Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘school activities’

Amazing Grace

As I reflect on this past week in our education adventure, I am filled with joy and wonder at watching the Lord as He leads us in this journey.  Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we simply forget or overlook the amazing grace of God and that He is truly interested in EVERY aspect of our lives.

My birthday was last week and we were excited to have family stay with us on Monday and Tuesday, as well as a trip out of town scheduled for Thursday.  First thoughts were to simply put the planned educational activities on hold for the week and move on with them next week.  At the same time I felt a desire to get the blog post up for the week and so entered the pressure to have activities lined out, pictures taken, links to attach, etc.

In reality, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to make

it all happen and stay a sane and pleasant person!

So I listened to the Lord and took the step not to cave to the pressures.  As I did, an entirely new opportunity opened up before me…I watched as the Lord Himself moved and flowed with, in, and around Mason to bring about the learning opportunities for the week.  Wow.  It brings tears to my eyes to have known and yet now to have experienced the beauty, gentleness and great care the Lord has for my children.  Here is what it looked like (click pic to download):

Amazing Grace tracing clip-1

Monday morning Mason saw the leftover Shape Tracing worksheets from last week and asked me if he could do them.  Um, yes!  He quickly finished those and I thought, why not hand him the Site Word flashcards.  We went over them once together and then he spent the next ten to fifteen minutes playing with them, rearranging them, making “sentences” with them!  And this was all before Grandma and Uncle arrived.  Again, wow Lord!

Handwriting and reading…check.

On Tuesday, Mason went to the store with Grandma and Uncle and came back with groceries and a fun Crayola Practice Pad for math.  He then spent the next 20+ minutes at the table with Grandma doing simple addition problems.  We were also able to do a measuring activity at the end of the week.

math fun

Math practice…check.

On Wednesday, as we were resting and cleaning from the past two days, we came across a fun pack of ocean foam stickers that Grandma had bought.  Mason was able to make an ocean scene and we talked a little about seaweed and plants in the ocean.

Ocean foam crop

Science…check.

Flash cards…$$$, Tracing sheets…$$$, Foam Sticker set…$$$, Crayola learning book…$$$, saying no to the pressures of the world and yes to Jesus…priceless.

Week-in-Review

Math completed:  Crayola Practice Pad, Measuring with 1″ unit tiles

Handwriting Completed:  Shape tracing worksheets – squares, triangles, diamonds

Reading Completed:  review Sight Word flashcards

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Ocean Foam sticker project

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

  • Starting to work with 2-10 as groups of 2s (I’ll post later what I use to do this.)
  • Crayola Practice Pad, addition problems

Handwriting:

  • Around Town Tracing Words
  • Practice Writing our Last Name

Reading:

  • Find some books (i.e. old childrens books, emergent reader printed books) and highlight familiar sight words

Arts/Crafts:

Expansion

By some standards, we did not accomplish much this week.  

There were definitely more activities left undone than completed.  However, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.  The art teacher from the middle school came and shared some activities with Mason and Madison.  It was a great change of pace for the kids and wonderful for me to experience the expansion that comes from inviting others to be a part of our education journey.

She brought a few canvas boards.  Two had masking tape in the shape of an ‘M’.  One for Mason, one for Madison.  After laying out supplies, Mason and Madison went about filling the canvas with acrylic paint.  When dry, we removed the tape and had an original masterpiece for each.

Mason & Madison canvas

Then, she gave Mason a smaller canvas board and allowed him to place the tape wherever he wanted.  I’ll have to admit, at this point I had to concentrate on keeping my hands off the tape.  I absolutely loved his creation, and he was thrilled with his painting.

Mason freestyle canvas

I know that the arts are an area that is so easy to push aside for the more “necessary” subjects.  This experience confirmed in me that the arts will be very much a part of our education.  It not only gave my children an opportunity to express themselves in their own way, but it also allowed me to see the beautiful uniqueness that is Mason and Madison.

Week-in-Review

Math completed:  Dice math (one day), Roman Numeral lesson (impromptu, pictured below)

Handwriting Completed: none – though the dice math gave practice for writing numbers

Reading Completed:  none

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Canvas paintings, clay bowl created (with the art teacher to be fired in the kilm)

Mason saw an activity in the book Big Book of Math by Dinah Zike.  It was a foldable that helped with recognizing Roman Numerals.  I have known that we will soon begin working on clock activities and since all of the analog clocks in my house have roman numerals this activity seemed a great place to start:

Roman Numeral accordian

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

Handwriting:

  • Trace Building Words
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name

Reading:

Arts/Crafts:

Following Footsteps

Something that I am enjoying, and sometimes find challenging, is Madison’s desire to be right up there with Mason doing learning activities.  I know this is a wonderful thing, yet at times it seems daunting to me.  I think the main issue is that I need to find a time to better plan activities for both.  With Mason, I had never done any prepping for activities when he was two (Madison’s current age).  We simply played and our playing was the learning.  With Madison we of course still mainly learn through playing, but when she sees her older brother doing these wonderful activities –

she wants everything to do with it!

It took me this week to see that I am capable to include both of my children, knowing each of their strengths, areas to grow, interests and developmental stages.  Madison wants to be involved, that is natural.  It had simply never even crossed my radar to have activities ready for her as well, at the age of two. I suppose I expected her to go about her playing while Mason and I worked at the table.  This week however, as Mason was working on a tangram activity, I offered it to Madison.  Knowing she was not able to complete the same puzzles as Mason, I quickly traced the individual pieces, in various orientations, onto a piece of cardstock.  When I gave it to Madison to work on, I was encouraged.  She knew exactly what to do and easily placed a few of the pieces, while others we are still working on.

Madison tangram copy

Perfect.

This activity included her in what Mason was doing, yet it hit right at her learning and developmental level.  It was a reminder to me that the adaptations which need to take place in order to include both children, even at varying ages, are often quick and simple.  While I don’t see myself making “formal” lesson plans for Madison yet, I will begin to think ahead regarding her involvement in the same areas/activities of learning.

Week-in-Review

Math completed:  Star Wars Roll & Graphing, Size Sequencing, Tangram buildings.

Handwriting Completed: Star Wars Letters Tracing

Reading Completed:  Review Site Words, Word Sundaes

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Q-Tip Flag

Mason really enjoyed the tangrams and spent a couple of days with different puzzles we found.  Click here for the free download of Madison’s Toddler Tangram sheet – I created a cleaner digital version.  The Toddler Tangram sheet will fit a tangram set that has a 1.5″ small square piece.  If you don’t have a tangram set or yours don’t fit, simply print another sheet on cardstock and cut the shapes out.  Some of our activities:

Mason tangram   Word Sundae pic   Mason flag   Madison flag

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

  • Dice Math x 2 days
  • Measuring common items using 1″ plastic color tiles,  (print and cut to create your own)

Handwriting:

  • Trace Building Words
  • Buildings Matching worksheet
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name

Reading:

  • Review Sight Words
  • Word Families
  • Reading Simple Sentences and Drawing Pictures to Illustrate – based on our sight words

Arts/Crafts:

  • Guest teacher coming to the house
  • Guest teacher coming to the house

Trial Run

Last week was our trial run of the lesson plan template from the previous post.  About half way through the week I thought to myself that maybe the week of the Fourth of July was not the best time to start anything new!  However, in further thinking I decided that it was fine.  It gave me a chance to see the flexibility of the template and how it worked.  The initial consensus is that I love it.  It worked really well to list the ideas of activities and have the freedom to do them in any order we wanted.

On the teacher side of things,

I have to say that I felt a little pressure to “complete all lessons listed”.  I really pushed back this feeling, knowing that I am choosing to move in a more free flowing homeschool atmosphere.  Then, of course, there was July 4th and its family gatherings; the day after, we didn’t even worry about attempting any learning activities.  We chose rest.  On Thursday, I was looking at what we had completed and had yet to do.  I began to reflect – had I planned to much, was this going to work?  Then the realization hit, it was only Thursday.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were still on the calendar.  Even the idea of school being Monday – Friday had been deeply engrained in me.  I have to say, I love that we don’t have to mold ourselves into the August through June, Monday through Friday structure.  The freedom to do school as is fitting for our family is very liberating.

Also, in thinking ahead to what I would like my son to work on, I remembered reading that part of Kindergarten readiness was to be able to draw certain shapes.  I decided it would be beneficial to work on straight lines and corners in shapes such as squares and triangles.  So, I decided to make the following template:

Squares Practice pic

Mason saw me working on these and zipped through the squares and triangles.  He then asked me to create diamonds, crescents, lightning shapes, and a slew more!  I let him know Mommy was done making shapes for the day, but that I would have them ready soon.  I have made the squares, triangles, and diamonds templates available for free download (click on corresponding word).  Hopefully by next week, I will have available a complete packet of shape templates.

On the student side of things,

it is fun to see Mason really enjoying the increased level of learning activities.  Last Monday as I was printing some sheets for the week, I intended to print two pages of a work pack and ended up with ten!  Oops.  Mason loved it.  Anytime he sees me printing or working on a lesson, he wants to stop and do it right then and there.

Week-in-Review

We completed none of the planned math activities, three of the four handwriting activities, one reading activity, and neither of the planned arts/crafts activities.  One of the activities from last week was to trace 4th of July related words…star, flag, Mount Rushmore, Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, etc.  Mason did such a great job on it, we decided to cut out the strips and use them as our July 4th decorations.  He also really enjoyed the starfall.com website.

4th of July dec pic blog

*  *  *

Up-and-Coming:  Activites this Week

Math:

  • Simple Addition page (math probs on a sheet of paper)
  • Roll & Count, Star Wars pack from 3 Dinosaurs
  • Size Sequencing, 4th of July pack from 3 Dinosaurs
  • Tangram templates,

Handwriting:

Reading:

Arts/Crafts:

  • Q-Tip American Flag, 4th of July pack from 3 Dinosaurs
  • Make Bead Keychains (practice colors in Spanish)

Beginnings

My son, four years of age, has spent his lifetime in play mode.

Exploring, discovering, learning by his interactions with the world around him, as it should be – and as it is naturally.  In the past few weeks, I have noticed a tendency for him to “look” for something to do and I sensed it is time to have a few more “structured” learning activities on hand.

In the past, it has looked like a fun craft here, a number counting activity there.  However, recently the Lord has directed me to guide my son in three specific areas – math, handwriting, reading.  Knowing these areas of focus, coupled with the understanding that it is time to add in more learning activities,

I sensed the need for a game plan.

This is when I stepped back and went to the Lord, asking for His game plan in guiding my child’s learning process.  I wrestled a little with the public school structure that I had been immersed in for ten years, knowing I didn’t want to simply “recreate” public school at home.  In all honesty, to move into the freedom of homeschool was a bit daunting.  I wanted not the old way of things, but the perfect way of things for my son and for myself as the learning coordinator/facilitator.  After conversing with the Lord about the in’s and out’s of where I had been before and where we were now, the Lord revealed the beginnings of His plan for us.

This really started with the fact that I was collecting papers here and there that Mason had completed, displaying his learning path.  It was accumulating and I realized I wanted/needed a more structured way of recording lessons and seeing where we had come from and where we were going.  Ok, simple terms…I wanted a lesson plan book!  The problem was that I knew it was going to need to be different than what I was used to using.  It turns out it is not all that different of a lesson plan book, rather a different paradigm of schedule.

Our game plan –

For each focus area, have 3-4 learning activities/lessons ready for the week.  When an activity is completed, I record the completion date beneath the corresponding lesson.  This will help us to not be rigid and yet also allow us to continue moving forward.  I am excited about the freedom to do all math one day, or an activity from each area another day, or no activities in a day.  I feel also, even at four, that it helps Mason begin to take the lead in his own learning and time management.  Finding his flow, and our flow together each day.

lesson plan template pic copy

The template is simple and basic, yet exactly what we need at this moment in time.  I am excited to use it and watch it evolve (maybe) in months and years to come.  I plan on using the extra subject lines to write in our spontaneous moments of learning that turn into lessons in their own right.  A basic outline, a simple structure that allows for life flow during the week – priceless.

If you are looking for a simple tool to help you get started, or just for a place to start, then you are welcome to download this template for free and use accordingly.

Activities this Week:

Math:

  • Roll & Count, Star Wars Pack from 3 Dinosaurs
  • Size Sequencing, 4th of July Pack from 3 Dinosaurs
  • Simple Addition problems

Handwriting:

Reading:

Arts/Crafts:

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