Friday, July 29, 2011

Organizing - Update

Back in March I wrote about getting organized.  Since then I have gone through a few methods of organizing our lessons and my flash cards before I settled on our current system.  I think I am pretty happy with it, so thought I would share.

Originally I kept the goal sheet on the fridge and the flashcards in one of the office file organizers.  I learned  early on that wet erase markers worked much better than dry erase ones.  The problem was the flashcards were in Xander's room and the fridge was in the kitchen, obviously.  I kept forgetting to go to the fridge to mark off where we were.  Eventually I took the schedule off the fridge and just kept it in Xander's room.  Unfortunately, even printed on card stock and in a page protector, it tended to wrinkle when I erased it.  For those of you who don't know, I am a bit of a perfectionist and having a creased page protector causes the ink to stain, meaning a messy goal sheet, bugging me.

After a while I moved everything to a three ring binder with a cover slot.  Putting the schedule in the cover was nice, and I was able to take the binder from room to room with me easily.  The downside to having the flashcards in the binder was that the Doman dot cards didn't fit.  Also, after about a week the schedule started sliding around in the cover, moving all my check marks, so I had no clue what day I was on.  To solve the problem I went back to the page protector and taped it to the front of the binder. 

As you can see, the current schedule involves two Little Reader and Little Math sessions a day, seven days a week.  He watches one of his reading DVDs a day (listed under SW because we are currently on Preschool Prep's Meet the Sight Words).  I have been having him watch our "current" DVD Monday through Friday and letting him watch an old reading DVD on the weekends since he loves his Your Baby Can Read so much.    

We do three sets of cards, three times each.  The goal is Monday through Friday, but as you can see from the picture, sometimes I do them on the weekends too.  Some days they don't happen at all.  There is one column for a power point, which we hope to do Monday through Friday.  I have downloaded many power points from BrillBaby in addition to making my own.  I usually show him one after we do Little Reader. 

The "PP" column is for perfect pitch, which is our music lesson of the day (post to follow soon), which we also hope to do Monday through Friday.  However, since he likes the music lessons so much, we might end up doing them every day.  

The final column is for our math lessons, which we were doing three times a day, Monday through Friday.  However, I ran out of Doman dot cards and the polygon flash cards I made after.  Since I haven't made new flash cards yet, we are skipping the scheduled math lessons.  Instead we do simple addition or subtraction problems with toys or food.

It sounds like a lot, but most lessons are less than 15 seconds and it DEFINITELY doesn't all happen every day.  They are "goals."  If we are busy, friends are in town, we don't feel well, we didn't sleep enough, etc, we just do what I feel comfortable with.  Some days LR and LM are the only thing that happen.  Some days we only do one set of word cards.  Some days nothing happens at all.  You get the idea.

Originally I made the GIANT flashcards as recommended by How to Teach Your Baby to Read.  Sometimes we still use them.  However, those were difficult to deal with, not to mention store.  Now I print most of them on card stock from Little Reader, but have also used Microsoft Publisher.  One of our sets of flashcards currently consists of pre-primer Dolche words, which I just wrote on large note cards with a giant permanent red marker.

This is how I store them the majority of the time.  It is just a three ring binder with pocketed dividers.  There are three dividers, one for each word set.  To keep myself organized, set one always goes in the first pocket, set two in the second, and set three in the third.  I have a rubber band on one of the rings to hook my wet erase marker and pen.

Here is a picture of the envelopes we have in the three ring binder.  They just hook in and have Velcro to keep them closed.  I only use them if we are going somewhere and I take the binder with me, which almost never happens.  Usually we only do lessons at home and skip them while we are out.

This is how I keep track of my flash cards (you may have to click to enlarge).  Forgive me, it isn't very neat.  Anyway, there are three sections, one for each set of word cards.  Each section has a column of words removed and words added.  Ever day I take out the oldest card from each set (shown 5 days) and add the newest word.  The day I add one I write it under both the "added" and "removed" columns, so I can just glance and see what word is taken out next.  I sure hope I explained that somewhat clearly.  It may not be the best method, but it has been what works for me.  As you can see, not all three sets are equal.  Since I sometimes only do one or two of the word sets, those have been through more words than set three.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Birthday: Fun with Fondant

Well today is my birthday.  Honestly, I was really just planning on skipping it this year since last year's was such a nightmare, but my kind friends and family didn't let me.  Therefore, I figured today would be a perfect opportunity to practice techniques for Xander's birthday cake.  I know, I know, I have three more months!  I have a ton of ideas though, and couldn't wait to try some of them out.

One of the things I attempted was marshmallow fondant.  To entertain Xander while I was rolling it out I put a little in a plastic baggie.  It is kind of like adult play dough, so why not.  Well he squished it for about ten seconds before tasting the bag.  In less than two minutes he had torn a hole and was squeezing the fondant out into his mouth.  Oh boy did he get upset when I took it away!  At least he had a good time with it.  I, on the other hand, had a bit of a struggle.  It did not turn out nearly as smooth as I would have liked.  Glad I decided to practice!

One of my good friends got me a cake turntable for my birthday.  Here is a pic of my partially frosted cake.  I knew I would like having a turntable, but after using it once I don't think I can go back to doing it without!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Smelly Bags

Recently I wrote about making Xander some bean bags for his treasure basket.  Deciding to run with that idea I made him some "smelly bags" or sachets.  I got some dried German Chamomile, lavender, and dried orange peel from a local health food store.  I ended up spending about $5 and getting about triple what I needed.

I also got these little tie bags for 19 cents each.  It was well worth it to save me having to make the liners myself. I just clipped off the drawstring, put the herbs in, and sewed them closed.

Then I sewed the whole thing into a sachet.  They don't look that great, mostly because I used SUPER thin fabric so that he could smell through it.  The canvas was MUCH easier to sew!

Banging the bags together can be fun.

Cracking himself up!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gentle Revolution Homeschooling: The Math Mystery

Very interesting article one of the blogs I follow.

Gentle Revolution Homeschooling: The Math Mystery

Toys Around the House

Lately I have been giving Xander random things from around the house to entertain him.  He loves discovering new things and I am continually shocked by what will keep him absorbed.  Consequently, I have decided to do a "Toys" Around the House section in hopes of giving inspiration to others with little ones (plus it satisfies those who only look at my blog for pictures of Xander).

The other day I found a package of balloons while going through my craft box.  At first the balloon just frustrated the heck out of him.  He would grab for the balloon, the balloon would bounce away, I would retrieve it, and repeat.  However, after adding some string, it has provided HOURS of entertainment.  He has figured out how to grab the string and reel in the balloon if it is far away.  You'd be surprised how challenging it is to coordinate the hand over hand to do that.  His favorite is to hold the string and bounce the balloon away from him, usually bopping himself in the face repeatedly.  I just have to be careful since I am paranoid about him trying to bite it and choking on a flying balloon fragment.

Of course being the obsessive mother that I am, I tried to find a way to make it educational (in addition to the motor development).  I got out his flashcard for balloon and showed it to him with the balloon multiple times over a few days.  I wanted him to have good experiences to relate back to the word was taught a couple months ago.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Colored Rice

Doesn't that just look like fun?  I finally made some colored rice!  It was super easy.  About 3/4 cup dried rice, 2 teaspoons rubbing alcohol, and food coloring.  Shake it together and set out to dry on waxed paper.  I put the waxed paper in a cookie sheet to keep it contained.  I learned not to wash the rice first.  I also learned that singled colors of food coloring worked best.  The colors above were made with a gel and drops. The purple below was made with red and blue drops and turned out much more dull than I wanted.  (While I didn't find them in time for the rice, I am so excited I finally found these soft gel food colorings sold individually.  They should come in handy for Xander's birthday cake.)

The rice dried in no time on one of our 90 degree days!

For now I just plan on putting it in shakers for Xander to play with.  In the future, when he is less likely to eat it, I can set up sensory bins or transferring activities with it.

One of Xander's favorite shakers.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Well I have put up the downloads page.  You can find it on the top tool bar.  I apologize, I know it isn't aesthetically pleasing at the moment.  Since Blogger doesn't let me upload files I had to upload them to MediaFire and link from here.  I know it is inconvenient, but since I am not willing to pay to blog, I don't really know any alternative (although I am open to suggestions).  I plan to link some of the more generic files I create for Xander.  Just warning you though, I am no professional graphics designer or video editor.

My First Movie!

Generally I write about Xander's milestones, but today, I am writing about one of my own!  I finally made my first movie!  It is a project that has been in the works for weeks.  Ever since I saw a thread on BrillKids about making a right brain style movie (similar in concept to Tweedlewink DVDs, which are supposed to be amazing but out of my price range), I have been wanting to make my own videos.

Mine is not nearly as good as the example video, and it is only about a minute long.  However, since I had no clue what I was doing, I am very happy with the result!  There was quite the learning curve.  Also, gathering the slides took much longer than I would have ever expected.

Here is my first video.  I showed Xander this morning and he was glued.  Maybe because it is my voice.  Hopefully many more (longer) to follow!  I am working on a download section.  Eventually you should be able to download the file to play directly off your computer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gabbing about Gelatin

Yesterday I posted about our Gelatin Sensory Play.  Since I already had plenty of pictures and a video, I decided to save this one.  Xander was talking/singing to me while we played.  While I love that he is a very vocal child, I sometimes wish he had a volume control.  That kid can make my ears ring.  I have even tried modeling whispers.  He just thinks being loud is more fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sensory Play with Gelatin

For the Fourth of July I attempted a Jello flag.  For various reasons, some not my fault, it didn't exactly work out.  However, while looking at the partially solidified goop, it occurred to me how fun it would be to let Xander squish it in his fingers.  Then I imagined a blue tinted child breaking out in hives (he has been allergic flavorings in the past).  Since I didn't want a bumpy smurf for a son I quickly tabled the idea.  Then I remembered Knox unflavored, uncolored gelatin and a sensory activity was born!

To make it more fun I added some of Xander's little counters (I wrote about them here).  The bears are plastic, so floated.  The transportation vehicles are rubbery and sunk.  Unfortunately, they all kind of clumped together as it solidified.  This is what it looked like.

I set up a play area outside and had towels handy.  After first he wasn't so sure what it was.  Then he looked at me like, are you sure you're really letting me do this (see excited face below)?

He had a ball feeling it and squishing it.


Of course he had to taste some.  He ended up "tasting' more than I would have liked, but I can't say I was surprised!  There is also a reason I had him do this activity in a diaper...

Eventually I gave him a spoon to help break up the gelatin a little more.

He was SO proud when he finally freed a toy!  Isn't this face priceless?

He enjoyed the activity so much we spent 45 minutes on the porch playing!  Now anyone who remembers having an 8 month old knows that 45 minutes on any one activity is a LONG time!  It was wonderful to just sit and watch him discover and listen to him talk to me about it.

Since I wanted to get the most mileage out of my gelatin I got it out again the next day.  To make it a little different, I broke it all up for him.  He enjoyed it again, but I had to cut the play session short due to mosquitoes (anyone who has taken microbiology will you tell you that mosquitoes threatening their baby is a serious offense).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Making Way for Mobility!

Goodness, what a weekend.  We were in a car accident on Saturday.  Luckily we are okay, just a bit bruised and sore.  My poor car was totaled.  Anyway, we took the weekend off from lessons and probably won't start back up until I have some more pep.  I think Xander is already back to normal.  On the plus side, since I will have no car for a while, maybe I can finally finish those power points and videos that keep getting put off!  I will post them as I get them done.

 However, we did do some productive things this weekend.  My dad came over and helped me move some stuff around in Xander's room.

Firstly, it was time to drop Xander's crib.  While he has been a wiggle worm for a while, he has yet to pull himself up in there.  I don't think he see a reason to.  Regardless, it was past due.  Even though it goes against recommendations, I put his bumpers back on.  Lately he has had a tendency of getting his legs through the bars and then getting stuck.  You can imagine how angry and frustrated that makes him.  I am hoping the bumpers will prevent it.  He is also mobile enough I don't really worry about him suffocating with them.

Testing out the lower perspective.
Really wish IKEA had had the rail guards in stock when we bought the crib...

Also, with Xander being so close to crawling (and walking), I was worried about having the his books so low.  He likes his books a lot, but isn't very gentle with them, or anything else for that matter.  I really needed to get them off floor level.  I brought up an old bookcase and my dad chained it to the wall to prevent tipping if someone should decide to go climbing.

I didn't want to make all of his books inaccessible, so the bottom shelf holds some of his board books.  I set them up cover out to make them more appealing.  The next shelf up also holds only board books.  The third shelf holds books he should recognize most of the words in.  I try to read some of these every day as reinforcement.  They include our Preschool Prep easy readers, the YBCR books (we only have the first three), the YBCD books, and a book on colors I made him.  There are a couple other sets we plan to get eventually also.  The top two shelves, which aren't pictured, hold my parenting books and some of his storybooks (the ones I was worried about him destroying).  Because his other shelves were so small, over half of his books are packed away in boxes to be rotated.  Eventually I will get them out and then shelves won't look so bare.  I also put half of his play mats (similar to these) in front of the shelves for a nice cozy play area.

Amusing himself while I organize his toys.

Even though they don't work for books anymore, I still LOVE his old shelves.  Now that they are cleared off I put out some toys that I don't mind him playing with by himself.  I plan to rotate often until he is ready to gradate to tot trays.  In fact, if I can find some trays to fit, I may even start putting out some baby safe tray activities.

Just for fun I put down my floor length mirror for him to look at for a while.  It won't be a permanent fixture, but he is amused by it.

Hanging out in his new play space.

All in all, I am very happy with the changes.  Xander room is one of my favorite place in the house.  I know we won't be here much longer, but until we do move I wanted a safe, inviting place for him to play and explore.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bean Bags

While trying to think of items for his treasure basket, I decided Xander needed bean bags!  I was able to find some canvas in the clearance bin and a good friend lent me her sewing machine.  While I did get into a slight argument with a straight pin in the process, I ended up making him three, and they turned out better than I had expected.

Xander helped me by testing out the beans before I stuffed the bags.  He decided they were fun.  For some variety I stuffed one with black-eyed peas, one with popcorn kernels, and one with lentils.  They definitely feel different!

This is what they ended up looking like.  Not the most fun fabric in the world, but it is what was available.  Most of the canvas prints were very girly.

Here is Xander playing with the finished product.  He thinks it is hysterical if you put on on his head.  Putting one on Mommy or Grandpa's head is just as funny!  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tub Paints

Lately I have been trying to think of more ideas for craft activities for Xander.  Most require a big mess, which always makes me think the bathtub, leading me to think of tub paints.  Women think in spaghetti, right?

Doing a quick internet search, you will find most recipes call for about 3/4 of a cup baby shampoo, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and food coloring.  We did both blue and green that way, but then tried baby wash for the red.  I have to say the baby wash was much easier to mix!  It seemed to absorb the cornstarch a lot better.  For the other two I stirred, stirred some more, and whisked and still didn't get it all in.  On the other hand, the baby wash blend probably could have used a bit more cornstarch because it was a little thin on the walls of the tub.  Next time baby wash with more cornstarch will be the way to go!

I stuck Xander in the tub with a kids paint brush and a foam brush and showed him how it worked.  Xander thought it was great fun when I painted him with the brush.  I think it tickled, so I got rewarded with good giggles.

He enjoyed playing with the brush.  While he understood the concept, his execution needed some work.  He ended up just banging the brush against the side of the tub rather than actually painting the walls.  I am just happy he tried.

And, of course, he had to try the paint... a couple of times.

One of the very few things Xander has tried and not liked.

Overall, it was a nice activity. We will be able to do it many more times, we have a lot of left over paint.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...