Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Down with the Sickness

We've had a few nasty stomach bugs go around our family since Carter started school. This past week Carter came down with the nastiness for the 3rd time since September. Each time it has been varying degrees of terrible, thankfully this time it just meant throwing up once and diarrhea the rest of the time for him. Poor Carter was scared to go to the bathroom by himself so I'd sit with him and then wipe him with a warm, wet washcloth when he was done. Elise never threw up but had the other symptoms for a long time. Then Ty got it and anytime something goes around Ty gets it so much worse than everyone else. He was up all night throwing up and then once he started to feel better he got hit with a second round and was up all night throwing up again. It was terrible. Thankfully Ty is the most pleasant sick person I have ever experienced. He does very little complaining and what he does is all done with a bit of comedy mixed in. He just goes and lays in bed and sleeps all day. When he wants to eat something he gets up and makes it himself, even if I've been in checking on him all day asking him if I can get him anything. Occasionally he'll request some Sprite or Powerade but for the most part he's pretty self sufficient when he's sick. I would definitely help him more if he would allow me, but I'm also glad to have a husband who isn't a wimp like the whole sick husband stereotype goes.
I was the only one awake on Sunday afternoon.
 It was a very quiet afternoon for me.
This time around I never came down with it. My stomach hurt during the whole ordeal but I think that may have been due to smelling the stench of diarrhea pretty much all day long. Anytime the kids get sick, I either get it last or don't get it at all. Elise has come out unscathed once as well. This time I somehow was able to stay healthy despite forgetting about germs and drinking after Carter when he was still sick! I mostly attribute it to the probiotics Ty had me taking once he got sick. It is nice to make it out without getting sick but being the last one to get sick is awful! It means everyone else is better by the time I get sick and most the time means Ty is anxious to get back to work since he had to take some sick days. It also means I spend days wondering when it's going to hit. This time I actually moved my runs around to make sure I got out to run before the illness hit, but it never did! I made sure to eat plenty in the mornings because Ty ended up losing 10 pounds over the course of 3 days and I wanted to make sure I had plenty to fuel my body when the time came. I definitely wish I wasn't always the last one to get sick. Waiting and trying to anticipate when I'm going to get sick is almost worse than just getting sick in the first place! But I am also very thankful that I am able to take care of all my loves and do anything that will help them to feel better, even if it means sitting in fumes for long periods of time! When I put Carter to bed after a long day of him feeling miserable, as I started to walk down the hall he yelled out, "Thank you for helping me feel better, mommy!" His heart is so sweet and I am so lucky to be his momma. When he finally had a solid poo again he was still sitting on the toilet and asked me, "Did you tell daddy the good news?!" He never ceases to make me laugh. I hope all of you are staying healthy! We are getting very serious about hand washing around here in hopes that this will be that last round of "the puking, shitting disease" or "the death virus" both names coined by Ty.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sometimes Less is More

That is something I have been learning my entire life. It started when I was a kid, learning little things like it's actually better for your teeth to not use quite so much toothpaste when you brush or you just want to use a little bit of conditioner in your hair. And it has been an ongoing lesson for me ever since, as I push myself to be the best that I can in each area of my life. It keeps coming around to, sometimes less is more. Sometimes scheduling fewer activities through the week and having a day just playing at home leads to the sweetest moments between my kids or the best learning experiences for us. The area where I have been struggling with this the most lately is with my running. Saturday I was reminded that sometimes less is more when I had to scrap a workout I had planned because I physically couldn't complete it at the pace I had been hoping for. Scrapping a workout is so hard for me to do, to admit it's not happening and not trying to force something but I felt like I did it with grace on Saturday. I didn't give up on a long run or a good workout, I just gave up on running my planned tempo run.

It all started this fall when I started bumping up my weekly mileage and saw great results, only missing a PR in the half marathon by 15 seconds. I found myself thinking, if I can do that off mostly 40 mile weeks, what could I do off mostly 50 mile weeks? So here I am 3 weeks into my training cycle finishing out my 3rd 50 mile week in a row. I only ran 2 weeks at 50 miles in the fall. I've found that amount of mileage is very manageable for me. My body is recovering well between workouts and I don't feel over stressed or taxed. I'm able to fit the miles in around our schedule and things are working out perfectly. Since higher mileage was going so well I started playing around with adding more to workouts. I got into a good habit of running speedwork once a week along with either a long run or a long tempo run each week during the fall. During the first week of this cycle I wanted to add more quality to my workouts so I added strides one day. That went well so the next week I added hill repeats into my week. So on Monday I was running strides, Wednesday speed work, Thursday hill repeats, and Saturday either a long run or a long tempo run. It didn't seem like too much and I felt good during my long run that Saturday so I thought it would be a good routine for me. Then this past week I decided the hill by our house wasn't big enough so I ran out to the biggest hill in the area and ran over a half mile of hill repeats, not counting the jog back down between. The hill is a monster and my legs were burning by the top. I had also run speedwork the day before and did a strength training workout when I got home that included squats and lunges. In hindsight, that was too much.

I didn't think much of it and headed out for my tempo run on Saturday. My plan was a 3 mile warm up, 8 miles at 6:50-6:55 pace, and a 2 mile cool down. I ran the 3 mile warm up with my brother, Thomas, and felt great. Then I took off for my tempo. Right from the start I could tell the workout was going to be a struggle. My legs were burning and I was having a hard time dropping below 7 minute pace. As I went over things in my head, I quickly realized my legs were fatigued from the hill repeats on Thursday. The workout had been a bit of a ball buster. My first tempo mile was 7:08 and I decided the tempo was most likely not going to happen. There was no point in finishing it out much slower than my anticipated pace, killing my legs, and feeling demoralized in the process. I told myself if I could push under 7:08 for the 2nd mile, I'd continue the tempo and hope when I turned around with the wind at my back I could get closer to goal pace. My 2nd mile was 7:23 and my thighs were burning so I decided to switch gears. I think it is good to teach your body and mind to run fast on tired legs, but I think you can overdo it or push at the wrong time. I decided to run 2 mile "pick ups" since I couldn't hit tempo pace. I'd run 2 miles hard, a mile easy, 2 miles hard, a mile easy, 2 miles hard, a half mile easy, and then one last hard mile before a half mile cool down. I was so glad I made that decision because even running the pushes at 7:10 pace was tough. My legs were burning and I wanted so badly for each set to be done. But I finished out my 13 mile long run and felt like I got a decent workout in, even if it wasn't what I had planned.

I'm still figuring out what works for me. I had a good cycle in the fall and was excited to see my times fall as I started taking training more seriously than I had in the past 7 years. But I was still really cautious because I wasn't sure exactly what my body could handle. I wasn't prepared to push my body to the limits yet. Now I am and I'm figuring it out a little bit at a time. Sometimes it just takes pushing a little past your limit to realize where your limit is. Then you can regroup, push on, and adjust your training to fit your needs. Now I know hill repeats on a monster hill on Thursday before a Saturday tempo run is too much, especially if I do a strength workout after returning home. I'm going to play with it and see what works best, only running hills on weeks when I'm doing a long run without a tempo built into it or continuing with hill repeats each week but sticking to the smaller hill by our house on weeks when I'm going for a tempo. Sometimes when I make mistakes like I did this past week and I look back the mistake seems so silly and glaring to me, but in the moment it seemed like a great idea. Obviously trashing my legs on hills wasn't the best idea on my last run before an 8 mile tempo. My half marathon isn't even going to be hilly, I just feel like hills will make me stronger. The more important workout is the tempo run, hands down.

I'm just proud of myself that I was able to let go of the workout and adjust it to meet my needs that day. Sometimes I get my heart so set on doing a certain thing that I can't let go and I try to force a workout when it's not there. This fall was huge for my confidence and I've had some big tempo runs already with a 6 mile tempo at 6:51 pace followed by a 7 mile tempo at 6:47 pace with the last mile in 6:29. I think part of the reason why I was able not to stress over the workout not going as I had planned was that I have confidence that next week without monster hill repeats on my legs, I can run that awesome 8 mile tempo I was looking for. I'm only 1/4 of the way through this training cycle so I have plenty of time to make up this workout. Even after over 20 years of running, I'm still learning and it's important to give myself the chance to do so.
Just for fun, some pictures from my run this morning with the whole crew.

Friday, January 27, 2017

I Love...

Carter's sweet nature and love for his sister. He will randomly walk up behind Elise, wrap his arms around her, and kiss her on the back of her head. The other day in the bath he took a comb and started combing Elise's hair. When he was done he said, "There you go, looking pretty!" while smiling at her. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes.
Carter was so worried about the scab on Elise's knee.

How hard Ty has worked to incorporate healthy eating habits into his daily life. When we first met, lunch for him meant a sandwich stacked high with meat and extra slices of cheese and a plate piled high with potato chips. After Carter was born he made a huge effort to start eating healthier so he could be a good example for Carter. Yesterday Carter wanted to make his own lunch and said he wanted to make a lunch like daddy. He got carrots out and wanted a knife to chop them up like he sees Ty do. It really made me stop and think and appreciate all the little changes Ty has made to be healthier. He's done a great job of making little changes that he can sustain over time rather than trying to make a bunch of changes all at once and relapsing into old behavior. I am so proud of him and love what a great role model he is for Carter to look up to for so many reasons.

Our pediatrician and how convenient he makes things. If we have a question we can get on a website and type it up and he responds really quickly, usually within 20 minutes. If we are really worried about something after hours we can text him and he will respond. A few years ago Carter and I found a black widow in the backyard and I've been paranoid about it ever since. Elise's toe swelled up one evening and I panicked, worrying that she would die in her sleep from black widow poison. I texted our doctor a picture and he responded within 10 minutes that it didn't look like a black widow bite so I was able to put Elise to bed and actually sleep myself. If we text him and he thinks we need to come in the next day, he'll send a link so we can get online and schedule an appointment right then without having to call in the next day. It has definitely saved us some trips to the Urgent Care, that's for sure!

Libraries. I have really been enjoying the opportunity to put books on hold for myself and am able to read a wide variety of books that I wouldn't have access to otherwise. We constantly have a backpack full of children's books on all kinds of topics and I have learned new information while reading nonfiction books with the kids. Not to mention all the wonderful storytimes and events that are offered through our library. Most the libraries in our area have lots of toys for kids in the children's section which makes it a great place to go on a rainy, cold, or hot day when we don't want to be outside but want to get out of the house. Living within a quarter mile of a library has been so wonderful for us. We walk to the library at least once a week. Our downtown library opened in October after renovations and is beyond amazing. We don't mind driving 10 minutes to get to a library with more toys. The new library has all the books and videos displayed so you are looking at the cover of the book instead of the spine. It's really awesome but it also means that Carter and Elise pick out way more books when we are there!
Elise reading to her friend at the library.
Carter's ability to do so much for himself now. His favorite thing for lunch is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because he can make them all by himself. He is always so proud to spread the peanut butter and jelly on his own. My Aunt Sue gave us homemade jelly for Christmas and one she labeled "wild grape". Carter refers to it as "crazy grape" which makes me giggle every time!

Being a stay-at-home mom. Both kids were sick at some point this week and it made me stop and reflect and appreciate how lucky I am to not be working anymore. I am so glad when they are sick I can focus on their care and what they need to feel better rather than running around trying to secure a sub and make or print off last minute lesson plans as I'm holding a puking child. It was so nice when Carter woke up throwing up to be able to make him a bed on the living room floor and just lay with him when I asked him if he needed anything and he said, "Just lay with me, please." There are so many little moments every week where I am so thankful I get to spend my days with my babies. Sometimes when I'm out running with Elise in the stroller while Carter's at school I can't help but think how lucky I am to be running in the middle of the morning while the sun is shining with a happy girl singing along in the stroller rather than in the pitch dark, cold morning like I do on other days and I would have to do every morning if I was working. There are so many wonderful things about my life and I am always grateful spending my days with my babies is one of those things!

Valentine's Day. I wrote a whole post about my love for Valentine's Day here. Every year when Ty puts our Christmas decorations away in the attic, I have him get the Valentine's Day decorations down. He makes fun of me a little bit for putting them up so early but I just love them. There's something about hearts, whenever I see them I feel warm inside. My parents always made Valentine's Day such a fun holiday and I always loved wearing hearts, especially my special heart dress reserved for Valentine's Day. I'm already looking forward to our Valentine's Day learning theme and our Valentine's Day themed playdate we are hosting!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Winter

I had been planning a learning theme on colors when I looked and they were predicting snow for the coming weekend. I immediately got excited and scrapped my plans to learn about colors and changed to learning about winter. I was so excited for the possibility of snow. Last time we had snow it was in the teens and Carter didn't even want to play in it because it was too cold outside. We didn't end up getting any snow but we still had fun with our learning theme. We talked more about hibernation this time than just about weather and snow. Read about our last learning theme on winter from 2015 here. Last year we did a learning theme on polar animals instead of winter, read it 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:
  1. Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors.  (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
  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).
  7. Count with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last). 
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • Play make believe/Imitate the behaviors of others (adults and children).
  • Know the names of and be able to point out body parts.
  • Groups things together by size or color/matches like objects, understands hard and soft.
  • Names common objects and is able to point them out.
  • Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously. Can draw a line. Differentiates between a circle and square.
  • Follows simple instructions (focusing on words such as in, on, beside, under).
  • Others: counts to two, refers to self by name. These I want to start to expose her to, but she isn't quite ready to master then yet.
  • I was again surprised by Carter when I showed him the word winter on a sentence strip. He immediately chunked it and blended it because I had told him earlier in the day our next learning theme was going to be about winter. He looked at it and said, "Win/ter, win/ter, winter!"
  • I pulled out a cute snowman window cling we had with different body parts, facial features, and clothing to dress him with. Elise and I played with it one afternoon while Carter was still napping. I asked her to put the nose on the face, the hat on the head, the arm beside the body. She got lots of practice following directions which she did when she felt like it. Other times she just put the pieces wherever she wanted. We talked about body parts as we worked. I had her tell me what part of the snowman's body a piece was and then had her point to that part on her own body.
  • We read the book Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee. Then we made our own tracks in the snow using Play Doh and some of our animal toys. I asked Elise what part of the animal made the tracks and she said the feet. Carter had so much fun trying it out with different animals and toys to see what their tracks looked like. His favorite was having me look away while he made tracks and then asking me to guess which toy had made the tracks. We counted the animals feet and also counted how many tracks they made in the snow.
  • I'd say Carter's favorite was when we played with shaving foam, pretending it was snow. Carter practiced writing his name in the snow. We again used our toys to make tracks in the snow. I drew a circle and a square for Elise and talked to her about the shapes. We had to stop abruptly to clean up when Elise hit her mouth on the table and busted her lip. Carter had just sprayed more shaving foam in his spot and then got up to rinse his hands off. Elise quickly ran over to his seat and was trying to steal it while he was gone, but went too fast and slipped. It was so sad.
  • Carter helped me cut some strips for an activity. We have 2 snowpeople we got from my parents for Christmas one year that came with some sort of food in them. They have slots in their hats to be used as a piggy bank I'm guessing. I decided they'd be perfect for practicing with colors and sorting. We cut out little strips of green paper and red paper. Then I had Elise sort the colors into the snowmen by matching the color to the strip on the snowman's hat. I even cut a strip of construction paper and taped it over the original strip because the green was green and blue striped and I didn't want it to be confusing for Elise. She could match the colors up but insisted on dropping the strips into whichever snowman she felt like playing with. So we talked about the colors and then she just dropped them into the snowman she wanted. When she was finished Carter sorted the colors into the correct snowperson. He thought it looked like too much fun to miss out on!
    Carter cutting the strips for us.
    Elise sorting the strips into the snowpeople.
  • During one of the Museum Babies programs we went to this winter Elise had a blast playing with a hot chocolate sensory bin. It had brown beans as the base with cotton ball "marshmallows" and toy cups. I knew I had to save the idea for when we did a winter learning theme. The kids loved making each other cups of hot chocolate and I even caught Elise carrying a cup full of beans around the house on multiple occasions. It was such a fun sensory bin!
  • I drew and cut out little mittens and then wrote the letters of Carter's name on the mittens. I showed them to him and then he put them in order to spell his name. When he was finished I asked him if he noticed a pattern with the mittens. He didn't so I pointed out that they alternated between a right and left mitten. Then he told me which mitten would come next in the pattern.
    I wrote with pencil so it's hard to see the letters in the picture.
  • To practice with same and different I had Carter compare a glove to a mitten. I told him the name of each one and then asked him to tell me how they were the same. He said they both keep your hand warm. Then I asked him how they were different and he said one had a spot for each finger, the other had a spot for the thumb and then the rest of the fingers were together. I asked him why he thought they were like that and he wasn't sure. I told him when your fingers are all together they stay warmer but it's harder to do stuff. I had him try picking stuff up with a mitten on and he thought it was hilarious. When we wore gloves or mittens throughout the learning theme I'd have him tell me which it was.
  • We discussed winter weather. I asked Carter what kind of weather he thinks of when he thinks of winter and he said cold and snowy. Then I told him it has been winter for about a month, since a little before Christmas, and asked him to identify the different kinds of weather we have had. He said rain, snow, cold, and warm. Then we wrote the different kinds of weather on our back door window so we could make a graph for tracking our winter weather. I talked to Carter about the different labels we needed on our graph and wrote them as we talked. Then Carter would tell me the weather for the day and either I'd write the mark on our graph or he would. He liked it better when I did it because he liked the marks to be really neat and he couldn't make them as small and neatly as I did. When we were done we counted the marks above each kind of weather and determined which weather we had the most of during our learning theme. Carter was very disappointed we'd never had snow and I was too. We talked about how winter weather is the same as other seasons and how it is different. Carter decided we can have rain during any season. One day when we were working on our graph Elise saw us and grabbed a marker. I didn't notice because I was so involved with Carter and when we were done I looked over and she had drawn all over our other door's window with a regular marker. It cleaned off just fine but was still hilarious!
    Elise making her own graph
  • An activity we did during our last winter theme that was a huge hit again was skating on paper plates. Elise was so adorable, working so hard to stay on her plates. She was skating along and stopped to grab a marker and draw on her skates while still standing on them. Carter saw her decorated skates and liked them so much he decided to decorate his own skates. It was so cute because Carter went into our main kitchen area and rolled up our small rug so he could skate through there too.
    Elise drawing some more on her plates because she saw Carter coloring on his.
  • I pulled out the snowmen I made during our last winter learning theme to work on colors with Elise. I had her match the hat to the snowman with that color scarf. She wouldn't put the hats on by herself so I'd put a hat up against a scarf and ask her if it matched. She'd either say yes or no. When it matched I'd put the hat on the snowman's head. Then I'd tell her the hat goes on the head. I'd also really emphasize the name of the color hat and scarf the snowman was wearing.
  • One day we were playing with Play Doh and Carter decided to make a snowman all on his own. One of the activities I had planned was to make a snowman out of Play Doh but we hadn't gotten to it yet. I had planned on rolling out balls to make the snowman but he made his more flat like a cookie made with a cookie cutter. It was so cute. I pointed out the circles to Elise when Carter was showing off his snowman. Then we counted to see how many circles were on his snowman.
  • I pulled out 2 of Ty's hats and 2 of Elise's hats. I showed Elise one of Ty's hats and told her it was big. Then I showed her one of her hats and told her it was small. Then I gave her the remaining hats one at a time and asked her to match them to the other hat that size. She wasn't too into it but was able to match the hats. Then we counted how many we had of each size. When we were finished Elise played with the hats putting the smaller ones inside the bigger ones and then putting them on her head.
  • I had quite a few different Scholastic News magazines about winter and snow. I pulled them out and put them with our winter books in the winter book bin. Carter found them and was so excited to read them and to complete the different activities on the back. He loves using a marker on the laminated magazine to complete the different activities. His favorite was a map where he drew different routes for a snow plow.
  • Carter loved the repetition of the Tracks in the Snow book so I decided we should make one of our own. He picked 3 different toys to use in the book and then put them in paint to make tracks on a page. We wrote: Tracks in the snow. Tracks in the snow. Who made these tracks? Where do they go? on the page with the tracks. Then the next page had a picture of the toy telling what it was. Carter didn't want to draw so I drew and he colored the objects in. I was so impressed with how well he stayed in the lines! Then on the last page we wrote where each item was going. After looking at the book, I wished we'd organized it better and wrote what the object was and where it was going on the same page. So I talked to Carter about how we organized it and how we could have done it better. He agreed with me and I told him going back and fixing your work is what good writers do and is called editing. 
    Our book before we edited the pages.
  • To practice with circles and squares I helped Elise make a shape snowman. The snowman had 3 circles for his body which we counted. Then we used a rectangle and a square to make his hat. I told Elise where to glue the different parts but she had her own ideas. I gave her the first circle and asked her to glue it wherever she wanted. Then I gave her the next circle and asked her to glue it on top of the first circle which she glued off to the side. When I gave her the last circle I asked her to glue it above the other circle and she glued it on top of the other circle. I helped her glue the rectangle for the hat down and then showed her how to glue the square down so it would touch the rectangle and be right above it and she did that by herself. She did a great job gluing the carrot down where the nose would go. Her favorite part was adding the snowflake stickers to her picture. We talked about how the stickers were circles the whole time she worked. I added a face to her snowman and then it was done.
  • Last year after Christmas I bought a craft set with foam pieces to make different crafts. We used it to make winter wreaths with the foam pieces and other materials. Elise was mostly interested in dumping confetti on her wreath and gluing down already made pieces. Carter spent most of his time decorating the snowman pieces and then gluing them to his wreath. It was so cute to see how much time he spent making faces and clothing on his snowman.
    Carter cutting out arms for his snowman.

    Elise's finished wreath.
    Carter's finished wreath.
  • I also got a container of foam stickers for making snowmen after Christmas last year. The kids had a blast using them to make snowmen. We talked a lot about body parts as well as where on our body we wear certain articles of clothing. I tried helping Elise so she could get the head on top of the body but she was insistent on doing it her way so we just talked about the names of the body parts. Carter informed me that he liked the glittery pieces the best and that he has a friend at school who really likes glitter too. It was very cute!
  • Last year I saw an adorable cardinal handprint craft. I loved it because it made me think of my Grandpa Eddie. His favorite bird was the cardinal. So I saved the picture on my phone all year to remind myself to make it during a winter learning theme this year. The picture looked like the person had painted branches and snowflakes on the picture. I am not a very good artist so I decided the safest way to not ruin the picture was to cut the branches and snow out of construction paper and glue them down, then using snowflake stickers for decoration. I was so happy with how it turned out. I was a little caught off guard by how little difference there is in the size of Carter and Elise's hands. She is growing up so fast!
    I love those sweet, little hands!
  • Carter made a very cute paper plate polar bear at school. He was so proud of it and was very excited to tell me that he got to use hot glue with his teacher's help. Any time he gets to use glue it is a win in his book!
  • We used coffee filters to make snowflakes. I folded the coffee filter up for Carter and showed him that when you open it up after cutting it there is a really cool design. We sat and made a bunch of them while Elise was napping. Carter had such a blast with it and asked to do it multiple different times after we'd done it together. After we'd made quite a few, I quit making them and strung our snowflakes on yarn to make a garland for the mantle above our fireplace. Carter was so excited and kept bringing me snowflakes to string up. When I was done with the garland I had Carter count to see how many snowflakes we had on it. He was so proud of his work!
  • Carter made the cutest little soda bottle penguin at school. He was so proud to tell me he got to use hot glue for the pom pom on the penguin's hat and the wings with the help of his teacher. I think he loves the responsibility of getting to use something hot. It's so cute how he gets excited about it each time he gets to do it!
  • Another project from school was a shaving foam snowman. Carter explained to me that they got to rub the shaving foam in until it was rubbed away and then got more shaving foam to rub onto it. He loved this project and told me all about it without me even asking him!
Special Snack:
  • With it being winter and cold outside (for most of our learning theme) we enjoyed hot chocolate multiple times. Carter loved being able to make it himself by using warm water out of the faucet. He was so adorable making hot chocolate for Elise and himself when he had gotten the okay to do so.
Make Believe:
  • I'd say the most fun activity of this learning theme was pretending to hibernate. We read multiple books about animals that hibernate. Carter remembered lots of details about which animals hibernate and where they hibernate. We talked a lot about dens and burrows as well. One day we pretended to be bears and created a den with blankets to play in. We snuggled together for warmth and pretended to sleep. Then we got out the tunnel that goes with Carter's tent and pretended it was a burrow underground. We pretended to be chipmunks and gathered balls (berries) and cars (nuts) to eat every few days when we woke during our hibernation. Carter would tell us when it had been a few days and we'd all pretend to eat our food. Elise had a blast playing along with us and did a great job of watching us to see what to do. Although she did find it hilarious to go in and out of our den over and over, eventually knocking it down.
    The kids playing in our den before I added the last blanket.
    Carter carrying berries to his burrow in his cheek pouches.
    Elise having a blast being a chipmunk!
  • We sang 5 Little Penguins to the tune of 5 Little Ducks. We used the penguin bath toys we had from Carter's birthday party. The kids loved acting it out by knocking the penguins into the bathtub as I sang. I made the song up in the moment, there may be a better version floating around somewhere. The song went like this:
5 little penguins went out one day,
over the ice and far away.
Mother penguin said,
waddle, waddle back,
but only 4 little penguins waddled back.
Continues on until no penguins come back.

Mother penguin went out one day,
over the ice and far away.
Mother penguin said,
waddle, waddle back,
and all 5 of her little penguins waddled back.

  • During a winter learning theme we naturally had to sing Frosty the Snowman. It is one of Carter's favorite songs and got a lot of air time around here during the learning theme!
  • Carter loved singing and acting out this next one by pointing at body parts and pretending to be a rabbit. The song goes like this:
A chubby little snowman
had a carrot nose.
Along came a rabbit
and what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny
looking for lunch.
Ate the snowman's carrot nose,
nibble, nibble, crunch!
  • We also sang a 5 Little Snowmen song and used our snowmen from the hat/scarf color matching activity to act it out. The song goes like this:
5 little snowmen fat.
Each with a funny hat.
Out came the sun and melted one.
What a sad thing was that!
Down, down, down (as you move the snowman away because it's melting). 
  • I went onto youtube and typed in winter songs for kids. There was an awesome playlist that I played on my phone while we did activities. Carter's favorite was I'm a Little Snowman because it was a song he learned at school.
  • Carter played the Make a Snowman game on Starfall here. We had played this one before during our Christmas learning theme but Carter still loved getting to dress the snowman as well as read the story and hear the song.
  • We played a snowflake match game on PBS Kids here. I loved that this game talked about symmetry. Carter chose the half of snowflake that matched the snowflake on the top of the screen. We talked about how the snowflakes looked alike and how they looked different as he played.
  • This one was probably Carter's favorite because he loves dogs and he likes the show Martha Speaks. The game was called Dogs on Ice, you can find it here. Carter listened for words and picked the dog that was following the directions given.
  • We also played a Weather Transformer game on PBS Kids here. Carter got to change the weather and see how that affected the back yard. There was a thermometer on the side of the screen. I had Carter look at the thermometer and we talked about how it changed as the weather changed. He noticed that the color went up when it was warm and down when it was cold. I explained that's how a thermometer works. The liquid in a thermometer rises in heat and lowers in cool.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • I had planned on going on a nature walk in the snow and then going sledding, but we didn't end up getting the snow that was predicted. Instead we went to the art museum. As we looked at different pictures we talked about whether it looked hot or cold in the picture and I had Carter tell me what he saw in the painting that made him think it was hot or it was cold. I really made sure to point out the paintings with snow in them or that looked like they depicted winter weather. I had him notice the colors that were used a lot to convey cold weather. He noticed a lot of white for snow and then darker and cooler colors as well. There was even a neat display when we first walked in of snowflakes kids had made hung up from the ceiling so we got to walk under them! That's where I got the idea to turn our snowflakes into a garland to display.
    The kids looking down at the snowflakes from the second floor. It was even cooler to walk under them!
  • Deep Snow by Robert Munsch
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell George
  • Mice on Ice by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley
  • Straight to the Pole by Kevin O'Malley
  • Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman
  • I Love You Snow Much by Sandra Magsamen
  • The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss
  • Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
  • Winter Is Here! by Kimberly Weinberger
  • Sailing off to Sleep by Linda Ashman
  • Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee
  • Franklin's Bad Day by Paulette Bourgeois
  • The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Follow the Polar Bears by Sonia W. Black
  • Hello, Snow! by Hope Vestergaard
  • Pip and Squeak by Ian Schoenherr
  • Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan by Cynthia Rylant
  • Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  • White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
  • Snowball Fight! by Jimmy Fallon
  • Snow Dance by Lezlie Evans
  • Snow by Melvin and Gilda Berger
  • Who am I? Snowy Animals by DK Publishing
  • Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • I Am Small by Emma Dodd
  • Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead
  • Skippyjon Jones Snow What by Judy Schachner
  • Old Bear by Kevin Henkes
  • Frosty the Snowman by Steve Nelson
  • Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
  • Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky
  • Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser
  • Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins
  • Winter by Ann Herriges
  • Winter by Julie Murray
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  • Counting on Snow by Maxwell Newhouse
  • Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
  • Red Sled by Lita Judge      
  • Red Hat by Lita Judge
  • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
  • In the Snow by Sharon Phillips
  • Snow Music by Lynne Rae Perkins
  • Why Do Bears Sleep All Winter? by Mary Englar
  • Bears Hibernate by Susan Gray
  • Animal Hibernation by Jeanie Mebane
  • Hibernation by Anita Ganeri
  • Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner