Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week 5: Monday


After our return from the library on Monday we started our Tot School with "mess-free" painting.

I think I first saw this idea on Pinterest but I can't remember from which website specifically. You just put a plain piece of paper into a large zip-top bag. Then squirt some paint in and seal the whole thing up.

I started by just putting in the yellow paint. Scout halfheartedly tried to spread it around but I could see this wasn't very interesting to her.

So I added a little green (because it was still sitting on the counter from last week) so she could mix the two. If we were big fans of the University of Oregon this would be perfect.

She liked this. We even practiced writing the alphabet and the word "duck" before the paint started to dry up a little bit.

  • Yellow/Green
  • the "abc's"
  • "duck"
  • art
  • color mixing
  • letter/writing practice
I don't know if anyone else took their painting out of the bag or just left it in there forever. I originally (not thinking about it too much) tried to just pull it out, but her picture started to rip a bit. So I decided I wasn't going to reuse this bag for anything (Yes, I do normally wash and reuse my zip-top bags. It is a habit I got from living with my grandma, who will wash and reuse every plastic container she can get her hands on), and cut the bag in half to remove her painting.


Week 5: Duck Theme

Duck Theme Week

This week I decided at the very last minute (as I was looking through the board books at the library and Scout was sitting at a table playing with the rubber ducks from the librarian's desk), that this week would be centered around ducks. I wanted something Spring related, but not flowers and butterflies because I want to wait until the snow actually melts to do those projects. (Speaking of snow we have had "flurries" off and on all day in between peaks of bright sunshine...I wish it would just decided to be nice outside and stay that way, I'm dying for warmer weather). All the yellow should be cheerful too.

So I we checked out the book What's Up Duck? by Tad Hills (a book about opposites, appropriate for today), and after another tearful goodbye to the librarian's ducks (seriously does she have them just to torture parents?) we went home to brainstorm more duck ideas.

I didn't show the cover because it has a sticker with the library name on it and it includes the name of the town we live in; info I didn't want to share with everyone. 

  1. Yellow painting
  2. Water tray with ducks (float vs. sink)
  3. Make a duck shaped snack out of a banana and baby carrot
  4. Letter D printable
  5. Some sort of counting exercise with ducks that I haven't thought of yet
This should go over well. Scout LOVES ducks. She makes the cutest "Quack quack" when asked what a duck says. She can't quite make the Q sound so its very "kwaka kwaka"-ish.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Week 4: Friday

***Linking up with Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1 today!***


On Thursday we took a break. So on Friday I pulled out some construction paper and glow in the dark stars.

I traced the stars to form the letter G, then outlined the G around the stars. I also wrote "Green" under it.

My G is a little top heavy, I really do need to find, set up, and restock our printing supplies. Although this has given me an opportunity to practice my own drawing/tracing/penmanship skills ;)

As she was putting the stickers in place, I would say "G. Ga, ga, ga, Green." or "What shape is that?...A star."

I was really surprised that Scout knew what to do right away. I didn't even have to show her to match the shape of the sticker to the shape on the paper. She was really excited about it too. I did have to peal the backing off the stickers though.

She didn't match them up perfectly, but I was still really proud. Honestly, I expected her to just stick them on the page anywhere and pay no attention to the outlines. We will definitely do more play like this in the future.

  • G
  • Green
  • Star
  • Sticker
  • Matching shapes
  • Letter/color recognition work
  • Fine motor skills placing the stickers
The stickers were glow-in-the-dark so that was another fun aspect. After she stuck them all on, we tried to find the darkest corner in the house to look at them.

Last weekend Scout played with some leprechaun window clings. It kept her entertained for quite a while. She would peal them off the window and rearrange them. She like lining them up in different ways too. She came back to them occasionally throughout the week, and I even caught her giving the little guys kisses.

This  week we never did get around to painting, or going on a leprechaun hunt, or making green play-dough. But I think she was exposed to a lot more green than she has been, and I'm glad we worked on it. She has trouble distinguishing it from pink, but I think that is because the two words sound similar.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Week 4: Tuesday and Wednesday


So Tuesday was a busy day. We had M.O.P.S. in the morning and the afternoon was spent outside because it got all the way up to 47 degrees!!!!

I think I was a little over ambitious with tot school the first couple weeks. I think scaling it back to three times a week is much more feasible right now. I can tell Scout really likes Tot School, since she runs over to the bins throughout the day to get everything out and play with it. But I am not able to keep up with it and everything else going on right now.


It took me all morning to dye the rice green. (Note to future self, follow recipe.) My rice clumped together pretty bad and it took a while to break most of it apart again in order to actually pour it.

I gave her a variety of utensils (somehow we lost my green scoop that I had with her green sensory tray earlier this week). She liked stirring the rice with the big wooden spoon, but she had trouble scooping it up so I gave her the smaller soup spoon to use. She like scooping it up and dumping it in the measuring cup.

I was hoping she would pour it from one of the toy tea cups into the measuring cup or vice versa but she either couldn't quite figure it out or simply had no interest. Scout watched me do it a couple times, and would hold the tea cup like she was going to pour it out, but instead used her fingers to flick the rice out of it.

I showed her how to scoop it and dumped it into the ice cube tray, which fascinated her for literally one second. Then she discovered how much more fun it is to flick the rice out of it and scatter it across the floor. At this point I could tell her attention was waning, and it was soon confirmed by her tossing her cups and plates and kicking them around the room too, (not in a violent way, more like "That made a cool noise, lets do it some more.") So I tried to get her to help me pack it away (still working on this), and she moved on to playing with other toys.

  • Green
  • Pour/Scoop/Stir
  • Smaller/Larger
  • Scooping/Using a Spoon
  • Textures
  • Comparing Sounds (of the rice falling and hitting the different containers and the floor)
Once the weather gets a little better I want to try some water play. Given her temperament though, those really need to be outside activities.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 4: Monday


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I got some stuff from Dollar Tree for a green sensory experience. I've seen other ideas like this all over the web, and Spit&Sparkles was featured on Carisa's Tot School gathering place with just such an activity.

She's blinking in this one but she really liked those little gift bows.

She actually got bored with this quickly so I pulled out a paint holder thingy (that probably has an actual name) that I recently found at Meijer (30% off their craft supplies this month, so it only cost me $0.69!) and we tried transferring the new sparkly pompoms with it.

For a while she had fun just watching me do it, this is her handing the tongs back to me.

This was fun, but then she really wanted to get all of the pompoms out. She dumped all of them onto the paint holder thing (whose real name I still don't know though I tried to Google it).

After taking a break for a while she came back to green tray. She took everything out of it then sorted out some of the three leaf clovers.

After lunch, we made garland out of the clovers (using a hole punch and some butcher's twine). I tried to get Scout to thread the twine through the holes, but she didn't want to. Instead she liked holding the hole punch and pretending to punch holes in things around the room.

  • green
  • three leave clover
  • sparkly
  • soft/fluffy
  • smooth/scratchy (describing the clovers and bows)
  • shiny
  • transferring/sorting
  • textures
  • using tongs
  • fine motor skills 
We did a leprechaun activity over the weekend but I'll post that later. I also have more green games for the rest of the week. Thanks :)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Week 4 Ideas: St. Patrick's Day/Green Theme

 Last weekend we were crazy busy with company and and home renovations, and I didn't have an opportunity to plan a theme for this week. So we basically reused most of the stuff we already had, but I could tell Scout was loosing interest. So I kinda let "school" slide these last couple days. We did have one really nice day where the temperatures reached the upper 40's and we went outside. She enjoyed going for a ride in her red wagon and I let her splash in the mud puddles in our driveway.

This upcoming week I want to do a St. Patrick's Day/Green theme. I'm tempted to buy some stuff Tuesday (when they all go on sale) for a themed sensory bin. I think she will enjoy exploring new things because she seemed offended when I tried to mix in the toys she already had; like she knew they didn't belong in there.

Ideas for St. Patrick's Day/Green Theme
  1. Themed sensory bin: maybe dye rice green this weekend, shamrocks, beads, leprechauns
  2. Green Play-dough
  3. Find the Leprechaun/ Shamrock (I don't know if this will go over well)
  4. Pouring green water or rice
  5. Try to find some green magnets to use on a cookie sheet
  6. Art: Shamrock painting with a green pepper
I would love to do more bead work or transferring with her, but she is having a real problem not putting small choke-able items in her mouth. She just thinks its funny. She will come right up to me and make sure I'm watching. (I don't get it) We are just going to have to wait until she's older.

She hates green veggies (she has always cried whenever I tried to feed her peas, even sneaking them in, she can tell and starts crying) but I'd like to try out some "green" recipes.  Most of the good ideas like spinach in eggs or green pancakes are a no go around here too because she's allergic to eggs. I think I'll scour Pinterest this weekend for some more ideas too. Might be a good time to try green smoothies ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Week 2: Tuesday and Wednesday

*linking up with 1+1+1=1's Tot School Gathering today*


Feed the Lion:
(I first saw the idea here at Eyes of a Boy)

Monday night after Scout went to bed I explained my need for a friendly looking lion head to my husband. He thought my attempt was pretty hilarious and agreed to draw me a new one.

Much better :)

When we came downstairs Tuesday morning she was a little weary of the Lion on the table, but warmed up to it. She played with it for a while before getting her pipe cleaners out again. (She really likes those, but I had to take away to container for a little bit because she wanted to bang it against the coffee table and didn't listen when I told her not to.)

Sorry about the poor quality, my flash isn't great.

  • pushing objects through
  • fine motor skills
  • in/out
  • letter recognition practice
  • In/out
  • lion
  • letters in her name


 After her nap she played with the pipe cleaners again. My homemade paper lid eventually ripped and I had to make another one. Then she did a sticker project but I didn't take any photos of that. I had to peel the stickers off for her, and she seemed a little upset that once they were stuck on the paper she couldn't get them off again.

Here is a picture from today of the finished product.

A couple times while Scout was holding one sticker she'd point to its mate on the paper. After they were all stuck on she pointed to one monkey then the other monkey and one elephant then the other elephant. If I asked her to find a specific one (e.g. Where is the other giraffe?) she wouldn't do it.

  • fine motor
  • creativity
  • pinching
  • matching (a little)
  • Lion, Elephant, Giraffe, Monkey, Tiger, Zebra, Rhinoceros (a new one for her)



At the Detroit Zoo (and probably other zoos, though I can't speak from experience) they have a station called "Handimals" where a person paints your hand, makes a hand print, and then draws your hand print into an animal of your choice. Last summer I got Scout a tiger print. Its adorable. I was originally thinking I'd try something like that, but the morning really got away from me somehow, so I just let her paint freestyle.

This was her first attempt at painting, and I may have tricked her a little bit by putting the paint in bowls (I thought it'd be easier for her to see and reach and not tip over) and putting a bib on her. So naturally she thought it was a snack and tasted it (though really she's been very picky about new foods recently and wouldn't even touch a strawberry this morning even though she'll eat them in her yogurt...but I digress.)

Once Scout realized what a bad idea that was, and what you are actually supposed to do with the paint, she had a lot of fun. I probably should have named the colors for her, and added more to our vocab, but I was having so much fun watching her paint that I didn't really emphasize learning this time. Maybe in the future if I remember.

Trying out her fingers instead of the brush.

Obviously having a moody Picasso moment here.

I couldn't stop laughing, and she looked at me like, "What?"

  • holding a paintbrush
  • pre-writing (sort of)
  • color mixing
  • art/creativity
  • paint
  • paintbrush
So today was pretty laid back. We tried something new, and enjoyed it. I think painting will probably work its way into most our themes. And I think I'll grab a couple cheap table clothes from dollar tree next time I'm there to use as tarps for the table and floor (just in case).


Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 2: Monday

I thought I'd get things started by bringing out the the Feed the Lion game. That did not go over well, and as Scout was trying to shove the terrifying thing as far back on the shelf as possible, she noticed the pipe cleaners in the next bin. I helped her bring it over to the table. It was an instant hit.
 ...On the plus side, I learned if I want her to voluntarily pick up around here all I have to do is put scary lions on her things.

Here is an action shot of her putting the lion away.

Pipe Cleaners

She knew what to do with it right away and she worked on it at least 20 minutes before getting bored.

I was originally going to draw and cut out little animal pictures and tape them to the top to go along with our zoo theme, but after poorly drawing the other animal cards we used I decided to skip it. I'm glad I didn't do it now because she got pretty creative and decided to put both ends of the pipe cleaner through the holes.

I counted each pipe cleaner she put in (6 total) and named each color as she did it (red, black, orange, purple, green, yellow). We even worked on cleaning up after we were done, but she did get it back out a couple more times.

  • fine motor skills
  • identifying colors
  • counting to 6
  • pre threading/lacing
  • focus
  • in/out
  • numbers 1-6
  • colors
Heads and Tails Game

This started out well. Scout has some easy 2 piece farm puzzles that she likes, and this was very similar.

One thing that really upset her though, and kinda ruined her interest in it, is that they don't fit together like two puzzle pieces. If she pushes them too far they overlap. She only got the ends together correctly if they were in the right order to begin with; if the right piece was on the left side she still tried to just slide it over and didn't care that the picture wasn't complete.

I love this look of concentration.
  • matching
  • very basic animal anatomy
  • puzzle work
  • Dolphin
  • Giraffe
  • Panda
  • Elephant
  • together/apart 
She also had fun dividing her sensory/discovery bin. She didn't like her toys being mixed up with her rocks.

Not a bad start to our week. I have an art project or two in mind for Wednesday or Thursday, and maybe the hubs (who is a much better cartoonist than I) will draw us a friendlier lion so we can play our Feed the Lion game without worry.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement last week. Tot school is intimidating at first but I am very glad I decided to give it a try.


Week 2: Zoo Theme Supplies

I almost gave up on my zoo theme this week because I was having a hard time producing what was in my head into an actual activity. I never got around to setting up our printer, so I had to get creative. However, I am glad I stuck with it, even if its not as "zoo-y" as I hoped it would be.

Here's what I came up with:

Feed The Lion:

 This is basically a reuse of materials we used last week. I drew a lion's face and taped it onto the empty baby wipe container. The hole is where his mouth is. The idea is that she will feed the lion the bottle caps with her name on them. When I got it out this morning though, she seemed to hate it and banished it back to the shelf. (It could be because he looks more like he just walked of the stage of Cats The Musical than an actual lion...I'm no artist).

Pipe Cleaners:

I didn't have an empty Parmesan cheese container handy, so instead I used a glass jar for creamer and made a "lid" using paper and a hole punch. I secured it on there with a rubber band. I was surprised at how well this held up. I expected the paper to rip or for the rubber band to slide out of place, but she played with it quite a bit this morning and it still works well. More on that later though.

Heads and Tails:

These are slightly less terrifying, (except for that "dolphin" over there who kinda looks like he's from the wrong side of the tracks). You match the left half (head) to the corresponding right half (tail). I only know how to draw a panda sitting up so he's not really a head/tail match. Apparently he is also very much not in the center, so when I cut them all together he only lost an ear, an elbow, and a knee. I put these in a ziplock bag in the bin, hopefully we wont loose them.

Sensory Bin:

 I added toys to her rocks and some scraps of fabric that looked like tiger stripes. I thought this would develop more imaginative play, but she just got upset and threw the toys out and played with the rocks again. So plain rocks it is! 
....and in case you were wondering, yes that one giraffe did start out life as a dog toy, but has since (to the great sadness of our pup ...and after a good washing...) been adopted by Scout.


We have an animal puzzle so I got that out and our animal books for some more theme play. 

By the way that library trip did not go well. It was our first trip there and I know she loves books, so I anticipated our biggest problem being me running behind her picking up everything she pulled off the shelves. However, as soon as we walked in the children's section, she spotted the librarian's bath duck collection (we're talking around 50+ ducks lined up of every color and character imaginable). Lining up ducks is right up her alley, so all she wanted to do was play with them. She whined and whined until the librarian kindly gave her two to carry around. Then when it was time to give the ducks back and go home she screamed "Duck! Duck!" at the top of her lungs, but with her little toddler voice it sounded more like "Cuck! Cuck!" Everyone was staring as we left. I may wait until my husband gets home and go by myself next time...

I'll follow up throughout the week on what she played with, what she liked and didn't like, and any changes we come up with. Thanks!