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Friday, February 25, 2011

Math Fun: Counting, Adding and Playing with Numbers

We've had lots of fun finding creative ways to approach math concepts such as counting, sorting, sequencing and even addition and I thought I'd share a few of those ideas.

The top picture show Adventure-man sorting his dinosaurs by colour using a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine trainer chopsticks.  They are really fun to use and great for enhancing motor-skills.

He worked on putting numbers 1-20 in sequence. We got this cute caterpillar to go with our Letter C theme from Confessions of a Homeschooler. She has a bunch of great resources like a Caterpillar dice game which Adventure-man loved, as well as a number of other sorting, counting and matching printables around the same theme.

We played a lot of grid games which he really enjoys at the moment. Prekinders has a nice selection of them to print off in different themes. The game simply requires us to take turns throwing a die, identifying the number and then placing the correct number of tokens (like beads, nuts, buttons etc) on the squares in the grid. One token per square. The first person to cover their board wins.

This was our favourite of the week - a math game called Add-it! created by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler (she's amazing!). It was a really fun adding game which Adventure-man seemed really ready to do. We used Dinosaurs and other fun manipulatives and just added them up. We played against each other - collecting number cards to see who could get the most. He particularly enjoyed it when he poached cards from me. So much fun! Download from Erica here.

We reviewed our shapes in various ways which included playing "Perfection" (I had him name the shapes as we went along). He also enjoyed a shape matching file folder games (here's a good one) and we just built with blocks and our Magformers.

Other number activities this week: I drew numbers outside on our patio and Adventure-man threw beanbags onto the numbers as I called them out. We also played hopscotch. And we practiced our counting to 20 as we threw a ball/beanbag/balloon back and forth.

We also practiced our number writing with these cute rhymes from Hubbards Cupboard. We used the whiteboard (most popular), flour, shaving cream (strangely not so popular - go figure!) and traced the numbers with crayons.

Here are some links to some other fun math printables for preschoolers:
Homeschool Creations
Shirley's Preschool

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Plans for the New Year: moving beyond intentional play

This new year I've decided that I need some kind of curriculum to keep me on track with Adventure-man. Last year, I was coming up with my own ideas and drawing resources together from the internet - this turned out to be too time-consuming and I'd frequently end up not doing anything at all because I hadn't had time to think about it.

I considered Five In A Row (FIAR) and decided that I would wait on that for awhile as I wasn't sure about it. In the meantime, I found a great free resource - an online Christian curriculum at Hubbard's Cupboard which has all the plans and booklists all ready to use and print out. The site has all sorts of great resources. For the preschoolers - it has a curriculum plan for 2 to 4 year olds. It is bible-based stories, with literature, art, science and music and movement suggestions and lots of varied activities for play.  I've chosen to use the 3 year old Bible and Rhyme curriculum even though Adventure-Man is pretty sure about his letters and numbers up to 10. I wanted to go through the bible stories and projects in the curriculum. The four year old Joyful Heart curriculum is based on biblical character and values. It seems well-thought through with a scope and sequence sheet, daily planning sheets and an weekly overview. All the resources, bible verses and printables are well organised and therefore are easy to implement. It merely requires me to gather the different materials together a day or two before which is not to difficult. It is a three day week programme that leaves lots of time for one to pursue other activities and play with my preschooler. The only thing I need to be organised about is getting the books from the library beforehand!

We're into our second week and so far I am liking it - I do enjoy not having to think too hard about what to do for the week.

This is a quick glimpse into how our week turned out. Week one and two was all about the The Creation Story with Genesis 1:1 as our memory verse.
In the morning, 15 minutes before our family devotions - I will have a little devotion time with Adventure-man. My two older girls join in for fun and that makes it really enjoyable for him. I read the story from the different childrens' bible versions over the week and I also use the Beginner's Bible devotional (I didn't have a copy of the devotional that was recommended, so I decided to use what I have). We would then sing some of the related children's praise songs, practice the memory verse and then do a craft (which, this week, was putting together a Creation booklet). We finish it all off with a song and prayer. Some days, Adventure-man will join us for the worship time at the start of our family devotions and some days, he'll want to play. I don't insist on him taking part while the girls and I pray and study the bible.

After family devotions, the girls will go off and do some independent work and I will have about an hour with him. We'll do the suggested activities which included singing/chanting/stomping the ABCs, talking about the days of the week and talking about the number or colours of the day. We'll then progress to other things like reading a story, going for a nature walk, art and craft and singing some songs. 
Here is a snapshot of some of our activities:
We made a edible creation story using whipped cream (light), chocolate chips (dark), marshmallows (sky), sprinkles ( stars), animal crackers (animals) and gingerbread men (Adam and Eve) - needless to say, that was a hit!

We started a creation book - all the creation activities are suggested in Hubbard's Cupboard.

We also learnt our colours and numbers using art, games and books.
Writing numbers in shaving cream
Counting and matching numbers

Making green with yellow and blue (after reading Mouse Paint)
For the first time, I have scheduled Adventure-man into our homeschool day - in the hope that our day will run a little smoother with fewer interruptions from him when I am teaching the girls.
So, as I said, after devotions we will have table time and playtime together while his sisters work independently. Afterwhich, they all have an active break together playing a game or going to the playground and we all have a snack. While they are playing, I'll set out some activities like the sand/water-table, his trains, paints, blocks or his playmobil farm and animals.  
I've adopted an adapted workbox system with him (using filing trays which I already had). So, immediately after the break, I'll encourage him to work through each tray. I fill it with different activities he can do independently. I'm teaching him to complete one tray and to return it before starting a new one. This is an example of some of the things I'm putting in them.
A little mismatched as I was working with trays I already had

Free play with stones, tongs and containers
Working on motor skills

Other things I'm putting in there: 
  • beads to string 
  • Playdough and cutters
  • Worksheets -tracing, colouring , do-a-dot makers 
  • Sequencing cards
  • paper, glue, glitter, yarn, cut paper, foam pieces for collages
  • stamps and pens
  • animals with coloured rice (admittedly a little messy)
  • Zoobs
  • Magformers
  • pattern blocks

This seems to work better in holding his interest than if I were to lay these same toys and activities out in front of him. He likes going through the trays in an orderly fashion. Afterwhich, ideally, I'll try and direct him to the things I've set up like the water play or rice in a tray with cars, Lego etc.

I've also allowed for computer time on something like Starfall (I've just joined More Starfall - which I think is really worth the money) or playing on the Wii, if absolutely necessary.

We read together during the girls break time and depending on the day he might take a nap. I've planned for independent play during our afternoon lessons but that has been less successful - probably because we are all a little tired and cranky! I have to work on a better plan to distract him.
I'm really pleased about being more organised and spending quality time with Adventure-man playing and learning. The mornings are sorted, it's just the afternoons that are still a little chaotic! Well, there's still some work to do but I'm sure we'll get there (hopefully with a big smile on our faces!).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Life Size Aquarium: books we love

Life-Size Aquarium

Every now and then, we'll read a book that "wows" us because it is diverting and enjoyable, engaging both mum and child. I love a book which inspires and informs while we are having fun. 

Now, we generally enjoy non-fiction books about animals but I don't necessarily love very many. I think it is a bit of a balance finding a great book that captivates Adventure-man. Sometimes the books are just too wordy or factual for my tot and other times they are simple but dull. 

Having found Life Size Aquarium, a fantastic book that has charmed both my toddler and myself - I had to recommend it!  It is a lovely big glossy detailed life-sized book of sea animals. It is beautiful to look at and fascinating at the same time.

The layout consists of a two-page spread that is devoted to a life size picture of various unusual animals ranging from a leafy sea dragon fish, humphead wrasse, Dugongs and the tiny Clione (aka Sea Angel).  There are even huge fold-out pages for some of the bigger animals.The extreme close-ups in this oversized book allows you to notice some very cool distinctive features of each animal. There is a little sidebar with some interesting facts and occasional questions that encourages a closer observation of the animals.

It was entertaining and it had us going online looking for videos and information on the various animals we had just come across. It really has been a wonderful find. Captivating with a lot of scope for learning opportunities. I highly recommended it.

I'm on the look-out for this companion book!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oops! Broken links on my blog

I've been AWOL for a while with Christmas and travelling over the last two months and as a result, I've just found that my 4Shared account (where I keep my documents for you to download) has been deactivated because I haven't logged in for over a month. How annoying!

I will be working to upload the documents again and repair the links in due time. So, to anyone who has been trying to get the documents and notes and been unable to - Sorry!

Hopefully I can get all the links working before long.