Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hopping Around Like Grasshoppers

This week we studied grasshoppers. Honestly, I wasn't all that excited about this topic. I can't say we have ever seen a grasshopper near our house. But, then learning it not just about what we see all the time so I decided that we would stick with the grasshopper theme. I think we all learned something new this week! Here is a glimpse at our week! 

Here is where we start each school day. We begin with the calendar and weather. We have an ongoing pattern that we work on each day ( I switch it up every week or two), we practice our weekly site word, keep track of the days we have school using straws, and have our music and story time here too. 

Ava likes to look at books as she falls asleep. She came down in the morning with this great big insect book. She was super excited to tell me she had something to show the class. (Which made me laugh because the "class" consists of just us.) But I went with it and let her have her show and tell moment to open up our grasshopper theme. We read several other grasshopper related stories throughout the week (both fiction and non fiction). 

We explored how grasshoppers move through music and movement. They loved doing this! 

One of this weeks centers for Dominic was sorting bugs by color (the bug collection included grasshoppers). 

Ava used the same bugs to complete different types of patterns. 
Here is a pattern she created all by herself without any help. I was excited to see how complex the pattern was. Last year her own patterns would have been simple AB patterns. Amazing what a year will do!

Okay this is not grasshopper related, but its something I told myself I wouldn't stress about this year. Last year I would have stressed to create a number review activity to fit out theme. This year I am content with not recreating the wheel. The Melissa and Doug number puzzle accomplishes the same thing! 

I kept the same sensory table open this week. Something new coming for next week! 

This weeks sight word was can. Here is one of her sight word works. She used gems to build the letters in the word.

Dominic wanted to give this work a try too!
Ava practiced her sight word in her journal as well. She needed to illustrate a picture of a grasshopper and write what grasshoppers can do. She wrote, "Grasshoppers can jump." 

She reviewed all the sight words so far by using dry erase markers to copy the words. Using these markers is something she loves to do. 

Ava created an "I Can" book by stamping the word can on each page to complete a sentence. For example, the first page read, " I ________ run." Ava filled in the blank by stamping the word can. The other two had fun with the letter stamps while she worked on this activity. 

Again, not grasshopper related. One of the art activities this week was the option to paint at the easel. Sometime it is nice not to have a specific project for her to create and let her have all the artistic license.

On the reading front, Ava is moving right along in our reading program and starting to pick up books on her own and sound out words. It is so much fun to see her so excited about it. She loves to read to anyone who will listen to her! 
Next week we will explore leaves! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Last week, I briefly mentioned that this year I am using the curriculum Growing Up Wild as my guide and inspiration. Click here to check out the website Growing Up Wild. We are three weeks in and I am loving it. It is simple and packed full of ideas that are right up my kids' alley! I love that even though we live in the city, I can still make this nature based program work for us. It is also very easy to stretch it across the curriculum. I am able to make one lesson last for 3 days. There are 27 lessons.. so there is our year! In addition to this resource, we are using the reading program Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Spectrum Math for Kindergarten for Ava. We work on reading about 20 minutes a day and cover one math concept from Spectrum a day. We will start the letter of the week with Dominic in the spring. I want to wait until he turns three. For now he is participating as his interest and attention allows.

This week we dove into the world of spiders. Take a look at what was on the agenda for this week! 

We brought our science journals outside and went for a spider web hunt. Ava and Dominic had to draw pictures of all the places they found spider webs. We also searched the basement. Sorry Auntie  Carrie, we found a few, but we hope that doesn't scare you from visiting us again soon! We will make sure to clean the ceiling before you come! 

Here they are observing a spider that was in the web on their play structure.

We have music time each day. The curriculum provides great theme related songs to tunes we know! These instruments only come out during school time. This way they are not sick of the instruments before we use them! 

Here Dominic is practicing his sewing skills and making a spider  web.

We made sure to attach spiders to their completed webs! 

In the sensory table this week, there is rice along with spiders and other creepy crawlies of course! 
One of Ava's sight word work this week was to build the sight word "the" with play dough.  
We made marble painting spider webs. Even Lilly is participating in some of the activities this year! Last year she was just learning to walk!   
Here is Ava's finished marble painting spider web. 

We reviewed the sight words I, see, and the by creating an I See book. Ava dictated what she saw and illustrated it. She was so excited to be able to read it to Daddy all by herself! 

Dominic really wanted to help decorate for Halloween. And he wanted to to be scary! So, we made large spiders. While making the spiders we were able to discuss how many body parts a spider has, what the body parts are called, and how many legs spiders have. The three big kids enjoyed this project! 

This year Ava is so much more independent. She can do her own cutting and even help get materials ready! 

The internet offered us some great resources! We watched close up videos of a spider spinning a web, a spider catching a bee in the web, and a jumping spider (who does not spin a web) catching its prey. 

Ava and I created a web to hang her spider from. On the web, we recorded all the information from the "what we learned" portion of our spider KWL chart. 

Dominic's spider

Lilly's spider

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to School!

It has been forever, but I am back to blogging! There have been many changes and lots of transitions in our family. First, we found out that we are expecting a new little one at the end of January! Not long after we found out that our youngest daughter's 6 month old brother was also entering the foster care system. Though our lives are already busy with little ones and there is one on the way, we felt that opening our home to this little guy was what we needed to do. It has been challenging and we have busier than I feel we have ever been. However, I strongly feel that the right choice is not always the easy one.  He is a beautiful boy with a contagious smile! Now we are a family of six with 4 little ones ages four and under. People often ask us how we do it. Well, we don't do it alone! Kyle and I work as a team, we are strict about schedules, have awesome family and neighbor support. And, as I write, there is a wonderful couple from church who come every Tuesday for three hours to play with the kids so I can catch up on house work and breath!

We have started back to home schooling! This year Ava is in her second year of preschool. I cherish our home school days. It is time I feel I can leave behind the stress of the dozens of medical appointments we are constantly going to for our new baby boy, forget about the dishes piling up, or the loads of laundry that need to be done. Home school time is our time to be together!

This year, with the recommendation from a friend, I bought the Growing Up Wild curriculum. It guides our week and is much less stressful than creating all the ideas from scratch or having to scour the web for ideas. It is nature based and so far a hit! We are having school three days a week. Dominic and Lilly participate as their attention span allows. I'll start more of a formal school time with Dominic after he turns 3 in December. I will go more into detail about the different resources we are using this year next time. For now, here are a few pictures from the start of our school year!

I am trying to sit with Dominic for one one-on-one activity a day during our school time. Here he is sorting colored fruit. 

Each day, Ava has about 20 minutes she must chose an independent center choices. I select a few choices ahead of tine and she is able to pick from there. This is the time I am able to sit with Dominic. Here she is putting the correct number of bugs into the right bug jar. 

The curriculum we are using has some great science experiments. This week we are focusing on ants. Here Ava is observing which food the ants are most interested in. I predicted they would be all over the jelly. Ava thought the bread. The bread was with winner! Ava needed to record her findings in her science journal. 

Prior to starting new topics we will do KWL charts and revisit them throughout the week. Here is the start of our ant chart! 

Ava took a survey that asked people if they preferred either a fish, ladybug, or a cat. She had to call family members and even ask some neighbors. We graphed the results.  

The activity bags that a friend and I created last year are perfect for independent work for Dominic this year! 

This week in the sensory table is home made moon sand. I included toys for digging and scooping along with plastic animals and bugs. 

Ava and Dominic working on some seat work.