Thursday, September 28, 2017

Preparing for the Next Unit of Preschool

I love when my new little school bus box arrives on my doorstep from Mother Goose Time.
There are some main things I do to prep for the next month that make life so much easier, and I want to share them with you.

  1. Prepare and order books if needed.
The first thing I do is go through the teacher guides and order the suggested books for the month.  There are usually 7-9 books.  For the past 2 months, I have used Amazon and Thrift books and spent about $25 on the books for the month.  You can read more about how to prep your library here.

      2.  Break out the TEACHER TOOL BAG.

The Teacher Tool Bag has the Activity Calendar in it along with all the Teacher Guides.  I write in the Sunday column of the calendar all the books we will be using that week which are listed in the Teacher Guides.  

    3.  Get Materials out early!

There are certain materials I like to have out all month long instead of waiting for that particular day.  On the back of the picture that has the theme and words "Teacher Tool Bag" (above picture), is the Supplied Core Tools.  This is a dream list for me! It tells what bags certain materials are in.  Basically everything that is highlighted below, I dig out and either place around our homeschool/preschool classroom or prep the materials. 

     4. Punch out and Prep certain materials.

There are a few materials that need a little extra time to prepare.  Here's the ones I pull out early and how I prepare them:

I like to have the Little Journal out early in case we want to start it sooner.
The I Can Read book I take out and add to our library collection so that Sweet Pea is reading it throughout the month. 

I always tape a sandwich bag inside of the I Can Rad book and place the arrows and punchouts that come with it.  Sweet Pea always thinks that reading this book is a game since I ask her to point to the word that matches on her arrow.

I then prep our calendar.  I get the next month's name which came in the start up/ welcome kit and punch out the calendar numbers and place them in a snack size bag.  This makes it super easy to start calendar time everyday. 

     5.  Laminate.

Many many moons ago, my husband bought me a laminator for Christmas.  #teacherchirstmaslist
Fortunately, it still works wonderfully and I can laminate the few items I need to each month, including the Thematic Poster and nametags. 

     6. Place manipulatives.

I like to have our manipulatives out all month.  The more fine motor practice the better.  I place our newest manipulatives in open baskets on Sweet Pea's playroom table.  When she wakes up or during quiet time, she can play with these however she wishes.    

I routinely do this prep work each month and it makes things so much easier!  
What are some things you do each month to prepare for the next?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Typical Day in a Preschool Homeschool

As a former public ed teacher, I loved a set routine!
It allowed the students (and myself) to know exactly what to expect, providing a sense of comfort knowing what is coming.

However being a part-time Children's Pastor and Homeschooling Momma, has forced me to live a life where our days are more fluid than structured.  Throw in a 3 year old who is also transitioning from naps to quiet time, and everyday becomes a new adventure.

Tuesdays- Fridays are our days to do Preschool using our Mother Goose Time in the afternoon.
MGT has daily activities laid out for us including:

-Circle Time
-Community Challenge
-Creative Art
-Small Group
-Table Top
-STEAM Station
-Story Corner
-Music and Movement
-Closing Time/Reflection

We don't do all of these, but we usually do 3-4 activities.
The bolded activities above are the ones we usually do.

 During Sweet Pea's nap or quiet time, I prepare our activities so that we can start our fun after she wakes up which is usually around 3pm.  

We always do our Circle Time which includes our calendar, weather, and daily topic poster. 
Here's a little video of it in action... and FYI... it took me almost 20 days to realize we were not in the month of August anymore, but September.  I'm going to play the  "pregnancy brain" card.

She really got me with that tiny orange island!  She's so observant.

After Circle Time, it's time to do some of our other activities.
Sweet Pea loves to color and create so we always do the what is suggested in the Creative Art section.

She also loves to read, so we always read and do the discussion in the Story Corner.
 (This page was about eyes, and Sweet Pea was showing where hers were.)

I also prep the Table Top activity and STEAM station; although we might not get to them.
If she is still into what we are doing, then we will do the Music and Movement activity, but we don't always get to this.  I think I should probably incorporate it into the Circle Time... hmmmm.....

   Because it is just Sweet Pea and myself, we don't usually do the Small Group activity or we wait and do this when daddy comes home.

We will then play and learn until about 4:30 pm when it becomes time for me to prep dinner if I haven't done so already. If dinner is already prepped, we continue playing either outside or in her playroom until daddy comes home.
Once he gets home, they play or relax together while I finish up dinner and then we enjoy dinner at the table together every night.

As I type this, I am truly realizing how blessed I am to live the life I have.
Is everyday a perfectly structured day? NO WAY!
But everyday is filled with little moments to treasure.... sometimes I need to focus on searching them out and holding on to them.

I am just so grateful to have little moments with her each and every day and for our little family of three... soon to be four.

Be sure to get more great ideas following us on Facebook and Pinterest!

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!