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My friend Erica sent me a link to Counting Coconuts, an amazing blog for mothers of small children. The blog is full of creative ideas, projects and inspirations. I especially liked their “sensory tub” ideas. Sensory tubs, are, in essence, plastic boxes filled with stuff joined by a unifying theme. The lady behind Counting Coconuts Blog is very organized. She writes detailed lists and instructions for every tub and project. I  hate lists, can’t follow instructions and love to feel moved by inspiration, even though I admire those that are better organized than I am. Like my husband, for example. He puts everything in files.

Anyway, this is how we got the idea to do The Earth Project.

Firstly, we got a large plastic box. Then we went on a treasure hunt. While the twins were sleeping, my boy and I went outside in search for interesting Earth-themed” items, like pine cones, twigs, tree branches, rocks, dry leaves, etc…We put all of these treasures in the box. Then, we raided the Dollar Store. We bought gummy worms, caterpillars, rubber snakes, fake flowers, a tiny shovel and a fork.We also bought some green paper and cut leaves out of it. Then, we put some of our dollar-treasures into the box, filled with earthy items and – voila! Project Earth was ready.

My son loved digging in the box for hours and finding the same worms over and over. He loved wrapping the rubber snakes around the twigs and putting a plastic caterpillar on the rock, so that “he can sunbathe.” If you want to try something like that, remember that nature and a Dollar Store are a winning combo.

In an attempt to perfect the knowledge of a Russian alphabet in my (now perfectly) bilingual almost-three year old, I came up with this game:

Firstly, we cut letter shapes out of colorful paper. If your child is a toddler, you will probably need to hold his/her scissors, while they are cutting. Make sure the scissors are toddler-safe. Then, we move the letters into groups, which we sort by color. This way, we end up with a pile of green letters, a pile of blue letters, a pile of yellow ones, etc… Then we make words, putting the letters from each pile together.

Lets take our yellow pile, for example. Lemon is yellow. Squash can be yellow.  So, using this logic, we take our yellow letters and spell the names of yellow objects. Then, we move to the red pile and spell words, like “strawberry,” or “tomato.”

Finally, we group our words together. We move all of the “fruit” words into a group and we move all the “vegetable” words into another group. Someties, we take this one step further and “make a salad” or a “soup.” We think about the ingredients for the dish and move the names of those ingredients together on the table.

Since toddlers are notorious for having short attention spans, this game can extend over three hours. We make some letters, we play with the trucks, we make some words, we play with our brother and sister, we make some more words, we throw a little tantrum. 🙂 This game teaches fine motor skills, color recognition, shape recognition, letter recognition, object recognition and conceptual thinking.

When we are done, we put all of our letters in a box, so that we can continue playing this or a different letter game later.

 

This is my favorite lunchbox. I pack my husband’s lunch is this wonderful three-tier stainless steel box. If you don’t need the three tiers, you can use two or just one. I usually put a whole grain, like quinoa or buckwheat with some seeds or nuts and olive oil in one of the containers, a  salad with things like avocado and raisins in the second one and sometimes a hard-boiled egg or a veggie casserole in the third one. You can also use one of the tin for lunch and the other two for snacks.

The box is dishwasher safe, water-resistant and non-leaching. It also successfully carries soups and sauces, as long as it’s not aggressively shaken or flipped upside down.

As a lifelong learner, I always take an opportunity to attend a seminar or to get another degree. There is a website, which provides endless learning opportunities for stay at home moms, for those that commute to work and like to listen to audio books, while they are doing so, for homeschooled children and for anyone, interested in learning new things: thegreatcourses.com

The site features an extensive collection of more than 300 Great Courses in diverse subjects and fields , ranging from  history, to  science, to  philosophy, to mathematics, to literature, to economics, to the arts. The Great Courses consists of series of video and audio courses led by the world’s best professors from the Ivy League schools.  If you have a moment to learn something new, I highly recommend you try The Great Courses. Their courses also make a great gift.

image:  Simon Howden

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