Friday, February 28, 2014

A New Oppurtunity

Sometimes life just doesn't seem to go the way you think it should.  Right now, even though I am happy with my life, there are things that are not the way that I thought they would be.  Those times can give us opportunities which we would never have thought.  That is where I am today...exploring a new opportunity!

So, what is this new opportunity, you may ask?  Well, I'm glad you asked!  I recently became a Stroller Strides instructor!  I talked here about Stroller Strides and how Little Guy and I go twice a week.  Our franchise was looking for some new instructors and so here I am!

I recently traveled to receive my training (yup, that why H is for Heart and V is for Valentine merged in Tot School...I was out of town, and then recovering from being out of town!).  I did some co-teaching, and this week I taught by first class, all by myself! 

This is exciting (and a little scary)!  Leading fitness classes is something my career as an elementary teacher did not prepare me for, but I can use the fun songs and understanding of kids while I lead! 

What unexpected opportunities have you embraced?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tot School- O is for Olympics

Did you enjoy the Winter Olympics?  I enjoyed many of the events, and especially enjoyed the activities it led us to in Tot School last week!  Little Guy is 32 months old.

The first activity was painting the Olympic rings, inspired by The Gingerbread House.  As you may recall, Little Guy does not usually like to paint so we don't paint very often.  This week he seemed eager to get started on painting each morning.
This idea for using beads to make the Olympic rings cam from Trillium Montessori. This activity was not only worked on his fine motor skills, but it also worked on his perseverance, as there were a lot of beads to string.
We have not had the dot marker out much during the last few weeks, so Little Guy really liked using it to complete his O page from the Olympics pack at 3 Dinosaurs.  When he first started, he was really careful with the placement of his circles, but that didn't last!
With the coloring pages, I got out markers in the five colors of the Olympic rings.  Little Guy chose the Olympic rings paper first, and tried to carefully draw the rings.  Not too bad!
 To practice counting this week, we did the Roll and Count from the Olympics pack at 3 Dinosaurs. It was fun to talk first about what each picture was before playing the game (I really liked the picture of the bobsledders!).
The last activity was placing pom-poms on a picture of the Olympic rings from Making Learning Fun.  There were two sizes of pom-poms, small and smaller.  It took Little Guy a little while to get started (he was more interested in squeezing a handful of the pom-poms), but was able to place the pom-poms into the circles.  This was a great acticity to practice one-to-one correspondence.
This is our last "winter" themed Tot School for a while.  Come back and see us next week!

We linked up to the Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1 (we were featured last week!).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tot School- V is for Valentine

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!  I hope your day was full of love and hearts and joyful activities with your little ones!

Of course, for the week of Valentine's Day, we had a V is for Valentine's theme.  The week got away from me (more on why later), so we did not do a full week of tot school and reused many of the activities from our H is for Heart week.  Little Guy is 31 months old.
 One new activity was using a heart shaped punch.  Little Guy loved punching out the hearts.  It took him a few tries to figure out how hard to push down the handle, but once he got the hang of it, he punched and punched and punched!
We added a V sheet from Over the Big Moon. I made available the V stamp, heart stamp, red dot marker, stickers, and markers for him to use.  Little Guy used the heart stamp and the dot marker to fill in the circles.
The last activity was a modification of an activity from last week.  It was a sort of H and V, where Little Guy had to differentiate the 2.  It was a simple activity, that went along a little more quickly when I sang "1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Valentines" (sung to the tune of 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Indians).
What did you do to celebrate Valentine's Day?

We linked up to the Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fun with a tunnel and balls!

It is rainy here today.  Since we are limited on our outdoor fun, I needed to get creative to use up some of Little Guy's energy.

We had a play tunnel, like this one.  We put some balls in the tunnel with Little Guy on one end and me on the other end.  Then we SHOOK!
Do you see Elmo peeking in?
Having so much fun!
What do you do for indoor fun?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tot School- H is for Heart

February is in full swing, and along with that is Valentine's Day and talk of love and hearts!  We did a heart themed Tot School last week, and this week are working on Valentine's themes!  (Sorry this post is late!  The week has just gotten past me!)  Little Guy 31 months old. 
To practice the letter H, I printed a few different sheets.  One is from the Valentine's pack at This Reading Mama and two are from the Valentine's tot pack at 3 Dinosaurs.  I let Little Guy use an H stamp, a heart stamp, a dot marker, and a variety of heart stickers.  He really liked using the stickers, and it was a simple way for him to have a little bit of free play within our work time.
We found some great cutting practice from the Cut It Out Valentine's pack at This Reading Mama.  Her Valentine's cutting pack had many hearts to cut, which was great for our heart theme!  Little Guy wanted to glue what he had cut when he was finished.  On one paper, he made a house and with some triangles and gave it two roofs!  It was neat to see him imagine the shapes into something else.
The next tray was sort.  I had some foam hearts in pink and red, big and little.  Little Guy had to sort them by color and size onto the tray.  I had taped one heart of each color and size in each compartment.  I gave him the option of using the tweezers, but  he chose not to.  He did not seem to enjoy this one, but is is a great skill to be able to sort by two attributes, so we'll probably do more activities like this.
The next activity was a book from This Reading Mama called "My Heart.  Each page had a blank heart on it with words at the bottom, so we filled in the heart with what it said.  For example, the first page said "My heart is filled with circles" so Little Guy used a dot marker to put circles in the heart.  He seemed to enjoy working on it!
It had been a while since we had practiced lacing, so I made a heart out of foam for him to practice.  If I hold it for him, he can get all the way around without missing any holes.  If he holds it, the shoelace gets zig-zagged across the heart!
We had another sort this week.  I punched little red hearts and wrote an "H" on some of them and left the others blank.  Little Guy had to sort them onto the sheet.  Again sorting was not his preferred activity this week.
This next activity was probably the favorite.  To prepare, I cut out 3 white hearts and strips of red construction paper.  Little Guy had to cut the strips into squares.  Then we smeared glue all over the heart, and he decorated the heart with the squares.  We did one each day for three days.  (Some grandparents may or may not be getting these in the mail as Valentine's!)  He kept saying "They are getting pretty" as he worked on them!
Another favorite was the heart poke page from This Reading Mama.  Little Guy enjoyed using a toothpick to poke the holes into the paper.  He actually did a pretty good job of staying on the line.
The last activity this week was Roll and Count Candy Hearts from the Valentine's tot pack at 3 Dinosaurs.  We used a dot marker to mark which candies had been rolled.  Little Guy did the rolling while I was in charge of marking.  He did a good job of counting when we were done.
How are you practicing H?

We linked up to the Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tot School- M is for Mitten

Moving right along!  Last week it did not seem as if we had as much time as usual to spend in Tot School.  Don't some weeks just feel like that?  We had fewer trays last week, which worked in our favor!  We are continuing with a winter-ish theme with M is for Mitten! Little Guy is 31 months old.

This week, we read the book The Mitten by Jan Brett.  I love this story and the illustrations that are in the book.  I used this unit when I taught kindergarten, and enjoyed pulling out a few components for Little Guy.  I'll look forward to using it again with him and adding even more!

Since we were reading The Mitten, we of course had to lace a mitten together.  Little Guy seemed to enjoy this lacing, and it was made even better since he could open the mitten!
Working hard to go through each hole.
We also did more stamping this week. Our printables came from the mitten printables at  1+1+1+=1 and the winter pack and winter extra dot marker pack 3 Dinosaurs.  Although I love letter stamping as a way to practice our letter of the week, Little Guy does not enjoy it as much.  I think he only chose this activity once during the week.  I'll have to change it up for next week!
Stamping M on an M.
 For some fine motor practice, Little Guy made a snowflake out of pipe cleaners and beads.  I twisted 3 pipe cleaners together in the middle and pulled out all our blue, white, and sparkly beads.  Little Guy then worked to make a snowflake.  This snowflake did not end up coming together during work time.  We ended up completing it one afternoon, and Little Guy got really into it and did most of it at once!
Working hard to thread the beads.
Our beautiful snowflake!
Can you believe it!  I don't have any action shots for the next activity!  Little Guy used the tweezers to move the foam snowflakes in and out of the cupcake pan.  In our shortened time this week, I don't think he chose this may times.  I may have overused the tweezers in my excitement over them!

Roll and count is always fun.  This one was from 1+1+1=1 and was the animals that went into the mitten.  We used the foam snowflakes to show which animals he had rolled. 
Another rabbit!
Counting when he is all done rolling.
Little Guy loves to do puzzles.  Our library has these kits that you can check out called "Kid Packs."  Each pack includes books, books on CD, and other activities, which may include puzzles, DVD's, or stuffed animals, all centering on a theme.  We checked out the winter theme pack and it had this great puzzle.  It was tricky for Little Guy the first few times he worked on it, but it got easier the more times he did it.  It was nice to supplement his puzzles with a new one!
Working the puzzle.
Don't you just love this cheesy grin!
The last activity was the book "Winter Clothes" from the mitten lapbook at Homeschool Share.  It was simple layer book.  Little Guy first cut out the different types of clothes then glued them onto the correct page.  He really enjoys these multi-step activities.
He loves the glue stick.
Since its already February, next week we move on to hearts!  See you then!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Calendar fun

Do you use a monthly calendar? I always used a planner as a teacher, then started to rely on the calendar on my smart phone when I became a stay at home mom. However, I always printed a calendar to hang on the fridge so I could see what was going on. 

I was inspired by this post at Buggy and Buddy to start doing a calendar with Little Guy. In mid January we hit a calendar store in the mall and Little Guy and I picked out calendars. He found a National Geographic Giraffe calendar and I found one with big squares, a pocket, and a magnet to hang on my fridge.  It has now become part of our weekly and daily routine to look at his calendar, and I am loving having a big calendar to hang on my fridge!

What do we do with his calendar?
  • Monthly: We use a highlighter to make a square around the days Daddy does not work.  We also will mark any days that are certain, like birthdays.
  •  Weekly: We write all the events and outings that planned for the week.  We include things like Stroller Strides, story time at the library, play dates, and even things like going to the grocery store.

  • Daily: We look at the calendar in the morning.  On weekdays, it is at the beginning of our Tot School time; on weekends it usually occurs after breakfast.  We cross off the previous day and look at what things are going on for today.  We also sing the days of the week song.  This version goes like this (sung to the tune "Down by  the Station Early in the Morning"):
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Saturday is the last day
and that makes a week.

Little Guy loves to look at his calendar and reminds me every morning that we need to look at it for the day.

Have you tried using a calendar with your tot?