Summer means more time at home with Cruz and more opportunities to engage in play and create with my toddler. Summers at home also mean more opportunities to risk increased boredom and lack of structure; thus, ensuing toddler-sized tantrums that make me want to pull my hair out and go back to work! While I love summer for its flexibility and loss of routine, I've found that a balance is important for utmost happiness around our house. I think little ones thrive on structure, and creating opportunities for learning and play ensures that we don't spend too many mornings watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, visiting the same playground, or reading the same book over and over and over again.
Except Little Blue Truck, of course, which Cruz has memorized and can recite in the most animated, adorable way possible.
Last summer, I introduced a new color to Cruz each week through a series of fun, laid back learning activities. It became a creative outlet for me to put together fun ideas each week, and put a unique twist on each week. Last year, Cruz was just starting to learn his colors, but it became more about the switch up and experiences that associated with each week. This summer, however, Cruz knows his colors and it's been fun to pair our weeks with 'I Spy' games and actually witness him pick up on our theme. It's been fun to stick to a similar theme, but change activities and ideas to make them more age appropriate to where Cruz Man is now.
Last week, we focused on the color orange. I started with a discovery box similar to last year; however, decided to make one box to use each week instead of trying to round up storage each week. I filled the box with orange objects from around the house. I included a couple of books about pumpkins, a tiger flashlight, some Goldfish crackers, a basketball, a bag of Cheetos, some carrot seeds to plant in our garden, and some orange playdoh. Cruz loves anything that resembles a present and had fun exploring all of the orange things (including his Cheetoh-stained fingers!)
I also brought back a loved tradition from last summer --- our muffin-tin lunches. I'm not sure I will do this every week, but the color orange is everywhere in the food pyramid and includes many of Cruz's favorites. We did a cheese sandwich, some peach yogurt, cheese puffs, mandarin oranges, jello jigglers, and milk in an orange cup.
We explored the color orange throughout the week with a lot of other fun activities...
Cruz wore his orange shirts. I had no idea that he had so much orange!
We made orange creamsicle pops in our Zoku pop machine.
We went for a walk by Price Lab and watched the orange construction trucks...
And spent some time riding his own at Wal-Mart. Beau and I avoid Wal-Mart with Cruz because we can't get him out of the play zone by the check-outs. So this afternoon, I made a point to go to Wal-Mart with one thing on my list: time for Cruz to ride the digger!
We read two great books: Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett, and Monsters Love Colors, by Mike Austin. Monsters Love Colors talks about the primary colors and mixed colors, and gives the formulas for creating each. So Cruz and I followed suit and had some fun mixing red and yellow paint to get our orange.
We also did some painting and made a neat orange tiger mask. I hollowed out a paper plate, hot glued a popsicle stick to the bottom and some ears to the top, and let Cruz paint away. I have plans to attach some orange and brown yarn and add other colorful animal masks to our collection throughout the summer.
We had some fun experimenting with a simple orange snack. Cruz could tell me each of the parts of a boat, and we had fun constructing our little cheese and orange boats and keeping the goldfish away from the fisherman!
We planted a few carrot seeds in our garden and made some carrot-inspired pudding cups to eat outside.
We made a big orange fire one night and roasted some marshmallows.
We talked about the sun a lot (since I was starting to wonder if Cruz would forget about it) and learned the song, Oh, Mr. Sun.
And we ended our week with one of our favorite orange cinematic friends, The Lorax, at Movies Under the Moon at Overman Park.
This week, we're exploring the color red just in time for strawberry season!
For more ideas on color weeks, see our blue week, green week, orange week, and yellow week from last summer.