Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter for Preschoolers - Part 2

Yep...Definitely NOT meant to be homeschooling lately. As soon as Adrian finished his anti-viral medication, little Zahavah caught a bug of her own! NO!!! So please bear with me. Posting will be slow and sparse this week and next week as I nurse everyone back to health (and pray no one passes it around) but also because well, no one was feeling up to doing much school-wise. 

Cups Counters Easter Eggs 
Cups & Counters - Easter chocolate eggs & Easter "baskets

Using 36 "Dove Dark Chocolate Easter Eggs", Adrian had to distribute the right amount of eggs in the right "basket" (Williams-Sonoma ceramic bunny dish filled with Easter grass). The number cards were made by Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations. Jolanthe makes some of the prettiest printables out there and I often find myself using her number cards! :)

Pestle and Mortar Egg Shells 
Practical life - Pestle & Mortar Eggshell

We honestly haven't used the pestle and mortar in school since Adrian was a tot but knowing I was planning on using broken eggshell for a craft later, I thought I'd let Adrian smash some eggshell with the pestle just for fun. And how fun it was for him. He loved hearing the crushing sound it made and went at it very slowly per my instructions since we wanted the pieces to stay relatively big for the craft. Prior to the pestling, you'll need washed and then dried eggshells. Don't forget to remove the lining attached to the shell while washing.

Easter Chick Eggshell Corn 
Art & Dexterity : Easter chick

Here's the craft using the eggshells but also corn. I'm kind of liking the 3D art right now if you can't tell! :) For the template, I went with one made by Make and Takes. It's a beautiful, simple, yet realistic chick illustration. I told Adrian we'd fill the eggshell with eggshell and the chick with corn using liquid glue. We used brown eggshells so we would see more contrast on our paper but also because it's pretty much all there is to eat around here when you want fresh farm eggs. Looking back on it, I wish we would have done this chick in stretched cotton balls like the one we did earlier because I thought it looked so beautiful but I really wanted to work with small beans or something similar this week to get some small motor exercises in. 

Easter Sound Eggs 
Sensorial: Easter Sound Cylinders

Last time I did sound cylinders with Adrian, he was only 3 and we used glass baby food jars I had painted black. I recall him loving the activity and doing it three times in a row for an entire week. For Easter, I thought I'd present a "special edition" of the Montessori sound cylinders after seeing similar ones on Living Montessori Now. I wish my eggs would have been a bit more color coordinated  (2 colors only) but that'll have to wait until next year I guess. :) For now, Adrian loved shaking the eggs and matching them by sound. I opened the back row to show you what I put inside. Next time, I'll try to put in Easter-themed objects too! ;)

Broken Egg Match Pic Word 
Language: Matching Picture and Word of Broken Easter Eggs

Adrian is trying to read so I like encouraging it by doing literacy activities. We're kind of stuck at this time. He can sound the letters very well and has been able to do so for a year and a half now but for some reason, he does not want to "link" them up. We've been working on sounding letters one after the other slowly and then faster and faster so he would hear a word out of it but it doesn't seem to work. Instead, it seems to me as if he were memorizing words...lots of words. I'll be doing research on this soon. Anyhow, I prepared construction paper eggs for this activity (pastel colors for Easter), glued Easter-themed pictures on the bottom half and wrote the three letter words on the top. I then cut the eggs in half and presented the activity the next day (how last minute are we, huh?). Adrian knew some of the words so he matched those right away. His method was very disorganized.  He didn't try to read the words completely...a "p" immediately meant a "pen" to him and not a "paw" as it should have and so on so I had to intervene and slow him down and remind him how to proceed.

Broken Egg Pictures
Easter Egg Pictures

Words / Pictures used for our Literacy activity were as follow:

Prior to starting the matching of the broken eggs, I made sure Adrian knew what the pictures represented so he wouldn't be frustrated. After all, this was an "Easter edition"; the rat did have bunny ears and could have caused confusion! :)

Enjoy and Happy Easter to those of you you celebrate it!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter for Preschoolers - Part 1

Ha! Funny how things work sometimes. I usually plan only one week per theme, even for special holidays and occasions such as Easter and Halloween, but this time, I thought I'd plan two since Easter is so special. Well, I guess Someone is trying to tell me I should have stuck to the plan! :) Adrian was sick for quite a few days last week and as such, missed quite a bit of school time. As such, I won't have as much to post this week sadly. On the other hand, the virus is now gone and my "baby boy" is now fully recovered. :)

Easter eggs phonograms
Language - Easter Egg Phonograms

Word building. Adrian has been wanting to build words for a while now and thanks to a LeapFrog Fridge toy we own, he does get to build some but cannot think of all the possibilities and sometimes asks me for some new words he could build. I figured I'd introduce the moveable alphabet but it still hasn't arrived (our KidAdvance package has gotten lost apparently and a new one has been sent). As such, I thought I'd present this Easter basket filled with eggs presenting a dozen phonograms. I made these based on Jan Brett's beautiful Phonograms posters after seeing similar eggs presented on Kids Matter 1 who had linked up their posted to Living Montessori Now. Adrian was so delighted to to see the eggs. He quickly set to read all the word possibilities and then set to try them in the LeapFrog reader. The excitement in his eyes was worth the work on these little eggs. If he really cherishes them, I'll make them more permanent by writing the combinations with a permanent marker and thus remove the tape. 

Easter chick cotton balls
Art & Fine Motor: Easter Chick with Pulled Cotton Balls

This craft was one of Adrian's favorite in a while. He is not really artsy at the moment but he really loved doing this craft which I first saw on a blog hosted by the Conseil d'education Montessori. I first printed the chick template, cut it and glued it on yellow construction paper, colored the beak, legs and eye. Then, I told Adrian he'd have to cover the chick in feathers everywhere, except where there was color. He found liquid glue with a cotton ball in a bowl and another bowl filled with cotton balls. I showed him how to stretch the cotton balls to make them look feathery and then he was off to do the stretching and gluing himself. Once that was finished, I brought some corn which he glued for the chick "to eat" and finally, using white washable tempera paint and his index, he made dots all over the paper illustrating snow. Hey, it is still snowing over here...What can I say?

Flipping felt Easter eggs
Practical Life : Flipping Easter Eggs

Made out of felt, these pastel-colored eggs made their appearance this week, along with a kid-size spatula (made by Kidkraft, borrowed from Zahavah's kitchen) for a flipping activity. Unfortunately, Adrian did not flip for the activity. He flipped the eggs quickly but well and went on to the next tray...

Pulling Pipe Cleaner Carrots
Fine Motor - Pulling Carrots out of the Garden

Knowing your own finger strength is important. As such, I prepared here, a garden (egg carton) with twelve carrots (orange pipe cleaner pieces folded in half with a green pipe cleaner piece twisted around its top) to pull with fingers only. I guess they could be pulled by tweezers too but I was wanting Adrian to use his thumb and index today and feel how stronger or lightly he had to pull to get the carrots out. (Some holes had been poked bigger than others in the the egg carton). This activity was the biggest sensation this week. It was done, and red-done, and re-done. I mean, I thought it was cool too but I didn't think he'd like it THAT much! :)

Easter Eggs Pre-Writing Practice
Language: Pre-Writing Skills: Copying Lines and Shapes

I've been trying to evaluate Adrian's writing readiness lately. We've been working at strengthening his hands and thought I'd sneak in a fun way to see if he was making any progress. I don't want to rush him into writing letters as it would be counter-productive but I also know he should be able to draw some more shapes at his age. Here, I pre-cut some pastel-colored eggs, provided a pencil (equipped with a Grotto Grip for the first time) and showed him a progression of 10 eggs to copy. I asked him to look at what I had drawn on my eggs (one at a time) and to draw the same thing on his egg to decorate it. The first four were deemed acceptable and after that, it went nowhere. Technically, at his age, he should have been able to "write" pretty all of the eggs I presented him but his fine motor skills have always been rather below the norm. Back to our fine motor exercises and hand strengthening we go! If you wish to know the progression of our eggs to copy, here it is:

1. Horizontal lines
2. Vertical lines
3. Circles
4. Crosses
5. Right-to-left diagonal lines
6. Squares
7. Left-to-right diagonal lines
8. Letter "X"
9. Triangles
10. Diamonds

Easter Eggs in bushes
Decorating Bushes with Easter Eggs

Shortly after we arrived in Germany last year (yes, we have now been living here for just over a year), we noticed people decorated their bushes for Easter! We loved the idea and this year, Adrian and Zahavah came with me to purchase two dozens of plastic egg ornaments at our "euro shop". The very same afternoon, we decorated our bushes. I must admit some of our neighbors' bushes look much better because they have so many more eggs and they have perfectly round trees but I really wanted the kids to participate. Anyhow, isn't the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?

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Friday, March 22, 2013

St. Patrick's Day for Preschoolers - Part 3

In preparation for my St. Patrick's Day activities, I tried to stick with the symbols associated with the Celebration as well as with what Ireland was "known" for. Now I've never been to Ireland despite my really wanting to do so, so please don't take offense if I still associate the country with the potatoes and cabbage. :) In return, I promise not to take offense if you think of my home country, Canada, as a place filled with igloos, "American Indians" living in tepees, and Royal Mountain Police patrolling the streets of Montreal on their horses...

Pots of Gold cups and counters
Cups & Counters - Pots of Gold and Gold Coins

Math trays are always very popular here. This one flew off the shelves as soon as it hit them. A treasure chest filled with coins? Black cups and rainbow cards featuring numbers? Adrian just loved the sight; particularly the shiny coins. He quickly set to work. It was quite easy; put in the black cup (chocolate fondue bowl set) the amount of coins (from Hobby Lobby) listed on the rainbow cards (made by Carolyn Wilhelm from the Wise Owl Factory and available through Pre-K and Sharing). Now later that week, I changed the cards so they would feature higher numbers and present a further challenge. If you do want these, they are available through Pre-K and Sharing as well. It just so happens Ms. Wilhelm e-mailed me to let me know she had made them with numbers 11-20 after she saw my interest in having them in such a range. Yay! That  totally made my day! By the way, I first saw a presentation of these cards and coins on Living Montessori Now, reminding me I should not forget to include pots of gold in my activities!

Green Water Grading
Math Grading - Light to Dark Green Water Cups

Known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is often associated with the color green. As such, I prepared here a math grading exercise consisting of five little water cups filled with water and green food coloring. Adrian then had to sequence the cups properly from lightest green to darkest green. At first, it was easy but the two darkest ones were harder. Adrian had to pull up the paper behind the cups to see the difference in color and look towards the window to confirm his decision. 

Shamrock Potato Print Art
Art - Potato Stamping in the the Shape of a Shamrock

The Irish Potato Famine is not something I really discussed with Adrian. He is a bit young to understand all the causes behind this tragedy but I wanted to involve a potato in this week's activity, as a way to remember what happened in Ireland in the 1800s. The printmaking pictured above is the result of a small round fingerling potato dipped in green washable tempera paint and pressed against the paper in a way to make it look like a shamrock. Dipping the side of the potato and dragging it on the paper will make the finishing touches to your shamrocks.

Trimming Leprechaun Beard
Fine  Motor - Trimming Leprechaun Beard for the Parade

Who needs a trim before the St. Patty's Day Parade? The Leprechauns of course! Using a Leprechaun clipart (source was a newspaper but works only under image search?), I  glued a piece of orange construction paper in different length to each Leprechaun and made little cuts all along. Adrian's job was to trim all the beard so the Leprechauns would look "presentable" and all even prior to the Sunday parade. Basically, all the hair had to be even with the white paper. The idea here is simply to make using scissors fun. Adrian is finally getting the hang of the scissors so I'm trying to keep him interested in using them by presenting fun activities. Cutting just to cut, I figured, will get boring...

Acid or Alkali Cabbage Experiment
Cabbage Experiment: Alkali or Acidic?

Would it be completely cliché if I included cabbage in my St.Patrick's Day activities? Because I did. I figured it'd be a good time to sneak in a little bit of cabbage science involving acidic versus alkali! As such, I bought half a red cabbage, cut up some chunks, soaked the cabbage for a while, pour the water into different cups. I then gathered different liquids we had in the kitchen, got some spoons out and invited Adrian in. The cups were all aligned and one was pushed aside as our control cup. Nothing would ever be poured into that one. 

Adrian was then asked to pour different liquids into different cups to see if there was a change of color. We discussed prior to the pouring that the water turning pink would indicate the liquid being poured was an acidic one and that the water turning blue would mean it would be an alkali. I also told him some would be more vibrant than others and that some might not change the color at all as they might be neutral liquids. Needless to say, seeing how his favorite liquids changed the color of the cabbage water was quite fun. We tried orange juice, milk, ketchup, tabasco, lemon juice, and toothpaste (we rinsed glasses in between since we still had some cabbage water left). For more information on this experiment, visit Fun Kids Live.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Patrick's Day for Preschoolers - Part 2

Is St. Patrick's Day celebrated in your area? Growing up in Quebec, I remember hearing about it a tad bit but not much. Maybe if I had gone to the big city I would have seen something but overall, until I moved to the United States, St. Patrick's Day never seemed observed very much. Needless to say, it went by completely unnoticed in Germany as well...except for my Irish dinner of course! :)

Felt Shamrock Grading
Shamrock Grading - Math

If you can't tell already, I love felt and creating educational materials with it. For St. Patrick's Day, I prepared this very simple math activity consisting of five shamrocks. All five were in a different shade of green and all five were cut in a different size. The activity here was a grading one. Adrian could grade by shade of green (lightest to darkest) but also by size (smallest to biggest). Finally, we graded by size AND shade simultaneously starting by the biggest which was also the darkest. Adrian loved that combination the best. Original idea : Stay At Home Educator. Templates: Rubber Stamping.

buttoning leprechaun vest
Buttoning / Unbuttoning a Leprechaun Vest
Practical Life

Well, technically, it is my husband's vest but for the week, it was called a Leprechaun's vest! :) Adrian's fine motor skills could use some help in the buttoning / unbuttoning department and since learning to button and unbutton on one's self can be challenging, I presented it here on a bigger piece of clothing, hung on the back of a chair. The vest was ideal as it had a buckle to tighten it up on the back. It still gave Adrian a bit of trouble but with a bit of practice and time, he'll get the hang of it. His hands just need some more strengthening. 

Lentil Shamrock
Shamrock with Lentils - Art & Fine Motor

Fine Motor skills! I just have a hard time not including activities involving these on a daily basis. During St. Patrick's Day Week, I printed a beautiful yet simple shamrock template, put a glue bottle out and a plate filled with lentils. The task was simple yet tedious: cover all the black lines with glue and lentils. How beautiful is that? And I bet it didn't take as long as you think either! :)

Harp Debussy Worksheets
The Harp & Claude Debussy - Music

The harp and Ireland? Yes. Debussy and Ireland? Wait...What? I know it sounds strange but there is a relation I promise. The fact of the matter is, I wanted to include the harp this week. What better week anyway, right? We talked about the harp itself, how the harpist plays it, what it is made of, how big it really is and we watched a video of someone playing the harp (You Tube is wonderful!). We also played a little game of "Harp?" or "No harp"? with musical sound bytes involving harps, pianos, violins, etc. 
Now Debussy entered the picture with the harp because in many people's head, he really is the one who made the harp famous by writing pieces including such beautiful movements for the harp. As such, I thought I'd include our first composer study. We talked about Debussy himself, listened to his famous "Danse sacree et profane" written in part for the harp. I found a very nice video of two young harpists on YouTube playing this piece (A. Andruschenko & A. Sadikova) and we listened to it while we created our lentil shamrock. Debussy is very soothing. When the piece was over, I put on other famous compositions by Debussy as we wrapped up our day. I am hoping to include a new composer every month and hopefully link him/her in with our unit as I did  here.

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Indoor Rainbow

Well that one worked...a bit. Our mirror was so tiny that we ended up with a tiny rainbow Adrian could barely make out. As such, no picture! :) If you do happen to have a bigger mirror, make it shine! Escapade Direct has instructions.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day for Preschoolers - Part 1

St. Patrick's Day activities! A tad bit late yes but it's nothing you didn't expect, right? :) All week I'll be posting about what we did last week to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Now, I do not have any Irish background whatsoever but my dear husband does on his father's side so it made our week all the more significant.  To you all dear readers, but particularly to you in Ireland, a Happy belated St. Patrick's Day.

froot loops marshmallow st.patrick art
"Froot Loops" Rainbow & Marshmallows

I know this craft is nothing new. I wouldn't even know who to credit for the idea since I saw it on so many blogs. I must credit We Made That for the template though! I know they used cotton balls for their clouds but I thought marshmallows were going to be just as cute since we were using food already for our rainbow. Now, this is not just a craft! After the rainbow was completed, I did ask Adrian about his use of "Froot Loops". For example, I asked him which color he used the most, the least and why he thought that was. We also counted the cereal, discussed the colors used, etc. A craft doesn't have to be just that. Other facets of learning can very well be involved.

Green KidO Puzzle
Kid O Green Wooden Puzzle - Narrowest to widest & darkest to lightest

We've had this Kid O puzzle for a few years now and although it is quite basic for Adrian, I still brought it out. Needless to say, it took mere seconds for him to complete it. 

Tweezing St. Patty's Pompoms
Tweezing green pompoms into green ice "cube" container

Found this ice tray at a local bargain store while we still lived in the United States. First time we use it. I thought it'd be great to bring it out for St.Patrick's Day Week being that it's green! It also happens to be the perfect size for the small pompoms. Add to it Learning Resources' tweezers and you're all set to tweeze pompoms into the tray.

Ireland Lapbook
Ireland Lapbook

I've never put together a lapbook. I'm not much of a Lapbook person or worksheet person. Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge nerd and I personally loved them as a child (still so!) but they're a lot of work to put together and they're not that much fun for younger children much of the time. Adrian would much rather handle objects than a piece of paper. Anyhow, being that we were talking about St.Patrick's Day, I gave him bits of information about it through the week but only orally. Towards the end of the week, I finally decided to present an itsy bitsy Lapbook containing 3 sheets: a map of Ireland, a map of Europe showing where Ireland is in position to Germany (where we currently live) and a blank flag of Ireland ready for coloring (with labels at the bottom). We went through it all rather quickly because the interest was not really there. Maps can be printed by visiting DLTK's Coloring and the flag at HomeschoolShare.

Green Oobleck Gak Goop
Is is Oobleck, is is gak, is it goop? Liquid or solid?

Well although no one seems to agree on the name of this substance...everyone seems to agree on how fun it is! I initially had thought of making green slime for St. Patrick's Day but Borax being difficult to get here made me go with something more natural: Goop! I colored my water with a few drops of green food coloring prior to mixing it in the cornstarch so it would be a nice green in honor of the Patron Saint. If you need instructions on how to make goop, it's pretty simple, I personally just asked Adrian to pour 1 cup of cornstarch into the bowl followed by half a cup of green colored water. I then mixed it with a spoon. It takes a few minutes to mix well so be patient before adding more water. You really won't need more. As for the fun part, Adrian wasn't so sure about plunging his hands into the bowl so I let him stir with the spoon for a bit. Then I demonstrated. I slowly inserted my finger into the goop and then quickly. He thought it was fascinating how goop could be both a liquid and a solid. We let it run through our fingers and then quickly grabbed some and tried to make a ball with it. We also poured from one bowl to another. Hard to do. Almost solid going from one to another yet very liquid looking at the bottom of both! Fascinating!

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St. Patrick's Day - Celebrated on March 17 for over 1,000 years already!

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Candy Week for Preschoolers - Part 2

Candy Week! Should I have included all sweets?  I thought it'd be fine if I just stuck to pure candy since the concept is  so large. I wish we would have had time to do more but I do prefer doing things well and enjoying them over rushing things and doing more. This week would have been perfect for tasting bottles again for example and pretending that they are candy extract. It would have been a perfect time for smelling bottles too for the same reasons but we all know I still haven't accumulated enough spice bottles yet! :) So here is what we did instead...

Play Dough Candy
Playdough Candy - Art & Fine Motor

Don't these look yummy? I personally made these for the picture but Adrian made the ones pictured below. The reason why is simple: I'm currently trying to strengthen his hands () so every so often we'll be, working with Theraputty instead of play dough. Theraputty is pretty much Silly Putty...with a very important comes in different strengths. I got him a jar of medium firmness for now and wow, towards the end of the 9th candy, it was getting a bit difficult. The stretching of the putty, the "cutting" the shaping, and finally the "candy" wrapping and twisting of the wax paper? Quite the workout. But you know what? He loves working with Theraputty so you'll be seeing more of this stuff.

Theraputty Candy Exercise
Theraputty Candy - add an extra challenge!

Gummy Bear Patterning
Gummy Bear Patterning - Math

Using Haribo's Tropical Gummy Bear variety, I started a pattern on a plate which Adrian then had to pursue. I always encourage him to say it out loud: "red bear, yellow bear, red bear, yellow bear,..." as a way to make it rhythmic. That rhythm always helps him find out what comes next.

Chocolate Chips Name
Write your name in chocolate chips - Literacy & Fine Motor

I bet your name has never sounded so yummy! :) I personally wrote Adrian's name on cards and then let him organize the cards in order to form his name (he can spell it). The last task was for him to place chocolate chips on top of his name. He had to place them the way he would write the letters of course. 

Lollipop Color Tablets
Lollipop Color Tablets - Sensorial & Math

Ah the Montessori color tablets. *sigh* I've been longing to buy them but never could justify spending that kind of money for something used "so little". Then I thought of making them with the paint samples from a hardware store but could never bring myself to "stealing" the samples knowing very well I wasn't going to buy these paint colors. In the end, Adrian is 4.5 years old, he knows his colors pretty well so I never really bothered any more than that until two weeks ago when an idea germinated in my head: lollipop color tablets! Candy week was coming! Lollipops come in many colors and I had this big stack of felt in 40 colors! I quickly set to work and came up with my own set of color tablets. Now of course, the "real" color tablets are serious business with three different sets and a proper way to be handled. Mine are more on the fun side and well, I presented all 40 colors to Adrian since he's older but when I present these to Zahavah, I'll probably present set "1" first (blue, yellow, red only) and then move on to set 2 and finally set 3.  Adrian did pretty good matching the lollies adjusting his mistakes as he went. I then asked him to group them the lollies into color families and to finally organize them within their families from darkest to lightest. 

Smarties Graphing
Smarties Graphing - How many Smarties in One Tub?

Unless you live in the U.S., finding a tub (or box for my Canadian friends) of Smarties should not be too hard. This made this exercise quite easy to put together. I printed the graph here on Life on Canterbury Lane and then, using the entire tub of Smarties, Adrian put one of each color at the bottom and then sorted the rest. He finally counted them all (just because he likes to count everything) and tasted one of each (just because he could). I guess this could be done with M&Ms or Skittles. Any colorful candy would work in fact. I simply used Smarties because we do have these on hand every so often. I quite fancy them...even if they are not as colorful as they were in my youth! :)

M&M Dissolving Race
M & M Dissolving Race - Cold VS. Hot

Will an M&M dissolve faster in cold or hot water? Have your child guess and then find out but having  him or her drop a candy in a cold tub and a hot tub. Adrian thought it was a pretty exciting race. (He also really liked how the M&M  dropped on the side of the bowl made an entire circle by the time it had completely lost its red coat.) After seeing how the candy produced such beautiful colored water, we decided to make paint out of it  by dropping more red M&Ms and then making other "paint" colors. See my previous post on Candy Week for the beautiful results. Original idea: Mamas Like Me.

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