Tot School 34.5mo Twins – Creation Felt Board

If you listen to the stories of our older generations, you will hear the countless reminiscing of the days when flannel graphs and felt boards were used in Sunday School.  About how versitle and wonderful they were and how it’s a shame that no one uses them anymore.  I used to roll my eyes and say with my younger generation, move one, get with  the technology.  While I love technology, I mean I am blogging, it doesn’t always replace the old things.  Sometimes the old and new work great together.  The felt board is one of those old items that has been working along technology in my house.

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The past three weeks we’ve been focusing on the story of creation in Genesis.  We are using the Jesus Storybook Bible primarily for the reading.  My boys just get a kick out of the wording.  When they ask for the story they call it the nothing story.  They love when mom talks in a spooky voice about in the beginning there was nothing, nothing but nothing and there was only God.  I’m envisioning a lot of scary movies in my future.  Anyways, they enjoy this story when we read it in the morning.  We’ve been doing some crafts that match the creation theme.  What has really captured their attention though was the new felt board set I got.  It’s from the Betty Lukin set.  The colors are so bright and they look good.  So over the past few days when the boys wake up from their nap, I’ve pulled out the felt board set.  The first time through I lay out all the pieces, read the story and hand out the corresponding piece alternately to each boy to put on the board.  I gave up on asking the boys to put them in a nice neat picture.  The attention lasts triple as long if they get to put the pieces wherever.  I truly mean it.  Yesterday Lance had the apple tree growing in the middle of the sea.  Oh well!  The second time through I let them try to pick out what piece I’m reading about.  That cognitive skill still needs some work; maybe it’s the hearing or the deciding or maybe it’s just maturity that needs help.  After that they just get to play around with the set.

I haven’t figured out whether they are auditory, physical or visual learners yet.  But with this bible story system that incorporates all the styles of learning, I’m hoping the stories stick with them.  So if you want to extend the bible stories that you might be reading, consider busting out the dusty ol felt board and see what your little ones do with it.  Always remember though, each kiddo will respond to things differently so don’t get upset if they snub the felt board, but it’s worth a try.

Mom School – Singing Amazing Grace

I’ve seen pain on little faces.  I’ve known shame that no child of His should know.

God has granted me the privilege of being a mom to twin boys.  With that priviledge comes the responsibilty of showing them who God is.  While I desperately want to say that I’m portraying His image as our loving parent in a worthy manner, the truth is that I’m failing.  The truth is, I’m not the only mom that’s failing and I know other moms who carry this same guilt and shame with them too.

My guilt and shame comes from yelling at my kids, seeing their hurt expressions and having to come before God and ask forgiveness.  I’ve never know anything else that could humble me so much and do it so quickly.  For some moms, yelling doesn’t seem like a big deal when they do it and for others the temptation to yell just isn’t there.  But for those of us who do yell and God has laid a burden on our hearts about it, it’s a tough battle.  I was recently reading the parable of the prodical son.  Then a few days later I heard the song “Still Calls Me Son.”  What a wonderful song.  This song gave me an image that I now hold on to and it’s given me great comfort when I blow it and yell at my kids yet again.

I’ve never wondered if God would forgive me time after time for the same sin, like yelling.  I know He does.  It’s just hard to believe that He isn’t rolling His eyes each time and thinking when will she ever get it.  We get these kinds of wrong ideas about God primarily because of our own experience.  I want to win the Most Patient Mom of the Year award.  I do!  But I won’t, at least not until God finishes sculpting me as a mom.  I frequently sigh and think to myself that I’ve told these kids this same thing numerous times today already.  I know they are learning, but really, can they pick up the pace of learning today!  So it’s no wonder I’m hard on myself and I have to fight against bringing that image into my beliefs about God.  Like the song says, after where I’ve been should he take me back?  I would understand, I’ve disgraced Him.  I’ve shown my boys the oposite of God’s role as our loving and patient parent.   How many moms out there are just like me, tired, weary and wanting to be a better mom than we are?  I think there’s many of us moms just like that.  Praise the Lord that some moms will never experience this!

The truth is that God is watching for His own with forgiving eyes.  Yes, forgiving eyes and not incredulous, rolling eyes like mine.  After hearing the song I mentioned before, I now have a new image that comes to mind when I blow it yet again.  So I yell, immediately feel guilty then I stop myself and imagine a whole host of angels, with the most beautiful voices, singing Amazing Grace.  Anyone can come before God and confess without condemnation because of His amazing grace.  This grace still calls me to a higher standared of parenting my children, like not yelling at them, but it gives the mistakes a place to go when they do happen.  This has been a long process of allowing myself grace in mothering and one I’m still continuing on.  If you are right there with me, fealing guilty about your mothering, then try to remember that God’s angels are sitting in heaven singing Amazing Grace over you if you know Jesus as your savior.  This is an image that has done wonders for me each day.  I love it.  I have to say that those angels get plenty of choir practice with me as a mom.  Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound to this mom’s ears!

 

Tot School 32mo Twins – Y is for Yellow Yogurt Painting

The last activity of the penultimate letter in the alphabet.  I knew knowing that word would come in handy some day!  Since the crazy weather here has turned its face to winter again instead of marching forward into spring, we stayed inside and worked on painting since we haven’t done much of that lately.  I pulled out yellow paper and we talked about the word yellow beginning with the Y sound.  Next I took plain yogurt and divided it into 3 bowls.  I put in sage to make one green, paprika to make one red and curry to make the other one yellow.  I also added two drops of food coloring to each bowl.  What a great activity for all the senses.  It smelled yummy while we painted.

 

 

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This doesn’t produce the prettiest paintings, but the boys had a good time making a mess.  They drew circles, squares and I drew a few letter Ys in the yogurt too.  Just make sure your little ones don’t splat their hands in it.  I can testify, the yogurt can really fly!

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Later during the day, we did another yellow paper painting.  I had several paint chips all in different colors of yellow.  I let the boys pick out what yellow card they wanted to use.

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Then I taped a stencil of flowers onto the card and I taped both of those onto a piece of scratch paper.

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I poured out a small amount of red, blue and green Washable Crayola paint onto 3 saucers.  I gave each boy a small piece of sponge and told them to stamp to their heart’s content.  Stamp they did and had a marvelous time!  This was a messy project for my boys.  With stamping, they did the stencil, the rest of the paper, their hands, their arms, the table and even the chair.  It’s crazy how much these two boys like stamping, just like their momma.  It’s so much fun to see the differences in the two boys.  Lance smears more and likes to stamp himself  while James is much more neat on the page but gets rather wild on the table and chairs, everywhere except his paper.

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When they were done stamping, we washed up and I peeled the stencil, paper and card apart.  What was left was a cute picture of a mini garden.  They are hanging on my fridge as sort of an early mother’s day present.  I just adore pretty gardens.

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That my friends is how we got through a cold day inside when we all really wanted to be outside and playing in the sunshine.  Painting is my mercy for the day.  What kinds of things do you like to do when it’s cold or rainy?

Mom School – No Toys Today

This was the best morning, playing with the toys, sharing with our brother, laughing together, playing tag and mom even got to fold clothes in peace.  It was so enjoyable for the first 2 hours.  It was time to pickup the toys, get the boys into their clothes and head out to the park.  I asked the boys to put away their toys in the toy box.  Nothing.  James kept running around and Lance was sitting on the couch surrounded by toys.   The sense of entitlement from the boys was rearing up as they expected me to do the cleanup.  My first instinct was to nag and remind the boys to pickup.  How many times do we as mothers ask, beg and plead until we are just exhausted or all out mad?  

I’ve been working on a new discipline technique, Love & Logic.  Gone are the days of begging, I wouldn’t beg from anyone else so I’m not going to do it with my children either.  Love & Logic works on the premise of telling your children once then if disobeyed there is a natural consequence that follows.  Ever since I started this technique, small consequences have generally worked but today there was flat-out ignoring the directions and looking at me like “what are you going to do about it!?!!!”  Well I certainly did something about it.  I told the boys that mommy would wear herself out if she had to put away all the toys so every toy that I put away would be put up and not played with for the rest of the day.  I don’t know if they thought I was joking, but neither boy budged.  So I said in my saddest voice, “That’s so sad”, up the toys went and I put the whole toy box over on the other side of the gate.  I really thought that they would be upset.  They weren’t.  Lance just looked up at me and said the classic Love & Logic phrase of “That’s so sad” right back to me and then added I’m sorry.  He hopped off the couch and off the two boys went to play happily with each other.

All toys went over the gate, even the stuffed animals

All toys went over the gate, even the stuffed animals

Nothing left in the living room to play with

Nothing left in the living room to play with

  

                   I sat down in a huff.  Those boys should have fallen all over me and cried about their toys.  How dare them not have a physical reaction to my discipline!  Is this approach not working?  Then I remembered that the goal of discipline is to correct a problem, not just inflict pain.    Lance had gotten the message.  He said it was sad.  He repented.  That’s what I wanted, right?  I needed that reminder today about forgiveness, repentance and discipline.  It doesn’t have to be mean, loud, long, disruptive or even tearful.   Wow, to think what my life would be like if all my correction went that well! I got over myself and then I thought, oh no!  There’s no toys for later today when we get back from the park, this day is going to get ugly fast.  I found quite the opposite.  My twins always have a built-in playmate.  They chose to utilize that today.  They played ring around the rosies, chase, red light/green light, emptied the silverware from the dishwasher, pretended to fix the door and patch the wall and sang together all with loads of laughter.  I would not expect that I could do this day in and day out without them getting bored and into serious trouble.  They can, on occasions though, just use their imaginations for play like they did today.  So when the ugly attitude of entitlement creeps in and the boys just won’t mind, I think this little trick of all the toys going away, just might be the best thing after all.  No toys as a punishment does not always mean a bad day for everyone.

Mom School – Mothering Like a Farmer

Today in my email I read the best blog post from Inspired To Action.  This site has some very good resources for moms.  This story reminded me to not worry about things outside my immediate zone right now.  In a few short years my boys will be going to school.  That’s when I’ll be able to add a few new things to try.  Until then I’ll be working on being content knowing that God has called me to full time motherhood.  Here’s the link to the actual blog  http://inspiredtoaction.com/2013/04/mother-like-a-farmer/.  If you aren’t connected with this blog, take a look.  Below is the inspiring post from today.  If you like it, please go over to the Inspired blog and leave a comment there because all credit, ideas & writing are from them, not me.

 

“I’m going to tell you about something I’ve never seen, but first let me tell you a little bit about farming.

Yep…farming.

You see, I once lived in a cul de sac neighborhood that backed up to an orange orchard. I was in the 3rd grade. We lived there for 2 years.

I’m pretty much a farming expert. Obviously.

Did you know farmers have seasons? There is the planting season, the growing season (clearly my farming expertise is shining through. Probably not the technical name for it, but it’s the season when they water and weed and watch) and the harvest season.

You know what I’ve never seen?

I’ve never seen a farmer try to harvest during planting season. When I lived behind that orchard, I never saw the farmer in the field picking orange blossoms off the trees in the Spring.

He could have done everything he knew. He could have worked himself to the bone. But there was no way he was going to harvest oranges in Texas in June.

Farmers know that they cannot do anything outside of the due season for their crop.

Have you thought about what season you are in? Are you trying to harvest when it’s really time to sow?

If you have a newborn, perhaps it’s not the best season to try to start an early morning Bible, exercise and planning routine. Instead focus on something simple like listening to an audio Bible while you play with or feed your baby.

If you have all your kids at home and your husband has to work a lot, perhaps it’s not the best season to start a new online business.

If you’re a new blogger still trying to figure out how it all works, maybe it’s not the best season to write an ebook, start a link up and contribute on 12 different blogs.

Everyone is in a different season.

Not too far from my little cul de sac neighborhood and the orange orchard, there was a sugar cane field. Sometimes they harvested as late as March when the orange trees were bare.

If the orange farmer didn’t know HIS crop and HIS season, he could have wasted time and energy either being jealous of the sugar cane farmer or he could have worked in vain to try to make his crops yield fruit out of season.

Friends, it doesn’t matter what season anyone else is in. It doesn’t matter if they are having the harvest of their lives. Good for them.

We need to know our season. There is such freedom in yielding to God’s timing. If we listen to HIS timing, we won’t run ourselves ragged trying to harvest the wrong things in the wrong season, because it will never work anyway.

Action step: I encourage you to identify your season today. Ask God what you should sow. Ask Him when it is time to harvest. Listen to Him. Trust Him.

Rest…in Him.”

Tot School 31.5mo Twins – X is for the Road To TicTacToe

Oh what a difference a day can make.  Yesterday was just awful.  I had started with a few activities for our x theme.  None of them worked very well because my boys were bound and determined to break mommie’s spirit with their disobedience.  I cried; they cried.  This morning has been so much better.  Not perfect, but way better with lots of tickles, laughter and love.  In this post you will see my kids in two sets of clothes because some pictures were taken yesterday and some were taken today as we tried these activities again. 

Right after breakfast I pulled out the tic tac toe board.  They love this board.  However, they don’t actually play the game.  They just want to throw bean bags at any part of the board.  So that’s just what we did for a while.  Then when the energy level was starting to fall, I turned over each square and had the boys tell me what letter was on it.  Next I let the boys spin each square and tell me what letter landed on the top.  They just loved this because they got to move.  I think yesterday failed because I had them sitting down and I was turning the squares.  We got back up to throw more bean bags.  Each time they were out of bean bags, they had to step farther back from the board.  This gave them some practice with aiming their shots.  Soon, I’ll be showing them how to play the game and knowing the difference between those Xs & Os will be important.

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Yesterday, not today, we had a lesson in sharing.  Lance decided that all the bean bags belonged to him.  It was rather comical to see him try to pick all of them up in his arms and run away with them.  Because Lance took them and ran, the game was put away and I had a talk with both boys about sharing.  Apparently it sunk in because we had no issues with sharing today.

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The other activity only used the letter X in a small part, but the activity was great for learning letters.  I got the idea from No Time For Flashcards.  I printed off some cars from the net, wrote the upper and lower case letters individually on the cars and laminated them.  I made two roads using black cardstock and glueing the white stripes on.  I also added a stripe at the top of each road, one saying Uppercase, the other saying Lowercase.  Yesterday I took all 52 cars and I let them throw the cars in the air to shuffle them.DSC_05710DSC_05780  I think this wound them up. 

Then I asked them to sit down.  I asked each boy to identify the letter of the car that I was holding up.  Then I let them drive it across the appropriate road.  Well after 3 cars were down, the boys took off driving them around the room and ignored me completely.  I got mad and so did they.  They wanted to drive their cars and when I was insistent they come back  Lance started trying to ripe the cards apart.  So just like the other game, the game went away.  Today when I got the alphabet road down, we only worked with four cars.  After they identified them, I let them happily play, drive them over to the X marked on the floor in the kitchen and then drive them all around the house.  We will use this over the summer and each time we will just work on a few letters at a time.  When the fun of driving was dwindling, I let them take all 52 cars again and throw them in the air several times before we cleaned up. 

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I learned a few things from comparing both days.  Sometimes a little action and movement can save an activity.  Sometimes you just need to call a day a wash and save the learning for another day.  Don’t call an activity a failure until you’ve tried it on several different days because everyone’s mood plays a part.  My mercy for today is the renewed attitudes of everyone.  May we give grace on the bad days and rejoice in the good.  If today you are having a bad mommy day, take heart that each day is new.

Tot School 31.5mo Twins – W is For Waterfall

Our last W activity.  Yes, it does use water again because my boys love to play with water.  Well they just love to be messy.  I herded the boys up to their bathroom and had them get undressed while I cut up a poll noodle and taped it to the tub wall.  At first I had the pieces at a slant so the water would pour into each other as it went down and one other tube by itself, but it was too tall for the boys to pour water into it.  While they loved the water coming out, they wanted to pour themselves.

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 I reluctantly gave each boy a cup and firmly told them to keep the water in the tub.  We only had one major accident during play time.  They poured, put their hands under the water at the bottom, tried a little water and then a bunch of water, they tried their hands and even their mouths as water carriers.  They even tried pouring slow and then fast.  All of it was a fun way to learn about gravity.  They had the best time with the water falls.DSC_0555DSC_0556

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a few other items to play with.  We have a small basketball hoop, a blue funnel that’s great for fast pouring that you can see in the pictures and we have a fun water wheel of sorts.  This is where you can really see the difference in how fast you pour the water.  If your kids love water, try making your own waterfalls and enjoy all the wet fun that you’ll have.

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