Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Today in preschool we celebrated Dr. Seuss.  We read so many books I hardly have a voice anymore.  I love when kids point out which books they also have at home and are familiar with.  
 We read Green Eggs and Ham before snack time and then enjoyed some hard boiled and dyed green eggs and some turkey.  (Turkey because I don't eat pork, but they didn't mind so much.) We read about Bartholomew and the Oobleck after snack and then played in our own Oobleck.  It was ooey and gooey and slimy and raining oobleck all over the place.   I love the activity, however, I'm not so sure about that large of a mess, whew!
 This afternoon started off with the Oobleck adventure and these kids acted like it was their sole purpose in life to play with the oobleck.  If you haven't been around the block with us before, Oobleck is cornstarch and water (I add green food coloring to the water).  It is a non-Newtonian fluid that possesses the properties of both a liquid and a solid.  It's super fun to play with and leaves a cornstarch film on EVERYTHING when you try to clean it up.
 After reading the oobleck book and Green Eggs and Ham we headed downstairs to write and draw about our favorite book.  I have another new sofa in the basement now.  It's kind of an experiment of sorts.  I'll write about that on NexusHomeschool one of these days.... it was fun to watch them spread out and work.  We also worked on our guided reading lessons and our math books.  Our math books are individual books that the kids are writing that represent numbers with a numeral and a picture of base ten blocks for each page.  It is a fun project that is really helping me see who needs clarity on place value of tens and units and who can recognize the teen numbers (or not, for that matter).
I love seeing how this class is working together and building such great friendships!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Race Cars and the Zoo

What a great time in school this morning.  Even with all the snow everyone was able to make it safely and we learned a ton!  I'm so glad we didn't have to cancel school but I was nervous for those of you on the roads.  This morning we were talking about letter R and race cars all day. Everyone LOVED the Usborne Race Cars book.  It has tracks for wind up race cars to go on.  It was a hit!  We also made a couple of cardboard cars and ran around saying /r/!  Each child got an eraser (cars, airplanes, boats or trains) and we raced them them in the air saying /r/!
 We had great reading lessons today.  I'm so proud of this class!  They are doing fantastic!  The letter R book introduced the sight word "to".  We practiced reading "to" with the sight word watch from the Moffatt Girls.  I was super proud of my second reading group who made great leaps in blending sounds together, they're getting it!
 For art today we played with a sensory bin of water beads.  It was used last week for our homeschool Bloodmobile lesson and since water beads tend to hang around forever we decided to play with them in preschool as well. After the sensory bin we had a fun math lesson about shapes.  We talked about all the shapes around us: the white board is a rectangle, the clock is an oval, there are triangles on the borders, etc.  Then each child got their writing notebook and went on a treasure shape hunt throughout the room.  They found lots of different shapes and drew what they found.  It was the cutest thing ever!  They were so busy with their "work".  Walking around and finding comfortable places like the stairs to sit and draw.  It was so cute and so fun!
 This afternoon we continued our Ready2Read lessons.  We started the Level 2 word wall with a few of the kids and began introducing consonant blends and digraphs.  We also got to read a new book "I Love You, Zooborns!"
 We also got to play with the water bead sensory bin after snack and I was quite impressed with the kids that were a part of the homeschool blood lesson.  They were telling everyone else about what the parts of the sensory bin represented.  I was happy to see that lesson stuck!
 After art we headed downstairs for math.  We're making our own books for math right now.  Each page has a number and a decimal street drawing to match.  We're working on labeling the houses ("tens" and "units") and drawing them appropriately.  We're working on making sure that 6 is represented with 6 units instead of 6 sticks of ten.  We'll work more on this the next couple of days before moving on to counting to 100.  Please continue to play the matching card game at home!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wheels in Preschool

This morning in preschool we had a letter review.  We got to play with wheels and talk more about the different shapes around us.  We played with all the vehicle toys and cut out pictures of wheels and trucks.
 We had a fantastic time in art today.  We cut out pictures of vehicles and glued them onto our pages according to if they were facing right or left.  Then we painted using toy vehicles to spread the paint all around.  We continued our discussion about shapes and talked about what shapes would roll the best.
 This afternoon we dove right into our Ready2Read and guided reading lessons.  We talked about letter X and had a great time reading the book "Max" by the Amazing Action Alphabet.
 We also spent time discussing the numbers 9-15.  We made a tape version of the tens and units homes.  We used unifix cubes and our big number mats.  We're still working on understanding that a stick of 10 is 1 stick of 10 units.  I'm hoping to really get a hang of what the numbers up to 20 mean so we can start working on counting to 100 next.  And not just the counting of it, the UNDERSTANDING of it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!  A few kids pointed out that today was in fact not Valentine's day.  However, since we don't have school on Saturday we celebrated it today!  This morning was a blast learning about the letter U.  We used a big balloon with a capital U and a small balloon with a lower case u to practice the /u/ sound.  We made the balloon go /u/ /u/ /u/ - UP! and then tossed it to another student to repeat the action.  We also talked about all the words in the mini U book from the Amazing Action Alphabet.  We talked about the family of frogs in the book and acted out all the actions that they do throughout the book.  After snack time each child got a box of heart candies to sort and graph.  We practiced one-to-one counting and determining which color and the most and the least. 
 After math we handed out Valentines to our friends with our decorated Valentine bags and then did a letter review game with balloons.  Each balloon had a letter on it.  The idea of the game was to look at the letter on the balloon and then sing the song about the letter name and sound ("N says /n/, N says /n/, every letter makes a sound, N says /n/").
 This afternoon we read a fun story called "The Day it Rained Hearts".  It's a simple and sweet story about a little girl making Valentine cards out of hearts that rained from the sky. Each child then drew their favorite part and added words to their drawing.  We then took turns sharing our work with the whole class.
 We did our regular guided reading groups today so everyone has 2 new baggy books to be reading.   For math we repeated our lesson from last Wednesday about units and sticks of 10.  Then we got out our math cards and paired up to play the matching game.  PLEASE play this game LOTS at home!
We had a great time playing outside for a bit.  Cheering for kids who completed Ready2Read units, coloring Valentine bags and handing out our Valentines.  It was a great day!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Castle Blocks - A Lakeshore Product Review

When is the last time you witnessed 4 boys, ages 4, 6, 7 and 9, play with blocks for hours on end?  Today happened to be one of these occasions.  We got this really nifty set of Castle Blocks from Lakeshore Learning and the boys are in heaven.  The blocks are high-quality wooden blocks that are printed on every side with realistic details.  The doors can be laid down and flipped over to make a bridge. There are cubes and cylinders, pyramids and cones.  Certainly enough pieces to make the grandest castle.
Upon opening the package, EMan was immediately enthralled with the blocks.  He was excited about the possibilities and focused on how many different ideas there were presented on the back of the box.  CJ quickly returned with the neighbor boys and all four of them really dove into exploring the possibilities.  
 It was interesting to listen to the collaboration and sometimes dictatorship that was unfolding before me.  I was simply a spectator intrigued by what would happen with this group of boys and the castle blocks. There were strong opinions about how the blocks should and shouldn't be used.
  "This is looking so cool!" says EMan as he jumps with excitement onto the sofa.  Apparently their game has now included Minecraft characters. They have built a castle and a barn and are utilizing their Minecraft toys to make it into a full game.  Each boy is responsible to be one character from Minecraft.  I'd highly recommend either small dolls or characters such as these Minecraft ones to make the building of the blocks into a game of creativity.
 I love how they put "Steve" on top of the castle with a sword.  He is the defender after all. Oh, and the skeleton is trying to get in but can't.  You best still watch out for him though because he might just shoot you with his bow and arrow.
 We were down in the basement (the dungeon of amazing stuff that is disorganized and slightly overwhelming) when EMan noticed the Lakeshore Learning catalog next to my desk.  It featured the castle blocks on the front and he excitedly said, "MOM! Is this where you got the idea from?" It was so cute.  He and CJ then spent the next hour taking turns flipping through the catalog and deciding what we should save our money for next.
Thanks to Lakeshore Learning for making such a fantastic product and letting us test it out for you!  If you want to head on over to get your own castle blocks or find something handy for your classroom be sure to use our coupon! 20% off your purchase good through 3/31/2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hearts and a Day of Math

This morning in preschool we talked all about hearts as we get ready for Valentine's to be upon us next week.  We split into groups and played with some heart shaped boxes and toys and read.  We worked on reading about a snow zoo, which was really fun, and we drilled the importance of pointing at what you are reading.  We giggled about the different mistakes that I made when reading to the kids.  I'd point at the /a/ and say /z/ or at the /I/ and say /pickles/.  It was quite silly but it started to click!  Yay!  Point at the letters and make the correct sound at the same time.  Keep working on this at home!
 We also got to make tissue paper hearts in art time today.  The sticky contact paper proved to be a challenge at first but then they got the hang of it.  After art we played with pink play dough for a bit and then played with the shape blocks while I did a quick assessment to see what 2D shapes we were struggling with as a class.  It seems the rectangle and hexagon were the hardest.  Honestly, the hexagon doesn't really count in preschool.  It's an advanced shape for those ready to learn another shape.
 This afternoon, believe it or not, we spent 2 hours and 45 minutes on math.  I know.  I can hardly believe it and I taught it!  It was engaging and fun and lots of "I love this game" though we weren't playing what I would categorize as a "game".  We played with the foam TouchMath numbers while I did a quick check to determine who knew the numbers 0-9 and which numbers were still a struggle.  It turned out that the majority of the class knew 0-9 and were ready to work on numbers 11-20.  We spent time doing a lesson very similar to MathUSee with their concept of "Decimal Street".  I love how MathUSee is taught (at least the primer level) and was happy to have a more concrete example of place value to work with my preschoolers on.
 We worked mainly on the concept of a maximum of 9 units can live in the units house and when another unit wants to move in they form a stick of 10 to move to the tens house.  We will play with this concept with unifix cubes next week so they can stick the actual cubes together and move them into the next house (that's the downfall of base10 blocks, you have to trade them in).
We then cut out and played a numeral and picture matching game.  I would link the download but I didn't make it and it's now longer available :(.  Work on matching them at home every day and send the cards back on Wednesday next week so I can assess how they are doing.  This is an exciting time where we get to explore more about number sense and bigger numerals, yay!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Giggles and Gumdrops

What a fun day of preschool!  This morning we talked about the letter G with Giggles and Gumdrops.  G is a tricky sound to make.  I encourage kids to tip their head back and feel their throat to make the /g/ in the back of their throat rather than in the front of their mouth like /j/.  We read some very silly stories that really made us giggle!  Art and math were combined twice today.  We made fun gumdrop graphs and then made shapes out of gumdrops and toothpicks.  The gumdrops and toothpicks went home and you're welcome to decide their fate (they are technically spice drops, which aren't as commonly liked among preschoolers).  Then we  headed downstairs for math.  We talked about the four main shapes (circles, squares, triangles, rectangles).  One of the activities we did was to make lists of all the things around us that were each shape (clocks, beds, pizza, windows, etc.).  Please continue this conversation at home by pointing out different shapes in the environment. 
This afternoon we started our day with a number recognition activity.  Each child was given a pirate number graph and a die.  They rolled the die and colored in a square that matched the same numeral (dotted die and numeral sheet).  I was mostly watching to see if everyone knew their numbers 1-6.  This was a great activity to start recognizing groups of dots in specific patterns.  Every time you think of 4 you can easily picture the 4 dots on a die, right?  That's what I want our preschoolers to be able to do.  Know immediately the number represented on all of the sides of a d6.  (My husband told me I should just use d6 because I complained that writing the singular version of  dice over and over in a preschool blog was making me feel a little uncomfortable.  But he also warned me I'll sound like a Dungeons and Dragons player, which I'm not.  Anyway, I digress...)  We also worked hard on learning the letter Y.  Every student that is working on the Amazing Action Alphabet mini books said the /y/ sound as a /w/.  We worked on making our mouth ready to say the letter name "E" to say the /y/ correctly.  We then made great headway in our Ready2Read packets.  Every group should be finishing their current unit or even starting a new one on Wednesday.  Yay!
We read "Where the Wild Things Are" and drew our favorite parts and added words.  Each child took a turn sharing their book report with the rest of the class.  I was impressed with some new confidence in this exercise as a few students are finding their public speaking voice.  I'm really loving this simple activity and how we're really growing into it.

Have a great day of learning!