J is for Jump

I have a confession.

I don’t like to play with my kids.

Well, at least not ALL of the time. My patience doesn’t last long enough to read the same book 9,000 times and kick the soccer ball in the kitchen for hours at a time.  So, my solution to this momma failure is “preschool.”

I kind of hate to call it preschool because it’s not super formal or consistent. I just choose a letter to focus on for a week(ish) and then center our playtime, snacks and meals around the letter of the week.  It’s helping me spend more quality momma time with the boys and making our meal/snack times a little more creative.  I’ve found that having a theme for things that I don’t like doing (like cooking!!) suddenly makes the tasks so much easier.  Maybe it’s my obsession with having to organize everything that makes themes so motivating for me. I don’t know. But it’s working. So I thought I’d share what we’re doing.

At the beginning of the week I like to let Isaac watch the letter of the day playlists on Sesame Street while I get ready. Besides the videos, the playlists have little games to test the kids’ recognition of the letter and words that start with the letter. The games are a little advanced for Isaac so it makes me interact with him whenever he needs help (which I never do if I just sit him down in front of a whole episode).

I also found an app for the iPad called Little Writers that helps kids learn to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers, words and draw shapes. You can turn “on/off” each letter/number/word so that it tests the kids on just a couple of or all of them.  I am really excited that Isaac is starting to figure it out.  He gets so excited after he does every letter. Another plus is I can add in additional letters like ñ for Spanish days and I can even record my own voice saying the letters. So this week I had him practice writing letters H, I and J.  He had gotten really good at the straight lines of H and I and had a hard time with the J at first but he’s caught on!

One note about the iPad: I am taking a class (Teaching and Learning using the iPad) from UEN right now and found out something so amazing! If you open the settings app and go down to accessibility, you can turn on “guided access.”  This means that once you are in any given app, you can control what your kid does in that app.  They won’t even be able to exit it and get into other things! So awesome.  Why did I not know this before now?  All you have to do is turn it on in settings (don’t forget to set a passcode here too) and then open an app for your kid.  Once inside the app, triple click the home button and a guided access menu screen pops up.  Then you can choose the amount of control your child has as he’s using it. Brilliant.

This week we are learning about the letter J.  The twins are really into jumping with both feet right now so the first thing we did this week was jump, jump, jump in the kitchen. Carter likes to jump as many times in a row as he can until he falls on his bum.  Cooper concentrates really hard on not falling down. He’s getting pretty good!

We had J shaped pancakes on Spanish day with JUGO de naranja.

We made J shaped JELLO JIGGLERS (yes with green jello…we are Mormon after all) inspired by this mommy blogger.  Only Carter liked to eat them.  Cooper wouldn’t even touch his. Isaac was pretty hesitant but held his long enough for me to get a picture. So Carter ate all three letter Js…plus an extra.

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Ever since we brought Isaac home from the hospital I have tried to speak to him in Spanish a little bit everyday.  Since Derek and I both speak Spanish, we have debated whether or not we should teach it to our kids as they grow up.  Then when we moved into our house, I made friends with my next door neighbor and found out that she speaks exclusively to her kids in Spanish.  She served a Spanish speaking mission in California.  And her husband doesn’t speak a word of it so she’s been teaching her boys all on her own.  They go to Spanish reading hour at the library, watch movies in Spanish and her oldest (now 8 years old) is in his second year of Spanish immersion at school.  The first day of school he came home and told his mom, “I understand everything the teacher says.”  He translates for the other kids who don’t understand.  And the teacher is a native speaker.  That’s pretty awesome.

So my friend inspired me to start speaking Spanish with Isaac.  I didn’t do very much with him at first as it’s kind of hard to speak to a newborn anyway.  I kind of felt like I was talking to myself a lot of the time.  I would just babble mostly.  I would describe the process of making dinner or where we were driving in the car or just random thoughts really.  Derek and I hardly ever spoke to each other in Spanish so Isaac was hearing just me speak it for a little bit each day. 

I have kind of been self-conscious about speaking Spanish to Isaac when I’m in front of other people.  I don’t really know if he’s picking anything up and, frankly, I’ve been afraid of being judged.  It is a little strange for a Gringa to be speaking Spanish to a non-responsive little baby.  So it feels a little weird.

Since Isaac has started saying and understanding more things lately, I’ve been a little more dedicated to speaking Spanish during the day to him.  We have even started speaking every other day in Spanish as a family so that he can hear Derek and I speak to each other.  I’ll admit that it has done wonders for my struggling Spanish to speak it exclusively for whole days at a time.  🙂 

Well, all of my work and worrying is starting to pay off with Isaac.  HE SAID HIS FIRST SPANISH WORD LAST WEEK!!!  It’s “si!”  Granted, he doesn’t know what it means yet because he’s in the mimicking stage but he can say it!  He DOES understand several other Spanish words too: zapato, cobijita, leche and ojos.  It’s been very interesting to note that the words that he understands in Spanish are all of his favorite things.  He LOVES saying (and playing with ) his shoes.  He won’t go anywhere without his blankie.  He is addicted to milk and he will practically poke your eyes out if you ask him where they are…. and sometimes even when you don’t.

So needless to say I’m feeling a little better (and possibly a little orgullosa?) about our Spanish sessions at home.  It’s getting a little easier and more enjoyable even now that I am seeing results.  I’m also starting to think of more things we can do as a family to encourage our Spanish language cultivation (including many future trips to Mexico!!! yay!)  And…. I’m starting to be a little more confident in front of others.  So if you hear me babbling away to my boys in Spanish while we are out and about, don’t judge, mmm-k??  Maybe someday they can translate too!