Saturday, January 30, 2010

Preschool Week of 1/30

Well, it's been a heck of a few weeks. Things were going along great, schooling was fun, Crumpet was happy. Then, sadly, my mother-in-law passed away, and everything changed. We quickly packed up and drove to Texas. We had the chance to see everyone in the family, which was nice, but of course, the reason for the visit was very sad. Crumpet enjoyed playing on my in-laws' land and chasing their many cats, but now we're in recovery-from-traveling-mode, meaning he's insane all the time and can't focus or listen. At least I'm finally realizing that this always happens and it will pass in about a week. My house is gross, and I came back to 133 blog posts to read! Yikes! On the bright side, I finished ALL of the books and magazines I was reading - 32 hours in a car is a long time!
We did accomplish a lot of great learning before we headed off, so I'll try to list what I remember:
Phonics: Crumpet has been doing great with letter sounds, and we continued to practice this. Last night, I started writing out 3 letter words and showing him how to sound them out. I did a few, we worked on a few together, and then he read his first words on his own!! I'm so excited! I don't think he has any idea that he was doing it, but in a few weeks, the idea should click with him.

Storytelling: I bought a neat book at my favorite independent bookstore in Texas. It's called Imagine If... by Dr. Karen Halpern. It's just a collection of flip cards with pictures of characters, things and places. You choose one of each and make up a story. It's great for inspiring creativity!

-We read a fun book called Pattern Fish. I can't remember who wrote it... It was a cute story about some fish, all of which had different patterns and it challenged the reader to complete the patterns. Crumpet enjoyed this and figured out all the patterns.
-We did some easy addition and subtraction with M+Ms. I think Crumpet could do calculus if I could explain it with M+Ms! He loves learning experiences that involve chocolate.
-We played UNO for the first time, and he really enjoyed it.
-We played our grid game, but this time I wrote the numbers 1-6 randomly in the squares. Then we rolled a die and Crumpet stamped the appropriate number on the grid. I saw this idea at Tired, Need Sleep here.
Science: My plan was to learn a little bit about measurement. We did use a ruler and measuring tape to measure some things and talked about shorter and longer, but really, Crumpet wasn't interested.
We finished the 3 year old section of Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready, and our last project was a study of shadows. We expanded on it and talked about our shadows and how they changed depending on time of day and where the sun is. First, we experimented by moving a flashlight to diffent positions around an action figure.
Then, we went outside at different times of day and saw how our shadows changed in length and position. We got a picture in the morning and at noon, but unfortunately, the sun was hiding in the evening.

Fine Motor Skills:
Crumpet practiced opening and closing a variety of lids on jars.
He did a lot of tracing in his Kumon book. He also did some shapes cutting and sorting using a great printable from Nicole at Tired, Need Sleep. I didn't take pictures, but you can find it here.

I made a bubble solution in cake pans and gave some straws and cookie cutters to Crumpet and the boy I babysit for. They played with this for 45 minutes! Awesome. I saw this idea here at
Almost Unschoolers.

Life Fun:
Crumpet decided to dress up and play witch for a while.
We played outside on a beautiful day, before it got nasty and cold again... Are we in Hawaii yet??

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Check out this link and leave a comment to help the people of Haiti!
Haiti - Pioneer Woman - A Different Kind of Giveaway

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Preschool week of 1/14

I'm sorry about what a mess this post is. I placed the pictures in a different place this time, and it has thrown the text off completely. But I'm too lazy to fix it...

After the trials at the beginning of the week, things went fairly well here. We managed to get a lot of school done, without Crumpet really knowing :).

Phonics:We worked a bit more with Progressive Phonics, but Crumpet has figured out that he only needs to know a few words for each story. When I pause for him to read his word, he just cycles through the options without even looking at the page, until he guesses the right one. We also worked on the sounds of letters some more, and he's doing great with this. Periodically throughout the day, he'll be talking and stop at a word. He'll shout "Hey, that starts with __!" He points out objects everywhere and tells me what letter they start with. We started working on sounding out some 3 letter words with fridge magnets.

We played a game where I set out a bunch of toys and told him to give me the ones that start with a specific letter. He did well with this.

Literature: We used Katy No Pocket for our Before Five in a Row unit. This is one of my favorite stories of all time, and Crumpet loves it too. It's about a kangaroo who has no pocket, so she can't carry her joey. She's goes around asking other animals how they carry their babies, and in the end, she gets a tool apron from a workman so she can carry lots of babies. We did some memory work, trying to remember all of the animals Katy meets, and also all of the tools from the tool belt.I printed pictures of many of the animals in the book, and we played a classification game, sorting the animals into groups with fur, feathers, scales, and also bugs.

I made an apron like Katy's for Crumpet to carry his animals around in. He loves this!

Science: Lots of other blogging mamas are doing units on the human body, so I decided to jump on board while the links and book recommendations were easy to find. We read a LOT of books on the subject. Our favorites were:
My Amazing Body by Rachel Wright. This has good simple explanations of the parts of the body, as well as discussion about treating your body well, and it covers the senses.
The Human Body by Scholastic. This has great plastic overlays, so you can look into the body, system by system, and slowly put the body together to form a whole. Crumpet liked this one best, as long as we flipped right past the skull page, because this looked scary.
The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book: We own this one and Crumpet has always loved it. I thought he's be more interested in the study of the body because of it, but he really wasn't that interested. Oh well. We did do some fun little experiments:

We blew up a balloon to demonstrate the inflation and deflation of lungs. I love that he was dressed as a pirate for this, and we chased the balloon around afterward for exercise. Homeschooling rocks!

We squeezed a ball through a pair of nylons to show how intestines squeeze food through. I saw this idea here.

We read a little book about cleanliness and then we did this experiment to show how to remove germs from our hands.

I put glitter glue on Crumpet's hands and he rubbed it all over. Then we tried to wipe it off with a paper towel. That doesn't work. We tried rinsing with water, but most of the "germs" stayed put. So we used soap and water, and it washed all the germs off! Crumpet loved this and did it 3 times.
I saw this idea here.

Other: We did a few Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready projects. I hid objects in our Find and Seek bag and had him retrieve specific ones without looking but only feeling. He thought this was great fun, and then he got silly and started handing me the wrong things on purpose. We got 2 new games from the consignment store: Blues Clues, which is really cute and clever, and Chutes and Ladders which I always loved, but Crumpet can't stand it...

Socialization: We went to karate, which is getting better. Also, I've started watching a little boy once a week. I used to babysit for him, but it's been about a year since I stopped. I have missed him, and the money will be nice to help feed my curriculum habit! And practicing sharing his toys is good for Crumpet. Here they are, cooperating on putting together a puzzle.

And in other news, potty training is going great!! Every morning, there is a huge battle about underwear, but once that's over with, he uses the potty all day! We're spending a fortune on Matchbox cars, since that's his pooping reward, but it's worth it. Bribes never worked before, but for now, he's excited about new cars. Here's hoping this lasts. With Crumpet, you never know...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Things I Love

It's been a while since I've updated my list of great educational stuff out their in the world of the internet. I've found a few good ideas lately - you may already know all of them, as I tend to be a bit late to catch on, but here they are:

The Free Homeschool Printables website. These are just what the title says. Great homeschool printables, for free.

Nature Detectives. This is a UK based website with incredible ideas for nature projects. Many are just a tiny bit too advanced for Crumpet, but not for long. I can't wait to put these ideas to work in our weekly schedule!

Me and Marie: This is an etsy store full of great printables. There are learning packs, pretend play props, and file folder games, etc. This is great for ideas, and if you have no time, or no creativity whatsoever (like me), the work is all done for you. I'm thinking I'll buy a bunch of these to take with us on our travels this summer, to help review and keep Crumpet in the habit of schooling. They're pretty cheap - most are only a few dollars.

This is not internet related, but I've discovered books of book lists. These are books full of recommendations for reading based on a child's age. The stories are classics I remember from when I was a child, as well as classics I somehow missed. I've been really impressed - when we randomly choose books off the shelves, most are poor quality and we only read them once. When we choose from these lists, most truly are wonderful stories, and both Crumpet and I adore them and read them over and over. I don't know why this never to occurred to me. We're working our way through 2 of them right now, but there are tons of others on the library shelves. The first one we chose is Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The second is What Stories Does My Son Need? by Michael Gurian. This is a list of 100 movies and 100 books divided into appropriate age groups. They are stories that are supposed to be particularly engaging to boys, and good for character building.

Hopefully, something here will be new and exciting to someone! Enjoy!

A Funny Story and a Plea for Help!

Crumpet keeps me on my toes, that's all I can say...
The potty training is coming along better than I thought it would. Phew. Crumpet will now pee on the potty, no problem, and even goes by himself without telling me. Ah, self-sufficiency. I never thought I'd see it. (Yes, my bathroom is gross right now...) But he still has issues with pooping. (Isn't it amazing what moms feel is okay to talk about and publish? Yuck.) Today we had a little friend of his visiting, and they were having some trouble playing well together. At one point, I went into Crumpet's room, and he was huddled in the corner. I asked what he was doing, and he told me he was hiding from his friend for a while. I asked if he was really going to the bathroom, and he said no. So I left him to be alone for a little while. Eventually, he came out of the room and told me "That was a really bad poop, Mom." I said, "AACK, in your underwear???!!!" But no. He had put on a pull-up and put his pants back on (backwards!) so he could hide in the corner and fill his pants! How he reached the pull-ups, I don't know. I didn't even know he could put on his own pants because he always tells me it's impossible. So obviously, he is capable of many more things than I realize (I did suspect this...). He is very sneaky and clever, and thank goodness he put on that pull-up!
Here's my trouble, though. The little fib about the fact that he wasn't going to the bathroom, when in fact he was. He has done this many times in the last few days, always as a way to get what he wants when he's afraid I'll say no. It's always pretty entertaining and clever. But how do I stop it before it is no longer funny, but a full blown problem with lying? We've talked about telling the truth, and I try to make most of the things he wants to do possible, so he won't feel the need to hide from me, but it's not working. Any ideas?

Tag Award

I received a Tag Award from Amber over at Journey of Grace (also of Refined Metals Academy)! In order to accept it, I have to tell you 7 things you don't know about me. I'm awful at this stuff, but here goes:
1) I have moved 23 times in my 37 years. I've spent most of my time in the northeast, which I will always consider home, but I've also lived in Va, Ga, and SC, as well as England and Ireland. After upstate NY, Ireland was my most loved home.
2)Crumpet was born in England. We didn't know if he'd be a boy or a girl, so we called him Crumpet (essentially, the British word for English muffin) until he was born. Thus, the origin of the name of my blog!
3)I'm in the middle of reading 3 parenting books, one novel, and one political magazine. No, I'll never finish any of them at this rate...
4)I desperately miss working.
5) I was a vegetarian for 17 years before Crumpet was born. I started eating meat when I was pregnant and nursing because I was worried about getting enough nutrients to him. Now, I'm having a tough time going back because it's just more difficult worrying about what goes into my mouth, but I'm almost there.
6) I need a nap. That's a permanent situation. I'm guessing you all understand!
7) My greatest fantasy right now is to go hole up in a hotel with a book for a few days, and hear SILENCE. Ooh, I'm exciting!
I'm going to offer this award up to anyone that reads my blog, because I want to know more about all of you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Preschool Week of 1/6

This was a, um, "challenging" week... We started off great. We went to a cabin in the mountains for the New Year. Crumpet had a phenomenal time playing with tons of cousins. We accomplished lots of school work. There are no real pictures, except this one:
One of our carrot tops from last week's plant experiments grew! Pretty amazing...

Most of what we did was review. We completed quite a few Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready projects. We checked out 23 books from the library, read and re-enacted several of them. Crumpet memorizes stories word for word, chooses a character, and then we act out the book. He has always done this, and it's pretty neat to watch. We played a lot of games involving letter sounds, and the concept has really clicked with him. Crumpet officially started karate in the big classroom with all of the 3 and 4 year olds. I cannot tell you how badly this started, but by the end of class, the instructors managed to get him out on the floor, and he enjoyed at least some of it.

The 3 things that have made me consider heading off to live in a cave this week are:
1) Crumpet keeps waking up at 3 or 4 am. I am not a pleasant person when I get up at this hour, and by the end of the day, either is Crumpet.

2) He has conjunctivitis, and he screams and gets hysterical about getting drops in his eyes. 3 joyous times a day... It's a good thing I have experience working with animals because I know some good restraint techniques, and I know how to avoid getting bitten by wild things...

3) We are finally potty training. For the second time. Crumpet was potty trained last year at this time. And then he decided he didn't like it, and refused to use the toilet anymore. He screams and gets hysterical (lots of that around here right now...) when he gets near a toilet. This week, I announced that he would no longer wear diapers. For 2 days, he did great. Then, he fell apart again, and it has been a battle to continue. I know that a battle of the wills is a bad way to accomplish this, but clearly he is capable of being potty trained, and it is just stubborness on his part. I can be stubborn too, though, and I refuse to spend 3 months traveling and changing a 4 year old's dirty diapers in a tiny airplane bathroom. So he will be potty trained by April. Or he will break me. I really don't know which way this will end up... Sigh.
Poor Crumpet - boogery eyes and attacked by a coffee table... Bad week.
But still we had some fun...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blog Award

Oh, I'm so excited! I've gotten my first blog award! (That's not technically true - I got one a long time ago, but I was very new to blogging and had no idea how to pick it up. I'm slowly catching on...) Adriana at My Bilingual Boys was kind enough to give this one to me. I really appreciate it! I never expected anyone to read this blog, so I'm glad that people are enjoying it. I feel like I've even made a few friends this way!
The Lemonade Stand Award is awarded for being a blogger who shows great attitude and gratitude. The rules for accepting this award:
- Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

I would like to share this award with some of the people who inspire me every day. Some of these are not Tot School blogs, but they are blogs that help me grow and look at the world in a better way. I think they show incredible attitude and gratitude.

Heart to God:Mission Maseno - This is my aunt, who is a a nurse in a missionary hospital in Africa. The things she sees and the strength and love with which she faces them remind me to teach Crumpet that it is our place on Earth to help others and change the world.

It's Twinsanity - This is a friend of a friend who is raising 6 very young children while her husband is away in Iraq. Usually, she cracks me up, but right now she is having a rough time. If you ever feel like you can't cope with your life, read Heather's story and know that you can find the strength to do anything.

Rose Cottage - A homeschooling mom who just adopted a 14 year old girl - a really lovely story.

Stretch Mark Mama - A snarky, homeschooling, adoptive mama who shows great neighborly kindness and does some impressive community organizing.

Live the Adventure - A homeschooling family that lives in an RV and travels the country. I would SO love to do that - imagine the adventures and the education involved in exploring the world!

And for the people that help me survive crazy days with a young child, as well as providing me with great teaching ideas:
Hallelujah Harvest
Homeschooling a Texas Tornado and a Toddler Tag-Along
Tater Tot School
Refined Metals Academy
Little Hands, Big Work

Tired, Need Sleep and Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns have already won this award, but I can't not mention them!

Well, no one will ever give me another award, because apparently it makes me gush and babble, but thanks Adriana!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh, how embarrassing!

Does anyone remember the great game I played with Crumpet before Christmas? The one that was supposed to teach him to be polite when he received less than thrilling gifts? You can read about it here, if you want to... But don't expect it to turn your child into a master of politeness...

This weekend, we went away to the mountains with Crumpet's aunt, uncle, and cousins. Crumpet's aunt has a history of giving him really great, fun gifts, so he had big expectations when opening his Christmas gift from her. This year, she made gifts though, and she made Snuggie blankets for Crumpet and me. She did say that she was a little worried he'd karate chop her when he opened his... Nearly. He dropped the really cute dinosaur Snuggie to the ground, kicked it, and muttered "Stupid blanket...". I was appalled, and also really grateful that it was this particular aunt and not a grandmother in the room because she was far more understanding! Later in the weekend, Crumpet realized that this was an excellent gift because it was freezing in our cabin, so he spent most of his time wrapped up and warm...