Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Work Trays

This whole school year we've been using the tray approach to help me stay a bit more organized with T., who is my only preschooler this year.  And, really, when he's in Kindergarten, I still will probably use the tray approach if we continue to choose schooling at home.  (That blog can be found here.) 

I don't always get a chance to snap pictures of T. working and very seldom do I have time to take a picture of the tray.  I should get in a habit of it...but it is BUSY around here.  So here are a few snapshots of things we've done recently.

Fish Craft
A take on the tried and true paper plate fish.  :-)

Painting the Alphabet
This particular morning all the school-age kids were finishing up some sort of art project...and all required paint.  :-D  So I grabbed this paper and gave him a set of water colors.  He actually attempted to trace the letters this time instead of just painting over the whole paper.  Growth!  He was concentrating just like that for all 26 letters.  :-)

File Folder Games!  
He loves them!  I love them!
So simple, usually takes less than 5 minutes to complete one but easily reinforces Language Arts concepts.  We've been checking them out from our local library.  However, I do plan to work on some over summer break for next school year.  :-)  A great, QUICK, concept reinforcement for Kindergarten and 1st grade, also!

Shamrock Number Matching
 Even though some of these are done on the floor...they all started out on a tray.  :-)  We had to move to the living room to give ourselves more space.  First he took one set of shamrocks and put them in order from left to right and top to bottom.  We worked with number to 23.  He could do up to 14 on his own.  Then he took the other set and clipped the matching numbers together with a clothespin.  Great fine motor.  Reinforced the numbers multiple times.  :-)

Animal ABC: Scissors
As mentioned in the last post, we are working through the alphabet making simple animal letter crafts.  We've gotten our ideas by googling them.  :-)  I simply print out the block letter and he cuts them out.  Then we add features.  Here are some ones he has been working on recently...
I actually got this pattern from Get 'er Done, Mama.  However, though I liked the extra faces, etc, I found that they were a bit small for T.  So we went back to a simple block letter from Print Shop and making our own simple features . But, she has several patterns if you are interested in them for yourself.  And, really, as a preschool teacher, I don't like to use a giraffe with the letter G.  I'd rather use an animal that starts with the hard g sound, like goat.  But T. being T....we did a giraffe.  :-D
 H is for horse.  I is for iguana.
I've found that T., against my nature completely, loves "worksheets". :-D So I found some iguana ones at 1+1+1=1: Animal ABC's.  He loved tracing his shapes and numbers, etc.  And he gets a kick out of it when I let him go put it in the school-ager's basket.  :-D
He's getting a bit more confident with cutting but it also had led him to be more sloppy.  :-/ Not all that unusual...just needs reminders now to slow down and try to stay on the line.  :-)
J is for jaguar. 
Bean Sorting: Math/Fine Motor
He's losing interest in these types of sorting activities...and that's okay.  He's been doing them for a long time.  :-)  They make for a great math and fine motor activity though!

Eraser Bowling
Saw in passing on Pinterest.
He loved this!  Of course I couldn't get a picture fast enough.  He'd flick that marble and have all the eraser down.  :-)  Another great fine motor activity---flicking the marble (we used a big one) and setting up the erasers to do it again!
Zebra Painting
T. had it in his head he wanted to make a zebra for school so this is what we come up with.
 We tried the yarn fold and paint technique where you fold the paper in half and slide the yarn through but it didn't work well for him.  So we ended up just sliding the yarn across the paper, but that didn't work well for him either because the probability of getting the paint on his hands was high.  Ha!  Anyway, then he cut out a zebra shape.  Simple.  Made him happy.


 Penguin Paper Plate Craft
Another animal he "just had to make" was a penguin.  So we came up with this activity.  :-)  Perfect for working with circles.  He didn't really like the process of the circle making but he liked his end outcome.  Guess there is a lesson in that! 

Button Math
Okay, there was more to this activity but there is something he enjoys about putting buttons on flash cards and adding the matching tactile number.  Activities like this tend to appeal to the natural tendency for toddlers and preschoolers to be organized.  :-)  Yes, I did notice he went from right to left this time.   :-)  After he did the number 1-9, we continued on to introduce even and odd numbers.  We had done that last week and I'll continue to slip it in every once in awhile.  This morning I heard my 10 year old talking to him about whether a number was even or odd and seeing if the marbles he had in his hand all had buddies.  :-))  We read our odd/even poem (mentioned multiple times in this blog) about when the number is even there is always a buddy.  And we checked to see if we could move make the buttons on that number card each have a buddy.  If not, we put that card, button and number away.  That left the even numbers which we counted out with typical 2, 4, 6, 8...who do we appreciate.  :-)  Just an intro...expands his thinking a bit.  :-)
Memory Games
Memory games make great work tray activities!  I picked up this transportation one up at the dollar store the other day.  He took apart all the pieces first and then we laid them down together, reinforcing the left to right/top to bottom motion.  
Since Daddy just played "Memory" with him (because he couldn't hold all the Old Maid cards with only 2 players), this was exciting for him.  He enjoyed it and spent quite a bit of time with this activity.

What's Missing?
Another activity that my very academic preschool loved. 
These are foam shapes that I picked up awhile ago at the Target $1 section.  Any manipulatives could be used.  I created 4 different patterns (AB, ABB, ABC, and AAB) and took one out of each pattern.  He had to find the missing piece.  :-)  I created another tray for him today that actually had two blocks on top of each other, in a pattern.  We didn't get to it today though...too busy doing other stuff!  Ah well, we'll get to it tomorrow.  :-)

Water Transfer 
St. Patty's Day clearance section :-)  Little mugs and an eyedropper.

Not a tray activity...but a field trip.  :-)
Grossology Exhibit at the Midland Center for the Arts
Best part, of course, was the slide through the nose!
 Actually, that probably isn't the truth...
This was probably his favorite spot.  They had quite a few instrument displays at the museum...outside of the exhibit.
Another "not a tray" activity, but it could be relatively easily.
Pizza Fractions
Really, he was just playing with his brother.  :-)  The picture made me smile though and it does explain why preschoolers of homeschooling families often have no problem with academics.  Why?  They are being exposed to so many concepts by just being around their school-age siblings and those brain connections are already being started!

Spring is here!  Today was beautiful, the snow is quickly leaving!  Let's hope it stays that way!  I'm ready to be done with snow pants and gloves and so are the kids!  :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Preschool Learning

Working with some project that have green in it. :-)  St. Patty's Day?  Well, really, just because it's one of his favorite colors.  I've had paint bags out for him off and on.  Not once is he really ever been interested.  Goes along with his sensory hesitations.  Even though it's not making his fingers dirty since the paint is in the bag...but it was cool and squishy.  He didn't spend much time on it.  Still a great activity for most toddlers and preschoolers.  :-)
Don't forget the good ol' marble painting!  Always a favorite! Then I quickly drew three hearts and a stem on the back of the dried painted paper for him to cut.  He cut them out and we arranged it onto a piece of paper.  And, of course, we MUST write the word on top.  :-D
Green "C is for Cat".  He's taken an interest in making letters into animals so we are working through the alphabet and using this craft as our scissors task each day.

Simple but he definitely enjoys them. 
Salt trays are great for practicing writing letters, numbers, or drawing shapes. I gathered tactile letters with similar curving motions for this task.  After he went through the cards he had time to free draw.  No, he won't use his finger in the salt.  :-)  TeachPreschool had the idea of putting colored paper underneath the salt.  I've yet to try it, not sure why, but neat!
Ha!  Yes, here's a snapshot...not a very becoming one...but one that shows his disgust at getting it on his hands.  :-)  But he did enjoy the general concept of this addition.  I just gave him an eyedropper, some GREEN colored water paste spreaders (so he didn't have to use his fingers.)
More green.  Water is something that does not bother him.  And yes, he had green hands when he was done transferring the water via a sponge from one container to the next and pouring it back into the other container...and repeating. :-)  Definitely an activity toddler and preschoolers love.  And there is a control aspect.  If they spill it, they can see it clearly.  T.'s got it down pretty good. Very few spills anymore.
Okay, some not so green things.  One day he was looking in the cupboards and saw the stamps.  It HAD been awhile since we had them out.  He told me he wanted to stamp his name.  So we did (on the back of the paper).  But I decided I wanted to see where he was for extending patterns so I created patterns for him to extend.  AB, ABC, ABB, and AABB.  Success!  He extended them all correctly!

A nice simple activity here.  I wrote the numbers at the tip of the craft stick, 1-15.  I also included the word because he's starting to understand that everything you say can be spelled.  (Anyone want to join me in our trips around town and help me spell all the words he asks?  :-D)  He was able to put them in numerical order.  Poor kiddo can't say th"IR"teen for the life of him and it gets him mixed up with 14...since they sound so similar. 
Then we took it a step further.  After noticing the AB pattern of the craft sticks, we took all the brown ones out...leaving the even numbers.  :-D We'll do more with that over the next few days.  It was just an introduction.  I can see this being right up his ally...odd and even numbers.
I was trying to get him to mix the colors...but that requires him to get messy with playdough.  His compromise was to make balls of playdough.  This is the longest he has worked with playdough.  Yes, I know he's not all that typical.  LOL  But I was happy to see him make balls.  Great fine motor!
We do thank Wirt Library (Bay County Library System) for their many file folder games.  Not sure if they created them for our use or if they were donated (I'm guessing the latter), but we get a lot of use out of them.  This particular one was matching letter to beginning sounds of the pictures on the toaster. 
This was a fun art project that I saw as I was browsing through Pinterest. 
I have quite a bit of acrylic paints from my school-ager child care days.  Obviously they are getting old. So thought I'd start having the kids use them up. 
Some of the other kiddos wanted to do this project after watching him so they did...
Isn't that cool?  Frame worthy for sure! 
Not exactly sure how the original poster did her project and I can't even tell you what the site was so you can see.  Sorry!  I tried to find it again but couldn' wasn't something I pinned.  If you know, please pass it on so I can include the website address.
Well, I better stop for now.  We've had a busy couple of weeks, these are a few of the "highlights".  I've had someone ask me again how I plan for my preschooler.  Maybe I'll take a couple moments to share that again.
We have 6 children in the house ranging from 3-10.  T. is my preschooler.  Hard to believe he's just 3 months shy of 4 years old!  I do not follow a theme with him (as you can tell).  We are flying by the seat of our pants lately.  Seems odd if you know me at all, I know.  :-)  I have an idea of what I want to do each day and I try to include him in on the planning.
He does our group lesson with us if he can. That's about 30 minutes.  Then we move onto his cart.
File folder game (usually Language Arts)
Book on tape/CD
Scissors (letter craft)
Number/math concept
and "extras"
That is usually what he does from 8-9:30A.  We take a snack/outdoor break and he comes in to watch a 20-30 minutes educational DVD while I wrap up some 1:1 with other kids.  Then it's free play time for him until lunch.  A nice little routine!  Pinterest is my buddy!  A lot of ideas come from what I've seen on Pinterest.  I have a lot of preschool resources but I still come back to Pinterest because I love pictures!  I can quickly decide if I can tweak an activity for what I need just by the picture vs. going to the site and following it exactly as they said.  Ah!  Technology is making teacher's lives easier!  (USUALLY!)