Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy New Year!

For the time being I'll be including our preschool activities over at Schooling at Home Happenings.  See you over there!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Week of 10/11/13 Preschool Activities

Oh my goodness!  It's been so long since I posted here.  Needless to say we've been VERY busy.  So, I did attempt to enroll Mr. T., into Just 4s this year but they didn't have space for him.  Well, I'm not too disappointed.  Only every once in awhile when he's driving the rest of us bananas!  Ha!  He learns SO much from just being around all the school-agers.  

One struggle I have is that I really do not have time to work with T. on a 1:1 basis.  That really bothers me.  But really, if I'm honest...he probably has learned more just by "listening in" to the other children's lessons.  However, sometimes it's difficult to find independent activities that actually challenge him.  He loves "academics" and would prefer that over anything else.  Yes, that goes against my every preschool teacher grain.  Ha!  

Here are some snapshots of pictures of things he has done independently this last week.  I've been really trying to get back in the groove of planning for him vs. flying by the seat of our pants.  Ha!  Those that know me are aware that  I really don't usually do that..."fly by the seat of my pants" (and that goes beyond the fact that I wear skirts vs. pants!  Tee hee!).  However, I thought he'd get into the preschool program and so I wasn't planning and then things just got too busy with the school-agers needs.   

A great tactile box!  You can make a homemade one with a shoe box or something similar.  One day he made the pipe cleaner bead rods and the next day I had them in our tactile box.  He chose the bead rod and then felt around inside the other side for the correct number.  He enjoyed this!

I've used these mats for long time!  Oriental Trading foam leaves and numbers.  I didn't require him to sort by leaf color/type because we actually used the leaves for a craft project recently and I didn't think he'd find enough of one type.

L is for Leaf Sort
Such a simple thing, 2 "baskets" sticky tacked onto pocket folders.  So, he really isn't putting the leaves in the baskets as much as he is putting them in the pocket of the folder.  The leaves all had pictures on them.  He had to decide if they had a /l/ sound at the beginning or not.

These sight word strips are from  He's doing quite well with beginning reading and I try to pop in these easy sight words every once in awhile.  If I did it in an organized way he'd probably remember them quite quickly so that is on my "to-do" list.  :-)

Fine Motor:  Foam fall-themed beads.  The holes are really small on these beads so we used a real yarn needle.  :-)  They probably came from Oriental Trading also.  Pumpkins, leaves, scarecrows, and candy corn.  This was a challenge for him so he actually stuck with this fine motor skill activity for a bit.

 Could really tell we haven't been cutting regularly lately.  He needed reminders on how to hold his scissors and how to handle the paper.  He'll pick it up again quickly.  A simple leaf traced on a paper bag and then he marble painted it with fall colors.  :-)
Felt Leaf Sort
Not his favorite activity at all.  He seems to think they are too easy.  But I do like to do activities like this every once in awhile to help keep the vocab fresh in his mind.  :-)  I've met school-agers that really didn't know what I meant by "sort", don't want T. to be one of them!  :-)

Not really a "school" activity but he does spend much time in the kitchen.  He loves helping and is quite capable!  Helping me wash apples for applesauce.  :-)  He's the first to notice Grandma picking apples off her tree and wants to be right out there with her picking apples. Unfortunately, I really don't like these apples for cooking up.  The prep of them is plain ol' hard work.  They are more "wild" anymore.  :-)  But, the thrifty part of me can't let them go to waste so here I am making batch after batch of applesauce with the apples off the tree.  Ha!  I'll take any help I can from the kids!

Little booklet I came across from
He's enjoying moving from letters to numbers.   :-)

Pattern practice, preschool style.  :-)

Okay, here is something he absolutely loved!  Craziness!  He sees the first grader practicing her sight words and he wants to write words also.  So, he used the "puzzle cards" to make the picture and figure out the word.  Then he writes it on the magnadoodle.  I tried to get him to write them in capital letters even though the cards were in lowercase...because we have spent very little time with lowercase formation...but can do!  Wrote them all in lowercase and did a pretty good job of it too!

What do you use flashcards for?  Here's an example of how we used shape flash cards.  He loves himself some candy corn and had some left after another activity so we are using them up slowly but surely.  :-)  The deal was he could eat one after each shape he created.  Ha!  We slipped in color review here also.

Now, those look odd!  I really wasn't trying to have a Halloween sensory activity.  Ha!  Actually, it was just the flash/lighting.  They were red and blue water gems.  All my kiddos, no matter the age, love playing with water gems!

Letting the 2nd grader get some extra reading in.  :-)  "Bedtime story."

Another use of flashcards.  :-)  He needed help with the number words, of course, I just wanted to remind him that everything we say has a word form.  :-)  I also strive to teach him how to organize his work.  He does a pretty good job of it.  He laid out the number cards in order and then selected one set to work with and then the other set to work with.  The back of these cards, when the 3 cards match correctly, show a Winnie the Pooh scene.  Dollar Tree find.  :-)

The kiddos all seem to enjoy this activity.  Great fine and visual motor activity!  We purchased this hammer and tack set from Discount School Supply.

Okay, I really can't find manipulatives small enough for this alphabet arc mat.  It must have meant to have been on a legal sheet of paper.  I have such a hard time throwing things out.  Ha!  But I think it's got to go.  I love the idea behind it though!

Unsurprisingly, he loved this page.  Ha!  He had to read the cvc word in the middle and color in the picture that represented it. 

I often incorporate binders/page protectors for fine general writing/fine motor practice.  It's not his favorite but he does them willingly enough every once in awhile and they are REALLY good for his control!

Mr. T has been loving himself some pumpkins!  www.abctwiggles is a nice (have to pay for) site for preschool if you are interested.  Below is another one of their pages.  He was looking for the p's.  They had bs and qs on their page as really good practice for him! 

We saw some preschool or kindergarten pumpkin paintings up at the school when we took the older boys to TKD so he got us going on the pumpkin theme.  He really enjoyed this day!  I tried to get him to paint the top of his fists and print pumpkins but that was taking his sensory issue a bit too far I guess and he would only paint them.  :-)  Turned out cute!  

A cute and simple tree provided to me via a lovely child care provider from WI.  :-)
Considering he does not like to get his hands dirty...he seemed to enjoy this and really only wiped his finger between colors.  Ha!  Progress!

Goof ball!  He loved the candy corn erasers I picked up from the dollar section of Target.  We happen to be doing time with the 1st and 2nd grader and so I had him remove all the numbers and order them for me and add the corresponding number of candy corns.  He really did great at keeping them "about" the same distance apart and could see the progression of the numbers much better.  He's kind of past 0-12 but bigger numbers require me at the moment because he gets confused after about 15.  We'll work with that soon.
Something about this expression.  :-)  I'm not sure what I was saying or what he was thinking because all the other snapshots around this time he was grinning.  However, I must have been taking to K. (in the background) if I can go by her expression.  Maybe this is a "waiting patiently" picture.  Ha!  On the post-it notes are pattern suggestions.  ABAB, ABBABB, etc

So, here he is working with us at morning group.  Breaking spaghetti into the glue/paint to make a spaghetti nest.  More of that was on the school-age blog.  But I might take a moment and tell you about his "schedule" so you get a better idea of how it all works here.

Approximate Times
8:00-8:30: whole group activities.  
T.  just does whatever the rest of us are doing.

8:30-9:45: "school"
This hour and 15 minutes is what I plan for him for "school".

9:45-10:00: clean up, bathroom, snack
Yes, it usually takes this long.  Ha!

10:00-10:30: break
Doing whatever the big kids are doing.  
Often we are doing physical activities/games outside together as a group.

10:30-11:00: educational DVD
I do this for several reasons but the main reason is because the other kids struggle with "getting back in the groove" after break and I really want to get as much done in that half hour to an hour that I can not have him in the kitchen with us.  He's "done" for the morning at that point and getting tired.  Playing at 10:30 became an issue because it was a distraction to the other kids.

11:00-11:45: Free play
At this time the other kids are "finishing up" their tasks and him playing in the living room gives them an incentive to "get 'er done".  When they are done, they can go play too.

11:45-12:50: lunch and outdoors
12:50-1:00: bathroom and book with mom
1:00-2:30/3:00: nap

When I plan "school" for him I think in these general topics....
Fine Motor

I always try to plan more than I think he'll use because NOT having something available for him is not good!  Some days he flies through the activities and other days he takes his time.  If he doesn't get to it, we just do it the next day.  We often have more than one activity that fits into the categories, so yes, I tend to plan more than 6 activities.

So, there is a little insight of how our morning runs while we are schooling at home with a preschooler!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning to Write!

Well, preschool really hasn't been the focus lately.  :-(  I kind of miss that aspect but school-age is getting most of my attention out of necessity.  I'm actually considering put T. in a GSRP program for different reasons.  He's not so keen on "going to school".  Said he wanted to stay home with the rest of the kids. would be really good for him to get with his own peer group for once.  So, I'll register him and then make a decision one way or another if he gets accepted.
However, T. - 4 years old- is learning to read and write!  He has NEVER enjoyed writing exploration.  However, now that we are writing actual letters...he's loving it! 
We do a bit of reading from the Teach Your Child How to Read book I've mentioned several times.  Then we move to writing and this is how we've been doing each letter.  I'm hoping to slip in some sight word activities starting this week as he's learned quite a few from his reading lesson already.
(Yes, we move left to right.  Since he's a leftie...this has taken a bit longer for him to get comfortable with but I think it's mastered now!)

We've been slightly following the Handwriting Without Tears order for letters.  However, the workbook pages I printed to go along with the letters include lowercase.  So, on a whim, I pulled out the sandpaper lowercase letters also and sure enough...he handled them just fine.  So we aren't following the true order of HWT's as we do the lowercase letters as well...but we are focusing on the uppercase letters mostly...teaching the CORRECT :-P letter formation!!!
Step 1:  Match the sand paper letters and trace them.  (We've been doing 2 letters at a time.)
Step 2:  Build the letter with HWT's "mat man" mat.
Step 3:  Stamp the letter with HWT's magnet board, trace, erase, write.
Step four:  sponge the letter on HWT's chalkboard, trace with chalk, erase with sponge.  (If he is having trouble with the letter or it is a lower case letter...I use the sponge first and he traces with chalk and erases.)
Step 4:  choose a crayon and do the work book.
Step 5:  Stamp the book as a job well done! 
Ha!  I picked up some "nice work!" "Super!" etc self inking stamps in Target's Dollar section and they are a hit!  I think I'll pick up some more like that for my school-agers as they are a bit jealous right about now.  :-D
 I've had this booklet printed for quite awhile...but never got to it with T.  Wish I could share the link though.  It was free.  I am pretty sure it was from Growing Kinders.  I thought it was a TPT product from her.  I thought I pinned it on my Toddler-Preschooler board but I can NOT find it anywhere!  So if you recognize this and can share the link, please do so.  

Monday, April 22, 2013


I ran across the idea of using forks to make tulips on Pinterest.  So it became one of the T.'s preschool activities that turned into the other school-age kids wanting to do it also.  :-)  What a neat little project!  Simple, but still all turned out quite a bit differently!  Love them!

T.'s are pretty simple but this is a great little fine motor activity for preschoolers!
The school-agers went on to add more details and even mixed colors a bit!
                                       2nd grader                                   1st grader
                                     4th grader                                     3rd grader
They loved this very simple project!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Work Trays

This whole school year we've been using the tray approach to help me stay a bit more organized with T., who is my only preschooler this year.  And, really, when he's in Kindergarten, I still will probably use the tray approach if we continue to choose schooling at home.  (That blog can be found here.) 

I don't always get a chance to snap pictures of T. working and very seldom do I have time to take a picture of the tray.  I should get in a habit of it...but it is BUSY around here.  So here are a few snapshots of things we've done recently.

Fish Craft
A take on the tried and true paper plate fish.  :-)

Painting the Alphabet
This particular morning all the school-age kids were finishing up some sort of art project...and all required paint.  :-D  So I grabbed this paper and gave him a set of water colors.  He actually attempted to trace the letters this time instead of just painting over the whole paper.  Growth!  He was concentrating just like that for all 26 letters.  :-)

File Folder Games!  
He loves them!  I love them!
So simple, usually takes less than 5 minutes to complete one but easily reinforces Language Arts concepts.  We've been checking them out from our local library.  However, I do plan to work on some over summer break for next school year.  :-)  A great, QUICK, concept reinforcement for Kindergarten and 1st grade, also!

Shamrock Number Matching
 Even though some of these are done on the floor...they all started out on a tray.  :-)  We had to move to the living room to give ourselves more space.  First he took one set of shamrocks and put them in order from left to right and top to bottom.  We worked with number to 23.  He could do up to 14 on his own.  Then he took the other set and clipped the matching numbers together with a clothespin.  Great fine motor.  Reinforced the numbers multiple times.  :-)

Animal ABC: Scissors
As mentioned in the last post, we are working through the alphabet making simple animal letter crafts.  We've gotten our ideas by googling them.  :-)  I simply print out the block letter and he cuts them out.  Then we add features.  Here are some ones he has been working on recently...
I actually got this pattern from Get 'er Done, Mama.  However, though I liked the extra faces, etc, I found that they were a bit small for T.  So we went back to a simple block letter from Print Shop and making our own simple features . But, she has several patterns if you are interested in them for yourself.  And, really, as a preschool teacher, I don't like to use a giraffe with the letter G.  I'd rather use an animal that starts with the hard g sound, like goat.  But T. being T....we did a giraffe.  :-D
 H is for horse.  I is for iguana.
I've found that T., against my nature completely, loves "worksheets". :-D So I found some iguana ones at 1+1+1=1: Animal ABC's.  He loved tracing his shapes and numbers, etc.  And he gets a kick out of it when I let him go put it in the school-ager's basket.  :-D
He's getting a bit more confident with cutting but it also had led him to be more sloppy.  :-/ Not all that unusual...just needs reminders now to slow down and try to stay on the line.  :-)
J is for jaguar. 
Bean Sorting: Math/Fine Motor
He's losing interest in these types of sorting activities...and that's okay.  He's been doing them for a long time.  :-)  They make for a great math and fine motor activity though!

Eraser Bowling
Saw in passing on Pinterest.
He loved this!  Of course I couldn't get a picture fast enough.  He'd flick that marble and have all the eraser down.  :-)  Another great fine motor activity---flicking the marble (we used a big one) and setting up the erasers to do it again!
Zebra Painting
T. had it in his head he wanted to make a zebra for school so this is what we come up with.
 We tried the yarn fold and paint technique where you fold the paper in half and slide the yarn through but it didn't work well for him.  So we ended up just sliding the yarn across the paper, but that didn't work well for him either because the probability of getting the paint on his hands was high.  Ha!  Anyway, then he cut out a zebra shape.  Simple.  Made him happy.


 Penguin Paper Plate Craft
Another animal he "just had to make" was a penguin.  So we came up with this activity.  :-)  Perfect for working with circles.  He didn't really like the process of the circle making but he liked his end outcome.  Guess there is a lesson in that! 

Button Math
Okay, there was more to this activity but there is something he enjoys about putting buttons on flash cards and adding the matching tactile number.  Activities like this tend to appeal to the natural tendency for toddlers and preschoolers to be organized.  :-)  Yes, I did notice he went from right to left this time.   :-)  After he did the number 1-9, we continued on to introduce even and odd numbers.  We had done that last week and I'll continue to slip it in every once in awhile.  This morning I heard my 10 year old talking to him about whether a number was even or odd and seeing if the marbles he had in his hand all had buddies.  :-))  We read our odd/even poem (mentioned multiple times in this blog) about when the number is even there is always a buddy.  And we checked to see if we could move make the buttons on that number card each have a buddy.  If not, we put that card, button and number away.  That left the even numbers which we counted out with typical 2, 4, 6, 8...who do we appreciate.  :-)  Just an intro...expands his thinking a bit.  :-)
Memory Games
Memory games make great work tray activities!  I picked up this transportation one up at the dollar store the other day.  He took apart all the pieces first and then we laid them down together, reinforcing the left to right/top to bottom motion.  
Since Daddy just played "Memory" with him (because he couldn't hold all the Old Maid cards with only 2 players), this was exciting for him.  He enjoyed it and spent quite a bit of time with this activity.

What's Missing?
Another activity that my very academic preschool loved. 
These are foam shapes that I picked up awhile ago at the Target $1 section.  Any manipulatives could be used.  I created 4 different patterns (AB, ABB, ABC, and AAB) and took one out of each pattern.  He had to find the missing piece.  :-)  I created another tray for him today that actually had two blocks on top of each other, in a pattern.  We didn't get to it today though...too busy doing other stuff!  Ah well, we'll get to it tomorrow.  :-)

Water Transfer 
St. Patty's Day clearance section :-)  Little mugs and an eyedropper.

Not a tray activity...but a field trip.  :-)
Grossology Exhibit at the Midland Center for the Arts
Best part, of course, was the slide through the nose!
 Actually, that probably isn't the truth...
This was probably his favorite spot.  They had quite a few instrument displays at the museum...outside of the exhibit.
Another "not a tray" activity, but it could be relatively easily.
Pizza Fractions
Really, he was just playing with his brother.  :-)  The picture made me smile though and it does explain why preschoolers of homeschooling families often have no problem with academics.  Why?  They are being exposed to so many concepts by just being around their school-age siblings and those brain connections are already being started!

Spring is here!  Today was beautiful, the snow is quickly leaving!  Let's hope it stays that way!  I'm ready to be done with snow pants and gloves and so are the kids!  :-)