Showing posts with label toddlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toddlers. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

Confessions from Toddler School: My Body!

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just feels like it is trying to break you? It tests every ounce of patience and strength you have and then some? What am I saying, if you're reading this you're probably a parent, so of course you have! Well that is how this week has been for me. We are deep in the terrible 2s. Waaaaaay early and waaaaaay deep. Cohen has also decided that 4 am is the perfect time for him to practice his wailing. Gotta love sleep regression! 😫

Oh and the kicker? Cohen got his first real injury. After a day of waking up at 3 am (I'm seriously dying over here), Cohen was walking in the bathroom, tripped over his own foot and chipped off over half of his front tooth. It is going to be jagged and discolored until his adult tooth comes in. 😢

If only we were doing our teeth theme! This week is all about the body and learning where our body parts are!

Here's what we planned to do this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here.

And here's what we actually did:

Body Part Discovery:
This was a super simple sensory table and all about discovering our body parts! You can find these body part cards in my body pack. I glued them onto a yellow background (Cohen's favorite color) and then laminated them! I then scoured the house for any little mirrors I could find. I also picked up some compact mirrors at dollar tree that worked perfectly! 

We would pull out cards and talk about the body part and then use the mirrors to find them on our bodies!

Body Part Dice Game:
You can also find these dice in my body pack. I made a set for parts of the face and a separate one for parts of the body. We used the dice along with the Hokey Pokey (or in our case Hokey Mokey - Cohen's nickname).

Trace/Label Body Parts on Butcher Paper: 
I was a little nervous about how this activity would go! Cohen is not one to lay down or sit still but he actually did really well. I sang Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes while I traced each part and I think that may have helped! We had a lot of fun coloring together! 

If you have little ones I highly recommend these egg shaped crayons! They are perfectly shaped for toddler hands and gives them so much control!

Where is Cohen's _____? (using stickers):
His face says it all! We sang this little song I made up and put stickers on the body parts as we went. And kissed them of course!

 Cohen has a little (body part), 
(body part), (body part). 
Cohen has a little (body part), 
it’s oh so nice smooch!

He was not so sure about the stickers 😂

♫♪ Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes ♫♪:
This song was a hit! He now comes over to me and starts the movements so I will sing for him! It's working!

Labeling Body Parts: 
We also used the stickers to label body parts on this little boy outline! You can also use band aids or a washable marker (if laminated). He was so focused on developing a technique to get the stickers off his finger and onto the paper. Perfect for developing his fine motor skills! And he loves it! He brings it to me several times a day.

I put the first sticker on each body part as we talked about what they were. I chose a different color for each body part and then while Cohen was putting his stickers on he color sorted them himself! I don't think I've ever been so proud!

This outline can be found in my body pack as well! 

Read Aloud Discovery:
This is another on of those books that we had to read so many times that it mysteriously disappeared. We would find the baby's hidden body parts under the flaps and then use the mirror to find Cohen's. 

Outings this week:

Does our emergency trip to the dentist count?

📙📘📗 Our favorite books this week 📗📘📙

Up next week: Dr. Seuss 🎩

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Confessions from Toddler School: Valentine's Day

Wow! This week has been the longest and shortest week of my life! In some ways it just flew by and in other ways I swear it's still Monday.

On Sunday I hosted a really cute little Toddler Valentine's Party for my mom group that I started on Facebook! I put out a bunch of these activities and the kids had a blast! Having all the activities prepped ahead of time really helped the week flow more smoothly!

Here's what we did this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here.

Color Sorting Hearts: 
These Foam Hearts have been amazing! We've used them for so many different activities! Our favorite right now is color sorting. I chose 3 colors red, purple and pink. I set one of each out and then we practice color sorting (check out my IG for a video of this in action). 

I say "This heart is red. Does the red go here (putting it by purple)?" Then I model shaking my head and saying no. I do the same thing by pink. When we get to red I say yes, have Cohen repeat "yes" and then we clap!

When we first started he had no clue and would only last about 2 seconds. But he brings me the hearts several times a day and now we can get all the way through the stack. He shakes his head "no" on his own and says "yes" when we get to the right color!

Repetition works ya'll!

Valentine's Themed Sensory Table: 
This sensory table was a huge hit at our Toddler Valentine's Party!

What we used:
- Pink Dyed Rice
- Small Glitter Hearts
- Heart Slinkies
- Heart Rings

 All of these things were found at Dollar Tree! TGFDT (Thank God for Dollar Tree)!

Giant Sticky Heart: 
I made this heart on the end of our island using contact paper! We had it set up for our Valentine's Party and Cohen adds to it every day! It also spruces up our floor quite a bit. 😂


Giant Heart Letter Matching:
I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was so cute! We used the same Foam Hearts as above and a long sheet of white butcher paper (my husband keeps it in stock for his business and we use it all the time). I put all the letters to spell Cohen and his friends names on the hearts and then traced the hearts onto the paper in the right color. 

This game has so many options! Matching colors, matching letters, even as a gross motor twister kind of game! The possibilities are endless!

Admittedly this activity was way above Cohen's pay grade so we used it to continue our color matching!

Torn Paper Heart: 
This was our super easy and relatively mess free art project for the week! I provided some Valentine's colored scrap paper for Cohen to tear (fine motor) and glue onto this cute little heart template I found from Learning with Letty. You can find this free template here. Cohen thought it was more fun to watch me tear the paper (have you seen that video of the baby giggling hysterically while the dad rips paper, yeah, it was like that haha). But just look at how focused he is! 

I love how it turned out so much that I decided to keep it in his little art binder!

Lacing Hearts: 
We used our Foam Hearts again for this fine motor activity! I took a hole punch and made these little lacing boards for Cohen! He loved practicing weaving the ribbons in and out. These are great too for on the go! We've been taking them in the car with us since our car seat is something that can be used to torture prisoners for information... or so he seems to think.

Outings this week:

none - We're still getting over a minor cold this week so we didn't go on many fun baby outings. Our Toddler Valentine's Party was our socialization this week :) 

📙📘📗 Our favorite books this week 📗📘📙

Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond
Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney
I Love You, Snugglesaurus! by Sandra Magsamen

Cohen is obsessed with anything If You Give A Mouse or Llama Llama so he was super happy with our books this week!

Up next week: My Body 💃

Monday, January 23, 2017

Confessions from Toddler School: Penguins!

Man, these past couple of weeks have been rough! First, we had a crazy snowpocalypse that left us snowed in for over a week! And let me tell you, being snowed in with a very active toddler is not for the faint of heart! The snow finally melted just in time for Cohen to start getting his 2 year molars (waaaaaay early) and now he has a cold. I haven't slept more than an hour or 2 each night for a week. I feel like I deserve some sort of award here. 😪💤
Never a dull moment. #parenthood #whereami #canisleepyet

Thank goodness I had so many fun penguin activities planned to keep us entertained! And the snow actually added a lot to the fun!

Here's what we did this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here!

Feed the Penguin: This was probably one of Cohen's favorites! He pulls it off the shelf several times a day! I made this little penguin out of an old frosting container and some construction paper (and then covered it with packing tape to protect it)! He did have a 3-D nose but someone got hungry. 😂 The fish are part of my Penguin Toddler Unit! I laminated them for durability and bent the tails up so they were easier to pick up!

We started with just red and slowly added in other colors for
color recognition practice.

Alphabet Flip Game: This game was definitely over Cohen's head (especially the taking turns part) but it was still fun. I chose a handful of letters to start. We would take turns flip over all the cards and say the letter names as we went. You can also get these alphabet cards in my Penguin Toddler Unit.

Real Snow Sensory Table: This is where all that snow came in handy! We brought some indoors to use in our sensory table with our penguins! If you aren't as lucky as we were to get real snow, you can use this fake snow.

Bonus: You don't have to wear clothes to play with snow indoors! win-win! 

Painting Igloos: I actually stumbled upon this activity while on IG one day and it fit perfectly with what we were doing! The idea comes from Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten! You take those little fruit cups (that we had in our sensory bin above) and freeze water in them. Then use water colors to paint them while they melt! Mrs. Plemon's is a genius! You should definitely check out her stuff!

Penguin Launch: Cohen gets all the credit for this game! He got a Hot Wheels Launcher for Christmas and found that he could also use it to launch his penguins. We had so much fun with this! You can't see it but I put colored landing pads at the end for some color practice. But you could also do letters, numbers, spell out child's name... The possibilities are endless!

Torn Paper Penguin Art: This is another activity in my Penguin Toddler Unit but you can easily do it without! Just draw a penguin body on a white paper and you're ready to go! My son helped tear the black paper pieces and glue them on. 

We then traced his hands (I can't believe he cooperated with that) and then I added the face. It turned out super cute!

Excuse the black background, someone had serious
 mom brain and didn't think that one through...

Painting Snow: As you can see we ditched the paint brushes and used our hands. And due to being snowed in (and out of food coloring) our color options were limited but it was still fun and it kept him entertained forever!

Penguin Pom Push: This is one of my favorites! I have done this before with different themes/images and Cohen absolutely loves it! It's such a great quiet time activity and is amazing fine motor practice. He's a pro now! 

You can find this penguin image in my Penguin Toddler Unit. It fits any standard shoe box. I didn't have any shoe boxes (looks like I need to go shoe shopping!😍) so I made one out of a cereal box. I will be posting that DIY soon!

Outings this week:

Children's museum - We were able to get out after the snow finally cleared and boy were we ready! The Children's Museum had a penguin snow globe room which fit our theme perfectly! They had little penguin hats, igloos and white loofahs everywhere! He had so much fun. Just look at that smile! 💓

Sledding - We took advantage of the snow and did some sledding! We happen to live on a really steep hill so we went out and practiced our penguin belly sliding! 

📙📘📗 Our favorite books this week 📗📘📙
If you follow this blog or my IG you know that Cohen is obsessed with books! As a teacher, that makes me so happy! Here are some of our favorites from the week:

Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton
Penguin in Love by Salina yoon
My Life in the Wild: Penguin by Meredith Costain

(although reading them 500 times a day can be a bit much) 

So there you have it! Our first OFFICIAL toddler school unit! I'm so excited to be starting this new adventure and I can't wait to see where it takes me! Leave me some comments! I'd love to get some feedback 🙂

Up next week: Cars! 🚗

Friday, January 20, 2017

My 5 W's of Toddler School

People often ask me how I come up with all the fun activities I do with my son and how I find the time to incorporate these activities into our daily schedule. The answer? It kind of happened on accident!

Don't get me wrong, being able to be home with my son has been such an amazing experience that not everyone gets to have and I feel so lucky. But man can it be tedious! I was bored. One can only read the same book or play the same peek-a-boo game so many times before you start to go a little crazy! I found myself fantasizing about being back in the classroom and getting to plan all the fun activities I used to do when I was teaching and then it hit me:

Why not plan these same kinds of activities for Cohen!?

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that Cohen has a car in his hand in every. single. photo. He is a tad obsessed. So I started out with a little car unit to follow his interests. I swear, nothing else exists when cars do! 

I immediately jumped on Pinterest and I instantly felt my creative teacher juices flowing! I got so much positive feedback from my other mom friends and from Cohen that I knew I needed to start this new adventure! 

So what are the 5 W's of Toddler School?

Who: Well that's obvious! But you can't have the 5 W's without it :)

What: I see some posts out there about toddler school with the perfect weekly plan complete with coordinated themed snacks every day, the picture perfect toddler in every photo cooperating with every activity (and not trying to eat the playdough or take everything out of the sensory table and putting it on the floor..) and I'm not going to lie it can be very intimidating! 

Let me just tell you, that's not how we roll! Some days are a hot mess. Some days all he wants to do is destroy everything in his path. It happens. So I try to focus on 1-2 small activities a day depending on interest. Our themes sometimes last a few days and sometimes they last a few weeks. But that's parenthood. We just roll with it! It's all about having fun and introducing learning opportunities!

When: Finding time can be the most difficult thing for parents. Between jobs, chores, children's schedules and just needing a minute to shower it can be tricky. But I have found that many of these activities take less that 30 minutes because let's be honest, what toddler can focus for longer than that anyways?

We are down to a single nap each day so I try to incorporate 1 activity in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. And it really does help the days go by! 

As for planning, my husband has Fridays off and I like to use some of this time to plan! I use this time to go to a coffee shop, drink some hot chocolate, stalk Pinterest and have some much needed me time! I actually look forward to this every week and it takes less than an hour! You can get my planner below by clicking on the image!

Where: Most activities take place in our home. I created a little area for all of our themed stuff and it is really easy to rotate out. We have a little DIY sensory table (more info on that below), a book display and we put any art projects on the wall as we go!

Here's a little peek with our penguin stuff!

I have also found a lot of resources out of the house for little field trips! I like to try and get out of the house at least once a day just to keep everyone from going stir crazy. Outings aren't always fun and theme related. Errands have to get run sometime! But a few times a week I like to take Cohen somewhere to run around and I try to coordinate it to the theme!

Below are some of the kinds of places we like to visit in our city! But you can easily google toddler friendly attractions and see what your city has to offer!

Some ideas:
children's museums (we have a science specific one here and it is amazing)
nature walks/parks
children's theaters
local festivals/events
toddler playgrounds (we have a lot of indoor ones here)
car shows (from our car theme)

Why: I mentioned before that boredom was a large motivator for us starting toddler school but another big reason is language development. Cohen has always been very smart and alert and he loves to engage and interact with his surroundings. He developed very early in many ways but he has shown zero interest in talking. I mean, he babbles non stop. Literally, NON STOP. But he will say a word for a week (mastering it and it's use) and then never say it again. I really wanted to do something to encourage him to use his words and hopefully spark his desire to talk! 

Fingers crossed!

How: To start out, Fridays we go to the library to pick out new books for our new theme! We usually grab 6-10 books. I like to try and find ones with a repetitive pattern because Cohen seems to like those the best. Cohen loves the library SO much that it can be difficult to choose books with him there. So I usually try to request books to be put on hold a week ahead of time so that they are ready for me when I get there and I can spend the time with Cohen reading books/playing!

There are 2 things that I couldn't do without:

Book Display: We got our amazing book display on Amazon for $12! The price has since gone up but it is still totally worth it! This bad boy is made from a thick cardboard and has withstood my son being in it! So that's a pretty solid endorsement! 

Sensory Table: Awhile back I stumbled upon this DIY PVC sensory table on Pinterest and knew I just had to make it. You can find that post here! It was so easy to make! And if you ask the people at the hardware store they will cut the PVC down for you so that all you have to do is assemble when you get home! We love our sensory table! It has been so much fun for us!

As you can see we reinforced ours with duct tape for durability (and so my son couldn't take it apart). It was cute watching him take it apart and try to put it back together until he decided to do it one day while it was full of water and now we have warped floors...So duct tape.

And that's all folks!

You now have my beginners guide to start doing toddler school yourself! It really is a lot of fun and I promise it's not as much work as you think it is. If you are still feeling hesitant, I would love to share resources and help out in any way I can! Cohen has loved all the fun activities and I look forward to having a plan everyday. It has gotten us out of our boredom rut! 

Happy Toddler Schooling!