Tot school – Workbox Update

(Petra is 40 months, Jasper is 29 months)

Don’t pass out. Yes, this is two posts in one night. But don’t worry, I’m sure it will be followed by a uncontrollable posting drought.

The children still LOVE the work/school boxes that we have set up for them. In fact, I can’t change Jasper’s boxes out when he is awake because he gets so mad about me taking the items away. It is so cute to see them get excited about them. Sometimes its the very first thing Jasper wants to do in the morning. He doesn’t want breakfast or juice, he wants to do his boxes! It surprises me. I almost didn’t give him workboxes because I thought at 2-years-old he would be too young – just goes to show you that even toddlers love them.

Tonight I sat down with Petra and Jasper and had them show me how they did on the assignments today. I don’t get to see them actually do the workboxes since I’m away at work myself, which means I need to continually check their skills to see how they are progressing. They didn’t mind one bit. In fact, they just started pulling everything out and redoing it. It turned into a little repeat tot school tonight.

I was amazed that Jasper was able to do the simplest maze. Which is really amounts to more pencil control than anything. And he is a whiz at puzzles. I bought some wooden puzzles from Goodwill recently. The apple puzzle you will see in the picture has three pieces that join together to make the apple (plus leaves) and the crayon puzzle is sorted by size. These are so easy for Jasper. And he does them over and over again. I think 20 times over probably isn’t enough for that boy. I love these puzzles because they are more complicated than the average tot puzzle, but not too complex. They seem to be just right…but they are so hard to find. I am in LOVE with these Judy Instructo puzzles.

Petra is continuing with learning to write her letters. She did a pretty good job writing her name this week. She gets confused with letters on lines – she starts tracing the lines as well as the letters. But Thomas had her trace her name this week and then try it on her own, and that worked very well. She did excellent. (in the picture dad wrote the top version of her name, and she did the bottom) She finished another maze book this month. So we are advancing again. I’ve given her a couple weeks break from them, but she seems ready for more. I can’t seem to find any puzzles that are a good match for her level. During any free time drawing she usually ends up drawing a lot of shapes and swirls – I think this is largely due to the Kumon tracing shapes cards that we have. She often just starts drawing squares and other objects.

Reading also clicked with Petra this week. She sounded out the “_at” words – pat, mat, sat, hat, cat, etc.

Both Petra and Jasper are doing fabulous at counting objects. We have the Match It Mathematics self-correcting puzzle pieces and they do great on the basic counting. Petra can count up to ten, and probably a little past it. And I haven’t figured out how far Jasper can go yet; but its over 5.

Tot school activities are still focusing largely around basic skills – letter tracing, coloring, painting, puzzles, alphabet and number recognition, etc. I just don’t have much time to do much around themes. I wish I did. Last week for St. Patricks day they did some themed activities. We even went on a clover hunt and talked about how St. Patrick used the clover to share with others about the holy trinity.

We’ve also worked on prepping the garden and getting some vegetables planted. The weather has been warm, in the 80s already. I guess that’s the benefit of living in Florida. So we even had some play time with the water hose. And we took a hike this past weekend. We saw so much – different types of fungus on the trees, a water moccasin (see if you can find him in the photos), an empty wasp nest, large magnolia leaves (we talked about the shiny and dull sides), acorns and hazelnuts, and we even saw large bones stuck up in a tree! It looked like some animal just stuck them there for safe keeping.

Today we talked about how birds are the only animals that have feathers. And that is how you can tell whether an animal is a bird. I’m going to try and follow that up this week with related activities…we will have to see how I do.

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Music with our preschoolers

Petra loves to sing. So much that she sings conversations sometimes. Last week, I tried to take it a littler further and get her and Jasper to sing everything we said to each other for about half and hour. They didn’t quite grasp the concept.

But regardless, Petra sings a lot. She sang to me tonight about how she had on a shoe and wanted me to look at it. That is just what she does. She is also asking for violin lessons – which I am of course ecstatic about. And she asked for this all on her own. She asked if she would have a coach that would teach her, like at gymnastics. We’ve checked out the classes in town, and found one teacher willing to possibly teach her using the Suzuki method beginning this fall! And in case you are wondering, it was THIS ONLINE VIDEO of Sirena Huang playing violin that inspired our 3-year-old’s request to start taking violin lessons. This video is amazing.

It seems like everywhere I turn I hear about the benefits of music with young children. I was reading last month about how exposing your child to music, especially to singing and body movements is said to be very beneficial to their overall learning and IQ. I checked music classes in town and there are Kindermusik classes and other creative music classes to help stimulate your child. But since I play piano I have never thought it was a wise use of money. In fact, I try to regularly play and sing with the children. I have a couple children’s song books that we use. And I keep asking Petra if she wants to learn piano – and she doesn’t yet.

But I realized last month, that our church was also providing valuable lessons to my child in regards to music. Here is video clip of Petra singing with some of the other children. For any newcomers to the blog, look for the little girl with the brown dress and bright orange flower in her hair. She is the second youngest in this group. And you can just tell she really enjoys it. (And of course, I just uploaded the video and now its 10 times blurrier than it was on the computer before I uploaded it…argh…so you will just have to take my word for it.)