Saturday, April 19, 2014

Our Curriculum 2013-2014

It's April 2014 so our school year is almost complete. It's just in time to document the major curriculum we've used this year.   My approach has been rather simple. Not simple as in "easy" ~ not at all actually.  It's been simple as in "not complicated".   Maybe I could say "straight-forward", but you get the drift.  My focus has been on the things I know are most important and that we can do well and consistently.  The rest of the activities just fall into place as we have time or opportunity.   It's been a great year!

Turbo: Age 6  (1st Grade)
This boy thrives on a challenge. He's quick, funny, determined and has a terrific attitude about learning. He is such a joy to teach and learn alongside.  He loves to listen to stories and to read to his sister. It's the most darling thing to see him choosing his free reading books based on what Sweetie will like.  I treasure these special years.  It is my greatest joy to spend my days with these children and couldn't imagine a better way to spend my time.  

DAILY - These are the things that comprised our CORE school day.  
Bible: Reading Bible stories and narrating
Math: RightStart Math B (1st edition) ~ already finished. Math Mammoth Worksheets as supplemental until we begin Math C.
Reading:  Various Library Books
Memory Work ~ Classical Conversations (CC) Cycle 2
Handwriting: Handwriting without tears & various worksheets
Morning Binder: Daily Drawing, calendar, days of school chart, math practice sheets etc. 

NOT DAILY   These didn't comprise our CORE school day, but were done with various regularity thought the year. 
Literature: Various Books (read by me)  (Most Days)
Language Arts ~ First Language Lessons (probably weekly as this wasn't a high priority for me)
Science / Fine Art ~ CC weekly science & fine art; other impromptu things at home
Field Trips ~ Various (Nutcracker, Aquarium, Farm, Disneyland, Legoland, Beach & more)
Presentations ~ Prepare for and give weekly presentations in front of CC class
Handicrafts ~ Beading, Weaving, Household chores, Sewing

We certainly have done plenty of other things, but these are the main ones on the schedule. 

Classical Conversations (weekly for 24 weeks)
Enrichment Program for Science, Health/PE and History (weekly for 12 weeks)
Nature Study (weekly for 6 weeks)
Science / Activity Co-op (weekly for 4 weeks)

Sweetie: Age 4  (Pre-K)
This joyous child loves to play, imagine, dance, sing and more.  While she didn't desire 1:1 lessons in the 3Rs, she loved to do family learning and group activities.   So she participated in everything we did!  In addition, she loves to write and practically taught herself how to form all her letters. Great Job Sweetie!  She's kind, funny, sporty, girly, crafty, entertaining and more...She's truly my sweet joy. 

DAILY (she participated in these lessons each day)
Bible: Reading Bible stories and adding to Turbo's narration
Memory Work ~ Classical Conversations (CC) Cycle 2 ~ shortened review time

NOT DAILY   (While these were not required for her, she always participated.)
These didn't comprise our CORE school day, but were done with various regularity thought the year.   
Literature: Various Books (read by me)  (Most Days)
Science / Fine Art ~ CC weekly science & fine art; other impromptu things at home
Presentations ~ Weekly Presentations given in front of CC class
Field Trips ~ Various (Nutcracker, Aquarium, Farm, Disneyland, Legoland, Beach & more)
Handicrafts ~ Beading, Weaving, Household chores
Lots of coloring, drawing, worksheets and creative crafty activities

GROUPS  (These are required for her and she loved them!)
Classical Conversations (weekly for 24 weeks)
Nature Study (6 weeks)
Science / Activity Co-op (4 weeks)

This week, I promoted her to Kindergarten so we could lay a foundation of doing school together between now and the fall.  She's SO excited to be in Kindergarten and has been doing her daily Math and Reading lessons happily!  It's exciting to see her ready for some light lessons. I love teaching her!

Well, that's all I have time for right now.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tot School

LilSweetie is 24 months 
(During this TotSchool)

She plays so well by herself and is undemanding of my attention for the most part. Actually she takes it further and really prefers to do it herself - story reading, project work, playing with toys.  "Do it myself - Mommy go over 'dare" is almost her mantra. On the other side, Turbo prefers to have my time and attention every minute of the day. He wants to do his school work on my lap (mostly a 'no') and considers me his primary playmate. Too many nights I've put the kids to bed and realized LilSweetie's only 1:1 time with me was story and lullaby before bed. Can someone say Mommy guilt!

So I'm especially grateful to do Totschool with LilSweetie as it's ensuring she gets my focused time. She, now,  understands we do 'school' together and we're both enjoying this time tremendously.

We're using Carisa's TotSchool Printables combined with tray activities.

Since we're doing most things together, I don't have tons of pictures - plus I forget to take them.

This was our first weeks of TotSchool, so I kept the trays to a minimum and used these for two weeks to get a sense of what she really enjoyed, how she'd respond to a toy she'd mastered and what she didn't prefer or seem to understand.

Here's where I keep her trays.

Sorting. She didn't care to do it at all.  Maybe I should have put a picture on the bottom of each container. Even after a week of just playing with the items, when I encouraged her to put the Monkeys here and the Turtles there, she wasn't interested.  Next time I'll change it up and make it more simple for her.

Lacing Snake. She enjoyed this at first and chose it several times. By the next week, she had started to pass it up.

Puzzle. She played with this shape puzzle significantly more than I anticipated.  I imagined it would be easy and boring for her, but no. She chose it almost every day for two weeks.

In/Out/Open/Close.  HUGE HIT. She played with this often for the entire two weeks. She'd lay out the cups and put a ball on top. She'd open the container, put in the balls while counting them, then close it up.

Color Wheel.  This was a completely new concept for her. She'd not worked with clothespins before nor done color matching. She enjoyed this and chose it several times.


Lots of drawing on the whiteboard. She does great with the pens so I leave them out for her.


Much more stuff, but seriously inserting a picture to blogger from picasa webalbum is getting frustrating because of some technical problems. I've been trying to post this for almost a week and so I have to just move on.  Darn blogger - I love you and you frustrate me!

Learn more about TotSchool here!  
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preschool ~ Oceans Theme Part 2

We loved this theme and could have continued on for another two weeks with all that Turbo still wants to learn!  Here's some of our activities these past two weeks.

Art - We stamped an Under the Sea poster with large foam stamps.  This is a terrific activity for him. It's helping him practice 'staying within the lines' and I saw a quick improvement to his coloring.

He did a free painting with a circle foam brush. He says its round fish and waves.  We also make these adorable ocean animals by connecting their parts with brad fasteners.

We read Over in the Oceans, a lovely book and were inspired by one of the pictures.

So we made this....

Build a Fish
We used the cute templates from Sparklebox to make these adorable creatures - 6 in all.  Even LilSweetie got in on the fun. You poke holes in the pieces and attach with a brad. The kids loved that the parts moved! LilSweetie's is the Turtle and she cherished it!

Of course we played Go Fish! He loves this game and will play it 100 times in a row if I will too. Daddy does, but not Mommy.

We also played Fish Bingo. I thought this was from Monterrey Aquarium website, but can't find it now. Sometimes we dumped them on the floor and other times we put them in ABC order. They have a paperclip on them and we used a magnetic fishing pool to fish and then mark our BINGO cards.

Sensory Tub
What's a fun theme without a sensory tub? The kids love these and I love that I can now leave them out! Both kids do a great job keeping it together.

We went to the beach of course! Love this beach because the sand is so soft and the water is rocky. That means the kids don't want to wade too far into the water and I can more safely take both by myself.

I had some directed play activities, but didn't use them at all. They were having such a great time playing with the sand that I didn't want to interrupt that.

 Turbo was SO excited to see Sand Bugs. Lil Sweetie and I say....Ewww.

You can see our Ocean Theme Part 1 and Ocean Book list if you're looking for more.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ocean Books

Here are some of the Ocean Theme books we read these two week. I'm sharing the ones we read more than once and the kids enjoyed.
This is a sweet story about seasonal changes on an island and the secret it has to share.
This was an absolute Favorite! We made Seaweed soup at the beach, pretended to make it at home and read the story several times.
Touching and unique story about a boy and his walk with his Gramma.  She’s in a wheelchair and still they go to the ocean, around the lighthouse and see the sights together.  Loved this tear jerker!
Our favorite book about Tide Pools. Great use of words to describe the feeling, look and movement of the sea life. Great info too!
the kids really liked this one
A great book about Sea Turtles. Lots of facts written in the form of a story. This was read many, many times.

The following books were also enjoyed! These are fiction/fact books vs story books.
The Seashore
Starfish, Seashells and Crabs
Seashore, Eyewitness books
Exploring the Sea
Wonders of the Sea
Exploring an Ocean Tide Pool
Life in the Water
Life in the Sea

See our Ocean Theme Posts
Oceans Part 1
Oceans Part 2

Ocean Theme ~ Part 1

In addition to our Core Lessons, we had an excellent time learning about the Oceans. It's a vast subject and I wasn't sure where to being.  I was thrilled to find the Sea Searchers Handbook to give some spine to our studies. I went through the online book and selected several units, then got some supporting books from the library.  These were all terrific!!  We learned about Wind and Waves, Tides, Crabs and Food Webs.  I don't have pictures of everything because I was playing too!  Here's one though....

Tides to Siphon:  Here we are learning about Tides. We added rocks, gravel, plastic sea creatures to our tub, then filled it with 4 large bowls of water to simulate High Tide. As it filled, we talked about which creatures were getting covered by the water and which ones were out. We used a plastic lid to make waves and see how it lapped up over the tallest rocks.  Then we siphoned the water out to simulate the tide receding.  That's when the tide learning stopped and the "how a siphon works" learning began. He was SO interested in his. He would raise and lower the end to watch the flow slow and speed up. He would add air to make it stop and have me restart it.  Eventually we went back to the low tide and tide pool discussion, but the highlight was siphoning!

Ocean Words ~ Turbo loved reading each of these during the day as the mood struck.  It also helped to remind him what he learned and would spark questions.  He mostly wants to know about "what does it eats and who eats it." He ends up using the vocabulary frequently in conversations. Adorable.

Tide Pool Fan
This was so fun! Turbo got to cut, glue and hole punch.  He did a great job with the hole punching too! It's from here.

Commotion on the Ocean Fun! 
What I Learned book
Each day I read an ocean book to Turbo and he would recount something he learned from it and draw a picture.  Drawing and coloring have not been favorite things for him, so I wondered how he'd like this. He had a great attitude and enjoyed it.  You can see he used the Tide Pool Fan as a reference point for his drawing. He had a hard time grasping what I wanted initially, then worried that he couldn't draw a good picture. A little encouragement and he did a great job!
We also did several other parts of that unit. The graphing with tricky pieces thrown was huge fun around here. Turbo loved to identify all the tricky pieces before we got started and used them for a different activity later.  We did the Ocean labeling, Schema and Devotion to the Ocean. There's still so much more here for another go-round!

Does and Egg float in water or saltwater?  We tested the eggs and completed a little booklet.  The egg does indeed float in saltwater. Turbo thought that was very cool.  Then we poured out half of the salt water and added the fresh water.  Can you guess what happened? It floated in the middle - under the fresh water and on top of the salt water.    

Blubber Test
After our ocean visit where the water was quite cold, we read about whales.  Naturally the question "How do they stay in that freezing water so long" came up. So we did an unplanned experiment to explain.  Take one bowl of icy water, 2 ziplock bags and 1 container of Crisco and you've got your very own blubber experiment.  They first put their hand in the icy water until it was reeaaalllly cold - about 45 seconds for Turbo.  Then we put the Crisco in a ziplock to simulate the blubber.  We didn't want greasy fingers so we covered our hand with a second ziplock.  Then into the blubber and into the icy water.  "WOW!! Where's the cold" was the response.  You couldn't feel the cold at all for at least several minutes!  Very fun experiment.

Circle Time Activities
  • Rhymes ~ She Sells Seashells; A sailor went to sea;
  • Reviewed the Oceans on the globe
  • Sang Oceans songs - My Bonnie, I'm a little fishy, Take me out the Ocean, and the very favorite "Did you ever see a fishy". We ran around to the songs, but this one kept us running the most.  
  • Videos from Monterey Bay Aquarium
Pretend Play
Pretend to sell seashells

Nature Table
Shells and Magnifying Glass was a huge hit.

Books ~ Oh my! We read tons of books these two weeks. I began reading to them during dinner and they LOVE it.  It also helps dinner time go smoother ~ less goofing, chattering and such.  More eating, listening and talking. (yes, there's a huge difference between chattering and talking!)  All the titles are downstairs right now so I'll do another post.

Resources ~  It get time consuming to post links on each item when there's so much overlap. I will absolutely do that when I have time.  Since I won't post without the link-backs, I wanted to at least get them in the easiest way.
Balanced Literacy Unit - Commotion on the Ocean - Great resource with TONS of stuff. We did several things and will go back for more next go-round.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Teachers Place - The Sea Searchers Handbook and online videos were a key part of our theme learning., ~ We used theme printables from these sites.  (If you're looking, I didn't post about them.)


Here's our Weekly Wrap Up post and Stay tuned for another post with our Books, Art, Games and Outings!!   (Updated: links to related posts)

Linking to: Preschool Corner

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Preschool Week 1 & 2 ~ Wrap Up!

We had such a great start to our Preschool!! It was better than I expected.  Turbo was thrilled about most of the activities and thinks school is super fun.   Here's a few things we did.

Character:  Orderly
We learned the song and verse from  We created some new Order within our playroom and we looked for opportunities to compliment each other being orderly.  This has made an impact in our relationships. He's really looking for nice things to say to me and his sister. I LIKE THAT!

We worked on l, t, i, j & v these two weeks. I'm using the Kumon Lowercase letters workbook with various warmup and practice to start.

Reading:We're using Hooked On Phonics as I found an excellent deal on an older version. While Turbo placed in the First Grade book, I decided to start him in Kindergarten. I thought the transition to structured phonic learning was enough for him to tackle. Good decision. He saw the words, thought it was easy and started rushing the reading. He made mistakes on words he knows very well.  By day 3 it was vastly improved. Stickers are such a motivator.
He also chose his Tag Reader, Bob Books and various Early Readers for additional practice.

We started RightStart Math Book A. It was a toss up because he placed in Book B and the staff at Rightstart encouraged it. Still, I decided to order both A & B as I'm sure LilSweetie will start in A.  Upon looking through both books, I chose A for Turbo. It goes a little slower and that's our pace for this year.  He likes it and thinks it's fun. Here's a picture of the items for one lesson. No pencil in that box!! Just fun manipulatives. Turbo loves that part of the program.

Theme: Oceans!
Turbo loves themes and so do I.  We incorporate our theme into circle time, books, hand-on learning activities, videos to watch and so forth.  There's a ton of activities here - I'll do another post.

Outing: Beach
Somehow we hadn't made it this summer.  While we went last year, the kids didn't remember that. So it was like seeing it for the first time again.  Oh how I love these early ages!!  The joy as they played in the sand and splashed the water.  Turbo was so surprised it was COLD!  We played with driftwood, found crabs (alive and dead), built sandcastles and chased seagulls.  We saw a pelican dive for fish to the surprise of LilSweetie. It was a special day.  The thing missing was Daddy. I'm sad he didn't get to join us due to a work situation.  We might make another trip next week together.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Power of language

Last month, we're in the car. Music on, Mommy and LilSweetie singing. 
Turbo: Mommy, I know what this is called a collar (pointing to the collar on his shirt)
M: Why?
T: Because it sits on your collar bone.

HA! At least one of us was having deep thoughts. Not sure how he knew that was the collar bone though.

Today our interchange goes like this...
Me: "Turbo" (only I used his real name), go get dressed please.
T: No thank you
M: Honey, it's time to get dressed
T: (in such a nice, sweet voice) Mommy, I said no. You say no sometimes and I listen to you. When I say no, you should listen to me.

As much as I tried to suppress, a laugh escaped as it was so funny and unexpected.  I reminded him I was the Mommy and with a big hug and a tushie pat, sent him to get dressed. 

Oh the joy seeing him connect and use language for understanding and... persuasion.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Day

Today is my birthday (I'm 35) and for my 22 month old, should be like every other day.

As usual, this morning Turbo and I go to Little Sweetie when she wakes.  She greets us with her sweet, little "Hiiiiii" and huge smile, just like everyday.  As I reach her crib, she says "Happy Day" to me.  This is her "Happy Birthday".  Let me tell you, my heart just melted.   Happy Day indeed!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Storage

Books, I love books. The ones on our shelves are full of amazing ideas, information and stories.  When our family grew, our personal space shrunk. At a time when we had less room for bookshelves, we had all new genres of books we were adding (parenting, child education and ALL the kids books).   We purged our shelves donating many wonderful books and storing the ones which we couldn't part.  I'm reaching another critical mass with books and am not willing to do another major purge - so what to do?

Two things -
#1 ~ We found some additional room for a bookshelf!
#2 ~ This is the brilliant one for me ~ USE BASKETS.  This allows me to categorize the kids books and store them front to back on the shelf - expanding the number of books that will fit ~ by a lot! YEA!

I just had to post because it was brilliant and if I put it here, I won't forget the idea or where it came from.  If you want to see pictures - check out Three Plus Two blog just be prepared, she has A LOT of books.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer & Preschool Plans

I'm so excited that Summer is just around the corner - despite the chilly weather we're having! 

This summer is shaping up to be a full one! The exciting part is our Holiday to visit all our East Coast family.  This is the highlight of our summer and we are looking forward to it more than I can say.  The kids know Rick's parents well and are super excited to see them, visit their house and see their cousins. We're expecting another niece or nephew to join the family soon!! So we'll get to meet the baby on this trip too.  After we get back, we'll have a little down time, Vacation Bible School, then a little Camp through our community.   Blink ~ The summer is over and School starts.     They say that the years go by faster once your kids get in school.....Seriously, I can't even imagine, but it will happen this year!

Turbo turns 4 this year and it is very customary in our area to send them to preschool. We picked a great one where Turbo would go 3x per week for 2.5hrs per day.  We enrolled, paid a deposit and on some frustrating days, I found myself counting the days until he'd go!  However, once it came time to turn in all the final paperwork, Rick and I decided it wasn't the best strategy for Turbo or our family.

So we're not sending him to traditional Preschool, but will do it together instead. While it was a difficult decision at first, I'm THRILLED about it now. I'm looking forward to our continued freedom to go and do as we'd like instead of being tied down to the school year when the kids are so little.  With the kids at 4 & 2, we'll be able to spend much time on adventures and exploring. 

So I'm in the process of planning away.  While we won't be heavy on the academics, I want to provide him with material that keeps him a bit challenged and interested. We'll be doing lapbooks, TONS of outings, art projects, and lots of other learning through fun stuff.  

So that's it for now.  No pictures again ~ I know. It's the biggest challenge in why I haven't been blogging.  So many have suggested Windows Live Writer that I will look at it over the summer and see if that makes it easier to blog. I really want to blog weekly once we start school. It was awesome to look back over these past 18 months and relive such fun moments. 

Ok, I found a couple to post! Here are soem from our Dirt Park riding adventures earlier this month. You can be sure we'll be doing this often. The kids had a blast. Turbo was amazing on the big hills. Sweetie just wanted to be on his bike with Daddy pushing her.  Cute!

Monday, April 4, 2011

San Francisco MOMA

Taking a 3 year old to MOMA wasn't high on my to do list. However, we've been doing a group art class with 5 other kids and it was so fun. What better way to supplement our activities then by going to see some of the real things! Plus I'd be going as a group, so that would work.  Then to find out Rick had to be out of town and Little Sweetie would join us.

The idea of bringing a 1.5 year old (who wants to walk everywhere, touch everything and climb constantly) to MOMA, while also trying to interact with my 3 year old (and keep him from touching) was just below getting a tooth pulled without pain meds. HA!  Still I put on a positive outlook and hoped we'd last an hour!  I set my expectations really low and decided to go for it!

The day was a huge success! Turbo really enjoyed the museum. They have a small kids area and on scheduled days have Art related crafts for them.  Today we made Zeotropes.

The kids were able to make Mondrian inspired art on the computer. He was the first artist we studied 7 weeks ago and the kids all still remembered his name and his art!

Little Sweetie played with the blocks, climbed on the chairs and read the books

We went on the Family Tour. It was a tough time for Little Sweetie since she wanted to be walking. There is art and platforms everywhere and just too tempting for little fingers. So Little Sweetie was mostly held.  The Docent was terrific! She just took Turbo up with her and went about the tour.  I was so proud of him that he really listened to the directions and didn't touch the art at all.
The tour was on the museum sculpture. 
Turbo enjoyed creating his own puzzle piece sculpture.

Finished Sculpture!
Lots of outdoor sculptures (Although I didn't get many pictures due to a squirmy girl!)

After the tour we walked around a bit more. Turbo was intrigued why chairs, equipment and such were art. We talked about grouping with an artful eye and artistic display of common items and how those can both create art.  

Then we went to the cafe for a snack. Doesn't this Mondrian cake look amazing! Even the kids were impressed!

We were there for OVER THREE (3) HOURS! Can you believe it!  We were on our way to the elevators and Turbo declares he would like to see even more.  Nothing a promise of a Pocky Stick in the car couldn't change.  Here's all of us at the end of our long and wonderful day.