Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tot School: A is for Alpaca

Since we started the week out with a visit to an Alpaca Ranch, I decided "A" would be a good theme for this week!
A is for Alpaca! The Alpaca-tude Series
The gift shop at the Ranch even had a book - "A is for Alpaca!" to go with the knit alpaca finger puppet (made from alpaca fiber yarn!) that I also purchased. We read that while eating our lunch on their lawn (and again on the potty at home, and at bedtime, and the next morning...)
It's kind of cute, and has a lot of great information ("B is for Bolivia. Alpacas come from three countries in South America: Bolivia, Chile and Peru." (plus a map of S. America with those 3 countries in different colors, and their names in the text in matching colors.) "C is for cria. A baby alpaca is called a cria.") There are some weak ones, such as "E is for end products. Alpaca fiber can be used to make beautiful garments and blankets." But overall, a nice little lesson in alpacas.
Later, we also read "The Apple Pie Tree" which I found super cheap at a garage sale or thrift store or something, but she loses interest before the end. Which is too bad. *I* think it's an adorable read, about a little girl watching their apple tree grow and change throughout the seasons, until they get enough apples to make a pie! But to be fair, I tend to lose interest in most of the books she requests (over and over and over)... often before I've even opened them!
The Apple Pie Tree

After the Ranch, we stopped at a park near our house. The Parks Department has volunteers (or low-paid employees!) bringing activities to select parks in our city, along with free lunches through the school district.
So I used some of their sidewalk chalk to start our lessons!
She thought the legs I drew were too wide,
so I made 'grass' to help camouflage the extra lines!
After we got home, I set up a little outdoor water play, in the plastic swimming pool I just got at Rite Aid. I wasn't in the mood to do up a new sensory tub. But we did this just for fun. I didn't bother trying to make it all about "A." I'm just too tired. I'm FINALLY looking forward to being trapped in the car with her because she fell asleep on the way home from something (so I can get a nap in too!)... aaaaaand she stops napping. I think I'll wait until the next one is in school full time before trying to get pregnant again. This is ridiculous!
We had several inflatable pools, but when it gets super hot, they pop or melt or something. And I sure didn't want to be deflating and re-inflating them every time, so they were too big to store inside. And since they are so lightweight, we'd keep the water in them so they wouldn't blow away. The raccoons living under our porch use them for washing, so the ones we had out last year got pretty thrashed by them too.
So this year I'm trying out a hard shell one. Harder to store, but we're clearing the garage, so hopefully we'll manage!
I keep all her 'beach toys' in a large plastic basket/beach bag thing in the garage, so they were handy. I got out her water/sand wheel, and let her choose what else to play with. To go with her plastic tea set (Dollar Tree,) she chose an octopus sand mold (and after the picture, a bunch of other animal shapes too.) She enjoyed 'serving' them all tea!
And we just found a stash of empty spray bottles (used for water for my tie-dye playdate last year) to replace the one that came with her Melissa and Doug gardening set that she busted. (The bag and matching watering can got appropriated by me when we started our garden pots. But I found metal child-size tools at Target's Dollar Spot (also Fred Meyer) that I use instead of the plastic ones that came with the set. I also bought cheap gloves in the Dollar Spot for me, and spendier Dora gardening gloves for The Princess ($5 or $6, but they fit her tiny hands perfectly! Totally worth it!)
She spent at least an hour spraying my car, my husband's car, my legs, the pool, the garage door, you name it!

Later in the week, after I finally got the printer to work (just in time to print 2 pages and run out of ink...) I had her work on some fabulous free printable Aa worksheet activities from 1+1+1=1 (If you want more of a religious theme to your lessons, or to incorporate that as well, there is also a religious Aa themed printables pack and post.) I have a laminating machine, but it's still in the box until I shovel clear off space on my desk. So I put the activities in page protectors, and let her use non-toxic dry-erase markers to 'practice' her writing. (I call it practice, since she gets so frustrated that her lines aren't perfect. So I remind her that she is practicing, and learning and will get better the more she tries and doesn't give up and throw everything on the floor.)

*Just a heads up (although Carisa has a great troubleshooting post about it,) if you are having graphical issues when printing her stuff, try using Firefox web browser to bring the downloads up in, and make sure you have the most current version of Adobe. In hindsight, I would have tried just the browser one first, since Google Chrome has been giving me lots of other issues lately (such as not being able to update my GOOGLE BLOGGER SITE while on THE GOOGLE CHROME BROWSER!!! AAARGH!) I'm not sure what was causing my problems, since I downloaded both before trying again, but I went from getting black boxes behind any text or graphics she imposed over another image, to getting perfect pages! Well... 2 perfect pages. Then my printer danced a jig on my patience and demanded new ink, which I didn't have. I gave up and threw everything on the floor made my husband fix it and print the rest.

I will be linking this up to 1+1+1=1's Tot School
Tot School
and JDaniel4's Mom's Read.Explore.Learn.

Shibley Smiles



  1. Thanks for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. This counts as an entry in the Summer Reading Challenge.

    We use beach toys in our wading pool too. JDaniel can spend hours in it.


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