Monday, October 26, 2009

Alphabet Activities: Initial Sounds Pocket Chart

This is a mini pocket chart that I purchased a long time ago. I set it up with 4 review sounds for Amelia. I placed the shuffled cards to the left of the chart for her to use.

She sorted the initial sounds into the pocket chart and it looked like this when she was done...
(Sorry it is sideways)

And the cards have an added benefit of having a built in correction on the back. Take a look...

They still sell them HERE. They run $19.95 which seems a bit steep...I don't think I paid that years back.

Alphabet Activities: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Here is an activity I prepared for Amelia recently to reinforce alphabet sounds...
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

For this activity, I attached a tree print-out found HERE to a medium sized cookie sheet  . I applied it with contact paper. Next, we read the story together and each time we came across the next letter in the alphabet she would find the matching magnetic letter and place it on the cookie sheet. During the second half of the book she took the letters off and placed them back in the basket.

Inside of the book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In our Workboxes...

Here are some of our projects this week from our Workboxes.

Farm Sorting
"Where does it belong?"

We Read a book about Patterns on the Farm

Pig Craft

Graphing Farm Animals

Writing Letters on White Board

Continent Work (More on this in another post)

Reading Lesson

Shiller Math Work- Shapes

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simple Halloween Sensory Tub

This is a really fun idea for a Halloween Sensory tub. I have wanted to put together seasonal sensory tubs for the girls for some time now, but I just have not gotten around to it. I found this idea here and it was SOOO easy to do! The neat thing about it is you can use whatever you have around the house plus a few Walmart/Dollar Store finds--and you're set.
Here is what I used...

  1. 1 Plastic Halloween bowl that I had in the garage

  2. 2 packages of Halloween trinkets

  3. 3 packages of black beans

  4. 1 towel laid out under the bowl to keep the beans from flying everywhere

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm all White

Hey, where did my background go? Well, with all technology, there will be glitches. I guess if you get a background like I did...and they run out of bandwidth on their photobucket will affect anyone who is using that background. I think it is a temporary problem and I will get my color back soon. LOL!
UPDATE 10/21/09: Okay, my background is now available and I have applied it to my blog again. :)

Our New Math Curriculum has Arrived!

FYI- This post is long and have been warned. :)

Over the last year or so I have read hundreds of reviews on various math programs for homeschoolers. Of course, they all include those who love it and those who were not impressed. It really comes down to personal preference and what your goals are for your children. Also, it is important to realize that there is no perfect curriculum and the success of any curriculum one chooses depends a lot on how it is implemented.
I finally decided on Shiller Math. It is a Montessori based program developed by Larry Shiller ( MIT math graduate) and edited by Montessori experts at the Princeton Center for Teacher Education, a nationally renowned Montessori teachers training institute.
Here are some things I like about Shiller Math:
Shiller Math is Montessori based.
ThreeStep Approach similar to the Montessori three phase lesson.
"This is..."
"Show me..."
"What is..."
This method scaffolds learning by allowing the child to build on prior knowledge and internalize new information. When the child completes all three steps the parent can be confident the child understands the information.
Children are introduced to the decimal system and learn to be comfortable with and use large numbers very early on.
Math concepts are introduced from concrete to abstract using a spiral approach.
Shiller Math addresses all learning styles.
Kinesthetic - gross motor movement, stimulating the muscle neurons and enhancing blood chemistry

Visual - looking at pictures, finding patterns in shape, size, and color
Auditory - listening to music, stimulating the auditory portion of the brain
Tactile - working with manipulatives, stimulating the neurons of the hands and fingers
Writing - using fine motor skills in a more abstract way, when developmentally appropriate
Mental - thinking using only the mind, once a concept is understood.
Everything is included in the kit.
I have already learned over the last two months of "formal" homeschooling that I NEED everything laid out for me. It needs to be easy to grab what I need without a lot of prep work. Shiller math provides for this through their all-inclusive kits. All of the manipulatives and the scripted lesson books are packaged as a together. They claim there is ZERO Preparation time and that works great for me.
So What's in the Box?
When I opened the box, everything was neatly packaged and labeled. (This is a view from above looking into the box.)

This is the decimal material.

These are all the other manipulatives included in Kit 1 (Ages 4-8)

And now unpacked, you can get a better view.

This is the workmat we do our lessons on. (Another Montessori aspect of the program.) It unfolds to a pretty good size work space.

Completed work binder.

The lesson books and answer guides are all spiral bound and printed in an attractive four-color format.

I hope this post helps anyone who is considering Shiller Math and was not toooo boring for anyone else who may be reading.
Oh yes...I also wanted to note...I am not a math person. I always struggled in math and never thought I was very good at it through school. In college I faced my fears and passed college Algebra with an "A" after taking quite a few remedial classes beforehand. However, I do not intend to pass on this trait to my children. I do think it was a learned phobia. If I would have been taught math in a way that required true understanding of the concepts being presented, I think it would have greatly benefited me.
Stan on the other hand is great at math...always has been. He has helped me through my struggles and never made me feel stupid for my sub-standard math skills. He has been interested in Montessori math methods for some time now as I have showed him many Montessori materials and lessons online and in books/catalogs. He is impressed so far with the curriculum and spent some time looking through the lesson books. He already told Amelia he wants to teach some lessons too!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

When you wake up in the morning...

And See This...

All you can do is laugh. No damage was done and it looked as though it was young kids because none of the toilet paper was thrown very high into the trees. I showed the girls when they woke up. Amelia(4) stared for a moment and said, "Mom, why did you do that?". Mada(2) said, "Is it snow?"
We did get the ladder out and Stan climbed some trees.

And everyone helped pick up the mess.

I took pictures but did my fair share of clean-up too.

It seems strange, but it was actually kind of fun. We all went outside, rallied together as a family and got the job done!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Here we go to the Pumpkin Patch!

We had a great time at Applejack Pumpkin Patch this afternoon! They had a lot of fun activities for the little ones to do... and they have a military discount...HALF OFF! What a blessing! This is the first day we have seen the sun in about a week so it was a great day to get out of the house.

The kids took turns in the pumpkin face cutout.

The playground had an airplane that was quite a hit.

Here the kids rode on the Barrel train.

See that BIG slide behind Amelia? She went down all by herself--twice! I went down with Mada once too.

We saw chickens, goats, bunnies, sheep, and alpacas.

And finally, we picked our pumpkins out at the patch. It was a little muddy but not too bad.
What a fun day it turned out to be!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making them Pretty

I wanted to make my Workboxes look nicer and to differentiate between the boxes for the two girls. They each chose a scrapbook paper pattern, and I used contact paper to attach the paper and number to the inside of each box. I am happy with the outcome.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Highlights From Our Day

I just wanted to post some pictures of a few of the activities we did today. This was Amelia's first "real" puzzle. It was a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle. When she saw it she eagerly took out all the pieces. We talked about looking for clues and puzzle strategies such as looking for the corners and borders first and looking for colors/patterns in the emerging picture. (I actually surprised myself...because I REALLY don't like puzzles! LOL!) Out of all the activities she did today I would say this was her favorite and the one she was most proud of. This puzzle is dedicated to Aunt Celia...the puzzle master.

She sorted her sound tubs like a Pro on this "T" chart.

Mada worked hard and concentrated on her work with pattern blocks for a good amount of time this morning. She matched colors, sorted by shape, and stacked them in piles. All of this was by her own initiative as I only provided the materials and allowed her to explore them however she wanted. I feel deeper learning takes place when a child is able to investigate it themselves first without my superficial "teaching" (especially at this young age).

Our First Day with Workboxes!

Our Workboxes are ready to go. I wasn't planning on filling Mada's boxes, but I could already see Amelia being protective over her work and Mada crying because she didn't get to do it. For now I think I will keep Mada's boxes the same for the whole week and change Amelia's out every day. The only thing I still plan on doing is adding a label to each of the boxes so the girls can easily identify their own boxes. However, I did not get that done yet.
Here is a peek into our first Workboxes...
Amelia (4 1/2)

Sound Tubs for letter sorting


My Five Senses Folder Game and Book

Handwriting Without Tears Letter Building

Pattern Blocks and Cards

Read Book

Art Project from Funshine Express

Reading Lesson
Mada (2 1/2)

Sound Tub

Color Wonder Pad with Markers

Pattern Blocks

Cutting Work

Chalkboard w/ chalk


Mr. PotatoHead