Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smell Sorting

I haven't worked all that much on sensory activities with M other than messy play, so I was really interested to see if she'd do well not only with smelling, but also with being able to label what she was sensing through her nose, being able to process whether it was a pleasant or unpleasant smell, and being able to place it in the correct category. She had a hard time at first, but started catching on, and by the end was taking great pleasure in telling me which ones were "stinky".

Smell Sorting
Theme: Sensory/Messy Play

Materials: Small containers (I used empty babyfood jars), cottonballs, 2 flashcards or pieces of paper, and various extracts or strong smelling substances. We used vanilla extract, peppermint extract, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vinegar, lemon juice, and perfume.

How to: Put a cottonball soaked in or covered with your scents in each container. Draw a happy face on one card and a frowny face on the other. One by one, take the lid off each container and have your child smell. If they decide it smells good, they put it next to the happy face. If they decide it smells bad, put it next to the sad face. The only ones M liked were vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY Letter Puzzle

M loves her Mellisa and Doug letter puzzle, but sometimes she gets a little tired of it. I thought I would switch it up today and make a simple letter puzzle for her to play with. She really enjoyed the novelty of it, and to my surprise started saying the sounds of the letters on her own without any prompting from me. I think she's ready to move on to the next phase of reading readiness!

DIY Letter Puzzle
Theme: Literacy

Materials: Wooden letters or letter magnets, piece of paper, pen

How to: Trace the letters with a pen ahead of time and have your child match the letters to their outlines.

Errand Letter Hunt

We had an early morning checkup for R today so I was looking for a way to keep M entertained while the focus was on her brother. I was worried that she would have a harder time identifying letters in an unfamiliar settting but she did great!

Errand Letter Hunt
Theme: Literacy

Materials: Notebook or notepad w/ letters written on them, stickers or crayon

How to: Every time your child see's a letter that she recognizes while you are out running errands she can place a sticker or mark next to that letter in the notebook.

Word Search ABC's

I love the simplicity of this activity, yet it's not something I would have thought to try. Just goes to show you that there are plenty of ways to make a toy or book for older children more appropriate for toddlers.

Word Search ABC's

Materials: Word search, crayons

How to: Call out a letter and have your child find and scribble over any of that letter they can find with crayons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tot School - Week 1

Tot School
Michaela is currently 29 months.

Our first week of Tot School went great! Michaela's TV watching dropped drastically this week, which is something I was hoping our learning time together would help with. When I say it's time for "school" she gets super excited!

Official Tot School

Extra Learning
Michaela had a great time reading her stack of books from the library this week. Once she gets going she can sit for a good 30-40 minutes looking through the books in detail. And if she manages to get one of us to read to her? Forget it, we'll be there forever!
After fingerpainting on Friday, she was in an artsy mood and asked to use her window markers. If you don't have some of these, get them! M thinks its so awesome that she's allowed to draw on windows and mirrors with them, and I love that they wipe off so easily (even on other surfaces!).

Teacher Lessons
With this being our first week, I'm still feeling my way through this teaching thing. A few lessons I learned this week:
Have everything 100% ready ahead of time. This seems pretty obvious in hindsight, but it wasn't something I realized until after we had already had a major meltdown because M wanted to be unbuckled from her highchair after breakfast, and I didn't want her running around getting into stuff until it was all set up.
Have more than one activity ready. M's attention span is just to short to spend a good 30 minutes on any activity. If I can plan 2 or 3 activities I think that will help keep her attention longer and keep her away from that darned TV in the living room.

School on the weekend is impossible. I was hoping to do a lesson on the weekend also, but with daddy being home our schedule is just too messed up. I might try squeezing in an Exercise & Religion lesson on the weekdays after her regular activities are finished.

That's all for this week! To see what other toddlers are learning this week, check out the official Tot School Website!

Clean Fingerpainting

I am not a clean person by any means, but I have a little phobia about messy art products, especially in the hands of my daughter. In order to ease us softly into art, we would do a project that actually isn't messy.

Clean Fingerpainting
Theme: Art & Music

Materials: Wax Paper, finger paint, newspaper or something to cover your work surface (just in case)

How To: Put a few globs of different colors on top of a piece of wax paper and cover with a second piece. Have your child spread the paints around just as in regular fingerpainting. M loved watching yellow and blue mix to create green.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Washing Rocks

Today we had alot of fun playing with water. I brought some half-buried rocks in from our front curb and Michaela washed all the dirt off with an old toothbrush. We had a couple of spills so keep a towel nearby!

Washing Rocks
Theme: Sensory/Messy Play

Materials: dirty rocks, toothbrush, container full of water (with soap if your child doesn't like to drink soapy water)

How to: Wash the rocks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Muffin Tin Pom Sorting

Today we sorted a bag of colored poms that I picked up at the Dollar Store. M loved this activity, and when she was done sorting, she practiced counting as she removed all the poms.

Muffin Tin Pom Sorting
Theme: Preschool Skills

Materials: Muffin tin, colored poms, small bowl or tupperware

How to: Put one pom, each a different color, in the muffin tin compartments. Place the rest of the poms in your small container to the side. The child then starts sorting the poms, matching the colors to the original pom that you placed in the compartments. You can use tongs or kids chopsticks if you also want to work on fine motor skills.

Source: Adapted from Little Family Fun

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Alphabet Notebook

Today we got started on a little project that will probably be ongoing. It's a little notebook that has each letter (uppercase) printed on it's own separate page. Whenever M finds a letter she recognizes in the mail or a magazine, we'll cut them out and stick them on the correct page in her alphabet notebook.

Alphabet Notebook
Theme: Literacy

Materials: Notebook, 26 pages each printed with a large letter, magazines/mail/stickers, scissors, tape runner or glue

How to: Cut letters out of your materials and have your child add them to the correct page using the glue or tape. M doesn't have the manual dexterity to cut or add tape yet so I did that for her. If you have an older child, they can do those tasks on their own, as well as work on lowercase letters instead of just uppercase.

Source: Inspired by 1+1+1=1

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jar Lid Matching

We started off with a fairly easy activity this morning to ease M into Tot School. We'll be using lots of recycled items so if you plan on following along, start saving up your empty jars, coke bottles, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, etc. I keep a huge bin in the garage that I put recyclable materials in for future projects.

Jar Lid Matching
Theme: Practical Life/Motor Skills

Materials: Jars w/ lids of various sizes

How to: Place the lids on a table with the lids off to one side. The child then matches the lids to the proper jars. You can also practice screwing and unscrewing lids, and arranging the jars in order according to size.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


In order to make things a little easier for myself, there are seven "themes" that I'll be categorizing our lessons as:

Practical Life/Motor Skills
Preschool Skills
Sensory/Messy Play
Art & Music
Exercise & Games

The theme we focus on each day will vary week to week depending on what our schedule is. We are very active in our local MOMS Club chapter, so all of our "lessons" will be simple and short so that we call still get out in time for activities. My plan is to spend 30 minutes or less on them each day during R's nap.

Occasionally I will also post random activities that we do outside of our designated Tot School time. These will be labeled as Boredom Busters, Cooking with Kids, and Imaginative/Independent Play. Every once in a while I'll also share some teaching tools that will help with my own organization under Mrs. Mom.

I've been lesson planning all week and am so excited to get started! Our first post will be tomorrow so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Welcome to my new blog! I'm a mother of two little ones; a two year old girl (M) and a nine month old boy (R). Now that R has a set nap schedule, I've decided to start dedicating that time to some structured learning activities with M. I loooooove reading homeschool blogs and have read so many great ideas. I plan to share them individually here, as well as posting a once a week review post with all the activities we did that week. Hopefully this will inspire other toddler moms and teachers, and if not at least it will help me remember when it's R's turn!