- Beach(Gift of Curiosity)
St. Patrick’s Day
4th of July
- Chinese New Year (Gift of Curiosity)
St. Patrick’s Day
4th of July
This week kind of fell apart from the beginning. We had a lot of obligations, and after Monday fell apart and I got called into work on Thursday, I decided this weekend will just be about enjoying the warm weather. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so my first inclination was to try to cram everything into every free moment and catch up, but that wouldn’t be effective learning.
I think this week was a good lesson in intentional parenting, though. While we weren’t learning based on a planned curriculum, I did make sure our activities were learning activities.
Between our normal play time, I incorporated a couple learning game with Daniel. We used this letter match from Twinkl and the numbers I laminated for our Feed The Raccoon Game to play a fly swatter number identification game.
With Alex, I tried to make his time more productive by not just holding him or handing him a bottle while I prepped dinner. This week, while I cooked, he got a sensory bath (normal bath but with slotted spoons and pouring cups for toys), he played with squash guts in the sink, we made music together with and without instruments, and we explored “treasure boxes”, which are just miscellaneous things in a box that are baby-safe and offer a variety of textures and sounds. He’s at a difficult age for activity planning. He’s at that age of curiosity and business, but he’s not going to sit down for any sort of manipulatives or sorting yet. Right now it’s probably mostly going to be blocks and sensory activities.
This week I also created an activity binder for Daniel. This includes extras from printable packs or random worksheets I’d like him to do but don’t have time for in our curriculum. He can work on them while I cook or the days I’m at work. Earlier this week I found these Leap Frog books and card games at Toys R Us. We have another set of card games that Daniel carried off. I liked these books because the pages were simple and varied. Whenever I buy an activity or handwriting book, I photocopy the pages I want to use; this allows multiple use as well as prevents him from just rushing through the book. A few pages of these ended up in his learning binder. Next week, when I switch into our St. Patrick’s Day theme, I’ll swap the pages for St. Patrick’s day worksheets that I didn’t incorporate into our formal curriculum.
In December, I was at a charity event that helped families, and they mentioned the thirty million word gap between low-income and high-income children. I heard about this when I was in school for teaching, but with this reminder, my resolution for the year was to read 50 books a month with Daniel to total 600 books by the end of the year. This only includes books that I personally read with Daniel. Also with the word gap in mind, I know that a large percentage of rich vocabulary comes from children’s literature, as it uses a lot of words we don’t use in daily speech (pounced, astonished, gravity) (for a list of children’s literature with rich vocabulary look here and here. Where I’ve been known to skip sentences or summarize a book to shorten the process, I only count books I read through so he is getting the full extent of the vocabulary. You see we fell short in January and definitely in February because of our move, so we’re playing catch-up in March and April. It helps me to keep a list because most nights five books sounds like a lot, but then I’ll think, five more for the list!
Another idea I plan to begin using is the concept of reading and math logs. The idea behind logs is that the kids record x amount of time doing a subject-related activity. For example, measuring while cooking or doing math with legos would be appropriate for a math log. At this age, the reading log won’t be useful because most of that is done directly and through reading books only. We’ll use the math log to help me remember to incorporate shapes, patterns, identification, and math discussion everyday. I’m beginning with 15 minutes a day, and I’ll analyze what he needs from there.
Missing part or all of our curriculum isn’t the end of the world. The learning of daily interaction and real life and the outdoors is just as valuable, if not more, than the formal curriculum. As Pete the Cat would say, lessons come and lessons go, but it’s all good.
We are starting our reading with the Bob Book series. The first book of the first series is “Mat”, which uses the letters m,a,t, and s. The only words in the entire book are Mat, sat, Sam, and on. I love the Bob Books because they have built Daniel’s confidence in reading and are helping him to realize the correlation between sounds and letters and letters and words. There are a lot of Bob Book Printables packs online:
We started each reading lesson by reading “Mat”. Admittedly, he was way more excited on day 1 than day 3. He understood how each letter had a corresponding sound, but he couldn’t run those sounds together to find the word. He specifically had a lot of trouble with the word “Sam”. Day 1 we used his Leap Reader to build some -at words.
Day 2 we used short a word sliders from The Measured Mom. He still didn’t really get the sound-it-out process. I’m going to have to look into some steps to bring him to that level. We also did some of the word paths from 3 Dinosaurs. He really enjoyed those.
Days 2 and 3 we did “word races”. I printed sat, Mat, and Sam in large font on regular paper, and when I called out a word he had to run to it. We switched the order of the words around and made it fun with jumping jacks and skipping. He really got a kick out of making me do it!
I’m going to step into book 2 next week, but based on what I’ve seen so far I think we may have to take a step back to learn how to sound it out before we go any further.
Writing has always been a struggle with Daniel. At four, he’s only recently willing to sit down and practice. I’m not too concerned because plenty of kids don’t really learn to write until kindergarten, but you know there are always those moms showing off their two year old’s cursive signature…
Right now, we’re introducing and practicing lower-case letters as well as working on fine motor skills. Daniel still doesn’t hold a pencil correctly, and I’ve always heard not to force it but to develop the muscles so they naturally want to hold it the right way.
I used these “Size Matters” handwriting practice sheets from One Beautiful Home. This week we are working on lower case a and x. I picked a to start tackling the letters in his name, and I chose x because it looks the same as the capital x. We did the same two letters every day; he was irritated about it on day 2, but day 3 he seemed to accept that that was just something we did.
On days 1 and 2 we practiced writing “Daniel” with both upper and lower case letters. To make it interesting, we used some of our other letter mediums to write his name. He really enjoyed the stamps, which we later used with the “Making Words” sheet of 3 Dinosaurs’ Bob Books printables for Set 1 Book 1. He didn’t really make the words, but he used the stamp over each letter of the key.j
We also used a puzzle that I had printed and laminated awhile ago and so can’t source. It required matching upper and lower case letters. I chose about six sets for him to work on, about half of letters that look the same upper and lower case.
Day 2 Daniel also drew a picture of our family to work on his fine motor skills. While he hates to write, he loves to draw and color, and at least that will work on his muscle development. I’m the big smiley face to the left. Alex is the screaming green one.
On day 3, for some sensory learning, we used In Lieu of Preschool‘s Play Dough Word Mats with our Bob Book words. I needed him to work independently so I could get something else done, so it’s not the prettiest masterpiece, but you can basically read the words.
Math and Science have been my favorite to plan because they’re so simple, at least at this age. We’re doing math lessons on days 1 and 3 and a science experiment/lesson on day 2. Right now, I’m working on counting and number recognition with Daniel, particularly with numbers 11 to 20. The science experiments are just what I think he would find fun and be able to understand.
Daniel enjoyed these Spring printables from Fun Handprint Art. We counted out loud as we did our fingerprints.
I had briefly come across this game from Stay at Home Educator without really looking at it. Apparently it’s called “Don’t Feed the Raccoon”, but we called it “Feed the Raccoon” and played by our own set of rules. I made a raccoon from a shoebox and laminated some cards of the numbers 1-20 (found on Google image search). I called out a number for Daniel to feed the raccoon. It was a good chance to practice differentiation between, for instance, seven and seventeen and how the “teen” numbers have a one in the front. His favorite part was when the raccoon “threw up” in the end to play again.
I’m definitely going to hold onto that one for letters and sight words as well.
For our science lesson, we used some of the bigger items from our nature walk to learn about water displacement. Our first attempt was in a measuring cup with shells, but there wasn’t enough displacement to notice. He kind of got it with our second cup and some rocks, and we got a double-lesson with buoyancy. Ultimately, he got an orange stuck in the cup and really got to see how displacement works (all over the counter).
My homeschooling is really focused on Daniel, but I’m planning to have at least one activity a day focused on Alex’s learning as well as have song time with both boys. I’d like Alex to sit in on our spiritual lessons, too, but so far we’ve done those after he’s gone to bed.
Day 1 had a water sensory bin. Mom’s sink is perfect to hold a plastic toy bin, so I put a few fun things inside and let Alex sit in the sink while he played (doubled as bath time aftewards). Daniel wanted to play, too.
Enjoy the baby bum!
Day 2 we made a “blue bin” and discussed all of the blue things inside. Daniel helped me make an obstacle course to practice climbing, and Alex had fun knocking down blocks with me while Daniel worked on a sit-down activity.
Day 3 I made a noodle sensory bin. I thought this would go over much better than it did (Patch Adams, anyone?). Alex was very hesitant at first and didn’t like the taste of the noodles, but he got a little into the squishing and throwing after a few minutes. I also made him a muffin tin bin. He pretty much looked at it, went for the food, and disregarded the rest. He’s definitely my kid.
This is pretty much what song time looked like. This week we did “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with signing.
I’m going to have to Google and make a list of what to do with him. He’s at that age of not being able to do much but wanted to do and be involved with everything. If you have any ideas, please share!
This week we started at the beginning: the Creation Story. I’ve talked to Daniel about God, and we’ve been to church a few times, but to be honest, I never really enjoyed denomination or church. I was raised Disciples of Christ, and my father taught us to read and study and pray independently, and that’s what I prefer to do. However, I recognize that my children will need church to help lay the foundation for a personal relationship with God. So for our “formal” spiritual lessons, we’re going to hit the highlights first and go from there.
Each day we watched a YouTube video of the Creation Story while he did a related activity. The three lessons this week were God Made Light, God Made Nature, and God Made Animals and Me. I slacked on making the collage for lesson two, so it was combined with lesson three’s collage.
For Lesson 1, after watching the video, I tried to prompt him to recognize that God made light. He didn’t really get the difference between light and sun, so we discussed that God made everything and listed some things God made. We made this collage by gluing “light” into “dark”.
For lesson 2, we took a nature walk with my mother. I asked Daniel to collect some of his favorite things in nature. We talked about all the beautiful things God has made for us. I intended for the nature items to have their own collage, but we got caught up in running errands that night.
For lesson 3, we combined our nature collage with our “animals and me” collage. We took some pictures from his National Geographic Jr. magazine and Facebook and glued it with some of the smaller items from our walk.
I made it through week one! And I can tell you it went exactly how I pictured and nothing according to plan.
I envy these other Homeschool-Mom bloggers, but I’m telling myself that maybe behind the cute pictures of their children focused intently on a learning activity is the chaos that surrounded me this week.
Here’s what I learned after just one week:
-I’m lucky my child is only four…because I don’t know what I’m doing. Luckily, it’s hard to do too much damage at this age.
-Plan, and then plan to not stick by your plan. I learned this when I was a student teacher. You have to have a guideline for what you want to accomplish, but inevitably the children will redirect your lesson, and you need to be able to work with it. If you’re really good you’ll be able to roll with the changes and still accomplish your plan.
-Learn how your child learns. I did a mix of sit-down activities and hands-on activities this week, but I can see I’m going to have to lean towards kinesthetic and sensory learning to keep Daniel’s attention.
-Keep both children entertained. I know the what, I just don’t know the how. More when I figure it out.
-It’s okay not to do something or to spread your days out. We have three days set aside for homeschooling, but the activities spread into five.
When it’s all said and done, I had a great time with my boys, and hopefully, they came out no worse for the wear.
My son, like many others, has taken over my phone and IPad. I swore when I had kids I was never going to let them tune into electronics, but I realized the other day the best way to get my phone back may be to give Daniel his own tablet. I was initially going to buy the LeapPad because we’ve had luck with the LeapReader, but my boyfriend told me about the Nabi Tablet he bought for his kids. We got it in the mail yesterday from Amazon, and I fell in love immediately!
My inclination to get the LeapPad was because I thought Daniel would like the character-based games. I chose the Nabi because it was something he could grow into. The Nabi is essentially just a kid-safe Android tablet. There are two formats: Nabi Mode and Parent Mode. In Parents mode, which is password protected, there are all of the features of an Android and apps to control your kids’ settings. Nabi mode (Kids’ Mode) shows any apps you’ve allowed them to have access to as well as their Wings learning curriculum and KoozUniversity learning games. So far, in a day, this is what I’ve discovered:
-I got the Nabi 2S for a little over a hundred dollars with Amazon Prime.
-You can make a separate account for each child to control settings individually. This allows them separate curriculum in Wings University and separate rights.
-There is a chore chart you can set up in the Parent Mode; it’s visible in Nabi mode but can only be managed in Parent Mode. Parents can set up coin rewards for every chore that is checked off. Coins are then used to purchase games from the Treasure Box in Nabi Mode.
-Parents can limit time allowed on the Nabi as well as set curfews for certain times. I didn’t consider the curfew at first, but this will come in handy to keep Daniel from sneaking tablet time after bed time. Kids can earn more time by spending time on certain apps. For instance, if Daniel spends 30 minutes on one of the learning apps, he can earn 30 more minutes to his 1 hour limit per day.
-Parents can view how much time is spent in each app. They can also view progress from some of the learning apps.
-Daniel really enjoyed Wings University. We are only at the beginning, so I don’t know if there is a subscription down the road. I did have to purchase “learning paths” for him, but I did that before really exploring what they had (enthusiastic). As they progress, they earn stars, badges, and coins.
-As your kid grows up and you allow more and more rights, it essentially becomes a regular tablet that you can monitor.
-It is very durable. You can tell it was made well and can withstand some beating.
-There is an intial start-up fee. I believe it was only $2.00.
-The coins cost real money. Daniel was so excited for “nickels” that I caved and spent $9.99 on 300. They’ll last awhile, though, because he only gets 2 per chore.
-We both loved Wings University, but the KoozUnversity, which has separate apps for different subjects, was way beyond Daniel’s skills. We chose the Kindergarten level, but it expected him to be able to read instructions that were beyond Kindergarten reading and understand content that was past his age. For example, the first lesson in science has a page for kids to read about products of matter with a list of what is made of what. Then, he’s expected to look at group of pictures and choose what they are made of. It will be useful when he is older, but until he can read it’s not going to help us. Also, KoozUniversity requires an annual subscription, though it’s not expensive at all.
Has anyone else tried Nabi or another kids’ tablet? Let me know your thoughts!
I’m excited to announce that next week I start part-time and will be beginning my homeschooling with the boys. Both boys will continue to go to daycare one day a week, but I need to fill in the gaps, especially with my older son.
Some background: Daniel is four years old. He’s my wild child-energetic and hard to settle down to focus. He’s very smart, particularly socially. He is pretty solid in his educational milestones, but he fights me every step of the way. Particularly, he has only recently become a (reluctant) fan of drawing and writing. I have found that once I get him playing games or doing hands-on activities, though, he gets excited about learning. For Daniel, Mondays and Saturdays we will have literacy, writing, religion, and math lessons. On Thursdays we will have literacy, writing, religion, and science lessons. I plan to start out doing 2 or 3 activities a day in each subject, each lasting 15-30 minutes. I will break them up throughout the day to keep him from getting bored.
Alex is 10 months old. He’s the most laid back baby I have ever met, but he’s getting to the age of getting into things and wanting to be involved. He gets frustrated that he can’t eat everything that big brother plays with. His curriculum will involve being present for our Bible reading, doing song time with us, and having at least one activity each day that is focused on building skills and coordination.
I realize homeschooling will definitely involve preparation. I have planned my first two weeks, printing and laminating everything I need, and I plan to stay ahead so I’m not caught off guard.
I have several binders with lessons I have gotten from the internet. I set aside a new binder with tabs for each subject where I’m printing and storing copies of worksheets, lessons, and ideas I’m interested in using. This gives me a go-to when I’m planning or get caught off guard. It also makes it easy to see who designed the lesson so I can give credit.
Each day has a designated folder. When I prepare the activities for that day, I put all of the materials I need in the folder so I’m ready to go.
I really favor educational toys. These are some of my favorites that we use. Daniel just got a Leap Reader for Christmas with the word building and writing sets. I recently purchased alphabet stamps and Bananagrams from Amazon to vary his writing lessons. We purchased the pattern blocks, counting rods, counting bears, blocks, and fine motor skill tools from Amazon awhile ago. We also use a Crayola Dry-Erase Activity Center bought on Amazon to practice writing and drawing. Counting bears are essential for toddlers; we have used them to learn colors, develop fine motor skills, practice counting and basic addition and subtraction, making patterns, and sorting. I also have a couple of practice books for letters and numbers and file folder activities that I have gotten from Barnes and Noble and Office Depot. We don’t use these as much because he doesn’t like to sit down and write, but he was excited to have a Star Wars activity book.
It’s also a good idea to get a laminating machine. I print doubles of every activity (one for the binder, one to use) and laminate anything that I feel could be used again.
I will post our lessons and results at the end of each week. Wish me luck!
Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Eternity-Focused Preschool, Elementary, Middle School and High School. Large Family. Sovereign U.S. Constitutional Republic
transgender & nonbinary resources
Observations of a Husband/Dad/Math Geek/Writer/Soap Box Owner/Wine Lover
Bringing all the pieces together
Inspiration For Learning and Life.