Thursday, February 28, 2019

Gratitude Shamrocks

In February we started a new tradition of putting a heart up on Xander's door every morning until Valentine's Day.  On each heart, I wrote one reason why we love him (thank you Pinterest).  Xander looked forward to seeing the new hearts every day and Archer enjoyed trying to get them off the door.  
For March, I decided to put a shamrock on Xander's door every day until St. Patrick's Day.  However, this time, I am going to have Xander write something for which he feels luck on each one.  This lets me encourage gratitude and also create a fun tradition.
To make it easier, I created this shamrock printable that already has the "I feel lucky because..." printed on each one.  I just needed to print it on green paper and cut it out.  I put them in a little basket with markers and painters tape, so they're all ready to go! You're welcome to download it here.
 If you're interested in other St. Patrick's Day materials, you can download my St. Patrick's Printable Pack here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

8.5 Learning Activities & Shelves

I know that we cannot be the only ones feeling cabin fever!  Keeping up with this little guy is getting tougher!  He constantly wants to experience new things and I'm dying to be able to take him outside!
Physical Development:
He's becoming a master at pulling himself up on things.  His balance is getting better and he does not need the support nearly as much as he used to.  However, he absolutely does not want to walk.  If I try to hold his hands up and have him walk towards me, he immediately sits down.  I know he will eventually get there, so am not forcing him at all. I am just trying to provide him opportunities to stand and practice his balance (honestly, he takes the opportunity, whether I want him to or not).
The foam steps we are borrowing are still a huge hit.  He likes to get toys from the top or put toys up there.  He's getting more confident at climbing them.
Reading is pretty similar.  We do one set of English words flashed three times a day.  He watches Your Baby Can Read or Tweedlewink maybe 3-6 times a week.  We try to do one English Little Reader Lesson several days a week.  He really enjoys Little Reader now, so I'll keep encouraging it!

I've started getting out one of his Meet the Sight Words a week to read to him.  Sometimes he looks at the words while I read and sometimes he doesn't.  I like that they have large bold print.  We try to read as many books as he wants.  Hi current favorite is Furry Friends (one of Xander's favorites too).
We flash a set of Spanish words three times a day (our modified Doman method).  It takes about 5 seconds a session. We are doing one Spanish  Little Reader Lesson several days a week.  He does not have as much patience for these as the English ones (probably because the words are less familiar), so we only do the multisensory parts, not the entire lessons.  We read some of the early readers I made, and I try to get out one math early readers to read a few times a week.  He also occasionally watches a Kids Start Spanish DVD.

Learning Shelves:
These are the shelves in our play room, where we spend a lot of our day.  

This basket has toddler sized magnetic balls and sticks. I was lucky enough to get these second hand, and he really enjoyed them.  He tended to carry them all around the room with him.
We also found that hanging them on the triangle made for a fun game.  We'd hang them and he'd pull them down, laughing about it.  He also thought running them along the bars to make noise was good fun.
The Lollipop Drum was a big hit with Xander and I love that now Archer is enjoying it. It was fun to watch his reaction when he got it to make noise.  Something about the texture of the mallet must be enticing, though, because both boys enjoyed chewing on it.  

One shelf had a little magnetic dry erase board and some really big magnets.  Sometimes I'd put the magnets on the little board for him to take off and sometimes he would put them on himself.  I also got out the big dry erase board for him to try.  

The shelves themselves are fun to sit in also!
I got back out his pound and roll toy again.  It is one we get out frequently, but he really enjoys.  He's getting better at using the hammer, but prefers to use his hands.
 We got out his house knobby puzzle for the first time.  I wasn't sure how it would go, but he really enjoyed it.  He loved taking the pieces out and carried them around the room.
He also thought it was fun to put them in the triangle.  He had to figure out how to turn the piece in order to pull it back through.  Someday, we will actually work on putting pieces back into the board. :)
A basket had a bunch of sensory balls.  Both Archer and Xander used these all the time the last two weeks.  The were rolled and eaten a lot!  We also put them up in the triangle and Archer had fun trying to knock them down.

A tray had the pop up monkeys that go with Archer's musical train set.  He is not quite ready for the full set, but loved the little peg monkeys!  He enjoyed watching me make them pop.  He also liked pulling them out of their holes and loved the shape of them more.  He crawled around with them, put them in the triangle and, of course, chewed on them.
The last toys out on the shelf break my normal no batteries rule for toys.  I got these little guys and a tree house for them off Facebook Marketplace for a steal.  Archer doesn't care much for the ramps, but really enjoys the animals.  They provide great incentive to crawl or climb his stairs.

Affiliate links used, at no cost to you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Early Readers - Pets Book

I've been working on making early readers for Archer.  I wanted books that have clear text on one page and the picture on the next.  I have also been making them in Spanish to try to reinforce the vocabulary.  Here is the latest book I made - Pets.
Here are example pages (words on one page, picture on the following).

I printed on cardstock and laminated the pages . Then, I used a 3 hold punch to make the holes and used 3/4" binder rings to "bind" the books.  Here is Archer helping me put the pages together.

 Inspecting the final product.

You're free to download the files to use with your little one.
Pets Book - English
Pets Book - Spanish
Pets Book - English and Spanish

You can see my other Early Readers here.

If you're looking for other Spanish Resources on Pets, you can check out my Spanish Vocabulary - Animals 

Affiliate links used, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Tradition: Valentine's Cake Decorating

I don't know about you, but I tend to struggle a bit this time of year.  It is cold and snowy and we are all kind of over being stuck inside.  The holidays are over and there are fewer fun things to look forward to.  This year, I decided to fight the February lull by having a bunch of our little cousins over to decorate mini cakes and cookies.

About a week and a half before the gathering, I made some sugar cookies in the shape of hearts.  I made them just slightly thicker than normal, let them cool completely and then froze them.  The day before the party I made three cake mixes, which got me about 30 mini cakes (it should have gotten more, but I overfilled the first set, making them not quite look like hearts).  I used pans like this, except I was able to get a set of six for about $15. Once the cakes were cool, I wrapped them in cling wrap and froze them.
The day of the party, I got the cakes and cookies out of the freezer about half an hour before I needed them.  I just unwrapped them and set them on the counter.
Then it was time for the fun to begin.  We had frosting, WAY too many sprinkles, heart candies, M & M's and other sweet treats. 
Can't have too many sprinkles!
Finished products!
 The kids had a ball decorating away.  The adults had a ball watching all the kids play together. Definitely, a new tradition!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cupid's Blow Dart STEM Challenge

This year's Midwest winter has been brutal.  Between piles of snow and ice storms, school has been called off early, delayed or cancelled more times than the entire time I worked at the high school. To keep Xander from going stir crazy, I proposed this Valentine's Day STEM challenge to him. 
The idea came from a game we are playing at his school party where the kids use straws to blow Q-Tips at some plastic cups.  I found the lightest plastic cups at the store and added some paper hearts to make them pretty (totally unnecessary). 
For Xander's Challenge, I gave him a handful of straws, some masking tape and a couple sheets of scratch paper.  His goal was to create the straw that would allow him to hit down cups from the farthest back.
He tried cutting down the straws, taping some straws together and attaching paper to the end of the straw.  I also encouraged him to play with where he put the Q-Tip in the straw before he blew.  I could not find any of the fat smoothie straws, but those would be a great addition to see how diameter affects the force.  The trick in experimenting, was that he had to try to blow with the same force every time.
It turned out to be a quick and easy challenge to keep him occupied for a while.  I am interested to see what he does with his findings when he gets to the party at school!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Valentine's Photoshoot 2

I am so in love with baby Valentine's Day photos, so I ended up doing two photoshoots this month.  The first was a baby Cupid one that you can see here.  This one was a little more versatile.  I took pictures of my boys, but also my friend's absolutely adorable little girl.
For the backdrop I used this white brick one from Amazon.  I loved it for the brick, but when I tried to use the whole thing, the kids kept wrinkling the floor.  I think the floor is more meant to work as just part of the background for someone standing where you do not actually see where they touch the floor.  I ended up looping the "floor" behind the backdrop and taping it, so that it wasn't in the shot.  Then I hung a $3 little heart garland from the Target Dollar Spot.

For the floor, I just used some scrap click-lock style flooring that was left over from when the previous owners redid the bathroom floors.  It was perfect, because it was firm enough to allow the kids to walk and twirl, but came apart for relatively easy storage. I might have to look into buying some orphan boxes from home improvement stores if I can get them cheap enough. Then I threw down some fabric rose petals, which Archer enjoyed eating.

Her mom provided the adorable outfit.  She was really happy that the tutu was soft and not scratchy like other ones she'd tried (I would not have even thought to consider that, having not gotten to put a baby in a tutu myself). I can't get over her beautiful blue eyes! 
I used the same setup, minus the rose petals, for my boys.  Unfortunately, I put the garland just a little high and the boys were not feeling very photogenic, so the one good shot I got of both of them doesn't show the garland.  I can still know it was meant to be a Valentine's picture, right?? 

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