Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Tubs

We are in TUB HEAVEN over here at our house. Adam loves them all and has enjoyed having learning activities of his own so much. I've put together a few Christmas tubs for him this week and he's already explored the tinsel sensory tub and the garland game. He gives them both two thumbs up! (Most everything was purchased at Dollar Tree so these are not budget busters. Plus, I will bag it all up and use it again next year)
This is his sensory tub for this week. The base is tinsel and then I added several Christmas items: large bells, bows, cookie cutters, and plastic candy canes. The tinsel sticks to his slimy baby fingers and makes him really work to dig through it. It's loads of fun!

 The garland is not only a fun texture, but I will use it for many things. I can wrap him in it, he can wear it as a necklace and we can tie it up to play games with: baby limbo (crawl under it), drag the toy around the house, and his new favorite which is hanging the plastic candy canes on it. I strung it between two chairs and gave him the candy canes and he figured out the rest :)
 There are 6 of each of these items for him to place and hopefully try to sort into muffin tins. He hasn't really sorted anything on his own yet, but we still practice.
 These are thick cardboard cards and we dump them out and just talk about them. Great little vocabulary game.  
He's obsessed with doing stickers and coloring. He makes at least 2 of these papers every day. I bought him lots of letter stickers and every time I hand him a sticker I just tell him the letter and a familiar word that starts with that letter and he sticks it on his paper. Perfect for fine motor skills and letter help for down the road.
Since he loves stickers so much, I got him a foam bell and some Christmas stickers and he will make an ornament for our tree this week.
 He is still a little turned off with pom poms so I've hidden his favorite jingle bell necklace in the bottom of this pom pom sensory tub and he gets a big reward for plowing through them.

This season is so fun!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekly Tubs

Adam's first week of tubs went so well. He loved having activities he could do that were new and challenging. I found out two things this week: Adam has a sensory issue with pom poms and the tissue paper into the water bottle was WAY too hard. I'm not sure what Adam doesn't like about the pom poms, but he gets this hilarious disgusted look on his face when he touches them and then after he lets them go he shakes his hands as if to try and shake off the feeling. It's really funny. I've made sure to include more pom poms this week so that he can begin to get use to them.
His first new tub for this week is another muffin tin tub. I have 6 balls that fit perfectly inside and I've matched the colors to see if he will even attempt to begin matching. We'll see how he does.
 I'll be using the smaller muffin tin again this week, but with a new sensory tub. I chose pinto beans this week because he's never played with them before and he loves, loves, loves his noodles. He'll scoop the beans into the tin. He's just now started trying to use a fork or spoon at meals so I know he'll love this tub.
 I decided to put this particular tub in the kitchen so that he has a fun thing to do while I cook. I taped the some contact paper onto the fridge (sticky side up) and have a basket of odds-n-ends nearby for him to stick to the paper. He immediately found this tub and wanted to do it. The first time he tried he couldn't get anything to stick. He was basically throwing the things at the paper and not pressing them on to the paper. He has finally figured it out and now loves to put  things up there while I cook. Below is a video of him the 2 time he tried this tub and you can see he's got it figured out. I also put his name in magnetic letters up above the paper just as a conversation piece. It never hurts to start teaching them to recognize their name.
 Here's the basket up close: magnetic letters, tissue paper squares, and pom poms.
Hope you can use some of these ideas at your house. We are really enjoying this new phase of learning. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Adam Begins Tubs

I've often wondered when Adam would begin doing tubs like James did when he was a tiny tot. I remember the winter of 2010, James was about 19 months old and we were trapped inside for a week. This is when we officially began doing tubs. I was desperate for activities. He was longing to explore and learn. Tubs worked great at meeting both of our needs.
I'm kind of in the same place with Adam. He's super curious. He's very smart. He extremely active. This cold weather has trapped us in more than usual and so tubs are a perfect solution to our problem. He's still very young (15 months) but his skill level is high and he adores learning new things. So here we go!
Let me first explain the term "tub". A tub, by my definition, is an activity that when introduced is done with a parent and then eventually (if possible) will become an independent activity. Many tubs can quickly become independent, but some cannot.
This week he will work on several new tubs and keep some of his puzzles, games and his sensory tub from past weeks. The muffin tray will be a new tub for him. This will never be an independent tub for him because of the glass stones (choking hazard); however, he will adore this tub because he loves putting things into compartments. He has used large muffin tins before, but this little tin will be new for him as well as the stones. They are slippery, which will cause him to use a little more fine motor skill, and they are hard and glass, which makes for a very fun noise when dropped in the tin.
 I cut an old formula can lid for his next tub. He will stuff pom poms into the lid and then most likely turn it over and shake them out. If this is too easy I will cut another lid with a smaller hole that he actually has to poke the pom poms into. We'll see how he does first. This will definitely be an independent task before long.
 His next tub is tissue paper and a water bottle. He will stuff the tissue paper inside the water bottle and that will be it. I have 7 stacks of tissue paper cut and 7 water bottles ready in case he likes this and wants to do it each day.
 This banging toy has been available to him for a while and he loves it. I will keep this out on his shelf this week as an independent game he can play. He loves to bang on it, but he also loves pulling the pegs out and putting them inside his milk jug (seen below).
 This milk jug has been a favorite of his for a very long time. He changes up what he puts into it, but here lately he has loved dice. Don't message me and tell me about the choking hazard of the dice. It doesn't matter how many times I hide the dice he finds them. He's obsessed! He carries them around the house constantly and loves throwing them across the hard tile. He's good to not put them in his mouth so for now he can keep them.
 This is a new puzzle I got for him that he likes. It will stay on his shelf this week.
 This is the pegboard from Discovery Toys. I adore this toy more than most. It has SOOO many uses and for now Adam loves dumping it out, putting the pegs into the holes, and leaving it scattered every where. We will one day use this for color practice, counting practice and patterns, but for now he just loves to explore it. I probably see him play with this about 6 times a day.
 This will stay out as well. He has had this sensory tub for about 6 weeks and he plays with it multiple times a day. We scoop, we throw, we taste, we rub, etc. I have spoons and cups close by for him to do whatever he wants with it. I am in the process of making him a new tub with dried beans and some fall toys. I'll show that on my next tub post.
Hope he loves his tubs this week. I'm so excited that he is ready for this fun phase of learning. I've missed having the little tubs to make each week. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Carnival Time

Our little crew spent yesterday afternoon at a local carnival. There was fun had by all and I am so thankful our Daddy got to go with us (typically he would miss things like this because of his old job).
 The old timer car show was the highlight for Terrance. He drooled over all of them!
 The Chummy-Chum and his favorite person on earth.
 Terrance is by far the bravest ride rider in the family. He rode all the crazy rides!

 While Adam was riding the carousel, these two were happily standing on the sidelines encouraging him every time around. I love Terrance waving in this picture. He's the best big brother EVER!

 James got brave this year and actually rode a ride besides the ferris wheel. He and I rode the Dragon Spinner.
 Terrance ended our time on this crazy thing. I took about a million pictures of him on it because I could not believe what a wild ride it was. Wow!
 Here it is when it starts making it all the way around. At one point he hung in mid-air upside down.
 Here's Adam watching Terrance with a bit of concern.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Making Things Homey

I am surrounded by friends who are much much more creative and festive than me and I'm trying hard to learn their ways. One thing my friends are good at is being wonderful homemakers. I've been practicing for the past month on a few things that are really making a big difference. Here's what I do:
 Every morning I take about 5-10 minutes to walk through each room and "fluff" it up. I open blinds, spray air freshener, and turn lamps on.
 In the living room, I light a candle or two, open the big wooden door and arrange the pillows nicely on the couches. To do the whole house usually takes me less than 5 minutes, but it has made a big difference. Our home feels so homey!
 With curtains tied back and light coming in, our attitudes lift from their sleepy fog and get excited for the new day. (Here's a picture of my hidden febreeze)
Try it tomorrow morning and see if it works for your family. I think you'll be amazed how a little light and good smell will brighten your outlook. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rotating Toys

One of the things I really like to do around here is rotate our toys. As homeschoolers we have a ton of toys. In order to keep all my toys organized and used I have to rotate them. I've learned that having too many toys out creates too many options and therefore nothing gets played with. Also I've learned that if I leave certain toys out for too long then the kids get bored with them.  
I've heard many parents say that their kids have tons of toys, but they never play with them. I have two suggestions for you if this is happening in your home. First, make sure you rotate them. Put half the toys up in the attic and rotate a few of them out every month or even week if you need to. Second, make sure your child knows how to play with the toy.
When we bought James his awesome Batcave, he didn't do any kind of pretend play at the time. Jeremy sat with him the first couple of weeks and showed him how to play with it, the language to use while playing with it, and how to best use all the pieces that go with it. If we would have just given him this awesome toy and told him to "go play" he would have never enjoyed it because he didn't understand how to do it.
This tent was brought out of the closet today for Adam. He hasn't seen this tent in over a month and it was like Christmas morning in this house. He and James played with it for over an hour and have been returning to it throughout the day. This tent will stay out for a few days and then I will put it up again for a few weeks. The next time I pull it out I will have the same reaction. That's the beauty of rotating toys. If I left this tent out for 2 weeks it would collect dust. This is a wonderful toy to have on hand for winter days so I certainly don't want the boys getting tired of it.

 If you are struggling with your children enjoying their toys, I highly recommend you take away a majority of them and stick them in a closet or attic for a while. They will return fresh and fun!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Baby Sensory Tub--SO FUN!

Want to thrill your child and give him hours of fun? Throw some dried noodles in a bowl and give them to him. Seriously. It's that easy .
Adam played with noodles for the first time in these pictures and he's been adoring this activity ever since. So much exploring happened during this time.

 People pay BIG MONEY for toys that assist their children in sensory play, fine motor skills, and dumping practice. What isn't understood is that sensory play can happen very organically and cheaply with materials you already have. Open your pantry and you'll find many options. When these noodles become old news I will cook them and he'll have a whole new sensory experience.

 This was the most fun he's had (with a toy) in a long time.
Now I will say that sensory tubs should be given with rules. Adam's rules were: don't eat them, don't carry them into other rooms, and don't stick them in your ears or eyes. Everything else was permissible. As he gets older, he will have to keep his sensory materials in one central spot, but for now throwing dry noodles all over the living room is really no big deal. Cleans up in 2 seconds.