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.