Kindergarten Home School Week 11: Tuesday

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We took yesterday off for Memorial Day after just doing a workbook page on letter M (for memorial of course!) but jumped back into home schooling today.

9-9.30: Letter N/O. To start the morning on a fun note, Travis made a nest for an owl from which he could tackle these two letter pages. We capped off ELA with about 15 minutes on Lexia.

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9.30-10: Social studies. Travis completed a maze to help a child get ready for school in the morning. He then wanted to act out all the steps with dolls! This was a great way to include baby sister, too.

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10-10.30: Snack/recess.

10.30-11: Math. We acted out a workbook page about greater than and less than… with Star Wars battles, of course. Travis had to solve each equation (i.e. 4 is less than 5) then he acted out a fight between good versus evil before we moved on to the next. This was a great way to keep him engaged.

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11-11.30: Cooking. We gave a whole new meaning to the term “submarine sandwich“!

11.30-12: Science. Our ants arrived, and Travis quite literally couldn’t stop watching. As an extension, he wrote a sentence about why ants make great pets and drew a picture to go with it.

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12-1 – Lunch/free play.

1-2: Outside. A trip to a local arboretum was the perfect dose of “recess” and vitamin D.

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2-2.30: Social/emotional learning. After watching a read-aloud of the book One, by Kathryn Otoshi, Travis made a recording for his teacher about his take-away from the book.

2.30-3: Cooperative play. We ended the day with a game. His teacher had recommended sight word bingo. We used our Zingo game, and every time a player got a match, he or she had to select a sight word fish to place on the board. This was an easy way to sneak in sight words without making him feel bored about rote learning.

Home School 55 kSee you tomorrow!

Sky’s the Limit

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Today, I took some time with Veronika just to pause and look at…the sky! Yup, that’s it. With all the busy activities we do, sometimes we forget to stop and just look.

So we headed to the park and lay down on a blanket. Now she had a perfect view… up!

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We talked about everything we could see up. The leaves on the branches of the trees, the birds and butterflies going by, the puffy clouds. And of course the blue sky.

If it’s a bit bright as you head out for this activity, don’t forget the sunglasses!

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We even spotted an airplane!

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I made up song verses for all the things she could see, choosing a favorite tune (Wheels on the Bus), but instead we sang: “The birds in the sky go tweet tweet tweet” etc. This brought a big smile to her face.


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She was proud making the connection between the butterflies fluttering past and the one on her water bottle!

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Mostly, I tried to just lie still, and enjoy the peaceful moment. She seemed to appreciate the pause, too.

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Lettuce Tear

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Veronika got to help make lunch today! Okay, not exactly, but here’s a fantastic way to include a toddler while the rest of the family is cooking.

I gave Veronika the extra lettuce from a head we were using, and she didn’t need any instruction about what to do: tear it of course! I provided her with a big plastic bowl, and soon she had a little salad.

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Your toddler is the perfect member of the family to patiently tear salad pieces, happily keeping busy with a task that might feel mundane to bigger kids.

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In fact there was something beautiful in her concentration, as she worked.

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I also gave her a little jar of dressing to shake shake shake, part instrument and part sensory bottle.

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Between shaking and tearing, she kept busy with this for a full half hour. What a lovely project for a late spring afternoon.

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Fine Motor Pom Pom Sorting

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There are so many ways that toddlers can play with pom poms, and no doubt Veronika and I will play more complicated games with them down the line. But today we kept it as simple as can be: pom poms, a muffin tin, her fingers, and that was it!

Since she’s learning her colors, my initial idea was to sort the pom poms by color and see if she could help with the process…

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…but Veronika was so eager to get her hands into the mix that my color piles never stayed that way for long!

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She loved the feel of scooping them up from one muffin cup to the other, and seemed very proud of her transferring skills! I wasn’t about to deny her the fun.

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In fact I think she found it funny that I kept trying to arrange the pom poms one way, and she kept messing them about. She said the name of each color pom pom as she picked it up, so it turned into color learning in a different way.

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Picking up pom poms one by one is of course also great for fine motor development.

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She started to move them more deliberately in this way after she tired of big handfuls.

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Eventually  I also handed her a pair of toddler tweezers. She was so proud to move the bigger pom poms from one compartment to another, using this tool.

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This is one of those great ways to keep a toddler busy solo without too many materials or much prep work.

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Submarine Sandwich

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After recently learning about submarines, Travis has a whole new appreciation for why we call it a “submarine” sandwich now. We put together this fun lunch to play up the name.

To start, slice a long bread roll in half. Spread with your child’s filling of choice. We made one version with hummus and one with non-dairy cream cheese!

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Add other toppings (Travis chose lettuce and tomato) then top with the other half of the bun.

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We added a strip of red bell pepper as the “periscope” sticking out from the top, then used additional hummus or cream cheese as “glue” to stick on cucumber circles for “portholes”.

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Of course the lunch inspired some imaginative play; Travis loved pretending he was a giant squid attacking the boat as he ate, of course!

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Sticky Board

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I needed to keep Veronika occupied while I cleaned today. Enter a classic toddler activity: a contact paper sticky board! Thinking quickly, I taped a square of contact paper, sticky side out, onto the patio door.

Next I put together a little tray of odds and ends: squares of tissue paper, pieces of ribbon (too short to be choking hazards), and pom poms.

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Now it was up to Veronika to decide what should go where!

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This was the perfect activity to leave her mostly solo as I cleaned, since she loved discovering that the contact paper was sticky, pressing curious fingers against it.

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Then she could explore the various materials at her own pace.

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Wouldn’t you know, her favorite part was the painter’s tape I had used to hang the contact paper! So I ended up ripping off a few extra pieces of that for her, and she quickly added them to her collage.

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By the end, she had pulled the whole thing off the patio door, which was just fine of course; it simply meant that the play continued on the ground! And I had time to finish my cleaning.

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Vanilla Raspberry Sorbet

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This easy three-ingredient sorbet comes together in moments, and makes a great sugar-free treat for kids.


  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  1. Combine the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze. Every two hours or so, fluff the mixture with a fork, then conitinue to freeze and fluff until ready to serve.

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Pouring Station Activity

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Here’s an activity that I had originally intended to do outside, but the day was colder and cloudier than anticipated. Thinking quickly, we moved everything inside, which worked just fine! In addition to being pure fun for a toddler, a pouring station like this is a great way to promote dexterity for pouring, a necessary life skill.

To set up the station, I placed a storage bin on the floor, and then filled it with various measuring cups (both liquid and dry varieties) as well as toy pitchers and cups.

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I added a few outliers, too, like a lemon juicer that almost looks like a red boat. I left the bin itself dry (knowing it would get wet soon enough) but filled all of these various cups with water. Most contained clear water, but I added a few drops of food coloring to the see-through measuring cups. In retrospect, this meant we soon had muddy brownish water, but the color was a nice added sensory element.

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It took Veronika no time at all to begin scooping and pouring. She was most interested in the dry measuring cups, using these more like little ladles.

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To pique her interest in pouring from one of the larger “pitchers”, I dumped one out and then she took over. Now we had a fun layer of green water in the bin!

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Soon she had a little “coffee shop” in operation. She loved filling cups from her toy pot, and transferring the water back and forth from cups to pot.

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She happily mixed, poured, ladled, and stirred for over half an hour by herself!

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I had stripped her down to her diaper just in case, but remarkably she didn’t get too wet, either.

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A fantastic way to let a toddler learn to pour.

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Water Wheel Kiwi Crate

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One of my favorite memories with Travis is a trip we took to an old saw mill when he was in preschool. I reminded him of the moment when his latest kit from Kiwi CoKiwi CoKiwi Coarrived, all about the Water Wheel! There was great STEM learning here about the power of water, all of which led to great play.

First up: the Water Wheel and Boat. To make the wheel involved slotting plastic paddles into the circular side pieces and holding it all in place with elastics. More and more with each crate, I sit back and let Travis handle the dexterity of all this.

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We then inserted the frame pieces into a foam base and again held it all together with elastics. A funnel goes on top, and can slide along on a foam donut.

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To make the “boat” simply involved inserting three corks into a foam frame, a good refresher on buoyancy and how cork is a material that floats.

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We inflated the provided water basin and placed the boat and water wheel inside.

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As Travis poured water into the funnel, the rope tugs the boat a little closer to the wheel each time. It required a little trial and error, but eventually our boat was taut against the wheel.

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We took our Water Wheel outside for a few additional experiments. First, we tested what would happen if the boat dangled over an edge, rather than floating in water. Even against the power of gravity, the boat rose upward!

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Then Travis tested filling the funnel with sand instead of water; I think ideally this would have worked, but he poured the sand in so fast that the funnel clogged, and we didn’t have great results.

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His Explore magazine also suggested testing the boat out in soapy water, though I’m unclear why. Was the soap supposed to hinder or help? In our results, it worked better, the fastest wind-up yet. Then we untied the boat and just had fun playing with the wheel as a water toy. Travis could test the power of the current that the wheel generates by floating other bath toys around it.

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The final project in this crate was Splash Art. Travis used the provided penguin background for his first try.  Add a generous squirt of the provided blue paint, then use the provided straw to blow.

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He was nervous at first that he would inhale the paint, so we practiced blowing air against our palms.

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Now he was brave enough, and I was so proud of him! There’s enough extra paper to make a few designs of your child’s own, and Travis loved adding lots of blue paint to these and blowing all over the surface.

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Have fun varying your method, including blowing hard or soft, or varying the angle of the straw. Just be careful: this one is messy!

Before wrapping up, we did a quick experiment to test the power of a vortex. First, fill an empty 2 litre bottle with water and pour it out normally over a bucket. Set a timer and see how long it takes! Ours emptied in 16 seconds.

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Refill it, but this time place your hand over the opening, turn the bottle upside down, and begin spinning in a circular motion; you’re creating a vortex. When you remove your hand, the water will whoosh out! I’d estimate it emptied in half the time.

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To make this more visible, first we added red food coloring, and then glitter. Travis was in charge of the camera, so unfortunately the pictures didn’t come out great!

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We ended the fun with two reads about water: Hi, Water by Antoinette Portis and National Geographic Kids’ Water.

Play with Me Panda Crate

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Veronika’s latest crate from Panda was all about encouraging solo play, something she’s already a champ at (much more so than big brother!) but it never hurts to foster it. I would recommend this crate for babies 10 months and older.

One: Wood Beads

First up was a peg board with pastel-colored pegs and corresponding wood beads. To start, we played with the set together; I encouraged her to match colors, showed her how to stack two beads atop one another, and counted them as she stacked for some early math.

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You can also make a tower of the beads off to the side, and see how high your toddler can make it go!

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She could then continue with all of these activities solo, and boy did she ever! She also loved the cloth bag that came for storage, and would pile the beads in, dump them out, and then start over.

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Two: Wood Bars

These discs also go with the provided peg board, but now there was a bit more of a challenge; could she align two holes so they slid over two pegs?

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The three-holed one was definitely a puzzle!

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As with the wood beads, she could easily continue the play solo, mixing and matching combinations of bars and beads.

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Three: Ribbon Pull

This toy is ingenious, a soft cube with ribbons that pull back and forth. First we played together in a sort of toddler tug-of-war. She pulled one end; I pulled it back. She pulled another tab; I pulled it back.

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And then I handed it over. The cube is great for a child’s development to coordinate holding it steady with one hand and pulling the ribbon with the other.

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Of course she wasn’t thinking about that; she just loved pulling those ribbons! There’s also great opportunity for pointing out colors with this toy, or talking about left and right hands.

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Four: Ball Drop

This was another ingenious inclusion. As the first challenge, your toddler needs to drop the ball through the hole in the top of a wood block. As a second challenge, there’s a pattern to pick up on, since the ball alternates rolling to the right and the left.

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As she tried it, she immediately trotted over to fetch the ball from where it rolled and inserted it again.

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Roll, trot, insert. Roll trot, insert. Solo play! We never even had a chance to use this toy together, since she was immediately so busy with it by herself!

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She also loved putting the ball in and playing peek-a-boo with it, and had fun stuffing some of the wood beads and wood bars inside, too.

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Five: Board Book

This was the one weak point of the crate. In a kit devoted to occupying a toddler solo, I was disappointed to find a simple board book with no flair. Why oh why wasn’t it a lift-the-flap book? That would have encouraged greater solo reading.

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The Wonder booklet contained a wealth of information, including the benefits of solo play, ways to encourage solo play, and facts about toddlers and screentime.

We had fun watching a sing-along to This is the Way We Laugh and Play, then finished up the fun with a few suggested book:

  • Gus Explore His World by Olivier Dunrea
  • Dog & Friends: Busy Day by Emma Dodd
  • Mon Petit Busy Day by Annette Tamarkin

This last in particular is spectacular. I’ve never seen a book occupy a toddler for so long, and over multiple days.

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