It feels like forever since WordPress and I had a date. Too bad Hurricane Irene had to come between us; we were without power and running water for five days, and I have to admit, I was a tad grumpy. A tree came crashing down in our yard, but luckily it fell away from the house. It’s amazing how much we rely on technology – the simple flick of a light switch, turning on the faucet to wash your hands, watching a movie to escape a long day with the kiddos…
We had just wrapped up our first week of preschool, and it went really well! I have combined ideas and concepts from two curriculums: ABC Jesus Loves Me (ABCJLM) and Brightly Beaming Resource’s Letter of the Week Prep program. I played around with the content so it would fit into a flexible 36-week, 3-day-a-week schedule. Here’s my basic outline for the week, in case you’re interested; I’ve been using some of Homeschool Creation’s preschool planning forms to outline the specifics for each week.
The first week has been brought to you by the letter A, the number 0, and the circle shape. The theme for the week was on the four seasons, and our word for the week was Autumn. This went along nicely with the Bible story of creation as we were able to discuss the wonderful things God gives us – like the vegetables that grow in the garden in the Summer.
On Monday morning we had breakfast, and I had intended to serve apples (because, duh, the letter A) but I forgot to get them at the store. No matter – we could have apple butter on our pancakes. I enthusiastically opened the jar… to find green fuzz growing inside. Off to a great start! Fine – applesauce it is. I formed an “A” using chocolate chips on the pancakes, but Gwen was unimpressed.
We have been using 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs for the story of creation, and I love the fact that there are songs to go along with each story. The creation sensory bin was a huge hit… as well as a huge mess. Big Mistake. The kiddos were more interested in throwing the rice around than finding the elements of creation. At least it kept them occupied for a while, and no doubt stimulated their senses (especially when I admonished them for the mess).
For lunch, I used muffin tins to create creation-themed edibles. Day one: raisins and yogurt-covered cherries (night and day); day two: whipped cream and edible snowflakes (sky); day three: blue jello with graham cracker crumbs, a carrot, and a strawberry (water, earth, plants); day four: cut out sandwiches in the shape of moon and star, pepperoni slices (sun, moon, and stars); day five: goldfish crackers (birds and fish); day six: animal crackers (animals and man).
My Mom had given me the Baby Einstein Seasons Discovery Cards back when Gwen was first born, and I dug these out, spreading them over the table so she could sort them into seasons. We also played with the matching and sorting cards from the seasons lapbook, but she got impatient with the activity, no doubt wanting to get out and enjoy the current season.
It was a beautiful day, and I spread out a roll of paper for our Autumn craft – a fingerprint tree with Fall colors. I was really excited about this one… but my acrylic paints were all dried up and it took forever to mix some paint for the kiddos. I also totally forgot that the kiddos were supposed to use the sides of their hands for the tree trunk, but it was still fun.
Here’s a similar idea using a handprint as the tree trunk.
I found mini water color paints at a party store, and we painted a seasons page with four different trees.
I had printed a leaf page at Twisty Noodle, and customized it to read “Autumn Leaf,” so we traced the lines with glue and sprinkled red and yellow glitter all over it.
Twisty Noodle is great for coloring/tracing pages, and you can edit the text and layout to customize the finish product. I printed out their capital letter A as a tracing page, and so began our foray into learning the alphabet. I love that ABCJLM has a chant for each letter; for example, “pull down, pull down, across” is for the capital A, “curve and down” for the lowercase. After tracing, we formed playdough letters on the lines.
I had printed out a whole bunch of letter A pages. Josiah colored some, and I was able to spread them out for the whole week. We glued cotton ball “smoke” to an A-train smokestack, and Gwen decorated some letter “A”s with fruit and animal stickers.
We visited friends on the second day of school, and I ambitiously brought along some school stuff. Gwen’s 2-year-old friend had more fun making the Alligator A than she did. At least it looked cute on the fridge.
When the kiddos got sick of the sitting down stuff, I played some letter A songs from our Cedarmont Kids DVDs (“Father Abraham,” “I’m in the Lord’s Army,” etc.), gave the kids some instruments, and we boogeyed for a bit.
A fun indoor/outdoor activity is going on a letter hunt, just finding all the things that start with a specific letter. I made up an index card for “outside,” and one for “inside,” using some alphabet stickers on each one. I had Gwen help me find items beginning with the letter A, and wrote them down on the appropriate cards. If we had a sticker with a corresponding picture, that went on the card as well. I tried having her shine a flashlight on the items because I knew she would get a kick out of it, but it was too hard to see the beam.
So far, Gwen’s favorites have to be dry-erase activities and computer time. The letter hunt worksheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler were a hit, and I was surprised how quickly she caught on. I slid the sheets in a page protector to use with a dry erase maker and she searched for the uppercase and lowercase “A”s a few times.
I was thrilled when I snagged a Crayola Dry Erase Activity Center for 50% off at A.C. Moore and started putting some of her worksheets in there; it makes even the simplest piece of paper seem like an important project. I have oodles of pre-K workbooks that my mom has given me, so many of the pages and activities come from these sources. The ones pictured are the A-Z Uppercase/Lowercase Matching Cards from Confessions of a Homeschooler; I just kept them altogether instead of cutting them out.
She loves working in the computer, and asked for it almost every day. After putting Josiah down for his nap, we would do some more work, read some books, then go to one of the interactive websites I’ve bookmarked. Starfall’s letter activity is a favorite; she caught onto the songs and was doing it by herself in no time. We also read some of the interactive stories on Peekuboo and took a peek at the Cheateau Meddybemp’s Fun With Letters.
The Dilly Dot Markers were a hit with both kiddos, and they came in handy for decorating the number zero. I like them, although the orange looks the same as the yellow, and I thought the tip would be larger. I wonder how these compare with the Do-A-Dot markers – anyone?
Just as with the letters, ABCJLM has number rhymes. Zero goes like this: “Around, around, around you go. That’s the way to make zero!”
I didn’t have a lot of activities about the circle, both because it was such a simple concept Gwen already grasps and because it can be worked in on the other areas – the earth God created, the moon (we did a sun, moon, and stars craft), etc. We talked about round food we were eating, did some cut and paste with round shapes, a dry-erase book about shapes, and made paper ice cream cones with round scoops of ice cream.
ABCJLM’s gross motor skill activity for the week was a game called Put Out the Fire!, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. Play with water? Heck yeah! Of course, they improvised the rules and ended up pouring buckets of water rather than wringing a sponge.
At the end of the week, this is what our bulletin board looked like:
Our Book Basket
100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs
Baby’s First Bible
The World God Made – The Story of Creation
What Makes the Seasons?
Fall is Here!
Names for Snow
Wake Up, It’s Spring!
Four Seasons Make a Year
The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree
The Little House
Llama Llama Misses Mama
My “a” Book
Berenstain’s A Book
Alpha Tales – The Adventures of Abby Alligator
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
Zero, Zilch, Nada: Counting to None
My Number Book
My Shape Book
The Shape of Things
Round Is a Pancake
Cedarmont Kids Platinum Bible Collection
Veggie Tales God Made You Special
Gwen is 3 years old (44 months) and Josiah is 1 (20 months).