Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Holidays

We had a great day in preschool yesterday.  We started the day playing puzzles and reviewing the letter J.   We talked about the different holidays that happen this time of year: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Winter Solstice and New Year's.  We read tons of books about each one.  Then we made popcorn strings to feed the birds, a winter solstice activity.  The kids did fantastic with this activity, and I think they LOVED it.
 I had pre-threaded needles for each child with a bead tied at the end (to act as a stopper).  They are real sewing needles and it was explained that if you poke your fingers it will hurt.  They did really well "sewing" the popcorn into a string with only a few pricked fingers.  I was actually quite impressed by the fine motor skills they demonstrated.  We then played a fun game making a lantern the "sun" and rolling the Earth (beach ball) around the sun.  We talked about it in terms of birthdays.  The earth goes around 1 time and then it's your birthday again.  I explained that the new year is a party to celebrate that the earth has gone around the sun one full time again, sort of like a birthday party for the earth.
 We learned to play dreidel and the kids loved it.  I changed the rule for "Hay" to just be "take one" since "take half" is to far advanced for 3 year olds.  They spun the dreidel and moved their coins (toy money) appropriately.  In art we colored pictures of our holiday decorations and played with our new alphabet stamps.  We had a little time at the end to play instruments to holiday music.  What a great morning!
Preschool B started off with reading groups. We worked on baggy books only today.  Please encourage your child to read you the books in their baggy each day.  Return baggy books on the 29th and I'll send home new ones since we'll then miss school on the 31st.
 In art we drew pictures and wrote about what we drew.  I'm encouraging them to draw and write about things in their life, such as parties, decorations and activities that are interesting to them right now.  It would be great if you would encourage similar drawing and writing at home.  Maybe a journal is a good stocking stuffer?
 This class also learned to play dreidel and they thought it was the most fun game ever!  It's a fairly simple addition/subtraction game and they get to play with coins and spin a dreidel, what could be more fun than that?
I hope you all have a fantastic holiday week!  No school next week at all, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ocean Animals and Interest Led Learning

What a wonderful day of school!  Today we learned all about the letter J this morning with our Ocean Animals theme.  We used the phonics headbands from the Moffatt Girls and added "tentacles" to the back of them.  It was so much fun to dance around as jelly fish.  We worked on reading the letter J and the J book.  We also spent some time going back to the beginning and reading together all the mini readers.  It seems that a couple of kids are stuck at about the B book.  When you are working on reading at home please back up and read the books that your child is attempting with most success and leave the other letter books (with more letters) for study later.  Next we worked on art, coloring J the Jellyfish and adding tentacles to her.  We also drew our favorite sea animals and practiced writing our names.  In math we continued graphing.  It was a super fun day!
 Preschool B had an interest led day today.  We started with our encyclopedias and each found a topic that was interesting.  I then pulled out kid books on the same topic to give them a larger browsing library.  We worked in our Ready2Read (congrats to the kids who passed of Level 1 Unit 4) and we worked with the letter G.  Make sure when your child is reading the g book that they make the /g/ sound in their throat.  For art we drew and wrote about what we had looked at in reading time.  There were space themes, animal themes, transportation themes and knights and dragons.  We spent our math time building shapes and building with shapes.  It was wonderful!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good Reader on the iPad

SHHH!  Please don't spill the beans!  It's a Christmas surprise!

I'm setting a few things up so we're ready to rumble Christmas morning.  The boys will be getting a new iPad mini for Christmas.  Our iPad 1 has near reached the end of its life and this was an upgrade we decided would most benefit our home.  As I have been playing with the different activities I want to set up on it for the boys I have learned about so many options that will revolutionize our homeschooling.  The boys will have zero access to TV and movies on their iPad.  There are folders set up for each subject with apps appropriate to their developmental level.

Apple has their iOS set up so that children younger than 13 can obtain their own Apple ID which is awesome with their new "Family Sharing" system.  I can download the apps and music that I've already purchased onto their iPad.  It's so sweet!
Onto what I'm really pumped about right now: Good Reader.  Good reader is an app that will seriously revamp our homeschooling.  No longer will I need to print out a zillion pages from the different digital curriculum I have.  Now I can upload the PDF to the iPad and we can work right with the pages and save it digitally.  I think I just saved ourselves a forest!
Any pages that require cutting and gluing I can easily AirPrint.  I can utilize this tool with any PDF or image file, meaning that all of my Little Adventures Preschool curriculum could be done the exact same way!

Happy Learning in the Digital Age!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

the Polar Express

We had so much fun with the Polar Express today! We started the day working on puzzles this morning.  The kids worked really well together putting all the pieces where they go.  We had a great time reading the story out loud and then watching the audio book video that reads the story aloud with visual clips from the movie.  We narrated the story and completed a sequencing chart about it.  I was so impressed with the cutting in this class.  It appears that some great strides in ability have happened lately.  We also drew pictures of what we would like to ask for from Santa.  
 Our math was tons of fun as we worked together to graph images from the Polar Express.  I think we've got the basic concept of graphing down!
 In the afternoon we used a bunch of large boxes to make our own Polar Express in the classroom.  After reading the story they climbed into their train cars and watched the audio book video.  We worked on the sorting sheet while sitting in our train cars, how fun!
 We continued our day with regular reading lessons followed by art.  We drew what we would ask Santa for just like the morning class.  This afternoon though, I challenged the kids to write what it was that they drew.  It was the first time I've asked them to sound it out and figure out what letters to write down and they all did a fantastic job.  I'm impressed with their writing and we'll be doing lots more of it in the future.  The important part of this stage of writing is to accept anything that they write down as correct.  They will not hear many vowel sounds in words and are unable to utilize advanced phonics at this point.  However, they are successful writers.  Great work!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snowy Dinosaurs

This morning we had a great time talking about snow.  We played with shaving cream and glue "snow" as well as powdered "snow".  We learned the letter F and never before has the letter F been so easy to teach (Thank You, Frozen!).  We're working diligently to sound out the letters and blend them into words. 
 One of the reading groups had a really fun time teaching their sock monkey all the things that good readers do.  It was so fun to watch them do this.  We also practiced tracing our names on snowflakes.  In math we continued working on graphing.  We did just a couple pages of practice on the SmartBoard before our time was up for the day.
This afternoon we were talking about the letter D and dinosaurs.  We started the day being paleontologists digging for dinosaurs in our mini sand boxes.  The kids really loved this activity. 
 We read a book about dinosaurs and used yellow markers to mark the words that we could read.  Then one group continued that strategy by marking the words in their mini readers.  We also read the page in our encyclopedia about dinosaurs.  In their encyclopedia you'll find a small paper glued into the dinosaur page.  It's a b and d reminder picture to help kids remember which is which.

We had a ton of fun with math today.  We're talking about 2d shapes and their characteristics.  Today we utilized a shape building toy I have to work on it.  I first pulled out the pieces to make a shape and asked them what shape I could make.  We talked about how we could know for sure what I was going to make (shape of the sides "curved or straight", how many sides, how many corners) and then I built it.  After the lesson I set them loose to make any of the 4 basic shapes on their own.  It was quite interesting to watch them figure out what pieces they need in order to complete the task.

We did a lot of great learning today. Don't forget that Wednesday is Polar Express day and kids are welcome to wear their pajamas and bring a teddy bear!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gingerbread Friends

Today was quite literally a marathon of awesome.  We had so much fun!  We started our morning class with a gingerbread foam art project.  There were so many stickers to choose from and the kids had a really fun time deciding how to decorate their houses.  We also played on the gingerbread game on Starfall.com.  The kids thought that the end where he says, "Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" was hilarious.  We then read a couple versions of the gingerbread man and the kids repeated that line with me every time we came to it.  We had gingerbread cookies for snack and then got to make our own cookies to send home.  Gingerbread is a hit or miss type of cookie and some kids loved it and some didn't like it at all.  Then we wrapped our holiday presents for our parents.  We used a lot of tape but got them securely wrapped up.  Be sure to open them soon to add to your holiday decor.  Plus, I CAN'T wait to post a picture of how cute they are!
 This afternoon we also did the gingerbread theme.  We made foam gingerbread houses and then moved into a regular reading day.  I was very proud of my group that finished Ready2Read Unit 1 today.  They've been working hard!  Another group got baggy books for the first time and are so excited to be reading these books!  We headed upstairs to wrap presents, make cookies, eat cookies and paint our gingerbread pictures.  We used a homemade finger paint that is colored with ginger, cloves and cinnamon spices.  Plus, they smell super yummy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sharing and Manners

Today was a great day learning all about sharing and manners.  We had a review of letters in the morning and the kids are doing fantastic!  We started the day playing with puzzles.  If your child struggles with 12 piece puzzles I'd highly suggest getting a couple for Christmas and practicing with your child.  Being able to put a puzzle together is a problem solving skill that needs to be learned.  We simply don't have enough time to practice enough in school.  We had a blast fishing for letters during our review.  Once a letter was caught we sang the "Every Letter Makes a Sound" song for that letter and then put it back for someone else to catch.  We enjoyed art time drawing pictures in our notebooks and working on a secret art craft that turned our toes green!  We learned about graphing in math today.  It was an introduction that used hats as the example.  We only wear our own hats and they have to go right on top of our head or they will fall off if we put them up too high.  They did great for a first introduction!  We also played "Motorboat" for music time talking about the tempo of music, boy did they love that!
 This afternoon we also talked about sharing and manners.  Our focus, however was the letter N and naughty behaviors.  We learned the sight word "no" and read the book "No, David!"  We talked about N the naughty newt painting with nail polish and then had a chance to paint with nail polish in our notebooks (yes, my house is still stinky)!  We also worked on a secret art project that turned our toes green.  That should wash off quickly :).