Considering Curriculum

Since we finished up the alphabet last month, I haven’t prepared any lessons for Gwendolyn.  I’m on vacation, man!  I originally thought we’d continue through the Summer just to be consistent, but it ended up being a lot of work for me preparing stuff each week, marking pages in our stack of books and printing out oodles of resources.

It’s been good for the kids to explore their world, and I find it much less stressful when they learn through their natural environment.  I’m one of those people who loves the idea of unschooling, but I fear that I’ll miss something if we don’t do something “educational.”  I even need to plan the fun stuff!  So sitting back and letting the kids do their thing has been freeing.  It’s amazing to see what they come up with and how well they can [sometimes] cooperate in their pretend play and made-up games.  Getting a stack of books at the library that weren’t researched or intended for a specific theme has been fun!

Since Gwen is a voracious book-lover and has been sounding out some words, I did finally take a suggestion from 1+1+1=1 to label our house.  I may add some of our own words, but for now I just used the ones that came in the download and the kiddos helped me figure out where to put them.  It’s kinda funny seeing words all around – like the floor, stairs, lamp and so forth.  I’m hoping this will be just one more step in word association and learning how to spell.

Since I don’t want to procrastinate forever and be scrambling at the last minte, I have been considering options for the next school year.  Gwen won’t be five until November, so she’s still technically Pre-K but some of her skills are more advanced; I’m thinking a mix of the two levels with more of a focus on K-level activities will suit her best.  I find it easiest just to include Josiah in our activities and won’t worry as much about planning something specific for him.  Since I already a bunch of younger resources I can always pull out something else.

Here is my current list of considerations:

Raising Rock StarsRaising Rock Stars Kindergarten – Having already become familiar with and taken advantage of many of 1+1+1=1’s resources, I’m considering taking the next step with the Kindergarten resources.  There’s also a preschool section, which may be too easy for Gwen, but perhaps I’ll combine them.  The lessons and concepts are very comprehensive and of course I love the Biblical basis.

Brightly Beaming Resources – When I created our outline last year I was inspired by their preparatory curriculum.  The next steps would be their additional curriculums, including Letter of the Week, Sound of the Week, Science of the Week and Country of the Week

ABC Jesus Loves Me

ABC Jesus Loves Me’s 5-year curriculum – One of the biggest contributors to my lessons last year was ABC Jesus Loves Me’s 3-year curriculum.  I used many of their suggestions and stuck to the weekly Bible story outline, which was a huge deciding factor for me. 

Lesson Pathways – A newfound resource, you can customize a curriculum with various “pathways” for each student based on their content.

Depending on what I choose, I may not need to supplement with too many additional resources, but I have a bin full of books from which to choose.  For Christmas we got Step Into the Bible – 100 Bible Stories for Family Devotions by Ruth Graham, and it may be fun to do this with the kiddos, or at least on those days when Daddy is home. 
 
I have a whole bunch of little Carson-Dellosa Publishing HomeWorkbooks, including Preschool Skills, Letters – Uppercase and Lowercase, Alphabet Sounds & Pictures. I also have some Brighter Child workbooks and a bunch of Let’s Grow Smart workbooks.

One of the books from which I used pages every week was the Big Preschool Workbook. I put most of the pages in page protectors so Gwen could use dry erase markers and she really enjoyed those. The same company puts out smaller workbooks and I have a few of their preschool editions.

Another one of my weekly favorites was Getting Your Preschooler Ready to Read and Ready for Math. I have their Phonics and Math books for ages 4+ and will most likely be putting those to good use.

My mom is always buying educational resources for the kiddos, and she has been the main contributor to our stash of workbooks. Having homeschooled us for a number of years and teaching junior high and high school, she knows what she’s doing and I’ll take any advice I can get! A while back she gave me a dry-erase book for Gwen, but I tucked it away since the suggested age group is 5+. Write, Slide & Learn Phonics looks like it will be a great resource for learning to read, and since it’s completely dry-erase, I’m sure Gwen will love it.

Little by little we’ve touched on other countries on the globe and explored multi-cultural holidays and traditions, and I think My First Magnetic Atlas will be a fun resource for the kiddos. I got it for super-cheap at a local store and couldn’t resist.

The unschooler in me would love to scrap the idea of curriculum altogether, but I feel safe having some sort of structure.  What are your thoughts on a structured vs. unstructured homeschool environment?  Do you have a favorite preschool or Kindergarten curriculum?

Preschool: Z is for Zebra

I can’t believe it… we’ve finally reached the end of the alphabet!  When you’re singing the alphabet song it doesn’t seem that long, but when you’re teaching one letter a week – with review weeks every now and then – it takes forever.

Granted, in comparison to a traditional school schedule, we’ve finished early.  But we’re not a traditional school and – technically – Gwen is pre-pre-K.  So I’m trying not to worry about it, but I am wondering what to do next time around.  Any ideas for an advanced preschooler who’s not quite ready for K-level stuff?

Bible
After Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day – the story during Easter week – He said goodbye to His friends and family and ascended to Heaven.  Jesus’ return to Heaven was our story for the week; our Bible verse was John 14:2 – In my father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you.

Theme
Ironically, all the times we’ve been to the zoo with our membership, we don’t even make it to the zoo when it’s our theme for the week!  I printed out Oopsey Daisy’s Zoo Check-Off List just in case but we didn’t get around to using it.  No worries – we’ll go again this Summer! 

Instead, the kids made their own playdough and popsicle stick zoo cages

 

Playdough is always a big hit and it always evolves into more creative play – and of course a mess.  I didn’t get a chance to make a batch of homemade play dough, but the kids did get a container in an Easter basket from their Meme, one of only a couple non-candy items I didn’t give away! 

Since we were already settled at the table I brought out a few printables I had prepared.  Montessori for Everyone has Animal Families cards in their Zoology section; I printed them on cardstock and had the kiddos match the mommies, daddies and babies.  There are only four types of animals and it’s pretty easy, but we also talked about how each member in an animal family has a different name.

 

 

In their zoo theme, KidSparkz has animal skin patterns so I printed them out smaller and had the kiddos match them to the correct animals.  We didn’t have a snake so we made one from playdough! 


Throughout the week we used some of the zoo-themed printables from 2 Teaching Mommies.  I helped Gwen categorize plant-eaters and meat-eaters; she had to think back to the times we’ve seen what animals were eating, like the giraffes pulling leaves from the trees or seeing pictures of lions with their catch.

 

I’ve used them before, like in our water unit (though I think I forgot to mention them), and the kids love playing with water beads.  I guess they’re all the rage, so I decided to order some from Amazon.  They’re pretty cheap and afford hours of play, but I was surprised how delicate they are.  If they get squished – or dropped on the floor – they break into a gel-y mess.  We pretended this was the aquarium part of the zoo.

Gwen put the whole Little People A-Z Learning Playset together by herself. 


We watched “The Zoo Train” Signing Time DVD and afterwards the kids pretended to be camels – it was the silliest thing!

And since I’m all about the food, I just had to make these giraffe and elephant sandwiches for the kiddos – even though they’re rather laborious to put together.  Phil just kisses my forehead and tells me how cute I am, trying to make them happy.

 

Letter
No surprise here, our word for the week was zebra.  Many of the things we did involved zebras, like Gwen’s Do-A-Dot page, color-by-numberletter hunt and tracing page (the latter from Oopsey Daisy’s Z is for Zoo Mommy Packet).

 
 

The kiddos had fun making their zebra Zs and putting big, googly eyes on them.  Josiah doesn’t care that they’re only supposed to have two eyes. 

 

The next popular zoo animal?  Giraffe.  These are from dry-erase and alphabet dot-to-dot books.

 

Since Gwen love mazes, we did a letter Z maze; she almost always starts from both ends and meets in the middle.


Gwen did the pre-writer tracing pages from the zoo unit, some pages in one of her workbooks (look at the zebra she drew!), a zoo train hidden picture in her Highlights’ Hidden Puzzles magazine and letter Z matching that I put in a page protector for dry erase. 

 
 

For dessert one day I got this great idea to make a zebra cake!  I turned it into more of a banana bread and the stripes were really pretty.  It tasted pretty plain but I would love to make it again, maybe more chocolate-y this time.

Number
We worked on counting with the number clip cards from the zoo unit along with some number dot-to-dot.

 

Color
Our color of the week was red, and it just so happened that Gwen picked an all-red outfit on our color day.  In addition to reading a bunch of books about the color red, Gwen did a page from one of her workbooks and we made sure to munch on strawberries during the week.


Rhyme
Since I didn’t already have a rhyme picked out for our last week, I resorted to education.com’s alphabet nursery rhymes.  Their Letter Z: Fuzzy Wuzzy was a big hit!  It has lots of Z sounds and the kiddos got a kick out of it. 

Bulletin Board

Book Basket
Theme/Vocab
Animal Strike at the Zoo
Never, EVER Shout in a Zoo
Giraffes
Zebras
Good Night, Gorilla
Spots – Counting Creatures from Sky to Sea
A Horse Lover’s Alphabet – Appaloosa Zebra
My Heart is Like a Zoo
Curious George Visits the Zoo

Letter
The Z Was Zapped
Zack’s Alligator
Berlioz the Bear
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book

Number 
Zero the Hero
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo

Color
A Pair of Red Clogs
The Red Book
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Color Zoo

DVDs  
Tarzan
Signing Time – The Zoo Train

Preschool: Easter Week

The week of Easter was pretty relaxed since I didn’t pick anything overtly “educational.”  Along with Benjamin’s Box and our resurrection eggs, we based many of our activities on 2 Teaching Mommies’ 12 Days of Easter unit.  Since I forgot to actually start twelve days ahead of time, we had to double up on some of the days, which was fine because it gave us more things to do. 

Our Bible story was about Jesus’ death and resurrection – the whole reason we celebrate Easter!  I kept our Palm Sunday verse on the board from the previous week of preschool and added 1 John 3 :16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

We started each day with a page from Benjamin’s Box; there’s a story to go along with each of the twelve resurrection eggs.  We have this little wooden box that Phil made a number of years ago which has since become Benjamin’s treasure box, storing the contents from each of the eggs.  It really adds an element of wonder and excitement, physically holding the pieces that are represented in the resurrection story.   

 

The 12 Days of Easter unit has suggested activities to go along with the lessons, and we took advantage of some of these ideas.  For day one, we talked about Palm Sunday when Jesus rode on the donkey, I told them about the legend of the donkey’s cross and we colored a picture

When we talked about the thirty pieces of silver that Judas received for betraying Jesus for day two, I filled an empty muslin bag with 30 pennies and had Gwen count them. 

I tried to explain the concept of betrayal, doing things that aren’t nice to someone who is supposed to be your friend, but I’m not sure how much of it sank in.     

Inside the resurrection egg for day three is a little wooden cup that my parents brought back from Israel.  We talked about the last supper that Jesus had with disciples and how we celebrate communion, which symbolizes Jesus’ blood and body that was shed and broken for us.  We used the boy and girl printables from the unit; I put them in page protectors and had Gwen and Josiah think of naughty (I explained what “sin” is and how nobody is perfect) things they might do and draw them on the page – scowling, hitting, etc. 

 

They got pretty marked up!  Afterwards, I had them wipe them away, just like Jesus’ blood makes us clean when we ask for forgiveness.

We got to break out the bubbles for day four!  The kids enjoyed “blowing bubbles to heaven” to illustrate what happens to our prayers when we talk to God and ask for forgiveness. 

 

The happy part of Easter is talking about Jesus being raised from the dead, but you can’t skip the part where Jesus was whipped and beaten, a crown of thorns put on his head and nailed to a cross.  Day five reveals the whip that was used on Jesus’ back in the resurrection egg, and to illustrate we used white pieces of construction paper and drew lines for all the bad things we might do. 

 

We talked about how Jesus died to forgive all the bad things – called “sin” – so that we might live in heaven with Him one day. 

Gwendolyn agreed that the crown of thorns from day six must have really hurt.  We combined a couple craft ideas – playdough Easter mountain and a playdough crown of thorns, which the kids enjoyed putting together. 

 

 

There’s a small nail in the resurrection egg for day seven, but when Daddy showed Gwen a really long, thick nail that was more realistic to the type used for crucifixion, she got very quiet.  I like the idea from the unit for explaining how love held Jesus on the cross; he could have ended it whenever He wanted but He chose to stay and give His life for us.  I wrote “love” on a wooden heart and we each hammered a nail in. 

 

There’s a game die in the egg for day eight, symbolizing when the soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothing.  Despite everything, Jesus forgave them.  We got our the white pieces of construction paper that had been marked up and painted over it with white paint to show how Jesus forgives us when we ask.

 

We didn’t have lesson-specific activities for the remaining unit days, but we continued to read the stories, including Bible Story Printable’s resurrection minibook and Happy Home Fairy’s Easter story cards.

We made a colorful mess with bits of tissue paper making stained glass crosses to hang in the window.  Note to self: use real contact paper next time, not removable (it doesn’t stick!).  They’re taped to the window, just underneath our crayon shaving hearts that are still up from Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I’m thinking crayon shaving crosses is a neat idea!  

The kiddos did a little Easter egg hunt coloring page

…and since we didn’t do an official Easter egg hunt this year I decided to put snacks in the eggs and have the kiddos search for their Easter egg lunch.  It was a huge hit! 

 

 


Since it was such a beautiful day outside, we took advantage and went on a spring scavenger hunt using a printable from Nature Detectives.  Gwendolyn is demonstrating that soft pine needles are, indeed, “tickly.”

  

Since the weather has gotten nicer we’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors – including adding to and planting the gardens!  The kiddos are a huge help and I can only imagine what they’re learning from all of it.

 

Both Gwen and Josiah helped me in the kitchen making goodies.  It brings back memories of my mother teaching me to cook and bake at a young age, teaching me things like “clean up as you go” so there’s less work at the end, and get out all of your ingredients ahead of time.  They love to pour, so I let them use the measuring spoons and cups, telling them how much we’re adding of a particular ingredient.  

Lucky for me, Josiah loves to help with the cleanup (although he usually ends up making more of a mess in the process). 

 

Gwen helped me make birds nest cookies.

  

We’re not big on dyeing eggs, but we love deviled eggs so this year we tried Easter deviled eggs and colored the whites.  I let the kiddos pick the colors and help me dye the water.


You gotta have some jelly beans for Easter!  I had originally intended on having the kiddos help me make colors-of-faith jelly bean bracelets, but it was really hard to string them.  Instead they helped me separate them into colors and we put them into little baggies, attaching the cross printable that says the meaning of each color.

 

We handed these out to the cousins on Easter after a scavenger hunt the kiddos’ Meme planned for them.

 

We didn’t get any family pictures for Easter, but I did manage to get a few acceptable ones of Josiah sporting the skinny tie that I made for him with some of the tractor fabric leftover from his crayon roll.

In the kiddos’ Easter baskets:

  

How-to links: homemade bubbles & wands |  fabric eggs | crayon rolls | bunny bags    
Not pictured, in the treat bags: licorice nests | cross necklaces

For more ideas see my Easter Pinterest board.

Book Basket
Easter Mice!
A Year Full of Holidays
Happy Easter Little Critter
The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs
The Colt and the King
FancyNancy’s Elegant Easter
DVD Winnie the Pooh – Springtime with Roo

Preschool: Baking and the Letter Y

Friday night is homemade-pizza-and-a-movie night at our house and we look forward to it every week.  When the letter Y rolled around I thought it appropriate to do Y for yeast and throw in some other baking elements.  

Sometimes it seems I spend most of the time in the kitchen, and since I often have the kiddos help me they’re no strangers to cooking and baking.  And they love their play kitchen and pretend food!  They get used almost every day in some form or another. 

Bible
I always try to start our day off with the Bible lesson, so this usually gets done at the breakfast table or shortly thereafter.  We’re still using 100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs; it’s very kid-friendly since the stories are short and easily understood but as Gwen gets older I find it slightly lacking.  I’ll be on the lookout for some other biblical resources! 

Anticipating the upcoming holiday, our story for the week was about Jesus riding the donkey on Palm Sunday.  We made Hosanna palms with construction paper and ribbon, waving them and singing “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!”  Gwen colored a picture and we recited the memory verse, 1 John 3:16 – Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!       

 

The grass in our Easter garden is flourishing.  Phil and I joke that we can’t grow grass in our yard but we can grow it in the Easter garden!  I finally got around to making three twig crosses, though Josiah relocated one of them and I finally found it in a box somewhere. 


Theme

A while ago I started making some felt cookies to go along with the baking theme for the week.  I bought two different colors of felt for different “flavors” and proceeded to cut circles, intending to sew two circles per cookie, then stuff it with fiberfill.  Well, first I sewed colorful felt pieces on top for “icing,” ambitiously topping every single circle before I realized I had no more pieces for the bottoms. *sigh*  So I had to get more felt and ended up with a whole slew of pretend cookies… and I didn’t even finish them!  Sewing the bead sprinkles took a while and I just finished the ones that were almost done by that point.  Side note: I got some oatmeal-colored felt intending to add in some other goodies, which of course I didn’t get around to, so instead I may use it to make pretend whole wheat pasta!   

I found so many cute ideas for felt cookie sets!  If I had more time it would have been fun to make a cookie jar set with some sort of bag or container but I worked with what I had.  At an after-Christmas clearance I got some kitchen ornaments on sale, and along with some pastry erasers, the felt cookies and some other kitchen items I put together a baking-themed sensory bin.


What’s inside:

dyed pasta (just a fun, colorful, scoop- and pourable filler)
muffin tin with silicone liners
measuring cups & spoons
whisk, spatula & colander ornaments
tart tins
shaker with sequins for “sprinkles”
toy pot and potholder with pastry erasers
toy wooden spoons
kitchen towel
pretend dough & cookies

 
 

The kids had so much fun with this!  I will admit, however, to regretting my decision to put the dry pasta inside as my kids cannot follow directions to keep it in the bin or at least within the boundaries of the blanket on which I put the bin.  Pretty soon the pasta was strewn all over the house and I angrily vacuumed it up.  I relegated the baking items to a basket, which was prettier anyway. 

One of the books in our basket is a counting pastry book, so with each page I had Gwen count out pretend cookies.   


She had fun serving us treats and telling us what flavors they were.  Josiah is all about the scooping and pouring.

 

Our Little Monkeys has a cute Little Bakers Tot Pack and we used some of the printables during the week.

 

Both Gwen and Josiah enjoyed these build-your-own-cupcake printables that I laminated with my last three sheets!  They’re so sweet and whimsical, I enjoyed them too!  I didn’t want to put them in a plain ol’ plastic baggie so I stored the pieces in one of the linen snack bags I made.  They had to follow the little “recipe” card and put the pieces together in order.    

 

During Josiah’s naptime one day, Gwen helped me make Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting.  It’s a pretty good recipe as-is, but I healthify it even more and put less frosting on top.  She helps me put the ingredients in the bowl, pestering me the whole time for a taste and making faces at her reflection in the bowl.  I let her lick the beater when we’re done, of course.  That’s a favorite childhood memory of mine; who am I to deprive her?   

 

Since Friday is pizza night I saved Living Life Intentionally’s Pizza Learning Pack and related items for that day.  The kiddos did shadow-matching, Gwen clapped out syllables and they topped their pretend pizza. 

 
 

The learning pack goes along with the book Pizza at Sally’s, and after reading the story we talked about what natural sources the toppings come from and the stages of making a pizza.  We also discovered that pizza is the perfect food, having something from almost every food group!

   

Later the kids helped me roll out the pizza dough and finish it off with toppings.  My homemade pizza dough is very similar to this Whole Wheat Rosemary Pizza Dough, except my amounts are slightly different.  I pour 1 1/4c warm water in a bread machine along with 1-2T olive oil (I don’t measure), 3 1/2c white wheat flour (sometimes I use 3c ww flour and 1/2c cornmeal or ground oats), 2t yeast, a generous sprinkle of sea salt and/or Jane’s Krazy, and a sprinkling of dried rosemary and put it through the dough cycle.  In a pinch I use jarred sauce (without sugar), but I like to use a homemade sauce like this one.

Letter

We’re so close to the end of the alphabet!  And this was a fun week, since I love baking and the kids love both real and pretend food!  Gwen did her letter Y Do-A-Dot page, letter hunt and some workbook pages I earmarked for her. 

 

Phil and I helped the kiddos do yarn Ys by tracing block letters onto construction paper and having them fill it in with glue and pieces of yarn. 

 

Gwen methodically outlined her Y with tiny pieces of yarn while Josiah poured gobs of glue and dropped big strips of yarn.  Their differences crack me up! 

Number
Gwen did the counting clip cards from the tot pack along with the cupcake file folder game we’ve had for a while now.  She’s big on giving colors flavors now; yellow is always lemon meringue. 


Shape
The kiddos did some lacing shapes and there just so happened to be a slice-of-pizza triangle in there. 

 

Our shape of the week was a parallelogram, which I’m pretty sure went over her head, but I pointed out how it looks like a squished rectangle.  I had her decorate her parallelogram picture like a pizza with toppings. 

“Parallelogram pizza,” makes it easier to remember, I think.

Bulletin Board
Book Basket
Theme/Vocab
Walter the Baker
Fannie in the Kitchen
Pizza at Sally’s
Apple Pie ABC
Curious George and the Pizza
 The Little Red Hen
The Cow Loves Cookies
The Great Doughnut Parade
Scooby-Doo! Disappearing Donuts
Cupcake

Letter
Yoko
Fancy Nancy
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
A Year Full of Holidays
Flutterby
Glitterby Baby
Extra Yarn
So Sleepy Story

Number
The Baker’s Dozen
What’s Cookin’?  A Happy Birthday Counting Book

DVDs
Pete’s A Pizza… and more great kid stories!

Preschool: Superheroes

We’re almost done with the alphabet and I’m itching for the academics to be over.  I was considering this year a feel for how it would be to actually homeschool – you know, for “real” – and my excitement at the fact that it’s almost over doesn’t bode well for the future. *sigh* 

It’s not that I haven’t had fun, it’s just that it has turned out to be a lot of work on top of what I already do.  I keep telling myself that this is part of being a mother and raising children, but maybe some people just aren’t cut out for certain jobs.  Things seem to go more smoothly when the kids are exploring the natural world, but I have a hard time transitioning from that to an actual lesson.  I have to metaphorically – and sometimes physically! – clap my hands and get them to the table. 

Bible
Our verse for the week was Matthew 19:14, although I only had Gwen memorize the first part – “Let the little children come to me.”     We played and sang the familiar songs, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Jesus Loves Me.” 

Theme
All I could think of for the letter X was x-ray, then decided to expound on the word and do x-ray vision for superheroes.  I suppose if the kids were older I could have had a lot more fun with this theme, but I was a bit limited with the availability of resources.  We don’t have any superhero stuff, so I had to round it up from other places.

Gwen is somehow familiar with Super Woman (being her mother and all – HA!), so I found a Super Woman coloring page for her.  

Gwen noticed the rope hanging from her hip and said she must live with the cowboys; I suggested we color it brown but she said, “no Mommy, it’s gold.”  Okaaaaay.    

I have absolutely no idea what the Justice League is, but when I saw that they looked like little superheroes I downloaded these cute printables.  Gwen used rubber stamps to spell out their names; who knows if we got it right? 


1+1+1=1 has a Batman Preschool Pack and we used a few of her pages.  Gwen enjoyed catching the bad guys on the pre-writer tracing pages.


Since she loves paper dolls, I printed out the boy and girl versions of the suerhero doll and she and Josiah played with them for a bit.  Quite honestly, a bit more trouble than it was worth.  They both had lots of fun coloring and wearing their color-your-own masks (although I didn’t bother with the armbands), running around the house with handkerchief capes flying behind them. 

 
 

These superhero popsicle stick figures were cute.  I used silly voices and had them give her directions, then she and Josiah flew them around for a while.  I love their imaginations! 


Although intended for a Valentine’s Day treat, I made superhero lollipops and put them in a small vase along with superhero sound effect cutouts.  A big hit!

 

Since I’ve been sewing, I thought it would be a neat idea to make the kids superhero capes.  I asked Gwen what she thought of the idea – assuming she would be really excited – and she cocked her head and said, “but we already have capes.”   Referring, of course, to the handkerchief that she ties around her neck.  I was like, fine.  Later in the week she asked where her new cape was. *sigh*    

Letter  
We did our usual slew of letter activities for the letter X: Do-A-Dot page, letter hunt and various dry-erase pages. 

 

We also did a couple letter crafts, ideas courtesy of Totally Tots’ Now I Know My ABCs.  Josiah worked on X is for X-ray while Gwen did X is for Xylophone.    

 

Gwen gets the Highlights magazine for younger kids along with the Hidden Pictures and we’ve been getting behind on those, so I picked a few puzzles for her.   


Color

We’ve already done purple, but this week we did lavender.  Too bad our lavender plants aren’t blooming yet!  Luckily, Gwen loves Fancy Nancy and in one of her books she talks about how lavender is a fancy word for purple. We also did a color puzzle and a batman color-by-number (the superhero popsicle stick figured made sure she got it right).

 

Rhyme
To coincide with the color lavender I chose “Lavender’s Blue” for our rhyme of the week. 

Bulletin Board


Book Basket

Theme/Vocab
The Spectacular Adventures of Sophie and Sebastian
Spiderman – The Amazing Story
The Amazing Adventures of Bathman!
Look and Find – the Amazing Spider-Man
Pooh’s Hero Party

Letter
ABC T-Rex
Mama Rex & T – The (Almost) Perfect Mother’s Day
The Extinct Alphabet
Roxaboxen
Alphabet Mystery

Color
FancyNancy’s Favorite Fancy Words
Miss Rumphius

DVDs
Batman – Mask of the Phantasm
Spider-Man

Linking Up…

Tot School

Preschool: W is for Water (the four elements)

Since Daddy was away for a whole week recently, I decided to take it easy and postpone the letter W.  I thought he would be able to help with the fire element – being a fireman and all – but he ended up being busy the whole week he was back anyway.

Bible
The Bible story for the week was Jesus feeding the 5,000.  I had a cute little craft idea in mind but wanted Phil to cut some slices of wood for pretend bread and he never got around to it.  We read some stories about feeding lots of people and sharing what we have.  After reading a book about sharing, Gwen graciously gave Josiah one of her grapes.  *grin*  Our Bible verse was Matthew 19:14 – “My God will supply all your needs.”  She had that one down pat. 

The Elements
When I saw this picture I thought it would be a neat idea to do something similar.  In the middle of the table I filled four glasses, one with each element – dirt for earth, emptiness for air, water for water, and a candle for fire.


We made this nifty God’s Eye craft with yarn and buttons.  The middle is God’s eye and the four corners represent the elements; basically, God sees everything!  I let the kiddos pick their yarn and we picked button colors to coincide with the elements, but I did most of the wrapping.  Then I asked them for a couple things for which they were thankful; I wrote them on little strips of paper and put them in the yarn. 

We normally have three school days a week but often work activities in on the “off” days and evenings as well.  My aim was to have one element a day, pairing earth and water.

Fire
The kids are no stranger to fire safety since Daddy always explains why he volunteers at the fire department and tries to work it in here and there.  We worked on a number of the printables from Mama’s Monkey’s Firefighter Tot Pack and Homeschool Creation’s Firemen Printable Pack.

There were pre-writer tracing pages, an alphabet maze, label the firefighter and shape match.

  

Josiah even got in on the action coloring fire trucks and even matching up some of his toys to the images all on his own!



For a snack we roasted my homemade marshmallows over the fire in the woodstove to make s’mores.  We paired it on top of the graham crackers with dark chocolate – yum!  They were sooo good, and now that I know the marshmallows freeze well I can plan ahead for our camping trips. 

Earth & Water
Since we’ll be starting our garden again soon I decided to use Homeschool Creation’s Garden Preschool Pack to discuss the earth and water elements.  We read Jack’s Garden and did the sequencing cards, some pre-writer tracing pages, flower/veggie cut-and-paste, letter clip cards, seed and bulb sequencing cards, and a flower part puzzle.

 

 

Don’t forget our vocabulary hunt!  This has turned out to be a huge hit with Gwendolyn so we’ll stick with this from now on.  

 

It also provided a neat segway into starting our Easter garden, which I thought would be a fun and meaningful tradition to start this year.  We went to a garden center and the kiddos helped me pick a few plants, then Daddy  helped us put it all together.  The kiddos loved placing the stone pathway.


We planted grass seed so it would grow up the “hill” above the pretend tomb and since then it’s grown considerably so we’ll have to give it a haircut.   

For a snack I made dirt cups; the kids were so excited to to be eating dirt, mud and worms. *grin*  Instead of the traditional instant pudding and crushed oreos, I made homemade pudding and crushed some organic chocolate cookies (mm, Pamela’s Bakery Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies are sooooo goooood and crumble really nicely!) on top.  No way around the gummy worms.

Air
Our shape of the week was a hexagon so we worked on a shape puzzle.  Gwen did a hot air balloon shape cut-and-paste and we proceeded to do a few other balloon-related activities: dot-to-dot, Up Up and Away file folder game and putting together some cardstock balloons.  

 

 

She was so excited about the latter and couldn’t wait to finish glueing the pieces together so she could tie the balloon to Safari’s (her giraffe) head.  She cracks me up.     

 

For dessert we had cloud jello… but I didn’t bother taking a picture because it didn’t come out picture perfect.  There are supposed to be dollops of whipped cream simulating clouds in the sky, but my whipped cream floated to the top and made one big layer.  It still tasted good! 

Bulletin Board

Book Basket
Bible
Emily’s Sharing and Caring Book
My Little Book About Sharing
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All!

Theme/Vocab
Fire Trucks
Fire Safety
Firefighters! Speeding! Spraying! Saving!
Jack’s Garden
Diary of a Worm
The Visual Dictionary of the Earth
And Then Its Spring
My Garden
The Curious Garden
Splish! Splash! A Book About Rain
What Makes the Seasons?
Oceans – The Vast, Mysterious Deep
Weather ABC
Wind

Letter
The Wizard
My “w” Book
Wacky Wednesday
Wiggle

Rhyme
I’m a Little Teapot

DVDs
The Last Airbender

Linking Up…

Tot School

Preschool: V is for Very Hungry Caterpillar

We’re supposed to be on the letter W this week, but it’s been a bit different around here since Daddy has been in South Carolina, training for his department.  I dropped him off at the airport last weekend and felt the ache in my throat as I hugged him goodbye.  I don’t think I’ve ever been apart from him for more than a couple days!  I felt so silly, moping around for the entire day, bawling my eyes out as soon as the kiddos and I got home (they proceeded to point and laugh as I cried in the rocking chair). 

Since I wanted some distractions and company this week to get my mind off being without my hubby, we did things a bit differently.  I didn’t do any school – no workbooks, no printables, nothing planned.  We had our share of reading books and art projects, but virtually zero effort on my part – it was so nice!  The kiddos got to see their friends when Nikki came over with her kiddos, and we breezed through the morning talking and visiting, scolding our children and cleaning up their messes – good times!  I kept thinking I would have a whole bunch of time to write up about preschool the previous week, but my time got eaten up elsewhere. 

Last week was kind of a hodge podge of ideas.  For some reason I had two different ideas down for the letter V – one mountains and valleys, the other valentines.  I had already started accumulating valentine ideas since we had just celebrated Valentine’s Day the previous week, so I decided to carry it over into the next.  I filled in the rest of the week with The Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed activities.

Bible
The good ol’ Good Samaritan was the Bible story of the week.  We read the story in the 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs, did a hidden pictures coloring page and colored and assembled a story sequence coloring page

For each Bible story in the book there’s an accompanying song, and we listened to “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” over and over. 

I used the printable from Totally Tots’ in my heart section for our Bible verse, which was 1 Samuel 16:7 – Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

We got it late, but I requested a Veggie Tales movie from the library to coincide with the lesson, and the kids enjoyed The Wonderful Wizard of Ha’s.  Every week I request supplemental materials from the online library system that I might not otherwise have at home or find at my local library.  And of course I throw in some things for me too – like the latest season of Castle.   

V is for Valentine
We focused on valentines for one day, using all the valentine-related printables and activities we had used on Valentine’s Day and implementing a few more from Confession’s of a Homeschooler’s Pre-K Letter V week.  We had a Do-A-Dot page, pre-writer tracing pages, letter hunt and counting cards. 

 

 

I also tried something new with the word cards.  Instead of just having Gwen trace the letters and then match up the picture cards with the word cards, I placed them around the living room and she had to find them one at a time.  I told her she had to point to each one with her magic wand – and push the button to make the magical sound, or it didn’t count! – and she would bring it back to the table, match it up with the correct word on the tracing page, then trace the word and say the letters. 

 

It took longer this way, but she had so much fun!  A couple times I found myself getting a bit impatient because she was frolicking around, searching for cards that were quite honestly in plain view, but I figured I should count myself lucky that she was having fun with school work. *grin*

V is for Very Hungry Caterpillar
Have you seen some of the ideas on Pinterest for The Very Hungry Caterpillar?  I bookmarked a few of the simpler ideas and utilized the wonderful themed printables from 1+1+1=1.

I think this week I had more food ideas than anything!  Two mornings in the row we had caterpillar-related food; the kiddos got grape caterpillars alongside their pancakes and apple slice caterpillars with their cereal. 



I evened it out on the other end of the spectrum with two butterfly-themed foods: butterfly snack bags and a butterfly-shaped sanwich.  

 

I think maybe their food tastes better when it’s made to look like something else, kind of like the theory that my food tastes better when someone else makes it for me.

I had a bunch of crafts in mind, and they were all fun and easy.  We made pom pom caterpillars and Gwen even helped me thread the pom poms. 

 

I got the idea for this super-easy fingerprint caterpillar, and just so happened to nab some Crayola paints on sale at the craft store.  I did one too!  Josiah just ended up finger painting… finger smudging? 


I’m a sucker for handprint crafts and loved the idea for this handprint butterfly, though ours were slightly more personalized with paint all over the wings and a craft stick and pipe cleaner for the body section. 

 

Gwen did some tracing in her Kumon book, we put together a little cut ‘n’ paste mini book about bugs, cut-and-paste life cycle of a butterfly, and she had a lot of fun making a life-cycle-of-a-butterfly wheel

 
 

Then we started in on the Very Hungry Caterpillar printables with pre-writer tracing pages, word/color matching and a numbered puzzle showing the caterpillar turn into a butterfly.


 

Since she had so much fun with the valentine word cards, we did the same for the caterpillar cards – and there were more of them!  She went around, wand in hand, waving its magic as she found each word. 

 


She even put her own twist on the activity – when she found a word, she would bring it back to the table, find the corresponding word on the tracing sheet, and proceed to wave her wand again at the matching word as she said it.  She cracks me up! 

The kiddos both had fun going through the story and using our play food as props; they had to find the food that the caterpillar ate next (we had to improvise for some of the items).


Color

Sometimes one of the elements of the week doesn’t really go along with anything else – like the color grey.  Yeah, I guess it’s a color you need to become familiar with – like a grey sky could mean impending doom, or a storm at least – but it kind of stood on its own.  We did some activity pages and an elephant dot-to-dot, and that’s about it. 

Rhyme
We stuck with the rhyme from last week, Queen of Hearts.  It’s quite catchy and Gwen remembered it.

Bulletin Board

Book Basket
Theme/Vocab
Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine
Valentine’s Day
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Letter
Octavia and Her Purple Ink Cloud
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
Giving
The Awful Aardvarks Go to School
I Love You Always and Forever
Move!
The Giving Tree
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
Olivia… and the Missing Toy
The Velveteen Rabbit
My “v” Book

Number
Olivia Counts

Color
Silverlicious
A Day With No Crayons
The Land of Gray Wolf
The Blue and the Gray

DVDs
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Valiant

Linking Up…

Tot School