Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Winter Solstice Meditation

"These next few days are the days of the Winter Solstice, a time when those who are very attentive to the skies note that the sun, which has relentlessly moved southward on the horizon since last June, seems to pause on its journey before beginning to climb northwards to center again. Solstice is a time of pause. So…pause. Breathe. Relax. Rest. Be at peace.

Spirit of winter rest, help us to enjoy your peace in this quiet place.
Remind us to pause during this season.
Grant us awareness, keep our gratitude fresh each day.
May the songs in our heart be blessings and insights to us and to others
and may compassion always shine forth from the depths of our hearts."

~Christine C. Robinson

Friday, December 16, 2011

We sure do use a LOT of paper...

Making christmas presents; a quick google search and I found these stockings with writing promps on them. We plan to do the set then get them laminated, bind them, and give them to grandma for solstice. 
These ones say: 
Christmas is... By LOCH Christmas is the smell of LOVE & Christmas is the sounds of HOHO

Santa Lucia day included making hot cross buns and star boy / candle hats. 

A quick and easy santa lucia inspired sewing card. I made a few paper starts and punched holes in them for the boys to 'sew'.

Sanint nicholas day fun. Using shoes to print patterns on paper.

And robots.... always robots...

Grouping. I have a bunch of little 'things' that make their way into my house. Here we grouped them by rocks, metal, and alive things.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sneak peek for Yule/Christmas

Christmas can be hard, what to get the kids? I have some ideas for you to make Yule/Christmas fun with secretly educational toys that the kids will love.

(Bonus if you live in Fairbanks/Anchorage I bought pretty everything locally: Check out Enchanted Forest Toys for Fairbanks or Over the Rainbow if you're in the Anchorage area. Both of these will ship so check 'em out.)

Okay lets get started shall we... a sneak peek at my kids yule loot.

  A pretty rocking wooden castle with stairs and a bell. Wooden dragon, a farmer & his wife. Also a really really really cool hearth with cauldron. (Can you tell that one might be my favorite?)

Hoop painting kit, a purple Sarah's Silk, a game of pick up sticks, and a story telling game.

Sewing kit, Harp with music inside, build your own wooden construction truck, Geo gear blocks, and this magnetic 'drawing' tablet. 

Stocking Stuffers phase one: a foldable block dragon.
A paper fan, & wooden cow that is a music shaker.

Stocking Stuffers phase two: Don't disregard Micheal's and Targets dollar sections. They are a fantastic for inexpensive little stuffers.  None of these cost more then $5.

Also Just because it's old to you doesn't mean it can't be new for them. I recently went through boxes of my childhood things and picked out these books that I thought my own children would love. Now they get a whole new life and the kids get another thing to get to rip the wrapping off of.

Happy Yule / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Christmas / Hijri  !!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Curriculum for the younger years?

The question pops up on homeschool forums every few weeks, it goes something like this "What curriculum should I buy for my 2/3/4 year old?" Often the answers are mostly saying this like don't. Play, read to them, let them help with cookies, take walks, provide make believe toys etc etc.
 Although this is true play is the main way of learning for kids until about 1st grade or so it is a totally unhelpful suggestion for a parent just starting out. Normally parents grew up in a public school setting and are not used to unstructured learning. It's not that the child/ren needs structure it's that the parent needs a check list.

 This is okay. In fact it is good. If just left to float in a pool alone many parents will soon feel overwhelmed, alone, and toss in the towel before they have even begun their homeschooling journey.

 So what curriculum would be good? Well, okay. I'm totally bias. There are plenty of curriculum sources out there for preschoolers but I will give you my favorites. As an avid curriculum hoarder I've tried most everything or at least looked through it so here are my choice picks for the toddler / young kindergartner;

Toddler / Early Preschool

Little Acorn - This is my most favorite EVER. It is a very easy natural rhythm type of 'curriculum' Each month provides you 4/5 weeks of stories, fingerplays, poems, songs, and a craft a day. It is not too overwhelming to do one craft a day so works well for busy mom or someone with several children.
For a younger child it would require some tweeking of the crafts to account for ability but having used this for 2 years in a row (and about to start again with my new 2 year old) it is a minor inconvenience for an abundance of fun & learning.

Timberdoodle - I wouldn't buy a whole grade level but it has great materials for getting ideas or picking and choosing what looks fun. If you just want some good educational toys to play with Timberdoodle has you covered.

Sonlight - A very Christian company but the secular books on their lists are AWESOME. Many are classics (Make Way for Duckling, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Goodnight Moon, etc) but there were a few books on the list that I had never heard of that are now family favorites.

Christopherus - This is not a day by day check list to follow but if you need some inspiration, songs, finger plays, and ideas this is a fantastic resource.  I suggest; Kindergarten with your 3 to 6 year old.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A few things from an 'off' week.

This week has been full of 'NO' and 'I don't wanna' from both boys. Im going to chalk it up to a week of -30 weather and boys who need to get out but whatever it is it's been like pulling teeth to get them dressed or fed much less do any school work. Here are a few easy, quick, little prep, cheap activities we did manage to accomplish this week.

Working with the abacus. RightStart Math has a very nice abacus that is easy to use and color coded by 5's.
We practiced mostly #7 as that is the number we are focusing on this week but played with making some other numbers as well.

Turkey handprints. The top one Loch traced and colored himself (I added the feet) and the bottom one I traced and the boys colored in.Tracing is fantastic fine motor skills work for pre writers.

This is one of those $1 games from Micheal's. For Loch he had dice which he rolled and then took turns moving the pieces that many spaces. (Math, taking turns, fine motor) 

For Asher he only took each tee out and placed it back in a hole. (fine motor)

Magnetic dinosaurs placed and moved on the board. (fine motor, storytelling/pre reading)

I had pulled out my drop spindle and was working with it Loch decided he wanted to as well.
This drop spindle was made from a small wooden dowel and wooded 'wheel' from Joann's. I added a bit of roving that already had some twist in it so it wouldn't just break when spun. He practices Holding the roving in one hand and spinning with the other. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pre to the K - this weeks pictures

Fine motor practice - sharpening a pencil. Yay for things that are weird and actually count as school. Just think for a second you need to be able to hold both objects. Hold one still and rotate the other while not dropping the pencil. Forcing the pencil into the sharpener but not too hard. Sharpening until it's sharp but not so much as to brake the tip.
This is a useful skill and fine motor control practice. Perfect for pre-kers or kindy students lagging in motor control.

A game from the sonlight p4/p5 teachers manual. Each player has an ice cube. You roll a die and depending on which number comes up you either add salt to your cube, blow on it, place it in water.... etc. First player whos' ice cube melts whens. 
Covering Science, math, following directions, taking turns.

Cutting Practice. We read stone soup and followed it up by making veggie soup for lunch.
Fantastic fine motor control practice!
( For this I gave the baby his own bits of potato and the wooden play knife so he could 'cut' too)

Attempting to grow a carrot and potato. We hallowed out the inside and added water to them. Failed Failed Failed but it was fun to try.

The Letter I - a giant I on a scroll. "Here ye here ye I proclaim to all the land!"
Literacy, letter recognition.

I got these fantastic geometric shapes at a retired teachers yard sale. We like to fill them up with rice. Sometimes we weigh them against each other eg. is a sphere heavier then a cylinder?
Sometimes we just make a mess which is fun too.
And a bonus: I learned what the difference is between a triangle pyramid and a square pyramid.
spatial recognition, fine motor (pouring), math

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

preschool in full swing

In trying to keep this log updated I'm trying to take even MORE pictures of our weekly preschool/kindy homeschool. I'll try to add some more informative posts soon but the kids are keeping me busy! I hope though that anyone looking around my blog can find some good ideas for doing activities with their own kids.

a science kit found at the dump leads us to the question; are different materials translucent or opaque? I rounded up a bunch of random items from around the house to experiment with.

How many sticks do you see? I would count them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. but we are trying out RightStart Math borrowed from a friend and trying to learn to see numbers. In this case I added the color coding to the process. 5 is 2 on the outside, 1 in the middle and 2 in-between. 
We are still working on this concept and often we are still counting them to double check.  

the book is How do you lift a lion? and we pulled out our simple machines set from Kaplan to see if we could recreate some of the machines used in the book. Unfortunately we discovered there was no way to make a wheel and axle  with the set so our wheels kept moving around and throwing out poor animals off the cart.

Oooooo it's a ghost!!!! Totally stolen from a Montesorri blogger (can't remember who at the moment) I took dry white beans and added sharpie marker to make eyes. Then Loch (4 1/2 yrs) got a set of tweezers to practice moving the beans from the left bowel to the right one. and Asher (22 months) used a 1/4th teaspoon to practice scooping and transferring the ghosts from one to the other. 

We are on a mineral kick having found some cool rock samples at a yard sale so we read some books and then broke out the Papier-mâché and made our very own 'rock' who we named fred.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

some school this week

We are on Oak Meadows kidy H week so we made a house. clothpins, silks, + chairs = fun! 

This started by using the icetray to mix together food coloring to see what colors they made. It then turned into seeing what happens when we add other things, like rice or feathers. Do they dye? what if you dip the feather into several different colors?

Kaplans 'simple machines' box has been great fun. besides the machines you are supposed to make it leads to many interesting configurations of transformer like robots and frequently, catapults. 'cus I have boys.

Weighing, does a square pyramid filled with rice weigh more then a cylinder filled with rice? what about a triangle pyramid vs square pyramid? 

tot school/ Stacking small blocks 4 high!

Friday, September 30, 2011

preschool on the cheap vol #3

So the idea of preschool on the cheap is doing homeschool for.. well... cheap. Sometimes it's about finding educational items at garage sales, thrift stores, or the dump but sometimes it's about making things. Sometimes I look at products and think 'I could make that' but I totally don't because well, I have a life. and I'm lazy. 
I could make wonderful materials that last for many children but really once it's mastered I have to store it and my cabin is very small so storage space is reserved mostly for books and yarn.

So I give you some simple ideas I used this week for preschool on the cheap.

We borrowed a copy of RightStart math level A from a friend and so far have been really liking it. So this was part of doing lesson 2. it's just construction paper so super easy but there are a couple of things going on here for this lesson which is a review of #'s 1-3 and introduction of #4.

1. the blue paper is folded into 4 sections
2. there are 4 shapes cut out. (circle, diamond, triangle, square)\
3. there are 4 of each shape

Now the idea was to sort them into groups by shape. which was easy enough but once I ask him to not pile them on top of each other but to give them each their own pile he natural assigned each one of them a place within the folded squares of the blue paper. =D

He likes to pattern. He has AB patterning down. (eg ABABABABAB)
as normally has ABC patterns (eg ABCABCABC) 
but this was the first time he did a ABC pattern of his own without any prompting.

SCIENCE fun! water + food coloring + celery = awesome. 

Digging up the potatoes from out raised bed.

Once we got the potatos inside and washed them off we decided to have him line them up from biggest to smallest. 
*think - patterning, sequencing, counting* 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seward Seas Life Center Summer 2011

A trip to Homer for a wedding meant a LONG drive with the boys so we broke it down into several trips. Anchorage to see the grandparents and go to the Imaginarium (Children's Museum) And then Seward which when I was a kid the sea life center was the 'go down to the beach and poke at stuff in tide pools with sticks'  center and although that has it's own awesome-ness about it, I was more just as excited as the boys to check out the new fancy sea life center.

Seals! This was totally the post awesome part about it.

You then can go down below and watch them swim around. We could of done this for hours.

Several underwater sea life tanks.

Most of the museum was more geared for adults or older kids but they did try a bit with some child friendly bits such as this mini crabbing boat. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So long summer

It's been a long time since i've posted. I'd like to blame the summer weather, or fancy activities, or even that since it's summer my DSD has been home from school and suddenly it's harder to get our pre-k/k work done but really it has more to do with DS2's ability to push the chair out of the way and crawl up the stairs which means my computer time is suddenly very limited. :-)

This summer i wanted to do some world culture / geography lessons so that was our summer activity. I looked around for curriculum i could use with my pre-k/Ker & the 2cd grader and ended up buying Expedition Earth ( http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/world-geography )

which i wish i had found earlier! but they have lot of lot of printable so i know i will be back to their site in the future. :)

We started off in mexico. we classified some mexican animals, learned about children in mexico, and looked up a lot of info about Geckos. the smallest gecko measuring about 3 inches and the longest 12! 

Next we flew to china. Learned about the Chinese new year and did a little origami.

We also dyed some silk with kolaid

Next was India, elephants, henna, + hot weather!

Lochs own sari for the lesson. :) He really liked that you tuck it in your underwear. *sigh* boys...

And finished up with England. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ipod apps for preschoolers (and olders too)

So for yule I received an ipod from the husband. Really i wanted an ipod because of all the awesome educational apps people kept talking about. One appeared under the tree with my name on it and I squeed in delight as I downloaded a gazzilion apps for the chitlins.

So here is my list of THE aps you want to keep the kids busy and also learn something. Most of these are free but i will * any that need money. These are in order of my kids most used to least used.

1. Feed Me There are 2 free levels. One the purple monster is thinking of an lower case or upper case letter and you feed him the corresponding letter.
The awesome other free part the purple monster thinks of something...black and you drag the black animal to feed to him. It gets harder as it goes working with finishing patterns, fractions, telling time, counting how many objects there are.....

2. Starfall *starfall is a pay for ap. You can play it online for free here but my preschooler likes it soo much that I went ahead and bought the ap. The ipod version only is the letters not the books and other game you can play on the website.

3. Cut the rope *sometimes free* You want to feed the monster candy but the candy is attached to a rope. You have to cut the rope to drop the candy into his mouth. Sometimes this is very easy, other times it requires you to swing the rope, move objects, or other wise manipulate the candy so that it can fall into his mouth.

4. Read Me Stories Cute little books that it reads out loud to you. With internet the parent can put in a code and get a new book every day but books you already 'have' don't need internet to access.

5. 3 Mice lite You have to move the cheese and the traps around to make sure the mice can get to the cheese but the rats get trapped.

6. Angry Birds I think just about everyone knows of angry birds by now but really it's totally education. You have to figure out how far your birds will fly, if you change the trajectory if they will still hit their targets and several other mathy awesomeness. All while killing those mean old piggies.

7. Rocket Math free you build a rocket (which needs to have certain bits in order to be able to fly into space) Once you launch it it sends you to space where you have to solve math problems which earn you more money for your rocket and keep you in the air longer.)
Okay now this one isn't really a preschooler ap but my preschooler likes to build the rocket and shoot it off into the air where he then hits random planets (the math answers) He doesn't seem to mind that it's a math game.

8. Spongebob Marble *this has 1 free bit to it and the rest is pay all in the one download which is slightly annoying*  This is really kinda awesome. You have little spongebob marbles which need to go into the hole but you have to 'paint' a track for them to get there. As you move through the levels you sometimes need to work with opening buttons or magnets so that the marbles can get to where they need to be.

9. Gingerbread Fun You bake and decorate a gingerbread man. Not really educational but a lot of fun and the best part is 'eating' your gingerbread man as it makes a lovely crunch crunch sound.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preschool on the cheap vol #2

People are always worried about the cost of homeschooling. There are plenty of ways to do it for bookoo bucks but there are also ways to do it for cheap or even for free. And that's without taking into account using any sort of state run program that gives you money for homeschooling expenses (although that is also an option.)
Value Village / Salvation Army / Other Thrift Shops are your Best Friend. (and think outside the box)

Ideas: make your own, thirft shops, friends, freecycle, & the dump (yes the dump!)

Once you know what to look for you can find an amazing array of educational supplies. Here is my check list when evaluating any item/toy/craft
  • Is it 'natural'? (does it have life or is shiny dead feeling plastic?)
  • Will it support my children's imagination?
  • Can it be used opened-ly? / Can it be used in multiple ways?
  • Can it be used for multiple age ranges?
  • Is it a official school item or is it a toy box item?
  • How much prep or involvement does it need from me?

Found at the dump. A totally perfect memory game set.

                                      Cloth pin gnomes made from random bits out of the craft box.

Practicing numbers. Old file folder and some random bits of felt cut into numbers to play with.

Also found at the dump! This box had a cool info book about dinosaurs, plastic glasses, a 'pick' and a wooden hammer, this cool dino plastic mat, and some cement with 3 little dinosaurs in it we 'excavated'.

Thrift shop score! this cute little info page & bird craft came in a box with a few other minor crafts and a whole list of January-ish craft activities.  The thrift store had all 12 months of these little themed craft boxes for .99 each and that day they were even a half off item!

Freecycle find. A mom was sorting out the attic after her kids were grown and gone so I got these.