Thursday, February 20, 2014

Elephants for Tot School

I don't very often separate my posts into things specifically for Tot School because a lot of our things end up sort of merging together based off of our kindergarten curriculum themes and activities.  I usually have separate trays for Zeke, but he also likes to jump in on big brother's activities, and there are definitely weeks when the trays aren't anything super unique to report (puzzles, coloring, playdough, etc.).  
When our theme hit for elephants, I tried to put a little extra effort into some things specifically for Zeke because he says elephants are his favorite animal and, obviously, the letter "E" starts his name!

I used a few of the activities from Animal ABC's from 1+1+1=1.
I haven't really worked at all with Ezekiel on distinguishing capitals and lowercase, and honestly, we haven't even done much work directly on letter recognition with lowercase, but he's absorbed quite a lot from just chatting about it and from big brother's school stuff.  I handed him this elephant paper and told him to use one color to mark the capitals and one color to mark the lowercase.  That is literally as much as I explained it, as it was a moment when I was doing something with Isaiah.  He finished and handed it to me with them all marked correctly.  It's really fun to discover the things little ones know that are tucked away in their little sponge-like minds! 

His favorite activity for the week was washing elephants!  He's been really into washing things lately, so I just set out a bin with a few toy elephants (one fairly large one and a couple small ones), a couple of scoops, a couple of wash cloths, and an old toothbrush.  I ended up adding a towel under him, and added a hand towel to it after day one so that he could also dry the elephants himself. He literally asked at least once every day to do "elephant washing."

Ezekiel has also started to be more intentional with his coloring.  He is trying to color specific objects or even sections rather than just sweeping color all over the page (well, at least sometimes). :)

We happened to have a couple of animal sets, one that is slightly larger and one that is small, so I did something similar to a sensory bin I had tried with him last year to go with the book Hug by Jez Alborough.  I just put the two animal sets scattered in a bin of corn grits.
The book shows various mother and baby animals hugging, so I asked him to help each animal find their hugs.  He didn't want to read the book, which kind of surprised me because it's one he actually likes to "read" himself, but he did have fun matching up the animals and making them hug.

I found a set of animal movement cards (can't find the original link anymore on the blog I got it from) and a set of elephant action cards.  He loved them both and wanted to do them a lot!

Ezekiel loves to cook and be involved in anything with food!  So, I decided we should make "elephant ears" for a special snack.  I used this recipe.  It wasn't quite the nostalgic County Fair food I was hoping for, but they were pretty yummy, and except for the frying, the boys could help with all of the making of them.
Big brother lost interest part way through, but my little kitchen helper stuck with the whole process!

I also did the letter craft from the Animal ABC's pack, and it was the first time that Ezekiel really independently cut things out.  I cut the section off the full paper, but then he cut them all apart, glued them all on by himself, and he was really proud of himself.

Given that he did well on the capital/lowercase identification, I thought he might really enjoy this activity to feed the big elephant capital "E" peanuts and the little elephant lowercase "e" peanuts.  He did not.  I had even made his name in peanuts and thought he might enjoy feeding his name to the elephant.  He did not.  Ha, well, I guess life would get boring if he was too predictable. :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

H is for Horse (Farm Week 3)

This was our final week of farm themes.  I put together a small sensory bin for Ezekiel for our horse theme.  It ended up looking a bit empty because I didn't have quite enough coconut, but shredded coconut isn't available in packages here.  I usually buy a dried coconut or two in the store and then have to shred it myself.  I usually discard the outer skin-like layer, but it seemed perfect to dye that and use it, so that is what I used for the base, and I couldn't bring myself to shred a ton more for it.  
 Ezekiel didn't seem to mind at all and jumped in with his bin to play.

I used some of the local "chocolate brown" food coloring to make some playdough for the bin, and it turned into this disgusting greenish brown color that I can't imagine being appetizing for any type of food!  But, for our play bin, it worked just fine and didn't seem to bother Zeke at all.  In fact, he thought I had tried to make it green just for him since that is his favorite color!

Isaiah had playdough in one of his bins to use for letter practice this week, but I forget too often how much he just enjoys playing with it, so I let him just play for awhile.
 On another day, he used his playdough to make a horse.

 Zeke really wants to do "big kid" stuff a lot of times for school, and if Isaiah is doing something, he wants in on it, which is ironic since Isaiah usually wants in on whatever "Tot School" stuff I have for Zeke!  As soon as Zeke saw Isaiah cutting, he wanted to pull out his scissors and cut.  He doesn't really do much cutting of actual lines or objects yet but is content with making fringe around whatever paper he is given.

 We have a phonetic alphabet song that goes with our curriculum, and my friend Lizzy made a little printable so that we'd have an image for each letter's object.  I don't do the song very often since Isaiah already knows all of his letters and sounds, but Zeke actually frequently requests to pull out our (broken) finger pointer and sing the song.

One of the activities for Isaiah's work was a few farm animals to cut out, glue onto popsicle sticks to make stick puppets, and then sing Old MacDonald.  Isaiah happily colored and cut them and sang the song once, but they weren't something he wanted to use again, so I put them in Zeke's bin, and he would request to sing "E-O-E-O" almost every single day.  Here, I pulled up a version of the song on youtube, and on his own, he would hold up the stick puppet of the animal they were singing.  He was very focused on it!

One of the activities I had been so excited to try with Ezekiel during our farm unit was from this post at Hands on as We Grow.  I didn't end up getting it ready until part-way through our third (and final) week, and we had to adjust some to fit what we had, but it was fun.  We had a couple tractors but no wagons, so we built a couple of wagons out of legos and attached them with some twisty-ties.  I also didn't have enough jars with lids (though Zeke would have really liked taking lids off and putting them on), so I decided to just label some of the toilet paper tubes I had stored up and set them out to be our grain "silos."  I had a large green felt mat, so I set it all up like this for Zeke to find when he came to the school room.  (Those are black beans set out for to "harvest.")

Ezekiel is getting really good at counting out loud, but he still gets impatient with one-to-one correspondence to count objects.  He did a few times of counting with me to put in the silos, but they just didn't look "full," so he wanted to just dump beans into the silos.

It did frustrate him a little as the tubes would get full, and then if he pushed them a bit while filling, the beans would spill out the bottom, so he decided to pick it up and block the bottom with his hand while he filled it.

 Then, he decided to try stacking them...

 And, he wanted me to hold them together in a stack while he dumped beans in the stack and watched them go to the bottom.

Finally, he would scoop some into his silo and dump them into the wagon.  It's really fun to see his little mind work and explore and play with things in a way I never think of.

 Of course, big brother could hardly contain himself to jump in on the fun, so after he finished some of his work (and Zeke had had some time and space to explore), he jumped in with his tractor and lego wagon, and they had some fun playing together.

For our painting activity this week, the intent was just to listen to our classical song from the curriculum and paint abstract lines to match the feeling and movement of the song.  Sometimes there are activities that bring out the very distinct differences in my boys' personalities in a way that just kind of makes me laugh.

  Zeke jumped right in and was thrilled to just paint all over the paper and turn the water different colors (usually getting to brown) with his paints.

Isaiah, on the other hand, insisted on having a pencil to draw the farm animals he wanted in his picture in exact detail before he would even pick up his paint brush.  I kept trying to encourage him to just paint, but he had a very specific vision for a project he wanted to make, and he needed it to be just right!

They are quite the pair, my boys!  It is really fun to get to see all of the ways they are learning and growing and exploring!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

C is for Cow

We continued our farm theme this week.  We have been doing some general farm things, and this week's focus was on cows and milk.
One of the things that was a much bigger hit in theory than reality was making our own butter.  We get cream delivered from a milk company here, and most of the posts on other blogs I had read about making butter said how it makes quite a small amount, so I ordered extra cream, and I think we ended up doing a liter and a half.  We put some clean marbles in with the cream in this container, and we shook it.  Let's be honest, that thing got heavy, so I did most of the shaking, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was actually sore after 25 minutes or so of shaking our butter.  It did eventually work, and they were really excited to look at it and taste and then decided they liked the butter we buy better to eat anyway!  Ah, well, it was an experience.

Our big event for the week was a field trip!  We have gotten to know some great people doing a business here to support a children's home here in Kathmandu area.  The business is called Milkmandu!  They deliver pasteurized milk and some milk products.  Getting good milk can be a challenge living here, so we have really enjoyed their products and think they run a great business, but they also are really great people, doing great work!  Seriously, if you happen to be reading this, check them out here!
Anyway, my little one especially gets REALLY excited for the milk and for the delivery!  He hears the truck (used to motorcycle) and runs to the door to collect it!  
I asked them if we and a couple other friends who homeschool here could make it a little field trip to visit them, and they were super gracious to have us invade with our littles!
It seemed fitting on a field trip about something with farms for my boys to wear their John Deere hats they got from my Grandpa (not a super common site in Nepal)! :)
They had some cow coloring for the kids while they waited for parts of the process to be ready for them to watch.
They also, very sweetly, gave the kiddos a yummy treat! :)
The main process the kids got to watch was the separator, which separates the milk from the cream.  That's the machine on the far side of the room with a pink bottle catching the cream, and a green bottle catching the milk.

I had also seen this idea from several places, like here at Life with Moore Babies, to use latex gloves to pretend to milk a cow.  I had no idea where to find latex gloves here (unsuccessfully searched several places), so I bought a pair of think rubber "kitchen" gloves and figured we'd give it a try.  Well, my youngest is scared of balloons, and he thought it looked too much like balloons, so he had no interest!  Isaiah got really into it, but the gloves were not quite right for it, and I have yet to find tape here that actually holds the way I hope it will, so the whole glove popped off, and our "milk" went everywhere.  Isaiah was so sad because he didn't get to milk a whole "cow," so I held the second one in place for him to finish.  Sometimes things seem just a bit more complicated to pull off here!

One of our activities from our curriculum this week was to cut out pictures of dairy products and make a collage.  But, Isaiah doesn't ever really just settle for a "simple" project.  He did not want to just glue the pictures on the paper.  He wanted to make a whole scene of a dairy party with the food on the tables.  He even (reluctantly) allowed Zeke to add some of the lights to the picture for the decorations.  I can't say I don't where he gets it that he insists on taking everything to another level, and I love that about him, but sometimes, it does seem that it would be easier if he was just content to complete the "simple" version of a task!  Look how pleased he is with his masterpiece, though!

We also did some work on our letter of the week, which was C.
Zeke is always a fan of dot markers.

For Isaiah's handwriting this week, I let him write on the big white board.  After his letters, I found this that he had made.  He said he didn't really know what it was, but I thought it was cool that he came up with this systematic little drawing of symbols.

Linking up over at Tot School Gathering Place!