We completed our first week of our letters curriculum this past week and it was a blast! It was, of course, A week and while I didn't have too many overly exciting ideas for this week, Ethan was still so excited to be back into the swing of things with our regular tot school activities.
We live in Florida which means that alligators are pretty typical. My parents have a lake house up in Central Florida that sits on a huge lake that is filled with alligators. I wanted to incorporate alligators and their habitats into this week's lesson on the letter A somehow but was having some trouble finding a toy alligator. By pure luck, we found one for a dollar at Deals in the pet toy aisle and so Ethan's alligator habitat was born!
Since alligators nest in the muddy waters, I mixed some baking cocoa powder in with some water until it got thick and goopy. I made some "pollution" with beads and cardboard and paired this activity with a little fish net. The point was for Ethan to clear all of the garbage and pollution out of the alligator's habitat using the fishing net and place the garbage into a "garbage jar." He loved the idea of cleaning up the alligator's home, even if I had to keep singing the clean-up song from our My Gym classes, and he loved getting his fingers messy in the chocolatey mud. He kept the cardboard pieces in the habitat and treated them as little docks for the alligator to climb on and lay on. He really loved this toy alligator, too -- I think he took it everywhere with him this week once it was all cleaned off. It's been really amazing watching his imagination kick in to the point where he loves to play with the alligator and make it do things or say things.
While at Deals (I wonder if they're hiring spokespeople -- I fit the bill, apparently), I found a little antelope that you stick in a container of water and over a few days it grows six-hundred times it's size. There was really no fitting activity for why we were seemingly drowning the little antelope in a vat of water, but Ethan was sure it was just going "night night" so it really didn't need much explaining. Instead, I just wrote out a card about the antelope living in Africa to familiarize him more with the look of the capital and lowercase A. Actually, this antelope got huge after a few days, but reeked of pretty nasty chemicals when it was done growing so I kept it more or less out of Ethan's reach. It was still cool to watch it grow!
Ethan also used a Do-A-Dot marker to make a capital and lowercase A. Since the paper was white and the dots were red, I put out a blue marker for this activity to use the colors of the American flag. (See what I did there? American flag!) He didn't really like this activity very much. For each dot he'd put in the correct place, he'd put another dot elsewhere, or on the table, or on the floor. Toddlers.
One tot tray that was a huge hit this week was the airplane tray. I printed out a dotted capital A and found a little airplane figurine at Deals. Ethan's job was to drive the airplane over the shape of the A which he happily did over and over and over again. This was one of his favorite activities this week, even if it provoked a huge meltdown each time we had to leave the tot school room without the airplane.
Another one of Ethan's favorite trays would be a letter A matching game. I printed out some pictures of things that begin with the letter A, and wrote what each one was. Ethan had a second set of corresponding pictures to match to the first ones. He wanted to this one repeatedly each day until the end of the week when he got bored of the same basic pictures to keep matching.
I also found this huge styrofoam airplane for a dollar at Deals and knew it would be perfect for A week. Ethan decorated the airplane himself using EZPaint and then we brought it out back to do some airplane flying.
As a fun "A week" project this week, we made applesauce! Before his Kindermusik class, Ethan and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some organic apples. Ethan really liked making applesauce -- we made it in the crockpot and the house smelled so good all day! -- because there was so much he could do. Aside from slicing the apples, which I did for him, he basically did it all: placed the apples into the crockpot (not without sneaking some bites here and there), poured in the applejuice and shook the cinnamon onto the apples.
We made a lot of A week art this week. Ethan's still crazily obsessed with making art. We did a spur of the moment beading activity using pipecleaners: Ethan put beads onto the pipe cleaners and I helped twist them into an A shape for him.
Once of Ethan's favorite art projects was the "magic A." We did this with a capital and lowercase A. I cut out an A shape and placed it into a blank piece of paper. Ethan painted on it and around it and was so excited when I pulled the A off to display the letter written in the paint.
I also gave Ethan a piece of laminating paper which he got to paint. When he was finished painting the sticky paper, we chose a piece of construction paper to stick the laminating paper to. As a result, the painting he did on the sticky side of the laminating sheet spread and smushed and ended up looking pretty cool. He asked to do the "sticky art" again.
I also found a set of alphabet stampers in the closet for some reason and so we had some fun using the letter A stamp:
This past week, Ethan checked out the following titles from the library:
Monster Mash by David Catrow
No More, Por Favor by Susan Middleton Elya
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
Color Farm by Lois Ehlert
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom
The Three Bears by Byron Barton
Baby In A Car by Monica Wellington
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