Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Letters and Leaves - 4/14/11

This morning the biggest fun was the truck tracks. I don't know what these tracks are really called. I got the first set probably 14 years ago  at the Imaginarium toy store when Bella was about 3 years old! She loved it and I have continued to buy more cars and pieces every now and then with each new child. Now we have a big box of them with tunnels and bridges. They are always a big hit with all ages. Of course the batteries on the cars are always out and the tires are always missing. I made sure I had at least 3 functioning cars before I put them out today, and by some miracle I did! Freddie, Flossie, and Jem all had fun playing with them for about an hour.

I also had Alphabet stampers out, and  babies for baby time of course, and then I put the marble building blocks out too. Those blocks didn't get much action. We'll try them again another day. While they did all this, I had to do a site change for Jem.

For school we started with our name copying. I decided yesterday to start a daily tracing copywork with the preschoolers like Jem does with his states. They both want to write their names on their papers and both struggle a bit with it. Flossie especially really wants to write her letter Flossie but has trouble doing it, so I thought that by daily tracing it, she might build the habit in her brain easier so that it became more second nature and less of a challenge. I wrote their names out on sentence strips. Each day they take their names over to the light table along with a half sheet of paper and a marker and they simply trace their name. We'll see if it makes any difference after a couple of weeks and whether we want to keep it up or not. So far they are excited about doing it.

Next they practiced their number recognition worksheets and writing 1,2, and 3. Then we wrote some Letters and put them in the mailbox for the mailman to deliver. Someone will be getting a Letter in the mail!!

By this time it was time to head out for our busy afternoon. We had to:

  1. Drop Bella off at work.
  2. Meet Gramps and Papa for lunch. Sweet Tomatoes today! Everyone ate a good lunch and even got dessert :)
  3. Go to the store to order Jem's cake for his party tomorrow.
  4. Go back and pick up Bella from work.
  5. Drop Bella off at the college to study.
  6. Meet Grandma at Toys R Us for some birthday shopping (Flossie and Freddie caught a nap somewhere between 4 and 6)  Freddie found something he wants for his b-day Mom. (See below :)
  7. Head back home!  Whew!

Once we got home we all needed a snack and some Amazing Race Snapple we found at the store! Delicious!
Then once we were energized again, we waited for Jem to write his letter to Grammy and then we got some baggies and went on a walk to the mailbox. Along the way we collected some Leaves. On the way back we stopped at the grass park to find some more Leaves. Freddie was also excited when we saw this really cool Sun Devils truck!  Then we went home and made some Leaf rub pictures. They turned out pretty nice. Everyone was excited to see their leaves appear on the page.  The day was just about over, but we had just enough time to quickly add a picture of a Letter and a Leaf to our "L is for . . . "
door sign before they left. Busy day. Tired! Good day :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

L is for Ladybug - 4/13/11

Our day started with some relaxed free play - babies, wood blocks and Fisher-Price Little People, Unifix Cubes, and stamps and large stamp pads. The morning flowed naturally and without any problems. Everyone kept busy, and I had time to eat breakfast!

When they were done, the kids went outside to play for while. It's so nice that they can do this right now. The weather is beautiful. I know it won't last long, so I'm encouraging them to be out in it as much as they want to.  While they were out, I cleaned up and got ready for school. Jem was going to begin learning about dragonflies. Scout woke up and told me a whole plan for her school day. She wanted to finish her Minn glossary which she knew was going to be a lot of work and would tire her out, but she wanted to try to get it done. GO GIRL! She got busy with that as soon as she was up and ate.
The little kids were going to do some Ladybug work today. They made ladybug fingerprints on their Letter L worksheets. Then they did their counting exercise but on ladybugs this time. We used some of the Letter L material from the Raising Rock Stars site at Tot School and read the I See "L" books and practiced writing Ls while reviewing L word flash cards.  While we did this, Jem worked on the cover for his insect lapbook.

After all this hard work, the little kids asked if they could jump on the trampoline and I said a definite yes! I only let them do this if I am out there with them, and only one at a time, so it was kind of a treat. They don't do it every day.  They had a blast. Flossie's hair is so fine that the static was making it go crazy! We all had a laugh about it :) After that they came in for some dress up play. Scout had them all learning to waltz or something! I tried to video tape it with my camera but the results were less than perfect. I'll include it below and you can see for yourself.

After lunch and naps Jem helped the little kids make some Ladders.

So here's the video. I'll work on my technique!

L is for Loco - 4/12/11

No Preschoolers today. I slept in!  Jem got loco with a sombrero - not sure why. He traded Bella a foot massage for 2 hugs and worked more on his beehive project.  Scout finally finished up her Snapping Turtles tab book. She put a lot of work into it and did lots of research, writing, and editing. I think it turned out pretty good! Pics will show up later when she finishes her lapbook. Here's a teaser though :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

L is forLion - 4/11/11

We began the day with free play stations of Cuisinaire Rods, Attribute Blocks, File Folder games, and the car rug and cars. I purposely didn't put the babies out today because I have found that once I put those out, that's all Flossie wants to do, and I wanted to encourage her to do some other things first. She asked me several times to get them out, and I told her we would do it later. Sure enough, when I finally relented, she didn't want to stop playing with them to do any of our other activities. The other kids were even painting, and she reluctantly came over to paint, but would not complete her picture later or be in the picture with her lion mask because she didn't want to stop playing babies. Not sure what to do with this. I don't want her to be unhappy or feel like she' s being punished. Preschool should be fun and play-oriented. She IS only 3 after all. Maybe I'll just make sure there is "Baby Time" every day and she knows when that is, so she gets her time to do that but knows it can't last all day. We'll have to experiment.

Anyway, Cuisinaire Rods are math manipulatives that can be used from preschool through highschool. A good explanation of their use is found here.  At their most basic level they can be used simply as blocks. The other day we used the jumbo set. Today we used the regular size set which are about the size of their fingers. I built a stair case on the mat just to see if they would copy it. Flossie ignored it and used the blocks to build a tower and then a corral type structure. Freddie copied the stairs but upside down and backward! Kind of interesting. Jem ignored the stairs and made an interesting design. I think this came from him using the pattern block a lot.

Attribute Blocks are shape blocks that come in different colors , sizes, shapes, and thicknesses so that they can be sorted according to those attributes. This was the first time I had them out so it was just a chance for them to be felt and played with and experimented with. There is a good description here of how they can be used. I am trying to teach the kids too that when they have something on a mat, those materials need to stay on the mat to be used there. It's a Montessori thing. For one, it encourages them to respect the materials. Two, it gives someone like Flossie a chance to work with the materials on her own, in her own time, without having Freddie sort of take over and show her how it's done :) 

I made a ton of File Folder games years ago when the kids were little. They are so easy to bring along with you, and when Bella was going to dance class or to co-op, or Girl Scouts or something, I always had little ones tagging along needing to be entertained. I of course saved them (not sure why) and am so glad I did, because I just dug them out of the pit, and put them to good use today :)  Most of the preschool ones are just one to one matching games for colors, numbers, and letters.  But I also have some that are for the next stage where for instance you match the Upper case letter to the lower case letter or you match the written number to a picture that has the correct number of items. Then I have some for Jem's age that have math problems and answers and phonics games. They are fun to pull out for a change every now an then. This is where I got my original ones. I found lots more just by searching the internet and then by making up my own. The kids had fun with them today.

For "school" today we started with some Math work. We had two worksheets they did with their dry erase markers and erasers. One was working on tracing the numbers 1,2, and 3. The other had me asking them to find a number from 1 to 10 and they could circle it or trace it. Neither of them can yet recognize any numbers besides 1. Freddie has the idea down that he can count from 1 to find out which one I want. Flossie still isn't quite sure about this. She can do it, but needs help. That's all normal for their ages. We'll just keep doing what we're doing and eventually they will learn them :)

In my search for materials, I came across another set of Montessori wooden number tiles, so now I have a set for each of them. They did some more counting. Freddie used sea animal erasers this time and Flossie used the bugs. Freddie got through his faster and mostly without mistakes, but said at the end that he was sweaty! Hard work! Flossie checked with me throughout and so needed help with it. I had hoped they could do it on their own as Jem needed help with a beehive project he was working on. Scout was on the computer working on her snapping turtle report. At one point I had her asking me how to spell "appearance," Flossie asking me if she had enough bugs for number 7, Freddie asking me "what next?",  and Jem telling me he needed 6 more yellow cells for his beehive! Somehow, the juggling act worked, but it was a little dicey there for awhile.

Next we took a minute to sit an look at a Ladybug lapbook that I made with Scout when she was 2 1/2. They got a kick out of it. Especially Freddie since I have already started his Bear lapbook with him and he knows he will have one like that too. You can see her lapbook on the Lapbook page here.

After all of this, I finally relented and let Flossie play babies. That was about the last I saw of her :)  Freddie and I did some work with consonant cards I found at Homeschool Creations. He did really well with it. We were comparing Letter B sound cards with Letter L words. I made some more cards so maybe I can try to get Flossie to do it tomorrow. We also made a big door sign that says  "L is for" and put some pictures up of things we have talked about or activities we have done. So he helped me glue a few things on there like a lollipop, a lion, a ladybug, and lemonade. (I  forgot to mention we had lemonade and popcorn for snack). We will add to this as we do more "L" things.

Scout really wanted to help the little kids do their art project today so I left it in her hands. I told her what my plan was, and let her go with it.  They made hand-print lions.  She did it a little differently than I would have, but overall, I think they turned out pretty cute.