Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Playing through our Winter Theme

For anyone out there that actually reads this blog, you might remember that we don't do formal lessons yet.  My "Pre-K" son asks for school -- and the tot goes along for the ride -- but we mostly just read living books, and play games and learning activities and call it school.  I see no need to rush it.  My philosophy for early education is not anywhere near the typical preschool or Pre-K programs (and half the blogging world, it seems), but it is what works for us.  No worksheets.  No formal lessons.  Play-based, natural learning.

Since Elliott likes "school work" I do offer a few seasonal or holiday activities and leave it at that.

Elliott is Pre-K and 5 years old.

Emory is "Tot School" and is 29 months old.

Pattern Blocks
We used some of the winter and Christmas pattern block printouts from PreKinders.  Elliott took this picture of his penguin.

Emory wasn't really interested in the pictures, but he is very interested in shapes right now, so we spent a lot of time sorting and naming shapes.

I also have a few "wintery" patterns on the top of Playful Patterns, but we haven't played with this one recently since we just did the pattern blocks.

Math Grid Game
This grid game is from the winter theme at PreKinders.  The snowman bucket is full of "snowballs" to use as counters.  It was an empty cotton candy container, and Emory was highly disappointed to take a bite and find cotton balls.

For Elliott, he rolled the die and placed the correct number of snowballs on the grid.  That was over quickly, and was too easy for him.  Next time I will change it up a little.  I think I might give him two dice, and if he rolls two small numbers, add them together.  If he rolls at least one larger (4-6) then he will have to subtract, unless he rolls doubles, then he gets a 'bonus' and can add them.  Or I might have him roll 3 dice, and decide which two combinations added together yields the highest answer.  There are limitless possibilities with this simple game!

She actually has grid games under several of her themes, so this is something I can slowly build on throughout the year without it getting too monotonous.

For Emory, it was basic 1:1 correspondence work.

Snowflake Counting
This was a combination of two different activities.  I used the snowman play-doh mat from Prekinders, but I chose the "toddler" version, because it's actually more versatile.  Although we can use it for play-doh as intended, I thought I'd combine it with this pasta snowflake count from Making Learning Fun that I found on Pinterest.

Note to self...if it says spray paint, go buy the spray paint.  Dipping pasta in tempera paint is neither easy, nor does is yield pretty results.

Anyway...this is what I came up with.  Instead of printing out cards/mats for each number, I used the blank mat and used number cards with it.

Elliott asked for this activity, worked on two cards, and decided it was boring.  He said he's rather do the play-doh option.  Too bad I haven't gotten around to making a batch of white/winter play-doh.

Lacing Card
I forgot about this mitten shaped lacing card (from a library story hour activity) until I saw this Preschool Syllabus:  Winter post at Joyfully Weary the same night I was putting these activities together.

I don't have any action shots, but both boys have actually given this one a go already, and since then, Elliott has voluntarily laced a few other shapes...something he's never been interested in before.

Snowflake Color Matching
This is a variation on the color matching activity Emory did last week with pompoms.

I think Emory preferred the pompoms.  Although the color and fine motor skills are way too easy for Elliott, he did this clothespin variation after Emory, because he wanted to make a flower.

Snowflake Matching
I printed this a couple of weeks ago from Confessions of a Homeschooler's Pre-K Letter S unit, but we haven't played with it yet, because I I just now cut them apart.  It can be a simple matching activity for Emory, or a memory game for Elliott.

Sensory Tub
We also have a Winter Sensory Tub for some hands-on, imaginative fun!

I also have several other activities Pinned or on my 'list' of possibilities. Some we'll get to if the weather actually acts like winter, and some we may not get to at all.  I don't stress...I don't care...they are 2 and 5 and life for them should be about learning through their own play and outdoor exploration.  Whether or not we do "themed" activities is not really that high on my priorities list.  I just like having a "back-up" to fight the I'm booooored syndrome while I'm cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen.

Linked up:
Preschool Corner
Show and Tell
What's on the Tray Wednesday?
Thrifty Thursday
It's Playtime
Thinky Linky Thursday
Enchanted Thursday Blog Hop
Thematic Thursday
For the Kids Friday
TFIG Linky Party
Fun Stuff Fridays


  1. Great ideas! I saw some of these same ones on PreKinders today too! Looks like fun!

  2. I like your activities too.

    I just bought Liam some pattern blocks recently, and he's asked to play with them a couple of times. I'm just not sure, think it might still be a little too hard.

    Love your story about Emory taking a bit of the cottonball. :)

  3. I love all your activities, especially the math grid game. Thanks for sharing at AfterSchool!
    Little Wonders' Days

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Jenny--Emory is not ready for the pictures yet. He just likes playing with the pattern blocks because his brother does. He just likes naming and sorting shapes at this stage, and that's fine with me! The first few cards in the Playful Pattern set are literally just matching shape-to-shape, and both boys seemed to like that better at this age. You could always trace your blocks in easier patterns on cardstock or the back of larger index cards and make them progressively harder as he gets the hang of it. That's what I love about the second set of shapes.

    You can see the easiest card in the set here.

  5. That's an awesome idea, Brittney! Thanks a lot for that idea. I'll definitely be doing that!

  6. Thanks for your comment on my sensory bin. I featured yours at WOTT # 2 because it is awesome :) I hope you will come share these trays too!


  7. Oh, I also meant to ask you how you handled your son's eczema? Bam Bam is having a lot of trouble again.

  8. Thanks Sierra!

    With my son, it was a combination of things.

    My son's pediatrician recommended scent free, sensitive wipes; Aveeno wash and lotion; and prescribed a topical ointment--I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head, but it worked within two days and it lasted the next few years through the milder flare-ups.

    I also used All free and clear laundry detergent.

    We also were careful with diaper brands--one brand broke him out terribly.

    Hopefully you get it under control! I know how frustrating it can be!

    1. Thanks, Brittney! The only thing we haven't done that you mentioned is switch diapers, but that is one area where he doesn't seem to have any trouble! Taking milk out of my diet helped a lot but it is not entirely cleared up and he scratches constantly. Maybe his milk allergy is so severe that I need to be reading labels for milk proteins and whey and things like that. One more thing to ask the doctor!

      Thanks for linking up at WOTT too :) I love your disclaimer about the pasta! Tempera paint is great for some things, and cheap, but it definitely doesn't work for everything! I discovered that this holiday season. The snowflake color match is great too!

  9. Great post. I love the snowflake mat I think I will use it for addition story problems. I am now following. : )

  10. Hi Brittney! I just wanted to pop over and thank you for linking up to my Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop.I love the color matching activity with the clothes pins. Sadly I did not start hearing about all the wonderful activities to use clothes pins for until after my kids were too old for the activities. On a side note my daughter had terrible eczema behind her ears and in her diaper area as a baby and toddler. She still fights eczema today at 5 years old but it is primarily behind her ears and at times on her face. I still use free and clear laundry detergent and line dry everything I can. A product that I found worked wonders within a day or two on our daughter's eczema when she was younger were Mustela Stelatopia Cream Cleanser, Mustela Stelatopia Moisturizing Cream, Mustela Stelactiv For Severe Diaper Rash. It is pricey however you do not need to use a lot so we always found a bottle could last 1-2 months.

  11. Hi Brittney, you've got some great ideas, I'll be trying out the cotton ball/grid one with my daughter. I'm your newest follower, and I hope you'll pop over to my blog and follow me back. Thanks for sharing your ideas! Lauzi @ Happy Little Munchkins

  12. Hi! New follower from Friday Blog Hop. We homeschool! Blessings!

  13. Thanks for joining Thematic Thursday! This is a great lesson! I am following you now!

  14. Thanks for linking up to Thinky Linky Thursday! Winter is so fun to learn about. I am planning on doing the mitten lacing in a couple weeks too. Have fun :)

  15. HI, I am now following you from Friday Blog HOp. Love your ideas and the cottonball activity. Fun!

  16. This is great! Would you please share this with our readers for Fun Stuff Fridays? http://www.toysinthedryer.com/2012/01/fun-stuff-fridays-6.html

  17. This is fun. I loved pattern work. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  18. What fun activities! Love the snowflake mat!! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
    Beth =-)

  19. Thanks for linking up at Thrifty Thursday! This was one of the most clicked links this week! Congrats!

    I agree with you...we don't do any formal "preschool" here either, and we don't do worksheets. i love doing different learning activities with my daughter (3) and my son (1) is along for the ride too ;) but we don't do formal school. She DOES go to preschool 2 days a week but I did not send her to learn ABCs and 123s but rather as a social outlet for her.

    Thanks again for linking up at Thrifty Thursday and I hope to see you this week!

  20. OH and I can't remember If I have told you this before...but if my daughter had been a boy, she would have been an Elliott (She is an Esella) and when we were deciding on a name for my son, it was between Emory and Everett! We chose Everett...but I think it's too funny that your sons are named names I LOVE! :D

    1. Ohhh, I love the name Esella! It's funny, because we actually considered Everett for our younger son, but Emory is a family name and he's definitely an Emory at heart!

    2. No way!!! That is too funny that you considered Everett too! My daughter;s name is pronounced with the long E, the original spelling is Isela, but we thought it would get SLAUGHTERED so we tried to spell it phonetically. She still is called Estella ALL the time, and most people pronounce it incorrectly (with a short E) but that's ok. We call her Ellie for short. :) You and I just have AWESOME taste ;)