Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun (and not-so-fun) with Bean: Treasure Hunt and Alphabet Bags

A friend of mine sent me over to Counting Coconuts a few weeks ago to check out her Alphabet Box.  Over the past few months, Bean has been more and more into letters and learning the sounds they make.  He goes to preschool two mornings a week and they learn a letter a week. That, combined with Bean's love of reading and words (both of which are loves he shares with his father and grandfather), has had him asking what letter various words start with.  He's pretty good at it!  He knows the phonics for half the alphabet (more or less?).

So I thought he would really like an alphabet box, and I also thought we could make an adventure out of it.  Yesterday we went to the hardware store in search of drawers and some small hardware items that started with the right sounds.  They didn't have any drawers that would work, but we bought a "ssssssssscrew! a nnnnnnnnnail! a w-w-w-w-washer!  and a b-b-b-bolt!"

Then we headed to Hobby Lobby to see what else we could find.  Again, no drawers or other storage that would work, but we found some clear plastic bags - and I figured Bean could learn to open and close them, which would be a bonus.  Bean picked out a sheet of letter stickers (they're somewhat stylized letters - Bean commented that some letters are "funny-looking).  And then we set out looking for little objects to put in our bags!

First we found the button section and bought a pack of vehicle buttons - a police car, a truck, a motorcycle, a firetruck, etc.  Then we hit the mother load!  I had no idea there was a miniatures section!!

We picked up a packet of miniature fruit and vegetables, a toaster and two slices of bread, a lamp, a baseball, bat, and mit, and a few other packets.

We got home and laid things out on the kitchen table.  I opened one packet at a time, Bean took out an object, and we made bags as we needed them.  He loved this.  He would pull out an object and name it, and I would emphasize the beginning sound.  Then he would shout the letter.  Sometimes it took him a little while - he'd just keep shouting "D!  D!"  And then he'd pause and shout out the right letter.

When we were all done putting the objects in the right bags, I sang the alphabet song while pointing at the bags as we lined them up in alphabetical order.  I started by singing "A" and having him find the "A" bag, then "A, B" and he found the "B" bag and put it next to the "A."  He got a little restless toward the end of the alphabet - he loved finding the letters, but he got crazy while I would sing and point.  So I dropped that and just told him what to find.  He was so proud when we had them all arranged on the table!

He spent the rest of the afternoon opening and closing a bag, and this morning has been playing with the little objects.  I need to supervise a bit so I don't end up with chokeable miniatures all over the house when Squeak gets mobile, but Bean likes finding the right bag for these things so I don't think clean-up will be a battle.

I'm using crates from clementines to store some structured activities - Bean has very little structured play/activity, though.  And he likes to combine the activities - usually with Duplos in some capacity.  So it takes some patience on my part.  He never plays with things like I expect.  He very much thinks outside the box!

Which leads to a little bit of honesty on my part - Bean was on my last nerve by the time we finished this.    At the hardware store, he insisted he needed to poop and couldn't wait, and Squeak was getting fussy but I had left the carrier in the car, so we were on borrowed time!  He had just pooped before we left the house.  He didn't need to go.  There was taking off of coat, hat, gloves and jostling of stroller for no reason. 

At home while we worked on the bags, he kept throwing bags, and they weren't closed so tiny objects were flying out at me and rolling on the ground.  And I still had a fussy baby through some of it.

By dinner, I was out of patience and Bean was a little overtired (no quiet time OR nap yesterday!) - which meant I needed a little quiet and he was shrieking.  And then he stalled like mad at bedtime and was upset and screaming when I needed to get Squeak to bed.   I had already done what I could to calm him down, but he was also suffering the consequences of one of his stalling tactics, so The Beast was not to be involved further in bedtime.  I walked calmly into Bean's room and said, "You need to be quiet now.  I am about to put Squeak to bed, and your screaming will wake him up.  If you'd like to scream, I'll put you out in the car where we can't hear you."  Instant quiet.

I swear I would have turned the car and heat on for him.

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