Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Carter excited to use his Rudolph lunch box at school since it's almost Christmas.
Elise wearing her "light up boots" that are rain boots.
Elise waiting at the door for her friend so she could hold the door open for her.
Elise doing some car yoga!
Watching the birds in the backyard.

A picture Carter's teacher took at schoo

Carter loves his new art box from my Aunt Judy and Uncle Mike.
Carter cutting out pictures in his scissor cutting book.
Elise rocking her baby.
Carter enjoying a cookie my Uncle Mike and Aunt Judy sent for his birthday.
Putting together his new Lego kit from Uncle Paul and Aunt Amanda.
Gma trying to do Elise's hair.
Elise said, "NO!"
Elise playing at Carter's birthday party.
Wearing Skye masks after Carter's birthday party.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas: What the Kids Say and Our Santa Visit

We went to visit Santa at Bass Pro this morning. I gave the kids a run down of all our choices of things to do for the day. Carter immediately latched onto visiting Santa and was desperate to go. Elise didn't want to go and I couldn't even convince her to get dressed. Carter tried all kinds of coaxing and bribery and Elise was still an unwilling participant. Carter quizzed her on what she wanted from Santa and told her he'd tell Santa for her. We got there much later than we ever have in the past and it turned out to be great timing because we hardly even waited in line. When it was our turn I carried Elise up to Santa and let her observe while Carter chatted with him and sat on his lap. We were lucky because there was no one in line behind us so we weren't rushed. Then I plopped Elise on his lap and ran out of the picture. She immediately started crying but they were able to get the picture off quickly and I ran back over to pick her up before she'd even had a chance to really rev up her crying. The minute I had her again she stopped crying and listened as Santa asked Carter what he wanted for Christmas. Instead of telling Santa what he wanted, he informed Santa that his little sister would like an electric toothbrush like the one he got for his birthday. Then when Santa prodded him on what he'd like for himself, he finally said he'd like Santa to find Little Sally and bring her back. Poor Santa has a lot to live up to after miraculously finding Big Al and depositing him in Carter's stocking last year! When they handed us our free picture after visiting Santa, we also got coupons for free kids meals at the restaurant inside the store. Since it was already 12:30 by the time we left Santa's Workshop, we decided to eat there. It was such a fun morning! As we were leaving a woman asked Elise is she had gotten her picture taken with Santa and Elise responded with, "Yeah, I cried. I want sit in my Gpa's lap, not Santa's lap!" I thought that was pretty cute. To go along with our amazing Santa picture from this year, I'm adding the kids' answers to the same Christmas-related questions I asked Carter last year plus a couple new ones I added this year. Read what Carter said in his Christmas interview last year here.

Elise was appeased with mac and cheese for lunch after the trauma of Santa pictures!
Carter with the beautiful fish tanks in the background!
What's on your Christmas list?
Carter: Markers, remote control car, clay, color tablets, a Chase stuffed animal, and for Santa to find Little Sally.
Elise: bath bubbles, an electric toothbrush like Carty (he got one for his birthday), Pawtol (Paw Patrol)
 
What is the best part about Christmas?
Carter: Seeing Oma and Opa.
Elise: Kitty cat

Why do we celebrate Christmas?
Carter: It's Cheesus' birthday.
Elise: Kitty cat

Where does Santa live?
Carter: In the North Pole!
Elise: In da house.

What are the names of Santa's reindeer?
Carter: I don't know. I just know Rudolph.
Elise: Blue, geen

What do you think Santa's favorite food is?
Carter: Cookies!
Elise: Fruit

What will Santa bring mommy and daddy for Christmas?
Carter: A toothbrush
Elise: Goldfish

What's your favorite thing about Marco (their Elf on the Shelf)?
Carter: Him going into my box.
Elise: The Christmas tree.

Now for a flashback at all of our past Santa visits:
2012: Carter didn't visit Santa since he was 10 days old on Christmas and was born 4 weeks early, no need to expose him to germs! But I had to add a Christmas picture because look how cute he was!
2013: Our neighbor dressed as Santa for a community center event so he came by beforehand so we could get a picture.
2014: Carter did pretty well and then Santa insisted we take another picture with me sitting on his lap since I was pregnant.
2015: Carter only posed for this picture because he was cheesing for a girl who was in line by us.
2015: Elise was such a chill baby with Santa. Carter wasn't in our picture at Bass Pro because he panicked at the last minute, running away. He clotheslined himself on the rope for the line and knocked it over along with himself!
2016: I hated that Elise was crying in the picture but I was pleased to have both kids in the picture this year!
I think next year will be our year! I'll be crossing my fingers for both kids to be in the picture and for neither of them to be crying!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Thanksgiving

We've done a weekly learning theme on Thanksgiving each year since we started doing learning themes and we always enjoy it. I really like doing holiday themed weeks. It really builds the excitement and anticipation for the holiday. Read last year's Thanksgiving Learning Theme here, 2015's here, and 2014's here. One of my favorite things about recurring learning themes that we do each year is taking activities from the past years and adapting theme to meet Carter's needs now. I also enjoy doing the same things with Elise that I did with Carter at her age and seeing their unique differences with how they tackle activities and with what they enjoy the most.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers. 

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:

Writing Skills:
  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp.
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means addinto.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                   
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature such as size, color, hard, soft).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
Activities/Movement:
  • I wrote Thanksgiving on a sentence strip and we went through our typical activities while looking at the word. Carter identified the letters in the word and told me what the beginning sound in the word would be. Then I told him thanks and giving and asked him to blend those chunks together to make a word. We also practiced me asking him to say Thanksgiving without the giving and then Thanksgiving without the thanks. That's still a little trickier for him, but he was able to identify thanks as what would be left if we took off giving. Then I put the sentence strip under his boogie board and he traced the letters which he thought was so awesome.
     
  • Our neighbor is a retired teacher and has been giving us stuff as she goes through her stored materials. She gave us a set of pattern blocks and Carter loves them. He is really good at building things by using the mats or plans on how to make them. Since he enjoys it so much I decided to incorporate it into more learning themes. I went online and found templates for building pattern block turkeys and the Mayflower. You can find them here. I set them out on the table and the next time I walked through Carter had already made the Mayflower. He and Elise sat down to work on them. As they worked I talked with Carter about the shapes' names and attributes. Elise and I talked about the shapes' color and name as she worked. I was really impressed that she was able to identify the correct shape to go in a spot and then manipulate the shape to get it to face the direction it needed to go. She didn't finish the entire picture, but she did a few shapes quite well before moving on to something else.
     
  • I made some paper clip turkeys for Carter to practice with upper case and lowercase letters. I printed turkeys and cut them out so the didn't have wings. Then I wrote 4 upper case letters on the turkey and wrote corresponding lowercase letters on clips. Carter did the turkeys one at a time, finding the lowercase letter and clipping it to match up with the capital letter. Elise practiced clipping the clips onto the turkey, using her fine motor skills.
     
  • I used one of the turkeys I had printed out for the above activity and didn't use to write down words that rhyme with turkey. I wrote the word turkey on its belly and then asked Carter to come up with words that rhyme with turkey.  This one was a little trickier than ones we've done in the past so he ended up coming up with mostly pretend words. We talked about how those words weren't real, they were made up and then I went ahead and wrote them down. I also had him practice with the word turkey blending the chunks tur/key together to make the word and also eliminating a chunk from the word when asked.
  • I had multiple different Scholastic Newses about pilgrims, Wampanogs, and the first Thanksgiving. We read about life back then and then looked at the graph on the back. We used the graph to answer questions.
     
     
     
  • I printed some Thanksgiving number cards I found here. We played with the cards, me showing them to Carter and him telling me what number it was. Then we used them to complete a graph on the back of one of our Scholastic News magazines. He determined the number on the graph and then found the corresponding number card to place with it.
     
  • Carter and I played a game called Roll a Turkey. We used a dry erase board this year rather than drawing our turkeys on paper. Since our chart to show what to draw based on what we rolled on our die had the dots showing, I used my dry erase die and drew the number on it. Carter would roll, tell me what number he had rolled, and then find the set of dots that matched that number. We had fun playing for a while and then at the end, Carter couldn't roll the number he needed to finish out his turkey and didn't want to play anymore so we decided to both just finish drawing our turkeys and end the game with no winner.
  • I put together a feather sensory bin for Elise one day while Carter was at school. I put a wipe container in it for her to put the feathers in and then open to dump them back out. She really enjoyed doing that. We also talked about colors and I identified the names of the feather colors for her. I'd show her a feather, tell her what color it was, and then ask her to find another feather of that color and put it in the box. That was our variation on sorting for this learning theme. As she put the feathers in the box we counted to see how many she had added.
     
  • Elise had so much fun with the feathers and asked me if she could make a turkey with them. I thought about it for a while and then decided to get out Play Doh so she could stick feathers in it to make a turkey. She loved that!
  • One of our Scholastic Newses had a map on the back. We read the directions and talked about the map. It was also a reader's theater so we used popsicle stick puppets I made to act out the story. Carter did a good job of repeating the lines I read to him. Elise just made her puppet move around as I read the lines for her.
     
     
  • We played hide and seek turkeys with the turkeys Carter and I made either last year or the year before. We gave each other hints about which room they were hidden in and then used hot or cold to help each other out when the seeker couldn't find a turkey. When we found a turkey we talked about where it was for Elise, such as on the bed or under the table.
      
  • I found some cute Thanksgiving letter cards here. I used them with Carter, mixing him up and then showing them to him so he could identify the letter names. Elise sat next to him and repeated the letter names after he identified them. It was so cute. I have a feeling she's going to pick up on a lot of this quickly when she's older since she's observed Carter practicing it so much! We did uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • I found some awesome Thanksgiving Play Doh mat ten frames but forgot to save the link and now I can't find them. I'll come back and add the link if I can find it later. I loved that it was a fun Play Doh mat and also a ten frame which is a great way to practice with addition and subtraction even though Carter isn't ready to learn the facts that make a sum of ten. He looked at the number, identified it, and then filled the correct number of boxes with Play Doh. We talked about how many boxes were filled and how many were empty. I told him the addition fact that went with it. Then I had him tell me how many he'd have if we added Play Doh to another box or if we took Play Doh out of a box. He also wanted to make the number on the mat out of Play Doh so he practiced forming the numbers. I also had him tell me whether the number of boxes with Play Doh in them were more, less, or equal to boxes without Play Doh.
     
  • We played pin the feather on the turkey. Carter and Elise both thought the game was hilarious. This year Carter felt around on the wall to help himself figure out where the turkey was. Elise didn't want to wear the blindfold so she just taped feathers onto the turkey.
  • Carter used our turkey puppet to make up a story about a turkey. He told the story orally and I didn't write it down because he said he wasn't interested in illustrating it. I figure it's good for him to plan out his stories and get to tell them verbally rather than in writing sometimes.
  • Each day in November the kids told me something they were thankful for and I wrote it on a strip of paper for them. Then on December 1st we stapled them into a chain to use as a countdown to Christmas. You can read what they are thankful for here. They get so excited to read what they wrote on their strip each morning. Elise always guesses that hers says kitty which cracks me up! This is one of my favorite holiday activities we do.
Craft:
  • I found some Thanksgiving dot pages here and printed them for use with our bingo dabbers. The kids love to use the bingo dabbers so that's something I've been including more and more with our learning themes. It's good fine motor practice for Elise and Carter likes to count the dots and mix colors. Carter made his pictures for his Uncie J and his Uncie Taco. Last time we were at Thomas' house they were hanging on his fridge.
     
     
  • My mom found cute foam turkeys at Dollar Tree with foam stickers to decorate with. Carter's perfectionist side came out a little bit because he ended up abandoning his turkey because he couldn't get the feathers to fit exactly in the space that was drawn out for them to go in. He let Elise finish. He made a color pattern with his feathers and told us about it. Elise put her feathers where they belonged and then stacked the rest of the stickers on the turkey's belly.
  • My mom also got the kids some cute turkey stickers where you built a turkey using the stickers. She thought there was one page in each package but there were actually quite a few more, I didn't count but probably 10. We used the stickers to make turkeys on paper as decoration for a letter to our Meals on Wheels friends. Carter was really disappointed I was sick on our regular day to deliver so someone else filled in for us. He kept asking me how our friends would get their cards so I mailed them.
     
  • Each of the kids colored a paper plate to look like a turkey body. Then we glued on feathers I'd cut out and written the letters of their name on. Carter put his letters in order to spell out his name by himself. I did it for Elise telling her the letter name and then showing her it spelled her name.
 
  • Carter made a cute corn craft at school with foam stickers to apply as the kernels on the ear of corn.
  • Carter also made turkey tracks at school, using pipe cleaners in the shape of a bird's foot. I had seen the idea and planned to do it with the kids, but since they did it at school we didn't do it at home.
  • Carter also made a turkey headband at school. They had spaces on each feather to write a letter of their name so they'd spell out their name on the turkey's feathers. Then it was added to a strip of paper to make a headband.
  • Carter also made a placemat at school where he dictated different things to be written down. He used the placemat during his school feast and I also took it to my parents' house with us to use during our Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Carter made an adorable turkey pot holder at school. I love it and am so glad I get to keep it to remember when his precious hand was this small!
Special Snack:
  • Carter made a blessings mix at school that he brought home and was so excited to share with all of us. He wanted to wait until Ty was home because he wanted to share it with everyone.
  • We also enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving.
Make Believe:
  • Carter made a turkey vest at school which he wore during their feast. Then when he brought it home we played with it, wearing it and pretending we were turkeys. Carter liked to walk and gobble like a turkey.
    Carter showing off his turkey vest.
Songs:
  • We listened to a Thanksgiving mix on Youtube a few times during this learning theme. The kids' favorite song was Disco Turkey. Carter would get up and dance along to the song. It was adorable! We also sang some Thanksgiving songs I always sang with my class at school.
Technology:
  • Carter played a silly turkey game on Starfall here. His favorite part was getting to change out the colors of the turkey's feathers. I liked that the book highlighted the /ur/ sound in turkey.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We had a Thanksgiving themed playdate with our Monday play date group. The kids liked doing a bingo dabber page.
  • Carter had a feast at school. His school doesn't normally serve lunch so they just served chicken nuggets and french fries but Carter still loved it and told me all about how he got ketchup and ranch to dip his chicken nuggets in!
    Pictures courtesy of Carter's teacher, parents weren't invited due to space limitations.
     
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, eating a turkey dinner with traditional sides. Carter was all about the turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. Elise didn't eat much at all, mostly just marshmallows off the top of the sweet potatoes.

Books:
  • Splat Says Thank You! by Rob Scotton
  • Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
  • I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Allison Jackson
  • Turkey Day by Grace Maccarone
  • Gobble, Gobble by Jo Ryan, Penny Worms, and Amy Oliver
  • The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward
  • Our Thanksgiving by Kimberly Weinberger
  • Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit by Norman Bridwell
  • Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly Ed.D
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
  • A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman
  • Who Will Carve the Turkey This Thanksgiving by Jerry Pallotta
  • Thanksgiving Mice! by Bethany Roberts
  • Hide and Seek Turkeys by Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Jacob Gordon
  • Over the River: A Turkey's Tale by Derek Anderson
  • Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean
  • Too Many Turkeys by Linda White
  • My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola
  • It's Thanksgiving by Tessa Kenan
  • The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh
  • Arthur's Thanksgiving by Marc Brown
  • Thanksgiving by Meredith Dash
  • Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli
  • Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
  • Look And Be Grateful by Tomie DePaola
  • Thanksgiving by M.C. Hall