Friday, December 30, 2011

Tot School: Fall 4 and Gourd Cyclops

Tot School

Month: November
Theme: Fall
Dates: 11/27 to 12/2

The Lessons

I've been scouring the Internet looking for free educational games Bobo can play on the computer. We love using the Early Literacy computers in the Children's Department at the Main Library. I wanted something similar to play at home. I don't know why I didn't think about borrowing a CD-ROM before, except I thought it would be tricky to get onto my computer. I overcame my fear and borrowed A to Zoo a Sesame Street game. It was so easy to get on my computer. Bobo worked on letters, colors and rhyming. He played it everyday.

The Activities

Bobo still loves stamping, so I found an activity to enable him to paint his body and stamp. Perfect activity! He made a Fall tree, so we used orange, yellow and red stamp pads. We had to mix paint to make a brownish color for the trunk, since I didn't have brown paint. I helped him paint his arm and hand to form the trunk. Then, he stamped leaves on the paper.

The Fall Sensory Box still isn't as big of a hit as the Halloween box, but Bobo did have fun with it. He counted, worked on fine motor skills by using the tongs and identified letters to put on the board.

One of Bobo's favorite activities is still playing with Pay-Doh, yes, the store-bought kind. He received a huge package of it last year for Christmas. We have all wood flooring, so I don't sweat using it all over the house. Since we have so much of it, I'm not worried about losing some or it drying out. However, I've been wanting to experiment with the scented dough. The blogs I follow have said the texture is different when you make it yourself. So, we made Pumpkin Play Dough.

This is also a great alternative to making cookies, which works on the same skills (measuring, counting and stirring). After we were done smooshing and mashing, we used it to identify the numbers 1 to 5. Then, we put them in order. We put the correct number of "candies" on each "cookie". Bobo used his play dough scissors to cut the dough. This is the first time I've seen him hold his scissors correctly without prompting. YAY!

I used some Fall printables to work on matching and sorting. Again, there is so much lag between printing, doing and posting that I don't remember where the materials came from but check out the blogs I follow to find similar items, if not the same materials. Bobo used the Fall shadow matching prints, Fall word match and Apples/Leaves sorting.

Field Trip
Ok, so we just went to the library. We attended the weekly Play Date and had lots of fun learning and playing with other children. We played with the Dinosaur Sensory Bin. I used "floam" for the water and earth part of the box. Then placed small dinosaurs and trees. Some of the other children came over to see what we were doing. We all worked on counting, colors and vocabulary.

Bobo dressed up like a cowboy using a hat from the dress-up play box. He fingerpainted the Christmas countdown sheet. With all the activities set up, can you guess what the children decided to do?

Chase the baby! Bobo had a wonderful time chasing the baby around the toy squares. I will count this as a Large Motor activity.

The boys also turned the puppet theater into an ice cream shop. They pretended the pieces from the sensory puzzle were cups of ice cream.

We've been doing a lot with beads lately. I discovered he liked to lace beads onto a shoe string to make a rope. I've been having him bead chenille sticks to make candy canes and he's getting pretty good at it.

The Books
Over the River and Through the Wood by L. Maria Child
Thanksgiving: Stories and Poems Edited by Caroline Bauer

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tot School: Fall 3 and an AWESOME Turkey Craft

Month: November
Theme: Fall
Dates: 11/20 to 11/26

The Lessons

We finished up a few Fall activities from last week. We only had a few trays left and were planning on being away for the holidays, so I didn't make any new ones. I did "make" a new weekly board. I had a photo board I don't use and put it on our desk in our room. I can easily switch letters, numbers and words. This week Bobo learned the Letter "T", Number "5" and some Thanksgiving words. I also made a travel pack to take with us for the long car ride. We visited the IUK Center for Early Childhood Education. I think we were there for about four hours. I packed some worksheets to work on there as well. I don't think I'll do that again, though because there is so much to do there already.

The Activities

Bobo worked on sorting Food and people. When he understands an activity and wants to make it more interesting, he'll take on the role of "teacher." This was such an activity. "Mama, the people goes here. Listen to your teacher."

One of the activites I brought to IUK was the Do-a-Dot worksheet for the letter T. We do not yet own any dotters, so we used the ones at the center.

I used a Color By Word sheet into a Color By Letter worksheet for Bobo. He liked this activity and was able to identify all the letters and the number 5. It seems like he only gets confused when 5 and 2 are both options.

In the car, Bobo worked on drawing lines. He did great, especially with the turbulence. We tried a same and different worksheet, but he just didn't get it. I think we'll revisit that in a few months. In our Early Literacy Kit this month, we have a magnetic fishing game. I believe it is a Melissa & Doug product. It has about 20 sea creatures with a sturdy, small fishing pole perfect for little hands. Bobo worked on his fine motor skills by catching the fish and vocabulary by naming the catches. He worked on a dolphin puzzle. It is the type where all the pieces come out, so it was a first for him. He put it together with greater dexterity and reasoning each time. Finally, he matched flannel pumpkins with lots of enthusiasm and skill.

The Art

I read Setting the Turkeys Free by W. Nikola-Lisa to my storytime class this week. I loved the illustrations and let the children make their own turkey handprints with glitter, sequins and feathers for embellishment. I didn't want Bobo to miss out on the fun, so we made some at home, too. He is getting more comfortable with paint and likes to paint his body. He had no problem painting his hand for the print.

He added glitter.

After he was done making the turkey, Bobo made lots of handprints on a scrap piece of paper. Then, he painted circles.

Finally, he asked to paint the gourds and pumpkins we received at the Punkin' Chunkin' at Ivy Tech. They were giving them out at the hay maze. This was the first step of a long process that ended with some crazy looking Fall foliage.

And a final look at the turkeys. Please check out the book from the library for more inspiration.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tot School: Fall 2

Month: November
Theme: Fall
Dates: 11/13 to 11/19

The Lessons

As I was preparing the lessons for this week, Bobo snatched one up. He wanted to get into everything as I was setting it up, so I forgot to take a picture of the trays. He sorted pumpkins, poured and dumped then used tongs to put them into the egg tray.

The Activities

Bobo made his own activity using the letter of the week (F) and his foam alphabet puzzle. He used the candy pumpkins from another activity to make a letter F. We also did lots of activities with numbers. I discovered his favorite baby toy, a key ring, has numbers on the keys. He used those to help him match and identify magnet numbers and pumpkin number cards. Then, he used the number cards with different number of items on them to match to the corresponding number.

Bobo did his first shadow matching activity. I wasn't sure how he would do with this, but he matched everything easily. Maybe it had something to do with using the magnifying glass? We also tried a pattern activity for the first time, but he didn't understand. Instead, he made a ladder out of all the pieces.

We made a no glue leaf collage with tissue and crepe paper. First, he had to wrap his leg with the yellow crepe paper, like a mummy, and cut himself out. He used the whole roll of crepe paper, so this took quite some time. I made my own leaf sun catcher while he was doing this.

Bobo made a turkey from a paper bag and feathers I cut out of scrapbook paper. My favorite part of the craft was the red eye he drew with a marker. I think his favorite shape to draw is a circle.

We read Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! by Maureen Wright. Bobo has an Eric Carle brown bear he used to say, "Achoo!" when the bear did in the book. We also read That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George. It is a cute book about a dog and a squirrel who have to work together.

Tot School: Fall

Month: November
Theme: Fall
Dates: 11/6 to 11/12

The Lessons

Our new theme for November is Fall. We will focus on Thanksgiving the week of and following. Please see my sidebar for the blogs I follow. I get all the printables from those sites, but when I prepare them (i.e. cut them up and cover them with contact paper), I often lose the source. It is not intentional, but I thought I'd mention their links. Bobo needed some extra work on shapes, so I got out his toddler toy shape find. He is doing better with the names of things.


Bobo worked on his fine motor skills by lacing foam beads. They were different colors and shapes, so he worked on those while lacing. Of course, once all the beads were laced, Bobo used his imagination to make a lasso weapon.

I used a print-out of a "naked" tree and gummi bears for counting and colors. Bobo put different colors of gummi bears on each tree branch to make changing leaves. He asked if he could eat some bears, and I told him he could eat as many as he could count. He got to four! He also used the new magnetic numbers I found at the Dollar Tree to work on number identification.

I didn't get any pictures of stamping this week, but you can assume we stamp every week. It is a favorite activity. I set out the F, A and L to spell F.A.L.L. I taught Bobo the letter "L" this week. I bought some Target $1 bin stickers, but I think they were supposed to be used for scrapbooking. They were hard to peel even after I took off all the trim. Bobo put the Fall stickers on his Fall sheet. He counted foxes, turkeys and mice.


Bobo made a sensory turkey by tracing his hand, then using corn kernals, split peas and lentils to decorate it. The products I've seen on Pinterest had each finger a different color. Bobo enjoyed taking all the items in his hands and sprinkling them all over his turkey handprint.


Luckily, I found some Thanksgiving books before they were all checked out at the Library this time. I'm usually too late before I think about pulling some and the teachers have snatched up all the good ones. We read What is Thanksgiving? by Harriet Ziefert, Thanksgiving Words by Jane Moncure, Fall is Here! Counting 1 to 10 by Pamela Jane and 10 Turkeys in the Road by Brenda Reeves Sturgis. Please beware of the last book if you are afraid of clowns. My son loves to tease me about my fear and thought it was hilarious that I chose this book. That will teach me to choose a book without looking inside!

Sensory Bin

I put away the Halloween Bin and it has been missed ever since. I love the Fall Bin I made, though. It is so colorful and lends itself to lots of activities. I found some wonderful wooden food from Treasure Mart (antique store). Bobo enjoyed hiding those like a squirrel, counting up and down and rolling them. I purchased the fabric leaves from the Dollar General. The magnifying glass I found at the Dollar Tree and is Bobo's favorite homeschool toy thus far. He uses if for lots of identification, now. The pinecones are from our yard. I took the gems out of a Halloween set I bought from Meijers after the holiday. Last, I added the magnetic letters he's learned so far for review.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tot School: Farm 4 and Halloween

Month: October
Theme: Farm and Halloween
Dates: 10/23 to 10/29

The Lessons

D is for Duck. Bobes still loves his dry-erase worksheets. I printed lots of letter D worksheets from 1+1+1=1 to accompany our Farm theme. Once he sees the letter over and again, works with it and moves with it, he usually gets it. He can pick it out of several letters, sometimes even the whole alphabet. It is very rewarding to witness his new skills.

We borrowed blocks from grandma. They are different colors and wooden, a little faded and boast soft edges from use. Bobo used the blocks to build a combine, his favorite farm vehicle.

He hunted for letters in our alphabet floor puzzle, purchased from Menards. Then, he'd bring me the ones I called out. I printed a color sheet from Kiddiddle's halloween songbook. I signed up for the newsletter from this site as I use the songs for story time. It's nice to have activities come right to your door, instead of always hunting for them. I printed a number activity, but Bobo decided to color the pumpkins black, thus making Monsters. Then, he'd wipe it off and say, "Just a pumpkin."

I set out the Farm with Locks toy. It was a gift, and I couldn't pull it up on Amazon. Bobo worked on colors, dexterity and animal noises. It also plays a couple farm songs. If you touch the rooster it says something that sounds like "moose face," but I have no idea what it's supposed to say.

Bobo's favorite Halloween creature is a skeleton. I found a skeleton decoration from Better Homes and Gardens site and thought it would make a great activity. I put it on our magnet/dry erase board. I put it together first, so he'd see what it looked like instead of just having the pieces out. He LOVED this activity. He even got daddy involved with the heavy lifting.

I found a great foam Halloween stamper set from the Dollar General. It came with a black stamp pad, but I didn't trust that it would come out of or Off of everything and everyone so I used our stamp pads. Bobo's favorite activity this week was wrapping himself in crepe paper, like a mummy, then cutting himself out with his child-proof scissors.

We attended a play put on by our high school drama club. You may be wondering why I would think my 3-year-old rambuctious boy could sit through a play? The play was Miss Nelson is Missing. It was adapted from the popular picture book by the same title. Bobo didn't just sit through it, he enjoyed it. The adaptation was engaging and interactive. There were so many different ages at the performance we attended and everyone had a fantastic time.

The detective who was looking for Miss Nelson came out in the audience and approached several people. He asked Bobo if he'd seen Miss Nelson. I thought Bobo might be scared, but he just nodded his head in response. The detective asked, "Well, which way did she go?" Bobo pointed towards the back of the auditorium. The detective took of running the way B pointed. It looked like it was rehearsed. My little actor!

Haunted Trail

Each year, our parks department puts together a haunted trail. You can bring the little ones through when it is still light out for a not-so-scary haunted trail. I don't have any pics of the trail. I didn't want to blind any of the actors (zombies). Bobo wasn't too scared. We talked about everything he was seeing. He did run up and kick a giant styrofoam skull. When we went back through the trail the second time, I was prepared and stopped him from causing further damage to the prop. His favorite part of the field trip was the hill at the end. He played until it was too dark to see, then I raced him to the car. He made it about half way before asking for a lift.


We had to finish up our farm books since this was the last week for that theme. We read The Farmer in the Soup by Freya Little Dale and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin. We started Halloween books with We're Going on a Ghost Hunt by Marcia Vaughan, Mouse's Haloween by Alan Baker, Halloween is... by Gail Gibbons, Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree by Mary-Ann Fraser, I'm the Scariest Thing in this Castle by Kevin Sherry and a few more featured below.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Play Date: Halloween

Theme: Halloween Potluck
Date: 11/4/11

I'm bringing the idea of Tot Trays to the library for our weekly play dates. Since I have a whole room to set up in and tables available, I put up Tot Tables. I also attached signs with the skills highlighted for each activity.

Large Motor: Throwing
Since Halloween was Monday, I still had all the activities from our annual party out. I put out the Jack-O'-Lantern toss and Spider toss. The children could work on throwing and aiming.

Sorting & Counting
What do you do with all that Trick-or-Treating candy your child acquired? Sort it and count it, of course. I put out the candy bucket with 2 different types of candy and 6 different colors. The children can sort it into different cups and count the pieces. Under the table, I strung a clothesline and attached different colored flannel pumpkins to sort and count.

Arts & Crafts
I had the scratch-a-design pumpkins left, so I put those out. The little ones don't necessarily understand making different shapes or designs, but they love to scratch the black off the pumpkin to find what is underneath. These are great for pre-writing and logical thinking.

Fine Motor
Stamping? I bought Halloween stampers from Oriental Trading to put in the treat bags for our party on Monday. I'm sure the extras won't last until next year, because the ink will dry. These work with Fine Motor because the children have to pull off the top of each stamper, before commencing to stamp.

Language Building
Books, of course! I put out all my story hour board books with simple words in them. I set out the magnetic board with letters on it. I intended the children to copy words out of the books with the letters. I think they came up with their own words, though. I saw several names on there!

Sensory Station

I made my first sensory bin for the library! I made a "Buried Treasure" bin, and I used sand (don't tell the custodians). I found some beautiful white rocks/beads left from a teen program and started hunting for other things to put in there. I found a treasure box, a telescope and sparkly jewels. I put in some clay tools to draw in the sand with or to dig and scoop.

It's xylophone time! I have two real xylophone sets with drum sticks. I heard lots of happy music coming from the children's area, today. I put out the sheet music to "Three Blind Mice" with the note letters written in (thanks, Deb). If I practice, I may add a performance piece to story time.

Just for Fun

I set out the mats in the middle of the room with our customary box of toys. I think everyone gravitated there first before branching out to the stations. Everyone had lots of fun and hopefully met some new friends. Next week, the library will be closed for training, but come the following week (11/18) to try out some new activities!

Tot School