Saturday, July 29, 2017

Prepping for Preschool: Introduction

Hey guys!  After some much needed time off (morning sickness got the best of me, and then summer happened) I am starting to prepare for the fall and a new year of school to start!  In our area, kids start preschool around 2.5-3 so I am going to follow suit, although at much less structured pace.

I have a bunch of fun videos and blog posts coming up in this series that I am calling "Prepping for Preschool". I'll be doing a curriculum post, hauls, a look at my homeschool planner, and a detailed post on our schedule/routine.

Then, after Labor Day, I'll start sharing our biweekly unit studies with you all!  So excited to start this new journey, and I hope you follow along with us. =)

Watch my new video below for a chatty introduction to the new series:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Weather Unit Activities

Wow are we having some crazy weather here!  I definitely picked a good time for us to do a weather unit.  Watch the video below to see all the projects we hope to accomplish for this unit. 

I have the video and this post up a bit differently than I have in the past.  I am going to list everything we are going to work on rather than do separate posts for shelf work, art, science, etc.  Hopefully this format will save me more time and be more beneficial to you guys!

First up is our shelf work for this unit.  On the shelf we have:

Rainbow Do-a-Dot Sheet
I have been enjoying adding these to our shelf, E seems to get better with this each week, even if it’s just for working on her fine motor skills.

Origami Windmill
This was just an origami windmill that I created to add visual interest to the shelf. E has fun twirling it around with her fingers.

Raindrop Counting
I cut out cloud shapes from card stock and wrote the numbers 1-10 on them.  Then I used blue glass vase filler for the ‘raindrops’.  The idea is to count out as many rain drops as there are listed on the cloud.  We are mostly working on numbers from 1-5.

Rainbow Puzzle
All of our printables this week are from here. This puzzle is broken up into 10 strips, that when put together in the correct order, form a rainbow.  This is still too difficult for E, but she likes handing me the pieces and seeing where they go.  It’s good practice to reinforce our counting.

Button Sun
Idea for this came from here. It’s basically just a circle cut out of orange felt with buttons sewn around the edges, then strips of ribbon with slits in them act as the ‘rays’ and the child practices buttoning the ribbons on and off.

Coloring Pages
I think coloring pages are going to be more a staple on our shelf from now on.  This is an easy activity for E to grab and do by herself.  I am trying to limit the amount of crayons, markers, etc that she can use with this though so it keeps this activity short and less messy.

Tracing Sheets
Of course we are still working on our prewriting. E still seems to enjoy these tracing pages, and the ‘which one is different’ is good focus work.

3-Part Cards
Printable can be found here. Some of these words are going to be difficult as they don’t really apply to where we live (such as hurricane) so we are focusing more on the weather words that do apply to our location.

Snowball Letter Matching
I didn’t want to do too many snow themed activities because I do plan on having a winter theme later this year, but of course snow is a very important weather concept (especially where we live) so I knew I had to include at least one activity.  E is practicing to learn her alphabet, but we are taking it slow, so I only used letters A B and C for this activity.  The idea is for her to place to correct ‘snowball’ on the target.

Our hands on activities for the week will include:

Cloud Sponge Painting
Printable from here.  Cut the clouds out to make a stencil.

We used a sponge and white paint on a small plate for our clouds.

E really enjoyed using the sponge this time around.  We had practiced with sponge painting a few months ago, and she was less than impressed.  But this time it worked way better than a paintbrush usually does.

Rain in a Jar
So I really wanted to do the ever popular ‘shaving cream rain experiment’ but I KNOW my two year old would just make a huge mess of the shaving cream.  So we will wait to do this project later when she has a bit more restraint.  Until then, this is a much cleaner version.  Put a sponge on top of a jar or clear cup, using a squeeze bottle (I’m using clean condiment squeeze bottles as I couldn’t find clear ones) and squeeze water of blue tinted water, onto the sponge.  When the sponge reaches is maximum absorbency, it will start to drip water into the jar.  (I used plain water, it would be easier to see with tinted water).

Rain in a Bottle
I dyed some rice blue with liquid watercolors. I really love the ombre effect it had, I wasn't too particular about making all the rice a single shade.  E has had fun just digging in and playing with the rice, but we did use it for our project too:

First, E has to fill a bottle with cotton balls (I recommend a large bottle like a Gatorade bottle if you think your child will want to do this activity multiple times because it’s easier to get the cotton balls out). Then, using a funnel and some measuring spoons, she fills the bottle with rice.  When she’s done, we put the cap on and turn it upside down to watch the rice ‘rain’ down from the ‘clouds’.  It also makes a fun rain stick/shaker.

Sun Printing
If it gets sunny enough this week (which I doubt at the moment), we are going to make a design out of pennies on construction paper (probably black, red or purple as they are the darkest colors we have) then let the paper sit out all day in the sun.  The sun will fade the color of the construction paper, but not the areas covered by the pennies, leaving behind the design at the end of the day.

Rain in a bag
Using a ziplock bag filled with a little water tinted blue, we are going to tape this to our deck door and watch the water go through the water cycle.

So there you have it, those are the ideas we will be using for our weather unit. 

Some other fun ideas to consider are:

Tornado in a jar (I don’t trust E with glass, but other children might be okay with this)

Painting with cooked spaghetti (our main book this unit is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)

Creating faux snow like this for sensory fun (we will be using this when we get to our winter unit in December or January).

Make a rain gauge out of a 2 liter bottle like this.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Little Rabbit - Easter/Spring Shelf Work

This is our first unit with a major holiday mixed in, so our shelves represent two themes.  The first week we are working on our Easter activities, and the second week we will work on Spring activities.  In the video they are mixed together, because that’s how I have them on the shelf (I tend to put things on the highest shelf that I might not want E to grab on her own). 

 In this post I’ll split the activities up.

First, Easter!

Invitation to Play with Playdoh

This first activity uses a veggie tray with various slots that I have used for spring/Easter cookie cutters, big googly eyes, white pipe cleaners (I don’t have pink, boo!), different shapes and colors of buttons, and some pouch caps.  We will probably recycle this after Easter for a spring playdoh tray.

Easter Egg Shakers
I used plastic eggs and filled them rice, and wrapped washi tape around to secure (still watch tots with this, E keeps trying to open them to find a prize!).  I found some cute rhymes and songs for Easter that I printed so I can sing them while E shakes her eggs.  This is something I hope to incorporate more into our totschooling adventure, rhymes and songs.

Easter Eraser Sorting
Using a 6 cup muffin tin, I have E sort these erasers (there are 12 total; 2 pairs of 6) she is to put a matching pair in each cup.  The erasers came from the Dollar Tree.

Pattern Egg Sorting
We haven’t done any sorting by patterns (that I can think of anyway) so I cut some egg shapes out of scrapbook paper in pairs of two.  The idea is to match up the eggs by their pattern mate.

Egg Sorting by Color
These little puffy eggs were an impulse by in the Target dollar spot.  E is going to sort them by color.

Easter Egg Do-a-Dot
Printable from here.  I printed out two copies of the eggs. The first one we are going to use our pomp om magnets (so E can repeat this activity as she pleases), the second we will use our do-a-dot markers.

Easter Egg Surprise
I filled these plastic Easter eggs with matching colored pom poms, this is giving E fine motor practice in opening the eggs and color matching to put the correct pom pom back in the egg.  She is trying to work on closing the egg, but still has a hard time with that (honestly, I sometimes do too, these eggs are so flimsy!).

Bunny Tail Match
This printable is from here.  Laminate the printable, add Velcro tabs to the bunny’s behinds, and matching color mini pom poms, and ta-da!  E loves Velcro! 

Counting Eggs
Got the idea from here.  Stitched up 10 eggs, and wrote numbers using fabric paint on them.  Hoping to work on putting the numbers in order, and using plastic Easter eggs to count out how many correlate to the felt eggs.  These are seriously so cute, I wish I could use them year round (and I might!).

Spring (second week activities):

Felt Flower Buttons
I got the idea for this from here.  I hot glued large buttons onto popsicle sticks then cut matching ‘flower’ shapes out of felt for threading onto the button.  It is a bit hard to maneuver because the bottons are glued down at the bottom, but I really just want to get E to practice her buttoning so this seemed a more fun way than using a shirt.  =)

Flower vs Animal Sorting
All of the Little Rabbit printables came from here.  The idea for this activity is to sort the small cards into animal or flower categories.  E is pretty good at this activity.

Common Bird Cards
Printable from here (you have to subscribe). I printed out the control cards for a few of the more abundant birds in our area.  We are going to use them when we look at our Backyard Birds book, as well as when we go on a nature walk.  Right now, E mostly calls all birds ‘birds’.  There are exceptions (ie. Owls, geese, ducks, etc.) but I am hoping she will learn a few names such as robin, cardinal, sparrow, etc. from this exercise.

Pipcleaner Worm Transfer
I made these little ‘worms’ out of pipecleaners (this is the closest worm color I had), and bent them a little so they’d look wiggly.  With tweezers E is going to practice transferring the worms out of the basket, she has also had fun ‘feeding’ the worms to our little shelf robin.

3-Part Cards
I know rhubarb is going to give E a hard time, and maybe hutch.  Hopefully she will be able to add these words to her vocabulary this week.

Kite Counting Activity
I made kite shapes out of scrapbook paper, and wrote the numbers 1-5 on them.  I then attached yarn as the kite strings.  We are going to use pony beads to string the same number of beads on the kite as are written.  E hasn’t been fond of stringing beads thus far, so hopefully she is able to master it this time around.

Little Rabbit Card Matching
I think these are for a traditional memory game, but we are just working on matching the correct pictures to each other. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Little Rabbit - Introduction

Our new two week unit for April 10th-April 23rd will be based on the book The Little Rabbit by Phoebe Dunn

Image result for the little rabbit

This is our first unit that will be covering a holiday so I am experimenting a little.  The first week from April 10th-April 16th will be mostly covering Easter related activities, and the second week from April 17th-April 23rd will be covering Spring.  I'm sure there will be some overlap between the weeks because we have a few Easter activities to attend to outside of totschool.  This is sure to be a fun unit!

We are going to be doing some Peep STEM experiemtns (super excited about this!!), painting with our plastic eggs, lots of bunny hopping (gross motor skills for the win!), and of course, hiding and finding eggs!

Next week we are going to be talking about birds (we have so many robins around!), worms (for the birds, of course), and we will be doing a kite counting activity, and practicing arranging flowers in a vase.  

Stay tuned, I should have the shelf work post up in a few days!

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? - Conclusion

Time to do a conclusion post for Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom.  It's crazy how fast two weeks goes!

We have been so busy these past two weeks working on our independent skills, and basic self care. We've also been super busy doing our shelf work, and playing with our grocery sensory bin. We didn't get to any art that was related to the story this week, unfortunately.  The weather has been much nicer so we've spent a lot of time playing outside.  I do have some fun art projects planned for next week though!

Let's get on with our hits and misses for this unit.

E's favorite activities:


As for the activities E wasn't as interested in, definitely patterns still.  She wasn't as thrilled with this story either, so I might be making a few more changes to our curriculum so as not to include any more BFIAR books that she hasn't already been acquainted with.  I think that was why our Brown Bear unit was such a hit, because she loves that story.  I know she will enjoy ALL of our summer units, so I am super excited about that.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? - Sensory Bin

I decided to keep our sensory bin easy and mess free this week so E can pull it out and play whenever she wants to.  This was probably a good idea since keeping her play food in a container for a whole two weeks has probably drove her crazy (she LOVES to play with her kitchen set).  

I used the printable from here (as seen in our shelf work post).  I have most of the pieces in play food to go along with the printout but not all, so we just skipped the ones we didn't have.  I would call out a food for E to find in her box, and she would find it.  Very simple!  Then I let her cross it off her list, like I do at the grocery store.  

This was a great exercise for her to learn a few new vocabulary words (hotdog turned out to be her favorite new word!), but it was also a fun i-spy type game as well.  You can watch us play with it in the video below:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Alphabet Carrot Patch Match

E is just in the beginning stages of learning her alphabet.  I thought this would be a fun matching game for our next few units (The Little Rabbit, and The Carrot Seed).  

I didn't take pictures during the entire process, but I will best describe how I created our carrot patch alphabet board.  I used two packs of these paper carrots that were purchased for $1 a piece from the Target dollars spot.  

I wrote the alphabet, in capital letters, on the leafy green tops of each carrot.  Using a blue poster board (the largest size I could find at Hobby Lobby, this kind was also a bit thicker than the kinds you find at Walgreens, etc) I created a carrot patch.  I folded a brown piece of construction paper in half lengthwise, then cut 1 inch off on one side (to create a pocket with a larger piece in the back.  I glued my 'dirt' pockets to the poster board and ta-da!  Carrot patch!  

I went ahead and wrote the whole alphabet in the 'dirt' so that E could match the carrots correctly.  If you have an older child, this definitely isn't necessary.  But, like I said earlier, E is just in the beginning process of learning her letters so this will make it easier for her to put them in the correct order.