Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our New System - Week 2

"N" recently started kindergaten at a local homeschool coop.  She goes twice a week, with me teaching her class (k-2) one of the days.  The day that I teach, "A" goes to the preschool class.  On the days she stays home, we still have work to do, so I came up with this workbox-ish system that has been working well for us (for all of 2 weeks).  "N" and "A" both have their drawers with activities.  Before "N" can do her drawers, she needs to write in her journal and do a math lesson with me, and then do her math workbook (the co-op uses Saxon, and she's in the math 1 book).

"N"s drawers are on the left.  This week she has: 
  • Tens and Ones
    • I made up some numbers onto squares of paper and gave her a tens and ones chart, along with 4 rods of tens and 10 ones.  She chooses a number, then illustrates it with her manipulatives.
  • stamping words
    • she's not doing spelling per se, but I have old spelling lists from when I taught first grade that I gave her so that she can choose words to stamp.  She mostly just does the family's names, which is great!
  • chalk
    • We have a chalkboard that we made out of a cake pan and chalkboard paint.  "N" loves all things art, so this is just a drawer for her to have fun with.

"A"s drawers are on the right.  This week he's doing 
  • Find My Name
    • Last week in the preschool they were working on recognizing their names, so I wanted to tie it with his home "school".  I printed 5 of his name and one each of the rest of the family's names and he puts them into 2 columns.  He needs a LOT of help with this activity.
  • circle stickers onto dots
    • This is good for practicing fine motor skills.  "A" loves stickers!
  • magnets
    • I put some magnets on a cake pan and he plays with them.  So far he's lined them up by color, put them around the edge of the cake pan, and figured out that all magnets don't hook to each other!

When they get done with their drawers, they get to use the sensory bin.  This week (and last) they have wheat, with a variety of scoops, funnels and containers.  The red tablecloth underneath the bin is for containing some of the spilled wheat.  It's worked really well.  And both kids enjoy using the brooms to sweep up what doesn't land on the tablecloth.  A child-size broom is on my list to buy...

 Here "A" is doing his circle stickers onto dots activity.  I figured he would do on page a day and move on.  Not so!  The first day he did all four pages!

This is the sheet "A" used for his stickers.
Tot School

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sponge Play

Sponges and water make a great combination and there are probably a thousand different ways to play with them.  Here are some of our ideas:
  • Transfer water from one container to another, squeezing the water out of the sponge.
  • Throw them onto the sidewalk to make "Sponge Paintings"
  • "Paint" the sidewalk
  • Wash your bike

Please tell me what you do with sponges and water!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


N wanted to school about snails.  I took the liberty of expanding our topic a little (mainly for my benefit. I didn't want to do snails for an entire week.  And it's good I did, because we got a little busy and this unit stretched into 3 weeks!)  Part-way though she requested a "binder" (folder, as a lapbook), so we ended up putting some of the stuff in there and the other stuff didn't get in.  Oh, well!

Snail Lapbook

  • Snail enemy wheel
  • Snail fact graduated book
  • Story starter

Pond Preschool Pack

  • Word tracing
  • find the word in the story
  • Graphing - N really enjoyed this.  We said that the animals were racing to get to the top.
Pond Facts Cards - N is crazy about facts.  So I made these cards, printed them on cardstock and cut them apart.  We lined up the animal cards, then N read the facts and decided which animal it was talking about.  I told her that each animal had 2 cards.  She used these herself on other days, so I'm taking that as  a 'like' activity!

Snail Art - This does require live snails.  And baby powder (or talc powder or flour), and black paper (I cut ours to 4x6 and it was a great size!).

 Place your snail(s) on the paper and wait for them to crawl off (or use A's method and move them off).
 Shake powder of your choice onto their trail.  Remove excess (we were outside so we just let the wind take it away).  Place snail back onto paper and repeat.
A loved this project!  I think it was mostly for the shaking, but hey, I'll take it!

Didn't get to but planned on:

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I know that penguins are a slightly odd thing to learn about as summer is beginning, but N was interested and wanted to learn, so I said, "Why not?"  We ended up (both of us!) learning a lot and having some fun.  Here's what we did and used:

Library books - again, not any specific title, we just took all that looked interesting and on a level that N could understand.  We even found a few that she could read herself!

Lapbook Lessons -
  • penguin life cycle - really good!  N liked to turn the paper around to see one part at a time.  We glued the bottom part into her lapbook.
  • math file folder game - I have to admit, this was not my favorite.  The subtraction fact pictures were hard to understand and really confused poor N.  I should have looked a it a little better, especially for a kiddo who has done very little subtraction. The addition part was great, though, so maybe next time I'll just do that part.
  • penguin label - Very good.  It was a good way to introduce new vocabulary (beak and bill being the same, webbed feet and why penguins would need them).
My Penguin Book - We used this as a first day, introductory, see what you know activity.  It didn't have much in it.  Sadly, we haven't finished it (and probably won't) to write what we learned.  

Penguin Poems and Songs - We didn't do the puppets, but the songs were a hit!

Word Search - N loves highlighting, so she loved this!

Easy Crossword Puzzle - this was our first crossword puzzle, and it was a good one to start with.  N had a hard time at first with the words sharing letters, but she seemed to catch on.  We'll be doing more crosswords.

Penguin Fact Cards - I made these up.  Some are true and some are false.  N read each one and we sorted true/false.  Then, we threw away the false ones and made a pocket in her lapbook for the true facts.  She enjoyed pulling these out and re-reading them.

We also made fingerprint penguins!  They turned out so cute!  A had fun making the fingerprints, and I drew on their body parts.  N had fun for about 10 minutes, then she was ready to make fingerprints with A.  Apparently we need to do more fingerprinting....

We (okay, really the kiddos) slid like penguins down our couch cushions.  They did it every chance they could!

We waddled like penguins!

Things we didn't do, but planned to:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Butterfly Week

N is REALLY, INCREDIBLY interested in butterflies.  So I planned a Butterfly Unit.  We did a lapbook for the first time and I was impressed.  I really liked having it all in one place.  Not everything we did went into the lapbook, but a lot of it did.  And I've seen her looking through it still, even though we're done with the unit.  I originally planned it for one week, but she was having such a good time and loving school so much, that we did it for two weeks.  N could have done more, but I was out of ideas!  So we've moved on.

We checked out a million some books from the library about butterflies.  Some were books for N to read, and others were Mommy Read books.  The titles don't really matter, but having a lot of books does!  See what your library has and use them.

We did our art projects in the morning, while A could do them with us.  Then we did our school activities while he and J were napping.  It was the first time that I incorporated A in N's school, and I really liked how it worked out.  He didn't learn nearly what N did, but he was exposed to a lot of it.  Maybe something will stick.

Homeschool Share had a lot of material.  We used the Butterflies Eat Shape Book, Butterfly Math, Butterfly Defenses, Butterfly Shape book, and Butterfly Diagram.

Rhyming Butterflies - Download and print this file, cut the butterflies out (I did squares around them with my paper cutter.  It was incredibly easier than cutting out each one), then cut in half.  N had fun finding the rhymes, then we played a "Catch a Butterfly" (A butterfly version of "Go Fish").  Then we put them inside a pocket in her lapbook, so that she could have them when she wanted them.

I used the amazing handwriting worksheet maker to write some butterfly words (butterfly, caterpillar, egg, life cycle, chrysalis, legs, wings), then N traced them.

We did a painting activity.  I cut out butterflies, and N was instructed to only paint them on one side, then fold it in half (it was already scored, since I folded them in half to cut them out) and rub it to get the paint onto the other side.  We called it, "making it symmetrical".  We learned that you really have to blob the paint onto the first side, or there won't be any to rub onto the other side.  

We watercolored "butterfly" pasta, then let it dry.  Then, we glued our butterflies onto blue paper to let them fly in the sky.  I was impressed with how well the pasta took watercolors.

Butterfly Life Cycle - I couldn't find a fill-in-able Butterfly Life Cycle that I liked, so I made this one.  The words are there, but N drew the pictures.  We glued it inside her Butterfly Folder.

We made a handprint butterfly.  It also had a TP tube chrysalis, but the chrysalis didn't really work.  So we took our butterflies and flew!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tool Time

We had a great week talking about TOOLS.  It all started when I found Turtle and Snake Fix It and the library, and, having absolutely no plan for school, I crash planned around this book.

The first day N read the book and I helped her.  I was surprised to see how little I had to help.  She has become an amazing reader!

The next day, after reading the book, she did a worksheet that I made (which has since disappeared from the computer!), that had pictures of the five different tools used across the middle, with the sound they made in a line across the top and the tools names in a line across the bottom (I hope that makes sense!  I'm still looking for the file.  If I find it, I'll add it).  She drew a line from each tool to it's sound and it's name.

The next day we read the book again.  Then, I had made tool picture cards, which included all sorts of tools - a stove, a screwdriver, a vacuum, a blender, a loofa, a blowdryer, lawn mower, etc.  I covered them in contact paper and we sorted them, using yarn circles.  We actually ended up doing a Venn Diagram, because she thought that few needed to be in both circles.  Our sorts were used a lot/not used much, inside/outside.  N isn't much of a sorter (she does well, but has zero fun.  And school's supposed to be fun).

Our final day on tools, we read the book (of course), then used our tool pictures to play Tool Charades.  N and I took turns pulling a tool picture of a container and pantomimed using it.  N loved it!  We need to work on her skills (it's good that I knew what all the tools were!), but she had a lot of fun.

I'm really sorry that I can't find my pages.  I'll add them if I find them.  Here is another book that we read during our week of tools.

Happy Tooling!

Monday, May 2, 2011

And the Winner is...

Shana!  Who said, "Besides his first Bible my faves to read to Blaze are Apples Up on Top, Go Dog Go and Clip Clop" .  Congratulations!  These 3 books are some of our favorites, also (though that's not why she won.  Random.org decided that she won).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Curriculum Clean-out

Eat, Nap, Play is a great book with a lot of fun ideas (click the link to read more about it on Amazon).  There are ideas for littles and not-so-littles.  If you'd like to win, leave a comment below, telling me your favorite book to read aloud to your kiddos, by midnight on May 1st.  (Shipping within the US only).  Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Having Fun With Games, Etc.

Our first sensory bin.  It's been a big hit!  I tried to keep it to a theme of "Spring", so we have birdseed sunflower seeds, fake flowers, old spice containers, measuring spoons, and a little ladybug.  I had hoped to add plastic insects, but have had no luck finding any.  Both kiddos really enjoy it when the bin comes out, and they play really well together (mostly).  We tried it on the carpet first, then when that was more mess than we wanted, we moved to the kitchen, where the broom made for easy clean-up.  I'm already planning our Easter bin.  I don't know why I haven't done these before!

 N and I played with Triominoes one day for school.  Our job was to match 2 of the 3 numbers.  She had a really good time with this, which was a little surprising to me.  I figured she'd want to make designs and skip the matching.  But I was wrong!  We matched until there were no more matches.
 My favorite was when she matched just 1 of the 3 numbers, and asked if we could make a bow instead of diamond.  Of course I said YES!
No pictures, but we also used the tiles from Upwords.  A used them for stacking and practicing words - up, down, off, on.  N used them for making word families.  It was a very visual way to see that the ending stays the same, only the first letter(s)/sound(s) change.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 2011

 Green pancakes - they were better received by the kiddos than the green eggs from March 2, Dr. Seuss' birthday.
 Green Muffin Tin {Thursday} - Graham Cracker Cookies (graham crackers with leftover frosting sandwiched in the middle), Green Beans, Green cottage cheese, green apples, green salad and milk, in a green cup (I contemplated turning the milk green, but decided not to [A has a tendency to spill his milk])
We did a found art collage on contact paper.  This was a great activity for spanning the age and skill difference of my kiddos (2 and almost 4).  I pulled all of my green art supplies (tissue paper, ribbon, foam shapes and abc's, pom-poms, paper, material, buttons, etc) out and they decorated their pieces of contact paper to their hearts content.  When they were finished, I put a piece of black construction paper on the back and folded the contact paper over.  They look really good (sadly, I haven't yet taken a picture).

Other St. Patrick-y things we've done:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Art

Here's a super-easy art project that my almost 2-year-old succeeded at just as much as my almost 4-year-old.  We dipped heart cookie cutters in paint, then printed them onto construction paper.  Wa-la!  Doesn't it look fancy?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

our first stART

We read Corduroy, by Don Freeman.  It's a favorite of N's.  For our ART, I cut out overalls from construction paper (I used blue, not even thinking to make them green until N pointed out that Corduroy's were green).  Then N and A glued on Corduroy's lost button, and lots of other buttons!

To see other great ideas using books and art, click the button [below:)].

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Still Schoolin'

Though it's been a while since I've blogged about school, we're still going!  I've been working with N on writing/reading lessons that I used with my first graders.  She's currently on lesson #3, and is loving it!  Each list has 5-7 words.  With N we've been spending a week (or more) on each list.  The first day we read the words, then write them in some way.  We've used the white board and magnetic letters, so far.  One of the activities we do weekly is "See, Spell, Write".  I write the word in the first column, then she makes the word with letters and glue, then she writes it in the word in the last column.  I've introduced her to word searches, which she loves, mostly I think because I let her use highlighters for the words.  Here is the link to Lesson 1's word search.  This week she's going to rainbow color the words, using a different color for each letter.  We've used cards (lessons 1&2, lessons 3&4).  One week we played "Hide and Seek" with them.  Another week N jumped to the word that I called out.  I'm planning on putting them on a ring, so that she can practice reading them in the car, etc, but I haven't bought a ring yet.

We've been playing a lot of games.  Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Number Bingo, puzzles of all kinds (sequence, numbers, etc).

One day each week we go to story time at the library.  Another morning is running errands.  I've been trying to plan an intentional activity for the other mornings that both kiddos can participate in.  We've painted, played with beads, put together a cat.  This week, on Tuesday, it's Winnie the Pooh day, (according to this website) so we'll be watching a Winnie the Pooh movie.

Lesson 1 - a, and, at, am, as
Lesson 2 - it, is, in, me, mom
Lesson 3 - go, got, get, can, cat, be, but