Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘kindergarten’

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

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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.

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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.

 

 

Phases

During the past few months, we have been spending our time learning our style and rhythm of school.  Discovering who I am as a teacher to my kids, and how my kids learn the best has been intriguing as well as challenging.  I spent a decade learning how to know my 6th grade students, but we didn’t have to deal with whether they focused better in the morning, afternoon, or evening.  Or whether they needed playtime in between each activity or if they could do several activities all together.  The day was scheduled and I had my students for an hour.

Period.

I am glad to announce that we are learning!  We are learning both content and more about who we are as people and learners.  In that light, I am not sure where this blog is headed, or what it will morph into; however, for the time being, my goal is to post fun and valuable lessons we have completed, or are working on.  I am thinking of it almost as a journal, something we can look back on to track our journey together.  I invite you to come along with us.

So, let’s get started…

Currently we are taking a trip through the Solar System using Lapbooking through the Solar System by Paige Hudson.  It is a great resource.  I grabbed it as a freebie, but I believe it is worth the $4.50.  It has provided a great structure for our space exploration.

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We spend two to three days learning about each planet and complete a fun activity to go with it.  Once you get into the planet portion of the lapbook, it tends to become a little repetitive.  So, I have been making sure to add one or two of my own (or found) activities to beef up the fun factor for a K-1st grader.  The information for this lapbook comes from whatever books you may have on hand or can find at the library.  So before starting, I would recommend finding two or three books to cover the solar system and/or each planet.  The lapbook gives suggestions for several books.  Since I didn’t have the books recommended, nor did my public library, I used what I (and a friend) had on hand: The Solar System by Rosalind Mist, and planets by Gail Tuchman.

Today, we finished up the section on the moon.  The lapbook has a Phases of the Moon Diary page where you observe the moon for 27 nights and record a picture of the moon as well as the phase that it is in that night.  I found this really cute Phases of the Moon book over at teachinginbroncocountry.blogspot.com.  Mason had a lot of fun putting it together.

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Tonight will be our first night to observe the moon.  So, we will head outside with binoculars in hand and Mason will be able to refer to his Phases of the Moon book and fill in his moon diary.  He is very excited and I love that.

Social Studies – Session 2

In anticipation for our home schooling adventure, I was the most concerned about social studies and science.  These were my least favorite subjects when I was in school and so I feel my background is pretty weak in these areas.  In preparation for this year, I did a lot of praying…A LOT!  And, this is why I had to chuckle when the Lord told me to focus my attention on science/social studies and that math/language arts would take care of themselves.

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  The Lord was right!

Though I still feel a little uncomfortable and stretchy in the science department, social studies has come along really well.  In our first six week session, we did a unit on US Symbols.  We covered the US flag, bald eagle, Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.  It was a lot of fun, Mason and 3-year old Madison picked up more than I realized and they are ready to find and visit US landmarks.

Love it!

Our most recent social studies unit covered community helpers.  I knew I could use the mass of wealth on the web to pull together many activities for several different community jobs/helpers.  However, I was running out of steam!  A lot was going on in life, and I just needed to find something already made for me.  So the search began.  I’m telling you, there is so much out there!  Thankfully, after not much searching I found a great unit put together by Travis Hutchins for sale on his teacherspayteachers.com store.

community helper pic

Click Here to preview or purchase

I am extremely picky about what units/curriculum I pay for, and I highly recommend this Community Helpers unit.  It is very thorough, with just the right amount of information about 10 different community helpers.  Each community helper comes with good information, a great song, and wonderful cross-curricula activities.

For an example of the cross-curricula activities, when studying the veterinarian we sorted animals into three classifications – pet, zoo, farm.  This is a great science classifying activity and the kids loved it.

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Classifying Animals

While learning about the librarian, the activity to go along with it is to make a reading tree.  A leaf is added to the tree each time Mason reads a book to me, his little sister, his dad, grandparents, etc.  You notice that our tree’s leaves have started turning colors for fall, Mason’s idea.

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Our Reading Tree

There are mazes and learning sheets to fill out for each helper.  A large teacher book can be printed, as well as a smaller student book that can be colored and used to follow along.  A page poster of each helper with a teacher page that can be printed on the back is also included.  Again, this unit is very thorough and completely worth it.

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Teacher Posters

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I found a great freebie over at Mama’s Learning Corner on building your own town!  So, I went out and purchased a cheap white shower curtain from the dollar store and Masonville was born.  Every time we studied a community helper, identified the building where that person would work, then he would color it and place it in his town.  This was a great motivator.  There were mornings that he spent an hour or more working on his town.

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Masonville

All in all, we had a great time with this unit.  We studied two to three helpers a week, and took approximately four weeks total to complete.  Field trips to police stations, fire stations, libraries, etc can easily be worked into this unit as well.  We did not do that this year, but I’m sure we will in years to come.

Adding to 10

In the beginning of our homeschooling endeavor, the Lord told me to really focus in on Science and Social Studies and that Math and Language Arts would naturally happen.  I didn’t truly understand what that meant, but I have learned to trust the Lord when I have heard Him so clearly.

For our social studies focus, I put together a unit on US Symbols (click here).  Science was a four week study of Force and Motion, which I purchased from teacherspayteachers.comwith a two week focus at the end on gravity and magnets (click here).

Math was a little more interesting.

I have ended up simply teaching to the standards.  Mason has always been very good at addition and so we have been focusing on making the “adding to 10” facts second nature.  Instead of thinking about them and having to “add them up”, I want him to be able to see them and know them immediately.

The following are the steps we used to explore these combinations of 10.  I left them as steps so that you can combine them in whatever timing works best for you.  Steps typed in the same color are what we did on the same day.

Step 1:

  • Using a ten frame chart and double-sided counters, I asked Mason to find all the different combinations that added to 10.  I showed him one example (1 red, 9 yellow) so that he understood how to use the two colors to show the equation.
  • As he found the different combinations, we used our washable Dry Erase Markers to write them on our “white board” (a page protector with a piece of white cardstock).
    • I labeled the “white board” at the top with an R + Y = 10, just to throw some algebra connections in there.
    • As we got to the end, he really started using the recorded combinations to see what he might have missed.
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Ten Frame

Step 2:

  • Do a short mini-lesson on combinations that add to 10.  I used this fabulous “Rainbow to 10 lesson” found at A Cupcake for the Teacher.  It is a wonderful visual to help students remember all of the combinations that will add to 10.  We don’t have a large whiteboard or easel paper, so we used our Window Markers and back door!  We left the information on the door all week so he could refer back to it as needed.

Step 3:

  • Continuing with the “Rainbow to 10 lesson” materials, Mason colored and filled out the blank Rainbow to 10 worksheet.  This was great to begin to solidify these math facts, moving from concrete manipulatives to number representation.
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Rainbow to 10

Step 4:

  • Using the Combinations of 10 worksheet I created, Mason used dot markers to show all the facts that add to 10 (as well as a bonus question to begin thinking of the number 20).
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Combinations of 10

Step 5:

  • We played a fun Ten Frame game over at Mrs. Ricca’s Kindergarten blog.  Again we used the dot markers, but crayons/markers/colored pencils work just as well.  I printed two or three sheets and he had a blast.
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Ten Frame Toss

Step 6:

Step 7:

  • We ended with a set of flashcards.  I developed this set specifically to be both a practice tool as well as an informal assessment.  I wanted to see how familiar and second nature these facts of 10 had become, so I created the flashcards with half “add to 10” facts and half other simple addition facts.
  • As an assessment tool, I held up the cards so that I could monitor the speed and fluency at which he knew the “add to 10” facts.

I listed steps that can all be done separately or combined to create longer lessons.  Every learner is different and will be able to accomplish a different amount of learning in one setting.  Feel free to use each step as needed.

Questions?  Feel free to comment below or email at thelearningleaf.mail@gmail.com

 

Social Studies – Session 1

And then there is Social Studies

This was also a subject that I did not enjoy during my school years.  To be honest, I don’t remember much about it from early elementary.  Then when we hit civics in middle school, I really closed an ear to it.  However, as I have been looking over the Oklahoma standards for some topic ideas, a little more excitement is mounting.

As a family, we plan to travel our nation in the not too distant future.  With this in mind, we have already had discussions about some of the major US symbols.  Our son is really into knowing all the states and where they are located.  This is a great foundation for studying 5 main US symbols: the US flag, bald eagle, the Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.  This works wonderfully for a six week focus.  We will focus on a symbol a week, planning two days a week for each.  The last week, he will choose what US symbol he wants to learn more about.

QR snap

Click to Preview

The website teacherspayteachers.com has a fun little US Symbols unit using QR codes that the students can scan and listen to facts about each symbol. It comes along with a simple recording sheet, and the facts included are right along the lines of what I want my kiddos to learn.  I am hiding the QR fact sheet and having my son follow three written clues to find it.  This will help incorporate some reading aloud objectives as well.  Here is what the basic unit looks like:

Week One:  United States Flag

  • Define “symbol” – (conversation)
  • Go through “Symbol” Power Point, including a fun brainpop video regarding US symbols
  • US flag QR code hunt, and fill in recording sheet
  • Make a US flag – craft, write the name of the original 13 colonies on the stripes (will upload template when I finish, or click here for another template option)
  • locate the original colonies on our state puzzle, color those states on a black-and-white US map template

Week Two:  Bald Eagle

  • Review US flag info (hang up the flag craft and place a “know” chart underneath)
  • Bald eagle QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Bald Eagle video
  • make a life size bald eagle on the floor and color, click here for example
  • make a life size bald eagle nest, click here for example
  • bald eagle craft for wall

Week Three:  The Liberty Bell

  • Briefly review US flag “know” chart
  • Under bald eagle craft, make a “know” chart for bald eagle facts
  • Liberty Bell QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Liberty Bell craft, discuss Liberty Bell facts while creating the bell
  • 5 facts Liberty Bell mobile (will upload template when complete)

Week Four:  Mount Rushmore

  • Review flag, bald eagle, and Liberty Bell facts
  • Mount Rushmore QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Read book(s) about Mount Rushmore
  • Mount Rushmore craft – rubbing of coins to create a Mount Rushmore

Week Five:  Statue of Liberty

  • Review flag, bald eagle, Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore facts
  • Statue of Liberty QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Read book(s) on Statue of Liberty
  • Statue of Liberty canvas painting
  • make a separate name plate for painting, including three major facts
  • copper penny experiment (why not a little science!) – example of why the Statue of Liberty has turned green

As mentioned above, Week Six will be set aside for student choice.  We will either delve deeper into one of these symbols, or pick another great symbol to study for the last week.

Onto the First Day of School…

 

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