Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Fun!

As a teacher, I always loved taking those last few days before the holidays to have some holiday fun! This year my kiddos are at a fun age to start some of my favorite holiday activities!

On Monday we focused on the candy cane and the symbolism behind it. Though the lights, Christmas carols,  and the magic of Santa are all fun, I don't want to my family to lose sight of why we are really celebrating Christmas. I love the symbolism behind the candy cane. 

I found this cute explanation behind the meaning of a candy cane at
We chose to fill in our candy cane using pieces of tissue paper.  

My little buddy is really getting into the projects! 

Ava's candy cane!

Dominic's candy cane! 

We didn't start a new letter this week, but reviewed what we have been learning and looked ahead at what is to come. 

Ava made candy cane ornaments. It was a great activity for working on patterning and strengthening fine motor skills. 
On Tuesday we pulled out one of my favorite stories, Jan Brett's The Gingerbread Baby. We had some fun with decorating gingerbread babies, playing a gingerbread number game, and making salt dough ornaments

Ava's gingerbread baby.

Dominic's gingerbread baby. 

I have seen versions of this game all over Pinterest and thought that we would give it a try! Ava. Enjoyed it so much that we decided to play it at our Polar Express party too. I printed out the outline of a gingerbread man. I wrote the 3 sets of the numbers 1-6 in the gingerbread. Ava and her friend took turns rolling a dice, identifying the number on the dice, finding the number on their paper, and stamping it out using dot markers. We kept playing until all the numbers were found! It was great practice rolling the dice and learning how to read the dice. This will help when we play other games involving dice. 

The salt dough ornaments were fun and easy! We made ours using 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 3/4 cup water. After mixing until it formed into a ball, I rolled it out and the kids tried out all the Christmas cookie cutters. I baked them at 200 degrees for about 45 minutes. I still don't feel like they dried as well as they should, but we'll see! The kids also had fun painting them once they had cooled. 
On Wednesday we hosted a Polar Express Party! If you were to come to my house between 9:30 and noon you would have found a hopping house of 8 kids between the ages of 4 and 9 months! The kids were so good and it was fun to see them so excited! 

Our versatile baby coral became the Polar Express train. Once all the guests arrived (dressed in jammies of course!) We boarded the train to read the one of my very favorite Christmas books, The Polar Express.

We spread out all the kid's sleeping bags in the train and made sure our Christmas books were there too! But, there was no time for reading once the party started! This is Dominic patiently waiting for our guests to arrive. 

We played the dice number game using a train print out. (All the kids had their own personalized mugs for the party.)

The sensory activity for the day was snow! Not real snow, unfortunately. I did this last winter and it was a hit. I can't remember where I came across it, but what you do is remove the inside of (clean) diapers and add water. The diaper material absorbs the water leaving it feeling somewhat like snow! I added ice cubes to make it feel cold like snow. The kid played in the "snow" with the Fisher Price Little People. 

I had some Christmas and train related choices for the kids to play with after the game, train craft, and sensory activity. This one was a Christmas tree math activity. Each tree had a number on the trunk and needed to be decorated with that many ornaments (which were small craft gems).  It didn't really work out as I had planned. Ava decorated the two smallest numbers she could find and decided she was done. Dominic came through to "try" the activity and decided to dump the entire container of these small gems on the floor. Oh well, we'll put this activity away for another day! Some of our friends had fun playing at the train table and making the train ABC puzzle.

The party ended with some Polar Express pizza! My friend precooked pizza dough, and using a cookie cutter cut train shapes out of the dough. It's hard to tell from the picture, but you get the idea!

We are fully excited for the holidays and to celebrate Jesus' birthday with our family! Wishing all a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year! ~Amanda~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lions and Lights

Lions and lights were the talk of preschool this week. It was an exciting letter to talk about because we know lots of family and friends whose name starts with the letter L! We had two days of home preschool this week since Ava attended the Home School Monday program at the museum. 

Here is a look at what we accomplished. 

On Tuesday we talked about Lions. We read Face to Face with Lions by: Beverly and Dereck Joubert and Nobody Laughs at a Lion by: Paul Bright. During our circle time we also discussed some basic facts about lions (Where they live, what they eat, how they live in prides) and even got to hear a lion roar and see a lion in action at National Geographic Kids. On Wednesday we talked all about lights. The kids are LOVING all the Christmas lights this year, so they had fun sharing all the places we see lights. We also sang This Little Light of Mine.

During art time, we made lion faces. I got the idea from the blog Teach Preschool  , except I chose to have the kids use paper strips to make the mane instead of colored pasta. Here is Ava's final product! 

Dominic LOVES to use the glue now! He needs close supervision or the above happens. This would be when the doorbell rang. Supervision went from me sitting next to him to 2 minutes of free reign with the glue bottle! 

Ava practicing her letter Ls

I think it is safe to say Ava has mastered identifying numbers 0-7, but 8, 9, and 10 continue to confuse her a little. So, this week we focused only on 8 and 9. I think she is getting the hang of it! 

We had some fun with the counting bears. first she sorted them by color, and then we worked on creating AB an d ABC patterns. She is getting really good at patterning! 

She wanted to count them before we picked them up. She was so excited that we counted to 50! 

We used sequencing cards to put an event in order from start to finish. The first event we did was building a snowman and the second was making chocolate milk. 

Dominic joined in on this activity too! 

On Wednesday we decorated letter Ls with Christmas lights. This idea came from
Little Family Fun

Ava worked on the next page of her ongoing alphabet book. 

I made Ava two pattern strips to practice patterning using Christmas light bulb cutouts. We did some together, and then I let her create her own. She glued her own down to the paper. This idea also came from Little Family Fun

Our Wed. practice with 8 and 9

Next week we will be having some Christmas themed fun! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Holidays are Coming

With the holidays fast approaching, I am feeling the final count down crunch like many! Last week I totally skipped out on blogging, but it wasn't an accident. In all the hustle and bustle of house projects, taking care of kids, planning preschool, and keeping up with the day to day tasks (how three little bodies can produce so much laundry, I will never know!), I was looking for one place to cut back. Blogging it was!  We still went on with our preschool plans. (We studied the letter K!) I just chose to leave the camera behind and focus on our lessons. It was a good change of pace! December just gets so crazy, and I will be the first to admit that I get overwhelmed by the ever growing to do list that needs to be checked off before December 25th!

Here are a couple of blogs that I have enjoyed reading over the last couple of weeks. These blogs talk about simplifying and keeping to the true meaning of Christmas. Sounds good to me!

Catholic Icing

Not Just Cute

Unfortunately, my kiddos aren't lucky to have the camera put away for two weeks in a row. I have it back out and I am trying to capture our letter L week happenings! But, I am sure I will have to look for some other way to simplify the week. Wonder how long we could go without doing laundry? : )

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jumping Jacks for J!

This week was one of those neat times when I can look back and start seeing results of our school time. Ava has been super into her letters and is really interested in putting her letters together to make words. And, since we are moving right along in the alphabet, we are able to play more alphabet games. She is more willing to try and (most of the time) is really excited about her "school work".  This week we worked on the letter J. In the math department we have been working on patterning, sequencing, one to one corresponding, and really trying to master numeral recognition.  
J is for Jack and Jill
Story and Song: Jack and Jill
To review our letters (and look ahead to the coming letters) our monster friend visited for a game . The lower case letters were spread out face up on the floor. The capital letters were in a pile face down. Ava had to pick a capital letter, find its lower case letter and feed the pair to the monster. I got this cool game idea from Little Family Fun

Our Jack and Jill art activity was a simple coloring sheet of the nursery rhyme. But, before coloring, Ava had to find and highlight all the letter Js in the rhyme. 

 Ava made the letter J mini book from  

Ava was excited that Daddy had the day off and could do some school work with her! Here she is working on her counting wheel. 
J is for Jungle!
Books: Eyewitness Books- The Jungle and The Loudest Roar By: Thomas Taylor
Our mornings had to include some J is for jumping jacks!

Itsy Bitsy Learners ( had great jungle themed printables. Here Ava is working on matching upper and lower case letters. 

Also, from Itsy Bitsy Learners, Ava had to count the jungle animals and place the correct number on each card. 

Our sensory activity this week was rice with jungle animals.

For our jungle art project, Ava had to trace the letter J using our dot paints. She then colored, cut, and glued animals that would be found in the jungle. 
J is for Jelly Beans!
Books: Jelly Beans for Sale By: Bruce McMillan and 
The Jellybeans and the Big Art Adventure By: Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans
Songs: 5 Little Jellybeans (counting rhyme)
The jelly bean project was a hit for the obvious reason that jelly beans are yummy! But, they each got a few before the project to eat and surprising didn't eat any during the project! Dominic practiced gluing jelly beans. 

Ava filled in the outline of the capital and lowercase J with her jelly beans. 
This week Ava also worked her handwriting activities, focused on learning about the number 8, and practiced making puzzles.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Let's Learn About the Letter I!

We are back to school after a week of a wonderful visit from Mimi and Papa!  I think I have come to a new realization. I am not sure there is such thing as just a normal week. Weeks that don't seem normal are become the norm! Or I should just say that every week presents its own challenges and surprises!  This week everyone took their turn being sick and we had a surprise home visit from our foster care agency in the middle of it! Yet, we still managed to learn all about I and have some fun doing it. Here is a glimpse at our week!

Monday: I is for Ice Cream
Books: Wemberly's Ice-Cream Star By: Kevin Henkes
How Did That Get to My Table? Ice Cream By: Pam Posenberg
(I have introduced Ava to the terms fiction and non fiction. I now try to have one of each on a topic. We discuss which type of book it is and why it would be classified as that.)
Song: I Like Ice Cream -Jean Warren- 

Part of the ice cream rhyme we recited involved knocking all the scoops of ice cream on the floor. This was Dominic's favorite part. 

For the art activity, Ava had to assemble scoops of ice cream on a cone in order from 0-5. She added some sequence to it for some added sparkle!

During math time, Ava, pretended she worked at an ice cream shop. I gave her four cones to work on at a time. Each cone had a number on it. She had to put the correct number of scoops on each cone. We used the magnetic board for this activity.

One of the language arts activities (not ice cream related) came from . Ava was given a set of picture cards and a mat containing pictures that rhymed with the pictures on the cards. She completed three mats. I recommend checking out the prekinders website. She has so many great printable activities! 
Since we have been on break for the last week, we introduced our November calendar pattern this week. This month we will work on completing and AABB pattern. This has become one of Ava's favorite circle time activities. She always wants Dominic to put up the daily weather so she can work on the pattern!

The sensory activity actually involved preparing for a science experiment planned for Tuesday.The kids were given ice cube trays, measuring spoons, and measuring cups. Using the cups and spoons they practiced scooping and pouring water into the ice cube trays. When they were finished exploring the water, I froze the water in the ice cube trays. (I added food coloring to each cube before putting them in the freezer. See Tuesday to see how we used the ice! 
I didn't get pictures of it, but Ava also worked on letter I handwriting practice.

Tuesday: I is for Ice! 
Books: Casy and Derek on the Ice By: Marty Serderman
Cat on the Ice By: Susan Schade and Jon Buller
(I didn't come across an non fiction stories about ice at our library  but these stories were a good reminder that ice can be used to skate on since this is something we have not done yet!)

Songs: I Love Ice Jean Warren 
(Jean Warren has a great website at It's my go to place for theme related rhymes and songs!)

The art project was a hit! The kids were given paint pops (just washable paint and water frozen in Popsicle molds) and large white paper. They painted with the ice pops. This idea came from 

It was cool to see how the paint changed as the ice began to melt. 

Ava discovered she could use the paint that was melting in the bowl that held the ice pops and drip it all over her paper. 
The finished results of ice painting. I thought they came out pretty neat! 

Our science experiment used the colored ice cubes we made during our sensory activity the day before. We looked at the molds and talked about how the water changed and why it changed. The kids described how it felt and talked about what shape the ice would be in when we took them out of the molds. (I remembered to cover their clothes, but forgot how food coloring stains hands until after they all touched the ice! Luckily we have plastic gloves on hand and the kids didn't seem to mind that they had red fingers!)

The purpose of our experiment was to observe what happens to ice when it is not kept frozen.. We also used the opportunity to explore colors and how colors changed when mixed. Here Dominic is putting blue and orange ice cubes in a bag. We also made up bags of blue and red ice and red and yellow ice.

Here are our bags filled with colored ice. We labeled each bag with the color of the ice. We then hung them on a door where we could observe the changes throughout the day. This activity was inspired by a blog I read and I can't seem to find it anywhere! When I come across it again, I will be sure to post so I give credit where credit is due!

Today our sensory activity was (naturally) ice! I am always amazed at how much entertainment ice, bowls, spoons, and ice cream scoops provide!

Scooping provides great fine motor coordination practice. 

Wednesday: I is for Instruments!
Book: Musical Instruments By: Ruth Thomson
Songs: We took out our instruments and played along to songs the kids wanted to sing!

Okay, so Wednesday was slim in school content. One by one we each took our turn having a sick day. Wednesday day turned into an overlapping day for a few of us! It was also the day we had a surprise home visit for Lillly. These happen periodically. When these happen we are forced to drop everything to visit with the social worker. The beauty of home school is we do what we can and can work on the rest when we are ready!

We started our morning by reading a nonfiction book about how to make instruments. We learned about many different types of instruments. We brought out our box of instruments and used them to play and sing. Then I turned it into a math game to practice recognizing numbers and counting. I showed Ava number flash cards. She had to tell what number was on the card and then together we all drummed or shook our instruments that many times. 
During art time, we used recycled cans to make our own drums. 

After an interrupted school day and a little remaining energy left in the evening, I brought out the number beads. Ava had fun making number necklaces. I tried to pick a couple numbers and ask her if she could make me a necklace using only the numbers I chose (so she would have to use her number recognition skills!). But, she said that she had her own way of making necklaces. Considering the day we had and that she was fully engaged in doing it her own way, I was perfectly content letting her use the materials as she wanted! 

Next week we have Home School Monday class at the Cincinnati Museum and will spend Tuesday and Wednesday learning about Thanksgiving. We sure have a lot to be thankful for!