Monday, August 26, 2013

Yay! We Love Soccer!

(42 Months)

We just had our first soccer practice and game.  It is so much fun!  Our team ranges with kids that are newly turned threes to four and a halves.  I read on a blog that signing kids of this age up for sports is a waste of time and money.  She went on to say that they just run around and no "real" skills are developed in this form of organized recreational play.  We only had our one practice and game so far, but I can already see that there are real skills being learned and reinforced:

  • waiting your turn (patience)
  • lining up when called and working on drills (following directions and listening skills)
  • tracking the ball with your eyes while running after it (gross motor skills)
  • compassion (we saw a little one help up a teammate that fell)
  • teamspirit (clapping when a goal was scored)
  • communication skills

We signed Little Miss and Wild One up with the anticipation that Wild One would LOVE the physicality of it, whereas we knew that there was a good chance Little Miss wouldn't even step onto the field (she is so painfully shy sometimes, even with family that she sees at least twice a month she shies away).  Boy, were we wrong about her!  From the moment she stepped onto the field, she was eager and ready to play.  Little Miss shed her shyness and went to talk to the other two girls on her team.  During one of the lineups, the boy next to her was dancing, and Little Miss started dancing with him!  My shy little girl, went onto the field and had a great time.  She did come over three times during the game.  Once she asked to have "a short one", she needed to have a moment another time, and the last time was for a drink break.  We realized that we forgot to explain to the kids, that during a game and practices they aren't supposed to leave the field unless the coach tells them to.  

Wild One loved running after the ball!  He even started acting like the coach, directing everyone (as if he was putting on one of his shows that he does for us at home).  He was even fascinated with how well his shin guards worked, "Mommy!  I got kicked and it didn't even hurt!" This is his element: sports, running, performing.  He loved it.  We knew he would.  He loves sports, he loves being active.  

The hour went by very fast, especially for the grown-ups.  We were all laughing so hard, watching as our kids looked around aimlessly for the ball, only to discover it was right by their feet.  Or as two little kids were holding hands and skipping through the field.  Or when they would just run around in circles trying to figure out which way to go.  Or when they would line up on the wrong side (that was our two- it happened twice).  

So verdict?  I think you can tell.  For our two kids, organized recreational sports is a fun way of learning and making new friends.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homeschool Preschool Plan

(42 Months)

As a former teacher, I am still tied to the concept of having detailed lesson plans.  As we are quickly approaching the start of our homeschool preschool year, I keep thinking, "I need a plan!"  We can't just learn willy nilly, there must be a plan!  I would never go into my classroom without a plan, how could I teach my own little ones without a plan?

Now of course with a plan, comes a schedule - circle time, math, science, reading...  We must have a schedule, kids need a structured routine.  Ok, so I need a lesson plan with a structured schedule.

Enter the beauty, the sheer bliss, of homeschooling.  Schedule smedule!  They are 3 1/2.  The rest of their lives will be built around schedules, this year we will have no schedule.  Well, except for the basics (breakfast, snack, lunch, nap time reading, nap, snack, dinner, bedtime reading and sleep).

Instead of a formal curricula, we are going to continue doing what we've done this past year. Learn and play, play and learn.

Ever since they were little, I always put something educational (and fun) on their table in the playroom.  It's there for when they first wake up in the morning to work on while we are getting breakfast together, making coffee, and emptying the dishwasher.  Since it's been part of our morning routine for so long, they know to work on whatever is on the table first before going off to play with something else.  Click here for some ideas for morning table work.

After that, we'll have breakfast and then do some calendar time or work on a few pages of one of our "school" books (the Kumon workbooks and preschool workbooks).  They (thankfully) love books, we spend a great deal of the day looking at books, reading books, making up stories to go along with books.  Of course there will be art- cutting, pasting, painting, drawing, play dough.

From there it's where the morning takes us.  They love putting on shows, "it's - time - for - a - show!" I love watching how creative they are.  We practice swimming two mornings a week, I'd love to bump that to four. We also enrolled them in both tennis and soccer this Fall.  Is the library or the mall hosting a fun kiddie event?  Maybe go to the zoo or the children's museum?  

This may be our last year together before they attend public school, we're going to make the most of it.  Will there be learning?  Most definitely!  I have so many things planned for us to do on Pinterest.  Will we have fun?  Yes!  Am I going to get stressed out that they are not learning from a formal lesson plan?  Nope!  It took me almost two years to get comfortable with that.  

I know this may not be your idea of homeschool preschool, but this is what works for us and we are going to enjoy it.  Wishing all of you a happy year with your little ones!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Morning Table Work - An Easy Way to Start the Day

(42 Months)

We have been doing morning table work since Wild One and Little Miss were about a year and a half old.  The beauty of morning work is that it is something that the kids will want to work on and allow us time to make coffee, breakfast, and empty the dishwasher.

Little Miss loves discovering what's on their table each morning.  Once there, she usually gets right to work.  Lately, she's been trying to finish all of her work before Wild One enters the playroom.  She's been on a competitive streak lately.  Kids!

The only guidelines I use to determine what goes on the table for morning work are: (1) they can work on this independently, and (2) they are reinforcing a particular skill (they have already learned how to do this work, this is to reinforce it).  Our work is almost always in the form of play, so I know they will work on it happily for at least ten minutes (that's usually our stopping point - some activities they will engage in for an hour or more, it just depends upon their mood and the activity).  

If you need a few extra minutes to start your day, or want to incorporate some independent work time, here is a quick and easy way.  Below are some ideas to get you started for morning table work:
Knobbed Cylinders and Tangrams

Unifix Cubes

Magnetic letters and a cookie sheet- match the letter, or practice spelling, or place the letters in alphabetical order

Art invitation - Cover the table with easel paper with crayons and markers

Legos and blocks

Clay rolled into logs- can be used to form letters, or they can practice cutting with a small spreader knife, or they can just play with it and exercise those finger and hand muscles

Sticker Work

Uppercase and lowercase matching

b, d, p, q Review

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rainbow Macaroni Art

(41 Months)

Awhile back we were playing with bug-shaped macaroni (see here) and I knew then that I would dye those shapes along with some rotini and ditali.  I followed the directions from Many Little Blessings to dye the pasta.  It's quick and easy, although a bit smelly (the combination of rubbing alcohol on the pasta, peeeeuuuu).  If you have never dyed pasta before, give it a try the kids will love it.

All that's needed is rubbing alcohol, food dye, zip top bags and of course your pasta.  In a zip top bag, pour 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol and 10 drops of liquid food dye (or 1/4 inch squirt of gel food dye- sorry about the strange measurement).  Close the zip top bag and squish and shake to combine.  Open the bag and pour in one to two cups of dried pasta.  Close the baggie and shake.  The kiddies love this part.  Repeat with the next color.  Meanwhile, keep the pasta in the closed bags for two hours or until the desired color has been achieved.  Pour the dyed pasta out onto an old towel.  Allow to dry overnight.  That's it, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

When dying the pasta we discovered that gel food dyes produce a deeper richer color (the purple is so deep purple, it's almost black) than liquid food dye.  We dyed the box of bug-shapes, along with a box each of rotini and ditali.  I wanted enough rainbow pasta to use for necklaces (you have to make necklaces - it's a classic), macaroni art (another classic), some math patterning games and to use in their pretend kitchen.

Little Miss decided that she wanted to use our food-dyed glue to make macaroni art.

Look at those little pincers working.  You can really see it in the picture on the left.  
It's fun and easy practice for holding a pencil.

Squeezing a glue bottle takes quite a bit of hand strength, 
plus the coordination of squeezing the glue exactly where you want it.

 Wild One decided that instead of working with glue, he wanted to make a necklace.
I love watching him concentrate.

Wild One discovered after threading a few tiny ditalis that they disappear underneath the rotini. 

Threading is great practice for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

 The next morning, both kidabunks asked to work on necklaces.

Ta da, their finished necklaces!  These were supposed to be quick pictures of them in their finished necklaces.  Wild One completely filled his, whereas Little Miss preferred to have just one of each color rotini.  It's amazing how different these two twins are.

Time for a quick gripe moment. I have seen so many beautiful photographs of kids posing for pictures.  Smiling, when asked to smile. Facing the camera, instead of looking away.   My two have NEVER (since birth) posed for pictures.  Any pictures of the two of them smiling at the same time is completely a fluke (or tricked by tickles).  I was able to capture a few shots (yes blurry) of them dancing around in the necklaces- this was supposed to be when I was taking a picture of the two of them wearing the necklace.

Look at those faces!  So happy.  I'm so lucky.