Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More Easter

We tried to keep it fun and low-key this week since we are leaving for a short trip tomorrow for a company retreat to Pokhara, after which we'll be leaving for a week-long trip to Thailand!
I prepared some supplies to make some Playdough Easter Eggs.  The boys had a great time, though they didn't really ever get that interested in actually making any sort of eggs out of it.
 Isaiah made one actual "egg," which he then squished and used it for another creation.

Isaiah has hit a breakthrough with his writing lately.  He was really resisting for awhile.  He has always had a tendency to be slow to jump in and try the "wobbly" steps leading up to a development.  He tends to hang back and observe and then suddenly just do it.  I had backed off of much structured writing practice and pulled it back out again last week.  He did really well, and this week was our first week with a letter that involves a curve, and he jumped in with confidence and did it well!  Ezekiel always likes to have a sheet that looks like brother's, and of course, as often happens, the markers turned into a sword fight!

Ezekiel loves calendar time!  Even aside from the time we sit down and do our calendar time together in the mornings, he wants to pull out the markers and draw on the calendar and jabber about what he's putting on.  He frequently says people's names that he is drawing on the days.  It has taken me some restraint of my own personality because it makes the calendar look like a horrible mess!  You can't see much of the actual things we put on the days, but it hasn't actually bothered Isaiah as much as I thought it would, and Ezekiel loves it so much and really seems to be using his words and motor skills with the writing/drawing, so for now, this is what our calendar looks like.

 A favorite of all of ours this week was Volcano Egg Dyeing!  It was SO much fun.  Only brown eggs are available here, which are a bit more challenging to make look pretty, and the color options for food coloring are limited (red, yellow, and green--someone forgot a lesson in primary colors and color mixing!), so the product wasn't that pretty, but none of us really cared about that.  The boys could have done this all morning if I hadn't run out of vinegar and baking soda!
 Look at that wonderful fizzy fun!

Ezekiel wanted to just keep pouring the mess back and forth between containers, even once the fizzing had stopped.  He was absolutely covered in mess, but he was thrilled!

I've been linking up to a great Tot School Gathering Place over here!  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter for My Preschooler

As I wrote before, we had a less than grand start to Easter stuff, but I've been trying to really allow myself to let go of the activities I plan and be present in the moment so that the season is significant for the occasion itself and not because we stressed to cram in a bunch of stuff to DO.
My older one still enjoys beading at times and insisted on filling up a whole pipe cleaner as we did some beading.
 Our letter was "W" last week, so of course, you have to have a wig and a whisk!  Wouldn't everyone pack a couple of wigs to bring along when they move across the world?

 The boys have been really enjoying the pom poms I put onto sticky magnets, so we played a little Easter bingo.  They didn't get so into the game, but they enjoy the materials!  I have just been setting whatever laminated sheet I want to use for an activity on top of one of our magnetic dry-erase boards to use with the magnets.

 Isaiah loves games or activities that involve finding things, so I hid the pieces I made from this Easter story hunt around the room, and then I put out the explanation pages for him to match up each picture as we found it.  He was pretty excited running around, but we still got to talk (briefly) about the meanings of each picture, and he asked some great questions.  Of course, his new ball pop gun had to get brought into the activity to "help."

 Mainly, I just took this picture because he was excited about the new, cute giraffe scissors we bought from a family that is leaving here and was selling their stuff (also the source for the ball pop gun)!

 Isaiah has been really loving the dot paint markers we got, and he had asked the day before if he could make a rainbow.  Frequently, he has ideas and then wants someone else to carry them out, but he did this whole thing by himself.  Well, he had one meltdown over the first attempt when he was convinced he had ruined it with overlapping the colors at one point.  I am praying and working to try to overcome the generational perfectionism that seems to have hit him!  Praying for a greater understanding of grace for him and for me both!  Once he started fresh, though,  he really dug in and focused and did a beautiful job that he felt very proud of.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Easter Tot School

I know that life gets a little crazy everywhere with two little guys, but sometimes it feels as if the crazy factor increases exponentially living in a developing nation.  This week has been no exception with stomach viruses early in the week and what seem to be bird mites (UGH!) wrapping up our week and little crazies in between.  If you ever happen to be interested in our life adventures beyond school here in Nepal, I blog about those occasionally over at Mountain Mama.
Philosophically, I believe in being flexible with the needs of my kids and life for our family.  I don't want school to be a source of stress, especially with the boys being so young.  But, it is sometimes so hard for me to let go of my agenda!  I am a planner.  A type-A planner, which pretty regularly comes into conflict with my philosophical leanings of freedom and exploration and adapting!  And, when I have to just ditch all of the "great" activities I spent time planning and preparing (who are these for again?), I am often disappointed, to put it mildly.
So, it wasn't a terribly grand week, but we managed to have some fun and (mostly) stay sane.

 As usual, the boys loved our sensory bin.

I am frequently trying to figure out how to use materials that are both available and not too expensive here to use for our sensory stuff.  This week I decided to try chiura (a beaten rice) and dye it.  It didn't dye as well as regular rice because some grains absorbed the color super quickly, leaving others hardly colored. But, it ended up looking kind of fun and almost textured that way.  I added a smidge of a rose flavoring stuff that we can buy for cheap here (though I would never use for cooking) to give it some scent.  It was seriously strong, so it was good I did it the night before playing with it and let it air out a bit.  It wasn't a super pretty smell, but it was flowery, and the boys enjoyed taking whiffs of it at first.  I put in a couple of containers, scoops, tongs, and a few plastic flowers from their block set to make the bin have a spring look.  The boys particularly enjoyed the tongs, as I haven't put those in a bin for them yet.

Another favorite of Ezekiel's for the week was beading.  I tried having he and his brother put some small plastic beads we found here onto pipe cleaners, but the beads were a bit too small for little man.  He tried, but it was a bit difficult.  (Big brother flew through it with glee.)

 So, I pulled out his vehicle beading set that Grandpa and Grandma sent him, and he had a grand time.  I am thankful for the treats that my parents and others send us that we would not be able to find here so that we can enjoy some fun things like this for our school time and play time!

I have been linking up to a great Tot School Gathering Place from 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dr. Seuss and Other Stuff for Our Week

Whew!  There are just stretches here that life takes a bit much effort, and school gets overrun.  I am thankful, though, to be able to do homeschool here, as we are able to be flexible and roll with what life brings.  It's not my strength, but I'm learning.
We had originally planned for the first week of March to be big Dr. Seuss week, but we had quite an ordeal with transportation strikes and vaccinations and such, so it got bumped to last week, and I'm just now getting around to putting up a few things from it.
I had brought along a small stash of water beads, and I decided to pull out the last few packs (as my amazing parents said they would ship some more in a package to us soon!).  I tossed in some alphabet beads with them to connect up with Dr. Seuss's ABC book, which Ezekiel has been loving, so I knew it would be a good excuse to read it a bunch this week.
While Isaiah was busy with something upstairs, Zeke spotted the water bead bowl and wanted to jump in and play.  Big brother can often dominate the sensory bin stuff, so it was nice for Zeke to have a little time just to himself, and he scooped and poured and dug around it in with total delight for quite a long time.
He, at some point, insisted on dumping a bunch more things into the bowl, and he was insistent that he wanted to put his new hand-painted wooden truck in the bowl.  We compromised with letting him put some of the beads in the back of the truck.

Isaiah LOVES to find stuff for hiding types of games, so after we read A Wocket in My Pocket, I hid a few creatures that I had printed out around the house, and Isaiah had to use their names on a list to find their location (which are always rhyming).  This was a great idea I got from Taking Time to Create.  Isaiah loved it!

Then we got out some plain salt and traced a few letters in it with our fingers.  The part the boys really enjoyed was when I pulled out some bags of colored salt (just plain salt I had dyed with food coloring) and scoops to play with it and make art with it on top of the plain salt.  They could have played with it for hours!

Of course, the lego men had to join us and get in on the action.

And, as is often the case with sensory materials, the boys wanted to raid my kitchen tools and explore with them.

My boys love blocks.  Isaiah cannot get enough of his legos, and Zeke loves to do what he sees big brother doing.  I saw this great idea from the Princess and the Tot for Measuring and Creating Dr. Seuss Hats with legos.  I added some "duplo" size of blocks for Zeke to use for the activity.  There were strips of materials (I chose to make strips out of a few different textures--felt, foam, sandpaper, and corrugated cardboard with one side pulled off).  Isaiah measured each strip with a ruler and then followed the hat pattern to build a cat hat the same height.  Mostly, I just tried with Zeke to focus on building his hat following a pattern.  We didn't have white ones, so I had him alternate red and blue for his hats.

We did a lot of whole alphabet activities for the week (including one that Isaiah enjoyed so thoroughly that I couldn't tear myself away to take a photo, which was this Gross Motor ABC, based on the Dr. Seuss ABC book).  We didn't give as much focus to our specific letter of the week, but the boys did enjoy helping me gather items from around the house to put in our Letter M bin for the week.  Zeke got a little overly zealous playing with the "M" we made out of our connecting strip set we found here!

I've been linking up to a great Tot School Gathering Place over at 1+1+1=1, which is a great source for ideas for my little guy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


With my little man's birthday at the end of February (as I mentioned in the last post), I decided to center a couple weeks around a transportation theme and focus the majority of the activities for him and his level and try to add a few elements for Isaiah that were more at his level.  Sometimes I forget how much Isaiah still enjoys and needs a lot of his time to be centered around play as well, so it actually turned out to be a good couple of weeks for both of the boys!
We use Raising Rock Stars Preschool curriculum as one of our main sources, which focused on a letter of the week, and our letter for the first week was "A," so I had the boys use toy trucks and cars to make a letter "A" on the floor.  

 Ezekiel has been really interested in colors and color words and was at the early stages of learning to identify the colors, so I made colors a big focus of our first transportation week.  We read A Red Train a lot, which is a current favorite of his.
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Then I set out some foam sheets in 5 basic colors and had cars or trucks (one for each of the colors, to start with) in the bin, and we worked together to match them.  For Isaiah, I had him match the color words that I had put on post-it notes to put on the foam mats as we worked.
 I also had a "parking lot" game that I had printed and laminated in the past that I pulled out.  It had twelve colors on it, but we just did the top row of 6 basic colors. (The printable set has other options, but I already had these laminated and ready from the past.)  I had them place the pages on top of the magnetic white boards we have, and I had them use pom poms I had attached to mini magnets for marking the cards.   I put the color words (written in the correct color) in one of our photo cubes that we use as dice.  The boys didn't really work out taking turns rolling the dice and playing it as a game, but Ezekiel loved putting the pom poms on the cars, and I helped him try to match up the correct color of pom pom on that color of car, and he did several correctly on his own.

This was obviously really easy for Isaiah, and though he had fun with it, he was flying through it and getting a bit impatient, so the second time we played it a few days later, I pulled out some letter magnets and had him mark the cars with the correct beginning sound for the color, and he seemed pleased with himself to be able to do that well.

We colored the bulldozer color cards from the Big Machines Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1.  I printed Isaiah's set in black and white to make him use the actual words to identify the colors.  Zeke mostly just scribbles and didn't match colors, but he loves to use crayons or markers and any excuse to see bulldozers is great for him!

 I also had some of the parts from the Transportation Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations, and I've had one set of the vocabulary cards on a ring for Zeke for awhile.  I took them off the ring and made another set and hid both sets in a bin of colored rice.  The boys found them and made matches (mostly Isaiah, though Ezekiel did get excited about some matches he got with a bit of assistance).  Ezekiel loves to put things in our tabletop chart, so even though that wasn't a part of the plan, I let him just put the cards in the chart.

 On the first day, I started our sensory bin with just a bag of beans I had in the cupboard and some trucks, mostly construction vehicles.  We did a lot of play time for this theme.  We had lots of time just to play with blocks, with our sensory bin, with playdough, and of course, always with trucks and big machines!

I posted this in my post about our bin, but seriously, you have to make some chocolate playdough!  It smells so great and is a recipe that yielded the perfect playdough texture.  Cocoa powder is expensive here.  There is some local stuff, but it is just not at all the same for actual baking, so I had a bag here that I was wondering what to do with so that I didn't waste it, and it worked perfectly for this!

We had some puzzle time.

One of the things that I spent quite a bit of time preparing, and I am so glad that I did was a transportation alphabet set.  There actually was a great set of Road Transport Alphabet Cards that would be a good set just as it is.  Since it is British, though, there were several of the words or photos that didn't seem like they would have a lot of meaning to my boys either in their home context of America or here in Nepal.  Plus, I really wanted to have as many as possible be actual vehicles (as opposed to signs or transportation terms), so I decided to edit them a bit.  I took a few photos and found a few other images and sized them to put onto the cards before I laminated them.  Some letters were quite a challenge to complete!  I did take a couple photos just of the completed set, but I wanted them to be more than just something to look at (even though Ezekiel absolutely loved them even just at that level).  So, I printed off a few additional pictures for some letters and had him tape them by those letters to add to our set.  He LOVED this activity.  Isaiah actually did as well, and they have both talked about the pictures and letters quite a lot!  Ezekiel will get up from the table and just start jabbering and singing and pointing to the pictures and letters.

  I was really excited about this art project that I found on Pinterest to make a Touch and Feel Dump Truck!  We even went on a quest together to find some sand paper for it.  The boys enjoyed it, though I think they weren't quite as excited as I was, and I had to help Zeke attach his pieces, but he enjoyed the coloring, and I think we'll enjoy looking it and feeling it over and over again.

We also got some wonderful books in birthday packages for Ezekiel in time to use with our theme, in addition to a few favorites we already had, so we read lots of lots of books (highlights posted below), which is a thrill to finally see Ezekiel enjoying books so much!

Tot School

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