Monday, January 24, 2011

Temporary Hiatus!

We are suffering from the flu! We will be back soon, hopefully! Sorry!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scarf Painting

We continued with our week of painting!
I put all the colors out this time and allowed him to chose. He did much better. He picked one at a time and put the color on the paper. He tried more colors but not all of them at once so I will take it as progress!
We has a couple miracles! He stayed engaged the entire time he painted and for the last two weeks that is an improvement! Also he did some finger painting which he has not liked at all! He put his fingers in the paint and then looked at me as if he were in trouble. I told him it was OK to paint with his fingers and he gave it a try! He did go back to the brush but at least he experimented with using his fingers. 
The last step was to cut out the scarf and glue it down on paper. I then hung the hat, mittens and scarf painting together on the refrigerator so we could practice their names. 



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hat Paiting

As stated in my last post we are spending the rest of the week focusing on painting and just painting opposed to one painting activity in a week!
We have painted mittens so today we painted a hat. I put out three paints for Jake to used. I am trying to ease him into being able to pick out paints and use the ones he choses. Usually when I allow him to chose he wants them all then after I pour them out he mixes them up and gets upset because the color changes.
He jumps right in painting! It is really quite cute because with each stroke of the brush he says, "ooooohhhhhh!" I love it! He is really good at 'seeing' the hat outline and filling it with color. After he is finished we (me) cut it out and glue it to a piece of construction paper. This allows him to see the hat painted because he does not stay in the lines while painting, obviously!

Jake did wander off while we were painting. He went over to the clothesline and took down all the pieces of outdoor clothing. He came back when I just ignored him and did not engage in what he was doing.
He is transitioning from two to one nap and it is not going smoothly. I have decided to chalk it up to that!
More painting tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

UGH!!!!

Ever have one of those days? Ugh! Today was the worst! The last few times have been real rough! 
As I was reading to him he ran off and played with the snowman in the sensory box.

So I went over to play with the sensory box and he went over to read a book! He was clearly not interested in working with me at all! I did not take it personally but
I remembered why I taught elementary school and not preschool!!

I have decided to take a bit of a hiatus! This does not mean we are not going to have our Structured Play time but rather we will be doing it a little differently. Jake is just 17 months old now I do not want to start getting frustrated or worse have him lose interest in playing with me! I am going to put items away and pull one thing out at a time. And I am going to spend the rest of the week painting! I know he loves painting and this will hopefully spark his excitement in Structured Play time?!?!?!
Ever have one of those days?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Learning Shapes- part 2

Learning our shapes has been going well but after seeing this post from Teach Preschool I wanted to add a little to our practice!
I started by reading this book, Shapes. As we read I pointed to the shapes and looked around the room pointing at items that were the same shape. He did not seem to really understand what I was doing so I traced the outline of the shape with my finger as I said its name. Next, I used tape to create shapes on the floor.
They are not perfect but they worked! I was rushing to get them on so I did not lose Jake's attention. I wanted to put them on the floor in front of him so he could see them and not want to sit and take them apart. I pointed at the shape cards on the wall then the at the shapes on the floor. I said their names and even hopped in them as I sang their names. Jake was not having his best day! He was watching but getting into everything else as well!
I had him put the shape memory pieces in the appropriate shape. Then I looked around the room and found different items that were the shapes we have been focusing on. I pointed out why the item was a particular shape, ie: four sides so it is a square. I tried to get him to place the items in the shape but at this point he was not cooperating at all! So I placed the items in and dramatically verbalized what I was doing. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better Structured Play day and we will have a bit more success! 
Hope your day was better!
:)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Showcase

I came across a great article on one of my favorite blogs this week and knew this had to be the Sunday Showcase!
Thumbnail image for Navigating the New Look Childhood 101
Childhood 101 is a great resource for parents taking care of their children. The topics on the site include; Play, Create, Learn, Read, Home, Eat, Family, Make. So as you can see there is just about everything you could be looking for. The site was founded by Christie Burnett out of Australia. She worked in early childhood education for 15 years before deciding to stay at home with her children. She currently is a freelance writer in addition to running her blog. She has contributors helping on the blog as well. Their content is relevant and informative. 

Which brings me to the article that inspired this post:

The article is started by a reader letter asking for advice on whether or not to send a child to child care. This is a big question for working and stay-at-home parents. I think that many times parents pin each other against one another instead of working together to be better parents. They can do this by judging choices parents make for their children. Parents of children in child care whether it is Mother's Day Out, Day Care, Preschool say all children should go to these options. Parents of children who do not participate in these options say that they have the means and the ability to provide everything their child needs. There is no easy answer to this debate but when presented with the question Christie could NOT have put it better! Check out her answer here.



I have been questioning whether or not to send Jacob to a Mother's Day out program at least one half day a week so this posting could not have come at a better time. The best part of reading this post is that is was written in Australia. It is so comforting to know that there are people out there that are thinking, feeling, experiencing the same things as you! I really appreciate the 'Blog World' where else could I receive this comfort!

Some other great posts include:





Go check this great resource out!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Surprise!

We had a great surprise today!
While driving home from our local Smoothie spot we stumbled upon our firefighters 'stretching' the fire truck! The fire fighters were out with the truck just checking that everything was in proper working condition. We were able to stop and get out to watch! Fire fighters are so great about creating an open environment where children can feel free to experience, learn and fall in love with their job! We just pulled in and hopped out of the car. We were quickly greeted by a firefighter welcoming us!
We were not the only ones there enjoying the 'show!' They let the children get into the ladder bucket after we watched it come down. As you can see from the bucket it is a 100 foot ladder so it was quite long! Jake loved watching. He just watched and absorbed all of the details that we have talked about as we have read books but never had seen in person.
What a great surprise for us to stumble upon! So glad that I stopped even though Mr. Structured Play did not think it would be ok to drop in! It did remind me that fire stations do tours for children! I have to get with my mom's group to see if we can schedule a visit to a local fire station for a tour!

Egg Carton Snowman

Yesterday we spent a little time getting crafty!
I made a model of the egg carton snowman to show Jacob what we would be doing. At his age just verbalizing directions is sometimes not enough. He does not have the world experience to necessarily be able to imagine what we can do with some creativity. We collected our supplies and prepared the area.
We started by painting the 'hat' so that it had time to dry. We then painted the nose and let that dry. I prepared by putting the eyes and a mouth on the snowman with a sharpie. While we let the pieces dry we glued the buttons on and stuck the pipe cleaner arms in. 
Next we glued the hat and carrot nose on. I was able to help by holding the pieces while he placed the others in place. 
And Voila! 
Jake loved his little snowman! He was so proud of himself and carried his little snowman all around the room showing it all of our activities! He also took it downstairs to show him all of his toys! It was very cute!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Appreciated, Unappreciated Gift

Puzzle play is an important skill to build!
Common toddler puzzles are found at most toy stores and book stores. But there are puzzles that can be very beneficial that we do not always think to turn to! One of these toys was a Christmas gift this year.
Jacob received three puzzle trucks for Christmas. When I first saw them I thought they were super cute but I could only imagine the disaster they would turn into having them in my home! All these little pieces that would never be put together. I thought they would be cute on a shelf in his room or out of the way somewhere! I did not think that they would be a toy that Jake would be able to play with or would even want to play with, boy was I wrong!
I ended up putting the trucks in our Structured Play space on a little desk along with his new wooden beads. I just set them up against the wall. Jake saw them there the first day and wanted to play with them. I let him thinking he would quickly lose interest. That did NOT happen! Everyday he starts and ends our Structured Play time by playing with the trucks. He has really learned how to put them together (as have I) just by playing with them and guessing and checking. I swear he could sit for an hour and play with these trucks! I absolutely love watching him! 
He studies each piece and thinks about it very thoroughly before he places it on the little peg. If he cannot get the piece to fit properly he shakes his head and tries it somewhere else. He is teaching himself to turn, flip and push the pieces to get them to fit, something he does not do with the standard Doug and Melissa puzzles. 
He also plays with the trucks, here he is saying, "up, up, up" as he lifts the bulldozer's bucket. These puzzle trucks help with logistical thinking, problem solving, and facilitates imagination. This unappreciated gift surely turned into a valuable learning tool!

Have you every received a gift that you thought you should return or give away only to quickly see the value it could bring? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dramatic Play: Popping Popcorn

Today was too cold to head outside to play so we decided to stay in and 'play' in the kitchen.
I turned on some Bob Marley (Jake loves Reggae) and pulled the supplies together. We were given an air popcorn popper. It is more of a novelty but works great and a lot more fun than the microwave! This was Jake's first time seeing popcorn pop. He has eaten popcorn and knows he LOVES it so this was a great learning experience to see how it is made. 
He poured the kernels in and we waited. As the popcorn started popping out Jacob watched with amazement.  He then immediately started eating it! He could not wait! I warned him that it was hot (not really hot but warm) but he did not care.


I poured the butter in and let Jake shake the salt over it. Then I asked him to stir-up the popcorn! He complied but not without eating the popcorn as he stirred!

Then we ate our creation! And danced and ate some more!

Kitchen play is so important for toddlers. For one reason they love the kitchen, so many 'toys'! Another reason they should spend time in the kitchen is to learn how to use those 'toys' and how to prepare food. This is a life skill that should start young. This helps build healthy eating habits and builds the skills of sustaining yourself.  






Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning Shapes

This month I decided to start focusing on shapes as well as colors. I sewed (do not look too close) this memory or concentration game. On one side is a shape and the other side is blue flannel. I wanted to start small so I just pulled out four of the shapes; triangle, star, circle, square. These are the most common basic shapes. They are seen over and over on toys and in books. I do have other shapes that we will pull out after we master these. I have tried memory before but Jake is not ready for that. 
I wanted to do something different so I started by showing Jacob the fabric shapes and placing them under the shape cards. (Should have matched the colors with the cards but that is an after thought!) I then pulled the fabric shapes together and turned them over. I flipped one over to reveal the shape. Then I made a big deal to say the shape and place it under the corresponding card. I went through all of the shapes like this while Jake watched. I then pulled them back and  turned them all over again. It was his turn!
He happily chose a shape. He was very excited! In the picture above he was saying, "OOO!" I had to say the shape for him and then point to where it should go. He went and put the shape in its place. I took a turn next and we went back and forth.
He did not stay engaged to finish the game and he is not saying the shape names but we have a starting place. We will continue to practice shapes this way this month and will hopefully see some growth! Repetition is key- Practice makes perfect! :)



abc button

Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing in the Snow

I have hated the cold for as long as I can remember! Snow just makes it more of a hassle! But I can tell you playing with a child in the snow makes it all worth it! Snow is actually FUN with kids!!
We went out to play this morning and at first Jake was really not at all interested. He was all most whining about having to walk through the snow to get to his toys in the garage. I tried to coax him out of the garage by making snowballs but he was happy watching me play in the snow. Finally, I pulled out a broom knowing that a broom would motivate him to come out and play.
 
Once he was out in the snow he started mimicking me playing with the snow. Then he started having fun! We built a  small snowman (his size) so that he could be able to help. Apparently, I have forgotten how to make a snowman OR the snow was not great packing snow because it kept coming apart. I guess it did not help that Jake was 'helping' by picking up snow and pushing it onto the snowman causing chunks to fall off. We got the snowman together, I put on the hat because I do not think Jake knew exactly what we were doing despite me verbalizing every step over and over. After the hat I gave Jacob two rocks to put on his face as eyes. We then put the scarf on together. We gave him stick arms and a carrot nose.
We were having so much fun I decided to let him keep playing for a little while. After all he had on layer upon layer! He could barely move and I have to admit I laughed a bit! He has a little toddler slide in the backyard that was covered in snow but that did not stop him from trying to climb up and slide down!
After seeing how slippery the wet slide was I made some snowballs and we slid them down for a while. Finally, I had to drag the little guy inside. I did not want him to spend too much time out in the cold! 

We went inside and enjoyed some hot chili to warm us up! Had to include this picture, he loves to eat! :)

This activity is a great example of Structured Play. There is a lot out there in non-support of structured play saying that children need more unstructured play time. I completely and totally agree that children need extended unstructured play time! But there is room for structured play especially for small children! Jacob would not have wanted to go outside nor play in the snow if I had not modeled for him what to do and how much fun it could be. Now he will want to play in the snow very chance he gets! Not a lot of planning to accomplish this activity yet so fun and rewarding! Structured play can be just getting down and dirty and modeling how to play! So go play today!

Snow Day!

We received a lot of snow last night! So today we are going to be able to go outside and make a real snowman!! And maybe even some sledding! If you got snow go out and enjoy it! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Showcase

Little Gene Green Bean
Today I wanted to showcase another great blog. Joanne from Little Gene Green Bean must be an artist! She creates the cutest printables! She does not only have printables but her blog is a forum to showcase activities, crafts, recipes, and more. What a talented lady!


The post that first attracted me to Little Gene was her Music Time Bin. I love this idea and love her cute pictures even more. She created cards with pictures and the titles of common known songs. She placed them in a basket with some masks and manipulables for the children to hold while they sang songs. These are great visuals for children to connect with some of their favorite songs. For us, I love the fact that Jacob can learn the pictures that go with the songs and then choose what songs we sing next since he can not name the songs at this time.
Joanna provides black and white pages to print so that you are able to color, cut and laminate the cards. I did so and used my clear contact paper as a lamination. I placed them in a basket with shakers, kazoos, and some other noise makers.

She has some other printables and just great ideas! Check her blog out and make your own Music Box!



Friday, January 7, 2011

Painting-Mittens

Today we did some painting! I printed the mittens page from this month's Resource Document. I prepared the room with a shower curtain on the floor and a smock on him. I let him move freely while he paints so I make sure I am prepared ahead of time. I let Jake pick which paint colors he wanted to use. He filled the paper with paint and he mixed the colors of the paint too. 
After he painted for a while he asked for the Bingo Marker. He loves to paint with it because he can make 'balls' and when he uses it he says, "bang, bang!" So he used that for a little while.
After we let the paint dry I cut the mittens out. Jake obviously cannot use scissors yet, although he would love to! This would be good practice for an older child. I made sure I did this in front of him so he knew it was his painting. I then glued them on a piece of construction paper so he is able to 'see' the mittens.
We will paint a hat and scarf another day!
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