24 Months Old
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
Vocabulary Development Theme: Monkeys, Monkeys, Monkeys!
Secondary Focus: Birthday
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:
- Barrel of Monkeys (hand-eye coordination/dexterity)
- Monkey Train & Balls (color recognition/fun)
- Playskool Busy Gears (fine motor skills/motion play)
- Monkey Counting Tray (counting)
- Porcupine Ball Sorting With Tongs (fine motor skills/dexterity/color recognition)
- 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.
His dexterity has improved greatly in turning the crank.
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.
Coloring the letters green.
Adding red marks on the monkeys.
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!
Hooking the monkeys. This is harder than it looks!
Admiring his catch.
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!
Filling the train up with balls.
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.
A tong-full of porcupine balls!
He also used the soup spoon from the sensory tub to transfer porcupine balls into the ice tray.
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.
Deciding where to put the monkeys next.
One monkey in the middle.
The tray is almost complete!
Five Little Monkeys Sensory Tub
Sensory Tub Filler Material:
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:
- Large bowl
- 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.
It began like this.
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.
Last, I added the quarter machine monkeys!
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.
Examining the fruit.
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!
Matching the letters to their objects.
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!
Examining the letters and their objects on the Turn-A-Tile.
Five Little Monkeys Books & Current Reading List
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Turning it on.
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:
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.
Reaching for a banana.
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.
Counting in English.
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:
A close-up of the details:
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!
Turning the monkey upside down to bump his head.
Checking out the monkey.
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!
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.
Down to one monkey.
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.
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.
Rocket’s bundle of balloons.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
Pointing at his buddy, Mike.
Helping Dad remove the tissue paper.
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.
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.
And a couple of books to add to our home library.
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.
Rocket’s friend playing with the magnets.
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!
Amidst conversation with one of our older kid guests.
One of our guests with his adorable little nose in a book.
I had a wonderful time with my birthday boy!
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.
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!
Breaking in his new drums.
Showing off his moves to Mike.
Sitting like a professional drummer.
Watching his friend from Story Time at the library play.
When he squeezed in beside her, she was so sweet and shared the second drumstick with him!
Using the kick pedal.
Our house got loud after this day!
He has a true passion for music. His favorites are drums, guitar, and the harmonica.
I’m so glad we got to share these drums with the other children. It was fantastic entertainment all around!
A gentleman in monkey ears.
After the party ended, he spent some alone time with his new toys.
And he spent time with his special buddy Mike, who gave him the drums.
Impressed with Mike’s drumming skills.
And at last, he spent some quality time with his new drums.
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.
We watched several video versions of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed on YouTube.
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!
We also went to the beautiful wedding of a wonderful couple. Here I am with my handsome man!
At the wedding, Rocket met a girl!
Reading his card from his Great Grandma.
More Tot School Resources
Check out these link-ups for more tot school inspiration: