Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting to Really Know Him!

So I decided to ask Josh a few questions today to see if I could learn anything new. (Thanks Merranda -HT)

  1. What is your favorite animal? a dinosaur...Tyrannosaurus Rex.

  2. What is your favorite color? Black (No surprise here!)

  3. What is your favorite thing to do with Mom? Play the game Cariboo.

  4. What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Play with Lego's and video games.

  5. What is your favorite book? any of the new Scooby Doo books (I just found several at the thrift store and yard sales in the past few weeks!)

  6. What is your favorite number? 80 (???)

  7. What is your favorite letter? J (makes sense, J is for Joshua ya know!)

  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? a Wampa (That snow creature from Star Wars???????????)

  9. What is your favorite video? Star Wars (Yeah he has seen it, Have you read the article in Cookie Mag about the boy obsessed with Star Wars? I think the author must have hidden cameras in my home. I read it aloud to Andrew and we giggled with tears streaming down our faces through the whole thing.)
  10. What is your least favorite thing to do? hit someone with a light sabre! (well, that is good!)

About half way through, he started asking me questions too! I am not sure I learned anything I did not already know but I am glad we did it! Nice to make a real effort to check in every now and then!


Monday, April 28, 2008

A Monthly Evaluation!

Just thought I would share one way in which I keep track of Joshua's progress. This is from back in my Student Teaching days. All you need is a white sheet of paper split into 1/4's, crayons, and your child(ren). Then you have them....

  1. Write their name (even if they do not know how...this will show progress!) in one 1/4.
  2. Draw themselves in the second 1/4.
  3. Make a circle, square, triangle, and rectangle in the third 1/4.
  4. Draw a tree in the fourth 1/4.

This is so fun to put in the portfolio if you do one every month! You will also be amazed at the maturity they gain each month.


New Trays to Share!

I have been hard at work making some new trays for the coming weeks. We need a few fresh new activities to get through until we can start our nature study this summer!

Our "concentration" for May is farms. This will be reflected in several areas; including science and language. Montessori has a wonderful grammar activity using a farm which teaches the different parts of speech. We will probably (?) not get that far this year but will mostly be concentrating on labelling different areas of a farm.

On this tray you find rubber letter stamps, a stamp pad (must be washable!), and cards with words and hand drawn pictures. My intent was for him to see/know the word and pay attention to the letters. All the words are ones he can read but I am more interested in him "getting" spelling right now. He is constantly saying things like "what does dfh spell?". Maybe this will help a bit!

I printed these cards quite a while ago from here and finally presented them last week. This is just a "what does not belong" activity. He puts an x on the item that does not fit with the others. As a bonus PL type activity he also needs to wipe off each x with a small felt cloth.

This is a fun one! In the first bowl are tiny plastic ants that he tweezes and puts in the other bowl. A great PL activity and also goes along with any nature activities! Besides, what boy could resist tweezing ants!
Okay, this is obvious, but it is a big deal for us to have open water and paint activities available for a free choice.
Finally, this is an activity that I saw here at http://www.prekinders.com/art.htm just zoom down to the end of the page! This should give Josh a nice opportunity to do a little lacing/sewing type activity "his way". Which is what he likes best in all of the world! (FYI, I used a plastic yarn needle and big wooden bead)
Need some Maths ideas. Maybe using the farm animals?????

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Everyone Struggles

First, I want to say that I realize that yesterday was Friday but somehow that did not affect my brain at all about posting for Thrifty Thursday! But I digress...well sort of...

I was just checking out another Momma's blog that I had never read before, and she wrote something that I feel I need to comment on. Please read this and come on back!

Okay, so I do not think I am actually the Mom she is referring to when she says "Reading a blog of one happy mom whose son doesn't seem to give her a moments trouble, they do cool things and she is very creative. " But I also do not want anyone to get that type of impression of our life around here!

Because...believe me, we STRUGGLE. To begin with, I am home alone with Joshy much of the time. My husband works a great deal so that I can be home. (The SAHM catch 22!)
Then there is me...I am a trained Teacher with a concentration in Child development. And I have always excelled in maintaining excellent classroom discipline. I am actually known for it. But apparently, with Joshua, this is my biggest test...and frankly much of the time I feel as if I am failing miserably. Joshua's part in all this...he is an incredibly bright, funny, active boy. Who can also be sassy, hyper, defiant, and cruel. Just a few days ago he told me that I was not as smart as Daddy. Why, you might ask? Because I was turning into a different driveway at the mall then Daddy takes. And...because the sun rises and sets with his Daddy.

I am not sharing all this because I in anyway want you all to know but because I do not want anyone to read my stuff and go away feeling bad about themselves. I have a degree in how to do all this homeschooling stuff, it is easy for me and I enjoy it. Also, Josh is easy to teach. When I began this blog I chose to mostly share our homeschooling experience. But that is only one side.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thrifty Thursday

I am joining Melissa at Chasing Cheerios in blogging every Thursday about my weekly finds at the thrift store! Hopefully, it will inspire others to buy gently used instead of buying new! And, like Melissa, it just makes me happy to find such great treasures!

This week, I go on Monday, I found a farm themed tray for $.50. Which is a timely find since we will start the Montessori farm activities in May!

I also bought several books including Pippi Longstockings, Romeo & Juliet, and assorted kids stories all for $.20 a piece.

Finally, I bought a travel mug for my Mom that says Grandma all over it, seemed new, & a large water type bottle for me. Maybe $2.00 for both.

All in all, pretty successful. I did not donate anything, since we are having a yard sale in a week. But I am sure I will have a ton to donate after that. I am also a member of freecycle.com so I can also post things that I do not sell.

Have a great weekend, they are predicting snow for us on Monday, so I am sure I will be posting about the weather soon!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our Nature Wand!

I had fun making this but I am not so sure Josh would say the same. He was not real into it! I do not feel as if it was a complete waste of time though becuase he was happy to come and see anything I found he just did not really care to search himself.

It turned out pretty nice! Here are a couple of pictures, don't mind the blur in one and the camera strap in the other! I am NO professional!
Front Back

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Your Life is 76% Green

You live a very green life, and you're aware of how your actions help the earth.

Of course, it's hard to be totally green. But when you make a tradeoff, you know why you're making it.

Not sure about the whole trade off thing! Mostly I did not score higher because I am lazy! We always take the car, I never make it to farmer's markets, I always use the dryer, and I can not seem to remember to unplug appliances not in use!
Nice to have a reminder of what more I could be doing! Have a wonderful Earth Day! If the weather is cooperating, spend some time outside using NO electricity today! Maybe you could even give this a try!
That's my plan!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nature Study Books

Remember these 3 books
Nature for the Very Young
Nature in a Nutshell...
Kid's Nature Book... ?

Well, I thought I would give a quick review in case anyone is interested in finding resources for a nature study.

  1. Nature for the Very Young - This one is actually a great book but not quite what I was looking for this summer. This would be great for a daycare provider who is looking for a lovely nature inspired curriculum for the year. It has a lot of ideas to help teach basic concepts - colors, body awareness, etc... but Josh has basic skill down. I want him to learn more about nature to help build some respect for it.

  2. Nature in a Nutshell... - First off, this book is intended for use with children ages 8-12. I had missed that when I requested it. It is definitely too old for use with Joshua this summer. However, if you have an upper elementary child interested in doing nature inspired science "experiments" this book is exactly what you are looking for!

  3. Kid's Nature Book... - I like the concept of this book a lot. It is just 365 different ideas that you can do relating to nature with your children. It actually assigns a date to each activity so you could literally do one a day for an entire year. My only problem with this one was that I felt like I needed a ton more information to do many of the activities. I think this book would be excellent to use with an older child that is being unschooled and likes to do research.

So...what it comes down to is that I am still looking for good books to use. Which leaves me off to the library (via the Internet!).


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Butterflies and Sunshine!

What a lovely day! 70's and beautiful! We really lucked out because today was our annual visit to the butterfly garden. http://www.meijergardens.org/index.php

We had a ton of fun. And...I would like to share our day with you so...

Here is the enclosure that they keep the chrysalis in until the butterflies hatch. If you look close you can see several butterflies inside drying their wings.

My favorite Blue Morpho butterfly!

Outside of the building is a rather large children's garden. Which includes a beaver dam area (see pic of Josh hugging the Beaver on the left, Josh's Fave of the day!) Then on the right we have Joshy dancing around in the raised sand box, which is right next to a large sand area.
The garden also includes a climbing structure, a game cabin, many trails, a Great Lakes water play area, and the giant Trojan horse statue. So fun! We are thinking of purchasing a membership but are trying to decide if we will use it enough to warrant the price.
All in all, a great day! Hope your enjoying your spring as well!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cool Butterfly Book

I am working on Basket Friday for this week, the theme is butterflies. We are heading to a butterfly garden tomorrow with Grandma and Great Grandma. Should be fun and definitely a nice way to ease into spring!

But anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in a cool butterfly book I just printed out! It is an ABC book with a different butterfly for each letter of the alphabet. It has lovely pictures and could be used for other activities as well as a book. http://makinglearningfun.com/themepages/ButterflyABC-Book.htm

I am planning on having Josh put it in order. Then we can make the book, read through it and talk about all the different names.

If anyone needs more butterfly activities please let me know I would be happy to share. I found several fun ideas to use.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A day in Review

We finally did color mixing today! It was a ton of fun! I grabbed a 6 sectioned sorting tray and put red, yellow & blue in every other section. Then I asked Josh want color he thought the two colors would make when mixed. And oddly enough he knew all of them already but red and blue making purple???

But anyway, after he guessed I squeezed the 2 colors in a section and he mixed them together! Which delighted him to no end.

When we finished I gave him several medium sized sheets of paper and let him go to it for about 45 minutes while I got busy cleaning the learning room. He then proceeded to remix all the colors on his papers. Guess he has been waiting for this lesson a bit too long huh?

We also have been spending quite a bit of time outside now that SPRING has finally sprung! Josh is obsessed with shoveling dirt so maybe I need to just bite the bullet and do a garden. But friends...seriously...that fills me with such horror! I can not make things grow! I even kill cactus plants!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Collage Making

We love to make collages! Generally, Joshua just makes his own creative collage from the "scrap box" I keep stocked for him. In it you would find bits of paper- colored, patterned, white, shiny etc..., small pieces of fun foam (leftover from projects), peas, beans, buttons, yarn bits, pretty much anything he can glue on to paper! The box is kept on his "art table" in the living room along with scissors, glue, a glue stick, markers, crayons, and a pencil.

However, (you knew there must be a point right?) I really wanted him to get some more practice with scissors. Not just cutting willy-nilly though, but real, thoughtful cutting. So I went through parenting magazines (actually digging them out of the recycling) and cut out a ton of different things he might be interested in. The twist was...I did not cut them out neatly, I cut them into long thin strips so he would be required to cut them down into smaller pictures. He still only needed to cut a bit on each side so it was still completely do-able, but was challenged by having to look at each one and decide where and how much to cut off!

I was really impressed with the job he did and the effort he put into it! He actually filled the entire paper up which I am not sure had ever occurred to him before.

Afterward, I added a teacher's catalog to his art table. Explaining that he can use that to cut and glue whenever he wants. He has not used it yet but I am sure looking forward to watching his cutting and creativity blossom!

Edit - Oh yeah...and...I cut out the numbers in the picture on the right. Don't want you to think he is some scissor virtuoso or anything ;)


Thursday, April 10, 2008

A little Summer Planning

We are schooling year round but I am putting a different spin on summertime. I plan to just do a big Nature Study "unit" . I want to include Montessori items, lots of outdoor time, possibly a teeny, tiny garden, etc...

So anyway...I am going to just dump a bunch of links and ideas into this post. Check them out if you want! And please...if you find something or have something great, SHARE!


Oh man! That is a lot! I am also waiting for 3 books from Interlibrary loan.

  1. Nature for the Very Young
  2. Nature in a Nutshell...
  3. Kid's Nature Book...

Well at least I have time. I plan to post my actual plans when I have made some decisions. I think I will make up several trays and then plan one cool activity everyday. Put nice extras in a folder for easy grabbing and just follow the child!


Check out my new sidebar!

I just added "My shared items" from my googlereader! I plan to add stuff there that I am thinking about. Some will be items I want to do or make and others will be just interesting thoughts that I want to reread.

Feel free to leave me a comment if you see something you want to chat about!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blogs taking up too much of your time?

Okay, I admit it! It takes me away from other stuff I should be doing. Not really the writing of this blog but the reading of other blogs! I generally only write mine at night after Josh goes to bed or when he is napping.

So anyway, I kept seeing stuff about a blog reader that saved people time and energy. But honestly, I had NO idea what they were talking about! Then, yesterday I stumbled upon a new-to-me blog http://montessorifreefall.blogspot.com/ and I was reading along, when at about March 20th (?) I read a little blurb Stephanie added about Google Reader she said, quite simply, "Just go to www.google.com/reader and sign up for a free account. You "subscribe" to the blogs that you visit regularly and Google Reader notifies you whenever that blog is updated. You no longer have to check to see if that blogger has posted!"

So I finally tried it! And let me tell you, I AM IN LOVE with this! It makes everything so much easier. I feel like a complete moron for not just figuring this out on my own but I am so grateful that Stephanie shared it. Hopefully, if you have not tried this yet, you will now. It is SOOOO worth the time it takes to copy and paste your favorites.

Thank you Stephanie!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

As Promised...

Basket Day this Friday will be Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. Please keep in mind that this is being planned for a 3.5 yo who is a bit advanced in language and math skills. You know the type, I would like to take credit BUT, he would learn if left in an empty room all day!

So anyway...here are our plans so far, broken into subject areas.

Craft - We are going to paint a long brown tree trunk (using an easel!), use green paint on our hands for the palm tree branches, stamp on letters and glue sand on the bottom once dry! http://www.thevirtualvine.com/ccbb.html

Sensorial - I am going to buy coconut and do a 5 senses exploration. http://www.thevirtualvine.com/ccbb.html


Songs -
I said a boom chicka boom. (REPEAT)
I said a boom chicka boom. (REPEAT)
I said a boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom. (REPEAT)
Uh huh (REPEAT)
Oh yeah (REPEAT)
One more time! (REPEAT)

Poem from http://www.thevirtualvine.com/ccbb.html

Coconut Warning
Now, here's a little warning
So listen to me
Never sit beneath
A coconut tree
They're great for drinking
They're fine for percussion
But if one hits your head
You'll get a concussion.
-Author Unknown
I will just use this for looking at letters (circle the a's, underline the h's etc...)

Family fun - On http://www.thevirtualvine.com/ccbb.html about half way down is a printable card game called I have...Who has... It looks like a fun letter recognition game the three of us can play Friday evening.

Math - From http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/chicka_chicka_boom_boom.html I printed out the Counting Coconuts booklet and changed the 1,2,3,4,5 to 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. I will have Josh read the number and draw that many or stamp that many coconuts.

I also printed out pattern cards from http://www.geocities.com/pbottoms2001/CCBBMainPage.html to practice making patterns like coconut / tree / tree / coconut / tree / tree

Language - I printed Word tile cards from http://makinglearningfun.com/themepages/chickachicka.htm
These are fun to use with our letter tiles that we use for our movable alphabet!

Tracing - I printed a tracing page of a palm tree from http://makinglearningfun.com/themepages/chickachicka.htm but am not sure if he will be able to do this yet. It is a very light printed tree and he is to trace the lines. If he gets frustrated I will just have him color it!

Sequencing - In the Art section here http://makinglearningfun.com/themepages/chickachicka.htm there is an activity called easel activity. I am goint to use these card for Joshy to put in order and practice sequencing.

Practical - I wanted to have him make some sort of snack. There are a ton of ideas available but most are not right for us in some way. So I am still trying to come up with a nutritious tie in that he can make and he will eat. Any ideas are appreciated! Our issues... No food dye, he hates chocolate, I insist on no junky food. I may just try the celery stick-peanut butter-letter cereal idea if I can find a decent cereal not coated with sugar!

The sources already listed and others you may be interested in...

There are tons of great activities for this book available, sure hope this helps you to wade through!


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Holy Cow! It is April Already!

Where in the world did March go??? Anyway, I need to plan for a whole new month of activities etc...

And, apparently, I am already a whole day late! Just to throw down some ideas to brainstorm I am going to make a list and hopefully it may inspire someone else! Or maybe it will just help me get moving...better late than never!

*Saying - April Showers bring May Flowers (HT - Dawn )

*Songs - Rain Rain Go Away!, It's Raining, Its Pouring!, All the Raindrops

*Pouring with water extensions (especially into multiple containers, and I am considering having him do the cats water. He already does their dry food most of the time!)

*Insects, especially butterflies. We live near Frederick Meijer Gardens and they have the most beautiful butterfly garden this time of year!

*Earth Day - April 22!

*Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Basket Day! Landforms basket day!

*Color Mixing - I think I am going to intro this using a 6 section sorting tray, putting the 3 primary colors in every other section. Then have him just mix in the in-between areas.

*New Montessori Tray ideas- Replant classroom plant, some sort of pre-sewing work, the button frame, Bob books?

*Art - Calder (Mobiles and Stabiles) and Picasso (Shape collage)

*He has already read the first 5 Bob books! So...maybe he will finally show some interest in more pink work?? (Honestly, I wish they were not pink...it may be worth remaking for Josh.)

*Something new for Maths would be good but I am unsure what! I might let him check out this new website I stumbled upon though. http://www.rainforestmaths.com/ It looks fun and summery! (Is that a word?) He gets a kick out of that type of thing! But still need a shelf type work! Any ideas??

Well, that is it for now! I beg for suggestions!


Water Cycle!

Last Friday' s basket theme was Weather. Josh is pretty in tuned with what weather entails so I wanted to go a bit deeper without making it too complicated...he is still 3. So anyway, we did a really fun lesson about the water cycle. (Along with other weather related activities!)

First, I printed a picture of the water cycle without labels, I can not "refind" my source but they are readily available. We then labeled the picture using simple straightforward terms; sun, rain, ground, puddle, cloud, and evaporate.

Next we did a really great "experiment". About halfway down this page.
All you do is talk about how a cloud is similar to a cotton ball, get the cotton wet and let the rain pour off of it. I could not believe how such a simple activity really drove the point home. He really gets it!

To end the lesson we created water cycle bracelets. Click on the link here! This was a lot of fun and he still remembers each part of the water cycle just by looking at his new bracelet!

I am really thrilled with how the basket Fridays are going! We have started just doing them in my bed. So much more room than the couch and just a bit more cozy! What a great way to end our week!