Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Unit Part One

I decided last week to do a special theme for the week of school before Christmas. I had originally planned on using some of Growing a Jeweled Rose's adorable Grinch activities like this fantastic "Grinch Goo:"

However, Munchkin very nicely told me that "Mommy, I just don't like the Grinch that much..." so I moved on to what had been my after Christmas plan... GINGERBREAD MEN!!! 

I had wanted to kick off the unit with a Gingerbread house, but Walmart was sold out of the kits so we made Gingerbread trees instead...

Then, he helped me mix up some easy home-made play dough... Apparently I have never done this with Munchkin before because he was super excited about this... "We can MAKE play dough?!?" The recipe I used was fool-proof and took less than 5 minutes start to finish...
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water

Afterwards, I decided to try something new... I had read about using Duncan Hines frosting creations packets to dye and scent rice over at Play, Create, Explore and wondered if they might work for play dough too. We bought the "cinnamon roll" packet to use for our gingerbread play dough.... WOW. This stuff is AWESOME. Fantastic yummy scent and vivid color that didn't rub off on my hands even while mixing it in. The end result was a perfect "gingerbread" play dough. 

I had also bought Munchkin a new "baking" set at Walmart (in their Christmas section... adorable set with everything you see here for $7) so he spent a good half hour baking "Gingerbread" treats. 

While he "baked," I mixed up a second batch of play dough to make some "space dough" with. I was still wrapped up in the excitement of the first flavor creations success that I decided to try another of the packets we bought - the cotton candy. The color was a bright and vivid blue....

.... but it wasn't quite what I was looking for so I ended up adding in quite a bit of blue food coloring as well as several teaspoons of silver glitter:

I also discovered that my recipe of play dough fit PERFECTLY in the 16 ounce ziplock twist-lid containers. Yay for easy storage! 

Outside of our play dough successes, I also decided to try my hand at creating my own printables for some skip counting and addition practice this week. Here's my very first early childhood printable! 
You can download a copy for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  The file includes 2 games, a dot to dot, skip counting counters, and a worksheet. 

I am heading into a 2 week break from work so I am super excited to try out lots more new activities with the Munchkin and Monkey. Lots more to share soon! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Exploring Update!

We are over a week into homeschooling and LOVING it! Here are some more pics of school with Mommy...

Calendar Time:

 Reading a Mini-Mini Book from Ready 2 Read:

Ready 2 Read Word Sliders:

Pocket Chart with Ready 2 Read sentences and sight words:

Diwali Lesson:

Decorating Sight Words (Ready 2 Read):

Word Sort (Ready 2 Read):

 Monkey School:

Roll a Word Family (Ready 2 Read):

Skip Counting by 2s to 100

Pattern Block Puzzle

 Graph the Math and Sight Word Graphing (Moffat Girls)

 Reading "Space Race"

 Moon Sand Sensory Tub

 Solar System Model

Haunkkah Celebration

Candy Cane Bath (okay... not really school... but so cute! Just red food coloring, shaving cream, and peppermint oil with some props I had around the house... and a mini cany cane to eat of course!)

 The rest of the family is getting into the homeschooling fun, too. I leave out lesson trays for Aedan to complete with Daddy when he is going to be home, and even pack a backpack for Aedan when he is with his Aunts. Nonna even got into the game this past week and wove a Kwanzaa placemat with him :-) To begin making connections and preparing for next year and hopefully an early elementary co-op, we have also started a brand new homeschool group! Come check us out: HOME Explorers! I am also reading, reading, reading and pinning pinning pinning... primarily about Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and baby/toddler "school" too so Logi isn't left out of the fun! My Pinterest boards are growing every day, so come follow and share there as well!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

HOME Explorations... Day #1

Today was our first day of homeschool!!!!

Even though it is Saturday, we were all up at 6:45 and ready (though some of us reluctantly...) to start our day. Both boys watched "Mickey Mouse" and "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" while I got everyone breakfast and took a shower. By the time I got out, Aedan was begging to go upstairs and do school. So we started circle time a few minutes before 8:00. 

For our first circle time (or "Meeting Time" as Aedan decided to call it... because 2 people make a line, not a circle...) I had planned calendar work, introducing new sight words and word families, discussing our holiday and country of the day, and a read-aloud. 

Surprisingly, this was the hardest part of the day. Aedan was super excited by all the trays that were out  on our shelf (understandable as it was 8 brand new pretty activities staring at him!) and was really just not very excited about our circle time activities. We muddled through all but the read aloud and then it was on to the lessons. Here is what was laid out this morning...

In our modified Montessori-style classroom, Aedan can choose any of the lessons from the top shelf, but must complete them before moving on to the sensorial and practical life lessons on the bottom. This is actually taken from the way his Montessori trained teacher leads the class, so I feel somewhat legitimized in making him work this way ;-). This morning, the lessons laid out were language and culture based, tying in to our first Meeting Time. Aedan chose to color his new sight words first. 

These, along with most of our Language curriculum, is from Moffat Girls Ready 2 Read. I LOVE this program. She is a former elementary teacher turned home-schooling mom and it is honestly the best laid out reading program I know of (after a LOT of research into both mainstream and homeschooling curriculums!) We did all of Level 1 last spring and summer. Aedan has advanced a lot since then and probably could skip ahead, but to be honest I am not crazy about the Montessori reading progression he has been working through and I want to make sure we are not skimping on the basics. So we are starting at the beginning of Level 2. 

While Aedan colored his sight words, Logi and I had some touch and feel book fun:

Next, Aedan chose the culture lesson of the day. Today, we talked about Eid and Saudi Arabia. One of the video clips we watched showed henna patterns, so we tried our hand at it ourselves (with watercolors of course!) We started out on paper, but decided it was more fun on ourselves...

Logan played with his busy box while we painted... Apparently the box itself is a fabulous toy. 

Next, Aedan chose the word family play-dough mats, also from Ready 2 Read. Basically, he rolls out the dough into a "snake" and then makes letters to start the words. After he makes a word, he writes it on the correct column on his recording sheet. 

During this lesson, Logan and I read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Aedan got interested as well and took a brief break to come join us. That was fine considering he can read most of the book himself and enjoyed helping me and reading to his brother. 

The next Language lesson for today was a "book report." Aedan chooses a book from his "just right" shelf, reads it, and then completes a recording sheet. I have a bunch of different recording sheets I have collected or created... Today, the sheet simply asked for the title of the book and for Aedan to draw and write about his favorite part. 

During this lesson, Logi and I did fingerplays and sang songs...

Aedan's last Language lesson of the day was a "Break the Sight Word Code" sheet, also from Ready 2 Read

At this point, it was only 9:00! Aedan was not ready for a break, so he explored some of the sensory and practical life trays...

Snow Sensory Tub:

Hammering Golf Tees into Foam:

Water transfer: 

At this point, I was ready for a snack break, but Aedan didn't want to stop. So we compromised and headed into our second Meeting Time of the day. We started with the family read aloud I had planned for earlier (really more for Logan, but Aedan enjoyed helping me read too)...

Then, we worked on a Blue's Clues planet sticker book:

...and then took our snack break (Space Goldfish) while Aedan watched "Magic Schoolbus Lost in Space" and Logan played in the Johnny Jump Up.

Next it was time to move on to math lessons. I replaced the top trays so that Aedan again had the choice of what to work on when. 

While I tried (unsuccessfully) to get Logi to sleep, Aedan completed a magnetic pattern block puzzle (I gave him the outline only so it took him a few tries, but he got it!)

Then, Aedan skip counted by 2's while hanging Christmas lights with mini-clothespins (a math center also from Moffat Girls!) 

We played a simple math game with dice and counters (we took turns rolling 2 dice, stating the addition sentence, and taking that many total pom poms. The person with the most pom poms at the end won!)...

Finally, we did a "Color, Cut, and Paste" Winter math story problem... again from Moffat Girls...

At this point it was about 10:40. I gave Aedan the option of working with the lower shelf materials again or moving on to other toys, etc. He asked to play on PBS (his current favorite thing to do) and I happily agreed! School accomplished in less than 3 hours with no homework battles? I'll take it! Logi finally went to sleep after Aedan went to play, so I got a Mommy breather as well.

Overall,  the morning went really well. Aedan was enthusiastic about all his lessons and the second "Meeting Time." The lessons took about the amount of time I had guessed - a little less actually - but I feel like we covered a good amount of material. Now we have the rest of the day to play and get things accomplished! Hooray!