Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writing Her Name...All On Her Own!

 She's growing leaps and bounds yall.  
On Leg day during our Mother Goose Time unit on About My Body, 
Sweet Pea and I read the book Whose Knees are These? 
After reading, I asked her what she used her legs for, and recorded her responses in this short little video.

I love that she said cooking.  I know that her kitchen is right there, but we do cook a LOT together in the kitchen.  It's one of her favorite things to do.

However, this post is not about cooking- it's about how my 3 year old wrote her name for the very first time all on her own and totally out of the blue! 

Here's what brought it on...
After our discussion on legs, we made our Make and Play craft from Leg day, which was a pocket.
The main focus was on being able to lace the pocket.  I taped the end of the yarn to make a makeshift needle for Sweet Pea. 

I had to hold the pocket together and she did an amazing job at lacing through all the holes!
"Down and around....down and around..."

Her completed pocket below.
See that yellow marker there on the tray? 
I was about to write her name on her pocket in yellow marker, so she could then trace the letters with another marker.  When she saw me pick up the yellow marker, Sweet Pea hollered, "No Momma!  We need blue!" She is a stickler for how things should look, and since the example had the name Ben in blue, she felt she needed her name to blue as well and not yellow.
I first noticed this behavior (of making things look like the picture) using MGT last year and wrote about that experience here.

Sweet Pea's real name is Avaleigh.
I just refer to her as Sweet Pea on this blog.
She knew immediately without me telling her, that the first letter in her name is A, and as she drew the letter, she said "A".
I could not believe it! 
She had never done anything like this before! 
These are the moments why I became a stay at home mom.
I told her the next letter was "V" and she didn't need any help in drawing it either!

She needed help with the next letter, and since Avaleigh is a long name, I told her to just draw an "A".
I love how her "A's" are little triangle shapes with the bar cutting through.

And there it is.
Her completed pocket with her name on it.
Her name that she wrote all on her own.
For the very first time.

I am so grateful I was able to capture and see this moment for myself.

Happy Learning!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Math Made Easy with Mother Goose Time

I am loving the new set up of teacher materials for Mother Goose Time. Instead of placing the theme web on my fridge like I had been in the past, I am now putting the large Activity Calendar. 
This bad boy lets me see exactly what activities MGT is providing that day, including what skills they fall under such as math (the ones highlighted below).

Another thing I am loving is the Quick Reference of  the Developmental Continuum of Skills... 
I know... I know...**nerd alert** I am a total teacher nerd at heart.

Anyway.  MGT sent this awesome guide that is easy to read and goes through 8 domains. Each domain is then broken down into specific skills and then those skills are broken down into specific goals.  It makes it really easy to see where your child is at along the continuum and allows the teacher (aka mom in my case) to see the child's strengths and weaknesses. 

I have no idea where my girl is at verses kids her age.  She plays often with others at the park or playdates or in the church nursery, but as far as schooling is concerned, I have no idea where she should be or what we should be aiming towards. Having this booklet helps me with just that.  It allows me to see where she falls, and it guides me to provide her with multiple learning experiences.
As a mom, I feel equipped to teach her well.

I went through the math section and placed stars on the spots where I think Sweet Pea falls.  For the most part, she's in the Preschool range (Benchmark D), but there are opportunities to create more learning fun with the items she still ranks as Toddler (Benchmark C).   Looking at the column Benchmark E, allows me to see where the next step is on Sweet' Pea's learning journey.  
I know where we are headed.

So what does this look like in real life?

Well, on our first day of My Amazing Body unit, Sweet Pea needed to measure her height using blocks. I had her stand against the wall, used some painters tape to show her height, and let her use her Duplo blocks to create a tower to measure her height.  She was so careful when building this tower to make sure it didn't fall over.  I was so proud of her. 

26 blocks tall.
She's been all about her BeatBo too... he had to be in the picture.  
However, she decided after the picture that she wanted to see how many blocks tall he was; 
so she got to building and counting.

8 blocks tall.
This task alone covered 2 math skills.

15.2: Counts to determine quantity.
Sweet Pea falls into the Benchmark D--Counts up to 10 objects  

19.1: Estimates and Measures.
Sweet Pea is falls into Benchmark D here as well (uses non-standard measurement tools to estimate approximate size or volume; verifies estimation with help.);
 although she is showing signs of progressing into Benchmark E 
(estimates-not always logically-size and volume; measures and describes findings)

So what do I do now?
I give Sweet Pea more and more opportunities to build and estimate.
Let's measure this book.  What about another book?  Which book is bigger? 
Which book do you think will be more blocks high?  Why?

Let's measure this stick outside.  
Do you think this pinecone will be more blocks tall or less blocks tall?  Why?  
How many do you think it will be?  Let's build and find out!

Oh, I am already excited about taking these blocks outdoors and doing measurement in this most beautiful weather God has gifted us after last week's destruction with Harvey.

What are some of your favorite ways to do math with your little one?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Creating a Preschool Library at Home

Books, books, books!  I absolutely LOVE books.  
One of the main things I want to cultivate in Sweet Pea is a love of reading, and to do that, I started reading to her out of the womb.  However, now that she's 3, I am a thinking more about what exactly am I reading to her, which brought some big questions on my mind.

How do I find good books for her right now?   
How do I decide what books are worth spending money on?  
When visiting the library, how do I find books that are right for my kiddo? 

I am so thankful Mother Goose Time makes it so easy to find books that are just right for us and our unit study.  Over the past year, we have transitioned more from board books to regular story books with the help of MGT.

Here's how to add some great books to your home library!

This year we have 4 teacher guides each focusing on a main unit within a thematic unit.  For example, our Thematic Unit for this month is My Amazing Body with our first main unit being a focus on Body Parts. 


Inside the front pages of the colorful teacher guide is an overview of the objectives and what the 5 lessons entail, including Story Time books!  See the blue box below. 

Look at each Story Time column in your 4 teacher guides and make a list of the books.  There are usually 8-10 books listed.  Since MGT was making an emphasis on using these particular books, I wanted to make sure we added them to Sweet Pea's library collection at home.

You can definitely use Amazon to find these awesome books, but another site is called Thrift books where you can buy gently used books.  That's how I ordered 6 of the 8 books below and I spent less than $25! (that's a big hardback Eric Carle book by the way that I ordered!)
Here' a link to a 15% off coupon that is good for 14 days from 8/31/17.

MGT gives some great ideas on how to use the book besides just reading the story.
As a former public school Reading teacher, being able to predict and make inferences based on context clues is a huge deal!  Here MGT suggests to do just that with your preschooler with the 2nd bullet point below.  We went through tons of our books on the shelf, predicting what the characters might like to do based on this idea.

But adding to the at home library doesn't end there!
MGT also gives a great list of 20 suggested books that go with the theme.
I placed an orange star on the books that were listed above as a Story Time book.

This suggested book list is what I use to pick out our library books to check out for the month.

Before heading to the library, I spend about 30 mins- 1 hour looking through the library online catalog to see if my local library has these books.  
Most of the time they have some, but not all.  However I can find some great alternatives by looking up the keywords for that day's study topic.  
For instance, Day 18's topic is Sleep, but my library didn't have the book listed as a suggestion.  By using the catalog, I was able to look up "Sleeping" in our "Juvenile Easy Reader" section and found the book Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping, which we read last night, and we absolutely loved it!

Here's our library collection for the month.

Not to mention, MGT sends us a book to add to our home library collection each month! 
This month the book also came with a puzzle and magnets which just further emphasizes a love of reading through interacting with the story in new ways! 

Whew! Lots of ways to expand that home library and cultivate a love of reading in all children.
So thankful for Mother Goose Time making it easy for me, keeping me focused, and helping me find books perfect for my preschooler. 

Happy Reading! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Creating a Preschool Homeschool Space

Do you ever feel like your kid's stuff has just overtaken every room of the house?

Last year, I set up most of Sweet Pea's preschool items in our breakfast room next to the kitchen, which you can see here.  It worked great!
However, I had also turned our front formal family room into her playroom, which she hardly used unless to get a book.  I really hated the fact that she hardly played in there. Then she had stuff in the living room and I was going nuts with just stuff everywhere.
So on a Saturday, as my husband watched over our girl, I combined everything into one room- her playroom, thus creating a Preschool Homeschool space perfect for us.

Here's how I organized her space:

Reading Area:

Tepee: handmade by my friend Julie for Sweet Pea's 2nd birthday, adorned with paper flowers I    
            made for different baby showers.
Shelves: rain gutters from Lowe's attached to 2x4 mounted to studs in the wall.  My husband built 
              these last year.
Mirror: reflective play with blocks (see end of post for links)
Artwork: created by Sweet Pea

She absolutely loves hiding out in her teepee with her books. Sometimes when she needs a time-out, 
she'll go hide in here as well :) 

Display Wall:

Art Display: twine, pushpins, and mini clothespin hold Sweet Pea's work.
Map: provided by Mother Goose Time
Magnetic Dry Erase Board: Theme poster is sticky tacked to it.  Can't wait to use our story magnets
                on this board!
Trunk: I've had since college.  Building manipulatives in clear containers from Dollar Tree.  Above 
            the trunk, our Experience God posters for the month are displayed.

Bookshelf: from Walmart.  Houses counting manipulatives, stickers, puzzles, trays with activities set 
                   up on them, and a few books.  The puzzles and manipulatives come each month in our 
                   Mother Goose Time kit and I have combined them together here.

Window Wall:

Table: handmade by my husband.  It has a chalkboard painted top which is useful to draw on.  This 
           table gets a ton of use and is probably one of my most favorite things.  The chairs were 
           donated by by neighbor, a pediatrician, who was moving offices and couldn't use these chairs 
Measurement Board: handmade by my friend Julie for Sweet Pea's 1st birthday. Julie is the best!
Window: displays our Mother Goose Time Circle Time numbers, weather, shapes, and day of the 
                week cloud

Cabinet: Inside are our paints, Mother Goose Time box, and scrap paper.  On the middle shelf is a CD                player Sweet Pea can work that holds all our Dance and Beats music CD's that come with   
               our monthly curriculum.  On top of the cabinet is our book of the day/invitation to create 
               display, a Sterilite container holding letter cookie cutters, stamps, and scrap paper; a 
               magazine file holding all my teacher guides; and a smaller Sterilite container holding 
               manipulative and calendar supplies.  The front of the cabinet has our topic of the day, and on                the left side of the cabinet is our calendar and day of the week clouds.

Kitchen Play Area:

Kitchen: donated by one of my husband's co-workers whose kids outgrew. We surprised Sweet Pea
              with it for her 3rd birthday.
White cabinet: from my public school teaching days.  Turned on it's side, it becomes the perfect
                         height for Sweet Pea to cook on and houses her play food and things in the little
                         square areas.  A little lamp makes the perfect accessory that Sweet Pea can turn on
                         and off when she wants.

Well my friends, that's it.  
It took me all day long, but I am so pleased with the outcome.
Sweet Pea loves to spend time in here now which was one of my main goals when combining everything into this space.
And this school teacher at heart can not wait for the first day of our Preschool Homeschool!
If you are a homeschooling momma and tired of spending hours digging through Pinterest, take a minute to look at what Mother Goose Time has to offer!  It truly is a life (and time) saver!

Now to decide when to start the school year... before or after Labor Day?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Superhero Study: Speed

Superheroes can be known for a lot of things: strength, speed, invisibility, and so forth. 
Today with our Superhero Unit from Mother Goose Time we studied the quality of SPEED.
However, my girl is a cautious and quiet observer... she is definitely not known for her speed.

Our first activity was supposed to be about how fast the child could match the letters, 
but we accommodated it to Sweet Pea and her love of reading. 
Our manipulatives this month are upper case magnetic letters and magnet wands.
Sweet Pea worked on picking up one letter with the wand at a time and matching it to it's lowercase counterpart.  She did a great job at this and only was a little confused by d and b... naturally.
This activity triggered her mind to remember her Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! 
"Wait, mommy.  Wait!" 
She got up, ran to her bookshelf, and pulled out the book.
"Read Mommy."
I love those little moments; the ones where I can see all the little connections her brain is making.

Here's a little video I made of our activity in action.

Later that day, after Daddy came home, we talked about how some Superheroes are known for their speed.  Some wear special shoes to help them go fast.
In our Invitation to Create, we were supplied with some paper, a shoelace, and a colorful graphic of a variety of shoes in a circle formation.
Sweet Pea grabbed 2 of her favorite shoes and traced them on different colored papers.  She worked really hard on her cutting skills and trying to cut along her lines.  
Daddy ended up cutting one shoe out, but she did the other two with some help from him.
I love it when he gets to participate in her learning activities. 

As I watch her do some of these skills I wonder, would I even be allowing Sweet Pea to cut yet?
Honestly, probably not.

Mother Goose Time has really stretched me into providing learning opportunities for her I know I probably wouldn't be doing yet otherwise.  So grateful for this curriculum, seeing my girl grow, and being pushed out of my comfort zone.

Happy Learning! 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mother Goose Time: Welcome Kit

 It came! It finally came!
Sweet Pea and I were so excited to see our new Mother Goose Time box on our doorstep Monday.  
Lately, each time she sees it, she decides she has to ride the bus, aka sit on the box.
She wouldn't give me a smile as she was too distracted by the dog in our yard. 

Today I only want to discuss the Welcome Getting Started Kit that comes with your first order or the order in September to kick off a new school year.
When we started MGT last year, Sweet Pea had just turned 2, and I wasn't very good about being diligent at doing our stuff everyday.  She turned 3 at the end of July, and with her vocabulary expanding and imagination beginning to come out more, I really do think we can have some fun and make time for our daily learning adventures.

What's in the Welcome Kit?

Developmental Continuum of Skills

Before September creeps in, I want to really take a good look at the developmental continuum of skills MGT provides... especially the Quick Reference Guide!
This will help me challenge Sweet Pea in areas we have never explored together all the while keeping me in check at what she is actually supposed to be doing at her young age.  
I definitely do NOT want her to feel like she isn't meeting my standards.  
Here's a quick video I made about the Developmental Continuum of Skills:

Pocket Cube Card Holder and Basic Cards

This is somewhat new this year! We had the cube last year and used it every month with different games both math and literacy.  But the added bonus this year are some basic cards that will be used constantly, like number cards 0-20, basic colors, and shapes.  

Circle Time Display Materials

Inside the Welcome booklet, there's this handy dandy picture of what you can make your Circle Time board look like.  I tried a board last year, and you can read about that disaster here.
Eventually, everything fell off and I ended up mounting most of the board to our windows in our breakfast room turned play space. It worked great after that! 
Currently, I have moved all our MGT to her playroom and did a complete overhaul this past weekend which I will post about later. However, I did include a pic of our finished Circle Time "board" at the end of this post. 

Weather Cards, Mother Goose, and Calendar Month Cards

I punched out all the above items and laminated them since they will be used or touched more often than our daily bag materials.  Mother Goose can hide somewhere in your classroom or home and the child can search for her and place her back in the nest.  This would be a fun thing to do each morning and maybe the kid who finds her receives a special moment to lead or hold the door or pick something out first.  For us, Sweet Pea just enjoys finding her and putting Mother Goose back where she belong- her nest.

Clouds: Days, Topic, Letter, Number and Extra Fluff

We use these clouds everyday.
We go over the calendar and Sweet Pea finds the cloud with that day of the week printed on there and places the card near Mother Goose and her nest. There are some extra white clouds that you could add to your board or write something on or place sticker names on.

Number Tree and Letter Grass

These are new for us this year.
Last year, our numbers were on fish, and we only received a few fish each month which was a little awkward.  But this year, I have all the numbers 1-20 and placed them on our tree..  I laminated these as well because I can see us removing many numbers each day and week matching and counting.  Having all the numbers now will provide more opportunities for better discussion on numerals.

Our Finished "Board"

Really this is only part of the finished product. 
I didnt use a board, but a window and I used sticky tack to mount everything to the window.  I love how Sweet Pea can look out, actually observe the weather, and pick the corresponding weather cards to place above Mother Goose.  This window is also the center of one of our walls, and her little table is in front of it, giving her access to looking at the display throughout the day.

The cloud shape cards are from last year's curriculum supplies and I just incorporated them into this years, as I did not notice a shape of the month, but MGT may be including that elsewhere. 
I'm also a hoarder when it comes to educational supplies and struggle all the time at throwing anything away that could be beneficial in the learning process.

Stay tuned for how we set up our new playroom/school room in the next few days... or weeks... 
I gotta figure out how to edit videos. Yikes.

Until then,
Happy Beginning of the School Year!


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