Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tot School: Stations

So, on to part 2.

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Here's the stations we have right now. They rotate between the different ones and have free choice while I work with their brother or sister. They come to me and work on crafts or workbook pages. I use a couple of different workbooks with them, a few Kumon ones, and some other ones as well. The main things I'm working with them right now are: counting from 1 to 5, writing readiness skills, and for Princess recognizing what color an item should be (if she sees something red she can correctly identify it, but she can't see an apple and say that should be red).

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So, at the various desks are fine motor skill activities and puzzles. At the first desk is an art skill of some sort. Some days it will be play dough, other days it will be stamps or coloring books. This is a very popular desk. I plan to also put paper to cut out there some day and paper to glue. I've also done stickers there.

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Very important not to put out more than a few letters to match up, then you just get frustration.







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Next I have a couple of different puzzle options, actually the next two desks have these. I usually rotate through different letter matching puzzles or some animal puzzles I found at Target one day that have the head, torso, and legs of animals to be put together.


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The last desk has puzzles of varying skill levels. I have the Melissa and Doug bear puzzle, which is probably one of Princess' favorites. I also have out some peg picture puzzles. A couple of cardboard puzzles from the Target dollar aisle. I try to put no more than three puzzles out, because otherwise I just end up with a mess on the desk.






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The final station that gets chosen often is our reading station. Next to the bed I have books related to the subject we're reading about for that week. There they can also use the Tag we just got, and can do flannelboard stories. They like this one, but often want to be done in a minute, and I'm trying to work on their sticking to a topic for longer, so I don't let them move yet.

We also have a magnet station, but that hasn't been as popular recently, so I might change that around. I pick up the magnet sets that Target has in their dollar aisle and put those up there along with the Leap Frog Fridge Letters.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Operation Egg Drop

What, might you ask is this? Well, my brother is the youth/assimilations/out reach pastor at one of our sister churches and this was their Easter out reach. He organized a carnival and at the end of it, they got a helicopter to drop 25,000 eggs onto a football field and let the kids go grab as many as they could. So, here's the fun our kids had at it.

As always one of our first stops was the petting zoo. My kids love animals, Superman especially. I'm beginning to think he might be a vet when he grows up. Of course right now he says he's going to be Diego (who's an animal rescuer).

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Next we tried out archery. There was a very patient teenager working there who helped both my boys shoot. They thought it was the greatest thing in the world, and they even actually made it onto the target!

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Batman on the left and Superman on the right shooting.

At this point we went on a mad frenzy of almost every single game at the place. Frisbee toss, bean bag toss (both games), dart throw, insect dig, catching ducks. It was a wild frenzy of playing games and winning prizes.

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A frisbee toss is supposed to be done from 2 inches away right?

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It's more of a challenge from 2 feet away! But, it sure is exciting!

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Digging up insects. This was popular because the prize they got was the insect they dug up. Superman chose a blue butterfly because Diego saved one.

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Can you tell it was windy?

Sadly, I don't have any great shots of the egg drop, but the kids thought it was super cool! We had so much fun, and while we didn't get lots and lots of eggs. We got enough for our kids. But, if you'd like to see a great photo of it, go here.

Tot School: Morning Routine

Tot School

I thought I'd put down what we try to do every morning when we do school. I say try because it seems there are often days when school doesn't happen. As we get into older grades I need to be more focused on this, but it's a gradual work towards progress that I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

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Each day I have a helper. I printed off each of their pictures and just rotate through them. This becomes more complicated when my kids spread the pictures all out and declare "We're doing lots of kids helping today Mommy!" They get very excited by this.


My helper gets to choose a pointer, right now they're different eggs from the dollar store. Then my helper says the date, and then helps everyone count up to our day of the month, ex: 1,2 3....27. I based this somewhat off what primary kids do in counting days of the school year, but I know mine aren't up to counting up that high, so we do the day of the month.


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Next my helper gets to find a letter. I will make a sound and they point to the letter that makes that sound. All of my kids can do this more or less. It's getting the beginning letter sound that Princess struggles with, but she's 2, so I'm not worried. She's leap years ahead of where her brothers were at her age.


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Next, we do our flannel board math. My helper passes out the flannel boards and each kiddo gets a set of 10 pictures. These are from the Beginners Counting Set. Then my helper chooses a number for everyone to count to. Honestly they're still struggling with counting, so I'm trying everything I can think of to help them out.


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After this we get out our sticker books. We spent a day going through and putting alphabet stickers on 26 different pages, and I bought some alphabet dividers. Now, each morning my helper gives them each a sticker. The downside to this method is Batman has 3 lions on his L page because he loves lions. The upside is they have true ownership of this book and will sit there paging through it and pointing out the different stickers. I've been collecting stickers for quite a while, and I also got a sticker maker, so now anything they want can be made into a sticker as long as it isn't wider than 5 inches. We also glue things in and will glue in craft projects when we do those.


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Finally, we make words. This is mainly for the boys who are ready for it, but Princess gets to sit in on it. I got a bunch of felt letters, which really weren't quite what I wanted, but I'm going to make do because I don't want to buy more. And, so far we're just working with the words from a reader from Reading A-Z , I have a bunch of samples from them and intend to join. My hope is to have them confident enough so they transition easily into reading. We'll see.

So, that's our morning routine. I'll be posting soon about our stations we work at. Those I'm still refining because I haven't found any really great ones yet. It's a work in progress.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Berry Picking

As promised, here's a more detailed post on berry picking. We drove for an hour to get to Sweet Berry Farms and the kids had a blast there.

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Superman insisted on carrying the basket.

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We then spent the next few minutes going excitedly down the rows and picking berries.

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I had to explain to Princess she can't eat the berries until we buy them.

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And as always she sticks her tongue out when I'm trying to get pictures.

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I think this is my favorite picture of Princess for that trip.

After about 10/15 minutes we got really bored of picking strawberries, there weren't really a lot of ripe ones to pick, so I had to spend a lot of time telling them that one isn't ready yet.

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I spent a couple of minutes convincing the boys we weren't going to spend a dollar for them to pretend to milk a cow.

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We figured out how to feed the horse. They ran over and pulled a bunch of hay from the haystack, and then ran back to the poor horse and shoved they hay in his mouth, saying "Here, you hungry."

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Okay, these pictures are coming out way too small, I must switch to a larger size.

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And after much feeding of horses, and trying to convince me to let them feed the strawberries..... We went and looked through the ladybug.Photobucket


And finally got to eat our hard work.

Oh, and as a side note, my boys were absolutely obsessed with the Port-A-Potties, they kept having to go back there to go to the bathroom. I swear we spent 15 minutes with them both taking turns going back in to "go potty more." I really don't understand that one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gardening

Now, I am notorious for having a rather black thumb, I have killed almost every plant I have ever tried to grow. I say this so you know how incredibly amazing it is that I am planting a garden and it actually seems to be thriving so far.

While looking for more flowers for our flower garden out front, my kids discovered some plants they desperately wanted to try and grow: watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, red bell pepper, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Oh and peanuts. Yes, it's a very odd list, and that's with me editing out several things I knew we wouldn't actually eat (I know they wouldn't eat the jalapenos they grew).

So we spent a few afternoons planting the flowers and the herbs I picked out because they smell good/I want to try cooking with them. The plants from this fall have mostly survived, with the exception of the basil, we even actually grew broccoli, and discovered that if you don't pick it in time you get lovely yellow flowers that bees love.

Finally it came time to plant the watermelons and pumpkin. I let them plant the pumpkin in front, but couldn't quite figure out a way to fit lots and lots of watermelons in a 3 by 8 foot patch that was already pretty full. So, we needed a new garden.

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Jeff and I dug out the grass, and used a pry bar to break up a bunch of big rocks. Then the kids got involved with their hoes.

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This lasted about 5 minutes, and then they decided it was just not fun. So, they spent the next 45 minutes running around. Part of that time Superman had gotten ahold of my camera, and took about 90 pictures. So the vast majority of the pictures on this post come from either Superman or Neighbor Girl, who is over here almost every day.

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Well, Jeff and I dug for ever to get all the rocks out, and still haven't. I did find one weighing about 10 pounds. Superman's picture above is actually of some of the smaller rocks. I think all told we removed a couple of bucketfuls of rocks.

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Princess and Batman came back around for planting their precious watermelons, however I seriously doubt they'll make it. After being planted they were trod on quite often in the process of planting the other watermelons or digging more holes for other plants. Preschoolers do not make good gardeners.

I'm thinking that Superman might become a photographer, anyone know of a good kid digital camera? Here are his unedited pictures (a very small sampling)

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Of course there's also pictures like this, a lot of pictures like this.

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I'm hoping to use our garden as a real world way of learning about plants. We'll see if it works.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I don't need a stick horse Mom!

Yesterday we went to Wal-Mart for our grocery shopping, mainly because I knew we also needed to get some gardening supplies that I figured wouldn't be at HEB. Well, after going through the garden department and picking up a few more plants, which I probably didn't really need to get..... I found 3 child sized hoes, and they were in my kids favorite colors. It was like a sign from heaven, because it was on my list of things to keep an eye out for, so I thought I was set.

While in the store they learned all sorts of ways to play with them. We learned that they can slide along the bottom of the shelf.

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It also can be a horse. This was the most popular option because after a while I got tired of the sound as they were dragged on the ground and asked them to pick them up a little.
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Now, of course eventually the horse gets tired, or gets shot, and so you have to fall down on the ground and die.
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And everyone had to have their picture taken while dead.
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I'm going to be so sad when the boys outgrow these shirts, they've worn them for the past three summers. I have so many pictures in these shirts. Of course, my problem is now the opposite boy is wearing them.

To explain that comment, for the first two years of their lives Batman wore blue, that was the only way we could tell the boys apart. About 9 months ago Superman decided that blue is his favorite color, and he NEEDs to wear anything that is blue. Then we went to the Renaissance Festival and Batman decided the Green Knight was the coolest, so now he needs anything that is green. So, I've had two years of Superman wearing the green shirt and Batman wearing the blue, and now they've switched on me. They are getting really mad at me.

Oh, and forgive the general messiness of the pictures, they're taken with my phone. I didn't have my camera handy, and they were just too funny in the store not to get a picture.

Come by tomorrow to see the hoes in use, and find out how many rocks our back yard has.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tot School: Monsters

Tot School

So, as a posted earlier in my blog (How to Make a Monster) my kids have suddenly and very randomly become obsessed with monsters. So, we spent Tot School this week learning about monsters. I collected a bunch of Sesame Street monster books and anything else that was remotely monsterish and we spent the week reading those.

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I made a Monsters Inc. monster sort, printed it out and laminated them with my super duper cool sticker maker. I absolutely love this, I've used it several times for activities this week.

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We also put together a monster number book. I cut out and stapled the book together, and then cut out lots and lots of monsters and fed it through the sticker maker. We then spent a couple of days putting stickers on and counting our monsters.

Another activity I thought of, but did not remember to do is Monster Hide and seek, we now have several monsters and I was going to hide them all over the rooms we work in, but we never got that done. They're really getting into hide and seek games.

As to some other Tot School Activites, this week was crazy busy with lots of field trips and outings:

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Berry picking with friends.

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Playing at a local park, and getting absolutely soaked.

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And my new favorite, "Yes, my hoe is also a horse."

And, I'll actually post a few other in detail posts later this week about our Tot School, because I have a whole bunch of pictures from this week, but I have to do something for cleaning and stuff while the kids are still sleeping..... If anyone wants the files for the monster stuff we did, write a comment and I'll figure out how to share it.
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