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Monday, March 27, 2017

Toddler Fun, Week 23: Letter O, Number 2, Orange and Octopus

Who doesn't love an octopus!  They're super (SUPER) smart, have eight tentacles and three hearts.  So for the letter "O", we decided to learn about octopi.

Week 23
Letter: O
Number: 2
Color: Orange
Animal: Octopus


1. Aquarium
So, sadly Jacksonville doesn't have an aquarium, and isn't scheduled to get one until 2018. There is a new one in St. Augustine, but they are still in their "phase 1" soft opening, and are limited in their marine life.  So this meant I had to get creative.
One of our favorite restaurants in Jacksonville, is Salt Life Food Shack, and they have a salt water tank.  No octopi, but beautiful fish!  Aidan  really loved looking at all the beautiful colors!  We talked about how they were salt water fish, which means they live in the ocean.
There was a puffer fish, so we talked about how big they can get!  All the blue ones were "Dory", and the orange ones were "Nemo".  

2. Fine Motor
I found this octopus sheet, and printed it out.  Then I gave Aidan a bowl of cheerios, and showed him how each one went on a circle.  It kept him (mostly) busy while I made lunch, so that was a help!
Look at how well he's concentrating!

3. Writing with Chalk
 Aidan used chalk to draw "the world" outside on our back patio, so I had him write some O-s.  It didn't last long, but he drew a couple circles. :)
And then went back to drawing "the world".  So serious. :)

4. Ocean/Beach Day
 Even though we live only about 20 minutes from the beach, we don't go nearly enough.  So, we convinced Dan to take a day off, and met up with Aidan's best buddy at the beach!

They had fun in the water, building sand castles, jumping in  the tide pools, and we even saw some dolphins!
 We (quickly) talked about how octopi live in the ocean, and this is their habitat.
I tried to get him to write O-s in the sand, but that didn't last very long, haha!

5. O-s and Octopi everywhere
 We LOVE Bay & Bee!  They're a locally owned indoor play space.  We try to go about twice a week.  Their color schemes are relaxing, the toys are engaging, the kids and parents are nice, the ladies who work there are the best... AND lucky for us, a lot of their decor is ocean-themed.  So, when we got there one day this week, I told Aidan to go "spy" the animal on the wall that was our animal this week.  And... ta-da!!  He pointed out the letter "O", and then got excited, because he realized there was one on his shirt too!
This doesn't have anything to do with o-s, or octopi, just showcasing Bay & Bee. Oh, and my genius son's skyscrapers, haha!

6. Letter Tentacle Twister
 I drew red, blue, orange and green circles on a large piece of paper, then wrote our most recent letters in them.  We talked about how octopi can bend and move their tentacles in such an amazing way, and we can move our arms and legs like that too.
Then I would say, "put your hand on the red O", "put your foot on the orange V", etc.  He did pretty well!

7. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
This past Sunday, we had a service in the Keys, so we took the opportunity to go to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West.
 It's a little-known attraction is family-friendly, educational, and FREE!!!  (They do accept donations.)  It's not very big, but they pack it full!  (The center has free parking, which is a huge bonus, especially in Key West.  The different tour buses stop here too, which is nice!  Also, it's air conditioned, which is very comfortable, if you've been walking around all day.  They also have a replica of a NOAA Aquarius - an undersea science lab, and a 20 minute short film about the local sea life.)

 One of the main interactive exhibits is this topographical map.  There are buttons at the bottom, each of which has a different label, like: "coral reefs, shipwrecks, currents, bridges, etc."  When you push the button, little spots would light up, showing where they were.  Aidan loved it!
In one of the exhibits, we found an... OCTOPUS!!!
 They had a couple aquariums, one of which had this lionfish.  Did you know, that lionfish aren't indigenous to these waters, and they are malicious predators, and they are considered invasive.  The other fish don't know to be wary of them, and don't know how to avoid them, so their numbers are rapidly growing, and they are becoming a threat.
 This artist uses trash found in the ocean to make art, as well as bring awareness of how we're polluting our oceans in something called the Splash Trash Tour.  She had this interactive station, where there were little boxes with a question on the outside, like "How long does it take for styrofoam to decompose in the ocean?"  There was also a sample of whatever material was mentioned.  Then, when you opened it up, it would have the answer.  It takes 500 years to forever for styrofoam to decompose.

We stopped by the gift shop, and looked around.  We saw this ocean alphabet book, and lo and behold, O is for octopus!
All in all, it was a very fun, educational and discovery-filled hour!  I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Key West, especially those with small kids, as it can be hard to find things for preschool aged kids.


1. Octopus String Cheese Snack
This tasty treat was a HUGE hit!  I used Cheerios for the sea bed, string cheese for the octopus, blueberries for bubbles, goldfish, and grape seaweed. 

2. Octopus Sandwich
For this lunch, I made Aidan's sandwich on a slider bun, added candy eyes and a strawberry mouth.  Then, I cut a bell pepper into the tentacles, and put tiny drops of hummus on them for the suckers (actual name).

3. Octopus Popsicle
I bought this popsicle mold at IKEA, and it's awesome!  I've been making smoothies for us lately, and this day I made a "Hank the octopus" one.  I used strawberries, clementine juice, frozen pineapples and peaches, carrots and honey.  It was a red/orange, which was perfect!  I stuck gummy worms in it, and stuck it in the freezer.  Be forewarned though, the gummy worms are REALLY hard to chew when frozen, Aidan nearly choked on one.  Also, this whole thing is SUPER messy!

4. Octo-dog
For this lunch, I cut the bottom 3/4 of a hot dog into 8 tentacles. Then, I cooked it in a pan, with the legs sticking out (making it look kind of like a pinwheel).  As it cooked, the tentacles started to curl.  After they cooked, I laid in on its side, to make sure the "head" got cooked too.  Then, I cut two strawberries to (kinda) look like a squid.  I added goldfish, and two carrot star fish.  Oh, and cheerios for sand.  And candy eyes - I'm telling you, those candy eye balls are the bomb!  They bring everything to life! 


1. O is for Octopus
I helped Aidan write his name. :)  Then, I cut out an orange O, and 8 tentacles (by the way, it's hard to make octopus tentacles, vs jellyfish tentacles).  We glued them all on the back of the "O", flipped it around, stuck some eye balls one it, and there it is!  So cute!

2. Hank Craft
 I drew out a "Hank" head, then cut out white and blue semi circles for the eyes, and drew a "frowny" face.  I drew lines on another orange piece of construction paper, and helped Aidan cut on the lines.
 I wrapped the tentacles around a pencil, to make them "crinkly".  Then I helped him glue them to the back, and...
There it is!

Books and Media

We Read:

1. I Spy In The Ocean by Damon Burnard
This is a fun acronym book!  The letters spell out ocean, and lucky for us, O stands for octopus!  Aidan's grandma got this for him when he was little.  So much fun!

2. Finding Dory Little Golden Book 
A sweet book that retells the story of Finding Dory (longer description below).

3. An Octopus Is Amazing by Patricia Lauber
This was a great book we got from the library!  I've mentioned it before, but did you know, you can reserve books at your local library, even if they're not at your branch?  (If you have a library account) You can put a hold on them, they'll deliver them to your branch, you'll be notified when they're in, and you can go pick them up!  Isn't that amazing!?  Anyway, this is a fun read, and very educational about octopi.  Like, did you know, that once a female octopi lays its eggs, and takes care of them until they hatch... she dies?  Yeah, fun stuff!

4. My Octopus Arms by Keith Baker
Another library find, this is a fun book about all the things an octopus could (possibly) do with their arms.  Some of them are hypothetical (like baking), but octopi are so intelligent, they probably could!  At the end there's a sad octopus, and the big octopus shows that his arms can also squeeze and hug.  Aidan decided the little octopus was the baby, and the big octopus was the mommy.  But as we now know... that is not likely.  Lol.

5. Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr
Alright guys, now how often does a Beatles song coincide with your theme for the week?!  So, the Beatles song Octopus's Garden, written and performed by Ringo (my personal favorite Beatle), has been illustrated by Ben Cort, and it's a delightful trip through through fantasy!  It actually comes with a CD, with the song on it, for a fun sing along!

We Watched:

1. Finding Dory - This is a new Disney gem, and if you haven't seen it, you're in luck!  As of writing this post, it is on Netflix!  It's the sweet story of Dory, a pacific blue tang, who was separated from her parents, and has short-term memory loss.  She ends up at the Marine Life Institute, where she befriends Hank, the... wait for it... octopus (actually, he's a septopus - he's missing a tentacle)!

2. Octonauts, Season 2 Episode 16 - Octonauts and the Mimic Octopus - (on Netflix, it's Season 2 Episode 10) - We're big fans of the Octonauts!  If you haven't seen it, it's a fun show about a group of animals who help ocean animals that are hurt or sick.  In this episode, we meet a mimic octopus who can make himself look like a bunch of different animals!

3. Octonauts, Season 1 Episode 12 - The Octonauts and the Monster Map - this episode unfortunately isn't on Netflix, but you can find it on youtube here!

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