Tot School 30.5mo Twins – T is for Turtle & Tie Die

The letter T is turning out to be a wealth of fun activities.  Yesterday we did a tie die art project with a cross.  Easter is coming and we have been talking about Jesus a lot.  I told the boys that on Friday, a long time ago, Jesus died on a cross for our sins and that sins our the things that we do that are wrong when we disobey.  Since they are 2.5 yrs, I don’t expect them to understand, but getting exposed to what Easter is all about will set the stage to build on for next year.  The boys know that a cross represents Jesus.  I took two coffee filters and cut them out in the shape of a cross.  I folded them in half several times and lightly taped them to sheets of paper to absorb the paint that would bleed through.  The boys took dot markers and made whatever pattern they wanted on the cross.  Then we took a water dropper and doused the cross until the colors ran together.  We used a lot of water so our end result was muted colors but use less water if you want more of a distinct pattern and brighter colors.  When the boys got up from their nap, the paper was dry and we unfolded two beautiful crosses.  I really love this project because it visually shows what Easter is about.  God created me sinless at birth(white page).  Through my inherited sin nature, I became ugly(multi colored cross).  Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood to cover my sins(water mixing the colors).  Now I’m a new creation still sinful but beautiful because of the blood of Jesus(tie die end result.)

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Today was turtle day and the boys love turtles.  We read Dr Seuss’ book, Yertle The Turtle.  All through the reading the boys kept saying “turtles maybe fall down.”  They were right and they both made loud crashing sounds when we got to that part in the book.  To go along with the turtle theme we did some fun color matching.  I printed out the game from Confessions of a Homeschooler and laminated it for reuse in the future.  Sometimes it seems the boys know the colors and other times I know they are guessing.  Either way, they had fun matching the correct colored turtle with the printed name of the color.

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We did the ever popular do-a-dot page of the letter T.  I can’t tell yet whether this will be a reoccurring activity or not.  The boys get a bit wild with all the dot making.  I don’t know if they paid much attention to the fact that the dots formed the letter T.  I had to hold their hand and help them stay within the pattern of the dots.  Besides that, they love dotting away and making the page look like a big mess.

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Lastly we worked on recognizing the alphabet.  They have the uppercase but we are still working on getting the lowercase letters down.  So we used a turtle sheet & I had them identify the Uppercase letters and count the turtles on the page.  Since the letters were surrounded by circles, I used another sheet of lowercase letters with the circles around them.  I had the boys repeat the name of the letter after I said it.  We only did that once and then went back to looking at the turtles on the page.  We named each turtle, Yertle and Mack made the list too.

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I am so thankful that I stumbled upon the blog of Confessions of a Homeschooler.  It is my mercy for the day.  What a joy to see moms sharing with each other and in a sense shouldering the burdens of each other.  So thank you moms, as I always say, I’m a great copier but nnot so good at coming up with activities on my own.

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Tot School 30mo Twins – T is for Train & Trolley

Our letter T week has started out grrrrrreat!  As Tony the Tiger would say.  I got to bed kinda late last night and so I knew that I needed to have some great activities today to keep us going and not cranky.  After breakfast we got dressed and headed over to the local light rail train.  James is my boy who loves moving things and trains just make him happy.  He waits eagerly at the station for the train to come.  When the bells sound he jumps up and down, screaming it’s coming and he waves at the driver.  They are growing up so fast.  They can now get on and off the trains without much help.100_2646

The ride down and back actually is an education in itself.  At each stop they stood up and loudly proclaimed to anyone in the car “Train stopped.  People get off.  People get on.”  Some passengers thought it was funny but there was a grouchy old man sitting directly behind us that didn’t appreciate their commentary.  At each stop the announcer said the name of the end destination on that line.  By the time we got to our stop the boys both knew that new word.100_2647 

About halfway through the route, we got off at an underground station to transfer to the streetcar system in the McKinney Ave district.  It was dim in there, so my pictures turned out too dark.  We took 2 escalators and an elevator to get to the street level.  One of those escalators is a very long ride.  When we got to the top we had a few minutes before the trolley arrived so we went to ride on the inclined elevator.  My boys are fearless but today Lance said no to getting on the inclined elevator.  He happily watched the pulley and weights going up and down but he didn’t want to ride it, too bad for James because he really wanted to ride.

When we got back upstairs the trolley was waiting for us.  This wasn’t just any trolley.  It was The Green Dragon built in 1913.  I just loved riding on it and so did James.100_2654100_2651  Can you tell from the picture that he’s excited and happy being on the trolley?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had the nicest drivers and friendly passengers.  The boys looked at all the sights in downtown & uptown.  I told them about their great grandma growing up in Dallas and that she had probably ridden on this same trolley too and looked out at the same buildings that they were looking at.   I actually think that this would be a fun date night with my husband.  We could get a sitter, get dressed up, ride the trolley and eat at a restaurant that my grandparents and my parents have all eaten at then top it off with a stop at the ice cream shop.  It would be fun & nostalgic I think.100_2653 

 They found some change on the floor so we took it up front and dropped it in the meter box although the trolleys are free to ride.  We passed by the new park built over a freeway in downtown but it was too cold to hop off the trolley and play.  The boys were begging to push the bell button to make the trolley stop.  It was really cold this morning  but the trolley we were on was heated.  So we will have to go down to the new park when it gets a bit warmer.  At the halfway point the trolley stops and goes back the other way down the tracks.  The old wooden seat backs flip over to the other side of the seat.  Lance loved that the seats flipped.  We left one facing another so we had a little area to ourselves.

100_2655 Our boarding/unloading stop was at the trolley turn table.  We stayed on the trolley while the big wooden circle turned the trolley around.  Both boys thought that was neat.  We hopped off and headed back down underground.

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We had some time before our train was due so we had a chance to look at the tunnels that the trains drive through.  They both wanted to jump down on the tracks and go into the tunnel.  When we got on our train and it went through the tunnel they both smiled and James yelled tunnel.  James is usually my quiet spoken boy, but I guess trains and tunnels brings out his vocal side.

We had a good time and the boys practiced saying so many T words.  We had many mercies this morning but the best was meeting so many friendly people.  In our self-absorbed society it’s rare to find those nice people, but today we meet a man who was riding on the trolley for fun and he narrated the whole route for us, a young woman shared a huge bag of jelly beans with my boys on the train, the trolley driver was patient with my boys and someone gave me a paid ticket this morning for the train.  I am so thankful for the whole trip this morning.   It was worth the effort.

Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Seasons

Dallas has been going through all the seasons this month.  So we decided to explore what the seasons are all about.  We read the book:

 

 

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Then I took two large sheets of paper and drew four tree trunks with a name of a season written above the tree.  The trees look kinda dumb, but the boys don’t care.  I gave them crayons and let them color the page however they wanted while I quickly cut out four paper squares, for each boy, of colors that matched the seasons and put double-sided tape on them.  I would talk about the first season.  Whether it was hot or cold or dry or rainy, that kind of thing.  I would give the boys their four squares and let them put them anywhere they wanted on that season’s tree.  Lance spread them everywhere while James liked to stack all four of them on top of each other.  The boys were a bit confused as to why there were no leaves for the winter tree.  I’m not sure they got it after I talked about the season.

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Before we move on to another letter, we practiced sharing again.  At dinner, the frog and snake had to join us.  The boys kindly shared their food with the animals.  It’s sweet to see boys showing a softer side of their personality.

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Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Swamp & Sea

The letter S has been really good.  The activities have grabbed the boys’ attention and they have been saying the sound of the letter S this week.  Early this morning we spent a good chunk of time just relaxing in our pjs and reading books about the sea and the swamp.  Picture a comfy two person chair and ottoman with big fluffy  pillows.  Now imagine me sitting indian style in the middle of this chair with a boy on each knee.  Lance has his rabbit and his mattress pad cuddled with him and James is snuggled up against my shoulder.  This was the best hour of reading that I’ve had in a long time and I usually don’t get but 10min of reading in before they are off again.  In fact, after I stopped reading, James took the books,  looked at the pictures and stacked the booked neatly on the table.   He is so into alligators and crocodiles that he leapt in joy and screamed every time we saw a picture of one.  I know, he’s weird.  He was even fascinated by the albino alligator at the aquarium.  He loved when it snapped its jaws.  I can picture him being the next crocodile hunter or something equally as risky.  Anyways, I’ve digressed.  Here are the top four books that we liked this morning.  I substituted sea anytime ocean was used.

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Later this morning I made a big sensory play area.  I put down a shower curtain, put water in one bin then added two drops of blue food coloring to look like the sea, used another bin and put green jello in it to look like a swamp.    I threw in some plastic animals that would live in each habitat and let the boys loose.

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They felt of everything at first and then they got to playing.  They were taking the animals and moving them back and forth between the two bins.  Lance would move the snake and say “He goes in the sea” then James would pull him out and say “He goes in the swamp.”  At some point all the animals went for a swim together in the sea.  DSC_0209DSC_0208

 

 

 

 

 

The boys made plopping, slurping and squishing noises to go along with the swamp theme.  They got a kick out of that.

As expected, since the swamp was made from food, if you call jello food, some eating happened along the way.

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After 30min or so, the boys were up on their feet slinging the animals around and splashing water.  All of this was ok until Lance grabbed the swamp bin and threw it across the kitchen.  It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to tell him to put the bin back down on the ground.  Here’s my orange rhino toot!  I didn’t yell.  I stood there for a few minutes looking at what seemed to be a pound of green jello on my floor, then I calmly told the boys to go to their room so I could clean up.  It made me laugh to hear them in their room saying spankings were coming, they knew it was wrong.  So after I picked it all up I let the boys come back out.  I grabbed my mop and got the sticky stuff up before it dried.  That left the floor wet and wouldn’t you know, another s word, it was slippery.  So we all laughed as we slipped and slided out of the kitchen and off to our nap.

Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Sidewalk Graffiti & Other Things Too

Boy oh boy, did we ever work on the letter S today with a whole host of play activities.  Early this morning Lance found the stringed bead necklace that we made back in December.  Sadly we only have one necklace so I bet you can guess what happens when that one necklace does come out.  Today I became a smart mommy.  I went to my husband’s garage and got some cotton twine, some beads from our craft box and I sat down with the boys to string a new necklace.  We worked on saying string and stringing and James started picking up the beads to give to Lance so we threw in the word sharing too.  Now each boy has a necklace to wear and the balance of peace is temporarily restored.

 

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Then we had some friends come over for a playdate.  Since there were going to multiple kids, we went outside on the back patio to do some sidewalk graffiti.  For this, I took three bowls, divided one box of cornstarch among them, added ten drops of food coloring to each and enough water to make a milk like consistency.  I gave each kid a tennis ball and let them roll it in the paint.  They bounced, rolled, skipped and threw down the balls to make all sorts of paint patterns.  It quickly moved to hand print making then driving a truck threw the paint.  It was such a beautiful day to do messy, creative, large-scale painting.  The great thing about this is that with a quick spray from the water hose, the art was washed away.

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After our friends left we stayed outside for a while and played.  James discovered some snail shells.  Lance came over to watch as James laid them on the edge of the dog house and they both patiently waited for the snails to come out.  Sadly they never came.  Hearing two-year olds try to say snail shells is very funny.

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We came inside for lunch and while they were still sitting at the table, I read them a silly, spider book.Fly book  I got the boys to make the corresponding animal sound for each page.  They think this book is hilarious and just great.  Whenever I read it, they always say again when I get to the end.  After three, long readings of this book we looked carefully at the spider web drawing in the book.  Yesterday I took Elmer’s glue and made two spider webs on plain paper.  I taped these pages down and we felt on top of the paper for the web and talked about the design.

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Next I tore the paper off two crayons, just happened to grab two orange crayons, it wasn’t planned.  I taped down another white paper over the web page.  I showed the boys how to rub and roll the crayon over the page to make the spider web pattern appear.  They really liked doing this.  I had tried doing rubbings in the past and the boys didn’t get it.  This just goes to show that occasionally you should try some of the things again  that previously had failed when your kids are a month or two older.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We did so many fun things today that I can’t pick just one thing for my mercy today.  So I’ll praise God that for two days in a row I have kept my yelling in check.  It may not seem praiseworthy to some of you, but for us moms that have a tendency to yell, two days without yelling is glorious and step in the right direction.  Go Orange Rhino!  Toot, toot!!

Tot School 30mo Twins – S is for Snake

This week we are diving into the letter S and today we are exploring snakes.  My boys do not yet know that snakes are dangerous.  I think that’s good because not all snakes are bad.  But I really have to remind myself of that.  At lunch today we talked about the sound that S makes and named a few things.  While they were finishing up eating I read them a cute book:

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   This little, colorful snake slithers and winds his way through every page.  I encouraged  the boys to find the snake on each page but he’s a bit hard to find on some pages.  James got a kick out of looking for the snake, while Lance wanted to touch the snake when we found him on each page.

 

 

 

 

 

Then I announced that we were going outside to make our own bubble snakes.  They got excited.  I took a water bottle and used a box cutter to cut off the bottom of the bottle.  I took an old sock, placed it over the cut end of the bottle and secured it with a rubber band.  Then I poured some dish washing soap onto a dinner plate and mixed in some water.  I set the plate on top of our sand box, dipped the sock covered end of the bottle in the solution and began to blow through the drinking hole.  Whala!  We had bubble snakes.

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Well at first we had little snakeletts.  The wind was blowing and the bubbles would break off before I could get a long tube going.  James had some trouble understanding the concept.  He wanted to blow from the outside on the soapy end.  Hence he got frustrated that no bubbles came out.  I tried to show him several times, but insisted on doing it the other way.  He usually learns best by watching, but the floating bubbles were too much of a distraction for him to watch and learn.  James had fun chasing the bubbles and stomping them out when they hit the ground.DSC_01800  My instinct was to keep after James so he could get it, but I quickly realized that playing and having fun at this age is more important than him learning which end to blow on to produce bubble snakes.

 

Lance took easily to making bubble snakes.  He’s loud so I guess he has the lung capacity to really blow some air out.  He laughed, he made long tube snakes and he figured out how to shake the bottle to make the bubbles break off.  When they did break and float off, he’d drop the bottle and try to beat his brother to stomp the bubbles out.  Lance would have kept blowing all day I think if we hadn’t of run out of soap solution.  By the way, you don’t have to worry about toddlers ducking back on the bottle and getting soution down their airway.  It’s just too hard to suck in that hard to get the solution down the length of a water bottle.

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I am so happy that this project worked.  The last few ideas that I got off the internet last week flopped.  So one of my mercies for today is plain ol dish soap.  It made two little boys very happy today.

Tot School 30mo Twins – R is for Rainbow Rice

Tuesday and Wednesday there were no posts because this mommy was alternating between each twin having to put him back in the crib and putting the clothes and diapers back on.  Very frustrating to do for the whole nap time.  Today I gave them a chance to keep their clothes on, but in the first  5 min the clothes came off so I had one size bigger footed pjs waiting.  I put them on backwards and not only have the clothes stayed on but they haven’t climbed out.  One small victory for today!!!!!!!!!

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With all that chaos going on, I didn’t even attempt tot school.  If you or your child can’t handle anything else structured in a day, then don’t do it.  Learning takes place under calm and usually happy tempered times.  Today we tried again with a R activity.  We played with glow in the dark rainbow rice.  I took a bag of rice, divided it into three baggies, poured 1Tbsp rubbing alcohol and 1Tbsp of glow in the dark acrylic paint into each bag using a different color per bag.  I kneaded it until all the rice was coated, poured it out onto cookie sheets, set it outside in the sun to dry, then dumped all the colors into one big bin.  I added a few scoops, a car and a cup.

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The boys had so much fun.  They dumped and moved around and broke up all the rice clumps and now it is more like individual pieces of rice again.  They played for about 10min before the throwing of rice started.  Remember they are two, in the terrible twos.  So I quickly had to put it away.  Tonight though, I’m looking forward to taking it into their bedroom with the lights off and let them see it glow.  They love looking at their glow in the dark pjs each night before bed.  So this should be an extra treat.

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Scripture that says God’s mercies are new every morning is oh so applicable to my life with twin two-year olds.  When one day or even several days go very bad, each morning is a new day with the possibility that my children will act slightly better and to know that my attitude has been given a reset each morning and I just might be able to react to this terrible two stages a bit better today.  I laugh to think my mercy today is backwards pjs.  They really saved the day & my boys are sleeping so I can blog and other household things.   Sometimes life is just funny, uhum, after the height of chaos wears off that is.