Monday, July 27, 2015

Amelia Earheart for Preschoolers

Amelia Earthart day was on July 24th, and in honor of that I did a lesson on Amelia Earthart for my daughter. First, we went to the library's biography section to look for books we could find on Amelia Earhart, we checked out three but this one was definitely my favorite for my daughter/the preschool age group: 
It's the National Geographic Kids Amelia Earhart book. It was very to the point and factual, while remaining easy to follow along with and captivating. It holds attention and helps kids listen to and learn those facts they otherwise might not care to. I thought it was the perfect book for teaching preschoolers about/introducing preschoolers to Amelia Earthart.

We didn't just get books about Amelia Earhart though, I also asked the librarian if they had any biographies on other female pilots and she gave me a few names and we checked those out as well. I set them all out on the table how we would for a book club.

The books we got about other female pilots were "Brave Harriet" about Harriet Quimby, "Flying Solo" about Ruth Elder, and "Daredevil" about Betty Skelton.

We used these books, this day, and the example of Amelia Earhart as an opportunity to talk about how women haven't always had equal opportunities when it comes to people giving them jobs or believing they could do whatever they set their minds too. We talked about how she can grow up to be whatever she wants to be, and how so many women (we're also talking about Marie Curie for our scientist of the month) paved the way for that by being brave and following their dreams.

To follow this up you can also make a airplane craft! There's many options for kits on line, or you can just make paper airplanes, draw airplanes, print pictures out to color, etc.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Still Life Panda Painting

Isn't that a beautiful painting? My daughter named it "The Pandas" 

I set up some panda things for my daughter to look at inspiration, which is how it's kind of like a still life painting. I set out three different panda stuffed animals and a EnviroKidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs Cereal box. I gave her white paper, and black paint only at first. Once she finished her pandas I provided some green paint for her to add some bamboo if she wanted.

I love activities like this because it allows the kids to try something new. They are probably used to painting however they'd like on paper, or painting wooden objects, and this is very different from that. Yet it can still be considered a process art which is what many parents want their young kids doing, focusing on the process instead of the product. Ours ended up being a great product as well, but if your child ends up using the colors and creating their own thing still just celebrate the abstractness :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Healthy Banana Cream Pie Smoothie (Vegan)

 Doesn't this look delicious? I love making my daughter healthy smoothies for breakfast or snacks, and I'd like to share a recipe for a vegan banana cream pie smoothie that's healthy! She helped me make it, like usual, so I also added the label "Preschoolers in the Kitchen" because this is one the kiddos can help grab the ingredients for and push the button on the blender!

- 1 ripe organic banana
- a graham cracker (blend 1/2 into the smoothie, then save the other 1/2)
- 1/2 cup organic almond milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
- 2 ice cubes

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender, and pour them into a cup. Then sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top, and stick part of the graham cracker into the top.

My daughter liked drinking this with a straw, so you might wanna add one!

Lions at Lunchtime Magic Tree House Themed Bath

My daughter loves the Magic Tree House book series and sometimes we do a bath based on one of the books after we read it. This bath in particular was themed on book #11 Lions at Lunchtime.

There's lions, zebras, giraffes, and wildebeests mentioned in the book and my daughter knew we didn't have any wildebeest toys so she asked me to paint one, so I did my best with washable black tempera paint on the wall. I'm not artist, but she liked it! I also used the black washable tempera paint to put "Lions at Lunchtime" on the wall. Then after painting all that I decided to paint some little lions on the wall too with some brown washable tempera paint and just some grass with green washable tempera paint.

The very first thing I did though was tape up the zebra print crepe paper to the wall, high enough up so it wouldn't get wet cause that stuff gets messy when wet! It's purely decoration!

After all the crepe paper was up there and I was done painting on the wall I started to fill up the tub. Once it was half way full I added several drops of neon green food coloring to the water and mixed it in to color the water, adding more until I got the color I wanted.

Then I set up everything else we'd need for this Lions at Lunchtime book themed bath. For bath paint I made "Jack's Peanut Butter Bath Paint"

In the book Jack has peanut butter with him and it comes in handy! So that's why I chose to make this fun bath paint, it also ended up providing my daughter with a great idea for pretend play in the bath. She painted a peanut butter and honey sandwich on the wall, and made peanut butter and honey smoothies for her bath baby doll with plastic princess cups. Speaking of the honey, it's also in the first picture in the little dish. Honey is important in the book because it is the answer to the riddle they were trying to solve. I put just a bit of honey is a dish (I would have put more, but we're almost out and need it for Teddy Bear Picnic Day sandwiches the 10th) so she could get some sensory play with it in the bath and experience all the messy stickiness all she wanted since that isn't something she can normally do.

There's also obviously some toy animals and a tree sitting there that added to the theme as well!

All in all this has been one of my favorite themed baths lately and it really brought the book to life, and like I said provided good pretend play opportunities for my daughter!

Preschool Schedule

When homeschooling a preschooler it is important to have a daily schedule so your preschooler can know what to expect day to day. Having a daily schedule can also keep you on top of teaching the lessons you'd like to teach each day, and the goals you'd like to meet each year of school. 

As you can see our daily preschool schedule goes as follows:
- Wake up
- Name sign in
- Circle time
- Worksheets
- Dramatic play
- Science + scientist of the month
- Math
- ?
- Music + musician of the week
- Sensory play
- Crafts + famous art of the day
- Reading
- Nature study
- Exercise

The ? is where we do our rotation days activity. So on the schedule for a Monday when it comes time to the ? we would do social studies. Tuesday we'd do geography, Wednesday foreign language, Thursday cooking, Friday family newspaper, and Saturday foreign language again.

As you can also see from the picture I have our daily schedule hanging up on the wall. It is in our play room/class room and I tried to draw little pictures/symbols for each item on the schedule so it gives my daughter something to visualize and feel accomplished of (that's also why I added waking up and having breakfast even though they aren't really part of school), it gives her something to see she's already accomplished when she goes down to start her preschool day.

Name Sign In:
So, first thing we do when we go down for her school day is "name sign in" and that's when she practices writing her name. I usually write it for her first in pencil and then let her trace it with a highlighter and then write it on her own a few times.

Circle Time:
Then we move on to circle time, sometimes we just sit together on the floor and other times she brings some baby dolls to join us, either way it's fun! We have a interactive Melissa & Doug calendar like this one . First we use it to discuss what the date is, then we talk about what events we have coming up on the calendar. After that we sing the days of the week song followed by the months of the year song.

So the first thing (name sign in) being a in desk activity, and the third one being as well, I think having circle time in between breaks it up well. But after circle time we start doing worksheets. We have a few workbooks we use everyday usually (covering a variety of subjects) but sometimes we switch it up and do a lot from one book, do books we don't usually do, or do worksheets from Princess, Sparkle World, or Strawberry Shortcake magazines. She likes to work with a highlighter for her work.

Dramatic Play:
After sitting down and doing some worksheets I let my daughter have some play time before we get into our other subjects. This isn't free play though, it's different because it must be a dramatic play. We have tons of toys and tons of things I've made DIY to give us endless options for dramatic play. Dramatic play is important for preschoolers because they get to act out so many scenarios that might be going on in their life, and it's a way to practice doing things, learn roles of other people, and so on. We can do tea parties, play dr, have a sandwich shop, a restaurant, etc.

There is so many things that fall into the science category. We can do science experiments, learn about plants and animals, the human body, etc. etc. At the beginning of each new month I also print out a picture of a scientist for our scientist of the month. We talk about them and their accomplishments/inventions everyday during science time as well.

Coming up with ideas to bring preschool math concepts to life, other than just doing worksheets can be a little challenging but it doesn't have to be. We measure things, compare objects, do shape work, simple addition and subtraction, etc. Drawing shapes is also a great activity for pre-writing.

This is where our rotation day activity takes place.
M: Social Studies:
This is where we learn about traits of peacemakers, community helpers. We talk about social skills, what makes a good friend, giving compliments, thinking before we speak, manners, etc. We also will do history lessons at this time if I chose to do that instead.
T: Geography:
On geography days there's much to chose from. I like to do units on different continents/countries/states. There's learning capitals, learning where our food comes from, gaining understanding of the concepts of neighborhood vs town vs state vs planet and etc. We also talk about different land forms, and work on our map skills.
W: Foreign Language:
My daughter is learning French and we'll often watch a Little Pim DVD at this time.
T: Cooking:
I tend to give little cooking lessons on a day to day basis, but on Thursdays I make it a full on class. We can pick out a recipe and make it together or she can experiment with creating her own recipe. I also give her lessons on things she'll have to do one day like handling meat, chopping, knife safety, etc. There's actually lots of important kitchen safety things to go over and that in it's own could be a lesson for some.
F: Family Newspaper:
On Friday's we go over what's happened that week and write about it together. It gives her another example of how we live in a print-rich environment and also saves our memories while working on her literacy skills.
S: Foreign Language:
Two days a week to learn the language seems good to me!

And then on Sunday's we have a break day.

During this time she is free to explore with her instruments, listen to music on the computer or iPod, sometimes we talk about musical notes and instruments from other countries and watch videos on them. We also have a famous musician of the week that we have a picture up of and discuss. We listen to music from them when we introduce them, usually they are classical musicians.
In the coming year or two she'll be starting an instrument and getting lessons so she may practice that at home during music time, but by then our whole schedule may be different!

Sensory Play:
During this time she can play with any of her already made sensory bins, or we will sometimes make a new one based on a theme or concept we're learning. Sometimes we'll do play dough here. Or messy sensory play outside with shaving cream and colored ice cubes. Water play counts as well.

Craft time is so important for all kids. My daughter has amazing scissor skills at the age of 3 because she's been doing crafts so long, her fine motor skills in general are just great. This time can be painting, process art, product art, cutting and gluing, coloring, etc. Sometimes it is planned based on a theme or concept we're learning as well. We also discuss a famous artwork of the day everyday. We can look on the computer or I'll print them up sometimes. This way she learns about different types of art, and names of famous artists and paintings too. They also inspire her, as well as being a part of history.

We usually read a chapter book or two during this time and this is always in addition to our other reading throughout the day.

Nature Study:
We like to get some time outside and explore nature! There's so many things to do outside and learn about. Birds, trees, flowers, bugs, etc. There can be entire units/studies on each.

This can continue outside and we can play soccer or basketball, etc. We can take a walk around the neighborhood, or go inside and do yoga. If there is a certain gross motor skill or game I've planned we work it in at this time too.

This can be later in the evening and it's just a time for her to build and explore those skills and tap into that creativity and learning how to put together different structures and things. There's several toys I love for this. Legos of course, but Candy Construction is a serious favorite. There's also Bristle Block StackadoosLincoln Logs, Magna Tiles, cardboard building blocks from Melissa & Doug . You can also make/provide your own materials for this. Toothpicks and marshmallows can be fun, painted popsicle sticks with velcro dots on them, etc. I also like block sets and magnet sets with pictures for the kids to recreate.We have Pattern Play and it is a fabulous one. We also love our Imaginets.

We don't always get all of these things done every single Mon-Sat. but this is the general outline we try to stick to and the subjects I find important for her learning and want to cover during the preschool years.