Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the dot preschool activities - learning colors

We started doing preschool at home a few weeks ago, and so far it's going really well! I get some protestation now and then (he is still a two-year-old!) but mostly he really likes it. Some days I have very planned activities, and other days I let him take the lead, choosing which books we read, and whether he wants to color or paint, etc. But we always follow our preschool schedule, which really helps curb some of the protesting and whining to do other things. He knows the routine now.

One of my favorite preschool days so far was one of the days that we worked on colors. (Now I have to admit, Jack already knows his colors pretty well, so some of these activities may have to be adapted or more guided for kids who don't know their colors at all yet. But it's good practice and reinforcement, plus great for counting/sorting by color.)

First we read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. If you haven't read it, you should! I love this book! It's a cute, fun story about how we all have the ability to create. I think the message was a little over his head, but he liked the idea of painting dots in lots of different colors!

So that's what we did next. And by painting dots, I mean he got paint on his paintbrush and rather aggressively jabbed his paper with it, which left more splats than dots. But every time, we would practice saying which color paint he was using, and he would yell "dot!" when he hit the paper.

Then I got out Twister! I had basket with a bunch of small toys and other objects that matched the colors on the game (toy cars, legos, cookie cutters, pipe cleaners, paint chips, etc), and told him to put all the green toys on the green circles, the yellow toys on the yellow circles, and so forth. He actually caught on faster than I thought he would, and loved this new "game!" And of course, being the somewhat OCD child that he is, he lined up all the hot wheels cars in a row, all the pipe cleaners in a row, etc. He cracks me up.

We played another more active game on the Twister board too - he would stand at one end, and I would tell him things like "jump on all the blue circles" or "run on the red circles." Not surprisingly, he loved this game even more! And very quickly insisted that "Mommy run too!" So we ran and jumped and raced on the different colors for a while. We would also count the circles as we stepped on each one (except when we were running of course!)

And to finish it off, for part of his snack he got m&m's - little colored dots! So we sorted and counted them by color as he ate them.

There are so many other activities you could do with this theme! Learning, sorting, and finding colors is so much fun for kids this age - just look around your house and see what you have. Anything from crayons to paint chips to fabric scraps will work. Be creative, and most of all, make it hands-on for the kids!

Monday, January 28, 2013

zoo animals finger puppets

I think I burned myself out with the craziness of this past Christmas. I've had absolutely no motivation to make anything the last few weeks, or even to catch up on blogging the things I'd already made! But in an effort to get out of this slump, I'm at least going to post one of the other Christmas presents I made. And honestly, I loved making this, and loved the way it turned out. So I'm excited to share it with you, I just had to make myself sit down and actually type out a blog post.

This was a present for my nieces, one of whom absolutely LOVES penguins, and both love animals in general. So I thought a set of zoo animals finger puppets would be perfect for them!

So here's their little zoo: a bear, crocodile (or alligator?), tiger, lion, penguin, elephant, monkey, giraffe, polar bear, and peacock finger puppets.

I'm pretty bummed that I didn't get any more or better pictures of this, but I guess that means I'll just have to make another set.

This was a lot of fun and a bit of challenge to make because half of these were new designs (ok I guess I kind of cheated - the polar bear's not a new design, just a new color!) Also, some animals are just easier to 2-dimensionalize than others. Giraffes are less easy, turns out. But after a bit of trial and error, I  was pretty proud of the way that little guy turned out. My two-year-old could identify all of the animals (except the peacock, which he just doesn't know what those are yet) which is pretty much my gauge for whether or not the design works. If he knows what animal it is, it must look at least mostly like that animal! :)

Maybe some day I'll actually drag my sewing machine back out and make another set, and then I'll get some better pictures and list it in the shop. But for today, I'm going to be lazy and not sew or cut a single piece of felt!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

missionary puppets

Before Christmas I had the wonderful opportunity of selling some of the items from my etsy shop at a local boutique. It was great to get to know some of the other local vendors, see their work, and share mine on a more local level.  So I decided to make some puppets that would have more local appeal: Missionaries!

LDS missionary finger puppets, complete with little name tags and all! (Ok, the name tags are just black rectangles - they're too small to actually put any writing on, but it completes the look.)

I have to give a huge thanks to my sister, who actually did most of the work on these puppets! I did the original design, but she did almost everything on these adorable little guys! I recruited her to help me build up my inventory for the boutique and Christmas sales, and she was a fabulous assistant. She's incredibly creative and artistic, and did a fabulous job, even if finger puppet making is new to her.

 Sister missionaries! With the new age requirements for LDS sister missionaries, there are so many more sisters going! So we had to make lots of sister missionary finger puppets, of course.

And the Elders, complete with little ties of course!

I actually have a few of these missionary sets left. I have to check which colors, and then I'll be listing them in my shop if you're interested.

Now I'm trying to convince my sister to help me design and make a Harry Potter set! We were going to work on it over her Christmas break, but you know how those things always go...

Monday, January 7, 2013

first day of preschool!

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get a little more structure and routine in our lives. My two-year-old is a very high energy, strong-willed kid, and the chaos of the last several months has made life... difficult. With a new baby, then me busier than usual with work things, and then moving, well, routine and structure will be good for all of us.

So one of the biggest things I decided to do to implement this was to start having preschool time, with planned activities and things that we'll do each day. We already read lots of stories, and my little guy just absorbs knowledge from our everyday activities (he's constantly surprising me with the things he knows!), but I think having specific preschool time will be really beneficial.

Last week I spent lots of time digging through my Pinterest boards to find ideas for starting preschool. And I have to say a HUGE thank you and give a big shout out to my friend Katie from The Red Kitchen. Go check out the Preschool section on her blog. Seriously. It is awesome, and gave me hope that I can actually pull this off, and so many ideas on how to start this new adventure!

I started talking to Jack about preschool last week, hoping to get him excited about it. He helped me organize the drawers to keep all of his preschool stuff in - crayons, stickers, scissors, bubbles, playdough, etc. I made a "schedule" that I showed him and we talked about all the fun things we'd get to do during preschool.

 That's the schedule I made. It's likely to change a bit as we get into things and I get a feel for what works best for us. I might add music time, or I might just have that be part of our "activity" time. We'll see. It's a work in progress. But it was helpful to show it to Jack last week and prep him for it, and use it today to remind him that we had to do other things first before he could use his new scissors and paints (he was really excited about them!)

So today was our very first day of Preschool! It actually went much better than I had anticipated. We got through all of our planned activities without any tantrums, and a pretty high level of interest and cooperation from the little man.

Today's theme was "colors." He actually already knows all of his colors, but this worked out well to keep it with something he's already familiar with and enjoys - he loves telling us what color things are. 

We read a couple of stories about colors, then sorted and counted paint chips, then got out the water colors. And after he was done painting, he of course wanted to play with Thomas (he's OBSESSED with trains!) and drove Thomas all over his painting. I think it was a success!

I'm working on ideas for a whole bunch of different "themes" for preschool time, with stories and activities for each theme. Planning to post more about them soon!