Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Garden of Our Own

Today we read, The Gardener by Sarah Stewart. This is a very sweet depression era story. That part of the story was over his head but he liked seeing the little girl planting and growing flowers. After reading the story we decided to get a little crafty.
We pulled out paint to create a garden of our own. Jake loves to paint and I even talked him into using is fingers a little for finger painting. (He usually is not interested in doing that!)
It is an important early literacy skill to make connections from texts. It helps with comprehension and just the love of reading. Find a story to make a connection with today!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Number Practice

Today we started a new way to practice numbers. Jacob can count to ten without difficulty or error and he can count to twenty with assistance. So I thought we were ready to start number recognition. He is really into dinosaurs so I thought we would start with these dinosaur puzzles so he wouldn't become turned off to learning something new.
My plan worked! He was totally into the puzzles and noticed they were numbers without me pointing it out. He loved counting the dinosaurs and when I asked him to put them in order he was more than willing. We practiced counting and then looked for the numbers. 
I only had him do 0-3 but he wanted to do  more so we went through all the digits. He really enjoyed this and didn't even complain! Hopefully this will be an activity that we can do over and over. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Name Practice

I pulled out our name practice tray today. I put our Sensory Box beans into the tray then hid disks with the letters of his name. He got busy scooping the beans looking for the letters.
We started by using a paper with his name written on it so all he had to was place the matching letter on top. He can recite the letters in his name and he can recognize letters so the next step is having him put the disks in order without the help of the paper.
He dug for all the letters again and placed them on a blank paper. Then we practiced reciting his name before I asked him to put the disks in order. And this is what he did...
He was not at all interested! He does not like to be challenged! I like to keep Structured Play time light and fun but I will not let him give up! I do not want him to learn that if something is hard he should just not do it! So I had to be stern while still trying to keep it light and fun. He eventually sat up and tried.
He did it himself with me reminding him to recite his name to help him put the disks in order. He is doing well with his name and letter recognition so we will be moving forward next month to a new activity! 






Monday, May 21, 2012

Dramatic Play

We read, Flower Garden by Eve Bunting. This is a nice story about creating a window box flower garden for a mother's birthday. After reading the book we pulled out the flowers from the Sensory Box and did a little dramatic play with the flowers and flower pots.
Jacob is really great at pretending and I feel that dramatic play helps strengthen this skill. We used the flowers and pots as props. They are represented by the flowers from the book but not the exact same. This helps build the ideas of pretending. 
It is a good idea to allow for dramatic play, with props, as well as imaginary play, without props. They are both important ways to play. Take the time to teach this play as your children are toddlers. Facilitating the play, then stepping back and allowing them to take it to the next step is a goal. The ability to play, imagine and be alone with your thoughts are skills that will prove useful for the rest of their lives!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Flower Hide and Seek

A fun game to play with toddlers is Hide and Seek. They have such a good time hiding, screaming and running!
So... I decided to do a little Hide and Seek with the flowers from our Sensory Box this month. I took the flowers and hid them around the room. I then asked Jake to come in and look for the flowers.
Jake loved the idea and started searching right away. He found the flowers and collected them in a bag. Once he was finished he said, "Again! Again!" We played a few times then I suggested we switch and he hide the flowers and let me find them. I was pleasantly surprised that he hid all the flowers and hid them all in different places. I did have to look for them! This was a fun little game to play that helps strengthen observation skills, following directions and taking turns. Just a few life skills that toddlers need to practice!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pattern Blocks


 Today we pulled out the pattern blocks. Jacob loves these and they are great for hand-eye coordination and learning to control frustration. This day Jacob was a little moody and showed some real frustration when the pieces did not stay in their spot. Although it was a bit annoying to me, it was a great experience to talk about frustration and how to control that frustration. After we talked about his feelings of frustration and lack of patience. I helped him come up with solutions to deal with his feelings.
 I ended up telling him that if this activity was making him too frustrated then we should put it away and try again another day. He did not like this option so I told him he then needed to take his time and put his energy towards the blocks instead of towards whining!
We did two different flowers. The pattern boards can be found at PreKinders. They have a lot of different boards. I can find at least one to fit into our Monthly Theme every month. Prekinders is just a great resource to check out! 

*Remember if you do not have pattern blocks you can find them online or at your local teacher store or print  a page and cut out the shapes.

Mother's Day Craft

I like to have Jacob make Mother's Day gifts for his grandmothers. The grandmothers love to get handmade items from their little dude! This year I found a cute idea from Pinterest. (Where I am getting all my ideas from lately!)
Heart handprint - Make for Mother's Day
I thought this is a good way to give a 'hug' from far away! We made the hand prints and I cut it out. Then Jacob colored on them and glued them to the inside of a folded paper so the surprise would be there when they opened the card. 


Baby Joey made a card as well!



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making a Flower

Today we read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed. This is a sweet story that takes you through the life cycle of a seed.
I cut out pieces of construction paper to create a replicate of the flower on the cover. I placed all the pieces in front of Jake after the story and told him to use glue to create a flower with the pieces in front of him. I wanted to see how much he was capable on his own. Sometimes we limit our children by thinking they are not ready for what they really are ready for!
I left the book in front of him as well. He took off right away and was able to pick up the pieces and know what part of the plant they were to be as he glued them down. He even said the name of the parts of the plant as he glued them down.
He did a great job, to my surprise! I did not help at all. I sat and talked with him while he went to work! He talked about the picture in the book and the other items in the picture. He told me he needed to have grass so I told him he could draw grass with a crayon. To my amazement he colored grass, the dog and house from the picture in the book.

After he finished the picture I asked him to tell me the parts of the flower so I could write them on the paper. While I wrote each word I emphasized the first letter to help him identify letter/word recognition. ie: S for Stem, stem.
I love his picture! I feel he did a great job exceeding my expectations for a 2 year old! It is important to remember to stretch them and give them freedom to soar!

Science Activity

I wanted to start with something fun and hands on so we tried a science experience. Since we are talking about plants and flowers this month I wanted to show Jacob how flowers absorb water through roots and how the water travels through the plant.
I prepped by putting three stalks of celery in glasses of water. I then let Jacob add food coloring to two of the glasses and we left one just plan water.
We used red and blue in hopes of observing a dramatic change. Once the celery sits in the water and absorbs the colored water you will be able to see the color through the veins of the celery and into the leaves at the top of the stalks.
And the results...
Look!

 Here they are after 48 hours. You can see the red and blue stalks are discolored and a bit wilted. The one in plain water is healthy looking for the most part.
As you can see through the blue example the leaves have blue speckles throughout.  
The red shows through as well but the leaves are more wilted (gives you some insight on red dye and what it does to our bodies!!) 
The regular water stalks look healthy.
     
Next we cut the stalks. I allow Jacob to cut. I feel this is a very important skill to build and as long as he is taught how to properly cut it is not a problem! At his age it is a supervised activity and he uses a dull knife. We could see the veins of the celery through cutting. The dye made it really clear to see. At this point we discussed the different parts of the plant and the job each part did. This is a very basic introduction but it is a clear visual that helps cement the idea. He really enjoyed seeing the changes and learned a lot about plants. I learned that we need to do more science! 










Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Strawberry Picking/Strawberry Cooking

We headed out to a Pick your Own Farm for some strawberry picking. Jake loves the idea of being a farmer so this was right up his alley! We try to do as many pick your own farms as we can! I like for Jacob to see where his food comes from and to have an appreciation for the work that it takes getting food to the table. If you want to find a pick your own farm by you check out; pickyourown.org
Look! He filled his basket full of strawberries (his favorite fruit) and asked the whole way home what we would make with them. So, I had to get creative and pick out a few recipes. Not that he didn't just eat them by themselves! He had plenty along, that gives you an idea how many we had!
We made a few different things but today we pureed some of the strawberries for Strawberry Oatmeal Bars. Jake has been helping in the kitchen since he was about a year old. (ok, before that he thought he was helping but was really just making a mess for me to pick up!) He loves food and loves to make good food to eat. At this point, he is able to measure out ingredients, some cutting, and of course- stirring. 
He definitely enjoys making the foods as much as he does eating them! Get your toddler in the kitchen and teach life skills, eating habits, and just have a fun time together!




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Sensory Box

Today we pulled out this month's Sensory Box. As you can see I have black beans as the base and the pretend dirt, there are four flower pots, flowers, bugs and a watering can. 
We began today by reading Secrets of the Garden. This book took us through the process of starting a garden and watching it grow. As I read the story Jake created a garden with the Sensory Box.
After Jacob planted his garden he watered the flowers and dug around in the dirt looking for bugs. He got a kick out of the bugs and enjoyed playing with them.
Jacob played a while then he started pouring the beans in and out of the flower pots. Pouring is a favorite skill of toddlers. It is a great skill to build and can be transferred into multiple scenarios. He then started "making smoothies" with the beans, bugs and flower pots. I asked what kind of smoothies he was making and he told me bug smoothies! This is too funny because I know just what he is talking about. A couple weeks ago there was a report about Star Bucks Smoothies having bugs in them for the red color. They used bugs to avoid red dye. I was telling my husband about the report and Jacob must have been listening! Too funny!
He really enjoyed the Sensory Box so we will revisit it weekly this month.




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