Friday, November 16, 2007

A Perfect Fit

I'll admit, my shoes are not organized in the bottom of my closet. Maybe yours are. Either way, you can play a simple game with your toddler.Take out of your closet 6-8 different shoes. Hold up a shoe (say the color or style) and tell your toddler to find the other one and place them in a match on the floor.
Very simple but it is fun to watch them "hunt" for the right shoe.
Can you tell what shoes I love?

Cost: FREE

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Color me Happy

Problem: Schmeese needs to learn his colors, has a lot of energy and I need to nurse the new baby.
Answer: Construction paper, scissors, masking tape, marker, walls

Instructions: Get out a piece of paper for each color you want your child to learn. I chose three to start but I will add more soon.
Cut a large square from the paper and label with the word name of the color. Cut the rest of the paper into 3x3 (or so) squares.
Place large squares on different walls or in different areas of your house. I kept them in the same room this first time, but I will make it a little more exhausting next time around.
Put all small squares in a bowl. Roll up masking tape loop and put it on back of square. Hand it to your child and say the name of the color. Schmeese caught onto this so fast that I didn't even have to show him what to do. You may have to demonstrate a couple times for your child however. Have your child return to you every time to get a new color. You don't need to tape loop them all before you start. Just do it as you go.

After about 5 or so of each color make things a bit more difficult. I stuck the colors all over Schmeese's shirt (see first picture). He had a grand time going to each color and checking out his shirt to find all corresponding colors and placing them on the wall.

If you want to use the same squares and start over again, stick all masking taped squares on separate pieces of wax paper for later use.

Cost: Pretty much Free

Variations: More colors. High and low: "Put the blue square HIGH on the wall" "Put the yellow square LOW on the wall". You could do the same activity with shapes, letters, words (for much bigger kids - I am imagining first and second graders categorizing words they read and placing them: foods, animals, household objects, plants.) You could definitely do this outside it the weather permitted. "Run to the red square! Walk backward to the yellow square!"

PS - forgive the cruddy muddy pics. Remember I was nursing?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The battle is over.

The battle for your dinner prep time is over my friends. That is, if you have Battleship.

The Schmeese loves lining things up and he is really into small little things. I looked through our game shelves the other day and brought up Battleship. I sat down at the kitchen table with Schmeese and showed him how to put all the little pieces in the holes.

It is KEY that you sit down with your child and spend a good ten minutes or so doing something like this WITH your child or else you will have red and white battleship bombs all over your kitchen floor. You can't expect them to just figure it out and play neatly. Well, at least not with mine anyway.

Expect them to be frustrated at first. Schmeese really struggled initially because he didn't understand why some wouldn't go in. I helped to see that they only went in one direction. It was cute to watch his little mind problem solve and work it out. That has to be one of my favorite things about teaching. You can just see and hear the gears in their mind turning.

They are so proud of themselves once they can do it all by themselves.

Schmeese "played" Battleship for a good twenty minutes by himself (after I invested the initial ten) while I prepared dinner. He has done that for about four days in a row now.
I also got a tin of dominoes out and he spent time lining them up, standing them on end and knocking them down.

Variations: Check your game cupboards and see what you come up with. Although toddlers are too young to play most of the games you may be surprised what you come up with. I can see Schmeese putting checkers on all the checkerboard squares or lining up chess pieces. What about cubed Boggle letters? I can def see potential in Boggle too.

Any other ideas?

Cost: free (assuming you have the games)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Brilliant Emily

I received the following email from a hometown friend named Emily. I LOVED these ideas. Especially the styrofoam and golf tees one. I am so grateful she passed on the brilliance.

Thank you Emily!

I have separated the email into three sections so I can tag each one differently.

Styrofoam and Golf Tees


I wish I had my camera with me so I could have taken a picture.
Here's what she did: ( a friend of Emily's)

Save the solid rectangular pieces of styrofoam packing that come when
you buy stuff like computers, DVD players, etc.

Give your kid a bag of golf tees and a small toy hammer.

Let them spend an hour hammering all the golf tees into the styrofoam.

If they are a little older they can make pictures and designs with
them (kind of a la Light Bright)

I was a little surprised that it held their attention, but this kept
two three year-old girls busy for quite a while this afternoon.

Cost: $0, supposing you have this stuff around the house.

T-Shirts and Squirt Bottles

Idea 2:
Tie dye t-shirts with squirt bottles. I did this with my kids and
their cousins this summer and they had a blast. Cost level is pretty
low, mess level is pretty high. There is a description and pictures
of it here on my blog.


Idea #3
Have you heard of letterboxing? It's like treasure hunting in local
parks and wilderness areas. They post clues online and you go out and
try to find these boxes that contain a log book and a rubberstamp.
When you find the box you stamp your own notebook and leave your own
personal stamp behind in the logbook. I found out that there are a
ton of them hidden around San Antonio and we intend (as soon as it's
not too hot and we're done being sick) to head out as a family and
try this. It sounds really fun, especially for school-age children.
Here's a link to the national letterboxing organization:

I love looking at your ideas. Such good inspiration for all us moms.


Monday, October 1, 2007

50 toddler activities

Check out this link I came across.

F A N T A S T I C!!!!!!

It's on the sidebar too.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Favorite Children's Reading Site

Planet Esme
click above to go to site
I love this site. I have used it for years. It is on my sidebar for future reference. I first was acquainted with Esme Raji Codell through reading her book Educating Esme:Diary of a First Year Teacher. The book was an interesting read although it was littered with swear words (she taught in inner city Chicago and did NOT sugar coat the experience) and she was a bit smug and self-promoting.

Regardless, she has a passion for reading and writing and I could literally spend hours looking through all of her great lists, ideas and recommendations. I also just checked out this book from the library. Great info.

Here is a smattering of some lists that Esme has put together:

Books for Babies-age three
Monkey Stories
Girl Power
Books and Breadmaking
Not too scary Halloween Stories

Hints for reading aloud
Read Aloud Resuscitation

There are dozens more. Check it out! I just adore this site.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Daily Masterpiece

Do you have markers?Do you have butcher paper?
I received an email when I was teaching in Provo about the Daily Herald ridding themselves of newsprint ends (the picture below), Call your local paper and ask about it.
I have also bought this.
On Monday, tear of a large piece of butcher/art/newsprint end paper and let your toddler go at it. The next day, use the same sheet again. Wednesday, the same.
**Hint to the wise: Markers are MUCH more fun to color with according to The Schmeese. When he is drawing with them I give him no more than 2 at a time and make him put on the lids right after he is done with those colors. Taking off and putting on the lids is half the fun. If your child struggles with the whole lid thing, encourage them and keep saying "you can do it" until they do. And oh how they love to finally "get it". If you let them just go for it with markers, crayons or whatever, you are asking for a MESS and you are also overstimulating your child.
I stood one marker on end and Schmeese was intrigued. At first he had a hard time learning how to make them balance, and then he spent 15 minutes balancing markers in a row. The key is to not let them give up and keep encouraging.
After lining them up, have your child touch the top of each marker gently as you count out loud or say the colors out loud.
Color practice:
Mommy: Schmeese, can you give me the
blue marker?Mommy: Schmeese, can you color on the red circle? (this didn't work so well the first time around, but we will keep working at it)Would marker time be complete without making marker wands?Who didn't do that as a child?
By the power of Grayskull!!!!!!!!!!
Hang up your art on a window or wall until the next day. Working on the same big piece of paper all week creates one large masterpiece, saves paper, and saves you the hassle of trying to scrounge around for more drawing paper all week. Below is four days worth of art time.
Be prepared for this when Daily Masterpiece time is over.
Variations: 1)Use different mediums/techniques each day: markers, crayons, colored pencils, stamps, stickers 2)place an eraser, a spoon, a matchbox car, or other small object on paper and have them color around each object on the paper. 3)Draw lines together on the paper and have your child follow the lines with a small car or doll. 4)Draw circles and have your child put objects in each circle (a piece of macaroni, a cheerio, a coin - be sure they are of age to not put it in their mouth though).
**Older children can work on a mural all week long, adding scenery and characters daily - Fairy land, pirate ship, battle scene, princess castle. There is such novelty and potential in that huge piece of paper.... let them go with it!

Other ideas for daily masterpiece time?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Water is free, water is fun

Out comes a pitcher of water.
Out come the plastic measuring cups.Out comes a dishpan.
Out come the ice cubes.
Don't worry if you get thirsty because you have icy cold water.
And you can ask your mom to play with you because you have already been playing in the water all by yourself for over an hour.
The next day you can add neighborhood friends.
And paintbrushes.
And play "paint the deck".
We don't mind getting wet on
a hot September afternoon.
Do you?
**Be prepared to fill up water pitcher/dishpan/ice cubes at least a dozen times
variations: paint the sidewalk, paint the house, paint the front porch, measure water into different size cups, make ice cube soup, use ice cubes to scribble onto the hot pavement

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am still a teacher

Betcha didn't know that this book could potentially change your life. I had my husband pick one up for me at Alphabet Station while he was in Utah this summer. Hot commodity. I searched high and low on the Internet to find it and the only place I could find it was temporarily out of stock. It has to be the blue version by the way. Only the blue version will do.

After a two year hiatus I am returning to the classroom to teach. I am planning out units, activities, field trips and management techniques.

And the best thing about it?????
I have one student permanently enrolled.And he is a good boy.

And we can look for butterflies in the zinnia garden and go on a field trip to the ice cream store and we can read the same book over and over and make animal sounds as loud as we want because it is OUR school. And we can invite fun friends over to learn and we can go fun places and do fun things with them because it is really just the two of us.

And when little brother comes in October he can join our school too.

I was once a teacher
I am still a teacher.