Saturday, August 4, 2012

Flowering Baby "Curriculum" & A Nature Center Trip

I am thrilled with Flowering Baby (odd name!) age 3 so far. It really is a hidden gem. Reminds me of Slow & Steady Get Me Ready but greatly expanded. The real downside is it comes only on cd rom so if you want a hard copy you must print it out yourself. I haven't yet. There's so much material in FB it'd be expensive to print. I have occasionally written out a day or two's worth of activities on an index card. That's worked pretty well as I can stuff it in my purse or pocket. I'm considering doing that more often. It's convenient. A friend first told me of the program a year ago but I really didn't look into it. I sure wish I had. In fact, almost every day since I started in July I've asked myself "WHY didn't I get this sooner?!"

Flowering Baby age 3 is set up so you can find and fit in activities during your day whenever you feel the need for something. This "curriculum" really is different from most preschool ones I've looked at. It feels almost wrong to call it a curriculum. There is no set schedule/sequence you must follow (although there are daily recommendations for 5 days a week 12 months of the year, and levels for babies, one-year-olds, two-year-olds, preschool/age3, prek/k4). No cutesy crafts or worksheets. It really doesn't take planning. If you miss a day, it's ok. In fact the program encourages to pick up whenever you are when you receive it. We started in the middle of July so we worked through the body of the July activities. They flowed naturally through our day. If you are interested in natural learning integrated into your day but at the same time want daily activity ideas, this may just be what you want. Yet it is a curriculum at the same time. Your child will learn a lot, and at age 3 it covers more subjects than some preschool curricula I've looked at.

Flowering Baby is very play and reading based. It's well-rounded. We've done sequencing games, organizing groups of objects, playing with blocks, even board games are encouraged. You read a variety of books. It's not just picture books either. Generally in a month there's a large chapter style book in addition to several picture books. I was so excited when I opened up the July file and saw the recommended book was the original Winnie the Pooh. We'd already been reading it! For August you begin Paddington Bear, and read picture books about animal homes (even DK & Eyewitness books) and stories like  The Carrot Seed and Sylvester & The Magic Pebble (I loved that book as a child). A typical day will include the sentence "Read a book". Listening to music is recommended, with a different style or composer every month. August is all about listening to jazz.  Nature "studies" are natural exploration here, as is "science". Gross and fine motor skill games are included, again in a very natural, play-based way (nothing special you need to get/set up). Social skills, cultural knowledge (it's the 4th of July, there are flags everywhere, so why not point out the colors, create your own flag, or mention that the flag has a special name "Old Glory"?). Alphabet and math skills are presented in the same play-based way using a variety of games. Word games like "I Spy" or a game where you say a sequence of words and gradually make the string of words the child has to repeat and remember longer, and this coming month one of the activities is going to be practicing ordinal numbers using board games & toys. It really does fit in your day just whenever you need something. It's thorough, but not demanding of the parent.

In August Flowering Baby age 3 talks a lot about forest animals. So we took a trip to a nature center this week.

He loved feeling it spinning round and round in the water.

Woodpecker display. He's turning a key to hear the sounds.

Learning about the pros and cons of bug zappers. Apparently they kill more beneficial bugs than mosquitoes. :(

In the discovery center, there were artificial rocks that included a child-size series of animal burrows. On the outside of the rocks drawers containing different surprises.

Miles and miles of hiking trails.

Lifting a door of bark to discover pine cones.

Watching the chipmunks eating the seeds the birds drop from their feeders.

Seriously fun! A section of puppets, and a section of costumes. The costumes were of local wildlife. 

I didn't know about this- FREE!- nature center until this last week. We both loved it. Probably will be returning very soon and very often.