Preschool: K is for King

I feel so behind in everything!  It’s almost December and I’m floundering to get our Advent calendar ready; I’ve been scouring Pinterest, gathering ideas so I don’t have to come up with a list from scratch like I did last year.  I’ve also been meaning to write about our recent camping adventures, but it’s just not high on the priority list.  And when I get my camera back from my parents – they accidentally brought it home after the kiddos’ birthday party – I’ll post some pictures of their train-themed celebration.

Last week was a busy one, what with Gwen and Josiah‘s birthdays in quick succession followed by Thanksgiving a few days later.  It was a huge relief to find out that I didn’t have to plan any new material since it was a review week, though I did have grand ambitions to fill it chock full of Thanksgiving-y things.  Ah, good intentions. 

So, without further ado, here’s what we did two weeks ago!    

Bible
For the life of me, I could not find any crafts that had to do with the story of Hannah praying for a baby.  I finally found one on another blog… only to discover there was no credit given as to whether she came up with this on her own or found it somewhere else.  Fine, I don’t have to have a craft for every Bible story – it just makes it more fun. 

Since the kids have a young cousin named Samuel, it was easy to make the story personal and bring it down to their level.  The Bible verse for the week was I Thessalonions 5:17 - Pray without ceasing.  Short and sweet, and went along beautifully with the Prayer Pail I had just made for our dinnertime ritual.    

Theme
Gwen is BIG on princesses these days.  And I’m not talking about Disney princesses – although she likes Ariel (because of the red hair) and Cinderella (because it’s her aunt’s favorite) – I just mean getting dressed up, frilly and foofy, calling herself a princess.  I decided to tie this, er, obsession into our lessons and make the theme about royalty. 

One day she woke up on the proverbial Wrong Side of the Bed, getting all upset because I wouldn’t let her keep changing her outfit into something a princess would wear; her bratty, entitled attitude really discouraged me.  I did my best to tell her that she is a beautiful girl no matter what she’s wearing and God calls us his princesses no matter what we look like.

That being said, she did enjoy some of the princess-related activities I came up with for her.  I used a few elements from 1+1+1=1’s Princess Preschool Pack and Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Princess Preschool Activities.  There were pre-writing tracing sheets…


find which item is different pictures (Gwen loves those)…


matching pictures to their corresponding words (think wands and tiaras)…

and a color-by-number princess and color-by-shape castle.


On Sunday night I stayed up late, watching “Mannequin 2: On the Move” (so cheesey, but gotta love 80’s movies) while figuring out how to make a medieval princess cone hat for Gwen.  I finalled fudged it with a piece of thick scrapbook paper, some staples, leftover ribbon and tulle from her mermaid tutu, a couple other embellishments and a glue gun. 


She was thrilled when she saw it; she wore it for a little while, and now it hangs upside down on her bed, acting as a little container for hiding whatever she fancies (she had been storing her flashlight in there until it broke a couple nights ago). 

Obviously, Gwen played quite a bit of dress-up and spent more time than usual playing with her magnetic dress-up dolls

Letter
Maybe I should have saved the whole princess thing for the letter P, since much of the week revolved around that theme.  But I did manage to work in a few K for king crafts.  We talked about how Jesus is the ultimate King, and Gwen wore her princess hat while she and Josiah made Christ is King crowns

 

I searched for a bunch of crown templates and probably should have gone with one that didn’t have a seam in the middle, but who cares – it’s a kids’ craft! 

 

I also found a letter craft that went nicely with our theme and word of the week.  Josiah and Gwen both made King Ks!

 

We did the letter poster with kisses (a rubber stamp), making a smooching noise each time we stamped – it’s amazing what will entertain kids.


And then we had a smattering of the usual worksheets – letter hunt page…

Do-A-Dot page…

playdough mat (with popsicle sticks – Gwen came up with that on her own)…


and a slew of dry-erase workbooks, which she likes.  We also did the Starfall letter activity on the computer. 

Number
I had gotten some princess and castle stickers a while ago, planning on using them this week, so Gwen picked out ten of them to decorate her number poster.

We also did her number index card for the week; she has to write the number and then put the correct amount of stickers.


The clip counting cards from the princess-themed pack was a bit more challenging than the usual clip cards.  Instead of counting pictures to find the correct number she had to read the word, so it got a bit frustrating. 


I was able to help her sound out some of the simpler ones – six, seven, ten – but trying to explain why the word “one” has a “w” sound or why “two” is pronounced like “too” or why “eight” sounds the way it does can be maddening.  I end up saying things like “the letter E is silent because it just is.”  Great Mom, that explains a lot.     

Shape
How handy that the shape tracing cards in the princess-packs had stars in them, because that was our shape for the week. 


We decorated the shape poster with star stickers…


and cut star shapes from playdough.


Rhyme

I had a different rhyme planned for the week, but when printing out some of the princess-themed elements I found there was a poem included, so I went with that.  The tune was easy, sung to the song of “I’m a Little Teapot,” and starts off “I’m a little princess God loves me…”   

Daily
We’ve been rather lax with the weather watching jars; I’ll have to think of some way to bump this up a notch.  Josiah loves doing the “ja-jars,” or however he pronounces them, but they’re not really doing anything for Gwendolyn anymore. 

I hate to admit it, but we’ve also been lax with the chore chart. *sigh*  I feel like I yell at and referee the kids all the time as it is, nevermind checking Gwen’s chart to make sure she’s on top of it.

We have been doing the Prayer Pail most evenings, usually when Daddy’s home and we can do it as a family.

Fun Stuff
Most of the our day doesn’t involve any kind of schoolwork – the kids get so creative in their own, imaginative play!  When I have a moment I’ll grab the camera and take a few shots in-between cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry.

This week the kiddos’ decided to break out the blocks.  Josiah’s choice of container cracks me up (he did this with all the markers one day, too).


Gwen also helped me make their birthday cupcakes.  Some friends that were supposed to come to their party have a sensitivity to eggs and dairy so I looked for vegan recipes on Pinterest and tried my hand at chocolate avocado cake and vegan coconut cream frosting using powdered rapadura sugar.

Bulletin Board

Book Basket
Theme/Vocab
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?
Tea for Ruby
The Princess Knight
Princess Peepers
The Three Gifts of Christmas
King Midas and the Golden Touch
Winter King, Summer Queen

Letter
Knuffle Bunny
Kiss Kiss
Kiss Kiss!
My “k” Book
Kate and the Beanstalk

Number
Ten Little Ladybugs
Ten Terrible Dinosaurs

Shape
Draw Me a Star
FancyNancy Sees Stars
A Star In MyOrange

DVDs
Veggie Tales – Esther, the girl who became queen

Linking Up…

Tot School

Gwen is 4 years old (48 months) and Josiah is 2 (24 months).

Thankful

We have a ritual – every night at dinnertime or bedtime, I ask everyone what his or her favorite part of the day was.  Gwen usually thinks about it and gives me a thoughtful answer.  Josiah goes, “Hm… tractor.”  More often than not, Phil will say “Spending time with my family.”  And while I’m usually looking for something more – a specific part of the day – I have to agree with his sentiment.

Whenever I think about those things for which I am grateful, it always comes down to people.  Family.  Friends who are family.  Special moments comprised of spending time with loved ones, sharing love and life and laughter, creating memories.   

I am so thankful for him:

And these two things:

I could go on and list some of the more material things I’m glad to have – like my new washer, the fabulous cowboy boots I got for my birthday, the talents God has given me so I can knit and craft… but there’s nothing in the world I’d rather have more than my family.

Looking forward to spending the day with family tomorrow (or, rather, today – eeek, is it that late?).  Remembering those who aren’t with us and thanking God for his blessings and provision.  And now I need to get my butt in bed so I’ll be able to handle family. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 100:4b
“Be thankful to Him and bless His name.  For the Lord is good, oh the Lord is good.”

Psalm 107:1
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Finished: Fingerless Mittens for Gwen

It felt so good to pick up the needles again and finish the pillow for my sister that I decided to immediately embark upon another project.  Last year I made a couple sets of fingerless mittens – one for Nikki’s little boy Elijah and another for Gwendolyn.  It was my first project in-the-round and I was thrilled to have completed it; the pattern was a pretty easy knit once I got the hang of handling the small, double-pointed needles.  Since Gwen’s first pair got passed down to Josiah I decided to knit her another pair.

 

I had a cotton blend yarn in a pretty red-orangey color, but it was a bit too thin so I double-stranded it with a gorgeous rainbow-y sock yarn. 

To make them slightly larger for Gwen’s four-year-old hands I added a few rows into the cuff ribbing, knit stitches and finger ribbing.  If and when I make more pairs, I think I’d like to make the cuff even longer to keep the lower arms warm and be able to tuck them into sleeves or jackets.

Hm… what should I knit next?

Happy Birthday Josiah!

I can’t believe it’s been two years

Josiah was born three weeks early, two days after his big sister’s second birthday.  Both of my children were born the week of Thanksgiving; they are truly my Thanksgiving babies and I’m so thankful God placed them into my arms.  I get a little emotional around this time of year! 


Where did my babies go?  As time has passed, as I’ve been counting down the days to Josiah’s second birthday, I’ve been amazed that he’s continued to nurse this long.  Gwen self-weaned sometime after one year – sixteen, perhaps eighteen months?  I don’t remember offhand; I’d have to get out her calendar where I wrote everything down {insert self-deprecating smile}.  Converting his crib into a big-boy bed, taking away the paci, listening as his vocabulary has taken off, they’re all reminders that he’s growing up.  But nursing is one of the last vestiges of his babyhood. 


I was reacquanting myself with some of the benefits of toddler nursing and came upon this quote by Former Surgeon General, Dr. Antonia Novello: “It’s the lucky baby, I feel, who continues to nurse until he’s two.”  I smiled.  I have a lucky baby.

And I’m lucky to have him. 

I will admit, I don’t always feel lucky that I’ve been “blessed with quotes” (“blessed”) - as my husband and I often joke – when my children aren’t the little angels they should be.  And today, Josiah peed in his pants twice, had a huge hissy fit and refused to nap then pooped in his pants and got it on the bathroom rug (need I go on?)… but I try to keep it all in perspective.  Key word: try

I’m behind in posting about last week’s preschool so we’ll see if I get around to their birthdays, but I did take advantage of some of the tips I found on Pinterest.  I put balloons on their bedroom floor during the night and taped crepe paper streamers across their doorways; I thought for sure they’d bust through it but instead they crawled underneath!  Each of them got a birthday banner on his or her chair with a present on the table (and Gwen got wings on her chair, too) with another little gift at night. 

Take a gander at my pinterest board for other party ideas; I’m cooking up some ideas for their family birthday party the day after Thanksgiving.  When will I have time to make the cake?

Okay… just one more look…

 

Preschool: J is for Joy

Whenever I change the bulletin board at the end of the week, Gwen gets excited about what’s up next.  She saw the letter J and chanted “J is for Josiah, Jesus and jam.”  Hehe.  I’ve been busily working on projects in-between school stuff with the kiddos – knitting a pillow for my sister which I stayed up late one night to complete, trying some new recipes and experimenting with natural sugar, putting together some Christmas gifts and getting just a tad stressed about how busy the upcoming weeks will be. 

Bible
We’ve been using 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs for the scripture part of our curriculum, but this week’s story wasn’t  in there.  I vividly remember the story of Gideon on the Superbook VHS tapes growing up – how God chose him, whittled his army down to very few men, how they smashed jars and lit torches and blew their horns to win the battle against the Midianites.  I found a children’s Bible lesson online and read them the simple story, after which we made trumpets.  The kiddos were positively tickled pink with their trumpets and they walked around “playing” them and making “music.” 

Since I also wanted to capitalize on the jars and torches, I cut out some pictures, pasted them onto construction paper, and the kiddos helped me decorate them.  Torn-up pieces of construction paper symbolized the broken jars, red and yellow tissue paper were the flames, and aluminum foil made the trumpets shiny. 

Another day I decided to break into the stash of toilet paper rolls I’ve been collecting, covered them with foil, and stuffed tissue paper inside to make torches.  The kiddos resumed their rompous blowing their horns and waving their torches. *grin*


 

Our memory verse for the week was short and sweet and went along nicely with the story – Judges 6:12 The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.

Theme
Our theme of the week was feelings and emotions – a good thing for little kids to talk about!  Oftentimes Gwen gets upset and has a hard time vocalizing her underlying feelings; it can be easier talking about these feelings in third-person, especially in the form of stories.  

I put together a feelings lapbook using some resources from 1+1+1=1’s Feelings Tot Book and 2 Teaching Mommies’ My Feelings Unit.  Some of the elements are too simple for Gwen – she already knows her colors, for instance – or just too repetitious.  This is one of the neat things about working your own curriculum – you can pick and choose what works best for you! 

 

We read the feelings minibook, played the emotions matching game…


used the emotion faces and story prompts to figure out how someone might be feeling in a given situation (I even had Gwen create some scenarios)…

cut out faces and matched them with colors that symbolized specific emotions (eg blue=sad, red-mad), and made shape faces. 

 

As always, there were a few ideas that fell by the wayside.  I wanted to look at photo albums and identify emotions in pictures, make paper plate emotions and use a blank face template for Gwen to draw some faces.  One of the feelings units actually came with a round face that Gwen used to draw her current emotion; I think I’m beginning to rub off on her.

Letter
J is for joy!  I told Gwen that JOY stands for how we should place our priorities: “Jesus. Others. Yourself.”  I think it went over her head, but you never know what sinks in! 

We did our Do-A-Dot page


some workbook pages…

our letter poster (strawberry jam J!)…

letter hunt page…

cut ‘n’ paste…

and “j is for jellyfish” craft.

   

Oftentimes I find myself off-schedule, putting off starting school work because the kiddos are having so much fun playing.  Sometimes this bothers me because I’m not getting things crossed off my To Do list, but most of the time I remind myself that this is one of the benefits of educating children at home – having the freedom to learn and explore through creative play, not bound by academics. 

They make an excellent team – at times – and work together putting the train tracks together.

And when Daddy’s home, forget it – they’d rather be outside working on projects with him.  They’re becoming little homesteaders!

After lunch Gwen and I do her school trays, have computer time (we always start with Starfall) and read some stories before her nap/quiet time.  Sometimes it takes a while cleaning up and getting Josiah down, however, so I often set her up with an activity she can do by herself – like her Highlights hidden pictures magazine or a puzzle.

I don’t remember to focus on it each week, but every so often I remember her name activity and we work on the letters in her name.  After Gwen finished the alphabet puzzle she had to find and identify the letters that spell her first name, in order.  Since she usually writes “Gwen” when I ask her to write her name, it’s somewhat of a challenge to spell the whole thing – but she’s doing really well!     

Number
I think this was the only week we actually didn’t get around to coloring the number 9 poster, though we did do a lot of dry erase, workbook pages, and stories.

Color
Gwen’s favorite color – or what she’s been told should be her favorite color – is pink, of course.  She colored with crayons and markers and we read some Pinkalicious books.

Rhyme
“The world is so full of a number of things I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”  Aint that the truth. 

Daily
We haven’t been as consistent with the Starfall calendar, but we do talk about the days of the week.  We’ve also been doing Gwen’s chore chart and weather jars.  The Prayer Pail has become our new dinnertime ritual.

Bulletin Board

Book Basket
Theme/Vocab
My Many Colored Days
Yesterday I Had the BLUES
Birdy’s Smile Book
The Way I Feel

Letter
My “J” Book
Sheep in a Jeep
Jack and the Box: a toon book
Jessica
Jimmy’s Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk
Jeremy Draws a Monster
Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones
Julius – The Baby of the World
Jag

Number
Nine Ducks Nine

Color
Paddington’s Colors
Pinkalicious – Pink around the Rink
Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink

Movies
DK Eyewitness – Jungle
Cedarmont Kids

I’m so glad next week is a review week, which means I don’t have to plan any new material.  What with the kiddos’ birthdays, Thanksgiving, and the official birthday party, I’m feeling a little swamped.  I will get to try some new recipes, however!  A few things from my Pinterest boards: vegan chocolate avocado cake with coconut cream frosting for the kiddos’ birthday cupcakes and crock pot mashed potatoes and cranberry curd bars for Thanksgiving.  And I’m sure we’ll have time for some Thanksgiving crafts; I’m really looking forward to making Thanksgiving Story Bracelets with the kiddos. 

Linking Up…

Tot School   

Gwen is 3 years old (47 months) and Josiah is 1 (23 months).

Prayer Pail

Photobucket

One of my Pinterest finds was this neat idea for a Prayer Pail.  I was looking for a way to teach my children about the importance of prayer and help us incorporate it into our daily lives – at least, beyond Dear God thank you for this day bless this food to our bodies amen.  Our standard meal prayer.  Even Gwen has it down pat. 

I used one of the last little metal buckets we got in bulk as favors for our candy bar at our wedding ten years ago.  To this day I’m still a little disappointed I never got any of that candy…

In any case, I pretty much followed the original directions, using double-sided tape with a piece of craft paper.  Then I spelled out “Prayer Pail” in transfer letters, added some rhinestones and ribbon on the handle for embellishments, and put a couple verses on back:

 

I Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.
Ironically, our Bible verse for preschool this week!

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

We used the large craft sticks – like tongue-depressors – and wrote our prayers on them with glitter markers (we keep extra in the pail in case we think of new ones).  I asked the kids if they had an ideas so they would feel involved – Josiah wants to pray for a tractor, by the way – and most nights after dinner we each pick a prayer (trying not to peek!). 

This is a neat way for putting prayer into practice, visualizing the prayers themselves, and involving even the youngest family members.