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Monday, September 30, 2013

Tot School: Letter 'E' Theme

This week really flew by for me. I feel like I'm scrambling to get this post written and posted before starting with the next week. It's been so fun to watch Little Man learn and discover new words and ideas. One of my favorite moments is when Little Man will request to play a game that we learned during Tot School a week or 2 ago. I love it because I know that he's enjoying himself and looks forward to playing those games.

One of the goals I hope to accomplish as I work my way through these 26 weeks of Tot School is to provide ideas that are free of charge (except for the occasional, affordable product recommendation) and also don't require a lot of printing. I've seen some really awesome lesson packets out there and I appreciate all the hard work that the moms go through in order to make that available to so many people. However, sometimes I just can't stand the thought of having to print out so much stuff onto loose leaf paper. Maybe part of that has to do with my experience as a 1st grade teacher. I would go through packs of copy paper each week. Every time I stood at the copy machine, watching the paper churn through, I would think to myself, this paper will have a life expectancy of about 1 week before it's in the trash. Of course, there's always the option to recycle, but I always felt like there had to be more "hands on learning" options out there that taught the same concepts without using as much paper.

If I can find a way to teach Little Man something with a game, book, song, or reusable activity, I'm all for that! A majority of the time, if I recommend an activity that requires you to print something out, you can usually make that game reusable by laminating it or putting it into a protective sleeve. My hope is that most of what I share encourages learning through natural play.

That thought came to my mind this past week and I just wanted to share it so that all of you could be more familiar with my objectives when I select activities to do each week. I'm always discovering new ideas and I'm always open for suggestions. The internet is a big place and I know I've only scratched the surface with the ideas I've shared thus far in this series. Please don't hesitate to share links and/or ideas with me in the comments section if you know of something that might be beneficial for Tot School!

On to the week of E!

This week I decided to take Little Man on a little field trip to an indoor jungle gym to get some exercise. I wish we had the option of parks but there really aren't any great options in our city. Anytime we go out of the country for vacation, I always make sure to hit up the parks. Oh, how I miss parks...

Little Man had a blast climbing, jumping, spinning and sliding through the jungle gym. Because of his age, I had to accompany him. So I was right there with him...climbing, jumping, spinning and sliding as well :-)

If weather conditions aren't exactly inviting you to play outside, you could always do some great indoor exercising to the beat of . 

To exercise his fine motor skills, we played with wiggly eyes in our play dough this week. Fortunately, we got a package just in time from family that was full of Tot School supplies! Included was some new play dough and fun animal cookie cutters. We enjoyed sticking wiggly eyes onto the animal cutouts.

He also decided to put the eyes on his own eyes :-)

Who says going on an egg hunt is just for Easter? I pulled out some of his baseball and football designed eggs and hid them around the house. Once we found them all, we worked on doing easy AB patterns.

We practiced some object identification with a homemade "Eye" Spy game. I realize it's actually called "I Spy" but I'm trying to stick with the theme while also doing a little play on words. I know, I know...I'm so creative. What doesn't my mind come up with?? ;-)

We started playing it with a game given to us by a friend but I lost the photo with all the objects that were hidden. That made things a little difficult so I decided to make one myself. I used an empty plastic peanut butter jar and filled it with random objects and beans.

I made sure to take a picture of all the objects that were hidden so that Little Man would know what he was looking for and I wouldn't forget all the objects that I hid inside. This game is easy to adjust for the age of your child. I made ours fairly easy so that Little Man could feel accomplished when finding all the objects. However, if you have an older child, or a child you want to keep busy for awhile, you can hide smaller objects or use larger containers.

You could also arrange a variety of objects on a solid-colored surface and take photos of each arrangement. Then, print the photos out and make your very own, customized "Eye Spy" book! Or, if you're not feeling my play-on-words title, you could just call it an "I Spy" book. Just don't try to sell the book, the original makers of "I Spy" might come and get you.

I didn't worry about permanently sealing the Eye Spy game because I thought it would be nice to change out the objects every once in awhile. I'm always close by Little Man when he plays the game so I'm not worried about him opening it up and spilling out the contents.

For snack time this week, I didn't really do an 'E' themed food, but I did try out this fun shape sorting activity by Chieu Anh Urban. Little Man is quite the picky eater and we're working on getting him to try new foods. This activity was like MAGIC! I went through the pantry and found a variety of foods with different shapes. I put them in a bowl all together and let Little Man start sorting the shapes. As he was sorting, he would occasionally stick a piece of food in his mouth without any hesitation (and no coercing from me)!

In closing, here are a few great books to read for this week:

 by Dr. Seuss
by Watty Piper (we have  by Hallmark, a great gift for your child to receive from grandparents!)
by Al Perkins
 by Leo Lionni

Happy learning!

Links to Tot School Lessons by Letter:
A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E

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