Saturday, December 8, 2012

Simple...But Busy Times!

Well, I wondered about whether I'd get to post very often here.  :-)  Obviously the answer is no, since the last post was a month ago.  I find that I don't get very many pictures of Mr. T. either but he surely seems to be enjoying our busy mornings.

Number Rings 
Have I shared the bead "bracelets"?  I know I did last year with the preschoolers but not sure if I did with T.  He loves these!  We've done them a few times.  I placed beads on pipe cleaners 0-10. He can move the beads to help him count correctly and then he places the corresponding number in the center.  He recognizes all the number 0-10.  However, he does place the numerals 01 for ten.  He doesn't count to 10 in the correct order consistently yet...but he's getting there!
Family Name Snowmen
Learning to cut circles.  I did try the glitter glue around shapes to help him with his cutting but he has enough strength in his hand that he cuts right through the glitter glue.  Oops!  He was so disgusted with himself.   Anyway, decided to just go back to plain paper with thicker lines and encourage him to turn the paper not his scissors.  Teaching him how to cut is trickier than it was for the other children. He's a left-y...I'm a right-y.  Same for writing.  Been quite interesting!  He really did enjoy this activity.  We did a name every day. 
Go Fishing
T. is actually picking up letters and their sounds just by listening to the other children (mainly me with the first grader).  Heaven help us but he even is starting to grasp finger stretching words to hear the different sounds.  So, I decided it's probably time to start doing a little more "formal" activities.  I first thought I'd do the order of learning how to read but then switched to the order of writing them because he's interested in writing letters also.  Rather have him learn letter formation correctly.  So, we went to F this week.  HWT's order.  Though we did a bit with building the letter...we focused a lot of the sound it makes.  One of the very simple activities he loved (we actually did it multiple times) is to "go fishing".  Yarn with a magnet at the end and fish shapes with a paper clip on them.  An oldie but goodie activity.  I've done this activity for years and every child loves it.  Anyway, I found these lovely F fish at Ms. Carlie's Little Learners.  Each fish has a picture that begins with /f/.  And since another thing T. is picking up on his own is patterns (notice the snowman hats in the above activity) I encouraged him to set the fish in an abab pattern on the table in front of him.  He doesn't know what I mean when I say "well, what would come next?" but that's okay.  I got a laugh out of it.  He looks at me with his nose wrinkled and then down at the tray on the floor and tells me, "none-zero-I don't have any left."  !!!!  Love it! 
If T. could do numbers and letters only for "school" he'd be quite happy.  :-)  Actually, it's probably because that is what he witnesses the most...especially with the 1st grader.  Language Arts and Math take up most of the day.  He's usually sleeping when we work on the 1st graders other subjects.  The tactile numbers he placed on top of a number line that I created in PrintShop using animals in the form of numbers.  Mini erasers are great counters!  Check Oriental trading for a large selection.

Another very simple but pleasing activity for T.  Taking a deck of cards and sorting.  What I liked was I was able to reinforce the difference between a letter and a number.  He'll tell you to "count" with any numbers he sees and he'll tell you to "read" with letters but he still interchanges the words when he's talking about them.  Definitely normal for a 3 year old.  No concerns...but I'm always looking for ways to slip that concept in.  :-)
What a kid!  He's quite the loud mouth which causes some problems during the morning but he surely makes us all smile.  I hear my 7 year old say a lot "He's got a big vocabulary!"  (C.'s all into vocabulary right now because he does "vocabulary" every day.  I was just thinking...the other day my husband was trying to figure out why we can do online vocabulary on a particular computer so he was going through a lesson.  He said...these words don't have anything to do with each other...they seem random."  At the time I thought "Whatever, he's learning because I hear the new vocab in his talk."  But now that I'm thinking about it...even though Vocabulary seems's not...because it's pulling in words from all the subjects that he's working on at the time.  Interesting.  Ha!  This is the preschool blog.  Well, guess that should have went over on the Schooling At Home blog. Oh well, that's the way it goes...everything is intermingled in my brain.  :-P)  Back to "big vocabulary".  T. does.  It is so neat to listen to him.  One benefit with being with older kids day in and day out. :-) 

Had a few more pictures to share but my card reader decided not to work, once again.  Odd how it randomly decides not to read the card.  Anyhow...all for now. Hoping that you are having lovely days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This and That

Little guy and his brothers. 
He wasn't so fond of putting on a costume, as usual, but I'm betting that next year won't be an issue.  We didn't have to walk up to any door with him once he realized there was candy involved...and though he wouldn't say Trick 'or' Treat...he did give a resounding "Thank-you" after most houses.  :-)

A few things T. enjoyed recently...

Letter Sort
Tiles in mashed potato flakes.  :-)  A little messy but easy clean up.
He'd dig through with the spoon but not really "shake off" the extra flakes.  That made too much mess for him since he couldn't control the spoons so he ended up digging through with the spoon and when one got on top he'd pick it up and place it on the mat.  Mr. Perfectionist here...time to go outside (his favorite part of the day, of course) but he was missing 2 letters and COULD/would not go outside until someone helped him find them.  LOL
I think this little book was a birthday gift and we are just now getting to it. :-P Actually, I had to find time to tear all the pages out of the workbook and put them in plastic sheet allow him to do it again and again. :-) I'm fond of the Kumon Tracing workbook. This one is nice also. It's called Fun to Trace the ISBN number is 978-1-60553-648-4.  Beginner lines, shapes, letters, numbers, and more "maze" like lines in the back. He loved it! And...this is the first time he actually did loops!

Now, this is a great picture of Mr. T! LOL Wonder what he was saying to me.  T. does not care for playdough. Really?! Yes, really. I can't get him to play with it at all. But, if I create snakes for him to cut, yes, that's okay. Got to love this kid!  :-)
 Should probably think twice about posting this picture.  I know there was quite the controversy over this not too long ago.  Yes, those are thumb tacks.  
I wouldn't say the process of this was his favorite activity.  It worked the muscles in his fingers and it took him 5 days to do (one day per letter) but the great thing about the project was that when he was done...he was very proud of it!  So, that in itself is a good thing to learn young...perseverance!  Anyway...please supervise if you are allowing your children to use thumbtacks.
Give him a tub of sand in the pool and will he explore?  Nope.  Give him some sand at the table with a spoon, funnel, bottles and happy as a pea.  :-P
If you haven't done this yet...please do!  :-)  Fill a clear jar over 3/4 of the way full, squirt shaving cream into the jar to fill to the top.  Two primary colored containers of water and two eye droppers.  The colors will eventually make it through the shaving cream and mix.
Another, "right up his alley" activity.  :-)  I didn't hide the tiles this time.  Just plopped them on a tray.  He loved it and even started singing ABC song.  The stickler...he actually started going from left to right and the pumpkins went in a vine like pattern left to right then right to left.  Messed him up...but it did show me that he's starting to internalize the left to right movements. 
He enjoyed the end product of his paper cutting pumpkin. 
I often had him snipping paper and then we'd paste it into a project.
Water Beads are always a hit!  These have been around for quite awhile.  They have even been outside in the garage in hot and freezing temperatures.  No mold (that's what I was afraid of) and did not freeze.  Cool beans! Oh, look at have Tuesday on the left in the digger shirt and Wedneday on the right in the Thomas shirt.  LOL  Have you noticed all the digger and Thomas shirts?  No, these weren't taken on the same days.  :-P  And I promise they are clean...and on the rare occaision we talk him into a red or green striped shirt because the other two are in the laundry...he's not all that happy.  :-) 
Mr. T. has moved from 12 piece puzzles to 24 piece puzzles.  Um, well those won't last long either.  Next stop, 63 piece.  One benefit of the larger puzzles is that it gives me a few more minutes!  I particularly like these dollar store nursery rhyme puzzles.  The quality isn't the best but it's nice to reinforce the song.  T. hasn't learned them like the other kids did.  I think they are great for teaching phonological awareness.

Oh my, not very happy here...blurry pic, sorry.  This was his first "real" cutting project.  I put glue on the border to make it a little harder for him to cross over into the acorn...but it didn't help and heaven help us when he accidentally cut inside the acorn instead of outside.  But, he did pretty well and the next step was to crunch up leaves and paint/glitter the acorn...the really neat thing was that I thought he'd balk at crinkling up the leaves but he didn't!

I wouldn't say the end product was beautiful but the process sure was!  He's proud of his work and that's what counts!

And there he is!  Mr. T.  3 years 5 months...even had his first dentist appointment today and though he refused to talk to anyone...he did great.  :-P

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My "Academic" Preschooler

Those that know me well know that I really push that sensory-open ended art during the toddler/preschool years. T. is 3 years old and has had what I describe as "sensory issues".  :-)  He never liked to get his hands dirty...actually, still doesn't for the most part.  Forget any type of messy art...or sensory.  And really, the sensory tubs/pool does not keep his interest for long...even with "clean" materials. Do you know what he really likes?  Academics.  Huh?!  Yes, that's what he likes and thrives on.  So that is throwing me for a little loop this year as most "academic" type tasks usually requires some assistance when you are talking about a 3 year old.  But, we'll get it figured out!  Here are some of the activities we did this past week...
Matching numbers to pumpkin seeds.  Ha!  This was on a whim.  I didn't think he really could count sets past 3 so I put only 5 pumpkins down because then the shape would help him "self-correct" but no, I put down the 5 and he tells me, "all of them".  So I went ahead and so that meant there were 2 or 3 of the same shapes.  Oh my goodness!  I was impressed!  He did them all.  He couldn't really count the 9 and 10 correctly but the shapes then helped him but the rest he did on his own.  So, now I'm curious, was it just guessing or now we'll explore that this next week.  :-)  And by the way, this was right up his alley of "fun". Ha!
He's really into pumpkins since we went to the neighbors and picked pumpkins.  We have such kind neighbors!  Matching has always come easy for him but again, this is right up his alley as "fun".
Measuring scarecrows.  :-)  The time he somewhat shocked me here was that he was getting to the 4th scarecrow and noticed the pattern 1 crow tall, 2 crows tall, 3 crows tall and he looked at me and pointed to the 4th scarecrow and said, "This 4 birds."! 
1:1 correspondence.  We'll do this again with different types of tweezers and the pumpkin erasers in a bowl vs. a bag.  I just hadn't planned for him to do this right at the moment but he saw it and wanted too and I didn't have the few moments it took to really prepare it how I would have liked to.  But he was happy!
Another favorite of his.  I do not put this under "sensory".  This is fine motor and he loves all sorts of tasks like this.  Very orderly...definitely appeals to his personality. 
Matching numbers..again "fun" for him.  He actually recognized them all but the 4 (which I don't use that font for 4 typically and 6, 9...understandably. 
Shapes are one area that he really hasn't grasped the names of.  He knows circle but more often than not calls is an "O".  Everything else usually ends up as a "triangle" as his first guess.  So we'll do more of that as time goes on.
Definitely another "academic" type activity.  Matching letters to spell words, these were fall theme words.
Oh boy, I think I have my work cut out for me.  The nice thing is that our schooling at home routine is starting to settle into a very nice routine...not as overwhelming.  We are figuring out when we need to do usually I have the time to at least slide over to him and review what he did so we can get some growth out of the activities.  :-)  Have I mentioned that he loves "school" and when I don't set trays out for him...we all go a bit crazy...I learned my lesson! 

Monday, October 15, 2012


This post is really more for me...blogging is a way for me to keep track of developmental milestones.

T.  is changing quite a bit again.  Vocabulary has become very large, starting to compare things by size, definitely interested in "school", pointing out letters and saying a few letter names, noticing numbers, counting orally, adding words when I pause in reading or singing, starting to yell words at his brothers instead of just plain yelling when he was mad (LOL), etc.  I only made the mistake once in not planning on him being with us for a morning group lesson.  :-)  He is always wanting to join us in whatever we do.  I'm not a big coloring sheet fan, but having something to do while they listen to a history lesson is always a plus and what we normally do afterwards is write/draw a narration on the back of the page.  We've only done a couple coloring sheets that were provided along with the lesson but it was definitely something the children enjoyed and so I'll allow it since the kiddos are older.  With preschoolers, I pretty much stayed away of such things.  So, I printed an extra sheet for T. for this lesson and I was suitably impressed...first because he was so serious in talking about his work and then proud...I definitely enjoyed his colorful page.  It is one of the first where he just didn't scribble with one color across the whole page.  Definitely a sign of cognitive developmental changes taking place.  :-) 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Scissors and 3 year olds

Please please please.....
Let your older toddlers and preschoolers explore with scissors.  :-)  Of course,'s when they aren't supervised when problems happen.  I've seen many kindergarten scenarios where a child hasn't really ever picked up a pair of scissors because they "might hurt themselves, or cut their hair, or...".  Why I say to "please let them explore" goes beyond they needing to practice so they don't get behind their classmates in kindergarten.  Scissors are a great tools for building dexterity, control, etc of the fingers.  And you know what...I haven't met one young child who has not enjoyed the repetition and cause-effect of snipping paper.  This activity buys a busy mommy quite a bit of time!
So how do you "teach" your child to cut. 
Number 1) let them explore. 
I find that most children do not need an actual cutting program to learn how to cut.   :-)
If you are concerned about them hurting themselves, start with a pair of plastic scissor and playdough snakes. 
To help young children be successful use construction paper or cardstock, not much lighter-not much heavier then either of those.
T.'s activity today...
This was actually a glitter glue exploration.  (He told me "it's hard to cut where the sugar is." !!! Love it!) Lately I've gotten in a habit of letting him explore with "art" on paper and then we turn it into a cutting exploration and then we turn the little pieces into a pasting exploration.   Making use of all that lovely work!  3 different trays-3 different days.  Typically I cut the same size strips, pretty thin, one snip and it's cut.  Today I arranged strips from thinnest to thickest on the tray and encouraged him to go from the thinnest strips to the thickest strips.  By the time he got to the thick ones he had to use two snips to get it cut apart. 
Our next step is to start to include thick marker lines and see if he'll start snipping on the lines.  :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Water Transfer

Blogging has been put to the bottom of the priority list time and time again.  :-)  Guess that's the way it goes.  Very busy...but a happy busy.  Did want to slip in this picture because it was a favorite with T., 3 years old. 
Since T. has been having such success with the 12 piece jigsaw alphabet puzzles, I also try to incorporate those letters in his other work.  (Neat to hear him talk about letters now!)  Here he is actually using the letter A and B sponges.  :-)  Adding color to the water a) keeps interest b) helps them to see where they drip--correct error c) helps YOU to see where they dripped...I do NOT like wet socks!  LOL
Simple, not to messy, kid loved, teacher/parent loved (great fine motor-gave him two sponges to encourage him to use both hands.  He started with his dominant hand but did do a bit with his right hand).  If you haven't already...give this activity a try! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning the alphabet...beginning with their name.

It's so important to begin learning the alphabet with something that is meaningful.  Yes, I use the HWT's order of alphabet for teaching children how to correctly form their letters.  And I use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lesson's  order for teaching the children how to read.  But what do I do with 3 year olds who are not ready for any formal learning of the alphabet?  I start with something that is MOST meaningful.  Their name!
At the supper table last night, Great Grandma (who had been away for a week and a half) was over for supper and was wondering what T. does when the other children are here.  So I just commented that he has his "school work" to do.  So we got talking about his name work he did last week...
 He told us without looking at any of his work, this was just a conversation at the table..."T, R....there are two the end" holding up both pointer fingers.  He needed me to air write the E and the N and remind him what the E was but he got the rest of it.  I'm not quite sure whether he really knew the answer when Daddy asked "So what does that all spell?"  but I'm quite pleased with what he has already progressed in!
First off I should say that we also do a "tracing" name sheet each day.
 He matches the letter tile/manipulative and I trace the name with him.  With my young ones, I always trace hand over hand with them.  Doing this helps them get the correct letter formation engrained early!  The large blank area is a place to try to write it down himself. At this point he doesn't do much but he has moved beyond scribbling to creating somewhat of a closed circle!
And on this day, Mom was a bit slow in getting to him when he was ready and he decided to trace the letters himself!  :-)
  Below is an activity we did throughout last week.  It's simply a letter of his name created with 1" circles in Print Shop.  I added some block letters that he and I traced together while saying the word above them, emphasizing the beginning letter sound.
Since we've already worked with the letters in his name and posted it up on the wall...
I decided to give him a gluing activity that included the foam letters of his name and some big, medium, small shapes.  I was curious if he'd
1) recognize the letters as ones being in his name. 
2) Glue them in order.
There it is! :-) Obviously he wasn't interested in the letters of his name.  LOL (Whew!  I wasn't really ready to move onto the next step yet!)  However, he was very interested in gluing in circles-or the very least, closing up lines.  Very interested in that actually...
During his name writing practice he had that whole bottom section covered with lines that connected.  I think it was close to 3 minutes he spent on the bottom section, carefully drawing lines.  :-)  But what I wanted to share in this picture was the baby sock on his hand.  Perfect eraser for toddlers.  :-)  I use plastic page protectors and dry erase markers quite frequently.  This way he can actually erase his work himself, which is half of the fun ya know! 
One other activity we did every day last week were our 12 piece alphabet puzzles.  I know I've posted about those before.  We purchased ours from Lakeshore Learning.  I had a gut feeling he could do these but I never really had time to find out for sure.  So I knew I'd have a bit more time on Monday (and had it again on Tues.) so I put out the T puzzle on Monday.
I needed to help him with almost all of it.
I needed to help him get it started.
 Letter E, all by himself!  And I couldn't really get a good picture because EVERY time he got a piece he threw up his arms and half yelled, "I did it!"  "I did another one!"  :-)  We had a smile-y morning that morning!
 So, Thursday he got the letter N and then back to T on Friday.  All's well!  He now can officially complete a 12 piece jigsaw puzzle all by himself!
Hope you all have a lovely week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preschool Tray Activities

This was purchased through Discount School Supply..."mobile art rack".  Works perfect for what we need it for! 
So, as been mentioned, we are taking the tray route with T.  This allows him to work independently, for the most part.  It went very well the first day and then he began to get picky.  This week we started fresh and I taken the attitude with him that the time after our group lesson and before we have snack and get outside is "school time" for him.  His "school work" is to go from the top tray to the bottom tray.  So, that keeps him busy in the kitchen, at the table, so he is not distraction to the older students and he's also there where I can interact with him a bit more.  He did great these last two days!  It's not a big deal if he doesn't do everything on the cart.  I just move up what he didn't do to the top for the next day.  :-) 
For my own sake...we are doing activities that are not "new".  :-)  A lot of neat ideas on Pinterest but I really don't have time to prep for another child.  I'm giving myself a month or so.  And it's just fine for him since he was too young to remember doing any of the preschool work we did in years past so they are "new" to him.  We are not following a specific theme either.  Each day we work on something in the alphabet (his name at the moment), something with shapes, colors, numbers, fine motor/puzzle, writing explorations, art and sensory.  Unfortunately, I was unable to slip in picture taking very much that first week...and I didn't do very good in the 2nd week, especially with T. but now that things are evening out, perhaps I'll get more.  :-)
These are great for preschoolers who are working on number recognition.  The goal was to put a chip on the numeral that match the large numeral.  Using magnetic chips add a well-liked component and they can wave the magnetic wand over top to "erase" their boards.  I know I have uploaded pictures of children doing this because it's often a favorite for the children and as the teacher it's a great activity...but I'm not sure if I ever uploaded the actual document so here it is...Spotting Numbers.
Love the idea of these shapes.  Very strong magnetic surface.  You can purchase them at Lakeshore Learning, Jumbo Magnetic Design Shapes.  They have a nice stand-up magnetic dry-erase board just for the shapes but we lack space so we just use our fridge. :-)  The only downfall is that the colored paper on top peels off easily.  :-(  So not so durable.  We've had these for quite awhile but they've only held up as they have because they were never put out for "free choice".  It was always a planned less "abuse".  However, they have had them in the local libraries and you can soon see that they aren't so visually appealing after much use. They are such a favorite with the kiddos though!  Great for teaching shapes, colors, add an art component and for older students, beginning fractions.
Here's an activity that did not go as planned!  I should have predicted it though.  :-)
I had a plastic shape sorter that I got from a garage sale that cracked soon after I got it.  So I've had the shapes hanging around here because I couldn't part with something that could be used for some odd activity.  :-)  Then I thought, playdough, these have all textured prints of the shape on the top.  We'll make prints on playdough.  Hmmm, yes.  Well, it turned into "measurement" activity.  Ha!  How much playdough can we shove inside this shape?  Yes, they were hollow.  That would have been really cool if the playdough came out in the shape but, it didn't...and it just made more work for me on a day I really really really didn't need more work.  :-P  Oh well, even after how many years working with toddlers/preschoolers...I still "live and learn".  LOL  However, we will do this again, when I can be there to "explore" with him.  The textures are pretty cool!
And finally!  I took the time to start up a new blog for my school-agers...
I find blogging a great way to evaluate how the day/week/month went.  It allows me to go through snapshots I've taken and really, in essence, it's a stress reliever.  :-)  So as busy as I am, I do hope to post in both places at least once a week.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

School Year 2012-2013 has started!

Wow!  We are into our second week and boy oh boy are we a busy crew! 
This year the situation in the home is a bit different.  Instead of preschoolers filling this home we have school-agers.  Some being homeschooled and others schooling from home.  :-)  We hope that the homeschooled children will be accepted into the visual charter academy but if they don't get in this year, they will get in next year with sibling priority.
I do plan to start a blog with activities here and there that are being done with the school-agers.  Finding time is the issue!  :-)  I'm going to try to keep this one for preschool learning.  My youngest son is 3 years old and he is my only preschooler this year but we'll post every once in awhile.  :-)
So what has T. been doing this week?  He's been trying to figure out where his place is in the group of 6 children.  Right now we are trying to figure out just what we are doing :-P and so he's been "on his own" in the mornings.  Meaning, I'm not sitting with him and working with him at this time.  We are incorporating that wonderful tray cart that I purchased at the beginning of the school year last year. 
He sits with us and interacts as much as possible with our group morning lessons (calendar notebook and history/social studies, art/music, story time).  When we move on from that, 3 of the students and myself move into the kitchen and that signals T. to go get his cart and bring it into the kitchen.  :-)
The first day he was with us (2nd day of school) was awesome...he went from the top tray to the bottom tray and our morning went very smoothly.  He's getting picky now.  :-)  So I'll have to consider what I'm placing on the trays.  I did have a lovely plan to do activities following Nursery Rhymes this year with him but...well, that went out the window with how much planning and prep I have to do with the other kids.  So, we'll continue as we are for now.
These are his buddies for this school year...
T. 3 yrs., L.-1st grade, C. and E-2nd grade, W.-3rd grade, A- 4th grade.
Anyone need some volunteer hours?  LOL
W. is so kind to him.  She's has a mothering spirit about her and doesn't like it when he's not happy.  We'll see how it goes, there is a possibility he'll interfere with how much of her tasks she gets done in the morning.  :-)  Right now though, he needs that additional "mothering" since mom is busy busy so I'm letting it go with verbal reminders to get her work done.  Here's a picture from today...
Isn't that sweet?  That story was part of her tasks today, she was working on Story Elements and had chosen The Lorax.  She was able to complete the Story Elements page correctly so...either she's very familiar with the story (a big possibility) or she was able to get out of the reading what needed even with a 3 year old interrupting, pointing to pictures, and talking. 
Will let this be all for today...just wanted to let you know that I'm back. :-)  I'll be sharing T.'s "favorite" trays the next time I have a few moments.