Monthly Archives: January 2012

Music as Brain Food for Tots

Kindermusik classes in South West Atlanta are starting soon! You can check out the instructor’s, Ms. Wendy’s web site at www.mylittleovertures.com. She is a retired music teacher of 31 years and would be glad to have you and your little one in her class. A.J. and I will be participating again. We hope to see you and your little one, too!

A.J.'s first Kindermusik class participants

In Kindermusik class

I made some matching instrument cards for A.J. found here.

We played a few times so that he could get the hang of it.

My Sister bought A.J. a keyboard for Christmas. He likes to play it, especially when I have to put his drum away because he threw it on the floor out of frustration! (I must say that he has stopped doing this over the past week!)

A.J. playing his keyboard

Last weekend my husband and I took A.J. to see the performance “Blast.” It is a drum, dance, musical ensemble that is EXTRAORDINARY! I had never seen a performance like this before. The musicianship was incredible and the drummers inspired A.J., too! I found this YouTube clip of one of the numbers called Drum Battle. It’s off the chain on video, but even more so, live.

A.J. with his Dad and two of the "Blast" percussionist.

This Saturday we attended the Honda Battle of the Bands. Although Florida A&M  University was not in attendance, the schools that represented, showed up and out!

Finally, the Library of Congress has wonderful Podcasts on Music and the brain. Check  out these podcasts,  here.

How do you share music with your little one?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

DIY Face Painting for My Little Warrior

Homemade face paint

I made some fun homemade face paint for A.J. that I discovered through my absolute favorite site, Pinterest. The site Kleenexmums.com  had the recipe and I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand. 

1 tsp face cream (I had a generic brand from right aid)

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp water

drops of food coloring 

I didn’t leave the paint on long as I wasn’t too sure about how our skin would react. Everything turned out fine. There’s no staining or breakouts to report! 

I showed A.J. photos of people in other cultures who paint their faces and bodies.  

The look on A.J.’s face was priceless, too bad I didn’t have my camera available to capture the shot.

Do you have another recipe for face painting that you use?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Bath Time Fun with Blinging Ice-balloons & Other Developmental Activities

Blinging ice-balloons

There is so much you can do with balloons and food coloring. Ice-balloons for bath time or snow fun is one of them. Freezing balloons with food coloring inside is  a neat idea that I discovered from the blog Hurrayic. A.J. thought it was fun, too. He didn’t want to handle the cold balloons as much as he did the ice cubes, but he liked watching the ice balls melt in his bath water.

We also practiced Circular Arm Movements by scrubbing potatoes. This little scrubber is perfect for A.J.’s small hands.

I wanted to practice his 3-finger pincer grasp by using a clothespin to transfer mini pom poms, but he was not ready for this activity. Instead, he used his hands, but in all honesty, he wasn’t feeling this activity at all and only did it once. He dumped out the mini pom poms and went on his way. Oh well…

I'm done! NEXT.

To keep A.J.’s interest we played “marching band.” I put in a video of Florida A&M’s Marching 100 band and we danced and marched around. A.J. didn’t know that we were in fact developing his Gross Motor Skills!

What other balloon fun have you had lately?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

3 Simple Ways to Share the Love of Reading with Your Little One

Many kids lose their enthusiasm for reading early in their educational process. A.J. loves to read and I’m going to do my best to keep his fire for knowledge and reading blazing! Here are 3 simple ideas that I’m incorporating to keep his fire burning:

Can you spot the present on the shelf?

1. Wrapping new books – I will attractively wrap any new book that buy for him and place it on his bookshelf as a surprise. This will not only give him an opportunity to practice Wrist Motion, but inspire him to read the new book.

2. Rotate books available to him – I want to keep the books that he has available to him fresh. Displaying the covers of the books instead of the spine only entices A.J. and other little ones to pick up books to read. That’s why having a front facing bookshelf is helpful.

3. Place words of items around the house – Lastly, the more words A.J. knows, the better off he will be when he starts reading more comprehensively. He now enjoys pointing out the items in the house with labels.

What are you doing to keep your little one(s) engaged in the love for reading?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

DIY No Sew Puppet Theater and More Streamer Fun!

My first DIY puppet theater

A.J. experienced a puppet theater for the first time this week. I created a show based on his favorite stuffed animals, featuring one of the characters in particular. The title of the show is Chip Makes Choices and So Do YOU! Hey, what can I say, it’s never to early to start teaching about decision-making. I performed act one and will complete the rest of the acts this weekend, when I finish writing the script.

I had the idea of creating a puppet theater for a long time, but Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool made it look easy, inexpensive and doable. Pictures of her puppet theatre made from tri-fold poster board was the inspiration I needed to move to action. Thanks Deborah!!

In order to make my stick puppets I took pictures of A.J.’s stuffed animals, laminated them and cut them out. I placed each photo on large colored popsicle sticks and voilà!

Starring: Fievel, "Nesi" The Dragon, Polar Bear, Chip and Cookie

I cut an old panel curtain to make the curtains for the theater. There was no sewing involved, only staples and duck tape! I used the art supplies I had on hand to decorate and have since thought of other creative ways to enhance the set during performances.

It was important to me that A.J. saw my puppet show first, so he wouldn’t or should I say, I wouldn’t think less of my homemade version once we saw a professional show at the Center for Puppetry Arts. Okay, I know I need to relax!

A.J. on a tour of the Center for Puppetry Arts

Although The New Adventures of the Gingerbread Man was elaborate and entertaining, seeing it didn’t diminish the pride of my first attempt at creating a puppet theatre.

I must admit though, the artistry of the puppets seduced me into purchasing two after the show.

The new kids on the block!

Yesterday, we also had more fun with streamers! This time I taped several on our ceiling fan. I dusted the blades first, which was something I needed to do anyway.

I turned the fan on low and let the streamers gently swirl. I intentionally taped the streamers away from the lights to avoid a fire hazard. I also cut the streamers short enough so A.J. wouldn’t step on them.

A.J. playing in the swirling streamers

Oh, the joy of simplicity!

Do you have links to photos of your homemade puppet theater that you’d like to share? If so, share your links in the comments section.

Pray, Persist & Prosper!


Celebrating the Kings & More Streamer Fun!

Every King has a Queen and Coretta Scott King was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Queen. I found some excellent, free printables of Dr.King to color at Family Education. This site has a wide selection of printables for holidays and even for Black History.

Board book about Coretta Scott King

A.J. learning about when Dr. King met Coretta.

Celebrations and streamers go hand and hand. We had more streamer fun today. I took down the “streamer net” and tied it to an extendable curtain rod that I placed in the entryway of our kitchen. I saw this done over at Having Fun at Home and had to try it!

What did your little one(s) do to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

7 Wrapping Tube Sports for Tots

Balloon volleyball with tubes as posts

1. Balloon Volleyball with Tubes as Posts – I used old wrapping paper tubes and covered them with wrapping paper for a uniformed look then slid them onto two paper towel holders as posts. The painters tape is kind of tacky, but it worked to keep the posts in place.

A.J. loved throwing the balloon over the “net.” He also enjoyed exploring the streamers. My makeshift net probably won’t last too long though because he’s kind of rough with it, but that’s okay.

Balloon Tennis or Balloon Swat

2. Balloon tennis or balloon swat These DIY racquets are made from cut pieces of tri-fold poster board. I covered the boards with thick scrapbook paper and added popsicle sticks for handles. I doubled the sticks for a sturdier grip and duck taped them to the boards. I also used pieces of clear tape around the handles to keep them from shifting during play. Although I am a tennis player, I got this idea from Toddler Approved. They used paper plates, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used what I had available.

A.J. had fun with his racquet although he preferred to hold the square part instead of the handle. I will keep these in storage and bring them out periodically until he gets better hang of it.

Tube Slide

Trinkets to slide

Tube sliding in action

3. Tube Sliding – One of my favorite blogs is MontessoriMOMents written by Lori. Although I saved several of the tubes for “projects,” I hadn’t done anything with them. I saw the tube sliding on Lori’s blog and got excited because I knew A.J. would probably enjoy it, too. And I was right. He got a kick out of sliding items down the tube and watching them either land in the basket or spin up and out of the basket due to speed.

We haven’t tried the next few activities yet, but they’re on my play list.

4. GolfI will use a tennis ball and cut the tube for A.J. to use. When he gets older, we can use golf balls and a club. His Auntie plays golf, so we will have to get him ready!

5. Baseball – I really should say, “balloon ball.” He can hit the balloon with the tube as if playing baseball.

6. Fencing – The tubes look like they were made for jousting. Why not explore this sport and use it as a learning opportunity.

7. Javelin Throw – I can see A.J. throwing the tube like a Javelin during outdoor play. Ohhh what fun we will have!

What are some other ways you’ve used wrapping paper tubes for toddler fun?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!


I’m 17 Months-Old Today!

I'm too into this iPhone to look at the camera or to hold Mommy's sign!

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

The Key to Nurturing Divergent vs. Linear Thinkers

A.J.’s imagination and creativity are flourishing more and more each day. He turns any item into a drum, lines up his stuffed animals to participate in  Circle Time, simulates watering plants with his rice milk carton and the list goes on.

I want to do everything that I can to foster his curiosity and imagination  so that he can become a divergent thinker, but one who can also think linearly when necessary.

Melissa Taylor of Imaginationsoup sums up the concepts of divergent and linear thinking quite well:

“Linear thinkingor convergent thinking, is about learning facts, following instructions, and solving problems with one right answer. Certainly it has it’s place. Math is an example of convergent thinking. Standardized tests are convergent as is the IQ test.”

She goes on to say, Divergent thinking is generating unique solutions and seeing various possibilities in response to questions and problems.”

So what’s the key to nurturing divergent thinkers? Encourage imaginative play. It turns the ordinary into something extraordinary, at least in my little one’s eyes!

Q-tip painting – I first saw painting with Q-tips at La classes della maestra Valentina.  And then my imagination began to soar by thinking about all the different types of every day tools that we can use to paint, such as: bobby pins, cotton balls, contain lids, string, and pipe cleaners, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to the exploration!

Tearing paper – What great fun! But is not as easy as one may expect for a 16-month old. Although A.J. tore a few pieces by himself, he is still grasping the hand motion. I helped him by holding one end of the paper and letting him tear. By practicing this activity he will strengthen his Circular Wrist Motion. We ended by using our imagination to turn paper into snow.

A.J. huddled his furry friends close by during this activity. He wants them to play, too! I encourage him to talk with his furry pals and to show them what he is learning.

A.J. dumped the paper on the floor and played with it for a little while. We put the pieces back into the bowl. Then I started to pretend that it was snow and dumped the "snow" on A.J.

It's snowing! (What ever that is!)

He helped me put the paper back into the bowl.

Sweeping the floor – A.J. loves to sweep the floor. He has his own broom and enjoys this aspect of Caring for his Environment. What was special is that I turned the broom into a microphone and began to sing to A.J. He got a kick out of this and serenaded me back using his broom as a mic!

A.J. sweeping the floor.

He is simulating putting trash in the garbage can. Gotta love it!

Using the broom as a microphone.

I know that it will be important for me remain conscious of not becoming, too focused on A.J. memorizing and “getting the one right answer.” Reading Melissa’s post was a refreshing reminder of the importance of fostering children’s imagination and I hope this post is a refreshing reminder to you, too!

How do you nurture your child’s imagination?

Cornbread as Sensory Play

This buttermilk cornbread smells and feels good!

The other day I needed some time to handle business during the day, but A.J. wanted my full and undivided attention. I had to think of something quickly that would keep his attention while I answered a few e-mails and completed some work for my outside job.

The previous night I made some buttermilk cornbread. I never made buttermilk cornbread before, but after trying it, I don’t plan on making it again. Instead of throwing it away, I left it on the counter. When I was looking for something that would keep A.J.’s attention without me, I turned to the cornbread. I crumbled it up and made it a sensory item for A.J. to explore. Since it’s food, I didn’t mind him putting it into his mouth or eating it! I laid down a tarp covering, which I bought at Big Lots (read the nightmare post about that!) and let A.J. go to town. Melt down averted!

My mouth is full of Buttermilk Cornbread!

Oh my! I put some in my hair, too!

What are some successful ways that you’ve occupied your child in a pinch?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

7 Activities That Demonstrate How Water Play Develops Important Skills

Oooooh. Nice looking ice, Mommy!

1. Melting Colored Ice in Warm Water – Although it is winter, I want A.J. to experience some water play outside of the bathtub. The Mommysaver blog shared this neat colored ice idea. However, instead of adding the ice to bath water as the site recommends, I decided to put the cubes in a large bowl. I added warm water so that A.J. could watch and feel the ice cubes melt. The bright colors (which quickly turned dark), texture of the ice, and warm water all fascinated him.

I was so enthralled by his reaction that I didn’t point out the colors. Next time I most definitely will. This activity reinforces color recognition.

Ice melting in warm water.

Ice is cold.

2. Scooping Ice – helps toddlers perfect their three-finger (pincer) grasp which is important for writing. This is a fine motor skill development activity that will help toddlers gain better control over their arm and hand movements. I dumped the melted ice and added the colored ice without water.

Scooping the ice into a bowl.

Yay for me!

Ooooh Gosh this is fun, but my hands are freezing from playing with the ice!

3. Pouring – is another fine motor skill act. However, it encompasses the whole hand and in Montessori education, this would be considered a Whole hand Grasping activity.

I'm helping Mommy to water the plants.

Since A.J. is watering a plant, Montessori educators would also categorize this activity as practicing Care of the Environment. Other activities that fall under this category are:

  1. Sweeping the floor
  2. Mopping the floor
  3. Cleaning spills
  4. Wiping a table
  5. Washing a dish
  6. Drying a dish
  7. Washing a cup
  8. Drying a cup

4. Wringing a Washcloth or Sponge – This is when things went a little awry. A.J. flung the sponge and water went flying every where. He thought this was funny. Wringing a washcloth for a pre-toddler is challenging because it requires a circular wrist motion, a skill that needs practicing in order to be strengthenend.

After a few minutes of playing with the sponge, A.J. turned the water bowls upside down and began drumming on them. Anything with a flat bottom is at risk of becoming a drum!

Hmmmm, I wonder what sound this new drum will make?

5. Cleaning Spills – is an important part of caring for your environment and teaching this skill so that it becomes a habit for kids is crucial.

Wiping a spill.

6. Spray & Play – I leave a spray bottle with water on the shelf so that A.J. can give it to me anytime he wants me to chase and spray him. I enjoy listening to him squeal with laughter as I chase him around the house. The water is gentle and comes out in a light mist. I especially like to spray him so that he can get accustomed to water unexpectedly getting onto his face. Being comfortable with water in your face is important when learning how to swim. The running also helps him with his Gross Motor Skills.

7. Carrying a Bucket of Water – Actually, this could be carrying a bucket of anything. I haven’t done this with A.J. yet, but I plan to do it soon. Carrying a bucket develops Control of Movement, another area of development in Montessori education.

While the water play activities mentioned here all have latent skill building components, having fun is the surest way to get your toddler doing these activities again and again.

What fun indoor water play have you had with your tot lately?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

7 Brain Boosters for Tots (Part 2)

This post is a continuation from yesterday’s post, 7 Brain Boosters for Tots (Part 1).

Eye Drop Art – I made the design in the middle and A.J. made the rest. We used food coloring and an eye dropper to create these masterpieces! During this art project, A.J. unknowingly practiced his three finger (pincer grasp) which helps in the preparation of writing among other fine motor skill activities.

Even his favorite stuffed animal, Fievel, got in on the action!

A.J. enjoys Fievel's company.

Popscicle Puzzles –  I learned about this project over at the blog, Impress Your Kids. Additional insight into the benefits of puzzles is from Patricia Bentham of Kindergarten Lessons. According to Ms. Bentham, puzzles:

  1. Develop vocabulary
  2. Increase small muscle development
  3. Develop eye hand coordination
  4. Improve memory skills
  5. Increase problem solving skills
  6. Build spatial perception
  7. Build literacy skills
To make this puzzle:
1. Tape popsicles together
2. Turn it over and place picture on to the sticks
3. Glue picture to sticks then cut with a sharp object such as a box cuttter
4. I used markers for the numbers, but next time I will use stickers for ease of removal. You can also choose not to add numbers to up the challenge level of this activity.

Although this was challenging to A.J., he enjoyed looking at the picture of himself with his Auntie "Gee Gee" and playing with the popsicle sticks. In due time he will better understand.

Pasta Stick Rings – This is a wonderful activity to further develop fine motor skills and the three-finger (pincer) grasp. I saw it on Mya and Me blog and had to make one for A.J. It’s usually done with pasta sticks stuck in play dough, but I didn’t have any play dough on hand so instead, I used a salt container. This worked out perfectly.

A.J. had difficulty with this when he used his right hand. But when he used his left hand, his dominant hand, he could do it.

Pipe Cleaner Fun – The objective is to make designs putting the pipe cleaners through the holes of a strainer. I filled the holes on this activity and A.J. was more than happy to pull them out and more! I found this idea from the blog Nobody Has More Fun Than The Adams.

Here is a bonus activity for you that we also did. I’m not a big fan of posters, but I do what I can to make it come alive and get A.J. moving. I took this color and shapes poster and re-created the shapes. A.J. places the shapes onto the shapes on the board. There are creative ways to use these cut outs, but for his age level, this is all that we do for now.

I do my best to credit the source of activities on this blog. If you share your activities with me and I use them, I will be sure to give you credit as well.

With that being said, are there any activities that you’d like to add to this list?

Pray, Persist, & Prosper!

 


7 Brain Boosters for Tots (Part 1)

I love playing with A.J. and seeing him engaged in activities. Besides drumming, he gets a kick out of putting items inside of things (like the garbage can.) While a muffin tin doesn’t have a lid, I added the Muffin Tin Matching game to his shelf along with a lock and key. Also on his shelf is a numeral recognition matching game to help boost his brain power and fun quotient!

Muffin Tin Matching- I found some red and green Christmas bells at the dollar store that I thought would be perfect for this game. A.J. loves the sounds the bells make, especially when they clink against the tin. I have several pattern combinations that are printed. A.J. actually followed a pattern, but I think this was by accident. When I changed the pattern, he was still focused on the joy of putting the bells in the order that came to his mind. He understood the one to one correspondence and was happy to put them in and dump them out to start again.

He wanted his stuffed animals to watch and learn, too!

Lock and Key – Every time A.J. sees me with keys, he wants to play with them. He tries to insert them into car doors or keys holes on doors in the house. I bought a simple lock and key for him to play with and it was a hit. Although he was able to get the key into the lock, he is working on strength to turn his wrist.

His focus was completely on the lock. This engaging activity is improving his concentration.

A.J. was inspired to add playing with his lock box, which has several different types of closures for kids to play with.

Numeral Counting – I called out the numbers, which actually goes up to ten, but in this particular session we focused on 1-5.

Pointing to objects is exciting. I ask him to repeat after me so that he can learn as he explores.

At first he was using his drum sticks to point to the numbers.

Stay tuned for Part II of this post. What fun learning explorations are engaging to your tot right now?

Pray, Persist, & Prosper

DIY Bath Paint Equals Water Fun!

Happy New Year Dear Readers!!

It’s been a busy holiday season, but ohhh so fun. Let’s start with DIY bath paint that I learned to make from the blog Having Fun At Home. All you need is a muffin tin, shaving cream and food coloring. I also had a leftover paint brush that A.J. used.

The paint colors were vivid and attractive to play with.

 

My sister also visited during the holidays. We always have a blast when we are together.

Sherria, JaDawn and me with A.J. Earlier that day we ate at This Is It and finished up some shopping. Sherria was thoughtful to buy A.J. a Mr. Potato Head, too.

We met writer friend Pamela Antoinette at Jeju for some pampering and then met up again the next day to eat at Papadeaux Seafood Restaurant.

Having a blast at Hippo Hop!

A bracelet I made for my Sister.

A.J. was excited about all the special gifts from his Auntie “Gee Gee.”

His grandparents sent us a gift so that we could purchase A.J. a big wheel. We were able to do that and more. We were also able to get him Congo drums and an electric drum machine. That was so sweet of them.

We did attend a couple of Kwanzaa events. We especially liked the all female drum ensemble, Giwayen Mata. A.J. was mesmerized by the drumming. We attended church on New Year’s Day, then Skyped with My sister and parents, which was a perfect way to end the holiday season and to begin the New Year.

Pray, Persist & Prosper!