Sunday, December 31, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Birthday

I absolutely love doing birthday learning themes for the kids' birthdays. It is so much fun to turn their birthday into a week-long theme with activities and fun centered around celebrating their birth. I also like it because it helps me remember to do things like measure Carter's height on his height chart each year on his birthday. Just as every year, this year's learning theme for Carter's birthday was so much fun! Read about last year's learning theme here, 2015's here, and 2014's here.

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 adding to.
  • 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 the word birthday on a sentence strip. I had Carter tell me what the beginning sound would be. Then I chunked the word into birth and day. I asked him to blend them to discover the word. Next I had him try saying birthday without the day and then birthday without the birth. That is tricky for him with some words and easy with others. He had a hard time with this one.
  • I got out the photo book I made using pictures from Carter's birth as well as his first few weeks of life. We went through the photo book and looked at the pictures as I told him the story of his birth. He loves to hear all the details of the story and feels so special when he sees how many people came to visit him and meet him right after he was born.
  • We used scrap paper to make confetti for our sensory bin. Elise was super excited that she got to use scissors. Carter lost interest with cutting after a while but Elise continued cutting until the sensory bin was full of confetti. Sister sure loves to use scissors! I used all scrap paper from projects with construction paper as well as paper from our paper recycling bin. We even used some boxes I broke down. The kids played in the sensory bin leading up to Carter's birthday and then on his birthday we dumped the confetti over his head after counting down from 5.
  • For Carter's birthday we came up with words that rhyme with Carter. He came up with some funny ones like fur. When we were finished I sang the "Carter, Carter, Bo Barter" song and we listened to other words that rhyme with Carter.
  • I put some birthday hats in the sensory bin for the kids to play with. I used the hats and  the confetti to practice colors with Elise. I'd show her a party hat and ask her to identify the color name. Then I had her find a piece of confetti that matched the color of the hat and she's show it to me. She has blue down really well but most other colors I had to remind her of the color name and then she was able to find the matching color on her own to pair them up. 
    Elise looking for a blue piece of confetti to match the blue party hat.
  • I saw some pattern block designs online where they had created different numbers so I decided to put together a 5 design for Carter to create using pattern blocks. I also made a birthday cake for him to create. He got so excited when he saw the number 5 because he was so proud to be turning 5! As he worked we talked about the shapes and discussed the shapes' attributes.
  • I found some Paw Patrol playing cards at Dollar Tree and got them for Carter to play with. I showed him the numbers 1-10 all mixed up and asked him to identify the number. Then I laid them down out of order and had him put them in order from 1-10. Once he had them in order I asked him to identify the number that showed how old he was. Then we talked about how old he was last year and how old he'll be next year, talking about how we'd take one away or add one to the number 5 to find those numbers.


  • I picked 3 sight words off the Dolch prekindergarten sight word list to practice with Carter. I wrote the words on candles and introduced them to Carter. Then he practiced the words. He knew a and I since they are the same as the letter names. Then I helped him say the sounds in the word and. We practiced segmenting the sounds and then blending them together to say the word. I had Carter count the candles to identify how many words we were learning.
  • Just like in previous years I hung streamers in Carter's doorway to surprise him on his birthday. He didn't get as excited as he usually does since he was sick but he still enjoyed going in and out of his room so he could walk through the streamers.
  • I had Carter write his name on a piece of paper and then draw a circle and a square. I showed him how to decorate the circle to make it look like a balloon and then how to decorate the square to make it look like a present. We talked about the attributes of both shapes as we drew. I also had him write the date and a 5 for his age on the paper. Elise drew a circle which I decorated to make look like a balloon. I wrote her name and a square in pencil for her to trace. I turned the square into a present.



  • I measured Carter on his special height chart and compared his height to his daddy's from when he was 5. Carter was about an inch taller than Ty was at 5.

  • I did a birthday interview with Carter and compiled his answers in a post here.
  • On Carter's birthday he had a special birthday bath with color tablets, bubbles, and balloons. We also got out some finger paint soaps.
  • Carter told me what to write in thank you notes to his friends for the presents they gave him at his birthday party. Then Carter signed his name on each thank you note. It was a lot of practice writing his name!
    Signing his name to a thank you note.
  • Carter wrote a book about himself like he has the past few years. It was cute to go back and read what he wrote about himself the past few years. He didn't finish his book about himself. I'll add a picture of the pages when he's finished.
Craft:
  • I asked Carter if he wanted to paint a birthday shirt this year like he has in the past and he said he did. He wanted to wear it on his birthday but not at his birthday party. He picked to paint with blue, pink, and purple. We showed him his shirt and had him identify what number was on his shirt. Elise wanted to paint too so I got her finger paints to paint with while Carter painted his shirt.
  • I had a birthday cake page I pulled out to do with Carter where he'd color in a birthday cake and candles and then cut out the appropriate number of candles to glue onto the cake. I was so bummed because I couldn't find the page anywhere when we went to do it. I either put it somewhere and forgot where it was or one of the kids found it before me. Instead I drew a picture of a cake for Carter to color. He drew the appropriate number of candles on top of the cake. I also had him practice writing the number 5 to show how old he is.
Special Snack:
  • Carter was supposed to take doughnuts to school for his special birthday snack. I placed an order for 24 doughnuts spelling out "Happy Birthday" and then the rest of the doughnuts made into the number 5. Since Carter was sick I ended up cancelling the order. I also skipped bringing him a marshmallow with a candle in it to his room when he woke up since he was throwing up, but he did get to pick out a special lunch for his birthday and thought he could stomach macaroni and cheese so I made him mac and cheese for lunch. He picked out lemon cake with lemon frosting for his birthday cake and had a few bites of it.
     
Make Believe:
  • The kids played with Carter's wooden cake. We counted the slices of cake, cut the cake, and decorated it. We made patterns with the cake toppings and talked about what patterns are. Elise loved cutting and serving the cake to others. They had a lot of fun pretending it was different people's birthday and singing them Happy Birthday as they served up the cake.

Songs:
  • We sang the traditional Happy Birthday song as well as Tom Chapin's Happy Birthday song. I also sang Carter Happy Birthday in Spanish and then we listened to it in various other languages.
Technology:
  • Carter played the same candle counting game on the computer he played last year. The game can be found here.

 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • Carter had a big birthday party at a place with inflatables. He invited his entire class along with his friends from outside of school. He had a lot of fun. You can read more about his party here.
Books:
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  • Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
  • Moira's Birthday by Robert Munsch
  • Birthday Zoo by Lynn Munsinger
  • It's My Birthday by Liesbet Slegers
  • It's My Birthday by Helen Oxenbury 
  • Birthday Mice by Bethany Roberts
  • Birthday Traditions Around the World by Ann Ingalls
  • The Birthday Queen by Audrey Woord
  • Birthday Rules by Laurie B. Friedman
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  • How Many Sleeps til My Birthday? by Mark Sperring 
  • The Best Birthday Ever! by Charise Mericle Harper
  • The Best Birthday Present Ever! by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Happy Birthday, Bunny by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
  • Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by Margaret and H.A. Rey by David Shannon
  • Puppy Birthday to You by Scott Albert
  • Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise by David McPhail
  • Bears and A Birthday by Shirley Parenteau
  • Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice
  • If You Give a Pig a Party by Laura Numeroff 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas Eve morning we decided to take the kids to see The Star. Carter really wanted to see it and he got some Christmas money from Great Grandma and Grandpa Shupe. He used his money to buy his ticket and to get a kid's pack. Elise used hers to buy a ticket and a package of fruit snacks. The movie was really cute. Carter was so excited to tell Oma and Opa all about it when they arrived. We stopped at Tropical Smoothie and got lunch with my gift card Jeremy got me for my birthday. We made it home in time to get Elise down for a nap before Oma and Opa arrived. Carter was so excited to see them he wanted to stand outside by the curb to wait for them. The excitement of the day was getting to carry all the presents into the house and find places for them under the tree. That brought back memories of Christmas Eves past, unloading my Grandma Darlyne and Grandpa Eddie's car and delighting each time I found a package with my name listed on the sticker. After we helped them unload the car I headed out for my run. When I got home we got ready for church and headed to the 4:00 service with the kids. Carter was pretty excited that he got to hold a candle during Silent Night. At one point he leaned too far forward and the plastic cup around his candle bumped into Oma's head. At first I was worried her hair would catch on fire but then laughed when I realized the plastic cup saved her! We all got a laugh over dad sitting on his candle at some point during the service and breaking it. They had hot chocolate, hot cider, and cookies after church in the fellowship hall. The kids were really excited to get some treats. We took a family picture at the photo booth area before heading in for treats.
Elise really wanted to wear her penguin tights.
Feeling festive for my run.
When we got home from church mom and dad got started heating up the food for dinner while the kids and I cut out sugar cookies. Ty made the dough that morning and we left it in the fridge to cool while we were at the movie. Carter picked to make sugar cookies for Santa. Since the table was set we used the kids' craft table to cut out cookies. I had moved my Christmas cookie cutters and was really disappointed I couldn't find them. We ended up using a star and heart cookie cutters which worked. Instead of making frosting we just used the leftover frosting from our gingerbread houses a friend had dropped by for us to make. We got to open presents from Aunts and Uncles before dinner. Elise wanted to sit on my lap while she opened presents and she was so excited she kept turning around and kissing me as we opened presents. That was the best gift of all. After dinner we went to Chandler Park to see the Lights on the Hill. The moment the first lights came into view Elise started clapping. She would exclaim and clap each time she saw something she really liked. Then we pulled up to a whale who was shooting a small Santa out of his spout and Elise exclaimed, "Awww, baby Santa!" Her unbridled joy was such a wonderful thing to witness throughout the holiday season. When we got back the kids put on their matching Christmas jammies and then put out cookies and egg nog for Santa because we were out of milk and hadn't gone grocery shopping yet. Oma also had to put egg nog in our breakfast casserole because she figured we'd have milk for it. It actually tasted really good with egg nog! Elise and Carter were in bed just a little after regular bedtime. The adults played a game of Trivial Pursuit before going to bed. I ended up not going to bed until about midnight and I was so excited for the morning it took me a while to fall asleep! When I snuck in to give the kids kisses they both looked so sweet with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
Prepping the sugar cookies.
One of the many kisses I got from Elise during present opening before dinner!
Carter setting out the cookies and egg nog for Santa.


On Christmas morning I woke up at 5:30 and was so excited I had a hard time falling back to sleep. I kept waking up excited and struggling to fall back to sleep when I realized the kids were both still asleep. I was afraid I'd miss Carter waking up and running in to see what Santa brought. I woke up at 6:00, 6:30, and 7:00 and had just gone back to sleep when Carter woke up at 7:30. I heard him excitedly talking to his Oma and Opa so I ran into the kitchen to see him find his presents. Elise slept until almost 8:00. I heard her while I was brushing my teeth and when I took off down the hallway I found her running to the kitchen. The kids got a big Paw Patrol headquarters as a joint present from Santa. Carter got a toy with Chase and Marshall and Elise got a toy with Skye and Everest so they had some toys to go with it. They also got giant coloring books. Elise's was Paw Patrol and Carter's was PJ Masks. They also got Shine a Light books with a flashlight. Elise had the absolute best reactions to her presents this year. She was pulling her stuff out of her stocking and pulled out a set of watercolors where the paint was in the shape of a heart. She said, "Awww, hearts!" Then she hugged it to her chest. She also got some shoes from Santa and put them on first thing, wearing them with her jammies all day! The kids got some special tape in their stockings and Carter had so much fun taping stuff to his Paw Patrol headquarters, taping his mouth, taping the light switch, and even taping his Opa's mouth.



While we were waiting on Jeremy and Thomas to arrive the kids played with their Santa gifts and then we did some fun Snapchats with Christmas filters to send to family. Jeremy got to our house around 9:00. He had set an alarm so he could get over to our house early for present opening. He was excited when he found out the kids hadn't gotten up that much earlier than him and really hadn't been waiting long. While we waited on Thomas to arrive we colored in the kids' giant coloring books. Thomas had taken all the dogs to his house so we wouldn't have to mess with them trying to get into presents that had candy in them or worry about them tromping around in the presents while we were opening them. It was so nice for us but caused him to take longer to get around in the morning. We didn't mind because we had plenty of fun stuff to do while we waited and it gave the kids time to enjoy their Santa presents before opening the rest of their presents. Thomas arrived around 10:30 and we headed in to pass out presents after everyone had eaten breakfast. Carter did a great job of reading the first letter on the name tag to figure out who the present went to.


Carter and Elise opened presents first while we watched. They took turns opening so we could see what they got. Each time Carter opened a book he wanted to stop to read it before opening more presents. Elise did that a few times too. They both got clothes from Oma and Opa and there was a dollar bill stuffed in each pocket just like what my grandparents used to do for us when we were kids. Elise was hilarious opening her presents, either awing over them or screaming when she ripped open the package. One of her favorite presents was an electric toothbrush from Uncie J. She couldn't wait to brush her teeth. After the kids were finished opening their presents we opened our presents. We started with mom and then went around in a circle. We played the guessing game where you guess what is inside your package and then open it to see if you get any points. I won with 15 points. It really helps when you picked out most of your presents. Mom and dad got me clothes I picked out and Thomas kept up the tradition of buying me a large package of different flavored hot chocolates. We had such a wonderful Christmas! After naps the kids spent the rest of the day playing with their new toys. It certainly was a joyful and blessed Christmas for us!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Topeka Christmas

Paul and Amanda were arriving in Topeka for Christmas on Tuesday the 19th. The only day Ty got off for Christmas was Christmas day since it fell on a Monday. He asked off for that Tuesday and Friday before Christmas. Our plan was to pick Carter up from school and leave from there so Ty took a half day on Tuesday. I found out that morning that Jake's mom had afternoon cancellations so we didn't need to pick him up. Ty and I decided to pick Carter up at lunchtime and get a head start so we could be in Topeka for dinner. I'm so glad it worked out the way it did because he had a wonderful evening with everyone. We had time to decorate the Christmas tree which Leina had planned on doing the next morning and we got to see everyone sooner. The kids were so darn cute decorating the tree! Carter and Elise liked looking through the ornaments and picking which ones they wanted to put on. Wyatt would walk over with his ornament in his hand and would set the ornament on a branch. Usually it would fall through the tree and land on the floor. It was so adorable! Both Carter and Elise were so excited to see Wyatt. Elise would walk over and kiss him on the top of his head. She was so excited to see "Baby Wyatt!"
Wyatt decorating the tree with help from Gma.
Carter putting the angel on the tree.
Wednesday morning Great Grandma and Grandpa Shupe came over for our little Christmas. They gave each of the kids a snowman that sensed movement and would light up and sing when you walked by it. It had quite the range which we later discovered when it was on the kitchen table and I walked past the kitchen doorway, causing it to turn on. Wyatt walked all over the place holding his snowman and would occasionally put the top hat in his mouth. After lunch Carter was so excited that it was time to open presents. We opened presents just Gma, Gpa, Ty, me, Paul, Amanda, and the kids. Paul and Amanda got Elise a tea set that was a huge hit. She and Wyatt sat and had a little tea party together which was just so sweet! Elise got an Ariel bath doll from her Gma and Gpa which was also a hit. She loved playing with her hair and making her sing. Carter got a Nerf gun from Paul and Amanda. Both kids got tablets from me and Ty and cases for them from Gma and Gpa. They spent a lot of time over the next few days trying out the games we had loaded on them and watching shows. Elise has watched Boss Baby over and over on hers, that's pretty much all she does when she uses it.
Elise opening her tea set.
Elise, Wyatt, and me having a tea party.
That evening we continued our tradition of chocolate making. Carter, Elise, Ty, Leina, and Rocky all wore special aprons. The kids were so cute in them and even posed for a picture wearing them. Carter and Elise got really into it this year. Carter remembered exactly what to do and just dove right in. Elise mostly ate chocolate as she worked. Paul, always one to do something different, decided to make his own version of the game Bean Boozled using the chocolates. He added random stuff such as peas, bbq sauce, and ketchup to some of his. Carter made mostly fruit chocolates. He put blueberries in his chocolates and made chocolate covered strawberries. He also made some that were just solid chocolate. Normally we set the chocolates outside and it's cold enough it makes them harden up pretty quickly. This year it wasn't too cold so it took them a while to harden. It was hard to wait on them to harden so we could eat them!
Ready for chocolate making!
Everyone in their special aprons.
Chocolate making fun!
Elise, our Messy Missy!
We did a Christmas breakfast with Gigi, Papa, Aunt Tina, and Uncle Kelly on Saturday morning before we left to head home. Carter wore his new outfit from Gma and Gpa with suspenders that was super adorable. Both the kids had a blast playing with Muffin and Elise was desperate to have Muffin sit in her lap. She kept pulling on her and trying to force her into her lap so I finally sat on the floor with her and helped her get Muffin in her lap. Gigi made the kids quiet bags and filled them with coloring books, crayons, and toys. They were a huge hit. When it was time for us to leave and Elise realized Gma wasn't coming with her she started crying so hard. It was sad but I also knew her reaction was more extreme because she was tired and it was past her naptime. She cried for a little bit in the car but then fell asleep and took a nice long nap on our drive home. We got home that evening to a little bit of snow left on the ground. We got the house in order and were ready for my parents to come on Christmas Eve the following day.
Carter in his birthday outfit from Gma and Gpa.

Ty helping Carter try out Papa's new mini-drone while Wyatt watched.

Crying because it was time to tell Gma good bye.
We came home to some snow still left on the ground, much to Carter's delight.