Monday, March 30, 2015

Picnics and Outdoor Reading

We had perfect weather to talk about picnics today and play outside.  We had a great time in the backyard exploring the sandbox and play house as well as the rock climbing wall.
 We learned the letter Y and talked about the numeral 1.  We did all of our lessons outside except for writing/drawing.  At that point the kids were tired and hot so we came in for a nice calm end or our day.
 This afternoon we spent the whole day outside.  The kids love the spring weather and it is so much nicer to review sight words and practice reading on a porch swing.
 I was able to read with almost every child individually, introduce them to their new sight words and check to see which ones they're still struggling with from past lessons.  We're continuing our guided reading lessons that are focusing on developing fluency in reading CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Preschool 3/25

It was a surprise to have snow this morning!  What a fun way to talk about weather.  I had planned on going out in the rain but since it was awful cold snow instead we stayed inside.  We talked about the different types of weather and how it changes from day to day.  We talked about how weather changes with the moving air which can be hot or cold.  We practiced our letter W beginning reader and drew pictures of our favorite weather.  We even started exploring the idea of writing words to match our pictures in our journals.  We learned about quarters today to finish out our unit about money and had a great time practicing our songs in music. 
This afternoon we started off with puzzles and worked through a few last Ready2Read pages and our guided reading groups.  Many of the kids are ready to start a new unit on Monday.  Yay!  We're currently reading the "Now I'm Reading" series of books that utilize short vowel words so we can be successful in reading.  We also continued our discussion of place value and counted to 100.  I had each child write their numbers as high as they could to assess where any misconceptions were. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wind and Insect Release

What a great day to start talking about wind today!  There were gusts of strong wind and some mild wind throughout our class time. We made kites, talked about the letter W and read books about wind.  We learned that wind is made by the hot air going up and the cold are coming underneath it. We played outside flying our kites and running around until the sandbox was just too tempting to stay away from.  We headed inside and learned all about dimes and practiced our songs for our upcoming end of year celebration.
This afternoon we started our day by observing and writing about our now full grown butterflies.  We completed our regular reading lessons and then headed outside to release ladybugs and butterflies.
 We had a great time watching them and holding them, catching the ladybugs again after they flew off our hands and trying to keep them from crawling down shirts, up pants or in hair :).  We spent tons of time with one butterfly who enjoyed a nice long snack of grape juice and everyone that wanted to was able to hold the butterfly on the grape.  It was wonderful!  I'd highly recommend cutting a grape in half and then scoring the inside to see if you can hold the butterfly for a while when releasing.  The other 3 butterflies weren't interested, so it may not work, but we had a good 10 minutes of passing around this one butterfly.
In math today we counted all the way up to 100, but we didn't count normally.  We said each number according to place value.  So we'd say "Six tens, three units. Six tens, four units." and so forth.  I even drew the unit house the tens house on top of the plastic on the hundreds chart occasionally.  I think we had a break through lesson today and I can see the place value number sense kicking in!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Animals in Spring

This morning we had a great reading lesson about stretching out sounds to write words.  We're working on the -in family today.  We did some work on rhyming words and made a list of as many -in words as we could.  Each time we'd "grab" the word from the air and stretch it out (sound it out slowly) to figure out what letter to write down and then repeat to find the next letter sound.  We read tons of books about spring and animals in spring.  We also sang the song "Popcorn Popping" and did fun popcorn art. 
 After art we learned all about the nickel and continued with our "Which coin is in my pocket?" song that we learned on Monday.  We just switched it up now to talk about the nickel and how it's worth 5 cents.  After math was the best part of the day.  We took turns holding the chicks and feeding them their snack.  Most kids were okay with holding them in some manner and all kids were really excited to feed them when they were back in their brooder (sounds better than cage, yes?).
This afternoon we worked in our guided reading groups and then read a book called "Very Special Friends".  We got to draw a favorite part from the story or about our own very special friends in our journals and then share them with Miss Amanda.  We sang about spring (see popcorn song above) and made popcorn tree art as well.
 We also got to play with the chicks this afternoon.  It's always interesting to see the different reactions to being able to hold the chicks.  It is the most wonderful thing for some and the most horrifying thought for others.  After we played with the chicks we worked on piecing together the number 1-20 on the 100 board.  We're still getting 16 and 19 upside down so we have 61 and 91.  We'll continue talking about the place value importance and hopefully it'll stick soon!

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

What a great St. Patrick's Day celebration we had in school today!  We scooped and dumped green rice while listening to stories about St. Patrick's Day.  We made shamrock art out of heart shaped stamps and made green paint from yellow and blue.
 We had green smoothie muffins for snack and then sorted and counted the different pieces of Lucky Charms cereal.  At the end of the day we learned all about the Penny.  We sang this song:
"Which coin is in my pocket, pocket?
What's in my pocket worth one cent?
It's a shiny penny, penny.
It's a penny, worth one cent."
to the tune of "Shortnen' Bread"
 This afternoon we moved our caterpillar chrysalis' to the butterfly home and inspected how they had changed.  We also got a good look at ladybugs that had turned into the pupa stage and some that had hatched out as beetles.  We even saw two hatch out as yellow beetles.  Did you know that many varieties of ladybugs start off yellow and then become red with spots within hours?
 We also got our hands all covered in paint and made shamrock handprints with those painted hands.  We sorted and counted Lucky Charms, worked on our numbers up to 20 and read tons of stories about St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


 We had such a fun day learning all about trains.  Preschool A played with trains, acted like conductors and practiced reading their train game.  They also learned all about the cylinder shape.  Preschool B also played with trains and read about them.  In addition, we observed caterpillars and wrote all about them in our journals.  We tried to write the numerals 1-20 today also.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Circus and Insects

We had a blast learning the letter E with our Elephants and Circus theme this morning.  We started by playing with blow up elephants, a circus tent, and Starfall on the SmartBoard.  Each child got a turn to get their face painted and had the opportunity to pick through different designs to get one that matched what they wanted.  I love how they all turned out.
 We read books about the circus and choral read "Hiccups for Elephant".  There are many words in that book that your little reader should be able to read to you.  We practiced lifting weights like the letter E and saying /e/.  We did a dot-to-dot alphabet page and learned all about the cone shape.
 This afternoon we started our investigations of the insects we're raising in preschool.  We learned what insects are are pretended to use our finger antenna to smell just like insects.  We read a few books, did some observation of the live insects and then drew pictures and wrote words to match.
 We did our baggy book reading and finished our math booklets.  We drew pictures to represent quantities up to 20.  We also practiced sorting out the first two rows of the 100 chart.  Eventually we'll be able to take all the cards out of the chart and put them back in order!

Brainy Box - Polar Kit, A Guest Review Post

Brainy Box - Polar Kit, A Guest Review Post by KD

Miss Amanda has been a part of our lives for approximately 3 1/2 years.  During that time, she has exposed me to a variety of different teaching methods and styles.  I have utilized all of her tot packs and preschool packs for my four year old daughter. I was raised in Montessori and tend to be drawn to Montessori materials, Montessori inspired blogs, and Montessori curriculums.  When Miss Amanda asked me to review Brainy Kits ( I was overjoyed.

The Polar Kit arrived in a very organized and easy to use manner.  The teacher's manual was easy to understand and referenced the materials to be used for each lesson.

For lesson 1, I presented and invited my two girls (age 2 and age 4) to explore insta-snow and miniature animals according to the instructions.  The girls loved the insta-snow and the animal critters.  Even my two year old stayed engaged for much longer than usual (just over an hour).  My four year old answered the majority of the questions and the two year old parroted her.  They played together during the imaginative play portion of the activity.  The activity was intended to be an hour and my girls were engaged for a little longer than an hour.  Clean up with the girls was a bit challenging and messy, so I invited them to undress in the laundry room where their clothing could be put straight in the wash and invited them to dress themselves in new outfits while I cleaned up the insta-snow.
My four year old talked a lot about snow, cold, ice, melting, hibernation and caves.  Both girls enjoyed the animals swimming in a bowl of water and transferring snow from one tray to another.  My four year old didn't know the names of all the miniature animals and asked for clarification.  The Amazing Arctic Animal books and laminated cards were helpful in identifying the miniature animals and discussing facts of the various animals.

For lesson 2, my 2 year old often can be disruptive and distracted when doing Montessori mat activities.  To my surprise she was attentive and participated the entire activity.  She tried to pronounce the names of each of the animals and was totally engaged when I invited the girls to match the animals with the corresponding cards.  My two year old surprised me when she correctly matched all the animals to the corresponding cards.  The girls took turns.  My four year old enjoyed describing the similarities and differences between the various animals.
For lesson 3, the girls enjoyed holding the miniature animals as I read the story.  After reading about 3/4 of the book, my daughters asked if they could pretend to be the polar animals.  I invited them to put away the miniature animals and their Montessori mats.  The girls were very creative and played together as the arctic animals for about 45 minutes.

For lesson 4, my four year old participated in the directed activity.  I had my two year old utilize the penguin puzzle, so that she had an activity to do independently.  I asked my child what the animals were wearing and her initial response was that they were naked.  I mentioned the fur and features.  She sweetly responded with, "Mommy, that is the skin of the animal, it's just different than our skin." This was a wonderful place to start a dialogue.
Lesson 5 was approached differently with both girls.  It was a snow day, so the lesson applied to a real experience.  For my 2 year old, I set her up with the real snow in a bowl representing arctic land and a second bowl of water representing arctic water.  She placed the miniature animals in either the water or land bowl. Meanwhile, my four year old participated in the lesson as directed.  My two year old continued with the sensory activity as I moved my four year old into lesson 6.

Lesson 6 was completed by my four year old independent of her younger sibling.  I was surprised at how little I needed to say to get her to describe the animals in their arctic environment.  She enjoyed the landscape and applying the stickers to the terrain.
Lesson 7 was facilitated all together.  The girls worked nicely together to explore the North and South Pole.  My four year old began teaching the two year old various ideas from the previous lessons.  I chose to observe as they discussed.  My four year old took the Venn Diagram and immediately began sorting the laminated cards before I could facilitate instructions.  It was a great moment to watch and observe the content that my four year old had learned from the polar kit activities.  The conversations of arctic animals continued throughout their free-play. I found myself laughing when they began creating arctic terrain with their Duplos.

As a proactive parent who participates in various homeschooling activities and utilized various curriculums, I would be interested in discovering other brainy kits in the future.  It was a nice experience for our whole family and I appreciated the materials being easy to use and engaging for my girls.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Healthy Bodies and Preschool B

We had a very active morning this morning in preschool A.  We were moving and shaking, jumping and balancing.  We were working on the letter K and learning all about healthy bodies.  We played with 3D shapes that had silly pictures of germs on them.  We read all about the different parts of our bodies (brain, heart, skin, bones, muscles) and how they are important for us to keep healthy.  We read all about germs and about how they live on the ground, in the air and everywhere!  We learned the importance of cleaning and washing our hands with warm water and soap.
 We read stories and drew pictures of how to keep ourselves healthy.  The art below says "This is how I wash my hands".  We also played with blocks and would randomly have everyone hold up a cube.  By the time they were done building their city they all knew what a cube was!
 This afternoon we worked oh so hard on our Ready2Read lessons. I was super impressed with one kiddo who was struggling a bit a few weeks back and has reached amazing new heights of understanding in the past couple weeks.  It's so fun to see it click and become fun to read.  We read a fun story called "Tom" by Tommie dePaula.  It's such a cute story about Tommie and his grandpa Tom.  They have some fun with chicken feet so it seemed appropriate for today since we just got new baby chickens.  They all drew pictures and wrote about their favorite parts in their journals and were (once again) so disappointed that we didn't have enough time to share our work with the class.
 We moved into exploring the 100 chart for the first time today.  We did some coloring of it looking for patterns, such as columns that has the numbers 1-9 in order or the same number (like 1) in the units place in the whole column.  We pointed to the numbers and counted out loud to 100 as a group.  Practice counting your 100 chart out loud at home.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Karate, Quilts and Dr. Seuss

This morning in preschool we learned about the letter K.  We talked all about karate and keeping our bodies healthy.  We read a book called "The Great Race" about some barnyard animals that race each other.  It's super cute!  We also worked on blending our letter sounds to make words.
 We're still working on our b's and d's and had a fun time cutting out our K the Kangaroos.  We played with balls for math today as we talked about circles being flat and spheres being round like a ball.
 This afternoon we continued the Dr. Seuss celebration with today being his actual 111th birthday.  We read The Cat in the Hat and drew and wrote about our favorite parts.  We worked on our math matching game and in our Ready2Read units.
 We also talked about quilts and made a class quilt that is now hanging on the wall.  Just like the morning class we read "The Great Race" and there are TONS of words that your 4 year old should be able to read by themselves in this book.  It's a great companion reading book, so pull it out of their binder and practice reading together!