Monday, January 3, 2011

Out With The Old

and in with the new. Our blog is moving. Please join us at

Learning in the Woolly Dragon's Lair

I haven't gotten around to posting there yet, hopefully soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tot School Advent Calendar

Tot School
Xander is 22 months old.

We didn't do any real Tot School activities this week. We did read a lot of books, played with Playdoh, and colored (a lot, he's really into coloring now). I had made an advent countdown and each day we've been doing an activity. So far we've:

  1. Read a Christmas book with Grandma
  2. Made a paper chain. 
  3. Read a Christmas book with Daddy
  4. Made Christmas trees decorated with paper dots.
The book Ryan read him was A Wish for Wings that Work by Berkley Breathed. Our copy has a note written in it from Ryan to me, it was a gift for our 2nd Christmas together. At this age Xander didn't really enjoy the book, maybe next year. Our Christmas tree craft isn't actually tree shape yet, the glue had to dry last night and we've been busy running errands all day today. Today's activity is to watch Daddy's favorite Christmas movie with him (A Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton).

Xander is becoming much more talkative lately. His favorite word is "car" and now that he sits facing forward in the car (he got a new car seat last week) he spends trips pointing out all the cars. He also lines up his toys and has them have conversations. After I hung the paper chain (lazily flinging it over our leaf garland that has been hanging in the living room for since last year!) he sat underneath it and had Mozart and Shaggy Dog (2 of his stuffies) have a conversation (still mostly just babbling) about the chain. I love this new talking Xander! He's even said "Momma" a few times, just melts my heart.

He's also started saying the second syllable of apple, instead of just aaa. Of course, he's calling a tomato apple but so did European botanists when they first saw them. He just loves tomatoes, eating a whole one just like an apple.

That was our week, to see what other tots are doing visit Tot School. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paper Chain

Today's countdown activity was to make a paper chain. I cut construction paper into strips with the plan being that Xander and I would decorate them and then make them into a chain. I should have just had Xander draw on sheets of paper and then cut that into strips-- would have been much easier, it was really hard for Xander to draw on the tiny strip!

I thought it would be fun for Xander to try pastels today--- big mistake. He totally lost interest in making the chain and was much more fascinated with trying to remove the pastels from their box and then put them back in, over and over. We did get a small paper chain made and I now have tons of paper strips ready for some other craft!

The last two photos are Xander having a fit because I told him that the stapler was "no touch" and the next one was taken a few seconds later, showing how fast he gets over being upset. He has lots and lots of tantrums but they're almost always very short lived. Oh my, I just noticed that the photos show the destruction in the living room. It was all clean a few hours ago! I wish I could just wriggle my nose and "poof" have a clean house like on Bewitched!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Advent Calendar

I wanted to make a countdown activity for Xander so that the holiday season is full of fun things to do and not just focused on the presents on the 25th. That isn't really a problem now, this is only Xander's 2nd Christmas, but this is something I want to do as a tradition every year-- plus it's a fun way to make sure I get through my to do list with him this month!

We actually have a cloth wall hanging advent calendar that has ornaments in each pocket that you can hang on the tree but using that involves a) getting the ornaments out before December 1st and b) having a tree. While I do want to get the ornaments out this weekend and hang some of our holiday gear I am not an early tree person. I have a total phobia of the tree getting too dry and burning down the house. We put the tree up mid month and I almost always take it down the day after Christmas.

I've seen lots of beautiful countdown crafts around the web, I think my favorite was some lovely sewn mittens that hold notes but seeing as it was November 30th and I hadn't sewn them that wasn't going to happen this year. :D Then I saw the perfect easy countdown for us on By Sun and Candlelight. She used foam trees and tacked them to a bulletin board, I'm not comfortable having the pushpins around Xander so I thought I'd add magnets to the back and put them on the fridge. I couldn't find any foam trees but I did find a package of snowflakes-- perfect! I numbered the fronts, attached self-adhesive magnets to the back, and wrote our holiday activity on the back. I'm actually going to be writing the activities the night before so that I know what our plans for the day are and make sure that we have the supplies.

Our first activity was read a Christmas book with Grandma. Xander was really excited to be held up to the fridge to take down the snowflake, less excited to hand it to Grandma to read the back! He'd start to hand it to her and then pull away. Finally she got him to let her read it.

They read the Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, I was given this book one Christmas when I was a child and have always loved it.

In the second photo he is pointing out the owl in the illustrations, still loves owls! After my Mom finished reading him this book he ran over to get Go Away, Big Green Monster! for her to read. We still have it checked out from the library and he has asked to be read it every single day!
 I just love their expressions as they are telling the monster to "Go Away!"

Our activity tomorrow is to make a paper chain. I'm going to cut the paper into strips tonight and then have Xander draw and maybe paint some of them before we staple them into loops and make a chain to decorate the living room and then later the tree. To get ideas for your own holiday activity list visit The Activity Mom and Confessions of a Homeschooler. There are a lot of crafts on my want to do list, I'll have to sort through them and see which Xander would most likely want to do. Other things on the list are

  • decorate the tree
  • make an easy gingerbread house (I remember making one using graham crackers as a little kid)
  • Skype with Grandma and Grandpa Williams (and maybe some aunts & uncles & cousins too)
  • have hot chocolate with marshmallows-- I really want to try this with Xander but we'll have to call it something other than hot or he'll just refuse to try it and keep blowing on it even once its all cold!
  • make cut out cookies and decorate them
  • maybe go see the Zoolights
  • watch some of the older stop motion Christmas movies
  • watch (the animated) and read the How the Grinch stole Christmas
and many, many more activities. Really need to thin the list. But now I have to finish this as Xander has become bored with his activity of writing on a white board and then washing it up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tot School Snow!

Tot School
Xander is 22 months old.

We had a snow week! This was Xander's first real snow. It snowed the year he was born, and then again a little snow last year, but this week we had real snow and Xander was old enough to go out in it. I know that in other parts of the country the few inches we got is nothing, but here in western Washington that amount of snow shuts everything down. We just don't have the snow plows and sand trucks to keep the roads clear and lets face it, no one here can drive in the snow! So Ryan was home from work and we all went out and played in the snow. 

We don't have a snowsuit for Xander so we put plastic bags over his legs and then a pair of Ryan's socks over those to help make him more waterproof. Oh, and a pair of Xander's socks for mittens-- where do you find mittens his size?

Xander was rather puzzled by the snow but really liked it when Ryan threw snowballs to our dog McCoy.

Notice that Poppy Seed stayed at the edge of the house where there was no snow--- she doesn't like it. Neither do our chickens, they refused to come out of the coop until the last day when the snow was melting away.

Other than fun in the snow we had a lazy week here, he mainly read and drew and played with his toys. To see what other tots are doing visit Tot School. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tot School Green Monsters

Tot School
Xander is 22 months old.

This week we were working with monsters and the color green. Our theme was built around the book Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley.

This is a GREAT book! Xander just loves it, and it was just what I was looking for to reinforce the names of the parts of the face.  After reading the book we colored monster faces printed out from the author's website.

I cut out the faces and then glued them onto lunch bags to make puppets. We've played with them throughout the week. One is now missing the hair since Xander decided to tear it all off while saying "broke" each time-- yippee a new word!

To learn about the color green and just to have fun we participated in Muffin Tin Monday and had a green lunch.

Xander loves GRAPES!

Monday evening Xander helped me make some short-cut pumpkin cookies. If this were a decade ago I would call these "muffin top" cookies, because they were soft and tasted like a yummy muffin, but that term has a whole different unappetizing meaning nowadays. They were very easy to make, and called for ingredients you can keep in your pantry, and tasted very yummy but they did get a sticky texture the next day so I recommend making them when you have enough people to go through them quickly. Xander really liked these cookies and he's a VERY picky eater so that's really saying something.

Eating while totally fascinated watching Mickey and the Beanstalk on YouTube.
I printed out and laminated (yep, FINALLY used my laminator!) the Happy Monsters Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1. There is a puzzle, pattern matching, size sequencing, shape recognition, and counting cards (I think I listed everything). Most of the cards can be used in several different ways. Xander is really not ready for most of this stuff, which meant that a lot of it wasn't used this week but that this Tot Pack will be useful for a long time to come. 

The puzzle interested him but it was a little to difficult for him at this point. He does NOT like it when I try to show him how things match. He did enjoy talking about the shapes and counting the monsters eyes but his favorite thing was the size sequencing monsters (which I strangely have NO photos of!). This was really the first time we talked about size this way and at first he didn't seem to understand but by the end of the week he did seem to be figuring it out. What he really loved was playing with these monsters! I printed out a book using text from Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers and a web ap to print out a stapleless book. In the space under the text I used colored pens to write the number (matching the colors to the colors of the size sequencing monsters -- if I'd done this on purpose I'd have done the largest monsters color first and then gone down in size but it was purely coincidental that the colors matched). He loved it when I read our book of the Five Little Monsters and acted out the parts with the laminated monsters. We did this over and over.

He also really loved the Shape Monster book that I made him. I saw it on Motherhood Moments. Xander really loves it when I said, "munch, munch, munch". For some reason he found that really funny.

But the best part of this entire weeks theme has been the velcro Big Green Monster face I made for him. I printed out the face and laminated it, then cut it all up and used self adhesive velcro (that my Mom stopped and got for me since I kept FORGETTING it!-- thank you Mom!) to attach the different parts of the monsters face. It was Xander's first experience with velcro but once he got the hang of it he loved playing with this face.

We were going to finish up our Green Monster week with green soup and monster cupcakes. The yummy (but very healthy tasting) vegetable soup was made and the cupcakes made but never decorated because Xander fell asleep before dinner last night and was out for the whole evening. 2 vaccinations in 2 days had just worn the poor guy out. He has since eaten cupcakes but I never did get around to making them into monsters, sort of ran out of oomph.

This week we also got out our Thanksgiving Kit from Time for Tots. And by "got out" I mean EVERYTHING! Xander didn't just do some of the activities, he opened every single bag and played with everything all over my office. I spent a long time this morning collecting everything and getting it packed back together. He had a lot of fun. We also made our Thanksgiving cards for the grandparents and great grandparents using a printout from Color with Leo.

We had a lot of fun this week, thanks for stopping by! To see what other tots are doing stop by Tot School.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strider Bike Giveaway

One of the things we've looked at getting for Xander (possibly for his 2nd birthday but more likely in the spring) is a Strider Running Bike. They look like such a great way to learn how to balance and prepare for bike riding. Right now The Simple Things is hosting a giveaway for a Strider bike. Go on over and enter to win.