Tot School 28mo Twins – M is for Music & Moving Books

Again, we are a sickly bunch so I used some low energy M activities today.  Reading books was at the top of my kid’s list, but mom’s voice wasn’t holding well.  I got out some newer books that have movable parts.  I was able to sit each boy down in the floor with two of these books and get a 15 min rest.  Their little voices are so cute as they were saying up, down, pull out or whatever motion that they were doing on each page.  James made some great racing cars sounds as he was looking through a monster trucks book.  After my quick rest, we ran around kitchen pretending to be race cars then we headed to the couch for a pit stop.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Music was our next activity.  I love music and I can come up with a thousand things to do with music.  For today, here’s what we did. 

 

We sang in a microphone.  They thought mom was crazy when i sang The Star Bangled Banner.

We sang in a microphone. They thought mom was crazy when I sang The Star Spangled Banner.

Danced to our own latin beat with the maracas.

Danced to our own latin beat with the maracas.

Made some groovy rythyms with a wooden knocker and stick.

Made some groovy rhythms with a wooden knocker and stick.

Lastly we made water music.  I put different amounts of water in glasses.  I gave the boys a metal fork and let them bang on each glass.  I pointed out that they should use their ears to hear how the sound goes higher with less water.  This was a winner.  They banged on the outside of the glass, dipped the fork inside as the banged it in a circle inside, took the maracas and used those as a mallet too.  This went on for quite a while until James decided to bat a glass off the table.  Need less to say, the water music was over and mom had to clean up the glass.  Even with a broken glass, it was a good time.

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I am so grateful for music.  It’s been a part of my life since I was young like my twin boys.  I count it a beautiful mercy that my boys love music too.

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Tot School 27.5mo Twins – M is for Mailbox & Magnifying Glass

This has been a hard morning.  All three of us are sick.  So no hard play or going somewhere.  We are working on the letter M this week and I pulled out two activities that wouldn’t tire everyone out.

I gave the boys a magnifying glass.  We looked at everything around the house.  We saw a bug crawling across the floor and I asked the boys if they could find its trail using the magnifier.  That was funny.  Lance kept saying “Oh bug, where’d you come from?”  It’s not an activity that I can write a lot about, but it did take up a chunk of time to keep the twins busy.

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Our next M activity took some time.  We made a mailbox out of a cardboard box.  I expected it to be somewhat hard, but it was really easy.  I took a big toilet paper box and cut the flap off of one end.  I taped the box up and taped the flaps on the top.  I used regular packing tape and the boys got a kick out of helping me pull it off the roll.  I used a box cutter to make a window at the top to put the letters in and a window at the bottom to get the mail out.  I used Elmer’s glue to glue two pieces of scrap wood for the handles.  Lastly we all painted the front of the box with blue temper paint.  If you make one, just know that temper paint flakes off packing tape when dry.  I found this out by experience so I grab a vacuum and went to work on the loose paint.  The boys love it.  They are even being polite holding open the door for their brother to put his envelope in.  These two activities have been a great help for two sick boys.  They can rest and still have fun with low energy play.

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Tot School 27.5mo Twins – L is for Messy Animals

We’ve had a good time discovering animals that begin with the letter L.  We got a suggestion from a friend to sing Old MacDonald using the animal movements with the sounds and the boys enjoyed doing it.  I threw in some strange animals that wouldn’t be on a farm but since they started with L, I used them anyway.  They were a leopard and a ladybug and we used them for craft ideas too.

For the leopard, I taped a piece of foil onto a rolling-pin.  Cut out four circular pieces of foam and taped them onto the foil.  I drew a quick leopard, freehand using my dog as the model, so don’t laugh when you see he picture because the boys think that’s how a leopard looks.  I taped the pages down to the table and let the boys color the leopards orange.  I didn’t have black paint, but we had brown so I brushed the foam dots with the brown paint and handed the rolling-pin to each boy.  They loved the rolling.  Even after all the paint had come off, they kept rolling.  It doesn’t produce the best looking leopard, but the activity motion is great.  Then we talked about how fast a leopard could run and so we ran as fast as we could through the house.

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The ladybug this morning was quite the hit with all of us.  I got two paper bowls and turned them upside down.  I then squirted out a mound of red finger paint onto the top of each bowl and told the boys to cover the back of the bowl.  They were having a good time, the phone rang, I answered and tried to keep things under control while I talked.  Guess what, it didn’t work.  What happened was the boys had a really fun free for all.DSC_0216  The picture doesn’t do justice to the mess.  It was on my clothes, the boys’ clothes, the table, the chairs, the floor and James tried to use his paint as eyeliner while Lance used his paint as lipstick.  Now why didn’t I get a picture of those details?  Well, it all washes off easily.

So after 10min of cleanup, we set aside the bowls to dry.  After lunch we came back to finish our ladybugs.  I cut out the black construction paper pieces to complete the look.  I put the glue on the back of the pieces and let the boys put them where they wanted them, with some suggesting from mom.  They giggled, punched them a few times (they are boys!) and loudly said ladybugs.  We ended with a quick reminder that God made everything, even these two “L” animals.

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Tot School 27.5mo Twins – L is for Ladder

What do little boys love to do?  Climb!  What do you climb?  Ladders.  There’s the theme for our tot school today.

Oh the things you can do with ladders.  We started out making our own construction paper ladders.  I quickly drew out a block “L” on white paper and taped them down to the table.  I folded a green sheet of construction paper in half and cut then made it into little strips.  I set the glue out for the boys to glue the strips on so the L looked like a ladder.  What happened was they both went for eating the glue.  So I took the bottle and had them help me squeeze out the glue and draw it out in lines.  Then the boys got to place the strips.DSC_0199  I had to do a bit of readjusting on a few pieces that were being put way off the mark.  I was enjoying watching Lance curl up and then flex out his little fingers while he was working.  I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t notice James licking the glue off his fingers and swiping for more.  I guess we all ate a bit of glue as kids.  I hung them up on the fridge and now my boys say “I made a ladder” whenever I open the door.DSC_0200

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While I went to go get the real ladders out, the boys played with another L activity.  I was coming down the stairs with one of the ladders and saw James launching the batman car across the kitchen table.  I promptly praised him for finding a L activity and repeated the word launch several times.

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Now we get to the main part and what I believe the boys thought was best part.  I set up the small kitchen two-step ladder and the larger 6ft ladder.  We talked about smaller vs larger sizes.  Then the climbing began.  Up, down, trade ladders with brother.  When that got old they decided to move them over to the light switches.  Again, we talked about another “L” thing, light vs dark.  They wore themselves out moving the large ladder around to the three different switch plates.

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This was not a complicated tot school.  It was very hands on, very fun for the boys and they got to feel very grown up by mommy allowing them to move the ladders all on their own.  I wasn’t so sure about they could do it safely, but their little faces just glowed with pride.

Entitlement: Feelings

INDIANA-LIMESTONE-BLOCK-TNImagine with me Michelangelo, the great artist, standing before a huge mass of stone.  It’s nothing but a chunk of hard material that looks rather ugly.  But in his artist’s hands, under the sharp piercing chisel, the rock is chipped away and sometimes broken away in large chunks to reveal the underlying beauty.  This is the image of myself, God and my little boys.  My boys are that hunk of rough stone that God, the artist, is chipping away at by using me as the instrument.  When I think about this illustration, it helps me to keep in perspective what I’m doing as a mom in raising my children.   In this picture I’m reminded that chipping and breaking are painful but necessary.  Isn’t this a counter cultural idea?  That hurt feelings and pain are a part of life.  To go one step further, the feelings that occur when we are removing the excess shouldn’t even be the main focus that we dwell on.  What matters the most is the action being done and the accomplishment achieved.  Really, do we marvel at the stone that the artist picks?  No.  We appreciate the effort and the outcome.

So if we’ve established that doing is more important than the feeling, how does that affect my mothering?  I believe that a cultural shift has occurred were we have moved from achieving to feeling.  Achieving  a goal helps you move past the failures and to look for ways to do something better.  It teaches perseverance.  This morning I was reading  The Cat In the Hat with my boys.  That is a common household book for children.  Did you know that Dr Seuss was rejected twelve times before he got published?  Now that is perseverance.  That is what I want to teach my boys.

Three things spring to mind on how to help my boys so they don’t have the feelings of entitlement.

1.  When things don’t work, are hard or not working out in the way they want, I will encourage them to keep going.  Remind them that part of learning is in the process of doing and finishing.  The outcome doesn’t have to be perfect.  There is greatness in the act of accomplishing something.

2.  I’ll be considering the accomplishment before I dole out my praise.  We’ve all been to the awards programs where every child gets praised for something.  When it comes to those last few that are just grasping at straws, like the best smile in class, we all know that it cheapens the effect of the awards.  So I’ll be considering the efforts of my boys and make sure that I’m giving the proper amount of praise.  A childhood full of getting praised for jobs barely done leads to an adult who expects praise for whatever they think or do.  Now that just screams entitlement.

3.  Letting my boys feel the sadness that comes through hard work and sometimes failure.  Oh how my mom heart doesn’t want to do this.  I want to protect my boys and their feelings.  The world says that hurt feelings lead to unhappy and unadjusted people.  But what I’ve seen is that sadness and hurt strengthens the conscience and empathy towards others.  I can look at myself for proof of that.  When I’ve struggled and hurt, I am then able to understand what others might be going through.  With that understanding comes grace that I give others when things don’t go my way.  I’d love to think that everyone will just do what they are supposed to and it will all work out but that isn’t life because we live in a fallen world.  So the sadness leads to grace and forgiveness. Grace leads to freedom and freedom in turn will give my boys a deep abiding joy of life.

May I continue to walk in the paths that I chisel out for my boys and go through the feelings with them.  May I continue to learn through the hurt, to foster empathy and extend grace to others.  As a mother, I’m being made into that beautiful masterpiece of God while my boys are being created under me and with God to be their own masterpieces.  Let the feelings come but not reign over the accomplishments so we can become beautiful and throw off the grip of entitlement.

Tot School 27.5mo Twins – L is for Lightning Bug

Another week where our featured letter show cases one of my twin’s name.  The letter L has made itself home this morning.  During breakfast I pulled out the Letter Factory’s Fridge Phonics and we listened to the L sound over and over.  So much so that I don’t know if we really need to do anything to drive home the letter L.  After we finished eating the boys climbed up so they could play with the magnets.  We spelled out Lance’s name and I made them leave it there so we can come back to it frequently during the week.DSC_0196

A bit later in the morning we did our craft, centering around a lightning bug.  I got this idea from No Time For Flash Cards.  While the boys were off playing chase, I took two dark blue sheets of paper and drew an outline of a moon in the corners.  Then I used a yellow highlighter to make some stars.  I set those aside and got out four band aids and some yellow glow in the dark paint.  I did a quick once over with the paint and let them dry.DSC_0187

When I saw the original piece in the blog, it looked so cute and perfect so I had to mentally prepare myself all morning that my children would be making these and they would not look as cute.  We had a friend over to do this craft with us and I’m thankful another mom was there to add some distraction when I was helping each kid.  I let them color the moon with a white crayon and a bit more than the moon was colored I have to say.  Enter lower cuteness factor, but ups the motor skills practice.DSC_0189

 Then I peeled off the backing on a regular band aid and I let the boys put it any where they wanted on the page.  Then I helped them put on two of the glowing yellow band aids in a crisscross fashion.  I dipped a small paintbrush in the yellow paint and helped the boys dot the page with additional stars that will glow in the night, just like I hope our lightning bug will do.  I quickly added the face and antennae with a black marker.  We set them aside for the time being.

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We sang a little song to go with the light theme. “This little Light of Mine.”  I made sure that they held up their pointing finger when they sang.  They sang it sitting down, sang standing in the kitchen yelling it at each other and they sang while they played chase.  I can say that they now know this song  & the motions.

The best part was taking the boys into our bathroom where it gets completely dark.  Those little bugs and stars just shine out and the boys giggle at them every time.  We went in to look at the bugs quite a lot this morning.  Now the pages are hanging up in their room so the boys can watch them glow as the boys drift off to sleep tonight. 

This afternoon we’ll have some more lightning bug fun with the felt bug  that I cutout during their nap.  There’s a cute little story about a lightning bug that lost her light and how she gained it back. 

This was a fun morning to start our learning of the letter L.  I hope this will continue to be a fun and inspiring week of L activities.  I’m very grateful for setting my expectations of what this craft would look like.  Without doing that, I would have been so disappointed but instead I got to see the cuteness of their unique abilities and all the fun the boys had looking at it glow.  I want to try to set these expectations more often so I enjoy my own to little bugs even more.

Tot School 27.5mo Twins – K is for Kernel

Kernel?  What do you do with kernels and  two year-old twin boys?  I’ll tell you.  Turn them into a cool sensory bin that’s what.  This bin got them giggling like crazy.  I know, it didn’t seem funny to me but they had a ball.  Last night we played with it two different times and this morning we played with it again.  The great thing is it’s very easy to set up and clean up with no messy clothes!  I bought some cheap popcorn kernels at the grocery store and poured them in a plastic tub.  I threw in a measuring cup, 2 measuring spoons and two little people cars.  Nothing needs washing afterwards, just a quick sweep and throw the kernels back in the bin.  Here’s what the boys did with the kernels before I made it more educational.  They buried the measuring cup but left the bottom exposed.  When they dumped kernels onto it they made a clinking sound that raises the roof in laughter over and over and over.  They poured using the spoons, they buried the cars, they poured with their hands, they tasted, the rolled the kernels on the floor, they tried to bounce them and they just made mounds and raked their fingers though the bin.  Nothing complicated, but very entertaining to these two boys.DSC_0173

Since tot school is time that is focused on learning something specific, I asked the boys a few questions about the kernels.  Are they flat or round?  Hot or cold?  Soft or hard?  Bouncy or not?  Light or heavy?  They are 2, so I didn’t put much stock into their answers but it does give them practice in thinking about answers to my questions.  This was also a great time to work on being responsible.  When they got rambunctious and the kernels went flying across the floor, I’d corral the kernels back but the boys had to pick them up and put them back in the bin.  With that said, as I was sitting on the floor this morning I saw a truck load of kernels that are under the refrigerator waiting to be reached.  So be mindful that these things roll everywhere but they are easy to sweep up.  A great thing to remember is that I can simply pour the kernels back into the original container and they will keep for a long time.  Meaning we can do this again and again without buying anything more.  These small little kernels brought to mind the story of the mustard seed and so I’m grateful and have faith that God will lead me in my mothering and He will fill in the missing pieces of my parenting.