Saturday, September 24, 2016

Getting a Handle on Emotions

This month has been an emotional month FOR SURE.  We have endured a flood of emotions this past month.  Sadness reigned as we went to a funeral for one of my best friends, my pastor, and co-worker, Ryan King and his sweet brother-in-law, one of the finest men God let grace this earth, Bryson Adkison.  That happened at the beginning of the month.  
However during that time, my family was given a beacon of hope and light in the form of a positive pregnancy test. This past week we went to the doctor, hoping to hear the heartbeat of the wonderful pregnancy we were graced with, only to find out that I have what's called a "molar pregnancy."  Basically my body thinks it's pregnant when there is no embryo. It's like the pregnancy started, but the chromosomes never were compatible, but my body never knew.  We lost the baby yesterday.
I know that this is a teaching blog mainly, but my faith is who I am, and it is so important for me to share that He is in control, He loves us more than we can imagine, and He is present even though we feel crushed from all sides.

1 Peter 1:6-7New Living Translation (NLT)

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
So teaching emotions this past month was perfect!  Sweet Pea has really been into looking and taking pictures and imitating the facial expressions she sees.  Here are the pictures she took today.

Her sad and mad face are the same. Makes sense because she cries when she's mad.
Being able to understand a person's emotions creates empathy and understanding, character traits I want to instill into my girl as much as possible.  It all starts with first being able to state what a feeling or emotion is, and Mother Goose Time had some great suggestions of activities for us to do.   
Talking about emotions with Daddy using our cube from Mother Goose Time.  It's amazing how she knew each one without us really telling her.  She's always been so observant.

Finding and pointing to the emotions Daddy asks her to find. 
"Who is happy?", "Can  you find the person who is mad?"
She really enjoyed this cube game and it was great that my husband could play with her too.
Afterwards, we read the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess that we checkout out from our local library, but here's a link to it on Amazon if you are interested.

It is a perfect read about emotions and how certain colors express certain feelings.
When we finished the story, I asked Sweet Pea if she would like to paint a person like the one in our book. She ran to her apron in the hallway...that's a "yes."
So I created the "Invitation to Create" suggested by Mother Goose Time, and we used finger paints.

Sweet Pea has been really into putting the paint on her hands and then stamping it onto the paper.  As much as I would like to get out the tempra paint, it's just not the best option for us right now.  I want her to have fun and experience painting how she likes it.  If that means getting messy and dripping it on the floor, and painting all over her clothes... then finger paints are perfect.
We will use tempra another time :)

I absolutely love this last picture.  She was dancing to our monthly CD, Dance 'n Beats, and painting at the same time.  Who doesn't love listening to music while they make art?!  They go hand in hand.
We placed the masterpiece outside to dry, and of course I forgot to snap a picture of the finished work of art.  I'll update this post hopefully tomorrow.

God's timing is perfect, and I am grateful He used such an emotional time for our family to teach her about emotions.  I am truly blessed by this girl of grace in our lives. 

Mother Goose Time is an amazing and organized way to do preschool with your kiddos. If you are looking for some more great ideas, be sure to check out the gathering place on 1+1+1=1

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Art: Process vs. Product?

I went to college to be an art teacher. In fact my degree is in Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting, and I graduated with an EC-12 Art Certification.  I was blessed to be able to teach high school Art I for 2 separate years out of my 8 years of public education (art positions are hard to find and keep with all the cuts yall). 
Please allow me to tell you something about my experience as a high school art teacher.

The struggle is real.  Many kids struggle to be creative and create their own products.

They feel like their artwork has to look like something on Pinterest or Google images in order to be successful.  Getting students to create just to create is truly a struggle. 

In teaching, I would show a process skill (like creating a pinch pot out of clay), then gave my students the task of creating any animal they wanted.  The only criteria was that it had to have a pinch pot for a body.  I supplied books, pictures of animals, and all sorts of tools to help them create their work of art.  However, so many students sat stooped.  Many got out their phones and looked up "pinch pot animals" in google images and found one they liked.
I had one student who found an image this way of a tiger, and that is what she used instead of creating her very own.  
She copied someone else's work. 
She did a great job, but it wasn't her own personal piece of art. 

This month, Mother Goose Time has incorporated some art stations called 

The Invitations come with a large picture (the owl picture above) and a smaller picture with an instruction guide on the back with guided questions.

It does NOT come with an example of what the product should look like.

To keep us focused on the PROCESS and not that our work looks like the picture.

So here is how it looked for my 25 month old little girl.  

First, we read the book Owl Babies from our local library.

                                Then, we watched the Read Aloud of the book on YouTube.
I asked my girl if she wanted to make some owls today.  Uh-huh. 
We used the Little Goose Guide, which suggested we place a stick on our paper.  We went outside and Sweet Pea picked out a stick that she liked from our yard. After asking her which way she wanted the paper to go, I hot glued the stick to the paper.

Next came the creation part.
Mother Goose Time supplied us with a small paper sack, cotton balls, and the black paper. 
(I added more cotton balls for my girl to use if she desired)
And Sweet Pea got after it.

She practiced using a glue stick.  Once she seemed bored with that, I asked if she would like to paint... always a yes to paint.  I used a clothespin and cotton ball to make a paintbrush and provided her with white tempera paint.  She did the rest.

After painting, she wanted the liquid glue, so we got that out, and she stuck on some more cotton balls.  Sweet Pea has been pretty obsessed with "eyes" and kept talking about the owl's eyes in the Invitation to Create picture.  I had some googly eyes in my stash of stuff and asked her if she would like to put on some eyes. 
Ummm...duh, mom.
We talked about how there were 3 owls in the story, and we counted 6 eyes.  Each owl had 2 eyes.
I gave her 6 eyes and we talked about how eyes come in pairs and a pair is two. 
She worked really hard on placing her eyes side by side. 

Look at that face!!! So excited about what she made <3

Instead of using the 2 eyes here, she glued one eye and one cotton ball and that is perfectly okay! 

Eyes placed in the black space instead of on the "owl body."  It made me think of the eyes creeping in the darkness when the owls were scared (you can really see that in the video).  This is something I would never had thought if she placed the eyes on the body she painted. 

My 25 month old's masterpiece.  
After it dried, I hung it on the wall during her nap. 
When she walked into her learning area and saw her artwork on the wall, she ran to it saying,
 "Wow! Wow, Momma!"

So educators, mommas, and anyone who is willing to make art with kids, let me encourage you:
what is best for kids and best for society is not what is easiest on us. 
 Education is messy...literally and figuratively.  It is not perfect or cookie cutter.  It can not be, because each child is different with special gifts, abilities, and interests. 
Let them be little.  Let them explore.  Let them create.  Let them learn.
Let them enjoy the process instead of be bogged down by "what it should look like."

Who knows...what they end up creating might just surprise you and be better than even a prescribed image. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mother Goose Time: Organizing Leftovers

I love that little school bus box, don't you?  It is jam packed with awesome goodness for me and my little girl to play, learn, and discover together. 
However, for a pack-rat like myself, I just can't bring myself to throw away so many wonderful things! Maybe it's because my husband doesn't want to invest in a color printer... I don't know... but the thought of throwing away some of the fabulously colorful items just makes my teacher brain scream, "No!!! I can use that again!"
Anyone else?

The facts:
I am a former teacher.
I am a crafter.
I am a mother of a toddler.
Anything can be used for learning.
I have absolutely no storage space for a box.
I am NOT throwing away this stuff! 

So with those facts laid out, the question becomes:
How am I going to store this stuff with limited space?

Organization happens best if you invest in the right tools from the beginning.
I know in the binder department this might seem a little steep at $9.99; however,


Please allow me to share the LOVE for this particular binder.

That front packet is ready to hold the Teacher Guide.
See that pocket on the left, friends?  Worth the price for that thing right there.

Look at what I packed in that bad boy! A CD, another teacher guide called "Little Goose" (perfect for Tots), and a bunch of laminated cut out characters from our monthly book (also provided by Mother Goose Time)

I placed the Circle Time cards on the rings, and used sheet protectors to store all the rest.  The very first sheet protector holds Sweet Pea's journal, the thematic web, and any other main items used either in Circle Time or for the month.
Sheet protectors are the way to make things last.
I know... $22.19 for sheet protectors!?!? but this is a pack of 200. I used 22 on this month of storage...I will get 9 months of storage out of this one box.
That comes out to $2.47 per month on storage.
And trust me... compared to Walmart and some other brands of protectors out there I have used,
these are so worth it.

Sorry for the sales pitch there friends, but seriously, I have wasted so much money buying something I didn't like, couldn't return, and then having to buy the better thing in the end.
I just don't want it to happen to you too.

Back to the organization...
Each day is stored in its own sheet protector and I can toss any other items in there with that day's materials if I need to.

You can see that I added the little cards stored in a snack size baggie that went with the Living/Non-living activity in the left hand protector. 

The last protector has the Celebration Kit in it.
Mother Goose Time also sends loads of little things that I reorganize into our regular supplies.  For instance: the foam die went into our math manipulatives; the red pompoms went into our collection of pompoms; the extra colored paper went in with all our construction paper, ect ect.

In the end, I was able to compress all that awesome goodness in the
School Bus Box into a 2 inch binder.
And whenever Sweet Pea starts asking about magnets, or mixing things, or how things change and grow, I can flip open the Science binder, grab my teacher guide, and do those wonderful little activities with her once again.

Oh, how I love to be organized!
(most of the time this is a wish, but sometimes, I do get it done)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Our Last Week in the Science Lab

This has been our last week in the Science Lab, and it was the perfect week for our Ecology activities. After 2 and a 1/2 weeks of rain, we finally had some sunshine so we could go outside and play!

Our Little Goose guide had us creating little creatures with grass for hair (super cute), but we went ahead and put our stuff in a jar and focused more on pouring.

Using a nylon stocking (provided by MGT), Sweet Pea was really able to see what could pass through and what could not.  Our dirt may have become a little waterlogged.  She loves to pour.

I loved watching her carefully observe the water going through the nylon. When we placed dirt on top of the nylon, she poured water on top of the dirt and still noticed that the water went through. 
She is a cautious and very observant little girl. 


After observing that, I dumped the dirt that was on top of the nylon into our container, and poured out some of the excess water.  I then opened the package of rye grass seeds that MGT provided in our kit for the day!  Sweet Pea poured all the seeds into our container and I set it in the sun after we were all done. 


Sweet Pea has been so interested in birds lately and talking about them flying in the sky. So we ended out Science Lab doing a perfect activity.... making a BIRD FEEDER for our garden!
MGT provided us with the seeds and even a pine cone! 
(not that we needed it out here in the pineywoods of east Texas)

Our cast of characters (she was playing with the pine cone when I snapped this pic) 

Sweet Pea isn't much into getting dirty, but she did enjoy rolling the pine cone and pressing it into the peanut butter.  

Adding the bird seed to the peanut butter covered pine cone. 

Her finished product hanging in the garden waiting for the birds to come on by.  There are some mockingbirds (our state bird) that live in the tree nearby so hopefully we can catch a glimpse of them chowing down. Either that or the squirrels!  
(I watched a mighty brave squirrel try multiple times to steal my tomatoes this summer!)

As a former Science teacher, I absolutely loved being able to do science activities with my girl.  I know she is only 2 and might not understand all that we are doing, but some of the key concepts were things I taught in 3rd and 4th grade!  Some of these are even elaborated on in 6th grade Science!
To already start establishing a foundation of understanding on these abstract concepts 
(like gravity, solutions and mixtures, ect),
makes me so happy as both a mother and a teacher.

The foundation of learning starts at home.
I am so grateful for Mother Goose Time to have done all the hard work of organizing monthly learning adventures, creating easy to go to lesson plans and materials,  and helping me set a firm foundation.

Next week we start our new monthly study on Me and My Family! It is bound to be a blast! 
Be sure to click on the link above and watch the video to see all that is available in a kit!  
It really does make life so much fun and simpler on me!