Tot School 338.5mo Twins – Peppermint Playdo

December is a busy month.  If I don’t watch how much I schedule, we’d be running and doing every second of the day.  Just a few days ago, Dallas had an ice storm.  We were cooped up inside for 3 days straight.  I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with twin boys one of those days.  So I decided to make homemade peppermint Playdo.  It was such a huge success.  The playdo came out like it was supposed to and the boys played for an hour with it.

Peppermint Playdo:

-Mix 5 cups water, 2 1/2 cups salt, 3 tablespoons cream of tartar and red food coloring if desired

-Cook on medium low heat until hot

-Add 10 tablespoons vegetable oil

-Stir in 5 cups flour, adding a little at a time

-Add 1 tablespoon peppermint extract and also adding any glitter if desired

-Mix over heat until no longer sticky

-Let cook and then knead slightly

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In the past the boys would play for about 15 min before getting bored.  This time I gave them several pieces of plastic play wood, a plastic screwdriver, plastic pliers, measuring cups, plastic drinking cups and a broken end off the measuring cup for a knife.  Wow did that make all the difference.  I happen to have boys that love the show Mighty Machines.  The pliers became grapplers, the screwdriver became a metal grinder and well you get the picture.

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Then we worked on making snowmen, complete with hat, arms and nose.  Lastly we made pretend ice cream using the cone from the play kitchen.  Lance sure knows how to name each of his ice cream flavors.

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I have pulled out the two different colors of peppermint playdo three more times this past week.  Each time it was fun and long-lasting.  I am so glad I branched out and let them use some of their play things with the playdo.  I think that has made a big difference.  So whatever your child really loves to play with, try to incorporate that into playdo time and I bet your little one will enjoy playdo even more.

 

Tot School 35mo Twins – Educational Playdate

Today was so much fun.  We had a friend over for an educational playdate.  It’s a day where we take a break from our normal learning, the boys practice sharing and mom gets a glimpse of what it will be like when we add another little one later down the road.  These playdates are right up my alley.  If you want to do an educational playdate instead of the usual let all the kids play with toys, then here’s an idea of how it flows.  For your playdate, have fun with different activities.

The morning started with burning off some energy.  Three active boys, they needed this before they could settle down to do anything that required focusing.  I blew up my jumpalene and let the boys go wild.  I have a rule that only soft balls are allowed in the jumpalene and I told all three boys the rule.  So my boys started throwing the balls in with abandon while our guest was just as passionate about the balls being outside the jumper.  A little ball war ensued, but that was ok as long as no one was getting upset.  A bit of rough jumping and rolling around happened before all three were playing chase around the jumper.  This calmed them down some so we could move on to the educational activities.

I love science.  I do.  I don’t like math, but science is my thing.  So we did some science today.  I pulled out the goggles because every science experiment requires safety goggles, at least that’s what I heard in class, but these just helped make the project fun.  Yes, this is an engineering house, we do have three sets of goggles that don’t even include the ones from my work.

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Before our friend arrived, I had set out a broiler pan, put some baking soda into a small cup and then fashioned a quick volcano.  Yes, it only took 2-3min to make so you can do this.  I took foil, crumpled it up, spread it out, crimped it around the edge of the cup and let it sorta flow down to the pan.  I set that out on the kitchen table.  I told them that volcanoes were big mountains with hot liquid in the middle that sometimes erupted.  I let the boys look down into the volcano and I explained that the white powder was baking soda and it was alkaline.  Then I poured three cups with several drops of red food coloring, several squirts of dish washing liquid and some vinegar.  I gave each boy a glass and said it as an acid.  Not that I expect them to remember this, but I said there’s a big line with acid on one side and alkaline on the other end with neutral in the middle.  I spread my arms out wide to demonstrate a long line and I pointed to the left several times towards the alkaline and had the boys say alkaline and did the same things to the right with the acid.  Oh and I did this all in a cheesy cheerleader fashion which I’m sure helps with the retention.  We let each boy pour in his vinegar and watched the lava flow.  I pointed out the little bubbles that were rising to the top and everyone could see the big bubbles rising and popping.  I quickly said that was gas escaping from the reaction.  We pushed the tray around several times so everyone got to make it erupt more than once.  Like I mentioned, it’s not the remembering of the details that I want the boys to grasp, but rather hearing the words so that they aren’t foreign and making it fun so the boys will cultivate a love of learning science. 

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After each educational activity we try to let the boys just  play with toys because the attention span of sitting and listening isn’t that long at this age.  When we rounded the boys up again, I had scattered laminated alphabet letters all over the floor and I had already tacked up a coconut tree to the closet door.  We started with A and let each boy find the next letter.  I put putty on the back of the letter and the other mom helped the boys stick the letter to the tree.  Occasionally we had the boys give the letter’s sound that they were holding.  After all the letters were up, I read through the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Our last activity, after a bit more free play, was working with playdo.  Each boy got to pick which color he wanted to work with, that way there would be no color mixing.  When the playdo first came out in a ball, I stuck a pipe cleaner in each one.  I showed the boys how to thread cheerios onto the pipecleaner.  This helps those fine motor skills.  Our friend did a few then ran off to play, Lance did about 8 then just played with the playdo and James stuck with it longer before he played with just the playdo.  Obviously this wasn’t a big hit. 

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Sometimes the activities will last a long time and others will fizzle right from the beginning and sometimes just one kid will love it while everyone else moves on, but don’t be discouraged.  It’s not a personal failure on the moms if everything isn’t exciting and fun.  This playdate is about letting the kids learn in a group environment, which includes sharing, taking turns, working around distractions, listening to other adults give directions and still having fun.  If your kids aren’t in official preschool or daycare, these types of experiences will help them gain those socialization skills.  It’s also comforting as a mom to try some of these things with the backup of another mom there to help out.  As I heard in a parenting class, practice is what happens at home so look at this as a time of practice.  If someone yells, grabs toys away, throws a tantrum or is easily distracted, it’s ok because it’s just practice for a latter time when you are out in public.  Believe me when I say that plenty of disobedience and disruptions happened.  This type of playdate takes planning but the learning and fun is worth it.  We our blessed to have really good friends to play and learn with.

Tot School 23.5mo twins – Red Sea, Playdo, & Squares

Lance has been running a low-grade fever all week so he’s been cranky and we’ve been cooped up in the house.  That means that today their energy just spilled over and they went nuts.  I’ve declared the followed the theme for the day, “Let the wild rumpus begin!” from Where the Wild Things Are.  So this morning was nonstop activity.  Yesterday we set out to make white squares to help with the color of the month and the shape.  I poured just bit of white paint out onto a small plate and cut up a sponge in the shape of squares.  We looked at the shapes first then I showed them how to dab the sponges in the paint and make squares on their construction paper.  Lance did well with his squares and James took the more artistic path and smeared his squares around.  I would have liked to put them up on the refrigerator to review the color/shape with them, but they decided that ripping the taped paper off the table would be a better idea.  Sometimes it just doesn’t go like you planned.  Just like the constant need to tell the boys not to lick the paint and not to eat the sponges.

Today we tried our hand at play do art.  I’m really into the art thing lately.  I put one color out in front of each boy at a time.  I worked with each one to roll out the dough until it was mostly smooth & flat.  Then I pressed their hand into the dough and showed them their hand print.  James loved it and Lance was content to ball it up and stick it on his finger so he could twirl it around in the air for all to see.  We eventually used four different colors.  The boys could identify the yellow and orange color pretty well, but the pink never quite stuck.  The other fun thing that they enjoyed was pushing the dough into the cup and dumping it back out again and again and again.

Yesterday I made a path through two walls of the Red Sea to go along with the story of the week.  I pushed their climber over near the rocking chair by the couch.  I then put a sheet over them to make a wall.  I showed the boys how the Israelites walked between two walls of water on dry land.  I thought this was pretty good, but after two walk throughs, the boys decided that it was way more fun to play on the climber under the sheet.  I have to say it did look like fun when they slid down the slide and popped out from under the sheet halfway down.  So this illustration wasn’t the best and today while we were at the table we tried another illustration.  I put out a small bowl of water.  I said small because the bigger the bowl, the bigger the spill because you know it’s going to happen.  I took a straw and blew into it to part the water slightly.  I reminded them about God blowing wind to part the Red Sea.  So I held onto the water bowl while the boys blew through the straw to part the water.  After we did that a few times, we just blew bubbles in the bowls.  Amazingly, no water was spilled.

In between all the structured tot school time was running, yelling, laughing, crying, pushing, hitting and all out chaos.   So much chaos that mom was about to loose it by the time dad came home each night.   But in all this wild rumpus, my boys have had fun, learned a little too and we have gotten through a tough week of being sick.  All thanks to the mercies raining down from God.