Reusing Items For Learning Fun

I talked last month about Unilever and their commitment to donating meals to those in need. I found out that this was just a part of their sustainable living plan. They are also working on improving health and well-being, enhancing livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. They are working towards a goal of 100% renewable energy. I think that the work this company is doing is amazing and it makes me want to work harder at reducing my own environmental impact. Wondering which of your favorite brands are made by Unilever? Take a look below!

I went shopping and bought some Bertolli meals and some Lipton Iced Tea. I love the Bertolli meals because they are easy to make and taste delicious. Here was last night’s dinner:

Jacob is not a huge potato fan but he loved the potatoes in this meal because of the sauce they were in. After dinner I wanted to find a use for the Lipton Iced Tea bottles. We recycle some items into a recycling bin but lately I’ve been trying to create more with “trash” and save what I can to reuse. My favorite way to do this is by incorporating them into learning for my preschoolers.

When I taught preschool I had some “sensory bottles” in my classroom. They were fun to shake and look at for the children and I wanted to make them with my own kids.

I used the Lipton Tea bottles that were empty and instead of throwing them away I reused them for this fun activity. First, I rinsed them clean and let them dry. Once that was done I called the boys to the kitchen table and we got to work. I had decided we would make two different types of bottles. The first we made was a “find and seek” bottle.

I filled a bottle halfway with rice and put some letter beads out on the table. I then called out letters and the boys would have to find that letter and put it in the bottle. They thought this was a lot of fun and they liked helping mommy.

After all the beads were in we added more rice. We filled up the bottle but left a little empty space at the top so that the rice and letters inside could move around. A little tacky glue in the cap to ensure we wouldn’t have a huge mess on our hands if one of them got it open and we were done with our first bottle. The boys liked shaking it up to find all of the letters in their names.

Next, we made some water filled sensory bottles. You can fill these with anything you’d like but we chose sequins and glitter and then added a few drops of food coloring in the water.

I let the boys put their own sequins in their bottles {warning: little hands putting little pieces into little bottles makes a huge mess}. They worked at this diligently for a while since they could only get a few pieces in at a time. I then helped them sprinkle glitter into their bottles and we filled them with water. I let them pick out the color they wanted to make their water and squeezed the food coloring in. I added a bit too much to Jacob’s and his turned a very dark shade of green. Lucas wanted red so I just added a few drops in his. I also added a little dish soap to put some bubbles in it.

The last one we made I decided to do half oil and half water. I put in some vegetable oil, a little glitter, and some drops of food coloring. The boys watched as the food coloring didn’t spread, like it had in the water, but instead created tiny beads of color. I think a full bottle of vegetable oil would have been a lot of fun. I added water and the colors bled together though it was still fun to watch the water and oil separate.

The boys enjoyed putting these sensory bottles together and then playing with them. I’m looking forward to creating more crafts with them using recycled materials. Someone suggested making a planter out of a Country Crock tub and I think the boys and I might do that as the weather gets warmer.

How do you reuse items for learning fun?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever  #cbias #SocialFabric )

Tot School: Turkeys

MONDAY:

Craft- Potato Print Turkey

Song- Did You Ever See A Turkey?

Activity- Turkey Baster Painting

TUESDAY:

Craft- Hand and Footprint Turkey

Song- Five Little Turkeys

Activity- Pumpkin Turkey

WEDNESDAY:

Craft- Fingerprint Turkeys

Song- Six Little Turkeys

Activity- Make Banana Gobble Pancakes

THURSDAY:

Craft- Coffee Filter Turkeys

Song- Turkey On The Farm

Activity- Gobble like a turkey

FRIDAY:

Craft- Turkey Windsock

Song- Fat Turkey’s Song

Activity- Make turkey sandwiches together for lunch

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Ten Homeschool Room Setups I Love

Lately I’ve been spending hours looking at other people’s setups for their homeschool rooms. Here are ten spaces that I LOVE (click on pictures to go to the corresponding posts):

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To find out more about Tot School you can visit 1plus1plus1equals1 and to find a linky of homeschool room setups you can visit Heart of the Matter {Online}.

Tot School: Shapes

MONDAY (circle):

Craft- Caterpillar C

Song- Circle Song

Activity- Play with balls

Snack- Slice fruits and veggies into circles

TUESDAY:

Craft- Shape button collage

Song- Shape Song

Activity- Glue Tracing (with shapes)

WEDNESDAY (square):

Craft- Square Puzzle

Song- The Square Song

Activity- Build with blocks

Snack- Graham cracker squares

THURSDAY:

Craft- Shape Sponge Painting (cut shapes out of sponges)

Song- Shapes

Activity- Shaving Cream Play (Drawing Shapes)

FRIDAY (triangle):

Craft- Triangle Fish Craft

Song- This Is A Triangle

Activity- Find triangles around the house

Snack- Pizza Slices

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School: Pumpkins

MONDAY:

Craft- Family Pumpkin Patch

Song- The Pumpkin Song

Activity- Play with pumpkin playdough

TUESDAY:

Craft- Paper Bag Pumpkin

Song- Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Activity- Carve a pumpkin

WEDNESDAY:

Craft- Paper plate Jack O Lantern

Song- Pumpkin Song

Activity- Family outing to the Pumpkin Patch

THURSDAY:

Craft- Paint a pumpkin

Song- Five Little Pumpkins

Activity- Make pumpkin pancakes as a family

FRIDAY:

Craft- Pumpkin Collage

Song- Five Pumpkins Fat and Round

Activity- Roast pumpkin seeds

Tot School: Spiders

MONDAY

Activity: Visit the library for spider themed books

Craft: Spiderweb art

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Snack: Pretzel Spiders

TUESDAY

Activity: Spider Tweezing

Craft: Spider Craft

Song: Spider Song

WEDNESDAY

Activity: Read The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Craft: Eensy Weensy Tracks

Song: Spider on the Floor (Raffi)

Snack: Spider Pizza

THURSDAY

Activity: Count spider rings or fake plastic spiders

Craft: Handprint Spiders (Thanks to @SippyCupMom for the suggestion on Twitter)

Song: Little Miss Muffet

FRIDAY

Activity: Make and decorate cupcakes together

Craft: Spider Candy Holder

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Snack: Spider cupcakes

 

Look at these super cute cupcakes my friend Camisha made for her daughter's birthday party!

 

Tot School: Farm Animals

MONDAY

Activity: Visit the library for farm themed books

Craft: Peek-A-Boo Barn Craft (Jake will color pieces)

Song: Old MacDonald Had A Farm

Snack: Crackers and Cheese

TUESDAY

Activity: Play with Little People farm and animals

Craft: Cotton Ball Sheep

Song: Baa Baa Black Sheep

WEDNESDAY

Activity: Read the Farm Animals e-book

Craft: Touch and Feel Duck

Song: Sesame Street- Have You Ever Been To The Farm?

Snack: Eggs

THURSDAY

Activity: Farm Animal Matching Game

Craft: Muddy Pig Craft

Song: Mary Had A Little Lamb

FRIDAY

Activity: Farm Puzzle

Craft: Feather Collage

Song: The Farmer In The Dell

Snack: Pigs in a blanket

WEEKEND

Activity: Visit a petting zoo, go on a hayride, and talk about the farm animals we see

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School: Zoo Animals

MONDAY

Activity: Visit the library for Zoo themed books

Craft: Sponge paint animal shapes

Song:The Elephant Song

Snack: Animal Chips

TUESDAY

Activity: Play with Little People animals

Craft: Paper Plate Lion

Song: Five Little Monkeys

WEDNESDAY

Activity: Dress-up in animal costumes

Craft: Foam Animal Sticker art

Song: Barney Alphabet zoo song

Snack: Animal shaped sandwiches (cut w/ cookie cutters)

THURSDAY

Activity: Playdough with animal cookie cutters

Craft: Animal print paper bag puppets

Song: The Bear Went Over the Mountain

FRIDAY

Activity: Animal movements (act like an animal)

Craft: Paper Plate Snakes

Song: Sally the Camel

Snack: Animal Crackers

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School: Apples

MONDAY:

Craft- Apple Print Wreath

Song- A Wiggly Worm

Activity- Go to the library to get apple themed books

Snack- Apples with peanut butter

TUESDAY:

Craft- Pom Pom Apple Tree

Song- Apples and Bananas (Barney song)

Activity- Play with cinnamon scented play dough

Snack- Applesauce

WEDNESDAY:

Craft- Color apples- red, green, and yellow

Song- Apples

Activity- Family outing- apple picking

Snack- Apples from the apple tree

THURSDAY:

Craft- Apple seed collage (glue apple seeds to paper)

Song- 1 little, 2 little, 3 little apples

Activity- Counting apples (numbers 1 to 5)

Snack- Apple chips

FRIDAY:

Craft- Apple Prints

Song- Apple, Apple

Activity- Make apple muffins

Snack- Apple Juice and graham crackers

Tot School: Celebrating Fall

Here are some of the activities I have planned for the week:

MONDAY:

Craft- Falling Leaves

Song- The Leaves on the Tree

Activity- Go to the library for fall themed books

TUESDAY:

Craft- Faux Stained Glass Leaves

Song- Leaves Are Falling

Activity- Rake up leaves and jump in them

WEDNESDAY:

Craft- Leaf Prints

Song- Little Leaves

Activity- Family Nature Walk

THURSDAY:

Craft- Crunchy Fall Leaf Prints

Song- Five Leaves

Activity- Make a nature collage w/ leaves and items picked up on yesterday’s nature walk

FRIDAY:

Craft- Fall Fingerprint Tree Craft

Song- The Leaves

Activity- Farmer’s Market visit- buy some gourds

Tot School: All About Me

Jacob is 27 months old. This week (and probably the next month) will be light with activities as we pack and prepare to move.

MONDAY

Activity: Look at family photos and help Jacob point out himself in the pictures.

Craft: Handprints on paper (w/ paint)

Song: I Am Special

TUESDAY

Activity: Point out body parts- focus on elbows and knees (body parts Jake is still learning to identify)

Craft: Footprints on Paper (color them and cut them out)

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Song

WEDNESDAY

Activity: Visit the library to check out books about this week’s theme

Craft: Make a “Jacob” placemat for the table

Song: You Are Special (Barney song)

THURSDAY

Activity: Count fingers and toes

Craft: “J” is for Jacob (glue jellybeans to a letter “J” cut out)

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

FRIDAY

Activity: Hokey Pokey dance

Craft: Lifesize Jacob (trace body on large paper and have child color it)

Song: Jesus Loves Me

ALL WEEK

-Point out the letter “J” whenever we see it

-Practice self-help skills

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School- The 5 Senses

This week in tot school we are talking about the FIVE SENSES. I had so many ideas for this theme that I almost finished the lesson plan in about 20 minutes with just ideas that I had used in the past as a preschool teacher. A lot of these activities can serve multiple categories but I chose the one that made the most sense. I will definitely revisit this theme again in the future. (Please note: this post contains a few affiliate links.)

SMELL

– Smelly playdough

– Color with scented markers

– Sticker art w/ Scratch n Sniff Stickers stickers

– Smelly tubes (film canisters work great for this… put scents on cotton balls, poke holes in the top of container, and have them smell)

– Bake cookies- smell them baking

– Smell fresh flowers

TASTE

– Make lemonade- taste lemon, then taste sugar, then make lemonade and taste that

– Make a trail mix w/ different toddler friendly snacks- include sweet, salty, crunchy, soft textured foods

– Have salty pretzels for snack

– Paint with chocolate pudding

– Brush teeth with different flavors of toothpaste

TOUCH

– Mix paint and grains of sand to make a textured paint

– Make a sensory box (I’ve used rice, sand, beans, packing peanuts, etc)

– Touch and feel box (here is one I like: What’s Inside? Soft Feely Box)

– Texture collage- cut up pieces of various textured items and have child glue on to paper

– Water play

– Squishy bags (put paint, hair gel, or something else “gel” like in a ziploc bag…make sure to tape around the edges)

SIGHT

– Read a book about the 5 senses like this one- My Five Senses

– Rainbow art

– Decorate a “S” w/ string

– Take a walk and talk about what you see in nature

– Blow bubbles

HEARING

– Play a clapping game

– Make a musical instrument (easy idea is put beans into an oatmeal canister)

– Play the drums

– Bubble wrap fun- put a strip of bubble wrap on the ground and let the child jump on it

– Dance to music

– Listen to music while painting

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School- Friendship

This week in Tot School the theme is: FRIENDSHIP and the letter F,f.

MONDAY

Activity: Look at pictures of friends and say their names. Talk about what a “friend” is (very basic).

Craft: Fingerpaint the letter F

Song: ‘Make New Friends (but keep the old)’

Book: Winnie the Pooh- Two Friends

TUESDAY

Activity: Decorate a card for a friend and send it in the mail

Craft: Friendship Wreath

Song: ‘The More We Get Together’

Book: The Lion King’s Best Friends

WEDNESDAY

Activity: Practice sharing with mommy, daddy, and Lucas

Craft: Make a photo album with friends pictures in it

Song: ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ on CD

Book: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

THURSDAY

Activity: Go fishing (w/ paper fish and a stick w/ a magnet on the end of the string)

Craft: Glue goldfish onto a blue paper for an underwater theme

Song: Friendship Song (Barney)

Book: Alphabet Books- Find the letter F

FRIDAY

Activity: Decorate the letter “F” using a fish stamp

Craft: Rainbow Fish Craft

Song: “I Will Make You Fishers Of Men”

Book: The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

WEEKEND

Activity: Playdate

Movie: Barney movie about friendship

Tot School- Family

This week in tot school our theme is family. I will be separating the activities by day instead of type because I think that it will be easier to implement.

*MONDAY- Family

Activity- Family Tree

Craft- Family Handprints

Song- ‘God Made Families’ Action rhyme

Book- My Family and I/Mi Familia y Yo by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza, Prayers For Family Golden Book

*TUESDAY- Mom/Dad

Activity- mom Spanish card , dad Spanish card

Craft- Draw a picture of mommy and daddy– adult writes words “mommy” and “daddy”

Song- ‘Hush Little Baby’

Book- Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleban, My Dad by Debbie Bailey, Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse, Picture Me as Mom’s Little Helper by Wendy Rasmussen, Back In My Arms by Dorothea DePrisco, If You Were My Bunny by Kate McMullan

*WEDNESDAY- Siblings

Activity- Help feed baby brother Lucas lunch, big brother Spanish card

Craft- Big Brother Crown

Song- ‘I Love You’ (Barney song)- teach Jacob motions and to hug and kiss baby brother

Book- I’m A Big Brother by Joanna Cole, Big Brother Bunny by Pamela Kennedy

*THURSDAY- Grandparents

Activity- Look at pictures of Grandma Jan (who passed away in June)

Craft- Grandparent Awards

Song- ‘Grandma’s House’ , A Song for Grandma and Grandpa

Book- Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz

*FRIDAY- Extended Family

Activity- Bake cupcakes for Aunt Morgan’s Birthday today

Craft- Make and decorate a card for Aunt Morgan

Song- Family Fingerplay

Book- Hugs & Kisses by Roberta Grobel Intrater

*WEEKEND- Family Traditions

Activity-Make breakfast as a family & eat together, Watch Barney movie “Families Are Special”, Play w/ Personalized Peekaboo Book

Craft- Make a photo book of family members

Song- Review songs from the week

Book- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE: 

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School- Love (2/15-2/19)

Since Valentine’s Day is today (the 14th) I decided to focus on the theme of LOVE for the week after the Holiday.

Activities:

*Color the snow- put some red food coloring in a spray bottle of water and spray the snow to color it

* Heart path- Hearts taped to ground, jump from heart to heart

* Make Valentine’s Cupcakes

* Make Jello Jigglers

* Gather all heart shaped toys and count them into a red valentine’s basket

* Play with red playdough- make a heart shape

Crafts:

*Potato Heart Stamp Project from Elise Blaha (found on Cafe Mom)

*Decorate a construction paper heart with glitter, crayons, and stickers

* Handprint Valentine w/ words “I love you this much” in between hands

* Love Collage- pictures of people Jacob loves glued on paper

* “Things I Love Book” (idea found here at Creative Homemaking)

* Love Bugs (from Just For Fun)

* Popsicle Stick Picture Frame decorated with hearts and will put picture of family in it

* Kissing Hand Necklace (idea from No Time For Flashcards). As a working mom I love the idea of this necklace. The Kissing Hand is a great book. I own it but it is currently in storage with the rest of my preschool books.

Songs:

* “I Love You” (The Barney Song)

* If You Love Me (to the tune of: If You’re happy and you know it)

* Jesus Loves Me

Board Books:

* I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

* Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse

* Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

* I Love You Very by Flavia Weedn and Lisa Weedn

* Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

* Max’s Valentine by Rosemary Wells

* Hugs and Kisses by Roberta Grobel Intrater

and a variety of other small books about love

 

Find my winter themed lesson plan here.

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

Tot School Review- Winter Wrap Up

Today was the first week of tot school. It didn’t go quite as I would have liked it to because I found that though I had a list of activities for Jacob to do I needed a lot more time to prepare each night. From now on I will have all of the activities and materials ready at the beginning of the week so that I don’t have to worry about the “lesson plan” the night before.

Below are some pictures of this week’s fun:

Snow Fun

Snowflake Art

Fingerpainting

Jacob's First Art Project w/ Glue

Jacob's First Time Using Scissors

Tot School- Winter

This week’s theme is: Winter

Here are a few of the activities that I have planned:

* Bring the snow indoors- It is supposed to snow tomorrow so we will be bringing snow into the house. We will use a bucket to fill the sink up and sand toys to play in it.

* Coloring a snowman printout from Confessions of A Homeschooler

* Song- “I’m a Little Ice Cube” from A to Z Kids Stuff website

* Chalk winter themed picture- Use white chalk on a blue piece of paper

* Cutting practice sheets from Confessions of A Homeschooler

* Winter themed board books

* Snowman Craft- gluing cottonballs onto a snowman shape

* Play with white playdough

* Footprint snowman from PreschoolLearningandCrafts.com

 

Looking for Valentine’s Day themed ideas? Find my Valentine’s Day lesson plan here.

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FIND MORE TOT SCHOOL CURRICULUM THEMES HERE:

http://www.makingtimeformommy.com/lesson-plans-for-toddlers-preschoolers/

 

Toddler Time- Structure

This past weekend I spent a lot of time daydreaming about what I wanted for my toddler, Jacob. I had been thinking lately that I really wanted him to have more structured time and guided play and less free play. I will be creating “lesson plans” each week. There will still be a large amount of free play but I think these additional activities will be wonderful for him.

I have spent hours tonight online looking at different sites (mostly homeschool sites and preschool lesson plan sites) and also have years of experience working with young children so I am very excited about all the fun that Jacob is going to have each week.

I came across something called “tot school” on http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com and I love the idea of it so I will be participating and linking up. The main point of tot school is that it is FUN for the child. I truly believe that children learn through play.