Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘kindergarten’

Ebb-and-Flow

Wow.  It truly doesn’t take long for life to hit warp speed.  That is what seems to have happened at our house.  We have recently returned from a nine day trip up and around New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  It was a wonderful trip centered around a beautiful family wedding in Colorado.

With that said, when we returned our rhythm was gone, for myself, the kids, school.  Of course the learning that occurred on the trip and the possibilities for further learning were huge.  However, the day-to-day flow had disappeared.  We are currently in the process of finding our new focus and flow, which seems to be a part of this crazy journey called homeschool.

I have come down to the fact that the next two months are months of completion.  It is time to focus on the units and topics we want to close out and wrap up.  My goals for Builder are to complete his math mastery challenge on Khan Academy, finish our Level 1 spelling, and complete our Volcano lapbook.  In regards to Princess, my goal is to keep on track with her math at Khan Academy, finish up a bone unit she is working on, and complete the set of sight words we are currently working on, from Tweet Resources.  I fully expect to have other learning opportunities arise, but these are my specific goals and focus.  Completing these items will place us in a good position for starting anew in January.

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Outside of completing our focus items, we are starting to memorize and learn the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States.  There is a nice set of resource papers over at Kindergarten Nana that fits what we need.  We will use these printables as our diving board into deeper learning conversations.  Each day we will read, The Pledge of Allegiance, published by Scholastic to help aide in memory.

P.S. There will soon be an update on our Water of Life project.  We are done collecting and will let you know the final amount given.

Your Turn to Play ~  What would you like to complete by the end of the year?

Color Wheel

Wow, life has gotten crazy.  It seems we have been here, there, and everywhere all in one day.  That may be a slight overstatement, but you know what I mean!

A quick update on our Water of Life campaign, to collect money to help those around the world who do not have access to clean water.  We have received some donations on this side of cyber space as well as some contributions on our campaign page.  Thank you to all who have contributed.  We have collected roughly 1/3 of our goal to date.  If you would like to contribute to the clean water cause, you can click here to go directly to our campaign page and donate.  $1, $5, $10, or more all goes to helping provide clean and safe water to those in need.  We will submit our final donation of all monies collected here at home on Nov. 1, 2016.

Color Wheel Activity

I love that art gets to be a large part of what we do.  Although, I have very little inspiration, knowledge, and know-how in this area.  However, I believe it has a very important place in the world of learning.  With that in mind, I was so excited to find an amazing art website resource over at Deep Space Sparkle.  If you have time, jump on over and check out her wonderful range of resources.  Lessons are arranged by grades, themes, or even supplies on hand.  There is such a wealth of art resources, I just had to share.

We chose to start with the Play Doh colorwheel activity.  This has been a topic we studied recently so if fit well with what we have been doing.  There is a lovely template of the color wheel to print out.  The kids start with red, yellow, and blue Play Doh balls and begin combining colors to create the secondary colors.  Red squished with yellow becomes the orange ball, etc.

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This was so much fun, Builder just couldn’t stop himself from combining even further to create tertiary colors.  He ended up gluing the Play Doh balls to the paper and created a piece of color wheel art to hang on the wall.  Princess couldn’t stop herself either, she just decided to mash every color together and create a brownish, grayish blob…she was thrilled!

I am super excited to explore Deep Space Sparkle’s website and dive into the wealth of activities on her page.

Your Turn to Play ~ What has been one of your favorite art projects?

 

 

Organization: Rainbow Drawers

Today: Rainbow Drawers.

This is one of the simplest, as well as one of the most marvelous, tools of organization we have for our school area.  They are beneficial because it is something useful for both my kids and myself.  How we use them is pretty simple, yet very effective for us.  (To read about some of my other favorite organization tools, click here.)

For Me

The rainbow drawers serve two purposes for me.  The first helps me keep clutter off my desk (very much needed).  The second is that the drawers give me an easy, organized, presentable way to deliver those papers to my children.

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The top two drawers are for Builder to keep essentials such as notepads, slate board, spirals, etc.  Princess has the next two drawers.  The proceeding drawers are labeled by subject areas, with some drawers sharing similar subjects.  Since I use Sunday afternoon as my prep time for the week, I make sure to print and gather everything needed for each lesson/activity.  If those items were to stay on my desk, it would be a nightmare.  So, after printing and gathering, I place the materials in their designated drawer.

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For Them

Princess’s work is still very theme based, so it is difficult to split her items into subjects.  Because of this, I have been placing all her materials in the second of her pink drawers.  This has been working well, and many times she will dig into whatever sheet is next in her drawer.

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For Builder, his daily list will have an asterik beside any subject that has something printed or gathered for the lesson/activity.  As he is working through his list, he knows when to look in a drawer to complete an assignment.

For a while after we purchased the drawers, they sat empty and unused.  I tried this and that, until we found this system that is working for now.  I know this will shift and change as Princess progresses and our needs change.  As for now, this is our system, and we’re sticking to it!

Your Turn to Play – How do you organize all those pesky papers for upcoming lessons?

Organization: Daily/Weekly Sheets

Well, our one week break is over.  Today is the first day of our second six week session…and both kids are sick!

This is one of those days, I feel extra glad that we homeschool.  No call to the school.  No fear of falling behind on work.  Just wake up, and let them recover without worry or stress.

Onto how I use my Daily and Weekly Sheets:

Where I Start

This is my very generic sheet for the week.  We don’t do all subjects every day and I would lose my brain trying to remember what subject on which day.  So I made a very rough sketch to show what subjects what day.  I use this as my baseline for the weekly schedule.

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Weekly Sheets

It took some trial and error to whether I was a plan by the day, week, moth, year, etc. kinda gal.  I tried it all and came down to weekly planning.  On Sunday afternoon, I take a look at where we left off last week and schedule for the upcoming week.  I only plan a Monday-Thursday schedule, because we inevitably take five days (or more) to do four planned days of work.  Music and Computer are planned for Friday, but that doesn’t always happen at this point in time.  During my Sunday planning time, I make sure to collect all resources needed for the week and to print whatever needs to be printed.  I tuck it all away in our lovely rainbow drawers.  And I am set for the week.

Divider Tabs

I have a weekly plan for Builder and a weekly plan for Princess.  I really like this set up because if the kids get interested in one subject area and want to go on to the next lesson and even the next lesson and more, that is fine.  I have all resources ready to go and I can simply check off the lessons completed.  It doesn’t matter if some of Wednesday is checked off on Monday.  Our goal is simply to complete all lessons by the end of the week.  It works the other way as well, if sick kids, doctors appointments, errands, life, etc. happen throughout the week and we are left completing some tasks on Saturday, we can simply check them off and it still works for that week.  This provides the structure and flexibility that I need.

I keep these sheets on my desk through the week and then they get filed into the front of the kid’s binder when I begin to plan for the next week.  It is also nice, that these weekly sheets filed in their folders creates a record of learning at the end of the year.

Daily Sheets

These are the sheets that Builder and Princess use daily.  They each have their own spiral.  Every night I look at my weekly plan sheet and list out what I would like to be done for the next day.  I also include their household task for the day.

At first we tried using the weekly sheet for Builder and Princess to check off their completed lessons, but it didn’t seem to work well.  The weekly sheet is a bit overwhelming to them, so I started making a daily list and it has worked much better.  It is also teaching a great life skill of list making.  My hope is that as they get older they will begin to take over the job of making their own to-do list.  We don’t keep this spiral in the binder.  Though it could be kept in the binder since it is 3-hole punched.

It is wonderful to finally find a rhythm that is working for us.  This set up paired with our daily routine has helped us accomplish much this year already.

Your Turn To Play – What have you found in your planning that works or doesn’t work so well?

Hieroglyphs

For our first 6 week block, we are studying Ancient Egypt.  It has been fun looking at the pyramids in Giza, the Sphinx (and discovering its mythological roots).  Of course for my code loving Builder, looking at and exploring ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs has been a blast.hieroglyphics-429863_1280

We have been using a lapbook, which is not my favorite, but we are adding some fun activities to enhance the straight-forward learning of facts.  Upon starting to look at the hieroglyphics on such pieces as the Rosetta stone and from pyramids and tombs, I wanted Builder to be able to try it out himself.  The trouble here is that writing is not his favorite and drawing pictures probably less.  That is why I went on the hunt for a website that would allow him to experience writing in hieroglyphs and what I found was so much fun, I wanted to share it with you.

Over at discoveringegypt.com, a great resource, they have a fun Qwerty style hieroglyph keyboard (click here to try it out).  If this is something you are studying (or even if you are not), you have to give it a try.  Builder and Princess, both spent at least 40 minutes experimenting with words, names, and generally having fun with the symbols.  It was actually quite beneficial, since they could each interact with the keyboard at their own level of word knowledge.

What will your name look like in hieroglyphs?

School Starts

We as humans never stop learning, however, with that said, we do take a break in our formal training in knowledge.  Yep, we have come to the close of our six weeks off during the summer.

We are currently in the third week of our 2016-2017 school year.  Princess is now in Kindergarten and Builder is in 2nd grade.  Though grades get a little in the gray area when speaking of learning, knowledge, skills in the homeschool arena.  I like to have them in “grades” according to how many years we have been “officially doing school”, or where they would be roughly according to age in public school.  It just seems to help them answer those inevitable questions from friends, acquaintances, relatives…”What grade are you in?”  I have also found that it has helped Builder feel a sense of accomplishment to achieve a new “grade”.

The primary reason for this post is to share with you, and record as memory for myself, our first day of school this year.  Last year was actually our second year to do a first day of school celebration and I saw it solidify some and morph a little this year.

Here’s how it went:

Donuts

Yep, those wonderfully scrumptious (low cost) goodies.  My kids love to go to the donut shop.  This year, my hubby took the day off to join in our first day celebration and I hope that will be a new tradition for the long haul.Photo Jul 11, 9 58 46 AM

 

School Supplies

These two must truly be my kids because I think they could have shopped for supplies for hours.  They LOVE new school/organizational supplies as much as I do!  We controlled ourselves and bought only that which was essential to start the year.  That way we can come back after public school starts and grab some other items at the really great bargains.

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They each get to choose a special binder for the year.

School Year Shirt

For the past two years, the kids have been able to pick one “special school shirt” for the new school year.  This is the shirt they take a picture in at the beginning of the school year.

Lunch and All About Me

After our treasure hunt for supplies and a shirt, the next stop was home for a break and some lunch.  After lunch, I had the kids fill out an All About Me sheet that I found over at Yellow Bliss Road.  Then Daddy took their beginning of the year school pics.All-About-Me-Free-Printables

Playground and Sno-Cones

After pics, we talked about what special thing we wanted to go and do.  The kids had been dying to go to one of their favorite playgrounds, which we hadn’t had a chance to visit for a long while.  So the rest of the afternoon was spent at one of their favorite playgrounds and then a trip for sno-cones afterward.

Success

It was a great day.  Our goal this year was to celebrate our new beginning to the year, but we also had a very real need to keep it a low cost day.  Though the clothing part got a little more expensive than I had wanted (something to take note and remedy next year).  Overall, a very fun-filled celebration of our first day of school.  Looking forward to the next ten or eleven of them!

Rainy Day

Why do I continue to look for the perfect curriculum?  To me it is like the brass ring on a merry-go-round.  I can’t seem to stop reaching for it!  I know that each curriculum has its pros and cons.  Even in my philosophy of education, I believe that no one curriculum is right for everyone.

So why am I still looking!?!?

Recently, we have found the free home curriculum Easy Peasy over at http://www.allinonehomeschool.com.  And you know, I really like it.  We have been using it for three weeks now and it seems to fit really well into what we are doing.

But…

Now, as we go, Builder needs to move on in math.  Princess needs to skip a whole week!  Yeesh.  And I find myself doing the eclectic thing by bringing in the science, spelling, and handwriting that I want and feel is right for Builder.

Yes…

I need to remind myself that truly, I know what is right for my kids.  Deep down, I know if they are challenged, bored, or struggling.  I know if they need to move on, slow down, or speed up.  Or even, just take a break.  It is ok, to pull in this, push out that, and start over again if need be.  It’s ok to jump full force into a sunny day and play outside or go to the park instead of getting all tasks done.  And vice versa, it’s ok on a sunny day to get done what we need to.

In point, this schooling at home thing is far more fluid than what I am used to and comfortable with.  The lessons I learn each and everyday, match or far exceed what my kiddos are learning.  Or maybe, just maybe, they are learning with me and from my mistakes and successes.

Lord, lead me, lead them, lead us.


On a lighter note, springtime is on us in full force.  So, to go along with that oh so sweet sound of rain, we are giving our hands a try at making our own raindrop display.  I’m thinking this may spin off into a full blown water cycle unit.  We shall see.

Here is the project I found over at www.pre-kpages.com:

raindrop suncatchers fine motor for preschool

For full instructions and pictures to boot, click here or on the link above.  What follows are my abbreviated instructions:

  1.  Find a handful of blue crayons.  They can be all the same blue, or different shades of blue.
  2. Peel the papers (great fine-motor skill).
  3. Sharpen crayons over a medium to large piece of wax paper.  Until the wax paper has a good sprinkling of wax shavings.
  4. Place an equal size piece of wax paper on top and iron on the lowest setting.  It only takes a quick moment to melt wax.  Let cool.
  5. Draw raindrop shapes on the wax paper and cut.
  6. Use a hole punch and string to tie onto your raindrops and display.

I will update with pictures once our raindrops are proudly displayed.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Handwriting Happiness

Wow, life has taken a jump to hyper speed recently!  It can be amazing how fast each day goes and before you know it months have gone by.  I like writing more lengthy detailed posts, but for the time being I may simply be popping up some great resources and short updates of what we are doing, here in our little schoolhouse.

I do want to invite you to follow my The Learning Leaf facebook page.  Facebook is where I will be posting most of the resources and activities that we are doing daily/weekly.  It is a wealth of information whether you homeschool, teach public school, or have littles at home.

Today’s share is this fun FREE gem that I found via pinterest.  It was created by Lacey Yates (find her blog here) and is housed on her store at www.teacherspayteachers.com.

Handwriting is a focus write now for my Princess.  She has most letters down, but a few still need some work.  She enjoyed this simple, yet rich page of activities.  She loves to color, and the uppercase/lowercase practice is much appreciated by her momma.  These sheets are long enough to get a good amount of practice, but short enough that she doesn’t lose interest.

Handwriting clip

Truckin’ Along

We have completed two weeks of school after our six week break.  It has been good having many activities to pass the day.  However, it has been a challenge to get our rhythm back.

I have faith; it will come.

Adding an increased amount of activities for Sunshine has “leveled up” my preparations a bit, but it is well worth it.  There have been many times recently that she has asked to have her “school stuff”.

At first having two to prep for was a little daunting.  I was thinking that there was a need for two separate streams of preparations…Builder doing such-and-such, Sunshine doing such-and-such.  Then the realization hit…all that’s needed is to take what Builder is doing and find an age appropriate version for Sunshine.

This approach has worked well.

For example, Builder was working on spelling using the short a sound. (We have been using the All About Spelling materials and he is growing by leaps and bounds.  Spelling/Writing is not his favorite so this is a wonderful thing.)

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(Yes, that is him under that puppy blanket!)

So, for Sunshine I found a cute, fun activity over at Growing in Pre K that focused on alphabet familiarity and recognition of upper and lowercase letters.  The initial activity was to place letters in a bottle filled with rice.  There is a sheet with all the letters of the alphabet.  Once the letter is found you color the letter on the sheet with the corresponding color.

Builder thought this looked fun so he decided to have a go.  Sunshine was not as intrigued, so I left her supplies out on the table and let her come back to it in her own timing.

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The next day, she came back to it and asked to pour the letters out of the bottle to find them.  We ended up pouring the rice and letters into a bowl so that she could sift through with her fingers.  This kept her busy for a long while.  She was very much involved with the activity this way and decided she wanted to color the letter and then stick the foam letter on top.  Love it!  What a great hands-on version of this activity.  Honestly, one I never would have thought of myself.

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It took coming back to the activity two or three times before she finished, but she always came back to it.  Thank you Lord for the creativity you give to each of your children.  And, thank you Lord for giving me the eyes to see it.

Soap and Shaving Cream

It is so nice when those days come that things actually work!

This, for me, is a lovely thing mainly in the realm of science and crafts.  I am learning that most of the time, simpler is better.  The simpler the experiment the more chance it will work as it should.  The simpler the craft the more chance it will actually look like the example!

I must say, I am also learning that those two things don’t matter as much as I thought they did.  So we have to modify a craft to make it work…ok.  So the science experiment doesn’t work as it should, or not at all…ok, we can still learn from it.

In this homeschool process, I am being molded and stretched as much if not more than my kiddos.

With M2 (my youngest, 3-year-old daughter), we have started doing an “unofficial” letter of the week focus.  Lately, she is getting “bored” more and more, so we needed to do a few more “structured” learning activities to help challenge her.  One of the success projects comes from this letter focus.

Some time back, I happened upon a free preschool letter of the week curriculum – Look What I Can Do! Preschool Curriculum.  It is in e-book format and in my opinion it is nothing fancy.  Personally, I wouldn’t pay $20 for it, but if you can nab it for free or at a discount, it is worth it.  It helps me to have a letter schedule to follow for each week.  I have learned that it is easier to change a curriculum than to start from scratch and come up with my own.  So, I have been following their letter schedule, but skipping some activities and adding others.

The first successful activity for the day involved soap “exploding” in the microwave.  The letter focus of the week was ‘S’ so we called it Soap Science.  This is one of the activities listed in the curriculum mentioned above.

Successful Activity #1:  Soap Science

materials needed: medium or large glass bowl, knife, bar of IVORY soap, microwave, sensory bin (optional)

Step 1:  take all paper off the bar of IVORY soap

Step 2:  cut bar of soap into 3 or 4 pieces and place in glass bowl

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Step 3:  place in microwave and heat for 1.5 – 2 minutes

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Step 4:  let your kids watch and be amazed

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The soap will be too hot to handle at first.  After the soap cools, it has a really neat crumbly texture so we added it to our sensory bin for the kids to explore.  We ended up doing three bars of soap and had a decent amount to play with in the bin.

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You can find this experiment on YouTube here.  Note:  On the YouTube video she uses a paper plate.  I found a glass bowl does much better at containing the expanding soap.

I will say that the only thing I would warn about is the strong smell of the soap in the sensory bin.  If you or your kiddos are smell sensitive, be ready for a strong aroma.

A great extension for this activity would be to use other brands of soap and observe/compare how much or how little the different soaps expand.  (Evidently, the soap expands due to the content of air in the bar.  The air heats up and expands, causing the soap to “grow”.)

Our other successful activity comes from M1’s (my oldest, 5-year-old son) science unit.  He is studying Jupiter and over at It’s A Boy’s Life,they made a fun paper Jupiter using liquid starch and food coloring.  I didn’t have any liquid starch on hand, so I used food coloring, shaving cream, and white cardstock.

Successful Activity #2:  Shaving Cream Jupiter

Materials needed:  pie pan (or something to contain the shaving cream), shaving cream, food color (we used brown, red, yellow, for Jupiter colors), white cardstock cut into a circle, ruler, parchment paper or cookie sheet (something to scrape shaving cream onto), pencil or something to stir with

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materials needeed

Step 1:  fill pie pan with shaving cream and level off

Step 2:  put a few drops of each food coloring onto shaving cream

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shaving cream with food color

Step 3:  stir the colors to make a fun pattern (we use this time to talk about how Jupiter is a windy planet, and they can pretend to be the wind)

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a windy planet

Step 4:  press firmly (but not too hard) the cardstock circle onto the colored shaving cream.  I like to rub my fingers over the paper to make sure the color is adhering to every part of the paper.

Photo May 05, 6 03 51 PM

forgot to take a picture of the circle being pressed into the shaving cream, we used the scrap pieces as well

Step 5:  lift cardstock circle off the shaving cream

Step 6:  place the cardstock circle on the parchment paper and use ruler to scrape off shaving cream

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scrape off shaving cream

And now you have your Jupiter!

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M1’s Jupiter

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M2’s Jupiter

The color adheres immediately and will not smudge or smear.  Here is a YouTube video that can also help…click here.

These were really great activities that captured the kids (and my) imagination and creativity.  Not everyday is like this in our little homeschool, however, when it happens it is a marvelous thing.

 

 

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