Tot School: Five Little Monkeys & 2nd Birthday Party

by Melanie on October 24, 2013

24 Months Old

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

We are interrupting our regular A-Z tot school plans to embrace a special theme in honor of Rocket’s 2nd birthday… Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed!

Last Sunday, we had a Five Little Monkeys themed birthday party and I decided to set up our tot school activities to go with it. Teaching in themes groups ideas together, making learning easier and more exciting for young children. When those themes are topics of interest to the child to begin with, they are naturally drawn to whatever concepts you’re trying to teach. It’s a great way to make learning fun and therefore to increase the likelihood of your child retaining information.

And so, our birthday party and tot school theme was centered around one of Rocket’s favorite songs/books in the whole wide world! I had a great deal of fun preparing this one. How can you not have fun with monkeys?

Theme: Five Little Monkeys

Object: Monkeys

Vocabulary Development Theme: Monkeys, Monkeys, Monkeys!

Secondary Focus: Birthday

 

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

 

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. Barrel Of Monkeys, 2. Monkey Train & Balls, 3. Playskool Busy Gears, 4. Monkey Counting Tray, 5. Porcupine Ball Sorting With Tongs, & 6. Five Little Monkeys Alphabet Printables

We are shooting to expose the following skills with these trays:

  1. Barrel of Monkeys (hand-eye coordination/dexterity)
  2. Monkey Train & Balls (color recognition/fun)
  3. Playskool Busy Gears (fine motor skills/motion play)
  4. Monkey Counting Tray (counting)
  5. Porcupine Ball Sorting With Tongs (fine motor skills/dexterity/color recognition)
  6. Five Little Monkeys Alphabet Printables (letter recognition/using writing utensils)

He made a special request for the Playskool Busy Gears when he saw me organizing the schoolroom. I was about to put them away when he asked me if he could play with them, so I added them to our tot tray shelves.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

His dexterity has improved greatly in turning the crank.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Spinning the gears.

The Five Little Monkeys Alphabet Printables are different from the usual we’ve been using, but still came from 1+1+1=1. They are simple, depicting the alphabet in both capital and lowercase form with a little monkey on each letter to tie in the theme. He worked on these sheets a couple of times this week.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Coloring the letters green.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Adding red marks on the monkeys.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Closing the cap.

The Barrel of Monkeys game is a classic. I remember them being a favorite of mine in Kindergarten! Although, I’m not sure that I ever realized it’s an actual game. I just liked connecting the monkeys.

I showed Rocket how to hook the monkeys onto one another and try to “catch” new monkeys from the bowl. He found it a bit frustrating when they wouldn’t connect, but whenever he got one, he was quite pleased with himself!

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Hooking the monkeys. This is harder than it looks!

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Admiring his catch.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

String of monkeys.

I found the Monkey Train & Balls at a flea market for cheap. The driver of the train is a monkey and the balls fill up in the train, popping out when the wheels roll. We will probably also have this out for our next theme, which will be all about trains and transportation!

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Filling the train up with balls.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Checking to see which balls are left in the train.

I think the Porcupine Ball Sorting With Tongs was his favorite tray for this theme. He requested it over and over again. He has really developed a love for using the tongs and transferring these porcupine balls from the bowl to the ice tray was just the tong practice he’s been craving.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

A tong-full of porcupine balls!

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

He also used the soup spoon from the sensory tub to transfer porcupine balls into the ice tray.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

We worked on colors as he transferred the balls.

I was inspired to make the Monkey Counting Tray when I came across these cute little monkey-faced brads at the craft store. I bought a set of them and secured each one to felt fabric, put them together in a cup, and put that cup on a numbered party platter tray. We used this tray to practice counting monkeys and to work on the visual memorization of the numbers 1-5.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

Deciding where to put the monkeys next.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

One monkey in the middle.

Five Little Monkeys Tot Trays

The tray is almost complete!

 

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub

 

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

Sensory Tub Filler Material:

  • Corn

Sensory Tub Featured Items:

  • Cardboard bed
  • Five little monkeys jumping on the bed (these came from a quarter machine!)
  • Bunch of bananas and an orange (he insisted on including the orange when I took out the bunch of bananas)
  • Felt monkey mama

Sensory Tub Exploratory Tools:

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

  • Large bowl
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cup
  • Soup spoon
  • Measuring spoon
  • Mini broom & dustpan (for cleaning up stray pieces of corn)

First, I want to show you how I made the bed. I found that the right size for a bed to fit our sensory tub would be that of a cardboard oatmeal box, so I cut one up, taped it where I needed to, and pasted construction paper of neutral color on the outside to make it look like a bed.

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

It began like this.

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

And the final bed looked like this.

Then I found some scrap fabric in my sewing box and just rolled it and tucked it into the frame for the bedding. I didn’t need to cut any of the fabric at all since I happened to have the ideal scrap to fit the bed.

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

The bedding.

Last, I added the quarter machine monkeys!

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

This was before I filled the tub with corn.

  Rocket had a lot of fun exploring this tub in the week leading up to his birthday party.

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

Examining the fruit.

Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub (1)

Transferring corn with the measuring cup.

 

Tot School Toys

 

As I was organizing the schoolroom, Rocket also made a special request for his Melissa And Doug See Inside Alphabet Puzzle. He had a lot of ideas this week and every one was welcome!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Matching the letters to their objects.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

This has always been one of his favorite puzzles.

Between that, the tot tray printables, and the Turn-A-Tile Alphabet toy he got from my mom, this has been a week of abundant alphabet practice!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Examining the letters and their objects on the Turn-A-Tile.

 

Five Little Monkeys Books & Current Reading List

 Five Little Monkeys Books (2)

We had a small number of books on the schoolroom bookshelf, but they got read over and over again! Two versions of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed, some other fun monkey-themed books including the classic Caps For Sale (which my mom remembers reading as a child in Vietnam to study English), and a book about a birthday baby using his imagination.

I posted links to our favorites.

Five Little Monkeys Books (2)

Five Little Monkeys Books:

    1. Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow
    2. The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
    3. Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Baby Genius
    4. Monkey Ono by J.C. Phillips
    5. Caps For Sale by by Esphyr Slobodkina
    6. Banana! by Ed Vere

 

Five Little Monkeys Craft

 

We painted pumpkins for Rocket’s party as our art project. Between that and the mirror painting I wrote about last week, it’s been a lot of painting on extraordinary surfaces for monkey week.

I wrote Rocket’s name on his pumpkin and since I’d like to keep him as anonymous as possible on this very public website, I’m not going to post his final piece here. Instead, I’ll show you the monkeys I was working on as he painted his own pumpkin.

Five Little Monkeys Crafts  Five Little Monkeys Crafts

He helped me wash all the pumpkins with a sponge before we got busy with paint. This in itself was a special project for tot school! We scrubbed the pumpkins the night before we did the actual painting.

Five Little Monkeys Crafts

Scrubbing pumpkins with a sponge.

When we were finished painting with acrylics, Dad put a coat of clear spray paint over all the pumpkins so that they’d keep longer in harsh weather.

Five Little Monkeys Crafts

The birthday boy sitting with the monkey pumpkins.

 

Five Little Monkeys Activities & Other Fun Things

 

1. Vocabulary Magnet Play.

I created the Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed magnet set using fun printables I found on Pinterest from Doodle Bugs. I also made a set for each of the goodie bags to give out to the children who were at our party.

I love these storytelling props and the many other adorable freebies I discovered rummaging about the Doodle Bugs website.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

2. World Map Examination.

My husband got a chance to hang up this colorful picture map for children that I found on the sale rack at Hobby Lobby a while back. Rocket has been pointing at the individual pictures on the map, asking what they are. I can tell already that this visual tool will be great for teaching about specific landmarks and features around the world.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Asking about the gorilla in Africa.

3. Monkey Lantern Play.

He always enjoys playing with the monkey lantern O Pho (his grandma) brought him one day!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Turning it on.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

On!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Someone is happy with himself!

4. Hide-N-Seek Bananas With Counting.

When I realized we wouldn’t have time to swing by the zoo to see the monkeys like I’d planned, I came up with this last-minute activity we could pull off in the schoolroom. We’ve done hide-n-seek activities in the past and I’m not sure why I haven’t thought to do one again in so long. He always has so much fun when we do!

I brought this tray of bananas into the schoolroom:

Five Little Monkeys Activities

And hid them around the room for Rocket to find. He was absolutely giddy with joy as he danced around the room in search of bananas.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

There’s one!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Reaching for a banana.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Bookshelf banana.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Bringing his treasure back to the tray in the center of the room, where I told him to put them all.

After each round of hide-n-seek, we sat down at the tray and counted out how many bananas there were in English and in Vietnamese.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Counting in English.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Counting in Vietnamese. My mom is from Vietnam and speaks with him solely in Vietnamese. He learned how to count to 5 in her language before mastering the English.

5. Five Little Monkeys Felt Board.

I was very excited to put up a Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed felt board for our theme. I will go into details about how I made the set and the board itself in a separate post down the road if anyone is interested. It’s very easy, though it does take some time!

I was pleased with how it turned out:

Five Little Monkeys Activities

A close-up of the details:

Five Little Monkeys Activities

At first, I used the board myself for storytelling while Rocket watched. I was disappointed that he was distracted and not that into it. After all my effort in creating the felt board, he didn’t even seem to care much for it!

When I saw how disengaged he was, I decided to pass the reigns over to him. I asked him to make the monkeys jump on the bed and fall off as I sang the song in the background.

When I involved him in that way and allowed him the responsibility of producing the story visually, it changed everything. He fell in love with the felt board!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Turning the monkey upside down to bump his head.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Checking out the monkey.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

The monkeys wound up thrown all over the floor like this after they fell down and bumped their heads. No wonder they needed a call to the doctor!

Five Little Monkeys Activities

He held the monkeys and “bounced” them up and down on the bed during the “five little monkeys jumping on the bed” portion of the song.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Down to one monkey.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Counting the monkeys as he put them back on the felt board after the song.

6. Collecting Coins.

He requested the coin jar this week, so we pulled it down a few times so he could work on saving money.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

7. Choosing Balloons.

The morning of his party, we brought him to the party supply store and let him choose his own balloons. It seems simple, but it was a big deal for him!

We gave the balloons away to the children who attended the party, and it was a nice touch to know that they were individually selected by him for his guests.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Rocket’s bundle of balloons.

Five Little Monkeys Activities

Not a bad color scheme!

 

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

 

Now for some photos of the party itself!

We turned the schoolroom into a music room for the kids. We took out all our instruments and set them up for the children to play.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Rocket testing out the xylophone before the party.

My mom did a fantastic job at catering! I don’t know what we would have done without her. Order a pizza, maybe?

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

On the far left corner of the table was the Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed cake that I baked and decorated for him. My mom’s catering included crackers and cheese, veggie trays, fruit trays, candy and nuts, barbeque chicken sandwiches, and potato chips. Yum yum! We also served tea, water, coffee, and a sherbert fruit punch for the drinks.

A couple of nights before the party, I put together these cute little monkey ears for the children to wear. I’m so glad I did; I loved having a houseful of kids (and some adults) in monkey ears!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Monkey ears.

There was only a total of 9 children, so I wanted to make their goodie bags extra special. That’s a lot easier to do with a small group!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Each goodie bag included the Doodle Bugs 5 Little Monkeys magnet set I mentioned before, a mini banana, a Barrel of Monkeys, fruit snacks, bubbles, a musical instrument of some kind, and a monkey bookmark with a message thanking guests for attending.

And on to some photos of the festivities…

Surrounded by friends and family, Rocket tore into his pile of gifts.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Pointing at his buddy, Mike.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Helping Dad remove the tissue paper.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Reading the card. Since the party, I’ve kept the cards in his schoolroom and he has returned to them time and time again to look at the pictures.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Yay! New learning materials for school. So grateful for these Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads, which had been on our wish list for a while.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

And a couple of books to add to our home library.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

He’s going to love this Kidoozie Build-A-Road X-Track! We will break into the box for our next theme on transportation.

We were so blessed with amazing friends and family with whom to share this day… and our lives in general!

I was pleased that our tiny guests enjoyed the magnet set on the fridge, especially since they had a set of their own waiting for them in their goodie bags.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Rocket’s friend playing with the magnets.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Even the older children enjoyed the magnet set.

I didn’t capture a lot of photos of the music room in action, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it was well-used!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Amidst conversation with one of our older kid guests.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

One of our guests with his adorable little nose in a book.

I had a wonderful time with my birthday boy!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Me and my monkey.

Fortunately, the weather outside was lovely! This is not something we can ever fully count on for a late October birthday.

As our outdoor entertainment, we set up the water table.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Children of varying ages enjoying the water table together.

The ultimate party finale came when my husband’s ex-band mate and our family’s good friend Mike gave Rocket his old drums. We set them up outside and the children went wild on them! The party was 3 days ago and Rocket is still going wild on them right now as I type this!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Breaking in his new drums.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Showing off his moves to Mike.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Sitting like a professional drummer.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Taking turns.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Jamming!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Watching his friend from Story Time at the library play.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

When he squeezed in beside her, she was so sweet and shared the second drumstick with him!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Using the kick pedal.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Our house got loud after this day!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

BAM BAM!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

He has a true passion for music. His favorites are drums, guitar, and the harmonica.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

I’m so glad we got to share these drums with the other children. It was fantastic entertainment all around!

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

A gentleman in monkey ears.

After the party ended, he spent some alone time with his new toys.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Dinosaur cars.

And he spent time with his special buddy Mike, who gave him the drums.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Impressed with Mike’s drumming skills.

And at last, he spent some quality time with his new drums.

Five Little Monkeys Birthday Party

Banging away.

 

Song Of The Week & Music Time

 

Needless to say, our song of the week was Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed.  And our music time involved a lot of drumming!

As always, Dad plays the guitar with him every night too and Five Little Monkeys made its ways into the set quite regularly.

 

Technology Time

 

We watched several video versions of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed on YouTube.

 

Mom’s Favorite Moments

 Mom's Favorite Moments

My mom got Rocket his very first ice cream on a cone while we were shopping for his party food. He figured out how to eat it like a natural!

Mom's Favorite Moments

We also went to the beautiful wedding of a wonderful couple. Here I am with my handsome man!

Mom's Favorite Moments

My boys.

Mom's Favorite Moments

At the wedding, Rocket met a girl!

Mom's Favorite Moments

Reading his card from his Great Grandma.

 

More Tot School Resources

 

Check out these link-ups for more tot school inspiration:

1+1+1=1

Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas

No Time For Flash Cards

Living Montessori Now

True Aim Education

The Educators’ Spin On It

A Mama’s Story

Hip Homeschool Moms

Crystal & Co.

Mama To 5 Blessings

Deep Roots At Home

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com October 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Thank you for this! It looks like everyone is enjoying the tactile learning experience :) What fun for the children AND the adults :)
Blessings!

Reply

michelle November 6, 2013 at 12:54 am

Love that picture of him with the moustache!! What a gentleman

Reply

parot December 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

very adorable

Reply

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