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!

Expectations Bring Disappointment

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Today Caleb and I had a play group to go to. It’s one we used to go to every other week, but it usually wasn’t at the park with an entire daycare full of kids running around playing. For a split second, my expectation for him was to sit with the group on that parachute you see in the background. What on Earth was I thinking!? My child LOVES other kids, he loves the park, and he’s never been a fan of circle time. That split second was over, and him and I went off to play on the play equipment.

Sitting in the circle he started to cry. I can only imagine what was going through his sweet little head. “Why is mama punishing me? I just want to play!?” “But mama, why can all those other kids play, and I can’t?” “Mom, I just want to go play with these new friends!”

Well of course! How on Earth could I expect my two year old to sit, listen to instructions, and ignore that all the other kids are playing at a place he usually loves. My expectation ruined the fun for him, even if only for a minute. My expectation made me, just for a split second, frustrated that he wouldn’t conform to my will. No way. That’s madness.

This kind of thing happens a lot though. We go to the grocery store, it takes me an hour to shop, and I expect him to sit in the stroller quietly… HAHA! That’s hilarious right? I have to change my expectations and prepare for the realities. I bring snacks and toys, we sing silly songs, I get him involved… BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND THIS IS NORMAL CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR! We go for a walk longer than five minutes. Do I expect him to hold my hand and comply to where I want to go the whole time at my exact speed? No way! I slow it down, I let him point out all the things around him, and sometimes I even let him walk a few steps ahead of me, because I trust him to not run off, and know I’ll be able to run with him even if he does.

I see parents at restaurants that spend the whole time yelling at their kids for one reason or another… “Well kids never learn if you don’t make them.” But what if what you’re expecting them to learn is just plain unrealistic? Sitting still is not something kids are meant to do till they are seven or older. Kids are meant to run around, stretch, and play! One moment parents are telling their kids to get out and move, the next they expect silence and still bodies. How did we get to these crazy expectations being normal to everyone around? Why is it that if kids don’t comply to these insane ideals they are labeled bad? Labeled as less than the kids who somehow do indeed comply? What a shame that all is…

Just take a deep breath parents. Your kids aren’t bad, they are just kids! Change your expectations and you’ll see that too soon enough.

YOU ARE LOVED

 

Caleb’s Imagination

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^^^ Graphic I Made for Caleb to Print and Pin to His Bedroom Door^^^

Imagination is an incredible thing. One of my greatest joys is watching Caleb play pretend. Our living room is over run by a play house, tool bench, and wonderful wooden kitchen. I wanted to be sure that he could explore those interests in full. He’ll make us lots of play food, build things on his fancy tool bench, and he “goes home” to his play house many times a day. I adore watching this, and playing along when he wants me to.

Another area of pretend play that he’s been working on lately involves his toys. It all started with Po the Polar Bear. He received him as a gift around Thanksgiving from a kind man that lives near his preschool. That bear is his best friend, and they have the most intricate conversations. Occasionally they will be in a  “fight” and Caleb won’t want to talk to or be around him. Then we have to mediate their fight. We’ll tell Po to apologize, and tell Caleb that Po still loves him, and then Caleb apologizes and they are back to being friends again.

Of course though, with his new obsession with Paw Patrol, he’s begun putting his Paw Patrol toys into situations, and it’s just too dang adorable. I wanted to share one exchange from him that had me totally in stitches last night.

Caleb had Marshall stuck inside of his boot calling for help, and his plush Chase was heading off to rescue him. Chase said, “Ryder need us!” He was loud, enthusiastic, and oh so cute. Chase finished saving him and he yelled, “We did it! Yay!!!” Then he walked off with them for another “rescue.” I love this child so dang much. His innocence is beautiful, and fills me with joy.

 

Finger Paints and Stamping Fun!

I LOVE painting, and Caleb has been talking about painting a lot the last few days. First thing this morning I made a batch of my edible finger paint, and when my sweet boy woke up I surprised him with this painting station.

I really wanted to do more than just finger painting, so I grabbed straws and toilet paper rolls (two things I obsessively collect which drives Corey crazy) and stuck one of each into each of the six colors I made. I got Caleb naked, and gave him some paper. Then (last picture) I created examples to show him how the stamps work, and also to show him with the straw you can blow the paint around. He LOVED blowing the paint.

He really focused on the color red today. I was surprised. I made two purples and pink for him because he’s been so into them, but red was the cool color today.

After three of the toilet paper roll stamp paintings and one of the straw paintings I gave him a paintbrush. That’s what led to the second picture, and I loved watching him paint lines and then smack the brush against it like a stamp. It was cool to see that the concept we were working on really stuck with him. Lastly I took a straw and drew his name into his painting! I think once it’s dry we’ll put it on his bedroom door.

Originally I planned to do more. I was going to “stamp” his hand to make some Valentines Day cards, animal prints, etc… but he wasn’t having it. My normally messy loving boy really didn’t want to get his hands dirty today, so I didn’t force it. The paint only takes a minute to create anyway, so if he seems more willing later on, we’ll just do it then. I want to get some actual stamp pads and stamps. I think he’d love that, and he liked stamping his hand last Friday.

Why I Let my Toddler Son Dress as a “Girl”

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Doc McStuffins, Disney Junior’s awesome show about a strong, black, girl doctor for stuffed animals, has become a serious favorite for my sweet boy. His Mimi got him a doll of her that sings the, “Time for Your Checkup,” song. He’ll dance around, singing along, to that all day if we let him. I can only take that song so many times in a row though. His love for the show is apparent, and he’s gotten very good at using his manners to get an episode put on by saying, “Pease (he says please without the l) doc show mama.”

The Doc doll had a stethoscope around her neck that Caleb would take off and try to put around his own. That gave me the idea to get him a costume. This costume has a shirt with a built in skirt, pink leggings, and the doctor coat. Thankfully I am surrounded by people who understand that clothes and costumes do not define someone’s gender. I did not set out to make my kid “dress like a girl” or “be a girl.” That’s just not logical. What I did do, however, is indulge my son’s interest in this show and character by providing him a way to dress like her. I purchased the costume second hand and when I brought it home I laid it out to show him what it was. He tried putting the top on himself right away so I helped him get the rest on. He sat on the couch checking it all out. I snapped a quick picture and then he hopped off to go play cars. Now that costume is available to him, and he is able to put it on whenever he would like. That costume hangs next to his Mickey, Tigger, and penguin costumes, because that’s all it is. Something for him to make believe with and enjoy.

The Magic of Chuck E. Cheese

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A few months back, Caleb and I were invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Like any neurotic mother, I was a little bit nervous about the incredible amount of people, germs, and the possibility of losing him in the crowd. What we found though was a whole different story…

This day was fantastic. Between the area for toddlers, including a game like whack-a-mole that Caleb loved, the pizza he got to devour (he ate more than any of the other kids and he’s the youngest by three years), and helping his mama play the foot ball game by handing me the balls the fun never ended. We were there for three hours and he never stopped going. It was very easy to let him run around and keep an eye on him without worrying about him running out the door since they black light stamp everyone to keep them inside.

The down side to the day? Oh my poor back. I now have lasting back pain from the amount of picking up my 25lb baby that happened that day. It feels like it’s been just a bit crushed. Was it worth it? In the long run probably not but I’d absolutely do it again. It’s a great, cost effective activity. Good food, great games, a play area… Go check it out!

Dress Up? Say yes? Ah ha!

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Last night we had a good laugh. I had taken off my shirts (tank and see through one) and tossed them across the room. My sweet little man ran over and grabbed them and started wrapping them around him. Eventually he even got the tank top on him. He ran around talking and “modeling” it for us.
Lately he has been very interested in taking his clothes on and off, picking out clothes, etc etc… This is a whole new thing for me. I’m a first time mom, I’ve never been there to see a child start getting dressed by themselves. It’s awesome! I absolutely love watching him learn and grow like this. Now though, I totally want to run out and get him a dozen costumes! We have a penguin and Tigger costume already. Of course I need to get him a Mickey Mouse costume.
Again, I plan to indulge his new interest. We don’t have the money to go get him a bunch of costumes, but we have clothes. This afternoon, after nap time, I’m taking a big pile of clothes out and letting him free in it. He could totally ignore it, or we could play dress up. Either way, I’m giving him the chance. Sure it will make a little mess. Is that any reason not to give him this chance? Of course not!
That leads me to another thought. Last Sunday we were at the Chuck E. Cheese. We had a blast, Caleb could actually play some of the games (his favorite being a frog version of whack a mole), and he ate a ton of pizza. Towards the end I was letting him run free and he wanted to take a cup with him. I almost said no as a knee jerk reaction. Then I realized, there wasn’t a single reason to say no. He wasn’t hurting anything, the cup couldn’t spill, losing it wouldn’t be the end of the world… So I let him get the cup and he was happy as can be. I try really hard to let him do what he wants when he wants it as long as it won’t hurt him or cause some kind of problem. I let him color with markers and he will draw on himself. So what? I can give him a bath. I let him walk outside even though it doubles the amount of time it takes to get somewhere, oh well though. I plan to leave twice as early! It works for us.
We rarely have tantrums (and even if one starts it ends within a matter of moments) and life is pretty relaxing. Why start a fight for no reason? Is there something wrong with children getting to do what they’d like?

Three 6-10 Month Activities-Affordable, Easy, and Motor Skill Focused

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Before I go over these great activities, I want to say that the age group I am focusing on is something I debated on. These activities can be used for any age. Don’t say, oh my kid is too young or too old so these wont help. Working on motor skills always help. Some kids are ahead, some are behind, and no matter what these are easy things that can really help children learn.

With all of these activities, remember that these are supposed to be games. These are supposed to be fun. If your kiddo doesn’t respond to them, change tactics. Most importantly, reward them! No one wants to work hard and not be told they are doing good. They will react so much better if you excitedly tell them they are doing well. My son gets all giddy when he does one of these and I say, Good job baby boy! Big smiles are important as well.

Alrighty then… Onto the activities!

1) Animal Magnet Identification- When you first start this, line up all the magnets and just let your child play with them. Let them be interested before you try to force the knowledge. Once your little one has played a while take one off and show them it. Make that animal’s sound and name it. When you name things, whether it’s part of this game or in day to day life, point. It has been proven that pointing connects things for children. Do this with only one or two of the animals at a time till your child gets used to the game. Once you’ve done that, place the magnet back on the fridge and say, Alright (insert little one’s name here) where is the (insert animal’s name here). If they get the right one, tell them good job! If not, say, good try. Show them the right one and just keep working on it until they get bored or overstimulated. For older kids, you can start asking them, Which animal says (insert sound here). So far my son knows what a tiger says. It’s completely adorable seeing him roar right back at me!

2) Baby Ring Toss- This one we started working on a few nights ago and I laughed so hard. My son was being a perfectionist. If he didn’t get it quite perfect and I told him good job, he’d look at me like I was crazy till he did get it perfect. Well, we have this ring that a block will fit into perfectly. We were playing with each piece so I tried to show him he could put the block into it. I showed each piece and placed the ring on the floor, put the block in it, and went ooooo that’s so cool. Getting any item into another item takes some serious motor skills from babies. After showing him how to do it a few times, I offered the block to Caleb and pointed at the ring. Right away he tried to drop it in, got it on the hole at least, and told him good job. Like I said, he wasn’t happy with himself till he got it in perfectly but… This is an activity that you can only do a few times before baby gets bored.

3) Pass- The last one seems like something very simple, but it takes a lot for babies! Hand-Eye coordination, moving your hands just the right way, just the right push… We use balls from a ball pit because it’s a nice light ball that is easy to work with. Sit across from baby and show him to spread his legs and you do as well. Push the ball to baby. Help baby pass it back and forth. When they catch or pass the ball, say yayyyyy good job! It seems so simple but it’s a major thing for little ones to be able to do this.

So good luck you guys! I hope you and the kiddos really enjoy these as much as we do. Remember to make it fun.

Feel free to tell me how it goes for you!

Thanks for reading!

Why I Spend 60% of My Time on the Floor

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In our family we are all equal. We all deserve happiness, attention, and a close connection. I spend a good amount of time with my fiance but my son and I spend even more time with how much Corey works, sleeps, and plays on the computer. The truth of the matter is that I hate being on the floor. I’m over weight and getting up and down hurts. Even more, laying there squishes me in weird ways and really isn’t that comfortable. Caleb is almost seven months, tomorrow he will be, and that means he’s become a total floor baby. He’s constantly trying to crawl or he’s sitting up like a big boy and passing the ball back and forth between his daddy or I. A lot of parents buy things like jumpers and exersaucers so that at times like this they can just place baby in it and go on their way. That would be against our way of parenting, and that’s why I spend so much time on the floor.

When you get down to eye level and you really talk to and react with your baby they learn so many things. Conversational skills develop between six and twelve months. In order for baby to learn properly how to converse and what words mean they need their parents nearly constant and loving attention. Caleb will babble at me and I will either babble right back or tell him things. We talk about love, numbers, how much I want to see him be happy, and how good he really is. His expressions are many and he really has an opinion. When I tell him that his sissy (our kitty) doesn’t want him to grab her fur he will shout back and look at me all concerned like because that’s exactly what he wants and he’s objecting. On the other hand, I will talk to the other babies around us and depending on my tone of voice they might react but I know their home life is very different and that is exactly why they wont react the way that Caleb does. I sacrifice a sore back and some personal time because I know it’s best for my little man. It gives me the ability to react to him, make him feel secure, and let him know that he’ll never have to be along or scared because mommy will always be here for him.

I’ve had people tell me that my blog makes them upset and sounds like I’m bashing them. I’m not trying to make people feel bad or guilty. The only thing I want is for parents to realize that a peaceful and loving, child centered, way of parenting can really improve the lives of their children and themselves. It’s a real blessing in my eyes to see my child smile and talk to me. Then when we are out and about he’s confident enough that I’ll be there for him that he’s willing to go to any stranger. He doesn’t fuss or worry about where I am and after a little while when he’s done with the new person he will find me and I’ll gather him back into my arms. This attachment style of parenting is all about taking away stress and building trust, respect, and confidence between you and your child. So fellow parents, get down on the ground with your little ones. Talk to them. Don’t assume that they have nothing to say because boy are you wrong! Children have amazing minds, no matter how young, and the best thing you can do is help them bloom.

Thanks for reading my lovely readers. You are wonderful and loving parents. No matter how you do it, as long as your child is fed, happy, healthy, and clean you are a great parent.

Whobo? Mombo! Review for ALL Moms!

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A while ago, I reviewed the Breast Friend. Let me make this clear, I still love that nursing pillow for certain times, such as when I’m on the floor and need some back support. Now I introduce you to the real BEST nursing pillow… The Mombo! Comfort & Harmony, a company of Kidsii, gave me the chance to test the pillow, mint cover, and toy bar for totally free. All of these opinions are my own and true though. It really is just THAT awesome.

For months now I’ve wanted to try this out for the toy bar. Caleb has always loved sitting in his Boppy but he gets really bored not having toys stay in front of him. All the ones we would hand him would roll away or go missing from his sight and we’d have him fussing till we passed him another one. The Mombo has found the solution. The Toy Bar, which is so simple to add onto the pillow, gives him something fun and safe to hang out in and allows me the time to do things like clean or blog without running back every few minutes to hand him another toy. A super bonus is the the bar has extra loops to add toys onto. That way, the favorite like Lamaze’s firefly, can be added on. This really puts the Mombo at the top of all Nursing Pillows.

Another insane plus for all ages is the vibrating disk that you can insert into the pillow. My little man loves sleeping with his Mombo and the vibrations make it a very dreamy and happy sleep for him that has him waking up with a big happy smile and ready to play. My only regret is not getting one sooner. When he was a few month younger this vibration would have been such a help to us. That way we wouldn’t have had to put him in another room in his swing just to go to sleep. I recommend this item to all moms. Whether you are nursing or not, it really is a must have.

Now, to the pillow itself I say… where have you been all my life!? One side is firm. Those of my fellow breastfeeding mamas know that soft is great for sleep but if baby’s head sinks into the pillow, the alignment changes, the latch is affected, and that pillow becomes useless. Then, oh my goodness how is it possible it’s this amazing, you flip it over and it’s a soft bed for baby! This is one of those, bring with you everywhere, kind of items. Baby can go from play time, to sleep time, to nursing within a moment of change.

I really have no complaints. The toys are adorable, the colors are easy to match with any theme and there are so many covers that you won’t struggle to find the perfect one for you and your little. Again, this is a must. If you know someone with a little one, this is the perfect gift. Head over to Comfort & Harmony’s facebook page and give them a like. It’s worth it.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about the Mombo!