Sunday, August 21, 2011

Three Weeks of Fun and Learning

Whew! Birthday madness is over (a post coming soon about that fun, including product reviews), electricity is back on, and after this coming week, things will somewhat slow down....other than packing and finding a new home in a new city (after we figure out where we're going exactly) that is! I currently have five books to read, several videos to watch, countless activities to put together, emails and messages to return, too many errands to think about... I feel like some days when I actually do have free time, I'm so overwhelmed that I get nothing done. Today I vowed to put a blog together wrapping-up our last few weeks before my husband has to leave for a few days again. It feels good to meet this goal!

Montessori-inspired Activities

Searching for favors at our local party store, I found these fabulous bugs for $.35 each! I love how realistic they are and knew I could use them in many different ways. I purchased two of each, and purposely bought different spiders and butterflies, as there are so many variations of these creatures. All of the others were identical anyhow.

The first work I've done with Ty with the bugs has been a Three Period Lesson with three bugs that are most familiar to him. This means that I present one bug at a time to Tyler and name it, being sure to make eye contact so that I know he's listening. I then lay all three in front of him and asked him to find a particular bug. If he made an error, I would go back to the first step, naming then all again. He knew these pretty easily, so I then asked him to name each one for me verbally.

This next work is a coin/slot activity with one more step added to make it more of a challenge. Tyler's task is to put the "grass" (a carpet sample, free at Loew's) under the horse bank (dollar store) and place ten dimes from the bowl into the bank. The plug on the bank was incredibly difficult to remove and he would need to retrieve the dimes himself, so I took the plug out, allowing the dimes fall onto the grass. His next step is to then remove the horse, put the dimes back into the bowl and the horse onto the grass to complete the work or start again.

Living without electricity for several days meant buying a lot of ice in hopes of saving a few items from our fridge as well as our cat's insulin. This was a great opportunity for Ty to play and experiment with ice. He enjoyed dumping the ice, placing it into containers and noticed it melting in his hands. He also discovered that thin slivers of ice would stick to a cookie sheet and that he could move and tip the sheet and allow the ice to move but not fall off. Just one of those neat lessons that you don't think about that the child finds out on their own!

No electricity also meant a lot of flashlight use, which Tyler found fun. Here we worked on placing the flashlight close to and then far away from the wall to notice how the light shrinks and grows. We also played with hand shadows and looked down vents. Ty learned to navigate the dark house with his own light on his own by the second night. I'm considering keeping the lights out just for fun and learning once in a while!

This activity utilizes the Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg toy, which Tyler had never been interested in on its own . Here he removes each peg and places it into a juice container, then shakes them out. Pulling the pegs requires him to use two hands, which he can be lazy about at times, and he works on counting as well.

This activity was shown in a post about introducing works to toddlers, but here it is again. This is pattern work from Discovery Toys that I purchased from my neighbor's garage sale. It is so much more interesting to him that using jumbo lacing beads. I am moving him to more challenging pattern cards this week.

We haven't had an air quality warning in a couple of weeks (yay!) so we have been spending a ton of time outdoors, often in the water table and sand box. Though all of the scooping and dumping is important, I have been trying to think of new ways to play in the sand as well. Here Ty uses a funnel to pour sand into a jar, and we've also been using a sand/water wheel. Currently half of his sand is wet, so we've experimented with how the funnel/wheel work (or don't) with both kinds of sand, and discovered which sand be used to makes sand castles. I should also add that I've been having him use containers of different sizes and weights and different kinds and sizes of scoops and spoons.

Large Motor

Tyler is quite into challenging his body physically and always has been. He finds something to work on in any environment he's in and doesn't want to stop until he's mastered it. Sometimes we think he's training for some sort of Toddler Olympics, though I'm not sure that things like standing on the arm of the couch and jumping off qualify! We've been working extra-hard to help Tyler continue his skills in safe ways.

Ty decided he really wanted to get the hang of moving himself around sitting on his scooter, both backwards and forwards a couple weeks ago. He picked it up really fast. Next is to teach him to lay on his belly and use his arms and feet to move!

 Putting balls into a basket and pushing it around isn't all that challenging, but it sure is fun for him! Sometimes we add books to make the basket heavier which he really loves.

The basket it also great for climbing in and out of, of course! 

Taking Tyler to different playgrounds and parks has been another way to challenge his skills as each has something different to offer. It's of course also good for building social skills with other kiddos.

We continue to take him to Open Gym at our local gymnastics center about once a week where he seems to pick-up another new skill each time. It's a wonderful confidence booster for him!

Last week my husband started to teach him to play catch. By the afternoon he was catching a basketball from about a foot away. This is not only a great physical skill, but the passing the ball back and forth (i.e. sharing) is a great, not always easy, social skill for toddlers to learn. 


I wish that I could say we've been working on something different in this area. Our outside time has taken over much of our art time and when outdoors, Ty doesn't seem all that into art other than chalking. Once the weather cools down we'll be making-up for our lack of time in this area for sure!

 Ty has grown tired of crayons and colored pencils, so we've been using markers and paint dabbers instead. He has started drawing circles and drew a sun all on his own recently. I often draw a sun when we are chalking in the driveway and he even surprised me by drawing eyes and a mouth on my sun a couple weeks ago! I love that this is starting already! I am not great about coloring and drawing next to him when we are inside and really need to work on doing this more.

When we do paint, Tyler has still been into mixing the colors on his hands and painting his body. I've finally learned to have him paint time just before bath! 

Other Fun

Ty's sensory quirks have made him leery of using play-doh other than sticking things into it (i.e. not really touching it), but making balls for him to squish his finger into has worked well to get him over his quirk. He's now rolling play-doh in-between his hands in an attempt to make balls!

I found a rainbow boa as well as a rainbow mullet wig in the clearance section of our local party store and excitedly added them to Tyler's dress-up area. He refuses to wear the wig, but thinks Mommy is pretty funny walking around the house in it! A few of the feathers have fallen off of the boa and he's found dropping the feathers quite interesting...he's intrigued with how slow and lightly they fall.

Pushing puffballs in-between his toes. I don't remember how we started doing this or why, but it was pretty humorous!  

Linking-up with Carissa's Tot School.


  1. Great activities!!!

    Popping in from Tot School

  2. You always give me such great ideas for what I can do with my kiddo! I love your Montessori inspired activities and home.

  3. Great activities as always. Love the puff balls between the toes at the end- looks like something Noah would like.

    Noah is the same with playdough but getting better- he used to just want me to make balls for him to put back into the container but he is getting more into trying to mould it. Not into using the cutters or rolling pin yet though.

    Also similar in the physical sense- he has masted physical things much quicker than he has mastered language based thing although his understanding in English is great.

    Glad you got your power back and hope you have no more issues!

  4. Super Tot loves flashlights, too! I love the pictures of him pressing the playdough balls down and smashing pompoms between his toes. CUTE!