Friday, December 2, 2011

The Holiday Rush

So the holiday rush has begun in what my husband likes to call the "monkey cave." We have had a week of unexpected company due to another illness and death in the family, so we have been busy. We managed to squeeze in some activities though. We started by putting up and decorating our Christmas tree! Big Monkey actually helped me decorate this year. What fun. Look at the joy on both boys' faces when I turned on the Christmas train at the base of the tree - they have been waiting for this train all year. Yes, I have a hard mounted gate blocking off my tree. I just decided I didn't want to deal with the extra work it would take to keep the now walking Baby Monkey who loves to climb off the tree.

We started the Letter of the Week Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler  as well as a farm theme since we visited an animal farm at the end of the week. We had great fun with A is for apple this week! We matched up some little and big letter As:

Put together an apple puzzle:

Drew spots on a cow:

Matched heads and tails of various animals. This was a hit and he wanted to leave them up in our table top pocket chart all week.

Sorted tractors by size:

Worked on some pre-writing skills. Big Monkey made me trace the lines with my color (black) while he traced with his. Whatever he wants. It was kind of fun.

Cutting practice on lines. Then we tried cutting out apples. Most of the apples got cut in half, but that's ok. He started cutting off the leaves in the end. Then we glued them to a tree.

We did do a dot pages twice, but had some problems. I LOVE the do-a-dot markers as Big Monkey can even open them himself and he loves them. I bought mine from Oriental Trading Company instead of Amazon, and I noticed this week that our orange and yellow are sort of moldy looking on the paint pad? Not sure what happened there.

Our second problem with the do-a-dots this week? Don't squeeze them too hard! I tried to get a little more paint on the pad by giving it a little squeeze. Well, it ended up all over our table and on my exersaucer! Good thing it was my garage sale find and not the one my friend is letting us borrow as the seat is now stained. Also a good thing it didn't end up on the carpet anywhere. Whew...

We did some apple patterns:

A farm maze, which Big Monkey was really good at!

And a new one for us - a lacing card. Big Monkey didn't quite understand going from hole to hole around the apple. He tried going straight across and gave up shortly after the lace got all knotted and tangled. We'll work on this concept.

He starting to get the hang of the "what's different" worksheets too, and actually got most of them correct.

The biggest hit of the week? The letter A poke page. I wasn't sure about this as it involved giving my almost 3 year old a giant push pin, but I went for it for the fine motor control. I explained the dangers of poking himself. I think Big Monkey tried out poking his hand once and gave up on that activity. He spent a good 15-20 minutes poking the pin into the letters. He poked all the way around each letter, signing the entire time. I think we'll do this one again!

There are a few more letter A activities that we ran out of time for this week, so we will try to squeeze them in next week if we have time!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lots of pictures

I uploaded photos from today and I took a lot of photos! Over 20! Don't worry, I'm not going to post them all. Here are the highlights from today.

We started with size sorting the turkeys. Big Monkey was so far from being into this one. So I sat with him and put one of each size on the card for him. Then I picked them up and asked him if it was small, medium, or large. He wouldn't even look at most of the cards! Then all of a sudden, he decided that the smalls were "baby turkeys," the mediums were "mama turkeys," and the bigs were "daddy turkeys." When we approached it that way, he got them ALL correct and enjoyed telling me where they went. I guess he's got the size concept down. Small, medium, and big are just not creative enough for him.

Baby Monkey is getting harder and harder to entertain while we do school. He really wants to be in the middle of it all, and playing with toys even next to Mama is not cutting it any more. I'm looking forward to the day when he can start his own activities - it's coming soon! Today we tried to let him have a dry erase crayon and a color the turkey page. He tried to color for a moment (not even long enough for me to snap a photo) and then decided eating the crayon was more fun. Note the blue marks all over his face. Dry erase crayons seem to dissolve in the mouth - yuck! Oh and yes, I know, my baby needs a drool bib.

Big Monkey was tracing his turkey maze from turkey to nest while Baby Monkey ate the crayon. Here he is erasing his work. 

Baby Monkey quickly moved on to a book. This entertainment lasted one activity I think. 

Big Monkey "fed the turkey." Each card had a little picture of items a turkey might eat (caterpillar, grass, berries, etc), and we talked about each and how a turkey might eat them. We also talked about the 4 wild turkeys that we saw last week when we were out on a run. What perfect timing! 

Some tracing, which is quickly becoming a favorite and Big Monkey is getting so much better at it. I'm excited to see these prewriting skills coming together for him. 

Then we tried something new - color by number. It quickly turned in to Big Monkey telling me what color I was supposed to color with. He did well though telling me the correct colors for each number. It was fun. 

Then Big Monkey insisted that he show off his turkey from yesterday, again. I told you that this was a favorite.

I turned around to find this: Baby Monkey with my expo dry erase markers. Oh so not a good combination, but look at how happy he finally is! He was not so happy when I took them away. They are not crayola washable, sigh. 

I had Big Monkey matched letters to "turkey." We haven't worked on lower and uppercase letters, so this was new. He did well. He could match them all except the little r. He kept turning it upside down and saying it was an L. When I told him that it was a baby R, he said "why does it have a handle on it?" Ummmm... because baby letters do?? 

We ended our morning watching Charlie Browns' Thanksgiving. Then while I cooked dinner, Big Monkey played with the skittles turkey. He matched up about 5 skittles to the colors and then started eating the ones on the turkey. Then he went back to sorting and insisted that he needed one more purple because he had a purple spot with no skittle. It was cute. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gobble Gobble

So today we started our Thanksgiving theme! We talked a little about what thanksgiving is and why we celebrate as well as how we celebrate. Big Monkey seems excited about this turkey business, but we'll see what he thinks when he sees me trying to stuff our giant bird into a bucket to be brined. I had Big Monkey start with some cutting practice. I gave him a prewrite sheet with straight lines to cut along, and he really enjoyed cutting from the turkey to the nests. I think using scissors is one of his favorite things.

Then we sorted mayflowers by size.

Sorted big Ts and little ts. Big Monkey did really well with this. I wasn't sure since we haven't really done big and little letters.

Baby Monkey climbed on the exercise equipment and kept me on my toes.

Then we traced the letter T and colored some turkeys. Ok, well, Big Monkey colored 2 turkeys. He's really not into coloring any more for some reason. He really loved to color between 18 months and about 2, but not so much any more.

Lastly, we made a paper turkey! I cut out all the pieces and Big Monkey glued them on. Suddenly he's having a hard time using the glue stick (he didn't have a problem with it until I introduced him to elemer's glue. I think he just wants to use the squeeze glue so he pretends that the glue stick is too hard to use). So I also ended up helping put glue on everything, but Big Monkey put everything in it's places (with a little guidance as to where the eyes and tail feathers were supposed to go). He carried this turkey around the rest of the day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last week

Well, it seems that Mama Monkey is really good about completing the blog at the beginning of the week. Not so much by the end of the week. Honestly, I'm not even that good about getting the dishes done by the end of the week! I'm usually having too much fun with my boys.

Here are some of the highlights to the end of our week. We did a lot of tracing practice. Big Monkey really likes using the dry erase markers on the laminated tracing pages, so I ordered some fine tips in multiple colors for us to try out. So now we can stop using Mama Monkey's calendar dry erase markers.

Big Monkey also did the scarecrow do-a-dot printable several times. Did I mention that I love my laminator? My do-a-dot markers even "erase" from my laminated sheets if I wipe them off before they dry all the way. A little dry erase cleaner never hurts either. We're trying our best to save some trees over here in Monkeyville.

So we tried a little "science" with our weather theme. I read somewhere about this activity describing how rain works. You take a bowl with a little water and a cotton ball and talk about how the water evaporates into the clouds (dip cloud into water). Then when the clouds get full and heavy and can't hold more water, the water comes out as rain (lift cotton ball up for water to drain like rain). Um, yeah, it did not work like this for us. When I picked up the cotton ball one little drop of water came out, IF I was lucky! Look at Big Monkey's face in the photo - he was so unimpressed that he wouldn't even pick up the cotton ball for the photo. I had to! Oh and he kept telling me again that the cotton ball was stinky.

The sensory bin was my friend this week. Baby Monkey and I caught a cold Big Monkey got at the beginning of the week. No matter how mild the cold was, I had no energy. The sensory bin offered me several hours of keeping Big Monkey entertained while I either rested or did things like cook dinner. We went back to our "fall" sensory bin with red beans, white beans, and silk beads. New additions including small plastic slinkys and a small glass baby food jar with lid. He loved loading up the baby food jar with beans and then pouring them back into the bin.

The letter tiles were also a lot of fun, and a good second use for our Scrable game. Big Monkey matched up the tiles to the letters on the scarecrow page. He liked using tiles.

We also made a "sun" out of construction paper. Big Monkey turned it into a circle with triangles glued all over it, but it is still displayed in our front window.

Next week: Thanksgiving! Since we have a lot to do this week, there may only be highlights, but get ready for lots of turkey crafts (hopefully).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So Tuesday we repeated a lot of the same activities as Monday. We added the book "Weather Words" as well. It was quite a bit over Big Monkey's head, but we looked at the pictures and talked about different kinds of weather in our own words. It was fun. Then we went on a playdate with Big Monkey's best friend, whom we will call Ladybug. They had a great time together. They haven't seen each other in awhile, so it was a nice change.

Today we talked a lot about snow in addition to our worksheet work. Turned out to be a fun day. We don't get snow where we live, so Big Monkey has never seen snow before. So we made snow today!

We started with the less exciting stuff. We did "how many crows are next to the scarecrow." We made it through 2 numbers before Big Monkey quit and moved on.

Then we tried some pattern practice. I had Big Monkey try to copy the pattern card. Nope, that didn't last at all. So we put it away and tried some tracing. He likes that, but is always done very quickly.

Then we tried the "what is different." He did okay with that. Got some of them right, not others.

Baby Monkey practiced his crying and walking skills.

Then we tried cutting practice by making a snowflake out of construction paper that we had painted a previous day. The paper was a little too thick for Big Monkey to successfully cut though, so I helped.

Then we did some bead pouring and moved into the kitchen. We talked about temperature. I put together 3 little bowls. One with ice water, one with warm water, and one with hot water (not burning hot, but hotter than warm). Then I had Big Monkey touch each one and tell me which was which. He did great with this.

Then we made snow! I have an ice shaver and I froze the ice last night. He was very excited about this. He touched it, put the snow in the little bowls and watched it melt in the water, and ate it. I liked this activity. While a little messy, nothing stained, and it kept him busy for a good half hour. I could have kept him busy longer if I had frozen 2 blocks of ice. It's also a good hydration tool. I might do this on other days when I just need to get something done. We are currently having a meltdown over being done with our school activities. I'm going to have to really start to get creative and it looks like school is going to start taking several hours if he wants more than what we have been doing lately!