Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me. 🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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The Reading Habit

Even while I was pregnant with my firstborn Micah, my husband Chris had always expressed how much he wanted our kids to love reading. Not only that, his next goal was to make them understand and comprehend what they are reading. He would read a bible story to our boys while I was still pregnant. We admit and regret that we read more to Micah than Titus while he was in the womb. We kinda figured, Titus was “read to” a lot because he hears all the books when we read to Micah. Back then, we would either read a chapter a book that we go through as a couple or just a bible story to Micah right before bed. We wanted to get into the habit of reading to him every night even while he was growing in the womb. After he was born, we would continue to read to him every day. We practically memorized some of the board books because we’ve repeated it so many times! It was an investment worth making!

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Quiet time (bible reading) can be establish even at his age. 🙂

As Micah grew older, we noticed he was drawn to books more and more. He would choose to have some quiet reading time on his own after naps and before bed. He would look forward to reading time with Daddy after dinner and bible stories were a must before lights out. A few weeks ago, I noticed Micah “reading” to his little brother in the living room while I was making dinner. I heard him repeat the words on the page pretty accurately and I was totally caught off guard! I thought he was reading! But after a few minutes the words would dwindle down to something else. I realized he wasn’t reading the words but due to countless repetition of certain books that he absolutely loves, Micah has now memorized the words on the page. He was reciting the words (in surprisingly the right order) to Titus. As he turned the page, he continued on. He would even recite it with the tone or voice changes his dad would do while reading that certain paragraph. It made me realize how important it was for us to keep this great thing going. I admit, sometimes I am tempted to just say, we can just read tomorrow.

Micah and Titus reading together

Reading the book The Day The Crayons Quit!

I praise God for my husband’s wisdom and persistence in making sure we were intentional in making reading a priority in our home. More importantly we are delighted to see that he is so enthusiastic about reading God’s Word. He would not go to bed without reading a bible story no matter how sleepy or tired he is. Indeed, he is a great reminder of how we need to improve on our bible reading and the enthusiasm we put into it. If we want our boys to love reading God’s Word, we need to do a better job modeling it to them.

Bible reading before bed.

Bible reading before bed…

Here are some ways to help encourage a love of reading in your child.
1. Encourage and expand their oral language.
Depending on his or her age or level, your child can read a story, have a story read to him/her or even take turns reading and listening. As you read, ask your child questions about the details you just read. Keep them engaged by having the little ones point out the characters being discussed on the particular page.  When you are done, invite them to identify their favorite part is.

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The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

2. 1 to 10 and read them again!
The more exposed they are to different kinds of books, the more their love for reading will grow.  We have enjoyed several authors whose writing styles are completely different yet each of them bring something great to share. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand the content. If you think some words are too “big” for him, explain it! Check out our list of favorite authors whose books are quickly filling up our shelves.

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3. Sing a song and recite a rhyme.
Name that tune to your favorite nursery rhyme! Rhymes and songs are creative ways to encourage memorization, rhyming, and melody. It’s a great way to introduce poetry and other creative writing styles. Sing together on trips, on walks, and even in the shower! Add hand gestures or dance moves or start a rhyming band to enrich the overall experience. My husband loves to make up words to familiar songs and Micah just bursts out laughing!

Sandra Boynton books are so much fun!

A family favorite!

4. Have a book nook and hang out there!
Micah can hang out here for 30-45 mins after he wakes up and just read all the books on the shelf. He would look at the pictures, make up words or recite the ones he has memorized and time just goes by, while I get my chores done. Make the area inviting and fun for your little reader. A couch or bean bag, a rug and a shelf make a great little space for some quiet reading time. Designating a “quiet reading time” encourages them have a special time with their books. You can do solo silent reading or reading aloud together there, too. Reluctant readers may be encouraged to read more in a fun and unique environment.

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The book nook in his room.

5. Be a literacy advocate!
I need to do this more! My dad is an avid reader and so is my brother, but for some reason, I didn’t get that gene. I only read about the things I am interested in. I need to learn to broaden my literacy choices so I can encourage my boys to do the same. If you have an older child, you may want to encourage your child by setting reading goals and when they achieve them, recognize and reward their efforts. Get the other members of your family to read with your kids too!

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

6. Add creative intonations!                                                                                                                                                  Intonation refers to the rising, or falling pitch in a person’s voice as one says words or phrases. Stress the different ways you can read the questions, commands or conversations in the book.  Make different sounds or change your voice or accent as you read aloud. We noticed that Micah would copy our intonations when he reads the books to himself or to his brother. Echo reading is a great way to encourage paired reading as well. (Paired reading can mean alternating sentences while you read aloud together.)

7. Make it a habit! 

The reading habit is one of the best things we can pass on to our children. In an age where everything is digital and kids can easily get sensory overload from media, books have a way of opening their eyes, increasing their imagination, and making them appreciate some down time in those magical pages amidst this fast-paced world. Read on! AND don’t forget to teach your child about the author and illustrator of the book he is reading too.

Titus enjoys reading time too!

Make it a part of your routine!

Our Top 13 Authors & Their Books
1. Kevin Lewis & Daniel Kirk: My Truck Is Stuck-This is the first book Micah memorized.

2. June Sobel: The Goodnight Train– love the rhyme and sounds in this one

3. Alice Schertle: The Little Blue Truck; The Little Blue Truck Leads the Way- Who doesn’t love Blue? The sounds the characters make just adds to the fun.

4. Drew Daywalt: The Day the Crayons Quit– Brings back great moments with Crayola box! My husband and I were laughing while he was reading it to Micah.

5. Sherry Dusky RinkerSteam Train, Dream TrainGoodnight Goodnight Construction Site- She does a great job teaching the different kinds of trucks and trains

6. Mo Wilhems: Elephant and Piggie Series: These are just hilarious!!! You will just fall in love with these two!

7. Amy Krouse Rosenthal:Little Pea; Exclamation Mark; Spoon; Chopsticks- Simple concepts, great points, fun & entertaining for the whole family!

8. Chris Van Dusen: Circus Ship; Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit; If I Built a House, If I Built a Car (our first one); Camping Trip with Mr. Magee, Down by the Sea with Mr. Magee, and more- I think we have all his books! We love all of them! Illustrations are great and the rhymes are just incredible! His characters are funny & the conversations are witty.

9. Watty Piper: The Little Engine That Could– A great classic and must have on the shelf!

10. Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are– Micah just loves this! Let your imagination lead you to the wild things.

11. Eric Carle: We read through a lot of his books for different stages in their lives. The shorter ones like Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you see?, Head to Toe, etc- we read from 0-12 months. The longer ones like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider are great for 18-24 months and up and perfect for lessons & activities.

12. Sandra Boynton: Dinosaur’s Binket is our favorite. We have a lot of her books too! We read her board books when Micah was 0-12 months. He still enjoys them when we read them to Titus. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her adorable illustrations?

13. . Audrey Wood: Silly Sally: He memorized this book and loves reciting it to his little brother. A fun, silly and entertaining book. I first read this with my 3-6 old students in my classroom and they loved it. I knew it was a must-have for my own kids.

What’s in your shelf?

Dough it yourself!

Who doesn’t love play dough? Squishy, bright, fun, and cheap! Come and enjoy this homemade project with me!

What you need:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons oil (you can add a pinch or two more if you feel like it’s still a little too sticky)
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 package of sugar-free jello

1. Have your little one measure and mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan-even if takes a little longer and a little messier. Not only is it fun for them but it also encourages them to work on those motor skills! Whisking is can be challenging for their little hands but it’s a great way to exercise those muscles. Keep going until those lumps are gone!

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2. Now it’s ready to hit the stove!

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3. Get those muscles moving! Cook it over medium heat, stir continuously until it thickens to a ball of dough.  This step takes a while, so be patient and keep stirring until it doesn’t stick to your fingers.

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4. Once it is done cooking, place it on a mat to let it cool for about 20 minutes and you are set for hours of fun! Once you are done, store the dough in an air tight container. If it starts to get sticky, just add a little more flour.

5. HAVE FUN! There’s a whole lot of squishing, rolling, kneading, cutting, and endless exploring with this simple and fun sensory activity. 🙂 You can even use cookie cutters to make shapes! Check out my other post for how I used these for our lesson on land and water and on fine motor skills activities.

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If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it! I think my husband does too!He even made himself some taro ice cream!

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Sensory Bin Success!

My interest sure has shifted from tiaras and tutus to trucks and trains after having a little boy. I’ve driven by construction sites countless of times but it has never caught my eye. I never even stopped for a glance. Heck! It wasn’t even on my radar! But having boys has definitely diverted my attention. Now, I would spot it from a distance!

After I saw how much he loved his construction book “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” (great book by the way!) I thought it would be fun to make it come alive by allowing him to have his own little construction site. A couple of weeks ago, we were also fortunate enough to get up close to a real bulldozer when we saw the tow truck drop it off onto the site. I asked permission from the driver if we could get close and take a picture with it. Micah was “truck-struck.” He couldn’t believe how gigantic the machine was. It never looked that big in the pictures!

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Thumbs up indeed!

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I gotta admit, that was pretty cool even for my husband and I!

 

We built our own construction site sensory bin. A sensory bin is a small container with a variety of materials placed together to stimulate the senses. Sensory bins give your child opportunities to assume the role of a scientist and explorer as he handles, manipulates, sorts, and examine the items in the bin. They also increase your child’s ability to be attentive. The potpourri of items in your bin will give him the ability to make decisions on how he may want to use them. Creativity and imagination are given a free reign. Self-discoveries allow for new concepts to form such as new vocabulary, sorting, and integrating old and new knowledge. You are also giving your child the opportunity to develop the essential sensitive period of refining his senses. For those of you who have a couple of children, it gives them a chance to work together. As an added bonus, did I mention that it is so much fun?

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Micah enjoyed these sensory bins so much so that not only did it occupy him for 1.5-2 hours in the morning, he asked to do it again after he woke up from his nap. It fostered lot of independent work, exploration and self-entertainment. I observed how he worked with his materials and used his imagination. Phrases, sounds, and memorized paragraphs of books that contained those items were being recited. He even got the books that he associated those items with and integrated them to his activity. He also cleaned them all in the sink after he was done because the coffee beans made them a little sticky. 

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He even asked to wear his crane truck pjs to match his work for the day!

 

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He was reciting the lines he memorized from each page as he matched each truck.

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Clean those trucks!

After seeing how much he enjoyed the trucks, I decided to do it with dinosaurs too. I was able to find a book that included the dinosaurs and had information about them (which made it so much easier for me since I don’t know what they are called). He had a blast and I did, too! It brought me joy to see that such simple things can bring such delight to him. Best of all, we used everything we had at home and incorporated them into the activity.

Materials:

Construction Site: plastic bin, Toy State Caterpillar Construction Mini Machine 5-Pack Target about $5.89 (vs Amazon $15), old Folgers coffee, pearl barley


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Can you see what I picked up? The bulldozer, excavator and the dump truck all had their share of fun…now it’s your turn!

 

Jurassic Park: plastic bin, Junior Groovies dinosaur book with dinosaurs inside, small container with vinegar (as lake/”bath tub”) with a drop of vanilla extract, blue food coloring (to make it look like a lake), baking soda, marbles, trees collection from Safari Ltd.

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Check out both their smiles! These two are such eager learners!

Micah loved being in his Jurassic Park dream world. My original thoughts were, the baking soda would be the ground, the vinegar would be the lake and the marbles as the rocks. But he had a completely different idea in mind. He pretended that it was a dinosaur bath party! The baking soda was the soap that he covered the dinosaurs in and he gave them a bath in the vinegar tub. The fizzle effect caused by the reaction of the vinegar and the baking soda really entertained him. I would hear him say words like dinosaurs take turns, wait in line, and “Yehey! Bath time!” It was fun to see and hear him use his imagination and get creative. I changed the vinegar every 20 minutes when it stopped fizzling. Towards the end, Micah asked for two containers with different colors, he used it to sort out the marbles from the dinosaurs.

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Concentration and fascination at its finest!

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Vinegar + Baking soda bubble bath was a real dinosaur treat!

I hope you’ll get inspired and create your own little spaces for your little ones to enjoy. Feel free do share your ideas here, too!

Teaching the Creation Story the Creative Way

Teaching my boys about the Lord is a top priority in our family. Raising them to love God’s Word and obey it is our desire and prayer for them. This week, as we went through our Bible study, I decided to teach them about creation. I wanted them to know and understand how great our God is since I knew that at the end of the week, we would be visiting the Cal Academy of Sciences. We went through each day following what God had created. I came up with these activities to go with our lesson to make it more fun and exciting for Micah and Titus.

Genesis 1:2-3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

Materials: flashlight and a dark room

ACTIVITY: I would shine the flashlight on different parts of a dark room. As the flashlight is on I would say, “light” and if it was off I would say “dark”. He also learned day and night. He had a lot of turning the flashlight on and off and shining it on different parts of the room.

Genesis 1:6- 8 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” 7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. 8 God called the space “sky.”

Materials: clear glass with half-full water, blue food coloring, and shaving cream

ACTIVITY: I had a lot of fun with this one too! I got a clear glass and filled it half way with water. Then I filled the top half with shaving cream to represent the sky. I asked Micah to drop blue food coloring to emphasize the difference. Then later, we learned about the different kinds of clouds as we continued to experiment on it.

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Genesis 1:9-10 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.”

Materials: play dough to represent land; a cup of water with blue food coloring, a tray/container, globe

ACTIVITY: I showed him the globe and had him point out the land and water areas to me. He recited the continents as we did it. I purposely made green play dough so I could use it in this activity. I took a chunk of the green play dough and placed it at the center of the tray. I told Micah that it was land. I recited the verse to him and while we were doing so, I asked him pour the water into the tray. He noticed that it went around the “land”. I made him feel the top of the play dough and he told me it was dry and I said, that was land. He then pointed to the water and said, “seas.” I’d like to think think he got the point somehow. 🙂

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Land & Water!

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Genesis 1: 11-12 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

Materials: soil, seeds, shovel, watering can

ACTIVITY: I took him outside and had him touch the soil and water the tomato plant that his auntie had helped him plant a few weeks ago. He pointed out the flowers that were on the table and he said, “God made plants.”

Genesis 1:16-18 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Materials: Oreo cookies!

ACTIVITY: I prepared the 4 cookies and I ended up using just the full moon and new moon because the quarters were a little hard for him to understand. I took it away and focused on the two he concepts he was able to grasp. Of course, you guessed it. He ate the cookies after! But only the bottom part of the full moon without the cream (I didn’t want him to get hyper! Haha!). When we were done, we went outside and sang the song Mr. Sun as he pointed the sun to me and we even got his sunglasses because he said it was too hot.

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Who doesn’t love oreos?!

Genesis 1: 20; 24 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.”24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.”

Materials: different kinds of animals, a container of water with blue food coloring, one tray with shaving cream (sky) and a green placemat (our veggie chopping mat)

 ACTIVITY: I had him lay them all out and name the animals one by one as I shared the verses with him. He had to put the birds in the “sky” (shaving cream container), land animals on the green mat and sea creatures in the tub of water. Then of course at the end, we had to wipe down the sea creatures before putting them back in their proper containers. We sorted the animals according to their habitat, (farm animals in one container, jungle animals in another, etc) and as a reminder to which container they go, I placed a picture on the outside.

Even Titus got to do it!

Genesis 1: 27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Materials: Titus, Micah, Mama 

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 ACTIVITY: We thanked God for all that He has made and Micah said God made Micah and Titus and Mama and Papa and He started naming everyone he could think of that God made—all the family and friends he could recall. We close in prayer after each lesson and throughout the day, we talked about what God had made. Now, when we’re driving he would be pointing things out and telling us that God made it. We finished off our fun week with a visit to the Cal Academy of Sciences and it was great! He was able to acknowledge what His creator has done and appreciate the beauty of all that He has made! He even got the fish guide and pointed them out and said, “Mama, God made the fish!”

Teaching your kids about God can be done in a fun and exciting way. I hope that these activities will inspire you to make Bible stories come to life in the eyes of your child. 🙂

CAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE was a great way to end our lesson! Everyone had a blast learning about the beautiful creation of the Lord!

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Titus was mesmerized by the fish.

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Stick your hand in the touch pool!

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Titus touched the sea urchin!

I love how he attributed it to the Creator!

Mama! God made the fish!

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Grandpa and Titus!

Micah & Grandpa

Everyone learned something new that day!

Everyone learned something new that day!

Instant Infant Fun!

       Different Ways to Engage Your Infant

Congratulations! By the ripe old age of three months, your baby is no longer a newborn. Your little one can now turn his head when he hears your voice, waves his hands, and kicks his feet when he feels excited. He has mastered the much-awaited grins, gurgles, and giggles. Not to mention the infamous cry to express joy or pain. Good bye passive newborn, hello active infant!

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Your buddy is now stronger, more active, and can use his body to reach, pull, and manipulate the world around him. How amazing it is to see all the creative ways they explore! These activities aren’t just a source of entertainment for our little one they are all learning experiences through which life skills are developed along with his sense of self. This is the time to usher in the new era of exploration! Sing songs with hand movements. Give him toys that shake, rattle, and roll. Get him to scream in laughter with high flying rides and tickle games that require the use of his whole body.

The reward of exploring with your baby and his body is the wonder of interaction. Seeing him enjoy it will bring a huge smile to your face, too. Bonds of love and trust are formed through early interaction and play. Spontaneity can make these interactions even more fun and rewarding, so find an opportunity at every turn! You can play peek-a-boo games during diaper change, tuck your baby in a sling while you vacuum the floor, throw in a little dance or two while you do the dishes while he watches you, and burst into song or whistle while you work can help turn a fussy infant into a giggly one.

Remember to build a relationship with your child by engaging in intimate activities that will help him master certain skills but also create a lasting and joyful bond. Here are 5 fun ways to keep our little ones—including ourselves—entertained! Who doesn’t love to see their baby smile back at them? 🙂

IMG_22181. This Coo is For You!

From 3-6 months, your baby is often a social being full of the cutest coos and irresistible smiles. Although he can’t say real words yet, the adorable sounds he utters are his way of exploring the world of communication. He learns from the responses you give to these vocalizations. To help boost language by understanding what he hears and saying his own words, keep talking (and talking and talking) to your little one. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply. By responding to your baby, you are showing him that you value what he has to say and will encourage him to communicate even more. A squeal or squirm is a great way to see that he realizes you are following his body movements and are interested in what he has to say.

Keep your baby interested by repeating his own sounds back to him. When he says “ga-ga-ga,” respond excitedly with your own “ga-ga-ga.” He’ll love the attention but will also get in the habit of imitating your real words too. By encouraging your baby to mimic, you will inspire him to try even more complex word patterns which eventually will result in his attempt to say words and phrases. Titus loves being talked to. He responds with his ear-to-ear grin and starts cooing back. It never fails to make us smile. (This a great way to get your older child involved too. T loves it when M talks and sings to him.)

cooing with grandpa!

Grandpa and Titus enjoying a fun conversation! 

2. Mirror Mirror in Front of Me, Who is that Cutie that I see?

Watching his own face and interacting with his own image in the mirror increases your baby’s budding awareness of himself as a separate person. This is very amusing to him. You gotta admit, I bet you can name some adults who can look at themselves for a pretty long time! Here’s what you can do.
a) Prop a mirror against a wall, (I usually use the coffee table) and lay your baby on his tummy (instant tummy time!)
b) Point to the baby in the mirror and introduce him to himself. You can name the parts of his face as you point and touch each part. The mirror helps your learn to track, focus and explore.

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It promotes upper body strength and visual stimulation. Follow his lead, he can quit if he has had enough but don’t be afraid to challenge him by going a little longer each time. Our little Titus used to dislike tummy time. We would put him in his tummy and he would fuss and fret for a while, when he realizes help isn’t on the way, he plops his head and goes to sleep! It happened every time! 

He tends to do this...haha

So I checked out Target but they ran out of mirrors and when I finally found one (I bought two because extra is always good!) Titus realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be on his belly! By the way, I got those mirrors for five bucks only! Tummy time got longer and longer and now, he has finally learned to love it. 🙂

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I SEE ME!

3. Movement Motivation: Just a little out of reach

This encourages your baby to make early efforts to grab things and move his body towards something or someone he wants like a ball, a colorful toy or you! Creeping forward, rolling over, or just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as far as he can go will help him develop those little muscles. Be careful not to tease him. Make sure to build success into the activity. If you see him getting frustrated, move it a little closer or give him a break, sing a song or two then try again.

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These were taken when he was about 2.5 months. 

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These were taken when he was about 4.5 months. He got the concept pretty quick! He even pulls   on the blanket so Sophie gets closer. Good problem solving skills there bud! 

4. Bathtub Ballet

Make bath time fun and exciting is a great way to encourage motor skills. Sitting and splashing in the bathtub is a thrill for both my boys. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby seated on a non-slip mat, encourage your little one to kick and splash and play! When he starts kicking, you can start chanting, “Kick, kick, kick!” This will encourage him to continue kicking. Kicking helps strengthen his leg and abdominal muscles which is important for crawling and then eventually walking. This activity also helps develop his confidence in water which helps when he starts swim lessons.  Titus absolutely loves this! He can stay and kick in the tub for a really long time.  

5. Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut

Kicking feet and waving hands are generally the signs that your baby is beginning to understand that he can somewhat control the movements in his body. Reinforce this by drawing attention to the major body parts for him. Place him on a bed or changing table or the floor then touch his face and say “face.” Hold his hands and make him feel your face, too. Repeat with each body part and make him feel both his own and yours. This provides tactile stimulation and helps him become aware of his body parameters. The song Tony Chestnut is a fun one to sing while pointing to each body part. Tony Chestnut knows I love you. (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut, Nose, eye love you!) I didn’t get it the first time but now I’ve discovered what a fun song it is! Accompanying these exercises with playful interactions help build a close relationship between you and your child and sows the seeds for a healthy self-esteem, too.

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Micah loves doing this with Titus.

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Micah likes blowing on his tummy while singing songs with him.

IMG_4370 Fun moments with daddy!

Your newborn has surpassed the eat-sleep-poop routine and is now a responsive infant. Take advantage of this stage by keeping your little one engaged with these fun and simple activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast, too! 🙂 

titus

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Almost every parent feels the pressure to make their children write right now. But teaching your child how to write isn’t as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Children greatly benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers.

They should have strength and dexterity before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper. Working on this first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp. This happens when children get engaged in writing experiences before their hands are really ready. The following activities involve the use of practical life materials that will support your child’s fine motor development and help build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately in the future.

All these items can be found either at home or purchase from the dollar store or at Ikea. They have child-size items that will make it easier for the child to handle. These simple practical life activities may seem “easy” for us but it goes a long way with your child. These are indirect preparations that help in the coordination of your child’s movements and development of concentration.

Friendly Reminders:

1. Demonstrate how to do these activities next to your child so they can see what you are doing. Usually, you have your child sit first and you sit to the child’s right.

2. Name the objects you will use before you start.

3. Try to use as minimal words as you can and let your movements do the talking.

4. Make sure he/she is watching how you manipulate the items you are using.

5. Your goal is to demonstrate these actions clearly so the child can repeat the activity successfully and independently.

6. These activities aim to develop his/her coordination, concentration, gracefulness, and independence.

7. Repetition is important. If your child wants to do it over and over, encourage him/her to do so. It helps your child master the skill involved and allows your little one to gain more confidence in himself/herself as well.

8. Make sure to watch out for these important skills: concentration, hand-eye coordination, patience, and hand control.

9. Don’t forget to have your child clean up!

10. HAVE FUN!

Now let’s look at some easy activities:

SPOONING GRAINS:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical bowls, spoon/ scooper, grains (in this case, I used expired popcorn)

STEPS:

a. Wrap your three right fingers around the handle and firmly grip the handle.

b. Make sure the child sees you positioning the oval mouth of the spoon in the center of the bowl, so the grains fall into the bowl and not onto the tray.

c. If the grain falls, show the child how to remove the bowls and pinch the grains one at a time and replace into the bowl.

Variation: You can use jars to practice pouring grains, too.

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

POURING WATER:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical glass cups, sponge/towel to wipe off the spills, apron

STEPS:

a. Pouring water from the right hand jug into the left-hand jug then from left jug into right jug.

b. A cloth is to be used to wipe the spills.

Pouring Water Variation: You can have different size jars, some may even need a funnel.

Pouting Water

Pouting Water

SQUEEZING WATER FROM A BASTER:

STEPS:

a. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb to draw up the water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

b. Move the full baster over to the second container and squeeze the water out.

c. REPEAT!

This was a little tricky especially with learning how to manipulate the baster so it took him a few rounds of spills and practice before getting the concept of releasing it after he puts it over the other jar. Micah also realized that it was easier for him after he held the bottle in place by moving it to edge so it wouldn’t move while he squeezed the water out. A towel close by is very handy because this takes a while to get used to. You can use a medicine dropper too. But because of the size of the baster, it makes it easier for their little hands to start with.

Squeeze me Baster!

Squeeze me Baster!

SPONGING:

(See the smile? He loved this!)

Materials: 2 buckets or 2 different containers (mixing bowls are good for these too)

STEPS:

a. Take the sponge and dip it in the water.

b. WAIT a few seconds for the sponge to absorb the water.

c. Pick it up and move your hands with the sponge over the other container.

d. Squeeze the sponge with both hands over the other container.

SPONGING!

SPONGING!

PLAY DOUGH:

We made homemade Jello Play Dough! They smelled so good and I wasn’t too worried if he tried to eat it. (Thank God he didn’t! haha) Squishing, squeezing, stretching and moulding play dough helps to build muscle strength in the fingers and hands.

Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles and shells with the play dough will also encourage the child to use his/her hands when picking up and placing these objects in the dough. Put out some shape cutters, a grater, blunt plastic knives and tweezers which can all be used to mould and transform the play dough.

In our picture, we used the Melissa and Doug set I found at Ross for $5. Rolling pins foster the development of the precision muscles of the hands. The precision muscles of the hands are the muscles that support the pencil grasp and teaches the child how to adjust the amount of pressure when holding a pencil.

Mold & Make Me Something!

Mold & Make Me Something!

These are just some of the many things that your toddler can do to exercise his/her fine motor skills. Show excitement and delight when your child accomplishes these tasks! Encourage them to continue doing it. As parents, be in the moment and pay full attention to your child. Developing motor skills is the first step to writing without stressing your child and yourself, too!