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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter O

This week we were looking at the Letter O. We are about to take off on a nice long holiday to see family in the UK, so our activities lasted about two days before I got totally distracted with packing. Having said that, I think we did get some fun things done in those two days. 

The picture above shows the letter O which Adventure-man decorated with CheeriOs. I think more Cheerios were consumed by him while gluing them onto the O than he would normally eat at breakfast! The letter O was downloaded from here.

We then did a letter O collage downloaded from Homeschool Creatiions. I had to resist the urge to straighten out the pictures to make them line up. : )

We made use of more printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler. We practiced tracing the letter O and I also used the cutting practice sheet as a tracing sheet. Both were laminated so that I can re-use them later on. 

We used the Octopus counting sheet to play a number recognition game. Adventure-man would throw the die and he had to find the number he had thrown, place it in the box and then put the right number of Octopodes ( yes, I checked and that is officially the correct plural for Octopus) on the sheet. 

We did these two crafts over the two days, the first was an octopus (looks more like a wonky sun I know!) and the second is a lovely ostrich. I downloaded the picture of the ostrich from Shirleys-preschool-activities and just had Adventure-man paint on the glue and stick these lovely colourful feathers. This is my favourite of the week.

Finally, we also introduced Opposites by making a little opposites book. I downloaded the pictures from Pocketful of Posies. Then we read from his favourite book of opposites (Thomas and Friends) and played with his Thomas the Tank Engine Opposites puzzle. I also downloaded a number of cut and paste worksheets from tlsbooks which focused on concepts like On and Off, Over and Under. I cut the pictures out, he coloured them and pasted them in the right places.

Our other non 'O' activities:

I put soy beans in a box and gave him a variety of spoons and scoops, funnels and jugs and the bottom of a Ferrero Rocher tray. It was messy but fun and then he had a little practice sweeping up with a handheld dustpan and and broom afterwards. You can see him trying to stuff his blanket down the funnel in this picture. He thought it was hilarious!

He sorted his dinosaurs into their colour groups (I put a coloured dot at the bottom of the tray and he sorts it out that way).

I mixed up his puzzle pieces and had him put them together. He did it all by himself (apart from the more complicated foot puzzle).

So, a pretty productive two days, considering. : )

                                        Check out Tot School to see what other mums are doing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Learning activities for a wide age range

Adventure-man really likes being part of his older sisters' day and so I've been trying to think of learning activities that we can do together that will benefit all of them.

Numbers and Math facts

I printed off numbers from 1 -10 and laminated them. (click on the number 1 if you would like to download the numbers to use). When we use them, I lay them on the floor, sometimes randomly and at other times in order like a circle or in a grid. I ask an age appropriate question and each child gets a turn to jump, wriggle, crawl, roll (whatever takes my fancy at the time) to the answer.

For Adventure-man, it will be something like " Hop to number 3." or "Crawl to the colour blue.". It can get progressively harder depending on his mood and I might say "Wriggle to number 6, fly to number 10 and swim to the colour green." and so on.

For the girls, I'll give them multiplication or divisions to do and they have to hop on the digits in the correct order. I guess if I wanted, I could give them word problems to work out too.

This acts as a bit of of a morning wake-up exercise for them and they have a laugh at the same time!

Just Fun Physical activity

If the older kids look like they need waking up or Adventure-man has ants in his pants - I pull this out once in a while. It is a little young for my girls but they play along with him quite nicely.

They are ABC exercise cards which have an action for each letter like "A is for circle your ANKLES", "H is for Hop on one foot", "D is for dance all around the house". I downloaded these from Teach Mama. We have a big fuzzy die and I get them to throw it to determine how many times we have to perform the action.

That's all I have at the moment but I'm still looking for ideas so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Letter M

Letter M was lots of fun because I used these M&M printables which are so much fun! How could he not enjoy it since he got to consume the M&Ms at the end of the session!

Here he is sorting M&Ms according to colour. We did many other M&M activities like sorting and sequencing but I haven't captured them on film. You'll find all the other activities on the M&M printables link above.

I printed out a letter m template, laminated it and drew squares with a white board marker. I then provided him with unit cubes to place along the letter and I tried to encourage him to alternate colours along the way.

I printed this Capital M, laminated it and punched holes all along and started him off on lacing a string through the holes.

This was Adventure-man's favourite! I printed out a sheet of things that begin with the Letter M and laminated  it. I then hid those items in a box of pasta. He had to search through the pasta to find the monkey, motorcycle, money and letter M. He wanted to do this several times over.

You can download the sheet from here

I like to download the alphabet sheets from this site. I'll either give him his Do a Dot paint pens to dot the circles or in this instance, I gave him circle stickers (available from any stationery store) and he stuck them on.

This is his M for magnets tray and this was a big hit too.He loved playing with them.

This is my favourite activity. I printed off these hanging monkeys and wrote numbers on their tummies and had Adventure-man match and peg the monkey to his number hanging on the line.

Hanging monkey template  - I got the template from, however, their monkeys have alphabets on them, so I copied the picture of the monkey without any writing on it and printed that off myself and wrote numbers on them.  

I used the numbers from one of the M&M counting printable here.

There were many other things we did like sing Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a bed. I made my own puppets and we retold the story. If you want a few related activities to do with your tot, this free downloadable activity pack from 1+1+1 is great.

I also read Goodnight Moon to him and you can get a lovely free lapbook activity from Homeschool Share.

Letter M is a great letter to do because there are so many different things you can do. I look forward to coming back to it!

Click below to see what other mums are doing with their Tots.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A typical day?

I've been asked by a few people now what our typical day looks like - the truth is there is no real typical day for Adventure-man who fits into the routine of the two older girls.

The plan is that we wake up somewhere between 7.30 - 8am and find our way to breakfast. During this time, if I've had a reasonable amount of sleep, I'll start singing the verses that we are learning together with Adventure-man. My two girls have their separate memory work which they attend to later in the morning but they learn too as they sing along.

After breakfast, we all get changed and ready. The girls have their usual chores of making their beds and emptying out their laundry baskets. We meet for family devotions on the sofa sometime between 8.30 and 9am (closer to 8.30 if  I am on their case reminding them of the time and more like 9am if I decide to take the relaxed approach).

During that time, we worship along to our favourite worship CDs or sing worship songs together (or do "boogie worship" when requested by Adventure-man or the girls - this consists of energetic dancing, jumping, waving of flags or shaking a variety of toddler noisemakers!). Some mornings, we take the more contemplative approach and just "soak" in the Lord's presence as we play the CDs. They will then record in their journals verses, thoughts and anything they feel the Lord is saying to them at the time.

Over the past year we have been using Character Building For Families Vol 1. I really like it because it is short, involves no preparation and there is no written work. Each day you look at bible verses around a character value like Obedience, Servanthood, Gratitude or Contentment and discuss a variety of questions and it always leads on to how to apply what we have learnt. Each Character study lasts about two weeks.

During Lent in the run up to Easter this year, we followed a different set of bible readings and devotions - The Lenten Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults by Dean Lambert Smith

I liked this very much because it had readings and devotional thoughts for both adults and kids and it also had various ideas of hands-on activities that you could do to make the Lenten period more meaningful. I'll definitely use it again next year.

With our Year 1 Tapestry of Grace History studies we had the opportunity to read through huge chunks of the bible from Genesis to Malachi (sometimes using the bible and at other times using Catherine Vos' Child's Story Bible for the more obscure parts of scripture or for when we needed a "child-friendly" telling of events). Now, this year, I am looking for something they can interact with actively and have just purchased  The Bible Study Guide For All Ages and so far they quite like having material to interact with as we read from the bible.

After reading the bible and discussing the passages, we end with prayer. With devotions done, the girls go off and do their memory work. We have a particular system for this which I will write a more detailed post about soon. During this time, Adventure-man is free to join us in much as he wants to and if he gets a little too boisterous, the trains come out. We often will finish our devotions with a round of kids praise songs just for him.

While the girls are reviewing their memory work, I play with Adventure-man. I'll spend some time on the Calendar with him and we'll play with the activities I have set up for him the night before. This is what his shelf looks like in his room with different activities laid out.

I have to admit that his letter related activities probably only get rotated twice a week on his shelves at the moment and the rest of the week we'll do free play, drawing, crafts, tracing, using scissors and other activities like that. As I am now actively trying to include him more in our homeschool day, I will have to be a bit more organised about this.

The longer we homeschool, the more flexible I am becoming and I feel less and less bound by our schedule. This is a HUGE change for me as a Type A Scheduler! I am becoming as concerned about the quality of their learning experience as I am the quantity we cover in a day. However, if I was to come up with a general  picture of what goes on, this would be it:

Memory work (either personal review or recite to mum)
Break (outdoor) and snack (often I'll read a poem to them or we'll do a picture study while they snack)
Language Arts
Piano Practice/Typing
Scheduled Independent reading
tapestry of Grace work which includes History/Literature/Geography/ or we may do Science/Art/ Music Appreciation - one of these in some form
Playdate or scheduled activities (this term: Sewing, Skating, Musical Theatre, Ballet)

On any given day, this will change but it is what I have in mind to achieve during the day. One morning a week they have Mandarin and Piano lessons. Adventure-Man's afternoons will usually consist of a struggle between  myself and him to get an early afternoon nap in and if he doesn't sleep, then as far as possible I try and direct him to independent play while I teach the girls.

Of course, the beauty of homeschooling is that you can switch things around according to their interests and your time. Being freed from the need to tick off everything on my list has led me into some wonderful avenues of learning with the girls. As usual, I am learning as much as they are.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calendar Time: Tools to help reinforce concepts

I have been thinking about ways to consistently reinforce concepts like days and months and our bible verses with Adventure-man. We tend to cover numbers, shapes and letters as part of the play that we do but I was wondering how to fit those other things in. I know he'll pick up most ideas as we talk about them through the day but I wanted to carve out a time where we are focused on learning some new concepts and also our bible verses particularly.

I stumbled upon the idea of Calendar Time - which I was familiar with in the context of schools. However, seeing how this mum and this mum  incorporated it into their homeschool, I thought it would be a fun way to start our time each day while reinforcing words and ideas.

Learning Bible Verses:

I try and pick a bible verse that will loosely relate to the letter we are working on during the week - so this week it was "Love your neighbour as yourself". I make up songs and raps and we sing it together (or rather I sing it and he shouts out the parts he has learnt when he feels like it). We also sings the songs over breakfast as a way of reviewing what we have done over the past few weeks (helps wake us up too!).

These are the verses we have tackled to date:

I have hidden your word in my heart

With this verse, I made a heart pocket using two pieces of red cardstock and had him place a picture of a bible in it to visually represent to him the idea of hiding the Word of God in his heart.

I also used this to talk to him about keeping good things in our hearts -  I wrote out on pieces of paper a variety of things like "hitting", "shouting", " hugging", "helping", "kissing", "biting" etc and we went through each one and I asked him which things were good and which were bad. We then put each good thing in our pocket heart and each bad thing I got him to scrunch up and throw it in the bin! He loved it and now whenever we come to any bad behaviour, all I need to say is -"Is that something we want to keep in our heart?" and He'll reply " No, we want to scrunch it up and throw it in the bin." And for most part, the bad behaviour will stop!

Heart Shape template

Be kind to one another  - you can get a printable for this verse and a whole variety of other verses at Totally Tots.

Love is patient

Do check out the great ideas and printables for 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 at Totally Tots.

We are actually learning the whole of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  in portions in the form a rap. We'll rap parts of it during breakfast time and Adventure-man will shout out his favourite bits like "boast!" or "Self - Sleeking!" (yes that is how he pronouces it : ) ) - Well, I was blown away the other day when he started rapping almost half of the entire verse word for word to Grandpa while they were playing with his trains.

I'm now pretty much convinced that he will learn anything if I put it to some kind of silly song or rap!

Love your neighbour as yourself

I put together a fun activity for him after we read The Good Samaritan from Stories Jesus Told by Nick Butterworth and then we got a poor injured doll who needed to be washed and dried, bandaged and plastered. He enjoyed it and it was particularly funny when he dunked her head first into the pail!

I downloaded the weather template from Homeschool Creations.

This is a great way to discuss Today and Yesterday as well as the different aspects of weather. Of course, where we live (in the tropics) it is usually only sunny, cloudy or rainy. He loves being able to stick things to the board.

Months of the Year
This is a pretty tough concept for him to get a hang of so we are just chanting the Months and I talk about whose birthday falls in which month. I have made a visual chart of the months and will be getting stickers or photos to place in our birthday months so I can talk to him about the months that way.
 I downloaded this template from 1+1+1.

Days of the Week
We have a little song we sing and then I lay out the days in order so he can see the words and then I help him choose the right day to stick on on board. We talk about yesterday and tomorrow as well. I made up this template myself and you can click here to download it.

Finally, I printed out his name and the names of the family and each day he picks out his name and he is also learning to recognise the names of his siblings too. I got this idea from 1+1+1 again.

You'll see from these other blogs I linked to that there are a lot of other wonderful ideas you can incorporate into the Calendar time as your child gets older. I've taken into account Adventure-man's age and attention span and have kept our calendar pretty simple for now. I will probably add it over time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The first post: What we did today

"Where to start?" is running through my mind as I try to decide on my first post for this blog. There are lots of resources and ideas I want to share but maybe just sharing what we did today would be a good start.

Each day in our homeschooling life often starts with the competing needs of teaching my two older girls and occupying my young adventurer who is not quite three yet.

I have in the past few months decided to be more intentional in organising activities for him but truth be told, I haven't quite got to the point where we have a regular time together. There is the ideal plan and then there is reality! Focused playtime tends to just happens in the midst of the day when I can catch time with him, usually when the girls are working independently or involved in other lessons like piano or Mandarin (which I don't teach).

So what did our morning look like?

We woke up, stumbled half asleep to breakfast and then eventually, after chores were done, we congregated on the sofa for devotions. During this time, adventure-man insisted very loudly and persistently that he wanted the  "boogie worship". So, in tried and tested fashion, the loudest got his way. We played his favourite rowdy worship song (which we all love!) and danced around the living room while he used our big footstool as a trampoline shouting triumphantly at appropriate intervals. The only problem being that when we wanted to quiet down and start our devotions, he continued to insist on "boogie worship" and a large amount of my time was spent explaining why we need to be quiet and read our bibles together. By this time, my two older girls were  rapidly slipping into a state of sluggish stupefaction. ( Sigh. This was not how I pictured it would be when I first started homeschooling - but to be fair, this is not every day - we do have good days too!).We did eventually get to our devotions after concerted efforts to distract him with his trains.

It is a Monday morning and I actually had a weekend to dream up some ideas - so what you see following is a pretty productive day on our part in terms of play and learning.

I have been slowly working through the alphabet with him over the last few months. We started by reading Letterland stories and using their flashcards to familiarise him with the letters. It worked well with my two girls when they were in their nursery schools (long before we started homeschooling) and I decided to give it a go with him.

He loves the flashcards and we play lots of games with them - his current favourite game is one where I lay a variety of  cards out at the end of the room and we have to race to get the right one. He feels very sorry for mummy who never seems to win! ;) 

So this week we are up to LETTER N. All the printables I used here were from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Adventure-man started off with sticking "N for Noodles" on our letter Ns and then proceeded to dump glitter all over it. And why not!

He then sorted out Big N's and little n's in this activity.

And He used Do A Dot paint for this.

He practiced his fine motor skills sticking straws into small holes punched into a cereal box. (I got this idea from some of the Tot School blogs - sorry I can't remember where.) And he matched the number of beads to the numbers in his trays with some help from me.

The other things he got to do today were:

  Tossing bean bags onto numbers called out by me.                  

                               Playing with coloured ice (A BIG HIT!)
I got these ideas out of The Toddlers Busy Book.

The rest of the day was taken up with general play with trains, reading before nap times, going to the playground and yes, (head hung in shame) watching some TV. It was a happy day.