Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pre-writing and Writing Practice

(4 1/2 Years)

Yesterday we began working on our homework packet.  One of the suggested activities was the following page.  The child practices writing her name, reading the sentence, cutting out the individual words, pasting the words in order, and then writing (or attempting to write) the entire sentence.  Little Miss loves these types of activities.  She began working right away.

Wild One loves using his scissors, so I knew he'd work on the first few parts of this activity.  He quickly wrote his name, read the sentence (with help- play and park were new words for the both of them), began cutting out the words and pasting them in order.

Little Miss made several glue stick circles, and then pasted each word down in order.  Wild One glued one word down at a time.

Next came the writing.  We have spent a lot of time practicing uppercase letters.  When Little Miss saw that the sentence contained lowercase letters, I reminded her that she can either try to write the letters in lowercase or write all the letters in uppercase.  She said, "I don't know how to write lowercase letters real good, but I want to try to copy the letters."  How cute!  She did a great job!

Wild One was able to write his name, read the sentence, cut the strips, paste them in order and he started writing, but then drew a straight line across his sentence.  He said he didn't know how to write the lowercase letters, and I think he became a bit frustrated.  I quickly grabbed the magic wand and he went back to the -op family.  I know we need to work on maintaining his discipline, especially when it comes to standard bookwork and worksheets.  We'll get there.  Meanwhile, it's time to have more fun!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hocus Pocus - Making -op Words (with a free printable)

(4 1/2 Years)

We are just beginning week three of pre-K (long, deep sigh).  Our incredible teachers informed us that they are now going to be delving into their curricula this week, and with that is HOMEWORK!  I've never been so happy to hear that homework is coming.  We can now get back to learning through play, while incorporating what they are learning in the classroom.

My inner-teacher came bounding out when I printed out the homework packet (all of their homework is optional, but encouraged).  A few of the worksheets were about the CVC - op family.  I love word families- there are so many cute, playful activities we can do.  I knew right away we'd use our magic wands that we just got at The Dollar Tree this summer!  They love playing with them.  I set out Wild One's magician shirt and a fairy Godmother gown for Little Miss - and then we sat down ready to preform our magic.

Wild One and Little Miss had fun waving the wand and saying, "hocus pocus" or "bippity boppity boo" while creating new words.  I loved how surprised they were that they could turn the letter "b" into "bop" by waving the wand and placing it after the "b".  The smiles say it all!

Are you ready to play?  You don't need a magic wand. You can use a craft stick, a pencil or even a spoon.  Below is the link to the free printable, when you click on the picture you will be able to download the activity sheet.  Don't you love when most of the work is done for you?

Have fun learning!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fast and Healthy Bento Lunches

(4 1/2 Years)

I love all of the bento school lunches that I'm seeing displayed across Pinterest, they are so adorable!  For the past month or so, I've collected some fun and healthy ideas for when my Little Miss and Wild One go off to school (here are my favorites).   There are some really elaborate bento boxes out there, with cutesy picks, cutters in every shape and size, portioners inside portioners, PLUS the lunch boxes themselves!

Yeah... so... my style is cute and simple.  I wanted to find a quick and easy (and relatively inexpensive- you should see the prices on some of those fancy bento boxes) way to prepare bento-style lunches for my kidabunks.

First the box (well, bag).  The kids picked out their own insulated lunch bags.

We now need containers.  We purchased two types:
Ziplock Divider Containers
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Entree Kit

We also bought:
Silicone Muffin Cups - these are fantastic for instant portioning, AND I've been using them when we bake muffins and we have just enough batter left over to bake another one or two muffins.  Why does that happen?  Shouldn't a recipe for a dozen muffins make a dozen muffins?
Star Cookie Cutters- perfect for our bento-style lunches and for Christmas stars

We already had left-over Snow White cupcake liners and picks from their last birthday.  Plus we make our own picks using toothpicks and stickers- easy peasy.

Now comes the fun part.  Choosing delicious and healthy ingredients, and turning them into something that looks fun.  We stocked up on high water content fruit: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples and mandarin oranges.  My plan is to fill their lunch boxes with the following:
         lean protein
         high water content fruit (they may not drink as much water at school as they do at home)
         whole grains
         and eventually vegetables (Little Miss isn't a fan, but we keep trying)

Here is what we have created so far:
Red and Green Seedless Grapes, Blueberry Coconut Muffins, Clementine Slices, Chocolate Cheerios

LEFT- Star Sandwiches (whole wheat bread and roast beef), Cheddar Stars, Clementine, Sliced Strawberries,  Mickey Mouse imprinted Wheat Bread (Little Miss made this one- isn't it adorable?)
RIGHT- Clementine, Mini Cheddar Stars, Blueberries, Roast Beef Triangles, 
Sliced Strawberries, Chocolate Cheerios

LEFT- Red and Green Seedless Grapes, Apple Slices, Mickey Shaped Roast Beef 
Sandwich, Grape Tomatoes, Turkey and Ham roll-ups, Banana and Chocolate Cheerios (someone stole the chocolate Cheerios while I was getting ready to take the picture)
RIGHT- Flower Cheddar Cut-outs, Flower Wheat Breads, Chocolate Cheerios, 
Cat in the Hat's Hat (strawberry slices alternated with banana slices), 
Flower Roast Beef Sandwich, Turkey and Ham roll-ups

The Verdict?  Little Miss and Wild One love these!  In fact, it's one of their favorite parts of their school day!  Seriously, it's been on their top three favorite parts of their day (it's been number one for Little Miss all three days).  They love the surprise of what it's going to be, and what it will look like.  I love that they are eating a delicious and healthy lunch.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

So Long Homeschool I Miss You Already - Hello VPK, I Love Our School

(4 1/2 Years)

I loved this past year of homeschool preschool.  We had so much fun learning and playing, playing while learning, and learning through play.  We filled our days with guided learning, laughter, invitations to "work", creative art projects that led to paint getting every-where, calendar time, using imaginative play for critical thinking in science and in guided reading, engaging math skills, playful ways to learn our magic (sight) words, practicing writing using mazes, colored shaving foam, rainbow salt, glue, stickers, play dough, and yes markers and crayons.  I loved this past year.

Little Miss and Wild One have been looking forward to going to school with other children their age, for awhile now.  Wild One was ready before we started homeschool preschool and Little Miss started warming up to the idea of going to a school around May.  For the longest time she kept reinforcing her stance of,"I'm not leaving you Mommy.  I'm staying here to go to school."

Fast forward to this past week, and we're in pre-k.  When the months turned into weeks leading up to pre-k, my heart began aching.  I don't want them to go.  I want to keep them home with me.  I'll continue to plan fun and engaging activities that will encourage them to learn.  They will succeed, they will have fun, they will be with ME!

Well, I was overruled by everyone.  Everyone.  Not one person sided with me on keeping them home.      Not one.  In fact, everyone was very vocal about why they thought they should go to a school.  I knew I lost the battle when my little man said that he wanted to go to school to be with all of his cousin and friends (even though we have discussed numerous times that his friends and cousins go to different schools are in different grades).

I had a feeling I was going to lose the homeschooling battle, so I did my homework and found the perfect placement.  It's a small school, with a  focused curriculum built upon the love of reading.  Perfect!  To our great surprise, one of the amazing teachers that I used to work with is not only on the VPK team, she will be one of our teachers AND one of the sweetest primary teachers that I ever met is now at their school in one of the preschool classrooms (right outside my kids' classroom door).  To help get Little Miss and Wild One excited about school (and me too as well), I created this countdown calendar.  It worked magic!  Maybe it was the glitter, or the Cat in the Hat cards, or being the one who gets to move the school apple down to the next day.

So... how did they do?  They love school.  They love their teachers.  They love their classroom.  They love being able to play with the same kids every day.  They love their special lunches (more on that in the next post).  Am I happy that they are now in school (9:00-1:00)?  I've accepted it.  I'm happy that they are having fun.  I miss our homeschool preschool days.  They went by too fast.  I'm looking forward to this year though, especially since we have two fantastic teachers, with an owner dedicated to devising a specific curriculum that fosters learning in a small group setting.

Flashback to Homeschool Preschool (2013)

and now onto Pre-K (2014)
Both Little Miss and Wild One have a favorite show- Master Chef Jr.  They love 
that show.  They have helped me in the kitchen for two years now- baking 
muffins and cookies, making pancakes and waffles, creating our homemade Larabars.  
Wild One will often mimic Chef Ramsey during bedtime and say, "One of you (referring 
to me or my husband) have one foot out the door." These kids crack me up!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sticker Lightning Bugs

(4 1/2 Years)

Last Christmas, Bella (our Elf on the Shelf) gave Little Miss and Wild One a going away present.  It was a three-month gift to Kiwi Crate.  These little gift box gems are PERFECT for those times when you want (or need- you know those times) a project that they can work on semi-independently.  Today was the day; we painted, we built, we played with the kinetic sand, we made the volcano erupt- again, and it was only 10:30!  Out came the kit with everything in it.  I handed the kids their bottles, and colored stickers, and let them have fun decorating.
Quick!  Throw in a load of wash, load the dishwasher, start organizing the craft area (again!).  
It took less than ten minutes for them to decorate their bottles.  I thought it was going 
to take two or three minutes, but I saw how carefully they were working and I 
seized the opportunity to get a few chores done.
Wild One created a collage of color, overlapping some stickers.  Whereas, Little Miss 
created rows of the same color, making sure to space them apart ever so slightly.  Twins.
 I love how proud she is of her work!
 I helped them attach the straw, wings and feet.  They added the goggly eyes.
All finished!
 Time to make them fly.
Let's do it again!
 Experimenting the differing rates of speed if the string is held at a steeper decline.  
They loved this.  I did too!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rainbow Swirl Salt Tray

(4 1/2 Years)

Our latest "toy" is our Rainbow Swirl Salt Tray.  It's so much fun to play with.  It's very relaxing, it's almost mesmerizing.  Plus it took less than ten minutes to put together, and that's with two 4 1/2 year olds working on it!  Oh, and you most likely have everything in your home already.

My husband was going to toss a wooden box with a lock on it, but lucky for me he asked if I wanted it for something.  I knew right away, it would be used for a salt tray.  I've been putting off creating a salt tray, because... because... hmmmm.  Well, now we have a tray and it's time to add the colored salt- so much more fun than plain white salt.

Have you dyed salt before?  Here, let Little Miss and Wild One show you how.

Materials Needed:
1/3 cup measuring cup (optional- but I like having equal measurements of everything)
table salt (we buy whichever is on sale to use in our crafts)
artificial food dye or liquid water color
fork or spoon
tray(s) to help contain the inevitable mess (baking sheets and cake pans work well also)
tray with a lid (they sell salt trays, but a plastic take out container works well also)

Pour salt into a measuring cup.  Level off with the back of a butter 
knife (it's great practice for leveling off flour for your baking projects)

Pour the measured salt into a small bowl.  Add three drops of food coloring to the bowl.

Mix with a fork.

Continue mixing with your fingers (gloves are not necessary, Little Miss just loves them).

Pour your colored salt into your designated salt tray.
Have fun swirling.

Practice writing letters or drawing faces or swirling.

Everything is more fun with a magic wand!   Have fun getting ready 
for writing, or practicing writing.  Learning through play.