Monday, October 31, 2011

Tot School: Farm 3 and Halloween

Tot School
Month: October
Theme: Farm
Dates: 10/16 to 10/22

The Lessons

We didn't get the weekly board up this week, because we needed more work with the letter C and the number 2. Bobo colored lots of worksheets and even began to draw his own letter Cs. The first lesson Bobo chose to do this week was a sticker sheet. He put witches on red paper. The stickers were on a long strip, so he used the strip as a rope for imaginative play. First, he used it as a seatbelt and put two stickers on his desk for buttons on the space ship. Then, he used it to climb over the water (2 blue mats) and as a bridge to cross.

Bobo used the Color Farm from the Farm Lap Book for Tots. Each picture calls for a different color. I covered these in contact paper, so I could re-use them. He still likes to color everything the same color, so this activity was a challenge. He already knows all his colors, though, and has chosen favorites.

My favorite activity this week was making glue ghosts. Bobo could do this mostly on his own. You squeeze the glue into ghost shapes on wax paper and use foam to decorate them. When they dry, they peel off and you can tape them to the window. Bobo was very proud of his ghosts. He made the ones with stars and legs.

Bobo still loves stamping. I set out several different letters to use this week. He chose to use the letters we studied: B and C. We used orange and purple ink for Halloween. Instead of using construction paper for the stamping activities, I've started using a notebook. We have a lot of stamping action going on so it is easier to organize in a notebook. Bobo drew ladders and bats in his notebook, too.

I found a Jack-O-Lantern activity in The Mailbox: Preschool. There are different face cards and shapes you can copy onto cardstock, cut out and laminate. I used felt to make a Fun with Felt Folder. Then, I store the pieces for the felt inside. I'm going to use these folders for the Library's play dates on Fridays. They will be easy to organize and re-use. Bobo made his own faces.

Bobo played with his Halloween Sensory bin. He sorted the ghosts and used cups for pouring. He fed corn to the skeletons. He practiced cutting Play-Doh with a knife and rolling it flat. He was so proud of his ghost project that he insisted on posing with them.

The Books
As you can see by the time dates, I'm posting these lessons a couple of weeks after the fact. I know we read more books than this one, but I didn't write them down. I'm sure they will show up in another post. We really enjoyed Chickens Aren't the Only Ones by Ruth Heller. It talks about all the animals who lay eggs. It is comprised on large, beautiful illustrations. Bobo's favorite part was the big versus little eggs. Ostrichs lay the largest eggs, while hummingbirds lay the smallest.

We visited the Russiaville Library for art this week. Bobo painted his pumpkin pink, black and orange. He made a footprint ghost, which tickled his toes. We played and looked for books and chose a couple spooky movies (Garfield and Scooby Doo). He also completed his first art project on his own, a blue bat.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tot School: Farm 2 and Halloween

Month: October
Theme: Farm
Dates: 10//9 to 10/15

Weekly Board

The Letter of the Week was "C". We played with the words cow for Farm and cat for Halloween. Bobo even made his own letter Cs, which always turned into circles. We missed most of the What is the Weather? category. We need to make it a nightly ritual to keep up. We are still learning about Creation, and are keeping with God created animals. The Number of the Week was 2. We used some worksheets with numbers as well. The Color of the Week was black and really easy as it is a favorite. Our Nursery Rhyme was "Hey Diddle, Diddle."

The Lessons

Stacking and Sorting. Bobo learned about Big and Small using cups from Discount School Supply and pom poms. He also used imaginative play to transform the cups into suuperheroes and the pom poms into villains.

We've had the Vtech Learning Station since Bobo was learning to walk. It is on wheels and has a nice high handle. Our Farm theme gave it a new life in the classroom. It has activities for shapes, numbers and animal sounds. Not only was it used for its intended purpose, but after we exhausted all the learning fun, it became a spaceship. I, of course, had to ride in the back.

Bobo had so much fun matching with our Toddler Pack all about the Farm. He matched animal heads with tails. He also drew lines from the animal to match it with food. Then, he colored all the food green and asked me, "Would a mouse eat GREEN cheese?"

It was such a beautiful week that we had to spend time outside. So, we brought school to our back yard. We have a filled inground pool with lots of writing space for my sidewalk chalk enthusiast. He wants to draw every day. I drew the letters we have studied so far and he helped draw things that start with that letter. Then, we jumped on them. We also ran laps around the pool, but that was just for fun.


Bobo worked on many projects this week. I pull up my Pinterest and let him choose what he wants to make. Some of the projects need more of my help than what I usually come up with, but we need variety and Halloween decorations. He has trouble using school glue. Does anyone else have this problem? I wonder if the little 2 ounce bottles would be easier to use.

He drew straight lines to make his pumpkin patch. I've seen marked improvement with drawing lines and circles just in the past month. I drew the tree for his pumpkin seed mosaic in glue and let him go wild with the seeds.

I found a cute idea for a Q-tip skeleton from Busy Bee Kid's Crafts. This was one of the harder projects. We tried stick glue, but Bobo didn't quite understand what we were doing. After I drew a line and asked him to add a leg (for example), he began to enjoy it. He said his skeleton was the headless specter.

We made Mator from Cars into a zombie using juice boxes. They turned out really cute, but were very difficult to make. I had to use tape and school glue. It was a mess, but Bobo likes playing with them. Here are a couple of the finished products...

The Books

We read lots of books this week. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle. I love the large illustrations which would be wonderful for reading out loud to a large group. From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer, Who Says Moo? by Jui Ishida, Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea has adorable illustrations. I Like Vegetables by Lorena Siminovich is a touch and feel book. Happy Halloween, Mittens by Lola Schaefer would be great for older siblings who have to work with others. H is for Haunted House: The Halloween Alphabet by Tanya Stone, A trick or a Treat by Keith Faulker has shadows that turn out to be not so scary. I want to shine a flashlight through this one to make the shadows on the wall, so maybe next week. My favorite this week was without a doubt Mo Willems new book Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator! Mo Willems makes the best children's books!

Tot School

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Field Trip: Karyn's Farm

Karyn lives on a beautiful farm with her husband and daughters. They raise prize-winning sheep, 2 miniature horses and several dogs and cats. Bobo and I have visited the farm several times in the summer, but this was the first time we have in the fall. Not only did we learn about the daily chores on the farm, we also learned about caring for pets. I'm allergic, so we only have an outside cat at home. Bobo had such warmth and love to share, though, that I'm going to have to come up with a plan for an inside pet. Any ideas?

The dogs licked and loved on Bobo as soon as we arrived. We watered the sheep, brushed the horses and explored all over the farm. My favorite part of the farm was feeling the sheep's coat. I had never touched a ewe (new vocabulary) before and was surprised at the thickness. I expected her to be so soft, silly I know, but she felt like warm wool.

After the hard work, we explored the back field. I discovered he can climb a fence. I already knew he could climb on rocks, couches and anything else with some height to it.

Bobo's favorite part of the farm was the swing. Karyn's husband found this cool tire swing made in the shape of a horse. I know they are locally made, but you may have some luck searching the net to find something similar.

It was actually pretty hot for October in Indiana. We went inside to cool down and watched some Scooby Doo. Bobo took special care with Karyn's newest family member. He covered her up with a blanket, so she wouldn't be cold.

As a special treat, I'd like to think for all our hard farm work, Karyn's hubby took us to dinner. THANK YOU! We had a wonderful time and would love to visit again! I mentioned in a previous post that we live in an agriculturally rich community. I chose to learn about the farm this month, because I knew there were lots of opportunities for hands-on learning. I encourage you to learn about your community's assets and specialties. Maybe one month, you can learn about the library. Librarians are a friendly bunch and would love to give your child a tour!

Field Trip: Guffey Acres

Guffey Acres is a local farm that turns into a Fall Activy Center in October. They have tractor pulls, sand and corn boxes, slides, hay jumps and a petting zoo. Indiana boasts many of these locally owned and operated farms. We have three in driving distance.

I took Bobo to the farm last year, but they've added so many attractions that it felt like a different place. We played and learned on the farm for 4 and 1/2 hours with no naps. The weather was beautiful, sunny and 75 degrees. The leaves had already started changing. It was a wonderful day!

Bobo played for most of the time in the large sand box, which was really just tractor tires filled with sand, and construction trucks. He played with different children as they passed through and enjoyed showing them the secret hiding place inside the tires.

I steered him toward the covered Corn Box to cool down. He played with different construction vehicles. He also jumped, rolled and buried himself in the corn. If they would hide objects in the corn, it would be the biggest sensory box ever.

In the middle of the play area, stands a large slide and hay jump. Luckily, we arrived early enough to beat the rush of children after school. He could really explore the hay, climb under the slide through tunnels and slide without waiting in line. Later, all the children (especially young ones) were struggling to get a turn. I didn't feel comfortable, because it was dark and hard to keep track of him amidst the crowd.

Do you remember Lincoln Logs? I still can't build anything but a square house with one door and no windows, but my little brothers love making small communities. Guffey Acres has the biggest logs I've ever seen. Bobo did not construct his own house, but he helped hand logs to the bigger boys.

We visited the barn and petted all the animals. Bobo liked the donkey the best. He laughed when the donkey hee-hawed to ask for more treats. After our apple cider slushie, it was too hot for traditional cider, we faced the corn maze. Last year, we were lost for an hour and I was carrying a sleeping Bobo for most of the time. This year, they made a smaller version for little ones. We chose that one and only got a little lost, after Bobo took over the map reading.

When we made it out of the corn maze, thanks in a large part to being able to follow the sound of the corn cob cannon, it was getting dark. Bobo found a friend to chase around in the sand, shine a flashlight on and play hide-and-seek with until it was time to go home. Overall, it was an awesome first field trip! My favorite part was the apple cider slushie and Bobo's favorite part was everything.

Tot School: Farm

Month: October
Theme: Farm
Dates: 10/2 to 10/8

The Set-up
I'm always curious to know how families set up their play areas, schools and yards. I think it stems from my home improvement obsession fueled by HGTV. I'm constantly moving furniture around when my family is gone. My grandmother used to do the same thing, so I learned how to move very heavy furniture using one or two people without damaging anything. They should make an episode about that on Trading Spaces!

Since Bobo's play areas have taken up residence in almost every room in our house. I decided to transform the downstairs play room into our school. I put all the toys away when he was out one day and there were very little tears. He did ask, "Where are all my toys?" with a quivering lip, but I reassured him they were fine. Now, that I've filled the school room with other fun and educational items, he is happy.

This is one half of the room. My mama bought him this little desks and all the boys (3 cousins and two brothers) put it together while Bobo supervised. I got the magnet/dry-erase board at Meijer in the after-school sale. I liked it because it had a no-tool mounting method. Yes, it's crooked.

The Tot Trays are set up in the other half of the room in between our music area and reading nook. I think of it as "the invitation" like Play at Home Mom always says. What do you think Bobo chose to do first?

Weekly Board
The weekly boards I've seen have really appealed to me. I started with the board in the school room, but have since moved it to our bedroom so we can see it in the morning and at night.

It is a visual representation of the elements I thought were important for Bobo to learn. We have a Letter, Word, Number and Color of the Week. We also learn a Nursery Rhyme and Bible Verse to go along with the theme of the month. We are keeping track of the weather with some rubber stampers. I'm putting the Letter print-out and weather chart in Bobo's activity book. At the end of the month, we can chart how many sunny days, rainy days or cloudy days happened.

The Lessons
Now, for the fun part and the answer to the question, "What did Bobo choose to do first?" Answer: Play with toys, of course. We borrowed his Piggy Bank from Grandma's house. They have baby and mama pairs printed on them, so he matched those. Then, he sorted colors and counted while he fed the pig. Here he is stacking coins:

He had to get out the tongs he used with his Sensory Bin because he is fascinated with them. If there is a way to use them with an activity, he will not hesitate.

Both grandpas had birthdays in September, which we missed. We used rubber stamps with celebration motifs to make cards. Then, Bobo wanted to know what would happen if he put his hands in the ink. After that, he wanted to stamp his feet. He told me which colors he wanted to use. This is a great activity for fine motor skills, too.

We worked on our farm mural. I drew an outline of a barn. Bobo colored it with a RED (color of the week) marker. Then, we used fingerpaints to color in part of it. This was the only time he used the fingerpaints. He did it once, and said he was done. I don't think he liked the feel of the paint. He wanted cleaned up immediately.

He did like using sponges to paint. He used CIRCLES (the shape of the week) to fill in the rest of the barn. This process took the whole week. We didn't tackle this all in one day.

Bobo matched farm animals from his Tot Book. I kept all the elements seperate from the book and put them out on a tray, instead.

Play-Doh is a favorite activity at our house. I use the store bought because it was a gift from grandma. We received lots of tools from a friend who has carpet at her house. Our favorite activity with Play-Doh this week was making Jack-O'-Lantern faces with black beans. In the future, I would use jelly beans because the black beans dyed the dough black. He also made letters, circles and practiced cutting with dough this week.

The Books
Just because mommy is a librarian does not mean Bobo is always reading books. Setting up the reading nook has helped with quiet reading time so much, though. Bobo's favorite book this week was Old MacDonald's Farm: A Counting Book. I'll have to take a picture of it later as I couldn't find any images online. It is a cloth book and the middle has a fold out scene to play with. I got it used and washed it in the machine. It held up great! We also read My Big Farm Book by Roger Priddy. We used finger puppets to act out Billy Goats Gruff from Cartwheel Books. Then, the goats took turns defeating the ogre. Luckily, the puppets are very sturdy and held up to the fights!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tot School

Month: October
Theme: Farm

Dates: October 2nd to October 8th
Day 1 or Setting Up

I started getting the Tot School trays together in the living room. Bobo was so curious to see what I was doing with his lessons. He couldn't wait for school and had to use two trays right away. Can you guess why?

Candy! I noticed several blogger mamas using counting bears. I thought my little man would rather count gummi bears. We worked on colors, and he chose to use red. The Letter of the Week was B, so he filled in the B with bears. You can't see in the picture, but Buzz was also in school next to Bobo. Then, Buzz decided to help fill in the letter B. Gummis were stored in his helmet.

Next, Bobo learned the Word of the Week "barn." He colored and erased the barn sheet for 20 minutes. His favorite colors to use, to date, are green and black. The Color of the Week was red, but I had other activities planned for red.

Our last activity of the day took place in Bobo's school room. I had my doubts about the Halloween Sensory Bin, until I saw it in action. I filled a tray with corn feed (from Rural King) and added ghost erasers, foam spiders (both Target $1 bins), skeletons (Dollar General), tongs, whisk (TJ Maxx) and assorted tools (local antique store).

I've never used a sensory bin, so I didn't understand all the hype. Bobo loved it. He used imaginative play with the skeletons and ghosts. He used the tools to fill the colander. He roped daddy into playing with him. He even put Iron Man down to play in the bin. That, right there, is a MIRACLE! All hail the conquering bin!

NOTE: All pictures were taken with my phone. I have since found my digital camera, so I should have more quality pictures after this week.