Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011 Thank You's

Oh, I am so excited to do this! This is the first time I am doing a thank you post, which I have seen a lot of blogs that I love do at the end of the month. I think it is fun to see where people are coming from and where they are going on my blog.

Coincidentally, and appropriately, this is my 50th blog post, too :)

These stats are based on my blogger stats report.

Thank you to these sites (in alphabetical order) for sending traffic my way! I did not include sites like facebook and pinterest, just other blogs. If you have not visited these wonderful educational and crafting blogs yet, please do!

Crafty Moms Share
Living Life Intentionally
Living Montessori Now
No Time for Flashcards
One Hook Wonder
Our Worldwide Classroom
Sun Scholars
Taming the Goblin

Thank you to my readers for visiting my blog! Here are my top ten most popular posts for the month of November, with the first post being the most read and the last post being the least read.

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin
Thanksgiving Tot Trays
Letter F Tot Trays- Frogs and Fish
What's on the Tray? Elephants, Eggs and Eyes!
Tot School October 24 to 31- P is for Pumpkins
What's on the Tray? Pumpkins!!
Versatile Blog Award
Magnets- Elephants
Halloween Sensory Bin
Back to School Sensory Bin

Looking at the numbers, it seems like people are really interested in the trays and sensory bins I put together for Boogie. I think that Our Worldwide Classroom has an incredibly comprehensive sensory bin link party, but I am thinking about starting a weekly tray party here soon.Would anyone be interested?

Thank you again to all the referring blogs and all my readers :)

On to December, and advent, and CHRISTMAS!! :D
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Versatile Blog Award

My first award blogging! How fun!! I want to send a big thank you and hopefully some visitors over to Taming the Goblin for passing on The Versatile Blogger Award to me! Her son is exactly the same age as Boogie, so I have found her blog to be really fun and interesting to read. She also does Montessori-type trays and activities, so I like to borrow ideas :) If you would like to see the other 14 blogs she chose, check out her list here!

The Rules
  • Thank the person that nominated you with a link back to them.
  • Tell 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this award on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know that they've received an award!
Seven Things About Me

1. My Mom and I talk everyday. I see her at least once a week. She is my best friend besides my husband. She and my dad divorced when I was in 3rd grade, so she raised us on her own and did it on an extremely tight budget as a stay-at-home mom, providing child care in her home so she would be there when we needed her. She is amazing.

2. I love the Twilight series. It is horrible. The writing is mediocre, the "heroes" are controlling, the "heroine" is whiny...but I have lost track of how many times I have read them. And yes, I have seen all 4 movies so far too. I can't explain it. It is an unfortunate addiction!

3. I accepted Jesus as my Savior on December 15, 1994 after reading either the 4th or 5th book in the Christy Miller series by Christian author Robin Jones Gunn, who went on to write a series with the heroine named Sierra! I really clearly remember the moment, sitting in my bed, reading by the light of the Christmas lights because I was supposed to be sleeping. I know the date so well because I wrote a quick comment in the corner of one of my school notebooks, knowing it was momentous and something I would want to remember. I still have that corner. It is a bookmark in my Bible for John 3:16.

4. One of my dearest friends says she knew that I first liked my husband when I let him drive my car to teach him how to drive stick. I loved that car. Her name was Dory because she was the brightest blue little Pontiac Sunfire you have ever seen and I loved "Finding Nemo". My husband also jokes that he fell for me because I could drive stick :P

5. I am the oldest child with two younger brothers. I am educated as an English teacher. On my worst days, this makes me a bossy know-it-all used to getting my own way. On my best days this makes Haha. I am not sure, but I do know that my husband is a saint!

6. I always, my whole life, said I wanted to have a big family. My husband and I go back and forth on numbers, but think we will have at least four children. Going from 1 to 2 kids was hard, so we will see where the next several years take us :)

7. I LOVE football. Love love love it. My husband and I have been playing fantasy football for either 3 or 4 years now and usually are in the top 4 in our league of 10. We have season tickets to our college football games as well. Unfortunately, we cheer for different NFL teams, so our kids are going to be conflicted come football season each year!

Passing on the Award...

I chose 15 blogs that focus on homeschooling or crafting, since that's why I blog and what I blog about. I think all the blogs that I chose are less than a year old, so that should count for newly discovered. Most of the mommies who write these blogs either have tots like I do, or gear their posts towards crafts, lessons and activities for tots. You should definitely check them out!

A Purpose Driven Home
Crafty Moms Share
Crayon Freckles
Get 'Er Done, Momma
Joyfully Weary
Little Tiger Growing Up
Living Life Intentionally
Mess for Less
One Artsy Mama
Over the Big Moon
Raising Genius Fish
Sun Scholars
The Only Thing Pink in a World Gone Blue
The Educators' Spin On It

Thank you again, Taming the Goblin!
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Tot Trays

This week we are doing the letter T for thanks and turkey. I have been planning a couple of these tot trays since Halloween! Without further delay, what's on the tray?

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I fell in love with this idea the first time I saw it at To The Lesson. Boogie has a lot of trouble with clothespins right now, but is really good at other fine motor skills, so I wanted to challenge him with a fun clothespin pinching activity. We can talk about the colors of the feathers and count them as we put them on. There is some sensory learning here too, with the different textures of the feathers and the foam.

This tray is a simple artist-in-training tray. Boogie has a pen, a leaf notebook and some stickers to be creative with. He will have to use fine motor skills with the pen and stickers (getting them off and sticking them). He always wants to use pens when we do, so hopefully he will enjoy his own personal seasonal pen.

I have seen this idea all over Pinterest, and decided to try it with a turkey picture this week. I cut a picture into strips, pasted it onto popsicle sticks, then spread watered down glue all over the top. Voila! A popsicle stick puzzle! This works at his problem solving skills, and he has to use fine motor skills to line them up neatly to make the picture too. Boogie likes all of his chunky and peg puzzles, so we will see how he likes this. I need to remember to print out a complete version of the picture for him to use as a reference.

This next tray is a sorting tray. My BFF gave Boogie a bunch of seasonal foam stickers. We will sort tan owls, red acorns, brown squirrels and glittery orange pumpkins. I chose five of each of these stickers and put them in the center of the tray. We can talk about colors, we can count, and we can sort with this tray. I have a whole bag full of more of these and other foam stickers, so we can create some pictures this week too.

I have a feeling Boogie will be pretty excited about this tray. He loved these cups last week, so I chose two Thanksgiving-y colors. We can practice telling the difference between yellow and orange, which he is struggling with. I filled up one cup with flat marbles in fall colors (from Pier 1 Import, used a gift card). I also provided a yellow and orange spoon. The main skill I am targeting is transferring by spooning or dumping and pouring. Guess which one Boogie will prefer :P We can also talk about colors and count the marbles.

I think this is the first Thanksgiving activity I saw, and it seems to have originated at My Montessori Journey. Mine is much simpler because I don't have the time for fancy sewing. I am all about the glue gun instead! Boogie LOVES buttons (because they are circles!) so having the chance to play with some will make him happy. We will talk about colors and count with this tray too.

For more turkey and Thanksgiving ideas, click on the picture below to see my pinterest board.

You can also check out the Thanksgiving Sensory Bin Boogie has been enjoying.

Linking up to:
TGIF @ Living Life Intentionally
Sharing Saturday @ Crafty Moms Share
Show and Share Saturday @ I Can Teach My Child
The Sunday Showcase @ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
Montessori Monday @ Living Montessori Now
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday @ Crayon Freckles
Show and Tell @ ABC and 123
For the Kids Friday @ Sun Scholars
Link & Learn @ No Time for Flashcards
Thrifty Thursday @ Playing With Words 365
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Tot School- The Letter F (frogs and fish)

** Boogie is 25.5 months old**

This week went really well! We did trays, we did worksheets, we did crafts! We had Mom's group at church on Wednesday. We had playdates Monday and Thursday. We were insanely busy, but I am so happy to say that we got to calendar time FOUR DAYS! The only day we did not do it was Wednesday because we were rushing out the door to get to church.

We also read our Bible story (The Little Children's Bible Storybook) every day, at least once. We were reading about Abraham and Sarah having Isaac, and Boogie enjoyed the story a lot. I am so very thankful that Boogie LOVES reading the Bible. We keep it by the kitchen table and every time we sit down and eat, he wants us to read to him. Almost every day, we read from the beginning to whatever story we are up to that week. He will sit happily through more than 100 pages (with maybe 50 big words a page at the most) and sometimes ask us to start again. Our Bible has questions and activities that go along with each story, and Boogie knows what is coming, and often does it right before we ask him to. He will also fill in the blanks if you skip words in the stories that he knows the best, like Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark. My prayer for him right now is that his love for God's Word will grow as he does and his excitement over hearing it will never fade.

I feel like we hit another turning point in his learning this past week, which is when the filling in the blank stuff started. He does it not only with the Bible, but also his favorite story books. Currently, Thomas' ABCs is the book he never lets go, and he can tell you what every letter in that book is for, except for V and Y (he doesn't seem to like V, and Y is on the same page as Z. He is much more excited about "ZIP! ZIP!" then about "yard." Who can blame him, really?) and he fills in several words on some of the pages he likes best. It completely blows me away! He is also mimicking much more clearly. He has a truck slide and find window book and he has started "reading" that one too. I will be feeding Bam Bam on the floor next to him, and he will say "where dump truck?" then slide the right window and exclaim that he got it right. I just love watching him learn and grow! I feel like he is going to be much smarter than I am somewhere along the line here and then homeschooling will not be nearly as easy!

The letter F trays and activities were fun to plan and make, so on to the pictures!

Boogie went straight for the jumping frogs on Monday morning, which thrilled my husband, who made them for him. He loved dumping the frogs. He had some success jumping them. He humored me by talking about colors and counting them. He enjoyed stacking the cups. He loved it best when I tried jumping them into the cups, and would tell me what color to try next. He picked up the word "frog" in about 10 seconds, and loves to say it. I hate to say that sometimes it comes out without the "r" and sounds horrible, so we might not be talking about frogs in public for awhile!

Showing Bam Bam the frogs.
Boogie liked the millions of pattern blocks my mom cut out for him too. It seemed like the smallest fish bored him, but the biggest fish was too many pieces. He did match up a few each time he took it out, but was more interested in identifying shapes and colors.

The triangles kept getting away from him and he thought it was very funny.
It was also funny when Mack and Rod squished the fish.

The tray with the counting cards only came down when he wanted a snack. Stinker! I tried to count as he was eating them, but he did not see the point. Snack time!

Boogie LOVED feeding the frog, then dumping all the mini pom poms back out again.We did talk about the colors of the pom poms he was putting in sometimes but mostly he was grabbing a handful, dumping them out, grabbing a handful, dumping them out. So there wasn't much time for counting or colors.

Boogie liked the frog magnets, and carried them around the house from time to time. I counted the flies for him. I told him what colors things were. He just wanted to carry them around.

My Boogie LOVES balls, so the "fish eggs" were a good activity. He could easily balance them, but didn't want to do all 15 at once. He liked dumping the marbles out all over the kitchen floor. That was fun. He called them "eggs" after I did, which was cute. He loved the sound they made when they hit the tray or floor. We counted them each time we put them back. His fine motor skills are good so this wasn't too challenging. He has the pinching motion down but still struggles with tools to pinch because it takes more strength. We are using clothespins with the Thanksgiving trays, so we will see if he gets better this week.

The little magnet fishing game was hard for Boogie and me but easy for my husband. Show off. Boogie had fun trying to catch the fish, pick them up, and put them back, all good for fine motor skills and coordination. We talked about what color fish we caught too.

We did a lot of crafts and worksheets this week!

I got this dollar mosaic frog for him at Michaels. Complete epic fail. The pieces were too small and the sticky side wasn't sticky enough after he handled the pieces. He could easily pick them up, but getting them from his fingers in the right direction to stick to the frog was just too frustrating. We'll try this kind of activity again another time.

I got this wooden fish for .50 at Michaels, and thought it would be fun to decorate it with sequins, like The Rainbow Fish. Boogie loved the shiny little circles! He placed a few of them on carefully, then asked if he could dump them. Since I didn't want to be making a fish until Christmas, I told him it was fine.

I saw an idea on pinterest for making foam fish stamps. My stamp pad was really dry and didn't work very well, and Boogie isn't big on stamping, but he did try it.

We did a few letter F worksheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Boogie put fish stickers on an uppercase letter F (after he finished putting his cars in the outline, which worked too!) and circle stickers on the uppercase/lowercase Fs do-a-dot worksheet. The fish stickers are stuck to a sheet and don't have paper around them, so Boogie found them very hard to use by himself.

He did figure out, after watching me, how to get the circle stickers off, and was SO proud of himself and did pretty well with sticking the circle stickers into the circle outlines of the Fs. As you can see, he also liked playing with his foam circles on the worksheet. 

The last worksheet we did for the letter F was a letter maze from 1+1+1=1. He remembered where the Fs were when I showed him, so I think it was more from memory when he pointed out the 2 or 3 that he kept pointing out and not necessarily that he was recognizing Fs. In the picture, he is pointing at a circle, aka a lowercase o.

We did a couple of activities with our Bible verse of the week: "A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). He loved the picture from Totally Tots because of the heart, and enjoyed using his do-a-dot markers with it. He also liked using a glue stick on the words from the verse and patting them down on paper. Green paper, since that was our color of the week. We sang the Bible verse song every day. I showed him sign language for "friend," which I learned in kindergarten, if you can believe that! I clearly remember the day we learned it and the song we sang to learn the sign language and how to spell it.

Speaking of sign language, that is one of the elements on our calendar and he actually has tried several times to make the letter F! What a difference doing the calendar activities 4 days in one week makes! I told him to pinch, then hold up 3 fingers after we looked at the picture of how to make an F. He got the pinching long as he doesn't try it on Bam Bam!

This picture was too cute not to share. Boogie helped me vacuum, and decided to sweep at the same time. Talk about multitasking!

Another picture that is too cute not to share. Boogie had a play date with my BFFs puppy this week. He calls him "Arf Arf" and I am not a dog person at all, but sweet Arf Arf is very hard not to love. He is quiet and well-behaved and let's Boogie love on him very patiently.

Did I mention how much he loved his pillow frog this week?!

Linking up to Tot School @ 1+1+1=1.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Letter F Tot Trays- Frogs and Fish

I am renaming my tray posts for easier searching. I like to keep it simple and straightforward when I search, so I decided I should make my post titles reflect that.

My Hubby and I had a lot of fun planning and preparing for this week! Fish and frogs were easy to plan for and the trays turned out so well!

So, what's on the tray?

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Go Fish- I was planning on making felt fish like I saw all over the bloggernet, but my mom brought this travel fishing game over when I told her what we were doing this week. It hits both fish and frogs, so I decided to save myself some time and put this on a tray. This hits the fine motor skill set with the twisting of the knob. The fish are very small so taking them out or putting them in is also fine motor work. There is hand eye coordination with the magnet poles and the magnet fish mouths. I am not going to lie, this is hard for me to do! We can talk about what color fish we are catching, too, and count who gets more. The results will be weighted in Boogie's favor, of course :)

One Fish, Two Fish- Using the counting cards from 2 Teaching Mommies, we will count goldfish. Or eat them. This tray teaches counting and fine motor skills.

Pattern Blocks- Speaking of my Mom again, she is a saint. While I fed Bam Bam, she cut out a million kabillion cardstock and laminated pattern blocks so Boogie could play with them on these fish and F pages. He has the Melissa and Doug Beginner Pattern Block set and he can do them really fast, so I wanted to see if he was up for this challenge. The pattern blocks themselves came from here. Two of the fish templates are from PreKinders, the F's are from Making Learning Fun, and the big fish is from Kelly's Kindergarten. This tray teaches colors, shapes, and problem solving as well as spatial relations. There is some fine motor work with picking up and placing the pieces too.

Frog Flicking- I love this tray because it was such a team effort. My sweet Hubby made a ton of origami frogs for Boogie to flick into the matching colored cups. We used the 6 main colors because Hubby refused to make pink frogs for his son! Haha! The cups are yogurt cups covered in construction paper that I lathered in glue. This tray teaches color matching, counting (how many frogs are there total? Of each color? In in cup?), and it is just fun to flick frogs around the room!

Feed the Frog- I love this tray too. I saw this idea on The Preschool Experiment and knew I had to make it for Boogie. I didn't have a small Parmesan cheese lid, so I painted a white lid from a sprinkles container. There are three mini pom poms of seven colors (I snuck pink in there). We will talk about colors and numbers as Boogie feeds the frog. There is some fine motor skills work involved in picking up the pom poms carefully.

Fish Eggs- Lastly, an idea I saw all over the web- balancing marbles on suction cups. I found a fish bath mat set at the Dollar Zone. Boogie has to balance the fish eggs on the mama or dada fish.

So that is what we are doing this week! I had other ideas that we didn't get to, but you can check them out on my pinterest page, by clicking the picture below!

Want to see how Boogie liked the trays? Check out our letter F week post!

Linking up to these parties:
Montessori Monday @ Living Montessori Now
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday @ Crayon Freckles
TGIF @ Living Life Intentionally
The Sunday Showcase @ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
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