Love, Joleen: Tot School | "Under the Sea" Theme

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tot School | "Under the Sea" Theme


Please note that this post contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Week one of Tot School was a success! If you missed it, here are our 2015-2016 Tot School Themes. This week's theme was "under the sea" and it was such a fun one to start with! Benjamin really enjoys the aquarium, so it made for the perfect field trip to begin our week by visiting Georgia Aquarium and Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone

We also checked out a sea/beach themed Storytime-A-Go-Go kit from our public library. If you follow me on Instagram you know all about it, but just in case you don't, these kits are a county library children's program. (Say that three times, fast!) Each bag is a different theme and included inside is a content sheet, storytime tips, songs and rhymes, and information. This particular kit came with information on sea life. Also included were five books, two puppets, seashell/animal toys, and a stamp with ink. In addition to the Storytime-A-Go-Go kit, we checked out several sea-related books to enjoy this week. I just loved all the gorgeous illustrations! 
Not included in the lot above, was one of Benjamin's favorite books, My Blue Boat. We were lucky to score an old library copy of it for under a quarter, on one of our thrifting excursions last year. We used the book to help inspire this first painting project. When I told Benjamin that we'd be painting the ocean, he immediately let me know that it [his] was green. I put out all the blue and green paints we had and set out the book for inspiration. I wanted Benjamin to experience other textures and design, so I introduced painting with bubble wrap to him. I used to use bubble wrap a lot in my mixed media art journals but this was my first time in years! Benjamin and I both enjoyed ourselves immensely. This particular project [as with most at his age] was more about the experience and the process than anything else. I most enjoyed engaging him in conversation while we painted. To work on his general knowledge and vocabulary, I asked him what lives in the ocean? He told me "fishies, dolphins, sharks, and octopus." When I mentioned jellyfish he reminded me that he had seen them at the aquarium.
One of the things I've loved seeing in Benjamin [this week] is his focus. This is basically his go-to concentrating face and I captured it in numerous photos. I love it!

Last year you caught a glimpse of Benjamin's little art supply kit. This year, in addition to crayons, he has water color crayons, a multi-color pen, jumbo pencil, scissors, and gluestick. We didn't do much with the letter "A" this week, even though it was a sub-theme, and that's just because Benjamin knows it pretty well. We printed off the cutest letter "A" and ocean-related coloring sheets from mrprintables.com. Benjamin was especially fond of the diver, of course!
I saw a lot of great ideas on Pinterest, for using paper plates in ocean themed projects. I thought this seahorse, whale, and fish bowl were cute!) We used our plate to make a fish. I did all the cutting for this project. Benjamin practiced gluing and decorating. We probably could have glued the pieces together but my son loves washi tape as much as I do! He helped me tear and place the pieces holding his fish together.
In the second portion of this post, I mentioned Benjamin's new art journal for the year. I can't tell you how much I love the idea of an art journal for children. I love seeing how his interests, skills, and techniques have changed and matured in the last year and it's going to be a wonderful keepsake. It makes my heart happy when he asks me to work in it at random and also serves as a great distraction when I need a moment of my own. For this particular page/activity I taught him about tracing. I helped him trace a few things with his pencil and then he tried it on his own with other writing utensils. We talked about the different sea animals and shells. These were all in his Storytime-A-Go-Go kit but Safari Ltd sells a great Ocean TOOB. They also sell one that's all sharks and deep sea creatures.
My favorite activity this week was our sensory activity! I found this idea to make an ocean sensory bag on Pinterest. (Other seemingly fun "under the sea" sensory activities that we didn't have a chance to try were these water table activities and ocean swirl glitter slime recipe.)
I put this bag together myself, using a gallon sized Ziplock, plastic sea animals, and a ton of hair gel from the dollar store. If you make this, make sure not to use any sharp toys! Upon second thought, I had to reach into the goop and retrieve a dolphin and shark that may have poked a hole through the bag had I left it. After closing the bag, I sealed it carefully with packaging tape. I had Benjamin sit at his desk and close his eyes when I set it before him. The first thing he exclaimed upon examination was, "Bubbles like the aquarium!" He loved squishing the bag and looking inside for different animals. It was another great way to practice naming them and improving his vocabulary. Pinterest for the win, ya'll!
Linking up this week at the Tot School Gathering Place on 1+1+1=1.
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