Monday morning saw us off to a fabulous start, as is Monday’s custom. After going over our Bible story – and really, starting off in God’s Word should give us extra points, no? - Gwen was trying to paint her coloring picture with dot markers, and I vigorously shook it, trying to get the paint to the tip. The top popped off, paint sprayed across the table and its contents, arching and splattering across the entire floor. After a shocked silence, then wearily calling my husband in from his shop to help me clean it up (why oh why do I think the things I plan will ever work out?), we moved on to a simple story. Now, Gwen usually loves books, but she was too distracted and I just trailed off and started staring off into space. She eventually realized I wasn’t reading anymore. “Just go out and play,” I told them. I’m trying to learn that I need to be more flexible, to relax my expectations.
The third week of preschool has been brought to you by the letter C, the number 2, and the square shape. The theme for the week was clothing, and our word for the week was costume because I know how much Gwen likes to dress up. We saw Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden after Eve “obeyed the bad snake,” and worked on our new memory verse.
It took Gwen two weeks to get her first memory verse down pat, but she’s pretty much got Psalm 34:13 in the bag: “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” I propped the memory verse card on the table, along with a fake snake and toy apple, and the kiddos had fun with those.
Along with the Bible story from 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs, I printed out an Adam and Eve minibook twice – once on regular paper to read, and again on photo paper so I could cut out the pictures to use as sequencing cards. She really enjoyed doing these throughout the week, and got good at telling the story herself.
C-themes for kids tend to revolve around cows and cats and things of that nature, but I figured clothing would be useful – especially since, as I already mentioned, Gwen loves to play dress-up. We already talked about the seasons the first week, and were able to tie the two together, talking about which things we wear in different seasons and why. We went to her room, and I asked her to show me something she would wear in the winter, summer, fall, and spring. We made a mini clothesline on the bulletin board with these items, and she thought that was pretty cool. Then she asked if she could wear a bathing suit and pretend she was at the beach – sure.
We did a simple cut-and-paste activity, sorting two different categories – clothing in one column, and animals in another.
This was really easy, and I chose it mostly because it had the clothing and she likes to use the glue stick, but also because she needs practice holding the scissors. Since she’s a leftie, I fail miserably at helping her with technique.
Grandma knows how much Gwen likes to read, do hidden puzzles and get magazines in the mail, so she subscibed her to the Highlights’ High Five magazine, along with their Hidden Pictures Playground. There’s almost always some simple game to cut and assemble, and a couple months back there was a game with three suitcases for three players who have to match the playing pieces to the items in their suitcase. We played it, and though the kiddos are still learning the concept of taking turns, they did pretty well. Josiah might not have understood that he couldn’t just grab a card, but he knew when he made a match!
Gwen dresses up almost every day, so this week it was a justifiable educational pursuit! She put on her ladybug costume from Halloween last year, and we talked about the difference between regular clothing and a costume. One of her favorite open-ended toys that she played with a couple times this week was her Melissa & Doug Magnetic Princess Dress-Up. I have to keep my eye on this girl – she kept giving her doll kisses, saying they were married. Hmmmmm.
While Gwen played with her doll, Josiah and I strung lacing beads into necklaces and I showed him the different shapes and colors.
It’s so cute watching his tiny little fingers try to put the lace through the hole, not realizing he actually has to push the lace through to the other side.
At the end of the week, I clear off the bulletin board, put some of her work and crafts in page protectors and organize them in a binder, throwing other things away. Sometime before Monday morning, I pin up the material for the following week, and if Gwen catches a glimpse of it she’ll get curious and start talking about it. She was already on the C-train before Monday came along. Sometimes I wonder if I’m expecting too much of her… then other times I feel like she’s way ahead of the game.
Gwen colored her C picture with crayons, then glued cotton ball clouds all over. Josiah was coloring a picture of a clothesline to go along with the theme for the week, and I helped him put “clouds” in the sky.
That was pretty much the extent of our morning before the kiddos wanted to go outside; it’s nice having Daddy home during the week, but he can sure be a distraction! But I also know playtime affords some of the best opportunities for learning – like Josiah learning about leverage while pushing his big sister on the four-wheeler.
Daddy taught them C for “chop,” giving them little hatchets to ”help” him cut wood - it was the cutest thing.
I tried to help, too, but discovered that my technique with an axe hasn’t improved – no matter how many times I swing that thing. Phil asked, ”How are we supposed to be homesteaders if you can’t cut wood?” I told him that’s his job - I’ll make the yogurt and cook the food.
During Josiah’s naptime, I’m able to focus on some sit-down activities with Gwen. We do her do-a-dot page, dry-erase activities, letter hunt worksheet, and various other activity books.
I like to plan crafts, because when it actually goes over well, we can be sitting at the table for a while just having fun, making those connections between work and play. I had two animal-related crafts planned for the letter of the week – a caterpillar and a crab. I like Totally Tots’ Now I Know My ABCs animals crafts, and used their suggestion - C is for Clumsy Crab - to go along with the story Clumsy Crab.
I also found this nifty idea for making a Counting Caterpillar (Kiboomu has some great ideas!) with a paper plate in the shape of a C, and I changed it up a bit to incoporate letters in our names rather than numbers.
Thanks for the idea, Jennifer – I told you I’d probably be stealing that one! And of course we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
It just so happens that I remembered the Alphabet Animals Flash Cards that I had gotten for Josiah. I initially planned on stringing them up around his room, but I never got around it it. They’ve been sitting in his room, and I decided they were too pretty to have packed away. The flash cards are thick, board-book type cards, and the artwork is beautful. The animal for C is – you guessed it – a caterpillar.
“Around and back on the railroad track. Two! Two! Two!” I kept forgetting ABC Jesus Loves Me‘s rhyme for the number two, but it seemed to help Gwen trace and write. As silly as some of the songs and rhymes can seem, they really do stick with you! I was rather discouraged one day last week about how things were going, and as Gwen and Josiah were playing, I heard her spouting off her “Seven Days” song and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” rhyme from last week – she really does listen!
Inspired by Passionate Homemaking’s idea for Circle Time, I spread out a blanket so we could do some work on the floor during Josiah’s naptime. Gwen took to this right away, and we blasted through a whole bunch of activities, including a number puzzle and a couple file folder games.
I forget where I initially found it, but ever since I came across the idea of letting kids use play tools to pound foam puzzle pieces together, I thought, my kids would love that! I got this neat, simple set of foam numbers puzzles from my mother-in-law’s old stash of educational goodies, and sure enough, they went away at those pieces. I even joined in on the fun!
Josiah has been learning to count with us, especially when we play Hi Ho Cherry-O, and his favorite number to spout at any given moment seems to be three. Josiah, how many? Thwee! One… two…? Thwee!
It was easy to incorporate reinforcing the square shape through snacks – we had crackers and slices of cheese a couple days. Oh, and those just so happen to be C words (along with chocolate). Just when I think Gwen’s got her shapes down, she confuses a square with a rectangle, or seems to think anything with straight lines is a triangle. This shape rhyme from ABC Jesus Loves Me helped her remember (tune - Are You Sleeping?):
“Four straight lines, four straight lines,
the same length, the same length,
join them together, join them together,
a square with strength, a square with strength.”
A couple times I heard her singing this under her breath when trying to figure out a shape.
She did a few tracing/coloring pages from workbooks, and though she gets easily-frustrated with lacing shapes we worked together on the square.
The poem or nusery rhyme isn’t always a large part of our week. I introduce it on Friday, and if I remember we try and quote it until the following Friday. This week’s rhyme was “Diddle Diddle Dumpling.”
I haven’t been using all their suggestions for fine and gross motor skills – really, a peg puzzle at her age? – but the ABCJLM activity for this week included Red Light, Green Light. Remember that game? I used to love that one when I was kid – along with Simon Says, of course. One night I spontaneously suggested we play it with the kiddos before bed, and they loved it! Gwen got it right away because she knows what red and green lights mean, and Josiah just had fun running back and forth.
I’ve been trying to make a concentrated effort to involve the kids in helping out around the house, even if it means more work for me. *sigh* Inspired by Rachel’s kid with a kitchen knife, I decided it was high-time Gwen learned how to use a paring knife, so she helped me cut peppers for dinner one night. My allowing her to do this seemed to boost her confidence and I’m so glad such a small thing seemed such a big deal. I’ve been having them do simple things like set and wash the table, which also happen to be things occasionally on Gwen’s chore chart.
Friday nights I make homemade pizza and we have a picnic in the living room and watch a movie. Both Gwen and Josiah helped me roll out the dough, and Gwen helped me spread the sauce and sprinkle toppings.
She’s seen us make pizza before, and she’s helped us out at various times cooking and baking, but tonight while taking a bite and watching a movie, she paused and said thoughtfully, “The dough turned into pizza!” I love seeing how they connect the dots.
We press on with Gwen’s chore chart and her weather watching jars (I use glass jelly jars on her window sill, and currently we’re doing it weekly rather than monthly). Most days we do the Starfall calendar activity in the morning and their letter activities – along with other website interactives – during J’s naptime.
100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed
Charlie Needs a Cloak
Ladybug Girl Dresses Up!
Black Dog Gets Dressed
My C Book
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Curious George Visits the Zoo
Cluck, Cluck Who’s There?
Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack
The Cow Who Clucked
The Cloud Book
A Day with No Crayons
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
I Got Two Dogs
My Number Book
My Shape Book
The Puffin Baby and Toddler Treasury
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Chrysanthemum… and more Kevin Henkes stories
Signing Time Vol. 10 My Day
Gwen is 3 years old (44 months) and Josiah is 1 (20 months).