Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tot School - The Letter Z

~James is 29 months~
This week we focused on the letter Zz. I decided to mix it up a little and do the alphabet backwards - what can I say, I'm just a wild & crazy gal! :)
James knows the alphabet well, so for the most part this is just fun review for him. Here's what we did with Zz...

Gluing zig-zags on the letter Z. James' favorite part was dipping the Q-tips in the glue and then painting the paper.

James used the extra Q-tips and created a new task all on his own (love when he does that!) - he arranged the Q-tips into letters! I was so pleased when he made a Z and then pointed to the craft we had just finished and said, "two z's! Big Z, little z!".

Painting strips on the zebra. I cut lines into one sheet of paper and then taped that over a print out of a horse. James then painted black over the top sheet. When it was dry we removed the top sheet and voila! we found a cute little zebra!

We examined a zucchini, touched, smelled & tasted it and then shredded it to make yummy zucchini & chocolate chip muffins.

James worked on his zipper-ing skills. :)

I have a bunch of embellishments from my scrapbooking days and James had fun sorting through all the Z's. (So happy I'm finding uses for that stuff now - such a shame to see it all sit there collecting dust!)

We went to the Bermuda Aquarium & Zoo with James' friend, Zachary. Following our visit to the zoo, we played with this A Day At the Zoo playscene I found on Let's Explore (awesome store, btw!!). They're much like the colorforms I had in the 80's. :)

On our weekly trip to
the library I found this book, Zen Shorts. It's a bit long and he lost interest halfway through, but it has a great message. I really liked it and I think I'll put it on my wishlist for later.

It wasn't ALL about Z this week - here's what else we did...
::Tried out our new see & spell puzzle boards. The lady at the store told me James is too young for these (box says 4+), but I begged to differ. :) He had no trouble with these whatsoever.
::I saw this activity on a few websites. It took two seconds to make and James really liked it.

::Sorting marbles into the little suction cups on the back of those bathtub sticky things. :) James LOVED this task and it kept him busy for nearly 30 minutes!
::I planned to use these for making popsicles, but James got a hold of them and began counting and matching colors. I wonder what other good ideas he has?!
::He plays with these sponge letters all.the.time. Here he's arranging them in a line, talking to them all the while ("uh-oh letter T, don't fall!"). So cute! This was one of those times he didn't know I was watching.

::This geometric stacker was a BIG hit.
::Got this idea from the 1+1+1=1 website. Cheap, easy to make. Love it. James did too.

::Another great idea - this one I found on Spinner's End Nursery School, one of the many wonderful tot blogs out there. Searching for "treasures" (shells) in a bucket o' beans. James' favorite type of activity usually involves sorting, so this held his interest for a long time.
::Those blasted ants are STILL terrorizing my home and I found them crawling around James' playmat. (He never eats in there, so I'm not sure what they think they'll find.) Anyway, I cleaned the mat and James had fun helping me put it back together.

So that was our week! It was busy, but lots of fun! Click the button to the left for more great ideas!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Little Bookworm

I recently created a "book nook" for James. A little area where he can get cozy and read to his heart's content. He has another bookcase full of books in his bedroom, so I'm thinking of creating a reading space there as well!

We have lots of books and even though we read 10 or more a day, there are many that rarely see the light of day. So, in addition to our daily reading routine, I decided to feature a different set of books each season for James. Since fall has officially begun I'm going with the whole back to school/apples/Halloween/leaves theme.

Here's what we're reading:
I realized I needed a few more theme books, so here's what I've ordered (should be here next week!!!)...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tot School - It Begins

~James is 29 months~
While blog surfing I found a GREAT website chock-full of creative ideas for educating little ones. The author of this blog is my new hero! Click on the link above or the box to the left to read more about what this super mom does with her tots. I'm jumping on the Tot School bandwagon since it's right up our alley and is a lot like what James and I are doing already! :)

Last month James and I started having "schooltime" (nearly) everyday. It's going really well and James loves the variety of things we do. Here's a small sample of what we've been up to so far this month. Going forward I'll make our Tot School adventures a weekly post.L-R:
  • Music time! James can't get enough of his instruments. We recently started Kindermusik, which James and I both LOVE!
  • Sorting ice cubes from one bowl to another on a HOT summer day. James had a blast with this activity. Of course he was soaking wet by the end of it! :)
  • Lacing number beads. Or rather, mommy laces them and he pulls them off!
  • Painting on the lovely buddha board.
  • Exploring the "open/close" activity kit while we were on vacation.
  • Sorting shells & sea glass. James is very proud of the shells he's collected over the last year.
  • Checking out the "red table". This was a fun activity. James and I went on a hunt around his play room to find red things. Whenever he found something he'd hold it up proudly and say, "there one!"
  • Directing toothpicks into VERY tiny slots. Check out that concentration!!
James' interests are ever changing and his attention span is minimal, so I rotate the topics and learning tools to keep him on his toes! :) He doesn't like everything I introduce, and when he isn't interested (he'll ask for "somesing diffint") we simply put the task away and I make a mental note to try it again later. I'm a big believer on learning being a FUN experience! Lately whenever we finish something he enjoyed he'll say "that fun, mama!".

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Felt Food

I decided to go a little "green" and make play food out of felt for James' play kitchen. I found a bunch of ideas online and thankfully they're pretty easy to make. They're all hand stitched, which is a good thing since I'm secretly afraid of sewing machines. Here's what I've made so far...
I made the boring orange slice before I found the pattern for the cuter one. :) I'm planning to make a lot more food items and give everything to James for Christmas. My next project is a sandwich with all the fixins. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buddha Board

I found this awesome thing for's a Buddha Board! You "paint" on it with water and when the water dries (which takes a while) you're ready to paint some more.

James thought it was pretty cool and it's actually really therapeutic. I find myself playing with it when James isn't even around! The only downside to it is that it's really easy to scratch. James simply ran his fingers over the board and left little claw marks on the paper. (Ok, so his fingernails were like razor blades and needed to be cut, but still...)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Real Good Deal they say in Minnesota. In the Land of 10k Lakes a good deal ranks right up there with hot dish and duct tape. And oh man would I make my dad proud with this deal I found on E-moo* the other day.

9 - count 'em nine - wooden puzzles (2 of which are 4 puzzles in one!) for a mere $25 dollars. And (wait for it...) the basket came with them! You must appreciate how good a deal this is; in Bermuda ONE of these Melissa & Doug puzzles is easily $20-$30. So this was basically 9 for the price of 1. Hellooo!!James LOVES puzzles and seeing as we already had a bunch of our own prior to my thrifty purchase, I was glad to take this opportunity to have some fun: I used said *free* basket and put all of James' puzzles in it and then separated all the puzzle pieces and put them in individual Ziplocs. Then I numbered each puzzle and each corresponding bag of pieces. Makes finding the matching set much easier and bonus - it's a tricksy way of teaching James concepts. :)

*E-moo is Bermuda's online classifieds. You can buy or sell almost anything for an excellent price. Since there are always ex-pats coming and going there's tons of nearly new stuff - usually stuff you can't otherwise find in Bermuda - available for purchase. I heart E-moo.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Solar System Artwork

James worked very hard to make this special gift for his daddy's birthday.
It took (us) almost 2 months to make it!

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is 6 ft long! James painted the background and each planet and then of course I went through and added a bit more detail to it all since I'm hoping to use this as a learning tool.

James loves pointing out the planets in the solar system - he has them all memorized!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Activity Kits

Our family vacation to the Turks & Caicos is FINALLY just around the corner.

Since we'll be traveling a total of 22 hours, I thought it might be a good idea to pack plenty of things to keep James occupied. If we're lucky he'll sleep on the plane for maybe one hour each way, so there's lots of awake time to account for. With that in mind I created a bunch of activity kits. Within each pouch there's a different activity, several of which James has never seen before. (I'm hoping the element of surprise will prolong the activity's lifespan!)

All of these activities were easy-peasy to put together and the only new thing I bought was the pouches themselves. Ziploc bags work, but I find them to be too flimsy. Here's what I'm bringing...

(As pictured from L-R)
1. Sorting - a variety of items that can be sorted by size, type or color. Obviously we'll be with James while he plays with these choking hazards.
2. Reading cards - these are from the Your Baby Can Read program. James loves them.
3. Planes, trains & automobiles.

4. Open & close activity - James has a fascination with things that have doors, clasps, etc. He'll get a kick out of this stuff.
5. Playdoh & a few tools.
6. Legos - this will be one of those that we play in the airport as I can just see one of the blocks falling on the airplane floor never to be seen again.

7. Lacing cards - he may be too young for these. We'll see.
8. Paper puzzles - got these out of a Kumon activity book. Love Kumon.
9. Mini post-its and stickers w/blank index cards to stick them on. I have loads of stickers from my scrapbooking days.
10. Mini figurines and number sheet. One of James' favorite games. We're working on teaching him numbers 11-20 and this is a fun way to do it. (we ask him to put the snake on #13, the frog on #19, etc.)

11. Lacing numbers - James is crazy about his "nummers".
12. Sesame Street dominos.
13. Flash cards & a deck of Sesame Street cards. Noticing a theme here? James loves all things Sesame, and it just so happens the resort we're going to has the whole Sesame Street gang on site!
14. Crayons & a mini coloring book. Of course. What kid doesn't love to color?!

So, these along with some books and the trusty ol' portable DVD player should be more than enough to keep him entertained. It may seem like too much, but let's face it, no one likes a screaming kid on the airplane, least of all that kid's parents.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Muffin Tin Meal

I LOVE this idea! I found it while blog surfing and wasted no time creating a muffin tin meal for James. Here's our first one:(from L-R) avocado, cheese, chicken breast, veggie chips, edamame, raspberries & pineapple.

I'm anxious to buy a silicone muffin tin because I think it'll be safer for James to eat out of. Plus the ol' gray tins aren't as fun as these ones:I'm definitely going to incorporate muffin tin meals into our weekly menu - James said "oooo whatzat?!" when I set the tin down in front of him and then promptly counted out each tin. I've never seen him enjoy a meal so much! He ate every last bit, too!


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