Tot School 37.5mo Twins – Learning Basic Skills

What do we do all day?  How many times have I heard that question from parents who work.  We do a lot of the same things that kids in daycare do, we just do it at home on a more relaxed schedule during the day.  Lately we’ve been focusing on some basic skills.  I have to confess that using scissors isn’t high on my list of things to do.  Mainly because I have two kids trying to learn how to cut at the same time.  I can’t watch and correct and protect fingers at all times for both kids.  But  my boys still have to learn this skill whether I like to do it or not.  I just chant to myself “safety’s highly over rated!” and I get through it without making my boys paranoid of scissors.  It’s practice that makes cutting easier, not knowledge.  Teaching the boys how to properly hold the scissors takes patience with endless corrections and teaching how to move the paper to cut in a long straight line.  Each time we practice the boys get better at it and I’m not a wreck with scissor being thrust at each other in snapping motions.

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Connecting the dots is another basic skill that we’ve been learning.  Now that they have counting down from 1-10, we can do some fun things with counting.  I used abcjesuslovesme.com for their connect the dots shapes.  I taped down the diamond shape that only have 1-4 dots.  I gave the boys their big pencils and well, we are still working on the correct grasp.  It took a few times of explaining that they were supposed to start at 1 and trace the line down to 2 and so on.  When they got it they were really happy and they each identified the diamond shape.  Of course since they marked on their papers they had to  try out their erasing skills too.

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Next we worked on squeezing glue bottles.  This is a great workout for those fine motor skills.  We are working on the letter I this week so I printed out a bubble letter I worksheet.  Awhile back I took two bottles of Elmer’s glue.  To one bottle I added blue food coloring and to the other I added orange coloring.  Then I stirred and stirred and stirred.  It takes awhile to get it all mixed in.  I’d been waiting to find a use for those pretty glues.  I told the boys that we were going to ice our letter I just like a cookie.  So they squeezed and had a great time doing it.

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Our last basic skill was learning how to put real puzzles together.  Let me tell you, start this on a day when your patience is abounding.  It gets a bit frustrating at first.  We have a floor puzzle that’s great for beginners.  The boys were excited when I dumped all the pieces out of the box.  I showed them the difference between the straight-edged pieces and the inner pieces.  They were to help me sort them into two piles.  The showing & describing the straight edges happened many times during this first step.  Then we started to put the edges together.  Oi!  how many times did I say, does the round hole face outward and does the hole create a straight line?  Lance got bored with it rather fast but James stayed with it.  The first time around that boy didn’t tell the difference in any of the patterns.  I did have to remind myself that he might be color blind and to focus on the pattern shapes instead of the colors incase he really is color blind.  I let my frustration bubble over a few times because there is only so many ways to explain a straight line.  We got the puzzled done, James and Lance loved tearing it up.  Since that first try, James asks to do the floor puzzle every day.  So while I might have gotten frustrated, James clearly loved it.  We have done the puzzle two more times and each time he gets better.  Lance also stays around for a longer time too.  James is very careful not to lean or step on the puzzle while Lance tends to be careless and pulls the pieces near him apart.  So with lots of practice, they will get good at puzzles and some day they will be doing them with mom and dad and all of us will have a good time.

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Tot School 35.5mo Twins – Rainbows

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This week we are learning about the story of Noah.  I love that the boys are picking up on what they hear.  This morning I heard the boys talking to each other about animals that were two by two.  It was a good encouragement since you never know how much those little minds are grasping.  To emphasize the story, I talked about why God gave us rainbows.  If you don’t know, it’s a promise from God that He will never again flood the earth and destroy all people.  I had printed off a rainbow from ABCJesusLovesMe.com.  I taped that down to the kitchen table.  I set two chairs next to each other so the boys could work together on one page.  I started out helping each boy squeeze glue onto an arch of the rainbow.  We started on the inside of the rainbow first.  I gave each boy some fruitloops that corresponded with the arch color and I let them place the fruit loops on the glue.  I helped them learn how to place the loops side by side without much gap.  They each started on the opposite end of the arch and worked towards the middle where they met.  This was a very simple and easy project.  The only thing I had to watch for was them eating the fruitloops.  I had decided to let them do one page together because I didn’t think their attention span would hold doing a full rainbow each.  This worked their hand/eye coordination and their fine motor skills.  No wow factor on this project, but my boys liked it and I like anything that helps them remember the Bible stories that we read.

P.S.  I didn’t even think about what color pattern a real rainbow is, so don’t laugh that it’s out of order.

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Tot School 34.5mo Twins – Marble Bowling

I am bowled out!  We went with grandma today to a pizza & game place.  The boys played virtual bowling, mini bowling and skee ball.  It was a lot of fun working on those gross motor skills.  After nap time today the boys asked for more bowling.  So here’s what I came up with so it wouldn’t be the same thing we had done all day.  I made marble bowling.  This bowling worked on the arm, hands and fingers in a narrow area with really small targets.  The bonus was I got to sit at the end of the table instead of standing.

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This is such a simple game to throw together and play.  I took 10 of those small pencil erasers and stood them up in the traditional bowling triangle at one end of the kitchen table.  The boys counted the number of erasures in each row with me and we identified all the colors too.  I sent them down to the other end of the table with a marble each.  At first it was fast, crazy throwing of both marbles.  After I got their attention, they calmed down and took turns rolling the marbles.  I had to pay attention because they really whip those marbles fast.  I would catch the marbles and roll them back.  We didn’t fuss with all the bowling rules.  I simplified it to taking turns rolling to avoid fighting.  We also took more rolls to get all 10 erasures down, sometimes taking up to 10 rolls to do it.

Lance stayed at the game for about 10min before he got bored with it.  James played for 20min and then he started throwing the marble around and kicking further away for fun.  This was a great little new game that worked on fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination and concentration.  I need to remember this one during the rest of this month when we have hot days over 100 degrees when nobody wants to play outside.

Tot School 32.5mo Twins – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I am just like a million other moms.  I have read my kid’s favorite books over and over until everyone in the house can recite them by memory.  Our current overused, I mean, well-loved books are My Big Train Book,  Everything Fire Engine Book, Sounds On the Go Book and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  While browsing on Pinterest, I saw a cute activity to go along with the caterpillar book.  For detail directions and the pattern go over to www.teachingheart.net.

I printed out the pattern and I decided that I would laminate my pieces so it would last longer.  It’s an easy pattern to cut and make.  I think it took a whole 10min to do so I highly recommend this because it takes very little prep.

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The basic idea is that as you read the story, your children will get to identify the items that the caterpillar eats.  I thought it would be a breeze since my boys can point out and say all the items in the book.  When they are in small, mixed up picture form on the floor, it was a bit more challenging for them.  Dad & I had to help them correctly identify all the items.

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For the first time try, I’m so glad that I had my husband’s help.  It was crazy even with his help.  They boys ran back and forth around each other from the book to the pieces to where dad was holding the actual caterpillar.  Plus add to the running, the excitement of something new and the quick grabbing of pieces due to the excitement and it was super crazy but fun.  I didn’t have any problems putting the pieces into the mouth of the caterpillar, but dad found that the boys had some trouble.  I figure that with some practice, the feeding and the identifying will get easier.  You can ask to identify the picture by the number of items in the picture, by what it actually is and by the color of the items.  The boys also had some extra practice with pronouncing the items.

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This one little activity works on color recognition, counting, object recognition, speech development, fine motor hand skills and the way my boys play it, they also got some gross motor skill developement in there too.  It is so easy to make and what a clever but simple activity.  I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest.

Tot School 29mo Twins – Q is For Quilts

quiltI did it, I finally got around to sharing one of my passions with my boys.  We made quilts.  Paper ones that is.  We talked about the “Qwa” sound that the Q makes and named a few things that begin with that sound.  When we came to the word quilt, I took the boys over to show them two quilts that each of their grandmothers had made.  I told them that to make a quilt you took some fabric, fluffy stuff and more fabric and sandwiched them together.   Lance found the word fluffy stuff to be fun to say.  Lance is also my boy who loves and I mean loves soft feeling things.  He could sit all day watching tv under a soft blanket if I let him and never will he go to sleep without his fuzzy rabbit.   I showed them a quilt that I had made.  It has shadow quotes from the Bible about love so we read aloud the sayings.  Then I said that the boys could make their own paper quilt.  They hurried to the table.  I taped down two pieces of colored construction paper, gave each of them a glue stick and told them to cover the page with glue.  I had to help some so all of the page would get covered.  Even with some help from me, this builds fine motor strength.

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While they were gluing I quickly cut out squares from different colored construction paper.  I spread them out on the table and told the boys that they could make the squares into any quilt pattern that they wanted.  James decided to only use red squares on his quilt while Lance used several colors and used everything that James didn’t use.

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This doesn’t conjure up the project of the year award in most people’s mind, but this is the beginning of problem solving, designing and spatial relationships.  This activity allows for their unique abilities and personal likes.  It reminds me again that while they may be twins they are two different little boys.  As different as the two quilts that they made.

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I can’t wait to see what career each of them choose in the future.  For now I’ll appreciate seeing how they are alike, how they are different and how because of being twins they love and accept each other.  It’s a great model for me to live out too.  So, my mercy for the day is seeing a truth, that I need to be reminded of, being lived out right in front of me.

Tot School 28mo Twins – M is for Motor Skills

I dropped off the face of the earth last week so I could have the flu.  Now I’m back and since we missed most of the fun M activities, we are doing the M letter again this week.  Today we worked on motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills

This morning I took some string and hung a loofah puff from the ceiling fan chain.  I made it right at the boys’ head height.  Without a word of instruction my twins took off.  Running into it, hitting it, swinging it, pulling it and jumping at it.  Every time the loofah came swinging back and bopped them on the face they just laughed.  It actually got a bit much and mom had to settle the boys down so no one would get hurt.  It’s good to get those hands spread wide and bat at things in the air, to bend those legs and spring upwards, to use hand and eye coordination.  If I had given them a bat, it would have looked like crazy air T-ball but I think a few heads might have been wacked in the process.  Something to try another day or maybe another year.

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Fine Motor Skills

Pompoms.  Soft. Fluffy. Colorful.  Bring them out, add 2yr olds and you have an instant party.  I spiced up that party by adding two neon colored cups and two shiny tongs.  Lance went to town picking up the balls and putting them in his cup.  James took a bit longer to get the hang of using tongs.  After the small tongs were loosing their appeal, I brought out two large cooking tongs and the boys went into a frenzy of fun.  They were picking up toys, pompoms and each other’s shirts off their backs.  After a bit, their hand muscles must have gotten tired because they started dropping or missing the pompoms and they both got whiny.  So we put the tongs away and just used the cups to scoop up all the balls and drop them into a larger container for safe keeping.

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The boys’ were worn out after a busy morning of simple play.  I take for granted all the learning that can happen when we put away the toys and do a simple task or two.  I take for granted how sweet their laughter is when they are playing together.  I take for granted how God delights in watching all of His creation learn, grow and play.

Tot School 27mo Twins – J is For Jello & Fine Motor Skills

The second day of the letter J was fun.  I was busy this morning at BSF, so we did tot school this afternoon.  While the twins took a nap, I made one box of orange jello and two boxes of raspberry jello.  When the boys woke up I cut the jello into small squares and dumped it all into a bin for some sensory play with two scoops, two spoons and five marbles that I added toward the end.

DSC_0136  The first thing those boys did was grab the spoons and start eating.  They are just being themselves, food is a priority and they ate and ate and ate a lot of jello today.

DSC_0139DSC_0141   Lance finally decided to pick the jello up with his hands to eat it.  I showed them how to squish it between their fingers and that started the experimenting.  What made my boys laugh?  Squishing it through their fingers, throwing it up on the sides so it sticks, feeding it to their brother, plopping it down, scooping & dumping, making it wiggle and jiggle in the bin, making it wiggle and jiggle in their mouths/in their hands/on their arms (you name it & they used it to jiggle) and of-course searching for the lost marbles in the jello.

DSC_0142  It wasn’t my favorite sensory bin, but the boys sure liked it.  When I threw in five marbles, they used their hands, the scoops and the spoons to fish them out.  They counted each one as they plopped it into my hands.  After the second search and rescue, they started throwing them back in the bin and mixing it all up so it would harder to find the marbles.

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After dinner we did a little fine motor skill work.  It was very easy for me.  I took a piece of small bubble wrap and tore it into two pieces.  I handed it to James and Lance.  They immediately sat down and started popping.  I immediately sat in the comfy chair for the next 15min as they worked hard at popping those bubbles.  It may not seem creative, original or impressive, but those boys got in a workout for those little hand muscles.

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