Monday, August 29, 2011

Toys Around the House - Big Box

I realize that this is one of the most well known and loved "toys" in history.  Big empty boxes are wonderful because they can be anything you dream them to be.  While I am sure we will have many adventures with boxes, this is Xander's first one to play with.

At first, he was a bit nervous, but got over it rather quickly.

After a while I opened both sides so he could crawl through.  I imagined Toby and Xander chasing each other through the tunnel, but Toby wanted absolutely nothing to do with the box.

Even Mommy joined in the fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mobility Update - 9 Months

I apologize, I have not been doing a good job of keeping up on Xander's mobility!  He has really taken off since he began crawling.  He has no problems crawling across the house to get to where he wants.  He will frequently crawl from the living room to his room to pull out his trays.  However, he much prefers being carried if he is tired.  I have a baby gate and outlet covers so I try to give him as much freedom as possible.  It does result in a lot of messes for Mommy to clean up, though.

Xander has also mastered pulling himself up a lot faster than I would have expected.  He can stand a lot better than he thinks he can.  I can let go of him and he will support himself until he realizes I am no longer holding him.  Once he sees he is on his own, he throws himself forward to try to catch himself, knocking himself down in the process.  

Apparently, climbing isn't a problem either.  We were at my dad's house the other day and he climbed up the stairs like he had been doing it his whole life, even though I don't let him near our basement stairs.  Unfortunately, he doesn't fully understand gravity yet.  While sitting on the third step, he leaned back to look at me and make sure I was watching him accomplishment and started tumbling backwards.  Somehow I made a superhuman dive and saved him from hitting his head, but we both got a good scare out of it!

Getting our all of the dish towels.

His new favorite amusement is playing with the door stops.  He will go into a room and play with them for quite a while.  He also tends to shut the door while back there, trapping himself in the room and making himself rather angry.

If he is too quiet, I frequently find that he has crawled to his room and is looking at his books (I keep board books where he has easy access).  Unfortunately, every time I try to snag a picture of him "reading" while surrounded by books, he notices me with the camera and starts to crawl over.  These are the only pictures I got.

Xander managed to use a canvas bin to pull himself up so he could go through the toys.  He barely needs to hold on, but thinks he needs the support.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Flashcards

Whenever I go to Target I take a quick stroll through their dollar section, looking for anything I can use on our Baby Trays.  A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon some great flash cards.  While they won't be used on our trays, I have trouble finding flash cards that I like, so I was very happy with the find.  Since Xander is so young, I try to avoid abstract cartoons on flash cards.  I like accurate representations of whatever it is I am trying to teach him.  I think showing him a picture of a cartoon cat and expecting him to understand that I mean the real live animal is a bit confusing.  Anyway, I found some great sets with photographs and realistic depictions.

We started out with the landmarks set.  I have been showing him five cards, three times a day.  They have become his absolute favorite flash cards.  He is more attentive with these than with his word flash cards.  If I am not careful about where I put them, he likes to find them and play with them.  On the back of each card is a description of the landmark, and a map of its location in the world.  Those will be nice references for the future, but right now we are just doing the names.

When we have made our way through all of the landmarks, we have sets of wild animals, insects, and US presidents.  So nice to have great sets that I didn't have to make myself!  And for only a dollar each!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby School - 9 Months

This last week was HECTIC to say the least.  I started a new job but won't settle into a regular schedule for a couple of weeks while they try to get everyone trained.  Plus, I work early enough that we stay the night at Grandpa's so he can take Xander to day care.  Bouncing back and forth has been a little crazy.  While we didn't get as many of our lessons done as we would have liked, we still did a lot and had a lot of fun together.

This weeks trays included some alphabet blocks (great garage sale find), the rainbow stacker, and some printables.  The puzzle this week was his Safari Chunky Puzzle, which got a ton of use.
The printables we tried were the Brown Bear Brown Bear animal heads and tails from 1+1+1=1.  I tried just a few of them and showed him how to match up the two halves of the animals.  Not a hit, so we will put them away until he is a bit older.

He found the blocks interesting and liked to pull them out frequently.

The rainbow stacker might have been the biggest hit of the week.  He likes to dump them all off and bang the rings together.  He has also started putting the pieces in the shelves of my entertainment center for some reason.  Maybe just to show off that he can?

Doesn't matter how many times I pull him back, this is how he ends up watching YBCR now that he is mobile.  You would think it would hurt his neck.

We also spent some time looking out the window and enjoying the breeze.

As always, click the link below to see what other Mommies are doing with their tots.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Combination Bag

Well I made bean bags and I made smelly bags, but I decided I needed one more, a combination bag.  I made it just like the bean bags, because I wanted the sturdier canvas, but I filled the liner with coffee beans this time.  It smells SO good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lil Leonardo?

We did our first painting project (other than bathtub paints)!  Xander had soaked his shirt with his water bottle after our walk, so I decided to just feed him naked.  After all, why change outfits again?  As I was feeding him his prunes, he turn his head, getting it all over his nose.  Something is wrong with me, so instead of thinking "what a mess" I thought "wow, that really shows up on his skin."  Hence the inspiration for painting.

I grabbed some paper and put some of the prunes in the lid of the baby food jar.  I dipped his fingers in and touched them to the paper, showing him what to do.  After that, he took off with the idea. 

Concentrating so hard.

This is what we did as soon as we were done...

It may not be much, but I am still proud to put his first picture on the fridge.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Toys Around the House - Jingle Bells

Since Xander loves his shakers so much, I decided to try another noise making "toy."  I put a bunch of jingle bells in a cool whip container for him.  He really enjoyed it.  He liked shaking the container and banging on it like a drum.

Eventually he got it open and was able to shake and chase the bells.  Unfortunately they don't sound as pretty when shaken in a hand.  He was pretty proud of himself.

This is what happens when Mommy says "no" firmly (he was trying to eat a bell).  Apparently he doesn't like that word or tone of voice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music Lessons

I've mentioned many times that Xander LOVES music. He loves to dance, he loves listening to music, he loves banging on his drum, etc. I have tried hard to expose him to a variety of types of music. He also has had exposure through Trebellina and Your Baby Can Discover. However, a few weeks ago I decided it was past time to start a more organized music curriculum with him.

I suppose I should first start with the background on the idea of teaching music to babies.  Babies and young children (generally five and under), have the remarkable ability to distinguish all of the various sounds of every language.  Adults and older children, on the other hand, can only distinguish the sounds of their native language (languages).  It kind of follows the "use it or lose it" theory of brain development.  Why waste brain space being able to distinguish sounds you never hear?  Well since babies have this ability, they can also distinguish the various sounds of the notes, meaning they can be taught perfect pitch.  Since the baby can already hear the differences between the notes, they aren't really being taught anything new.  Instead, they are being given a name for those sounds.  By using the name for the sound and practice, the child should be able to retain the ability to distinguish the notes.

I not only hope to teach Xander perfect pitch, but to read music as well.  For our lessons I dug out the music note flash cards I ordered months ago with our Trebellina disc.  I know there are free printable flashcards elsewhere on the net as well.  I show him the front of the card with the music note on the staff, tell him what note it is, and play the note on the piano.  Then I flip the card over where it has the corresponding letter for the note and play it again on the piano.  I am fortunate enough to have an electric piano, so we go through all of the notes in the treble clef twice, once on the grand piano setting, and ones on one of the other settings.  I want him to understand that a C is a C whether it is from a piano, strings, bells, etc.

Xander absolutely loves the lessons.  The first few days he would literally shake with excitement, although luckily that has stopped.  He sits very still and quiet, watching and listening.  When we are all done I encourage him to bang around on the keys, experimenting for himself.  While he enjoys playing the piano, he seems to like me going through the notes with him better, go figure.  I would love to get him some hand bells if  I can be sure they are accurate.  A glockenspiel might also be fun and offer variety.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Silly String

My brother was over for a few hours and was kind enough to help with a sensory play activity!  Tough work spraying Xander with silly string, but somehow he managed.  Xander was a bit confused, but was entertained.  He didn't even make a big deal about not being able to eat it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Object Permanence

Way back in my childhood education class in college I learned about the idea of "object permanence."  It is the developmental milestone when babies learn that objects exist even when they cannot see them.  I hadn't thought about object permanence until a couple of weeks ago when I read an article about babies developing separation anxiety  around 8-10 months and how it corresponded with object permanence (hard to be mad mom isn't with you if you don't think she exists).

Xander has understood the concept for a while.  He knows that if he pulls the blanket away during peek a boo, I will be underneath.  He also knows he can crawl to find me if I put him in the hall and go into a bedroom.  I decided to make a game of it, though, to see how strongly he understands the concept.

I grabbed two bowls and a biscuit.  He LOVES those Gerbers biscuits, but they are so incredibly messy that he doesn't get them often.  I showed him the bowls and put the biscuit underneath one, letting him see where I put it.

After a little bit he moved the bowl and got the biscuit.  I let him eat some and then did it again with the rest.  He got really upset with me for hiding it again.

The second time took him longer to get to the cookie.  I also had to show it to him a few times to remind him it was there.  I think it was just because he was unhappy that I didn't immediately give it to him.

He eventually got it, although his face still shows he is not thrilled with me. 

Happy to be eating it again.

I hope to play this game a few more times, so that eventually he learns to look.  Someday I want to be able to hide an object without showing him.  Then I could use different colored bowls or cups and direct him to find it under the "blue" one, or some other adaptation.  We just have to work our way up to it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baby School - 9 Months

Last week, in addition to doing most of our regular lessons (outline here), I printed off some of the tot pack activities from 1+1+1=1   Since we love to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I decided to start with those printables.  I printed the different sizes of caterpillars, cut them out, and laminated them.  There are actually five sizes, but we only used three.  A few times during the week I got them out and pointed out the big/large caterpillar, the medium/middle caterpillar, and the small/little caterpillar.  Right now, I am just focusing on introducing the vocabulary that goes with sizes.  Eventually, I will have him point to them as I name them, or even put them in order, but those activities are still a ways off.

Not only did he like watching me order them for me, he also enjoyed throwing them around.

I also happened to find some colored spools at a garage sale.  We have been stacking and sorting them lately.  Of course, he really enjoys knocking down towers I build him.

 For some reason Xander really wanted to hang on to the couch while playing with them, hence the awkward position.


Click below to see what other moms are doing with their toddlers.
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