Saturday, May 25, 2013

Toddler Learning Schedule

Levi has been alive for a little over 22 months.  I was pregnant and tired 9 of those months, and have been tending to my new baby, Jonah, for 3 of those months.  In other words, Levi has had to endure 12 months with less attention than I’d ideally like to give him.

I finally have some energy again, and I’ve started to get into a decent routine, so it’s time to get back on track with my toddler!  I came up with a loose curriculum to keep me focused on his developing brain. 

We are simply rotating through several activities a week. Each day of the week has a different focus.  That just means we will either talk about the subject of the day off and on all day long or we will actually sit down and learn/play for 15 min-1 hr once or twice a day.

He is like a sponge at this age, so I really want to take advantage of that.  Trust me; there will be days when we won’t be able to keep up with this plan!  I also didn’t want it to be overwhelming to him or me.  I wouldn’t be interested in doing this if it was something that wouldn't be fun and interesting to Levi, would wear us out, or may make me feel guilty if I couldn’t keep up.  We are likely to do many of the activities on the schedule every day anyway, so it's just a good way for us to go into each day with a specific focus.  It will remind me each week of all the wonderful learning tools that we have access to. 

Side note:  I’m not pretending to be an expert here.  We’ve never done anything like this before.  I do not have concrete plans to home school or send the boys to public/private school, but I figure this is good practice should I end up being a home school mom or doing after school learning with them. 

So without further ado, here is our very loose toddler learning/playing schedule:

Monday-Basics Day
We will be looking at lots of books, learning our ABC’s and 123’s, colors, shapes, manners, foods, drinks, and lots of other words. 

Tools:   books, games, toys, DVDs, felt board, interaction

Tuesday-Music Day
Music day will be full of music, of course, with all of Levi’s toy instruments.  We will also dance, exercise, and just try to move a lot!  I also think it would be fun to learn lots of new songs.  I WISH we had a nice piano!

Tools: instruments, music, exercise/dance videos we can do together, singing songs

Wednesday-Language Day
This day we will focus on English words first, and then we will talk about simple Spanish words.  I don’t know how this will go, but I thought I’d give it a shot since he is absorbing so much information at this age.  We might incorporate some sign language in, too.  He watched a few Signing Time DVDs when he was younger, so we may watch those again.  

Tools: DVDs, books, interaction, flash cards,

Thursday-Craft/Art Day
We will be playing with play dough/clay, markers, crayons, and doing various crafts that toddlers enjoy.  (I really need to learn more fun toddler crafts!)

Tools: craft/art supplies, internet: for me to find toddler crafts

Friday-Play/Toy Day
We have lots of toys around here!  I feel like we don’t use them all enough though, so I want to sit down and play with Levi and his toys more.  I enjoy play time together and he does, too.  This is a good way for us to really bond and to utilize all the awesome toys like his building blocks, puzzles, shape sorting toys, Mega blocks, cars, trucks, etc.  Summer is the BEST, because we can also go outside and play in the kiddie pool, sandbox, on the swing-set, etc…

Tools: TOYS!

This is really an everyday thing to be honest.  He is more into helping me with cooking, doing laundry, and cleaning the house than ever before.  We will do a lot of those things this day.  He likes to figure out how to do things on his own.  I think this day will be good to help him gain some independence and confidence (not that I want to rush him growing up!).  I am going to ask him if he wants to pick out his own clothes, brush his own teeth, clean up his messes, and I may even try to start potty training.  Whew.  Wish me luck.

Tools: patience, clean-up crew, books/videos on potty training

Sunday-Science Day
Michael, Levi’s dad, is in school for chemical engineering, so I thought that he would have fun showing Levi some neat, easy experiments.  I could do them with him, too.  I’m thinking of baking soda and vinegar in sand volcanoes type of stuff.  We will also focus on biology and learn about animals, plants, insects, etc.  We have some flash cards for this, but also just going outside and looking at the flowers and digging in the dirt will be an excellent learning tool.  What toddler doesn’t like getting dirty?  I think going exploring around the city and going for walks is another great learning tool here.  We can talk about everything we see and hear. 
Tools: flash cards, outdoors, interaction, books, experiments

Here is the felt board we will be using.  You can easily make one, too.

I made these signs for each day to hang on the fridge, so Levi will maybe get an idea of what we are focusing on.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Flying Jonah Photos

Have you seen those really cool sleeping baby photos by Adele Enerson?

I love them.  I think she did a great job capturing her baby's "dreamland" .  I wanted to try to do one of these photos for Jonah's three month pictures while he was asleep.  Well...I don't know how Adele does it!  He woke up as soon as I transferred him to the floor.  I bet if I let him fall asleep on the floor, it might work, but big brother Levi probably won't let him lay there without trying to walk on him, kiss him, and point to all his facial features while yelling out their name, "Jonah's nose!"  Maybe I will come up with some way to do this.  I have some really cool ideas, Jonah.  I just need you to sleep!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Blogging: Let's Be Honest

There are three adjectives that I’d hope would describe me in general and as a blogger, although I can’t say that they completely do at this point:
I think lots of bloggers hope to be TRANSPARENT, then wind up picturing their readers disapproving and become afraid of what their mothers in law, high school acquaintances, and total strangers would think if they truly described how they were feeling and their inadequacies.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Butternut Squash Casserole

Have you ever wondered what the heck to do with the butternut squash that's been sitting on the counter all week?  I always find myself looking up recipes for it, but have never fallen in love with one.  Tonight, I made a casserole using butternut squash, onions, broccoli, and bacon.  I was literally licking the serving spoon and dish clean!

I would say this recipe should be able to feed four people as a side item, but I'm not too sure about that.  It's so good that it only took my one year old son, my husband, and myself to finish it off.  Levi even ate his broccoli, no questions asked!  Woohoo!  In all actuality, it should feed a family of four as a side.  There probably won't be any leftovers, mind you. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Make Your Own Project Table

From the moment I saw one, I fell in love with the idea of owning my own project table.  I spent a lot of time searching for one online that I could afford.  That never happened.  They usually range in price from $399-$600.  So, I decided to make my own!

I tried to make this project as simple as possible, but still structurally sound, inexpensive, and eye-catching.  I'm going to explain how you can make one, too!

It only cost me $185.00 to make my table.  Including the storage bins, it was a grand total of  $227.  Not only that, but you do not need to use a hammer or nails.  It may not even cost you this much to make the table, because you may have some of the needed items on hand already, and you may be able to find items at better prices than I did.  For instance, I know that you are able to buy the storage bins online for less than I bought them for at Home Depot.   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Upcycled Baby Food Jars

With my first son, I ended up buying quite a few jars of baby food.  I thought I'd keep some to try to find cool uses for them, and have discovered that the possibilities are endless !  I will likely be adding more pictures and ideas to this post as time goes on, because I feel like I'm constantly finding other great ideas for the jars.