Saturday, January 28, 2012

Preschool- Oceans

So Ollie and I have been focusing on oceans. More specifically, what lives in them. He has really loved this study. He can now tell you which shark is the largest, how an octopus protects itself, and many fun facts about the starfish along with several other fun tidbits of knowledge. He is such a smart boy!

One of the most important factors in our adventures is our information. We love our local library and get many great books there. They have a ton about oceans. We also use the internet a bunch. There is so much information! It is a lifesaver when Ollie asks a question that I don't know the answer to.

After our adventures with preschool co-op, we started by studying octopuses. We read up on them quite a bit. Ollie was fascinated by the way they escape prey--hiding, running or spewing ink. He was also interested to discover that an octopus's mouth is inbetween all of his tentacles. We made an octopus by stuffing an old sock with plastic bags, then tying a string under them and cutting the "leg" of the sock into 8 pieces, such a great exercise in counting! Here he is with his octopus. Of course it was swimming so it's a bit blurry!
 After discovering many tantalizing starfish facts and watching one eat a calm, both boys got the opportunity to use their senses and create a bumpy starfish. They simply glued raw oatmeal to a star I cut out of paper. It was a bit messy but it was fun! This activity and the next one came from the book "Kitchen Table Play and Learn."

Here I drew an underwater scene in white crayon on white paper. Ollie then painted it with watercolors to discover what animals were there. I do say, if you do this, be sure to really color your picture in thoroughly or they won't be able to tell what is there. Ollie did enjoy this but kept telling me that the shark was a dinosaur. I guess my artistic ability has never been fabulous!

I borrowed this idea from a great little blog that I love called Discovery Days and Montessori Moments.  She recently had her child create a winter scene with little plastic animals and white playdoh. I had Ollie create an underwater scene with some plastic sea animals and blue playdoh. He enjoyed this and it morphed into a long fun experience. Not only did he create a scene but he hid them in the dough, he made prints with them and he decided to make an urchin as well. We played for probably an hour. Our sea creatures interacted and it was quite amusing. 

Finally, We did a shark activity. I cut out different sharks to scale  and had ollie arrange them on his paper from biggest to smallest. I randomly picked 5 but I did make sure to include the very biggest which is the whale shark. The whale shark can reach nearly 50ft! That's 30 ft more than a Great White Shark.To make them to scale I simply drew them at half the cm. So since the whale shark reaches 50 ft, I drew him at 25 cm.  I did not get a picture which is probably ok since I am not a artist but they passed as sharks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fun New Talent

My baby is growing up. He has weaned. He is running around and now he is saying animal sounds! What is happening to my baby! Here is a video of his new talent. He was a bit distracted by the camera. You can tell we haven't recorded him as much. Poor deprived kid.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preschool Co-op

So a small group of mamas and I get together a couple times a month to do "preschool." It's very light-hearted and the kids really have a great time. Today, we got together for the first time since our Christmas break and we talked about oceans. Ollie and I have been exploring this topic a bit and he is really excited about it. I bought a map at the local learning store and he is all about it. Of course, when he sees maps in books he often wants to find where we live, and where Africa and China are. Strange, but hey whatever floats your boat buddy.

 He knows there are 5 oceans and can name "Southern." For those of you who do not know, at some point in the recent future, the Antarctic Ocean was renamed the Southern ocean. I was very confused when I first opened our new map and did a quick google search to discover it had been renamed. I am not sure why.  Here is Ollie on a previous day, labeling the oceans.

When "his friends" arrived, we started by looking at the map and talking about how many oceans there are and what their names are. Then we read The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor.The book is really neat and has a lot of information. It proved to be a bit long for a group of preschoolers although I think most would have loved it sitting on their own mom's lap reading it. 

We then moved to the table to make sea urchins. We made them by taking play-doh and sticking a bunch of toothpicks into it. Tonight at dinner, Ollie told Bob that the urchins have those spikes to protect themselves from predators. Well done kid!
                       Rex with his urchin

Ollie and Quinn
After the sea urchins, we made "ocean bags." Each child got a gallon ziploc bag and a bottle of hair gel. After squeezing in the hair gel, the kids added some blue food coloring, and glitter. Ollie is like me, if he sees something sparkly, he gets distracted. Before I knew what happened, he yacked off the lid of the glitter and dowsed himself with it. He then decided to try to brush it off himself (sigh). We did get a bit of glitter inside the bag. The kids then used the bags to practice writing letters. For some reason, I took no pictures of this. Go figure. 

While the big kids worked on there ocean bags, I had the brilliant idea of letting the  babies play in a sensory bin I had made. Inside, I put shredded blue paper, shredded cellophane, and various sea creatures we have around the house as well as a few I purchased at the dollar store. This was a huge hit! The only problem was the aftermath. I now remember why I don't buy Easter grass. It is a pain! It was from one end of the house to the other. 

For a snack, I gave the kids a real wholesome one! They each received four calm shells with numbers on them. They had to place that number of marshmallows on each one. Ollie quickly gobbled his as soon as he put a few on his first one. You'd like he was deprived. 
Hannah and her clams

We did a few other not as fun activities that the kids seemed to like. All in all, it was a good day. The kids had a blast playing together and I think they learned a thing or two. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Matching and Dotting

We haven't seemed to do as many planned activities lately. Its been kind of nice. We've played a lot of dinosaurs, monsters and hide N seek. Friday, I had Ollie do a little work. I saw this idea on pinterest. I took the letters of his name and wrote them in capital on clothes pins and in lowercase on squares of paper. Ollie then had to match the capital letter to the lower case. He really had fun. We then worked on arranging his letters in order to spell his name. Fun! Fun!

Ollie with his new Tracing Trails book
For Christmas, we received a set of bingo dotters. They are so much fun. The boys had a blast making art with them. Dawson enjoyed licking them as well. I am so thankful for non toxic art supplies! Here they are:

Thursday, January 5, 2012


We had a very eventful Christmas. We have three sets of Grandparents so we were very, very busy. On Christmas Eve, we spent the day at Plaza Lanes (bowling center) with my Father-In-Law and his wife Mel. IT was a blast. The kids really had a great time. We then took them home for a short Siesta before heading over to their house for presents and pizza. Boy oh boy were they spoiled at Grandma Mel's and Grandpa Jim's! Each received oodles of fun stuff (and some practical).

Christmas morning the boys woke up to stockings and gifts from us. We don't do Santa per se. We let Ollie know right from the start that we pretend Santa comes. This was not real popular with him. The reason we do this is because we feel like telling them things like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy are real and then later telling them they are not but God is when you can't see either is confusing. I know many people disagree with us and that is ok. We don't judge other's decisions to participate in Santa so please don't judge ours not to. We hustled and bustled after presents and attended the 9 am service at church. I feel like the season gets so busy that we often forget that it is about the presents or the parties; it's about Jesus. It was so nice to slow down and remember what it is all about.

Later Christmas Day, we headed to Nana Betsy and Papa Wayne's house (Bob's mom and her husband). The kids once again got spoiled with all kinds of new toys.  Kaleb, Ollie and Dawson enjoyed playing together. They ran up and down the house shrieking in excitement. Whew! What a day.

One of the great benefits of new toys is all the independent play that takes place after they receive them! WE spent Monday home and Tuesday evening headed back to Minnesota to go with Jade and Lilah to her chemo appointment on Wednesday morning. She did really well with it. I also spent Friday with Jade, Bella and Lilah. It was so nice to be with them and play games. Jade and I got a chance to go out for a walk and then hung out upstairs eating crab dip and watching Law and Order. It was amazingly quiet without my boys there!

Saturday was Christmas at my parents. Unfortunately, my uncle got in an accident that night and he and his family were not there. We also we so sad that Lilah, Jade and Kurt couldn't come. It's not worth the risk of her picking up our germs. My grandpa Curt and cousin Molly were both there. We enjoyed family and fellowship and of course--more presents! Man!

Christmas was very different this year for obvious reasons. It made me appreciate things much more. While I was out running errands and baking and preparing, my sister and her family were at the hospital. While I was bowling and hitting church and two family Christmases, Jade's church came to them and they were at home. I am so very thankful that Lilah is doing well and that she was home for Christmas. It was the best Christmas present ever. God is doing remarkable things. As a matter of fact, at her appointment yesterday they ran bloodwork and her counts were so good that she didn't have to have a transfusion! I'd say God is doing miraculous things in her. I am thankful that Christ was born many Christmas' ago so that we would have a Savior. Life is so very fragile and you never know when. Please don't deceive yourself into believing that you can get to Heaven by being good enough. There isn't "good enough." There is only Christ. He took your place. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will enjoy many blessings this year has to offer.