Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Busy Bags for a Two Year Old (Maci), including Pin It Up

Our niece Maci just turned two, so I decided to make her a collection of busy bags using some of the materials I have from making others for Theo.  Most of these aren't really suitable for kids at younger ages since they are still putting so many items into their mouths.  Since she is way past that stage, these activities are good for her age (or in the near future).  I also had to pick small ones that would fit in an envelope to mail easily, so her package included the following:

Build-a-Rainbow, a great color and size discrimination activity from this awesome site.
Turns out great if you use their template.
Link it Up!  (just plastic, colored links)

Heads and Tails which is an easy one where kiddos match the heads to the tails for animals from the famous Eric Carle book Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  Found here

Tracing Lines, a great pre-writing activity found here.

Picture Puzzle

Pin it Up, a fun felt activity where kiddos can use clothespins to clip clothes to a clothesline.

Materials:  felt, string/twine for the clothesline, mini-clothespins

Assembly:  Simply cut the felt into as many pieces of clothes as you desire.  My husband actually free-hand cut these for me.  I thought it turned out pretty cute, especially the pink tutu!

Activity:  Tie the twine to two chairs to form a clothesline.  Pin the clothes to the line.

 I also added labels with directions, since I know my sister won't see this :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Milestones: Almost 3!

Somehow, our first little baby has become a "bigger boy" as he claims.  He's quickly leaving behind toddler-hood and entering pre-school age.  While he did revert to a few babyish traits when Eli was born, he has mostly put on his big brother hat and progressed greatly.  Here are a few milestones:

Talking:  Theo is now quite the little chatter box.  He will and does have a conversation with anyone he meets.  He still has trouble with the typical letters "L, S, and Th" but otherwise he is doing great.  The progression of language this year has been amazing, and I thought these clips were interesting in showing it:

Just Before Age 2:  Pretty much just saying simple words.  (and using baby signs)

A couple months past 2:  Starting to repeat any word you ask.

At Two and a Half:  Babbling away during play time

At about 2 and three-quarters:  His (im)famous Happy Birthday rendition

At almost 3:  ABCs and full sentences

Potty Training:  Just when I had about given up on potty training before he was three, Theo decided he was ready.  Since last April, there have been a few occasions when Theodore went to the bathroom on a toilet, but they were few and far between.  Over the last few months there were times when I would try to train him by forcing him to sit on his potty for a while (normally while watching Sesame Street or Word World) and he would always use it, but it was always at my request.  A couple weeks ago, something switched in him where he decided to use it on his own.  I'm not sure if it was a special praise he received or just because he knew he could get some sort of reward after, but he has been fully trained for the last couple weeks with very few accidents.  We love to do the "potty dance" and celebrate every time.  He has even learned to stand up now, has no problem going #2, and can take all his clothes off my himself.  He will even ask for privacy now, which is a huge change!  We just have to help him get re-dressed and force him to wash his hands.  I do think the "Thomas the Tank" underwear helped, and what they say about waiting until your kid is ready.

Pre-Literacy Skills:  The big milestone that actually prompted this post, was that Theodore wrote his name recently!  Obviously, not his actual name, but he was writing on the whiteboard and came over and told me that it said "Theo."  It was the first time he's ever "written" a word, and it was very exciting.
On the pre-k checklist he has almost already hit all the pre-reading skills.  I'm hoping he continues to have his love for books, because I know it just makes school so much easier if you don't have to be forced to read, but enjoy it.  Since this he has signed several cards, and sometimes he gets close to writing letters, but it is still mostly scribbles.

As fast as I could get, yet he'd already erased some of it.

It's still crazy how quickly he will memorize stories.  Reading with him is more fun now since he can help read, and even read (recite) some entire books on his own.  We checked this book out at the library 2 days before this video was taken.  This is the first paragraph in the book... it's crazy that he can pretty much keep reciting phrases like this the whole book through.  After only two days.  His recitations are underlined:

It was a beautiful summer day on the Island of Sodor.  The fields were full of flowers, and the birds sang sweetly in the trees.  Thomas felt very happy as he quietly filled up with water.  Suddenly there was a whoosh and a clickity-clack as a silver blur roared past him. 

The day after this, I decided to start slipping in different words while reading, and out of about 12 "mistakes" I made, Theodore corrected 10 of them.  "No mama, not fast-slow."  It was pretty cute and amazing at the same time.

 I realized that from 1-2 it is all about getting mobile, but from 2-3 it is all about developing language.  I'm sure 3-4 is going to be pretty exciting. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Elijah: 5 Months

This month, you have learned to sit up!  This really opens up the world for you, because you can sit in shopping carts, the exercauser, jumper and play easier in your bumbo.  You love to be a part of everything, and enjoy watching your big brother play (he is an expert at Peek-a-Boo).  Your tummy and neck are extremely ticklish. 

5 Months
Your hair is fuller and longer now, but still very light colored.  Your eyes are still gray... I really wonder how they are going to turn out.

You found your feet this month!

Weight:  18.5 pounds
Length:   25.5 inches
Size:  Finishing up your Size 2 diapers.  Still in 6 month clothes, but 9 and 12 month clothes fit as well.
Feeding:  On average, feeding for 15 min every 4 hours.
Sleeping:  You still sleep best with mama right next to you.  You will be exiting the bassinet soon though, and are going to need to start sleeping more on your own.  During the day you are starting to get a schedule of a morning nap and an afternoon nap.  Sometimes you will even have a third nap in the evening.
Likes:  jumping in the jumper, playing in the exercauser
Dislikes:  tummy time, being left out (you sit in your bumbo at the dinner table every night)

A Big Smile while Cuddling with Big Brother

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Busy Bag: Egg Match-up

Materials: Felt and plastic eggs in identical colors, cardboard
Assembly:  Cut the felt into half ovals that match the colors of the eggs.
Activity:  Kiddos can snap together an egg, and then lay its match out in felt.  The cardboard serves as a mat to organize their work.

I gave this one to Theo about 6 months ago right after Easter, and he did a pretty good job with it.

When I gave this to him today to snap a picture, he said "No, this is a car," and started stuffing the felt pieces inside and zooming the egg around the table...sigh.  Being a mother of boys, everything seems to be on wheels.  This one may just go straight on to Eli in a year or two.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Busy Bag: Coins in a Carton

The next activity is super easy to put together. 

Materials:  1/3 of an egg carton, coins, coin stickers
Assembly:  Put a sticker in each egg slot.
Activity:  Kiddos will sort the coins into the section with its matching sticker.  It's harder than you'd think (at least for my almost-three year old).

I found the coin stickers at Joann's Fabric.  I have noticed they have really expanded their educational supplies section of the store. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sweet Dreams

Theodore seems to wake up on the right side of the bed every morning.  "The sun is up!" is his good morning greeting to us most days.  He is just always so happy in the morning.

Today, he told me that he had a dream.  I have asked him before, and he has never had one.  This time, he said on his own that he had a dream.  About a birthday cake.  A pink one.  That no one ate.  Not sure if he's having sweet dreams or just dreaming of sweets...

Busy Bag: Flipping Cookies

This next activity is easy and versatile (though not truly a busy bag since it won't all fit in a zip-lock).  I actually got this idea from a kindergarten teacher's page.  Her idea was similar in letting kids use this strategy to practice their site words.

  Materials:  brown construction paper, labels, laminator, cookie sheet and spatula

1st: I decided on what words I would like Theo to start recognizing.  I chose colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown, white and black), animals (cat, dog, rabbit, sheep, pig, cow, horse) and people (Mama, Dada, Theodore, Elijah).  Nouns tend to work best for this, and you could definitely use specific letter sounds or blends your child may need to work on.  I think the next batch I do may be the names of Thomas and Friends trains, since he is obsessed with them right now.

2nd:  I used a template for a set of address labels, and chose photos to go with the words.  I printed out the labels.

3rd:  I cut out random "cookie shapes" from brown construction paper.

4th:  Then, I just put a word label and the coordinating picture label on opposite sides of the cookie, drew on chocolate chips with a sharpie, and then popped the whole thing in the laminator.  Theo loved this part, and helped me "cook" the cookies.  Once you cut them out they are ready to go.

Activity:  The child should select a cookie with the spatula.  Picking it up, they try to read the word.  The photo on the back makes this activity self-checking, and once they flip the cookie over they can see if they are correct!

Theo really likes playing with this already, even if he can't "read" the words yet.  He likes to just identify all the letters in the words, and then flip it over to see "what that spells".  When he is ready to sound out words I will probably make another set with specific sound words.

And of course, he likes to pretend to eat them as well!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Busy Bag: Play-doh Mats

This one has been on my list for a while now.  It has kids follow directions to finish a picture using play-doh.  The blog below has a link for the files (I left out the numbers, and used the other ten pictures).


Simply print out, laminate*, and go!

Theo doesn't seem quite ready for this one yet (or just wasn't ready on a no-nap day) but they will keep until he is.

"Put the teeth on the crocodile!"

*I had a laminator on my Christmas list, and was very happy to receive it and find out it works great.  Here is the link for my model.  The sheets run about $0.15 each.

Busy Bag: Geoboards

So, after cleaning out my classroom my house is bursting with boxes of all the school stuff I have bought or inherited over the last 10 years (during college I scavenged a lot from my mentor teachers, and purchased tons of materials my first couple years teaching).  Having taught 6 different levels of math, from remedial 6th grade to basically 10th grade with my enrichment students, I have all sorts of different supplies.

I have about a dozen or so geoboards just sitting in a box, and I realized that Theo would probably love playing with one, so I went on a search for ideas for this new bag.

Just using the rubber bands will be a great activity for him at this age (almost three), helping him with his fine motor skills, but I got some great ideas from the blogs below about how to extend the length of this bag with pattern cards, and even templates to copy his own designs on (rocket ships!).  He of course loves those, because he gets to use a dry-erase marker for that, but he's not quite ready to use them properly yet.



I gave him the board yesterday, and the board and bands kept him busy for a good hour, before he started using the rubber bands in other ways (with his crank on his barn).

Creating lines seems to be his favorite use of the board right now, it'll be fun to see what all he comes up with. 

Theo's Lines

Mama's Rocket Ship!
Additionally, the benefit of these geoboards, though not as cute as the handmade ones, is that they are reversible.  Check out the dodecagon on the back.