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.



Tot School 31.5mo Twins – X Marks the Spot


While the boys finished up breakfast this morning, I told them a tale about treasure being buried in our house.  That if we followed a map we would surely find the treasure.  I asked the boys what treasure was.  James wouldn’t say but Lance said it was jellybeans.  I told them that treasure is something that’s valuable, like pirate’s gold.  I grabbed a Texas road map from our travel draw and we pretended to follow it until we found the X that marked the spot.  I had made a giant X on the living room floor using blue painters tape.  There in the middle of the X was 6 pieces of cut up, yellow colored, pipe cleaners – our gold.  I declared that we were all official pirates.  I even made the boys learn how to say YoHo & Arrgh.  My pirates walked the lines of the X, hopped on the lines and crawled the lines.  It was an Xcelent time talking about the letter X.


I divided out the 6 pieces of yellow pipe cleaners to the boys.  I whispered and said I had a secret.  They came close and I said that this was rare and very precious gold that had been lost for a thousand years so they needed to take very good care of it.  As you can see in the pictures, they held up the gold pieces as if to say, “It’s mine, all mine, glorious treasure,”  they got the greedy pirate part down.  I suggested that they keep it stored in a safe place.  So I brought out a special treasure chest, ie: a cleaned out cool whip container with holes punched in the top using an ice pick.  I told them they could put the gold through the holes and it would stay nice and safe.  So they did just that and then took the top off and kept re-adding it back into the treasure box.  It gave my pirates some hand/eye coordination practice.












We were having a friend come over later for lunch so mommy pretended that the house was our pirate ship.  I gave the orders for all pirates mates on hand to swab out the deck.  I handed out the brooms and then rags as we swept and shined the windows all while listening to some cool Caribbean island tunes.DSC_0594


I jokingly said the ship was in a deplorable state so they had to walk the plank.  I pulled out a 4×6 board from the wood shop and laid it in the middle of our living room.  The boys immediately had fun walking and running down the plank.  I gave them a few runs then when they started to fall off, I snapped at them and said there were hungry sharks and alligators in the water waiting to eat them.  After a few more runs, when they got to the end and they jumped off I made splashing sounds and then grabbed them, declaring they had jumped into the dreaded Bermuda Triangle of Tickles.  I then proceeded to tickle them vigorously before letting them go around again.




My little pirates had one last adventure before lunch, they got to look for sunken treasure.  I took a small bin, added 4 shape pieces, 4 plastic animals and 4 gold plastic coins to a tub full of soapy water with a hint of blue coloring added to look like the blue waters of the Caribbean.  I laid out a shower curtain and put a piece of paper on each side with the names of the objects they would find.  Then I let the boys dive into the bubbles to find their treasure.  Lance was all about getting the treasure and sorting it while James liked to play in the bubbles.  They had some trouble understanding the sorting so I had to help out a bit.  This was their first true sorting exercise.











To round off our pirate day that began with the letter X, we settled down to read the Veggie Tales Bible.    Larry and Bob were pirates.  The story was about laying up treasure in heaven.  With all the fun that we had today being greedy, gold seeking pirates, I pray that my boys will learn to share their treasures, be kind and be wise with all that God gives them.

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.



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.


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. 



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.