Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Day of School!

Today was the day!  I've been preparing materials, organizing shelves, and talking up "school time" with E for the last couple of weeks, and we finally started school today.  She was so excited to start!

E did great work today.  I am AMAZED at the change in just two months.  She is truely ready for these materials.  When we were working with our friend K, there was a lot of whining and "You [I] can't do that."  Today, E eagerly chose materials off the shelves and would have worked much longer than the hour and a half I had allotted, if we didn't have other places to be this morning!

We started our day with our Morning Song.  Really, we start every day with this song, singing as we get dressed. 

Morning has come, rise with the sun.
Come, now, and sing, everyone.
Morning has come, rise with the sun.
Give good cheer.

After our morning song, we talked about the weather using our chart from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

The first work E chose was her shape stacker.  She just played with it for a little while, and eventually we worked on fitting together the square shapes, and sorting the shapes into their correct piles.  We didn't work on biggest to smallest so much today.

After that, E chose to work with a new material - some CVC Laurie puzzles.  I have "cat" and "dog" out on the shelf so far.  We worked with one puzzle at a time and talked about beginning and ending sounds.  She's good with beginning sounds, but I don't think she really understands what I'm talking about when I ask about the ending sounds.

Then we did some geometry work - both the geometric cabinet and the geometric solids.  She chose the rectangle drawer and just did it like a puzzle.  We reviewed the names of the geometric solids, and I showed her the cards I made with pictures of other objects that match the solids.  Right now I have out rectangular prisms and spheres.  Together, we sorted the cards to fit with the correct solid.  Rectangular prisms were things like a tissue box and a train car.  Spheres were things like an orange and a soccer ball.

Some more sensory work followed, as we built a tower with the green knobless cylinders.  This required a lot of help from me, constantly reminding her what she was looking for (the largest cylinder).

Her best work of the morning was pouring lentils.  She must have poured for 15 minutes!  We also got to have a lesson (or three) with the broom and dustpan.  She was so proud of herself that she cleaned up her own mess!

While E was pouring, I pulled out a tweezing work - apple buttons into a flower ice cube tray.  Of course, she had to do the work after me.

To end our morning, we put together our giant Alphabet Train floor puzzle.  I helped with alphabetical order, but she found all the pieces and put them together.  And then had great fun pushing it along the carpet!

What a morning!  After all THAT, we went for craft time at church, and then out to lunch to celebrate our first day of school.  Now I think I need a nap.  :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Book Basket

I have three gems to share with you today! 

First up, an old favorite.  Every week on Monday I ask E what kinds of books she wants to look for at the library.  We go to the library on Tuesdays.  This week she wanted pony stories and Elmer.  Elmer by David McKee is such a cute book.  Elmer doesn't look like all the other elephants and decides to paint himself elephant color to fit in.  E loves the last couple of pages where all the other elephants paint themselves up like Elmer!  Be on the lookout for a stART project soon using this book!

Another favorite this week was Inch by Inch  by Leo Lionni.  We love Lionni books at our house.  This one is about a clever inchworm who escapes being eaten by several different birds.  Inch by Inch was our book for our letter I playdate this week.  We made inchworm breadsticks for a snack and made our letter I for ice cream picture a la No Time For Flashcards.

E's favorite book this week was Sylvie by Jennifer Sattler.  This was a new one for us!  Sylvie the flamingo asks her mom why flamingos are pink.  Her mom tells her it's because of all the little pink shrimp they eat.  This gets Sylvie thinking . . . what if she ate something else?  E especially loved the page with the paisley swimming suit (of course). 

Do you have any favorite books to share this week?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Craft Corner: Train Table

Once upon a time, there was a very ugly table.  A VERY VERY UGLY table.  With fake wood veneer that was buckled and peeling off.  But it had cute legs - isn't that always important?  And it was a good size, and pretty sturdy.  And so it sat in the storage room, getting dusty and spiderwebby, waiting to be thrown away or turned into something awesome.

Then E needed a train table for her tracks, and I thought of that UGLY table again! 

So I peeled off as much of the veneer as I could, and hot-glued some felt to the top.

Trimmed up the sides and glued them down as close to the edge of the table as I could. 

And voila!  Just like new, but better, because it has a purpose now.  And I still have felt leftover to make a felt board.  (The original reason for purchasing navy felt.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Play: Outside

We had some outdoor fun last week with my sister.  She has a wildlife biology degree, and had a good time teaching E about some of the plants in our area.  E learned about gumweed, wild onions, gullys, and got to smell a ponderosa pine tree.  (What - you've never done this?  It smells like butterscotch!)  She got pretty good at spotting the onions and gumweed!

Off we go on the trail! 
Don't ask me why she's wearing
stickers as bandaids, though.

Looking at some plants with Auntie

Smelling a Ponderosa

E the hiker!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Book Basket

Welcome to week two of Friday's Book Basket!  This week, we have a lovely version of The Ugly Duckling to share with you!  Retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora, it is set in Africa.  E and I loved looking at all the different animals that lived on the farm - giraffe, lizzard, meerkat, monkeys.  The Ugly Duckling grows up to be a black swan!  I always loved looking at the black swans at the zoo when I was a kid.  The illustrations are very colorful and remind me of Eric Carle.  We've had some good conversations about speaking nicely to other people, and how it feels to get your feelings hurt as a result of this book. 

One of E's favorite books this week was Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale by Marcus Pfister.  We love the Rainbow Fish books around here.  Yesterday, E told me Rainbow Fish was one of her favorite things in the whole world!  I guess that's a pretty good endorsement.  If you haven't happened to read any of these books yet, start out with The Rainbow Fish.  After that, there are a bunch of adventure stories featuring the same characters, and this is one of them.  I love that the author uses lots of different words.  The fish were terrified of the whale, they ate krill, when they were angry they spoke hostile words (the book is about an argument).

Babies by David Bedford and Leonie Worthington is a cute, simple lift-the-flap book.  We got it because of the meerkats on the cover.  E has a thing for meerkats.  It's a simple poem about what different baby animals do.  E loved to pretend to dress herself in the meerkat's swimming suit (does anybody else's kids do this?  Hillarious!) and play the fox babies' maracas and tambourine.  This week we just read the book and enjoyed the pictures, but I can see it as a good jumping-off point to learn about these different animals (especially the turtle babies, who "know the way back").

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Quick Question

I've been curious about E's language development recently.  She has her pronouns mixed up!  Instead of "I", when talking about herself she says "you."  And when she is talking to someone, that person is always "I" or "me." 

I understand where the confusion is coming from.  I am wondering how to correct it.  Or do I just ignore it and she'll figure it out eventually?  I have tried correcting her language, saying "Say "I" want a snack," or "Say, do you like pink, mommy?"  This just makes her mad!  She knows I understand what she's talking about!  I've also tried explaining to her (as much as you can explain to a 2 year old) that E is "I", and mommy and daddy are "you."

Any suggestions?  I'm not too worried about it at this point, more curious.  I do wonder if she will correct herself eventually, but she's so STUBBORN about it sometimes!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We Play: Building a City

Have I mentioned before how much I love thrift stores??  Oh, let me sing the praises of thrift stores!  I buy most of my clothes there, much of E's clothes as well.  And toys.  Well, toys can be tricky.  Because, usually, if a toy has been donated to the thrift stores around me, it's all loved up.  Dirty, sticky, broken.  And not to mention PLASTIC.  But sometimes I hit the jackpot.  This week, I found the neatest nesting blocks!  They are a city!!  Each block is a building in the town, from the large train station and garden center to the tiny ice cream parlor and phone booth.

E and I had fun this week putting together our city.  We used some of the cars from our train track and some wooden people and trees and put a whole town together.

I have noticed, at least for E at this age, that the process of building the city is much more fun than the play with it once it is built.  We had a grand time deciding where buildings should go and "planting" trees, but after that, she laid all the people on top of their houses, put them to sleep, and went off to other activities.

Happy Playing!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting Ready

Tot School

E is 31 months old

I have been enjoying all the posts from those of you who are getting ready to start a new school year.  I am getting excited to start up again as well!  So even though you haven't read anything from me related to school work for a while, it's on the agenda.  I'm planning on giving E (and myself) the month off and we will be starting up again in September. 

I have been thinking about what to work on with E and planning out our school time.  Sometimes, I do think I enjoy the planning more than the executing.  OK, who am I kidding, I ALWAYS enjoy the planning.  Everything always works out perfectly in my imaginary dream planning world.  Not always so in real life!

 I'm hoping I can get E more interested in our Montessori materials - part of the reason why we're taking a nice break.  I loved having K for the summer and he sure loved coming to do his "work," but E had some difficulty with him being here.  She only wanted to do the materials he was working on - not her own - and he is a year and a half older than her.  So they are definitly in different places!  I'm hoping that we'll have a nice break this month and start in September with a clean slate.

Things I want to do with E this year (as far as preschool is concernced) are:

* continue with our Montessori work as much as she wants, setting aside at least 2 times a week to focus on it (but hopefully MUCH more!)

* utilize a "theme unit" twice a month or so.  We're going to start with apples in September, but I am planning for this to be child-led for the most part.  What we do for theme units around here is: lots of books about the subject, crafts, outings, games, and practical life and science works.

* continue with our letters of the week.  We don't really do one letter per week, it's more like two a month or so.  We'll finish uppercase and move to lowercase.  I want to use the Heavenly Homemaker's new ebook Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve along with this.

* learn by memory the prayer before meals, guardian angel prayer, and selected Bible verses.  The verses will probably go along with our letters of the week.

* get outside more!  I am pretty much an indoor kind of gal.  Unless there is something specific to do outside, I tend to stay in.  There is so much beautiful scenery and great parks around here, I want to visit at least one new park a week. (I guess that's not really preschool per se, but if I don't put it down somewhere, I won't hold myself to it!)

Happy new school year to everyone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday's Book Basket

I'd like to start a new regular feature around here: Friday's Book Basket.  We read SO many books each week, and E is really starting to request her favorites.  Although, sometimes it takes some deciphering to figure out which book she wants.  This morning she wanted the "deer book" (actually about a couple of dogs - no idea where she got the deer from), and the "cat book with the butterfly" (about a cat who travels in a box to an alien, who didn't want a pet, he wanted a remote-control butterfly).  I'd love to be able to share some of our favorite books with you all!  And I hope to get E's input on them as well.

Boris and the Snoozebox by Leigh Hodgkinson is a cute book about a cat who just wants to take a nap.  He crawls into a packing box to snooze, and finds himself transported all over the place to people who want ANYTHING but a cat.  This is the "cat book with the butterfly" as mentioned above.  This morning alone, I have read it three times.  The illustrations are really neat mixed media!

Mabel Dancing by Amy Hest is a beautifully told story about a girl named Mabel who is supposed to be sleeping during her Mama and Papa's dancing party.  I love the language in this book, very descriptive.  It made me think of the ball in The Sound of Music.  E loved that they talked about fancy ball gowns and dancing.  She's such a girly-girl!

A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy was a book I liked more than E.  A blue and red sock goes looking about the house for his match.  E did like telling me that the socks didn't match, but other than that it didn't really hold her attention.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Trip Back East, Part 2

After spending a day wandering around the Land Between the Lakes, we drove to Gatlinburg, TN.  Wow, I did not know how touristy that town was going to be!!  The Ripley's guy must be from this area, because we saw several Ripley's attractions on the main street.

I'm not much into tourist traps, so we didn't spend any time in town. 

We spent all of our time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Wow is this place GORGEOUS!  Hubby and I were poking fun at the Appalacian Mountains - being from a Rocky Mountain state and all.  But they are so different from the mountains back home.  MUCH greener and I do love all the deciduous trees, and streams you can actually walk/swim in because they're not ice cold!

We took a couple of hikes to pretty waterfalls - Laurel Falls and Abram's Falls.
 Laurel Falls

Dipping our toes

Abram's Falls

Another toe dunk

I think this is E's last year to ride in the baby backpack.  She's getting HEAVY!

We drove to the top of Clingman's Dome - the highest point in TN - to see the view.  We were going to walk up to the observation tower, but 5 minutes after we got there it started POURING rain.  I forgot rain gear, we only had an umbrella.

We took a hayride around Cade's Cove and took a look at some of the historic buildings.  We also spent a little time at another 1850s farmstead, but the one at Land Between the Lakes was MUCH cooler.

Another highlight of the trip (for me, anyways) was getting to hike on the Appalacian Trail.  I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson several years ago, and I have been wanting to backpack at least some of this trail since then.  Backpacking with a 2 year old is a bit difficult, so we settled for a quick hike.  I'll be back someday!

Next stop: Charlotte, NC!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Play: Trains

Hey, girls can play trains, too! 

I try to rotate E's toys regularly so that she doesn't have too much out at once.  I had her train set put away for quite a while.  I even had picked up some more track and extra pieces and had never put them out.  Today, we pulled out everything train we had and set up a huge city!

E had fun figuring out how the magnets worked to hook up the trains, then running them over and under the bridges.
not sure why this picture is showing up sideways . . . hmmm . . . .anyways . . . .

Usually, in our house at least, the simpler toys are the best!  No batteries, noise, or flashing lights.  Just some imaginations and good old "chugga chugga choo choo!" noises.  Happy playing!