Tot School: Umbrella Theme

by Melanie on November 27, 2013

25 Months Old

Weather Activities

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been busy with all kinds of weather activities for our umbrella theme. Before I get into what we did, I want to say that I can’t believe we only have 5 letters left after this one! Rocket has learned so much with these A-Z tot school lesson plans. I already have ideas for a new unit that I’m excited to share with Rocket after we complete this one! I know he’s going to love it.

I stretched our umbrella theme out a little longer than most of our themes in order to get a full range of natural weather outside to discuss. We played outside on sunny days, talked about the rain cycle when it drizzled, ran through the wind before storms came through, and peered out the window together when the sky was alive with lightning. Yesterday, our very final day of this theme, we even had our first snowfall here in Louisville, Kentucky!

Because it’s relevant to the theme, I want to tell you something else that I just absolutely adore.

Since he was 1, Rocket & Dad have had this thing. After a big rain, they stand underneath a tree while Dad shakes a branch and water falls over their heads. Rocket loves this special time getting soaked with Dad and he asks to do it often after it rains.

I am so grateful to have a husband who isn’t afraid of getting wet in order to steal a moment of joy and laughter with his son. It’s priceless!

We also reviewed our ASL weather words during this theme. Rocket hasn’t been signing nearly as much now that his spoken vocabulary is so developed, so I was pleased to see that he hasn’t forgotten the signs! I will have to make an effort of it to reinforce ASL more often.

Letter: Uu

Object: Umbrella

Vocabulary Development Theme: Weather

  Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

 

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. Rain Transferring, 2. Handwriting & Weather Stickers, 3. Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set, 4. Marble Transferring, 5. Salt Snow, 6. Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs Building Set, & 7. Leaf Transferring

We used these trays to work on the following skills:

  1. Rain Transferring (hand-eye coordination/transferring/pouring)
  2. Handwriting & Weather Stickers (using writing utensils/using stickers)
  3. Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set (practical life skills)
  4. Marble Transferring (hand-eye coordination/transferring/spooning)
  5. Salt Snow (creative play)
  6. Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs Building Set (fine motor skills/shape & color recognition/creative play)
  7. Leaf Transferring (transferring/tonging)

For our last theme, we didn’t use any of the 1+1+1=1 printables that you’ve seen in all the previous themes. I decided not to use them again for our weather lesson. I still HIGHLY recommend these printables and will continue to use them in the future, but for now I am following my son’s lead and his interests are elsewhere.

He is currently obsessed with writing and doodling on blank paper. I think he wants to write on blank paper because he sees me do it. I’m always scribbling something in an agenda planner, a home organizer, or on loose leaf paper and this big boy likes to do the same!

He is most interested in regular pens and pencils like the grown-ups use, not markers or crayons. He’s been drawing all kinds of things- explaining that his pictures are of mom, dad, himself, our dog, O Pho (his grandma), an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, the drums, the fireplace, etc.

Sometimes he asks me to draw with him, so I stop what I’m doing and we draw together.

I model for him how to look at an object and copy its image on the paper. He asks me to draw his favorite stuffed animals- Happy Hot Sauce and French Fry Monkey (he named them before he turned 2)- and then he tries his hand at it.

I also teach him how to draw simple shapes like circles and triangles. It’s amazing watching as his hand control improves more and more. We also work on his name and the letters, specifically the current letter for our theme (this time, Uu).

For the Handwriting & Weather Stickers tray, I gave him a variety of writing utensils and blank paper. He always chooses the pens lately. I also included raindrop and snowflake stickers to tie in our theme.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays (1)

Taking care of important business.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Decorating his paper with a blue snowflake sticker.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

I love that he loves to draw. It keeps him absorbed while I clean the house or prepare meals! I also loved to draw as a child, and still to this day.

Rocket made a special request for the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set, so I made sure to put it on our tot school shelves. It may not have anything to do with weather, but tot school is never that strict. The most important thing is that toddlers are learning and the best way to make sure they are is to supply them with activities that appeal to their current interests.

He went back to the cutting food set over and over again throughout this theme!

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Slicing the tomato.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

The bread and the watermelon are the easiest to slice because they lay flat on one side. I let him use a real butter knife and a real cutting board for this activity (though the set does come with a play knife & a play cutting board). I teach him the safety rules of handling a knife as he cuts.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

After slicing the food, Rocket pretends to eat it… and feeds plenty to me too. Yum!

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays (38)

A big ol’ mouthful of bread!

The Snow Salt tray was an extremely easy one to prepare and oh, so very fun! I dumped salt on a tray to represent snow and added a few random props for Rocket to use for play. I included a feather, marbles, and some bells.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

First, he picked up the feather to “write” in the snow.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

He got creative and decided to stick some pegs from his peg stacker into the snow. We had to pile the salt up into mounds in order to make it thick enough to hold up the pegs.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Topping the pegs with marbles.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Note the pile of salt on the carpet. This tray got messy, as do many tot school activities. Accidental messes are allowed; purposeful ones are not. Rarely does a day go by when we don’t bring out the vacuum cleaner! To me, an aversion to messes is not a good enough reason to stifle the creative learning process.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

He used the butter knife from the cutting food tray to draw crisp lines in the salt snow.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

On a later day, we took the measuring spoon and the egg carton from the marble transfer tray to scoop salt.

For Rocket’s birthday, we’d gotten him a Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs Building Set. It was definitely a worthy purchase!

We are very mindful of what toys we bring into this home to avoid clutter and wasteful cost. When it comes to gifts, I’m particularly drawn to open-ended learning toys that are appealing to a wide range of ages, and that encourage imagination and problem-solving skills. This peg stacker did not disappoint.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Building a tower (with my help).

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Carefully balancing a peg.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

He was deep in concentration as he worked on this structure.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

The crepe shapes that come with this set are great for teaching and reinforcing shapes/colors.

  Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Dad, too, was engaged with our new peg stacker. Here is the tower he built, taller than Rocket!

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Unsurprisingly, this musical child decided mid-tower-collapse that the pegs make perfect microphones.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

A stack of 3 pegs is now Rocket’s go-to microphone. He brings it around the house with him, singing songs for all to hear!

The best way I knew how to represent the wind using materials we had on hand was to make a tray composed of fall leaves. This Leaf Transferring tray came with two sets of tongs, two containers, and a pile of artificial leaves (though some real ones got thrown in there too).

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Transferring leaves with the green tongs.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

He discovered that he can move the leaves even faster by transferring them with both tongs at the same time.

Since Rocket has been loving tongs lately, I also included a Marble Transferring tray for him to try tonging with different materials. I also included a measuring spoon with this tray.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Moving marbles from the bowl to the egg carton.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Using a small measuring spoon to transfer more marbles.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Filling up the egg carton, one marble at a time.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Look what else he can do with the tong!

Naturally, we had to have a water tray again to represent the rain. The Rain Transferring tray was as big a hit as ever. He loves moving water with various tools- and it gets less messy the more he practices!

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Scooping up “rain” with the measuring spoon.

Umbrella Theme Tot Trays

Filling up the ice tray.

 

  Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub

 

Weather Theme Sensory Tub

Sensory Tub Filler Material:

  • Cotton Balls (to represent snow)

Sensory Tub Featured Items:

  • Plastic Dinosaurs (because why not?)

Sensory Tub Exploratory Tools:

  • Tongs

This theme’s sensory tub was extremely simple. It was more focused on the vocabulary development theme of weather than on umbrellas, though I had considered getting those cocktail plastic umbrella stirrers to incorporate the Uu theme more fully. I didn’t get around to it and that’s okay; he loved it just as it was! We had a bowl full of “snow” and plastic dinosaurs, what’s not to love?

I also gave him a party platter tray and a pair of tongs for transferring the objects.

Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub

Catching a dinosaur with the tongs.

Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub

Got a pterodactyl!

Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub

He went for the snow when he ran out of dinosaurs.

Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub

A tong-full of snow!

Umbrella Theme Sensory Tub (6)

The really fun part came when he dumped the snow all over himself (this is normally not allowed for sensory tub fillers, but I made an exception for these easy-to-clean-up cotton balls)!

 

Tot School Toys

 

Tot School Toys

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about Rocket’s toddler attachment to a blue fly swatter guitar. After it got lost, we overcame the attachment with creative play, redirection, and imagination. To reward Rocket for his success, I ordered 3 more fly swatter guitars for him- one red, one blue, and one yellow!

I wish I had filmed his face light up when he opened the package and saw what was inside.

He pulled them out one at a time, naming the colors, and then did a crazy dance across the room, while singing and holding all 3 guitars.

After his solo performance, he distributed one guitar to each of us (Mom, Dad, & himself) and there we were as a family, all strumming on fly swatters for the rest of the night! It was a beautiful moment… that has repeated itself many nights after.

He switches off which guitar he feels like playing with pretty evenly and always seems to have a specific one in mind for the day.

Who knew that this young music lover’s favorite toy would be a set of devices designed for killing bugs? Make it in the shape of a guitar, and he’ll love anything!

 

  Weather Books & Current Reading List

 

Weather Books

We only had four weather-themed books on the schoolroom bookshelf, but they got read repeatedly. Outside the schoolroom, we’ve been doing lots of reading of our favorites from our Train Theme.

Umbrella & Weather Books:

      1. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Judi Barrett & Ronald Barret
      2. Un-Brella by Scott E. Franson
      3. The Falling Raindrop by Neil Johnson & Joel Chin
      4. Sadie And The Snowman by Allen Morgan & Brenda Clark

Current Favorites Outside The Schoolroom:

      1. ABCDrive by Naomi Howland
      2. Hush, Little Baby by Brian Pinkney
      3. I Spy A School Bus by Jean Marzollo & Walter Wick
      4. Rattle And Rap by Susan Steggall
      5. A Train Goes Clickety-Clack by Jonathon London

 

Umbrella Craft

 

Umbrella Craft

We had two art projects for this theme! Above was his umbrella craft.

Umbrella Craft:

The umbrella craft invitation included an off-white sheet of construction paper, an umbrella shape I’d cut out freehand, a pipe cleaner for the umbrella handle, paste, tape, and a sheet of raindrop stickers.

Umbrella Craft

We got started by taping the pipe cleaner down onto the construction paper.

Umbrella Craft

Rocket loved using tape… though he needed quite a bit of help!

Next, it was time to get the umbrella in place.

Umbrella Craft

Covering the umbrella with paste.

Finally, Rocket decided where to place all the raindrop stickers.

Umbrella Craft

As he pressed down on the raindrop stickers, he commented on whether they were sad or happy. Some were frowning and some were smiling!

Umbrella Craft

Admiring his final piece.

Weather Craft:

The next craft we did involved making a skyscape of clouds. Rocket insisted on making two, one with cotton balls and one without.

Weather Craft

 Weather Craft

We used “snow paint”, a concoction made of half white glue and half shaving cream. You may have seen us use this recipe in previous tot school posts. It’s a unique paint to work with, and is also non-toxic and cheap!

Weather Craft

The simple ingredients for snow paint.

He started painting right away.

Weather Craft (

Painting puffs of clouds.

Weather Craft

Dipping the paintbrush.

Weather Craft

Adding the final touches on one of his two skyscapes.

 

  Weather Activities & Other Fun Things

 

1. Splitting Wood To Prep For Cold Weather.

We are blessed enough to have a fireplace in our house… and a man who loves to split wood!

As the season gets colder, Rocket has been Dad’s right-hand man as he prepares wood for our fires. He treasures watching his father use tools and helping out in any way that he can.

Weather Activities

Watching Dad use the chainsaw from a safe distance. Rocket’s job was to say, “Ready… Go!” before each cut.

Weather Activities

Helping Dad unload wood from the truck.

Weather Activities

Finding the perfect pieces.

Weather Activities

Marching to the wood pile to help Dad stack it all.

Weather Activities

Amidst his hard work, he got distracted with what he decided were “log drums” and “drumsticks.” He even chose one of the stacked logs to be the cymbal. Always a musician at heart!

Weather Activities

And he decided this pallet board was a giant guitar!

2. Starting A Fire.

After splitting wood outside, Rocket also helped Dad to make a fire on several cold nights. He handed Dad wood and also threw some sticks directly into the fireplace himself.

Weather Activities

He knows that helping with “grown-up stuff” is a privilege and that he has to be on his best behavior.

Weather Activities

Admiring their fire.

Weather Activities

Music break.

Weather Activities

Look at it roar!!

3. Snowball Fight.

Weather Activities

This was possibly the most fun we had as a family for our weather theme. We divided cotton balls onto separate trays and had a full-blown family snowball fight!

Weather Activities

Picking up snow to throw.

Weather Activities

Blocking the snow.

Weather Activities

Sometimes the simplest activities are the best ones!

Weather Activities

A head covered in snow.

Weather Activities

Dumping snowballs on his head.

Weather Activities

Picking up handfuls of snow to throw.

Weather Activities

And why not scoop up snow with the guitar?

Weather Activities

Using the guitar flyswatters to catapult snow everywhere!

Weather Activities

This party moved all over the house- the hall, the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and the bathroom.

Weather Activities

In tot school, messy times can be the best times!

4. Raining On Dinosaurs.

I asked Rocket one day if he would like to make it rain on dinosaurs.

“YES!” He said. And so we did!

Weather Activities

We started with a squirt bottle.

Weather Activities

And we then transferred our plastic dinosaurs to the sink to make rain with the sprayer!

Weather Activities

I used this activity to teach Rocket dinosaur names. “Can you make it rain on the triceratops?”

Weather Activities

Testing out the rain on his own hand.

Weather Activities

He had so much fun using the sprayer!

Weather Activities

At one point, we lined the dinosaurs up and Rocket tried to knock them off with a downpour of rain.

5. Umbrella Play.

What would an umbrella theme be without an umbrella? The only umbrella I could find was pretty beat up and bent out of shape, but it was just the right size for Rocket!

Weather Activities

No rain this day, but still a good time for umbrella play!

Weather Activities

Trying to get it open.

Weather Activities

Got it!

Weather Activities

Spinning the umbrella in circles.

Weather Activities

Peek-a-boo!

Weather Activities

No rain can mess with this guy!

6. Pretend Cooking.

We stopped at a toy store for some pretend cooking time. Rocket loves kitchen sets, but we don’t have one at the house yet.

Weather Activities

Tasting his soup. He gave me a sip too!

Weather Activities

Washing the dishes after the meal.

7. Writing A Thank You Card.

Rocket wrote out a thank you card for the kind lady who gave him his original blue guitar. He chose the card, the stickers, and personalized it with his own drawings.

Weather Activities

Rocket decorated the card himself.

Weather Activities

His traced hand was the signature!

Weather Activities

He covered the card and its envelope with stickers.

8. Watering Plants.

I talked to Rocket about the importance of rain in keeping plants alive outside. We watered the plants around the house as I explained that all life needs water to live. He is a big fan of water transferring trays, so it’s no surprise that he also eagerly welcomes the responsibility of watering plants.

Weather Activities

Watering the cactus.

9. Exploring Outdoor Weather.

We spent a lot of time outside for our umbrella theme. Fortunately, this theme came at a transitional time weather-wise and we got to experience a nice variety of weather.

As we played outside, I pointed out the different layers we had to wear depending on the weather. Rocket despises hoodies, jackets, and coats, so I have to “warm him up” to the concept of layers (pun intended). He is cold-natured and can tolerate much colder temperatures than I can… and even colder temperatures than his dad can!

Weather Activities

Gathering leaves on a particularly windy day in the most silly way (somehow, these two leaves wound up on our leaf transferring tray).

10. Serving The Homeless.

It’s never too early to teach children the importance of serving others!

Our family was blessed with an opportunity to serve the homeless a warm Thanksgiving feast at a local church. This ministry is very near and dear to our hearts and we are always moved by the experience. Rocket helped by passing out silverware.

I’ll be writing a post in the future about toddler-appropriate service & charity activities that instill in them the spirit of helping those in need.

Weather Activities

Dad holds on to Rocket as he waits for the next person.

 

Song Of The Week & Music Time

 

Rocket loves our song of the week: “Rain, Rain Go Away.”

I sing it to him throughout the day, especially on rainy days, and as a lullaby before he drifts off to sleep.

We’ve also been rocking out to our “Best of the Laurie Berkner Band” CD. This is by far his favorite band!

 

Technology Time

 

We’ve been watching “We Are The Laurie Berkner Band” and “Let’s Hear It For The Laurie Berkner Band.

I HIGHLY recommend this music for toddlers. It is so engaging and you won’t be able to get these songs out of your head either! But that’s okay, because the musical talent is actually quite impressive.

I love watching Rocket sing along and do the dance moves for these songs. A definite favorite of his!

 

Mom’s Favorite Moments

 

Mom's Favorite Moments (1)

Watching an Irish jam session up close and personal with his friend. They have the best seats in the house!

Mom's Favorite Moments (2)

“Look, mom! All 5 finger puppets on my hand!”

Mom's Favorite Moments (3)

Asleep in Dad’s arms. As he gets older, we can’t help but wonder: how many more moments like this will there be?

 

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

Mama To 5 Blessings

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura November 28, 2013 at 2:55 am

So much fun! And I love your pictures: so many precious moments captured. The nature is helping to explore different seasons and types of clothing this month, ;) I love your nature explorations! On the picture with leaves – did he find his shade?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: