Tot School 37mo Twins – Hungry Hungry Hippo Learning

My hand is hovering closely above the black handle.  My eyes lock with his.  My heart pounds in anticipation.  I know he’s going down.  I’ll be the winner and I’ll get to say HaHa.  I won!  It’s go time, my hand pounds furiously and the hippos are at war.  We laugh, my brother and I, because we’re not really that competitive.  Me laughing in pigtails with a corduroy jumpsuit and my brother laughing  in polyester brown pants, with the game sitting on multicolored shag carpeting.  This is just fun.

Present day. 

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The defining  noise of loud slapping plastic.  High pitched laughing.  At least this time its better clothing and cream normal carpeting.  It’s not as great as I once thought it was but I do believe my boys are feeling those same things that I did as a kid.  So I try to endure the racket knowing that they are having a ball learning.  Learning!!? you say.  Why yes, learning.  When kids are playing these classics games it doesn’t seem like learning to them but they are.  In Hungry, Hungry Hippo, my boys are learning about how to play fair.  I have to do a lot of “no cheating!” and moving hands back from holding their hippo head open while throwing the balls inside.  They are just at the beginning of understanding that there is a winner and a loser but they don’t focus on that yet.  They are practicing hand/eye coordination with gusto.  They are practicing their colors when we each announce the color of our chosen hippo for that round.  They are also learning to count.  I really love this game because when all the balls are gobbled up, the boys have to take their balls and count them.  We count them one at a time for each boy.  Our counting is spot on until we get to 13, then it gets a bit funny.  Without all the stress and humiliation of counting at the table with all eyes on them, they work on counting just to see how many they got.  Then they have to count five balls back into the holding tray before the next game begins.

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Some people may scoff at this type of learning, but I on the other hand think this is some of the best learning a preschooler can get.  It’s not forced, it’s casual and man is it fun.  This is a must have learning game in my book.  This is also a must have game for any family that wants to hear lots of laughter too.

To give a real perspective on this game, I have to say that all the above is true.  Last night however while playing the game, I stepped away for a minute.  I came back to one hippo torn off the board, but it does snap back on, though I didn’t tell my boys that last night and all the little white balls flung to the farthest reaches of the downstairs.  My husband even found a little ball this morning.  So the game has been put in time out for a few days to help them with one more thing to learn, that we don’t tear up our toys.  That, my friend, completes this story of learning.

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Tot School 35.5mo Twins – 10 Apples Up On Top

10 Apples

As I mentioned yesterday, I worked on my new felt pieces to go with the book 10 Apples Up On Top.  It’s a good counting book and anything by Dr Seuss is good.  Here’s what I made and the boys just love it.  They really like anything that shows themselves at this stage.

-I took a full length horizontal picture of each boy

-I downloaded onto my computer

-I copied each picture into a powerpoint slide, horizontal page with picture resized to about 4″ person and I added an apple clipart image to the free space remaining then printed the page out in color

-I cut the pictures out, laminated the boys’ pictures and cut them out again

-I cut small strips of felt and used elmer’s glue to attach the felt strips to the back of the pictures

-I drew 20 apples on red felt, using the apple clipart cutout as my template

Whew, now that was done we could have some fun.  I read the book 10 Apples Up On Top and had the boys add the corresponding apples on top of the “felt James” and “felt Lance.”  We did this several times.  This morning we read through the book and then we pulled out the felt pieces.  This is a great way to work on addition and subtraction while just having fun.  Any combination of numbers will work with this.  Lance even decided that when he subtracts it’s fun to pretend to eat the apples.

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Tot School 35.5mo Twins – A is for Apple

It’s the tried and true apple theme today.  I’m sure my great, great, great-grandmother learned the letter A by saying the word apple.  Well, maybe not because I don’t think women were educated back then.  Never-the-less, the apple is the classic picture for the letter A.  Yesterday and today we tried out a few apple things. 

Yesterday we had a friend over to make a new recipe of apple pie play do.  I got all three kids up to the kitchen table with wooden spoons ready.  I let the kids measure out the ingredients and dump into the bowl.  It was a weird recipe because it called for real apple pie filling.  In went all the ingredients and the crazy stirring by three kiddos was fun to watch.  The day before I had envisioned a brownish colored soft play do with the most delicious smelling aroma of apples.  The kids squashing it, rolling,it, tasting it and having a good time.  This would be the ushering in of fall.  How lovely.  That was not what happened.  The mixture turned soupy and no amount of stirring was going to change that.  The color was a grey shade and it did smell great when you had your nose stuck in the bowl of mush.  So I set that aside and later it just went into the trash.  Apple project #1 was a bust.  I pulled out the regular play do and while I was a bit disappointed, the kids didn’t care that we played with regular play do.

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It’s all over pinterest.  It’s apple stamping.  I’ve seen some really cute art done with apples and we gave it a try.  It is fun.  I took three apples.  I left one whole, one sliced in half and one I cut into 1/8ths.  I placed the apples on a big plate and set a saucer of red paint with it.  I just told the boys to have fun without any instructions.  I wanted to see where their own creativity would take them.  They smiled and stamped away.  Stamped the paper, stamped the table, stamped their shirts and stamped each other.  It was so cute, at bible study their teachers stamp their hand and say God loves you, so while they got carried away stamping each other they laughed while saying God loves you.  They were each making some good art.  But as all painting techniques go, they ended with their favorite smearing technique.  Thus making their papers look like one giant smear of red.  Apple project #2 wasn’t a bust but not a good ending piece of art.  By the way, my boys had so much fun doing this that they were covered with red paint so make sure you use a good washable paint like Crayola’s.

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Our last apple project was great.  We made adorable apple cores.  We ate our last apple this morning and I showed the boys what the core looked like then we made our own.  I quickly cut the sides off a paper plate.  I cut a stem and leaf out of the discarded plate part.  I helped the boys each hold a sharpie pen in the correct pencil hold as I helped them draw two black seeds in the center.  I poured out some crayola red paint and gave the boys each a small square of sponge for dabbing on the paint to the wavy edges.  It was going well, things were controlled.  I thought we were going to have perfect apple cores.  You know, the ones that look just like the pictures on pinterest?  Ha, Ha.  Those are never made by children but rather the parents that post the one that they themselves made as the example for their kids to follow.  Well, the sponges briefly went from dabbing to you guessed it, smearing , as always.  I quickly stopped it and thus we have cute, definitely made by kids, apple cores.  When the paint dried, I taped the leaf and stem onto the top.  When we walk by the apple cores we count the seeds.  It was our best apple project.

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We did read 10 Apples Up On Top today.  It is a book that made Lance just laugh out loud, but I don’t find it that funny.  After I finish this post, I’m cutting out a cute apple counting game to go on the felt board.  If it turns out good I’ll post a picture of it tomorrow.

Tot School 31.5mo Twins – W is For Weather

It’s a cold, windy and rainy day in Dallas today.  It’s a perfect day to learn about weather and that God makes the weather.

I stumbled across a great blog for christian themed kid’s crafts.   Here’s where I found our first weather activity.  http://kidsbibledebjackson.blogspot.ca/2012/10/preschool-weather-book.html.   I took a green file folder and glued all the printed paper pieces to it and added the loose pieces to a pocket on the back.

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I  pulled out each picture and said what it was.  I had the boys repeat the word back to me.  Since this is our first look at this activity, I had to tell the boys which season the picture belonged in.  At first I even had to point to which square was the right season but towards the end the boys were starting to remember which square was what season.  This is an introduction into the seasons.  It’s not something overly academic, but it does help the boys learn how to sort, even if mom has to help a lot.  They seemed to enjoy it and they learn more when they are having fun.  Because the title was God Makes the Weather and it was raining this morning, I told them about the story of Noah and all the rain that came down those 40 days.  I asked the boys if they would like for it to rain for 40 days, Lances said no and James grinned while he said yes then he just laughed and laughed.

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Our other rainy day activity focused on correlating the numbers that they say into actual amounts.  This will be a concept that will take a while to get.  It makes me laugh when we are sitting at light near our house where a hospital is under construction.  There are three cranes.  When I ask the boys to count them, they always seem to find five or ten cranes.  What I did was cut out an umbrella on construction paper and then I cut out rain drops on blue construction paper.  I wrote 1-5 on the bottom edge of the umbrella.  I put a small amount of tape on the back of each rain drop.  I taped up the umbrella on the back door and that got the boys’ attention.  We first counted all the written numbers on the umbrella.  Then we started with the number five and the boys got to place five raindrops below that number.   We counted outloud as we placed each drop.   We proceeded the same way down to the number one.  The  lines are not straight, I had to point frequently to which line we were currently on and a few times I had to ask one of the boys to remove a wayward drop and put it where it actually belonged.  So, this is not an activity for a perfectionist to do with a young 2 or 3-year-old.  When all the raindrops were in place, we counted each one again.  Then  the boys started the process of destruction.  I think this was their favorite part.  Nothing is left on the door for me to clean.  Even this destruction gives their fingers a good workout in fine motor skills.

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Today I count the rain outside and the wind as my mercy today.  It gave us a great springboard to good indoor activities.

Tot School 28.5mo Twins – O is For Outer Space

This is O letter week and the first day has been an adventure in outer space.  I love space and I think my boys like it too since they got to discover it with several different senses.  We started our morning making starry night counting pages.  I quickly quartered two black construction paper sheets and drew a moon with a white crayon on each.  I also wrote a number, going from 1 to 8, in the lower right corner.  I pulled out the cheap star sticker set and I let each boy put the corresponding number of stars on each sheet.  They did great counting the stars, but they still have trouble relating saying the number with the amount of things they have so I had to help a lot.  When we were done I hung them up on our fridge and the boys still wanted to play with them.  They looked at the stars, felt the stars, tried to peel a few stars off, moved them around in a different order and played with the magnets.

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While they were busy playing with starry night pages mommy made some special moon sand.  I took regular table salt, added three shakes of green glitter and two drops of green food coloring.  I put it on a small plate that had a good lip to it and I would have liked to set it out on the table and let them do their own thing, but on their own they would just throw it and eat it.  So we took our pointer finger and made shapes, wrote their name and made swirly patterns in the sand, alternating who I helped.  Even a few cars got in on the action and we had our own little moon rover adventure.

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By this time the boys needed something a bit less structured.  I pulled out our Mr Potato Head bin and I asked the boys to make an alien spud.  What creative little minds.  They had me laughing.

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We walked outside and looked up in the sky to see if we could spot the moon.  Some days you can barely see the moon but it’s there.  Today was so cloudy that we couldn’t see the moon.  We came in for lunch and then we looked at the phases of the moon.  This normally wouldn’t be on my radar for 2.5 year olds, but I saw a cute way to show this.  I googled the moon phases and found a silly faced moon phase page.  Then I bit off the top of Oreo cookies to match the moon phases.  See why this works.  As I said the phase, I shot the Oreo over to one of the boys for eating.  Of-corse there was milk and spilling involved too.  There wasn’t any serious learning going on since the boys were focused on the cookies and the smiling faces.  But this was a highlight of the morning.  I just can’t resist seeing the smiles and all the mess as they enjoyed their cookies.

 

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After some backyard play to burn off that sugar energy, the boys climbed up in my lap as I read Goodnight Moon.  Off to bed they went and that was our fun morning exploring outer space.

Tot School 26.5mo Twins – Counting Presents

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m finding that I crave to keep things going at a slower pace this season so we can enjoy what we do and the peace that too often alludes us.  So today I had to get an estimate on a repair, lunch with grandparents and some playground time to burn off that supply of toddler energy.  I’d love to cram in a cool art project this morning but I knew that would be too much.  It would end up with me hurrying the twins along and probably yelling when things got stressful.  So I’m sitting on my hands until this afternoon when we might have the time for crafts.  Never fear though, we did get some tot school in this morning waiting for my parents to arrive.

It’s such a simple thing.  No stress and just fun.  It’s a big deal for our boys to be able to go into the foyer where our Christmas tree is located.  I held their hands and had them sit down in front of the tree.  Surprisingly, they haven’t noticed the presents waiting under the tree yet.  I pulled one out and told them that we were going to count the presents.  They joyfully got right into the counting, even yelling the numbers, which made each of them laugh at the other one.  Then as I put the presents back under the tree, I pointed to the different colors and shapes on the wrapping paper.  They still need some work on correctly naming colors.

Not the most impressive thing to do this season, but one that fit into our schedule today and that made it very enjoyable.  It’s a good reminder that sometimes the simple things are all we need for our mercy, from God, to make it through the day.

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