Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tot School, Christmas-style – Dec. 20, 2009

image**M is 39 Months Old**
This post will be some of the Christmas-themed activities we’ve done in the past couple of weeks. We’ve had a productive, relaxed, insightful, and just plain fun time on my “blog-break” (more about that in future posts).

First, this is how I’ve been finding M first thing many mornings:blog pics 030(sorry for the blurry photo… these old hands of mine aren’t very steady before my coffee, heh) – he’s been sitting in front of the tree, all lit up in the dark, playing with toys so sweetly and quietly. I think he is really soaking up the magic of Christmas and those Christmas lights – remember how special they were when we were children? :) I’m loving this stage with him.

We have been singing and making music quite often now that his instruments and song book are out and accessible all the time:ts (2) (Don’t let the blank look on his face fool you, he really does LOVE doing this!)

Fine Motor Skills:
This was a great post from Allie at No Time for Flashcards. However, I really didn’t feel like making one on my own so I gave M some yarn (instead of wire) and some felt I had cut into squares and cut a slit into the middle of – M strung the felt pieces onto the yarn, then we formed it into a wreath and hung it on the tree:blog pics 009 blog pics 035
I made these fun rubbing plates using cardboard from a cereal box:ts (6)I used a cookie cutter to trace the tree, star, and angel and free-hand drew the snowflake. Then I went over the drawings with hot glue. M used them with newsprint and crayons:blog pics 013 This was a little tough for him because the paper slid around quite a bit. Here are the best samples of what he did:christmas (7) I plan to make more of these for other holidays – they were fun and really held his interest. He must’ve done dozens of these in the past two weeks.

I filled a large pan with “pretend snow” (shaving cream) one day and M played in it with his little cars for TWO HOURS. I am not kidding. TWO HOURS. There was a mess to clean up, which took me a good 15 minutes. But it was worth it for TWO HOURS of him being involved and interested in something. :)blog pics 056He asked for it again another day and played with it for 20 minutes, sigh. (ugh, look at that kitchen floor. So old and ugly. If anyone wants to give me a Christmas present, a new kitchen floor would be perfect. :) )

Math Skills:
M has really taken off with his understanding of patterns recently. He is really getting it. We did our pattern Christmas lights again, this time in an ABCABC pattern. blog pics 039 At first he insisted that it could only be red, green, red, green, etc. Then I talked to him about how we sometimes play games with Daddy and we each take a turn, even though there are three of us. We ended up naming the green lights M, the red lights Daddy, and the blue lights Mommy, then strung them up – he really got it! At the end we were calling them by their colors again and he understood perfectly. We even did some AABB patterning and he picked up on that too! Yay!!

We did a quick counting game with some cardstock Christmas trees and pom poms. I drew little spots for 30 pom poms to go on each tree, then we simply took turn rolling the number cube and putting that many pom pom “ornaments” on our trees to decorate them. The first one to have all the spaces filled won. blog pics 040
I found some Christmas pattern mats here, and printed them in black and white. M was really into this, so I went back and printed a lot of the non-Christmas ones from the same site. The fact that they were black and white instead of colored like the ones we normally use provided just the right amount of challenge to M to make it interesting. He enjoyed “coloring” them with the pattern blocks.ts (1) ts

M practiced spelling his name with this ornament stringing activity I made for him. You can read more about that pics 014
We’ve really been enjoying our Jesse Tree stories every evening. I switched to a green felt Christmas tree to see if M would actually hang the ornaments on the tree. He has put some on the tree, but some are still in the “air” too. Such a silly boy sometimes. :)blog pics 042 He has really learned a lot from this project, and is always so excited when it is Jesse Tree time!

Nature Center Time:
We are enjoying our Nature Center classes so much, and they just keep getting better and better. I’ve decided to start adding these into our Tot School posts so we’ll be able to remember how much fun we’ve had!

A couple of weeks ago we talked about what animals do when it snows. Did you know weasels turn white (except for the tips of their tails, which turn black) in winter? Or that frogs dig down deep into the mud and turn into frog ice cubes? :) The kids had a snowball fight inside with cotton balls, made candy cane animals,
blog pics 034 (It’s a reindeer!)
and went ice-skating on wax paper:blog pics 012M had a ball. We are out of wax paper or we’d be doing this every day. I even tried it and it was fun for me too!

The next week “Nature Santa” visited and read a story about Christmas trees in the forest to the kids:blog pics 008
His glasses were fogged up here because he had just come in from a zero degree day.

M got to make bird feeders with bagels and seeds, and one with fruit loops on a pipecleaner:blog pics 016 These are hanging in our yard waiting for the hungry animals to discover them.

We even got to eat a pancake breakfast with Santa!nature santa (2) M had the time of his life until….
it came time to actually meet Santa and talk to him:nature santa (3) He was suddenly very shy and completely forgot to say all the things he had planned on saying. :) It’s ok though because Mommy has Santa’s phone number and will be giving him a call to let him know what M would like. ;)

For more Tot School posts go here.

Have a beautiful Christmas with your families! :)


  1. We weren't very successful either with the rubbing boards I made.

  2. What an awesome week! I love the idea of skating on wax paper. Anna really wants skates or skis for Christmas, and I had to point out to her that we have absolutely no snow. In fact, the temps returned to mid 70s lately, and we are playing outside in just light sweaters. Skating inside would be awesome. It sounds like M has great fun on your blog break. I can't wait to read about his other adventures.

  3. Welcome back! What a fun week of activities!
    Not kidding...this morning I was thinking what could I do with shaving cream snow? How could I make a snowman with it? Problem solved! I'm going to let B drive his cars in it like M did. THANKS!
    Also, thanks for the link to the pattern block printouts. It didn't even occur to me that they might make Christmas ones.
    Those two activities are the perfect thing for us for today!

  4. I love that you find him sitting there every morning near the tree like that. It makes this time of year so much more precious :) I used to make shaving cream cities with the kids i babysat for and yes, it kept them busy!! I am planning on doing it with Connor sometime soon.

  5. Great ideas- I love the sensory tub and the ice skating (funny!).... he looks like he had a blast!

  6. So sweet finding M sitting by the tree. I remember doing that when I was little and loving our beautiful tree.

    Skating on wax paper is so fun. We kept the paper on with rubber bands around the top but we ended up using a ton of paper.

    Put M is the bath tub in his undies with the tray of shaving cream. Drew loves to draw all over the shower with it. And then clean up is so easy.

  7. It's so good to have you back:) Bear is enjoying her Jesse Tree too. Thanks for writing about it. You know, I probably wouldn't have gotten to it if it hadn't bee nfor your post!

  8. What an activity filled week you've whipped up for your little one! Loved the 2 hour shaving cream car adventure. That was amazing!

  9. I love that you find M in front of the tree in the mornings. So sweet. I'm going to have to try the shaving cream. I could use two hours to, um, what would I DO with 2 hours?? It looks like you have an awesome nature center program! I'm jealous! Ours is good, but it's only once a month. We'll have to try skating on wax paper - Crumpet has been skating in his socks on the kitchen floor. This was after he discovered the hard way that skating on wheeled vehicles on the kitchen floor leads to much pain, poor little thing... Good to see you back!

  10. So many creative and fun activities! I think we may try wax paper ice skating this week.

  11. Great post, as usual!! I love all of your ideas! So glad you are back! We will definitely be trying out some of these activities!

  12. Oh my goodness, I am amazed at all you accomplish during a week! My little Small Fry loves cars... so I may also try the shaving cream idea, but in the shower. LOL!

  13. aww looks like a great week!! I love the wax paper ice skating!

  14. I love the pretend snow :) Our visit with Santa wasn't so successful either.... :) Merry Christmas!

  15. What a fun week...and bravo on the shaving cream. My little guy would love that! I'm sure we'll give that a try sometime when I feel an abundance of patience! :)


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