Monday, January 30, 2012

Color Themes - White Week

Xander is 14.5 months

This week's color theme was white, and what a challenge!  There just isn't a lot a lot you can do with white, so, unfortunately, we just didn't do as many activities.

As usual, one of our tot trays was a bin of white items.  This weeks included a paint tray, ping pong balls, cups from our play food, a plastic car, and wooden balls and spools I painted.  He really enjoyed putting the ping pong balls in the cups and paint tray.

We used our flash cards (find them on the downloads page) in the normal way, but then we also did some sorting.  I did it all for him, but he thought it was interesting.  Oh, and in case you're wondering, someone has hidden the "verde" card and I haven't been able to find it yet.

Because coloring with white is so hard, I did not make a white color book like I did for the other weeks.  However, we did paint with white paint.  I was impressed with how few times he tried to eat it!

We are still using all of the items in our color themes bin.  Xander plays with the ball and crayon puzzle (Staples).  He LOVES the dry erase center.  He also plays with the Wash and Go Magents and Leap Frog Maracas every single day.  He looks through some of our color books every day also.  Several times this week we went through some foam cards that I wrote the color names on.

With school starting and my life getting more hectic, I decided I wanted to take a more organized approach to Xander's Tot School Time.  I made the following goal sheet.  It includes each tot tray and the puzzle of the week, and five check marks next to each.  There is a row for stickers, coloring, Your Child Can Read, Your Child Can Discover, and Reading Amigo (see Reading Amigo review here).  While I have three boxes next to each, I don't mind if he watches the movies less.  I am very happy with all three DVD sets, but only have the check marks to help me remember to rotate what he watches.  I wrote in a row for our color flash cards, which Xander actually enjoys.  I also have a big section at the bottom for our Book Challenge.  The goal is to read four new books a day (although we read many many books every day), so I have seven columns of four rows to help me keep on track.  Once again, this is a goal sheet.  If something (or many somethings) doesn't get done, no big deal.  It is mostly just to remind me of what I have done and what I haven't each week.

Since this weeks theme was white and our Velcro block is white, that was one of our tot trays (post found here).  Xander hadn't seen it before, but he did better than I expected.  

Working on a puzzle.  He still can't do them, but likes to try.  I do them with him to work on the terminology and strategy.

His last tray was just a tray of alphabet blocks.  We practiced stacking the and knocking them down.

He also enjoyed dumping the tray.

Tot School

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Challenge - Best Books

This year Xander and I are doing a book challenge, where we are trying to read 1500 unique books (in addition to our normal, repeated favorites).  With the shear volume of books, I figure we are bound to come across some great books and some not so great books.  Since I love getting good book recommendations, I thought I would try to share our favorite finds each week.  It will also be a nice resource for me to look back on, should we decide to do it again another year.

Xander's Favorite
Gallop! by Rufus Butler Seder

This book has pictures that move as you open the pages.  Xander loved watching them move!  It also has large font and a positive message, which I like.  We will have to look for other similar books.

Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi
Xander really liked this book and wanted to read it multiple times.  It is repetitive and rhymy, because it is actually a song.  I got belly laughs from him when I put actions to it while reading.  I read it to my own tune, since I didn't remember the song.  Afterward we went to YouTube to watch Raffi sing it:

Mommy's Favorite
The Kissing Hand by Ruth E Harper and Nancy M Leak

I know most people are familiar with this book, but it was one we read this week for that was "new" on our book list challenge.  It is such a sweet story, I don't know how any mom could resist.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Skill Coins

Over winter break, a friend and I took Xander to Incredible Pizza.  While we were there we won a crayon bank.  It seemed like a really great skill builder, but with a kid who puts everything in his mouth, I didn't want to just hand him real coins.  Instead, I made him some skill coins.  I made a whole sheet and included some color names, numbers, dots from 1-10, and shapes; I wanted to be able to use them in a variety of ways.  I printed them onto card stock, colored some, and laminated them.  I thought Xander would enjoy them, but he really surprised me in how much he wanted to do this activity!  

You're welcome to download the coin set here or from my downloads page.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1500 Book Challenge

Late last spring, when I fist became fascinated (obsessed) with early education, I ran across a lot of bloggers doing a 1500 book challenge.  Since Xander was so young, I couldn't really participate.  I haven't seen anyone doing it yet this year, but have decided to go ahead and try for the 1500 books.

The challenge part of the equation, is that the goal is to read 1500 unique books.  Each book only counts once, no matter how many times you read it.  Now we are lucky enough to have a lot of books, but no where near that many!  To complete the task in a year, we need to read about 28 new books a week, or 4 new books a day.  That is going to involve a LOT of trips to the library.  I have decided not to count any books we listen to from Tumble Books, because I really want to encourage real books and not more screen time.

The additional challenge will be that Xander now likes to make his own decisions.  He LOVES books and loves to be read to, but he has a few books in each room that are his favorites.  He wants these over and over (I have a surprising number memorized).  In fact, he will not sit in my lap to hear a new story unless it involves a lot of animal noises or happens to be one of the Preschool Prep Sight Words Books.  Luckily, we have found a work around.  Xander likes to be read to while having his snack or in the tub and doesn't mind new or longer books in these situations.  In fact, he gets really upset with me when I stop reading, even if it is to get him more food or wash his hair.  He does the sign for "more" and "book" and babbles emphatically at me until I continue reading.

I have an Excel file to keep track of the books we read and we were doing incredibly well at just over 100 books since January 1st.  Unfortunately, we had massive computer problems and that was the one file that was lost for good.  Luckily, it is early in the year and we can recover.  Also, I know that the pace we had set isn't a pace we will keep up.  We will still probably read just as many books, but right now all of the "favorites" and all of the books we own are getting counted.  Very soon we will have read all of our regulars, they just won't count towards our 1500 anymore.

I am excited to see how the year goes with this challenge.  In 1500 books, I am sure to find some really great books I never would have read otherwise.  We have already discovered some great series at the libraries.  On the other hand, we have already read some that I didn't think were worth our time.  I am going to have to mark the ones we really like to come back to in the future.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tot School - Blue Week (14.5 Months)

Oh, Blue Week!  What a relief after the past couple colors.  Blue is just an easier color when you have a little boy.  We have so many more activities for this color!

This week he was really into writing on his Crayola Dry Erase Board.  He has always liked it, but this week he wanted to sit at it for long periods of time.

Blue play dough.  First time using cookie cutters.

Playing with the blue boat from his LeapFrog Wash and Go Magnet Set.

Coloring with blue markers... he may have attempted to eat them.

Blue Do-A-Dot Paints

Putting some rings on the pole from his Rainbow Stacker.

No reason to sit down to do stickers.

We have also been reading some books about colors.

Since we are doing color themes, one of his trays was replaced by a bin of blue items.

One of the trays last week had his Melissa and Doug Rainbow Stacker.  He used to love it when he was little, but he hasn't seen it in a while.  He likes putting the rings on, but still needs help.

Another tray had skill coins (find a post on them here).  I only put out the "coins" for the colors we have done in our color weeks.  He really impressed me, both in his skill level, and in his patience for the activity.  He also surprised me in that he would transfer coins he picked up with his left hand to his right.  He did much better with the activity if I held the bank still.

He seems to like puzzles better on his desk.

Just in case you're wondering, my son is a normal 1 year old.  Our tot trays don't always stay so neat.  Nor are they always used one at a time...

Tot School

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pre-Writing Practice

One of my big goals for Xander's Tot School is to work on some of his pre-writing skills.  I know he is super young, but my hope is that in the next 6-8 months he will be able to get the color in the area of the page he intends.  I am not talking, coloring in the lines, drawing shapes, etc.  I would just like him to be able to put a blob of scribbles over certain pictures, shapes, or letters when he means to, so that I can eventually make him worksheets.

Anyway, right now we are just practicing the idea of coloring.  We only do it for a few minutes at a time, but several times a week.  Here are some of the pictures I have gotten over the last month or so.

First real experience coloring at the desk.

He was just as interested in taking the crayons out of the box and putting them back in.  He liked this so much, that our box is now nonexistent and we had to get a plastic crayon box.

Last summer I was able to find an Aquadoodle set at a garage sale (a mat where you "write" with water).  It even has stampers and rollers to go with it.  While Xander had fun playing, this one is really too big for him.  He would probably do much better with one of the smaller, travel size Aquadoodles.  

We got out our dry erase board and used markers to go with our color themes.  He likes it, but makes me a bit nervous with how wild he can get with those markers.

But, it worked out.  He actually prefers erasing to writing.

Since the dry erase board is so big and difficult for him to bend over on the floor, I was excited to get a good deal on a Crayola Dry Erase Center.  It is nice that he can use it on his desk, or he can sit on my lap and we can use it together.  Once again, he writes mostly so that he can erase.

He doesn't even have to watch what he is doing... 
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