Pirate Tot School

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Sunshine enjoyed Pirate Week just like her older siblings!  Originally I had more planned, but it didn't work out due to a lack of time on my part.  It didn't matter to her.  She had so much fun!  Here's what we did!

Pirate Word Treasures
This is actually two activities in one.  I created a pirate themed sensory bin with a brown rice base, shells, plastic coins, and large glass beads.  Also in the sensory bin are four vocabulary cards.  You'll notice in the top right hand corner, there's a stack of cards.  Those cards are to be laid out on the floor next to Sunshine. The goal of the activity is to help her identify the pictures on the cards and find their matches in the sensory bin. She did quite well.

Source: I found the cards as part of a free packet at Homeschool Creations.

P is for Pirate Dot Activity
We've never used the dot markers before in this house.  I have seen them at the dollar store, but I was uncertain if they were washable or not.  My friend tried them with her kids and assured me they were washable.  I made the splurge!  Sunshine was not the only one to enjoy this activity. All the kiddos tried it, which I thought was cute.

Source: I found this free dot marker activity as part of a packet at 2 Teaching Mommies.

Parrots of Many Colors
Sunshine's starting to figure out her colors.  I find it so entertaining to listen to her try to label everything she sees by color.  At this point in time, she's only correct about 10% of the time, but it's still super cute. She seems to prefer pink already.

In this activity Sunshine matches the feathers to their parrot by color.  We've done this activity with only one parrot, two parrots, and four.  The activity is very flexible.
Source: I found the free parrot printable on Bird Channel.  I colored them myself.

Mr. Potato Head Pirate Spud
Sunshine is just starting to enjoy Mr. Potato Head.  We have quite the collection from the older kiddos, including a pirate.  Once again, all of the kiddos have had their turn with this activity. They may be older, but they still love Mr. Potato Head.

Source:  Mr. Potato Head Pirate Spud can be found on Amazon.

Next week Sunshine will be learning all about apples just like the rest of the kiddos!

Our Halloween Countdown with Free Printable

I have never been much of a Halloween fan.  However, my kiddos seem to be the opposite.  They love Halloween, which is pretty surprising with their overabundance of food allergies and sensory sensitivities related to special needs.

Throughout the years we've tried and tested many ways to celebrate the holiday.  Our favorite way of all time is our Halloween Countdown.  Whether you attempt the entire countdown, or just choose a few activities, you're guaranteed some Halloween fun!
Our Halloween Countdown
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I've put the activities in an order that works for us, but they can be put in any order you'd like.  In the past, we've made a garland using Halloween ribbon and tissue paper ghosts.  A little countdown card is attached to each ghost.  Each day the kiddos cut the next ghost down,and discover which Halloween activity we'll be doing.  A Halloween countdown wall hanging would work well too.

Our Halloween Countdown


1.  Decorate Inside and/or Outside of the House for Halloween
I never realized how much children like to decorate for holidays until Dinomite came along.  Now they all love it and look forward to it every year.  If you don't want to spend an arm and a leg on decorations, try your local dollar store or have your kiddos make their own decorations.

2.  Halloween Window Painting
A great way to add to Halloween decorations is painting windows using window paint or markers.  My kids think this is such a treat.

If you're not into window paint, try these other window decorations.


3.  Halloween Coloring Contest
My kiddos love to color.  What's more fun than a coloring contest where everyone wins? The internet is filled with fabulous free coloring pages to download.

4.  Halloween Movie Marathon
A Halloween movie night can be loads of fun, especially when you pair it with fabulous Halloween themed treats!  If you're looking for ideas, check out the posts below!

5.  Autumn Nature Walk
Going for a walk
Nothing compares to a beautiful nature walk on a crisp autumn day.  There is a beautiful and historic cemetery behind our house.  We walk there often.  Our best walks are always close to Halloween.


6.  Halloween Pajama Day
Halloween Pajama Day
It's tradition in our house that each of the kiddos have a set of Halloween PJs.  Besides wearing them Halloween night, we try to have a pajama day at least once during the month.

7.  Visit a Pumpkin Patch/Corn Maze/Wagon Ride
Visiting the pumpkin patch
All three events are located at the same place for us, which is why the activities are lumped into one.  The kiddos have the foundest memories of these events and always look forward to returning.

8.  Halloween Scavenger Hunt
The kiddos love looking at all of the decorations around town, and so we've made it a point to have Halloween themed scavenger hunts. If you're looking for ideas and printables, check out the ones below.

9.  Make a Family Halloween Music Video
We are big fans of JIBJAB and have made Halloween movies each year using this fun program.  The kiddos watch them again and again.  In years past, around Halloween, the company usually has a free video you can create.  This is my favorite from a few years ago.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

10.  Halloween Story Time
Halloween story time is such a favorite.  The books are introduced on their proper day of the countdown, but then remain out until Halloween.  If you're looking for ideas, be sure to visit the posts below.

11.  Halloween Olympic Games
There are so many cute Halloween games out there for kiddos of all ages to play. Why not put them all together?  Depending on the ages of your kiddos would depend on how many and for how long you'd keep the events going.   So far on our list are:
  • Witch's Broom Race
  • Eyeballs on a Spoon Relay
  • Ghost Drop Contest
For more ideas, check out the posts below.

12.  Halloween Photo Shoot
Halloween Photo Shoot
Each year my kiddos also pick out a Halloween shirt.  When I can, I pick up fun accessories for each of them, like head bands, hats, jewelry, hair ties etc.  We always have fun dressing up and taking pictures.

13.  Halloween Play Dough Activities

There are so many great play dough activities out there.  Halloween play dough activities can be so much fun!  Especially when you include them as part of an invitation to play.  If you're looking for ideas and recipes, be sure to check out the posts below.

14.  Halloween Game Night
The games played this day depend heavily on the age of our kiddos each year.  We've gone as simple as Halloween themed memory, charades, or Pictionary, or you can choose from these fun games below.

15.  Play in the Leaves
October wouldn't be the same without playing in the leaves. If you don't live in an area where leaves fall, pick up some fabric ones at your local dollar store and let the kiddos go to town!

16.  Halloween STEM Activity Day

It's always fun to incorporate learning into our countdown, especially when they're STEM activiites.  If you're looking for ideas, check out the post below.

17.  Halloween Manicures and Pedicures
This is more geared for girls, but my boys love having their nails polished too.  I figure if I pick up Halloween nail polish, the activity won't be too feminine for them, especially this time of year.

18.  Halloween Crafting Time

There are endless craft ideas for Halloween.  Why not dedicate a day to crafting?  If you're looking for ideas, be sure to visit the following posts.

19.  Halloween Dance Party
Music is a huge part of our everyday lives.  Each holiday season I create a new Pandora Station.  The kiddos love our Kid's Halloween station.  It's free.  There's variety.  We can dance the day away!  Of course if you want to go all out and have a real dance party that's fine too.  It all depends on how much effort you want to put into it.

20.  Create a Halloween Sensory Kit
It's not secret that Halloween Night can be a bit difficult for some kiddos.  Why not create a sensory kit to help them cope with the holiday?  If you're looking for ideas, be sure to check out the posts below.

21.  Halloween Costume Fashion Show
The kiddos love wearing their costumes, why not try a practice run through and have everyone show off their new attire.  If you still have costumes that fit from years past, it would be fun to add them too.  If you're looking for costume ideas, visit the posts below.

22.  Outdoor Night Games
I have such fond memories of playing Hide & Go Seek in the fall at night with my friends as a kid.  My kiddos love it as well.  If your kiddos are younger, give them each a flashlight and let the fun begin.

23.  Make a Trick or Treat Bag
Each year our kiddos make their own Trick or Treat Bags.  At first they were just fifty cent paper bags colored with crayons. Now they're a bit more sophisticated and sturdy.  If you're looking for ideas, you may like the post below.

24.  Halloween Face Painting
Face painting can be so much fun, especially around Halloween.  Grab yourself some face paint and enjoy the day!

25.  Attend and/or Host a Halloween/Fall Harvest Party, Event or Play Date
There are so many Halloween and Fall Activities through churches, schools, play groups etc.  If you can't find one, plan your own.  It can be as large or as small as you want.

26.  Tell Spooky Stories w/ Flashlights
My kids love telling stories at night with flashlights in hand.  Adding a Halloween theme around the holiday only seems fitting.

27.  Halloween Treat Making Marathon (& Neighbor Delivery)
There are so many fabulous Halloween treat ideas out there, some healthy and some not.  Why not make treats for a day and then deliver some to the neighbors?

28.  Halloween Safety, Rules & Etiquette Lesson w/ Activities

This may not be the most fun activity in the world, but extremely important to review before the big night.  Though not as exciting as other events, the lesson and activities are always a hit!

29.  Decorate Pumpkins
There are so many options with this activity, depending on the ages and skill levels of your kiddos.  You may just print out paper pumpkins and have them color.  Painting pumpkins is fun too.  Carving is always a great tradition, but you don't have to if you don't want to. That's the beauty of it!

30.  Serve a Halloween Themed Meal or Snack, or host a Witches & Wizards Halloween Party
Each year we celebrate Halloween with our Witches and Wizard's Party.  The kiddos have a blast.  For more details about our party, you can check out the post below.

If you're looking for other party ideas, this is one of my favorites!

31.  Trick or Treating
Last but not least, we can't forget trick or treating!  Sometimes we just do this at home, go to an event, or walk up and down our street. No matter which way you do it, enjoy!

If you'd like to start your own Halloween Countdown, be sure to print out our Halloween Countdown Cards HERE!  There's something for everyone!

Happy Halloween!

Life At Sea Week III: Pirates!

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It's Pirate Week! The kiddos are LOVING it!  Bulldozer still remains afraid of pirates for the most part, but that hasn't stopped him from participating and learning more about them.

Here's what's on our shelves!

Language:
Pirate Vocabulary Nomenclature Cards
 Originally I wanted more than just 6 cards to this collection, but it was difficult finding pictures of actual objects that had specific pirate names.  In the end, the number seems to work perfectly.  Bulldozer actually chose this activity on his own.  He does not like nomenclature card activities.  This one did not overwhelm him. Hooray!
Source: I created these cards. For your free printable, click HERE.

Phonograms: Long O
 We continue on our phonogram journey.  This week is long O.  Dinomite is doing fabulous with them.  His reading ability is growing by leaps and bounds. I'm hoping over time he'll apply them to his spelling.
Source:  I created these cards.  For you free copy, along with cards for each of the other vowels, click HERE.

Phonograms: Writing Long O
 Once again this activity is on the shelf, for more practice with our long O words.  It's funny, Dinomite is not a fan, but Princess LOVES these cards.  Any chance she has to write, she takes it.  I love how each kiddo is so different.  Princess may not understand the spelling aspect of the cards, but she's getting in a lot of letter writing practice which is great!

Source:  I created these cards. For your free copy, along with cards for all of the long vowel sounds, click HERE.

Pirate Spelling Words
 Bulldozer LOVES using scrabble letters to learn new words.  I made this activity just for him.  Of course the other kiddos love using them too.  I made two different lists, one for Bulldozer and Princess, and then one for Dinomite.  I was even able to use words that would help reinforce his long O phonograms.
Source: I created these printables. For your free copy, click HERE.

Pirate & Parrot Beginning Blends Match Up
I loved this activity when I saw it and couldn't wait to put it on the shelves. Dinomite flies through it with no problems and to my surprise, so does Princess!

Source: I found this free printable at Ms. Kist's Kinderkids.

Math:
Pirate Treasure Match Up
 One of my goals for the month is to make sure Bulldozer and Princess know their coin values and are able to identify all of them.  For them, this activity is just a sorting activity.  However, one of Dinomite's goals for the month is to be able to add money values and actually understand how to write dollar and cent values.  After he sorts the money, he counts each collection of coins.  Using our movable numbers and signs, he creates the money amount.  I've been quite impressed with how he's doing.
Source:  This free printable came as part of a packet at 1+1+1=1.

Adding Up Our Treasure
I can't go a week without putting addition or subtraction on our shelves.  This week we're adding up the contents of our treasure.  Dinomite and Princess did fabulous with this activity.  Bulldozer still struggles with understanding the concept of addition, especially when using manipulatives.  There are too many steps for him to follow.  Hopefully by the end of the year he'll understand it.
Source:  I created this printable. For you free copy, click HERE.

Telling Time Like a Pirate
Pirates didn't have watches or clocks back in the "golden era" of piracy.  Instead they used the sun to tell time.  This activity is actually more of a science activity, but I decided to incorporate some Math too, so it works for both.

The kids have cards that show the location of the sun in the sky, a compass, to determine the direction, and a reference pirate point to where they are.  The cards also have the time written on them.  Depending on the kiddos' age, they choose a specific number of time cards.  Dinomite selects six. Bulldozer selects five. Princes selects four.  The first step is to position the hands on the clock to match the time on the card.  All three kiddos have done AMAZING with this.  I'm still in awe that Bulldozer and Princess understand time, at least on the hour times already.
The second step in the activity is to take a blank card (provided in packet) and draw a sun in the correct position (to match their other card).  This way the kiddos learn and practice both ways to tell time.  They've all done extremely well with this activity.  I was worried it would be a difficult concept for them.  I was wrong.  Bulldozer even mentioned the position of the sun as we were returning library books tonight after dinner.  It always amazes me how much he understands, when I can barely tell he's listening or getting anything out of what we do.

Source:  I created these printables. For you free copy, click HERE.  Obviously the sun rises and sets at different times depending on the time of year. I went with a generic 6 AM and 6 PM sunrise/sunset time.

Geography/Culture:
Parts of a Boat
 I have searched and searched and searched for a diagram of the four basic parts or positions in a boat.  It was a very unsuccessful  endeavor. Finally this weekend, I decided to make my own.  The kiddos need to know the basics right?  I created a basic diagram of a boat with labels to use as a control. They're job is to place the correct words in the correct spots on their own boat.  All three kiddos have done great with this. They're remembering the words too, which is always a plus.

Source: I created this printable, for your free copy, click HERE.

Pirate Ship Construction
I knew there was no way I'd be able to entice the kiddos to learn the parts of a pirate ship, however, I did know that I can always get them to try a new "puzzle" activity.  This would encourage them to learn the parts as they piece it together.  The puzzle is a little bit more challenging than they originally thought it would be, but they're learning new words and parts, so all in all, the activity is a huge success.

Source: I found this image HERE.

Land Forms Part II
Back in August, we worked on our first set of Land Form cards.  If you missed my free printable match ups, click HERE.  It being Pirate Week, I thought it a perfect time to bring in the rest of the cards.  After all, these are definitely terms and visuals pirates would need to know, while reading maps.  We've done the clay models and water activity before.  The kiddos loved it, however, they really didn't learn much as they were so focused on pouring the water (and loving it).

As I was trying to come up with an idea, as to how to use the cards, I came across some blue and brown felt in one of my drawers.  That's when the idea hit me.  I'll use felt! They'll have to make the land forms! Now, I'm guessing I'm not the first person who's come up with this idea, however I have not seen it done in other places to give someone credit.
The felt pieces are working fabulously!  Even better, the kiddos are really learning the names of the land forms.  Bulldozer is even doing well with them!

A Pirate's Map Activity
I'm not really one for treasure hunts, especially when I know how distracted my kiddos get in the blink of an eye.  Still, I was trying to think of something to do to help them learn how to read maps and incorporate our pirate theme.  I came across the treasure map above.  I think it's fabulous. I loved it so much, I decided to color it and taint it brown.  The kiddos even decided to color their own too.

Anyways, I digress.  What I loved about this map, was that I had a miniature version of every item on it.  Instead of searching the house or room over, following a map, I decided they'd create the ocean using the map, and then have the pirate ship sail around each place to the treasure.  It's been a really fun creative play activity for the kiddos with no script to be had, which I love for my two autistic boys.
Source: The activity idea was my own.  The map came from Spoonful.com.

Science:
Parrot Nomenclature Cards
Pirates have pets, the most well known ones being parrots.  Why not learn about the different kinds?  Little did I know there are over 350 different species of parrots.  With some research I selected 8 that are known to be really great pets.  To my surprise the kiddos really love this activity.  Bulldozer and Dinomite couldn't stop talking about their favorite parrots.  Both really like the Lovebirds.

The kiddos want to go to the pet store to see if they can identify any of the parrots, now that they know some of the names.  I'm guessing that will happen this weekend.
Source: I created these cards. For your free copy, click HERE.

Music:
A Pirate's Life

The kiddos get so excited to learn a new songs, especially when I pair it with a fun music video.  They have LOVED this song!  I must say it's a pretty cute video!

The kiddos also continue to work on their piano piece for the month.  I'm hoping Dinomite will have the whole thing down by next Monday with confidence.  Bulldozer tries about every other day to play, but he really struggles with the hand coordination.  Still he loves the piano and has such a great touch for it.  When he gets bored playing the piece he's supposed to practice, he plays his own masterpiece.  He's always been my music kiddo. Though he never sings along during our singing time, I find him singing around the house all the time.  I think he really struggles to process the words fast enough when they're set to music.  Princess hasn't really shown much interest in the piano but LOVES to sing.

Art:
My Very Owen Treasure Box
Pirate Week just wouldn't be the same without a treasure box of some kind.  I don't have a cute little pirate treasure box, so I decided the kiddos could make their own.  I'm not one to have the kiddos do crafts and projects unless they'll actually have a use for the end product.  Already, I know Dinomite will use his box for all of his LEGO guys.  Princess will use it for her mini My Little Ponies.  Bulldozer has said he's using it for his "special" marbles.

I picked each kiddo up a treasure box and their favorite color glitter paint.  Dinomite's is black.  Bulldozer's is purple.  Princess' is pink.  They've been working on them every day so far.  Once the base coat is on, they're add stripes or dots or whatever, using the other colors provided. Lastly they can glue sequins on to the boxes.  I'm not sure if the sequins will hold with Elmer's glue, but it's the only glue Bulldozer's not allergic to so... It's just going to have to do.

Monday the kiddos couldn't wait to paint their first coats one at a time, so they all sat down together to work on their boxes.  It was super cute.  Painting definitely proved to be challenging for all of them, especially Bulldozer.  Today he seems very happy about his first coat though.

Physical Education:
The kiddos are almost in full swing with their extracurricular activities.  Dinomite is bowling and doing fabulous in gymnastics.  Bulldozer went to his second private tennis lesson today.  He's doing so well.  His coach, who is ranked very high in the state, told me today that Bulldozer's hand eye coordination is the best he's seen in a kiddo that age.  He's truly talented in the sport.  Now we just have to teach him to move his body the way he wants it to go. Bulldozer is amazing at hitting a tennis ball (you wouldn't believe it unless you saw him), but can't catch a ball for the life of him.  His coach is fabulous and does so great with Bulldozer.  Bulldozer also started his private swimming lessons tonight.  These were recommended by his previous OT to help him regulate and work on sensory issues he has.  He LOVED The lesson and didn't want to get out of the pool.  Granted, he's still trying to figure out how to make himself move in the direction he wants to go in the water, while keeping his mouth closed, but still, he's made such progress. Two years ago he wouldn't step foot in the water.  Bulldozer continues to bowl also.  Princess continues swimming and gymnastics.

Practical Life/Sensorial:
Pirate Sensory Bin
I've had little images in my head of what our pirate sensory bin would look like for quite some time. Of course when it came down to it, I couldn't find any of the things I had wanted to put in it.  We made do.  Our bin consists of:
Plastic Coins (They're actually our St. Patrick's Day Coins as I couldn't find any pirate coins anywhere.)
Square Glass Beads
Plastic Diamond Like Beads
Seashells
Mini Kazoos to act as telescopes
Mardi Gras Bead Necklaces
Safari Toob Pirate Figures
Plastic Dollar Bill Signs

Unlock the Treasure
I saw this idea on one of my favorite blogs, Sorting Sprinkles,  and just had to use it.  Pirates need to know how to unlock their treasure!  Dinomite and Princess are so fascinated with this activity, doing it over and over again.  Bulldozer hasn't tried yet.  They love how the locks pop open with the turn of the key.

Dressing Like a Pirate
Bulldozer still can't put a shirt on or take one off.  Dinomite and Princess can't tie their shoes yet.  I figured this dress up outfit would be great practice for them.  I couldn't find my eye patch or earring, but they don't seem to be missed.  Rolled up in the basket is a pair of elastic waist pants, a pirate shirt, a belt to tie around the waist, and a bandanna to tie around their head.

Wind Up Toys
I found two parrot wind up toys for the kids to practice their fine motor skills with, but they didn't move along a flat surface, so I grabbed two fish instead.  Dinomite and Princess have had a blast with these things .I can't wait for Bulldozer to try them. I'm hoping he doesn't become too frustrated trying to wind them up.  If he does, I'm sure his siblings will help him so they can race their fish together.  Oh the giggles!

Clipping Parrot Feathers
We've done this activity before, about 9 months ago.  All of the kiddos really struggled with it, especially Bulldozer. I'm hoping this time around they'll have developed more strength and succeed.  Even if it's a little difficult, they were super excited about "parrot" feathers.

Scrubbing the Deck
I thought it would be fun to have the kiddos learn to "scrub the deck" just like pirates.  Little did I know what a hit this activity would be.
Bulldozer LOVED this activity on Monday.  He scrubbed and scrubbed until my entire kitchen floor was clean.  He cracked me up because he sang the entire time and would have done more if I hadn't said learning time was all done.  Dinomite did the same thing today.  I guess I know who's chore it will be to scrub the floors from now on.  I just have to remember to give them only a little bit of water. Lol.

We are having a fabulous week!  The kiddos have been begging for learning time to start each day so they can do their pirate activities.  Next week we start our Fall Harvest/Halloween themed month.  The kiddos can't wait for Halloween.  Bulldozer asks every day if it's Halloween yet.  Keep an eye out for our Halloween Countdown Calendar coming soon!

Life At Sea Tot School

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Sunshine and Mommy started Tot School this week.  It has been so much fun!  I admit, I'm not an expert in in it, but I felt proud that I came up with six different activities for her to choose from.  Here's what we did!

Water Sensory Play
 Bulldozer was given these sea creatures a while ago. We've never used them.  I put them in shallow water, to cut down on spills and splashing.  Sunshine went to town. This was by far her favorite activity. She loved the seal.

Fishing
 While the bigger kiddos are starting to grow out of these, Sunshine is just barely growing into them.  She really struggled with this activity coordinating hand movements and moving the pole where she wanted it to go. She couldn't quite understand where the magnet was.  We kept practicing, "down," "up," "off," & "in."

Stacking Cups
 This is not one of Sunshine's favorite activities, but she's getting pretty good at it with all of her therapy work.  I couldn't resist putting it on the shelves.

Putting Sea Creatures in the "Water"
 Sunshine LOVES putting things in and out of containers.  I was surprised that she struggled with this activity at first, but by the end she seemed to understand.  I'm sure it will continue to be used every day.

Coloring
 Sunshine has really started to like coloring.  She still likes eating crayons, so I have to watch her, but she loved the doggie in the picture, (which I knew she would).

Sponge Painting Sea Creatures
 The look of this activity intrigued Sunshine, but the actual act of doing wasn't as pleasurable.  Sunshine does not like getting her hands dirty, and she ended up covering herself with paint while working.  Needless to say she wasn't a happy camper.
 Still she continued. We practiced our colors and she really tried to stamp, but ended up using the stamp like a crayon or paint brush.  Here's her work of art!
Next week I'll try to come up with some tot activities to go with our pirate theme!

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