Monday, February 27, 2012

Teaching Toddlers: 2 year old edition

Addison and I have been having fun playing and learning in 2012!  I am excited to share some recent activities we have done together.  I hope you find them helpful as you teach your little one!

Number Cards (idea found here)
Materials needed:
foam sheets (I used two colors- one for even numbers and one for odd)
permanent marker
beads, beans, etc (make sure your child is old enough not to put these small items in his/her mouth!)

Addison is comfortable counting, but she doesn't recognize many of the numbers yet.  This game is great because we practice counting as we fill each bubble with a bead, and she has many opportunities to look at each written number as we count.  It also encourages fine motor skills practice.

Shades of Colors (idea found here)
Materials needed:
paint chips

Before introducing this activity to Addison, I'm not sure to what extent she realized that each color has a variety of shades.  The word "match" was also new to her vocabulary.  Since playing this game she's frequently picked up two objects and told me that they match!  :)  This activity fosters hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as your child pinches the clothespins.

Memory Game

Materials needed:
Mickey Mouse paint chips (found at Home Depot)

I had not played a memory-type game with Addison prior to this one.  She caught on quickly and this has been one of her favorite games so far!  I usually only put out 3 color pairs at a time so she doesn't lose interest/get confused before the game is over.

Counting Boards (idea found here)

Materials needed:
number caps (I used baby food jar lids and foam sticker letters)
card stock

When reading books, Addison and I practice counting objects often.  She likes to hold onto my pointer finger as I point from one object to the next while counting.  This skill is difficult for her at this age as she wants to just touch the objects randomly while counting quickly.  It is taking a lot of practice for her to touch one object at at time while counting.  She loves this game and I am happy to have found another way to teach her to recognize written numbers.

Alphabet Train

Materials needed:
alphabet flash cards or puzzle (the puzzle works perfectly as the pieces are self-correcting)
various household toys and objects

Some good friends of ours gave Addison this great puzzle.  I love this puzzle because it creates one long " ABC train."  She is able to see that B and D are towards the beginning of the alphabet, L and P are in the middle, and U and W are at the end.  As we complete this puzzle over and over, I am able to have conversations with her such as "what letter comes after M?"  I give her a few moments to determine the answer herself.  If she does not know, we start singing the ABC song (while pointing to each letter) and I stop singing before I give away the answer.  She is quick to say the correct letter and then find it. 

Recently I've extended this activity into also working on her letter sounds.  Prior to beginning the puzzle I will have gathered various small toys or household objects.  I will pick one up and ask her what it is.  She will say "bottle" (for example).  Then I'll ask her, "what sound does bottle start with? /b/ /b/ /b/"  She will repeat the /b/ sound.  I'll say, "what letter makes the /b/ sound?"  She will respond by saying B and I will encourage her to find the letter B and put the bottle on it.  We continue this process with other objects until I notice signs that she's losing focus.  She loves this part of our game and again, it teaches her to remember which letters are in the beginning, middle, and end of the alphabet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 : Intentional

Last year, in 2011, I began to choose a word for the year.  BE STILL were my words for this past year.  I loved seeing how God used those words to remind me to sink into His presence when my natural tendency was/is to busy myself from the time I wake up until I get in bed at night.  By being still I was able to allow God to penetrate my moments so I was focusing and leaning on His strength throughout the day instead of my own.  I know that learning how to be still will continue to be part of 2012 and I am excited to continue to grow in that area.

2012 arrived much quicker than I was ready for!  With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I watched one day melt into another.  With each passing day, nausea and exhaustion (compliments of my 1st trimester)  overwhelmed me to the point where I felt as though all I accomplished each day was to take care of my family's basic needs.  I was in survival mode.  Now that the nausea has disappeared and my energy has returned, I am ready to get out of this rut and to be intentional with my time.

Through my study of Acts and Paul's letters in Bible Study Fellowship this year, I have been challenged to have an eternal perspective each day and to pray that God would enable me to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.  Above all else, this is my prayer for 2012 and the focus of my intentionality.

Other ways in which I plan to be INTENTIONAL:

1.  Eating a heart-heathy diet 
We have always been conscious of the food we eat, but now we really need to make it a priority to learn more about food in general and to find new, delicious meals that make our hearts and bodies happy.  My Hero was diagnosed with high cholesterol, so this is something I'm passionate about to make sure he is as healthy as he can be!  My goal is to have 20-25 healthy dinners that we can be excited about cooking and eating.  The first several months of this year will be dedicated to trying new recipes. Check out this post to follow our progress!

2. Weekly planned learning experiences for Addison
Unless I sit down and plan learning activities for my 2 year old daughter, one week melts into the next and before I know it a month has passed and I haven't spent as much intentional time learning with her as I want to.  She is so inquisitive and thrives on learning new things.  At the beginning of January I began planning 2-3 activities for us to do each week.  Be on the lookout for more "Teaching Toddlers" posts this year!!

3.  Monthly date nights with My Hero
This is pretty straight forward, but so important!  We've already been on a handful of dates this year and our time away together is always exactly what we need to refocus on each other.  We are thrilled about our 5 year anniversary trip that we just booked this past week!!!!  We will spend 4 days together in Amelia Island next month!!!!  Hurray!

5. Photography
Some dear friends of ours gave us an amazing photography book called "Understanding Exposure."  I have skimmed the book and have learned so much.  This year I want to read each page and apply what I've learned to improve my picture-taking skills!

Thanks for joining me on this journey.  Do you choose a word for each year?  If so I'd love to know what it is!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's a BOY!!

We found out this week that a little BOY is going to be joining our family in July!!!!!!!!!!!!

My heart is so full of love and excitement for this sweet little boy.  He's been moving all around- constantly reminding his Mama that he's growing just as he should.  Praise God!  We are so, so thankful to our Creator for hand-crafting this little miracle and giving him to us.

 "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name." -Psalm 103:1