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7/24/2016

A Magical Morning Bug Hunt

If you want a magical morning, go for a walk in the woods. Seriously.

I love Tot School because it encourages us to do activities we may not otherwise think of or may have forgotten we love.

This week we're talking about bugs, so this morning we decided to trek through our favorite path at Panther Creek State Park. This path was a favorite pastime when Brian and I were dating, but has been severely neglected since we've had kiddos.



Beckett broke out his favorite boots and we took our critter catcher and magnifying glass so we could search out some critters. Both kids had a total blast exploring their surroundings. I think Beckett could have stayed in there all day. He was all boy! Climbing rocks and jumping off and over things. I LOVED watching him! I probably would have been able to stay longer than the hour we did if I weren't carrying a hefty baby!




Here's the situation though. We went looking for bugs and BOY DID WE FIND SOME. I thought I was more prepared for this. Guys. Bugs are gross and I'm not afraid to admit it. I thought I would be able to suck it up and show Beckett how to make use of that critter thingy, but alas. I failed miserably.





If those little stinkers would have just jumped into the critter case when we asked them to, we would have brought home this bad boy. Maybe when Dad is back in town, we can try again.




The ants were much better behaved. Beckett just sat his bowl down (because we take snacks everywhere, obviously) and they just helped themselves right in! Perfect opportunity to make use of our cool new magnifying glass



I loved this morning. And the kids and I desperately needed a magical adventure like this after a very exhausting week. 




We'll definitely continue heading out to our new favorite adventure spot. Lucky for us, we have a couple more months of summer weather and then a beautiful Tennessee fall to look forward to!


When we got home from our trek, we broke out our Scavenger Hunt! We decided not to take it into the woods with us because it was one more thing to carry, but it ended up being a great tool for discussing our adventure and recalling our findings!


Beckett loves these scavenger hunts! We did one last week at the zoo and he was so proud to take charge of this activity and show me what animals he'd seen. This page has been our main avenue for new vocabulary this week as well! I brought it out yesterday and we chatted about the insects and compared them to our toy critters. Grab your FREEBIE download here!


It was such a fun & memorable day!

To see what else we're doing during bug week, check back for another post at the end of the week and take a look at my Pinterest board.



7/15/2016

Zoo Tot School

For the last couple of months, we've been on a break from Tot Schooling, but we are VERY excited to get back in the swing! I like that using Tot School themes adds variety & creativity to our day to day activities, and also is an effective way to strengthen Beckett's vocabulary.


This week, we chose our theme based on our summer schedule! Since we were headed to the zoo, we filled the week before with zoo themed activities. The goal this week was to have activities with MINIMAL prep work, and lots of hands on fun!

Books

As usual, I started by digging out all of our appropriately themed books. Of course I also took the opportunity to grab a few new ones too! 


Below is a hyperlinked list of our favorites, all available in board book if that's important to you (like it is to us!). Just click!

    

Put Me in the Zoo

I found this activity on Pinterest, of course. After reading Put Me in the Zoo together, I sketched out this cute guy on yellow construction paper and gave Beckett (2 and a half) some Q-Tips and paint. He's SUPPOSED to be doing polka dots, but of course he got tired of that nonsense after a few minutes. This was Charlie Grace's first time at the table and she was so thrilled!

After we finished our picture, I wrote the first part of the title across the top and Beckett finished by writing out "Zoo." He's just started understanding that letters strung together equal words, and he's getting a big kick out of being able to write them down!



Play Doh

We have this really neat Play Doh set. It comes with awesome little rollers that allow you to imprint animal prints into your play-doh. How fun! Beckett was completely entertained, which is funny because we play with play-doh A LOT. Does it ever get old, though? While we played, we talked about what colors would be most appropriate, we examined the prints on our animal creations, and talked about the animal names of the play-doh shapes we made. We also used play doh to imprint some of our animals & make little molds! During this time, Charlie mostly just got in the way until I enticed her to play with our play doh bin. Can we call that a sensory activity!? You can find this play doh set by clicking here.




Sticker Fun

Stickers are great for fine motor practice, plus provide another opportunity for chatting about your animal friends. In this activity, we also got to incorporate conversation about the word ZOO and its letters! Charlie (10 months) made the bottom masterpiece. We found our zoo stickers at Walmart, but you can also find a great variety on Amazon


Counting Cards

When we started Tot School, I created these freebie counting cards. Nearly a year later, Beckett still enjoys counting items into the boxes. Of course, we counted our animal figurines. I got our animals at Walmart, but you can find similar ones here.

While we're playing, we stomp our animals around, make up sounds, and compare their sizes. Charlie uses this time to destroy everything we try to do. :)


Build a Zoo

We LOVE our Melissa & Doug blocks! This cute idea actually came from Buck & Chuck's Grandma. I was out of town for work and randomly received this picture! Grandma knew we were in the middle of a zoo theme, and so got creative with our blocks and animal figurines. Such a cute activity, inspiring imagination and practicing sorting skills all at the same time. Go, Grandma!


I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor

Have you heard the song, "I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor" by Shel Silverstein? TOO CUTE. Grandma brought a CD and this cute little DIY snake from her own preschool days and we were all completely entertained. Plus it practices body parts. Here's a really cute version using stuffed snakes, which are probably easier to come by than our version!




Zoo Parade

Because washi is useful for so many fun things, I decided to pull out a roll and create a "track" for our Zoo Parade! Becket got a total kick out of watching me tape these letters. We had worked on how to spell, "zoo" so he narrated the letters while I taped away. Then we had fun making animal noises and marching them in this fun "zoo" pattern. Charlie played the role of King Kong for this one, coming through and scattering our animals all over the place. Ha. I guess it adds adventure. ;)





Zoo Trip & Scavenger Hunt

We finished out our week at the Knoxville Zoo with friends and family. Most of the time we just enjoyed the animals (and Knoxville's awesome splash pad!), but we also made sure to pull out this adorable (and FREE!) Scavenger Hunt by A Dab of Glue will Do!

Beckett did great with this activity! He was able to identify most of the animals in the zoo on his own, then did a great job finding them on his scavenger hunt page and marking them off. This was the first time we tried something list this but we will definitely do it again! (I'm thinking nature walk during our camping unit it September!).



And that's a wrap! I hope you got a few new ideas for a Zoo Unit with your littles! I'd love to hear what you come up with. Please comment below!

To see other ideas for a Zoo Themed Tot School or Pre-K unit, visit my Pinterest Board!