Tag Archives: Preschool

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April Showers Crafts and Games!

It’s that time of year when we stand on the brink of sunshine and hours of outside play. So close we can almost smell it… yet it’s not quite here.

We are having one of those classic April weeks in Minnesota, where it’s too cold to play outside and every day looms of rain, so we decided to make the most of it! Today we learned all about the seasons, rain, and why there are April showers. ☺ I came up with a list of activities that would both demonstrate how rain works, and give the kids a hands on experience, plus a craft project o remember it by. It just happened that I was also able to incorporate appropriate books throughout the day to go with each activity.


The Seasons:

IMG_4136First, I chose 1 item to represent each season: a wooden snowflake, a red leaf, a small wooden flower, and a yellow circle for the sun. I placed the items in a bag and had each child reach in (without looking) to pull one out. We discussed each one and what it represented. They really enjoyed the suspense of this activity!

Then we read “When?” by Leo Lionni and “All Around Us” by Eric Carle. These were perfect! They both cover the seasons and things that happen in them. We talked about how we are in the season of spring and specifically, the month of April. In April it rains a lot so flowers can grow etc.

April and Rain:

IMG_4139Next, we moved to the dining room table where I placed a large mason jar filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water. I placed a plate on top and let it sit for a few minutes while we discussed how and why rain works. You can read more about it HERE. Next, I set 8-10 ice cubes on the plate. Within a few seconds, we could see a gentle mist coming down the jar from the bottom of the plate which looked like a light rain. They loved it!

Making their own rain clouds:

IMG_4142I filled a large clear container half full with water and added only 2 drops of blue food coloring. I wanted them to see the blue, but I didn’t want it to stain anything. ☺ I gave them each a container with cotton balls, a piece of paper, and tongs. If you don’t have enough tongs, we also used 2 matching serving forks and 2 matching serving slotted spoons. These may have even been easier. :-D I would also cover your workspace with a towel—everything got quite wet.

I explained that their cotton balls were clouds and they needed to fill them with water to become rain clouds. They dropped the cotton balls into the blue water, let them get wet and then set them on the paper to make designs. They LOVED this!! Before long, the cotton balls were back and forth and everywhere else. They wrung them out with their hands and started the process again. Everybody was wet, but they did this for about half an hour. Very fun activity that serves as a great visual for rain!

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I gave each child a piece of cardstock with a simple cloud drawn in the top portion. I had them fill it with Elmer’s glue and then cover it with cotton balls. Next we discussed how rain comes out of rain clouds, so they made their rain with the glue. I then sprinkled blue glitter on their rain, poured off the excess, and Voila! Beautiful rain coming down from their clouds. They were pretty giddy about all that glitter—especially since I was doing this with 4 little girls. ☺

IMG_4147Listening Walk:

It just happened that it wasn’t raining this afternoon, so we decided to get outside for a few minutes—it was still cold! :-D I wanted the walk to go with our spring theme though, so we read, “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers, then we got bundled up and headed out for our own listening walk. This was a lot of fun. All of the kids noticed things they had never noticed before. We discovered a lot of unique and new sounds as well finding some new life on trees and in plants. They were surprised to see and hear so many of the signs of spring we had been learning about.

FullSizeRenderOther books we read to go with the theme:

“Dora’s Serach for the Seasons” by Samantha Berger

“A Bunny for all Seasons” by Janet Schulman

“My Spring Robin” by Anne Rockwell

“Wee Little Lamb” by Lauren Thompson

Coloring Pages:

We finished the day with a couple of coloring pages that coordinated with the theme. I just got them off Google images and turned them into coloring sheets.

Soon the luster of spring will be here and we will miss these cold rainy days to do projects inside our home. I love the opportunities to take advantage of these less than desirable times! ☺

Happy Spring!

-Lydia

 

Resurrection Day Invitation to Play – Easter Crafts

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During a season of bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it can be hard to direct our children toward the real meaning of Easter. This year, I wanted something that was hands-on and interactive but not a typical craft project. I came up with an Easter Invitation to Play that was God focused and reviewed many of the truths we have been learning the last few weeks.

I think there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s what we used. You can tweak this to adapt to your materials and needs.image

White Play dough
Green Play dough
Three toothpicks or small sticks to serve as crosses
Pom-poms or small flowers
A strip of fabric or paper
Small pieces of paper or stones where you have written examples of sins
The bottom portion cut out of a cup

imageI gave each of the kids a plate with the above items. We have been learning all about the crucifixion and the resurrection so it was all very fresh in their minds. Before we began this portion though, we sat down and discussed the fact that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. He was perfect and did not have to die to take the consequence for his own sin. He died for us: it was our sin that paved the way to the cross. I wanted them to understand the significance of this truth. I had very small pieces of paper, maybe half inch by half-inch, and we wrote a different sin on about 30 of them. This was significant and they really understood it. Therefore, when they each received their plate with the items to use for the invitation to play, they each had about eight of the papers with sins. I explained that they were going to set up the scene however they would like. The toothpicks could be used as crosses, the white Play dough could be used to create a tomb and to cover the cup portion, or they could use the cup portion as the tomb and the white Play dough as the stone. I explained that the pom-poms could be flowers, or some other type of decoration. They could use the strip of paper as a road or some type of pathway. They could even use it as a linen cloth to wrap up a pom-pom to serve as Jesus. :-) The green Play dough could be used as grass or as a hill for the crosses to sit on. The one thing I told them I wanted them to include for sure was the pathway of sins. They all thought this made a lot of sense and were excited to dig in!

imageThey worked on this project for probably close to an hour, and came up with all sorts of scenes. I think it really helped to solidify the truths that we have been learning this week in a hands-on experience where they could actually do something with what they have been learning. I hope that you find this to be just as profitable with your kids!

Happy Easter!

-Lydia

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

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I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

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Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

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Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

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I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-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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