Thursday, July 25, 2013

July Activities Part 2 : Of Creeks and Creatures

Lets go to the Zoo -  Science / Gross Motor / Nature / Animals / Ecosystems

What do you need:
  • A trip to the zoo!
He got to ride the carousel at the zoo. He picked a wolf.
He had wonderful fun talking about the other animals chasing him!
We had silly fun howling like the wolves we had seen earlier in the day.
The carousel offered a great chance for us to talk about what different animals ate.
It was a fun time to see if he remembered the facts I had shared on our venture into the park!

My Monkey surrounded by monkeys. Well, Great Apes actually. 
He fell in love with them. We talked about how they moved and interacted.
We looked at the poster and tried to spot each different Chimpanzee. It was fun! 
We talked about how different faces mean different things. We even practiced the faces in the mirror! 

They had a really cool exhibit of geyser. He really wanted to go play in it!

 His favorite part was absolutely the Dino exhibit. He had to ask every animal name. 
Then mimicked the sounds they were making. 
He discovered fossils at the dig site and even found baby dinosaur eggs!

Nature walk - Gross motor / Life Science / hot and cold / senses

What do you need?
  • Just go take a walk in the woods!
Below are some pictures from our nature walk! He found a creek and was scared to get his feet wet. After a few moments of being silly he dared to get a little wet. Then - He loved it! It was such a wonderful day of discovery splashing in the creek. It breaks my heart to see how many children are denied such a simple and perfect experience as cooling off in a creek on a hot summer day. Children are washable - let them get a little dirty now and again. Be observant and Be safe, but that doesn't require living in a sterile world of  recirculated air and the buzz of technology. We had both been a little grouchy before our discovery. Afterwards we felt closer than ever before and the ride home was full of giggles and story swamping. I will remember this discovery for many years to come.

Monday, July 1, 2013

July Activities Part One: Of Shopping and Home grown foods

Lets go Shopping!  - Dramatic Play / Money / Community Helpers / Math

Needed Items:
  • Saved boxes from old groceries
  • Saved bags from previous trips to store
  • Tables (already had)
  • Shopping cart *optional* (already had)
  • Pretend Money ($1.00 at Dollar Store)
How To:

  • During Nap I placed all of the boxes and empty jugs that I had saved and lined them up on three tables pushed together.
  • I placed the money tray and his toy computer with mouse at the front as a register and scanner.
  • Placed his toy car at the door and the shopping cart at the entrance of the shop.
  • I went shopping first to serve as a basic guide then stepped back and let them take their own trips!
  • They had so much fun! 
Here we see Chandler getting into his car with Cassie, his baby. He was careful to buckle her in her car-seat first. He waved and told me he would see me when he got home from the store.
 He had his toy money in his pocket and he showed it to Cassie after he got her in the shopping cart. 
 He took his time picking out all the items he needed from the store. 
 Then it was time to pay for his purchase. 
 All bagged up and ready to go. 
(I know bad green momma! But all my reusable bags were in use!)
 Next it was time for him to be the cashier. He started using the mouse as a scanner on his own. What a great use of creativity!  He also got his art smock to be used as a vest to show he worked there.
 Making change.
 Thank you have a great day!

Where does food come from?  - Science / Community Helpers / Cooking

Needed Items:
  • One ear of unshucked corn
  • A few pieces of uncut okra
  • A few pieces of uncut squash
  • A handful of unbroken pole beans.
  • A can of each food mentioned above
  • Total expense. $3.64
How To:

  • I set up the table you will see at nap time. When they woke up we discussed what they thought each thing was and where it had come from. We used our senses to smell, touch and taste the uncooked food and later do the same once our meal was cooked. It was a great chance for open ended questions.
This was the table I had set up. It was a great chance to talk about where food comes from.
 Cutting Okra under -VERY- close supervision.
 I cut the squash since it doesn't give easy like okra. He laughed as some of the squash was smooth and other portions were very rough. He said he liked the smell of it but it felt slimey.
 Shucking Corn! He was so tickled by the silk. He kept asking why the corn grew hair.
TADA! He found the corn! 
 He helped me wash the food and we had all that we prepared for lunch that day! YUM!

Here is my favorite picture of the 4th of July

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chandler's (Almost) 4 - Year Old Assesment

I do not sit down and do worksheets with my son, but I choose to do an assessment every six months to help get an organized look at where he was and where he is and where to aim for the future. It helps me see where he is struggling and gives me the chance to dive into my beloved realm of homeschool blogs, pinterest and other wonderful areas for new games and crafts for us to explore together. He will be four in in 26 days from today so I won't do another on him until he is closer to five. Meep! I can't believe how fast my little one is growing up! Alas, it just makes me cling to our cuddle time more!

I started with a three year checklist to see if he was on point for his age.

 JUNE 27th, 2013 
 3 years and 11 months old


  1.  Follows 2 step unrelated directions -  Always
  2. Identifies at least 3 objects from a broad range of categories - Always
  3. Identifies objects by the sound they make -  Always
  4. Articulates clearly, speech intelligible 80% of the time -  Always
  5. Ask Simple Questions - Always
  6. Comments on story when being read to -  Always
  7. Spontaneously uses sentences of 3 to 5 words - Always
  8. Tells first and last time upon request -  Always
  9.  Knows family and friends names -  Always
  10.  Knows words to short song or rhyme.

Cognitive Skills:

  1. Points to 3 shapes - circle, square, triangle. - Always
  2. Points to primary colors - red, blue, yellow, green - Always
  3. Counts by rote to 10. -  Always
  4. Demonstrates concept of one and one more - Always
  5. Demonstrates concept of more or less -  Always
  6. Looks at books, turning one page at a time, talking about story and picture -  Always
  7. Imitates simple blog design produced by teacher (3 part bridges, 5 color train) - Always
  8. Engages in symbolic play (chair used as car, can used as hat) - Always
  9. Participates during large group activities - Always

Social / Emotional:

  1. Gives name of a friend - Always
  2. Follows rules without being reminded - Sometimes
  3. Takes turns with peers with adult supervision - Always
  4. Meets unfamiliar adults comfortably - Sometimes
  5. Is helpful  to adults and peers - Always
  6. Plays cooperatively with peers with adult help - Always 
  7. Can express feelings verbally - Say happy, sad, afraid, angry - Always
  8. Is a friendly, happy child -  Always
  9. Shows affection toward others, sympathy if someone is hurt- Sometimes
  10. Seeks help when experiencing difficulty, when sad or hungry - Always

Self-Help Skills:

  1. Uses spoon and fork to eat -Always
  2. Uses napkin to wipe mouth spontaneously - Always
  3. Undresses self independently - Always
  4. Indicated need to use the toilet - Always
  5. Toilets independently - Always
  6. Uses tissue to wipe nose - Always
  7. Operates large buttons and zippers on own clothing - Sometimes
  8. Pours from a small pitcher to a come - Sometimes
  9. Washes hands with soap and dries - Always
  10. Puts on his own coat - Always

Fine and Gross Motor Skills

  1. Stands on right foot for 4 seconds - Always
  2. Walks down stairs  by alternating feet - Always
  3. Stands on left foot for 4 seconds - Always
  4. Stacks 10 or more 1 inch blocks -  Always
  5. Copies horizontal and vertical lines - Always
  6. Draws a circle and cross - Always
  7. Hops five feet - Always
  8. Walks on tiptoe - Always
  9. Throws ball forward -  Always
Going off of this checklist Chandler has mastered everything he should know at three except for a few areas that we are continuing to work on. Because he was doing so well on the three year old checklist, I let him have a run at the Prek - Kindergarden assessment and this is what I found:

 JUNE 27th, 2013 
 3 years and 11 months old

When checking to see if he knew his letters, numbers, or number sounds I pulled them randomly from a bucket so he couldn't just sing the song :-)

Lowercase Letters - abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 
Numbers -  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 
Writing the Letters -   All but struggled with v and j 
Child can write 1st name -  Yes -100%
Child can rote count to - 29 
Child can count objects to - 44
Child can write numbers -  1, 7 , 10
Child knows these shapes -  Square, Triangle,Rectangle,Oval,hexagon,pentagon

The other chart was covering stuff the three year old assessment already did so that information has already been covered. I am super proud of my soon-to-be four year old! Just goes to show that children can learn through life and through play! My next post will be on Tuesday where I cover the rest of our June activities!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Activities - Part 2, of Pet rocks and Project based learning

What a wonderful way to end out our first month doing a home preschool! Chandler has had so much fun and to tell you the truth - So have I! It has been a delightful challenge to come up with something new and exciting for each new day as we learn and grow together. I wanted to share our activities for the rest of the month of June with you. If you try them with your children, please - LET ME KNOW! I would love to know how they enjoyed it! 

Needed Items:
  • Large bowl
  • Can of shaving cream
  • Scrapbook letters
  • Bottle of glue
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Square of poster-board or card-board.
How to:

  • Mix shaving cream with glue in bowl. I use a 3 to 1 ratio when mixing, with three parts shaving cream.
  • Use the Popsicle sticks to mix them together into a foamy froth.
  • Use sticks to make little poofy piles - they will spread a bit so give some space.
  • Gently put the stickers on the 'cloud'  and let dry over night.
  • They should feel like a marshmallow in the morning, but don't wait to long or they will fizzle away.
  • Grab your kiddo and make a game of calling out or drawing letters and letting your kid poke or smash the cloud. NOT a messy activity, because the glue keeps it all together! We had a blast!

Finished project

Chandler touching the clouds!

 I think he enjoyed himself, don't you?

Needed Items:
  • Magnadoogle
  • Child
  • Creativity!
How to:

  • Just let them draw! 
He drew Batman and Robin. I love the detail beginning to show up in his art. How batman how cowl ears and robin has a 'mask' over his eyes. Notice they both have capes!

Needed Items:
  • Egg
  • Container, just in case it explodes
How to:

  • Place an egg in the back of your fridge if it gets cold enough to freeze or the freezer.
  • Make sure its in the carton in case it explodes before the contents are completely frozen.
  • When you see the shell crack, take it out and examine it. Let the kids look at the yellow inside through the cracks and discuss why nothing is oozing out.
  • Gently peel the shell back from the egg and invite the children to touch or hold the frozen egg. Look at it closely. Can you see the yoke? Is it all just gold? What happens if you leave it out?
Chandler poked it with his finger but did not want to hold it because it felt slippery.
He was amazed and tried to crack the egg before the shell came off.
He also liked the smell ... 
not sure why :-)

Needed Items:
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Envelope 
  • Stamp
  • Address of a place to send your letter.
How to:

  • Allow children to draw a picture or a story for their penpal
  • Write out what they would like to say and if they are writers, let them address it.
  • Make children part of the process. Let them take it to the mailbox.
  • We also made a chart and sent out a few letters to guess how long it would take for each letter to arrive. The letters in our state took 2 days. We are still waiting on the one to his cousin in Florida.
 Drawing a picture of MacKenzie

This is his finished picture. He informed me that she had on a pink dress, pink shoes, pink arms, pink hands and a pink head. Her eyes are blue, her ears are blue, her belly is blue and her neck is blue. Her teeth are grey and she has blonde pigtails. She is also wearing one of his shoes as well as hers because he wanted to share with her.

Because he couldn't draw himself beside her, but wanted them together - he drew himself on the back.

Signing his name at the end of the letter he dictated to me.

His letter. He wrote her name and his!

Licking the envelope - he didn't care to much for the taste :-)

And into the mailbox it went! This was also a great time to work on road safety!

Needed Items:
  • .99 cent ABC magnets
  • .00 cent Number magnets
  • Cookie sheet from the kitchen
  • little bowl with ABCs and NUMBERS drawn on it - I used upcycled bojangles containers.
How to:

  • You can do various lead activities, but since he has a good awareness I just offered him the option and stepped back and let him set his own path to discovery. He didn't let me down!
We haven't  really written out any addition but we have been talking about it while adding food to the cart at the store, or feeding the animals. 2 scoops plus 1 scoop means  Snowflake gets three scoops etc. I was in the kitchen when he came to me all excited and wanted to show me what he had done. This honestly blew my mind, I am not sure where he got the symbols right as I only scribbled it out a few times to show him what they looked like - but here this was! I was one proud Momma!

Next he put all the numbers in order.

And sorted them by color.

Needed Items:
  • Green paint (and white if you want a lighter green)
  • Green construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Bottle of glue
  • Paper plate
  • Googley eyes.
How to:

  • Let children cut up green paper into small pieces
  • Gather the pieces into a small bowl to one side
  • Let children paint half a paper plate green.
  • Let children glue the green pieces onto the shell and talk about the plated design of a real turtle shell
  • Let children glue pre-cut out legs, tail and head to the back of the plate.
  • Glue googley eye onto the head
  • Write out the letter T or have them write the letter T and add it to shell.
  • Enjoy!
We found this little guy during outdoor play. 
They were very excited to look, touch and talk about him.
This is what I mean by learning on their excitement.
We hadn't planned anything turtle related - but upon this discovery they loved
the idea of making a turtle!

Painting the shell

Adding glue

Gluing down the paper he had cut earlier.

Finished turtle!

Needed Items:
  • Tray or plate with raised sides. You can also  use a pie plate
  • Milk - Room temperature works best
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Drop of dish soap
How to:

  • Pour milk into container - let stand til milk is room temp
  • Let children add drops of food coloring to milk - Don't mix them.
  • Then add one drop of dish soap and watch the colors swirl!.

The set up. Next we added drops of food coloring.

Then with one drop of Dawn - SWOOSH! The colors swirl together! 
If you are wondering how or why this works by the way - Its the power of dawn :-) 
Basically the soap breaks up the fatty acids in the milk causing the movement. 

Needed Items:
  • Smooth River rocks (ours came from the dollar store with lots left over for other activities)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Q-Tips
  • Googley eyes
  • Cardstock
How to:

  • Invite the children to paint with the Q-Tips.
  • Add eyes when done
  • Make a three sided house with cardstock and invite your child to decorate it
  • Name the rock and let them enjoy their new house!.
 Getting started

Painting our new pet

Just add eyes, I drew the smiles on with a sharpie.

Design a house and give him a name!
 The smaller rock he made for his pen pal and we will mail it on our next letter.

Needed Items:
  • Grouping cards (I got these for a dollar at walmart or you can print your own)
  • Brown paper bag
How to:

  • I taped the word of the group and an example on each bag.
  • I did the first few cards with him and then let him run with it. 
  • Simple or as hard as you want to make it - Absolutely an activity that can grow with your child!
He had a blast doing this, and started turning them over to create his own matching game.
I heard him sounding out the words while he worked,
 so maybe next time I'll skip the pictures on the bag to add an extra challenge.

Needed Items:
  • Old Egg Carton
  • Acrylic paint
  • Pom poms
  • Tongs
How to:

  • Paint the inside of each space with acrylic paint to match the color of pom-poms.
  • Use Tongs to pick up each pom-pom and place it in the matching space.
  • I can not stress how many times I have used these tongs and these pom poms I got for .88 cents at the store. It is all about thinking outside of the box! You can teach your child for next to nothing don't get tricked into buying the high end materials in teacher catalogs - lets face it, kids are creative - we should be too!
He nudged a few together that were the same color.
He wanted to pick up more than one at a time.

Got it!

We ended our month of June with a water day!
This is my muscle man showing off how strong he is!

I also created a really cute job chart for him this week but I think I will make another post for that. This one got a little long! Remember to check back each Tuesday to see what learning activities we have done that week.