Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sensory Tubs and Big Plans

This month we have been talking about water and mountains and where water comes from, and different kinds of “water” (ice, snow, rain, etc).

We did this sensory activity with different water temperatures, and then just played in the water. It reminded me of Allison’s sensory tubs over at No Time for Flash Cards. I love the different tubs, and I especially love that she just stores the contents when her kids are done and pulls them out later to use again. I am excited to start making these, and will probably start doing them once a month.

Mostly I just wanted to link to her site with the sensory tubs, because I think they are SUCH a great idea, and such good slightly-parent-guided play for kids! Her son is younger than mine, but I think my son will have just as much fun playing with these tubs.

We’re going to be doing the Spring sensory tub next month for our “May Flowers” theme, along with visiting the local Conservation Garden, a local nursery, and planting some of our own wildflowers. I can’t wait for next month! I am so excited to share all the fun things we will be doing!

In the mean time, for the rest of April (only a few days left!) we will be doing some more “water” activities, including a field trip to the small river near our house and hopefully a hike up a mountain – not to mention a few smaller at-home play activities/crafts. I have been such a slacker this month about doing activities, but I will be better, I promise! I’m going to try to do a bunch of my planned activities in the next four days. You will know if I succeed because I will have a lot of new posts!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Letter Box

I wish I could remember where I first saw this idea. It was probably listed on a Link & Learn over at No Time for Flash Cards, but I can’t find the link, and don’t really feel like searching through a bazillion blog posts right now. The kids are cranky.

We haven’t really been doing much with letters. We talk about them all the time and talk about the sounds, and I write letters for E and show him how to write them, but there hasn’t really been a method to our letter madness. I have finally decided to make our letter learning a little more structured.


Today we made a “letter box” right now it is just an unused drawer from one of my storage drawers in the craft/preschool room, but it will eventually be replaced with something more permanent.

We taped the “letter of the week” on the box and found things that start with the letter “B” (since he doesn’t know how to write or read yet, we went mostly by sound, which will make C, S, and K tricky, but we will probably skip those and come back to them as sounds instead of individual letters).

DSCN4844To “prep” for finding things for the box, I first wrote the letter B on our whiteboard and then had him help me come up with things that start with B. I drew pictures of the things we named (bumblebee, bump, and ball). Then I sent my little Einstein to find things from his toy box that started with “B.” He walked off saying to himself “Buh, buh, buh, buh…” and then I heard, rather excitedly, “Bunkbed!” He ran back to me and said “Bunkbed starts with buh!!!” I congratulated him on his find, and then reminded him that his bunkbed would probably not fit in the “Buh box” so he would need to find some more things. He came back with some blocks, saying “I can make a bunk bed!” I redirected his thinking and mentioned that he had some blocks and I asked him what sound “block” starts with. He caught on pretty quick and said “Buh!! B!” and threw them in the box. He did pretty well after that and came back almost immediately with a baby bottle, which he actually referred to as a “bebida” which means “drink” in Portuguese but is the word we use for a sippy cup. Hey, good enough for me, so we put it in our box. He eventually came back with a book and a ball, and I helped him find a bowl and a bag. He found a boot on his own as we passed the shoe basket with our box on our way upstairs. And if you look closely in the box, you will find a colander, which does not start with B (neither do the other names for it – strainer or sieve) – but E didn’t pick it for that name. He put it in the box because, “It’s a bump!” Hey, who am I to tell him it’s not a bump?


We’ll keep the “Letter Box” upstairs where he can see it, and hopefully each day we can talk about the things that are in the box.

I know we’re making progress with letters and sounds, because he will constantly make a sound and ask me what letter makes that sound. I will take that as a sign that he understands what letters are for (they represent sounds). I never thought he would be asking me what letter stands for the sound he is making – I guess I always thought he would be asking me what sound a letter makes. It’s interesting how every child’s brain works a little differently. Either way, I’m super happy that he is learning sounds, and that he is associating them with letters. I think he may indeed be on the brink of learning to read. We’ll just keep working on getting all the sounds down, and then we’ll start putting together some combinations.

How did you learn letters and sounds? What letter/sound activities do you do with your kids?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Relative Temperatures – Water Play

The weather around here has been less than ideal for outside play, but my kids love playing with water, and I wanted to do this activity since it’s been raining and snowing a lot, to talk about different temperatures of water. Our water in the summer comes from the snow pack in the mountains, and so even in the summer, the water is very cold.

This activity was pretty fun. I didn’t get into too much depth with the temperature thing, but I did let them feel the water to at least introduce the concept. I had three bins of water – one with ice water, one with room temperature water, and one with warm water. I had them put their hands in the room temperature water, which they said was “cold” (anything that isn’t hot to them is cold) and then into the ice water which was really cold, and then back into the room temperature water, which was then “hot” – then into the hot water, and back into the room temperature water. We talked a little bit about how the water just feels cold after the hot water, or warm after the cold water – it didn’t actually change at all.

Then I just gave them a bunch of utensils and let them dump the water from bucket to bucket, mixing all the water, moving the ice around, etc. They actually did a lot of good discovery things.

It didn’t take long for the ice to be in all three buckets.

IMG_0356 IMG_0371
They discovered scooping the ice with the wire sieve would only pick up the ice, and not the water. Baby was enjoying using the ladle to scoop the water into the sieve for a while before I noticed… she didn’t really get it that the water wasn’t staying in the sieve. I swapped it out for a plastic container before she got too much water on the floor.

This was probably the best part – when Little E was dumping water into the bucket, he noticed that when he dumped it from higher up it made a bigger splash. He even made the observation and told me about it before I even said anything. I love watching these kids learn! They soak up so much information, all we have to do is provide a fun learning environment!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Toys For Life

I just bought this IKEA toy at a thrift store for $2.50. Even at over 50% savings, that’s probably more than I should have paid for it – but every time we go to IKEA, it’s the one toy I have to pry my kids away from. I’ve been meaning to grab one, so I was thrilled when I found it at the thrift store.

I love non-plastic, whimsical looking toys for my kids. And I love toys that help their physical and mental development. These hammer toys are so simple, but they can (and do) actually get a lot out of them. Not to mention that they could hammer for hours on end, and it’s not nearly as annoying as them banging pots and pans (another favorite pastime).

I should write a post soon about toys, but for now, I’m just going to link up to a few of my favorite toy-related posts:

A Parent’s Tip Sheet for Owning Fewer Toys – by Josh Becker from becoming minimalist

Seeking Simplicity: Child’s Play is a Job Well Done – from Kitchen Stewardship

Classic Toys – by Tsh at SimpleMom

Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids – by Josh Becker from becoming minimalist