Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Name Game

I wanted to find a way to help MC learn the letters in her name, but since she is still a one-year-old, I wanted to keep her moving. I came up with a name game that does both.
First, I cut out some paper squares (about 5"x5") and wrote one letter from her name on each square. I taped each letter on the floor, in order. Since I will not be sharing her real name, let's just use "Name" as the example:

Then, I gathered magnet letters, foam letters, letter toys etc. These will be used for letter matching. My plan is to teach MC to match the letter I hand her to the letter on the floor, verbally emphasizing the sound the letter makes as she does so. To make this more challenging in the future, I will place the letter manipulatives around the room, so she'll have to find them before matching.

I then created letter sticks, by putting foam letter stickers onto large popsicle sticks. I am going to keep these in a cup, pulling one out at a time, and asking MC to stand/hop on the matching floor letter. At first, I will say the letter out loud, hop on it myself, and then ask her to do the same. My hope is that she will eventually be able to look at the letter stick and hop onto the correct matching floor letter without my help.

Lastly, I created a die out of cardstock and wrote one letter from her name on each side. Since there are six sides, you may have to write some letters more than once or leave some sides blank. Or, if your child's name is longer than six letters, you may have to create two dice. MC will get to roll the die, and whichever letter lands up, she will get to hop/stand on the matching letter. When she gets older, I will have her say the letter and sound it makes out loud before hopping. For now, I will say it. 

I also pulled out some letter flashcards that I keep nearby. When I hold up a flash card, she will have to stand/hop on the matching letter. Another way to use the floor letters is a simple hop scotch game. Start at the beginning and hop onto each letter, saying it's name and/or sound at the same time. Also, your child could roll a ball or toss a bean bag onto the floor letters and say or hop onto the letter it lands on. 
There are many ways to play this simple name game! And for active kiddos, it makes learning the letters of their name a lot more fun!

Tot School, Letter P

Our week of the letter P lasted more than a week, because of holiday parties, shopping, appointments, etc. We read lots of books about pigs, penguins, parties, pancakes, and more. She played the piano and painted. She used pink and purple crayons, markers, and paint, and even got to draw with pens and pencils. We attended many Christmas parties...6, I think. So P dragged out, Christmas flew by, and we are ready to start the letter C. 
Before we do, here is a review of some of our letter P activities. I would like to point out that I emphasize the sound that the letter P makes over and over throughout each activity and give her examples that she can hear and repeat ("The letter P says /p/. What sound does the letter P make? Right, /p/, like /p/ penguin. Now you try."). 
My one year old, MC and I read Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester. Then, I drew a penguin on a piece of paper and gave her a variety of art supplies (including glue, scrap paper, tissue paper, paint, and glitter) to decorate him with. She made her own one-of-a-kind penguin!

We read Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner. Then, MC and I made a penguin puppet together. We used a black paper bag, orange construction paper, black felt (wings), glue, wiggle eyes, orange markers, and some white stickers. 

We read If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff. I drew a pig on a pink piece of construction paper, and cut out five circles (pancakes) from brown construction paper. First, she painted some maple syrup onto each pancake with a brush and brown paint. After the paint dried, I helped her glue the pancakes onto the pig. While she did this, we counted the pancakes. She insisted on putting one on the pig's eye...sure, why not?

The next morning, we re-read If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff. Then, I made us both pancakes for breakfast. I surprised her with a pancake shaped like a pig. He had a banana nose and chocolate chip eyes. She loved it!

One of the letter P activities I made for her was a P dot to dot made from a Bingo dot marker. I gave her purple and pink markers to trace it with. Some of the tracing was done hand-over-hand and some she did by herself. 

I would also like to mention that we read...a lot! At the beginning of each week, I collect all the books she has on the letter we will be working on, and put them into their own bin (for example, this week I collected all of her books about penguins, pancakes, ponies, the piano, pink, purple, pigs, etc. and put them into their own bin). I keep this bin in the living room, so throughout the day when she wants to read a book, I can easily pull one out and continue to emphasize the sound the letter makes. We also keep another book bin handy filled with books that I rotate depending on the season and holidays that are near (for example, it is now filled with books about snow, Christmas, hibernation, polar bears, snowmen,  and soon, Valentine's Day, etc.). We read out of both book bins throughout the day. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Piggy Toes and Family Traditions

Almost everyone knows the classic nursery rhyme for toes that goes like this...

This little piggy went to the market.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy had roast beef.
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried wee, wee, wee all the way home!

But, did you know that there are more rhymes than just that one for toes? When my cousins were little, I used to hear their dad recite this one over and over to them...

(Start with the pinky toe.)
Pick a pea.
Penny Roo.
Roo Whistle.
May Rossel.
And Great Tom Bumble!

Apparently, his mother used to say it to him when he was little. So, it's an old one. I have a family friend who told me one her mother would say to her when she was young. Her toes rhyme goes like this...

Old sow.
Piggy wow.
Danny diss.
Piggy wiss.
And poor little Piper!

This got me thinking about how many silly family traditions, like these rhymes, must be lost over time. So, I decided to write about them in my blog. I not only want to preserve a little piece of both of these families' traditions, but also encourage others to do the same. So think. Think hard if you have to. Is there anything your mom sang to you when you were young that you may have forgotten about until now? Is there a story your grandfather told you that you never wrote down? Or a funny saying your dad would always repeat? I bet there is. 

Tot School, Letter D

We started learning about the letter D this week. Our D week consisted of dogs, donuts, dinosaurs, drums, decorating, daddy, dump trucks, diamonds, dresses, dancing, and much more. Here are some of our letter D activities:

We read Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton. I had a dinosaur and some winter clothes already cut out out of construction paper. MC studied my dinosaur, then we took it apart, and she made hers. She helped me glue the dinosaur down, then I put a dab of glue on the back of each piece of his winter clothing. I said what it was (for example: "hat") and then asked her where it goes. She placed each piece down herself. 

We read If You Give A Dog A Donut by Laura Numeroff. I cut a donut out of construction paper and MC helped me glue it down. Then I handed her a paint brush and a cup of pink paint mixed with some glue. I asked her to paint the donut. She helped me dump some sprinkles onto the wet paint/glue mixture, and then proceded to eat the left over sprinkles!

We read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins. She helped me glue the construction paper drum down. Then we flipped the paper, I painted her hands, and she put her hand prints on the drum. We washed her hands. Then I added a foam D sticker to the drum and had MC trace it several times with her finger asking her to repeat the /d/ sound. 

We read Snowmen At Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, since it is December. I drew a tree, topped with the letter D on the back of some contact paper and taped it sticky side out on our sliding glass door. I gave MC some bows and some construction paper diamonds (a good way to learn a shape that begins with D) to decorate her tree with. After all, decorate does begin with D! 

We read Open the Barn Door... by Christopher Santoro. I gave MC a piece of white construction paper, markers, and crayons. She colored while I made the barn out of red construction paper. Then, I gave her the barn to color. When she finished, I cut the barn doors so that they would open. She helped me glue the back of the barn (not the doors!) to the white paper she colored. Then, we printed a picture of her dad (which also starts with D), I cut him out, and she helped me glue him down behind the doors. Now, she can open the doors and see dada!

After this project I wanted to get my little wiggle worm moving again. So, I wrote "D" several times on a piece of paper and cut each one out. I handed MC a letter D with a piece of double stick tape on the back and asked her to put it onto a door. I emphasized "D is for door" and the sound "/d/" over and over throughout this activity. She found a total of 14 doors, placing a D on each one. This was also a great counting opportunity!

Later in the day, we read The Little Dump Truck by Margery Cuyler. Then, we went around and she collected the D's from each door and placed them into her dump truck. Then, she dumped them into the trash! By the way, one of her favorite things to do is to dump things out, and when she does she says " dumped it" every time!

We read Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman, in which there are all kinds of dogs! I decided that we'd make a D-dog, with D-shaped ears and a D-shaped nose. We made him out of a paper plate (that MC painted brown), construction paper, and glue. Then we added some wiggle eyes. MC loves this dog and was very upset that she couldn't play with it while it was drying.

So, that was our week of the letter D. Next comes P!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tot School, Letter M

My daughter, MC and I started tot school! The letter M was our first letter. We worked on the letter M for two weeks, however, my plan from here on out is to work on each letter for only one week. Here are our M activities:

We read If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff several times throughout the two weeks. Then, I drew a muffin on brown paper and cut up strips of purple paper (this was to be our blackberry jam). MC helped me tear the purple strips into smaller pieces (a great fine motor activity). Then, I put some dabs of glue onto the muffin and she placed the purple pieces on the glue. 

We read Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I cut a moon out of yellow paper and we glued it onto a blue piece of paper.  Then, I put a few squirts of glitter glue on the moon and handed MC a paint brush. She brushed the glitter glue around until it was spread out. 

I also made a simple moon shadow puppet to use in our walk-in closet with a flashlight. I cut a moon shape out of card stock and hot glued it onto a straw. 

Next, we read Duck Duck Moose by Dave Horowitz. I took a close-up of MC, printed it out and cut her face out. She helped me glue her picture on a piece of paper. Then, I painted her hands brown and she made herself some hand printed antlers. I added MC the Moose onto the bottom.

We read The Mitten by Jan Brett. I cut out a pair of mittens from blue paper and MC helped me glue them on. Then, after realizing that we ran out of white paint, I instead painted her hands orange and she put her handprints into the mittens. I used my hair dryer to speed up the paint's drying process, then squirt some glitter glue onto the mittens. MC used a paint brush to spread it out all over her mittens. 

We read Pip and Squeak by Ian Schoenherr. Then, I made MC a mouse mask out of felt while she worked on coloring over an M I created with painter's tape.

It actually took her several days and my help to add this much color. Then, we peeled the tape off...

...and were left with this!

Here are some of our other M activites:
I drew an M on a piece of paper and she stuck stickers onto it.

After realizing that we don't have a chalk board (it's now on my Christmas wish list), I drew an M with chalk onto black paper, then handed her the chalk to see what she would do.

MC loves to "paint" with water. I drew an M on a piece of paper and gave her a paint brush and a cup of water. 

I cut a mitten out of construction paper and gave it to her to add to her coloring table.

Throughout the two weeks, we also made muffins, went to a cafe and ate muffins, got the mail, played with magnets, listened to music, read nursery rhymes, and read lots of books. Here are some of the other M themed books we read: 
Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun
Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson
The Best Mouse Cookie by Laura Numeroff
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff
Mice on Ice by Rebecca and Ed Emberley
Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini
That's Not My Mermaid... by Fiona Watt
Curious George: Snowy Day adapted by Rotem Moscovich
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Friday, November 28, 2014

Little Sister

As I mentioned in my previous post, Home Tot "School", I will be taking a break this spring from my blog. The reason is because MC is getting a baby sister! We are pretty sure it's a girl anyway. 

We are very excited about adding a new member to our family. We can already tell MC will be a great big sister. She has a new baby cousin she's been practicing with. She gives him kisses, holds his bottle, and rubs his cheek and says "gentle". She's such an awesome kid! She also pays a lot of attention to my stomach, points to it and says "baby". 

We are down to two names...I have my favorite, but my husband doesn't want to choose yet. He says that he has time and it's a decision that will last forever, so he's really got to think about it. I agree that it's a huge decision, but I want her to have a name! It will be one step closer to her being here. 
So anyway, she is the reason I will be taking a break from my blog, and most likely MC's tot school. But she's a pretty good reason, I'd say!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Home Tot "School"

While wandering around on Pinterest one day, I came across the idea of tot school. Tot school? So, I began to do a bit more research and found many activities based on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, fine and gross motor skills, etc., for toddlers not yet ready for preschool. Why didn't I think of this!? Winters are very long and cold where we live, and I'm always trying to think of ideas to keep us busy, so why not tot school?
I decided to base my little tot lessons around a letter. We will work on that letter for two weeks, while incorporating other skills like colors, counting, etc. I also plan to go on outings based on the letter we are working on (for example, we just had a breakfast date together at a local cafe and ate muffins while learning about the letter m). I also plan to involve music and dancing, as we do lots of this anyway. 
We began this week with the letter m for several reasons: /m/ is one of the first sounds a baby makes, and MC loves and has many books based on moose, mice, and the moon. I also wanted to incorporate something that had to do with winter, and it just so happens that mitten starts with m too.
I turned to Pinterest for some ideas, but also came up with lots of my own. I even organized my house and added an art shelf into my walk-in closet so the art supplies are always ready to use. We read lots of books in a day anyway, so I pulled out all of her m books and put them into a special bin. Besides reading, we do two or three projects/activities a day based on the letter m. By the end of the first day of tot school, she was saying /m/ when I asked her what sound the letter m makes! 
I know there will be people who read this and roll their eyes, thinking that I'm pushing her too far too fast. And believe me, I am not trying to rush things or make her grow up too quickly. It's just that I am a creative person. I believe in making learning fun. We read, do crafts, and other fun activites anyway, so why not let her learn some new things along the way? 
So I've decided that I will NOT get frustrasted if she glues an eye ball in the wrong place, or if she just can't seem to remember the sound a certain letter makes. We are doing this purely for fun, and that's exactly what we will do...have lots of fun! 
So, watch for my posts on each letter! I'll try to post each as soon as we finish and move onto the next letter. They will be out of order (we started with m, and I plan to do p next), and there will probably be a break this my next post to find out why!