December 4, 2011

J is for JESUS!

To kick off the month of December the boys worked on the letter J this week. JZ's favorite tasks continue to be pattern games and counting. We used Jesus in the manger printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

These counting cards come from Over the Big Moon. JZ is very hands on and prefers activities where he uses a magnetic pom pom or a clothespin to select the correct answer rather than always circling or writing. Since he gets plenty of writing practice with other exercises I like making these activities fun for him. He is more likely to be actually learning if he enjoys what he is doing while he learns.  The added bonus?  He is working on fine motor skills in addition to counting.

While JZ practiced writing J's, JM did a simple prewriting exercise helping the shepherds get to the manger to see baby Jesus. (Letter J worksheet from COAH. Shepherd tracing worksheet found in this Nativity printable pack from 1+1+1=1.)

One of JM's Tot Trays contained a pile of popsicle sticks and a plastic container. I cut a hole in the lid, so JM could slide the popsicle sticks inside. He put a few in then worked hard to pull the lid off the top.
(The lids are tight, so he really had to work at this.) Then he shoved popsicle sticks in by the handful. When he had put all of the sticks inside he closed the lid and triumphantly announced, "I did it!" It was so hard not to laugh! Obviously a two year old doesn't understand the concept of a task working on fine motor skills. In his head the goal was to get all of the sticks in the container. And he did!

I printed two writing practice booklets form COAH. JZ did the J-E-S-U-S booklet, and JM did the prewritiing one.

JM peeled Nativity stickers from a sticker sheet and placed them on a Nativity page.  This is a great fine motor activity, and what child doesn't love stickers?


JZ made a beaded necklace.

One day we worked with jelly beans. All of the jelly bean printouts were from COAH.

JZ especially enjoyed graphing the jelly beans. I grabbed a handful for him to graph by color. He had to figure out which color had the most and which color had the least.

JM filled in the dots with jelly beans.

After they completed their work, they got to eat the jelly beans, of course.

JZ sorted capital and lowercase J's.

JM matched up the correct jelly beans by color and the shape pictured on them. I made the mistake of telling him they were jelly bean puzzles. He kept trying to snap the pieces together when he made a match, and then he got frustrated saying, "I can't do it!" I need to learn to be careful with my words and remember that he takes things literally.

JZ did an alphabet Nativity maze one day. He wanted to sing the ABC's after doing it which was really cute. The maze printable can be found here at

Another favorite was a "Which One is Different?" sheet from  Over the Big Moon. As I mentioned before, JZ likes hands on work, so I put this worksheet on top of a cookie sheet and gave him pom-pom magnets to place over the different picture.

JZ's favorite worksheets are these. I don't know why numbers and counting excite him so much, but I think it's cool.

Here is a glance at several of JM's Tot Trays for the week. I don't give him instructions with his trays. I put the items on a tray and watch what he chooses to do with them. If he asks questions or for help I'll give him suggestions, but I try to remain quiet and see where his imagination takes him. For more Tot Tray ideas and to read about Tot School visit 1+1+1=1.

Lauri Locktagon Construction pieces in a drink holder from Starbucks.

These sensory balloons were a bit of a FAIL on my part. I saw the idea on Pinterest, and I knew it was something I could easily put together with items we had around the house. The night before I wanted to put them on a tray I realized the only balloons I had were tiny. I still tried, but they didn't give the full experience. JM and JZ both enjoyed holding them, but I'd like to do this idea again with full sized balloons.

A simple shape and number puzzle that I found at Dollar Tree.

I used to keep this tray in the middle drawer of my desk to hold pens, paper clips, staples, etc. I put a few random items (bells, marbles, pom poms, and jelly beans) in it. JM sorted them in different slots and then back to where they started.

And finally, one of our Motor Development games for the week was very simple yet very fun for all three of us. I grabbed a hamper, a bucket and a laundry basket and put them in the garage. I brought our ball bin out to the garage, and the boys and I threw all the balls into the different baskets. I didn't get any great photos, because as I was clicking away JM said, "You want to play with us? Come play with us!" Who could resist?

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