Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ABC Video

This little video goes with the previous post. Normally I don't talk so much and just let the Little Guy do his work. This day though he was doing the activity at my request and we had a running dialog going basically from sun-up to sun-down. Some days he just loves to talk!!!

ABC Recognition and Matching

Here is an activity that the Little Guy initiated and I've taken a step further to formalize.
He saw the ABC play mat and wanted to do something with it. I suggested we find the ABC magnets since they were both ABC things and he took it from there!
The place mat went to his little table in the kitchen where he promptly began matching the magnets to the letters on the place mat.
He noticed a few things that I hadn't really thought about. Did you know that small "z" turned on it's side matches the big "N"? Or how confusing the small "d" and small "p" can be?
After the Little Guy went to bed I got down to work. Matching on the place mat inspired me to create a sheet to match with the size and shape of the magnetic letters that we have.
After writing it all out in pencil I went back with a pen and then erased the pencil lines. Each step was also scanned into the computer so in the future all I'll have to do is print off the sheet.
The set of ABC magnets that we use for "work" has the consonants in blue and vowels in red. This is originally a Montessori idea to help kids learn about the two different kinds of letters and how they work differently. While the Little Guy isn't focusing on that yet it doesn't hurt to start out using the set.
Here's the new and improved activity. It was much easier because the letters in the bowl actually match the font used for the ones on the mat/page.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Preparing to be a Brother

One of my jobs for this summer - and perhaps the most important one - is helping the Little Guy grasp what it is to be a big brother.
He loves babies in my Baby Signing Time Classes and looks forward to playing with them each week. He also is very in tune to what we do at the regular doctor visits. Having an ultrasound at every visit (Japanese standard of care) helps him to see how the baby grows. He's likes to listen to the heart beat and see the baby's growth chart. Of course the 3-D pictures of the face always help too!
At home he has always paid great attention to his "babies" carrying them in a sling, feeding, rocking, and inviting them to play.
This has all been topped off with a selection of books that talk about babies which we read regularly, by his request. Here are some of our favorites:
Baby Blessings Series - These 3 are from the same author Alice Joyce Davidson:
- God Bless : Baby's First Family Photo Album

I'm a Big Brother - same book, different edition

I'm really not worried about the Little Guy liking the baby. He already tries to play with her a few times a day. They do sumo, poke each other and give hugs. My concern is more about who gets to be "in charge" after she is born.
In my mind I'll be the main caretaker so feeding, rocking, diaper changes will fall on my shoulders. I get the feeling though that the Little Guy is thinking of the baby as "his" so we might have a difference of opinion over the daily care!
Either way we are headed for the start of another fun adventure!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Puzzles

My little helper was at it again... I opened the closet door to find something and he dove right in to find a thing or two himself!
When we went to the US last summer I picked up the Infantino Matching Colors and Textures Puzzle. At 18 months old it was a great activity when used by category (color, texture, etc.) but what a difference a year makes! Now the Little Guy can take on the whole pile of pieces at one time!
The other big change is that last summer he used signs to tell me what most of the pictures were but now he does the puzzle with a running dialogue complete with his own ideas of what various things are/could be.

We also have the Where's my Tail puzzle. Again, it was a challenge at 18 months and it is easy now at 2.5 years old. I really love the Infantio puzzles and if we were headed to the US again this year I would pick up a few more. They are durable, age appropriate and have great artwork!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Since we have unpacked but not everything has found a home yet the Little Guy is finding new things to try that I wouldn't normally think of giving to a 2.5 yr old!
This is a mini shodo (Japanese calligraphy) set that I got from a Scholastic order a few years back. It is rather realistic in that you have to grind the ash stick and add water to make the ink. I have things for regular shodo but this is better fitted to little hands.
Once we got everything set up and the ink made the drawing fun began! WE started out with careful attention being paid to style and procedure. After about five minutes though the writing turned into free painting.
I think this is a new favorite activity because at least twice today I was asked about doing it again. Perhaps tomorrow?

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Shelves

The Little Guy took a long nap today and I had a short one which meant I had time to get some cleaning and organizing done without his assistance.
This is a color matching activity that has been waiting to be assembled. These are little clothes pins from the 100 yen shop ($1 store) with flowers of various colors on the end.
The activity is set up with 1 clothes pin of each color on a piece or cardboard and the corresponding color in a little cup. The goal is to place matching clothes pin on the other end of the cardboard.
The matching part was easy but the little guy had to think a bit about how to get the flowers to face the same direction. He decided at one point that they look better on the white side of the cardboard so he had to change them all to match!
During the long nap I was able to finally get our shelves set up. It only took 2 months since we moved... but hey, it is ready now, right?
The work shelves are in the kitchen/dining area. The art supplies will also go someplace near by. Today while we were making supper the Little guy happily worked on his things. He also did one activity after eating before heading off to the other room for some free play.
I think this new arrangement will work well!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Auf Deutsch?

We make an effort at home not to limit language exposure to just Japanese and English. Finding things in other languages though can be a bit tricky. From time-to-time I hope to share some of our favorite books, dvds, websites, etc!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tummy Time タミータイム

In my Baby Signing Time class today we had an interesting (sort of) off topic discussion about tummy time. The moms in the class had never heard of such a thing. It's come up in classes before too... often enough to make me wonder about what moms in Japan do with their babies all day! When the Little Guy was really little (2-7 months) tummy time was one of our main activities. We would play for a while on the floor after he woke up from his nap. While we started out with just 5 or 10 minutes at a time before long he was lifting his head and really beginning to enjoy exploring the items within his reach.

I came across a mat on Amazon.jp that is designed for tummy time. It's the first time I've see a product on there advertised for that purpose. The mat we have came from the US since I couldn't find one in Japan 3 years ago.
Take a look at the Tiny Love タミータイム ファンlady bug and frog.

Here are some ideas of activites for tummy time:
3 months old - mat near the window, plastic mirror, books, ring stacking toy - all within reach
3 months old - mirror, ring stacker, baby doll, cloth books, gauze, window
4 months old - grapefruit, apple
tummy time outside
5 months old - balls, towel for hiding toys, stacking cups

Any baby toys can be put just within reach to encourage exploration. Other carefully chosen household products are great too. A plastic cooking spoon, small cloth bag, citrus fruit, colorful placemats... things that seem ordinary to us are often the most interesting to babies!
Of course tummy time should always be closely supervised but not over supervised. Put on some nice music and give the babe a chance to explore while you sit back and quietly observe! You may learn a thing or two too!

* Please keep in mind that tummy time is for play time. Babies should be put to sleep on their backs!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Travel Prep

As the summer gets underway in the US, and we start thinking about what to do in 2 months when it arrives in Japan, a common topic becomes what to do when traveling with small kids. One yahoo group that I'm a part of, Married in Japan, has the same topic come up every year. What do you do with small kids on long flights?

Here is what I did last year: Plane Entertainment: Toddler Style

This year we don't have plans to go overseas but with baby #2 on the way we'll be spending a lot of time on the train going to/from doctor appointments, etc. My hope is to prepare some file folder activities. I need to get a laminaator first though...

A friend of mine posted a little while back about the file folder activities that she prepared for her 2 yr old. You can take a look at her blog post here.

Happy travels!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Toddler Size

Toddlers really do like things that are their size. Tonight the Little Guy and I ate supper at his table (he set it) and we enjoyed mini hamburgers with edamame and salad. He declaired it was like having an indoor picnic!
About half way through the meal he realized that the chair I was sitting on was a bit small for me and offered to bring me one from the dining table. I love the way he is noticing things and becomes so concerned!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

100 yen Treasures

Our outing today included a stop at a new 100 yen shop. Think $1 store...
I was surprised to find some nice deals. The magnetic things were 200 yen but still a great price!
A magnetic dress-up set
The Little Guy used it a bit on the train on the way home and after supper asked to get it out again. A hit already?

2 sets of 4 small puzzles. They are about 4 in. x 4 in. I think I'll have to start doing activity themes again and add these in one at a time.

Picture sight word (bilingual even!) flashcards. I should have bought two sets to do memory...

The girl magnetic dress-up set
A counting puzzle. The Little Guy can get to 3 without a problem and often askes about counting higher so I think he'll enjoy this.

A magnetic ABC matching puzzle. This is a bit tough for him yet but once we really get going on the alphabet I think he'll take to it right away!

Remember that good deals can appear anywhere!