Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: How do you store Legos?

We've had a light week, since we were out of the house a lot more than usual.  On Monday I took Elliott for a comprehensive eye exam, because my sister-in-law made some observations about his behaviors in co-op, so of course after she mentioned it, many things started making sense.

We went back Wednesday before church to order his frames, because I wanted Daddy, who also wears glasses, to be there too.  Elliott was so upset over getting glasses (though he still won't give a reason why), that he didn't say anything the entire time.  Not a single word.  The lady helping us actually asked me "Does he talk?"  As soon as she walked off to place the order, he started talking.

The next day, he asked why he couldn't bring his glasses home now.  Go figure.

Math:  Counting vs. Adding
We don't do traditional flashcards or worksheets, so I like to find different ways for Elliott to practice addition. We play a lot of variations of adding dice (changing up the board game), but I decided to try this domino addition game.  I think he would have preferred drill-and-kill, as he decided he wasn't interested in writing that day, if you can't tell.

I know he can do simple addition in his head (or at least count up), however when we use dice or dominoes he wants to *count* every dot.  Is this normal?

I think this particular printable is from First Grade Schoolbox, but I printed it awhile ago and don't have a direct link.  However, Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has similar dice and domino games in a free downloadable package.

We did an Eric Carle inspired painting activity, and the boys really enjoyed the process!

Lego Learning
We received our first {free} issue of Lego Club Jr. magazine, and Elliott was beyond thrilled!
Club Jr. Magazine

Of course the Legos are back out.  He is just starting to play with them, and is mostly building really simple buildings, but he is enjoying and experimenting with them, and that is all that matters to me.

I haven't found a solution for this yet.  Any suggestions?

Peg Games
This Bunny Brain Game is from our Easter activity boxes.  Here, Emory was using it mostly for counting practice.

Letter & Word Play
Emory pulled out this magnetic letter set, and Elliott decided to join in.

While Elliott was spelling POWER, Emory was spelling his name below.  Wednesday night at church he was also "spelling" and "writing" his name on his paper.

Outdoor Play
As usual, I try to take the boys outside as much as possible.  We almost always seem to walk down to my in-laws so the boys can climb this favorite tree.

Food Fun
I tried to make the three little pigs since it is one of their all-time favorite stories.

The pigs were made from lunch meat, the "wolf" bread was actually made with a dog cookie cutter, and I was going to tell the boys to use their imagination.  He was on top of two of the pigs, because he had already gobbled them up.  I used chicken noodle soup since the noodles are not sturdy and are light like hay, the pretzels are for the house of sticks, and the bricks were just the crust from the bread.  The fruit was for the pig's food.

The boys response?  Elliott looked at my dog-wolf and said  "A horse?  Really?  That's the best you could do was a horse?"  Oh well, mom, better luck next time!

Roxaboxen was my favorite this week, but you can take a peek at our bookshelf to see the bug books the boys enjoyed.

Tot School

Storybook Artist Unit Studies: Eric Carle

Awhile back, I found this Free Printable Storybook Artist Unit Studies Curriculum made by Jill at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.

The curriculum utilizes Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art by Eric Carle to introduce art through children's books.  You have probably realized by now that I have a weak spot for children's books, so I loved the premise of this curriculum.  It's a great way for me to start somewhere comfortable and work my way up to artist studies and art history, and I know it is something that even my two year old would be able to enjoy.

I won't be following it exactly as laid out, mostly because it's not in my bones to follow lesson plans.  I am just not detailed, and with the boys being on the younger side, I want to keep it simple this year.  More than likely, as I did today, I'll just use it as a starting point, and just go with the flow.

Since Emory chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar out of our spring book basket, I decided we should go ahead and start with Eric Carle.

I browsed the suggested ideas and links in the curriculum, and one of the activities was an Eric Carle inspired snowman, but since we're celebrating spring, I browsed that website and found a general tutorial for Eric Carle Inspired Art Lessons which Elliott liked.

The boys used larger brushes to paint the entire page red.

I then gave the boys a variety of brushes to paint stripes and circles.  I didn't worry about complimentary colors, as suggested on the website.  I let the boys choose their own colors.  I do give them a little guidance, but I want both the process and the product to be their own.

They both chose red to start, and blue as a second color (Emory almost always chooses whatever Elliott chooses), so of course we ended up with varying shades of purple with a pink background.

The third step suggested texture tools, so I gave the boys an old comb and an old toothbrush to scrape their paint.  They really enjoyed this step!

The boys ended up making two paintings using this process, but Emory wanted to draw a caterpillar for me to cut out...this was where we ended up stopping.  We will finish it only if he chooses.

Elliott however, wanted his first painting to be a caterpillar, and the second to be the butterfly after it emerged from its chrysalis.  He wanted his caterpillar to have a face, antennae and legs like the caterpillar on the front of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which he added.

The second painting was red, blue and orange, and we used it to cut out two butterflies.

Elliott really liked his final product!  I think we'll try to do another lesson from the Eric Carle section of the curriculum next week, though I want to move on to Petra Mathers and use The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders for April's National Poetry Month.

Shibley Smiles

Also Linked Up:  Sharing Saturday, Link & Learn

Thursday, March 29, 2012

F is for FUN!

One of the best things about homeschooling is that we get to do FUN things all the time and call it school!

Helping mom make banana muffins is more fun than learning about measurements from a textbook.

Having dad lead an impromptu nature study while working in the yard is awesome!

Climbing trees is the best part about PE!

Playing a game for your phonics lesson is more fun than a worksheet any day!

Even though we read about history and are starting to narrate, Building the Mayflower is more fun than just reading about it!

Exploring The Wonders of the Ocean (and the historical sites around it) on a week long trip in September is probably more fun than spending a week in a regular classroom!

Having mom make a themed lunch or snack to go along with what you're reading/learning is FUN!  This was our Polar Bear snack to go along with our Polar Bear Math lesson.

Trick or Treating with long-term care residents is fun because you get to dress up while learning about dad's job.

Field Trips are very FUN!  This picture was taken at the Imagine It! Children's Museum in Atlanta, GA, but just a few other field trips we've enjoyed include zoos, aquariums, the Creation Museum, Winter Wonderland, the annual Bob Evans Farm Festival, and visiting a pumpkin patch.

Having your big brother as your teacher is not only fun, but something you wouldn't see in a school classroom!

Since you are only 5 (and 2), building blocks and Legos count as school too!

Mom letting you take a break to eat strawberries and watch the snow fall is FUN!

Outdoor Play often leads to the most natural science lessons!

There are so many ways to make learning fun.  We play educational games, incorporate hands-on activities, and take field trips, but we also let practical life skills and unstructured play lead to natural learning opportunities.  Sometimes more learning happens when we abandon the "lessons" and take a more relaxed approach.  I love the idea of the Charlotte Mason approach, but I do see the benefit of child-led learning as well!


A Peek at our Bookshelf: Roxaboxen and More Bugs!

I added Roxaboxen to our Spring book basket on a whim, mostly because I knew it took place outdoors.  Reading it with the boys during story time was actually my first read-through, and it was such a delight!  Roxaboxen (a true story) is about an empty field which turns into a town, a battlefield, or anything the imagination desires.  Reading it made me remember the lot of woods next to my house, where my friends and I made a kitchen with my old children's table, a rug and a few empty jars, or went horseback (bike) riding on the trails.  While Elliott liked the story, I certainly think I enjoyed the story and illustrations more.  Perhaps this book will spark a desire for the boys to create their own imaginary town, but either way, I hope as the boys get older, they think back to the farm and running through the fields where they sword fight with sticks or chase dinosaurs, and have the same great memories as Roxaboxen inspires.

The Best Book of Bugs is a factual book, not a living book, so we only read about a few bugs each night.  There are a lot of interesting facts, though, and both boys are enjoying it.

More Bugs in Boxes is a pop-up/lift-the-flap book with imaginative bugs, and is great for toddlers.  It is a "colors" book, but covers other early learning topics (like shapes) as well.  We read it quite frequently, at Emory's request.

One of Elliott's choices was The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst.  The stories (like How Spider Got a Thin Waist) are short, and are a great introduction to folktales and other cultures.  It'll take us a few more nights to finish the stories, but Elliott has enjoyed it thus far.

From Caterpillar to Butterfly was Emory's choice, and for some reason he wanted to "read" the whole thing with me.  If you've never heard a 2 year old say metamorphosis or chrysalis it is quite amusing!  This was a Let's Read and Find Out Science book, and so far we are enjoying each one that we've read.

Emory chose Hopper Hunts for Spring by Marcus Pfister as his bedtime book and the boys enjoyed laughing at Hopper as he encountered different animals asking if they were Spring.

We read the second story, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, from The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit, this week, at Elliott's request, and he seems to be enjoying the mishaps adventures these little bunnies keep getting into.

Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic is another book about the lovable Max, who likes to cook...only his friends have decided he cooked himself!  It's a cute story like Duck at the Door, which we read last week, and the boys enjoy them.