Thursday, January 31, 2013

B is for Books - Book Nook!

My husband and I finally got around to finishing putting together our oldests new bed (the KURA from Ikea) and he requested the higher bed, so we decided to create a little book nook for him to hang out with us for reading or working on activities. We got it set up and he absolutely loves the bed and the book nook!

We have a little table for the lamp and doodle pad and underneath it a crate full of his favorite books, one of which he is reading The Wacky Substitute.

Where do your kids enjoy reading? 

B is for Books - Some of my Son's Favorites!

I wanted to share a few of my son's favorite books with you all! There's an underlying theme in all of them, which I find quite funny - he apparently likes books about things on people's heads

His absolute favorite book right now is "There is a Bird on Your Head" by Mo Willems.  

We could read this book repeatedly to O, for an entire day, and the second we'd close the book, he'd request it again.  I, personally, think its a great book for children with developmental delays or concentration issues.  There aren't a lot of words on each page, and the story is more about the images accompanying the text.  O can page through it and practically 'read' it to himself based on what is on each page.  I think that boosts his confidence quite a bit!

And, in seeking out an image of the cover, I discovered that this is one in a series of Elephant and Piggie stories!  We are going to have to see if the library has any more from the series for us to borrow!

His other favorites are called "I Want My Hat Back" and "This is Not My Hat" by Jon Klassen. 

I'm still not sure what the fascination is with head pieces and this kid, but these three books are his absolute favorite in the world.  Does your child have an absolute favorite "theme" in his or her books?

ETA: I've been thinking about what these books have in common (other than a fascination with things on heads…), and the stories are all written in conversation form - they aren't stories about characters, they are characters having conversations with one another.  So maybe that's the key to O's reading preferences!

B is for Books - We Got Our Library Card!

Yay us!  Today we went and got our very first library card!  We made the long, five mile trek :) to our local library and explored it a bit, to see if their children's section was worth our time.

I had faith in their children's section the second we walked in the door - they had the alphabet taped to the floor leading straight from the door to the kid's area.  

O was immediately stoked, and began running back and forth on the alphabet, calling out the letters he saw. (I wasn't too stoked about the loud clunking of his winter boots…but hey, no one else seemed to mind…)

We followed the alphabet and found a very cute little area built up for the kiddos! O was first interested in the computers, of course - my little technology oriented child. 
(Personally, I'm a big fan of the computers overlooking the children's nook…I can catch up on some correspondence while the boys explore!)

But after some redirection, we went in and explored their space.

After a bit of manic running around and exploring the toys in the center of the room, O began flipping through one of the rows of books.  He found a Thomas the Train book and brought it to me!  I set him up at the table, and he began flipping through the pages, "reading" based on what he saw on the picture (so very cute!).  Xander then brought me a big board book about trucks.  I sat him with O at the table…and the both actually sat their quietly for five minutes paging through their respective books….color me shocked!

We stayed until the boys started going manic again, and were running around, in and out of the kids' space.  I didn't want to disturb the others sitting around, reading, and flipping through books.

On our way out, we found a super neat ball maze:
The boys were entertained by this endlessly…I had to drag them away from it for us to go home!

It was a great experience, and I'm excited to add library trips to our weekly agenda!

Now if you will excuse me, I must go to the kitchen and sweep up the Kix that my boys JUST decided to dump all over my floor.  Boys!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alphabet Series - Tracing Oversized Letters

Over the past several months, I've tried working with O on tracing his letters.  I bought one of those little books with the dotted-line letters for O to practice with.  But every time we sat down to trace them, he wasn't able to do it.  He either wasn't interested, just wanted to color on the page, or physically couldn't fulfill my request to trace the lines.  He could do it hand-over-hand (with my hand guiding his), but he just couldn't independently do it.

When we began the Alphabet Series at the beginning of last week, I drew a giant A on our easel.  I gave him markers, and expected him, if anything, to just want to color it in.  To my surprise, though, he first traced the A!…before going completely crazy on it - so I didn't get a picture.  But I have a picture of the aftermath; you can clearly see his tracing in orange!

So I determined that it wasn't the tracing of a letter that he was struggling with in the workbooks - it was the size of the letter I was having him trace.  His fine motor skills aren't advanced enough to trace the smaller letters!  Now I know!

Once again, this week, I put up a big B on the easel in the living room and let the boys go crazy on it.  And, once again, O traced the B - very carefully - I was so proud!…of course he chose to trace in yellow! Practically invisible to the camera!…and then immediately went crazy with the markers again.

Going Crazy!!

But I just wanted to share our little experience with learning to trace the letters.  If your young child is struggling with tracing the letters on small scale, try oversizing the letters for them - it could be the only necessary difference you need to make!

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

In an effort to tie in our weekly Alphabet Series, my oldest, Landon and I are including cooking and using foods that correlate with the weeks letter. Since we are on the letter B  and I needed Bread crumbs for some Ranch Chicken Thighs I was making for dinner. These are super easy and delicious - you will never need to buy bread crumbs again!
This is the bread we buy from Costco, about $5.50 for two loaves! I used a half a loaf for the recipe. You can use stale bread or fresh, like I did and just toasted it and let it sit for a while so it could really dry out.
In addition to bread, you will need salt, pepper and about a half stick of butter. Sometimes I like to add some ranch or italian seasoning as well.

While the bread is toasting, melt the butter in a large sauce pan on low heat.

 Put your bread in a food processor. I threw mine in the Vitamix, worked great! Don't blend to much, you want to leave some texture. Pour your ground up bread into the butter, add seasoning and cook on medium heat until everything is coated and the pieces get nice and toasty. Let it cool thouroughly and pour into a container or heavy duty Ziploc bag. Store at room temp for up to 6 months!

Easy peasy & delicious!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

B is for Books - "Whoo's There?"

Last night my husband read "Whoo's There" to O (X was in there, too).  Thankfully we didn't read it at bedtime, because it turned in to quite the production!  

*We've had this book for a while, but hadn't even opened it, yet.  Each page has a transparent section cut in to it that has a black image on the transparency.  When you shine a flashlight through it, the picture that goes with that page of story shines on to whatever surface you point it to.  It's pretty neat!* 

It began with my husband pulling out the flash light - which is ALWAYS a huge hit in this house. We went in to O's room and turned out the lights.  In an attempt to get O interested in the book in the first place, my husband shone the light through one of the pages, and showed him the image it made on the ceiling.

That earned immediate interest! My husband continued reading the story to a very intrigued little boy. And on every page, O would watch my husband read the page, and then look up to the image and excited exclaim "look! look!" He and my husband would then discuss what they saw in the image projected on to the ceiling.

O then requested that the image be projected on the the wall.  This immediately led to the discovery of his own shadow.  We had a great discussion about how shadows work; O did a really fantastic job exploring his own shadow, and making shapes on the wall with his hands.

Then daddy introduced him to shadow puppets.  

Mind. Blown.

O decided that this was him being a "shadow monster":

This book ended up providing us with a really fantastic conversation and a great little family experience.  We're now talking about how we can make our own shadow book, because O enjoyed it so very much! (Stay tuned for a potential tutorial on that!)  I'd recommend a shadow book to anyone, now.  O stayed really engaged in the story, loved discussing the images he saw in the projection, and got the opportunity to discover a whole new concept.

(Oh, and please excuse the sheep costume :)  O occasionally requests to be dressed up in his halloween costume from last year, which was Shaun the Sheep.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

B is for Books

This week we've dedicated to the letter B and Books.

Just like last week, we're saturating our living space with the letter B: I've drawn a large letter B on some oversized paper and put it up on our easel in the living room for the kids to color in.  I've cut out a letter "B" from cardboard, again for the boys to color and trace.  And, a new addition to our attempt at saturation: we've used window markers to put the letter "B" on the glass portion of our banister and on our big bay window.

In this week's "Alphabasket" we have, of course, a LOT of books! I wanted to stretch the theme a little bit, so I went around our bookcases and sought out books that were a little more unique than our typical board books - books that could offer more than just a simple reading, books that maybe invited introductions to more complicated concepts.

A sampling of our alphabasket this week:
Children's books based on popular, classic adult favorites:
Romeo & Juliet
Pride & Prejudice
Alice in Wonderland
Jane Eyre

  Books associated with songs

Pop-up books

Alphabet tracing book

A "Scanimation" book

A shadow Book

We also have a few books about our home town and state

We'll also be attempting to make a few books of our own!

The biggest activity for this week is going to be our field trip to our local library to get our very first library card!  (Yes, I know, "you have two small children and don't have a library card!?"  Well, my children have a penchant for destroying property that isn't theres….well, and their own property…so we'll see how this goes…

Hope you join us for this week's activities!

Project 365 - January 20 - January 26

This week's Project 365 Theme was Hands :)








Friday, January 25, 2013

A is for Alphabet - Physical Flash Carding

We are enjoying our week with the letter A!

Today, we played with flash cards in a rather…unorthodox manner; this is one of our favorite applications for oversized flash cards.  

We call it Physical Flash Carding.  We build a huge circle with the flash cards, stick O in the middle, and ask him to find us certain letters.  He's become quite good at finding the letters we ask of him rather quickly!  

"Is this the right letter?!"

"It is! It is! I found the letter C!"

It's a great activity for letter recognition - separating one letter from the rest - and it allows our wild, rambunctious little boy to exert some energy at the same time!  It usually begins with some serious letter seekingand dissolves in to running as fast as one can around the inside of the circle for twenty minutes.  See:

We'll be doing this activity more this week (and in the coming 25 weeks) than we have previously done, because its such good practice with letter recognition, and provides a great re-cap over the entire alphabet.

I'd definitely promote this activity to you with your little ones, as it is a lot of fun to watch them develop their letter recognition skills while still getting to do something physically exerting.  

Happy Physical Flash Carding!