Friday, November 1, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Human Body Theme (Preschool/PreK)

Last year in preschool when T and I did a unit on our bodies we studied how our bodies work and generally celebrated being alive. You can see the post here.

Recently I became more aware that T, although wanting to be independent, was doing his best to avoid some things that help keep his body healthy. Like blowing his nose. He preferred sniffing everything back in over blowing it out. Eating. It's normal but he was starting to prefer dairy and carbs for snacks over anything else. I knew we had to do something and this year's preK human body theme was the perfect opportunity.

I'm linking this post to Montessori Mondays at Living Montessori Now .

PreK Human Body: Taking Care Of Myself

Our activities were set up in baskets on shelves. T could access the activities whenever he wanted. By some activities I had sequencing cards. Most had a book or two sitting next to it that was also related. The bottom shelf had baby's toys although one of T's activities managed to sit there as it was baby safe.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Horse stables tour!

Today was one of the best field trips ever! We went to tour a horse ranch. Well, the stables anyway.  T and the other children toured the stables, learned how they keep the horses warm as the weather turns colder, made "salad" for a horse, and even got a short ride.

Touring the stables. Most of the stalls were empty as the horses were in the various paddocks outside.  
One stall did have a horse, and the children were told to keep away. This horse was newly rescued and was still skittish.  Sadly the former owner had crossed a line between discipline and abuse (unintentionally according to our tour guide). Now they were working on getting the horse once again comfortable with people. 

The children were able to see inside the empty stalls. They were being cleaned during our visit. In fact after the visit T couldn't get over how dirty the stalls got! 
"Do you know what a horse's bathroom looks like?" T asked me. "It has hay on it."
The children were fascinated by the "bedrooms" and how they hung their hay on the walls. 
Making "salad" from hay, alfalfa, and carrots

All was so enjoyable. Best of all though was getting to ride. Now T says he wants to take lessons.

Or as he put it "Join the horse riding club."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seasonal Delights

When I was growing up the cool seasons were short. Most of the year was warm, and green. Green or brown. You see, I grew up much further south. SoCal and the Gulf Coast states. Mostly the latter.

Up here it's different. We have quite distinct seasons. Each one brings new colors. A change in the air. Each one is a joy to explore with my children.

In the midst of the dead leaves that fell off the trees, "Look Mama!" T pointed out some delicate white blossoms. Lovely!

T was able to observe some fallen fruit off a tree and the pit that came from inside. This led to a discussion on how new the leaves falling at the same time cover it up, and eventually a new tree can grow. T kicked at some leaves to cover it and help speed the process up.

Not all trees were red, gold, or brown yet. This sapling only had a few brown leaves. T shook it. Some leaves came tumbling down. "It's a leaf shower!" he cried in delight.

Most interesting of all was a hollow log. One end jutted across a small section of the trail. T knelt down. Peering inside he gazed intently, eagerly looking for some sign of life. All we saw were a couple spiders. "Something must live in here, though," he surmised. "Something."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Warrior Sweeping

The crumbs on the floor after breakfast must be the enemy. So T attacked the dust and crumbs from breakfast this morning in ninja warrior mode!

"You find the element of fun and snap! The job's a game!" -Mary Poppins

Friday, October 18, 2013

Apple Orchard Trip!

We went to an apple orchard this week.

This was the first time T has been to a "u-pick" orchard. Arriving we headed inside their store. It was organized chaos in there. So much to see! They had mixes, groceries, pre-picked apples and produce, baked goods, jams, jellies, honey, and even a working beehive.

T walked up to the cashier. Hesitantly he announced "I'd like to go pick some apples, please."
 She smiled and replied, "If your mom says so."
 "She said yes," he told me.

Oh, I love this age! We went back outside into the bright sunshine. It was so pleasant. Crystal clear and comfortable. Perfect weather for apple picking. I consulted the map I'd picked up just inside the door and we set off in search of the orchard. T was amazed by the number of trees. I'd forgotten just how short apple trees really are. Seriously, why do children's story books usually draw them so very tall? We wandered around the orchard for a bit before turning around to get a bag for the apples.  Picking them was such fun!

At first glance it appeared the orchard was very picked over. The further away from the store and especially down the rows we went though the more apples we found. Soon we found Gala Apple trees absolutely loaded with beautiful green and red apples. So large too. T and I had so much fun picking them. T tried twisting them off. He was convinced he knew better than I did how to pick apples. He caught on pretty quickly though.  Even now I can hear the rustling of the leaves as each apple was removed from the branch.

When we returned to the store to pay our bag was full to the brim. T was brimming with pleasure too. As a final treat to finish out our excursion he enjoyed a fresh apple slushy. He said it was the best drink ever. Then he got to play on the orchard's play set, which was shaped like a giant boat. By the time we went home he couldn't say what was the most fun. It made for a really great day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

When Did You Last Stop To Touch The Grass? Plus DIY Touch Board for Baby

When is the last time you really stopped to feel? I mean really feel. Not just the sand between your toes at the beach (although that's a good start). Feel the slight temperature change as you softly wave your hand back and forth between the sunshine and a shadow. Feel the smooth hardwood floor, interrupted at regular intervals by very slight ridges where the pieces join. Feel the varying textures of cloth as you fold the day's laundry. Marvel at the different textures of water as it is released at different pressures or sits there, still and calm except for your finger caressing its surface.

F is eight months old. Her wonder of the little things grows daily. Lately she's really gotten into textures. Oh yes. Those boxes of tissues cannot be kept down low these days.

The grass on the lawn. 

It's soft yet prickly. There are so many lengths, shapes, and subtle variations in texture.


So soft and fuzzy. You can finger each strand individually or squeeze the whole thing.

The beach

The sandpaper on my homemade touch board.

DIY: Homemade Touch Board


Wood board from craft section 
Several grades of sandpaper

Assembly- cut one strip from each grade sandpaper. Arrange from rough to smooth on board. Glue. Let dry. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Character and Habits with a 4 Year Old

What's your 4 year old like? Mine can be a challenge. Delightful some moments and a challenge the next. I suppose that's just life in a fallen world. However, I have noticed changes this year. His character- both the good and the bad- is more individualized. More unique. More pronounced. The good and bad is more apparent. Pronounced.

You could paraphrase James 4:1 like this-

What makes the wars and quarrels among you? Is it not from the selfish desires of the heart?

That's so apparent these days.

Charlotte Mason was aware of the "passions" or "desires at war within you" as James 4:1 actually put it. She emphasized habit training, character study if you will. Nowadays we tend to view it as a part of social studies. She treated it as a separate, essential, aspect of a child's education and upbringing.

We all need it. Not just my 4 1/2 year old. Our sinful hearts are constantly battling our passions, our desires overwhelming us. Constant prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit, study, and application is needed for change, for gaining self-control and becoming truly loving individuals.

 So...I've decided! It's time to start a formal habits/character study. It should benefit both of us. Yes, I'm including myself. 

I started researching various resources for character and preschool. Checked out some things from the library. Was disappointed when the library didn't have something I wanted to see before buying. I found a curriculum that looks wonderful for next year as it focuses on heart-centered character education for encouraging virtue, but very definitely for K-4. Finally I decided to check out something online I've known about for a few years. I should've started here! We're going to be using Joyful Hearts Character Curriculum from this year with Theo for habits study. It's a Bible and character study. It focuses on various desirable character traits as shown in scripture, with verses and passages as well as activities.

A Godly Boy is:

A peace seeker
Serves others
Self Controlled
For anyone interested, the curriculum I'm considering for when T is 5 is called Manners Of The Heart

Friday, August 23, 2013

Preschool/PreK Theme: Bugs and Insects

If there's one thing this world is teeming with it's bugs. Wherever you turn there's a bug. Like many children T finds himself fascinated by these creepy crawlies. I do too actually. In fact if you looked at my camera roll you'd find a few pictures of insects.

Recently T and I had tremendous fun with a bug theme. We've found a couple great CDs, read some awesome books, gone on bug hunts. It's terrific!

Hands On Exploration

What's a study on insects without a study of bees? Exploring honeycomb was such a hit last year we did it again this year. We learned how the bees make honey, the comb, and seal it. Then T got to eat.

T also did some hands-on life cycle work with butterflies.

We made a butterfly feeder!

We made some nectar

I used a nail to poke a hole in an empty jar lid, and stuffed a bit of sponge through. Stuffing it took a lot of effort! It really was work. Needed to have half of the square sticking out either side of the hole.

 Then we filled the jar, screwed on the lid. You can hang it upside down and watch the butterflies come and drink. Making one was inexpensive and fun.

Bug Hike

 Taking a hike through various environments can be a fascinating experience. Some beetles are rather obvious like the one above.
The ants here were moving a huge load (and harder to see because they blended in so well!)

Books, Songs, and Games

While at my parents' house we played a childhood favorite of mine: Ravensburger's Memory game. We used the insect cards.

A very good friend of ours gave T a game called Bug Blast. We've had so much fun with it! It came with a book on insects and a tube full of them. Note: it also includes arachnids like spiders and scorpions.

 Love this CD and book from the Smithsonian. It has a song CD that goes through a list of insects A-Z, another track where they read the book, and more information for curious parents or littles in the back.

We enjoyed this CD from Kimbo Ed so much we kept renewing it! I'm sure one day we'll own Songs About Insects, Bugs & Squiggly Things. The songs are catchy. The lyrics are highly informative. It's a great combination in an educational CD.

If your child is anything like T you must've seen at some point a tendency to squishing. T sees an ant or something and immediately wants to stomp on it! This book was perfect for T. A little boy, egged on by his friends, is about to stomp on an ant. He explains why he thinks it's ok. The ant responds explaining his point of view. After the boy imagines what it'd be like if their situations were reversed we're brought back to the kids egging the boy on to squish the ant. The boy's foot is seen heel down, toes up, poised to stomp as he hesitates. The book ends on that scene, asking the child what he thinks the boy will do.

We just loved the Noisy Bug Sing-Along by John Himmelman. Each page shows a bug and writes its sound out phonetically. Illustrated prettily it's a delight to read. There's a link in the back to a recording of the insect sounds. I just wish it included a CD copy of the sounds! I can't wait for the author's next book, on Frog calls, to be published. This is such a nice book I also bought a copy for my parents to keep at their house. They enjoy nature too.

There were many enjoyable moments. As time went on we kept doing more and more bug related activities because we are simply surrounded by them! However, we eventually had to more on. Now we've started a forest animals theme!

Linking up at Homeschool Creations Preschool and Kindergarten Corner

Monday, August 19, 2013

Logic of English Foundations A

Just a quick note right now. I ordered the pdf teacher's manual to Logic od English Foundations A last week. This morning T and I tackled the first lesson. It was so enjoyable. I loved the way it introduces the whole subject. Instead of launching right in to phonogram cards you start by exploring sound.

Yes exploration.

First thing LOEF had us do was figure out what our bodies were doing when we made the sound for p or b. Next few days it will be different sounds. What an interesting approach.

The lesson then moved to handwriting. Today we just discussed baseline, midline and topline of the paper. Later this week we'll work on a stroke.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Everything Beautiful In Its Time: 4 Process Art Projects

What a busy couple of weeks! We finally made it out west to visit my family. It was such a fun trip! We went on several hikes a week in the mountains. Still though there were quiet moments in which T found time to do a bit of art.

 Oily Cloud Dough proved to be easy to make, awesome to play with, low odor, and retained its moisture.

Here was a really fun art project. T used two pieces of scrap paper, scissors, and paste. First he cut one piece of paper in different size strips. Using the paste he glued the strips upright on the second paper. It kept him quietly focused for quite a while. Plus helped him practice cutting skills. Bonus!

For this simple art project we used markers and crayons. With music playing in the background and large sweeping motions of the arm we created circles of all different sizes on the paper with the markers. These were then colored in with the crayons. Fun, simple, and engaging. I was drawn in and found it very relaxing.

Blot art. T folded a piece of paper in several directions. He put drops of paint in the creases, re-folded, and pressed. When he peeled the paper open he discovered it had changed in appearance.

~ Everything Beautiful In Its Time ~

Friday, August 9, 2013

Baby Babbles: Traveling With Baby & All Those Diapers!

I must've been quite the sight. T, F, and I took a trip to visit my family and introduce them to little baby F. She's six months old and had only met them via video chat before. T had a backpack full of toys and was quite happy holding my hand as we made our way through the airport to our gate. F was seated in the Angel Pack on my front. Her car seat was strapped to my back. On both shoulders I carried all the gear necessary to get us through any delay we might face. A diaper bag hung on one side. On the other was a small diaper bag doubling as my purse, and also containing the electronics we needed for entertainment. I felt amazingly balanced carrying everything thanks to being covered on all points of the compass. Balanced and confident. With all those shrink-wrapped diapers I could face any summertime delay without worrying about running out of diapers, and had room for changes of clothes, a baby blanket, baby toys.

Those who know me know I've cloth diapered since T was born. I even attempted to cloth diaper or at least hybrid diaper when visiting the homes of relatives. There are places and times when disposables are more convenient and more welcome than their less-smelly, less rash-inducing cloth counterparts I've learned over the years.

So I've tried my fair share of 'sposies too. WalMart, Pampers, Target, Seventh Gen, Huggies, BabyCare, Walgreens, Luvs, Earth's Best and others have all been tried. I remember face booking friends and relatives when Theo was first born asking for the diaper brand with least blowouts. If only this wonderful article comparing (both on babies and in-lab) 20 brands disposables had been out then. At least it's out now, for baby F. Here it is for you to read yourself.

Armed with this article I placed a order for a trip to visit family. Once we arrived I opened the package of Bambo diapers. My first thought was "nice rise!" as they indeed cover quite a bit. Their size (weight allowance) was the next pleasant surprise. I ordered size 3, which fits from 11-22 lbs. That's quite a range.
The next few days I saw what a good choice it was to use these for baby F. Not a single blowout, even with a force and quantity that would've definitely blown out of a Pampers or Huggies in my experience. I am thus far thoroughly impressed. The quality lives up to the price.

My other great find has to do with the first picture. That little shrink wrapped object is a full size diaper. It saved so much room in my diaper bag. Really lightened my load.

The diaper feels fine. It's not as soft as some sposies but not that bad either. It's fairly size-able. I had no leaks. The tabs are not super sticky though so adjustments can't be made often. They're too expensive for everyday use but are perfectly sized for trips. This is the best travel option I've found. By far. I'll definitely be using Diaper Buds whenever I have to leave town. Even their bulk packaging is travel-worthy: the individually shrink wrapped diapers come in a drawstring bag.

Which brings us back to where we started. Travel alone with two went better than I expected. There were plenty of diapers to spare. People were helpful and encouraging. I did get several looks though. Part of it probably was the "oh no, little ones". Some may have been "Why's that crazy woman trying this alone with two small children?" I'm pretty sure though, surrounded on all four sides by either baby gear or baby, I really must have been quite the sight!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Oily Cloud Dough

During  art yesterday T and I made some play dough so squish-able I just couldn't wait to blog on it. It's so smooth. Oily. Light. Plus it only requires two ingredients.
 Mix flour and oil.
 Yes, really mix. In fact, let the preschooler mix and explore.

 T loved feeling the ingredients change texture as they became dough.

 We turned it out of the bowl to knead.

This is definitely a new favorite. Of mine. Not just his. I love feeling it too. The texture is soft and fluffy. It's aptly called

Oily Cloud Dough 
6 parts flour
1 part oil

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Science Is Simple: Great Preschool-PreK science resource

Inside and outside we are surrounded by scientific wonders. Wonders already known, and yet to be discovered. Children have a natural curiosity. They grasp on to life's little wonders and cling to them. They explore their environment with eagerness in minute detail. As we grow we tend to lose this wonder. And no wonder. Do we really tend to encourage it? Or do we often get annoyed by their fascination and incessant questions?

Enter books like this.
I checled out the book Science Is Simple from our local library. Wow! I'm impressed.

The very first lesson teaches about prediction and observation. It's introduced using a delightful children's storybook called Fortunately. The book relates a series of events that are both good- presented in color- and bad -in black and white- and allows for the parent to stop and ask the child to predict what will happen next. Delightful story. Following reading the story Science is Simple has the parent/child begin their hands on explorations.

Most lessons in the book combine literature with hands on study. Children are challenged to turn their wonder of the world into questions, and you are given open-ended questions to guide them into self-discovery. In other words, this simple science guide teaches you to teach your children problem-solving skills! There are more than 200 activities all written at the preschool-first grade level. Most of the supplies are things you'll already have. Trees, dirt, bubbles, plans, seeds, magnets, etc. etc. etc. Definitely planning on buying it.