Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Preschool Day 5

Can you hear it? The jubilant shouts coming from this direction?
We made it through a whole week! Perseverance!
Really, it wasn't that rough. It was fun, and I know Oliver enjoyed it as much as me!
Here is what we did to wrap up the week.
{Also, side note, the time we have together goes so fast. I was surprised at how quickly the morning time flew by, and I had intentions of doing some of the activities in the afternoon, once nap is done, both boys are up and dinner time creeps up, we just run out of time to do more. But that's okay too. I just think I'd like to make more time to review throughout the day what we are covering. At least a little. Or limit what we learn even more, keeping it even simpler. We'll see as we go along. I'm taking cues from Oliver as to how much is too much, and what we need to slow down and focus on. (like the ladybug counting thing. needed to back that train up. and we did)}

Okay, so here we go, day five. I was inspired the night before while I was thinking through day 4 of creation. The sun, moon and stars. I had a bag of glow in the dark stars and moons tucked away as a special reward from Oliver's potty training days. Well, Oliver took to potty training SO FAST, with NO PROBLEMS, I never needed them. Not true. I just forgot about them until that very night.
So I had the notion to hang them down from the ceiling over his seat, so he would see them first thing in the morning. He gets SO excited when there is something special out just for him. And when he came down for breakfast, I carried him down the hall and told him quietly that there was something special just for him. He looked up and said with big eyes "Ooo, what is it?" He was excited to see them! And I told him what day of creation they were, what God made and continued to ask him again, while pointing to them to help him remember.
So for day 4 of creation we painted on the illustrated paper I made, and Oliver chose his paints. Which turned into a big massive blackout on that paper, but that's okay too. Also, there was time to start painting himself. (I actually didn't realize he'd started this, and when I did, I thought well at least it's watercolor!)  I also took a shot of him doing our weather on the calendar. He loves this part so much!
We didn't do much more on this day aside from our routine things. We needed to run to the store and start on a major checklist for his little brother's party the next day. Baby brother turning one is a big deal. Well any birthday is a big deal! So our school week ended pretty low key. A great week though, and after celebrating baby brother on Saturday, church on Sunday and a nice needed nap, I was ready to plan for the new week!
Are we really doing schooling? In our home? Craziness!

Preschool Day 4

Onward upward! Day 4! We almost made it a week! Woohoo!
Honestly I was a little tired at this point. I know, seriously? It's only preschool?
It's just something new in our everyday, and starting a new routine, making changes can always be a challenge. Even if you enjoy them, somtimes it get's tiring. But I knew that the beginning would be the hardest, and once we'd get our stride we'd be on our way. (Truth, because I'm actually writing this the next week and feeling better about it all already.)
So, here is what day 4 looked like.
Little brothers napping schedule, our late start in the day and the morning in general didn't work out quite as smoothly as the last couple days. So, you roll with it and do the very best you can. We didn't get to do quite as much project wise, and that's okay. If Oliver shows signs of "okay, I'm completely done with this NOW" then I assess the situation, the mood, the time we've spent so far and make a decision to stop, or like we did this morning, take a walk outside while it's beautiful. Also walks are beneficial in lifting the moods of not one but two fussy, grump boys. It's amazing.
Okay, so here's what we did prior to the mad dash, um pleasant walk, outdoors.

After our routine things, we started in on some counting. I decided to change up the ducky scene, since Oliver was not into lady bug counting this morning. I had him match the mama duck and the babies on their corresponding numbers. He likes matching games, and he did great at this. I need to make more of these. (the ducky printout is on ABCJLM, and the yellow ducks I made out of construction paper)
We moved onto some painting icecream scoops and he did great finding colors, learning to rinse his brush between colors (well, kind of, still working on this) and very thoroughly painting each and every square inch of the shapes.
I think it was at this point we loaded up and went for a walk outside. And THAT was the best decision for this morning!

Preschool Day 3

Okay day 3. Getting even more into routine now. Oliver knew right where to go when we started our school time and was just as excited to get started as he was the past couple days. Yah! We went right into our routine items (weather, calendar, prayer, verse, song) and then went to the first activity. Focusing on the number zero again, Oliver practiced with the dry erase marker. He is doing great making circles, I just keep asking him what number it is to help him remember it's not the letter "o" but the number zero. Kind of tough since they look the same. We also worked on day 3 of creation which is the trees and plants. While my intentions were to have him paint it, I changed my mind and chose something more textural. I tore up some different colored tissue paper (for grasses and flowers) and some brown construction paper (for trees, and sticks). He did great with the glue bottle today, and while there may have been some ginormous piles of glue on the paper, he got the motion down. Squeezing, stopping, putting paper on it, and tap, tap, tapping the paper. 

We then moved onto working on the letter D. This is something I added in. The curriculum doesn't introduce letters until week 3, and I was feeling ambitious and creative the night before while prepping and came up with this game for Oliver. Because he already knows all his letters (smart boy!) knowing what each one says is a brand new thing he has yet to get down. Next step to reading! So, I cut out some D's in some yellow construction paper (great idea-keep LOTS of construction paper on hand for teaching, crafts and learning play!), gathered up a few things that started with a D and put a yellow D next to each one. I didn't have a lot of items around but Oliver had fun searching for the yellow D's next to (or on, taped on a door). I was hoping that finding the D on the item a D started with would help him to visually lock it in his mind. "So door starts with what letter?" 
(I have to admit that I didn't keep up with follow through on this, as I decided to hold off on letters at the end of the week, I felt we were covering enough just sticking to the curriculum, and didn't need to rush as we'd be there soon enough in week 3. But it's still a fun idea I plan to use when we get in letters. Will update if it helps him remember!) 

We wrapped up our school time with a little watercolor painting. Working on colors here, again this information is not new to Oliver, he already knows his colors, but we'll keep on with basics to start and move into color theory (my hopes anyways) later. This ice cream cone project is in ABCJLM. You cut out ice cream scoops and a cone (I also did a cherry, um, over achiever here) and work your way through building the layers of colors on each scoop. I let Oliver paint the cone, and I think the cherry. He amazed me at his precision. I've never given him a shape to paint and he was very thorough in completely covering the entire shape with paint, rather than just making big strokes. Great job Oliver! 

preschool day two

And onward to day two. Routine is key, and I tried to do our school time in the same time block as the time before (during brothers nap). Here is what we worked on today:
Working on writing lines (using the special marker, as Oliver likes to call the dry erase marker he only gets to use for these!). I printed the simple templates from ABCJLM and put them in page protectors (I keep them in my school binder) and let Oliver practice on them. We then did day 2 of creation, gluing down cotton balls for sky and coloring sea below it. Although Oliver didn't want to color after all the fun of using a big bottle of glue was done. That's okay though! He did great learning how to squeeze glue out all by himself.

The night before I searched for some counting ideas for him and found a pin for some ladybug rocks. I was inspired to make my own paper ladybugs and made ladybugs with black dots (numbered 1-12) with leaves that had the matching number on them. Oliver sorted through and found matching leaves after he counted the dots. This was a tough activity for him, I realized after the fact as it was a lot of things to think about. Later I changed it to only 1-5 and let him focus on those, which he did better with. Also, baby brother woke up and wanted to get in on the counting too...pretty sure we wrapped up counting at that point to prevent the lady bugs from being eaten.

We ended the day with threading. I picked these wood shaped blocks with threads at a consignment sale for a great bargain. Oliver didn't know what to do initially but by the end of our day he was threading them without a problem. What a champ! So proud of how quickly he learned this fine motor skill.

Preschool Day one

We started our week on a Monday and it went pretty smoothly. My curriculum choice that I am using is ABC Jesus Loves Me (ABCJLM). I followed what the lesson plan for the week was pretty closely, and switched up a few things if Oliver already knew them, or if we didn't have the book(s) or item she recommended. I didn't know how closely we'd stick to a strict schedule since Oliver is only three, but my goal was to begin doing a structured day, or "school time" for him. Mornings seem to work the best since his little brother naps. So we stuck to about a 30-60 minute block of time, depending on how long our activities were.
We start with calendar time, looking at the day. Then we go to the weather. I made a few cards with different pictures of weather on them. We go outside and see what the day is like and Oliver chooses what card goes with the day. He loves this activity because he gets to do it all on his own (there's a pocket on our calendar he puts the card in). Then we follow with prayer, a Bible verse and a song about the days of the week.
I wrote a brief outline the night before of what we'd cover in what order. ABCJLM advises that you don't overplan so that you or your kids don't get overwhelmed. Truth. I didn't overplan, but felt ready to go down our list of things to do.
Since we are going over the days of creation the first couple weeks, that was our next focus. I had drawn out simple illustrations for each day of the week on separate pieces of watercolor paper with the number in the corner. For day one it was light and dark. I had Oliver cut or tear up pieces of black paper to glue on a white paper. He used his safety scissors (picked them up at the dollar store) and a glue stick.

we then moved on to working on the number zero. Around and around and around we go! Oliver is pretty good at drawing circles so it was just more practice for him, as well as learning what zero is. I made salt letters with him a few weeks back and these were perfect for him to touch (since ABCJLM recommends making sensory numbers) while he drew it. Then we played with numbers a bit. There is a ducky book that goes with the week, which I don't have, so we just worked on sorting numbers from mama duck and all 5 baby ducks. And that wrapped up our school time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Preschool Days

Welp, it's official.
We have started the "school days" with our three year old.
Well, not really official.
Homeschooling is something that both Jonah and I have prayed over in our own family. We felt at this point in our lives it was the option for us. I had a great peace about doing it (since I'd be teacher at home) and I was excited too! It's always a sign that God is in it when He ushers in those two things. I knew that this is what we were going to do, but I didn't (and still don't) know how long. We will take it each year with prayer and see where God leads us.
For now though, since Oliver just turned three this summer, I felt it was time to start preschool with him.
I have been introducing him to some schooling since he was about 22 months old or so. I made some ABC flash cards for him (here) and did several activities from handy sites like these.
But now that he's a little older and has shown me signs of readiness I decided it'd be good to start something consistent with him. So after searching out options I considered a couple and finally decided to go with ABC Jesus Loves Me. The curriculum is free (always a plus) and comes with lots of additional ideas, aside from a weekly plan. You can do as little or as much as you like. A few things I liked about this particular curriculum, it's Bible based, it includes physical activities (for both gross and fine motor skills, both being preliminaries for writing) crafts, songs and verse memorization, amongst other things.
For us, it was a good fit. I am only in week 2, but so far so good!
I printed out the lesson plan for last week, and spent some time in the evenings thinking through what we would do each day. Any crafts or special activities I wanted to include I made sure I was somewhat prepared for. SO, last Monday we officially began our "first" day of preschool :)
I have to also say that I had been working with Oliver (loosely) to memorize Scripture, learn shapes, colors, numbers and even a little counting prior to our first day. Again, he showed interest in it all and I never pushed him to do it, but encouraged it when I saw his interest. He loves learning and was so excited to do new things with me. I think this showed me signs that he was ready for something consistent.
I had a few friends ask about me blogging our experience here and since I haven't picked up this blog in a while, and since I forget what happens day in and day out, I thought I would attempt our journey into these early homeschool years. Do I know what I'm doing here? Not really! God is good and helps me when I feel like I am stumbling through an unknown territory. He has given me the desire to do this and I am encouraged when I see Oliver light up with excitement over learning something new. I pray it continues to be this way as we make our way through the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, I also hope our documentation of this whole thing proves to be an encouragement to other moms that just don't think they can do the whole "teaching your own kids" thing. You are a mom to your own kids because God made it so. It's a blessing and He will equip you with what you need. Sometimes it just takes strength and faith to step out. Those first steps are always the hardest!