Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Planning for October Lessons

I have been using Funshine Express for a lot of our preschool activities this year. Each month a kit comes in the mail with all the arts and crafts, worksheets, folder games, and calendar pieces. The lesson plan book outlines everything you will be doing for each day of the month. The disadvantages are that it is on the pricey side and only comes packaged in even numbers (you can't order a kit for just one child). However, it is very well laid out and I do not need to gather any materials for the projects. I place all the pre-packaged lessons in order by week in a file box and they are ready to go.

Tackling the Paper Piles

Paper seems to pile up quickly around here. Running a household, an in-home childcare business, and a homeschool requires some serious clutter control on a regular basis. I am the queen of throwing things out. However, when my husband and kids started asking where their "so-and-so" was, responding with..."Ummm...In the Trash." started getting me into deep water. So I have come up with some systems to contain the paper mess. Here is my before picture. I piled everything onto the dining room table and spent an hour or two (during naptime) sorting, tossing, and containing. The result...sweet success!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Broccoli and Garlic Chicken Pasta

12 oz. uncooked linguine
1 lb. Broccoli
3 cloves minces garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cooked chicken

Cook linguine according to package directions. Rinse broccoli (I use frozen) in cold water and set aside. In a large skillet, saute garlic in oil for 1 minute. Add broccoli, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, cooked chicken, and 1/2 cup broth. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Drain linguine; add to the pan. Stir in parsley and enough remaining broth to moisten the linguini. Sprinkle generously with cheese.

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Advent Activities...Planning

I have been reading some really exciting ideas on various blogs about activities to do with the kids during the Advent season (4 weeks preceding Christmas). We have decided to take a relaxed approach and use this time to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate family and the joys of the season. I will be continuing to think on this in the coming weeks so I am ready for Dec. 1. So far, I plan on wrapping 12 Christmas books in wrapping paper. Each week we will read three of the stories and do some fun craft and baking projects to go with them. I got this idea here.
So far, I just have a pile of books. I need to wrap them and come up with what activity we are going to do for each one. Still a lot of work to be done...but I thought I would give you a sneak peek into what I was planning.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Activity Boxes for the Road

We planned a one-day road trip yesterday to see my brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces. We had a lot of fun seeing them...but a three hour trip there and back required a little planning. My mom put together these cute travel boxes filled with no mess activities for the girls to do on the trip. The boxes included a notebook, crayons, a calculator, book, small toy, and some snacks. We saved them until some fussing began and then pulled them out of the back. They were very excited to have some fun things to do in the car.

Blog In Transition

As Many of you know...I started this blog last March. I had also started another public blog at that time. However, I have come to realize I can not keep up with both blogs. I have decided to delete my other blog and make this blog public, changing it's name to Originalkat at Home. I really love to put my thoughts and experiences down on "paper" and document our life together. Now that I am able to focus all my posts on one blog, I hope it will be more consistent and useful to my readers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lessons 1-20 Complete!

Amelia finished the first 20 lessons in her reading book and filled her sticker chart! She is very proud of herself. Last night, we went to Borders to pick out a book she could read on her own.  We bought the first set of BOB Books. She should be able to read the first book now and the second book within the next few lessons. She couldn't resist also picking out a princess book with vinyl stickers. This picture shows the "story" she read for lesson 21. The lessons provide practice in reading, comprehension, and word finding (ie. "Find the word this"). The letters and picture cards below show her initial sound sorting cards and the first 10 sounds she is reading with. The only one not included is the th sound as I do not have sandpaper letters or picture cards for the blends and digraphs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun Folder Games

We had a fun time with a folder game yesterday. Amelia played first and then she taught Mada how to play! Learning and working together...I love it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Autumn

Today is the first day of Autumn. I love this time of year! It was a cool crisp day today...just perfect to start off the holiday season. I wanted to add a few fall touches to our home this fall. This picture was taken of my new fall display above the china cabinet in the dining room. Below is what my everyday look is so you can see the difference. I just added fall leaves to the vase, changed out the words, and added two fall accessories.
The next fall spruce up was the dining room table. I like to have a candle, napkins, and a small accessory. As you can see my everyday display needs some help... so the fall table display is a big improvement. It bightens my day each time I see the first signs of fall around the house and through the windows.

I plan on adding a small outdoor display for fall as well. I will probably work on that later this week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Alina!

Alina turned 12 years old on Friday, September 18th! We celebrated by going to Sal's Restaurant on Friday evening and opened gifts and had cake afterwards. On Saturday, we went to the bowling ally and shared a 29 inch PIZZA! It was all delicious.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reading Words

Today we reviewed the two most recent sounds we have been working on. Amelia sorted the objects into two columns. During our reading lesson, (we are on lesson 10 now) she was really getting the hang of reading words. Today she read...
 sat   see   me   am   rat   mat
 She read all these words without our help...and very confidently. I am so proud of her! When we get to lesson 20 and her first reading chart is full of stickers...we will have a reading party and go to Borders to buy her her first book.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a really amazing program. I can't say enough about it.
We also did some writing lessons using a dry erase marker and laminated letter cards.


We had a good time at Zoobilee on Saturday evening. Here is a picture of us just before we left!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Learning About Leaves and Trees

This week we read more books about Fall. Some of the leaves have begun falling from the trees and "dancing" in the breeze. We have been learning a song about leaves that dance in the wind. We also discussed animals who live in trees like squirrels, owls, and birds. Our craft projects this week included a paper plate rake and Mr. Nutkin the Squirrel puppet who hides in a tree. Those were both Funshine Express crafts. I am really enjoying that curriculum and the kids LOVE our "art project" time. Having everything I need laid out for me has been a lifesaver.

Cutting Work

I prepared some cutting work for Mada this week. She is interested in scissors and cutting but has not had many opportunities to explore this skill. I think this would have benefited Amelia as well when she was a little younger. Both the girls were excited to get started. I used cardstock so it would not be too flimsy. I cut each sheet of cardstock into 4 strips and drew black horizontal lines for cutting along. Mada was not able to cut on the lines yet, but she did cut the strips into pieces. Amelia found cutting along the short straight lines rewarding...much simpler than some of her recent more complicated cutting activities that have caused her some frustration. We had lots of good cutting going on! I will get this activity out from time to time for continued practice.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sandpaper Letters and Picture Cards

We started a new extension activity for our reading lessons today. Amelia has been tracing the sandpaper letters after each reading lesson for the letters that have been introduced so far. She really enjoys this activity. To give her some added practice, I added picture cards for her to sort. She first says the sound each letter makes as she lays the cards on the table in a row. Next, she sorts the cards by their initial sound. So far we have learned m, a, s, long e, and t.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rainy Day Noodle Necklaces

I didn't know dying noodles to string into necklaces would be so simple and fun for the girls. I got the recipe in my Funshine Express curriculum.
Put the following into a ziplock bag and shake well.
1/2 Cup Dry Noodles
1 Tbs. Rubbing Alcohol (I used a little less)
Add a few drops of food coloring
After coloring the noodles, I laid them out on paper towels to dry.
The girls were very excited to string their noodle necklaces. They wore them proudly all day. It was a very simple rainy day project and we already had everything we needed for it!
Mada was concentrating very hard as she strung her noodles onto the ribbon. She is VERY good at coordinating her small muscles. I think her writing "marks" are well above a 2 year olds' random scribbles. She holds writing pencils/crayons correctly and makes definitive marks and designs that in my opinion are more in line with what a young 4 year old would write/draw. I am excited to see where this strength leads in years to come.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

We are having a relaxing weekend. I thought I would share some of our pictures from our trip to the lake.

I'm Loving It!

We had a full week of wonderful homeschooling! Okay, I know it won't be all roses. Some tough days are sure to come . But I will enjoy the smooth and easy days as often as possible. We read books and sang songs about leaves and trees this week (and we will continue into next week). We also explored what the squirrels have been eating. We have found nuts and apples from the neighbors tree.

Amelia's handwriting curriculum is awesome...even better than I expected. She loves building her letters (this week were L, F, E) with the wood pieces, forming big and little lines with playdough and magnets...and the list goes on. It could be tedious for children who are older... but for 3-4 year olds it provides really good fine motor practice. I can see Amelia's brain working and she is very proud of her work each day.
Amelia wrote this E
For reading, we have been using a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We finished the first five lessons this week. So far Amelia is doing well with it and most of the activities seem pretty easy for her. I am impressed with the way blending sounds is introduced and practiced so naturally. She already read her first
The chart you see stuck in the book is for recording each lesson we do. Amelia chooses a sticker each time we finish to put on the chart.

To reinforce the sounds we are learning, we use our sound tubs. Amelia sorts the objects into the correct tub by the initial sound. These are really fun. It brings the book work to life through a hands-on activity.