eaten as well.
We headed out on a cool Sunday afternoon. There was a nice crowd out and we love that because Jake is notorious for people watching!! When we went out into the pick your own field we quickly found that Jake once again thought we were searching for balls! (What can I say he is all boy and his world revolves around balls!) 
The field was hard for him to maneuver because of all the vines. They grow quite large for a 13 month old to walk though. 
Jake quickly found the pumpkin he wanted. Although he could not quite pick it up, it surely did not stop him from trying. 
We picked a few and then found a more perfect one that had been picked previously by farm staff. What a great experience! Plus I could not believe how much less the pumpkins were there than at a farmers market and the grocery store! 
I did read an interesting blog post about preserving pumpkins for longer periods of time. I like to keep pumpkins around through Thanksgiving, although we will be making a Jack O' Lantern, I do want to keep others as long as possible. The article said to rum Vaseline on the pumpkins and then buff off. It helps preserve because the Vaseline keeps the pumpkin from 'breathing' and kills mold growth. We shall see... But it at the very least makes them prettier with a little shine!  
Happy picking!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sensory Box: October

This month's Sensory Box includes: rice, silk flowers, silk leaves, plastic pumpkins and gourds, orange and black balls, plastic acorns, green triangles and an orange cup and bowl. I included the cup and bowl because I knew that my little man would enjoy practicing putting in and pouring out. I know that the rice is going to make a mess when it splashes out and when Jake just throws it out but that is all part of the learning process. 
Jake's first look was utter shock! He could not believe that the sensory box had changed! He took his time picking up each piece and studying it. Then he ran his fingers through the sand and enjoyed filling the cup with the rice. 
Most of the items were purchased at The Dollar Tree others I had around the house. I try to pick colors and shapes that follow our theme as well as items that are interesting and fun. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

October: Pumpkin Theme

For October I chose the theme of pumpkins (of course), orange, and triangle. I felt that these three items flow well together. Orange and pumpkins are obvious, I chose triangle because it can been seen through Jack O'Lanterns and scarecrows' faces. I thought this would be a good shape to incorporate since we have already worked on circle. The triangle, orange and pumpkin flow and will repeat over and over easily through the monthly unit.

I have broken my plans into the same three groups; Literature/Music, Crafts/Games, and Dramatic Play. The activities are not ordered and do not need to be completed in any particular order. Just watch your child's mood and your time availabilities for the day and pick the activity that works! Some activities should be repeated multiple time and sometimes even daily to reiterate the skill. 

October: Pumpkin Theme Plans
This document includes the games, crafts, as well as book titles and song lyrics. Remember not to have too much planned for one day. You do not want to burn yourself out or get frustrated if things are not going as planned. Remember this is Structured Play! Take time to put the supplies together before you begin because some day he/she might surprise you and be ready for more. If you have activities ready to go you will have a great learning experience. Do not forget that this time is to remain fun, when things get frustrating (for you or him) please stop for the day and come back at it later. You always want to walk away while it is still fun and exciting, that will help your child to want to come back day after day. 

October: Pumpkin Theme Resources
The resources page includes the coloring pages and the shaker cutout. It is a good idea to print out the shaker page on card stock. The other pages and be printed on regular paper in black and white. 

Hope this helps! Enjoy your October and enjoy your Structured Play time!
*This is just a starting off place. All materials were created for a one year old and may or may not need to be modified for your child. 

Apple Shaker

Well as our Apple Unit came to an end I decided to make the Apple Shaker for Jacob. I thought this would be a great way to keep an 'apple' around to remember all the fun we have had. I know it will be a good reminder because he loves music and anything that makes noise! I will place it in his music bin when his Structured Play area is cleared out for October's Unit. He will go to it daily, I am sure!
At first he tried to pull the stick out of the apple picture but got the hang of it after a while. He does pretend to eat the apple and although he is not saying apple, he is not calling them balls any more. He just calls them mmmmmmms (Same as most food). Anything he can eat is "mmmmmmmm" said while putting his fingers to his mouth! He really has taken baby sign to a whole other level, without much help from me!!
What a fun month this has been! Our first month of Structured Play was a success! Cannot wait to see what October brings us! All I know is we will be having fun while learning new things. 

The Fair: a day of Dramatic Play!

We went to the Tennessee State Fair and boy was it hot, I mean fun! Being from Ohio and regulars at The Ohio State Fair we had high hopes for the Tennessee State Fair but were left a little unsatisfied. But with the heat we have had this summer it was quite alright!!

The best part was the food, just kidding, the air conditioned barn we found! What a pleasant surprise that turned out to be! Not only was the COLD air flowing but we found some pretty cool exhibits inside as well.  Jacob (not sunburned here just really hot) was able to have a little Dramatic Play at the Fair! The Junior League (I believe) set up a play area for small children to practice being a farmer. The kids had the chance to pick apples off of trees, pull potatoes out of the ground and drive the tractor. Jake loved the tractor! He picked the apples but did not quite understand the idea behind picking potatoes, probably because we have not been learning about potatoes. :) He even received a coloring book for all of his hard work on the farm!                            So fun!

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