Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hello T/ T is for Triangle - 4/21/11

We had to get right into preschool work today because we had a busy day out planned. We started with the Jumbo Cuisenaire Rods. They used them to make structures and art shapes, but also indulged me in making the staircase too for practice. Freddie assured me he couldn't do it, and I assured him he could. Turned out I was right :).  Flossie didn't play with them today.

I introduced Letter T today. We worked with the HWT materials and also the Tot School Letter T writing worksheets. I also put out the Montessori Triangle shapes for drawing/handwriting practice.
Letter T is so easy to write that they had no problem at all with any of this work.

While Jem watched a video on Praying Matids for his insect study, Freddie and Flossie searched for the Letters L, B and T with the Letter tiles and did an Evan-Moor Take It To Your Seat Center on shape sorting to go with our triangle them for the day. Both enjoyed the center but struggled with drawing the shapes as required by the follow up worksheet. Age-appropriate and interesting to see.  I wonder if the Montessori shape drawing will make any difference there?

After all this work, it was time for me to get everything ready for our afternoon at the sprinkler park, so the kids played with playdoh while I got everything together. Then we headed out for lunch with Gramps and afterwards, some fun at the sprinkler park. We got home in time for late naps and our day was done!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

L is for Lamb/Eggs/ - 4/19/11

We got our new A/C unit today!! Hurray!! BUT, it meant we were pretty hot, by the end of the morning. We started off fine, but by lunch we were all ready for some cool air!
When the kids arrived today, they noticed that the Turtles were awake and out, so we took the opportunity to go outside and feed them.  I have three 3-toed box Turtles who live in a habitat outside. During the hot summer and the cold winter they rarely come out of their dens, so the best time to see them is during the spring either in the morning or in the afternoon. We brought them some grapes, romaine lettuce, and green beans. They were happy to see us, and the kids were happy to see them.

After that we went in for some free play time. I put out puzzles, the lentils box with plastic eggs, a color matching Easter eggs game, and the marble blocks.  They thought it was pretty cool to have the Easter eggs in the lentils. I had more of a mess though since J showed them how to make egg shakers and they inevitably broke open!  Oh well.   The marble blocks went over better this time. Both kids played with them and built a big flat structure. They tried using their marbles with this for awhile, and then I showed them how to make a descending stair type tower so that the marble would fall. They thought that was very cool and played with it for about 15 more minutes. While I ate breakfast I watched Flossie doing puzzles. Today she took out the the easy ones first and did them with no problem, but then she took out the hard ones and I was so proud of her! She proceeded to take out about 5 or 6 pieces of the puzzle instead of dumping it out and then completed it on her own without asking for help. She remembered our work from yesterday! She was proud of herself too!  The color matching game was cute, but really too easy for them. They both did it quickly and easily. I think we'll hand this down to one of our littler cousins.

After this we played some games. Jem and Freddie wanted to play the Egg Dice game and that gave Flossie and I some time to work on her number recognition. I just narrowed it down to numbers 1 and 2 and made a game out of it. I used the number eggs from Home Grown Hearts , the bunny counters and a homemade dice I made with sticker dots and a small block.  Basically I just made it so she could either roll a number 1 or a number 2, and then whichever number she got, she would put a bunny on the corresponding egg. She got a kick out of seeing one number or the other getting more "friends" than the other. Each time she rolled a number, I had her tell me what number it was. By the end she was doing really well recognizing both numbers.  Now we could easily add in number 3 and then number 4 to our game, but I don't want to go to fast. I want to move slow and practice 1 and 2 in other settings also to make sure she has them clear in her min before assuming they are done. Anyway, she had fun, and wanted to take the game home to play at home and bring back Thursday.  

In the spirit of Easter we had some hard boiled eggs for snack. The kids peeled them and cut them up themselves. It was cute hearing them talk bout which part of the egg they like best and why.

To finish out our morning and the Letter L, we made some Lambs with paint, paper, glue and crayons. Although they all had the same materials, everyone's came out different, but they were all really cute.
We added the lamb to our "L is for .... " poster and I think now we are ready to move on to a new letter. Hmmm, what will it be??? (Did you find the clue?)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Highs and Lows - 4/18/11

I feel like we did a million things today! We were very busy, I know that. We started off with some puzzles, a scientist station, and some pasta counters. The puzzles I put out today were a little harder. I thought it was time for a challenge. I did have 2 easy ones out, but I wanted to see how they handled the harder ones. Both tackled the easy ones no problem. Freddie did the medium hard ones with no problem too. The harder ones neither of them would try. They dumped the pieces out, but then said "I can't do it." When I had a minute, I sat down with Flossie and took just a few pieces here and there out of the puzzles and had her try putting them in. She did fine with that. We'll keep doing that for awhile until she gets better at seeing how to do them. Freddie dumped one out that had the imprint of the pieces on the cardboard underneath. After dumping he said he couldn't do it. I thought he could so I said, "Well you dumped it all out, so you better try to put it back together. Look at the shapes on the board. That shows you where the pieces go." After about 5 minutes I turned around and he had 3/4 of it done. I have learned that reasonable but high expectations are really important if you want your kids to excel. If you let them settle for "I can't do it," then maybe they never will. But you can help them with the baby steps needed to get to that final goal. (Didn't get any pics of the hard puzzles. Was too busy helping them!)

I was so proud of Freddie at the pasta counting station. He just sat right down at it and started working without any direction. This was the first time I had put this one out, but we have done numbers and counting almost every day, so I guess he just automatically knew what to do. The mini cupcake tray had 12 spaces. We have never done our counting game past the number 10. But he just sat down and counted out the correct number of macaronis for each cup and did the 11 and 12 without an extra blink! Way to go!  For KFlossie it was more of a struggle. The new format threw her off her game. She really doesn't have the counting and numbers down yet , so moving it to the tray just confused things, or at least, if she wasn't confused, she just still needed me to sit there and count it all out with her. I think the other format where the numbers are all laid out side by side is clearer. I also think I am going to reduce the number I am giving her to 5 and let her get those down first. They also both need more work in just recognizing the numbers. We'll work on that too.

The other station was the "Scientist" station.  Basically it consisted of a bunch of beakers and measuring cups and pipettes with some colored water. They mixed yellow and blue water first and then later if they wanted another turn, they mixed red and blue water. They all seemed to love "Being a scientist."

On the other side of the table I set up the Montessori Metal Insets - (Unfortunately mine are PLASTIC!) BUT, they work the same :)  There is a good description of the purpose of the Metal Insets here. We used the oval because we are going to be doing Easter activities all this week and I thought the kids would like making Easter eggs shapes. After they drew them, they wanted to cut them out, so it was a perfect time to let Freddie and Flossie practice their cutting. Freddie did pretty well. I need to find my little guy scissors though. I had several pairs but they are now nowhere to be found. He used a pair he brought but they didn't allow for his two lower fingers to be in the bottom hole. He did ok with them though. He didn't give up anyway :)  Flossie cut her first egg in half! The second one, I sat and held the paper for her and showed her how to cut on the line. That one went much better. I think the eggs came out pretty cute.

Jem decided at this time to go out and work on a wood project he got for his b-day. It was a ball toss game. He got a little kid size tool kit for Christmas so he just set out with his tools and kit and went to work. He did a great job, but after he came in he was feeling low. He checked his blood sugar and it was 58 :(   Had to stop and eat some crackers and drink some milk. that usually does the trick. After a bit he was back up and running. I am so glad he is home and not having to deal with this at school!

If you can believe it, it is STILL not lunch time yet!!  So now Freddie and Flossie did some more preschool work. Both took turns doing the consonant beginning sound cards, from Homeschool Creations. We did both letter B and Letter L. They both did really well with this.  Then we did Letter Hunt worksheets for Letter L.  Both needed a little bit of help finding the small "l"s.  The double "ll"s really threw them. But overall they did well. I have one more thing I want to do with Letter L and then we are done.

While I was working with them, I had put out an Easter-themed math page for Jem to work on. I just happen to have colored bunny counters that he could use to do it with too. When Freddie was done with his consonant cards, he saw what Jem was doing and wanted to do it too. Jem was doing subtraction, but I modified the sheet to make it be addition for Freddie to do. I showed him how to do simple addition using the bunnies as counters. After a few tries he seemed to get the hang of it. He is doing really well with his counting, so maybe this is something we will continue. Jem was using the dry-rease marker to write in the numbers as he did his problems. Freddie wanted to do this too, but I thought it would be a bit much since he didn't yet recognize his numbers. I thought all the concepts together would just confuse things. BUT, I also wanted him to be able to emulate what he was seeing Jem doing, so I got out his number chart so he could see what the numbers looked like and told him to go ahead and write some problems down if he wanted to. Of course his numbers didn't match up, but it didn't matter. He was just play-acting really for what he will someday do in the future, and he was totally engaged in doing it for about 20 minutes. Flossie wanted to play with the bunnies too, but 1) I only had one of those worksheets, and 2) it would have been way over her head, so I pulled out her colored dot pattern sheets and she used them to make patterns with the bunnies. That is something she is getting good at :)

STILL, not lunchtime yet! We had time to play the egg dice game.  They seemed to like this. We used the bunny counters again for the game pieces. It was easy, and the bunnies win, not the players, so no one got their feelings hurt. Then it was finally time for me to start making lunch! Scout listened to her Music at Our House lecture while the little kids did coloring books and I got things ready. Freddie  seemed to enjoy the music too. It was Renaissance music - specifically the music of the Franco-Dutch School and artist Josquin de Prez. Freddie and Scout couldn't help singing along :)

SO, after lunch, while the preschoolers napped, Scout worked on her salt dough model of the Mississippi River. Jem got a surprise in the mail. He had written an email to Lenny the Lion, Medtronics Pump's mascot. About a week later, Lenny wrote back to him and told him he would send him something in the mail. Today he received a card and a stuffed Lenny! He was so excited. We don't even use this kind of pump! Cool company!

After naps it was just some Mr Potato Head and Easter Egg matching and of course some tag around the yard and through the house, and then the day was over. So you see why I feel like we did a million things today?? I'm pooped!