Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tot School
JJ is 15 months

St. Patrick's Day

This week I introduced JJ to his sensory box. He has been really enjoying it. The base of the box is green dyed rice, split peas, textured stickers and these little glass pebbles that he has wanted since he was first old enough to walk around the dollar store. I hedged about getting them for him, but he has been very good at not putting things from his sensory box in his mouth. Besides he is only allowed to have it with strict supervision.

  • Plastic bead necklaces
  • A bell wreath
  • A golden bow
  • A St Patty's day hat
  • A slinky
  • A pot with gold coins and a coin slot
  • Some faux plastic flowers with gold glitter
  • An assortment of gold and green curly ribbons
  • 2 St Patrick's day badges


Check back later this week as I post more St Patrick's day posts. Including Rainbow crafts and St Patrick's day meals.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

 Tot School
Tot School
JJ is 14.75  months

This week I introduced the concepts of matching and sorting. This is still a very abstract idea for JJ so even though we did some sort of activity involving matching or sorting everyday I wasn't sure he really got it. He never wanted to participate much and would never initiate these activities. Most of the time he was happy just to sit and watch me sort a variety of objects. The most involved he got was when we ran around the house locating objects for a matching game.
So you could imagine my surprise while feeding him dinner tonight, he sorted all his berries! Daddy had given JJ a big ol' pile of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries haphazardly plopped on his plate. JJ then proceeded so sort them very studiously 1 by 1 just as I had modeled with his trolls earlier in the week.
So even though it may not seem like your child is ever 'getting it'  don't give up because they might just shock you in an unexpected way. 


This week for sensory exploration I made gak, slime, ooze, oobleck or whatever you wish to call it. Basically it is a non-Newtonian fluid that changes viscosity with friction or pressure.  JJ was mesmerized by the it. He was a little iffy about touching it at first but then he start to really enjoy it. He likes this a lot more than play dough and finger paint. He loved it most when I would pick up a somewhat firm ball of gak in my hand the let it dribble out of my fingers. We would also try and play a variation of hot potato by passing the gak back and forth quickly before is dribbled away. We talked about thin and thick viscosity, hard and soft pressure and fast and slow friction. 

Recipe for gak 
  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Food coloring (optional)
I put the water in a bowl, added the food coloring first then slowly stirred in spoons of corn starch until the gak was a thick peanut butter consistency if stirred very slowly. 


This week I got JJ several sets of basic flash cards, such as, this version of fish and some picture word cards, so that we could start working on some matching activities. I really like the fish cards because we were able to use them to match animal adults and babies. We mainly did this by matching the animal onomatopoeia.

James had more fun with the picture cards. First I selected 4 cards for objects that I knew he would recognize. We then went on a scavenger hunt around the the house to find these items and then we put them in a little bag. I would lay down the cards and have James dig through the bag and pick out items to match with the cards. This entire activity contained motor skills, as well as sensory and cognitive. James is an active boy and a I think he is going to become a kinesthetic learner if he is like this when he is older.


Does anyone remember the troll craze of the 90s? I do. That was why I was stoked when I found a set of 20 mini and small trolls on ebay. I thought that they would be perfect for counting when JJ was a bit older. I found another use for them the other day. I decided to set up orange, blue and green plates so that JJ could put the matching trolls on them. He wasn't big into this activity. Mostly he just wanted to transfer all the trolls to the orange bowl, then run off. That is okay. What ever is fun. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

A little bit about discipline


I want to write a quick post about discipline. As a former nanny I do not believe that there is a cookie cutter approach that works for all children in all situations. There are a few ways that I have handled inappropriate toddler behaviour over the years. This is concerning toddler as JJ is only 15months old. As children get older discipline methods grow with them and communication becomes and essential part of it. 

Firstly all children are curious by nature, they like to explore, see how things work, push limit and model us. If your child is doing something behaviorally that you do not like, before you discipline them ask why are they doing that. Are they throwing their food over the highchair because they love to see it hit the floor? Or maybe they are done eating and can't tell you that they are all done. 
My son LOVES to play with my cell phone, camera and laptop. He isn't doing these things because he is naughty. He is doing them because he sees me do them and he thinks I am cool and wants to be just like mummy. Consider this their way of showing their love. 

IGNORE: I do this for small no sweat things as long as they are safe. For example they might be throwing their food on the floor, or slamming doors, or letting out an ear piecing scream. Sometimes they are experimenting about the world other times they want attention, even if it is negative. Doing anything at this point only feeds that attention and will make them do it again. Make sure to give them attention for good behavior.

REDIRECT: If your child is constantly hitting the dog, you can take their hand and guide it in big long strokes to show gentleness. Or if they are throwing things in the trash can, give them a laundry basket and have them throw their toys into that instead. Or just distract them with anther task. 

TONE: Often times some kids might be about to do something, like plug a cord into an outlet. Just using a firm NO *insert name* is enough to stop them. 

ASSOCIATION: I use this with tenacious children that constantly go back to doing something even if they have been redirected or told no. I create an unpleasant association to the undesirable act. For example... the other day JJ ripped the outlet protector off the outlet. I yelled DANGER (it is our big bad no no word) and clapped my hands very loudly near him. This made him jumped and even scared him a little. He tried to go back to the outlet again. I yelled DANGER and clapped my hands and stomped my feet. This time it made him cry. Lesson learned. He will not go near that outlet now. When he is walking and he sees it, he even moves away from it. 

RECIPROCATE: I have general concerns about this. If your child bites or hits you and you bite or hit them back you may be letting them know it hurts, but you are also letting them know that it is okay to bite, hit, pull hair, etc. When they are older I think that it works. Or to have it done to them by another child is much different than it being done by the parent that they trust. You can ask them to pull their own hair to then ask them how it feels. Right now the best way to indicate that it hurts you is to say a sharp OUCH. Or to tell them No, that hurts mommy, we do not hit, bite. etc. 

TIME-OUT: I think that many are familar with this. I don't like traditional time out. 1 min to childs age etc. 1 min is not that long, especially because the child has very little concept of time at 15 months. However we do practice a kind of child led time out. More like a banishment. JJ gets 3 warnings, then I point my finger and tell him to go to his room, you could use a corner of the room. He runs howling down the hallway and comes back out when HE is ready. He either gets the gist that what he was doing was not good and it gets him banished, or he has forgotten about what he doing. Either way, it works and it is out main way we discipline him. Which is maybe once every week or two. 

LEGITIMIZING EMOTIONS: This generally applies to tantrums. Kids are just like us they have real feelings. I don't know about anyone else but when I am having a bad day I don't want to be told to sit in the corner for 30mins and to have a timeout. Kids are the same. Sometimes they need to cuddle and cry all the yucky out, or they might need to throw a few things until they get out all that frustration. What I have done with all the kids I have worked with is to give them tools to deal with their emotions. I explain that it is okay to be angry that they can come to me for a hug anytime. Or they can go to their room and punch pillows etc. With JJ I say James is MAD and we *stomp stomp stomp* our feet. He has what we call the mad mat, it crinkles and plays music. When he is being bratty and having tantrums I ask him if he is mad and then send him to stomp on his mad mat. He gets over it pretty quickly.

Lastly and most importantly... RESPECT: Get down on your kids level, look them in the eye. Let them know that what they have to say IS important. You can show them this respect but also let them know that you are the parent. Children learn things from us. We want them to learn compassion, empathy, respect and strength right? Show this to your child. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Today we did blocks. This is not only a fine motor skill but it is also a problem solving or cognitive skill. JJ had to sort the blocks into the right sizes to be able to nest them. Then he had to face them in the right direction so that he could nest the next block. He has become quite accomplished at nesting 3 blocks at a time however when confronted with four blocks he is overwhelmed and struggles to do the task. To pique JJ's interest in the blocks I would start to play with them. I modeled how to nest them, then turn them over, stack them and knock them down. I used consistent vocabulary; in, over, up, down. JJ came over to knock the blocks down then proceeded to work on nesting them. He had no interest in stacking them.

JJ has discovered the joys of spinning and dancing like a troll. So we spent a lot of the morning doing that. 

Later I tried to demonstrate how to squat and jump. I would say down and up as I did these.  JJ isn't even close to jumping yet. He just stood there, sucked on his thumb and stared at me like a was a lunatic. However he must have been paying attention because later that day he proceeded to do several squats, followed by some failed jumps, all while he yelled UP!

We were able to have three successful reading sessions today. Which is a very impressive feat for us. I have been reading from this book called 3-Minute Stories: Fairy Tales. JJ seems to really like it. The pictures are vivid enough that he is happy to look at them, and the stories really are only 3 minutes 'short', which is great for a little busy fella on the go. Today we read Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and the Twelve Dancing Princesses.
We also spend the day flicking through a variety of DK My First Board Books. He really likes the farm, tractor, first words and body book.
Lastly I have been making it a habit of reading him more nursery rhymes. I have a set of books called My First Rhymes and My First Songs. These are my all  time favourite starter collection of nursery rhymes and songs. Between both books they cover the majority of well know mother goose rhymes. They are also shortened which is great at retaining JJ's attention while I read sing and finger play  through the books. 
Links to books we read today: