Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tot School: g is for gorilla (29 months)

Tot School
Jonathan is 29 Months

This week we finally started on letter "g" and looked at gorillas- as well as golf and grapes. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time with uploading pictures-- so this will be a picture-free post for the time-being. I made a lot of my own printables for this lesson.

Click here to see the books we read. And click here to see and download our gorilla printables!


This week we focused on creation. We read the story from different children's Bibles and did crafts each day. Look for an upcoming post to see what we did!

Pretend Play 

We used a gorilla puppet to introduce the word for the week. We also played with our Little People zoo set (which includes a gorilla figurine).

Motor Skills 

To go along with our theme, we tried to walk like gorillas-- but Jonathan wasn't interested in playing along. He had more fun watching mommy try to walk like a gorilla. :)

A huge hit this week was golf. Jonathan has a set of golf clubs that we got from Oriental Trading Company and he just loves being out in the backyard and hitting the balls up in the air.

For fine motor skills, we did a pre-writing page I made. Jonathan did a great job tracing the lines.We also did a gorilla lacing card I made.


We did a printable in which we counted how many bananas to give a gorilla. Jonathan has gotten into counting lately, so this was interesting to him.

We also did a gorilla puzzle which I made. Jonathan did a good job matching up the top 3 pieces but had a little more trouble with the bottom 3.


We colored a gorilla and glued grass to the page in order to create a "habitat" for a gorilla.

Then we also did a gorilla coloring page I created and colored each gorilla a different color.

I also made a Kumon-style coloring page where Jonathan colored in a circle on a gorilla. It gives him fine motor skills practice and he has fun coloring.

I also made a Kumon-style pasting page where I cut out a square and Jonathan matched and pasted it to the gorilla.


We ate bananas (since gorillas eat bananas). We also enjoyed some grapes this week.

I'm linking up to:

Link & Learn @ No Time for Flashcards
Tot School @ 1+1+1=1

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gorilla Printables

I created my first set of printables to go along with our "g is for gorilla" unit. If you want to download and use them yourself, I'd be honored. They are available as a free download on Scribd. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Read Aloud Thursday: Reads for Baby

Grace often joins in our read alouds, although at 10 months old she obviously doesn't have the attention span of Jonathan. The longer books and activities I save for while she's taking her morning nap.

I do try to pick out some books for Grace that we can snuggle and read together. She's very interested in other babies right now, so several books featuring babies and first words have caught her attention lately. Here are some favorites:

Baby Faces by DK Publishing

A short little book which features photographs of babies of various ethnic backgrounds. Each picture relays different emotions and expressions that babies may feel during a typical day. Grace really liked looking at the pictures and even Jonathan enjoyed telling me whether the children were happy, sad, silly, etc.

Baby's Day  by Michel Blake

This is part of a series of board books that are designed for children to hold and open easily. The book features a baby going through the routines of his day. The photographs are black and white and feature a particular object in color on each page. Grace also enjoyed looking at the photographs in this book and patting the colorful objects. I think we may try more books in this series-- it's an interesting take on "first word" books. 

Hickory Dickory Dock: A Nursery Play-Along Classic by Margaret Barritt

This book is based on the traditional nursery rhyme, but the story has expanded the story to be about a little mouse that doesn't want to go to bed. The top line of each double-spread page features the nursery rhyme, where the bottom of each page has the expanded story. The soft illustrations are charming, but the best feature is that the book includes pictorial directions for parents to play with your child to the nursery rhyme. Grace loves it while I do the actions with her and gets a big grin when we start to play Hickory Dickory Dock. There are a couple other books in this series that I hope to check out as well.

None of these books are destined to be classics, but they are great for helping your baby to love books from an early age!

I'm linking this post to
Read-Aloud Thursdays @ Hope is the Word
Feed Me Books Friday @ Little Sprout Books
What My Child is Reading @ Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kids in the Word: God's Good News

As Christians, it is very important to me and my husband to disciple our children.Our prayer is that our children would follow and serve Christ their Lord. Part of this responsibility involves teaching our children about Jesus and the content of the Bible. Another side of this responsibility involves modeling- living the life of faith before our children.

Personally, I can find this very overwhelming at times. True confession: I've even gone to seminary and taken classes on children's ministry and I still feel lost at trying to disciple and train my children.

This month I've started a year-long Bible curriculum with Jonathan (and Grace is tagging along). I own a set of preschool Bible curriculum I've purchased from my cousin's church called God's Good News. You can also download lessons for free a couple weeks at a time from their website.

What I like about this curriculum is that it goes through a year's worth of Bible stories. The Old Testament is studied in the Summer/Fall and the New Testament in the Winter/Spring. The Christmas & Easter lessons fall at the appropriate time of the year. There's also very helpful teacher notes.

The curriculum is definitely set up for a classroom setting, so it needs some adapting for the home. I like to supplement with lessons from other sites. Here are two of my favorites:

ABC Jesus Loves Me

What are your favorite resources? How do you try to disciple and train your children?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

g is for gorilla- books

Image Source

We started letter g with "G is for gorilla".

 Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein

We've owned this book for a while now and it's such a sweet story that I was happy to pull it out for our gorilla day. It's the story about a little gorilla who well loved by everyone in the jungle. But little gorilla grows up and gets big-- and everyone still loves him! It's a very reassuring tale for toddlers who are quickly becoming big boys and girls. Jonathan likes this story and it stuck with him so much that he even narrated it back to me. We definitely recommend this one!

Go Go Gorillas by Julia Durango

This is a fun tale in which the king of the gorillas, King Big Daddy, sends a mouse messenger to gather his gorilla relatives for an important surprise. The rhyming text tells how the messenger approaches each gorilla and the method of transportation each gorilla uses to get there: "First to get the message was Big Daddy's nephew Ike 'I'll pack a pickle sandwich then I'll ride there on my bike." The refrain is repeated after every other gorilla "Go-go gorillas! Gotta go, gorillas, go!" The gorillas ride scooters, pogo sticks and hot air balloons as they travel to the Gorilla Villa to hear King Big Daddy's news. It's a fun story and Jonathan got into saying "Go-go gorillas!" It's also a great book to teach ordinal numbers. Jonathan doesn't grasp that concept yet, but I'll have to remember this book when we get there.

One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Atsuko Morozumi

In this award-winning book, the narrator lists things that he loves, starting with one gorilla and progressing to ten cats. The beautiful ethereal illustrations show the various animals in different habitat-- and always include one gorilla. The animals are not always obvious, so you can have fun searching through the pictures to find the animals. The last page ends up with a gorilla fast asleep. Jonathan had fun with this book, although he couldn't always find the different animals.

Note: We also checked out Anthony Browne's Gorilla. This beautifully illustrated book, however, had too sad of a tone for a child Jonathan's age. 

Stay tuned for our activities and some printables!

G is for Gorilla @ Totally Tots

Monday, June 20, 2011

A You're Adorable

A You're Adorable is a song that was written in 1948 by Sid Lippman, Buddy Kaye, and Fred Wise. It's been recorded several times- the most popular was done by Perry Como. When Jonathan was born, his Papa remembered his own mother singing him this song. So Papa looked up the lyrics and sang it to Jonathan. It's kind of "their song".

I found this book listed in a wonderful resource for finding children's literature: Under the Chinaberry Tree. Since this book is based on the song, I knew it was one we wanted to own. It features the music and lyrics for the song with accompanying illustrations by Martha Alexander. Alexander's watercolor illustrations feature children of different ethnic backgrounds and various animals scampering about and through the alphabet.

It's a very sweet picture book and lends itself well to snuggling up with your little one.

If you're not familiar with the song, here's the Sesame Street version:

I'm linking this post up to Book Sharing Monday @ Smiling Like Sunshine

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Foolproof" Fettucine Alfredo

This week has started off to be quite busy for us-- we've started doing our Bible lessons, but haven't moved on to letter G yet. I've been busy gearing up for a major consignment sale this weekend and am getting ready to host a freezer cooking session to bless a friend whose little boy is due any day. Busy, busy, busy!

So instead of a regular post, I thought I'd share a recipe I made this week. I love Fettuccine Alfredo but it always seemed intimidating to make. Then I saw this recipe a few years back in a Cooks Illustrated magazine and it didn't seem that hard at all. It's one that we've been making for years now and we haven't found one that tops it. Enjoy!

           Foolproof Fettuccine Alfredo

  1 1/2  cups          heavy cream
   2      Tbs           unsalted butter
     1/2  tsp           salt
     1/8  tsp           ground pepper
   9      oz            fresh fettuccine
   1 1/2  oz            Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
     1/8  tsp           freshly grated nutmeg
   2                      chicken breasts, cooked & sliced

1. Bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil, covered, in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using ladle or heatproof measuring cup, fill each individual serving bowl with about 1/2 cup boiling water; set bowls aside to warm. 

2. While water comes to boil, bring 1 cup heavy cream and butter to simmer in 3- to 4- quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer gently until mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper.

3. Add 1 tbsp salt and pasta to boiling water; cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta. Meanwhile, return cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low and add pasta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing pasta with tongs to combine, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is just al dente and cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water; sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty serving bowls of water, divide pasta among bowls, tossing pasta to coat well with sauce. Serve immediately with chicken. 

Recipe Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated Sep/Oct 2005


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tot School- f is for flowers, fish & frogs!

Tot School
Jonathan is 29 Months

We continued looking at the letter "f" by reading about flowers, fish and frogs. 


We haven't worked on a Bible verse this week. We've been taking a little break from it. I have been playing the Seeds of Courage on our iPod and Jonathan likes dancing and moving around to the music.

We continued reading through a little devotional in the morning, Everything a Child Should Know about God by Kenneth Taylor. We do one page each day and talk about the pictures.

I'm planning on starting a through-the-Bible curriculum with him this week. Stay tuned to hear how it goes!


We read books this week about flowers, fish and frogs as well as reading a selection of books by Liza Baker.

  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert - a wonderful book for introducing different kinds of flowers to your children, as well as talking about seeds, seasons, and colors. Jonathan loved this book and had fun pointing out which flowers and colors he liked "the best". 
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen-  a silly story about a grumpy fish who eventually gets his frown turned upside down in a surprising way. Super cute story with a great message. 
  • Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan- a cumulative story about a frog who tries to capture a fly- but other animals try to capture the frog. The frog has to jump to escape his enemies. Eventually, the frog gets in a situation where he needs a little help to escape. Jonathan enjoyed cheering for the frog to escape. 
Those are the highlights- but we've read plenty more this week. See the original posts for our reviews.

Motor Skills 

The only theme related activity we did was trying to jump like frogs. (This only frustrated Jonathan though).

We also spent some time outside early in the week and Jonathan mastered climbing a ladder at the park.

We also went to our first official "Tot Swim" at our local pool. This was a toddler-only swim time. Jonathan loved going down the small waterslide and had so much fun there. I, however, was exhausted from trying to watch two little ones at the pool. No pictures- sorry!


We painted with flowers:

And made flowers out of playdough:

And practiced our gluing skills by making a fish (we also made a fox:)

We also dot painted the letter "f".


We attempted to play "Go Fish" (it was really just a matching game):

We used our peg boards, one of which is shaped like a fish:

We played with Jonathan's fishing game puzzle:

We matched frogs:

So that's what we've been up to this week! Thanks for visiting!

I'm linking up to:

Link & Learn @ No Time for Flashcards
Tot School @ 1+1+1=1

Friday, June 10, 2011

f is for frog- books + activities

Image Source: Etsy

I thought Jonathan would be as interested in frogs as he was in fish, but frogs didn't go over as well.


Frogs! by Elizabeth Carney

This is part of a nonfiction easy-reader series by National Geographic. I chose this book about frogs to familiarize Jonathan with different aspects of frogs. The book covers different sizes and colors of frogs as well as what frogs eat, where frogs live, the sound frogs make and the life cycle of a frog. It's illustrated with photographs of different kinds of frogs. Jonathan was mildly interested in the photographs of frogs, but didn't sit through the book. It may be more interesting to him when he's older.

A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson

This is a cute counting story about a small hungry frog sitting on a log in a bog. He starts by eating one tick, two fleas, etc as he grows bigger and bigger. After five snails the frog is in for quite a surprise! The book counts up to (and down from) five in a humorous story that caught and kept Jonathan's attention. The rhyming text and soft watercolors complement one another well.

Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan

This is a cumulative story about a frog who tries to capture a fly, but then other animals try to catch the frog. The only recourse the frog has is to jump to escape his enemies. Eventually, the frog gets into a situation where he needs a little help to escape. Jonathan enjoyed this story and was watching eagerly to see if the frog would escape. Byron Barton's bold illustrations add to the appeal. This is a cute story that toddlers will enjoy!


We tried to jump like a frog-- but this only ended up frustrating Jonathan. He was having a cranky day and it was raining so we were inside most of the day.

We did a frog matching game that was a FREE download from Mntessori Print Shop. This he enjoyed a lot more-- he's very into matching things lately.

And that was really it for this "lesson". Maybe next time we do frogs again it'll be of more interest.

Web Resources 

Frog Lesson Plan @ 2 Teaching Mommies
Edible Frog Craft @ Kiboomu
F is for Frog @ Kiboomu
Frog Match-Up & Memory Game @ Montessori Print Shop
Frog Nomenclature Cards @ Montessori Print Shop

Thursday, June 9, 2011

f is for fish- books + activities

image source: Etsy

 Ten Little Fish by Audrey and Bruce Wood

This is a simple little countdown book in which ten little fish are swimming in a line- one swims away and then there were nine. The book continues until there is one lonely fish and then there's a  sweet surprise ending!. The brightly colored digital artwork attracted Jonathan's attention and he had fun practicing counting with these fish. Cute read!

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Oh how Jonathan loved this book! It's a silly story about a pouty fish whose face is in a perpetual pout. One by one his friends try to cheer him up but he just  keeps resigning himself that he's born with a gloomy attitude. The refrain is snappy and catchy and always made Jonathan giggle. Jonathan grinned even more when he saw what finally turned this fish's frown upside down! This story has a great message too.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

This is a Caldecott Honor book about a little black fish named Swimmy whose quick swimming saves him when a big fish swallows the rest of his family. The little fish explores the big ocean by himself until he finds a school of fish hiding from the big fish. He comes up with a creative idea to allow the fish to swim freely. Lionni's watercolor artwork is breath-taking and well deserving of the honor medal it received. Jonathan was really drawn to this book and enjoyed pointing out Swimmy on each page.

How Many Fish? by Caron Lee Cohen

This is an easy reader about a school of fish and some children playing in a bay. The rhyming text features a little fish who lost its way. The story is simple, but Jonathan seemed to enjoy it. He liked counting the fish as well as the feet of the children. It probably would not hold the attention of older children.


We made a fish using a printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Jonathan did all the glueing and placement himself- he was so proud!

We tried to play Go Fish! It really wasn't Go Fish- we just matched our Go Fish cards. Jonathan is really into matching lately.

We played with our peg boards, one of which is shaped like a fish:

And we played with our fishing game that I found at Target:

I'm linking this post up to Read Explore Learn @ JDaniel4's Mom

Web Resources 

F is for fish @ Confessions of a Homeschooler
F is for fish @ First School

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reading Our Library- Liza Baker

We picked up Liza Baker's books off another booklist recommendation and I'm so glad we did! She is a unfamiliar author to me and has mostly written books involving Harold of Harold and the Purple Crayon fame. The two books we checked out are written for younger children and are illustrated by Sam McBratney (Guess How Much I Love You). Both of these books serve to affirm the special bond and unconditional love between parent and child.

I Love You Because You're You

This is such a sweet story about a mother's unconditional love for her child. Sam McBratney's illustrations feature a mother fox and her rambunctious little boy. The rhyming text shares how the mother fox loves her child no matter what his mood- sad, proud, shy, sleepy, etc. Jonathan loved this reassuring story. I liked it too- it was a good reminder to me to keep reaffirming my love for Jonathan and Grace-- even when they are in a more challenging mood.

Mama's Right Here

This is the follow-up book to I Love You because You're You. This story features a mama and baby kangaroo. The mother affirms that she will always be here to support or comfort her child. It's another cute book with a needed message, but I enjoyed the first book the most. Jonathan liked the two books equally well and requested them often. The one thing I would share is that my husband didn't appreciate that it was only from a Mama's perspective.

Both books are well worth checking out!

I'm linking this post up to:

Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word
Feed Me Books Friday @ Little Sprout Books
What My Child is Reading @ Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns
Book Sharing Monday @ Smiling Like Sunshine

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

f is for flower- books + art

We had some gorgeous weather last week and we spent quite a few mornings outside in our yard. Our flowers have been in bloom so I took the opportunity to read some books about flowers to go along with our "letter Ff" theme.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert

This is a wonderful book for introducing different types of flowers to your child. In this story, a mother and child plant different flowers in their garden. They plant bulbs in the fall, order seeds in the winter and sow seeds in the Spring. The Spring comes and they enjoy watching their rainbow grow. They have flowers of every color and you can lift pages to see flowers of every color of the rainbow. The flowers are identified and Jonathan was even able to match some of the illustrated flowers with flowers in our garden. He simply loved this book and even wanted to bring it down to Nana's house. We highly recommend this one!

Alison's Zinnia by Anita Lobel

In this alphabet book, Alison acquires an Amaryllis for Beryl. Then Beryl bought a Begonia for Crystal, and the book continues through the alphabet introducing different types of flowers. This was a book that Jonathan also enjoyed, but not as much as the first one. He definitely did not get the alphabetical connection between the flowers and the first names. But it still held his attention and he was moderately interested in the different flowers.


We painted with flowers-- we picked a few of the remaining dandelions from our yard (as well as a flower I can't identify) and then used them as our paintbrushes:

I drew an outline of lowercase f on our paper and Jonathan tried to paint within the lines. When the paint dried, we (I) cut out the letter.

Jonathan chose rather warm colors so it almost looks appropriate for "f is for fire" as well!

We also made flowers out of play-dough:

I'm linking this post up to

Kids Get Crafty @ Red Ted Art- check out the site for more craft ideas!
stART @ A Mommy's Adventures

Monday, June 6, 2011

Go Cardinals!

I honestly don't have a real preference when it comes to baseball. Everyone routed for the Phillies where I grew up. My husband grew up in Cardinals country and now we're in Cubs territory.

As an early Father's Day present, all the boys on my husband's side of the family went to a Cardinals-Cubs game. This was Jonathan's first baseball game and he was so excited. He talked about it for days!

The boys before the game

At the ballpark

It was 95 degrees outside!

It was so hot outside, the boys ended up leaving at the 7th inning. The game actually went into overtime and the Cardinals won.

The girls stayed at Nana's house and sewed. I finally got a couple pillows made for my family room couches. This was my first sewing project in a long time- I love the feeling that I accomplished something!

It was a fun weekend that Jonathan keeps talking about!
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