Showing posts with label school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label school. Show all posts

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Fun School Program

Besides doing mini learning camps with themes each week for the boys, we also came up with a summer fun school program. The grandparents have been sending treat and fun money, so we thought this would be a good way to have a grandparent sponsored reward system.  We made a simple chart for each boy that has certain things (different learning activities and some simple chores) they can do each day to earn points. If they get enough by the end of the day they can earn a daily prize (a special sucker or small ice cream cone). Then if they do the tasks enough times in a week they "unlock" a special outing. The boys (Aaron, our four-year-old, especially) are highly motivated by this system and have been working hard to beat all of their daily and weekly challenges. They are both learning a lot of things really quickly by doing them each day, and having a ton of fun in the process. This will also us to make sure to plan and then actually do a lot of fun things together with our boys this summer.

After completing the first week successfully, they got to go to a nearby play place for a couple of  hours with daddy. They had a blast. Aaron's favorites were definitely the air gun and zip line. Andrew's favorite was the ball pit.

Thanks to all of the boys grandparents and great grandparents for helping to inspire and provide a lot of fun for our boys!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mini Music Appreciation "Camp"

Since Nate's classes just got out for the summer, this is the first week of our "summer vacation." This year we're planning on doing some different fun and educational activities with the boys. One of the things we're going to try to do is an informal learning "camp" with a different subject each week, as our time allows.

This week we were doing music camp. We talked about one composer and one instrument each weekday. Then we would watch videos that played music by that composer or taught something basic about how to play that instrument.

This was really relaxed and informal. For the composer information and music I mostly used this site. And for information about different instruments I mostly used Wikipedia and Youtube videos. I taught them a little about playing piano and Nate taught the boys a little about the guitar and drums, the instruments we actually know how to play. We also got some little plastic instruments from Walmart so they could play around with different things. All of this was really low key and I didn't actually do a lot, but I was really impressed with how much the boys got into it. They actually learned a lot and had a lot of fun too. Then I read this article and realized maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised that an at home could be great.

It was really neat to see how Aaron could learn some facts about each composer so quickly. At the end of this week he can now tell you the country, music period, and some famous music of Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Chopin. And both boys really got into talking about and "analyzing" the music. They both liked to talk about whether the music was happy or sad, fast or slow, etc. And both had very distinct favorites. Aaron generally seems to like faster music and happy, "bouncy," music in general. He liked all of the parts of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that are Allegro, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacthmusic, Beethoven's Fur Elise, many of Chopin's Etudes, but he also liked Bach's Fugues. Andrew had more of an eclectic taste and said that he liked Beethoven's Fifth symphony even though it was "really scary." Both boys thought Beethoven's Fifth symphony was scary, but Andrew kept asking to listen to it and Aaron started covering his ears. This might just be a case of each trying to irritate their brother though. The finish things off the boys had a final "recital" and "parade."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Train Themed Preschool Craft: Train Buttons

This is another fun train activity we did. A friend of ours gave us a couple of these create you own buttons. This makes a quick easy craft, and the buttons are reusable. I am thinking we might try to change out the button design to go with each month's unit.

Train Themed Preschool (or Tot School) Craft: Train Buttons

  • Create your own button
  • Small train coloring pages (or plain paper to draw trains on)
  • crayons or markers
  • scissors (for a parent or older preschooler to use)
  1. Have the children draw or decorate their trains.
  2. Open up the button.
  3. Show the child how to trace around the circle and cut it out, or do this step for a younger child.
  4. Put the button back together, and you're done!

My boys think the train buttons that they made themselves are really neat, but they do prefer to have the buttons on their backpacks instead of their shirts, so they can see them more easily.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Dinosaur Themed Preschool Activity: Dinosaur Sensory Bin

    I haven't done much with sensory bins for the boys before, in part because I just heard about them not that long ago, and in part because our little boys already love to explore everything with their hands anyway. Playing outside and eating seem to give lots of opportunities to explore with their senses, without making anything special, but this dinosaur unit seemed to lend itself well to a sensory bin, and we already had everything on hand. It really didn't take any time to throw the dinosaurs, fossils we made and hunted for, and some plastic shovels in a tub with sand after all.

    Preschool (or Tot-school) Activity: Dinosaur Sensory bin

    • A bucket or bin with some sand or rice in it
    • Dinosaur fossils, plastic dinosaurs, or even dog bones
    • Small shovels if desired
    Arrange the items in your bin, and then call the kiddos over to explore it. We put this on the balcony so sand wouldn't get all over the house. We practiced naming dinosaurs for a while and talking about other things like the different colors in the bin as well. The boys played for much longer than I thought they would with this simple set up. Andrew played with it for about 1/2 an hour, and Aaron spent almost 2 hours straight playing with the bin the first day I put it together. They kept asking to play with it for quite a few days afterwards too. Perhaps I should try sensory bins more often, as they had so much fun with it.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Dinosaur Themed Preschool Activity: Archaeological Dinosaur Dig

    In August, we studied dinosaurs and did so many fun projects that I haven't had a chance to write about them all yet. For this project, we took the dinosaur fossils we made to the park in our apartment complex and buried them in the sand, and then the boys got to dig through the sand to find them.


    Preschool (or Tot-school) Activity: Dinosaur Fossil Dig

    • Dinosaur fossils, plastic dinosaurs, or even dog bones to dig up
    • An area of sand or dirt to dig in
    • Small shovels, rakes, and/or pails to dig with

    1. Hide the "fossils" in the sand.
    2. Have the child dig through the sand or dirt to find them. Tell them how many they are looking for, so they can count them and be sure to find them all.

      Friday, September 2, 2011

      Family Fridays: Learning

      Nate started up classes again this week. This semester he has class in the late morning, although this could change if they need to move classes or students around.

      This means that he is around and can sometimes participate in our morning breakfast/school routine of reading the Bible and Bible stories, doing memory verses, practicing a few Chinese and English flashcards, and a word book or two mixed in with our weekday granola and yogurt/milk breakfast. Aaron currently cannot function civilly without granola and daily readings. Even if the rest of us wanted to take a day off or do something different, he has to have those two things to start the day off right. He is a boy who loves his routine.

      Since daddy comes back later, and therefore lunch is later, we're trying out a snack-'n'-school time also. This week I have been just been reading books to them while they have a snack. We've read English, Chinese, number books, word books, simple funny stories (Pooh, Clifford, etc.), anything we pull out of the book bins for the day. Aaron asked today if we could do snack-'n'-school a second time. He has been having so much fun.

      After that I've been having the boys sit at my new desk with me and listen to some ChinesePod lessons. This has been helping me make sure that the boys and I are getting more time studying Chinese in our day. Then we do some computer flashcards (mostly for Andrew who is still just starting to learn how to read). We've been doing the flashcards while listening to some classical music, picked from recommendations by my brilliant mother, who has a Masters in Music Education. Andrew loves the music and likes to dance and bounce along as we do the flashcards. He will focus for much longer periods of time while the music is playing. He has be getting more and more interested in learning lately, but the addition of music playing in the background while we do the computer flashcards seems to make it even more fun for him.

      The boys have also been having lots of fun learning about dinosaurs in August and have been super excited to start a train unit for September. They like to use their reusable preschool workbooks all the time, so they don't have any particular set time to use them. I am sure our schedule will continue to change over time, but we're enjoying this new routine for the moment.

      Wednesday, August 31, 2011

      Dinosaur Themed Preschool Craft Idea: Shape-a-saurus

      We're studying dinosaurs this month and doing some fun crafts to go along with our theme. The boys had fun making a Shape-a-saurus three different ways. The different ways to make a shape-a-saurus change how open ended the project is and the difficulty level of this project. You can print out your own stegosaurus and correspond shape from my free dinosaur printables available here.

      Preschool (or Tot-school) Craft Idea: Shape-a-saurus

      • Shapes cut out of construction paper, paper the child has already colored on, or a shape dinosaur print out printed on colored paper or on plain paper and then colored in
      • A piece of paper, dinosaur coloring page, or shape dinosaur print out
      • School glue (homemade works great!) or glue sticks
      • Q-tips to spread the glue if desired
      1. Assemble supplies.
      2. For a completely open-ended, and the easiet way to do the project, have the child simply design their own dinosaur out of the precut shapes and glue them down.
      3. To add a degree of complexity, and give the child some direction in their project, have them try to glue shapes that roughly match the outline of a coloring page.
      4. For the most complex way to do this project, have the child match the shape cut outs exactly to a shape dinosaur print out, like a puzzle, and glue them down.
      5. For any of these methods talk to your child as they make their picture, and ask them questions about the shapes and colors they are using. This is a great way to start to get a young toddler to see shapes all around them.
      This is a great project to review shapes and colors for any toddler, and it can easily be adapted to the child’s individual level. You can create shape pictures for any other theme as well.

      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      August Unit Study: D is for Dinosaur

      The boys love dinosaurs, or as Andrew calls them, "bump, bump," so we decided we'd try to learn more about them for our August unit study. It turns out there are lots of people who love dinosaurs, so there is tons of stuff available online to put together your own unit study.

      We like the cute book D is for Dinosaur by Ken Ham, and the video that goes along with it is good as well; albeit the graphics are now a little cheesy. We also like My Creation Bible and Dinosaur, Genesis, and the Gospel and Creation Adventure Team videos that are also put out by Answers in Genesis as well. They have some other great free resources, including answers to common questions and free audio and video talks as well.

      This month, I wrote out our memory verse (Job 40:15, 19) and made a calender with a quick facts about a dinosaur for each day. For simplicity, I used info and pictures from Enchanted Learning to put it together quickly. This site has some good resources for teaching about dinosaurs and so does the PBS Dinosaur Train site, but they are from an evolutionary perspective, so the content can take some wading through.

      Since the boys went through worksheets and activities so quickly last month, I needed to come up with a way to make them last longer. We bought a book full of clear page protectors, and I put all of the worksheets and small pieces for activities in separate sleeves. This is working very well as they can write on the pages with a dry erase or washable marker, and then I can simply wipe them down and they are ready to be used all over again for the next day. Putting the puzzle pieces and cards in separate page protector has also really helped to keep them organized and not all over the kitchen. This workbook is sort of a mini workbox system. The boys can do all of the worksheets and then move from one activity to another, hopefully getting the first one put away before getting the next out. We probably will need to get a second book for next month though because Andrew wasn't as thrilled with the small worksheets I laminated for him. If his brother had small cards it was fine, but if Aaron has a big workbook, Andrew surely wants one too.

      To fill the workbook, I used free printables from all over the internet. Home School Share has a free creation based dinosaur unit study and lapbook printables. 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals One has dinosaur tot pack with lots of free printables. 2 Teaching Mommies has a free preschool pack with lots of dinosaur themed activities for practicing basic preschool skills. Confessions of a Homeschooler has a Pre-K Letter D unit with lots more dinosaur printables. I found so many great resources that one of the hardest parts was choosing which pages to use from each.

      I even found some dinosaur themed beginning math activities. Mathwire had a simple dinosaur racing game to print which uses a die to learn about odd versus even numbers. File Folder Fun has a couple of matching dinosaur bones games to practice simple addition and subtraction. Learning Page also has dinosaur worksheets, including a few simple math ones.

      We have a few other dinosaur books including one with a dinosaur for each letter of the alphabet that the boys like a lot. And I found a few new silly storybooks about dinosaurs free online. Tyrone the Double Dirty Rotten Cheater, Tyrone and the Swamp Gang, Dinosaurs I Have Known, and I Am Tyrannosaurus are a few that are very fictitious but kind of funny. Again not everything on dinosaurs is written from a completely creation perspective, so parents may need to edit and explain the truth carefully to avoid confusion.

      The boys enjoyed coloring a T-rex and a dinosaur pop up card from Paper Toys. If we get time, I'd love to try to make some more of these dinosaur crafts. The boys boys love to glue things. And if I can find something to represent dinosaur bones, maybe we can have an archeological dig. Combining dirt and dinosaurs, the boys would love that!

      We'll see what we do this month and save the rest for another time.

      Wednesday, July 20, 2011

      Studying America

      The boys are enjoying the extra planned activities in our day. Actually, they have been enjoying them so much that we have already finished most of the activities that aren't reusable and reused the reusable ones a lot more than I thought we would. I didn't want try too much for this first unit study, but clearly next month I should add more.

      The boys have enjoyed doing more worksheets. Aaron has suddenly become really careful about coloring and tracing. This happened right around his third birthday, but I think it had more to do with him observing me actually color Thomas the Tank Engine correctly, than simply turning three. Andrew loves to color, so he scribbles happily along beside.

      I was pretty happy with the collection of American themed activities I chose, as they covered a little bit of everything. Preschool basics like tracing, counting, coloring, sorting, graphing, as well as facts about American history. We did do one quick craft I made up where we glued stars and stripes that I had cut out of wrapping paper to make our own flags.

      Probably everyone's favorite thing was the special Fourth of July food. The hamburgers, watermelon, apple pie, frozen yogurt, and sparkler cookies were all a big hit.

      We are still continuing our American facts calendar and singing songs about America. Aaron has learned quite a few facts and songs this month, and Andrew likes to chime in too. It is really neat to hear Aaron requesting to sing The Star Spangled Banner, presidents song, state song, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and America the "Beauty" (as he calls it). Don't let him convince you though that it was Thomas Andrew Jefferson that wrote the Declaration of Independence though, as Thomas Jefferson really has no middle name. Aaron just throws that in when he is feeling silly. I love that he is learning so much but is still a funny three-year-old.

      I'm looking forward to continuing with this theme slowly for the rest of July and starting to plan our next unit study for August: D is for Dinosaurs. Although whenever Aaron sees me starting to work on it, he wants to do everything right now.

      Saturday, July 2, 2011

      Our First Unit Study: America the Beautiful

      With the boys begging for more school activities, I decided to incorporate some simple unit studies into our days. Aaron definitely needs a challenge, and Andrew is happy to be a part of any activity we can include him in. Eventually, I want our boys to have a good understanding of both America's and China's history and geography, as well as the states of Illinois and Texas. I thought that celebrating the 4th of July all month long would be a great first unit study. We're keeping it simple and doing the activities as a sort of birthday party for America. Aaron is getting really excited about celebrating America's birthday, and Andrew loves our patriotic decorations.

      I found so many awesome resources online that I thought I would share them in case anyone else wants to learn more about America this month, or anytime of the year.

      The blog 1+1+1=1 has an awesome calendar you can print that teaches history facts. You can also print out activity sheets that accompany the calendar to reinforce the facts in fun ways.

      2 Teaching Mommies provides a free printable 4th of July activity pack. These preschool worksheets and activities teach basic skills using fun patriotic graphics.

      Homeschooling in Heels has a really cool lapbook pack available to download and print for free. I think we are going to have to wait a year or two for this one, but it still looks well done.

      Currclick has a free ebook about why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.

      Kidzone has free coloring sheets focusing on state history and geography.

      DTLK has a lot of 4th of July activity sheets and games for kids.

      Apple 4 the Teacher also has a ton of coloring sheets and other activities focusing Independence Day and American history.

      Family Fun has some neat craft ideas. Including printouts for a patriotic paper airplane and patriotic pinwheel that look fun.

      We have also been trying to learn more songs together as a family, and I think we will try to learn some patriotic songs this month. And perhaps we will work on the pledge of allegiance with Aaron as well.

      There are so many awesome resources out there to pick and choose from. It is great to be able to pull together activities that are right for each child's level and tailor what you want to focus on. I pulled bits and pieces from a lot of these resources. I may add more if time allows, and the boys are still interested. We'll see what we all end up using this year, and can always save things they aren't ready for yet for another year.

      So far we have just done a few days of the calendar cards and some of the activities from 2 Teaching Mommies. Aaron has enjoyed them a lot and asked to do more. I plan on making traditional American food for tomorrow's official birthday party, and we may try to make other special treats and/or crafts throughout the month. I want to make this learning experience lots of fun for our little guys.


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