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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Teen Read: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Release Date: January 24th 2012

I must have zombies on the brain! When I read the synopsis of this book on Netgalley, I thought there were going to be zombies.

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn's community, the government quarantines her island-no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

I must have read "deadly virus" as "zombie virus." I was 60 pages in before I realized, "Hey, I don't think there are going to be any zombies in this book." It was like that time I bought an Anne Rice book that turned out to be a Romance novel. I kept waiting for the vampires the entire time.

Even without zombies, Crewe wrote a compelling novel about loss and fear. Kaelyn is a character who transforms in this novel and not just because she is surviving an epidemic. She begins the novel as a quiet, self-contained protagonist. When she moves back to her hometown from the big city, she vows to change her ways. In the middle of this metamorphosis, the epidemic hits. She has two choices, go back to the way she was and stay safe inside her house OR try to help the island and its inhabitants by continuing her journey out of her shell.

The book is written from Kaelyn's point of view in the form of a journal. It is raw in some areas and realistic throughout. There are moments of beautiful clarity, "We're on a cliff, all of us, and surviving isn't about who's the best or the brightest. It's about holding on as long as we can, and trying, and failing, and trying again until we've inched a little closer to getting through this."

Perhaps, the greatest indicator of the strength of the novel was the fact that I DIDN'T want it to end. I kept flipping past the last pages asking, "Is this it?" I wanted more, but I didn't feel cheated by the ending. I'm not being blackmailed into reading the next book in the series. I want to finally meet Leo.