Monthly Archives: June 2010

Teaching Money Management

This came to mind earlier and I thought I’d share something my parents did with me that I think was a great financial teaching tool.

My siblings and I all had a Money Binder with 4 different zipper pouches (the kind that clip into binders that kids put their pencils in).  Each pouch had a label,

Spending, Saving, Tithing, and Giving

Anytime we earned any money, it was separated between the four categories.  10% in tithes, 10% in givings, 20% in savings and the remaining 60% in spending.  We took our tithes pouch to church to place in the offering collection.  Givings could be used for buying gifts for friends or for charities.  Savings was supposed to be held until we were older,  and then we all know what to do with the “spending” category!

It was really a great idea to help us start out life with good money management, something I plan on using with J when he gets a little older.

I do plan for a few modifications since I found few flaws in the system growing up.  1. We worked on the honor system.  While we were learning, mom helped us separate the money.  As we got older she just expected us to continue it on our own.  I can’t say I was always honorable!  There were many times when I grabbed the money out of my savings pocket before we went to the store (since I didn’t have anything left of my spending money!) I was always a bit jealous of my older brother whose saving’s pocket was overflowing while mine had a few measley dollars, if anything! I think I will keep an eye on these folders for a little longer.  Eventually J will be on his own with this, but probably not at 7 years old! 

2.  I don’t remember my parents explaining to me what exactly I was saving for except maybe “for your future”.   I think that’s a little vague for a young child. When we do this with J in the future, I plan on giving him something specific to save for.  To me it needs to be something that will require him to be successful in truly saving his money, but something that he will be able to reap the rewards of within a reasonable amount of time for the age.  A 7 year old saving their money for a year is an accomplishment.  As they get older, I would increase the time that it takes to see the benefits of saving. 

Even with its flaws, I really think it helped my siblings and I learn the basics of money management from the start.  As an adult, it’s quite natural for me to tithe, save, give and of course spend! It’s what I’ve always done ever since my first allowance was handed out.  I think money management is something most adults are really lacking in.  It’s not surprising since there really is so little taught about money management even though it is vital to life.  This is one thing J will be taught in the home!

Flying with my 13 month old

I came across this description of a flight we took when J was 13 months old that I had journaled about. I thought I’d add it to the traveling posts here. 

J is 13 months has flown 5x, starting at 6 weeks old, and has taken 1 road trip.  I guess that’s pretty experienced for a little guy.  It is still different each trip and takes more out of mom and dad as he gets older and more mobile, but we’re learning. 


In the airport I used a carrier again, haven’t done this in awhile (normally a stroller).  He’s pretty big to carry, but we’re headed to Asia this summer and I wanted to do a test run on using a carrier.  We used the Ergo, carried in the front.  He was ok with it, wanted to look around more than he was able being strapped to my chest, but he didn’t fuss about it. Next time I’ll try the side carry position.  It’s nice not to have to remove him through security and deal with folding up a stroller. (TIP: In most U.S. airports you can wear them straight through security.) The Ergo was comfortable for me since it disperses the weight better than my old carrier (I could NEVER use the old carrier with his weight now), but it does get hot.


The flight there wasn’t bad. He was a lap baby and we sat by the window.  For me it gives us one more thing to help entertain (the window), but it also means if you need out someone has to move.  I might not do this for a longer flight since we would have to get out of our seats more, but for a 3.5 hour flight it works well. 

My husband is great at entertaining and being silly which is GREAT for plane trips.  J does want to go back and forth between the 2 of us whereas if it’s just me, he’s much more content being still.  J was just starting to take a few steps before we left so he really just wanted to practice his newfound skill.   ACTIVITY TIP: Standing him up in between my legs is a good way to let him stretch out on the plane.  It’s amazing how the smallest change in scenery is enough for them at this age. He can dance, drum on my legs or play with something on my legs.

I had a baggie of snacks (TIP: I choose larger snacks that he can hold and don’t create lots of crumbs, NOT little pieces that will fall everywhere; I don’t like flying with cheerios and puffs sticking everywhere!) and a baggie of toys.  In the past I always take these out of the diaper bag immediately and put them in the seatback pocket for the duration of the flight (to have activities within close reach).  It’s much easier to distract him from getting fussy than to calm him after becoming fussy!  But, my tactics will have to change since J is now old enough to notice the toys in the pocket and be tempted to move onto something else earlier than if the toys were out of sight. ACTIVITY TIP: Best toy this time was one of those handheld fans.  He loves to watch it turn, touch it as it turns, feel the wind, etc.

TIP: We also always have antibacterial wipes and wipe down the tray, the arm rests, the window as soon as we sit down.  My husband is adamant about this and the more I fly, the more I agree.  Who knows when those arm rests were actually cleaned last!

He only got fussy when he was tired but didn’t want to sleep on us.  J tends to get giddy when he’s tired and by the time fussiness hits, he’s truly exhausted! He was very much overtired and overstimulated. From birth he’s been a crib baby.  Sleeps ok in carseat/stroller but rarely has the need.  He loves to be alone to sleep.  I got up, took him to the back of the plane and held him to sleep.  It was the most secluded area available. He was exhausted and fell asleep pretty easily, then I went back to our seat. 


The trip back was just me and him.  We did have an empty seat next to us (woohoo!)  ACTIVITY TIP: One thing he enjoyed this time was when I emptied the seat back pocket and let him put things (toys, books, flashcards) in and take them out of the pocket.  He loves the in and out game, so this entertained him well. 

He had gotten VERY little sleep the night before and was exhausted, but still did well considering.  He could stand and play on the empty seat which was great, but he was just more restless in general.  Unfortunatley for us, he got fussy and ready to sleep right as they were serving food.  Since the isles were blocked I couldn’t get back to the rear where J could fall asleep without distractions.  It was also louder (with everyone opening their packaged meals and attendants serving ice).   I was able to kinda bounce him up and down while sitting and he slept for 1 hour.  I think when he wakes and sees unusual surroundings (or a stranger) he’s shocked and won’t go back to sleep.  At home, he would take a much longer nap.  It was enough sleep to make it the rest of the flight though.  I was EXHAUSTED (probably b/c I got even less sleep than him the night before and I don’t sleep well on the plane when he’s with me).

**I don’t have the exact list of activities I brough with me but…


Handheld fan

Booklight (one that he can bend up and turn on himself)

Paperback books (he normally reads board books,but the paperback are lighter for travel and are novel to him since they’re different)

Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle

Washcloth puppet

Categorizing Transportation

J is really into transportation right now.  Anything that goes vroom vroom catches his eye. So I thought I’d design a learning activity around this love.  To prepare, I printed out three pictures from the internet (a road, the sky, and the sea) and then gathered a box of cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, and boats.  (Do you notice that most of the activities I do have little prep!!)

If this works, here’s the link to the ppt I made with the pictures.  Categorizing transportation ppt  If you can’t get the link to work, it literally takes a minute to search for images on Google and paste them into a ppt.  I should’ve thought to add one more category for trains.

With J, I set out the three pictures, having him describe what was on the picture.  I then showed him the transportation box, pulling one toy out at a time, and he placed them on the appropriate picture.  It was probably too easy for him, but he liked the activity.   In fact, he went babk to the activity tray on his own twice more that day and the next when I wasn’t with him.  He pulled the tray down and had everthing categorized by the time I noticed.  He was quite proud to show dad his accomplishment that night!

Age attempted: 26 months

Other options: You could use pictures of transportation instead of the toys; I think I’ll try more categorizing activities in the future

Number of the day is two

This was a simple but effective activity for J when we were focusing on numbers and counting.  I just drew out the blank rectangles and titled the page in a matter of seconds, took out some stickers and had J place two stickers in each rectangle.  He had no trouble to with this, though I do think doing the number three instead would have been quite difficult for him.  We counted each sticker as he placed them in the rectangles. 

A side benefit to this activity was it gave him a review of a rectangle (often confused with a square for J) and it ended up being a good fine motor activity since he had to place the sticker inside the rectangles.  When all the rectangles were filled with two stickers, he asked me to draw more rectangles to fill.  I think he liked it!  As you can see in the picture, he helped me draw the last few rectangles.  🙂 

Age attempted: 24 months

**This would be a good plane activity similar to the color matching post.

Cardboard Cutouts: Cars

My husband has decided that J should own every Disney car that is made.  I think he’s addicted (though I can think of worse addictions!).  I started saving the packing that each car comes in, figuring I could find something to do with the cardboard printouts of Lighting McQueen, Sheriff, Mater,….  I cut out the pictures and began yet another stack on my “to be completed” desk.   Each package had 2 pictures of the same car, one small and one much larger.

Before our last plane trip, I grabbed them to bring with us.  I had literally done nothing other than cut the pictures out.  But that was enough for J.  He was thrilled when I brought out the pics.  First he named each car and then we described each car together.  I’ve always described things out loud with J, even when he was a little baby and he’s really getting good at doing the same by himself.  I remember this being a skill taught in elementary school when I was little (of course they taught it more advanced that what J is doing!), so I guess this is a helpful skill in life!  We also matched the small cars to the large ones and then made a pile of small cars and a separate pile of large cars. 

He then pretended to drive them around the seatback tray. 

So it doesn’t take much to entertain and teach a little at the same time!  Because J had never seen them before, they kept him busy for quite a while on the plane.  I will say that this would not have been an appropriate plane activity until maybe 20 months or so.  Before that, the many pieces would’ve presented a problem.  He would’ve dropped them everywhere and I’m sure I would’ve ended up quite frustrated.  TIP: The size and number of pieces a toy/activity has is definitely something to consider!

I’m sure the cardboard cars will be worked into another “official” activit later, but for now this is working just fine!

Age attempted: 25 months

Other options: If it’s not cars, maybe it’s trains or dolls, animals or food, just start saving the packaging that your little ones favorite toys come in.  There’s bound to be lots of creative ways to put them to good use.


A Free Matching Toy

I have a box full of different empty containers with their lids.  Each container is a different size or different color.  Some have screw-on lids and some lids pop on and off.  I set them all out in front of J and had him match the lids to the containers.  We talked about the shape of the container and looked for a similary shaped lid and then he practiced placing the lid on the container himself.  He still has trouble with screw-on lids (he keeps wanting to screw them back and forth and of course they’ll never get tight that way!).  You might have seen this post that describes one of J’s chores (that he thinks is a game!).  Whether as a chore or just for fun, this activity is an easy way to keep him busy for awhile and it’s good practice for him too!

Age attempted: 23 months, could be done much earlier though they might need more help with screw-on lids

Teachable moments: size, shape, practice with motor skills when attaching lids

Sticker Activity on the Plane (or at home!)

He asked me to draw more smiley faces on the paper afterwards.

In my post  about our last plane trip, I mentioned a sticker activity that J did on the plane.  It worked perfectly for the trip so I thought I would share.

I had some smiley face stickers in various colors that J has for whatever reason fallen in love with.  On a sheet of paper I made 5 large circles using the colors of the stickers I had (purple, red, green, yellow and pink).  I gave J the sheet of stickers along with the paper with empty circles and he placed the stickers inside it’s circle match.  We then counted the number of stickers inside each circle, which in our case was different for each circle. 

This offered practice matching colors, some fine motor practice (peeling the stickers off and placing them in the correct spot on the paper), and then with counting too.  It wasn’t too hard for J, which is ideal for plane activities.  I like the activities we do to keep him busy, involve my help at times, but also something he could do on his own.  Because there was a set goal to be accomplished, it kept him busy until all stickers were transfered.  As he’s getting older, TIP: I like our plane activities to have specific goals to encourage him to stay with it longer than he might if left on his own since my offical goal is to keep him occupied and content for the duration of the flight.  If he wants to do more stickers afterwards that’s fine, but I know he will at least remain occupied until the end of the activity. Of course this activity doesn’t have to be done on a plane. 

You could do the same type of activity while practicing shapes and number recognition too (in fact, there’s a number activity coming up in a future post).

Age: 25 months

Field Trips: Sesame Place in Langford, PA

I thought I would start reviewing some of the different attractions that we have happened across in our travels.  We’ve found some great spots and some not so great spots.

Sesame Place is in Langford, PA, which for us constitutes a day trip.  We took J for the first time just recently when he was 25 months

The park itself is not huge.  You can easily stroll through the entire park in a morning and you could very likely ride all the rides in one day without much effort (depending on length of lines of course).  There are lots of things to do for younger toddlers like J, though I don’t think it would be worth the money for a one year old.  (Entrance is free for those under 2 years, but of course adults have to pay for their tickets). There are both water rides/pools as well as small rides and rollercoasters.  The first time we went, we weren’t dressed for the water rides but there was still plenty to do to fill a day.  We were there on a Saturday in May which ended up being great.  Schools weren’t out yet, so the crowds weren’t too big which meant lines weren’t too long.  We went again on a Saturday in June and it was much more crowded, the water rides especially (still lines weren’t as long as say Disney World in the fall).  We also prepared for water on our second trip and I was pleasantly surprised with how many different water play areas they had available for J at age two.  The ones geared for the younger ages had fountains spraying from above or water shooting out from the ground and 0-2″ of water on the ground.  I also liked how many shaded areas there were to rest awhile.

The tickets are expensive at $50 each.  You can get a two day pass for the same price which is what we did. You can also get an evening pass for cheaper if you just wanted to attend for a few hours, say after naptime. Parking was $15, I think.  The food is really expensive, even compared to most other parks.  A children’s meal cost $8 and an adult’s meal cost $9.  The kids got an Elmo plate and Sesame cup to take home with their meal, but still a lot of money for a toddler!  They have the typical food, pizza, hamburger, turkey sandwich, macaroni, grilled chicken salad, …  I would definitely recommend bringing a sack lunch.  Overall the staff was ok, but it was obvious this was just their job.  After visiting Disney World you do notice a difference.  Disney employees really go out of their way to help and appear pleasant.  The Sesame employees were just doing their job, getting through another day. 

Still, overall the day was great and I’m glad J had the opportunity to go!

Age Ranges – I saw infants to preteens at the park, most of the preteens spent their time on the water rides and pools.  There seemed to be one rollercoaster geared for the older child; most other rides would be ideal for ages 2 to 6. 

Rides included (the blue text were great for J at age 2): Simple toddler/preschool rollercoaster, push train, carousel, flying fish (goes around as well as up and down), hot air balloon ride (simple drop), coaster drop (not for young toddlers), spinning cups, …

Other dry play areas: bouncy jump, multiple story netted play area (NOT for J), sand pit, peak climbing, shaded cushion play area (great for really young toddlers), multiple playgrounds, long slide,

Water rides:  lazy river, lots of single, double and family slides (with and without tubes),

Water Play areas: 3-4 geared for toddlers and preschoolers, one designed for older kids (J did play here for awhile), wave pool; kids could really spend a lot of time in these play areas

Other attractions: Meeting the characters, afternoon parade (at 2 pm), Multiple shows (we attended one with toddler music)

**I’m sure I missed some attractions in my lists.  Visit their official website for more info

Practicing Letters with Father’s Day Cards

This idea came to me as I was getting out construction paper for J to make his Great Grandpa a card to send in the mail.  I got the materials ready in a matter of minutes while J waited patiently 🙂  It’s certainly not a flashy card, but it offered great reinforcement with his letters and J enjoyed creating it.

PREP: I wrote out a message on the construction paper, leaving out the first letter of each word.  I placed in its stead (is that how you use that word??) an empty box so that J knew where the glue (and letter) should go.  Then, with another color of paper, I wrote the missing letters and cut them out. 

With J:  I set out all the missing letters along with some glue and the actual card in front of him.  We started with the first word of the message (_appy); I pointed out that this was a word but it was missing the first letter.  I said the word, emphasizing the H sound and then told him he needed to added the letter H to finish the word.  He would search out the correct letter and glue it in place.  **One of the tv shows he gets to watch a few times each week is Word World where they build words to create the different characters and props for the show.  J has been pushing letters together ever since, claiming he created a word like on the show.  This activity really just put into practice what he saw on tv.**   

He finished all the words in the message, added the hearts, stickers and a drawing on the card.  It’s really a simple card, but it was a great way to emphasize the letter sounds and reinforce the letter names.  In fact, I discovered that he knows the letter Y, something I personally haven’t taught him. 

As I was picking up, I realized that I could’ve used letter stickers instead of having to write and cut out the letters. That would’ve made for even less prep for the activity. 

Age: 26 months

Future Use: I think next time I will use this as a way to test his knowledge of the letter sounds.  Instead of giving him the name of the letter along with the sound, I will just ask him to find the letter that makes the sound “sss”…

This would also be a good plane activity, but I would definitely use stickers rather than glue on the plane. 🙂

Plane Travel with a 2 year old (25 months)

We just returned from a trip, our typical 3.5 hour flight.  This post explains my prep of the plane travel.  Here’s the overall report of how it went.

Honestly both plane trips were pretty uneventful.  He’s doing so well that I can pretty consistently watch the in flight movie.  Of course there are interruptions, but I can follow the plot easily still.  We had my husband with us on the way there but it was just J and I on the way back home.  Honestly, we both do better when my husband isn’t there.  I think I’m more on top of my game and J must notice that, so he’s more on top of his game. Still, we’re thrilled when dad can come!

Flight to destination: 

He did great overall.  He’s starting to request his video right when he sits down which I’m not so thrilled about.  I’d rather wait 45 minutes into the flight to get it started.  With dad there, it was easier to just let him start watching (as soon as the pilot said it was ok) which meant he watched longer than usual, about 1 hour 15 minutes worth.  We read our books while he ate half of his dinner and then started the video.  This ended with official mealtime and then we did pipe cleaners in a bottle, though he was more interested in making letters and shapes with the pipe cleaners.  That’s a good example of why I love this homemade toy so much for planes, lots of activities rolled into one toy.  Dad entertained for a while being silly.  Then he played with his cars for awhile and then I brought out his new Cars activity that I made. He worked on his vinyl sticker scene for a while before we had to put everything up for landing.  While waiting to get off the plane, a neighboring passenger commented on how well he did in the flight.  We always use these opportunities to encourage J, that his good behavior was recognized,…  Funny thing was, at the time he was eating a lollipop (saved for deboarding since he’s the most restless then) and about 5 minutes after the passenger praised him, he finished his lollipop and had a meltdown 🙂  Perfect timing!  It lasted probably a minute and was over, but what a way to end the flight!

Flight back home: 

This one was just me and J.  We pretty much ran right through the list of activities I brought, except we didn’t do the Cars activity.  I did the new sticker game instead.  He loved it and it kept him well occupied for awhile. He watched about 40 minutes worth of a video.  I did add a washcloth puppet to the activity bag which we played with for quite awhile.  He did great.  No meltdowns.  Cute and content the whole time.  TIP:  I did give him my rundown of expectations before the flight, whereas I did not do that on the first flight.  I honestly believe this helps him SO much. 

SEATBELTS: The newest lessons for J is learning to stay content seated with his seatbelt on.  We worked on this a little before when we were blessed with an empty seat.  Now that he must have his own seat, I’m teaching him the responsibilities that come with that priveledge (mostly seatbelts stay on, not kicking the seat in front of you, not banging on the tray).  For the first flight he struggled with it a bit.  The returning flight he did great.  When he did mention wanting the seatbelt off, I just explained to him that I understood it could get uncomfortable but that he needed to keep it on like the pilot said. I pointed out that I had my seatbelt on too.  I would sometimes fiddle with it and say something like, “There! That’s better.  It’s more comfortable now!” (making him think I fixed the problem, when I really did nothing; gotta enjoy the benefits of toddlerhood while I have them!)