10/27/2010

Activities When I'm Too Tired Too Play with the Toddlers

I'm 20 weeks pregnant and poor Monica has to wean because the milk is finally gone. She wasn't able to go back to sleep last night for 3 hours. I even drove her around at 5:30am. Anyway, I'm a bit sluggish today and I can tell my poor husband and son are too (we have a family bed so the other members suffered a bit as well).

Monica is like the Jack Russell Terrier of our pack - she needs twice the activity to rest well and wakes up very alert at the slightest disturbance...it's been a far cry from my first who weaned soundlessly and sleeps every night through the night.

Today, I needed to tire out Monica (without upsetting or frustrating her) and I needed some sit-down activities for my tired Elijah. There was no way I was running after Monica to play today (I did for about 3 minutes) and Elijah wasn't in the mood to be outside for very long.

It snowed a little. :) Inspiration.

*** Made "snowflakes" and put them in various pie plates. Elijah liked throwing them from the couch, counting them, and Monica ran through them over and over.

*** Elijah had a wooden spoon. We balanced as many snowflakes as we could on it, counting and laughing when they fell. Then he let Monica hit it as she ran by. Then we grabbed anything we could to balance.

***We turned the wooden spoon, got a toilet paper roll and paper cup and made a "snowman" to balance on the handle. We used expo marker to draw and erase different faces, happy, mad, sad, etc. Monica thought it was hilarious to run around with the head after I made a "pop" noise when she took it.

***Put a little water in the pie plate and let them put in the scrunched snowflakes and watch them expand. Elijah pulled them apart and "pasted" them to an cardboard piece. Monica took them and threw them at an empty box to watch it tip, get wet, and change color.

***Ate "snow" with lunch - rolled up leftover white rice. Some were cold, some were microwaved, just to practice hot and cold. Elijah liked rolling some of them.

***Glued cotton balls and Q-tips to paper. Attached a little toilet paper to Monica and she spun.

***Children's music. Elijah pulled out cards of the things he heard and made the correct animal noises. Monica danced.

***Taped some "snowshoes" onto Monica - she frickin loved it! It was just a big paper foot taped around her foot. I would have done it to the bottom, but I didn't want her to slip. Then she wanted hands, then was entertained by the paper shapes and tape...another story. Elijah and I looked up pictures of arctic animals and native peoples.

It's going to be a rough week. Monica is going through a big change and I expect a lot of fits, tears, and whines. I figure I'll just keep cuddling and loving and kissing. I know she won't go on like this forever.

Love, Amanda and Cubs

10/20/2010

Keeping My Baby Entertained...With a Box!

Give 'em a box. I LOVE how entertained babies and toddlers are by a big box. We're moving in less than a month and we have a lot of boxes around - the kids are outta their minds with excitement.

Playing Peek-a-Boo
 
Surprise!
 
Gave her a marker and she LOVED it!
  
Little word of advice - don't sit down thinking you'll quickly check your e-mail - Monica walked outta that box blue-fingered, blue-lipped, and blue-earred! 

Parenting Fail!

Love,
Amanda & Cubs

10/14/2010

Two Great Alphabet Writing Apps for Toddlers and Preschoolers: iWriteWords and Little Sky Writers

We have an Apple iPad and we are incorporating it into our home-preschooling one game at a time. Two games I have found to be great is iWriteWords and Little SkyWriters We bought the Handwriting edition of iWriteWords ($2.99) and the iPad app Sky ($1.99) and I love them because it fills a gap in what I've been teaching him at home

Elijah has this great wipe-clean book called Learn to Write your Letters ABC (it's in the Amazon list to the right) and we write the alphabet upper- and lower-case everyday. However, I'm afraid of over-correcting, creating frustration, and taking his enthusiasm for it down to nil. With both of these apps, he must follow the letter correctly, lifting his finger where he should and finishing the letter correctly. And they're still fun.

Little Sky Writers is a simpler app. Once I showed Elijah how to do it, he liked guiding the airplane. I liked that he had a point to reach, and a check to know he'd done it correctly. By pressing the alphabet icon, I was able to see how many he'd gotten correct after he was done, upper- and lower-case. And he loved the voice and the sound effects. My only wish was that there was some kind of "Great job!" at the end of each letter, but that's just me.

iWriteWords is a fantastic app for the price. I like how you can make the letters bigger for little fingers. Elijah understood this one right away and I was able to tell him "Touch the four" if he didn't finish the letter correctly, and he understands that better than "Go to the end." And you can re-play their handiwork - watch it and enjoy. But they made it a little too fun to mess up the letter, so I know when to take it away because I hear the squeaky noise and giggles repeatedly.

These apps were good for my Elijah with the speech delay because I was able to have him repeat words that the man in Sky Writers said or the words the lady said in iWriteWords. He also must tell me which one he wants by saying "I want -" to first get the app, and again for the features in the game. And if he does a good job, I encourage him to say "yay!" and pretty soon, he's engaging in spontaneous speech.

There's another review with a video for Little Sky Writers here by Best iPad Hacks. The iPhone Mom wrote a great review of iWriteWords here and if you search for it on youtube, you can watch kids play it. Both are well worth it in alphabet toddler game world.

Love,
Amanda & Cubs

10/13/2010

Two for One, Practicing Lacing and Writing Letters

When Monica unexpectedly wakes up early from her nap, I need something for her to do so that she doesn't destroy what Elijah and I have started. Not easy. She used to do it to our train set up all the time!

This works. I punched holes in a paper and had her lace through a shoe lace. Voilà, we finished what we were doing and she was as happy as a clam.

Afterwards, I noticed it was photo paper and that if I wrote down the letter, I could erase mine and have Elijah trace the faint outline of the letter. He did a really good job and enjoyed it a lot. He was so excited, I didn't get to write down every letter beforehand and he did many letters all by himself.

I really liked this and I am going to do it again. I laced through the string that was on it and hung it on the refrigerator so everyone could see it. I'm glad he practiced writing his letters without a guide and I'm glad he was so excited to do it. For most of the day, he has walked by and looked at it, admiring his work. Very cute.

 It's a bit obvious which letters had a faint print and which didn't. However, I like it when he just takes the marker and takes charge of his learning.

With Monica climbing, she finds the paper on Jeremy's desk and printers and bends a lot of them, making the no longer useful for our business, but great for these type of activities. Now that I know I can draw, erase, and have Elijah trace, I'll have to think of new ways to do this.

Love,
Amanda & Cubs

10/11/2010

Construction Paper Shapes into A,B,C Animals

I have been trying something new lately and that is to do crafty stuff with my kids. Browsing around at all the great stuff out there, I had a ton of construction paper but not many ideas that were suited to our situation.

My son is a late-talker yet knows a lot of other information already. He already knows his alphabet and its sounds, uppercase and lowercase, and all of their signs in sign language. He knows a lot of animals. So I thought a paper craft to use up some of this construction paper putting letters together to form words of animals he knows would be challenging and something new for him.

They are simple but I've seen positive results from it. He says the letters, then the word they form, so there's his early reading (that's the goal anyway). I'm also using this to teach emotion, so he calls each animal 'happy' too which is really cute. Everyday, it hangs on the wall and he describes it like ten times a day. My future animal groups will be mad, confused, etc. Can't wait!


This is our A-N-T, our happy ant. He does look happy right?

Elijah knows a lot of shapes already, even crescent, but this is an excellent way to practice and make sure he stores them into his memory. I talk to him about the colors, asking him questions like, "what color or letter or shape is this?" Monica is napping so it's a nice hour or two of just casually interacting that I'm hoping will increase his talking.

Our new shapes were half-circle and I called the antennae zig-zags :) .
  
My son isn't great at gluing and cutting so obviously I helped guide his hands a lot! It's my fault, I haven't done this with him near enough as I should have.

Short sentences to practice short words and become familiar with how they look written.


It's hard because I don't want to go so far that he's confused but I want him to be challenged with something new. I thought that I would spend his 3rd year entirely on letters and numbers but it seems like you have to prepared to be unprepared...sheesh.
 
We do one a day, not on weekends when daddy's home, but he's already getting a bit better at gluing. Although, I am kind of a control freak and am heavily helping him put them in the right spot.

Here's B and C...
New shape was a tear drop. Little sister actually got a hold of this and ripped it apart, but it still looks good. Keep your paper crafts away from the smaller ones!

 New shape was a football. The eyes, paws, and tail weren't real shapes. I was a little pressed for time since I didn't prep this one. Prep work is a challenge!

I hope to make A-Z animals and A-Z objects and put them all in a binder in those clear page protectors so that he can write on the sentences in the back.

Love,
Amanda & Cubs


10/10/2010

Pregnant, Baby's Moving & I Am Just Thankful

Sometimes things get in the way of the things we want to do.

Ha-ha I am not talking about my pregnancy!

I took this photo two days ago and I was all pregnant aglow and in a glorious mood and was going to write a beautifully written, inspiring post...but blogger or google or my computer was not responding and now I am not feeling well, cranky, am watching the kids from another room (I gotta get back there - they're annoying everyone back there!) and I am not in the mood I was in two days ago.

Still though, I am thankful for my love of my third pregnancy. I always thought I'd get tired of it or at least wouldn't have the same awe about it, but feeling the baby move the other day was still wondrous and miraculous.

We're so thankful for our babies and their health and we pray that we continue to be so generously blessed.

I am 17 weeks now, due March 19th. We'll be up to 3 March babies!

Love,
Amanda & Cubs

10/01/2010

Avoid Fisher-Price and Other Recalls! Live Simply and Shop Smarter!

With all of these new recalls of baby products, it is to my complete relief that we live as simply as possible.

First, we save money by not buying every product out there. Babies grow up so fast that once you haul that truckload of baby things home, you are out there getting rid of them again when they start school, or sooner. I can name everything I own for my children because it is not that much.

Second, when we buy, we look at a baby product's moving and small parts and keep in mind that even if it's for our older child, what our younger one can do to it. Anything that moves, say the wheels of a toy car for our son, can come off and become a choking hazard for our daughter. Don't just buy it, but really look at it; if you can imagine something becoming detached, it might not be worthy of buying. We have a baby gym mat from which I removed one hanging duck because it's tail looked a tad too loose. Examine, imagine the worse, and don't let a company decide what it safe for your baby.

Lastly, when we get e-mails about all the recalls, we do not have to get rid of anything - we don't have it or I've already deemed it unsafe and stopped using it. I got second-hand an infant carrier and after obsessing whether or not my daughter had suffocated every two seconds, decided it was better not to use it. Now it has been recalled for that same reason.

So please parents, live more simply, shop smarter and when recall lists are released, breathe easier!

Love,
Amanda and Cubs