Our Schoolroom for Tot School

Our schoolroom isn’t much yet. It certainly isn’t organized the way I want it. I need more bookcase storage. I would love to have the children’s books organized by topic. I would love to have room for all the workbooks, papers, CDs, etc. But the children are only two and three years old so I have time to get things improved for the more serious years of study ahead.

What I like about the playroom/schoolroom is that its the dining room of our house. It is right to the side of the kitchen (which is where I spend most of my time when I am home) so I can easily supervise the children while they are in it. More and more though the children are going to their room to play – which is just awesome. On the downside, our extra large table is crammed in our oblong living room.

This month I had the rare opportunity to straighten things up a little bit. So I took some pictures so you could see. This little area holds supplies, including papers, scissors, glue, crayons, tape, puzzles, workbooks, etc.  This area holds their workbox drawers as well as their small table. And it serves as the storage room for their amazing strider bikes.

These two shelves hold the majority of stuff – arts and crafts, puzzles, pom poms, magnifying glasses, games, trays, etc.

I have the children’s workbooks crammed on this shelf (as well as a bunch of foster care paperwork on the children).

And another picture of the room. You will notice hear the large wall of artwork. I change it out about monthly.

And here are some of my favorite additions to our tot school supplies. These are Kumon dry-erase cards.

The children’s tot school is trucking along smoothly. They still work on their workboxes each day. I almost always fill up each of the 6 drawers daily with activites – mazes, letters, dry-erase work, puzzles, games, learning toys. I found out the nanny is actually seperating the children during this time – so one child goes to the bedroom to play while the other does the boxes. Otherwise she said their attention is alwasy focused on their sibling. In a way this is nice because the children get to focus more on the skills they are learning, on the other hand I want them to be able to work at the same time.

For more information on tot school, check out 1+1+1=1 here.


Petra’s Painted Nails

Petra is very girly. She loves to have her nails painted. The last time she tried to do this by herself, she found some bright red nail polish that she spilt all over her hands….Imagine the horror when a friend’s daugther found her with red liquid all over her hands, screaming … well thats a different story.

 She also loves dresses. In fact, she loves long dresses. If the dress is short, she is not interested. I like to think its beause she is modest. But really its because she believes long dresses are fancier, and the fancier the better. Same thing goes for skirts. She doesn’t want to wear a skirt unless its long. And if you haven’t noticed, most toddler skirts do not come in ankle length.  Anyway, she carries on complete conversations these days about dresses, nails, shoes, etc. She was telling me a few nights ago, in a very elaborate manner, that when she is older she will be able to wear heels. And when this happens she is going to get a pair of glass slippers, a blue pair like Cinderella. And also a blue gown, one that is long and sparkley, so that she will be dressed up and so pretty. Her conversations with us are now turning into paragraphs of thoughts and ideas. It is so neat to hear her talk in multiple sentences. (And on a side note, for Christmas we looked for the movie Cinderella and weren’t able to find it, but she loves the story)

With that in mind, I thought you might enjoy these photos. Last week (while I was at work), Petra found a black sharpie marker and decided to paint not only her nails, but also the nails of her new princess doll. When I finally got home and discovered this, I had a very hard time not laughing. I hope that it wasn’t encouraging. I also had to get photos. I hope that wasn’t encouraging. And then I told her how she shouldn’t write on herself and her doll. So maybe I sent mixed messages – but I think she got the point. I guess we will have to see if it happens again.

Tot School – I love our workboxes

Petra is 37 months, Jasper is 27 months

Ever since the introduction of workboxes, tot school is going great. These things have made the biggest difference in helping me ensure I have set activities for the children, in helping us stay on task, and to boot the children love that they have them. Honestly, I’m feeling very, very good about the workbox system and would swear they have made a 100% improvement in our tot school activities.

Jasper this morning asked to do his boxes. And this is a normal occurrence. Neither of the children can wait to do one box, especially to get to the next box. The boxes also help me communicate with the nanny what I think the children should be doing daily. I know that if Petra and Jasper complete their boxes when I’m away, then the goals I had set for my children are being accomplished even if I’m not home. The boxes have also helped me identify the children’s strengths and weaknesses in certain skill sets. It also helps me learn which activities interest them the most.

Jasper for instance is doing great at puzzles. My sister was visiting over the holidays and commented about how great he does with the puzzles. Now, don’t get me wrong, he has a long way to go – but for 27 months he is doing really well. Petra also has her strengths. Her handwriting and pencil holding is fabulous. She is working quickly through her next book of mazes. She has completed about half of her new Kumon maze book.

I have had a time with our camera lately. The computer stopped reading the media card – I think it’s the card’s fault though. So, I really don’t have that many pictures to share – which is a shame because I have taken quite a few over the last few weeks. Generally, the children are each doing 6 activities a day, five days a week – or 30 activities each week. They are working on: puzzles, tracing, block building, playdough, coloring, painting, cutting and pasting, stringing beads, picking up pom poms with tweezers, lacing cards, counting, reading, and so much more.

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For more information on tot school, check out 1+1+1=1 here.

Brilliant Kale

I recently bought some gorgeous, green kale from our new Earth Fare in town. So I thought I might share with all of you my favorite ways to eat it.

1. Add some to a berry smoothie – the children have no idea they just gulped some healthy greens.

2. Make kale chips. These are addictive to myself and some of the neighborhood children. Very simple to make. Tear leaves off stems, coat with olive oil. You can also add lemon juice for tangy chips. Or garlic and Parmesan cheese, or other spices. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 until crispy.

3. Make a kale salad. Tear leaves off stems. Sprinkle salt on top and massage with hands. Set it aside while you cut up other salad veggies. Coat kale either with an avocado, or half apple cider vinegar and half olive oil.

Update on Everything You’ve Missed

This is my attempt to post an update on everything you have missed…or you could rephrase it to mean everything I have failed to post. However, since that is more than I can remember in one sitting this post will largely be photos.

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Jasper is doing outstanding on his bike. We have to run to keep up with him. Dad took him out to the park and he was able to ride on the small radio control car course – perfect size hills for a small toddler. The next time out to the park he was willing to try the official BMX course and he did fantastic. Petra was also willing to try it – but I had to hold her jacket while she went down each hill – she still needs to work on balance and gliding – but she is doing great as well. Jasper has had his bike about 2 months longer than Petra and it shows – plus he’s more of a daredevil which helps. When she turned three her princess gene sequence turned on.

This is the first day at the radio-control course.

Then this was this weekend when we went back and he was on the big BMX course.

It’s important that you watch where you are going when you ride on this course.

I also have a small video of Petra uploaded if you are interested in it – it can be difficult to hear with a lot going on in the background. We went to a foster care Christmas party and Santa was there. At first, she was terrified of Santa and didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Near the end of the evening, Petra was missing from our small circle of friends and family. We found her on Santa’s lap. Santa’s helper said that she had brought each gift over to him to show him what she had received. After that she proceeded to sit with him and carry on some extensive conversations. My favorite part is where she tells Santa she can’t eat a bowl full of jelly because it will make her sick.

And here is one more fabulous video of the children singing Away in the Manger during the Christmas Eve service at church.

I will be posting Christmas photos in another post.