Monday, February 28, 2011

Mish-Mash of our last two weeks

Ty has been feeling better the last several days (nasty two-year molars!) and my happy-go-lucky, giggly boy  is back! It's so wonderful to see him working and playing happily again and interacting in ways other than with cries and whines. Poor kid! We didn't do enough to warrant a general activity post the week before, but here's a peek now at some of the things we did and were working on in the last two weeks that didn't make it to the blog.  

Practical Life / Independence

I took Tyler dumping beans all over the living room as a great teaching moment on how to use his hand broom and dust pan.

My plan this coming week was to introduce cleaning and wiping spills with a sponge. Tyler beat me to it! After he was finished with snack (leaving some to munch on later), he went straight to his treasures box (where one of the many items is a sponge), came back to his table and started wiping it!

Putting materials away after using them. This shocked me as well. I was spying on using hiw new cylinder work and watched him complete it. He then put it back on the shelf before moving on! Yay! He's been getting better and better about cleaning-up after himself without a word from us.

Feeding his Ernie doll. Okay, so maybe if Ty was expecting a new baby in our family this would be Practical Life (he's not!), but it was too cute to not show! He grabbed a spoon in the kitchen and came to the dining room to feed his beloved Ernie here. I'm glad I've been good about keeping my camera close lately!

This door (master bedroom) is often kept closed in our home. Ty enjoys shutting it from the inside, but can't yet reach the knob to close it from the outside and it has been frustating him. I have now tied a ribbon around the handle so that he can use it to pull the door shut on his own.

I bought Tyler this stool [Hobby Lobby] so he could get a better look at the birds and squirrels feeding at the many birdfeeders hung in our neighbor's yard. He enjoys watching them from his chair at meals and now he can get a better look anytime he'd like!  

Grace and Courtesy

This is Tyler asking "please" in sign language (rubbing chest in a circular motion) for a piece of bread as I'm making lunch. He's picked this up quickly and often asks when wanting food, a music CD or for us to read him a book. Good manners were heavily instilled in me as a child and I want the same for Tyler. 

Bean play in a glass bowls (makes a great sound!). We worked on scooping and pouring but at this point Ty was much more into dumping!

We feel so lucky that we've been able to get into the sandbox already and Tyler is very happy about this! We had been working on shoveling here.


Using watercolors (water and food coloring). I tried using the color in babyfood jars once, but he was more into playing in the jars and dumping them. Here I've used a heavy tea-light holder which luckily didn't attract his dumping instinct.

I finally found Bingo/Paint Markers for him to use [Hobby Lobby, again]! They were such a staple when I worked with toddlers in a traditional day care. As you can see, they went over very well!

The weather was so beautiful this day that we took our painting outside.

Making hand-prints on a steamy mirror, then wiping away condensation to reveal his reflection.

Coloring with wet chalk on dry paper. We will soon try dry chalk on wet paper as well.

New Materials
We switched out the color baskets from blue and yellow to green and red.

Tyler has become increasingly interested in large letters on the wall in his quiet room that spell-out his name, so I took a letters puzzle I bought at a consingment store that he's not ready for yet, placed magnets on the back and made him a fridge puzzle where he can get a closer look at the letters and actually handle them.

I set a chunky Melissa and Doug puzzle out for him for the first time last week. Somehow he finds this a bit easier than puzzles with handles. Don't mind the war paint on his face, we had just come inside from our painting adventure outdoors!

Exploring Nature

It has been quite windy here lately! A giant pinwheel has been one of the fun ways we've found to explore the affects of wind. On the next windy day I think we will run around with a balloon on a string.

Ty also found that the wind will blow your hair and clothes...and he loved it!

We've started to find some signs of spring around the neighborhood and will continue our hunt for them!

It had been way too long since Ty had a chance to play his Daddy's guitar, especially with a pick. We also went to music class this week and found lots of great new CD's at the library and a consignment sale.

Gross Motor

Ty practiced lots of climbing, somersaults, bar work, incline mat climbs, walks and slides, and foam pit crawling at Open Gym at our local gymnastics ceter. So much fun!

We (finally located) and visted our neighborhood park for the first time. Lots of climbing, sliding, swinging and here, playing scientist rolling sticks down the slide (as somehow we were the only one's there!).

Linked with Tot School:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rainy Day Solution: Obstacle Course

An extra-long nap plus a rainy day often do not equal an active toddler going to bed at a reasonable hour! We are lucky enough to have a large motor room with a climber and other energy-expending toys, but I wanted to make the activity a bit more "fresh" so he would be likely to really get his energy out today. The solution? An indoor obstacle course!

Our course:
 Crawl through the tunnel (with a comforter underneath to make it easy on our knees), climb over the ottoman onto the cushions, walk across to the cusions, climb over the chairs, run behind the couch and start again!

I think he likes it!

Over the ottoman with intensity!

Conquered the chairs

Up and over an obstacle behind the couch.

I created an obstacle course once in the fall, just a simple route of getting over couch cushions and walking behind the couch. As he gets older I'll likely include more of the house and more provide more activities to get through like riding his gym scooter through the kitchen, his Scoot-About bike down the hallway, throwing balls in a basket, stepping inside a hoop and pulling it up and over his head, jumping over an object, walking a balance beam, rolling under a jump rope etc.

Push the furniture against the wall, turn on some upbeat music and enjoy your next rainy day!

Second Woodworking Project: Starter Cylinders

The other morning our family was thrown off of our routine, and much like Tyler, I felt out-of-sorts and a touch cranky by the changes (apple doesn't fall far from the tree they say...). When I was finally able to take a bit of "Mommy Time", I headed straight for the basement and started to build a starter cylinder work for Tyler. It felt amazing to cut through wood with a power tool and to focus so intensely on what I was doing. I came away after about an hour with a finished project and felt refreshed and invigorated. It appears that the Montessori ideas of work and focus have a place in the adult word too!

The above photo is of one set of traditional Montessori Cylinders, a traditional sensorial visual activity. Ty will likely be receiving his first official set for his birthday in August, but for now, I wanted to start him out with a similar idea.

When I finished, I felt impatient and had to let Tyler give it a try before painting. I demonstrated the activity with a silent presentation, then let him try. You can see here that he has made an error, but because the material is self-correcting, he will see his mistake on his own and be able to fix it to complete the work. dowel to go...
You can see a look of satisfaction creeping onto his face from fixing his error already.

Fitting the final dowel. The joy of a work completed!

The final project, with dowels painted on a color spectrum, which Maria Montessori believed in for discrimination/sensorial purposes. I noticed that all of his Melissa and Doug wooden toys have rounded edges, so I sanded those down this morning (this photo is from yesterday).

As with the last, I learned from this endeavor. For the next project, I need better paint, hopefully a non-toxic gloss, as well as better quality wood. I have been using an inexpensive pine (i.e. rough and knotty), as I wasn't sure how woodworking would go for me, but I am now confident in my abilities and willing to spend more money. Next up, a single shape sorter and a balance beam! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Marble and Pill Box Work

This is a slightly different object transferring activity that is also great for opening and closing practice. Fine motor skills get a great work-out here!

Using two pill boxes, I put a marble in each slot of one of the boxes and left the other one empty. I first demonstrated how to open the boxes.

I then showed Tyler the work, transferring the marbles from the full pill box to the empty pill box.

Tyler adores marbles, so this was instantly an enticing activity!

The first time we did the activity, he found it interesting that when the full pill box was shaken there was a noise, but when the empty box was shaken, he heard nothing. Great science!

He repeated his experiment the second time as well. He loves to shake things to see if they will produce a noise, so this was a natural thing for him to do that I didn't even think about!

This is a work that we've returned to several times. Due to the small objects, I can't keep this one on the shelf, but it's there for choosing when it's time for rug work! You could certainly get creative and use other objects with the pill box that your little one enjoys as well. Have fun working those important little muscles!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A few of our favorite things

I wanted to share a few of our favorite recent purchases with all of you today. I'm always on the look-out for good deals and quality and love to share my finds! My blog is much too small to be endorsing products, so don't worry, these recommendations aren't tied to anything but my own experiences.

We purchased these jumbo safari animals from Learning Resources for Ty at Christmas. They were an instant favorite! As you can see in the photo below, they are truly huge and non-toxic as well. They became instantly popular with all of the kids when we gifted them to a two-year old at his birthday party recently. They also make farm animals, pets and dinosaurs!

You may think it's insane to buy a bib or smock for $30, but this Baby Bjorn combo is well worth the money! Ty is a messy eater, getting food down to his knees at times, and it was a bit of a hassle for our hungry toddler to get himself undressed before eating, then dressed again afterwards. This bib is long and has elastic at the end of the sleeves, making sure he is as clean as he was before the meal! It is also a wonderful way to keep clean during painting and dry during water play. It's breathable and lightweight, so we will still be using this in the summer. As a bonus, he just loves the cute little teddy bear he gets to wear on his chest!

This latches board from Melissa and Doug has been a huge favorite with Tyler since he received it for Christmas. He really enjoys opening the latches so he can see the colorful animals underneath! He can open them all now and now it's time to work on locking them. As with most Melissa and Doug toys, there's so many ways to work on things such as colors, numbers, shapes and memory with this board as well. This toy has seen a ton of use in the last two months!

I knew that I wanted get Tyler a quality wooden table and chair set around this age, but the high prices had me really discouraged. It took a bit of shopping around to find this table and I was hesitant. It had good reviews, but how good would a $85 set really be? I was nervous again when it arrived and the suggested age on the box was 4-7 years. As you can see below, this table is a perfect height for Tyler (32" tall), and it's very sturdy, safe and made of real wood. He will be using this for quite a while!  

Buying a car seat certainly takes a lot of research and is based a lot on personal preferences, but I just had to share our love for the Britax Roundabout 55 Convertible Car Seat. Tyler is so comfortable and happy in this seat! We love it because it's easy to buckle him in, works well in our small car, it is anchored very well using the LATCH system, and we can rear face him up to 40 lbs so he can be really safe for a long time! When we took it to the local children's hospital to have the installation checked we were complimented on our choice. 

To learn more about why rear-facing is safest, as well as to dispel myths about rear-facing, this website has tons of information, photos and crash-test videos:

Ty has so many books that he enjoys, but this book seems to have come at just the right time as he's on the verge of a language explosion. This book, especially when strongly enunciated, works wonderfully and in a fun way, to teach letter sounds. We've noticed Tyler using more sounds and becoming clearer with them since starting this book a few weeks ago. This may be a coincidence, but there's no doubt that he enjoys hearing the sounds and perhaps learning a few letters along the way!

If you have recently purchased a product that you really love, please feel free to share!