Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lego Math Two Ways

The first lego math activity is all over the blogging world so it is nothing new. You just find lego pieces and create simple addition/subtraction problems. If you put two pieces together (addition) have your child find the piece it would make. If you have one piece and take away a portion of it (subtraction) what piece would remain. I went back and forth on if the lego's  I chose should be the same color (and easy to find the matching block). I was afraid it would be too easy but I did it that way anyway. I did put the answer blocks mixed in with a handful of other blocks so he was actually looking at the pieces and not just matching colors. It was the right choice because it was just the right level of difficulty. Perhaps in the future I will have the colors all mixed up so he will have to choose more critical thinking.
The second math activity was introducing the idea of inequality: greater than, less than, and equals. My friend at Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational created a fabulous game to teach these concepts using  two things boys love: Construction Vehicles and legos. She made a game board of two dirt piles at a construction site. Then taking two handfuls and placing legos at each dirt pile a student can count the legos to see if they are greater than, less than, or equal. For the cases where the piles greater than/less than she made cards with front loaders with the scoop making the inequality signs. For when the piles were equal she made a pick-up (or dumptruck) grill be the equal sign. The way she explains it is "that the front loader always wants to pick up the heaviest load so the scoop needs to face the largest load". What a brilliant way to build a connection for boys (and girls) in regard to a difficult and easily forgettable concept. "A" loved this and in between each problem he helped on the construction of the building. We will definetly do this activity again! To get the printable for the boards and cards go to her sight above. Trust me you won't regret it-she has tons of fabulous ideas!

A Day of Milestones

Today was "A's" first day of kindergarten. Man, was he excited! Normally I it takes me over an hour to get him dressed but this morning he had shoes, coat, backpack on 10 minutes before we had to leave. He kept reciting his room number and then when he saw it he said, "Okay Mom, I have it from here." Ya, well I had to quickly inform him that I was walking all the way and taking pictures the entire time. I didn't even cry- I am so proud of myself. Although when I got home it seemed so...empty.
What a big boy!
Chickabug has these adorable 1st day of school signs
"A" with his kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Brusseau)
When we picked him up he was as happy as can be. The first thing out of his mouth was "I hope tomorrow is exactly like today." He told me all about eating lunch "IN THE GYM!", snack time, playing with blocks, learning the sign language to go to the toilet, recess, a new friend named Scout, and stories read to him. He told me that when they read the Kissing Hand (excellent book) a girl commented that it was always night. "A" said he rose his hand and said, "That's because raccoons are noctornul animals." His teacher asked him to share more about that so he proudly told me that he got to "teach what noctornul means!" Proud Mama!!!
First day of big kid school is not the only milestone we experience today however. Later on this afternoon "A" was out with Daddy for a very special play date. They went bowling and played in the arcade. When they were driving home he said his mouth felt weird. Daddy investigated only to find he had lost his very first tooth! This was quite a surprise because he had mentioned two weeks ago his bottom teeth felt funny. I said its possible he bonked it or it could be getting loose. He has not brought it up since. He didn't even know he lost it, which means that he most likely swallowed it! We had a special tooth fairy book with a pillow box that we got as a door prize four years ago. So instead of a tooth inside is a note to the tooth fairy explaining the situation. He has a fun chart to mark which tooth he lost, the date, where, important memories, and what he got from the tooth fairy. How weird that his first day of school as a big boy is also the day he loses his first tooth. He is growing up!!!

Wow! It certainly been one eventful day around here. I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Letter B Tot Sensory Basket

As I mentioned in my last sensory basket post I was running out of ideas. Many really liked the red basket and suggest I do the other colors. I would love to continue on with that but I don't have a lot of baby proof items in other colors at the moment-except possibly blue (possible idea for the next one). Scouring the blog world I found baskets with letters of the alphabet theme. Why didn't I think of this? I struggled with starting with A but decided to go with B since that is what my tot's (well actually 10 1/2 months old) begins with. This sensory basket is chalked full of goodies. Once I started finding things that begin with B I couldn't stop!!!
The B basket it all its glory!
The B items are:
I took a large picture of "B" and put it in a page protector with a piece of cardboard behind it so it won't bend.
On the other side is a pic of the two brothers. Each one I put a foam B on the outside and taped the sleeve shut.
Felt Barn & Boy, Wooden Bird, Large Letter B, B Block, Boat, Blue Bootie, Binky, Rattle with Bells, & Plastic Bead Ring
Glass jar with buttons and wooden letter b (good for rattling)
Board Book, Bag with a Bow, Gift Bow, Brush, and Foam Brush (one of his fave toys)
Large letter B puzzle piece w/ bear on it, teddy bear, baby bear figurine, and sponge bear
Blue ring and circle, blue block, and blue sensory bottle (from nature basket)
Box with stackable blocks, two balls, and a badge
Mardi Gras Beads (so far his favorite) and a bag of beans and a magnet letter B (taped shut of course)

I told you this basket was a little over the top. The letter idea is so clever and now I think I have ideas ranging from ABC's, Shapes, and Colors to last me a little while. I am curious what others do with their children who are under 18 months old?

5 A Day Books: Song Books

" Children are born readers on the laps of parents"
-Emilie Buchwald

Our first week of 5 A Day Books went great. I am hooked and am really getting into picking what books or themes we will do next. I especially love my older son getting in on his little brother's  story time. Each week I am picking one book he can "read" to his baby brother. Right now they are books he as memorized (which fits perfectly with the 5 A Day Books idea). As he learns to read this year he will be able to work on his reading strategies. It is interesting how disinterested in books "B" is compared to how "A" was at this age. Even more proof I need to be doing this. By the end of the week he was smiling at certain books, helping turn pages, and playing with board books-all good signs.
This weeks theme: Song Books (books illustrated to popular songs or tunes-some with the author's version of lyrics. Okay so the funny part is rather than just introduce them I have made videos of me (GASP!) singing them. I am not a great singer so sorry to put you through the misery. However, I want you to know the tunes if you happen to get the books yourself. Have fun and don't laugh to hard. PS> Since one book my son has to read to brother there is a video with him singing the song. Some of the lyrics are off but you get the point!

1) The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani

2) You are My Sunshine-illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church:
3) Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long:
4) 5 Little Ducks by DK Publishing (the one "A" is doing):
5) Morningtown Ride by Melvina Reynolds:

Gem Jar is Full

Awhile ago I posted about how I was going to try the positive discipline by filling a glass jar with decorative rocks whenever I caught "A" being good. A little over a month later he has filled the jar. I am so proud. The experience has been really great in our household. It is challenging me to find positive moments with my child and it is a great incentive for him. It hasn't been perfect. "A" still constantly points out what he did and then ask for a gem for it (a no-no). Some days he may only earn one gem and then on other days he may earn eight. Just this week we discussed a 0-3 gem day wasn't a great day, 3-6 gems was an okay day, 6-8 gems was a great day.
Isn't it pretty!
I had originally not wanted to take any gems away for negative behavior, but sadly that didn't happen. I would still like that to be the goal. However, sometimes I am left with no other option. We have been discussing the levels of punishment a lot this week too. My first choice for punishment will always be time-outs and taking things away (a fun outing, TV time, a toy, etc). True Story: Once I even boxed up every toy in his room in different boxes and bins. He had to be good for two whole days and then he could get a bin back. He couldn't decide what toys went in the bin so he had to look at the bin and choose wisely. When it comes to time-out there has to be a level of obeying though (if you really think about it). The child has to go to time-out and stay there. When you have a truly defiant child that won't always happen. I have literally spent all day taking "A" to time-out and then he comes out and I pick him up and take him back! Some weeks he will do time-outs and I think he has gotten over the fighting me on the whole thing but then NOPE back to same old thing. So what we have discussed is time-outs will always happen first, if he is defiant and comes out of time-out early a gem is taken away. The point is that no gems would be taken away if he just went to time-out.
"A" putting gems in his jar
Surprisingly, even with some bad days and gems being removed he filled it in one month. When he reached half way he chose ($5 limit) to go to Menchies-our favorite frozen yogurt place. He was so excited at the half way point he told everyone-even his toys. He also drew a very adorable picture of himself putting gems in the jar. At the full point he got to go to KidsClub ($10 limit). A really fun child play place in my town. It couldn't have happened any better of a time since school starts soon. So now we are starting over. Hopefully, this month goes as well on the system.

"A's" Reward- Kid's Club Fun & Fitness

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Frolicking in Fountains

In Portland, OR we have a plethora of beautiful fountains, and get this-it's okay to play in them. As a kid I have tons of found memories of my three siblings and I swimming and splashing in city fountains. It is a great way to beat the heat and it is completely free!!! This week has been pretty sweltering (for us anyway) and I wanted to have the boys play in the water before the weather starts to change. There is a fairly new waterfront fountain on Ankeny that has interactive sprays. It appealed to me especially because at times the sprays are fairly low so "B" could get some water play in too. It turned out to be a wonderful evening. I just hope my kids have memories of days like this, just as I do from my childhood.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Top 10 Amazing Animal Tales

Sidenote before getting into this Top Ten recommendations: There is a lot of great animal stories in chapter book format, but I only included picture books in this list. I will eventually do some chapter book Top Tens but it seems most my readers have younger kids. If you like my book recommendations also check out the Shelfari Widget I added. These are books I have run across recently that I love but don't really fit into a Top Ten theme. There are always some good choices on there and I will keep adding to it. Hope you enjoy the new list....

1) The World's Greatest Elephant by Ralph Helfer: A boy and an elephant were both born in the circus in the same day. There bound was unshakable and when the elephant was sold to America the boy stole away and the ship rather than be apart from his best friend. In a shipwreck the elephant saved his live. Even when they got separated-years later they found each other. Some argue if this is a true (as it claims) or not but either way it is a beautiful story!
2) One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies: A poetic, illustrated story of the life of a loggerhead sea turtle. The text is very informative but yet remains accessible to young children.
3) Jubela by Cristina Keller: A true story of a rhino that was orphaned by poachers and finds adoptive parents. This story can be sad for younger ones but it does have a heartwarming ending, and is a great way to discuss endangered animals.
4) KoKo's Kitten by Dr. Fracine Patterson: Koko is a gorilla who has famously learned to communicate with sign language. This book is about when she kept asking for a kitten of her own. An amazing tale that also has some heartwrenching & heartwarming moments, but great insight into the emotions of animals. Follow this up by going to KoKo's Kids Club website and learn more about her. You can see videos and even paintings made by her.
Koko reading the book. (Picture from The Gorilla Foundation)
5) Titanicat by Marty Crisp: Another tale that claims to be based on a true story. A young cabin boy for the Titanic was in charge of caring for the ship's cat. When the cat starts to act weird and move it's litter of the ship the day of sailing the boy takes it as a sign he shouldn't sail either. Good thing he didn't. Kid's are intrigued by the Titanic story and this is a different side to the story.
6) A Mother's Journey by Sandra Markle: Another informative text that reads like a picture book. The story the mother's journey of an emperor penguin after she lays the egg and leaves it with the father. It is about her plight and dedication to return back to her chick. A great companion to The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins which is the tale of the father's penguin.
 7)Seaman's Journal-On the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Patti Reeder Eubank: I don't know if it is because we are were the Lewis and Clark trail ended but its a pretty big deal where I live. This is the story of the expedition from the view of Seaman-Lewis's Newfoundland.
8) Craig, Juiliana and Isabella Hatkoff books: The first book was Owen and Mzee. It is the true story of a baby hippo and tortoise over 100 years old. With the success of this book they kept writing about true animal stories. Some other favorites is Knut (all though since the book was written he unexpectedly died just this year), Winter's Tail (about a dolphin with a prosthetic tail, which a movie is being made about), and more.
9) Togo by Robert J. Blake: Many kids know the story of Balto from books and the Disney movie. Balto was the lead dog that brought the serum to Nome, Alaska that helped save the town from Diptheria in 1925. What most people don't know is that all though he ran the last 50 miles and crossed the finish line, a dog name Togo ran 350 miles to get the serum before passing it on to Balto. Togo gave so much of himself he could never mush again. It's a great story about sacrifice, persevering, and being a winner/hero doesn't always mean crossing the finish line-and getting all the glory.
 10) And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: I have been hesitant to put this on so that I don't get angry comments, but I have to be true to myself- I love this story. It is the true story about two male penguins in a New York zoo who paired up and tried to hatch an egg of their own. When zookeepers observed this they gave the couple an egg (that would have been abandoned), and the same sex pair raised the chick together as a family. I find it fascinating this behavior observed in other animal species, besides humans. If homosexuality is something you have a problem with please just delete this suggestion on the top ten. I on the other hand find this story touching and remarkable.

In the Doghouse

"A" was late to warm up to the idea of stuffed animals (we call them loveys). Around age of three he got a stuffed dog that looks identical to our toy poodle, Scully. He rightfully named the lovey Scully Bug (we add bug to the end of names as a term of endearment). Ever since then "A" is obsessed with acquiring dog stuffed animals-they MUST be dogs though.

This weekend we are at the fabric store and we saw some cute dog fabric, and silly me-I suggested that would be cute to make a dog bed for his loveys. Luckily, I was able to get out of the store without purchasing the fabric, but "A's" wheels were already turning. He just HAD to make a dog house for his many stuffed dogs. He was convinced making it with wood would be simple-all you do is glue it together! (Um Yeah-NO!!!). Then remembering the airplane with Daddy he had a new building material in mind. He wouldn't let it go-so late last night we stayed up and made a dog house. It only took one box, paint, sharpies, and a pet stencil. It was the first night in two years that his dogs didn't sleep with him but in their new house. Of course, this was after he kissed them all good night!
"A" with Rover and Scully Bug-Turned out pretty cute and is at the foot of his bed!
Told you the Scullys look alike.  I have been known to get them confused when my dog lays a certain way.
Now Back to the Craft:
All his loveys are represented on the back with their names and paw prints
Play food, water, and toy
Scully Bug and Buddy looking out the window (Cutie Tail is at the front door)
This house is so much nicer than his other house where dogs (real ones at least) are NOT OKAY!
PS. These cardboard colorable clubhouse ROCKS. Got it on Black Friday and has got tons of use!
He tried to write NO DOGS on the sign but it ended up saying Dog ON (te he-love it)