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. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June Highlights - Part 1, of Bird-feeders and Breakfast

Since our first official start of our Pre-Kindergarten / Kindergarten program started on June 1st,  I thought I would just share a few highlights of our few weeks and start posting weekly updates in July.

 I try to include Chandler is as many of our daily activities as possible. I find he delights in playing the important roles of animal keeper to chef. Here he is cracking eggs for breakfast. He was so delighted when he managed not to lose any bits of shell into the bowl!

One of the favorite toys has been our magnadoodle. His drawings of people have come a long way from a circle with 2 legs and 2 eyes. This is Batman and Robin. I loved the amount of detail he put into this from memory. Notice that Batman has pointy cowl ears and a cape while Robin's cape is shorter and flows behind him?  I had never see him drawn circles with dots for eyes like he did for Robin so I wonder if this was his attempt at a mask or a new style of drawing eyes? Either way, its very cute!

When we were outside in our classroom garden he noticed that some of the leaves had holes in them from bugs nibbling away at the leaves. He asked what we could do about it and I said we could make something to keep the bugs off,  but birds would help to eat them too.  He leaped at this idea and made it his mission to help bring birds to our yard. To do this I found a wonderful bird feeder craft. I cut out  a large hole on the side of the milk judge and let him paint the jug with acrylic paint.

Then we went outside to gather leaves and small twigs

He glued the leaves, and a few star stickers to the jug and I covered the jug with modge-podge and and secured the lid with duct-tape. I took a simple spoon and wrapped it with the same tape before sticking it into the jug below the hole for a perch. He loved counting the scoops of seeds to put into his feeder.  Now we draw all the birds that we see come to the feeder! Its an on going project and a lot of fun with many chances for expansion.

 I normally HATE ditto sheets or worksheets of any kind but Chandler found this in one of his coloring books and wanted to do it, so I welcomed his desire to have a place to practice his letters. I always keep out plain paper, construction paper and coloring books for any option in our art center. He did a wonderful job and I am very proud of him!

We love a good chance to get a little messy and finger painting was that option today! I started out with four dots that I created and then put six paints out for him to figure it out and finish the pattern. He didn't struggle with this at all, so we may start moving to 4 or 5 sequenced patterns next.

Even though he only needed four fingers he insisted on using a new finger each time because he wanted to give me a "colorful high 5"! Messy but so worth it!

He had so much fun with this project I know we will be doing another very soon with paints and patterns!

 We have had a lot of rainy days so we decided to do some "science-magic". I took five empty containers  and let the kids pick drops of food coloring for each bowl. Some just had red, or blue while others put different colors in the same bowl. We marked on the bowl what was in it an set it out in the rain.  As the rain water gathered the colors mixed. Suddenly, our bowls marked red  and blue - HAD PURPLE WATER! They were so amazed we had to do lots of other color mixing that week!

He haven't gotten to do to much sorting so I decided to create a little learning try. It was super simple and absolutely free as I just compiled stuff from around the house.

  • Three containers of various size.
  • Paper and marker to mark the sizes of the bowls.
  • Tape to put the label on the bowl
  • Kitchen Tongs.( Mine had holes in in so I covered them with tape to make catching things easier at first)
  • Pom-Poms 
  • Tray (easy transport and a place for Pom-Poms to be sifted through.

He had a blast! This tray wasn't much of a challenge for him, but the tongs were. He had never used them before. For parents who are scared to give their kids scissors, tongs are a great way to practice that pincer motion with out risk of cut clothing or hair. He was very proud of his accomplishment and is looking forward to tomorrow when we sort by color and create patterns!

Thanks for reading our first blog of activities! Let us know if you like one you see or have any suggestions for further our discovery!

What is my child truly learning?

I guess I should begin with why I decided to start this blog in the first place. My son had been in professional, licensed care since he was six-weeks old. Like most of you, I had to return to work and that meant putting my child in to the care of someone else.

The difference being, I was an Early Childhood Educator. This put me in the same building my son was in every day. While that did not mean that I could sneak snuggles through-out the day (despite how badly I wanted them!), it did mean I was able to observe the world I had placed him in.

When he was younger, it was mostly the games of juggle the babies that bothered me. Two teachers in a room of ten infants.  While it met State guidelines, that was a lot of mouths to feed, and diapers to change and it would require a fair bit of patience on the behalf of the babies. (and we all know how good babies are at waiting their turn :-) )

With each passing year I found myself becoming more and more uneasy with what I saw in his classrooms. Teachers on cell phones, or yelling at young toddlers for pulling hair. Impossible expectations and excessive recourse seemed to meet my child and his peers at every turn. Oh, how I longed to glance into a room and see a teacher wearing a laundry basket on her head or crawling on the floor like a caterpillar. How I wanted to hear teachers rave about the birds nest in the tree, not complain about the heat.

There were so many lessons to be found, from the gentle breeze to the size of the parking spaces the children moved past each day. I knew, surely - I couldn't be the only ones who saw each and every lesson just outside the pages of a premade lesson plan.

I had always been one to share the world around me. I would talk about the leaves changing colors, or recount a favorite story as we drove down the road.  I found that I began to do so more and more often. I didn't not do this to make up for some shortage he was getting at school. I did it because I loved it! I loved watching his face light up with each and every discovery. I was completely enamored by the way he saw the world and was blessed to see it with him.

When he was three years old, I was finally able to pull him and myself out of the construct of a typical pre-school. It had become a flux of  forced structure and chaos that often ended by a teacher screaming and threatening them all with time out. It had become ditto sheets and movies, while teachers read kindles or talked among themselves. 

I am not saying all educators in a professional situation are bad. I am simply stating what I saw in the decade that I worked in the field both as a teacher and a Mommy.  I am sure Pre-Schools can and are wonderful stable learning environments for children across the country.  I have found that their method of teaching does not suit the style of learning that my son benefits from. 

I am so blessed to be able to teach around his interests. For example, he found a box turtle tonight - guess what all our lessons will be around until he finds his next focus? It is great to be able to create a world around what he loves, and to see him flourish because it is what he needs. Not what a group needs, or what a state sanctioned curriculum feels like he should learn.

So in this blog I will be making weekly updates with some of our lessons and activities, a few of my crafting tid-bits might slip in along the way. I invite to you follow this blog and learn with us as we explore Hands-on Homeschooling.