Friday, August 31, 2012

More Sprinkle Activities

Ok, this is my last homeschool post until I post something else.  (I have some drafts, but...)

Anyway, Stevie wanted to do school today, bless his little heart.  He asked me.  He wanted to read the apple book again...had to be on the floor and on the blanket.  Then he wanted to do an apple...I think he meant he wanted to color or do a project.  So, we did.  It turned into crazy school because Lydia was not going to miss this (it wasn't naptime yet), and though Stevie wanted to do school, as I suspected, his interest didn't last super long because he just got a little wild with the markers.  The apple and caterpillar were blue of course.  We'll work on the color coordination as time goes on. ;)

At the end, I pulled out our Aquadoodle mat.  I believe I got the thing for 10 cents at a garage sale.  (I got a travel one for 25 cents at another one....good for church and   I really think I should have my own tv show on extreme garage saling...or something because I have scored awesome and amazing deals.  (I mean for real, I got an entire bin of girl's clothes for$10...and that included the Rubbermaid bin!). I'm cheap, and the kids and I went to sales all summer long.  Does such a show exist?  The show following would probably be Hoarders.  Anyway, I love the Aquadoodle more than the kids probably do.  In case you are unfamiliar, it uses water in markers and on paintbrushes to make your pictures or writing practice or whatever.  Completely mess free...just wet!

I had gotten these sponges from...the Dollar Tree (I really should get paid for my advertising), and I was pretty excited.  They were exactly what I wanted for the Aquadoodle and for painting, for sensory bins...whatever!  I snatched the fruit ones too for our unit on the Fruit of the Spirit in the Spring.  These were in their craft section.  So, we used the airplane today on our mat for the letter A.

I forgot to mention, there is a super cute youtube video for kids called Andy's Airplanes, a cartoon boy who flies planes.  He even gets to fly in the Blue Angels.  It's about a half hour and is actually a kids cartoon I can easily tolerate and even enjoy.  Cute music, educational, good story line.  Fits great with the A theme.  I really hope they are able to make more!

I just wanted to make a note of remember myself...because if there's a time I have two in homeschool, which is likely, I will need these extras!  Lydia keeps me hopping!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Letter A, Day 2

Today was our 2nd and "final" day of planned preschool for this week.

Here's what we did:

Our regular start with prayer, weather, calendar, and we did the pockets again with the same card and sticks for review.
Verse with motions John 1:3, "All things were made by him" and review of who we're praying for.
Quick recap of God's creation..."all things"

We read an apple book today, learning neat things about the apple, starts with A, and is one of God's great creations!  It has great pictures, "Apples for Everyone" by Jill Esbaum.  It shares so much simply...that I'm thinking of all the ways I could use it down the road in school.

(Lydia enjoyed the book later.  She is in love with all this school business, especially Stevie's table and chair....and the posters and school supplies and letter box.  I hope she keeps that enthusiasm!)

Then we moved to the table for our apple tree page from a teaching book I had and a dot letter page (I was given copies of the dot pages, but they can be found here.  I purchased my dot markers at the Dollar Tree...of course!
Ha, Stevie likes blue trees I guess, and in case you can't tell, the apples he glued on have pictures of A things.  Oh, we use clipboards for some things...really helps him not be distracted or frustrated by his papers slipping because this way, they don't!  I'm considering putting all of his work into a book...we'll see.

After some seat work, we moved back to the blanket to peek in our A box again (it's been dug into all week) and end with prayer including our A friends.

At lunch, we looked at a real apple, noticed it's colors and shape, and we cut it to find and count the seeds.  My picky guy wouldn't eat it...and we had a difficult time with the cutting part (he likes things to remain in their "normal" state...he's my sensory and order kid), but we did ok.  I ate some and so did Lydia.

Also, each week, I want to be sure I have a picture of Stevie with an object for the week.  My goal is to edit with text, Aa, and our verse....then stick it in one of those cheap little photo albums so he has his own ABC book, ta da!  Make sense?  Then he can teach Lydia with his little book...while birds sing sweetly in the background...or something.  If our pictures are good, haha, we may also print those off a little larger to use as our ABC wall border as we go...since we don't have one.  

That's A week in a nutshell.  We went on a nature walk to see "All things made by Him", and we've watched our airplane movie from the library, and we still have several A books to read.  Tomorrow, our craft/popsicle sticks go into our pail to make room for our B sticks!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our First Day of School, Homeschool

Today was Stevie's first day of home.  At this point in time, we have decided not to go the regular preschool route.  I may or may not write about our reasons, but if you're really interested, I'd be glad to talk or email about them, so just leave a comment.  Anyway, I decided to do some of the regular first day things because we'd do them if he were going somewhere else, so why not do them here too?  I wanted his picture, we had a pancake breakfast, I still need to trace his hand (put it on a ring and do it every year to see how he grows), and...we had to make an emergency milk run to Wegmans.  Oh well.

In case anyone would find what we're doing useful, I thought I'd post what our school day generally looked like.  Stevie's 3, so it was short and to the point.  We're only doing 2 planned days a week right now with a few extra activities sprinkled in through the week.  Afterall, learning takes place all day on a variety of I don't need to press the seat work too much at this time. I am also trying to be conscious of his weekly therapies...and those demands on his little self...he needs time to play and be a 3 year old boy too.

Our little school room:

Ok, nuts and bolts:

We began with morning prayer.  Then we did the weather chart: looking out the window, singing "What's the Weather?", and spinning the wheel to match the weather.  The calendar was next, which Stevie loves from Sunday School.  We used an unsharpened pencil for a pointer today.

Next month, the calendar will be filled in for each day, but we're only technically doing 2 days this week, so I decided to just do the final week in August until September.

Then we moved to our pockets.  Stevie liked this!  
We are going through the alphabet for most of the year, one letter a week. Stevie only knows a few letters, so I wanted to do some basics.  (He struggled so much with speech and saying nouns for his needs, like milk, that abc's were certainly not on our radar.)  So, in the left pocket, is a letter A flash card from the Dollar Tree (the pocket envelopes and many posters are from there too).  I loved the crispness of them and the realistic photos instead of cartoons that are hard to distinguish.  Stevie was able to pull the card out and tell me it was an "apple."  We talked about how apple starts with A....super brief phonics...and how A is the letter of the week...showing him the A's on the flash card.  (I also liked how they highlight the beginning letter of will see in the pocket chart.). 

I then told Stevie to take the sticks out of the envelope on the right.  One has "A" friends and families (cousin Abby for example) and one has our A verse, "All things were made by Him." John 1:3.  We talked about how we'll pray for the A's during prayer time.  Then he repeated the verse broken up after me, as I did simple motions.  He's never been into the motions, but I will keep plugging away because they help for memorizing the verses.  I used the big craft sticks...instead of paper or whatever, so that when we have finished our A week, they will be placed in the little black pail shown on top of the bookshelf ($1 in Target dollar bins).  When they are inevitably carried off or pulled out (by Miss Lydia or intentionally by us), we can review our verses and remember the A people in prayer well as whatever other letter sticks may get pulled as time goes on.  

Then while on our blanket, we read about God's creation to go with our verse...and God creating Adam (A) and Eve.

We repeated our verse and moved to the table with our A box...and A sticks and flash card.  The craft sticks and card were put in the pocket chart.

Inside the A box were items we had on hand and colored pictures from a phonics teaching book I had.  He was free to explore the things, saying what they were, and I would say "a, a, apple, apple starts with a."  He repeated.  He loved the box...obviously recognizing some toys, but he thought it was fun, taking them out and setting them up on the table.  We talked about how God made the apple, acorn, ant, etc.  All of the pictures went into the pocket chart ($1 at Target in their seasonal dollar bins...I also got a super cute apple pocket chart for a dollar at a garage sale...wahoo!).

The black A on the outside of the A box is a bulletin board die cut letter from a pack at the Dollar Tree, and the blue foam A is from a foam abc puzzle from the Dollar Tree (umm, I love that store).  The additional letters from the pack and puzzle will be used each week in the box and for other letter activities!  Getting our money's worth!  I put the toys and A objects back in the box...but since school time, Stevie and Lydia keep diving in because they love it.  I would like to have it for review on Thursday and through the week...we'll see, haha.

Then we made our A craft, the alligator, with music playing.  This craft idea is from here:

After the craft, we moved back to the blanket with our A friends stick and closed our school day with prayer, including the A friends.

Stevie really wanted to do more, so then I set up the painter's tape A on the floor for him to drive his trains on.  Sort of a pre-writing skill and extra emphasis on our A theme.

I will probably have similar activities and sensory play things for the end of our time if he wants to keep going.  I think he just really soaked up my attention and wanted more (Lydia was napping).  He didn't have therapy today either, so he had more brain "steam" and energy.  We also already had snack before we began...just due to the time we can start (around 9:45 or 10am)...again dodging therapy sessions and trying to coincide with Lydia's long as she will. :)
Basically, the plan is for Day 2 of the week (Thursdays) to be a repeat...but the book will be about apples (the basket on the floor contains all A books, ours and from the library, and Stevie's Bible).  I will do another post after that day to show our project and "stuff."  That is also our basic schedule for the rest of the abc's.  We'll have a new verse, Bible focus, craft, pre-writing practice, and extras for each letter.

The sprinkled activities (that happen outside of our "classroom time") planned are: nature walks to find things God made, looking at apples inside and out (cut open) and eating them, watching a movie about airplanes from the library...probably more times than I can count, reading extra library A books, reviewing our memory verse each day, and praying for A well as making a note or picture for them to let them know we love them and prayed for them.  Obviously, throughout our day there are unplanned teaching moments too. :)

That's our plan for the next 26 weeks in a nutshell, haha.  Sorry for being long winded...just didn't know if other people would be interested.  At the end of those weeks, my general plan is to move into counting with Creation and colors with the Fruit of the Spirit, which will end our "school year."  We'll see!

Still smiling after day 1! I need to print this picture...because it shows exactly how I want our mother-son relationship to be!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vacation #2

We had the best week last week at a family camp. I grew up going to this camp, and I dreamed of bringing my kids there. Check!
We had such a good time...sure, it could've been longer, Matt could've had time off from work to spend the whole week with us, and Lydia could've kept her cute chubby hands out of the toilet a few more times, but our time there was so worth it. We really needed that family time.

 Stevie would sum up his favorites this way:
*The hayride...well, the tractor
*Ice cream
*His 3-5 yr old class...he was SO excited to go every day! (I am SO proud of him! I cried picking him up the first day because 6 months ago I was worried sick about how he would do and how it would go with him in class. He's come so far, he played with other kids, and didnt want to leave every day!) *The playground
*Going down to see the water
*Ice Cream...that boy is his father's kid

Lydia would sum up her week this way:
*Swishing in the toilet
*Playing peekabo with the cute girl in the mirror in their bedroom
*Getting bumps and bruises
*Throwing cup and toys in the many trash cans throughout the cabin
*Wrestling in Mommy's arms or the front pack for every chapel and class while Mommy hoped I would sleep. I gave in a few times.
*Greeting everyone with a smile and a runny nose.

We had a good time, but I was so tired. My arms were physically sore from holding ...restraining?...Lydia every morning and evening for 1-2 hours. We also had nasty colds...great timing. By midweek, we started skipping morning chapels. This Mom needed arms for the rest of the day, especially with Matt working. We all had better mornings after that, haha. Yeah, they had nursery, but the morning time was nap time for her and so I'd rather hope she gets a little nap, and I hear something in the lesson time, than stay at the cabin missing everything while she napped. I wasn't ready to go a week of her missing that morning nap!

 We had a great time connecting with old friends, and I enjoyed the snack bar goodies after the kids went to sleep!! I just can't say enough about what a good week it was for Stevie. He just plain thrived in that environment! And unfortunately, the pictures we took just don't capture the enthusiasm he had for everything, and we forgot the camera for the hayride...oh well. It was a rough week for Lydia on the other hand, haha, but it can be tough being 15 months. She still had a good time overall, and I'm sure next year will be even better for her.  She sure had a blast checking everything out in the cabin and outside!  None of us wanted to leave and really hope to be able to go again next year!