Toddler Science: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Best. Thing. Ever.

A plate of baking soda (I used about a quarter box) and four little containers of vinegar mixed with food dye. I gave Caleb an eye dropper, and he went crazy. He mixed colors, watched the reactions, saw how the parts that had already reacted didn’t react again, and then at the end, I let him dump it on our (messy) table and play in it. Not only did he enjoy the science part of it, and seeing what would happen (as well as talking about the colors and testing his own questions/hypothesis), but the feeling was almost like a sandy mud so tactile wise it was a great sensory activity. I don’t have a lot more to say, but I hope you guys try this super easy activity and enjoy how clean this mixture will also make whichever surface you use this on!

YOU ARE LOVED

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Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

DIY Educational Book Shelf!

Quite a while ago I bought this book shelf for Caleb. It was a dingy white with partially ripped flowers all over it. I was so sure that I’d be able to get some paint and work my magic on it… six months later, it was still just sitting around in it’s original state. This morning specifically we were just using it as a foot rest in the living room.

I looked up at this super cute snowman hand print project we did yesterday, and it just came to me. I grabbed the book shelf and brought it out to the table for a scrub down. Once it was clean, I put a quick layer of yellow paint over the whole thing. Then I traced Caleb’s hand, and made two of each rainbow color. Next I painted another layer of yellow paint, and placed the hand cut outs where I wanted him.

A few hours later I went back to it with a sharpie. The top hands spell out Caleb’s name, and each finger (as well as the purple heart) have the alphabet on them, and then the side hands have their color written on them with 1-15 written on the fingers. I’m debating on adding more, like maybe some shapes on top? I’m quite pleased with how it came out so far though. The last step, once I’m totally sure, is to modge podge the whole thing so that Caleb can’t rip the hands off, because that’s totally something he would do.

Either way, this was a wicked easy project, and has a lot of uses! Alphabet, spelling his name, counting, practicing colors, and holding some of his wonderful books inside make it totally worth it! What do y’all think?

Colors and Counting: Pompom Edition!

Counting Color Pompoms

The Dollar Tree is this magical place where home-schoolers and parents go to buy ridiculous quantities of craft supplies, and educational aids. On one memorable trip I walked by bags of 80 pompoms. I may or may not have grabbed five bags… 400 pompoms seems reasonable right? Right?

Now the only question was what to do with these pompoms? Thus the colors, counting, and pompoms game was created! Super simple prep. I took six Styrofoam plates, drew bubble numbers with corresponding circles (aka 2 circles on the plate with the 2, 3 circles on the plate with the 3, etc…), and colored the circles on each plate with a color of pompom. I laid a platter with the pompoms in the middle of the living-room, surrounded by the plates, and Caleb jumped right in. Watching him use his fine motor skills to place the correct color of each pompom on its proper circle was so much fun. We named each color as he put it down, and talked about adding easy numbers.

I totally recommend this activity any time. You could put Velcro on the plates and pompoms so they don’t move around so much.Do as many plates as you want, multiple colors, and any size pompoms. There are so many great options and it’s a very low cost activity with lots of “educational areas” being covered. Enjoy!

Monkey See, Monkey Do/A Lesson on Trust

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I debated on the title of this for a while. My child is not a monkey, I am not a monkey, but the saying is fitting all the same. We went camping a few weekends ago and it was a great learning experience for Caleb and I. I kept catching him doing things I’d expect from a child a lot older than nineteen months old. These were things that if I trusted him less, if I was assuming he COULDN’T do it, wouldn’t have happened and would have been incredibly hypocritical. Children are smart and capable. Anything an adult can do, chances are pretty good that the child can as well. Now I’m not saying he can fix a bike on his own. I’m just saying, he can help and he can try. He can understand that tools go ‘here’ when things need fixing.

The night before, he saw people loading fire wood into the pit. The next morning, he went over, lifted all of those heavy logs, and placed them in the pit. I was ready to jump on it and take the wood away before his poor toes got squished. Instead I stood back and let him complete the task he was so determined to finish. After he dropped each log into the pit we would clap for him and he would absolutely beam.

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My uncle had another bike propped up on the table to fix it. He was tightening a bold and had Caleb’s complete attention. Caleb reached up onto the table, grabbed a couple of wrenches, and went to work on this other bike. He knew that was where the wrench went and it would make the bike, “All Better.” He learned about the idea of fixing things by watching an adult and took it upon himself to do the same.

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Before bed he spilled a little bit of water on the floor. Now, I kid you not. He grabbed the mop, as he’s seen his Mimi and I do again and again, and mopped up his mess. Now this was, at the time, a nineteen month old toddler. He knows that when something spills, it needs to be cleaned up. He knew that the way to clean the floor is with a mop because he’d seen us do it. He took the responsibility upon himself, of course without being asked, to mop the mess he made.

Be a good example for your children. Trust that they will follow it. If they see violence, they will be violent. If they see you fighting or yelling all the time, that’s what they will do. If they see you using gentle hands, that’s what they will reflect. Children are sponges. They pick up on everything they see. So, what do you want them to reflect?

Love of Leap Frog-FOUR Item Reviews!

Topper     Yesterday we finally got Caleb’s room completely put together and I realized something. I have absolutely no complaints with any of the Leap Frog items that we own. They all serve a wonderful purpose; educational fun. My son, at five months, can use all of these objects to some extent, doesn’t get bored easily with them, and I feel comfortable letting him play with them even though two are “screens.” Also I want to mention that we own more than just these four things but I want to focus on them because they are in constant and current use around here.

Flashcards

Some people would wonder why flash cards would be so important to me, but let me just tell you, I’ve never seen such useful and helpful cards as these. One huge factor to me is that there are separate lower case and uppercase cards. Most cards out there have both on one card and I find that that can be very confusing for early learners. This way they can really focus on one shape at a time. The colors for each are a different shade of green also, great for easy sorting. The dog eared shape helps with organizing as well. The backs of the cards have pictures on them to illustrate each letter. You get two separate images which means two examples which opens the child up to seeing letters don’t just work for one word. A wonderful feature Leap Frog has provided is a card with activities on it. Most the time, you get a pack of cards and have to work with them your own way. You don’t think, oh hey these can be used ten different ways. Leap Frog has given us that option! You’re probably wondering why these are something we use when my son is only five months old. Well, I’m teaching him his letters and guess what. He already can identify A to E with no problem thanks to these cards. He loves holding and staring at them!

LeapTop

The LeapTop! Oh my goodness. For only $20 you get a customizable and totally educational learning tool for your little. Caleb is a tad too young to really get the full use of this but I love it already. The fact you can customize it makes it way above the rest. You can put different songs and messages on it for your littles which helps it not get too repetitive. It also has three settings. Animals, music, and alphabet. Each with fun animations and sounds to accompany the learning, it really keeps the kiddos happy and entertained. From birth to five years, this is an absolute must from Leap Frog.

LeapFrog Chat & Count Phone

 

This LeapFrog Chat & Count Phone is one small this that is great for when your in the car or on a walk with the stroller. Or any time really. All children love our fancy smart phones so give them their own! This adorable, easy to hold and use toy helps teach numbers, pretends to call, and plays music while the little puppy dances on the screen. $12 well spent. My little man will play with this in his car seat for half an hour no problem. He laughs at the puppy and I think he has figured out the cause and effect of each button. Great for coordination and entertainment all in one.

Chair

Now my, and Caleb’s, all time favorite. The Magic Moments Learning Seat! This right here is the best investment for any baby and should be on everyone’s wishlist. At first you put baby in and see a mirror, which is so much fun in itself. Anything with a mirror they can look at themselves with makes me happy. Even more amazing though, when you turn it on… IT IS A SCREEN. With three amazing settings, one that names the animal and colors, one that makes up cute rhymes about the animals, and one that names the composer and plays great classical music there is an endless supply of entertainment. The colors dance across the screen as it talks to baby. I say it that way too because at first I thought it wasn’t loud enough because I could barely hear it myself, but when I put my head by Caleb’s, I realized it was the perfect volume for him. This is the same for the Vibration feature. It seems to not do much but it’s more than enough for our littles. The other nice thing with the vibration is that if the seat doesn’t feel movement, it will shut off after about fifteen minutes which helps save the battery. In general, the battery life on this thing is amazing. I’ve had it since December, purchased it used with already old batteries, and it still works no problem. One MORE thing that is awesome is that baby kicking his feet also activates the screen. If they hit the feet board it plays a medley and colors dance across the screen in time with it. That is one feature I’ve never seen but once Caleb figured it out, he wouldn’t stop. It thrilled him to no end.

Over all, these are four items I would recommend to anyone. I love them all dearly and I am very judgmental when it comes to things my son gets to play with. So, check them out. Which Leap Frog item is your favorite? Let me know in the comments bellow. Thanks for reading!