Little Summer Explorers

I’m a mom that likes structure. While many families take the summer off to enjoy random playing, I still like to have some structure to my day. I started a few weeks ago looking for something that would be fun for the summer. I easily found it when I came across God’s Little Explorers by Stacie Nelson. Due to my restricted time, I won’t be doing daily posts, I’ll be giving the weekly highlights. If you want to check out the program for yourself please take a look at http://www.motherhoodonadime and you can also get detail instructions on most of the crafts that we do for this program. We’ll be taking two units per week so we can cover the whole alphabet during the summer months.  Also, for your reference, my boys are 3.5 yrs old.

This first week was a lot of fun. We began by decorating a cardboard box to be our explorer’s kit. The boys mainly put stickers on the box and I wrote Explorer’s Kit on two of the sides. With that done, I explained that explorers used equipment to find valuable treasure. I hid each treasure item and marked it with an X made out of tape. The treasure equipment was 1 adult Bible, 1 kid’s Bible, 2 pencils, 1 pack of crayons, 2 magnifying glasses and 2 flashlights. Now our kit was getting full so we made the last item. We made binoculars out of tape, ribbon and toilet paper tubes. They were a hit.

Next we looked at the Bible they found. I told them that God’s word is our treasure. We looked at the table of contents, looked at how it’s divided into books, chapters and verses. I printed out “God’s word is a treasure,” with each word in its own circle, cut those out, buried them in a plastic bin with popcorn kernels and gave them some cups and measuring spoons to play with. Sensory activities are always a hit and usually require some cleanup. Then I read the story of creation from Genesis chapter 1.   I try to read the bible story for that unit from the adult version one day and the kid’s version the other times. We followed that up watching the first half of What’s In the Bible vol I dvd. After that I cut out a big piece of brown paper, made a squiggly line across it, labeled the beginning with the Bible and the end with a big X. Our theme for two days was X marks the spot. We practiced writing little X all over a big X, making X out of our body parts, making cheese pieces into the shape of an X and practicing the sound of X.

 

The next section focused on the garden of Eden during the creation.   We sounded out the letter G.  We looked at seeds under the magnifying glass, soaked the seeds overnight and cut them in half before looking at them again and placed a few in a baggie wrapped in a wet paper towel. The seeds were supposed to sprout but ours molded instead. We talked about seeds making plants and that they need water and sunlight to help them grow. We watched the second half of the Vol I What’s In the bible. I had plans to do a whole lot more with the gardening theme, but I got tired and we didn’t do them and give yourself some grace if that happens to you too. We went to see a really big garden at the end of the week. We went over to visit the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. The boys enjoyed it. They ran, they got to be loud, we had a picnic, they got to smell herbs and they even learned about some of the birds that might live in a garden. We wrapped up this week by adding a garden picture next to the Bible on our treasure map.

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Tot School 35mo Twins – Creation

We are back in full swing with tot school and today the boys are taking a nap so I get to blog.  Yea!  I’m getting a lot of my ideas from www.abcjesusloves.com.

We have started our bible learning along with the alphabet.  Yesterday we read through the story of creation in Genesis.  I’m using the spooky nothing story that I mentioned in an earlier post.  The boys are just captivated by it and now they can even say parts of the story too.  I asked a few questions to help the story sink in.  Lance had me laughing when I asked why we needed light during the day, his reply was the stars needed to go to sleep too and they can’t stay out for us to see them when the sun is shining.  Since God made the earth and it’s round, I went with a full circle theme for many of our activities.  We made round earths by taking coffee filters, marking them with green and blue markers and dropping water around the filter.  They come out looking like a view of earth from space.  Pretty cool and really easy.  Earlier I had made a turnable wheel with the days of creation in pictures.  The first time through the wheel, I described what God had made on that day.  The next time around I had the boys tell me what God made on that day.  They can’t tell me what number of day each thing was created on yet, but give it some time and they’ll have that down too.  Lance really likes to spin the top part of the wheel around regardless of what we are doing.  Again, I retold the creation story using Betty Lukin’s creation flannelgraph set.  I can’t say enough good about that set. 

We moved on from the activities that directly related to the bible story.  We talked about how God created the earth to be round.  Round things are usually circles.  So off we went to explore circles.  I printed out a big number 0 and let the boys use markers to color it.  Not only did we talk about the number 0 and that it meant there was nothing, they got some great fine motor skill practice by taking the caps on and snapping them completely back on.  They also got some great color on them, but we used the washable markers and it all came off.

 

 

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Next I put down a plain white sheet of paper, scattered out some round lids that I had been collecting.  Anything from sour cream container lids to milk jug lids.  I put a big dab of Crayola washable paint of blue, purple and yellow onto three separate saucers.  All I had to say was make circles and the boys had a ball doing the rest.

 

 

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I made a few days ago some tactile numbers using sandpaper.  It always helps to cover all the styles of learning.  So we covered touch too while we felt of the number 0.  James wasn’t as thrilled about this activity.

We cuddled up on the overstuffed chair and read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  After reading it, we just had to make round, chocolate chip cookies.  I have the best little bakers in Texas!  Now we can also taste a circle!

When dad came in, we stopped the circle theme and did some hands on creating ourselves.  We recently found a set of wedgets.  These are great.  They are square and diamond-shaped hard pieces that stack together.  the sky is the limit with your building.  It helps the boys understand sizing, stacking, coloring, dimensions and balance.  If you haven’t seen these, check them out.

 

 

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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.