Monday, February 23, 2015

February Playgroup

For the month of February, our two playgroup themes were Valentine's Day and President's Day. As usual, we began our Valentine's playdate with snacks. I forgot to take a photo of the food, but Jenna made pretzels with melted chocolate, cut strawberries in the shape of hearts, and brought pink marshmallow hearts. The kids loved it all!

Jaden, Cody, Abbie, Landon, Ryder, Kenzie, Wes
 Samie planned a creative Valentine's game. When she played music (some fun love-themed songs), the kids walked around this circle of hearts.

You'll notice that many of the kids are wearing random dresses or capes (or a dress that serves as a cape, in Ryder's case!). They were very into a dress-up game of "heroes saving the princess" right before we grabbed them to play this game. :)

When the music stopped, the kids each found one heart to stand on. They had to act out whatever direction was written on their heart (act like a monkey, quack like a duck, walk like a robot). Abbie's getting ready to kick like a donkey in the picture below.

After this game, the kids all played together nicely for quite some time. We mommies appreciated the chance to cuddle with the littlest ones (there are now 3 infants in our group!) while having a chance to chat a bit. Finally, we ended with crafts.

I had used my scrapbooking circle cutters to make these white wreaths. The kids were free to cover their wreaths with hearts however they wanted. 

Any craft that uses glue stick always seems to be a hit!

Cody and Jaden stuck with their craft much longer than they have on some previous playdates. I could tell they were proud of their finished products when they specifically asked me to take a picture of their completed wreaths.

Our second playdate also started with snack time. Ruth prepared typical Americana food in honor of President's Day-- apples and chocolate chip bars. Yum!

Abbie, Kenzie, Landon, Cody, Jaden
 Look at this bunch standing so nicely, listening to directions for the game. So cute! 

Samie had the difficult task of preparing an activity for 2 and 3 year olds that related to presidents. :) What she came up with was perfect! We played a version of "I Spy" called "George Washington, George Washington, what do you see?" Samie would call out a color or shape for the kiddos to find in the room. I think they're all searching for something brown in this pic.

All of the kiddos were quite excited to find a fitting object to show George Washington. Below, they're showing us something pink. We probably played at least 10 rounds of this game.

For the craft, I brought a cute (and super-easy) Lincoln/Washington reversible cut-out that I found on Pinterest.

Jaden's Washington craft is on the left, and my sample Lincoln is on the right. When completed, we glued the two together so that the presidents were back to back.

I'm fairly certain that the president theme was over all the kids' heads, but it was still a fun morning. We mommies certainly appreciate having a theme to make the planning a bit easier... and a bit more interesting, too. Overall, we're just thankful for an excuse to get together with some good friends!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rock, Tumble & Roll

For the past 7 weeks, Jaden and Cody have participated in a gymnastics class at the YMCA. It was a perfect outing to give the boys some regular exercise during these chilly winter months. It was also good for the boys to have practice listening to an adult other than Jason or me. Our registration for this class was a Christmas gift from Uncle Andy & Aunt Beth and Uncle Andrew & Aunt Sarah. Thanks again, guys, for your kind and generous gift! The boys have absolutely loved their experience! 

The first week, Jaden and Cody were very hesitant and wanted me to stay by their side or hold them through most of the class. Already by the next week, both boys were much more independent. The class, called Rock, Tumble and Roll, is specifically designed for 2 and 3-year-olds. The instructor has a great understanding of this age level and did a phenomenal job with the kids. She stuck to a fairly consistent routine for each class. Each week, she started with some stretches on the carpet squares.

Most of the time, she would have the kids be butterflies (see Cody's position below) and hide from the catchers (stick their head in their lap to stretch). It was a very common sight to have at least one child randomly not following directions at any given time in the class, like this wandering boy below.

After stretching, the kids would grab balls and practice shooting baskets. The basket was just the right height for our boys to dunk.

Then, the instructor (Ms. Kristen) would tell the kids to "stick to the wall." They had this direction down pat! You may find it interesting to hear that both kids in the picture with the boys below are a few months older than Jaden and Cody. Our boys really ARE tall!

This is the first shot that shows our entire class of 5 kids. Ms. Kristen would have the kids either throw the ball overhead, throw it from their chest, or kick the ball across the room and then retrieve it. It was so interesting watching the boys' group dynamics in this class. After running back to the wall, Jaden and Cody would almost always seek each other out to stand next to one another, even if it meant squeezing by another child! 

Here's a video of the boys in action. 

After a few throws or kicks, the kids traveled the same length of the room without a ball. This time, they'd either have to do a bear crawl (Jaden's the only one doing it correctly below),

walk backwards,

hop across the room, 

or gallop. Once the kids got to the other side of the room, they were always supposed to "crash" on the yellow mat and then stay "asleep" until Kristen told them to wake up. Then, they could run back to the wall for their next direction.

This last video (of the bear crawl) cracks me up. Cody obviously gets a bit impatient with the crawling, and Jaden refuses to get left behind...

The next activity always changed from week to week. Sometimes they played with balloons, streamers, or these hula hoops.

Then it was on to the circuits! Each week, Ms. Kristen set up a type of obstacle course with mats, ramps, trampolines, balance beams, or hoops. She usually had the kids practice a log roll on one ramp and a somersault on another.

This part of the class typically held the kids' interest for the longest period of time.

I loved watching Cody and Jaden complete these circuits. They seemed to get the hang of each new circuit very quickly and stuck faithfully to the course. They are the kind of kids who want to do things "just right." (I wonder who they get that from....)

Sometimes, waiting for friends was a bit of a challenge. Good thing the girl that Jaden whacked into in the video below was a patient little girl!

Next, Ms. Kristen had the kids take bean bags (which she called pancakes) and stick them on the rock wall. I didn't get any pictures of this part of the class. I think that her intent was for the kids to practice climbing while placing their beanbags, but she never really encouraged this. So, most kids just stayed on the ground and stuck their beanbags only as high as they could reach. I guess it might be a bit challenging to manage 5+ little ones hanging off a rock wall...

The very last part of the class was Jaden and Cody's absolute favorite! Ms. Kristen would help the kids across a balance beam, and then they'd stand by the wall to wait for...

... the ZIP LINE!! How exciting for a 2-year-old! It was fun watching the boys' progression with this from week to week. At the very beginning, Ms. Kristen held the children all the way down. After a couple weeks, she'd let the kids hang by themselves and just hold on to their hands. Cody got the form down fairly well.

Jaden loved wildly pedaling his legs most of his way down!

By the last couple of classes, though, both boys rode the zip line independently! Or as they would say, "by self!" We were quite proud of our little guys. :)

The boys still continue to ask most every morning, "Go to rock tumble roll?" They loved every minute of this class! Thanks SO much again for this wonderful gift, Walquists and Hansons!