… little bit of this, little bit of that, a whole lotta about the kids

Category Archives: totschool

Lil L is 32 months.  Kidlet just turned 8.

A Few of Lil L’s recent activities.  You can see her poor scraggly hair a bit in some of these.  My daughter inherited *my* hair, which means its very thin, very fine, and tangles if you breathe on it.  This is no exaggeration.  No amount of leave in conditioner, de-tangling spray, etc does any good.  We get giant clumps of rats nest hair, and combing it is a NIGHTMARE.  She tends to have greasy looking hair around the house, because I saturate it in conditioner and let it just sit on the head in the hopes that just maybe THIS time it will make a difference.  (it doesn’t =0)

Playdough mats (L for her name, although she can spell it now)

I bought this button art on a super sale for Christmas 2010, but had it put up until she could actually use it.  We pulled it out a few months ago, and she loves snapping the buttons in place.  She often wants to use it without one of the included patterns, but this time was using them.  She decided that she wanted her boat to have eyes, color coding on the picture mat notwithstanding.

Making sculptures from Crayola Model Magic, buttons, tiny letter dice (from inside mini boggle games from Oriental Trading that were 50% off since they were “less than perfect” which doesn’t matter for this!).  She did her name first without assistance, then asked how to spell mommy, daddy and her brothers name, then she found the letters on the dice and pushed them in.

Showing off her “P” work.

While mommy and kidlet were dyeing some rice  (below) for a later project, she is playing with a sensory bin (mainly a mix of brown and wild rices that I had bought in bulk and everyone in our family hated it the one time I made it) with measuring cups, containers, and funnels.  The bin WAS full when she started; throwing the rice about is so much fun.

We used gel food coloring (since that is what I had on hand) and a bit of rubbing alcohol.  I don’t know what purpose that serves exactly, but we were happy with the vibrant colors that came out of it.

Kidlet has been working on idioms.  That is a tough one when you have asperger’s.  I had seen a display of idiom worksheets onpinterest (can’t find that link now to credit them).  But they didn’t share the sheet they used, just the image of finished results, so I created one.

We have done a few of them (ants in your pants, let the cat out of the bag), which I meant to show here, but didn’t get them scanned.  I put the idiom in at the top, and then have him draw what he thinks it would look like if it meant exactly what it said.  Then we talk about what it really means, and add the definition and use.  Then I have him write a sentence using the idiom.

Apple week   

Baby L is 16 months  

Tot School  

Tot Basket: V-Tech Learning the Alphabet Apple  


This toy has a number of settings, some are defintely for the older preschool set.  At 16 months, her favorite mode is “music”; when she pushes any of the letters it launches a different instrumental, generally toddler faves. She also really enjoyed spinning the clock handles. 


Felt Board. I made these felt pieces new for this week with a bit of felt, some nice sharp scissors, and some fabric glue.  It has 10 little apples for apple chants and of course the apple tree. 


We did “10 little indians” with apples instead.   As well as a chant ala 5 little monkey with apples instead.  And another, which makes a good fingerplay as well. 

Way up high in the apple tree
Two red apples smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the apples,
Mmmm–were they good! 


Tot Basket: Magnetic Apple Fractions.  Technically, these belong to big brother, but she kept wanting to play with them.  


Pulling them out and fitting them back in like a shape sorter, and dividing them into pieces and then having them snap back into place when she got the pieces lined back up were loads of fun. 


She also enjoyed stacking them, and I was very suprised to see that she was able to balance all four apples on top of each other, despite the fact that they aren’t flat. 




We looked at red and green apples and talked about the colors, and then I gave her red and green tadoodles markers to see how she would do with them, as the last time we tried markers a few weeks back, it was disasterous. It went a lot better this time, though much marker ink still ended up all over hands =) 


I made an apple tree out of cardstock and glued it down on a background.  The intent was to let her use up a whole sheet of smaller apple stickers, but I couldn’t find them, so instead I used spray adhesive to turn some larger paper apples (bulletin board decorations) into “stickers”. 


That left us with apples rather out of proportion to the tree, but I don’t think she minded ;) 


Others: Washed apples with a vegetable brush in a pan of water; paper apples graduated in size downloaded from File Folder Fun, which we used to talk about big, bigger, biggest and small, smaller, smallest; 

On topic books we read this week: 10 Apples Up on Top, The Apple Pie Tree, Apple Farmer Annie, Five Red Apples (pat the bunny series) 

On topic snacks this week: apples, apples and more apples!  raw in thin slices, applesauce, baked with cinnamon, apple muffins, thin apple sliced cut into apple shapes with mini cookie cutter 😉

The Favorite:

Applesauce on a Stick


1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

3 medium apples unpeeled cored and cut up

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 tablespoon sugar or to taste

Popsicle sticks


Process apples, juice, cinnamon and raisins in blender or food processor until smooth; add sugar to taste. It will taste less sweet when frozen. Spoon into 3-4 ounce paper or plastic cups or frozen sucker molds. Place in freezer. When partially frozen, insert a stick in each cup and finish freezing.

New sign: “Apple” isn’t really new, but of course I focused on that this week!  Make either the “X” or “A” sign, place the knuckle of your right index finger against your cheek and pivot the hand back and forth. 

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1


The theme this week is Transportation / Things That Go

Baby L was quite sick earlier in the week and still runny nosed and fussy today.  I got hit hard with her cold halfway through the week, so once again, things were cut a little short, and my documentation is less than ideal.

Baby L is 16 months

Tot School

Sensory: Whipping Cream “Clouds” with plastic airplanes & helicopters (from a bin of Lakeshore Learning Vehicle Counters).  Shaving Cream would make nicer “clouds” to squish in and last longer, but Baby L is still putting a lot in her mouth, so I went with something edible.

This was a big hit, especially once she figured out that whipping cream tastes delicious ;)  She did zoom the airplanes and copters around for a bit, but then started using them as utensils to zoom the “clouds” right into her mouth.

Tot Basket: Transportation Magnets and magnetic board.  


These magnets are made by Melissa and Doug; but we’ve had them a long time and I don’t think they are sold now (at least I couldn’t find them on thier site or Amazon to link them).  Baby L likes placing magnets and pulling them off

Vocabulary: various types of vehicles

Tot Basket: Maxim Ramp Race. 

This is another toy that is from Kidlet’s toddler hood, and I couldn’t find the little ramp at the bottom so the cars slide off smoothly (I know I’ve seen it around here somewhere!) but it didn’t seem to matter to Baby L; she really liked watching the cars swoosh down the levels.

Vocabulary: car, blue, green, zoom, top, bottom

Tot Basket: Wooden Trains & Tracks (legacy of Kidlet who would literally spend hours pushing Thomas around on tracks)

Vocabulary: train, track, engine, caboose, front, back, push

Tot Basket: Transportation Manipulatives sorting. 

I took a few Oriental Trading “bug jars” (thin plastic cups) and inserted a piece of rolled up paper inside to make a red, blue, and yellow cup.  I took out a handful of the Lakeshore Learning transportation manipulatives in each of those colors to see if she could sort by color yet.  Not so much.  She did enjoy filling the jars and then dumping them out.

Tot Basket: small cars (brother’s hot wheels, etc) + blocks + street rug

We number of different things with the small cars this week.  I collected several of the same colors and we tried grouping reds with reds, blues with blues, etc.  Made a “garage” for the cars out of a shoe box. We drove the cars on the roads on the play rug, lined up cars and talked about front, behind, and next to, faced each other and rolled cars back and forth, created a “main street” with blocks for cars to drive between, and created a road out of blocks for her to drive the cars along.

Vocabulary: cars, colors, wheels, road, drive, line up, front, behind, between, in, out

Others: pretended that a large box was a car/train and pushed her around in it, played with boats in the bathtub (weather has been rainy now for a few weeks, so outside time has been curtailed), Fisher Price Rumble & Learn Driver, V-Tech Animal Train

Nursery Rhymes & Songs: Wheels on the Bus, The Choo-Choo Train (chanting game), Down by the Station, Little Red Caboose,

On topic books we read this week: My Little Book of Trains; Sesame Street My First Book of Things That Go; The Race; Zoom, Zoom, Zoom; Bear’s Blue Boat; Traffic Jamboree;

New sign: Car.  Mimic grasping a steering wheel with both hands and driving an imaginary car.

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1



Not really a “theme” this week, except I guess “basics” – the alphabet in general, numbers, colors and shapes.

Baby L is 15.5 months

Tot School

I had *so* much going on with the volunteer coordination job for Kidlet’s school (I had to teach 2 training sessions, and spent a lot of time prepping for that) that I did a really poor job of documenting totschool time this week, so we are low on pictures.  Then to make things worse, I somehow managed to lose all the updates that I made to the post half way through the week, so my post is looking a little anemic! 

Tot Basket: Alphabet Puzzle

She hasn’t got the idea of matching the picture on a puzzle piece to the picture on the board really (with any puzzle).  She tries to fit it into any hole that looks close.  That works OK when we are using her blocksters or one of the 3 piece chunky handle puzzles, but not so much for one with this many choices.  Sang the ABC song while touching each letter; named each letter as she touched it. 

Tot Basket: Stacking Blocks

These Metropolitan Museum of art nesting blocks (and books on ABC, 123, and shapes) were gifts from my MIL back when Kidlet was younger.  She did a really great job of getting them stacked quite high.  Knocking them over of course was the best part 😉

Tot Basket: Wooden Clock Shape Sorter

Although this picture shows playing with big brother, we did have 1 on 1 tot school time with it as well.  She was as “successful” fitting the shapes here as she was with the alphabet puzzle.  I let her play as she wanted though, with mommy naming the color and number and sometimes the shape of each block as she handled it.

Totbasket: 1-10 Counting Bees and Hive (from last week)

She kept trying to make the bees kiss her toes again, so we did some more of our bumblebee chants from last week, as well as talking about the number on each bee and sorting them into thier holes on the hive.

Others: Alphabet Cards from the 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 Members Section.  I printed a quick and dirty copy so we could just play with them a bit and talk about the various items (eventually I’ll print them out on cardstock and laminate them), Magnetic Alphabet Letters & Board, Felt Board: basic shapes in small, medium and largest sizes, chunky handle shape puzzle (triangle, circle, square), Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board

Nursery Rhymes & Songs: Alphabet Song (and a backwards version that my Kidlet loves to sing), TMBG “Here Come the ABC’s” and “Here Come the 123’s“, Fingers and Toes by Milkshake (counting song and we do it as a “fingerplay”)

On topic books we read this week: Musuem ABCs, Museum Shapes, Museum 123, Sesame Street Elmo’s Guessing Game About Colors, Big Bird’s Guessing Game About Shapes, Annie Ate Apples, Lift & Learn ABC 123, 10 Little Rubber Ducks,

New sign: Instead of introducing a new sign, we worked more on “Book”.  I’ve been using it all along, but she had made what seemed to be a try at the sign, so I wanted to focus on that and see if it would develop fully. 

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1


I should mention that while I pick a theme for the week, that doesn’t mean we aren’t talking about that topic at other times.  I just like having a theme to help me pick the toys and activities for the week.  We won’t suddenly stop trying to teach Baby L about her body parts once the end of the week arrives ;)  I picked this theme because we were looking a First Words book and when we turned to the “My body” page she reached up and grabbed her hair, which is the first word on the page.

On a completely unrelated note, I think Baby L needs a new web name; she isn’t a baby really anymore, although she’ll always be my baby ;)  I’ll have to think on it.

Baby L is 15.5 months 

Tot School 

Baby L is in a stage where she wants to know “what’s that?” (except she only points), and I was looking for ways other than books to show her body parts.   I made up our tot baskets based on that, more than picking something she would choose to play with if she were picking something to play with on her own. 

The majority of our tot school time was spent in song and fingerplays that talk about body parts, rather than focused on the tot baskets (I think we watched on DVD and performed “clap your hands” by they might giants about 500 times).  We did them in front of mirrors.  We did them using stickers, adhering one to whichever body part we were chanting about.



Stomping to “Clap Your Hands” (the second verse is stomp your feet) by TMBG.


I’m missing pictures for a few activities this week; couldn’t find my camera for a couple days. 

Tot Basket: Baby Doll / Play Doctor

First we read “Doctor for a Day” and then got out the basket.  While playing with the doll (she doesn’t have a ton of interest in them yet, but we have one that Grandma S gave us when Kidlet was learning to potty that came with a little potty chair), I’d say “Uh oh, baby has a boo-boo!  Where does she hurt?!” and wherever Baby L would touch, I’d stick a band-aid on and say “She has a boo-boo on her {insert body part here}”. 

Vocabulary: Names of body parts, boo-boo, band-aid

Tot Basket:  Mr. Potato Head

I had doubts that Baby L would be able to actually assemble Mr. Potato Head, but it provided opportunity to name each part; and they were 3-D pieces she could pick up instead of just a flat picture.  As she picked up a piece, I’d name the part and give a small fact like “That’s the eyes.  We see with our eyes.”

Tot Basket: Hand puzzle, layered body puzzle.  Obviously there was no expectation that Baby L would be *assembling* the puzzles.  As with Mr. Potato Head, I was naming whatever she picked up and tried to give a small fact about that part.

Tot Basket:  Counting Bees and Bee Hive (no longer sold).  This is a toy I bought some years back from Lillian Vernon for Kidlet.  I was amazed to discover that I was able to find all 10 bees (all over the house!)since Kidlet hasn’t played with it in ages.

I put this in because I had a bumblebee/bodypart chant, and also because its just something she likes to do — stuffing the little bees into the holes.  In the picture she had just picked up a bee after we were done playing and started making it kiss her own toes.  Definitely my favorite moment of totschool this week!

Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee (tune: Jingle Bells)

Bumblebee, bumblebee,
landing on my toes.
Bumblebee, bumblebee,

now he’s on my nose.
On my arms, on my legs, on my elbows.
Bumblebee, oh  bumblebee he lands and then he goes.


A Bee is on Me

A bee is on my bonnet
A bee is on my nose,
A bee is on my shoulder
A bee is even on my toes.

A bee is in my hair
A bee is in my pants,
A bee is in my ears
A bee is making me dance.

The bee is near my socks
The bee is near my shoes,
Bee, I know how to take care of you!

Crafts: Make a Face



I cut out some eyes, ears, mouths and noses from magazines to glue (mommy did the glue) onto a paper plate to make a face.  The hair is some doll hair stuff I had bought a long time ago.  I didn’t glue it on, but put it in place to try and show her that this was a face, and what was the top of the head.  I recited one of our rhymes, then repeated a line as she did that part of the face.


Two little eyes to look around, 
Two little ears to hear each sound, 
One little nose to smell what’s sweet,
One little mouth that likes to eat!


Well, she didn’t want to stop at 2 eyes and 1 mouth.  Other than that, she did a really good job getting the features into generally the right part of the face!



Various cards.  We used her Wimmer-Ferguson gallery cards to pick out facial features on different animals and people.  I also made our own body part flashcards using pictures of her own body parts.



Here she is showing me “Where are your ears?” without putting the cards down 😉



Here are the flash cards made with pictures of her.  The plan was to make a ziploc bag or paperbag book for her with a full body shot at the end, all with labels, but I didn’t get that far.  I’d say “This is Baby L’s mouth!” and tap the card, and then say it again and tap her mouth.  Then I would ask her to find the hand, or ear or whatever.


She was sitting in my lap while we did this, so no pictures with her. 


I also tried the “Make Your Body Like This Cards” from Today Is Fun!, but as of yet, it’s too advanced for her.  Kidlet enjoyed them ;) 


Nursery Rhymes & Songs:  Fingers and Toes – Milkshake (one of my favorite kids music bands; grownups can listen to it without going mad), Clap Your Hands – They Might Be Giants (another goodie.  I spent my teen years listening to thier “grown up” music, and I love thier kids CDs), Hokey Pokey, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, This Little Piggy, Little Girl with a Little Curl, Little Jack Horner


On topic books we read this week: Find a Face, Parts, Doctor for a Day (out of print), I Get Dressed (from Gymboree, out of print), Baby Faces, Toddler Two, Where is Baby’s Belly Button, My First Body Board Book


On topic snacks this week:  Sandwiches cut with boy and girl cutters, ham and cheese stackers cut with hand shaped cutter,


New sign: See.  Make the letter “V” with your hand, hold it near your eyes and then move it away and down.

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1 


This week I used gardens (flowers and bugs mostly) as a very general theme this week.

Baby L is 15 months 

Tot School

Tot Basket: Alex Little Hands Stack a Puzzle – Garden  

She really liked stacking these.  They are nice and fat and easy to hold and were fairly easy for her to get into place.  No, she didn’t stack them in the correct order.  She’s 15 months, not 30!  She then lined them up in a row unstacked and I called out a number as she put each one down.  Then she started touching them randomly out of order and I would call the number of the position it was in.  She caught on pretty quickly that I was responding to her action and got quite a kick out of making mommy say “one, one, one, one, one” over and over ;) 

Vocabulary: stack, top, rounded, smooth, numbers 1-6 


Tot Basket: Magnetic Bug Catching Game (this is just like the fishing game, only its bugs.  The fishing game is a smarter buy.  The magnet hanging from a line attached to a wooden net handle makes far less sense than a magnet attached to a line attached to a fishing pole!). 

She played with it for a while, and while she couldn’t really control the magnet, she started using this trolling technique, dragging the magnet across the board until it caught something

Vocabulary: net, bug, specific bug names, magnet, catch, lift, metal

Tot Basket: Tub Garden.  These are thick foam pieces that are meant to be used in the bath tub.  You get them wet and then they stick to the side of a shower door or whatever.  We just used them dry and played mix and match.  

After a bit of just playing together with them, I lined up some of the stems and piled up the blossoms to see if she was “getting” it and would put the flowers together.

Vocabulary: flower, bug, stem, leaf, blossom, grass 

Collage.  I cut out some grassy knolls, stems, leaves, clouds and flower shapes for a contact paper collage (in a cardstock frame for support). I used the template from Wondertime’s Felt Garden for some of the pieces; others I just cut out free hand (from scrapbook papers).

At first I gave her the pieces in order, like the grassy bits first and then some stems, knowing that she would put them on closest to her first, then further away once the closest parts had something on it so the grass would be on the bottom, then the stems above that, etc).  But she kept grabbing the little plastic sleeve with all the cut outs in it, and got frustrated that she couldn’t figure out how to open it up to get at the shapes, so I just dumped them out and let her put things where she liked.


It didn’t come out looking badly at all – it’s Baby L’s abstract flower garden — yea, that’s it! 😉

Vocabulary: grass, stem, bloom, flower, leaf, cloud, center, stick, sticky


Tot Basket:  Imaginary Play Garden. I used the bottom of an egg carton, turned it upside down and painted it brown and then cut an X in each of the cup bottoms so we could push seeds through (dirt mounds), a shaggy brown bathroom rug (dirt patch), large lima beans (seeds), empty watering can, artificial flowers 

We placed the beans on each little “dirt mound”, pressed them through, pretended to water them, and then stuck silk flowers in the hole as if they had grown.  She did terrific picking up individual beans and setting them on each little egg cup bottom and using one finger to press the “seed” through.  When the beans got pushed through, she KNEW they were there, and kept trying to get them back out by getting a finger in the hole, but of course couldn’t reach them.  I showed her that they were under the egg carton and how to lift and move it to get them out.  She particularly enjoyed when I’d put a bean on each mound, wedged into the X so she could go down the line poking them through.


She had quite a long attention span for this activity, mostly playing with the beans; she couldn’t get the stem of the silk flowers into the holes.  I think she’d have done better with artificial flowers that had a single bloom instead of the clusters at the top (like a carnation or something).  The bunches of flowers made it so she couldn’t see the stem when she was aiming for the holes.  We also flipped the carton over and put a bean in each cup. 

Eventually it “degenerated” to playing fill and spill with the beans (a large handful stored in a small gladware container).

On a side note, I think I’ll save these items, add a straw hat, maybe a piece of old garden hose, some seed packets, a neckerchief, some seed catalogs, index cards and popsicle sticks for making plant markers and set it aside for a gardening “Prop Box” for when she is a little older and interested in dress up.

Vocabulary: Dirt, seed, push, poke, plant, water, sprinkle, flower, grow


Sensory Bin: Potting soil, large lima beans for pretend seeds, a couple of plastic pots (technically biodegradable bamboo pots ;)), trowel and small rake.  Later we added a watering can.

 Although she followed my lead and imitated me with digging, filling the pots, and pretending to plant seeds for a short time, it didn’t take long before all she was doing was throwing the dirt all over the place.  I tried to re-interest her in confining everything to the tub with a couple of watering cans for sprinkling our seeds and making some mud to squish around in (potting soil really doesn’t make satisfying muddy messes, at least ours didn’t.  Too much of non dirt stuff in it, I guess for lightening up the soil or whatever), but it didn’t really convince her to stop throwing dirt everywhere.  After a short time and a half empty bin, we moved to the water table to get rid of the worst dirt, then headed in for a bath 😉

 Vocabulary: dirt, soil, dig, trowel, shovel, rake, seeds, plant,


Others: Fill and Spill Bugs, an old Mommy and Me Flower Puppet,  Art Cards – Garden

We played with them individually mostly, but I did try a new activity for us with the fill and spill bugs and the art cards and a few other 3D objects that I had around the house (which matched the cards). I lined up a few cards, piled a few of our items near by to see if she would be able to move the stuffed bug to the bug card, the plastic bird to the bird card, etc.

After a few demonstrations where I would name the cards on the ground, then pick up a 3D object and name that and lay it on the card, she did manage to get a few to the right place, but it was hit or miss, and I don’t think she was really getting it.  I’ll try something like this again in a few months.

On topic books we read this week: Sparkly Garden, In the Garden with Van Gogh, Jack’s Garden, Scratch and Sniff Garden, Inch by Inch, The Carrot Seed

On topic snacks this week:  Flower Quiche, flowers cut from fruit and ham and cheese (so many flower cutters b/c of the bento lunches), “butterflies” out of graham crackers, peanut butter and mini pretzels

New sign: Flower.  Make a “squashed O” with your hand, and touch it to your cheek on one side of your nose and then the other. 

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1

This week we turned to farm and farm animals for inspiration.

Baby L is 15 months

Tot School

I still haven’t found any nice trays, so I continue to use some inexpensive plastic baskets that I found at Targets Dollar Spot as my “tot trays”.

Tot Basket:  Farm Animals & Barn.  I dug out a bunch of farm animals from our animal bin and added those to the basket along with an old fisher price little people barn (it still moos! =))

I followed her lead in playing for a bit, narrating what we were doing and what animals we were using.  I showed her how to sort our animals into families (since we have several cows, pigs, etc) and encouraged her to find specific animals from the basket to join the family we were building.  She consistantly got the cow, but none of the other animals.

Vocabulary: animal names, family, animal sounds, barn, sort

Tot Basket: Mix and Stack Farm

This was a good activity for Baby L this week.  She didn’t quite get that first you put on the legs and then the body of the animals with 2 parts, but getting them threaded on was challenging, but doable.  We have the plan toys geometric sorter stacker thingie and the multiple posts per shape is too hard for her at 14 months.

Vocabulary: barn, cow, pig, cat, chicken, duck, stack, hole, peg

Zoo Trip.  We went to the zoo with all the cousins on Friday last week, and just did a quick run through the farm area.  We went back this week, just me and the kids so I could get Baby L out of the stroller and into the petting pen.  She got to run around a bit in the goat pen and stroke thier fur then she pet a chicken and bunny.  No pics of that because I didn’t have enough arms to help her pet them appropriately while holding her and work the camera as well. ;)  I remember the first time we took Kidlet there when he was about the same age; we didn’t even take him out of the stroller, just rolled into the goat pen and when one came up, he was terrified!  Not Baby L — she was laughing and happy and kept asking for more (asl) when I would make naaah naaah noises.  We were at the zoo about 90 minutes and spend about half that in the farm section.

Cousin P, Cousin M, Cousin F, Baby L and Kidlet on the tractor at the farm in the zoo.

Tot Basket: Counting and Sorting Farm

3 fabric animal “pens” have a velcro closure to open and sort the soft stuffed animals inside.  “1” is a little nest for the chicken. 

Baby L enjoyed this toy a lot.  She didn’t really sort well, but she enjoyed the stacking and the make believe barnyard play with animal noises courtesy of mama.  I suspect that we will be seeing this toy several times in the future; besides being cute, its definitely useable in a number of ways and will “grow” with her skills for a while.

Vocabulary: stack, open, animal names and sounds, numbers 1-4

Crafts: Animal Stickers with Barn Printable (I used just the first page and trimmed off the side);  Dot Stickers with Cow Template

Baby L really likes lift the flap type books, but is still too rough on them so I don’t have them out yet, aside from a few we had left from when kidlet was little that are already in not so great shape.  So I thought we’d make our own lift the flap picture.  I took green mulberry paper and glued it on cardstock to make a field, and then printed out a barn.  I cut it out, leaving a little on the sides to make the tab to glue it down, and then cut it down the middle so it could be opened up.  I helped her get stickers off the sheet and encouraged her to stick them to the paper (tapping it with my finger and verbally) and she did all the sticking herself.  She enjoyed the stickers a lot, and kept asking for more.

The finished picture.  She has played with it since, opening and closing the flaps as well as pulling off and trying to re-sticker with the stickers.

I had planned to add spots to the cow with a dot-a-dot marker, but after trying out the Crayola Tadoodles first markers which are very dot-a-dot like, only shorter, rounder and made even more for toddler hands, and having her eat them, smear them everywhere (looked like she had a black eye!), and mostly making lines rather than dots, I switched to circle stickers from my desk drawer.

Vocabulary: animal names, animal sounds, open, closed, lift, circle, spot

Felt Board: Little Red Hen

Kidlet read this book to us earlier in the day, then Baby L and I played with the felt board (I had purchased this felt story several years ago) and I re-told the story in very abbreviated form.  She’d giggle every time I said “NOT I!” in silly voices for each character.  We talked about what was in each picture, and mama made animal sounds. 

Vocabulary: Hen, Cat, Pig, Goose, Chicks, Wheat, Bread, Grind, Eat, Bake

Animal Matching Game from Creative Learning Fun’s  Etsy Store.  The pack is definitely geared more for preschool, but I thought the little countrified animals were so cute when I saw them on her blog that I thought I would run them through the xyron and make stickers; I would always have the .pdf for a farm unit later on when the actual activities were more age appropriate.   While I *could* have made the activity pages, found free clip art, etc, the time I would have spent is well worth the measely 5$ that I paid for it.  Plus this way the clip art is all the same style, and just plain cute! =)

I ended up printing out the animal matching game — well, PART of it.  I picked the cow, chicken and pig.  That would be plenty for her age and they were very different in colors (I figured she would easily confuse the sheep and cow for instance).  I used clear contact paper to make them a little more sturdy, then cut them so they would line up cleanly without contact paper hanging over the matching up edges.

Let me say that I had no expectation that Baby L would be able to make them line up.  I put the three faces in a row and then mixed up the bodies and legs.  She DID pick up the bodies  and legs and get them put on the right pile though (most of the tiem).  Also exciting — I would tap the pig or chicken and ask her what it was, and she didn’t have anything to say.  I would tap the cow though and ask and she did say “kuh kuh kuh”.    I tried this out on some of our plastic animals later and she was definitely trying to verbally identify the cow!  (Of course  someone might point out that “Kuh kuh kuh” is also how she says “car” and “cat” and “kiwi” — I say, Don’t Rain on my Parade! ;))

I’d also agree that we need a little tot sized table; working at high chair isn’t much fun.  Maybe next payday. 

Vocabulary: cow, chicken, pig, match, head, body, legs

Pot Band.  The plan was to give her a selection of kitchen pots and pans and large spoons and let her go to town.  I had planned to sing “Old MacDonald” and “Fiddle-i-fi” while I showed her how to bang in rhythym to the music.

This did not happen.  I had a headache on the day I’d scheduled this, and just couldn’t face it.  Instead we used her shakers that we made a couple weeks ago.  We danced, shook the shakers, and sang those songs.  Kidlet heard us and had to come join in.  I guess technically with Kidlet there it wasn’t 1 on 1 and thus not “tot school”; but it was fun! =)

Others: See and Say Farm (inherited from my SiL), Baby MacDonald Video (another legacy item from 5+ years ago when Kidlet was an infant/toddler) which we watched together and talked about what we were seeing, Farm Sound Puzzle (far too difficult, and mostly mama helped her get them in the holes so she could hear the animal noises), V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker Farm Version (the electronic part comes off from the walker) and Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Farm  (the last 2 items are out in the living room normally, so not really a special totschool activity), Fridge Farm;  I had no idea we had so much farm stuff!

Nursery Rhymes:  Looked through mother goose for animals rhymes, such as:  “Higglety Pigglety, My Black Hen”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Little Boy Blue”, “To Market, To Market”, etc

On topic snacks this week: Used mini cookie cutter animals to make ham and cheese stackers in the shape of cows, pigs and sheep; tinted cream cheese green, spread on 1/4 graham cracker and then stuck animal cracker on the “grass”; Pig Sammies, (nitrate free) pigs in a blanket; Homemade trail mix {“pig slop”} in a paper “trough”; Pear Mice

New sign: Cow.  Form your right hand into the letter “y.”  Place your thumb against your temple. Twist your hand until your little finger points upward. 

On topic books we read this week: Little Lamb,  First Farm, Little Red Hen, Touch and Feel Farm, Tickle the Pig, Big Red Barn, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, Good Morning, Good Night, Quack, Quack, and The Petting Farm Poster Book which we picked up at the Zoo, Click, Clack, Moo

I couldn’t find a link for First Farm; I’m sure its no longer published.  We bought that and “First Words” in 2004/5 when Kidlet wasn’t much older than Baby L is now.  They are board books with simple photographs of objects and animals, many in vibrant colors.  They remind me of DK publishing books (although these were done by Paradise Press).  Anyway, she really likes these two books and will bring them to us over and over.  She has recently gotten into the habit of touching each item on a page (multiple times even) so we can tell her what each object is.  Sometimes I will switch it up and ask her “where is the [whatever]?” and she is able to pick out more and more things.  It’s really amazing to see how much she is learning and changing.

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1 = 1

This week many of our activities were inspired by food, as I am working with her older brother on food groups and pyramid and nutrition, and I was able to adapt materials I had out and on hand for the younger audience.

Baby L is 14.5 months

Tot School

Plush Food.  As I posted a few days back, I had picked up some plush food from Ikea during our trip there a couple weeks ago specifically for this week of food-related tot school.  We have fruits, vegetables, and a breakfast set.  The blog at houstonpress.com made me laugh; I was searching for a listing of the vegetables somewhere to identify the ones that I couldn’t and it said regarding the breakfast pack:

If you’re raising an average child, this is: Breakfast.

If you’re raising a “foodie,” this is: Baby’s First Brunch Set. Includes hand-cut sourdough with fresh prosciutto and mozzarella, heirloom lettuce and thinly sliced vine-ripened tomato, gingerbread pancakes with fresh seasonal topping, farm-fresh free range eggs, natural cased sausage, and apple wood smoked maple bacon.

I left the basket out  on a shelf within her reach for her to play with this week once we’d done our specific totschool focus on it (most of the totschool toys are NOT left out for her to use), and she brought it out many times.  I suspect that this was just to dump it out, spread the pieces from one side of the room to the other so that mama would crawl around on the floor finding them all to put back in the basket.

Vocabulary: Fruit, Vegetable, names of specific food, soft, squishy

Fruit and Veggie Stick Puppets.  As I posted about a bit back, I made these from painted cardstock, with just some pen accents and then glued them to popsicle sticks.

We played with these as puppets with mama hiding behind a small wall of pillows and making them talk.  I also let her handle them and would say the name of the food as she picked one up.  Yes, in fact a couple did get ripped and torn off the sticks.  That was fine, I made them for her {inexpensively}, knowing that would be a probably outcome.  Lastly, we read through Food For Thought, and looked for matches with the puppets.  (OK, mama looked for matches and then pointed them out to her, talking all the while =))

Vocabulary: fruit, vegetable, names of specific foods, stick, puppet

Fruit Tasting.    This project was initially designed for kidlet, who was rating them on a scale of 1 to 5, and keeping track of which ones were sweet vs. not so sweet in a kind of mini graph. 

I included raspberries, tomato, banana, lemon, kiwi and avocado.  She has had all these fruits and more before tbh; we are not an apple, banana and orange family.  We are a buy every crazy fruit (and vegetable) we can find at asian and farmers markets kind of family.  ;)  I’d planned a trip to Uwajimaya for a more exotic selection, but frankly its a couple days to payday and those far travelling fruits are expensive and, really, exotic wasn’t necessary for kidlet or baby L’s purpose in this activity. I put a few pieces of each on a plate, let her taste one of each, then encouraged her to not only sign “more” but to point to the ones she wanted to eat after tasting each of them, and to try and vocalize *something* to show what she wanted (I’d say “buh buh buh banana” and see if I could get her to at least say “buh” for example).  I got a buh for banana and a kuh for the kiwi, which was a triumph in my eyes because she is so focused on the phyiscal and has been uninterested in vocalizing at all. 

What’s this one?

Oooh, So Sour!

Vocabulary: names of fruits, sweet, juicy, sour, red, yellow, green

Food Collage.  I’d planned another contact paper collage with pictures of different foods, but she was completely uninterested this week.  She just wanted to tear and taste the pictures, so I put this activity aside and we had extra outside time instead.

Hanging in Cousin P's backyard

On a side note, one reason that I’ve been including collage each week is that I have been clipping magazines, cutting out pictures from torn up about to be discarded books, and collecting stickers for several years, ever since Kidlet was learning his basics (we did a collage page for each letter for his alphabet book).  A couple months ago I finally sorted them from the random pile in a 12×12 scrapbook paper box which was an absolute beast to manage into separate file folders stored in a portable file tote, sorted by letter (I did letters first, once I had at least a half dozen for a letter, I’d sort others of that letter into a theme folder instead — and who knew that “N” and “O” would be almost as difficult as “Q” and “X”?!), colors, and theme (such as animals, food, clothing, transportation, halloween, etc) so its ridiculously easy to go to the box, pull out a folder and have whatever I want right at hand.  Now, before I recycle a magazine, kidlet and I will go through it and find good clear pictures that are worthy of saving and its so easy to add to the collection!

Felt Board.  I pulled out our homemade felt board (I made it for kidlet years ago using a corkboard that was on clearance and a large piece of felt both from Craft Warehouse) and felt play pieces. In keeping with the theme, I used a set of storebought fruits and vegetables and a homemade set based on Lunch! by Denise Fleming.

She likes sticking the  pieces on the board and pulling them off.  As usual, I just keep up a constant patter of which ones she is holding, and what she is doing.  {I know, felt boards are so passe and file folder games are where its at ;)}

Vocabulary: food names, felt, stick, on, off

Rice Box.  Pulled out the rice box after a week off.  I added an assortment of food and pans from the play kitchen.

She really is still more interested in tossing handfuls of rice to the 4 corners than anything else!

Vocabulary:  Rice, Dig, Pour, Scoop, Bury, Find

Stack and Sort Board and an Abacus. 

While totally unrelated to the food theme, I wanted to do at least one activity this week in tot school that would encourage her more fine motor skills, and I decided not to spend any money on a fruit and veggie large knob puzzle just to be a stickler to the general theme this week.

Vocabulary: slide, stack, red, blue, yellow, purple, green, square, triangle, rectangle, circle, hexagon, off, on

Music Time:  Hot Cross Buns, Did You Eat Your Vegetables (tune of Muffin Man), If You’re Healthy and You Know It,

Baby L also “helped” (i.e. banged a stick of celery on her high chair set up in the kitchen) while kidlet made vegetable soup (using Growing Vegetable Soup recipe, which I thought was quite bland) and then sampled that as well as the “Pink Fruit Soup” that kidlet made as well.  She LOVED the fruit soup (although frankly, with 3 cups of orange and white grape juice and only 1/2 cup of cranberry juice as the recipe calls for, it was barely pale peach, and not pink at all!)

Sampling Fruit Soup -- Spoon Practice!

New sign: Soup:  Hold your left hand like a bowl  at chest level.  Use your index and middle fingers on your right hand to scoop into the bowl and bring it up towards your lips a couple of times.   I also took the opportunity to reinforce “eat”, which we have been using, but she hasn’t picked up yet.  Right now she has still been doing “more” when she wants something to eat, whether she had something yet or not.

On Topic books we read this week (although some were read with Kidlet and were definitely not really toddler material, but she likes sitting with both of us and turning pages): Stone Soup, Eating the Alphabet, Green Eggs and Ham, Growing Vegetable Soup, I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, Feast for Ten, Showdown at the Food Pyramid, Food for Thought, Lunch

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1  = 1

 This week I am focusing on the “buh” sound (which is one of the first 6 sounds that children usually vocalize) with Baby L, so I’ve picked activities that will afford me lots of opportunities to use B words.

Baby L is 14.5 months

Tot School

Contact Paper Collage.  The first one we tried a couple weeks ago was such a success that I decided to do another one with her. Like last time, I created a cardstock paper frame for the contact paper to keep it from curling and to make it easier to move around.

I gathered a bunch of blue papers, pictures and objects.  To make a more interesting tactile experience, I included things other than paper this time, like feathers, rhinestones, etc. The baby was pushing buttons on my camera to entertain herself yesterday and apparently changed the picture quality, which I didn’t notice, so these photos are all pretty small.

She discovered pretty quickly that (unlike the last one, which was mostly tissue paper and was stuck for good once she put it down) she could re-position objects.  I just let her choose what she wanted from the pile, and place it wherever she wanted and move it at will, and just narrated what ever she was doing.

When she lost interest and it was looking pretty full, I covered it with a second piece of clear contact paper to seal it.  I hung her art at toddler eye level on the glass door in the family room.  Her finished work remained on display on the door for about 20 seconds before she pulled it down. 😉

Vocabulary: Picture, Sticky, Blue, B, names of the pictured items

Basket of shaker bottles.  I filled recycled plastic water bottles with a variety of dry materials.  Baby L helped with the rice, using a funnel. 

We ended up with bottles filled with marbles, rice, metal bits, pom poms, glass gem vase filler things, and left one empty for comparison. I sealed (lets’s hope!) the lids with glue before we played with them.

Baby L enjoyed shaking the bottles to hear the different sounds.  The more full ones took more effort to get noise out of them (had to turn them further) and she got so proud when she managed to make the bottles dance and sing.

Her favorite way was by “drinking” from the bottles and getting the filler to rush down at her face.  LOL

Vocabulary: Bottle, shake, music, loud, soft, noisy, quiet, empty

I had meant to do a sensory box with dried beans and some “Three Bear Family Counters” (I bought them at a local Learning Palace, and paid about half what they are on Amazon though) along with our measuring cup scoops.  I think the counters will be great in the future for comparing sizes and making patterns.  Anyway, I discovered that I only had one little tiny bag of dried beans, so instead I used some bear shaped pasta that I had picked up for bento. 

I gave her two plastic containers and a scoop on a sheet pan and showed her how to scoop and transfer from one bowl to the other.

This is by far my favorite picture of the week =)

Vocabulary:  Bear, Bowl, Dig, Pour, Scoop

Alphabet Letters.  I picked up a tub of large magnetic letters at Learning Palace and set them up in a basket along with a small magnetic wipe board.

We started with just the two B’s, but she wanted to dig into the bucket.  I just let her stick them on and pull them off, making the letter sound for each one that she picked up.

I spelled out her name for her and gave her the final “L” to put in a row, but as you can see she didn’t get the lining up of the letters and just put it where she liked it instead 😉

Vocabulary: letters, alphabet, letter names & sounds, stick, lift

We also spent some extra times playing will balls.  She likes the o-balls as well as the holey wiffle ball style colorful balls I picked up from Gymboree a few years back.  A lot easier for her to grip and manipulate, I guess.  I hung some of them on a piece of yarn and strung them between 2 offset door handles and showed her how to move them to the high side and let them slide down. 

She moved them back and forth for a while, and then started to get frustrated that she couldn’t get them off.  I had to go track down a couple more balls to give to her to play with on the floor. 😉

As normal for the summer, we spend some time outside every day.  In keeping with reinforcing the “buh” sound, we blew bubbles and played with buckets and boats at the water table.

New sign: Bear – Cross your arms and claw your chest a couple times.

Books we read this week (in addition to lots of other reading we do daily): Going on a Bear Hunt, More Bugs in Boxes, Boats, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See, Belly Button Book

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1  = 1

It can be overwhelming to parent at times.  I want to be a great mom and give my kids as much as I can.  I buy so many books, research so much on the internet, collect ideas.  Sometimes it seems that I can’t even work my way through everything before my kiddo is out of the stage I’ve been studying!  I know I barely scratched the surface of my infant books and here Baby L is already a toddler! 

I’m going to try and particpate in Tot School.  I spend so much time collecting and implementing the ideas and far less time on documentation, but at the end of the day I’m never confident that I’ve done everything I could and should have done, so I thought I’d try keeping track for a while to (hopefully) show myself that I am not slacking off on the parenting =)

Baby L is 14 months

Tot School

Baby L still isn’t doing much talking at 14+ months, so I continue to try and talk to her as much as possible, narrating if nothing else.  Truthfully, it gets tiresome, and sometimes I feel a little silly, but she needs to hear it!

Putting stuff into other stuff.  Wooden puzzles with handles.  Blocksters.  Buttons into recycled can.

The blocksters are a pretty good toy.  The blocks are brightly colored with various animals printed on them.  A number of them “do” things (rattle, mirrors, roller, etc).  They are easy to grip and baby L likes to stack them (3 high is about as far as she can manage so far).  The carrying box acts as a simple shape sorter, which is what she has been enjoying doing lately.  She just beams with pride when she gets one into a hole where it fits!

In addition to the shape puzzle, we have the crab/turtle/fish puzzle also with big grip handles by Melissa and Doug as well.  She still struggles getting those into place. 

Vocabulary: in, out, circle, square, triangle, turtle, crab, fish, button, red, green, blue

Tissue Box.  Every time we change her diaper, baby L wants to pull out all the wipes, so this week I picked up a few tissue boxes just for her and tot school time.

When she emptied one box, we gathered up the sheets and shoved them back in for her to pull out again, but she didn’t enjoy pulling them the second time nearly as well since a new tissue didn’t pop out conveniently as they do on a fresh box.

Vocabulary:  Pull, push, in, out

On Thursday during scheduled Tot School time, she didn’t want to focus on our planned activity, and ended up bringing me one of her brothers DVDs (Fantastic Field Trip to the Planets, which is old and still gives Pluto planet cred ;)  I think they have released an updated version; I may have to pick it up because both kids really like the video (even though its pretty cheesy and you just KNOW the child actor that plays the lead is totally embarassed for anyone he knows now to know he made the video! lol), and its actually got a nasty crack in the inner hole and it flakes a little more every time we play it, and I suspect it’s life span to be short), which I think she likes because the planets have human faces transparently super imposed on them and they all sing catchy songs. 

So I just went with it.  I hardly expect my 14 month old to learn the planets, but after all, tot school is really just about exposure, and if I’m sitting there with her and we are singing along and talking about celestial objects, how can that be a bad thing, when its what she wanted to do?!

Vocabulary: planet names, Sun, Space, Sing

Rice Box.  We don’t have a sand box, and I haven’t been able to convince my (relatively) unhandy husband that he could easily build one with plans off the internet, so this box filled with 40 pounds of rice is our sustitute.  This is the first time Baby L had seen it, and although we started out inside on a rug that I could pick up and shake out, she was tossing rice way out beyond the rug borders, so I moved us outside.

You can see that she climbed right in.  When she tried to get out, her wiggling would just move the rice out from under her so she sank down further.  Finally she just sat down all the way and played in the box for a while =)

We used measuring cups and glass stone gem things (vase filler) for scooping, digging, pouring and burying.

Vocabulary:  Rice, Dig, Pour, Scoop, Bury, Find

New sign: Cheese ( I probably have an ASL vocabulary of about 50-60 words, and I use them throughout the day, but I’ve been choosing one a week to really focus on and she if she will pick it up.  So far she has “more” (but she does it with open palms instead of pressing the fingers and thumbs together), “all done” and “milk”.)

Find more terrific tot school posts over at 1+ 1 + 1  = 1

Daily: Read, Walk, Outside/Water Table, Dance (she really likes the “hold still — wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” song from Yo Gabba Gabba),