Available Busy Bags for July and August 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Playing Lucky Ducks a.k.a Best Toddler Game Ever!

We have a game in our house that every baby, and I mean e.v.e.r.y baby has loved. It's called Lucky Ducks and it's nothing special other than it makes horribly loud quacking noises and little ducks spin around in a circle. However, when you mix in the skills of the genius Jeremy you have a doozy of a game.
Each little duck has a shape on the bottom of it. The rules in the game state that each player chooses a shape and if you pick a duck with your shape on it then you get to keep it. However, we don't play it like that.
 Jeremy planned out each shape to be a different activity: star is dance like a super star, circle is run around the circle in our house, triangle is kiss the mom, and square is usually something like bang your head in the couch, or throw a ball at the person next to you.  
 The boys adore this game and frankly so do I. I get kissed four times every game (because there are 4 triangles) and usually when one boy draws a triangle I get a kiss from everyone. It's great!
 Here's Adam running around the circle. Soooooo cute!
 Here they are dancing like a super star.
 Here he comes for a momma kiss :)
 And here they are, doing what Jeremy does best, playing games and making life fun.
Go play a game today. It's the best way to spend your time. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Adam's Learning

This is my littlest man, Adam. He turns 2 this week and is a busy little learner. I'm always amazed by how many activities a toddler can go through in a day. I have to be prepared and ready if I'm going to make it through a day with him and get good school done with the big boys. He has one shelf just for him in our school area and my goals here lately with him and his learning are to help him love learning, talk to him as much as possible about what he is seeing and doing, and teach him to clean up after himself. (More about that later)
 
Here is a look at the activities he did this past week.
Putting ice cubes (glass rocks) in the ice tray. During this we talk about making sure only one goes in each square and counting to 16.
He loves to fill up his tray with "ice" and then use the squirt bottle to fill it all up with water. This is usually what he does while I wash dishes, clean the kitchen, cook, etc.
 Our flip flop faces are now our stepping stones. This is great for balance, bravery, and gross motor.
 Went to a garage sale the other day and they had several bags of these foam balls for $.25 a bag. I bought all they had and knew he would love sticking his golf tees into them.  
 Color sorting is always fun. He has several good color sorting games right now and is slowly but surely catching on to what it means to sort by color. At first, it was totally random where he would put the colors, but after talking and talking and talking about colors every where we go he is starting to figure it out.
 Here's a picture of him cleaning up after himself. Our rule is you can do an activity for as long or as short as you want, but you have to clean up before you get another one out. This helps our games not get mixed up and teaches him the valuable lesson of cleaning up after himself.
 Lacing Beads. He can't get the string into the beads yet, so that's my job, but then he pulls it through. We count, talk about colors, and stack the beads while we work.  
 Another color sorting game. He puts the bear in the correct color bowl.
 Connecting blocks. These are one of the things we also take to church with us. Perfect for pushing and snapping things together. I keep these on hand for him to do in his high chair as well. Simple, yet fun. I praise him for everything he builds and make up objects that I think he created.
 Color sorting
 Transferring large jacks with tongs.
 
 Letter matching. He still loves letters and knows almost all of them. I'm not sure what that means for him and his future hobbies, but he loves letters as much as his older brother loved numbers.
 Color sorting
 Linking chains. These are tough for a young 2 year old to snap together. These give his little hands a great workout. It's so rewarding for him when he is able to make a chain and so therefore he sticks with it.
 His all time favorite that we do 400 times a day: putting toothpicks into the cheese shaker.
 Stacking blocks and knocking them down. Popular since the beginning of time, I'm sure.
 Here are his favorite books at the moment. The number book is the greatest number book that we have because the pictures are very clear and easy to count.
 His farm animal puzzle.
 His shape puzzle. He is not very good at puzzles and so I keep these out on his shelf all the time so that he chooses them again and again. Rotating the pieces is hard for him.
 Here he is reading his counting book and sometimes while he reads we match magnetic numbers to the pages.
 His other puzzles for this week.
  You can see in this picture how his shelf looks. He takes something off his shelf, squats down and plays with it, then picks it up and puts it back (with lots of help). You can't see it in this picture but on the top of his shelf are two empty shallow baskets. He pulls one down and dumps his activity into it. Most of his activities are stored in pencil bags so the tray helps him have a designated spot to keep the contents.
It is very important to me that this child love to learn. We make learning fun as often as we can. He is busy, busy, busy and having these activities on hand helps me have meaningful things for him to do. Since he's the third child it can be very easy for him to just wander around the house searching for things to do and whining that no one is playing with him. Our homeschool day is WAY more productive when I plan meaningful things for him.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Blog Feature: Busy Bags

For the past month and a half I have been busy creating "Busy Bags" with my friend, Wendy. We have cut, laminated, traveled a million miles around town, printed, stressed, and rejoiced in order to prepare these fun bags for you.

 
My kids now have a large collection of these busy bags and are enjoying them on a daily basis. I've been offering them for sale on facebook for a while, but wanted to make them available on my blog as well.

Busy Bags are the perfect solution to those dull moments in your day when you wish you had a meaningful task for your child to do. Whether it be during your homeschool day, during a learning center in the classroom, at the doctor's office, sitting in the pew at church, waiting on food at restaurants, etc. Busy bags can fill the gap of time and create a fun activity that has purpose.

 
There are bags for 2 year olds and beyond. Each busy bag comes in a durable canvas pencil bag, has a laminated instruction sheet, and contains all the materials needed to complete the task. They are hands on learning at its finest. Just under my blog header picture is a little tab called "Busy Bags" and each month I will update what bags I have available. If you would like to order you simply comment on the blog or shoot me an email at mailekae@yahoo.com. Or look through the pictures and get some ideas of things you could make at home.

Check them out! They will not disappoint. Click the Busy Bag page link above. Or follow this link: http://www.jeremyandmaile.blogspot.com/p/busy-bags_30.html

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Table Time Tot Trays

 My little guy is now 21 months old. Unless he is sleeping, he is super busy. It's been more challenging to do activities with him lately because his attention span doesn't last long. I was wracking my brain the other day trying to figure out how to help him focus for more than 2 seconds at a time and I happened to remember doing table time with James, Remi, and Aiyana when they were so little. It worked like a charm with them so I decided to try it out with Adam yesterday. Sure enough, it worked great! 20 minutes of uninterrupted learning time with Adam happened and it was delightful for both of us.
 I chose to wait until after his nap and after his snack. Then I left him in the highchair and showed him 3 games I had for him. I let him choose which one he wanted to do first and he chose the bugs. This was an activity that literally lasted one minute and he chose to do it twice. So two minutes of color matching practice was plenty for this little guy. We talked about the colors, the bugs, and making "matches". He matched all the flies to their right color with only a little support from me.
 The second game he chose was his letters. He loves letters and already knows more than half the lowercase alphabet. I wrote four letters on a piece of paper and had him match letter stickers to the correct letter. Easy Peasy!
The last game he chose was play-doh. He is not a huge fan of play-doh because of how it feels, but he's getting better with it each day. Today I rolled all his play-doh into little balls and we practiced filling his cup with balls and then dumping them out. This was perfect for counting practice, vocabulary building, and cause and effect. He loved this! Near the end he began smashing the balls as hard as he could with his hands and piling them up on top of each other.
 
 
Table time will now be in our day as often as we can. The afternoon can sometimes crawl by as we wait for Daddy to get home from work. So this was a very fun 20 minutes of our day. Plus, once he's been stimulated a little bit with some learning activities he generally goes and plays alone for a while after. It's a win-win!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Learning Letters (birth-18 months)

After teaching for a few years in public school, then venturing down the preschool road with James, Nana, Remi and now Adam, I have learned a few things about teaching children their letters. First of all, don't fear. It's easy. It's fun. However, I believe they learn their letters best when you start from day one.
 
The first few months of a child's life they are learning EVERYTHING. This is the perfect opportunity to begin teaching them their letters. At first, letters are abstract objects, like shapes, and can be easily memorized at an early age. If you will point out the letters in your child's environment they will quickly begin finding them on their own. Just as you would point out a star in the book you are reading, it is also wise to point out letters.
 
With Adam I began with simply pointing out the letter A everywhere we went. He has A's in his room, there is an A on the Walmart sign, at the Dr's office, on the trashtruck, etc. By the time he was 12 months old he was finding A's all over town. He simply learned what the "shape" of it looked like and can find it anywhere.
 
When teaching a new letter, it is best to attach each letter of the alphabet with a meaningful name, object, or word. For example: A is for Adam, D is for Daddy, H is for Honey Bunny, etc. As they learn more names and objects they can learn more letters. If you will attach each letter with a person or an object then the abstract letter can become more meaningful which will help later when you begin teaching letter sounds. I will not have to work hard at all at teaching Adam letter sounds because he already knows A is for Adam and I can slowly transition into A says "ah" like Adam. Seriously it's that easy!!!
 
The first 3 years of a child's life are the easiest time to teach letters. Please don't think I'm crazy when I say this. It's true. They are sponges. If you have missed that window of time it's ok. Children are sponges for a very long time. Just start today pointing out the meaningful letters that you see. If your child doesn't know a word or person that starts with U then skip that letter and come back to it. Once he/she masters a new letter then add another one to their list.
 
I add one to two letters at a time to Adam's life. This week I added E for eat, P for Papa, and H for Honey Bunny. He knows the sign for eat so I say E is for eat and I sign the eating sign. When we look out the window at Honey Bunny we point to his letter. Sometimes Adam finds an H in the playroom and then goes to the window to show Honey Bunny.
 
Here is a video of one of Adam's letter tubs. He simply has to match the foam letter to the written letter. I started this tub months and months ago and he would just have an A for Adam and a M for Momma. Each time he gets really good at those I add another letter.
video

Letters can be learned easily if you just start talking about them. Point them out, play with letter stickers, write letters in front of your child, play letter games, find them on billboards, find them on menus, etc. Start now with attaching each letter with a meaningful name or object and I guarantee you it will be a piece of cake to teach your child the sounds each letter makes.
 
Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Adam's Tubs: 12-18 months

Adam's tubs are out and ready to be explored. I'm a little late getting new ones out because he's really been enjoying his Valentine tubs from a few weeks ago. There was no need for me to switch things out. However, the time has come to introduce some new things and once he wakes up from nap time he will be in tub heaven!
 
This is how his shelf looks when it is all set up. I won't have it like this when he wakes up today because he doesn't know how to do all of these yet, but a few days from now he'll be able to do these any time he wants.
 These are linking blocks, at least that's what we call them. They are fun for little hands to practice snapping things together. These are purely for exploration but I do require him to keep them in the basket as much as he can.
 This is his sorting activity for this week. I went with the color purple because we haven't really talked much about purple and because it matched my cute little sorting dish (Dollar Tree). Inside are just some little animals and he'll put the chickens with chickens, the horses with horses and so forth. This will a great time for us to talk about the animals and practice the sounds. We got this little set of animals from Lakeshore Learning and they are fantastic.
 His sensory tub is construction themed (because he makes the cutest little car noises) and the base is pinto beans. The middle brother has already been playing with this all morning so I know it will be a hit.
 He's obsessed with using a fork or spoon when he eats so this tub was designed to help him practice his spooning skills. This tray is also from Dollar Tree and I use this all the time. It's great for practicing tongs and other types of instruments for transferring objects. He will spoon the ball from the outside into the inside. This way he doesn't have to balance the ball on his spoon, but mostly just toss it in.
 We're still keeping our frog on the shelf because he loves the song "3 Little Speckled Frogs"
 This next basket is filled with some cute shape containers that several of my friends advised me to get from Dollar Tree. They have matching lids and are great for lots of different games. For now Adam will just practice getting the lids off and putting them back on.
 This bucket has his baby flash cards in it. He still loves these cards. I've started spreading about 10-12 on the floor and asking him to hand me a particular one. He's so cute as he looks through all the cards to find the right one. I never had these with the other babies, but I'm glad to have them now.
 This is our Melissa and Doug beading set; however, Adam isn't able to do the beading part yet so we just use the beads and put them on a big stick (metal chopstick) stuck through an old formula container. He can stack 5 beads on here and I know he'll love this tub. He's always ready to stack.
 This is a needle and thread set made by playschool. This is a much easier set to use for actual threading.
I'm looking forward to watching him play with these. Hope he wakes up soon :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Valentine Tubs

 The great thing about Valentine's Day is that the holiday season doesn't last very long. I don't know about you, but I get so tired of doing Christmas crafts and activities after a whole month. With Valentine's Day I can get all excited and be creative for a couple of weeks and then I'm done!

Adam was excited for me to bring out his new tubs this morning. He knows when I have my basket of goodies that he's going to get some new games to play. I had bought this four pack of Valentine cups a couple of years ago to use with James and so I brought them out for Adam to do stacking games with. The first game we did looked like this:
 I put him outside the playroom and built a tower and then he ran in/crawled in and knocked it down. This led to him wanting to build the tower and me running in and knocking it down. It was so much fun!
Then I showed him how all the cups fit inside each other and he did this FOREVER!!! He loved figuring out how to get them lined up and stacked up. I love his open mouthed thinking face :)
 
 
Once he finally got them all stacked he was so happy with himself that he clapped! Ha!
 Next I laid out four paper hearts and told him to put one cup on each heart. This was great for one to one correspondence practice and counting out loud.
 
 Again with the clapping! Too cute!
 I had these little heart containers left over from the year James was learning to count and so I brought them out for Adam. I just had him put one little heart eraser in each container and then he put the lid on it. He liked this a lot, too.

 The lids are numbered from when this was James' game. He had to put that many erasers inside and then shut the lid, but Adam isn't ready for that. One eraser was plenty and we still got to practice counting to 3 .
These are a set of heart cookie cutters that fit together like a puzzle. I showed these to Adam and basically let him explore them today. I showed him that they fit together, but we didn't necessarily work on that.

 I got these flashcards off a local garage sale site and they are great. Each one has a texture to touch and mommy hints on the back of things to talk about. Adam carries these around the house, especially the rabbit card, and loves bringing them to me 14,000 times a day. They are cheap on Amazon if you need some.

 I've tried this a couple of times this week and it seems like he really gets it. I give him these two bowls and then I have a pile of pom poms. I show him the orange pom pom and ask him to put it in the orange bowl. If he puts it in the wrong bowl I say, "No that doesn't match" and then I take it out and tell him to "try again". He's gotten really good at it and I think in a few days I'll switch up the colors and see how he does.
Dollar Tree is FULL of Valentine things right now. Go grab you a few festive manipulatives and you'll be amazed at what your baby can do. If they can't do it, don't worry, they will in a month or two. Enjoy!