Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dramatic Play: Mail Carrier

Post does not pertain to our Monthly Unit but I thought I would share anyway. I found the cutest idea from My Own Road.
Jen took this trash bag box and turned it into a mailbox for her daughter. I knew I had to do the same thing for Jacob because he loves the mail! He loves getting the mail and saying hello to the mailman. He then takes each piece of mail and studies them very carefully! :)
I didn't have as large of a trash bag box but this one worked just great! I had to use paint to write Mailbox on the box because when I used stickers they mysteriously disappeared! Although I did get a very nice 'picture' out of the deal! 
Sorry about the picture I was messing with my settings and had to click fast.
Jen made some mail for the mailbox out of felt. She took the time to make them very cute. I did not sew two pieces together but I did made some mail.
After playing with the mail and mailbox I decided we needed a mail bag to put the mail in before it was delivered! Jake kept taking the mailbox and moving the mail around, kind of missing the point. So I threw together this little mail bag for him to use to help deliver the mail. It seriously took about 30 minutes to make! It is very simple, I used an old receiving blanket and a scrap piece of fabric. I love using receiving blankets to make toys for Jake because the flannel is strong, soft and does not fray. I added a little pocket on the front with a flag and the letters for US Mail. The bag is simple to allow for easy access for putting the mail in and taking it out. I made one strap and place it across his shoulders so the bag hangs at his side. He was super excited! :)
Check out Jen's tutorial over at My Own Road!


Beneath the Rowan Tree

Classified: Mom

Sunday Showcase: Preschool Corner

This week's Showcase is Preschool Corner by Home School Creations. The website is run by a mother of four who home-schools all of her children. This is a great website that provide resources for you to print. Jolanthe has a philosophy that if she goes through the effort of creating the resources she might as well share them! This is the same philosophy that inspired my blog!
Color Matching Cards
One printable that I will be using this month are these Color Matching Cards. Although Jake is not quite preschool age I can use these printables and modify them to meet his needs. For example, I will only be using red, green, yellow and blue. I will also only be introducing 3 cards of each color instead of all six. 

Under Preschool Packs, Jolanthe also has a whole transportation unit that can be downloaded. Jake would love the colorful, fun activities but is not quite ready. I will use that unit as an option next year. She has all kinds of Preschool Packs that will interest every child! She has provided extensive units with various topics. It is such a fun site and blog! Take some time today to check out all that she has to offer! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

August Lesson Plans

 This month we are going to be spending time learning about CONSTRUCTION. Jake, loves all things construction and I know this month he is going to have a ball. I am hoping that he will show interest in learning colors and shapes if I teach them through the construction theme. 

I want to reiterate a few points before the download:
1. My plans are not meant to be completed in any specific order. Each day is different and Structured Play time should be a fun learning experience. Pick an activity or activities that fit the mood of your child for that day.
2. Practice activities more than once because repetition is key to gaining new skills.
3. READ, READ, READ- Read everyday and reread stories to allows your child to 'read' the books themselves. This is the first step in literacy.
4. Walk Away- Try to keep Structured Play time 'fun'. If things get frustrating to you or your child, walk away and pick up where you left off the next day. Remember it is Structured PLAY, you are not preparing for SAT Exams. Enjoy every minute!

Please comment or send an email if you have trouble downloading plans. I am trying it on Google Docs to make it easier for everyone! 
I will Post about each activity to give further descriptions and pictures. My plans are just an outline for the month.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Field Trip: The Zoo

Today we headed out to the Zoo! I wanted to get an early start since it was 88 degrees by 9am! We met some friends and headed out to see the animals!
First stop the Farm:
The farm animals were out and about. Jake was quick to point out that the cow was eating hay and drinking water. I was glad to see them eating because when we play with our farm toys I encourage Jake to feed the animals. He was able to see the cow's pick up the hay with their mouths and see how they chew.
This little goat was resting. His head was down like that with his eyes closed. Jake said he was sleeping and had a little laugh about it. Luckily the goat woke up and came over for the boys to pet him! They enjoyed this tremendously! 
Jacob was anxious to hear him 'maaaa' but we were not that lucky! He did try to get him going by maaaa-ing at him. Then listening to see if he could here the goat. We were disappointed to miss the horse and chickens but quickly moved on to the birds!
We love this exhibit! You get to walk into the bird habitat and the birds can fly around and even perch on your shoulder. This is one of Jacob's favorite parts of the zoo! He has always loved birds and being able to be this up close and personal is a dream come true!
We were getting pretty hot at this point but managed to see one last animal. Jake loves elephants and today we were able to see two elephants very close. The elephant exhibit was a perfect learning experience too! As I said, it was HOT! The elephants were using their trunks to brush dirt onto their heads and backs. I was able to explain this process to Jake.
They were also shooing flies with their tails. These were great learning experiences to aid in our Animal Theme. After the elephants it was time to go! We had been there about 2 hours and in the heat that is about all we could take. Even though we have been to this zoo and others numerous times, we were still provided with learning opportunities. Every outing has the potential for a learning experience and it is these real world experiences that truly aid in academic success. When children have a personal experience to connect back to while reading it helps with comprehension in all areas! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cleaning Up

Learning to clean-up after yourself is an important life lesson that must be taught. I have gone back and forth teaching Jake to clean-up his toys. Sometimes he is very cooperative and others he refuses and ends up making a bigger mess. This month I have again tried having him pick up after playing. I really focused on having him clean-up his activity before moving on to the next activity during Structured Play time. This is will help him focus on one activity at a time and finish the activity before moving on to the next. In turn, extend his attention span.
Yesterday after playing with the puzzles for a while Jacob put them back on the shelf without being told! That was a huge success! He has made some real developmental growth this month and cleaning up after himself is just another example of that growth! 
I was gitty with excitement at this growth and immediately started thinking of all that he would be able to do to help out! He is a cleaner by nature; he loves to sweep, dust and mop. But NEVER pick-up toys. Now I am really seeing him pick-up his toys even when we are not having Structured Play time.
Now he is not perfect! I did have to ask him to pick-up his animal cards after sorting them. He willing cleaned up the cards and placed them on the shelf after being asked. He is certainly getting it. This is a life skill that is important and will carry him through his life! I know adults that can't or won't do this!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Puzzle Play

I always include Puzzle Play in our monthly plans because I feel it is so important to development. Puzzles help build motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and identification. 
This month is no different. I pulled out the animal puzzles for our Structured Play area. (We have puzzles in other areas of the house as well.) Today Jake went to the puzzles first. He dumped the puzzles and started putting each animal back into it's spot. While doing this he said the name of the animal and the sound they make. (Above he is making the NEIGH of a horse.)
He did the same with the African animal puzzle. I am happy that he is making the effort to use the names of the animals, that was a goal for this month. He is really good at placing these puzzle pieces in their slot but has a bit more trouble with the others. I repeat to him over and over again, "Take your time, turn the piece." He listens and is able to place the piece after a few tries. His patience is short lived. I feel patience is a VERY important skill that must be taught. He has shown growth with his patience but it is still something we need to work on! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the Kitchen

We stepped in the kitchen this week to make some cookies for Daddy's birthday. Jacob loves to help me cook. He has already learned important life skills in the kitchen and is not even 2 years old. I feel it is important to involve him in food preparation so that he knows how meals are made and so that he shows interest in making them. I feel very lucky that he is such a good eater but I have to think that his involvement in the food prep is part of his love of food. 
He has a love hate relationship with baking! He loves the mixer (anything with a motor) that we use when baking but hates having to wait for the goods to bake. I allow him to add each ingredient and to help stir. He is actually a great stirrer! 
He dug right in after I showed him how to flatten the dough into round disks. He enjoyed doing this although he wasn't great at it. He did get better with practice. 
He, of course, snuck a bite. Luckily this time is was not the raw dough it was a Hershey Kiss we put inside the cookies. 
Get in the kitchen this week and make something!

Sunday Showcase: Me & Marie Learning

Me and Marie Learning
This week's Showcase is Me & Marie Learning.
This is another great blog run by a former teacher current stay-at-home mom. She organizes her blog into three sections; Baby Games, In-home Child Care, and Preschool. She provides great resources to help you work with your child. 
Including printables. 
Like this fun color book. I am sure this book would be super fun for a young lady learning her colors! It is just one of the many creative projects Ashley has created. Take some time to check out her blog, you will love it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Imaginary Play: Leap Frog

We all remember playing leap frog with friends growing up. I used to love to play leap frog with my friends and thought Jacob would too! I decided to share that fun activity with Jacob in a different form since I am 8 months pregnant and about 2,000 pounds!! Today I pulled out 3 frog toys after reading Frog and Toad.
 
I let Jake study the frogs and then play with them a little. He had the frogs hopping all over the room. Jake loves the fact that frogs and rabbits hop. He thinks it is just too cool! After that I put them in a row and showed him how to make them leap over one another. At this he just laughed! I let him try and he even wanted to be a frog and leap over the stuffed animals.This was so much fun!
(I am facing a problem with the camera, though. Before he never seemed to notice it and allowed me to take as many pictures as I wanted. Then he went through a phase where he wanted to take some pictures too. Now he wants that camera to get lost! I want to be able to have photographs on the blog but I will not let this hinder our play. So we will see where this phase takes us!)
The last thing we did with the frogs was to order them from smallest to largest. I started my asking him which frog was BIGGEST? Then the smallest? After that I put them in order from smallest to largest over emphasizing each size as I placed the frog in it's spot. I repeated the sizes a few times then asked him to tell me the sizes. He just stared at me and walked away. (That is my guy!) I tossed the frogs up in the air in a silly way and asked him to put them back in their places. He looked at me, looked at the frogs and went to play with his farm toy! I felt we accomplished a lot for that activity for that day and just let it go. I, again, want this to be fun time not stressed-out, pressure filled, learning time. So I let his interest level dictate how far we go! I will make sure to try again another day but not push for today! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lion Mask

After reading Eric Carle's 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, we made a lion mask. I prepared the mask before we started the activity by drawing the outline of a lion's face with a sharpie. I also cut out the eyes and mouth. I wanted to do this ahead of time because Jacob has never seen or used a mask and I wanted him to know what we were doing while we were doing it! I was able to show him the mask before we painted it and show him what we would do with the mask.
Jake painted the mask, in addition to his hand. I tried to emphasis to him to cover the whole plate with paint. We discussed the parts of the face as he was painting them. I made connections for him between the lion and his own face. ex: Paint the lions ears, do you have ears? How many ears do you have? What about the lion?
 I helped by filling in any parts of the plate that were not painted. Then we let the mask dry while we revisited some of our other Structured Play activities.
 
I chose not to tie string to the mask but rather just hold the mask in place over our face. I did this because I knew that Jake would not be able to be still enough to hold the mask in it's place. I also thought it might slide off and be more trouble than it is worth!  
 

Jake enjoyed roaring like a lion and crawling around the floor with the mask over his face. He was having such a fun time I could only get blurred pictures!  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Animal Matching Cards

I made these Animal Matching Cards with stickers and card stock. I just picked up a package of animal stickers and stuck them down on small, square pieces of card stock. I made pairs of each stickers in hopes that we could do a matching game leading to a memory game at some point.
Jacob is definitely not ready for a memory game but he can look through the cards and find matches. The first time I introduced the cards we just looked through them and talked about the animals we saw. We discussed their names and whether they were the 'baby' or the mama. We have made matches a couple of times, he is not always interested though. Today he pulled out the cards and matched them with his farm toys. I thought this was a really great connection. And I decided to use this time to do a little informal assessment. 
For our informal assessment I just held up an animal card and asked what animal was on the card. I then asked what sound that animal made. He did great with this assessment. The only animal he did not correctly identify was the goat. We do not have a matching card for a goat but he brought the goat toy over so I asked him the name and sound of that one as well. He called it a sheep at first and I think he gets confused because the sound of the goat is similar to that of a sheep.
I have seen a lot of growth this month. He started the month only saying the animal sound for most and only saying a couple names when prompted. This reassures me of the importance of pre and post assessment. Of course at this age the assessments should all be informal. Assessments help you know where to start and where to go. You want to make sure you are working right above your child's level but not too far that they get frustrated. This will stretch them to learn new things while still building confidence and allowing for the whole process to be fun. 



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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sunday Showcase:

This week my Sunday Showcase is a blog that is newer to me but one that has been around a while. Annie over at The Moffatt Girls is a former teacher who now stays home with her two children. She misses teaching and uses her teaching background to help her daughters and all the people that follow her blog!

The Moffatt Girls

She provides examples of what she is doing with her young girls. She has fun ideas and creative ways of making materials to use. Annie also provides cute, colorful printables which I have posted about and used in the past. 
Just this week I posted a sorting activity we did with shapes. Annie provided these shape printables that we enjoyed playing with all month.
Take some time today and check out The Moffatt Girls! 
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