Monday, January 30, 2012

The Letter B

Last week we did our Letter of the Week activity for the letter "B." We started off by talking about the sound a "B" makes and tracing it on our white board. Then we opened up our collection of library books that talked about our letter, focusing on bones and black widows (my girls were fascinated by those spider facts!).
After reading through some of our books, we played a game with balloons taped on the wall in the shape of a lower case "b." I had filled the balloons, with the girls' help, beforehand with trivia questions about the topics we were going to discuss during that activity time. I ended up tweaking a few questions to fit the facts that had caught their attention the most. 


So I could finally blow up a balloon by time I reached my early's so hard for me!
And my little four year old makes it look so easy.
The girls took turns popping the balloons (with a small pin) and answering the questions. Some questions were trivia about black widow spiders and bones. Others asked them to name a few words or animals or sounds that started with the letter "B." One question asked them to write an upper and lower case "B." I kept the questions simple, fun and age-appropriate.


This is Charlotte making a sheep noise, which of course starts with the lovely letter "B."


And their prizes! Left over candy "beads" from Charlotte's birthday party.
The possibilities with the letter "B" are endless. Another fun one we've done before and will surely do again is ALPHABET BUGS. You print out each letter of the alphabet, cut them out, and tape them all over your body. Then you start moving and dancing around and ask your toddler to help you get the alphabet bugs off of you! Ask them to find the bugs in order and stick them onto a board where you can review when they're done and sing the alphabet song. 
So fun.
P.S. HELLO Valentine's Day coming soon! Wow, I can barely keep up...Tomorrow we're making some cute heart-shaped hand warmers to kick off this next holiday. Don't forget to hit up your local JoAnne's Fabric for their V-day craft kits at 40% off! They make great "do-it-yourself" activities for your kids to try out during crazy hour.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toddler Activities for the Letter A

We have been busy little bees around here in the Phipps' house. I've been doing my best to stick to my new routine and some days have been successful and others, not so much. But I've decided not to beat myself up about it too much. We're doing our best. We did start over with our letter of the week activities, which I'm directing mostly toward my three year old. As mentioned in my last post, we've started reading the BOB series with my four year old and we're seeing some real progress; I highly recommend them if you're looking for a good series to start with.

Here's what we did with the Letter "A":

We do try to make it to the library on Tuesdays to find books that coincide with our letter of the week. Here's some that I found this time:
(sorry for the blurry photo) 
I really love finding a few books on specific animals that start with the letter we're studying. The girls always love learning some new facts about animals and I enjoy it too!

For our craft, we got our fingers dirty and painted an "anthill" in the shape of the letter "A" in green paint. Then we dipped our fingers in brown paint and added little ants, crossing over the top of the anthill. Short and simple. She did end up adding some flowers and a blue sky...

For a snack, we made ants on a log with celery, peanut butter, and currants (which I've been a bit addicted to lately).


I also printed out some coloring pages and letter tracing pages for her to work on.
My four year old requested a koala coloring page and activity, so I printed both for them to work on together.


  Keep it simple! And have fun!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What do we DO all day?

Now that we're starting a new year, we've adjusted our routine and made some changes that fit with our growing family. My second daughter is turning three this month and she has joined her older sister in Joy School two days a week for a few hours. I've decided to focus on a certain "subject" or "theme" on the other three days of the week. I've had a few people ask what our routine looks like, so here is our schedule for our mornings (we spend most afternoons with free play time, cleaning up, preparing for dinner, and then time with Dad at 5pm).

Monday: Joy School
Tuesday: Letter of the Week Activity/Reading Skills
Wednesday: Joy School
Thursday: Music/Arts
Friday: Field Trip Day

This is what works for our family. I love to have a plan and I find that my kids enjoy having an activity to look forward to each day. It also helps me to find a balance between time spent with my children and time for myself.

Letter of the Week/Reading Skills
We started our first Letter of the Week activity of the year today. We did this last year with both girls and found it to be a great way to learn our letters and have fun. I'm starting over, gearing the activities toward my three year old, since my oldest is already very familiar with her letters. For my oldest, I've decided to delve into the slightly intimidating world of teaching her to READ. We also attend our local library on these mornings. Here are some tools that I'm using as I attempt to teach this wee one to read (i.e. I have NO idea what I'm doing yet, but I found some great help at my library):

BOB Books

I've heard a lot of great feedback from other moms about these books I just found Set One at my library this week. I also checked out a series called Get Ready-Get Set-Read! that we will try out as well.

Let me clarify one thing, however...I used to feel a lot of pressure to do everything in my power to guarantee that my daughter would be the smartest, border-line genius in her class. Since we started Joy School where the focus is on skills that help our kids love to learn, rather than pushing them to be ahead in writing and reading skills before they enter kindergarten, I've relaxed a bit. I want her to have fun during our activities and I want to supplement her own interests and ideas. I've decided to start her on reading because she wants to learn and has shown a lot of interest. We're taking it slow and I will follow her pace.
My two oldest daughters attend a gymnastics class on Thursday mornings together. I use the rest of our time on these mornings in the arts. I'm teaching my four year old very simple piano lessons and I just recently found a great teaching tool called The Usborne First Book of the Piano.