Chinese New Year

I’m just now realizing the problem with a blog like this is that I really need to do activities with the girls before the holiday.  Oh well, I’m learning.  Luckily Chinese New Year, which started last night at midnight, lasts for 15 days.

Skills: geography, social studies, art,
Prep: low

To start we looked at picture from our trip to Virginia to visit family recently and reminisced about our New Year’s Eve celebration with my awesome sister and her family.  The girls had a great time dancing and playing with their cousins and still talk about it.  Then we looked at China on the map and talk about how this is when they celebrate the New Year.  My main goal is just to start exposing them to the idea that people live all over the world with all different ways of living.  You can find great maps through World Atlas.

We made paper lanterns to decorate the house.  The girls painted colored construction paper and then, since they are still too little, I put them together during nap time.  We kept ours very simple, but they could certainly be much more elaborate.  The girls thought they were cool and I think they are so festive that we’ll probably leave them up for the girls’ half-birthday (yes we celebrate those).

Another fun craft project was making dragon masks with the template I got here.

And of course we had Chinese food.  Since we are really focusing on eating healthy food at home (as opposed to going out, take out, or quick to make but bad for you meals) I am making stir-fry from Cook This, Not That–which I love!  I know that it is not the most authentic of meals but maybe next year when the girls are more involved.


Snow! Snow! Snow!

I wanted to do something for the winter season but we were so busy getting ready for Christmas during December that I wasn’t able to until now.  Sure it’s been in the 60s at times this past week, but talking about snow helped us feel a little wintery (which can be hard in the desert).  Here are some of the crafts, songs, and other activities we did this past week.

Skills: Color recognition, math concepts, letter recognition, counting, fine motor skills, art, music
Prep: medium (cutting out pieces, making felt board pieces)

Hey Mr. Snowman

Supplies: Construction paper (black, red, brown, blue, green, yellow), White cardstock or thicker paper (I was out of cardstock so I used paper plates)

These snowmen came out so cute!  I got the poem and idea from a storytime blog, MiSS ALiSON iS BLOGGiNG.  Before we started, we compared the circle sizes, choosing the big, little, and medium circles.  Then we glued them together to make the snowman.  I had all the pieces cut out ahead of time so that we could glue them on as we went through the poem.  You can find templates for the pieces here.

I went walking through a winter wonderland
and spied a frosty snowman who needed a hand.

Hey, Mr. Snowman, what do you need?
“I need BLACK EYES. Put them on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, what do you see?
“I see an ORANGE CARROT. Put it on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see a BLACK TOP HAT. Put it on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see some BROWN STICKS. Put them on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see a GREEN SCARF. Put it on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see some PINK MITTENS. Put them on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see some BLUE BUTTONS. Put them on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see some YELLOW BOOTS. Put them on me.”

Hey, Mr. Snowman, now what do you see?
“I see the coolest snowman ever. Me!”

Dance Like Snowflakes

Something to the tune of “Frere Jacques” is perfect for us since since my girls are really into repeating songs–we sing a line and they sing it back.  The girls actually loved this song and kept singing it when Ed came home.

Dancing snowflakes, Dancing snowflakes,
In the air, In the air.
Whirling, twirling snowflakes, Whirling, twirling snowflakes,
In the air. In the air.

(Source: http://www.hummingbirded.com/winter-snow.html)

In addition to learning this song, we also played instruments and danced to Christmas songs about snow (“Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”).

S is for Snow


Supplies: Cardstock (light colored), white paint, Q-tips

We focused on the letter S this week for snow.  I cut out large S’s from light blue cardstock (I actually used my cricut to them) and then the girls painted “snow” on them.  The plan was to use Q-tips to make dots of snow, but two-year-olds don’t always follow plans.  Apparently a blizzard hit because after a few dots with the Q-tip, they moved on to finger painting the entire S.  🙂

We also colored worksheets on S is for Snow that I found here

Snowman Felt Board Stories

I thought these snowmen were adorable and can’t wait to use them  from this one were so cute.  I found the poem along with the template for making the snowmen here, courtesy of A Child’s Place.

5 Little Snowmen

Five little snowmen made of snow,
Five little snowmen in a row.
Out came the sun and shone all day.
And one little snowman melted away.
Continue for 4, 3, 2, 1

5 Little Snowmen

Five little snowmen knocking at the door,
One melts away and then there were four.
Four little snowmen climbing a tree,
One melts away and then there were three.
Three little snowmen looking for something to do,
One melts away and then there were two.
Two little snowmen are now having fun,
One melts away and then there was one.
One little snowman all by himself,
He melts away and now there are none.

Snow Treats

We also had some special snacks to go with our snow theme.  We made snow cones–we happen to have a little snow cone maker that we bought a few years ago and used for the first time.  We also had melted snowman cookies, my new cookie of the winter season.  Here is the recipe for them. 

To make life easier, you can find all the poems and songs here.

And of course, I had to include a picture of the girls enjoying real snow…

 

 

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.  🙂

 

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