Friday, August 30, 2013

{The Kid's Co-Op} Tot & Pre-K Learning Through Play

We're in our second week of Tot School activities at our house, which I decided to start for Caterpillar (just turned 2) when Wild Thing started preschool a few weeks ago. Sometimes, we explore our learn and play basket while Wild Thing is at school, but often Wild Thing wants to explore the basket too once he gets home, or I don't get to the basket with Caterpillar in the mornings, so we all explore the basket together. So, Tot School has evolved and become Tot + Pre-K Learning Time. I love it! You can check out all the ways we explored the letter A last week here. I'm excited to share our letter B activities with you next Tuesday!

Here's 10 Activities that caught my eye from last week's Kid's Co-op because they seemed like something my toddler and preschool boys would love. Hope you like them too. 

Since the first letter A basket I put together for tot school focused on apples, the apple tree circle game from Let's Play Music seems like something we can try. 

I also plan on making some balloon juggling balls like those shared from Kids Activities Blog, since ball and balloon were a big part of letter B week this week. 

I loved the homemade bird feeders from Triple T Mum as another sensory Letter B activity we could do, and the footprint bear and bear exploring activities from House of Burke resonated as we had a whole day focused on B is for Bear this past week.

Next week when we move onto Letter C, I plan on doing a lot of sensory activities with cotton and am adding cotton bud painting to the list, as inspired by Ingspirations.  

When we hit Letter F, we'll be focusing on flowers a lot, and I've decided that flower crowns are for boys too thanks to Annie Cookie

I already had mud on my list of play ideas for the Letter M, and Paint on the Ceiling created a very cool Invitation to Play in Mud and Mama to 5 Blessings showed that mud is an ultimate sensory play item. 

I pinned the Wind Tube Crafts from Bear and Lion Mama, which will work well for learning about air and wind. Plus, I love any crafts that use recycled materials. 

Finally, Fantastic Fun and Learning shared a fabulous School Bus ABC Game that is a great way to bring all of the letters together for fun learning through play because #playmatters. 

That's why I love The Weekly Kid's Co-op. It is always full of fun ways for children and families to learn through play. Join in and play! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

{Ten for Tuesday} Tot School: Early Literacy Activities - Letter A Exploration Through the Five Senses (Lots of PreK Activity Add-Ons Too!)

With Wild Thing going to preschool, I knew I wanted to start doing Tot School with Caterpillar -- not only for the learning experiences he would enjoy, but to also make sure I gave him some focused mommy time while Wild Thing was at school. I decided to go with the Letter of the Week approach and to focus on a different sense everyday -- 5 Days, 5 Senses. It seemed like a good way to help me structure the learning experience, and I am giving him multiple ways to engage and explore items and sounds throughout the week. So, here it is: 5 Bins, 10 Activities -- 1 Week of Play and Learning. 

1. We started with Taste and this simple A is for Apple + Avocado Basket. Of course, we started by tasting both the apple and the avocado in the basket and reading the first page from Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A-Z by Lois Ehlert.

2. More Apple Activities: In addition to tasting the apple, we also put the letter A milk caps inside of our foam apple. (This foam apple is recycled from a Very Hungry Caterpillar Storybox, hence the hole in the apple). Caterpillar actually initiated this activity himself with the items he found inside the Letter A basket. I love it when that happens. 
We also looked at our book to do some coloring. 

This was followed by some playdough play. 

3. Each day, I set out a new basket. The following day, the basket focused on Sight. Where we live we like to look for animals - rabbits, quail, birds (we have woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, hummingbirds, etc.), chicken, horses, etc. In our "A is for Animals" Basket I placed an A is for Ant card, an alligator playdough toy, an animal book and a few other stray animal toys. He immediately wanted to make some alligators out of green playdough. Somehow, I didn't get a photo of the basket or the playdough play, but I do know that we made at least 6 alligators and said "aaaaa" a lot!

4. Fingerprint Ant Craft - Wild Thing joined in the fun on this one. (He was beginning to feel left out). These were so simple and fun. I put a dot of facepaint on each of their first three fingers and helped them make their ant. Then, I simply added the legs and antennae. We love it!
5. Animal Counting - Before we moved on from animals, we also integrated some counting practice by counting the animals in the boys' room (stuffed animals, of course). 

6. Ambulance (Hearing) - Like many young children, my boys love the sound of sirens and think Emergency Vehicles are cool, not yet old enough to grasp that they might mean someone is hurt or sick. Since Wild Thing felt a little left out of all the "A" activities Caterpillar and I did while he was at school, I asked him to help me create my Letter A bin for the next day -- my Ambulance bin. Wild Thing created this Ambulance almost completely by himself. In the bin was the Ambulance, our same milk cap letters and the foam "A" letters and an ambulance word card.

Both of the boys enjoyed playing with it and playing with their other cars, trains, etc. We had lots of sirens, horns, train whistles and other sounds going on that day.

7. Our next basket explores the sense of touch. This was a tough one, but I decided to go with "A is for Air." 
A is the selected word for the letter "a" in Goodnight Moon ABC, so it seemed like a good fit. We discussed how you can feel air, especially from the air conditioner or, as I showed them, from a balloon. I blew up a balloon and then let the air out as it faced them. I discovered that Caterpillar found this a bit scary. He had much more fun playing with a balloon instead. Wild Thing decided he wanted to blow up a balloon himself. After lots of struggles, he decided it might help if he could watch himself in action...
Wild Thing really did learn quite a bit about air from our simple activity. 
Caterpillar mainly had fun playing with a balloon! 

8. For Smell, I created this simple A is for Allspice basket. I intended for us to do some spice painting, but the boys had something different in mind. 

They each poured some Allspice into their small bowls (with some help) and smelled the allspice. I hadn't thought much about putting a couple of straws inside the basket, but I'm glad I did because it allowed me to see Wild Thing's mind in action. Since we had talked a lot about air the previous day, he took the straw and blew the allspice out of the bowl, explaining to me how air worked! Wish I could say I laid the week out like this to deliberately reinforce their understanding of air, but I didn't. Just luck!
I call this "Air in Action."
And "Allspice and Curls."
9. Letter A Sorting - When creating all of the baskets, I intentionally added uppercase or "big" letter "A" milk caps, stickers and such, and lowercase or "little" letter "a" milk caps and stickers, and I love that the Ehlert book features both Upper and Lowercase letters. We ended the week with a Letter A Sorting Activity. Conveniently, our "ambulance" was made from a tofu container that had two sides. We used it with one side for the Big "A" milk caps and the other side for the Little "A" milk caps. I added some paper letters and felt letters as well. Caterpillar beamed with pride when he finished sorting. 

10. Coloring - We wrapped Letter A week up with these really cool A is for Apple Color by Number Coloring Art Pages, which are Inspired by Romero Britto and created by our amazing "Aunt" Emily.
Wild Thing was so proud of his!

I'm thinking of sharing this color sheet as my first ever free printable on the blog, but want to see if there's interest, so leave a comment here or on Facebook if you would like one. Also, we did some other PreK add-ons related to the Letter A and I have some more photos that I plan to share on my Facebook page from our week as well. I'll also be sharing a preview of what we're doing this week for the Letter B. Plus, I've been pinning related activities to my new Tot School Pinboard, which is full of activities for apples (and lots of other activities too) -- some are also great for preschool and kindergarten children as well.

Sharing at: Sharing Saturday, It's Playtime, Artsy Play Wednesday, Sunday Showcase, and Montessori Monday, 31 Days of ABCs - Letter A Linky.

You might also like: 
Alphabet Sensory Bin
Toddler Carwash
Boat + Bus Letter B Box

Sunday, August 25, 2013

{Virtual Book Club for Kids} 4 Activities for Freight Train by Donald Crews - Move, Eat, Draw and Learn with this Classic Book

The boys and I were very excited that this month's author for the Virtual Book Club for Kids was Donald Crews. He has many books the boys love, but (like so many other children) Freight Train is their favorite. We've done several activities with the book in the past, but enjoyed revisiting this month through new activities as we got busy moving, drawing (or creating art), eating and learning with Freight Train. We always explore the Virtual Book Club for Kids' books in this way. I hope you'll enjoy these four simple, but fun activities to go with the book. 

Move - I used this movement activity as an opportunity to also reinforce color learning with Caterpillar, who recently turned two. We would look at the book, and then look outside for objects in various colors to recreate the freight train. 
Later, we also picked up small/loose objects from outside to put inside the freight cars in relation to the corresponding color. For instance, their yellow plastic baseball bats went in the yellow truck bed and a green turtle went in the back of the green truck.

Eat - I loved using this book with Wild Thing to encourage healthy eating. We made a freight train of mostly fruits and vegetables to match the colors of the train cars: black mission figs for the steam engine, raisins for the purple box car, yogurt (in a blue container) for the blue gondola car, avocado for the green cattle car, banana for the yellow hopper car, carrot for the orange tank car and an apple for the red caboose. This is the only time I've gotten him to successfully try figs and avocados! 

He loved looking at the book as he ate. 

Draw - Sometimes we actually do draw, but in general our "drawing" component for the books refers to our selected art activity. This time, Wild Thing painted some train cars. Again, he loved referencing and reading the book as he engaged in the activity. 
Learn - As you saw with our movement activity, a natural learning element of the book is for this book to help children learn their colors or to reinforce their learning of their colors. With Wild Thing, I decided to add an early literacy element since he shows a lot of interest in letters, words and reading. The stapler made this activity a big hit and was a new experience and skill for him. 
I took more of the rectangular cardboard pieces that I had and wrote the colors on them (in the corresponding color, of course). Then, I cut the words up and put them all together in a pile for Wild Thing to find the letters or letter groups that would fit together to make the correct color word. Again, the book was available for reference. 

Wild Thing took a lot of pride in his train. Caterpillar liked it too. He ended up coloring on it providing another color matching activity. I love that Freight Train is available as a bilingual book in Spanish and English. We've gotten it from the library before, and I plan to get it again and do this same literacy activity with Wild Thing in Spanish and to do some color matching activities in Spanish and English like we did with our bilingual rainbow

Sharing at: Tuesday Tots, Mom's Library, Artsy Play Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, and It's Playtime!

P.S. If you have a train lover in your house, you'll definitely want to check out my Ten for Tuesday post on Trains, the first post in a popular Things That Go Series I did on my blog last year. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: Back to School Books for First-Time Preschooler and Mommy

I'll admit that I wasn't as excited this week to write my Project 101 post. The reason my excitement waned is that I'm not really into the book I am reading from the library. However, I realized that I had a fabulous book to share that the boys have been reading. With Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge, each week, I share one book from the library the boys have really enjoyed that week, and one book I am reading. My sons are almost 4 and 2 and the oldest (Wild Thing) just started preschool. 

This week at the Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile (a part of the County of Los Angeles Library which celebrates its 101st birthday this year, hence Project 101), Wild Thing selected Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins. Wild Thing really enjoys Maisy books so it wasn't that surprising that this book caught his eye. 

When he got it, he had been going to preschool for exactly one week. Things seemed to be going well, but I was frustrated by his standard "I don't know" answer any time I asked him what he did at preschool. Enter Maisy and the brilliance of engaged reading with your child. Now, we had a book about Maisy at preschool in which we get to read about everything Maisy is doing at preschool: painting, music time, snacks, storytime, playing outside, naptime, etc. By reading the book with Wild Thing I would seek to connect his preschool experience with Maisy's. Soon when reading about Maisy having music time, he was telling me about how much fun he had playing music at school and what instrument he got to play. Now, I've made this book part of our daily routine and as we read about Maisy's preschool day, I ask Wild Thing about his. With help from Maisy, I actually get answers! 

Here's some other school-related books we've discovered through our library: Miss Mingo and the First Day of School -- we love this book and it is perfect for nervous kiddos, The Bus Stop by Janet Morgan Stoeke, and School Bus by Donald Crews both of which we shared in a post that featured lots of Bus and Boat books and activities featured

I also really love the Back to School Books by Grade List that KC Edventures has, particularly (since I have a preschooler) the Preschool to First Grade books she suggests. Her book list and many other Back to School resource can be found on my Back to School Pinboard.

Image courtesy of Joan Wilson. July 2010
As for what I'm reading, it is not a book for everyone and may not even be a book for me: The Life of Beethoven by David Wyn Jones. This book made me feel like I had gone back to school -- back to college to be exact -- something like this was certainly part of the syllabus for one of my Music History courses in college. Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, particularly of works for the piano since I play the piano. I started when I was 6 and completely fell in love with it -- in fact for basically my entire young life I thought my vocation would be undeniably connected to the piano and music. As is the case, life happens. I still enjoy playing the piano, but most often these days it is done with a 2 year-old on my lap and a not-quite-4 year-old struggling to play too. So, needless to say there is very little Beethoven getting performed at our house these days. For awhile, I would try to sneak in some piano time when the boys napped, but after Wild Thing woke up twice in a row and came out to tell me that I was too loud, I decided naptime piano practice didn't really work. I am glad, though, that the boys are interested in the piano and are learning at a young age to respect it. When playing, they often do well keeping to my "one finger at a time" rule, even if it requires some reminding, and they don't have to be told too often to keep their hotwheel cars off the piano! 

I digress, though...back to the Beethoven book. The book is a well-written historical account of Beethoven's life (as much as I can tell being just 1/4-1/3 of the way through). For me, though, it is a bit dry with heavy emphasis on the political history of the time that influenced the world in which Beethoven was living. At times, it strays too far into details of the Hapsburg Court and Holy Roman Empire.

However, I do appreciate the musical lineage of Beethoven that comes through in the book -- his brief meeting/time with Mozart and his time spent studying under Haydn. As a piano student, I loved Beethoven and despised both Mozart and Haydn, which felt too rigid to me. I now understand how necessary the mastery of pieces by Mozart and Haydn is to understanding and mastering Beethoven, just as I completely understood the significant of J.S. Bach for Beethoven as a student when I read about his mastery of Bach's work in the book. (For those of you who know me well and knew her, what I'm saying here is -- yes, Ann Chamlee you were right!! As always!!) 

To be honest, I'm not sure I'll finish the book. Instead, I'm hoping to find another Beethoven biography that has a bit more spice. If you have a recommendation, please share. I'd also love to read an engaging biography of Franz Liszt. 

My favorite music history read to date is absolutely Bach, Beethoven and the Boys by David W. Barber -- a very fun read that I should check out from the library and re-read since its been many years. 

One of my senior pictures in high school.
The thing I most appreciate from the Beethoven book I am currently reading are hidden gems I come across like this J.S. Bach quote. His words articulate my feelings about music - and about art, including the filmmaking work I do now: 
"A musician cannot move others unless he too is moved. He must of necessity feel all of the affects that he hopes to around in his audience, for the revealing of his own humor will stimulate a like humor in the audience." -- J.S. Bach is Essay on The True Art of Playing the Keyboard
Perhaps, The True Art of Playing the Keyboard needs to be added to my library list! If you are a fellow music lover or pianist and have a book you think I would enjoy, please share! Also, if you have tips for playing the piano with little ones -- as in getting them to let you play while they listen, I'd love those too!

Sharing at: Link and Learn, Booknificent ThursdayThe Sunday Parenting Party, The Sunday Showcase, Tuesday TotsMom's Library and Poppins Book Nooks Books About School

You might also like: 
100 Acts of Kindness Challenge
4 Activities: Boy, Bird and Dog Book
Family Art Project

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School with the Kid's Co-Op: Over 300 Ideas and Resources to Help You Make This School Year Great!

Our end of summer family/work trip to San Francisco and our family efforts to get ourselves settled into a new going to school routine (Wild Thing started preschool for the first time last week) got me a bit behind with The Kid's Co-Op. However, I finally had time to look through all of the wonderful ideas shared last week (Thanks Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, whose thread I followed last week to find links -- check it out for even more Back to School Ideas!). Now, I'm pleased to share over 300 ideas and resources for heading Back to School. 

Six ideas to make going back to school special: 

Six resources to encourage a great school year: 

Three more Back to School Round-Ups that feature nearly 200 ideas altogether:

For even MORE ideas, tips and tools that can help make this a wonderful school year, pop over to Pinterest and follow my Back to School Board and the boards of these 11 other fabulous bloggers: KC Edventures, Mama Smiles, Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup, Teach Preschool, No Time for Flashcards, Living Montessori Now, The Educators' Spin On It, Kids Stuff World, Inspiration Laboratories, JDaniel4sMom, and Carrots Are Orange.

If you have a Back to School Pinboard, please share it in the comments or on my Facebook page so I can make sure I'm following it! 

Speaking of Pinterest, did you Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails shared Must Follow Boards on Pinterest from The Kid's Co-Op? Pop over and check out her lovely list!

Sharing at: The Sunday Showcase, Tuesday Tots, Mom's Library and It's Playtime!

Monday, August 19, 2013

{Sunshine Kids Blog Hop} Five Fabulous (and FREE!!) Things to Do with Kids in San Francisco

Image courtesy of Mark Stalnaker (thanks, Liz!) 
Recently, Wild Thing, Caterpillar and I joined my husband on his "work" trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. Our latest film, SMUGGLED, was being presented at three different events with a 2-day gap between two of the events, so it seemed like the perfect idea. It was and while San Francisco is definitely a pricey city, we found a way to make it a budget and family-friendly getaway. So, I'm sharing 5 of our favorite free San Francisco Bay Area experiences.

#1 - Golden Gate Park, where (thankfully) even the parking is free. Of course, Golden Gate Park is huge. We went twice and still only saw a small portion of it. We enjoyed a play date at Stow Lake. It's a great loop to walk with children that provides a Chinese Pagoda to explore, two lovely bridges, ducks and geese and waterfalls. Our playdate probably lasted about two hours and ended with some nice snacking at a picnic table near the Boat House of the lake. I definitely appreciate what a talented photographer my friend Liz is because she captured some truly beautiful and wonderful moments from our first Golden Gate experience. 
Caterpillar and I in the Chinese Pagoda at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker. 
This crawfish definitely captured the kids' attention,
and he was on guard as they surrounded him. 
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker.
Wild Thing with a new friend at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker.
The other lake wildlife that captivated the kids.
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker
Finally a photo of all of the kids together before our playdate ended.
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker.
Our second Golden Gate experience was running around outside the Conservatory of Flowers (the conservatory itself was already closed for the day when we got to the park). The boys enjoyed looking at all of the flowers, running amidst the open space and walking through the tunnel several times and experimenting with echoes while in the tunnel. We'll definitely go back next time we're in the Bay Area, as we haven't yet experienced many of the major Golden Gate attractions for kids, like the Koret Children's Corner and the Carousel. 

#2 - San Francisco Public Library (Main Branch): Our first evening in San Francisco included a screening of the latest film my husband and I made, SMUGGLED. The film screened at the San Francisco Public Library, so the boys and I went along. Often libraries get overlooked when sight-seeing, but the Children's Center (at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library) is worth a visit, particularly if you have toddler and preschool-aged children. It has an interactive wall for children to explore, a fun book drop that makes reading and putting books away extra exciting and there were blocks and puzzles out the evening that we went. Plus, the staff was fabulous. If you find yourself near it, pop in and have some fun. We shared a bit about it and some photos in a recent Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge post.

#3 - Tilden Regional Park: This park is actually in Berkeley, but it is worth the trip over the Bay Bridge. (Plus, our boys loved going over the Bay Bridge, so that was another bonus). On Sunday, our film screened in Berkeley, so we set up another playdate with my friend Liz and her beautiful daughter. They suggested Tilden Regional Park, and I am so glad they did. This 740 acre regional park in Berkeley has a fabulous Merry-Go-Round/Carousel, cool playgrounds and a Little Farm. The farm is free and features pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, and cows. Wild Thing thought it was absolutely too cool! I definitely would love to explore this park again. 
Wild Thing at The Little Farm in Tilden Regional Park
Photo courtesy of Liz Stalnaker
#4 - Yerba Buena Playground at the Children's Creativity Museum in Downtown, San Francisco. The playground is highly interactive and was so much fun that we spent almost an hour there and didn't have time to go into the museum. I love that the playground area is free. It features some very cool giant slides (for children ages 5 and up), as well as interesting climbing structures, a sandbox and a large xylophone. There was also a smaller sIide that Wild Thing and Caterpillar could enjoy and there were several hula hoops around the area that the boys loved exploring -- rolling them, throwing them and tossing balls through them. I didn't get any photos, but you'll definitely want to have a look at the amazing slides (for children 5 and up) so click over to the Golden Gate Mothers Group for some photos and more info

#5 - Pier 45 to 39. This walk was suggested in City Walks: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot that the couple whose house we stayed in left on their dresser for us. It is a fabulous walk. We started at Pier 45, which features one of my favorite all-time San Francisco attractions: the Musee Mecanique, which is mostly free. I say mostly free because the museum is free to enter, but you will probably find yourself spending at least a dollar or two experiencing the very classic and unique arcade games. Many of the games and mechanically operated musical instruments, zoetropes and much more can probably only be found in this unique museum. We probably spent $2, maybe $3, but it was definitely worth it, and watching other people play the games can be equally engaging and fun. Please, don't overlook this spot the next time you are in San Francisco. 

Outside of the Musee Mecanique were two World War II ships and walking down to Pier 39 offered lots of free entertainment with great views and street performers. Pier 39 itself is very tourist-y, but was worth it for us. There are lots of things in the area that you can pay for, but you can always watch the Sea Lions that collect at the pier for free. Wild Thing and Caterpillar both loved it. They enjoyed running around the dock and watching all of the different boats in action on the Bay. 

Here's a bonus parking tip for doing a Pier 45 to Pier 39 walk - Look for parking along Bay Street near Taylor or Mason. Parking in general in San Francisco is pretty pricey -- often $3 (or more) per hour. It is not any cheaper here, but what we appreciated was the Trader Joe's located at Bay Street and Mason. We parked near it. This location allowed us to get some very affordable and healthy snacks for the boys, as well as an easy bathroom pit stop before and after our walk along the waterfront. 
Courtesy of Mark Stalnaker.
So lovely - had to share again, with no text.
We capped off our waterfront day with a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (almost free, except for the $6 toll on the way back). We parked in Sausalito, took in the views and let the boys play for a bit at a playground before heading back across the bridge to call it a day. All in all, we truly enjoyed our San Francisco experience, and that's my top 5! 

Bonus Activity: Here's another place we enjoyed that wasn't free (if you wanted to go on the boats), but was quite affordable and worth price of admission: The San Francisco Maritime National Park. You can explore the "park" itself for free. The park is really a pier in the Fisherman's Wharf area, not far from Ghirardelli Square. If you want to go on the many restored, antique boats that are docked there, the cost if $5 per adult, children under 12 are free. Plus, you can show your receipt and re-enter for the next 7 days, so it is a great value. Eureka is a classic steam ferry docked there, which has several classic cars on it. There were several other boats that we could walk on and explore, each offering their own taste of history. Along the dock as well is an area where boats are restored and stations to try tying different nautical knots. If you have a boat-lover, you won't want to miss this spot. The area does close at 4 p.m., so go early. 

Sharing at: The Sunday ShowcaseTuesday Tots, Mom's Library and It's Playtime!

We love exploring California and are excited to be participating in the Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop. 
  Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop
The Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop celebrates all that is wonderful about raising kids in the Golden State. Join us and link up your kid-centered posts about California: places to visit, books to read, crafts to create, recipes to try, and so on. The blog hop will run August 19th-September 2nd.

Thanks to Akane of Juggling With Kids for the beautiful photo! You can also check out even more California posts on our collaborative Kid Friendly California Pinterest board! Be sure to check out our upcoming project, Exploring the California Missions!          

Participating Blogs:

All Done Monkey - Raising little global citizens.
Kids Yoga Stories The Silly Pearl
The Art Pantry 2KuriousKids
A Mom With a Lesson Plan
Adventure Bee
Juggling With Kids
Little Hiccups
Slow Family The Good Long Road Adventures in Wunderland
Link up your kid-centered California posts below!