Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Sorry I've been a bit MIA the past week or so. I'm not really sure what is going on with me, whether I am in a blogging lull, am just lazy, or if I really have been busy. I have a bunch of photos and post ideas to go along with them, but I just haven't been up to posting (although I made myself do Tot School because it would totally irk me if I missed a week of that!). Just wanted to let you all know I am still here, and haven't abandoned the blog!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tot School

Tot School

Miss O is 2 years and 11 months.

This week in Tot School:

Miss O played with these K Nex:

She and Little Bean blew bubbles: She did this sound matching game. We haven't brought this out in a LONG time, and she really liked it! Miss O strung a Cheerio bracelet: She colored, always a favorite: Miss O read: Miss O spontaneously lined up these Dora dominoes: The three of us played a few games of dominoes: Here she is dressing up as a train conductor! Miss O did the nesting dolls. She frequently gets these down, maybe because she loves dolls of all kinds: I was surprised when she brought this six sided puzzle down. With my help we completed two sides together:
I got this set of four wooden puzzles at the thrift store for $2.50. Miss O could do them with help, but Little Bean was a super star with these!
Miss O also brought down this little used activity, and began attempting to stack the shapes as high as she could: And lastly, Miss O sorted these letter tiles for a while. She is taking forever (compared to Little Bean) to learn her letter names and sounds, so I try to give her lots of exposure:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Dino

This is our dino, who has been growing in our kitchen for the past week. We purchased him at the dollar store, and the label promises that he will grow 600% larger than his original size (I think that was bit of an exaggeration!). So far, we have been really pleased with him though. We have been keeping a chart of his size, measuring him every morning and comparing his growth day by day. Little Bean, especially has been interested in this activity, and I think he has just started to understand the concept of measurement and size comparison using a chart. Now that he's grown to capacity, he is sitting on a plate, and we are measuring his size as he shrinks back down to his original length. Good times!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leaf Rubbings

We made these simple leaf rubbings the other day after Miss O and I went around the backyard collecting different leaves that caught our attention. The kids were both really fascinated by the way the shape and texture of the leaf appeared after coloring back and forth over it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Frames for Father's Day

Miss O and Little Bean made these picture frames for Daddy this Father's Day. Yes, I know this post is a little too late, but I thought I'd post about it anyway--I'm sure a gift like this could be tailored to any holiday or occasion.
To make this, I went to Michael's Craft Store and purchased two unfinished wooden frames for a $1 a piece. I tore different colors of construction paper into tiny pieces, and then had Miss O and Little Bean dip the pieces in watered down Modge Podge and stick them to the front of the frame in any fashion they chose. We did the same for the words across the top. Once they did that, I coated it with another layer of Modge Podge (undiluted), and let dry. The following day I cut out the simple little people from construction paper and they used regular glue to glue those on. I again covered them in Modge Podge, they added the googly eyes, and once it dried, it was done!
Daddy really liked the frames, and I hope he will enjoy them on his desk for years to come!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tot School

Tot School
Miss O is 2 years and 11 months old.

This week in Tot School:

The kids asked Daddy if he'd pretend to be their "dance class" instructor!

Miss O drew several times this week with the dry erase board:Miss O did a leaf rubbing: She strung pop beads:
And read: Our old markers were all dried out, so I purchased a new pack this week. The kids spent a lot of time coloring and drawing this week:
Miss O played with the foam number puzzles: Both Miss O and Little Bean made frames for Father's Day (I'll post about this process later!): Miss O played with these magnet pictures: And somehow I got two pictures of this uploaded and now I can't delete one! ;)
They worked on this Care Bear's puzzle Miss O received from Grandma this Easter: Miss O loved doing these letter and picture matches:
And the dry erase board again; not sure why this is in here twice!


I saw this spelling activity on Explorations and thought it was a such a cute and simple idea! To make this activity, I simply used stickers that represented some easy to spell (sound out) words and magnetic letters. After gathering my stickers, I went through the magnetic letters and spelled the words that matched the pictures. In an egg carton (this is our nature box, lol), I placed the picture and the appropriate letters in each egg cup. Little Bean removed the picture, said the word slowly, and then formed the words using the magnetic letters. He really enjoyed this activity, and we've done it twice in two day's time! I love that this activity forces him to blend the sounds in order to figure out what sound comes next. He still has some trouble blending, so this activity will really help strengthen him in that area. You may notice I used the word sock; even though it isn't really a word you can sound out, he has read it many times in his reading lessons, so I wanted to see if he could reproduce it. Final answer--not exactly. But, he did sound it out as best as he could, spelling it s-o-k.

Making a Custom Layout

I'm a total newbie when it comes to custom layouts and headers, but I did recently manage to make a simple layout and header for this blog. It's nothing fancy, and nothing like the beautiful blogs many of my blog hereos have, but it is custom and I made it myself, so I wanted to share my new found knowledge with all of you.

I began my search by just googling "make your own blogger layout" and sifting through the different tutorials until I found one in simple enough language that I could follow it.

For a custom background, I used the tutorial on SJH Blog Design, and it was perfect. I won't rewrite everything she wrote on her tutorial; just go there and follow the instructions for how to make a custom background.

For the header, I found that her instructions were too complicated for me, and I couldn't get them to work. Instead, I used a digital scrapbooking program called Memory Mixer to create the custom header just the way I liked it. You can use any photo editing program, like paint or photo shop, etc to create your header. Then, on your dashboard click 'layout' and then click 'edit' under the header portion of your layout. A window will pop up prompting you to chose an image. First, choose 'instead of title and description' and choose 'shrink to fit'. Then, it will ask you to choose an image from your computer or from the internet to add as a header. Choose the header you made previously from your computer and click save.

The final step is to change the color of your font to the color of the paper where your blog text is written. Again on the layout page, click 'fonts and colors' and then choose an exact match from the color choices for the option 'border colors'. This will ensure that there is no border around your header.

I hope this helps someone!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Fish Mobile

Several months ago I saw this paper mache fish mobile on flipflops and applesauce and I knew it was something I wanted to try with my kids. Well, talk about a disaster! My kids were too young to really understand how to do this, and it was a big mess. My husband and I ended up finishing them that night after Miss O and Little Bean went to bed. :) They turned out really cute, but I didn't have any fishing line to hang them up in Little Bean's room, so they've sat in the cupboard all this time.

The other day I was in an organizing mood, and figured I would just toss them, thinking I would never get around to hanging them up. But, dh was adamant that he could and would hang them right then. True to his word, he used a few chopsticks and some yarn and hung these up in Little Bean's room. They go well with his room, which is fish themed, and I'm glad he convinced me to finally hang them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Would You Do?

Looking for honest opinions here. As a family, we attend church every Sunday, and the kids go off to their little Sunday school classes, and do just fine. In the 3 and under classes, the teachers serve only water and Cheerios/goldfish/animal crackers. However, Little Bean recently moved up to the Pre K/Kindergarten class, and it seems that every week they get some kind of candy or treat for snack time. I am one of those ultra-paranoid, annoying moms who doesn't let my kids have sweets very often, so every week when he comes out of class and tells me what they had for snack (marshmallows, cupcakes, frosted cookies, jelly beans, etc), I about want to pull my hair out. This past Sunday they had both cupcakes and marshmallows in a 2 hour period of time! :(

I've asked about it in the past, because at first I wasn't sure if it was something special, like for another classmate's birthday party or what, and the Pastor's wife said that the snacks go along with the curriculum, and connect to the lesson somehow. That's all well and good, but I'm starting to go insane with all the treats they are packing into my 4 year old. At the same time, I don't want him to be the odd kid out who can't have sweets, nor do I want to be the mom who is always complaining about the snacks the kids get in class. It'd be one thing if it was only every so often (like once a month), but it's every Sunday that this happens.

So, what do I do? In the past, he has always been very sensitive to dairy, so I was able to side step this issue (because virtually all candies and snacks like that have milk in them), but he has since grown out of that sensitivity. I've thought about bringing his own snack, but not sure how he would feel about this, or how it will affect the flow of the class if he get "special" treatment.

What would you do???

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teaching Little Bean to Read--Update #2!

Yes, it's time for another update on our progress with the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. If you recall, my last update, which was a few weeks ago, was that things weren't going particularly smoothly. Little Bean was bored and frustrated with the material, and I was unsure of whether I was pushing him too hard or if he was just adjusting to the new routine.

I'm happy to report that we are a quarter of the way through the curriculum now, and have turned a corner! Shortly after my last update I began to try a few different techniques (nothing major), and apparently they were just the thing Little Bean needed to get him motivated and feeling positive about his reading experience.

The first thing I did was so simple; I just pulled out a little yellow post it note, and I covered up the words directly below or above or around the words he was to be focusing on. The layout of this book is very condensed, and that makes each page a bit too busy for Little Bean's eyes, I think. Once I started doing this, he began moving through the words so much more quickly, accurately and smoothly. This alone made a huge difference in our lesson times.

The second thing I did was actually something the book recommends, but initially I was hesitant to try. In the introduction of this book, they talk about a child's possible reluctance to participate in the lessons, and suggest saying things like, "This is a really hard word, I don't think you'll be able to read this one!". When I read that, I thought that it was sort of counter intuitive to tell the child that you don't think that he can do something that you want him to do. Rather, I focused all my efforts on praising him and telling him that he could do it. The book does, of course, encourage you to praise the child, but also suggests these other types of sentences to encourage them to forge ahead with the lessons.

One day, I decided to give it a try, and said something to him along the lines of, "You're right Little Bean. These lessons are really hard. I don't think you can do them." And to my surprise, he immediately was like, "I can do them! I'll show you!" and had this huge grin on his face. Now, he'll often ask me before reading a word, "You don't think I can read this word, do you?" and with a wide grin, will proceed to read it and then await my feigned surprise and subsequent praise. It still seems strange to me that this works, but I think the key is that he knows I am making it into a game of "let's see if you really can read it", not that I really think that he can't do it (if that makes sense).

Finally, I think that part of his frustration was just getting used to the new routine and material. We started the curriculum just a few days before our trip to OK, which meant that we didn't really establish much of a routine as to when we were going to do our reading lesson. We squeezed it in whenever we could while on the road in OK. Once we returned, I made it a habit of pulling out the book right after Little Bean had breakfast, and that really seemed to help make it a part of a our day. Instead of something optional that he could complain about having to do, it became just something that we do after breakfast. A few times now he has even mentioned how he is going to "speed through" his reading once he is done with breakfast.

Also, the material is getting more interesting now, as it is more and more focused on a "story" that he reads and associates with a drawing in the book. He looks foreword to this part of the lesson, so that is a major incentive for him to finish quickly with the drills and get on to the story part of the lesson.

I don't want to give the impression that things are just perfect now. We still have days when he struggles to finish a lesson, or gets bored or frustrated. But I think now we have walked down a new path, and while we both have a long way to go and a lot to learn, we are headed in the right direction. He is no longer unhappy or struggling with the lessons very often at all.

I want to continue to update on our progress as the weeks go by. I value all the advice and perspectives from those of you who commented or emailed me concerning my last update. I want you to know that I looked at the BOB books and showed them to Little Bean, but for the price (and considering he wasn't at all interested in them when I showed them to him), I felt I could make something similar at home and for free. Thank you all for your continued support as Little Bean and I continue on this journey in teaching him to read.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Felt Board In Action

I was pretty impressed with this little scene Little Bean created with our felt the other day and decided to snap a picture to remember it by. While it appears one man is swimming in the pond in his birthday suit, at least he remembered his flippers! ;)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tot School

Tot School

We had a bit of a strange week this week, with my birthday this weekend, getting my wisdom teeth out on Thursday, and cousins visiting from the Philippines. Still, we managed to get in lots of Tot School fun!

Miss O is 2 years and 11 months.
This week in Tot School:

Miss O spent some quality time playing with her boy cousins, who have been living in the Philippines for the past two years. It had been so long since we had seen them that Miss O didn't remember their names, but she quickly got reacquainted with them!
Miss O, Little Bean and their Auntie (also from the Philippines) played this silly sentence game. Miss O participated some, but Little Bean was the one who was REALLY into this game.
Auntie played Sorry with all the cousins too. Miss O actually stuck with this one almost until the end, though I could tell she didn't really know what she was doing! :)
Miss O spent a lot of time drawing this week. Since she discovered she could draw faces she hasn't wanted to put her pens down!
Believe it or not, she chose to shine shoes again!
She and Little Bean put together this alphabet puzzle. Little Bean did most of the putting together and Miss O did most of the admiring of the pieces!
They played this Colorforms Silly Faces game once this week, and really enjoyed it. I got this one on Amazon.
Miss O spontaneously got out the foam alphabet puzzle and made a line connecting from one end of the room to the other. She spent a lot of time working on this:
Miss O colored with the Magic Pix pen and special coloring paper:
She built with blocks:
And she, Little Bean and Daddy played Dora the Explorer Dominoes. Apparently they liked this so much they played it three times in a row!
Miss O with another drawing (she actually asked me to take her picture with it!)--this one is an octopus:
And lastly, Miss O helped Daddy screw the legs on my IKEA shelf. We've had the legs for a while, they just never made it on the shelf!

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