Cruz School - Seeing RED

It could be because my mom taught preschool for years, or the fact that one of my favorite parts of being a teacher was developing new, creative curriculum to engage and empower kids.  It could be because I value learning through discovery, or because Pinterest and its colorful, fun ideas are just so darn addicting.  It could be because Cruz is used to wonderful learning activities at daycare throughout the school year that I feel it's important to continue the engagement in the summer, or maybe it's simply out of sheer boredom, but this summer, Cruz and I have started 'school.'  I'm channeling my secret desire to become a preschool teacher, and introducing Cruz to a different 'theme' each week through a number of simple, fun, and stimulating activities to pull at his senses and add some flair to our summer days.  We started last week, and the two of us had so much fun!    

Each week, I introduce a new theme to Cruz through a discovery box.  I'm starting with colors, as I think they're easier to understand than numbers or letters.  Last week, we kicked off our week with the color red, and we had fun incorporating a number of 'red' activities into our week.

1.  We start with a discovery box.  A box filled with a number of random objects that correspond with the color red.  Most of the them I found lying around the house, and as we know, the less 'toy' it was, the more it seemed to attract Cruz's engagement!

I included a container of Ritz Bits, a red car, a red Elmo phone, a red balloon, an apple, a stuffed crab, a piece of ribbon, a small fuzzy pom pom, a red Solo cup, a ladybug crown Cruz made at daycare, and Cruz's favorite - his very first sucker... a cherry red Dum Dum.

I later caught Cruz in the living room watching Elmo and munching his way through his red apple!  I think he enjoyed it as much as his sucker!

I gave this to Cruz shortly after breakfast Monday morning.  Together, we went through each object at a time and talked about what each was used for, and what they had in common.  Most importantly, I watched Cruz play and gave him room to create using the object provided.  We blew up the balloon and played catch, threw the pom pom into the cup, tried on the crown, and of course, got a taste of that delicious red sucker.  It's amazing how much more engaged Cruz was by the simple fact that I made this box 'different' for him; something out of the norm of his toys, even though each were items already laying around the house.  He played for a long time, and it was fun to see the wheels turning!

2.  The next new adventure we began in honor of red week was Muffin Tin Mondy.  I first discovered this concept on Pinterest as a fun, unique, and creative way to explore a theme, and introduce your kids to new and exciting foods.  Just take out your six-cup muffin tin, find and prepare six different 'finger foods' that correspond with your theme, and let the littles eat their lunch.
For red week, Cruz had a smorgasbord of pepperoni and raspberries, hot dogs with ketchup and spaghettios, watermelon, and red jello for dessert.  We ate outside and pointed out all the red foods as we ate.  Cruz's favorite were the pepperoni and hot dogs (he loves ketchup!).

3.  We had lots of red activities sprinkled throughout the week.  Here is what we did...
Make Something Monday:  With red finger paint in hand, we went out to backyard and made ladybugs about of paper plates.  Cut out some spots with black construction paper, add a couple of eyes (from Hobby Lobby), use pipe cleaners for legs, and attach a wooden dowel to make a fun ladybug craft that works as a fan, a mask, and a paddle for our red balloon!

Read About It Tuesday:  We snuck away to Barnes and Noble for a morning to scour the shelves for a couple of new red books.  We chose some classics: Ferdinand, Corduroy, Olivia, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  

What's Cookin' Wednesday:  Strawberry Lime Zoku pops!  I even let Cruz sit on the kitchen table to watch 'em freeze!

Be Thoughtful Thursday: We made a Zoku pop for Daddy when he got home from work. 

Go Somewhere Friday: I took Cruz to my hometown to scope out the Butler County Fair.  We had pork burgers and 'red' cherry pie at the Band Stand, walked through the barns to see the bunnies and chickens, and even saw a magic show.  My favorite part of the day was watching Cruz in the petting zoo.  One big fenced in area just full of all kinds of animals---goats, chickens, donkeys, bunnies, ducks, baby llamas, and even a pig---and Cruz, in the middle of it all, casually petting the goats and talking to the llamas!  He was completely outnumbered in the pen, but it didn't seem to phase him!  He never seizes to amaze me, and I could have watched him in there all day long.  

All week, I did my best to point out the world of red to Cruz - red cars on the road, red objects in his books... it's amazing what you see when you set your lens to see it!  This week, we're focusing on the color green, and I've had so much fun turning the tables and thinking of ideas to involve and entertain Cruz.  I've got a bug hunt, garden picnic, and certain Dr. Seuss inspired breakfast in the works... stay tuned!

I'd love to hear your ideas for fun activities, recipes, books, crafts, etc. that incorporate colors, letters, or themes :)