Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Math

"J" is working on Geometry right now in math. He needs to know the number of faces, edges and vertices of parallelograms, trapezoids, spheres and pyramids. So, to make it more interesting we tried a little hands-on learning trick I have seen in several books. I wrote the name of each shape on an index card. "J" drew a card and used marshmallows and toothpicks to construct the shapes. He did great, and had fun at the same time!

In an effor to keep "M" occupied while "J" was doing his shapes, we gave her a new sensorial activity to help with those fine motor skills. She had to transfer colored pompoms from one container to another using a pair of tongs. It took her a bit to get the hang of the tongs, but she worked at it for quite some time until she mastered it. We talked about the color of the pompoms as she moved them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Making Math Fun

"J" has always done well in math, and this year is really no different - with one exception. He stubbornly refuses to learn his multiplication facts. He has the memory of an elephant, so we know it is a matter of not wanting to learn them. However, multiplication is the basis of most of his math from here on out, so we need to get them memorized, and I have been on a hunt for fun new ways to do that. One resource I found is a series of books by Greg Tang. The Grapes of Math book teaches multiplication tricks and methods using bright colors and fun rhymes. We did it after dinner last night and J loved it. I really recommend these books as a fun way to engage your child in multiplication. We also bought the Zoom multiplication game as a different take on the usual flashcards. Our goal is that he knows these facts before summer begins, and to do it as painlessly as possible.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's All About Reading

One of the things that we do with "J" and "M" is to read aloud together every day. We snuggle up in the big red chair (it fits two people nicely) and read whatever books they choose. Yesterday, M decided to duplicate this by reading to her "baby" after her bath. She was pointing to the pictures, turning pages and babbling away for 5 minutes. Too Cute! This is definitely one of those habits I am glad she is picking up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New "Tot School" Fun

"M" has been sick the last few days and so hasn't been into doing much of anything except cuddling and reading. Earlier this week, however, she was very busy. She and Daddy have been working hard on her newest wooden puzzle. It's nine pieces and forms Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street. "M" loves Abby and so will sit patiently trying the puzzle with anyone who will help her, just so she can see her.

We also tried a sensory activity today. This was one I saw on another blog, and just adapted to materials we already had at home. I used an empty oatmeal container and a few straws that were left over from takeout (washed of course!). We punched a few holes into the oatmeal container lid, and then cut the straws into 3" pieces. "M" then has to push the straws through the holes into the container. When they are all gone, we empty it out and start over. For such a simple task, she really loves it and worked on it over and over tonight. We'll see if it is still as fun when she is feeling better and more active!

Finally, "M" made a tissue paper collage. This started when I was using a gluestick to attach paper to the front of a folder for "J" for school. "M" wanted to try the glue stick herself. (We have only tried this once before with limited success as she kept trying to put it on like chapstick.) I pulled out a scrap piece of paper and some pre-cut tissue paper squares I had ready in the preschool activity bags I had made. We tried the blue glue stick this time, both so "M" could see it on the paper and so it looked less like chapstick. She loved glueing on the paper. At first she put them on randomly, but eventually she wanted to fill in the holes and eventually her whole paper was colored. "M" was so sad to see the end of this project, we will definitely be doing it again soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Water Table Wonder

Last year, "M"s grandma got her a water table, which we had put away for winter. The weather this week was perfect for pulling the table back out. In our house, the water table is an outside toy that requires swimsuits. ;) Both "M" and "J" enjoyed splashing, pouring, and making the water wheel turn. This is definitely going to be a fun toy this year!

If you are in a mosquito-heavy climate, I suggest emptying the table every day so as not to provide a breeding ground for the biting bugs. We use the leftover water on our flowers and garden, thereby minimizing the amount of water we waste.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finger Painting Fun

The concept of fingerpainting has escaped "M". Or rather, the concept of using ONLY your fingers to paint! She threw herself into this project as enthusiastically as she does anything else, and the result was not one but two masterpieces. Of course, it's a good thing I remembered to strip her before we started. And yes, a bath immediately followed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Week of New Things

This week has been gorgeous, so "M" and I have spent a lot of time at the park or taking nature walks. When we are inside, one of the things "M" loves most is music. This week, we introduced some rhythm sticks and jingle bells that we bought at a Montessori supply store. Along with the Easter Egg shakers, "M", "J" and Daddy enjoyed playing their own band!

We also tried sorting trays for the first time with "M" this week. She loved using the mini ladel and trying the tongs, although the chopsticks were too much for her. She really didn't get into sorting by color like I tried to show her, mainly just moving the beans from one bin to another in the sorting tray. Still, she played with it for over 15 minutes!

My plan is to make some color bags for "M" to work on. I have green and purple done, and am still working on the others. The bags are just felt sewn over into mini bags, with items of the matching color inside. She likes seeing all the colors together, and green is a color she already recognizes fairly well. The items inside are just things we collected from around the house.

We also tried nibble trays this week. "M" is not a picky eater, but she is not a big eater either. Dr. Sears recommends a nibble tray to offer healthy options to snack on throughout the day. He recommends using an icecube tray, but I saw on several other blogs where moms were using muffin tins instead. We've been trying this out, with great success. "M" has eaten twice what she usually does every day we've offered it. Now I just need to work on creative things to fill it with (it's been the same most days - grapes, cantaloups, cheese circles, crackers, and cereal.) If you have a picky eater, I recommend giving this idea a try!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shapes Day

Today "M" spent most of the day playing with playdough. She kept asking for "shapes" which is what she call the small cookie cutters we use to cut out the playdough into hearts, stars, circles, flowers, etc. We also did a shapes art project where she glued foam pieces onto construction paper. We named each shape before she glued it down, and this was a big hit. She loves art, and it was a fun and easy way to work on our shape recognition. We also spent a large portion of the day dancing to an oldies CD "J" made at school (she doesn't realize it's her brother singing yet!) and shaking our easter egg noise makers.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Preschool at Home

Tony and I have decided (well - Tony nodded when I suggested the idea) that rather than sending "M" to preschool next year, we are going to do our own version of preschool at home. We chose to do a combination of a wonderful literature-based resource called Before Five in a Row, and a more montessori-based method of "purposeful play". We will focus on learning through literature and play with a new book to "row" and new play-based activities each week.

We started this morning, by making sound shakers out of plastic Easter Eggs that had been floating around our house since "J" got them at school a few years ago. We filled them with a variety of items (rice, dried beans, screws, etc.) and taped them to make sure she couldn't get them open. These were a definite hit! Not only did "M" enjoy them, but "J" (who is 9) loved playing with them as well. They have made their way (nestled in an egg carton) into her activity boxes near her table. Here is a picture of "M" & "J" playing egg-music while we made breakfast.

We haven't come up with a name for our school at home yet, but we are still working on it!