Category Archives: Preschool

Baby Jesus Craft

My kids and I have been having so much fun this year discussing and preparing for Christmas. This has included many games and craft projects. It was important to me though, that early on we do a craft specifically of Baby Jesus so they would recognize the fact that He is, and should be, central at this time of year. Plus, what kid doesn’t like to have his own baby to play with??Picture

I needed to find something that didn’t require buying supplies, so here is what I came up with.

·         A toilet paper roll cut in half lengthwise—I actually just cut up paper towel rolls.

·         Half a craft stick—I was excited to see that I could break them and then cut off the jagged edges!

·         A Permanent marker

·         A strip of yellow paper

·         A piece of felt or fabric

·         Glue

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            I gave each child the paper towel roll portion with the paper that I had cut the edges and fluffed up with my fingers. We talked about why Jesus was born in a manger, what that would have been like, and so on. They glued in the paper to represent straw.

They each received a “baby” (craft stick half) with a face drawn on it. Older children could do this themselves.

They got to pick their color of felt for the “swaddling clothes” and we discussed what that meant as they wrapped up their babies. I ended up using a hot glue gun for the blankets, but you could probably use fabric glue and let them do it.

I then let them decide if they wanted me to glue their babies into their manger or leave them out to play with. One child wanted hers glued, the rest left them out.

This craft was big hit! They loved playing with their babies, singing them to sleep, and taking them in and out of the mangers. I think it also worked well to help them understand who Baby Jesus was as we discussed it. I like that it gives them a tangible reminder to hold and play with throughout the month.

-Lydia

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I realize the fall season is nearly behind us, but I just HAVE to share this fun and easy idea. This would be so great to have your kids work on while you prepare for the Thanksgiving dinner.

All you do is draw a basic tree trunk on paper.

 

Apply tape to look like branches. I used masking tape folded in half, but you could use anything—2 sided Scotch tape might be fun.

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Give the kids things to stick on the branches. I used small red pom poms for apples (which my kids chose not to use) and some foam leaves I bought at Dollar Tree. You could also use scraps of paper, tissue paper, or foam, real leaves, etc. Anything that could go on a tree!
Then just walk away and let them have fun! :-)

-Lydia

Having a School Spot

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Last year the kids and I did our formal preschool between the couch and dining room table.It went fairly well, but I was always a little frustrated because to them, the couch is a hang-out and relax spot and school was sometimes hard to focus on in their comfy zone.

I hadn’t actually realized this until I read a fascinating article about how our bodies respond accordingly to different locations if you use those locations for the same activity every time.

Example:

If you always work and focus at your desk, your body will respond by being more alert when you sit down there.

Similarly, if you have a favorite chair where you always relax, your body and mind will also relax when you sit there.

I know that kids have to obey and sit still, but I was completely intrigued by the idea of making it EASIER on them (okay…and me!) by creating a spot that they could more automatically focus.

I began to think about how to create a school zone in our small home. I wanted it away from their normal hang-out and play areas.
PictureWe do have a spare room where my husband’s desk and my desk is located, and it gets great morning light.

Also, I found my garage sale find of the decade last week – a PRESCHOOL SIZED ROLL TOP DESK!

I moved the desk into the spare room and we set up school! :-)

I was surprised at the difference in the kids natural responses during school time. 

By having a ‘school zone,’ I’ve been able to set a different precedent for our ‘classroom.’

We sit straight in the class room (like a soldier and like a pretty princess), we practice our three classroom rules (ahem…we are learning to practice our three classroom rules), and we try to stay focused during the time we are in there.

During book time, the kids take turns at their little desk and my husband’s desk.

So far, it’s been a great change that has helped us immensely in the start into a new school year!

What environmental changes help your children with their school?

-Verity


Toddler Activities with Colors

My two year old son and I have been doing a concentrated study on colors over the last few weeks. Like most kids, he knew basic colors, but would sometimes get them confused. Before we moved on to numbers and letters I wanted to be sure he truly had his colors down. After weeks of working through a Sesame Street color “textbook,” I decided it was time to get a little more hands on. Below, I will share with you what we did to review colors. I took a basic concept I found multiple places on Pinterest and elaborated it to fit our situation.

First, I cleared the dining room furniture off to the side to make space. Then, I used masking tape to attach 8 colors of construction paper to the floor. I highly recommend masking for any project that requires taping in the house. It sticks well, is easy to peel up, and never leaves residue. I could have used more paper colors than I did, but that was what was in the package. J I learned right away, that it IS important to tape all 4 sides of each sheet. You’ll notice a big taped rip in the blue sheet in future pictures. :-)

Activity #1

As a warm up, I had the kids line up in the living room and race to each color as I called it out and said “Go!” This was a great overview for the older kids and gave the little ones a fighting chance to learn the colors.


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Activity #2

Once I felt confident that everyone had a good concept of the colors, I did something a little more practical. When I would call out a color and say, “Go!” they had to find as many toys throughout the living room in that color, take them over, and put them on the corresponding paper. This was probably everyone’s favorite and even the 18 month old excelled at this activity.

Activity #3

Next we went back to independent review. I had them all line up in the living room facing me. I handed the first child a Pom Pom and told them the color, they would then run over, put the Pom Pom on its corresponding paper and run back to the end of the line. We did this about 8 times or so.


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Activity #4

We repeated the first activity. This was great! The kids were so excited and much more confident this time around.

Activity #5

At this point, I started to lose the two youngest kiddos, which is to be expected.  I used the opportunity to take the game into a deeper, more spiritual focus. The two oldest and I went over to the colors and sang the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and when we got to each child we stood on their color. We inserted the color brown, so the song went, “red and yellow, brown, black and white.” We talked about what those children actually looked like, why there were different colored people and so on.

Activity #6

I still had the oldest two kids’ enraptured attention, so I went to each color and had them tell me things God had created that were that color. We talked about what a great God we have that He would make all of those wonderful things, but that we were His most special creation and how much He loves us.

In the end, this proved to be a great color review for toddlers and preschoolers. I’m sure there’s much more you could do with the colored paper, and I hope to do this again!

-Lydia

3 Preschool Tips

Although my degree is in Education, I taught for a summer ministry during my pre-mom years, and have taught many times for our home business, I haven’t felt like I was using my schooling or experience much as a mom.

However, now that I am starting to embark on homeschool preschool, there are just a couple things that have helped me stay unusually organized. It’s almost come naturally, and since I’m not a naturally organized, I can only attribute it to my education and experience finally helping me as a homemaker! (Yay!!)

I have homeschool preschooled my rambunctious 3 year old and his organized (but her-way-is-the-best-way-even-if-it-means-grasping-her-pencil-in-her-fist-to-write) 2 year old in a structured setting for a year and in the normal mom-way for 2 years. (This is where you read learning books, sing the alphabet a lot, and count things through the day. It’s basically just being a mom.)

I know that not all moms are going to be able to school at home, but these couple points could help with homework too!

1. Determine Your MAIN Goal:

It’s not as simple as it sounds. I had to reevaluate my main goal a few months ago, and it has been a sigh of relief since!

What is your main goal?

-That your child is ahead of the other kids in his play group or class?

-That he learn to become self-motivated with his homework?

-That he learn to love school and look forward to it?

This will determine the amount of time you spend, what subjects you focus on (subjects he loves vs subjects that will help him with other goals etc.), and sometimes even your approaches.

I used to want my son to be better then the other kids, and it frustrated me that he was not writing his name or reciting the alphabet by 2 like a couple of the little girls in his Sunday school. However, upon reevaluation of my MAIN goal, I decided my goal for him as a preschooler, is to learn to love learning. (This may likely change, but let’s avoid burn-out by K-5.) I also realized that it was my pride – not my desire for his growth – that was motivating me to want him to be faster in school then he was.

Realizing that I was using my little son to boost my own ego and determining a different goal has helped school to become a time we all look forward to and has caused me to take some different approaches to it.

Because last year my little kids could only handle an hour of formal school time and because my MAIN goal was that they learn to enjoy learning:

  1. We limited formal school to 30m – 60m each day
  2. We limited formal school to 4 subjects
  3. We used their specific learning styles and interests to make it easier for them
    1. Visual Learners will need more pictures. (Dollar Store has tons of $1 school visuals!)
    2. Audio Learners will need to hear concepts spoken or speak the concepts themselves.
    3. Kinestetic learners will need to touch or move or act out the concepts.
    4. Goal-Oriented kids will do best with a reward system.
    5. Music loving kids will learn 10 times better if you turn lessons into little rhymes and songs.
    6. Artists will enjoy subjects they get to draw in or create with.
    7. Organizers will do better when you describe everything as having a place. “This is where the ‘A’ goes – in front of the ‘B.’ That’s where it belongs!’ They do best with categories and structure.

And the list goes on.

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2. Make a Short List of Objectives at the Start of Every Semester or Season.

According to  my college professors, this is something all teachers are supposed to do in each class they teach in grade school through doctoral classes. If you do your job well (the professors in college would tell us teachers in training) you can write your final test from your objectives.

In practice, your students may not hit everything on your list of objectives, they may excel in some areas and not achieve other areas. That is normal.

The reason for list is that it gives you a quick reference as you make teaching decisions through the semester. It also helps you evaluate areas you have not thought of that need attention.

Here’s how it works: If you are going to do a family day somewhere and you remember that your child is learning about monkey breeds this semester, you are more likely to hit that at the zoo.

If you are at the dollar store and see some flashcards, you’ll know that your 2 year old is working on counting to 10 and having some flashcards in your purse for wait times would be helpful.

Here’s How to Make Your Objective List:

1. Label each subject your child will be learning.

2. Write one to 5 goals under each subject about what your child will learn at the end of the semester.

3. Keep it short. If possible, it should not be longer then a page. You want to be able to refer to it easily.
My kids are young so their lists were easy and short. They took me less then an hour to write. I then kept the lists on the frig for a few weeks until I had the hang of them and after that just kept them in their school drawer.

Here is a copy of my 3 year old’s semester goals. I did not write these because I looked up what 3 year olds are supposed to do at that age. I simply knew that these were attainable goals he could reach over the semester. We did better then I planned on some areas, and we did not attain everything in other areas.

The formatting is not perfect on this list, but this is my actual list so I’m being honest here. :-)

I wrote out the character traits because they were important to me, and I had space on my one-sheet list. Having them accessible made those an item that we did the well at in our endeavors.

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3. At the end of each day, take one minute to write down what they learned and need to work on. 

Then I put my list on my frig and through the day can say to my child, “Do you remember what sound the ‘G’ makes?”

(If I didn’t put it on the frig, I’d completely forget to review with them because I’m an out of sight and out of mine person. Not everyone will need a visual reminder.)

Even on days that I forget to review with them, I still have an easy, brainless reminder when we are starting school the next day.

Here are 3 tips that have helped us A LOT! As a new homeschooler, I would LOVE to here any tips from more experienced moms!!

-Verity

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