Monday, November 30, 2009

The Art Box 2

Once again, the Art Box was an eye opening experience for me. Crumpet talks non-stop all day long, and it is fascinating to hear what is going on inside that little head when I hand him the art supplies and he decides how to use them. This week, NOTHING has gone as I expected it to, and the Art Box was no different. I only gave him a couple of supplies per sitting this week, and we used the box on 2 different days.

The first time he had glitter glue, small jewel stickers and construction paper. This was really just an extension of something else we were working on, but since it was totally open ended, I decided to add it to this post. This was Crumpet's first time using glitter glue and he loved it. Me, not so much. There is still glitter stuck to my kitchen floor! Fortunately, I'm not much of a housekeeper...
Anyway, this picture is a maze through which the hero must travel to rescue a princess:
And this is some kind of space scene, but the jewel stickers in the middle of it are horse food. Hmm...
The second time I provided the Art Box, I gave Crumpet sheets of foam, Foamies in the shapes of firefighters, fire engines, etc. (these have sticky backs and are supposed to be used as stickers), paint pens for the Foamies, craft sticks, glue, a new set of rubber stamps, and construction paper.
This was really, really foolish on my part. I mean really, I should know better. The Foamie fire engines immediately became toys and Crumpet didn't want to do any art. So, I took the opportunity to teach him how to make puppets with craft sticks, and we had a little puppet show:
Then, he did decide to use the stamps. He stamped the Foamie characters, and used them to transfer the stamps to the construction paper by rubbing them against the paper. It was something that never would have occurred to me.
And that's what I really like about the Art Box. It's a whole new window into Crumpet's mind...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preschool - Week of November 24

This was a good school week for us. Crumpet ran to the 'school room' every morning and was generally excited about the projects I had ready for him.

McRuffy Science:
We worked on the first couple of lessons in the curriculum this week. It was all about organizing by size. I set up lots of activities having to do with this subject. We sorted Bob the Builder trucks into small, medium, and large piles. I found this activity at Tired, Need Sleep. You can download the pictures here. We lined up school buses in order from smallest to largest. I found these at File Folder Fun. I traced and cut out pairs of shoes belonging to each member of our family (this idea is from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready). We talked about pairs and matched up the shoes. Then we lined them up in order of size and guessed who owned each pair. We lined up pictures of animals after talking about how big each animal is in real life. We stacked and nested cups and blocks. Of course, we then flew planes into the stacks to get the bad guys hiding inside!Phew. Lots of sequencing. And Crumpet is really good at it now!

Number Recognition:
We reviewed the numbers 1-6 which we had worked on last week. Crumpet remembered them all, so we did the trash toss game with numbers. I set out lots of papers with numbers written on them. I called out a number and Crumpet had to find it quickly, crumple it up, and toss it in the pot. Having the cat sitting on half the numbers (she's a BIG cat) just added to the challenge! Crumpet LOVES this game and did really well.

I decided to pull out our phonics book to see if Crumpet was ready for it yet. We talked about the letters a and b and the sounds they make. I set out groups of objects and had him hand me things that start with the letter b.

I had him trace sandpaper letters with his finger while saying the sounds. This is a Montessori concept and I found the templates here. Then he drew the letters in a pool of fingerpaint. And then I drew the letters on construction paper and let him trace them with his cars which had been dipped in paint. This was a big hit!

Crumpet knows his letters, and he knows the sounds they make. In the end, though, it's clear that he can't yet hear the sounds when they are part of words. He has started to rhyme, so I'm guessing that we'll get to phonics soon. But for now, we're putting the books away, and we'll continue to play word and listening games.

Fine Motor Skills:
We worked on cutting, which is something I've really neglected. Crumpet has a lot of trouble holding the scissors correctly, and he gets very frustrated with the whole thing. I drew straight lines on small sheets of paper and had him cut apart one sheet of paper per day. He's making progress, and when we break down tasks into simple parts, he does much better. Slowly, but surely, we'll get there.

We worked on a couple of vehicle puzzles. He seems to be starting to understand the concept of edge pieces... (This was his standard photo pose of the week!)
Nature Study:
I made a chart with pictures of things we might find on a nature hike. I laminated it and brought it along on our walk so we could do a little scavenger hunt. When Crumpet saw something on the chart, he circled it. This was a lot of fun, and we found everything except a squirrel. We are very LOUD ALL THE TIME, so I'm guessing the squirrels ran for cover!

We even found something that wasn't on our list - very social ducks! They came right up to us hoping for snacks, and Crumpet could almost touch them. He was thrilled, and has been quacking all day...

We went to a preschool gym class at a local community center. This is so much fun, and the teacher runs the kids 'til they drop! We also babysat for a couple of friends and neighbors so Crumpet had lots of social interaction AND practice sharing his toys this week. He had a great time. Here he is making goofy faces with a friend who spent the night:

You can find other preschool corner posts here. For some reason, I'm having a terrible time attaching buttons to my posts right now...
I hope you all had a good week too! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


It seems that everything I ever said about proper parenting, and every comment I've ever made about anyone else's kids, has come back to haunt me now that I am a parent. Has anyone else had this happen? It has certainly taught me a lot about judging people. As in, DON'T, because I don't know anything about anything, and people really are just doing the best they can! :)
I always knew that ADHD exists and that some kids do have it. At the same time, I thought it was used more as a convenient excuse for teachers, and many parents, to drug their active children so they could handle a class, or home, full of other active kids. I believed that it was due to lack of exercise and too much time in front of the t.v.
Now, of course, I have a child who is blowing my mind with his hyperactivity and inability to focus.
Mealtimes have become a nightmare. I literally have to feed my 3 1/2 year old, or he doesn't eat. He is too busy climbing (more often, falling) out of his chair and back in, crawling under the table, harassing the pets, shooting imaginary bad guys... You get the idea. Almost every night, his drink ends up on the floor. He's been drinking from a regular cup for a year, but suddenly he can't NOT knock it over. (Yes, we're moving back to cups with lids because I hate to yell at him about spilled milk.)
He is happy to try to help us clean up at the end of the day, but even when we give him defined tasks ('put the cars in the bucket'), he can't do it. Within seconds, he's playing racecars and pulling out more toys to use in whatever pretend scheme he has going on.
He must have extended play breaks between every single school activity we do, whether it was a 30 second project or a 30 minute one.
If I tell him I'm going to take a shower, I hear him looking for me and screaming "where are you?" before I ever make it to the bathroom. He truly doesn't remember me telling him my plan. (Now, I have him repeat it back to me before I leave the room...)
This is all new behavior that has made an appearance in the last few months. It seems to have come at the same time as the imagination explosion we've seen. He has an incredible imagination, and he is constantly pretending to be someone or something else. The games just keep getting more elaborate.
So I don't know what to think. Is this normal 3 year old behavior? Normal boy behavior? Is it just a phase? Or a sign of a future problem?
I am grateful that I can homeschool him because I think I will have more luck getting through to him in a one-on-one setting where lessons are focused on his interests and abilities, and he may be more than a classroom teacher could handle. However, maybe he would try harder for someone he doesn't know? I have no intention of medicating him, or sending him off to school, but I am curious about other opinions. So what do you think?

The Art Box

This week, I decided to try out the Art Box with Crumpet. I was really excited about it and couldn't wait to see what he did with all the stuff I put in his bucket. I gave him:
markers, pom poms, cotton balls, ribbon, paper, paint, googly eyes, a glue stick and glue, party toothpicks, foam beads and paper shreds.
Maybe I gave him too many things? Maybe it's just Crumpet? He is in this crazy gathering phase: every itty bitty toy or piece of junk he can find goes into secret boxes and tubs that I find all over the house. They are "treasure", "trash" for his garbage truck, or today, "Christmas stuff". He took everything small and put it in a box. He did mention making a snowman out of the cotton balls, but thought better of it. Eventually he got around to making a map:

And this:

The white spots on the bottom left are animal tracks. I'm not sure about the rest of it!
Then he used the marker caps as rockets for a while and disappeared from the kitchen... Maybe I'll give him less stuff next week. Certainly nothing that could be misconstrued as "treasure"!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preschool Corner - November 19


This was our first week of routine schooling after several months of frequent travels. It started off pretty rocky, but by the end of the week, Crumpet and I were working fairly well together. Several times, he even asked to do more school projects!

On Day 2 of school this week, he arrived carrying several extra "students" for me to teach. You'll see that the cars participated in many of our activities, and I think that helped keep him interested. We spent a little time working on rhytms. I would clap a sequence, and Crumpet would copy it on the drum.

We worked on number recognition. First, he matched up pairs of flashcards:

and then he put the correct number of jacks in each cup:

We did some shapes review. I turned our shapes wheel into a spinner. Crumpet would spin the dial, name and find the matching shape, and then crumple up the shape and throw it in the pot. This was a modification of the 'trash toss' game at Hallelujah Harvest found here. He liked the tossing part best, and I'm sure we'll work it into other activities in the future.

We did a couple of Disney puzzles that were given to us by a friend. Crumpet has a really difficult time making sense of how to put a puzzle together - he won't do the edges first, or match designs, etc. We'll need to work on this...

I put together a "game book" like the one I saw at Tired, Need Sleep. I laminated the pages and used window markers so we could wipe off the pages and reuse them. Crumpet did well with the simple mazes and even started to use a proper tripod grasp at times.

We played a grid game like ones I saw at Tired, Need Sleep and Hallelujah Harvest. I got the grid printouts here. We rolled a die and put the appropriate number of stickers on the grid, moving from left to right. Crumpet liked playing because he rolled the die by crashing his cars into it. He won't play anymore because I won both times we played.

We printed rhyming cards from here. Crumpet practiced matching pairs of pictures that rhyme. Then, I lined up sets of 3 cards and Crumpet would drive a car over the card that didn't rhyme with the other 2. He is getting really good at rhymes.

We played a fun penny drop game I borrowed from Tired, Need Sleep. You are supposed to drop a penny from waist height and try to get one penny in each section of the egg carton. We laughed a lot because we seem to be best at bouncing all the pennies out...

Crumpet loves to make up stories. I've started writing some of them down and having him illustrate his story. This week's story was particularly odd, but I was really impressed with his picture. It included several elements of the story, and I could even recognize some of them. But then... he decided to draw a roller coaster over the whole thing and now it's a giant loopy squiggle...

I found a cheap set of magnets at Cracker Barrel and decided to start our McRuffy Kindergarten Science curriculum with magnets. We used their experiments and also a few from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready.
First, I gathered lots of household items and we checked to see if they were attracted to our magnets. We separated magnetic objects from non-magnetic ones, counted each group and determined which of our groups had more things in it. (He wasn't thrilled about posing here.)

We made our own turkey refrigerator magnet for Thanksgiving. I found this turkey at the The Crafty Crow.

We experimented with magnetic force and how strong it can be. We used our magnets to move a paper clip through a piece of paper, a paper plate and several books. Crumpet liked making the paper clip dance on the plate best of all... We also tested the magnet through water.

We got this great little book at the library. It was simple to understand and had a few more quick experiments that we tried.

For nature study this week, we went to the preschool nature walk at our local nature center. The kids learned about turkeys. Here they are collecting "turkey food":

using feathers to study the five senses (again he's annoyed about posing!):

and making a turkey craft:

We had a great week, and I'm so happy to be home and working school back into our lives! I hope you had a good week too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catching Up

Hi! I'm back! The traveling is over for a while! We have had a wonderful time, but I am so relieved that I don't have to pack again any time soon!! Phew!
First, I'll just show off a few pictures of our travels:

We went to Savannah, GA and ate at a place called the Pirate's House. Crumpet is all about pirates right now, and he adored this place. Here he is with the giant anchor out front:
We went to Daytona Beach where Crumpet spent hours and hours doing his favorite thing : digging with trucks! The beach is the best place on Earth for this!
And we went to all 4 of the Disney parks. This was the first time we met Mickey. We weren't sure Crumpet would be brave enough to meet the characters, but he hugged and posed with everyone.
We went to the Lego Store in Downtown Disney. These dogs and people (except Crumpet of course) are made of Legos. This was a really cool place, and we spent a fortune on Crumpet's new hobby. Most of it was for Christmas though, so it's not so bad, right?!Meeting his hero, Lightning McQueen at Hollywood Studios:
This is a really bad picture of one of the few educational things we've done this month. At the Animal Kingdom, there are stations where you can do little studies in nature. At this one, we had a card with pictures of animals one might find in their backyards. We had to search around the area to find each of the creatures and then mark it off on the card. Crumpet really enjoyed it, and I'm planning to make my own version for our nature walks.
Meeting Thumper:
Digging for fossils in the play area at the Animal Kingdom. Another really great educational activity. Crumpet was absolutely convinced that these were real mammoth bones and that he was the first to find them, ever. It was kind of difficult to explain why the staff covered the bones back up when we were leaving at the end of the day... I felt so bad!
We made it home just in time for Halloween. Crumpet was a pirate - no surprise there!!
We went to the zoo with visiting friends, which is something we always enjoy.
When all the travels were over, we were desperate to do a little crafting, since it had been so long. We built a car out of a paper towel roll, milk bottle tops, and toothpicks:
And we sponge painted this fall tree. Crumpet loved using the sponges! Both of these crafts are from Family Fun magazine.

Now, we are trying to get back into some kind of routine. I have so many things I want to change and organize around here that I'm making myself a little nuts trying to get it all right immediately. I know that it's unreasonable, but I'm struggling with my limitations!
I saw a serious backslide in Crumpet's knowledge of the basics toward the end of our trips. He forgot how to count past 5! He forgot some names of shapes. I was shocked, and really annoyed with myself for just letting it all go. But we've done some review and he's back where he was now. Time to start learning new things!
I'm planning to be much more prepared about schoolwork from now on. I've made out an actual schedule so that we study certain subjects on certain days. We will also use our version of workboxes, which I'll fill on Saturday nights. (My husband works Sun-Wed so we will do school on the days he is working.) I copied Nicole's spreadsheet (Tired, Need Sleep) for organizing possible activities to use during each week, and I think it will help me keep track of my ideas at last. I have paper lists everywhere, and I love my lists, but I LOSE my lists. So I'm trying something new! Thanks, Nicole!
And I've decided to just go ahead and use the word school with Crumpet. He rebels against anything that looks like something I'd like him to do. If it's expected or required, he won't do it. I was tiptoeing around the school thing, calling everything we did "projects" or "games". He figured it out though, and even if it was something he enjoyed, he started refusing to participate. So we had a talk, and I told him that from now on, he will be required to do some daily learning with me. I'll try to make it as fun as possible! But it is required. It really is time he learned to follow some directions and work on a vague schedule, I suppose!
We started today, and I have to admit it was a huge struggle. Crumpet is on another planet these days - constantly pretending, and spinning in circles and bouncing off the walls. Getting him to focus on anything is really rough. By the end of our lessons, which really are just a bunch of games, I was ready to pull my own hair out. I'm hoping it will improve as it becomes more routine... I'll post about it all at the end of the week, if the men in the white coats haven't taken me away!!
I think I'm going to start linking my school posts to the Preschool Corner. We are still sort of between Tot School and Preschool, but we were the oldest ones over at Tot School, and I'm starting to look for more advanced activities. So, I hope you'll follow me there!
Here's my favorite recent pic:

Have a great week!