Monday, January 30, 2017

Me and My Toddler's Daily Routine

I taught in public school for 8 years... from 3rd graders to seniors, I taught them all.  
The one thing that I always pushed was a routine.  Our class period always started out the same way, whether it was a quick 5 minute sketch when I taught art, watching CNN Student News when I taught Social Studies, or doing our daily DOL (Daily Language Review, Grade 1) when I taught English, the kids knew what to do whether I was in the room or not.  Our routines set the expectations and made life so much easier.

It's funny how kids catch on to the routine so quickly.
Sweet Pea knows how things go each morning and afternoon 
which helps with toddler meltdowns and tantrums I think.

So here is what a typical day looks like for us:

It's what happens during that whole "Be Awesome" time frame :) 
I'm not awesome at all of it... some days I am not awesome at any of it! 

4:45-6:00 am    I wake up, get dressed and go workout.
6:00-6:45 am    Shower and get ready for the day
6:45-7:30 am    Personal Quiet Time with the Lord and coffee
7:30-8:00 am    Sweet Pea wakes up; I get her dressed, wake up my husband, get him out the door.
8:00-9:00 am    Sweet Pea drinks her milk, has quiet play or watches Clifford on Netflix, while I 
                          make her breakfast and do a few chores.
9:00-10 am       Begin our morning errands.  I try to do most of the running around town in the 
                           morning so that when she gets up from her nap, we can just stay home.      
10:00-12 pm    Mondays: Homeschool Co-op day.  
                        Tuesdays:  Bible Study (Entrusted - Bible Study Book: A Study of 2 Timothy) and
                                           Sweet Pea has play time with friends in the Nursery.
                        Wednesdays: Story Time and Crafts at our Local Library
                        Thursdays and Fridays: FREE for whatever we want.  (this is when I usually                                                                               grocery shop.)
12-1 pm           Lunch, books, snuggle time in our chair, and put down for a nap.
1-3:00pm        Sweet Pea naps.  I blog, nap, get church stuff done, sew, or whatever quiet activity I 
                          want.  I might do laundry... might... but usually do not clean during this time.
3-5:00 pm       Mother Goose Time activities and out door time!  On Thursdays, Sweet Pea has      
                          gymnastics at 4:15-5 but we just started and do our Mother Goose Time stuff in the 
5-7:00 pm       Cook and Eat dinner, play time with Daddy while I cook
7-8:00 pm       Brush Teeth, Bath, blow dry hair (her hair is so thick! We have to blow-dry before bed)
8-8:30 pm       Books and Prayers with Daddy; Rock with Me and then Bed Time.
8:45-10 pm     Set Up Mother Goose Time stuff for the next day, and Me and My time 
10:00 pm        My bed time 

One of the great things (there's like a million) about Mother Goose Time is that everything is included in each daily bag. Set up is a cinch at night!  All I have to do is look at my Teacher Guide, open my daily bag and put each activity on it's own tray. 

Then I place the trays on our buffet table and things are ready for whenever we want to do some Mother Goose Time stuff!

Sometimes, Sweet Pea has so much fun doing an activity, she wants to do it again with Daddy when he gets home, like when we had our Mail Carrier Day.  Keeping all our supplies here makes it easy for Daddy to grab a tray and play with her while I am cooking dinner.

Having the trays set up also helps when Sweet Pea just doesn't want to do an activity.  She's 2.5 years old. I am not going to push her right now to do something she just isn't interested in.
If she is not interested in one tray, I just switch it out for a different one.
Right now, at this age, I just want to play with her and let her experience as many different things as I can.  I want her to love love experiencing new things... to observe things well, and question why things work or don't.

Mother Goose Time helps with all those aspirations of mine.  Even if one day is a total bust, the next day might be the best ever.  You never know with toddlers how they will react from one moment to the next.

Somedays are awesome.
Somedays are not.
And most days are somewhere in between.
But everyday I am grateful for the moments I get to have with my girl.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tot School: Interactive Reading

My girl is in love with books.
It goes with her quiet, contemplative, cautious personality I think.
She loves to sit in laps, look at pictures, tell you about them, and snuggle with whoever she is sitting with... mostly it's me. <3 
Mother Goose Time sends us a NEW BOOK each month with our monthly kit.
Naturally with this month revolving around the theme of baby animals, we received a book titled
Baby Animals Learn and Play,  We love this book.
Each month we also get a little journal (which I cut a picture of her swinging at the park and taped it on the cover), and an I Can Read book.  This month that one's title is Do You See Me?
We haven't really done much with the I Can Read books in the past, but I was so impressed with what Sweet Pea could do with them!  Read on to see what it's like!  

Like I said, my girl gets excited about books, and when she saw the set up, she had to imitate the picture of her on the swing, as you can see below. :)

We first read Baby Animals Learn and Play.  This book is WONDERFUL for toddlers!  It helps to transition from a board book to a paper back book, but it doesn't have too many words on the page that can cause toddlers to lose interest.  The pictures are clear, crisp and up-close which are perfect for the words chosen in the book. 

The book would say what an animal likes to do (some kind of verb) and then asks the reader "What can you _________ (same verb)?"  The fact that it had this question created a dialogue between the text and Sweet Pea.  After the question was asked, she would go and do that verb that it asked!
 See the next couple of pictures for a better idea.

The picture above in the book, had an orangutan swinging from a branch.  Then the next sentence was "Where do you swing?"  Sweet Pea immediately pointed to the picture on her My Little Journal and declared, "Park!"  I promise I did NOT plan that to happen!  I had not read the book prior to me putting that picture on her little journal!  Total God thing there.  
I love seeing Him in little everyday moments.

A few pages later, the book had a page that said, "An elephant calf drinks with his trunk.  What do you use to take a drink?"
Sweet Pea pointed to her mouth, and all of a sudden, she was up and running....I didn't know what she was doing until she grabbed one of her sippy cups.  She had answered that question perfectly. 

Getting a nice drink of water, just like an elephant. Love that book.  The book is available through Mother Goose Time with this kit, or you can find it on Amazon.  Just click the link below :)

After we read our monthly book, we looked at our I Can Read book provided by Mother Goose Time.
I Can Read books are pretty popular.  You can find a ton of them at your local library or check out this link.  I Can Read books are great for teaching and learning "sight words."  Sight words are commonly used words that young children are encouraged to memorize as a whole by sight, so that they can automatically recognize these words in print without having to use any strategies to decode. (Wikipedia)

How do you make learning sight words engaging for toddlers?  Turn it into a matching game! Recently, Sweet Pea has been all into matching things so this was a perfect activity for us.

MGT sent Sight Word arrows that Sweet Pea used to point/cover the sight word in the sentences.

"Do you see me?"  Sweet Pea loves to interact with books.  She stopped what she was doing and pointed to the deer and said "Deer."

Matching her 2 sight words.."See" and "Run" on the page stating "See me run."
Naturally, Sweet Pea did the same thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tot School: Animal Babies and Eggs

 Egg Day continues!
We just had so much fun studying animals that hatch from eggs using our Mother Goose Time materials.  I prepared a game for Sweet Pea based on "Waiting for the Hatch" game supplied in the Teacher Guide by MGT .  It consisted of cards that had an image of the animal egg and on the other side of the card was a picture of the animal that hatches from that egg.  I love that they used actual pictures of each!  We have quite a few of the Safari Ltd sets and I pulled a few animals that matched our cards along with plastic eggs, a basket, and grass filler that I have saved since's January.  You never know  when you need grass filler with toddlers. 

I placed one animal in each egg and then hid the eggs among the grass filler in the basket.  I placed the cards of the eggs next to the basket.

Egg Day followed Pregnancy day and I told Sweet Pea that some animals have babies in the belly and some have babies in eggs. I then gave her the egg cards and told her we would find out which animals come from eggs.

After looking at the cards, she told me each animal and made it's sound if she knew it.  Then it was time to play match up, which is currently her favorite game!  She searched for an egg, opened it and then matched it to the picture.  

She loved this game! You could hide the eggs outside if the weather was nice, or you could hide them around the house.  There's so much you can do with those plastic eggs! 
But egg day didn't even end there!
Ready for more pictures?  
I know you are...

Egg Day finished with a beautiful Invitation to Create decorative eggs.
Mother Goose Time supplied us with this stunning image to get the mind racing, a giant egg cut out, and a sponge! All I had to do was provide white crayons and watercolors, which happen to be water with food coloring.  Easy peasy! 

I'll briefly explain the process, but let the pictures do most of the talking.  The decorative image that MGT sent has some very eye catching designs due to the white line designs on each egg.  So here's what we did to make our artwork.
First, Sweet Pea used white crayon to color all over the white egg.  She then filled her sponge with a water color and used her sponge to paint the egg. The wax of the crayon resisted the water leaving a white line design similar to the egg image provided...but ya know it's created by a 2 year old :) 

I had to include the above picture!  I couldn't believe I was able to capture that drop of red water!
It didn't take Sweet Pea long to start working on her fine motor skill of squeezing the sponge... which can lead to a super fun but soaking wet masterpiece.

Just grab a paper towel and dab at it and let it dry flat.  Look at those beautiful colors and you can still make out the line design created with the white crayon.  I love it... and it'll be perfect framed in my house for Easter this year.

Want to know more about our Egg Day?  Be sure to check out how we incorporated some math into our egg day with this post!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Egg-cellent Counting!

Disclaimer:  I taught public school for 8 years before becoming a mom. I taught a new grade or subject EVERY year.  Never the same thing twice (Jack of All Trades is the perfect name *wink)
I have hoarded  collected re-purposed many of the things that I used when I taught.
Hence the stash of about 100 plastic Easter eggs I have tied up in my garage.
Do you have some too?  I bet you do... no shame here my friend!

This month we are studying Baby Animals with Mother Goose Time, and our first week is all about Waiting on Baby.  That could mean pregnancy, eggs, or adoption. Today happened to be EGG Day, so naturally I pulled out my stash of plastic Easter eggs! You don't have to wait until Easter to bust out those things... we even make maracas out of ours! (cheap and super fun music makers)  

Mother Goose Time sent some Tangram shape manipulatives with this months theme! 
I gasped when I saw them! I made mandalas all over my elementary classroom floors with these things on rainy recess days. Oh how I love patterns... it's the art teacher in me.

Since hexagon is a new shape for us this month and a completely new shape to Sweet Pea, I put out her cloud shapes from our Circle Time board on her table and let her match up some shapes.  The hexagon and square shapes fit perfectly on the shape on the cloud!  
She is so into matching things up lately.

"TWO!!!"  It's her favorite number. Sweet Pea was so excited about these shapes!  But it was at this point that it hit me..."Leslie, there is no circle or star in this bag of tangram shapes. You need to take off those clouds.  Hmmm.... how can I make it more engaging if I take away some shapes?"
Duh, it's Egg day!  Bust out those hoarded plastic eggs and put those shapes in there! It's a surprise with every egg!  So I did.  We only used the squares, triangles, and hexagons, but we used about 18 eggs to hide them in.  She had so much fun opening each one.

She did a great job working on her fine motor skills while stacking the shapes into tall towers.  She talked about how BIG the towers were.  She accidentally knocked over her tower of orange squares.  But then she picked them up one by one and counted..."one, two, three, four, five!" 
I couldn't believe it!  This was her first time, without me prompting, for her to count completely on her own in order and up to five!  She's not even 2 and a half yet!  I was so impressed!  

Egg Day was so much fun!  This was just the beginning for us, so be sure to come back and see what else we did with those plastic Easter eggs! 

Can I just say that I am so excited to watch her learn and play.  It is such a blessing to be able to see moments like these.  Counting... in order... I'm just so happy I was able to be there when she did it.  I realize that not every mom gets too... and I am just so humbled and grateful that I am able to.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pregnancy and Pigs

I'm not going to lie... when I first saw our Baby Animals Unit Theme Web in our Mother Goose Time curriculum my heart sank a little.

Our first week is Waiting on Baby.
Waiting on Baby.  This.  This is what made my heart sink.
The thoughts and emotions that come back full force.  
It's hard for me to talk about "Pregnant Moms" when I had a molar pregnancy that led to a DNC a few months ago.  However, just because things are tough doesn't mean that they cant be faced.  I thought about skipping this lesson, but when we are talking about babies, how do you skip the lesson about pregnancy?  I knew I wanted to do this with Sweet Pea. I wanted her to know even if she is little.  I got a little teary eyed here and there, but I am so glad it's just me and my girl.  

We had a lot of fun and I took tons of pictures (surprise surprise), but I think the most fun we had was when we played with the little pigs manipulatives that were sent with our Mother Goose Time kit this month.

Don't you just love these socks!  Tell me you have some like it in your drawer too! It was perfect to hide some of the pigs and we talked about how babies are hidden in momma's belly. 

I brought out our Fisher-Price Little People Animal Friends Farm, pig, and Farmer Eddie to come and join the fun!  I told Sweet Pea that there were lots of little piglets hidden in a momma pig's belly and the farmer helps take care of the pigs and piglets.  I left all the other farm animals in another room.

I hid 5 piglets in the sock and Sweet Pea was so excited when she put her hand in and felt a little pig!  She tried to pull one out at a time, but sometimes she grabbed two.  After she pulled one out, I had her place it on a pig on her number card which I placed on the tray.  These number cards are great for one-to-one correspondence

After Sweet Pea removed all the little pigs from the momma sock belly, we worked on our counting, sorting, and talking about how the momma pig feeds her young with her milk.  I was really impressed that she could sort these by size!  She sorted about 7-8 of them between the larger pigs and smaller ones (it's really hard to tell but an excellent challenge), and after sorting them by size we did it by color.

I love the picture below. Pink momma pig with her pink piglets and Farmer Eddie in his red shirt gets the red piglets. Sweet Pea and her color sorting... :) 

This picture below cracks me up!  She found out that the little pigs fit perfectly into the bottoms of our Fisher Price people.  Farmer Eddie, Grandmother and Granddaddy all had piglets going up their bottoms!  I literally laughed out loud! 

Last but not least, they headed down the silo!  Now we have little pigs all over our house.  She is really enjoying playing with these pigs, and I enjoy watching her play.  Pregnant mom day turned out to be a great day! 

I am so blessed to be her momma.  I don't deserve her.  The Lord is so good... He gave me something so beautiful, so undeserving, something so special and my heart is full each time I look at my girl.  I know that we may never have any more biological children and she might be the only child we have.
And that's okay.  I choose joy.  I choose to have fun with her everyday even if some days my heart breaks.  She is my gift that I never want to take for granted.  
I am completely humbled that God gave me her.  
God is good all the time.
His grace is enough.