Friday, September 15, 2006

B week: plans

A week went very well. It was fun learning together. It was completely not stressful for me. I set it up so we repeat the same steps every day and there is very little for me to create or prepare for each day and each week.

Each day: jumping time and singing time may be different–different songs or movement–but that doesn't take much planning. And the daily activity is different, but that's only one thing to plan for. And for many of the lessons/activities I'm just "winging it"; I can get away with it because he's only 3 (almost).

Each week: the word cards (just five words written on index cards) and poem (that I print and mat on cardstock).

That's it. It's pretty simple, but I love it because I have a routine to stick to. It's planned. I just have to do it. And because it's so simple, I get it done and we have fun doing it. Connor's caught on to the routine too and knows what comes next. I think that's good for him to learn. That's one thing he'd learn in a formal preschool, so I'm glad he's getting that with me.

Here are the plans for B week:
word cards: book, bicycle, balloon, banana, butterfly
Butterflies, You Puzzle Me by Jack Prelutsky
Butterflies, you puzzle me,
for as you flit and flutter,
I study you, but never see
the slightest bit of butter.

Monday (social studies): babies. We'll discuss how babies grow and make a timeline of the changes people go through in life, ie. baby, toddler, preschooler, school-age child, teenager, adult, parent, etc.

Tuesday (math): We'll go to the bakery and Connor can use some of his pennies (that he earned for obedience and helping out around the house) to buy a cookie of his choice. We'll also be playing bingo.

Wednesday (scriptures/gospel): Book of Mormon. I want to give Connor an introduction to the Book of Mormon and explain where it came from. We'll probably read a little bit in the picture Book of Mormon too. And I'll check out the Family Home Evening lesson manual for some ideas.

Thursday (movement/activity): balloon boppers. Annika will be here for our swap and I'll have the kids make balloon boppers out of paper plates and paint stirs. Then they can bop balloons to some music. We can also play with bubbles outside if the weather's nice.

Friday (art project): buildings. We'll use boxes to build a cool building. We may even pull out the paint. I'm not sure exactly how this'll go, but Connor's creative, so he'll help me out.

Other b words that might come up or spark ideas for activities: beach, big/little, bubbles, bugs, butterflies, bus.

A week: day five

This morning we had a friend's 21 month old little girl Addie here for a couple of hours. We did preschool while she was here (and Abby was in bed). Connor was excited to do it with Addie. I love that he's totally open to doing preschool whenever and with whomever. He knows that it's time that's dedicated for Mommy and him to learn together and that my focus will be on him, even if there are a couple of interruptions. He's great.

We did our computer time and our chart time. I'm excited that he's learning the days of the week and can help me say, "today is Friday, September 15, 2006."

Then we reviewed our A word cards. He can remember all five words: apple, animal, acrobat, astronaut, and alligator. And he's been excited throughout the week when he sees an astronaut or an alligator (in a book or pictured elsewhere) and tells me that it starts with A. It's helpful for kids to know words that go with each letter so if they ever forget the sound, they can say the word and hear the sound. Especially the short vowel sounds.

Then we said our poem. He almost has this memorized. It's so cute to hear him saying it with me. And later in the day he'll reference it or say a few lines of it out of the blue. This is our A week poem:

Apples, apples, one two three.
Apples for you;
Apples for me.
Apples big;
Apples small.
Apple trees shiny;
Apple trees tall.
Apples sour;
Apples sweet.
Apples, apples, are good to eat!

We read The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall and Animal Orchestra by Tibor Gergely. Both are great books.

This afternoon we did apple printing. We cut an apple in half to see the star shape inside, removed the seeds, then put paint on the apple, and pressed it onto paper to make a print. Not amazing results, but the goal was not a great painting, but the fun of the process. It worked better when I cut the apple into a square and pentagon shape. smaller, easier to work with stamps. (Also note: cut straight through the apple or it won't be a flat surface and it won't print evenly.)

Connor requested apple shake-ups (see A week: day four) for a snack again today. So we got to do dancing time and shaking time again! And Connor just had to take a picture of Abby and me doing dancing time and shaking time. Kind of missed our heads on the first shot, but it gives you a good view of the apples. They were so yummy!

We got to color in the Aa on our alphabet poster because today is the last day of A week. Connor is excited that we'll get to do G week someday. G seems to be his favorite letter lately. He talks about it all the time and writes it whenever he has a pencil in hand. He especially likes that it's a C, just with another little line added on.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A week: day four

This morning we did most of preschool, but we saved our activity/lesson part for after Connor's nap. We read two books. One about having manners. And Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, an excellent children's book (it's a Caldecott winner). I was surprised that Connor was so into it since it's kind of long and it's about a time so different from our own time. It made me think about how removed we are from the source of everything in our lives. The family in the story was completely self-sufficient. It's inspiring. Makes me want to plant a garden or learn to whittle or knit (but I'd have to cut down the tree myself or shear the sheep myself, so maybe not the last two).

After stories we got ready to go to our Thursday trade. Connor went to Annika's house and they had fun playing and watching Dora. Abby and i went to the mall while Connor was playing. Connor fell asleep on the way home (yippee!!) and took a good nap.

When he woke up we made apple shake-ups! (idea from The Toddler's Busy Book, page 107) It's just cinnamon and sugar in a bag, put in cubed apples and shake-up. It was fun to do dancing time and shaking time while making a yummy snack!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A week: day three

Connor's response to "Are you ready for preschool?" was an emphatic "YES!" this morning. That made me feel good about my efforts.

We read a story called The Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch. It was kind of a dumb story, in my opinion. The parents kept going back to the zoo and coming home with the wrong baby. Then the little girl had to go find her baby brother in the gorilla's cage. I guess it's kind of a clever story. But just not my favorite. Not that I want Connor to read books that tell childbirth like it is, I just don't like stories that make it seem like you just go to the hospital (or zoo) and pick up your baby. Like it's no big deal. Because it's a pretty big deal!

We danced to some REM today. Connor picked the CD because it had a checkerboard on it and we danced to "Losing My Religion." Nice song for scriptures/gospel study day, huh?

Then we learned about Adam and Eve. We read one verse in the scriptures about how Adam had the job of naming all the animals. Connor thought that was cool. I started to tell him about the tree and the fruit and Satan and then decided maybe he's not old enough for that story yet. So we stuck with Adam getting to name all the animals and his wife's name being Eve.

That's it. Another fun day of preschool.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A week: day two

Today we did preschool after Connor's nap because he had a CF check-up at Columbia in the city. He is healthy and doing great! We're so grateful for that.

Tuesday is math day, so we read a book of number rhymes that had cute illustrations. It's called One Two, Skip a Few and it's illustrated by Roberta Arenson. Then we did some serious jumping time and singing time. So much jumping that we made Abby barf! I was holding her and jumping and singing and then when I looked at her she was covered in barf. yuk!

then we worked with math boards. they're just pictures of trees and we use apple erasers as the manipulatives to work on counting and numbers (and I used these in elementary school for addition and subtraction). We put apples on, counted them, "ate" them, and then counted how many were left. Connor enjoyed it and said that the apples "smelled good!"

We also did a couple of A sheets that I printed from Connor was very good at circling the capital A's red and the lowercase A's green. He also drew an amazing capital A all by himself! I'm amazed at his fine motor skills. In the picture he's writing C for Connor on the name line.

A fun and successful second day of preschool!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A week: day one (first day of preschool)

Connor and i had a very fun first day of preschool. I'm trying to make it really feel different than just Connor and Mommy time. It's school. We have a routine that we follow each day and Connor is the student and Mommy is the teacher.

This week is A week. We will be doing fun activities that include words that start with the short A sound (/a/).

Today after computer time, chart time, and story time (we read Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett; love this one!), we did "running time" instead of dancing time and singing time. We went to the duck pond and met our friends and ran around and played. It was great to get outside. And it was a little chilly, so we got to wear jackets. We love fall!

When we got home we had snack. While we were sitting there eating, I was trying to think of something we could discuss while munching. And Connor said, "what things get messy? And what things don't get messy?" So we talked about things that make messes, like mud, and popcorn booty on your fingers, and toys all over the room. And things that don't make messes, like drinking from sippy cups. I thought it was great that Connor came up with such a good topic of conversation for snack time. Maybe he should be the preschool teacher!

Then we did our activity. For social studies, we talked about writing letters and then we wrote a letter to Alan (Daddy) since his name starts with A. We'll walk down and put it in the mail later today.

To end, we reviewed what we'd done and talked about how we used our five senses. Connor thought the envelope glue tasted yucky, but the "popcorn booty"* we had for snack tasted good.

It was a great preschool day!

*We used to buy Pirate's Booty, but now I buy the Trader Joe's brand that's the same and much cheaper. Connor refers to the TJ's kind as "popcorn booty" to differentiate.

Our Daily Routine

preschool with CONNOR and mommy

check the calendar
listen to the letter sound
check the weather

then we sing the letter sound song on our way to do our daily chart

day of the week
day of the month (look at upcoming events)
weather wheel
read word cards (5) together
read poem together

enjoy a book or two together

(this name came from max, I think. Connor likes to say this, so we'll do some dancing or singing or listening to music each day.)

Monday: science or social studies
Tuesday: math/numbers
Wednesday: gospel/scriptures
Thursday: music/movement/activity
Friday: art project

clean up preschool stuff
review the letter and lessons taught
talk about how we used our 5 senses today in preschool

How this Preschool came to be

Last year I did a co-op with two of Connor's friends and their moms. We took turns teaching a once-a-week preschool on Thursday mornings. It worked out great. The kids had fun. The moms had fun (and got breaks when they weren't teaching). The kids learned a little bit about the ABC's. And they learned a lot about sharing and having fun with friends.

I wanted to do the same thing again this year. We have a great singing time tradition with all our toddler/preschooler friends on Tuesday mornings. And I loved adding the Thursday morning preschool to our schedule. Connor has 3 more years before he goes to kindergarten, so I just wanted to do one day a week for another year, and then switch to two days for the two years before he goes to school.

But it didn't work out. So, I thought about teaching a preschool in my home and having 2 or 3 other kids and making some money that way. But that didn't work out either. Not enough paying customers since all our friends had already figured out preschool plans (we were late getting started).

So, I decided to just do my own preschool with Connor and focus my efforts on getting him together with friends to play. At his age preschool is for social development more than anything anyway. So I have some scheduled play dates for him and then I have open days each week for us to call a friend and play or go to the park.

And that's how preschool with Connor and mommy was born. We do a letter each week and after five (or six) weeks we do a review week; when we finish reviewing all 26 letters, we'll do the long vowel sounds. We do a little activity each day along with our routine (see above). I love that it's just me and Connor. I love that it's scheduled, but flexible. We have a routine to follow, but we can do it whenever it fits in each day (most likely during Abby's morning nap). We can break it up and do part in the morning and part after his nap. It's going to be a fun year learning together.

And it'll be fun to have this blog to record what we do and learn together!