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Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Spring" Time

This past Monday we spent a lot of time outside because the weather was beautiful! We played in the back yard and on our front porch. These pictures show the girls playing ABC bingo on quilt squares. I would love to take credit for making these, but my sweet friend Alisa made them for her girls and shared them with us.In a draw string bag there are magnetic letters that we chose from and then we marked the letters on the correct squares. Each time someone chose a letter I let Cely Kay try to identify the letter first, and if she could not Lillian became the "teacher" of the letter. 

Today it is rainy and cold outside! So we decided to read about and discuss spring with the book Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand.

 Spring is Here is a cute story about a mole who discovers it is spring and time to wake up. He tries to wake his friend bear, however bear does not want to wake up! We discussed why bear is sleeping and how we don't want to wake up sometimes too!
 After reading we made a spring tulip and decorated it with tissue paper that the girls and I tore into small pieces. 

First we covered the stem and leaves.
Next, we covered the top of the tulip.

Our final products are beautiful! After completing our project we looked out the window through the rain to see the lively tulips growing in our neighbors yard! We are thankful for the rain today so that the flowers may continue to grow and we can enjoy the beauty He has created during this new season! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our Writing Centers

On any given day in our house you will find all types of paper! My two girls are always wanting to draw, cut, color, make crafts, etc.( I can't imagine where they get it from!) So I stumbled upon a Pinterest idea from the Stay at Home Educator blog describing  a writing center for each child. The idea is to organize materials for each child that they can have access to at any time. I placed our writing centers in our "art area" in our house. We spent a lot of time discussing how to keep the center organized and how to clean up when finished. Today was our first day of "writing" and it was a hit! Here are a few shots of how I organized our centers. 
 I created notebooks for each girl with plastic sleeves to store their artwork in after finishing or waiting to finish. I also placed mailboxes on top of each center for Joey and I to write notes to the girls and for them to write notes to each other.
 These are our top drawers for supplies. We went into a lot of detail about caring for these items. (i.e. keeping crayons and markers in their boxes, tops on markers, etc.)
 In the second drawer I placed fun stickers, notepads, post its, paper etc. I placed some of the same things in both drawers and some different based on the interests of each girls or based on the materials available.
 I am going to use the third drawer for bigger paper or notepads.

Here is a glimpse of where these centers are in our "art area". Today I moved the drawers to the floor and the girls worked fine. However, our home is very old which means the floors are very cold. The girls did not seem to mind, but I would like to come up with another solution for a work space. 

Lillian spent at least 30 minutes "writing" today. She loved feeling up her plastic sleeves with her work and they are all in one place. 

In our art area I also organized everything into drawers. This has been a big help having all these supplies in one place that is easily accessible.
Another way that has helped to organize our crafts and art work is our clothesline of work. I usually display things for about two weeks and switch it our with our new work. The girls really like seeing their work displayed for others to see!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Since my last post a lot has happened in our "schooling" life! First, of all I am trying to leave the idea that we "do school" at a certain time of day and only then. In contrast to that embedded belief is that we are always "doing" school. As you cook in the kitchen and tell your children what you are doing, " I am now going to mix the egg in and next I will put the milk" etc. , you are "doing" school. I am currently reading The Well Trained Mind by Jesse and Susan Wise Bauer. This book gives an overview of classical education at home. Int the beginning of the book of its preschool section it states" the best early teaching you can give your child is to immerse her in language from birth."What if I only spoke to my girls during our"school time" in the mornings? They would miss so much of life and of learning. This does not mean we are going to stop allotting time in the mornings to go into our school room and work, but it simply means that I will see every moment as an opportunity for them to learn. This outlook will also help to change your view of a crying baby at night from how you are missing another minute of sleep to a opportunity to "do school" at 2 am and learn and teach patience and graciousness only given from our heavenly Father.

In this picture we are "learning" how to serve our sister by playing "Salon Trend" (name created by Lillian). So much fun to watch and it did not have to happen in the four walls of our school room.

     Not only is our morning school time in full swing and my vision of school changing,  but so is Alpha Omega preschool co-op. We have two classes with 16 students this year and students are flourishing! This year we have also started monthly field trips to go along with our Sprouts class unit curriculum. This past month as we studied community helpers and we visited the bank and Mellow Mushroom. At MM they allowed us to be pizza "bakers" by baking and making our own pizzas and pretzels. It was a wonderful time of learning! In our study of community helpers we have tried to teach the importance of community and to see the gifts that God gives to people in our community such as a baker who can use their gifts to provide for their community.
    At the beginning of this semester we added another lead teacher to our group which has already proven to be a blessing. I stand amazed at how the Lord has taken a small vision of "doing" life and school together with a group of moms to a weekly program of cooperative parenting, teaching, and learning.

Mellow Mushroom Bakers

In our classroom at home we have had a lot of fun! I have been reminded once again of the difference in learning styles students can have by my own two children. Lillian loves to sit, listen, participate, and complete tasks. Cely Kay has been given her own style of doing a lot of different things in a short amount of time, but joyfully doing all the while! Below I have highlighted some of our favorite moments in learning. Enjoy!

   Who ever knew the joy a couple of cups and erasers could bring.?! Cely Kay started our year in tray chair but has now moved to a big girl chair. She loves to pour from cup to cup.

    Here is an idea you can use with any holiday or activity. This was a tot tray for Cely Kay and the numbers were one to five. For Lillian the numbers were higher. Some examples of other ideas are: 1. February you could write a number on a foam heart and place conversation hearts on the foam hearts. 2. If you are studying community helpers print paper firetrucks and paper firemen. Put numbers on the trucks and place that amount of firemen "in" the truck. 3. In the spring print the center of a flower with a number and place that many flower petals around the outside. 4. On the outside of sand buckets place a number and inside place that many seashells inside. (Last year I brought about 50 shells home from the beach to use as manipulatives this year)
As you can see the possibilities are endless. If you have an upcoming unit and need an idea let me know!
One of our favorite pass times are our pom- pon sensory tubs. This one was created by our sweet friend Bebe as a birthday gift. It has been enjoyed time and time again! 

Stars with numbers 10 to 20 that tell Lillian how many "ornaments" to place on the trees. 

        One of my favorite times in the classroom is Valentines! Last year we used these mailboxes for Lillian. She was given an envelope with a number and she had to match the number from the envelope to the mailbox. This year I changed the activity to a treat delivering activity by the mailmen. For each mailbox there was a number and Lillian helped Cely Kay count out the appropriate amount of conversation hearts to place in the mailboxes. These mailboxes are from the Target dollar section as well as the foam number stickers on the outside.
       Valentine sensory tub- Some task Cely Kay is asked to complete are to find all the erasers to find all the paper hearts, to use the cookie cutters to make pom -pon heart shaped cookies, etc.

  For our handwriting program as well as math we use Handwriting Without Tears. These cards are from the materials for these programs. Lillian was instructed to count the blocks and then place the same amount of conversation hearts beside the cards.
This week we read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. We then created a scene from the book. 

We used cotton balls to create snow on the top of the buildings and q- tips to create drops of snow on the buildings and on Peter the main character. 
For Cely Kay we started the alphabet over for our 2nd time through. In this activity she is gluing circles on her C. She loves to glue!

        Our last Valentine activity was Heartbreaking numbers. I found this idea on another blog I'll Treasure This. Lillian and I worked on mending the broken hearts during Cely Kay's nap on Friday.

Lillian worked on patterning this week with tangrams. She continued her work around the house as she pointed out patterns. For example I have some hearts hanging from a chalkboard in the kitchen and she described their A/B pattern of big, small, big, small, etc. 

Finally, Cely Kay has discovered the joys of our prize box that the girls visit when they have earned so many stars. This was what she chose as her prize this week. Oink! Oink! she kept saying. She also dressed herself for school on this day...I LOVE my students has taken on a whole new meaning! 


Monday, September 24, 2012

What Have We Been Up To?

 To me Cely Kay's face in this picture summarizes how much fun we have had in these first few weeks of school!
" I did it" is what she said to me in this picture! This was one of our first tot trays and she started with two colored apples, but now she easily sorts three!Amazing what happens when you continue to let them try. 
 For this tot tray I laid out three letters and a flash card. I would call out the letter on the flashcard and ask her to match the magnet to the flashcard.
 She did it! (most of the time) This tray is from the dollar store. The magnetic letters are Melissa and Doug. The set comes with upper and lower case.
 Lillian had to sort these Handwriting Without Tears flashcards into three groups.
 Next she pieced them together in order. The top of each card had a letter as well as the bottom of the card had animals.
 She loved this activity!
 Our theme for these first few weeks has been Apples! One of Lillian's favorite centers is apple picking!
 She had to pour the "apples" on the tree and then pick them off with a pair of tweezers.
Alpha Omega which is our preschool co op started this week as well. We have two classes this year with a total of 14 students and two classes. It was a perfect start with a lot of parent participation, learning, and smiles from all students! 
 Cely Kay loved co op as well. She spent her day in the nursery and dreamed of being a part of her own class next year!
 We took our first Alpha Omega field trip on Saturday to Sky Top Apple Orchard. This is a family tradition for us and it was a delight to spend the day with friends. 

 Cely Kay had fun "picking" the apples from the ground!
 I had a lot of fun creating some apple treats to share with our friends. 
All the pictures of all of us are on my in laws camera, but one of the neatest parts of the trip was that the dads were able to go along as well. I look forward to sharing all of our adventures of Alpha Omega with you.