Saturday, August 24, 2013

Katy No-Pocket and the LA Zoo

Week four at Herman Family School (Summer Edition)!  This week we rowed Katy No-Pocket, a sweet story about a kangaroo who had no pocket to carry her baby, Freddy, in.  She goes from animal to animal and asks them for help.  Each animal tries to give her ways to carry her child but none work.  Finally the owl tells her to go to the city to find a pocket!  She does and meets a sweet man who gives her his tool apron with tons and tons of pockets in it.  Katy, now, can hold, not just Freddy, but many other animals in her new pocket apron!  The story ends with one happy Kangaroo!
We focused a lot on animals, the letter "K," pockets and tools and ended our week with a field trip to the LA Zoo!

Late Start and a Preview of Things to Come
We didn't, actually, get to start Katy No-Pocket until Tuesday.  I decided to go into my classroom to pick out music for the year.  For those readers who are not aware a run a, roughly, 120 member junior high choir program as well as a musical theater group at the same middle school.  My school hours are part time, but thus far, my time spent on this venture have not been.  So with the addition of teaching Claire at home this year, I'm trying to figure out ways to hyper schedule my life and cut some things out, delegate. . . ANYTHING in order to make this work out this coming year.  Not sure how long we can keep this set up up but we will see how this year goes.  There are many things I love about my job but I am not sure how long I will be able to juggle it all.  These two days in my room put a huge wrench in our schedule.  We had been doing our "school time" in the morning while Ashlyn took her morning nap (yes, she is still taking a morning nap at 15 months.  Hoping she'll drop this by the time I go back to work). But these two days, I took them in the morning to work and let them hang out in my classroom and watch Milo and Otis on the big screen so I could get a few things done.  But this meant that after I worked for a few hours, I took them home, we ate lunch and then they took their afternoon naps.  On Monday, Claire woke up and we headed straight for her Ballet/Tap class.  After class, we got home, I made dinner, we ate together when Daddy got home and then by the time the kitchen was clean and Ashlyn was put to bed, Claire was tired and ready for bed herself.  No school had been done that day.  So Tuesday we played catch-up before we left for the school and by the end of the week, there was at least one project I didn't even get to.  So, this made me realize the importance of scheduling and being flexible with that schedule.  Either way, it was a good week and I believe, fully, that Claire learned despite the slight chaos.

Starting up: Bible Lesson and Cover Page 
When we finally did get going this week, Claire was in her pjs and was eating breakfast with simultaneously "doing school."  Claire has a little kitchen apron with a big pocket on it that she got to wear during school time.  We started with reading the book and then going into a Bible lesson about being kind to others and giving.  In the story, the kind man in the city dumped out all of his tools and gave Katy his apron because he saw that she needed it!  We talked about how God wants that from us!  Deuteronomy 15:8 says, "but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be" and talked about 1 Timothy 6:18 "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share," and how important it is to be kind and give to others who have a need!  Great tie in to our story!     

Title Page
I had planned on using a coloring page of a kangaroo to use as the cover for this section of her preschool folder (I'm trying to keep her work in a binder for reference and just to keep for her).  She colored her kangaroo but then decided that she wanted to get some cutting practice in.  I did allow her to cut up the picture, deciding that it wasn't a huge deal if something else was to be the title page.  She did a pretty good job.  She's getting her hand grip down on the scissors, it's just cutting in straight lines she's working on.  To her, it's a game to practice with her little scissors so I figured I'd let her on, what I assumed, was supposed to be her title page.  No biggie.

Letter K and Kangaroos! 
I've mentioned before that Claire know and loves her letters and sounds.  We've been working on hearing those sounds in words and connecting that those sounds, together, make words.  It's been interesting to see the lights turn on in her head, periodically.  We don't push it but make it fun and just a part of our reading and school time if it leads into that.  Claire made a little pocket for her notebook and colored and identified several pictures and words that began with the letter "K." Then, I had her trace the uppercase and lowercase letter "K."  She is fantastic at tracing the letters.  Not so sure on writing them herself.  She wanted to try, so I let her. We'll get there! 

Then we moved on to kangaroos!  This was the fun part.  We colored another kangaroo picture (new title page for the notebook) and talked about several things that were true about kangaroos:
1. Kangaroos are marsupials.  Which means they all have a pouch (which led into a discussion about fiction and nonfiction/pretend stories and true stories, since Katy no pocket could not have had "no pocket" since she is a marsupial!) for their babies to grow and ride in.
2. Kangroos are from Australia. We looked at a world map online and pointed out where we live and where Australia is.
3. Kangaroos eat plants. 

4. Kangroos hop! And not just hop, but hop FAR!!  25 to 30 feet!  So we went outside with a tape measure and a little sidewalk chalk and demonstrated how far a kangaroo could hop and then did some hopping (in our apron, of course) ourselves!

Animal Classifications/Families
Our last "pen and paper" day we talked a LOT about animals.  We put a chart together that told us the names of different animals- Mother, Father and Baby. For example- A Mother Sheep is called a "Ewe," a Father Sheep is called a "Ram" and a Baby Sheep is called a "Lamb".    Kangaroo mommies are called "Fliers" Kangaroo daddies are "Boomers" and babies are Joeys.   Out of these assignment, we also got some glue usage practice "Dot, dot, not a lot!"
Our second foldable for our notebook was a little book showing what animals live in trees: spider, owls, birds, squirrels!

Just for fun (and after removing anything sharp or dangerous and under my watchful eye, I PROMISE) I took Claire back to the part of the story where the nice man dumps out all his tools and gives Katy his apron with all the pockets.  Soooo, we dumped out a tool box from the garage and identified all the tools from the story.  I let her look at and touch the tools, feel how heavy everything was, talked about what each might be used for!  Fun and simple!

The best part of the week, of course, was checking out all the animals at the zoo.  Unfortunately, the LA Zoo doesn't have a Kangaroo but they had some Wallabies which are small "look alike" Kangaroos.  We were able to point to how the are similar, (both hop, are marsupials, are from Australia) but that they weren't the same animal.  Clearly the favorites of the day were the elephants, the monkeys, the giraffes, the tiger, gorillas, rhino, the bear, zebras and the petting area.  We were very lucky. We went with my friend Cindy or "Nini" to Claire. It was a GREAT zoo day.  It was a hot day but the animals were out and moving and interactive. Ashlyn did great and was mesmerized by the elephants and couldn't stop staring at the giraffes.  Clearly had no idea what those huge animals were.  It's was so funny watching her utter wonder.   I'll leave with a few pictures from this great trip!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Kayaking Incident and The Little Rabbit

Kayaking and Cell Phones
This is the last picture I took on my old cell phone.  Christian, confident and ready to go on our Kayaking Adventure in Newport Harbor.  My parents bought us the 3 hour trip through Groupon for our 5th Wedding Anniversary.  We like adventure, so this seemed fun.  And it was, really fun and I can't wait to do it again.  However, we were pretty stupid and didn't put our phones in baggies or tupperware or anything.  Just assumed we wouldn't capsize.  And of course, we did.  Out in the middle of the harbor, we hit the wake of a pretty hard boat and the next thing we knew, we were in the water.  Thanks to a passing yacht, we were able climb back into our kayak but our phones were toast.  Thank God for insurance on both of them, but it was definitely a lesson learned.  But it took a little bit for Christian to take apart both phones, attempt to save them, realize it was a lost cause, call the insurance company and place the claim and wait for the new phones to get to us.   Luckily, thanks to Google+ and the Autobackup feature, I still have all my pictures that I took on my old phone. So the first couple of weeks, I took our homeschool pictures on my regular digital camera.  I went to find it, and lo and behold, I can't find the camera anywhere to upload for this blog post.  Luckily, I got a few on the new camera the second half of the week.  So, here goes:

Homeschool Preschool Week 3: The Little Rabbit
This past week we rowed, The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn.  Cute, cute story about a little girl raising a white rabbit who eventually has baby bunnies.  Brought back ALL KINDS of great memories for me from the days of raising our rabbits we had (didn't hurt that the main character's name was "Sarah" either).  The book is illustrated with photographs rather than drawings so that was a mice change up, too.  To Claire, this was "bunny week."  The week before, her Mommy and Me Music and Art Class did a bunny hat craft so she got to wear the hat during "school time."
  Our verse for the week was Proverbs 12:10a "Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast" which we talked about meant "a good mad takes care of his animal."  Claire could recite the little verse by the end of the second day pretty well, since the subject matter was so fun to her.  She loves animals and her own pet, our cat, Tara.  It was a perfect unit for her.

Colors and Drawing
The first day of these, I have tried to start with art of some sort.  So we went to a page in the book that has a photograph of the main character, Sarah, lying in a field of grass with her white bunny, Buttercup.  She is surrounded by pink flowers.  We took a large box of crayons (64 count box) and had to pick crayons that most closely matched the color of the grass, the flowers, the rabbit, Sarah's yellow shirt.  Then I had her try and copy the picture with a picture of Sarah in the grass with Buttercup of her own.  She did alright and is getting a little better at representing things she sees (although her work is still very Jackson Pollock)

Counting Bunnies
Again, I got a few fun printables that went along with The Little Rabbit from Homeschool Creations and there were several things to use for numbers and counting.  I love how she still thinks everything is a game.  The first page was pretty clearly a worksheet page.  I don't want to rely on them too much but as long as she loves them, I'll go with it for simple things.  This one had white bunnies in squares.  Some squares had 3 bunnies, some had 10, some had 8.  She counted the bunnies and circled the correct number.  She did great and only miscounted a few times when she'd forget a row or whatever.  It's fun to watch her develop like this.  Then we played a little counting game.  In the story, Buttercup gets lost in a rhubarb patch.  Homeschool Creations has printables of cards with numbers 1-20 on them behind little pictures of rhubarb.  The final card is a picture of the bunny.  I would hide the bunny under a number, and Claire would point out which rhubarb the bunny was hiding under (it wasn't too hard to figure out).  The trick was, that in order to break bunny free, she had to tell me the correct number the bunny was under.  If the number was over 12 or 13, she usually didn't know right away so we would count, pointing at all the numbers.  She wanted to do this over, and over and over again.  Great, great activity! 

Days of the Week
In the book, Sarah names Buttercup's 7 baby bunnies after the days of the week.  Perfect to teach the days of the week to Claire.  This made me bring up some of the things I used to do when I taught history to middle school kids.  I think art and drawing is a pretty powerful way to teach people of all levels and it's GREAT for teaching a three year old who doesn't quite know how to read yet.  Next to each day of the week, we drew a picture of things we do that day to help her visualize the concept of each day having a name during the week and to allow her to see that the week repeats itself, for the most part.  This will take a LOT of reinforcement and I'm thinking about posting something with her days of the week somewhere in her room so she, daily, gets the concept, not just during this lesson. 
Sunday: Drew a picture of Church
Monday: Drew a picture of a girl doing ballet since that is when she has her dance class
Tuesday: Drew a little girl smiling since there is nothing scheduled on Tuesdays and she gets to relax at home
Wednesday: Drew someone swimming since she has swimming lessons on Wednesday
Thursday: A picture of a Teddy Bear since she has Mommy and Me Music and Art Class that day (She calls it "Bear Class" since they sing the Teddy Bear Song every class)
Friday: Drew a picture of a car since we are going to try and do our homeschool fieldtrips on Fridays
Saturday: Drew a picture of Daddy since Daddy is home with us all day on Saturday  
We finished this day's lessons with singing the Mr. Rogers "Days of the Week Song" that I remembered learning as a kid.  She picked it up pretty fast and we sang it everyday after that.  

Writing and Letters/Sounds
Writing and copying is something I don't really push since I don't want to burn Claire out, but so far, she enjoys it so we go with it.  This week we focused on letters "R" for Rabbit and "H" for Hutch (the rabbit's home).  We did a few activities where she had to place all the items that began with letter H together, another game where she worked on syllables (not totally sure she really got this one but wanted to keep playing because she liked clapping the words out. . . definitely one to play again since she liked it and assume that soon it'll click).  The rest of our Language Arts time was spent writing out letters and words and sentences.  She is certainly proud of herself when she finishes a page. . . 

Compare and Contrast: Flowers and Animals/ Pet Rabbits and Wild Rabbits
Buttercup, in the story, meets several other animals.  There are also many scenes outside where the rabbits meet up with several types of plants and flowers.  So we did some classifications (super easy for Claire) and sorted the animals and flowers.  But then we talked about why they are different (animals move, make noise, breathe, etc. and plants do not.  
We also compared Buttercup with a wild bunny she meets in the meadow.  Buttercup is white.  The Wild bunny is brown so he can hide from predators.  Buttercup has pink eyes and the wild bunny has brown.  The wild bunny lives in a hole outside, and Buttercup lives in a hutch in Sarah's backyard.  

Taking Care of Pets: Mr. Rogers
One of the last things we did was I let Claire watch an old episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood about taking care of animals/pets.  It struck me how simple this little show was and how much Claire LOVED it.  You can find countless, FULL episodes here.

Sensory Box
Claire's favorite The Little Rabbit activity was definitely her sensory box she got to put together.  I ordered a little miniature hutch off Amazon for a few dollars and a miniture figure of a little girl holding a white rabbit.  She LOVED putting this together and playing with it. She talked all about it this was "Sarah and she's holding Buttercup they play in the grass and this is Buttercup's Hutch."  I could probably add more elements from the story- flowers, a turtle, another brown rabbit, baby bunnies etc. but this is what I had time for and it was great.

Field Trip: Kahoots Pet Store: 
On Friday, we took our very short field trip to Kahoots Pet Store so she could look at the baby rabbits and other pets there.  Unfortunately, she couldn't pet them and there seemed to be a very suspicious pet store employee following us around the store keeping a watchful eye on us as we looked at the animals.  Both girls loved it but it wasn't what I wanted.  Claire pointed to a little white baby bunny and said, "Look! It's Buttercup!"  Yay!  She connected it, though.  That's what I was going for! We wound up buying some cat litter and some cat treats for Tara and went on our way. . .

Moral of the story, wee three of Herman Family School went great!  On to week four!  Can't believe we've been at it for close to a month!  Doesn't seem that long!  Things will change, though, in a couple weeks when I return to the school part-time.  We plan to continue teaching her at home so I'll update with our new schedule and how we'll make it work and how it's working soon!  For now, enjoying these last several weeks!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Yellow Ball and Taking Steps

This past week we completed another theme week here at "Herman Family School" The book of the week was Yellow Ball by Molly Bang.  It's a very simple story of a ball that gets washed out to sea and returns home again!  The writing is very simple but the art is very nice, in my opinion, and it gave us a simple sweet week of "school" with a nice field trip with friends on Friday.
Colors and Shapes
We started out the first day with Claire making an art project to look like the cover of the book.  The Before Five in a Row manual said that we could do this any way we wanted-crayons, watercolor, chalk, etc.  But I decided that we'd go ahead and talk about shapes and practice our cutting with this one. I had Claire help me trace the circle, but I cut it out for her.  She cut the straight line on the dark blue piece of construction paper and did pretty well!  She still needs some practice, but she was proud of herself and I was impressed with her determination to get it right.  Then we talked about colors, variation on colors (light blue, dark blue) and shapes (rectangle, circle etc.).  This week, I saw Claire get much better with her shapes.  It's crazy that just doing these, fun, purposeful activities have allowed me to see growth in just a week and a half.  I love watching that!

Letter Y and Yellow
 Claire has no problem identifying colors, especially yellow.  Yellow is her FAVORITE color.  In fact, if you've been reading for a little while now, you may know Claire's 3rd birthday party was completely yellow.  She talked about her "yellow party" weeks before and for weeks, even months after (she still does if you ask her about her birthday).  So, this was not new for her but she loved doing it anyway.  I had planned on having her start with letter Y (another old concept for her) by gluing yellow yarn onto a construction paper "letter Y" but I realized, that morning, that I was out of glue.  Whoops!  So I improvised.  Claire has so many pages of small stickers, it's unreal.  So I wrote an uppercase and lowercase letter "Y" on construction paper and she just put stickers all along the letter.  She had a blast.  She will smack stickers on anything, so to have me tell her that that was her project was really fun for her.
 "Letter Y and Yellow Day" continued with making and coloring a book full of "things that are yellow," creating a pouch for another set of "things that start with the letter Y" and then gluing (well, in our case taping) everything to a sheet of yellow construction paper and practicing writing Ys on the page.  I'm saving her work from this in a binder so it will be easier to recreate with subsequent children and to watch her growth!  

Ashlyn's Walking!
But partway through our summer school homeschool week, Ashlyn started taking steps on her own. Wednesday night we were watching the Dodger game and she was watching the tv screen.  Absentmindedly, she took 4 or 5 steps and plopped to the ground.  Since then, she's been making more and more progress walking across the living room, on the stair landing, on the grass, anywhere!  She still prefers crawling as her mode of transportation, mainly because she can get places faster when she crawls. Proud of my little Peanut but sad that one more layer of her "babyhood" is now gone.

Storms and Jesus Calms the Storm 
But back on Claire's homeschool week, another day we discussed storms and what they were and read the Bible story from Matthew 8:23-27 in The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.  After our discussion, Claire drew a picture with crayons of Jesus calming the storm.  It looks much like a Jackson Pollack painting.  Sooo, thinking we have a genius on our hands. . . ha ;-)  But she drew in the waves and the boat and tried her best to draw a little picture of Jesus.  I have the picture but didn't take one of it and due to a kayaking mishap over the weekend, my camera phone (where I take the majority of these pictures) met with Newport Harbor and despite a valiant save effort by my tech savy husband, the phone is toast.  Waiting for a new one. . .

Lake Gregory and our Yellow Ball
The night before our final day of Yellow Ball Claire got to take a trip to "Toys R Us" and pick up her own, you guessed it, yellow ball.  Luckily, it only set us back about $1.50 and she was very excited.  

We were planning on taking her to the beach that day but a friend of our from church wanted to take a trip up to Crestline and Lake Gregory for the day and the more I thought about it, the better that idea sounded.  Not totally perfect with the book, since the book takes place at the ocean, but close enough for a 3 year old and since there were no waves, a drama-filled trip. So glad we decided on that!  We had a great time and she got to bring the ball along with her and play with it on the sand.  

Afterward, we went to lunch at a little diner with our friends and their son.  It was an amazing, fun and tiring day and so glad we did it!

By the end of the week, Claire was pretty adept at "reading" the book herself (part of the program is that you read the theme book everyday and discuss/point things out about the story or illustrations).  Fun stuff!