Saturday, November 11, 2017

Make and Play: Taking Learning Home

I am so impressed with the math skills my 3 year old is learning thanks to the help of Mother Goose Time.  Last year, when Sweet Pea was 2, we usually skipped out on the Make and Play crafts that were in our unit kit.  This year though, we are not skipping them!
Here's why:

  1. The Make and Play's can be great games to take home and reinforce math! 

Last week, Sweet Pea decorated all 12 mushroom caps, and I hot glued them to cut pieces of thick straw.  We then stuck all 12 mushrooms in play dough and drew cards numbered 1-10 to subtract that many mushrooms from our patch, each time asking,
"How many are left in the patch?

You could easily turn this into an addition game by starting with an empty patch of play dough, drawing a card (ie. 3), placing that many mushrooms, drawing another card (ie. 5), and placing that many mushrooms.  Then have your little one count and see that 3+5=8.

Here's a little video of this in action:

What a fun game to play at home with the family!

2.  The Make and Play's become puppets to use in other lessons.

Our first lesson in our Rainforest unit was on Jaguars.  During our Make and Play, Sweet Pea turned the letter J into a Jaguar. which you can see below.  When she finished, I just hung it up in her playroom, but it became a puppet in our monkey lesson 5 days later...


In our monkey lesson, I sang a rhyme provided by MGT and the Jaguar would scare Monkeys off the vine or tree.  Sweet Pea loved this game and was really into using her Jaguar to scare the Monkeys.  

Here's a little clip of it in action:

3. Make and Play's can become toys to help explain concepts learned during the day.

If you missed our Leafcutter Ant day, be sure to read about it here.
On that day, we made a Make and Play Leafcutter Ant from an egg carton.  The paint was still wet, so the other day, Sweet Pea finished creating her ant.  She played with it throughout the morning making it carry leaves to build a nest.  Explaining leafcutter ants is a tough concept for preschoolers, but by being able to use a toy, parents can easily see what little ones are trying to tell them.

Make and Play's are not just crafts, but great ways to take the learning home!
So before you trash that craft project that was brought home, be sure to ask and talk to your preschooler about it and see how you can use it at home.

When kids see that the home and school are incorporated, it becomes understood that learning happens all the time- everywhere.

Have fun Making and Playing!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Becoming a Leafcutter Ant

Everyday her imagination grows.
About 3 days a week, Sweet Pea has "Quiet Time" instead of nap time, which has helped her mind grow so much in terms of imagination and learning how to play by herself.
I think having this Quiet Time has helped her in being able to role play more often, which is exactly what happened this afternoon as we pretended to be Leafcutter Ants from our Rainforest unit with Mother Goose Time.

Since it's just me and my girl, we don't do the Community Challenge without some modification. 
Today, it was me, a 34 week pregnant momma, crawling on the floor with my girl pretending to be a Leafcutter Ant.  My back is now paying the price, but it was totally worth it for the memories. <3
I let her be the leader and we discussed how ants usually travel in a line.  We took some of our leaves we used from last month's weather unit and crawl to a designated spot to build our nest.  
When I took a much needed break, my girl continued to be a Leafcutter Ant and I caught her on video:

She absolutely LOVED pretending to be a Leafcutter Ant!
We started our day with this role playing game, and she ended her day playing this game with Daddy.

After taking a much needed break (for momma), she began our Make and Play craft: creating an ant.
However, we still are waiting for the paint to dry to finish making him. 
Then she can make her new toy role play moving leaves from one place to the other!  
She's going to love it!

While the paint dried, we made some fingerprint ants on the cover of her My Little Journal. 
The fingerprint is the body, then a circle is drawn for the head and 2 lines for the antenna.
I love her drawings.


Time to be Leafcutter ants again!
This time I encouraged her to bring her leaves to the lightbox to make her nest.
Once she finished that, we dug out some ants from our bin of manipulatives from Mother Goose Time and played with them and the leaves.

I recently became an Usborne consultant, and purchased the shine-a-light book, 
It is the absolute most PERFECT book to go along with this unit from Mother Goose Time.
We found the page about Leafcutter ants and counted them using our flashlight.

Time to be Leafcutter ants again!
Daddy came home and the first thing out of Sweet Pea's mouth was:
"Hi Daddy! Wanna play leafcutter ant game with me?"
How could he resist?

They built their nest underneath the coffee table.
She's the leader again, naturally.
I love when he gets to participate in the learning adventure with us.

Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more learning fun!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What's in the Experience God Pack? God is Just

Every month Sweet Pea and I learn another attribute about God with our Experience God pack from Mother Goose Time.  This month we are learning that 
as we study Genesis 2-3.

There are 2 packages we receive; a Teacher Guide and a Child Craft pack.
You only need one teacher guide pack, but you will need a child craft pack for each child. 

What's in the packages?
Let me show you.

Teacher Pack:

The Teacher Guide comes packed with 20 different lessons and activities to help preschoolers grasp the concept being taught about God... in this case, the fact that GOD IS JUST.  These activities can easily be adapted to being done once a day, or you could use it for your preschool Sunday School class! Along with the guide, comes a memory verse poster, in this case it is Revelation 15:3, and 4 posters with the Bible story on the back.  This makes it very easy to hold up the poster and tell the kids the Biblical story. 

In every corner of the 20 activities in the Teacher Guide, is an EXPLAIN section to help you stay focused on what the child really needs to understand through the lesson.  This helps me keep our discussion on track during the activity and battle the millions of thoughts and questions my preschooler might have.  

Child Craft and Family Activity Pack
The Child Craft and Family Activity Pack comes with 4 crafts the kids can make that summarize what was covered each week.  For example, during week 1, we will study mostly on how God created Adam and what He asked Adam to do and be in charge of (name the animals and tend to the Garden of Eden).  So our craft is a turtle planter with seeds to make our own little garden! 

Also included in the Child Craft and Family Pack, are Family Newsletters with games that can easily be taken home to retell what was learned during the week.  On the back of these newsletters, is a coloring sheet.  I just make a copy of the coloring sheet using my scanner/printer, so that I can cut the games out and Sweet Pea and I can play and have her coloring sheet as well.  The newsletter gives great discussion starters to help at home and directions on how to play with the game cards that are on the front seen below. 

These lessons, crafts, and game ideas are perfect for preschoolers and Sweet Pea has learned so much!  Last month was all about Esther and how GOD ASK ME TO BE BRAVE which was a great lesson for my cautious girl.

As a Children's Pastor who has looked into tons of different curriculum for kids, 
I have been so impressed with what Experience God has to offer! 
I love how we stay focused on one story for the entire month. (Genesis 2-3)
I love how we study one attribute of God for the whole month (JUST)
I love how my girl memorizes one verse for the month. (Rev 15:3)
And I am so thankful I can just open up the package and teach my girl about the God who loves and created her easily without digging out a million things. 

Be sure to check out Experience God through Mother Goose Time!

Happy Learning! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Emergent Writing: My Little Journal

"Emergent writing “means that children begin to understand that writing is a form of communication and their marks on paper convey a message” (Mayer, 2007, p. 35). Emergent writing progresses along a developmental continuum. Reading and writing develop simultaneously and are interrelated. The relationship between reading and writing is bidirectional (Mayer, 2007) such that reading facilitates writing abilities and learning how to write in turn improves reading ability. Thus, progress in one fuels development of the other. Research suggests that letter-writing instruction and letter-writing activities may improve emerging literacy skills (Puranik, Lonigan, & Kim, 2011). " -NEFEC

I have truly seen this statement lived out this month.

This October I have seen so much curiosity, wonder, and understanding come to my little 3 year old girl.  Not only has she been into reading words on her own, which you can read here, she has been enamoured with writing words!  With our My Little Journal from Mother Goose Time, I can help her practice her writing skills and foster that love of writing she is so eagerly ready to do.

The inside cover of the My Little Journal gives ideas and prompts on how to use the pages.
We don't do these on the suggested lesson days all the time, but we do them whenever Sweet Pea wants to write...which currently is all the time!  

The other day, she picked 3 fake leaves from a craft bag I had, and glued them to her page which was suggested on the inside cover.  However, Sweet Pea wanted to add words and trace the lines which you know is just perfectly fine with me. :) 

Earlier in the week, we worked on the letter "U" and made its short sound as she drew over the lines. 
I love how this little journal doesn't just have the letters and numbers, but also a continuous line to trace to help develop the movement for that particular letter or number. 
For example you can see the curved continuous line that mimics the shape of the "U" in the picture below.  With the letter "N," there is a continuous zig-zag line that can help with making the capital N shape.

I videoed her tracing her name the other day, and linked it below.  I love how much she concentrated on tracing the letters.  I know she is not tracing the letters in the the correct direction is which they are made, but for now, she is loving writing and I want to foster that love of writing.  So instead of correcting her at this early stage, I will continue to commend her progress and let her know I am proud of her.

That look of accomplishment!
And I get to keep it all stored right here in the little journal. <3

Happy Writing!

Monday, October 23, 2017

I Can Read: Interactive Sight Words

Yall, Sweet Pea is getting into words and language so much more lately!
It's like an explosion has happened, and I am so excited to be able to witness and take part in this journey with her.

We love our I Can Read books from Mother Goose Time
In the past, she has always considered this book "a game" as she uses the sight word arrows to point to the matching words in the book.  I, on the other hand, have always been confounded on how to exactly use the other word cutouts and pictures they send with the arrows... until the other week!

Why have I not been using them as interactive words for her?!
It hit me to make them into magnets that we can move around and eventually mix sight words.  
Here's what I did:

Get yourself some magnetic tape from the craft store... this roll was like $5.99 and it will last a while!
Punch out all the sight words and the picture cut outs that go along with the I Can Read book.

Cut yourself some magnets to size.  This tape is self adhesive with a sticker on one side. It is not the strongest magnet in the world, but it is PERFECT for this size paper.  Stick those bad boys on.

Ta-da! I know... why haven't I already been doing this?! 
**palm to the forehead**
These would be great anywhere, but I placed ours on the dry erase board in our 
Preschool Homeschool Classroom along with our story magnets.

Now we don't have to have our book with us to practice these words... she can practice them everyday, multiple times a day just looking and interacting with the words.
Here's a video of Sweet Pea using her interactive words for the first time.

She loves this and uses it all the time! 
Making learning and reading fun is what will help her become a lifelong learner, 
and I definitely want that for her.  So thankful for MGT!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Children's Artwork: What to Keep and How to Store It

As a former art teacher, and teacher pack-rat, I truly struggle with letting things go.  
Trying to decide what artwork my 3 year old creates is trash or treasure really has perplexed me.
However, my preschool curriculum from Mother Goose Time, has really helped me start narrowing down what is worth keeping and what is okay to toss. 

What do I keep?

The purpose behind keeping artwork (for me) is to remember what was learned while making it.  

-Was this the first time she wrote her name all on her own?  
-Was this the first time she demonstrated true cutting skills?  
-Is there something special I really want to remember about this piece?  
If so, it's a keeper.  If not, it needs to go.

MGT makes it even easier to document by giving me this handy little "My Creative Mind" sheet in lesson bags 1, 6, 11, and 16. All I have to do is cut the box and glue it to the back of Sweet Pea's work, and if I want to write something more specific about what she learned, then I do so on the back of her work.

For example, we did all the Creative Art experiences above, but the wind day and snowflake were total busts for us, so those ended up in the trash.  Below are the 3 decent pieces we ended up with; however, I am not keeping them all. Of all 3, I will definitely keep the rainbow sculpture because on that particular lesson, she created this with no help at all, and this was the first time she demonstrated awesome cutting skills with her scissors. 
(I might also keep her Cloud painting... I think it would be a beautiful addition to brother's nursery.)

How do I display the artwork?

It's so important for children to take pride in their artwork and talk about what they made and how they made it.  I display Sweet Pea's artwork for an entire month in her playroom.  Using a burlap string and clothespins I display her work.  When Daddy comes home, she can easily tell him what she made and how.  At the end of the month, I take down all the artwork she made.  I trash the things I never intended on keeping (see above section), frame the things I want displayed in the house long term, and I place all the rest in a binder for documentation (aka portfolio).

DISPLAY TIP: By adding a tape border when artwork is created, you make a great framed piece already.  Placing this artwork on top of a black mat inside a cheap Hobby Lobby frame transformed this 2 year olds watercolor into a conversation piece in our home.

How do I organize my child's binder/ portfolio?

First of all, get a BIG binder!  I bought a one inch binder last year and ended up transferring into a larger binder halfway through our year.  Also grab some sheet protectors- this way, you never have to punch holes in the artwork, all that glitter stays in the protector, and the sculptural pieces are easily stored.

Bag lesson 20 always has the "My Portfolio" page.  The front displays the month's topic, and the back lists some key skills that were learned.  I like to write what month we covered this unit and how old Sweet Pea was at the time.

I store her My Little Journal with the cover page, and then place all the keeper work in the sheet protectors.  I absolutely love that Self-Portrait she made!  She knew she had blue eyes, and made little circles, eyebrows, and that mouth!  LOL! cracks me up....

There you have it.
At the end of the year, I have a wonderful documentation of all the learning that took place.  I can see the growth from month to month, and my house is decorated (cheaply) by the little hands that matter most to me.

How do you document your kiddo's creations?


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pineywoods Fair 2017

It was Kids Fair Day this past Friday, and my cautious 3 year old rode some fair rides all by herself!  She didn't scream or yell or even look scared!  The look on her face was either shear determination to hold on or joyful smiles as she rode around.  So proud of her.

Our day started with learning about our first responders in our community.
Sweet Pea started her morning getting strapped to a stretcher and placed into an ambulance where the guys showed us different ways to take heart beats.

After the ambulance tour, kids were able to see different firetrucks, all the compartmnets on the truck, and time how long it took a fireman to put on his gear.  To pass the test to become a fireman, the men must put on all their gear including oxygen equipment in 1 minute 30 seconds!

After the fire trucks, it was time to tour the Sheriff's police car!  Hopefully this is the only time Sweet Pea will be in the back of a police vehicle. :)   The Sheriff also showed us some of his protective gear that he has to wear in certain situations.  All the responders were so nice and patient with all the kids!  Love our little community!

After the tour with the responders, it was time to ride some rides....for FREE!
This was such a great experience for all the littles.  They didnt have to wait in line, and they could ride a ride a billion times in true toddler fashion.
Sweet Pea's first ride was the motor cycles.  I was really worried she was going to scream and try to get off in the middle of the ride, but she was determined to hold on and ride that bike!  So proud.

Her absolute favorite was the jeeps I think.  Daddy and I might have to discuss getting her one of those electronic jeeps for Christmas...
Look at that face below! "Crazy drivers on the road..." hahaha!

Our day didnt end there either!  After riding the rides for awhile it was time to go to the petting zoo.
We went to the petting zoo back in July and it was a disaster.  Sweet Pea didnt want to touch one animal, so I was already in the mindset that she was going to bolt when I put her in the zoo.
I was so wrong!
She let the animals approach her and she pet just about every single animal in there!
There was a little goat that just wanted to smell her hand, a donkey who followed her around waiting for Sweet Pea to pet his face, and a Mama Llama that enjoyed her neck rub. 

What a wonderful day!  We were able to do this all before lunch, and Sweet Pea and I both took a great nap in the afternoon after this adventure.
I feel so blessed to live in a town where my little girl can have so many wonderful experiences.


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