Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie night

Fridays are now free days as I mentioned here. On this Friday I didn't have anything special planned, like a park day or field trip etc. After all you can't always take field trips, as much fun as it would be, as budget allows. I have to be creative with what we do since we do have a small budget. Thankfully God has blessed me with a creative mind, so we do low cost things that are still great fun for the boys.
(It really doesn't take too much to amaze a 3 year old and his little brother :))
But Jonah and I had a day date planned this day! So Oliver and Aleksandr had some play time with a great friend of ours that watched them for us.
Our fabulous date was kayaking, and it was a gorgeous day! We had so much fun rowing (6 miles. that is SIX miles) down the river, splashing each other, jumping in the very bone chilling water and just hanging out kid free for a few hours. It doesn't happen often, and while we love our boys, time alone is essential for building our relationship. I love spending time with my sweetheart!
For that night I had planned something special for Oliver. We had a "movie night" with him. This is a rare treat because we don't have TV.  This might be strange to some people, but honestly we don't miss it at all. We decided to cancel cable a few years back (I believe since Oliver was born) so it's been a while since we remember what is like to have a TV! When we watch movies, it's on the computer. Oliver watches some shows here and there so he knows where to watch them. He knows what a TV is but doesn't miss it either as he doesn't know any other lifestyle. But he knows what a movie is and when we said we were going to have a movie night with him, his little face lit up. This was a special thing indeed!
After dinner, bath and pj's (and little brother was in bed) we went down to pop some popcorn. I thought Oliver would enjoy watching it but he was a little freaked out by the loud noise (air popper) and didn't really want to eat it. So I ate it begrudgingly. (um, did you know popcorn is my very favorite snack in all the world?? truly. no lie here.)
Our movie was Mary Poppins. We got through about an hour of it before there were yawns from the little boy. So we ended it there and had him go to bed. I think he loved the special night (even though he doesn't realize he didn't see the whole movie) and time with mommy and daddy. We'll finish the rest of the movie once he is feeling better from his chest cold he's picked up :(. A fun night with good memories!

Week 5, days 3 and 4

Why hello!
I have been having a crazy week with two sick kids. SOOO that means I am behind on updating LAST weeks school days. I am lumping them together for the sake of my own sanity.
Here we go.
Day 3:
After routine things, we worked on some counting. Oliver can count very well, even into the 20's but he doesn't yet recognize what the 20's look like. And he gets some of the teens mixed up. I thought it would help him see the numbers both in order and out so that he can remember what they look like. Here is my attempt at capturing me in the frame with him. It's a sad attempt. I set the timer on the camera and took a few shots but Oliver was so fascinated at the blinking light on the camera that I didn't really get him counting. But it's a very real moment! ha!

We moved onto some letter sorting. I made the whole alphabet (lower and upper case) in wheels, and made a car for him to put the wheels on. Cute concept but once it was all done, I realized it was WAY too much for him to sort through. A wee bit overwhelming. Thanks for that idea Pinterest.
Well, it's not a Pinterest fault.
I think the thing about some pins is that they don't specify age. And you have to take into account where your child is and what they know at their age. I switched it out (when I realized it was even overwhelming me) and only pulled the letters in his name. We made it into a memory game at that point and I had him flip over the letters to find their matches (lower with upper), then we put them into his name. A better plan!

Day 4:
Our final day for the week.
It was a low key day for sure. Oliver started the day with some play at the table (see the friends he brought along? I do believe these are Aleksandr's toys). We did our verse together, and read a book about words, and I had Oliver tell me what words started with the letter B. He then did some painting with the letter B. Meanwhile Aleksandr was enjoying his new found skill of balancing on the the choo choo train. Silly boy! This one is a wild one for sure!
And that ended our week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Preschool Week 5, Day 2

Today Oliver was busy putting things in very long straight lines. A habit he developed when he was in his 2's. Not sure what month this started! But all this time later and he still thrives on making things orderly, in a row, organized. I marvel at his organizational thought process. I know it does not come from my side, but rather from his daddy!

After our routine things we focused on our Bible story, Noah's Ark. I think having Oliver be involved hands on in the story helps him learn it all that much better.

We reviewed our verse. Here's my meager drawing of it.

And the rest of our day–Oliver worked on drawing the number 3, his name and finally some felt. I created the letters Bb for him to put together. Kind of tough since the B has two curve pieces that manipulate easily because they are well, felt. I ended up putting our printout of Bb for him to use as a template, this was a great way to help him learn the shapes of the pieces. But he did a great job going through so many things today!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A shared school day (preschool week 5, day one)

Week 5! Done!
I am a little late in posting this but I will try to remember what we did last week. 
Starting with day 1.
It was a special school day for us because Oliver's little buddy Elijah came to share school time with us. He is very close in age to Oliver and they enjoy playing together whenever we do get together. His mom is thinking about starting a school time with him as well, so to encourage her and to do something different in our routine we started the week together :). 
It's quite a bit different preparing for 2 kids as opposed to only Oliver. I really didn't fret about how it would go, I just made sure I was ready with activities for the both of them. Because Oliver has been doing school for a little while now he knew what to expect. Elijah was new to it but I think he enjoyed participating in the activities and seeing how we did our routine things. I know his mama was encouraged to be able to start something on her own (she told me as much) after our day was over. I am so glad for this. I think it's a wonderful blessing to be able to sit and teach your little ones. I know we already do day in and day out just by being mom's. But investing the time into schooling is so fulfilling. I know that she will reap so many rewards just by watching her little guy learn, and get excited about new things that they cover in their schooling. It's a special time (even if it is only 30-60 minutes) each day that is set apart for just the two of you. There may be interruptions from other children, but the focus is still there and I know that Oliver knows this too. When he learns something or figures out how to do a new skill I am quick to heap lots of praise on him and he just beams. I love seeing his little face light up in understanding over something. Praise, praise, praise! I don't think you can over-praise your children. I am learning this in my daily walk just as a mom. I think this can go along in life too. Praising others when you see something that merits it. Praising my husband, praising my God, praising friends. Encouragement goes so much farther than we think it does.
Okay, so to our schooling. 
We started the day going through our routine together. Prayer, weather, calendar time, song about days of week, and pledge of allegiance. Elijah enjoyed it all, and participated quite well, even doing the weather card. We moved onto our Bible story, Noah's Ark. I read through the story in Oliver's children's Bible. To help keep them focused, I pulled out our toy ark we have and let them participate in putting all the animals into the boat with Noah and his wife. They thoroughly enjoyed this part. It was hard to wind it down back to the story!

After our story and ark time, we went ahead and started our craft to go with the story. I had drawn out rainbow templates for them to fill in with paint dots. It was a little slow going as Oliver was not very excited about sharing the paint dots. But we finally had them equally fill in their rainbows (and once they got going they did a fabulous job) and then moved onto glueing down clouds. 

After the rainbow, they moved to Oliver's little table to work on their names. I had drawn their names with boxes under each letter and taped the papers down to metal cookie pans. I had some scrabble letters with magnets on them that were stuck down on top and they sorted through and placed the letters  on corresponding letters in their names. They both did a great job at this. I kept this activity for Oliver to keep practicing on all week. 

After names, we moved onto an activity of choice. Since I had one set of each thing, I pulled out counting lady bugs and color finding. Elijah chose color finding, and Oliver chose counting. 
I have to say that they did not sit quietly and do these activities independently. They are 3 years old. This photo was the moment of stillness before they both gave up on counting/color finding and decided to run around and play. And that was the end of school time! 
It was a great experience and I know Oliver loved having his buddy there. We hope to do this again often. I'm excited about it and may even branch into inviting a few more buddies. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Preschool Week 4, day 5

Day 5.
{A small recap over our last month, and where we are now.}
Well it took me about a month to get to this point, but I decided we'll take off Fridays. Given the fact that we haven't really been entirely consistent in a 5 day week anyways, I was encouraged to do this because of a couple reasons. One, it's preschool, it's not high pressure in any way and doesn't need to be 5 days a week, two a chance to have days for free time and field trips is great! I can use the day to do something special like picnics at parks, lunch visits to daddy at work, or special trips to museums, zoo's or visiting a fire station (we are planning that in an upcoming week, although it isn't on a Friday).
I know a few homeschool mom's that do a regular 4 day week with Friday's off. They are reserved for family days. I love this and feel it will be great for us too.
I love how each week I learn things that work and don't work for our schooling methods.
I love watching Oliver teach me new things about himself, about how he learns, what he gets excited about, how he follows direction, listens in story times, and comprehends what we are talking about. I have been able to ask him in depth questions about what we are reading/learning and his responses are blowing me away. His memory is also amazing. I believe he takes after Jonah in this area, I'm not sure. I've never had a 3 year old, so I'm not sure what they are capable of memorizing, but really, I'm so impressed with his memory! I feel that I should encourage this as he gets older and I'm praying for wisdom with what I should do in this area.
I pray over our boys to be able to encourage them in areas they are gifted in, and strengthen and help them in areas they are weak in. I love seeing glimpses of who this wee man is becoming. What an incredible blessing it is to be a mom, but to be able to teach daily is also a new experience that is SO rewarding. I know it's also a responsibility as God instructs us in the Bible, but He leads and provides what you need if you keep relying on Him.
It's been a good month, and I'm excited to look ahead at our calendar and think about all the things we can learn together, things we can make together, holidays and seasons we can prepare for, ways we can grow in character as we look to serve others. There are just so many things to learn. Not even for our little 3 year old. For me too.
Homeschooling. Is it really for the kids after all?
Ah makes me think.
Well, back to our Friday. I took the boys to a park and museum, and we ended our outing having lunch with their daddy at work. Such a great day, with beautiful fall weather! A very good end to our week!
(Also we picked up a flag for Oliver, and he was thrilled. He held it so high and watched it wave in the car the entire drive to see his daddy.)

Preschool Week 4, day 4

Day four.
Oliver had a snack on this morning, which was unusual. We don't do snacks early in the day, but for some reason (maybe an early breakfast) I let him have some raisins. I let him play with his food later, by putting them on the number 2. He really enjoyed that :).
To start the day though, after our routine things, Oliver worked on the letters Aa with felt.
Today he did excellent! He could tell he got it right took, and when I praised him he just beamed! A little confidence went a long way with him. I could tell his confidence carried through everything that morning.

We moved onto counting afterwards, and like I mentioned earlier, his confidence was high today! After counting 0-5 with the ladybugs (and matching leaves) he wanted to try to keep going and made it ALL the way to 12. This is a tough thing to do, with all the matching and I was so proud of him! He initiated it and did great!

That wrapped up our school time for the morning. Later in the day (at my favorite time of day, the cranky hour) I made this play sand. I had seen a pin with this recipe on it before and I forgot about it. The actual pin calls for baby oil, which I didn't have, and 8 cups of flour, which I was pretty sure I didn't have. I was also afraid of failure (um, has anyone else experienced failed pins before?) so I thought I'd make a small mix using what I did have. 
I used regular canola oil mixed into flour. And for the exact ratio, I just started small, maybe a couple cups of flour to oh, 1/4 cup oil? I mixed in oil as I went until I felt like it was a good "sand" consistency. Basically when it was still coming apart but could hold when I squeezed it together. I then added more flour and oil, since as it turns out I had more flour than I thought. I try not to bake with all purpose flour in general because it's just not good for you (we use whole wheat) but every once in a while I do use it for sweets. And it's very handy to have on hand for crafty projects. 
Did Oliver like it?
It was such a hit! He loved it! He did want me to sit and play with him which was in between cooking for me, but it was highly successful and highly messy. But it wiped/vacuumed right up. Aleksandr really, really wanted to participate. Looking up at both me and Oliver sitting at the table he couldn't handle being alone on the ground. Poor guy. So I held him while he dug his hands in. And surprisingly he didn't eat it. I think he remembered the sand at Charleston. He LOVED it and sat and played contentedly for quite a while on the beach. After a few mouthfuls of it, he gave up eating it and really just played. I think he may have thought this was similar. So successful pin for both boys! Now this is something worth doing again!

Play Sand
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup canola oil (or less, just slowly add in)
Mix up, slowly adding in oil until the texture is "sandy" (falls apart, but will still be moldable when you squeeze it). Dump in a big pan and watch your three year old explore, dig, pour and generally make a big, fun mess!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Preschool Week 4, day 3

Day three.
We started with routine things, then moved onto a little review of our Bible story (Adam and Eve). I had Oliver color a printout from ABCJLM of Adam and Eve. He colored a little, but not much. Coloring is just not his thing. I've introduced him to it over and over again, but he has yet to really get into it. Maybe he just won't, maybe he will later. Either way, it's okay. I love exploring different creative things with him and seeing what makes him excited.
So far, I know he loves using the glue by himself.
Using his own scissors is exciting for about 5 minutes.
Searching games are up there in his list of favorite activities (searching for colors, letters).
And getting his hands messy, or building/playing in stuff. Like play-doh, play sand, dirt etc.
I guess that's a boy for you. We finished our flag today! The final thing to add were the stars, so Oliver was thrilled to squeeze out gobs  a small amount of glue for the stars. Can we say hurray for finishing the flag? It only took us well over a week :).

OH, I also wanted to add that we are now including the pledge of allegiance into our routine things. I forgot to post that along the there it is.

We moved onto some practice with line drawing. I have these cute printouts that have different lines (curvy, straight, spikey) from little campers to a tent. I love them because they are perfect for Oliver, who loves outdoor things (like his daddy) and was excited to make a path to the tents. I wish I could remember where I printed them from. If I find the link I'll post it. {okay I just found the link and it's here. Great site for free printables!}

We did a little counting after that.

And I found time to organize all my printables I had stored up over the past year, so I pulled out an old  sequence printout. I remember Oliver was frustrated with these when we tried them months ago. Sequence is a hard thing to learn and it was just too early for him to understand. He did a little better this time, but I'll let him try them again soon to see how he thinks through it. I cannot remember where I printed these from either :/ But it's easy enough to search for "sequence" printables at sites like, Homeschool Creations or 1+1+1.

We moved onto a puzzle I had printed out a while back. Since Oliver loves puzzles I thought he might enjoy this one, but it was pretty much a fail. It's a tough puzzle. Because all the pieces are square, it's hard to know what goes where. Also the way the pieces and art of the actual puzzle are, it's tough to know what direction which puzzle piece is supposed to go and where they go. I think I'll look for a different puzzle for him, with a picture that has lots of different colors on it.

We ended our school time at that point. BUT later that day I had a fun project planned for Oliver. I looked up science for preschool on Pinterest and found a popular post about mixing vinegar and baking soda. I was inspired to try it for our own science time. I also had the notion to do this while I was getting dinner ready. For some reason, the time period from about 4-5ish in the evening is the worst time of day for crankiness. From both boys.
Having an activity that thoroughly captivated him was a huge plus! I didn't know how long this would interest Oliver but I was amazed at the length of time he played with it.
Here's the simple recipe for it:

Preschool Week 4 day 2

So for our second day of the week, we started out with our routine things (prayer, weather, calendar/song time, verse/Bible story) and Oliver wanted to color a sun. SO, I gave him some markers and paper and let him create whatever he liked.
That lasted a couple minutes until he was done.

We then worked on glueing our apple (craft recommended from ABCJLM) and "worm" to one side. Oliver did great controlling the glue and putting the worm together (pom pom's).
This was to be used after it dried for a prop in reviewing the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.

We glued the flag together. It took a while to get this flag finished! Between waiting for paint to dry, we now had to wait for the glue to dry to keep the whole thing together.

We finished our day with a little drawing. I think Oliver just wanted to circle shapes in this shot. I honestly cannot remember what we did. (I catch up on posts a week later so I'm so glad I have photos of what we do, because as you can tell my memory is TERRIBLE)

And at the end of our school time we pulled out play-doh and made cupcakes. And spaghetti and different shapes that Oliver could mix and pull and squeeze. (We picked up this play-doh set for a steal at a consignment sale- $4, and Oliver LOVES it)

Preschool Week 4 day one

I glanced at the weeks lesson plan for week 4 on Sunday night (or it may have even been Monday morning) and I clearly remembering thinking "phew, thank you Lord," as it was listed as a "review" week. I was still pretty wiped out after our busy week the previous week (to Charleston). A review week was actually ideal since we didn't finish a full week last week, but also I am tired, and not very motivated to create new projects (admittedly lazy over here).
So off we went to start school on week 4.
We were still finishing up our flag that we started on last week, painting the final white stripes.
{Also his shiner is looking much better this week!}
Oliver then worked on making the letter's Aa with felt. He is getting better at this. Good thing we have a review week for this, especially since we had a short week last week. It's so encouraging to see him learn things!

I pulled out my Aa printout (in a page protector) and used this as a play-doh template. I had seen this idea on a lot of preschool sites and thought Oliver could try it. It wasn't really a success. Oliver has a tough time rolling out pieces on his own still, and putting them on the template wasn't fun to him, especially once play-doh is out! He'd much rather just play with it, and that's what we ended up doing. But before I brought out more play-doh, I had him try writing the number 2 as well as Aa with a dry erase marker. He is getting better and better at tracing/writing.

Aleksandr was up from nap, so there was that going on :) At his age the things we are covering with Oliver are not things he can do quite yet. Soon enough little one, soon enough.
Also, with the play-doh, Oliver made an H and said "Wook mommy, it's dancin', the H is dancin'!" Hee hee. He's so silly. And that was also a cue to me that the play-doh on letter thing wasn't working, I just needed to let him create something on his own :) 

Finally the day ended with this. Little brother was desperate to get up and see what all the fuss was on the table, and why in the world wasn't he involved in it? Yup, lots of tears (from baby boy) usually means schools over! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

my easy peasy home made felt board

So I had an inspiration one day while I was wrapping up our school day. My creative thinking process works like that. I'll think of something and just do it. Just like that.
I wish I could tackle every project in my life with that much gusto!
But I mentioned back here how we worked on felt letters together, and how I made my own felt board. I love felt. I love the hands on playing and learning you can do. I love the textile feeling of it. I'm a hands on kind of girl and find that I learn best by physically being involved in something. I knew it would be great for Oliver too, it seemed like he would love to be able to do it by himself (that seems to be the theme for a three year old) and he would also learn how to think through his letters and how they are built.
SO, when the boys went down for a nap I pulled out materials I thought would work for my own felt board. I considered using a big piece of cardboard for the actual board and covering it with felt but that probably would have been a big unfinished looking mess. I remembered that we had picked up several cork boards from a neighbor and they were literally sitting around waiting for us to do something remarkable with them. Well today was the day!
Maybe not remarkable, but they were a perfect match for my felt board. I pulled out the larger one, some felt material I had stashed away with my fabrics, scissors, a marker and some thumb tacks.

I didn't plan on making this a permanent felt board, as I like to have my options for our cork boards. So I took the temporary route. I laid my piece of felt over the whole board. It was an odd sized piece of fabric so I just made sure it covered the board. Then I pressed into the edges of the board, where the trim met the cork. I used thumbtacks to press the fabric down, while I used a marker to gently draw along the edge for my cutting line. Then I trimmed my pattern out. Done. Right?

see that big gap? yah, this was attempt number one. fail.

No, not done. Failed actually.
I realized that I shouldn't have drawn right on the edge, I should've gone beyond the edge a bit. About a 1/2" or so. Felt is stretchy, so once you make it taut it bounces back, sort of, when you release it.
SOOO, I did the whole process again, and just set the first piece aside for using in something later.
While I was making my second piece, little boy woke up from his nap, so there was that going on beside me :)

I did it correct the second time around! After I had my piece, I used thumbtacks to press it into the edges. I may get some smaller tacks, or use staples as an low profile option. But for now, this is working fine.

I then cut out some letters for Oliver (I used chalk to outline my letters).
I made his name, and the letters we are working on right now, Aa.
Such an easy project. Well, once you figure out the measurement correctly :)