Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Daily Routine

I have received several e-mails asking about our school time routine, particularly how we incorporate both Montessori and Tot School into our days. I thought I'd reply to everyone at once by doing a post detailing our routine. I know what we do won't work for everyone, but it does work for M. She is a VERY high energy child who is happiest when she is mentally challenged with new things.

M starts her day around 6:45 a.m. and is usually ready for school by 8:30. We start with circle time. Our circle time follows the same routine every day, since M will remind me if we go out of order. We do:

  • Opening Prayer
  • Calendar - month, day, date and pattern (the apples were printed from Play2Learn Printables and the pink heart marked our first day of ballet class).
  • Weather - today's weather, temperature and graphing
  • Color word for the day
  • 100 days - counting straws for place value and 100's chart
  • Family Name Wall
  • Signing Time (M is learning her sign-language letters now)
  • Nursery Rhyme and Songs for the week (usually with dancing!)
  • Read Aloud books - usually related to our weekly theme
  • Bible Time
(Great circle time printables can be found at 1+1+1=1, Homeschool Creations, and Mama Jenn).

After we finish with our Bible story we move into the related craft or activity. From there we usually do three to four other planned activities related to our weekly theme. Twice a week we have outside activities (ballet and library story time) and these days we still do Circle Time but do fewer activities. M loves doing "school" and is usually asking me for more than I had planned.

After about an hour of school M is free to use her Montessori materials if she wishes. If I have a new material out on the shelf I will give her a lesson on it, but otherwise this is her time to work independently while I observe. She almost always spends at least another hour doing Montessori work. The length of time she spends in here is up to her.

Usually after two to two-and-a-half hours our school time is done. The rest of her day is spent in free play. We do allow M to have access to her Montessori materials anytime she wants, and she will return to them several times throughout the day. She asks for us to read books throughout the day, and she and J get half-an-hour of a family read-aloud time from Daddy each night before bedtime.

I plan our time with four things in mind:

  1. It must be fun - if M is not enjoying an activity we stop or move on to something else.
  2. School time is always a choice - if she doesn't want to do a particular activity or doesn't want to do school one day then we don't.
  3. I always plan activities that involve lots of movement; I don't expect M to sit still during any point of our day.
  4. I tend to overplan so that I have a lot of choices available to M. But, I don't expect us to get to everything I have planned and I often alter our plans as we go through our day.

Of course, Baby B does school with us. He naps during part of our time, but we usually take breaks for nursing, diaper changes and snuggling!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Montessori Monday: August 30

This week's Montessori activities included spooning green pebbles with a ceramic spoon:

Tonging pompoms using a tea bag squeezer:

Pouring colored rice:

Working with our phonetic objects:

and opening and closing containers:

I am linking this post up to Mondays Montessori Moment at Mommy Moment and to Montessori Mondays at One Hook Wonder.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tot School: All About Me

Tot School
(M is 37 months old)

This week's theme in Tot School was All About Me.

First, M made a minibook about "My Family" that I printed from a book of emergent readers I have.

We read Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney. I thought this book did a great job explaining how your body works at a level toddlers can understand. M wanted to reread it and play with her girl body puzzle every day. This puzzle has five layers so you can explore organs, skeleton, muscles, skin and fully dressed. M LOVES this puzzle.

We made pipecleaner skeletons. (Yes, it looks like a stick figure.)

We worked on Noah's Ark as our Bible lesson this week. M made a watercolor rainbow. First she colored with the watercolor pencils, then she painted over them with water to make the watercolor effect.

We put the correct number of animal stickers under each number.

We worked with our sandpaper letters.

For our stART project we made a flower growth chart.

M practiced cutting straight lines with her scissors. She has finally gotten the grip correct thanks to some tips from Nikki.

We also did a science experiment about fingerprints. First we examined our fingers with a magnifying glass. Then we printed our fingertips onto a card and examined how they were all different. Finally, we talked about how our fingers are ridged to help us pick up objects. We illustrated by picking up pennies first with our thumb and forefinger. Then we put tape on our fingers so they were smooth and tried to pick up the pennies again. It was much harder without our fingerprints; the pennies kept slipping out.

That was our All About Me week. We will be continuing our discovery of the human body next week.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rolling Over

Baby B turned three months old on Friday, and he celebrated by rolling over from his back to his tummy for the first time. Of course, I didn't have the camera ready to go, so we only got the after shots, but I love his big grin!

An Apple for the Student

J love to watch shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss. Unfortunately, they make decorating cakes look so easy, and that is definitely not one of my talents! However, when I saw the apple cupcakes in this month's issue of Family Fun magazine, I knew I could probably make a pretty close replica. So, this is what I put into his lunchbox yesterday, to celebrate the end of a successful first week. (M helped me to bake the cupcakes for her brother, and to sprinkle on the red sugar.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank You For Me

This week we are doing an All About Me theme as a lead in to learning about the human body. One of the books we are reading is Thank You For Me by Marion Dane Bauer. This is an adorable book that says thanks for all of your body parts that make you special.

To go along with this, we made a flower growth chart. First we measured how tall M is. Then, I printed out a head shot picture of her and cut it into a circle. She glued that inside a purple circle to make a flower. We cut and glued green constrution paper to make a stem. M measured the flower and cut the stem at her height, and then we attached it to the wall.

Of course, M then remeasured to make sure it was right!

I am linking this post to stART (story + art = a great start) at A Mommy's Adventures.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Little Ballerina

Today was M's first day of ballet and tap class. She has been eagerly counting down days for over a month now, and was very excited to finally get to go. She did so well, and had so much fun with it.

Here she is ready to go to class. That bag we bought her for her birthday to hold her dance shoes. It has a tutu, and her name embroidered on it.

Her first arabesque!

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of Fifth Grade

Today was J's first day of fifth grade. It's so hard to believe my little boy is that old already. His last year of elementary school. We are so proud of him!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tot School: August 16-22

Tot School
(M is now three years old!)

We did not have a set theme in Tot School this week.

Mathematics: We are trying to do a baking project with M every week. This week, we made cupcakes.

We used pompoms and the apple counting printout from Hubbard's Cupboard to count from 1 to 9.

We used our colored links to do math this week. First we sorted them by color, then I made links of varying lengths and she counted how many links were on each chain. I also laid four chains out and had her tell me which was longest or shortest.

Language Arts: I have a number of materials from when J was in preschool (six years ago), including a book of Evan-Moor envelope games. I glued this one onto a file folder for M, and she did it several times this week. There are six toy chests with consonants on them (d, c, q, j, n, v). Then there are 24 blocks with different items depicted on them. She has to match the item (vest, car, etc.) to the toy chest with the corresponding beginning sound.

We began working with our Handwriting Without Tears materials this week. We used the Stamp and See magnetic pieces to form both upper and lower case letters. M would tell me the sound each letter made, as well as working on forming that letter.

Bible Time: We continued working with Hubbard's Cupboard for Bible time. This week we worked on Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man. We did a number of activities including a story wheel and coloring pages. M's favorite was the fingerprint apple tree.

Art: We did a pizza craft for our stART project this week. You can read my post on that here.

M made a paper plate kitty cat during our trip to the Dallas Art Museum. I like the variety of art supplies they have available to the kids, and I think we'll be adding colored masking tape and colored art wires to our supply cabinet. I like how she added two ribbon tails to the cat.

You can visit 1+1+1=1 to see what other's have done in Tot School this week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Late Nights With Art

Once a month, the Dallas Art Museum holds a late-night event. The museum is open from 6 to midnight with crafts, music, movies, story time, art tours and other fun events planned. We gave the kids all late naps, and then drove into the city after dinner last night.

They made paper plate puppets in the kid's art studio. M's was a kitty cat, and J's was a Japanese warrior. (He was fascinated by the Japanese art exhibit last night.)

Then they and all the other kids followed the museum's mascot, Arturo the Parrot, in a parade through the museum. (M can be very timid and shy when encountering anything or anyone new, and the parrot was no exception.)

M was interested in several paintings in the Modern Mexican Art exhibit, and eagerly perused the pictures of the upcoming African Masks exhibit. We will definitely need to bring her back to see those when they open.
Even Baby B was awake and interested for most of the night.

The Museum has outdoor art as well, and this sitting man who changes colors was a favorite of the kids.

Everyone had a great time, even if it was a late night, and we are looking forward to attending again soon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Games

Baby B is almost three months old, and he has reached a stage where he is very interactive and loves to play games.

He has two particular favorites. The first is a game called Buzzy Bee. We make a sound imitating a buzzing bee while we move our finger close to his body. After a few seconds we touch him with our finger and say "Buzzy Bee." We vary where we land on his body, and vary the pitch of our buzzing. He loves this game and rewars the buzzer with great big smiles. This game has helped with his head and neck control, as he will turn his head to follow your finger.

The other is a nursery rhyme/finger play game that M and J do with him. It goes:

Round and round the garden (draw circles on his tummy)
Goes the Teddy Bear
One step, two steps (walk fingers up his chest)
Tickly under there. (tickle under his chin)

Round and round the haystack (draw circles on his tummy)
Goes the little mouse
One step, two steps (walk fingers up his chest)
To his little house. (tap him lightly on the nose)

I love that he is at such a fun stage in his development now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

stART: Pizza Craft

We read two books this week that had princesses and pizzas in them. In The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Ann Auch, Princess Paulina chooses not to marry the prince and ends up opening a pizza parlor instead. In Princess Pigtoria and the Pea by Pamela Duncan Edwards, Princess Pigtoria chooses not to marry the prince and instead lives happily ever after with the pizza man.

With two stories containing pizzas, of course we had to do a pizza craft. We used a paper towel roll, cardboard cut into a pizza slice shape, and construction paper sauce, toppings and cheese.

M made a black olive, green pepper and cheese pizza. J chose a jalapeno and mushroom pizza. I found the selections quite amusing since neither child would ever actually EAT a pizza with the toppings they made!

I am linking this post to stART (story + art = a great start) at A Mommy's Adventures.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chalk Drawings

I walked into J's room this morning, and saw this completed work on his easel. It's a chalk drawing of a castle done on black construction paper. I thought the use of colors was quite stunning!