Go To List

With the holidays and travel, it’s been awhile since I have posted.  While I will get posting again soon with activities and projects (the girls and I have already started working on some), right now all I have is a simple tip… my Go To List.

For some reason it always seems like the quiet toys get tucked away the most.  I’ll be putting things away in the closet and come across a game or activity that the girls love that I totally forgot we had.  And it seems like I have the hardest time coming up with things to do when when we need a new activity the most.  So I made a “Go To List” of games and activities.  When Mia and Zoe are bored or need to be redirected (the nice way of saying they are getting on each other’s nerves), I don’t even have to think about what we can do, just check the list and pick something.

When making my list, I tried to stay away from toys we have in plain sight and also chose to focus on quieter activities.  I laminated it for safe-keeping and keep it accessible in the kitchen.  Of course, you don’t need a fancy list, it can be handwritten and taped to the refrigerator or jotted down on a dry-erase board for you to add and change.  It just needs to give you ideas when you need them the most.

 

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

The girls love Christmas trees so much this holiday season that I decided to do a little mini-theme on them, inspired by the classic Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry.  In the story wealthy Mr. Willowby gets a huge tree that doesn’t fit in his house so he cuts off the top.  The top is passed along where once again it is too big and the top gets chopped.  Mr. Willowby ends up providing many with a Christmas tree, including the maid, the bears, and the mice.

We did felt board stories, learned about the life cycle of a tree, sang songs, and even made our own little trees, all leading up to decorating our family Christmas tree. We actually spread the everything out over two days, setting up the tree the first day and actually decorating it the second after all of our activities..

Skills: counting, science, math concepts (classification),fine motor, art, music, letter recognition
Prep: medium (if you have the supplies it really is a low prep time)

 Felt Board Christmas Trees

Supplies: felt board, green felt (I used two pieces of green felt from the craft store)

I cut out 10 fir trees out of green felt with the trees starting small and getting progressively bigger. I then layered the trees on the felt board to make one big tree.  As we read the following poem, we would take a tree off of the big one and add it to the board so that the number of trees would grow out of the bits of one tree just like in Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree.

One Christmas tree big and strong
Two Christmas trees, one short, one long

There are three trees so cute and green
One big, one small, one in between

Counting trees, one, two, three, four
I wonder if I’ll see some more

On the board now there are five
Those trees are doing a Christmas jive

All different trees are in the mix
So now our trees will number six

If I add yet another tree
Then seven trees stand before me

Oh wow isn’t it so great
All our trees add up to eight

In front of me I see a line
Of Christmas trees that number nine

A forest now we do see
A forest full of ten fir trees

While the trees were all out we looked at which one were bigger and smaller and counted them again on the board.  Then we sang the following song based on 10 Little Indians:

One merry, two merry, three merry Christmas trees, Four merry, five merry, six merry Christmas trees, Seven merry, eight merry, nine merry Christmas trees, Ten merry Christmas trees there.

Ten merry, nine merry, eight merry Christmas trees, Seven merry, six merry, five merry Christmas trees, Four merry, three merry, two merry Christmas trees, One merry Christmas tree there.

Life Cycle of a Fir Tree

Ahead of time, I printed out pictures of the different stages for a fir tree–seeds, sprouting, seedling, full grown, pine cone–and mounted them on construction paper.  The girls and I went through each card talking about what a tree was doing, really focusing on seeds and pine cones.  The second day we actually pretended to be trees, starting curled up in a ball as a seed and then growing big and tall.  It was a little silly but the girls thought it was funny.

Tree Cycle Pictures #1                       Tree Cycle Pictures #2

Pine Cone Christmas Trees



Supplies: Pine cones, green paint, pom pom balls, glitter, glue

We also made our own little Christmas trees out of pine cones (I remember doing this myself when I was little).  First the girls painted the pine cones green, next sprinkled them with glitter, and then glued pom poms on as ornaments.

As we live in the desert, pine cones are hard to come by.  I just picked some up at Michael’s.  They are the scented ones but that just added some extra Christmas cheer to the house. 

Other Activities

When starting our activities we talked about where Christmas trees first started, looking at Germany on the map.  If you don’t have a globe or map, you can find great maps here. We also colored sheets on T is for Tree and practiced the letter T using some of the worksheets found here.  And we sang the song “Oh Christmas Tree.”  To round off our theme, we cut our peanut butter sandwiches in the shape of a Christmas tree with a cookie cutter.

Finally, we were ready to decorate the tree!

 

Keeping Track of Multiples

One of the best pieces of advice I got when we were preparing for our twins was to keep track of their feedings and diaper changes.  It sounded silly at the time but after I had the girls there were sleep-deprived days when I did not know which was up and could easily have fed the same baby over and over.

With newborn twins you are so tired and overworked that it is easy to get confused.  Besides feeding the same baby twice, you could also miss one baby being constipated or having other problems.  Also with multiples you probably have even more people helping out than you would with one baby.  Your spouse, parents, friends, other family, may all be more involved.  Charting feedings and changes can make it easy to pass off the kiddos.

We started with charts they use at the hospital.  The nurses gave us extras to take home until we could make our own.  We saw some very complex ones online to keep track of every minute of the day, but, for our family, we found those unnecessary and were able to make up a simple one on the computer.

We kept track of their feedings (time, amount, order fed) and their changings (urine or stool).  I also wanted to keep track of tummy time because it is easy to overlook with two tiny babies and then included space to describe the day or special notes.

To help you get started, here’s our chart:  Twins Chart  If it was a feeding we filled in the amount portion, if it was a diaper change we checked if it was urine or stool.

Want to know the very best advice I got?  Whenever one wakes up, wake up the other.  And whenever one eats, feed the other.  Everyone says don’t wake a sleeping baby, but not with twins.  It gets them on the same schedule and makes your life easier.
Want more tips and advice for twins?  Check out Twins! Expert Advice from two practicing physicians on pregnancy, birth and the first year of life.

After we found out we were having twins, our doctor had to miss our appointment to deliver twins.  Her grumpy replacement, would not answer any questions for us.  Instead she told us to get a book on twins.  So we bought our twins book.  And then we asked our doctor a bunch of questions.  🙂

 

Christmas Colors Felt Board Story

I came up with this felt board activity based on the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.  It follows the same rhythm but uses colors and images from the holiday season.

Skills: Color recognition, language development
Prep: Medium (drawing/decorating the pieces did take some time, but if you use solid pieces of felt it goes much quicker)

 

White Snowman, White Snowman, what do you see?
I see a green tree looking at me.

Green Tree, Green Tree, what do you see?
I see a red hat looking at me.

Red Hat, Red Hat, what do you see?
I see a blue present looking at me.

Blue Present, Blue Present, what do you see?
I see a yellow star looking at me.

Yellow Star, Yellow Star, what do you see?
I see a purple stocking looking at me.

Purple Stocking, Purple Stocking, what do you see?
I see a brown reindeer looking at me.

Brown Reindeer, Brown Reindeer, what do you see?
I see an orange light looking at me.

Orange Light, Orange Light, what do you see?
I see _(Child’s Name)_ looking at me.

_(Child’s Name)_, _(Child’s Name)_, what do you see?
I see a white snowman, a green tree, a red hat, a blue present, a yellow star, a purple stocking, a brown reindeer, and an orange light looking at me.

Like most of our felt board activities, the first time we did this, I recited the poem and placed the pieces on the board.  When we went through it a second time, I tried to get the girls to say it with me as we pulled out pieces and put them on the board.

Ed drew the images for me, which I have included below.  You can cut silhouettes from colored felt or draw/trace images on  pellon to color in with oil pastel crayons.

Tree and Reindeer Images
Snowman and Stocking Images
Present and Hat Images
Star and Light Images

 

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