Monday, August 4, 2014

Family Mailboxes

Ah, the daily struggle of being respectful. We have been working very hard around here to maintain a respectful attitude. We discuss almost daily (children learn through repetition, right?) what being respectful looks like and sounds like. We practice and act out what it is to be respectful. Truth be told, it's a large blanket of a concept. Being respectful is using kind words, giving people their personal space, using the appropriate voice level, helping others, using good manners, and following the rules. And as parents, it's important for us to show respect as well. Our kids learn from us so it's easier to teach what we want them to learn if we are doing the same. Talking With Trees is a great website with books and learning resources that teach good character. It has a teachers tab with lesson plans and a parents tab with ideas for books, ebooks and activities all to help teach respect.

Now, to the point ;) I saw this idea for family mailboxes at Toddler Approved  and decided to use it in our home to help with recognizing respectful behavior.

What You Need:

  • 2 paper plates per mailbox
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • crayons, markers, stickers, paint
  • magnetic tape (or yarn and a hole punch to hang on a knob)
What To Do:
  1. Cut one paper plate in half 
  2. Decorate both plates
  3. Staple the half paper plate on to the whole paper plate to make a pocket.
  4. Put the magnetic tape strip on the back of the mailbox and hang on the fridge. Or if you are using the yarn, punch a hole at the top of the whole paper plate and string the yarn through and tying it. Then hang it on a cabinet knob. 
Now, this is how it works. Throughout the day, I make comments and give praise when I notice respectful behavior. And now, I also jot down a note and put it in their mailboxes! And they can do the same!! Then at the end of the day (usually at the dinner table) we check our mail. We read all of the notes about what everyone liked about our behavior throughout the day. They both love this time to reflect (especially Busy)!! I have found that this is a great way to reinforce all that we are learning and to reflect on the decisions we made during the day.

Look at that concentration face ;) 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tiny Tots

This week I conducted my experimental Tiny Tots Class! I have been asked over the past 2 years by a friend of mine to start an art class for the littlest of learners. Over the course of time, others have joined in wanting their littles to be part of it. Although I loved the idea, I honestly didn't think anything would ever come of it until last week when the Mama responsible for the initial idea decided it really was actually going to happen. Now. This week. No excuses :) So I sat down, got a lesson play written, and said yes! And what was supposed to be an art experience turned out to be much more than that. Through the natural course of a small child's curiosity, our morning turned into a discovery adventure…

Not knowing what kind of sensory experience she had, I decided to do some clean painting on the first day. I used red, yellow and blue and Busy helped by showing E how to push around the colors to mix them. 

Our next activity was shaving cream!! I put the shaving cream in a bag along with some red water balls and let the kids get to squishing. We used words like red, white, and squeeze.

Home made cherry play dough was our next sensory activity. They could use the rolling pin and scissors, and Busy got a Barbie boot to make footprints and the Beans got the horse for E to make prints, too :)

After exploring inside for a while it was time to take it outdoors for some dinosaur digging! A few days ago I put some dinosaur toys in a cake pan with water and stuck it in the freezer. Busy poured a little warm water on it and dumped it on the driveway. Beansie went to grab his tools and they got to work. 

After watching the older kids for a few minutes, E wanted to join in on the dig!! 

After breaking up the ice, they all ate "dino-pops" 

Then E spent the next 15 minutes filling up a cup with pebbles :) Great fine motor practice!!

At the end of the morning, E got to take her painting and shaving cream sensory bag home along with a photo of her exploring both activities. I would definitely say it was a success and I would for sure do it again! I love what it turned into!! And next time we may even get a little messy ;)

Thinking Thursday - The Presidents

Every Thursday we do some sort of "thinking" activity. We learn something new through research. For example, Busy may have heard something or read something that she wants to know more about, so we do a little research. We have checked out library books about things, asked other people about things, and she has even learned how to use Google. Last weekend (after filling up their happy face behavior chart) Busy and the Beans got to pick out a new placemat for the dinner table. Busy chose the one with all of the President's faces and stats. After a few days of studying the Presidents at dinner, she began asking questions about them. We wrote down all that she wanted to know and on Thursday we sat down to find the answers to her questions.

We started by making a KWL chart. In the left column we wrote down what she knows about the Presidents. In the middle column we wrote down what she wants to know about the Presidents. And in the right column we wrote down what she learned during our research.
K - There are 44 Presidents, The first President was George Washington, Obama is the President now.

W - How was JFK killed? (on the mat it says he was killed in office), What Presidents are related to each other?, Who was the President when I (Busy) was born?

L - JFK was shot, FDR was related to 11 other Presidents!, George W. Bush was the President when I was born.

She really enjoys getting answers to her questions, and she asks a lot of them ;) Introducing the KWL chart is a good way to organize her thoughts, questions and ultimately the answers to those questions. This particular KWL chart is laminated so she can use dry erase markers and erase it when she needs it again. We take a picture of the completed chart to print off so when she erases it, she can still look back on her work.