Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Week with the Hermans

So things have been a little busy around here so I haven't gotten to blogging our Thanksgiving week lessons quite yet.  We took a break from our usual and did a low key week on Thanksgiving and "Being Thankful"  I went back to a more Before 5 in a Row approach for this.  I found a book called The Story of Thanksgiving and everyday that week we read the book.  It was great in that it was pretty detailed in giving her the story of the 1st Thanksgiving but perfect for her.  Pilgrims, Native Americans, Squanto, the whole bit.  It ended focusing on our own need to be Thankful for what we have and how Thanksgiving continues to be our reminder to be grateful to God.  
I found a few things to go with the book online.  One was this picture of a Cornucopia which was a new word for Claire.  We talked about how we see a Cornucopia with blessings inside it, things God has given us.  I told her her job was to draw pictures of things she is grateful for in the Cornucopia.  Drawing things is still pretty new for her but she tried.  She drew water and Jesus and said she was done.  Well, guess that DOES cover it ;-)

In other news, Ashlyn began to do a few "big girl" things this Thanksgiving week!  First she started drinking out of a open cup.  It was crazy to watch her handle it herself. Later that same day she fed herself soup with a spoon.  Both activities are still a little messy but regardless, she's doing them and she's stepping further and further away from babyhood.  Proud and sad at the same time.

Back at home with Claire's preschool, I found a few fun Thanksgiving printables on Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Focus for letters was upper and lowercase "T" which she did great with but since we haven't done "Th" sounds yet with her, it was a little difficult translating "T" with the work "Thanks" or "Thanksgiving."  We are still trying to figure out when the best time to introduce these sounds to her since she has the basic ones, but haven't done it yet.  She's still having fun with the basic letters and sounds and there's a glimmer of understanding that the letters, together, make words.  This is appearing clearer everyday and this is exciting.

On top of that, we took the word "Thanks" with each letter on a different square and played games with the letters.  Find the letter, find the letter that makes this sound etc.

In the pack of printables there was a cute counting sheet.  On each sheet, up to 10, there was a number.  For each number she put that many beans in the square.  Simple.  But fun since putting beans on anything is super awesome when you are 3.

The last thing we had time for in the pack had to do with more counting.  She counted turkeys, Pilgrims, Native Americans, pies, corn, etc on each page and wrote the number in the box below.  Still working on writing those numbers.  But it's fun to watch her count.  She really does like it.  If she has a math aptitude, I might have to outsource her schooling when she hits the higher levels ;-)  Momma's not so confident.  But we'll see!
But one of my favorite things we did this month was Claire's "Thankful Tree"  It started out with blank leaves and everyday before Thanksgiving she'd add a new thing she was Thankful for onto a new leaf.  Some of the items were sweet, some were silly, some were funny and sometimes I thought she really wasn't getting the idea.  But then I reminded myself that she IS getting it, her concept of what is important is just limited.  So for her 2013 Thankful tree, 3 year old Claire was thankful for:
Tara (the cat)
Pull-Ups (my personal favorite)
Twilight Ladybug 
Piggy Bank

Thanksgiving day we spent with my parents in the morning who made us a yummy, yummy breakfast and who took our family pictures for our Christmas cards!  The following day, we went to Christian's parents' for a day with his family. I didn't get many pictures at either place, which is a huge bummer.  I need to remember to take more. The girls are getting so, so big.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 11: The Time of the Judges (Gideon, Samson and Ruth) and the Letter I

Wouldn't you know, I was finally able to have a "normal" school week with Claire.  This week was kind of interesting in that it focused on several Bible stories rather than one character or theme keeping everything together.  I mean, it was "The Time of the Judges" but connecting that with a 3 year old isn't really the goal as of yet.  We'll hit that in years ahead when we study Biblical History.  So, in the meantime, she enjoyed learning that God helped Gideon choose an army and win battles, made Samson strong and that when we stopped relying on and obeying God, his strength disappeared and that Ruth was kind and loyal to her mother in law and that we are to be kind and loyal too.

First day we talked about how God told Gideon to choose his army.  The men were drinking water at a river.  The men who drank by lifting up their hands, were chosen for the army.  The men who drank straight out of the water with their mouths, were not.  Didn't make a lot of sense but we talked about how God knew what He was doing since Gideon went on the win battles with his small army.  We traced her hand on white paper and then on the opposite side had her draw a mouth (which looked like a happy face.  Then, she circled the hand on the page, reminding us which men were chosen for God's army.

Snacktime, Samson and the Letter I
We usually "do school" when Claire wakes up from her afternoon nap.  I get home from work around 12:15 or so and if the girls are at a babysitters that day, after I pick them up we get home around 1 and the girls wake up around 3 or 3:30 or so.  They always wake up hungry so "snacktime" usually accompanies "schooltime."  This time is was persimmons from a student's backyard and peanut butter pretzels.  Both a big hit with both girls. . .

 To show that Samson was a "strong man" and to get a little science/math activity in I took several items from my pantry out and hid them in Christian's socks.  She picked up each one and examined them one by one and put them in order of "heaviest to lightest."  Kind of funny watching her try and figure out which she thought should go first but eventually. . .
 This is the order she came up with without the socks.  From right to left:  Jar of Trader Joes Cookie Butter was the heaviest, then can of corn, full bottle of doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil, half eaten jar of peanut butter, and then, finally, a nearly empty bottle of doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil.
 Then, over the next couple of days, we did some "letter I" activities.  "Hide and Seek" page, gluing Cheerios to both a uppercase and lowercase letter "I" and painting a uppercase and lowercase I. Claire words that start with "I" are: igloo, ice cream and Indian.

To commemorate our study of Ruth, we discussed several things we can be a "good" daughter like Ruth (I hesitate to focus on this but we always pair it up with "God's grace" since that is so important to us). We talked about being loyal, obeying our parents, being kind to Ashlyn, helping around the house etc.
We also talked about how Ruth was a hard worker and that she worked in the fields to provide for herself and for her mother in law, Naomi.  For our activity, we drew little stalks of wheat and talked about how our bread and cereal come from wheat.  Now, I recognize that I totally screwed up and gave her Cheerios to decorate her "wheat" stalks.  Oats. . . hmm ok.  I'm over it.  She got the basic idea.  We'll rehash this later, ya'll.  I promise.

Ashlyn likes this activity, for sure, since she gets all sisters Cheerios leftovers. . .
 The last school activity we did for the week was the giant "I on the ground.   The Little Hands to Heaven book gives me specific things to do with the letter (have child walk a stuffed animal across the letter, drive a car along the letter, build blocks along the letter) I've decided that, instead, she gets to choose what to do with the letter.  This works for us. This time she decided to build a block wall with her foam blocks along the letter.

Tomorrow is Monday and we will be taking a break from Little Hands to Heaven in exchange for a week on Thanksgiving, giving thanks to God and a little American history (and Turkeys to boot!)  Should be a fun week and I am excited that I have the whole week off with the girls.
Till' then!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week(s) 10: Joshua Leads Israel

So luckily, this was a letter review week for letters E-H.  She really doesn't need a ton of letter review.  She knows her letters, sounds. Whole bit.  She could probably use more writing practice but I've decided that at 3, I'm not going to push it.  We'll do our weekly letter writing and let her think it's a game and call it a day.  She likes all the letter activities and all but every 5 or so weeks, things get easier on the homeschool front.  I don't do too much review of the letters and we just get to do Bible stories and activities for the week. This page here is a Hide and Seek Review page and she was able to match up the capital and lowercase letters pretty easily.  At first, I thought the repetition in this program was going to make me a little crazy but it's really fun watching her work and see her know what to do without me having to explain much.  She's getting good at this!  

Thankful Tree
These last couple of weeks we've begun prepping for Thanksgiving.  In Claire's bedroom, Christian painted a big tree to go with her room theme of bird and the wall words that have the hymn, "His Eye is on the Sparrow and I know He watches me."  A sweet friend, Jaimie came over and painted little birds in the tree later. We love it.  She loves it.  So this year I decided to use the tree for Thanksgiving.  I took construction paper in fall leaf colors, red, brown, orange and yellow and traced leaves from a cookie cutter I had in the kitchen and then cut them out: one for each day in November.  I taped them to the wall and each day we talk about things we are thankful for.  I think, after Thanksgiving, I'll write a post where I'll talk about what she was thankful for this year!  Some of the items are pretty cute!  But I will save it for later. "I'm thankful for God" was her first, though.  Warmed mama's heart!

Joshua Leads Israel 
First order of business was to talk about the spies and Rahab (her occupation was left out of this particular lesson and will be discussed at a later date, I'm sure) and how she helped the Israelite spies escape.  So for this story we had some fun with peanut butter, crackers, and Twizzlers.  I had, originally, bought these fruit ropes at Target thinking they came apart but, alas, they did not.  So, luckily, Claire had some Twizzers ropes in her leftover Halloween candy.  
So we made the tower out of crackers and held the crackers together with the peanut butter and then used the Twizzlers as the rope that Rahab used to let the spies out of the tower without being caught.  She learned a couple things: the Bible story and how to spread peanut butter on a cracker. Win, win.

 Another activity we did involved the Arc of the Covenant.  We talked about how God set out special rules for how the Arc should be taken care of.  We practiced walking across a line of painters tape on the ground holding a pillow (Hello Kitty of course!).  She had to follow the line and hold the pillow.  Was good for coordination and learning about how important and holy God is and how important His commands are and how amazing His grace is in light of His holiness.
 One of our favorite activities for the week had to do with Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.  We sang through "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho. . ." several times while learning about this.  She'd heard the piece before because my kids at work learned it for their Spring Concert last year. But now she knows it and knows what it is about. 
We made a little trumpet out of construction paper. . .
 And built the walls of Jericho in the living room. . .
 And then marched around the walls with the trumpet (in pajamas, of course!)
 And after 7 times around the walls (math, you see?!) we were able to knock down the walls! 
On the Judges for next week and then on to Thanksgiving week!  Planning a fun unit on Thanksgiving and being thankful for that week.  A little different but will work in nicely with her "Thankful Tree" 
Happy Saturday all!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reformation Day/Halloween/Dress-up Day and the Herman House

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.” -Martin Luther

I get a little bit of flack from some of my more conservative Brethren about our family's decision to go ahead with Halloween. I'm not going to go into it here, really, but if you are at all concerned about my decision to dress my daughters up as an Elephant and a Peanut on October 31, allow them to hang out with other similarly dressed children during their Mommy and Me preschool class and get candy from people in the Adults with Disabilities class and have their grandparents over for dinner so that they could be there when we trotted all over the neighborhood, giving everyone a huge grin that saw Claire in her Pink Elephant costume, rest assured that I took the matter up with God, several history books and scripture.  I did not make this decision without some thought and prayer.  Limited, non-gory or evil-glorifying participation won out in the end.  If you want to know more and read a REALLY fabulous, comprehensive history of the holiday, pull up a chair, get comfortable and click here.   Christian and I read it together and thought it was fantastic.  We'd like to add some Reformation Day activities to our day in the future, as well.  

So now that that disclaimer is out of the way, here are a few pictures of our Halloween Week :-)  
Claire loves Elephants.  Oh, and monkeys.  But I found a super cute Pink Elephant costume and decided the girls were going to dress up at an Elephant and a Peanut (which is perfect since we call Ashlyn "Peanut").  
Claire got to wear her costume early.  During the last 15 min of her Tap/Ballet Class, they had a Halloween Party and the girls could dress up, bring snacks and treats to share.  Claire was so, so excited to wear her costume.  So. Excited. Here she is, the little pink elephant sitting among the other little girls.  
But on actual Halloween, I took the day off from work so I could take the girls to their Parent and Me Music and Art Class at The Wilshire Center in Fullerton.  The kids could come dressed up and they had a little party with snacks, crafts and Trick or Treating around the buildings.  The disabled adults who take classes at the same time in the same building as the preschool class passed out candy to the little kids as did the people working in the administration office in the next building over.  After Trick or Treating was over, we attempted to get a group picture of all the kids.  Getting costumed toddlers and preschoolers to sit together for a picture is, obviously, not easy but it turned out cute anyway.

That evening Greg and Lori came out to have dinner with us and joined us for Trick or Treating in the neighborhood.  Claire shared in my "lets conquer the neighborhood" attitude.  After every house she said, "I go ANOTHER house!!!"  Several times, someone would open the door and tell Claire how cute she looked, hand her a handful of candy and then say, "Oh gosh, you're so cute!  Here's more." Oh, boy.  Ashlyn, on the other hand, really wanted no part in the festivities.  She was happy to be carried by me or by her Grammy and really didn't want to be put down, so when we passed our street a second time, we grabbed the stroller out of the garage and she was fine the rest of the evening.  

Claire brought in QUITE the candy haul.  Right now, the candy is hidden in the back of the pantry.  She hasn't asked for any of it yet and has seemed to have totally forgotten about it.   But she will tell you all about her night of Trick of Treating.  I'm well aware that this is probably the last year I can "candy hide" before she gets wise to mamma.  :-)