Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Preschool- Transportation Week 1

Our next preschool theme is transportation!  Little Guy loves trains, planes, school buses, and trucks, so this goes well with his interests.  During the unit, we are going to an airshow and will be flying to visit family at the end, so the timing of this theme was perfect.  This theme will last three weeks.  Little Guy is 39 months old.

What transportation unit would be complete without some trains?  We had been playing with his trains lately, so I added some letters from our Bananagrams game, scattering them around the table.  As Little Guy pushed his train on the track, he would stop to pick up letters, name them, then put them in his box car.  He LOVED this!  I think the first day I scattered the letters two additional times, and we also did it the second day during the week.  This fun idea came from There's Just One Mommy.
To work on some gross motor skills, I made this stoplight out of some craft foam.  Little Guy threw the bean bags, trying to get one to land on each color.  This was a little tricky, but a fun way to practice some throwing.  This activity came from I Can Teach My Child.
For our name practice, I wrote Little Guy's name on a large sheet of paper and turned it into a road.  The then had to drive his cars on the "road," identifying what letter he was driving on.  We also made some road signs using clothespins and foam, from this idea at And Next Comes L.  Little Guy had a fun time driving different cars around on his name, as well as taking turns with mommy.
We also took some time to use pattern blocks.  There are lots of free pattern block available on the web.  I found some at Prekinders and at NW Florida Money Saving Mom.  With as much as Little Guy enjoys doing puzzles, I would think that he would also like to use pattern blocks, but that is not the case.  Pattern blocks are something he chooses last, if not at all.  Daddy happened to be home with us this morning, so Daddy and Little Guy completed the train together.
Speaking of puzzles, we had several puzzles to work on this week!  From my days as a teacher, I had a Melissa and Doug alphabet train floor puzzle (similar to this one).  We had a lot of fun putting it together.  We sorted the train cars by color, making it easier to find each letter, as the car colors made a pattern.  We sang the alphabet song several times to complete the puzzle, using pointers once the train was complete to point to each letter. 
The alphabet train was not the only puzzle we completed.  We have this set of Melissa and Doug transportation puzzles.  These puzzles are 12 pieces.  Little Guy can work these on his own.  Out of the four puzzles in the box, Little Guy completed two (I did not let him do the other two; I wanted to save some for next week!).
To practice counting, he did some Count and Clip cards from Homeschool Creations.  The cards are available up to the number 10, but I only printed the cards to the number 8.  This was great numeral recognition practice for Little Guy, as well as some fine motor skills in working the clothespins and putting them in the correct space.
Another math concept we worked on was shapes.  I cut out a variety of foam shapes, and Little Guy needed to use those shapes to build trucks.  I found this idea on The Measured Mom.  He was pretty reticent to do this, and kept wanting me to help him build his trucks.  I would sit down and build a truck, telling him what all the pieces were for, then encourage him to build a truck.
In addition to counting and shapes, we also worked on sorting.  I gave a Little Guy a variety of rocks, and he had to sort them into this veggie dish.  He did a great job and was able to tell me the rule for each section.
For snack, we practiced more banana cutting.  I love to see how his skill and confidence continues to grow!
This was just the beginning!  Join us over the next two weeks to see what else we are working on!

Want more ideas?  Check out my letter T and letter A Pinterest boards!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Preschool- Dinosaurs Week 2

After a fun start to our dinosaur unit, I was excited for week two!  Many of the activities were the same from last week, with a few changes and additions.  Check out week one here Little Guy is 38 months old.

During our unit, we read books at the start of our preschool time.  We read several non-fiction books, like I mentioned last week.  We also read several fiction books.  Some of my favorites are "Dinosaur Countdown" by Nicholas Oldland, "Ten Terrible Dinosaurs" by Paul Stickland (two fun counting books), and "How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.  (We really like several of the "How do Dinosaurs..." books, they are silly and fun, and I love how the name of the dinosaurs are included in the illustrations.)  Another favorite has been "Who Am I? Dinosaurs."  This fun book has an egg on every page that you slide open to discover a dinosaur underneath.

Little Guy's toy dinosaurs made an appearance this week to help with some art.  Little Guy dipped the dinosaur's feet into paint, then made tracks on some construction paper.  There was time for imagination, too.  The stegosaurus smelled the paint first to decide which color to walk in.  Of course, after the footprints were made they had to be looked at closely!
Our preschool time would not be complete with some puzzles!  Little Guy worked on this stegosaurus puzzle, as well as a t-rex puzzle and the big floor puzzle.
We practiced different letters this week with our dinosaur wand.  I used some tacks to attach the letter cards to our felt board.  I would call out a letter, and Little Guy would hit it with his dinosaur wand.  The only problem was that it was harder for Little Guy to make the dinosaur wand light up this way!
This was a new activity for this week.  I found these cards (through Pinterest, of course!) from the Pinay Homeschooler.  The cards go along with the Dinosaur Toob from Safari Ltd. that we have.  On one half of each card is a picture of one of the dinosaurs.  On the other half is the name, how to pronounce it, and some basic facts about the dinosaur.  It was a great find!  For Little Guy, I had him match up the toy dinosaur to the card.  We then talked about the name and what it ate.  It was a great way to get some more information on the dinosaurs!
This was another new activity.  I made counting and number cards using pictures of the dinosaurs (from our Toob).  Using these actually turned into a three part process.  Little Guy first put a glass bead on each dinosaur, practicing one-to-one correspondence.  Then he matched the correct number to each set of dinosaurs.  Finally, he put the cards in numerical order. This was great number and counting practice for Little Guy.  One thing that I am learning is to make these activities available from the the first week of a unit.  That way, even if we only practice it once a week, we will still do the activity two or three times before we change our unit.
For a new sensory activity we used some glass beads.  We have an assortment of colors that fit well in this small tub.  With pipe cleaner trees (and some playdough to hold them in place), it made a nice area for the dinosaurs from the Toob to play. 
When it was time to clean up, we worked in a second activity.  Little Guy had to use his tweezers to get the dinosaurs out of the tub and into the red tray.  This made cleaning up more fun, and was a great way to sneak in some fine motor skills!
Little Guy chose some coloring again this week.  Grandma A. gave him a dinosaur coloring book, so it was fun to look through the book and choose which pictures to color.  He really enjoyed the colored pencils, and not just the fancy ones!
We also did some name practice this week.  I wrote his name on an index card, then we used small dinosaur stickers to cover up the lines.  We took turns completing this activity, but is was fun to look at the sticker sheet and get a variety of dinosaurs.
We continue to cork on cutting food.  Little Guy cut a banana into slices to make into animal cracker sandwiches.  It is great to watch him get more comfortable using the knife and figure out the best way to hold the banana while he cuts.  Plus, the end product is really yummy!
See you next week!

Looking for more dinosaur ideas?  Check out my dinosaur Pinterest board.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Preschool: Dinosaurs Week 1

Welcome back!  I have really been enjoying our transition to preschool, and I think Little Guy is, too.  I'm playing with how to share what we have been up to, so any feedback is appreciated!

When Little Guy turned 3 this summer, we had a dinosaur themed party.  We had not done many other things with dinosaurs, so I thought a preschool unit on dinosaurs would be fun.  This was a two week unit, so here is a snapshot of what we did the first week.  Little Guy is 38 months old.

It was fun to pull together some dinosaur themed activities.  We started each day by reading.  We went to he library and checked out many non-fiction books about dinosaurs.  There are some great books that are geared towards little learners. Two of my favorite brands were Acorn from Heinemann and 21st Century Junior Library from Cherry Lake Publishing.  These books had text that was simple enough for Little Guy to understand, but also felt like great non-fiction books.

After reviewing our calender, we started choosing activities to complete.  The first was an alphabet activity.  I laid out some ABC flashcards ad Little Guy had a dinosaur wand.  Now, this isn't just any dinosaur wand.  When you hit it, its starts flashing lights.  to do this activity, I would call out a letter, and Little Guy would hit that letter with his wand.  It was pretty fun! We did have to wait until the wand stopped flashing before moving onto the next letter, but that didn't take too long!
We have several plastic dinosaur toys, we we used them with playdough this week.  Little Guy would roll out the playdough, then push the dinosaur into it to make tracks.  We even got out some magnifying glasses to examine the tracks even closer.
What dinosaur unit would be complete without pretending to be a dinosaur?  We had some masks leftover from his party, so Little Guy and I put on masks, went outside, and pretended to be dinosaurs.  We stomped around, pretending to eat trees and leaves (we were herbivores), with a few mask changes!
We can't forget to work on those fine motor skills.  We got out his Toob from Safari Ltd of dinosaurs.  He had to use a pair of tweezers to put a dinosaur into each compartment of the tray, then take them back out.  The dinosaurs were a little tricky to grab, but he did okay.
You know how my Little Guy loves puzzles.  For his birthday, he received a large Melissa and Doug dinosaur floor puzzle!  This was a big hit!  We separate out the edge pieces for him so he can do the outside first, then he fills in the inside.  He can't do the puzzle completely on his own, but he is getting better.  I like to ask him what dinosaur he will put together first, then encourage him to finish that one before moving onto another dinosaur.  The inside is easier for him, and he is always so proud when he is done!
Little Guy also chose to do some coloring this week.  Coloring is not a regular choice for him, but this week he got to use colored pencils.  Some of the pencils looked like sticks from a tree, making them very interesting. 
Our preschool time would not be complete without a snack.  Little Guy was practicing spreading peanut butter (one of his favorite foods) onto animal crackers.  Then he would add another animal cracker to make a little sandwich.  Yummy!  The spreading was a bit hard for him, but it is great practice!
Come back next week to see what else we did in our dinosaur unit!

Looking for more dinosaur ideas?  Check out my dinosaur Pinterest board.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preschool- Insects

Preschool at our house has gotten off to a great start!  I am loving the change of spending more time at once working with Little Guy, instead of snatches of time here and there.  Little Guy is 38 months old.

We started our homeschool preschool year off with a unit on insects.  Now, Little Guy is not particularly interested in insects. However, our local botanical gardens was having a "Bug Day," so I thought it would be a great way to peak his interest.  Our zoo also had a butterfly exhibit all summer, so we had an opportunity to get up close with the butterflies. 

We started with books.  We pulled out some classics, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.  We also made a trip to the library and checked out several non-fiction books about insects.  We spent time every preschool morning reading.  (These books were left out in a basket all the time, so many of these books were read throughout the week, at various times of the day.)

One book that was read several times was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  You may recall that I made a busy bag to go with this book. I pulled out the leaf lacing, bead caterpillar, and felt pieces for this story.

Little Guy loved using the felt pieces to tell the story.  I would read the book, and he would put the story pieces on the felt board.  It was really cute watching him to pretend feeding the food to the caterpillar.
He also really enjoyed stringing the bead caterpillar and then wearing his necklace.  He wasn't too interested in the lacing (even with the cute caterpillar) but found another use for the leaves.

The favorite activity of the unit was probably the alphabet monster!  This was an idea I saw on I Can Teach My Child.  It is made from an old wipes container and milk bottle lids.  I made all the consonants red and the vowels blue, more for possible future uses than anything else.

Little Guy loved this activity!  He would shout, "Alphabet Monster, eat the (letter)!"  He got so excited about "feeding" the monster.  It was a great way to review the alphabet in a silly way!

To practice some counting skills, I would like us to begin using dominoes.  There are many things that can be done with this manipulative.  As a teacher, I know when I introduce something new, I must allow time for play.  It is no different with my own child.  So this week the dominoes were to play with and to observe.

We made several trails of dominoes to be knocked over (really, can you play with them and NOT do that?).  Little Guy stacked them and listened to the noise they made on the floor.  We also wrote what we noticed about them.  Little Guy would make an observation, which I wrote, then I would make an observation for him to write.  We did this twice during the unit because he asked to do it again.

I want to make sure to include name recognition or writing into our preschool time.  To practice his name, I wrote it out on a piece of paper.  He then had to cover it with bug stickers.

This is another activity that we ended up taking turns with.  He would choose a sticker, then me.  This only makes sense, as it is a difficult decision which sticker to choose next.

To go along with this unit, I purchased the insects Toob from Safari, Ltd.   One interesting thing is that there were three animals included that are not insects.  It was great to talk about why these are not insects.

Little Guy loved playing with the insects!  I ended up cutting leaves out of craft foam for him to put the insects on. 

We also worked on making insects out of egg cartons.  This idea came from Gummylump.  Little Guy actually got really into painting the egg cartons.  Mommy enjoyed helping, too! 

For this unit, I made some number cards and some 3-part cards, using the insects out of the Toob. For the number cards, Little Guy had to count how many insects were in the picture and match it to the number.  The 3-part cards had to be matched altogether, and you could even add the plastic insect. 

Little Guy completed the number cards, but not the 3-part cards.  Since the numbers went to 6, it was great to stretch him a little, since we have mostly worked up to 4 in the past.
I am trying to incorporate some food skills into our preschool time- during snack.  One thing that Little Guy practiced was using a butter knife to cut a banana into slices.  He was really excited to do this!
So there are our first 2 weeks of preschool!  Little Guy seemed to enjoy the time, as did I.  There were other activities that we did not complete,  but at the end of the two weeks we were ready to move on.

How is your preschool going?

Check out more insect ideas on my Alphabet I Pinterest Board!