Monday, January 19, 2009

Tot School: Gross Motor and etc.

Tot School

Here are a couple of things we did this week to challenge those big muscles...

I decided to share some picture of the gross motor stuff we do with Bubby as we go through the day. So often, I think we moms picture "school" with our little ones as some table time. They need to work on gross motor skills, too! Here are a couple of things we did this week to challenge those big muscles:

We called this one "Magic Carpet Ride." We used to do something similar in the laundry basket, which you can see in the picture. The blanket makes it a little more challenging, and it also makes mom worry less about possibly scratching the hardwood flooring! If you try this at home, use gentle starts and stops, but it can really work a little one's trunk muscles trying to balance. No standing up!

If this looks a bit chilly, sorry. We had a warm day, and the house was pretty warm, too. He had an afternoon bath, and he likes to have his "nekky" time!

I saw this next one in a book as a recommendation for a before-bed activity. I can see why they would say that; I'm sure it's supposed to be calming to a toddler, having that sensory input. Alas, Bubby loved it so much that he wanted to be a "papoosie" again and again, and went a bit crazy. So I don't think it would work for us for bedtime...but, hey, maybe someone else can use it. As it turned out, it is still a fun game! We laid the blanket out on the bed, put him on one side, and helped him roll up and unroll himself. The first couple of times, we unrolled immediately after rolling up, so he wouldn't get scared of being rolled up. I think he will get to the point where he can unroll himself. I remember that my brother and I had fun with this game as older kids!

Now for some other learning. Peanut has a book called Spot What. It is like the I Spy series of books. It seems a little busy for a toddler, but Bubby really loves this book and when Peanut will let him, he likes to sit with her and look at the pictures. Here they are getting in a little book time together. Bubby is in a verbal stage and he is learning new words all the time, and Peanut is so good to spend time with him naming things. In about five years, she is going to be a great babysitter!

I'm not really sure how I can make this educational, but Bubby loves my little sewing box that goes with my sewing machine. He loves taking the little feet out and putting them back. He doesn't put them back in the right spot; that is a little too difficult right now. This is something I need to explore further, because this little box can keep him busy for 30 minutes at a time!

Math Monday: Division with Place Value Blocks

Peanut is getting bogged down in division. She often has this problem with a new concept in math, or when using an old concept in a new way. I have learned that she needs to go into it gently, with me alongside, and then she will eventually get it. She does not do well with the "sink or swim" approach. It probably works with some kids, but not her.

We got out the old place value blocks this past week, and we are doing the beginning steps of long division with the blocks. This was tricky for me to figure out but we've got it for now. We use the dry erase board and work the problem out as we use the blocks for a concrete example of the problem. Currently, we are dividing by 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's. It might get trickier this week as we step up to the larger single digits.

I am going to try to get up a "how-to" post about this during the week.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bigger Library

I live in a medium-sized town near a metropolitan area. Our library is a nice place, very kid-friendly, has good programs, and they really try to be a help to all ages. But since they are small, they are not the greatest for homeschoolers, meaning that they do not have a huge selection of books, and what they do have is highly-utilized.

So every year, I invest in a paid library card to the large metro library system. The reason I am charged is because I do not live in the same county as the library, and my property taxes are not supporting the library. In my case, I pay $40 a year, which sounds pricy, but when you consider that if I can avoid buying just two $20 books each year, the card has paid for itself.

The library system has lots of great homeschooling books, and they are getting more all the time. They also have multiple copies of good quality children's literature, which means I usually don't have to wait longer than a week for the books I need for school. As with many libraries, they have an online catalog where I can request books from any library in the system, and go pick them up at the nearest branch. I don't have to go in and browse if I don't want to, and with a two-year-old to bring along, that is worth a great deal!

For more frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dollhouse on a Budget

Here is something my daughter is just going to love. She and her dad are building a real dollhouse, but that is going to take a while to get up and running, because she is on a kid budget, and the furnishings are a little expensive. Here is something she wants to do in the meantime.

The Perfect Dollhouse- a cardboard dollhouse that can fit under the bed, filled with recycled creations. This site has directions on how to make many of the accessories, and although they are heavy on the tea boxes, they look very simple to make. (I'm mostly kidding, I know you can use other boxes. It's just funny to me that everything starts with a tea box!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Old Gift Bags

I always to save and reuse the pretty gift bags from Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Sometimes the bags become a little wrinkled and banged up from use, and they are not really gift-worthy anymore. When that happens, there are other uses for them.

  • The smaller ones make great lunch bags. Or use a larger one for a picnic lunch for the family.
  • Tote bag for a crochet or knitting project to take along with you.
  • Keep in the car as a semi-permanent trash bag.
  • Lay a larger bag flat for slipping a covered dish inside to bring to a potluck. Slip the serving utensil inside the bag too.
  • Organizer bag for a kids' toy with small pieces, such as a puzzle.
  • Emergency diaper bag, just to hold a diaper, wipes, and a juice cup.
  • Organizer for student "center" for kids. Keep scissors, staples, pencils, glue and markers all together in one place for daily use.
  • Hang a bag over the hook of a coathanger to hold the scarf, hat and mittens to go with each coat.
  • Keep one in the laundry room for mismatched socks while they wait for the next round of laundry to get done.
If you have any more uses, I'd love to read them in my comments section. For more tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Get a Grip Kit for Math

This week, we decided to try something new. We bought a "Get a Grip Kit" some time ago. Peanut has started doing this as part of her math assignment each day. It does not go along with any certain curriculum, it is just an enrichment activity. Junior (7) has not expressed much interest in it, and I haven't required him to work on it, beyond showing him how to use it. It is just an additional activity.

The kit comes to you ready to go. You do not have to collect anything for it, but we did opt to provide our own lentils. It has small self-directed activity books, and the student writes the answers on separate paper. The problems get harder as you go along, the first book is very simple (working on greater than/less than problems.) The final book deal with decimals, percentages, fractions, and making a bar graph.

We are really liking this kit. The lentils also feel really nice, better than sand or something larger like pinto beans. It is designed for K - 6th grade.