Make a countdown chain

Pumpkin’s birthday was a little bit ago and we made a countdown chain about two weeks before. She helped cut a few of the strips and helped with the gluing. Each day at lunch she got to cut off a link. Often we would count the number of links left or ask which end of the chain she wanted to cut by picking a color. You can do this for a major event or holiday!


Tot School Week 4 – B & 3

Continuing in Tot School we had the Letter B and Number 3 come to play.

Make Banana Bread – (Artsy Fartsy Mama) She helped peel the bananas, crack the eggs, and sweep the bananas into the beaters. After it came out of the oven, we ate a piece for our snack and blew bubbles in her milk. 15 minutes spent cooking, 10 minutes eating

Printables: – (1+1+1=1) Between Coloring and putting pages in her Dry Erase binder, she spent almost 20 minutes coloring

Butterfly Stamping – (Coloring Pages) I have a lot of butterfly stamps from making my wedding invitations years ago. I don’t have any colored ink pads, so I got out her markers. I tried to let her color the stamps but it was too tricky for her so I would color them and then she’d stamp them on a printable of butterflies. I asked her if she wanted to color the butterflies but she didn’t have any interest after coloring the B printables, so this activity was about 10 min.

Butterfly Painting – I showed Pumpkin how to make a butterfly putting her hands together and crossing her thumbs. We put paint on her hands and pressed them onto paper to make a butterfly. Then she wanted to keep painting, so the butterfly got a little lost in the extra paint so I outlined around it once it was dry. This took about 15 minutes.

Make Boats – (mama.papa.bubba.) We made boats from corks, skewers, foam squares, and rubber bands. I didn’t have the nice silicon bracelets like the tutorial had, so we used regular rubber bands. With those, I think I would have glued the corks together b/c they started to slide in the rubber bands and became a little bit of a mountain instead of a flat boat. But we took them outside and I filled up the kiddie pool and she blew them around. Making them took about 5 minutes and then she played with them for like 2 minutes.

Bubbles – We blew bubbles outside after playing with the boats!

Balls – We threw balls into our pool with the boats. You could aim (or not aim) for the boats 🙂

Group Bears in 3’s – Pumpkin has 12 teddy bears, many of them hand-me-downs from Mom. I had her sort them into families of 3 bears like the story Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.

Towers of 3 – I had 9 blocks on the school tray and had her build towers of just 3 and then she got to knock them down.

Which Number is it? – I had three sets of numbers 1-3 on the school tray and I would rotate between the groups asking her to hand me a different number. We had Melissa and Doug clock pieces, blocks with numbers, and pieces of papers with numbers.

Glue Beans on letter B – (idea at Alphabet Station. Printable from Big Activities) We used a printable letter B and glued some beans to form the letter. This came at the very end so she was losing steam and we only did the Capital B.

B Puzzles (pictures of a Bike, Boat, Bread, Bus) – I had these on the table because she loves puzzles, but she’s done them before. We didn’t do them during school, but later that afternoon Pumpkin took them into the living room and played with them.

Spotify – Tot School B & 3 playlist

ABC – Jackson 5
Zero to Ten – Teacher Kiel
Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Upsy Daisy Players
The Flight of the Bumble Bee – Ida Cernecka
The Bear Went Over the Mountain – Children Music Unlimited
Bumble Bee – Joseph Vincent
Letter B – The Sesame Street Beetles
The B-I-B-L-E – The Christian Children’s Choir
London Bridges – Peter Pan Kids
Take Me Out to the Ball Game – Larry Groce, Disneyland Childern’s Sing Along Chorus
I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee – Christian’s Children’s Chorus
Blue – Eiffel 65
Baa Baa Black Sheep – Raffi
The Wheels on the Bus – Ernie, Bert, Kid Chorus
A Bicycle Built for Two – Baby Genius
Three is a Magic Number – The Jellydots
Goldilocks and the Three Bears (story) – Kids – Story
The Three Billy Goats Gruff – Favorite Kids Stories
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – Verna Felton



Make Sidewalk People

The weather was nice outside so we went out on our patio to play with chalk. We quickly tired of scribbles and coloring ABC bubble letters so I had Pumpkin lay on the ground and quickly traced around her. Together we then colored an outfit and made a face. Then she traced Mommy, I had to help a lot and we colored Mommy. Lots of fun!



Go on a leaf walk

We don’t have a significant fall presence where we live, but some trees do drop their leaves. I needed leaves for a craft project for her tot school. Pumpkin was very excited when I told her we had to go find leaves for school. I got to explain to her that we are in the season of fall, why leaves fall off the tree, and that different trees have different leaves. I also taught her to only pick up leaves off the ground and not from the tree.

We took the stroller since Buddy came with us. We put the leaves in the bottom of the stroller basket. She lasted about 75 minutes. We have a rather large block, and she made it about 3/4 of the way around. I let her ride in the stroller and had Buddy walk the last bit home.

Once we got home I pressed the leaves in a box under some wood so I could use them for school. There are some great ideas for crafts with leaves at Spoonful.


Tot School Week 3 – V & 2

Week 3 – We are now in week 3 of Tot School. Pumpkin is almost 3 and her attention span for school seems to be right around 2 hours. But she talks about it all the time. If I mention school she wants to do it NOW even if it’s not prepped yet. She prefers her school music over her other playlists so I’ve made a new playlist of all her school favorites (Spotify Playlist Tot School Keepers). Since we were talking about V and the number 2, I had her hold up two fingers and how they look like a V. Throughout school, we’d high 2!

Volcano: (The Activity Idea Place) We made your traditional baking soda and vinegar volcano, but I loved The Activity Idea Place’s suggestion of molding playdough around a cup and adding red food coloring. Pumpkin LOVED this! We did three rounds of baking soda and she helped scoop the baking soda into the cup. I poured a small amount of vinegar into a cup that she could then pour into the volcano.

Massager that vibrates: (Preschool Express) I turned on the massager so she could feel the vibration. Pumpkin had short interest in it, but we gave each other a back massage. We left it plugged in and Buddy found it later and was fascinated 🙂

Velcrow Song Cube: (The Activity Idea Place) – I didn’t have a nice square box, so I cut and refolded a purple (violet) tissue box into a cube and covered the tissue slot and white bottom with purple paper. If you already have a square box, this is a lot simpler. I cut very small pieces of velcrow and stuck them to each side of the cube. I cut out 6 triangles (V theme) from violet paper and wrote 6 songs she likes to sing. I put the triangles on contact paper for durability and added the other part of velcrow. She helped put the velcrow pieces on the cube and then we tossed it. We’d sing whatever song came up.

V Activity Sheet (Kidzone) – I tried to explain in this activity sheet that the V-Van wants to go pick up his V friends. We said the names of the pictures and discussed if they made the V sound. Pumpkin didn’t really understand concept of drawing a line from the van to the V words, but kept telling me the dog and cup couldn’t get on the V-Van; they had to wait. I’ll take it as a success 🙂

Vacuum: (Toddler Approved) I thought this idea from Toddler Approved was genius! Pumpkin loved this! I wrote V’s and 2 on scraps of paper and “made a mess” all over the floor. Pumpkin had to go vacuum up the mess. We found it best to use the vacuum without any of the attachments and she had the best control without the extender; should would get right down over the papers. I found I needed to crumple the paper a little so that it would get sucked up as opposed to just sucked onto the vacuum.

Violet Craft: (Counting Coconuts) Pumpkin enjoys gluing and this was a cute craft from Counting Coconuts. I cut out the letter V, 5 flowers, and some stems. Since the stems were thin I helped put the glue on and she stuck them to the paper. Then we added the V and flowers.

Guess the Vegetable: (Kids’ Pages – Vegetables 1 and Vegetables 2) We went through the flashcards and named the veggies. She wasn’t really into it, but later on during tot school she picked up a few of the new ones and told me their names. When we went shopping later that week, I pointed out some of the new veggies in the produce section and let her hold and touch them.

V Printables: (1+1+1=1) I just printed out pages 1, 2, 3, 6, 7
  Page 1 – I used this page for snack and cut 4 sticks of cheese to make V’s. She really liked that; “I eat the V!”
  Page 2 – I put this in her binder of photo sleeves for dry erase markers
  Page 3 – I Wrote the words and she placed V letters on them. Then she colored with violet colored pencil
  Page 6 – I Put this page in her binder of photo sleeves and she colored all the V’s with dry erase
  Page 7 – I put this in her binder of photo sleeves for dry erase makers and she’s beginning to start to draw the line from one side to the other which was great since she didn’t want to draw lines on the V activity sheet.

Snack: We shared some Vanilla Yogurt with 2 spoons!

2 coloring sheet w/ 2 violets: ( She colored the two violets with purple colored pencil

Cotton Ball carry: I gave her two large soup spoons and set up a bowl on a chair on the other side of the room. I sat down with a bowl full of cotton balls and put one cotton ball on each spoon. She had to carry the cotton balls on the spoon over to the bowl without dropping them. It was a fun activity to focus on body control trying to keep both spoons flat.

How many?: A very short activity but I asked her many hands, feet, eyes, spoons she had.

Spotify Playlist Tot School V & 2
ABC – Jackson 5
Zero to Ten – Teacher Kiel
ABC – Dora
One, Two Buckle My Shoe – The Kiboomers
Yodeling Veternanrian of the Alps – Veggie Tunes
Just the Two of Us – Will Smith
The Four Seasons – Spring – Camerata Antonio Lucio
Violin for Kids Jog – Music for Children
The Animals Went In Two by Two – Songs for Kids
One Potato, Two Potato – Baby Genius
The Dance of the Cucember – Veggie Tales
The Four Seasons – Summer
Vegetables – The Beach Boys
A Bicycle Built for Two – Baby Genius
Veggie Tales Theme Song
V – Very, Very Special Letter – Big Bird
Letter V Song – Have Fun Teaching

Tot School Week 2 – P & 1

Week 2 – Pumpkin was definitely more into school this week. Even asked for her school music. I set out a Pink Purse, Pencils, Playdough, Pennies, Panda Bear, Pooh Bear and some “P” books.

She dressed the part and wore Pink Princess Pajamas for school!

P Printables: (1+1+1=1) I printed pages 1, 2, 3, and 7.
I started with page 3 to color with colored pencils. I wrote the names of the “P” words on the paper and had her set tiles/blocks/magnet letters on each picture. We don’t color with colored pencils much so she colored for over 30 minutes!
I put pages 1, 2, 7 in photo sleeves in her binder. She played with this for about 5 minutes.
P. 1 & 2: Dry Erase markers for coloring. I also had purple playdough to roll into snakes and make the letter P!
P. 7: Dry Erase coloring and practice drawing lines from left to right
Hot Potato: (Preschool Express) I filled part of a nylon with uncooked rice and tied it off. I folded back any extra nylon and made a potato! We used Buddy’s activity table which plays really short songs. I tried explaining how you can’t hold on to a hot potato so we need to toss it back and forth. Pumpkin and I made popcorn for a snack and whoever didn’t have the potato at the end got a bite of a snack! She kind of got it, but we still had fun eating the popcorn. About 8 minutes of play.
Penny Activity Letter P: (Tot School)  (3 min 1 time) I put pennies in a bowl and she put them on the bubbles to make the letter P. She only did it once and wanted to move on.
Ping Pong: (Preschool Express) (you could use a purple or pink ball too) We blew ping pong balls across the table. We used 3 and each time she or I finished, we took a bite of popcorn. You can even set up goals with lids or circle cutouts. This lasted about 4 minutes.
Pancakes with sight words: (Playdough to Plato via Pinterest) I brought over our fry pan for her to flip “pancakes” (construction paper circles) with a spatula (works on wrist twisting). I had written sight words on them to practice beginning reading (the, a, it, is, you, in) and have her eat popcorn if she said the correct word after flipping, but she had a hard time flipping and gave up. So we moved on. Later that week I set them on our padded ottoman and found a kiddie spatula in her play kitchen and she could flip them much better. She wasn’t really into repeating the words though; she just liked flipping them.
“P” Books: (didn’t want to read books) Peter Pan, Pig a Pancake, Winnie the Pooh, Polite as a Princess
Number 1 Printable: (Math 4 Children +) She colored the number 1 for about 4 minutes. You could also put it in a protective sleeve for dry erase marker.
Number 1 practice: This was a very short activity, but I had her hand me one of things: pencil, ping pong ball, penny, popcorn, etc
Hop on 1 foot (work on coordination): She didn’t even want to try this so we moved on. I got as far as: “You have 2 feet, can you stand on just one?
Activity – you have 2 feet, can you stand on just one? Can you hop on one? Practice coordination.
Spotify playlist – Tot School P & 1 (the playlist is searchable in Spotify, which has changed since my original intention of updating the list): Pumpkin was much more interested in the songs this week and hearing the P words
ABC – Jackson 5
The Letter P –
Zero to Ten – Teacher Kiel
Panda-Mondium – Kids – Female
Bananas in Pajamas – Various Artists (Kids TV Themes)
P – My Favorite Letter P – Anything People
The Pizza Hut Song – Marcia Louis
ABC (The Alphabet Song) – Dora
Popcorn – Popcorn
One – Three Dog Night
The Letter P – Storybots
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe – The Kiboomers
The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
The Princess and the Pea (Story) – Stories for Kids


Record a playlist of books

Pumpkin LOVES books. She would have me read the same book over and over some days. It gets a little hard to do that when you have a baby that also wants your attention and wants to tear the paper pages. Or when it takes 13 minutes to read her favorite book (currently Bread and Jam for Frances)

So I found a recording app called Pocket WavePad Sound editor. I’ve used the app and Itunes to create a playlist of her favorite books!

When recording, I used her xylophone to create a “ding” at the end of each set of pages so she’d know to turn the page. We have a Me Reader by Disney, which she loves already, and understands the concept of the “ding.” After recording I “save as” an MP3. This allows me to add Artwork (book cover) in itunes so she can choose the book by it’s cover since she can’t read. The app has directions for transferring the files into itunes, or sometimes I will email the file to myself so I don’t have to hook up my phone (my computer can’t always detect my phone). Once the audio files are in iTunes, if you right click the file and choose “Get Info” you can add the Artwork. If you Google search the title of the book, you can find the cover under Images, or you can take a photo of the book cover and use that. If there isn’t a tab for artwork then you imported a file format that doesn’t support artwork. I’ve found MP3s work great. Then you can create a playlist and add all the books!

Now Pumpkin can scroll through and listen to her favorite books over and over! It’s great in the car when we’re driving, or I’m making dinner, or even if I’m in the same room but need to give Buddy some attention. We’ve even had Daddy read a few so that he can read her books while he’s at work 🙂

Tot School Week 1 – A & 0

Pumpkin isn’t old enough to go to preschool but has displayed a lot of interest in letters and really enjoys her Sunday School class. So I did a little looking into the idea of Tot School. I did a lot of reading on the blog 1+1+1=1. I liked the concept but wanted to modify it for the time I had to devote to it. I committed myself to 26 weeks and will focus on the letters A-Z and numbers 0-25. I take about 60-90 minutes on Friday during their nap to Google ideas and then about 45 minutes on Tuesday night to gather up everything for school on Wednesday. It’s very toddler led. I lay it all out and then she gets to choose what we do next and we move on when she’s done. Once we get to the end of the activities I’ve planned, we’re done. (3 weeks in, they’ve each lasted about 90 minutes).

Week 1 – When I first mentioned school, she did NOT want to go. She was hesitant to even try even after seeing everything laid out on the table. So we started with an activity that didn’t seem like school and it was smooth sailing from there. Visuals I set on the table were an airplane, apples, alligator, and an ABC block with an ant on it.

Spray Chalk A-Ants:  (Toddler Approved) I drew 10 ants on the patio and wrote the letter A on each one. She got to help get rid of our “ant problem” by spraying them with a spray bottle filled with water. This lasted about 10 min. I think with her age, I should’ve made them a little smaller so that they would be completely gone in just a few sprays.

A Printables: (1+1+1=1) I printed only pages 1, 2, 7, 13. I put 3 of the pages in photo protector sleeves so she could use dry erase markers. She LOVED this. She had very little experience with dry erase markers and was fascinated! She colored the pages for 25 minutes.With page 13 I cut the apple puzzle into 6 pieces. She’s good with puzzles but I just gave her the pieces without showing her what they looked like together, so she struggled a little bit. (2 minutes of interest)

The second image on page 13 we used an old school hand held paper punch to practice fine motor skills. She helped slide the paper in and then I helped her squeeze the punch together. She liked seeing us make the holes. This took about 8 minutes to go all the way around.

Music, Story, and Snack: I had made a tot school Spotify list for the letter A and 0. I redo the list each week, so unfortunately I don’t have the list anymore. In addition to music, they have stories on Spotify. I found a story of the Ant & Grasshopper that she listened to while she ate her snack of apple and peanut butter. She wasn’t thrilled with the music at first but when the list started repeating and she was recognizing A words and numbers, she enjoyed it. She listened and ate for almost 30 minutes.

A Alligator Craft: (No time for flash cards) During my Tuesday night prep, I drew the letter A, and cut out 2 white circles (we don’t have googly eyes) and 7 white teeth. She used crayons to color the A and then I cut it out for her. She glued the A, eyes, and teeth on. This took about 8 minutes. She always likes crafts and we hung it on her craft wall when we were finished.A River: I wrote capital and lower case A’s on some pieces of scrap paper and she set them on various squares of our square kitchen tile. She then had to jump across the floor landing only on the A tiles. We did this for about 5 minutes. She liked to fly like an airplane back to the beginning by circling around our kitchen table.

Straw Airplane: (found on Toddler Approved linking to Peapod Labs). On my prep night I cut two strips of white construction paper for the airplane and wrote the word airplane on them. She got to help tape the strips into circles and tape them to the straw. It didn’t fly super far, but she had fun using the tape and throwing it for about 5 minutes.

Zero Printable: (Your Printable PDF) I printed two copies of the number zero and put them in her photo sleeve binder. I drew arrows on them to have her draw a zero going clockwise and counterclockwise. Not interested, so we moved on.

Make Zero: I gathered up 4 different types of objects and had her empty them to “Make zero.” This helped visually understand that zero is “nothing” or “empty”. We used a large bowl filled with her shoes, a bag of building blocks, a bowl of cotton balls (a big hit) and a box of musical instruments. She did this for about 12 minutes mostly playing with the cotton balls.

When we were done, we even had a bonus that an ant had crawled into the house and they watched it crawl around for a while before little Buddy “squished it like a bug!”

Tot School A & 0IMG_1362

Mop your floor

The place we live in has a stone kitchen and a laminate hall and living room. We split the rooms and did them on two separate days. Letting your little ones help always lengthens the process by about 3 times, but there is a lot less crying and they aren’t in front of the TV.

We started with the kitchen on day one. First we had to vacuum; we all took turns. Then I filled a bucket of soapy water for myself, a soapy spray bottle for Pumpkin (2 1/2), and gave Buddy (1) his sippy without the plastic stopper so water would pour out. Everyone got a rag and we started scrubbing the stone floor. Eventually Pumpkin abandoned the spray bottle and wanted to dip in the big water bucket. It was a good opportunity to teach her how to wring out a rag. Not the most successful lesson. Buddy soon became fascinated with the soapy water too so I had to find a few toys for him to throw in the ever-growing dirty soapy water. I just had to keep an eye on him to not put those toys in his mouth. And poor Buddy is really into standing and walking at this age so he slipped a few times trying to get near Pumpkin and me. That was the only bout of crying we had.

I waited about a week before we did the living room and hallway. Since I was going to use a mop and I only have one, we waited for Buddy to take a nap. Pumpkin helped lift all the things on the floor up high and then she got to do most of the mopping. I helped lift cords and taught her how to lower the mop handle to get under things like the TV stand. We practiced asking to take a turn and then I could catch the spots she missed. It’s hard being someone who likes to go from point A to point B when cleaning, but letting her help is more important to me. So the whole room got mopped in swirls. Then, I got out two colored towel rags (I let her choose which color she wanted) and we wiped up any excess water so we could put everything back right away, . Then she helped put things back down.

Like I said, a little time consuming, but the cleaning gets done and it was well worth the effort. We celebrated our hard work with snack time!

Build a tent indoors!

Pumpkin and Buddy loved this activity! With the summer heat making it too hot to go outside, we built a tent inside! We’d done this previously using the kitchen table, but we decided to make a bigger one in the living room.

The tent took over the living room composed of the couch, folding chairs, card table, and pack ‘n play (on it’s side). We inserted the tunnel as a door and then used a few smaller towels and sheets to make other doorways. We used the folding chairs to make it wider in the middle. (The book and laundry detergent was just to keep the blankets from falling off.)

We brought flashlights under the tent, a large drawing tablet with colored pencils and markers, pillows, blankets. We read lots of books by flashlight. She took a “nap” on the couch which was like a loft in the tent. If we had a small fan, I would have brought that in for a little air circulation; it got a little stuffy. Buddy (not quite one when we did this) loved crawling in and out of the tunnel.Image