V Week!

V week (15).JPG

During our Letter of the Week journey, I put V week on hold long ago so that it could overlap with Valentine’s Day. We sure fit in a lot of Valentine’s crafts, but that’s not all! Here’s what else filled our week.

v-week-11

Volcano: Easily the biggest hit of the week, I started off Monday morning with a bang. To help Travis understand the experiment, we first watched YouTube clips of volcanoes exploding, and I asked if he wanted to make our own at home. Check out the full details in my separate blog post!

volcano-5

We also made a simpler volcano from brown construction paper with tissue paper for the lava.

v-week-8

Vroom: A great action word for the week, you can vroom toy cars, let your child vroom across the room on tot-sized trikes, or pretend your whole body is the car with a round of red light/green light; hold a ball as your steering wheel and vroom when the green sign is up, and freeze when it turns red. Travis liked being the one to hold the signs, too.

v-weeks

Vacuum: Travis is obsessed with my vacuum, so his Valentine’s Day gift was – believe it or not – his very own vacuum to play with! Kids seem to universally love popper vacuums, or if you don’t have an actual vacuum toy, just engage the imagination! Around here, a wiffle ball bat, excavator truck, and hose have all been Travis’s “vacuums” in pretend play.

v-week-1

Vest: For nice practice with zippers or other closures, take out all your child’s vests and try them on your stuffed animal friends!

v-week-4

Volume: It was a fun week to play with dynamics in music. Whatever instrument we chose – drums, sticks, bells – we would first do “volume up!” for loud and then “volume down” for very quiet. And of course, you can apply this game to your singing voices.

v-week

Van: The suggestion on Letter of the Week was to take a ride in a van, to which I had to laugh. Without access to a van, we played a game of “find the van for v week!” every time we got in the car. Travis got the giggles out of our search, and it was a great way to talk about colors, too, as in: “I spy a gray van!”

And now our extras…

Fine arts: What didn’t we craft this Valentine’s Day? Check out my blog posts for Handprint and Footprint Hearts, Send a Hug, I Heart You Stickers, “Be Mine” Fro-Yo Bark, and a Valentine’s Garland.

i-heart-stickers-2

Food: Eat your vegetables this week folks! Travis had vegetable soup, veggie chips, and of course fresh veggies.

v-week-10

Books: Look for Valentine’s Day titles at your local library. Travis’s favorite was Little Bear’s Valentine by Else Holmelund Minarik.

v-week-5

Songs: I couldn’t think of any children’s songs with a V in the title, but we did listen to clips online of the violin. If you think your child won’t be interested, just search for D Sharp playing any song on his blue violin.

Math: I gave Travis a very brief into to the word “vertical” and showed him the difference between vertical and horizontal lines. He scribbled a few tries of his own before losing interest.

v-week-3

Needless to say, we were very busy. I’ll be back next time returning to where we were in alphabet order – E week!

F Week!

f-week-16

For an F week full of fun in your Letter of the Week curriculum, try out these ideas.

f-week-7

Firefighter/firetruck: Hands down the biggest hit of the week, start by pulling out any firetruck toys you have at home. Even better, I gave Travis a chance to play Firefighter with an imaginative put-out-the-flames chalk game, which merited a full blog post.

f-week-14

Flag: This word was the surprise hit of the week! We checked out a library book on state flags, and Travis couldn’t get enough of going through it and deciding which ones he liked best.

IMG_0005.JPG

After that, we had to design our own family flag of course. Travis wanted me to do the drawing, but told me what symbols to include, and which colors to use. If you have craft items at home that begin with an F (feathers, felt), consider gluing those to your child’s flag creation.

f-week-1

Frisbee: For our exercise this week, we got out to the park and Travis enjoyed a basic intro to the Frisbee, giving a few nice tosses! You could also toss a soft football, if that interests your child more.

f-week-13

Finger: Use fingers only to make sketches in a shallow tray of cornmeal. You can encourage your child to draw letters or shapes, although Travis mostly just loved running his fingers deep through the tray.

f-week-5

Fan/feather: Fans are a favorite around here, because it’s always fun to see how objects blow in the wind (see my post from W week for more on this idea). This week, we let feathers go over the fan and watched them flutter.

f-week-10

Fort: What better excuse than the letter F to take out all your pillows and blankets and build a big fort?

f-week-12

Fish: As our field trip of the week, we visited the fish at a local aquarium. Travis couldn’t get enough of a catfish nearly as big as he was. Libraries and rec centers in your area may also have large tanks of fish for children to enjoy.

f-week-17

Foot: Here’s a word I thought would be fun, but which turned out to be a flop. I tried to get Travis interested in tracing his foot and mine, to show their relative sizes, and then thought he’d enjoy painting with his feet instead of a paintbrush on a large sheet of butcher paper… But he couldn’t be bothered! Instead, we read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, which always produces giggles.

Our weekly extras…

Fine art: As our art project, we folded paper fans. I showed Travis how to make them with very tight folds, and he loved flapping them to create a breeze. Although he wasn’t able to replicate the exact structure, he enjoyed folding sheets of paper in imitation.

f-week-9

Food: It was a week to dine on French fries and fruit salad… and then we had to make French toast!

f-week-15

Books: Our favorites of the week were: Little Rabbits’ First Farm Book by Alan Baker, Firefighter PiggyWiggy by Christyan and Diane Fox, Friends by Michael Foreman, and Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Songs: Although not a children’s song, a rousing rendition of Finiculi Fincula got huge laughter and clapping along. And of course there’s the children’s classic the Farmer in the Dell.

Math: Introduced fractions! A sandwich (or any food that can be sliced into portions) is the perfect opportunity to visualize fractions. Show your child the whole sandwich before cutting it in half, thirds, or quarters. Travis liked the demonstration so much that wanted his own piece of bread to practice on. As a perfect coincidence, he wound up “half” dressed in his pajamas that evening (bottoms on, top off) which he decided was hilarious.

f-week-11

Be on the lookout for an out-of-order V Week post in the coming weeks – I saved it on purpose so we could learn all about V with Valentine’s crafts.

G Week!

G week (12).JPG

I had a bunch of activities planned for G in our Letter of the Week exploration, and anticipated good fun… Little did I know there would be some great favorites that I didn’t even expect. So without any further ado…

g-week-1

Garden/Greenhouse: As luck would have it, a local greenhouse was having a midwinter festival, so we kicked off the week with a garden tour! We strolled among the lush flowers in the greenhouse gardens – and got to hear a steel drum performance too.

g-week-2

For a cute gardening story, we followed up at home by reading the Curious Garden by Peter Brown. See below for our indoor gardening project, which was our fine art activity of the week.

g-week-3

Guitar: Travis loves guitars, so I had to make sure the instrument was extra special this week. It felt meant to be that the aforementioned garden festival also featured… a guitar show for children! Travis was thrilled to watch the musicians strum the strings. Check your local listings for guitar shows; or, if you can’t find a local performance, share clips of guitar music online.

g-week-5

Giraffe: For no discernible reason, we own three puzzles that feature giraffes. Needless to say, I pulled them all out this week, and we read Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreaea to further explore the quirky anatomy of these tall giants.

g-week-10

Golf: This word was the prompt for our fantastic “field trip” of the week, to a local museum that has – go figure! – six holes of mini golf on the top floor. Travis took right to the game; I would hit the balls near-ish to the hole, and then he loved sinking them. For an easier take on the activity, you can set up shoebox golf at home.

g-week-7

Garbage: Travis has a toy garbage truck which he’s never paid much attention to… until I showed him a few YouTube clips of garbage trucks in action this week, and boy oh boy was he hooked. Garbage collectors are an oft-neglected category of “community helper,” so it was great to teach Travis about their work, and discuss the value of recycling. Then it was time to set up our town playmat; he drove his toy garbage truck around to collect the bits of “trash” we put down on the mat.

g-week-4

Goat: You could simply play with your farm toys that feature goat figures, but since we just did that with horses for H week, I also read recommend reading Billy Goats Gruff. After a cozy read, we acted out the tale with toy goats. Travis loved making them “trip trop trip trop” over a bridge.

And our weekly extras…

Fine art: We planted a grass-haired man (with a green face of course), for a delightful stint at indoor gardening. We have yet to see the grass sprout, but check back for updates on the separate blog I posted.

g-week-11

Food: Grapefruit got a firm nope as too sour, but Travis enjoyed green grapes, granola bars, and green beans… and then we whipped up homemade graham crackers!

g-week-6

Songs: Share a clip of The Green Grass Grew with your child.

Books: We enjoyed almost too many wonderful titles to list this week! Check out: Giant Vehicles by Rod Green, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, Goodnight, Godnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, When a Grandpa Says I Love You by Douglas Wood, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, and Duck and Goose by Tad Hills.

Math: Make a “greater than gator”! Technically, we used our A is for Alligator from another project, but I realized that it was easy to call him a “gator” instead and his open jaws looked just like a greater sign! I taught Travis that the gator could only eat green grapes from the plate that had a greater quantity, making for a a nice lesson on how 3 is greater than 2 and so on.

g-week-8

H Week!

H week (20).JPG

Here we are in H week, still loving the novelty that comes from focusing on a particular letter each week. Without any further ado, here is what we enjoyed:

h-week-2

Hammers: I kicked off H week by pulling out all of Travis’s toys that involve a hammer, including some he hasn’t used in months. Some, meant for younger toddlers (including what I fondly call toddler whack-a-mole), he never paid much attention to before, but loved this week. It’s always a nice idea to bring out old toys and look at them with fresh eyes.

h-week-10

House: H is a great prompt to talk about the words “house” and “home,” including who lives in a house, and what makes a house a home. Dollhouse sets are a great way to learn the different room names or types of furniture, as well as a great prompt for the imagination. We have a neat one that assembles in different configurations and stores flat, but if you don’t have a dollhouse at home, check your local library’s play area.

h-week

Horse: Pull out any barn toys you have, with emphasis on the horses this week. Our nice variety includes a latch barn (great for fine motor skills), as well as a Playmobil set that had Travis pretending to care for and clean up after his horses. If the weather is right and there is one in your area, you might consider visiting horses at a farm or sanctuary!

h-week-16

Hibernation: I snuck in a little science with this word, teaching Travis that some animals hibernate (take a long nap) during the cold winter months. We had a berry snack to fortify us, then “slept” in a cozy den of blankets and pillows. When it was “spring,” we woke up, we stretched, and dined on more berries. Invite your stuffed animals to join in for cozy hibernation fun.

h-week-7

Hula hoops/hula dance:  Hula hoops make for great play – jumping into, using in an obstacle course, or rolling around the room. Travis looped his over his shoulders and spun in a circle, an adorable first foray into using one around his waist. You can also toss bean bags inside a hula hoop for a color-matching game.

h-week-4

Following up on the word, I made Travis a rather silly hula skirt, simply attaching green crepe paper to a child’s belt. He loved the hula dance party that ensued!

h-week-5

Hats: Play a game of guess-that-hat; show your child pictures of different hats – policeman, firefighter, construction worker – and see if they can identify which profession each one belongs to. To do this, we used the hats on our Joey magnetic doll, but you could also cut pictures from magazines. Try reading the sweet book Which Hat is That by Anna Grossnickle Hines before you play the game.

And our weekly extras…

Fine art: Make handprints of course! This painting project was easily Travis’s favorite moment of the week, impishly getting his hands goopy and slapping them down to make prints.

h-week-12

He liked seeing how the paints mixed together, and turned his hands different colors.

h-week-11

Food: Not exactly the healthiest fare, but Travis dined on Hawaiian pizza (pineapple and Tofurky ham on pizza), and hot dogs (well, tofu pups). In a healthier vein, serve honeydew melon.

h-week-13

Books: Some great picks from the library included: Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell, Hello! Goodbye! by Aliki, and Hide & Seek by Il Sung Na.

h-week-19

Songs: Two songs with H in the title are perfect for interactive and silly fun. First, teach your child the Hokey Pokey. Travis got a kick out of seeing me do the silly dance before joining in. You can also watch online, sure to elicit smiles. Then we acted out the classic If You’re Happy and You Know It.

Math: I introduced the notion of hours, thanks to a new teaching clock toy that Travis received over the holidays. Since he’s only 2 and 1/2, I stuck to hours for now and didn’t bother with the various minute positions of a clock, but Travis took right to it. Then we made a big floor clock with the numbers, and Travis was the “hands” of the clock, pointing to the hour I asked for.

h-week-17

You can also talk about halves: draw the top half of a person and enlist your child to draw the bottom half – legs, feet etc. If this seems too complicated, simply draw shapes and draw a line dividing them in half, or color the halves different colors.

h-week-15

Goodbye until G week…

I Week!

i-week-27

I was so happy with the items on our agenda this week, continuing our Letter of the Week journey. The letter I happens to lend itself to games that were right up Travis’s alley. So we started with…

i-week-1

Ice/Igloo: The perfect words for games in the middle of winter, we kicked off the week with icy cold fun, building an “igloo” from ice cubes. When he tired of that, Travis loved watching the ice cubes melt. He would scrape them over a baking sheet, pour the melted water onto a towel, and then return to the task over and over. Endless entertainment!

i-week-21

After we discussed what real igloos are, we made a life-size one from couch cushions and white blankets that he could wriggle inside of.

Our ice games didn’t stop there. We’ve painted with frozen paint before, but this time we turned ice cubes themselves into the paint brushes. Simply freeze Popsicle sticks into the cubes of an ice cube tray, and sprinkle powdered paint on paper.

i-week-4

Let your ice “brushes” thaw just a little before applying over the powdered paint; Travis loved watching the colors swirl and mix together.

i-week-6

In addition, we released toys that had been frozen in ice during bath time…

i-week-7

…and made ice luminaries and ice towers, projects so fun that they merited their own blog posts.

i-week-16

Imagine: This word well applies to every week in the life of a two-year-old, but this week I stressed the point whenever we imagined during play. One game that hones imagination is to pull out any hats around the house. As your child dons each hat, have him or her imagine who they are. Travis liked being a “soldier” in a fedora, and also pretended to be the Snowman from the classic video of the same name. We also enjoyed playing with a king’s crown.

i-week-18

Insects: Travis adores bugs, but this week I taught him that insect is a “fancy” word for bug. We played with the bug kit he has at home, but also took a field trip to the local children’s museum, where he could see cockroaches, stick bugs, and more.

i-week-10

Indoor: I week was the perfect chance to stress the difference between indoor and outdoor voices. Travis latched right on to the concept, and loved waiting just until we were outside of the library to switch from a whisper to a yell.

i-week-25

Focusing on the words inside/indoor was also a great way to make indoor winter fun feel special… We set up an indoor beach on a yucky rainy day! We went all out, with palm trees on the wall (use brown construction paper for trunks and green crepe paper for fronds), beach towels, and even bathing shorts worn over pants. I pulled out beach toys and added Hawaiian music in the background as the finishing touch. And of course this was another great game for the imagination.

i-week-14

Instruments: I made a big pile of our all instruments, and we got in exercise marching around. We also enjoyed the instruments in the sound room of the children’s museum while there on our insect visit.

i-week-13

Ink: Travis loves stamps and ink pads, so this theme word made for messy enjoyable play. We also talked about how ink can be found in lots of useful things, such as pens and printers.

i-week-8

Iguana: We paid a visit to the resident iguana at a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. Of course, if there are no iguanas near you, it’s the perfect week to read a book about one.

I Spy: A fantastic game for honing observation skills, I suggest starting out with the book I Spy by Edward Gibbs to teach your child the basics of the game. The book features a hole on the last page, through which Travis said “I spy” about all the objects in our living room. Continue the game on car rides all week, for a great way to keep backseat passengers entertained.

As if that wasn’t enough, here were some extras…

Fine art: My intended project was to make a homemade rhythm instrument from an empty Earth Balance butter tub and rice. Travis helped pour the rice in, after which I glued on the top and let it sit overnight. But when it was time to shake, he just wanted the rice, and peeled apart the glued-on top. So much for that project!

i-week-26

Instead, we put icing on sugar cookies, fitting in our fine motor skills that way.

i-week

Food: Ice cream was the obvious choice. We headed out for vegan ice cream at a local restaurant for a super special treat. For healthier fare, try making a recipe from Italian or Indian cuisine.

I week (29).JPG

Books: Travis loved three picks from the library: The Indoor Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Island, by Golden McDonald, and Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.

Songs: Check out an online clip of Ice Cream from Anne of Green Gables, or – of course – Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Math: Travis loves playing with the ruler on his toy tool bench, pretending to measure things, so this week I introduced the vocab word “inches.” We got out different pieces of Duplo and had fun marking off how many inches each piece was.

i-week-22

That’s all for this time, we’ll see you in Week H.

J Week!

j-week-14

Travis and I had just enough time between Christmas and New Years to fit in J-themed games and learning, as we continue our Letter of the Week journey. We found lots of joy in letter J words!

j-week-1

Jungle: A jungle Duplo set from Santa was a timely gift to kick off our week, including elephant and tiger figures. We constructed a big jungle from all the pieces, and included green paper clip “vines” for the monkeys to swing on. Play with any other toys you have that feature jungle animals, whether stickers or puzzles…

j-week-4

Or just dance around like jungle creatures! We like to shake maracas and pretend to be monkeys.

j-week-7

Jump: We certainly got in exercise with jumping this week! You could set up bean bags or other jumping points along the floor as an obstacle course, or set up several books and jump from story to story before beginning storytime!

j-week-16

Or just have a good old-fashioned jumping party.

j-week-3

Jack-in-the-Box: A perennial favorite, but every time I pull out our jack rabbit in a box, Travis is further able to use the toy himself. He now winds through the whole song, and stuffs the rabbit back in to begin all over again without needing my help.

j-week-12

Juggle: When we were done jumping on all those bean bags, we picked them up and juggled them. Tho Travis tried perhaps a few more than he could handle…

j-week-10

Jeep: Pull out any toy vehicles you have that fit the definition of a jeep. We also have a neat jeep track, so of course that had to be set up this week. If you don’t have jeep toys, see if you can spot real jeeps driving around town!

j-week-8

Jewels: We attempted to make homemade jewels with a salt and glue recipe I found in 365 Toddler Activities that Inspire Creativity. I made the mistake of purchasing kosher salt, however, not rock salt, which meant our jewels didn’t set enough for play! Hopefully you make the recipe correctly and can use the jewels once they dry, whether your child pretends to be royalty or a pirate. Nonetheless, it was good messy fun to make our jewels. To make your jewels, combine

2 cups rock salt

1/2 cup glue

Drops of food coloring

j-week-9

Jars: Lids and jars never fail to amuse toddlers. We set up a few jars with quiet objects (ribbon, cotton balls), and some with loud (marbles, buttons), and shook them to decide which was which. As always, jar lids are great practice for fine motor skills.

And here are some weekly extras…

Fine art: A jellyfish craft was good jiggly fun. Travis’s favorite part was coloring in the body on a paper plate, after which we added string as the tentacles.

j-week-6

Poke holes in the top of the plate and thread a final string through, so your toddler can jiggle the jellyfish around.

Food: Travis dined on jam on toast, and ate a few nut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Although normally not available in our house, juice was a special treat for J week, and Travis was delighted!

j-week-2

Books: Our picks from the library this week tended to be interactive ones – Jump by Scott M. Fischer makes for great jumping play, and Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban is the perfect book to read over a jam snack. You might also want to act out any version you can find of Jack and the Beanstalk.

j-week-13

Songs: As with our books, songs this week were very interactive! Jingle Bells was still timely, here only a few days after Christmas, so we played the song and shook jingle bells along to it. Another interactive song to try is Jack and Jill; using a xylophone, move up the scale as you sing each note of the following:

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.

Then descend the scale of the xylophone as you sing the following:

Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

As you play, your child rises up on the first line, from a little ball until standing tall with arms up high. In the second line, he or she shrinks back down into a ball.

After that lesson on the octave, sing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt for an easy introduction to dynamics – start out loud, and finish off with the verses in a whisper.

Finally, Travis fell in love with the song Hey Jude this week, completely by coincidence!

Math: My intention was to count jellybeans, but I didn’t have time to buy vegan ones before J week sneaked up on us. Instead, I dubbed a bag of Surf Sweets gummy bears as “jelly bears.” Travis started with a plate of 20 and got a kick out of counting down as he ate. “How many are left?” he’d ask, hiding one behind his back, before moving on to the next bite.

j-week-5

In sum, a week of joyful fun. What other J games can you think of? Please share in the comments!

K Week!

K week.JPG

We kicked off this week in our Letter of the Week play with a game of “Keep it Up”  – balloons that is! What toddler doesn’t love helping keep a bunch of balloons bouncing in the air?

 

k-week-2

From there, we found lots of fun in words that begin with K. Read on!

k-week-15

Kick: Speaking of kicking things off, fit in your child’s gross motor play this week by kicking a ball. With wintry weather outdoors, we decided to kick the soccer ball through the halls of our apartment building!

k-week-3

Kleenex: Every once in a while, it’s worth it to buy what I affectionately call a “sacrificial box” of Kleenex and let your child go to town, so this was one of those times. Their absolute delight is worth the “waste”. And before you consider it a waste, the Kleenex will last for quite a few games in your K week play. You can “swim” in big piles of them, send them in the air with a theatrical “achoo!”, use them to “clean” in make-believe play, then stuff back in the box and pull them out all over again.

kazoo-5

Kazoo: A homemade kazoo is a cinch to make, and will provide endless entertainment marching and humming along favorite songs.

k-week-5

Keys: Puzzles featuring locks and keys are great for little fingers, so pull out any toys you have along this line. I also have a few sets of old keys that Travis loves to use for make-believe, testing in all the locks around the house.

k-week-13

Kiss: First read the hilarious book How About a Kiss for Me? by Todd Trapley. Then demonstrate kisses by applying lipstick and laying a smack on – hey! – Kleenex! Your child may or may not be interested in trying a lipstick kiss of his or her own.

k-week-17

King: We played with our castle blocks and toy king figurine…

k-week-11

… dressed up in capes like a royal king, and made a homemade crown (more on that below!).

k-week-14

Kite: I have a few insect-shaped kites that Travis loves fluttering over a fan, even when their isn’t enough wind outside for kite flying. If your weather cooperates, put together a plastic bag kite!

And our weekly extras:

Fine art: What better craft than a king’s crown? I cut points along two strips of construction paper for the crown’s spikes, then Travis decorated with jeweled stickers, pom poms, glue, and lots of glitter for a royally good mess. Once dry, staple the two pieces of paper together to fit your child’s head and put on for a royally good time.

k-week-10

Food: Kiwi was a fun tropical treat at breakfast this week. I also put together mini “kebabs” for dinner one night, with roasted bell peppers and Gardein beef. To make kebabs safe for little ones, thread the food on coffee straws instead of a skewer!

k-week-12

Books: The favorites this week were the above-mentioned How About a Kiss for Me? and Kitten’s Winter, by Eugenie Fernandes. Check your library for any books about kangaroos.

Songs: Travis enjoyed watching clips of both Kookaburra and Let’s Go Fly a Kite! Make sure to hum both on your kazoo after.

Math: The concept is a touch advanced, but we used a toy scale this week to talk about how things have weight. Because it’s K week, I discussed each item in kilograms rather than ounces. Travis thought the scale was fantastic, filling it with pennies, toting it around, and testing out numerous toys to see how far they made the arrow move. Even if he didn’t absorb the concept of kilograms, it was a nice introduction to the idea of weight and mass.

k-week-16

We’ll likely take a pause in our curriculum until the holidays are over – but we’ll see you in a jiffy for J week!

M Week!

M week (19).JPG

We’re in M week on our Letter of the Week journey, but I’ll be honest: Travis was barely into anything I planned for the week. Not sure if it’s just that the words based around M fell flat, or because he’s a budding two-nager… But your child may love the activities we tried, so I’m including the hits and the misses below.

m-week-5

Music/Maracas: This was by far the highlight of the week, as Travis loves music. March with maracas in hand and you’ll have a merry good time! We wore ourselves out with high-knee marching and added in silly “mouth music” – what sounds could we make using just our mouths? We pretended to be trombones, clarinets, flutes, and more. Several great children’s songs play with this concept, using the mouth as an instrument; check out Fireworks from Music Together.

m-week-11

Mirror: There are many great mirror games you can play, including just pointing out body parts or trying on silly hats. I thought for sure Travis would love the taboo sensation of drawing on a mirror with a special dry-erase marker, tracing his “portrait,” but he lost interest very quickly.

m-week-9

Mittens: Teach the song The Three Little Kittens if your child doesn’t already know it. You can also squeeze in a little learning by attaching three kitten pictures to poster board, and making six cut-out mittens. Your child needs to assign two mittens to each cat to help the kittens find them again!

m-week-15

Museum: This word was the inspiration for our field trip of the week, taking Travis not to a children’s museum, but to a small local art museum. As we walked the gallery, I prompted him to guess what was happening in each painting. This game works especially well when people or animals are depicted. His favorite was a painting of waffles covered in jelly, which he thought some birds were going to come and eat. Even better, many museums often feature interactive exhibits. Travis spent 45 minutes painting at this digital paintbrush station!

m-week-4

Magnets: I left out all the toys we own that have magnets in any form – magnet blocks, magnetized puzzles, dinosaur magnets. It was a reminder to focus on some old favorites, but again Travis lost interest after a bit of play with each.

m-week-13

Moon: Cut three moons from craft foam – one crescent moon, one half moon, and one full moon – and attach to craft sticks. This is a fun way to talk about the phases of the moon, or to use as props while reading stories about the moon.

And our weekly extras…

Fine art: Aside from helping to color in monkey and mouse mask templates with crayons, Travis wasn’t into the art project I came up with for the week. I thought it would be fun to glue additional elements like whiskers to the masks, and then we glued them to popsicle sticks.

m-week

Food: We had yummy stuff to choose from this week – muffins and mangoes at breakfast, mushrooms with lunch (Travis’s favorite vegetable), and mac n cheese.

m-week-18

Books: Travis enjoyed Maisy Goes to the Museum by Lucy Cousins, the perfect read before our outing described above. We also read some classics: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie/ If you Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.

m-week-b

Songs: A good children’s song to play is The Bear Went Over the Mountain. (Take advantage of a mountain field trip if you live in a mountainous region!) Better yet, I left Mozart playing in the background most of the week! More on that below…

Math: Very briefly, I introduced Travis to the concept that a year has twelve months, by flipping through a calendar with him (Admittedly, he was more into the pictures of the dogs and cats).

m-week-10

You could also focus on the word match by having your child match up socks or winter gloves, but Travis lost interest in that task quickly.

m-week-8

What did Travis prefer to all these games I had planned? Well, he discovered my case of 170 Mozart CDs, and took them out and sorted them by color endlessly. So there you have it, we spent M week matching Mozart CDs… I guess it wasn’t a miss after all!

m-week-14

O Week!

o-week-22

Oh what a week we had (sorry, couldn’t resist!). Many O words are very common and simple ones (e.g. on/off, open, old), so it was challenging but rewarding as a parent to devise ways to turn everyday words into games. Here’s what we fit in this week:

o-week-4

Olympics: Too big a word to pass up, even if the time of year doesn’t correspond to the actual Olympic games. Stage a toddler mini Olympics with “javelin” and “discus” throws, bean bag races, and more.

O week (16).JPG

Octopus/Ocean: I made Travis an octopus to swim around the apartment (which, admittedly, looked more like a jelly fish) by wrapping a Styrofoam ball in fabric and tying on 8 ribbons as legs.

O week (18).JPG

We then staged an “ocean dive” for the octopus and other ocean-y creatures, and Travis loved filling up a bucket with treasures from the “ocean.”

o-week-19

Opposites: You can use pretty much any toy and a building block to demonstrate great opposites, such as on/off, up/down, or behind/in front of, but I highly recommend Bunny Boo, which is a great toy for spatial relationships. It fit my agenda perfectly for O week!

Aside from demonstrating opposites with a toy, quiz your toddler on what opposites he or she knows. Travis impressed me getting left/right and more. For preschoolers, consider turning it into a board game or card game of some sort.

o-week-11

Oak: This word made for my favorite moment of the week. We started off reading As An Oak Tree Grows, by G. Brian Karas, and the next day we took a walk among oak trees. Travis loved connecting it to our story from the night before, and we crunched through all the acorns on the ground this time of year.

o-week-7

Open: Simply set out collection of all the things around the house that your toddler can open and close (hey, more opposites!), including some that are a challenge for his or her fine motor skills, like bottle and jar lids.  Some favorites were his jack-in-the-box, turtle treasure box, and the mailbox we created back in X week!

obstacle-4

Obstacle course: We created such an intricate obstacle course that I devoted a separate blog post to it, but needless to say, this word is the perfect prompt for gross motor skills of the week.

Then we moved on to…

Fine art: Make Olympic rings (perfectly shaped like Os!) of course. See my Toddler Olympics post for more details.

o-week-23

Food: Oatmeal raisin cookies got a happy yes. Olives got a very confused no.

o-week-9

Books: A few titles from the library that fit our themes and games perfectly: Thank you Octopus, by Darren Farrell and Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd (another opposite!). We also read Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea.

o-week-21

Songs: On a whim, I played a download of an oboe sonata; who knew Travis would be so fascinated by the instrument? If you’re feeling ambitious, you might introduce your child to a YouTube clip of opera singers. More toddler-friendly, Travis loved watching My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and Old Macdonald Had a Farm and we sang lots of rounds of Open, Shut Them (more opposites!)

Math: Ovals and octagons are the shapes we focused on this week. I made a simplified outline match – another convenient O word – tracing octagons and ovals in various colors and sizes. Travis nailed the game on the first try, and then wanted to try tracing on his own!

o-week-5

We’re headed into N week next, so stay tuned.

 

P Week!

p-week-16

This week was all about the letter P, as Travis and I continue our journey through the Letter of the Week curriculum. The timing was perfect for fall-themed favorites like pumpkin pie, so consider holding your P week in the autumn, too, if you can!

puppet-s16

Puppets: We had so much fun making various puppets that I devoted a separate blog post to it. Whether you make puppets or use those you already own, pull them all out for a great big puppet show. Travis especially loved returning to our penguin puppet all week – another perfect P word.

p-week-7

Pigs/Ponies: I combined these two animal words for fun with our Little People barn set, giving Travis only the pigs and ponies to play with. To take things a step further, we set up a great farm sensory bin, filled with yellow split peas (a.k.a. “corn”), tractors, pigs, and ponies. Travis loved “feeding” corn to the animals and raking through the box with a fork. Great for sensory play and imagination!

p-week-8

Parade: Put Sousa marches on your computer, line up all your stuffed animals, give them each an instrument, and have a parade! If stuffed animals aren’t your child’s thing, line up cars or trucks instead.

p-week

We added a policeman as parade marshal.

p-week-15

Picnic: Far and away the most magical moment of our week, we took advantage of the warmest day to head to the park. A picnic basket, blanket, and beach ball are the only ingredients you need for a beautiful picnic. Travis loved having a snack outside before playing in the fall leaves!

pumpkin-patch-5

Pumpkin: Halloween is past but fall is still pumpkin season! We baked mini pumpkin pies early in the week, a great hands-on experience. We also made a pumpkin patch: Stuff brown paper sandwich bags with crumpled newspaper, leaving a little room. Tie off the end with ribbon to be the stem, and then use orange paint to cover your pumpkins. We ran out of orange midway, which was the perfect opportunity to show Travis how red and yellow combine to make orange. Once the paint dries, play with your pumpkin patch!

pumpkin-patch-6

(Hint: Add your pigs and ponies here, too).

p-week-13

Puzzle: An obvious one: Pull out all your puzzles and leave them out all week so your child has ample time to puzzle over them.

p-week-12

Piano: Whether you have toy pianos or a real one at home, this is likewise a great opportunity to leave it out so your child can return to it over the course of the week.

After those theme words, here are a few more ideas:

Fine art: Work those fine motor skills by crafting toy food from playdough. But not just any playdough… Pumpkin Pie Playdough! To make this easy at-home batch, combine the following in a saucepan over low heat:

2 and 3/4 cups flour

1 cup salt

4 teaspoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups water

Orange food coloring

Cook until the mixture thickens and looks like mashed potatoes. Let cool before kneading and giving to your child for play.

 

p-week-17

The dough smells fantastic, and is technically edible, but you’ll want to discourage any salty bites! Travis made mini pumpkin pies and cookies for his toy oven.

pumpkin-dough-3

Food: We had to start one morning with pumpkin pie-spiced pancakes of course! There are so many P foods you could probably eat P items and nothing else all week if you wanted to. In addition to pancakes we had: peaches, pickles (which got a surprised and firm “no!”, pretzels, parsnips, pizza, pudding, pears, and pineapple.

p-week-2

Books: The clear favorite from the library this week was The Perfect Pony, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Travis also enjoyed Clifford and the Big Parade, by Norman Bridwell, Penguin Says Please, by Michael Dahl, and The New Puppy, by Laurence Anholt. And of course, read any potty books you have!

p-week-18

Song: A cute one to listen to is Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch. I also set Pachabel’s Canon to play in the background while we were home one afternoon; Travis barely noticed, but it’s one of my all time favorites and osmosis can’t hurt!

Math: Introduce patterns. Children’s peg boards with pattern cards are a great skill-builder. Your child can copy the pattern cards that come with the peg board, or you can demonstrate something simpler, like a row of red-green-red-green. These toys are fantastic to have around anyway, so consider investing in one.

p-week-4

That’s all for this week!