Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winter Break.

David was off from school last week as it was his winter break. I knew that the only way for us to survive that week was to keep ourselves extremely busy and don't let the kids get bored. I wish I could say that David and Julia could play by themselves for hours at a time . Unfortunately, that's not the case. The only time they play well is when both Seth and I are asleep in the morning. Neither one of them wakes us up and when Julia does try to make some noise, David warns her that she should be quiet as we are sleeping. Of course, once we are up, every rule goes out of window. I don't know why it is the case, but I suspect that David likes drawing attention to himself any way he can think of.
So, I had collected a few art project ideas from some very creative bloggers and supplied myself with enough materials to last me for a long time. Here are some projects that kept us entertained, sane and calm throughout last week.
I wrote some words on a plain white paper sheet using a white pencil. Then I had the kids paint all over the paper and discover what's written on it. Of course, as soon as I placed a paper in front of David, he said "it says STOP here". So, much for the mystery. I was surprised he saw the writing as I could barely see it myself. He played along though and both of them painted all over a few sheets of paper discovering their names and other easy words that I knew they would recognize.

I created a number game dividing a sheet of paper into 36 squares, writing numbers in them and cutting yellow and purple stars. I would call a number and each kid had to place their star on the right box. David's stars were yellow as it is his favorite color and Julia's were purple. Whoever gets more stars correctly wins and a winner gets a spin. I know, this "prize" wouldn't really work for an older child. But somehow I needed to motivate them to play. Of course, in our game both kids were winners and both got a spin. I was actually surprised that David wanted to play again and throughout last week both kids asked to play a "number game" whenever they would get bored. David isn't always sure if a number is 13 or 23, so this game is a good practice for him.

I found another great way to practice the numbers. David always enjoyed working with connect the dots pagers, but nowadays the number of dots he works with increased to a hundred. He counted out loud to a hundred with my help while connecting the numbers. Julia then would color in the pictures. Another activity that kept his attention for a long time was mazes. I could barely step out of his sight when he would shout "I did it, I want another one".
Of course, there were numerous times when the kids would just create something on their own. Julia's been drawing a lot and coloring princess theme pages. One evening David decided to make a Christmas tree by cutting out triangles and taping them.

He's been doing a lot of drawings in his notebook. Here's his self portrait. I am not going to mention what he said after completing it as it might attract unwanted audience to my blog.

I had purchased some wooden cutouts of helicopter, snake, bugs, dinosaurs and had the kids color them. After the cutouts dried and I couldn't think of any other use for them, I showed the kids how to outline them and create the pictures of the objects. Julia was better at coloring them in and David was very interested in outlining them.

We did some mindless sticker project by creating a garden (doesn't it sound like we are so ready for a warmer weather?), but I figured it was a good motor skill practice. Julia's flowers are scattered all over whereas David's are lined up perfectly in a straight line. He would take a flower off and move it if it looked a bit off to him.

David asked me to build a tent. The kids "furnished" it and pretended they were camping.

We created some letter theme projects with the letters V and I. We made an erupting volcano and letters V coming out of it using a construction paper and a brown paper bag. We also transformed letter I into an ice cream. David has been more interested in phonics lately, so any letter / phonics related activities interest him now.

Of course, there's always coloring going on in our house. Julia colors any pages that have to do with princesses and David loves anything Peter Pan and Wall-E related. I try to praise their work as much as possible. Once I said to them "Guys, you are doing such a nice job coloring the pages. David, don't you think Julia colors like a big girl?" . Of course, Julia scribbles as any 2 year old would. David glanced at her work and said "Julia, your picture looks ugly." Of course, it wasn't very thoughtful, but it was interesting that he realizes a difference between a neat painting from scribbling.

We also celebrated daddy's birthday last week. It was a perfect ending to what seemed to be a very long week. (We didn't utilize the blackboard that night and the Xs remained there from a few nights back.) Seth and I celebrated both by going out to a dinner on a Friday night.

On Saturday morning Seth took over the responsibility of caring for the kids. I woke up in the morning to an empty house and I thought they all went playing miniature golf. They were back by 9:30 am and it turned out that Seth had his own project in mind to preoccupy the kids with. They went to Lowe's this morning to pick up some materials for fishing ... pretend fishing. For the last year David would throw a blanket or my yarn over a ledge in our home and pretend that he is fishing. So, Seth went one step further and decided to make 2 fishing rods out of wooden sticks attaching a string with the magnets to them. He then cut out various fish out of a cardboard and attached a few clips to them. He tossed the fish at the entrance hall and the kids started "fishing" from the main floor. Julia and David spent an hour "fishing" and I had a hard time getting them out to the library for a story time. We got back and they went straight to "fishing" again and once they woke up from their nap, I knew exactly where to find them. I don't think either one of them has ever been entertained by anything else longer than they were today by this activity.

Seth also made some musical instruments by placing bunch of uncooked popcorn between two plates and then stapling the plates together, so to keep the popcorn inside. It was loud, but the kids enjoyed it and it didn't last as nearly as long as their fishing adventure.

Well, the winter break is over and we all survived it. I think all of us ready for David to go back to school. He is eager to go back. Julia wants all my undivided attention back. But I think I'll miss him although it will be nice to enjoy the quietness around here.

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