Thursday, February 25, 2010

Preschool-Week of 2/25

Much of our learning for the past couple of weeks has been directed by our reading. We go to the library, pick up a gigantic stack of books that look interesting (seriously, this should count toward my exercise for the fitness challenge!) from the fiction and non-fiction sections, and then come home and work our way through the pile. We've made some really excellent discoveries this way, and it's a great way to spark Crumpet's interest in new topics.

It seems there are almost no pictures this week - focus is a big problem right now and I really didn't want to distract Crumpet even more...

We read On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer. This book talks about the fact that, on one particular day in March, the weather is different all over the world. We looked up all of the places on our globe and also discussed why it is that the weather is so different in different locations.
We also read a couple of other books about the Earth - its weather, different ecosystems, etc. We talked about animal habitats and where we would find certain animals, and we played a habitat matching game from Nick Jr.'s lesson plans.

Crumpet is beginning to write a lot of "letters" in his artwork, so we started tracing laminated letters that I made. He also did a few simple dot-to-dots. I found a great book full of really easy number and letter pictures. At first, for some reason, he didn't understand that you drew the lines literally from dot... to... dot, and he'd draw randomly, but this week it clicked and you can tell what the pictures are when he's finished!

We played a game of War. Crumpet thought it was very funny to steal Mommy's cards!
We continue to count the numbers on the calendar up to the current day. For the last couple of days, he's gotten all the way through the teens, and he has counted the 20's! He needs to be looking at the numbers though; he can't count to 20 yet without the visual aids.
Crumpet was playing with a travel alarm clock this week, and he would set the hour that he wanted to wake up. And he set it correctly. Telling time by the hour is starting to fall into place. He can even occasionally tell me what time it is if I show him my watch.

We read Thomas's Sheep and the Spectacular Science Project by Steven L. Layne. This is the story of a boy who must create a science project about the solar system. He fantasizes about a group of sheep traveling to space and visiting all of the planets. It includes one simple fact about each planet, and a lot of silliness too. Crumpet learned many of the names of the planets and some of the facts just from reading this book. At the end, the boy creates a surface rover, and Crumpet immediately shouted "We have to build one of those. Right now." So we enlisted his dad, who is much better at making these building dreams a reality, and they made a pretty good model out of Legos. While they were at it, they built a catapult which Crumpet had seen in a pirate book and had also been begging to build. The picture really doesn't do justice to these things - they were pretty intricate, and the catapult shoots small objects across the entire room. Yikes!
We also did a little bit of work on the food pyramid. Crumpet is beginning to eat better, and I wanted to give him some knowledge on which to base his food choices. First of all, does anyone else HATE the new food pyramid? I do, so we used the old version, which I think is much easier to understand. I cut out the pieces and we put them together as a puzzle. Then, we put pictures of foods into their correct food groups. (Yes, he is eating a lollipop in this picture. Eating junk while learning to eat healthy. Classic...) This was a disaster. All Crumpet wanted to talk about was the fact that there was a section designated for junk food, and therefore, it was must be good to eat... It didn't matter that it's the smallest section. We played a computer game on Nourish Interactive, which I've seen mentioned on other blogs. The game is too hard for him to play on his own, but we both got addicted and are slowly working our way through the levels, and Crumpet is learning about the food groups. He cracks me up - when it's time for a meal, he tells me "Mom, I need a protein. I think I'll have a grain too."
I rarely use workbooks, but this week we spent a little while zipping through one to be sure I'm not missing any major concepts in our studies. Here is Crumpet showing me the positional word "on".
We read How to Be a Nature Detective by Millicent Ellis Selsam. There was some great, easy information on tracking common animals. I learned a lot, and since it was good and muddy this week, we went for a hike and identified a few tracks. I was amazed at how much Crumpet retained and put to use on our walk.
We also went to the preschool nature class at our nature center. This month, the topic was frogs, and we learned tons of fun information that I'd never heard before. We scooped frog eggs and tadpoles out of the pond, which was a new experience for Crumpet. Here's the frog he colored at the end of class.
Teaching Aids: I am reading an awesome book called How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and on to Learning by Carol Barnier. It's about teaching "highly distractible, ADHD, or just plain fidgety kids" (i.e. boys...). This is the second book I've read about the importance of allowing a hyperactive kid to move while learning, but this one actually gives tons of ways to do this while helping the child focus on the lessons at the same time. One of the simplest ideas she provides is to toss a beanbag back and forth while you take turns saying the letters of the alphabet, or counting, or I could say a letter and he could tell me the sound it makes, etc. etc. Crumpet really responds well to this. There's "hop on it" where I lay out letters or numbers or whatever, and call out the one I want Crumpet to jump on. I'd done this before, and again, it's a big hit here. There are so many other, more involved games too. The ones I've played with Crumpet have left him begging for more. This is how I like to teach Crumpet, but I'm not creative enough to make up my own games, so this was a truly thrilling find. And, the author lists other books that provide even more games for all subjects. Yikes. This is how I want to teach Crumpet - through literature and games, but it's unfortunate that I'll be doing it from debtor's prison after I buy all this stuff I "need"!
Have a great week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fitness Challenge Week 1

The fitness challenge was awesome this week! I got 31 out of 35 points. I slipped up twice by eating chocolate after 7 pm (eating no sugar and not eating after 7 each get you a point) - once on my birthday, and once because we went to a chocolate festival at the nature center here. Both were good times and worth losing a few points!
I lost a pound and I exercised every day, so I met both of my goals. I've found that I love exercising. I think this is partially because it's the only thing I do just for me during the day (even if Crumpet is hanging off my leg, I'm doing it for me...). I've also discovered that if I like the exercise, I'm more likely to keep up with it. ;) Who knew? I love to walk, and I love yoga. I have finally accepted that I am unlikely to get to leave the house to walk or go to a yoga class, so I bought Leslie Sansone's walking DVDs, and I like them. I know you're lauging about the yoga, right? Wimpy, right? But try power yoga. I love Rodney Yee's workouts, and they are awesome for muscle building. I've been doing them regularly for about 6 weeks, and I'm starting to see some really good muscle definition.
I'm finding that this challenge is really working for me. Knowing that other people are doing it too, and that I have to report my points at the end of the week, really keeps me in line. My worst time of day is near bedtime, when I'd really like to eat a whole chocolate cake. Every day. This week, I could talk myself out of snacking because if I could just hold out for an hour or two, I got 2 points!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Field Trip Friday - Riverbanks Zoo

Tonya at Live the Adventure has started up a Friday meme for posts on field trips. I'm all about field trips. That's half the reason I want to homeschool - what better way to learn than to see life in action?

This week, we went to Riverbanks Zoo, in Columbia, SC, with a friend. We love this zoo, and we have a membership so we go pretty regularly. The zoo is the perfect size for a family with little ones. We can see everything in 3 or 4 hours, including a stop for lunch. The zoo is set up in a convenient loop, so you're unlikely to miss your favorite animals. There are lots of kid activities, like a carousel and a train (Crumpet's favorite), as well as a little playground. There are sculptures to climb on and plenty of space to run, which is great when you have a busy little boy:

You can feed giraffes and lorikeets (little parrots). It's amazing to be able to get this close to a wild animal!

More climbing:

We had a great trip. We hadn't been there for a while because it's been a cold winter, so Crumpet made me promise that we'd go back in a few weeks!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preschool Week of 2/18

This week, it was almost impossible to get Crumpet to leave the Land of Pirates and join me in anything vaguely educational. Seriously, I could be standing in front of him, speaking, and I'm not sure he knew I was in the room... But we kept busy and had fun, and I think he even learned a few things!

Nature: We got snow! Crumpet had only seen snow once, and he didn't remember it. We rolled in it, threw it, and ate it! SO much fun!

Then, today, we went for a walk in the woods and saw BUDS on the trees. Crazy weather, but it looks like spring is on its way.

Math: We re-read Rabbit and Hare Divide an Apple from last week, and then we talked about liquid fractions. I brought out the measuring cups and showed Crumpet how to divide a cup of water in various equal portions.

Art: I was inspired by a book we were reading that wonders what a bird's flight would look like if you dipped its tail in paint. Then the artist drew lots of curlycues and zigzags, etc. We decided to try something similar and guessed what would happen if you dipped frogs, snakes, and dragonfly tails in paint. First we painted our guesses, and then we actually dipped toy animals in paint to see if we were close. It was a lot of fun!
The finished product (the book was prettier!):
Crumpet also made thank you cards because his grandmother and his great-grandparents sent Valentine's gifts:
Pirates: Since Crumpet was all about pirates this week, we got a couple of books at the library that described the lives of real pirates. One gave instructions for making flags, swords,etc. We tried a recipe for pirate biscuit, which they ate when they were out of fresh food. This was nasty! It was like eating a salt lick, and we decided we were glad we didn't have to eat like pirates! But the baking was fun. Crumpet loves to play with measuring cups in the flour, pouring it back and forth. This time, he made up a game pretending the cups were people, and they were trying to divide their flour equally! He's hearing me when we discuss fractions! It's a miracle! Then, when we kneaded the dough, he spent some time making holes for dungeons and castle towers out of it... It takes a long time to bake anything with Crumpet around, but it's certainly more interesting than when I do it alone!
He was a mess at the end. Imagine my poor kitchen... (Every picture face has to be a goofy one...)
Learning about Life through Literature: I have no idea what to call this section! We've given up on Before Five in a Row because it seems to be for younger kids. Maybe we'll try Five in a Row later when we start a more structured program in the summer. For now though, I found a lovely book and made a little unit study out of it. The book is Through Grandpa's Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan, and it is about a little boy's relationship with his grandfather, who is blind. The story doesn't make blindness out to be a disability, but rather shows the many ways to see the world without sight. Crumpet was fascinated, and he has spent a lot of time walking around with his eyes closed this week! We tried smelling food to find out was for lunch, and used our ears to guess what was happening in different parts of the house. One part of the book talks about setting up a food plate like a clock so a blind person knows where his food is - for example "The eggs are at 3 o'clock". I drew a clock and placed it under Crumpet's plate, and then we practiced (see below). We saw braille writing when we were in town, and we watched guide dogs online. Crumpet loved learning all of this, and I think it was a great way to introduce him to fact that everyone is different.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with Crumpet

I've been seeing this interview floating around the blog world and wanted to try it with Crumpet. He can't stand being asked questions like this- he gets so nervous and starts saying "Ribbit" for everything. So I asked him when he was doing other things throughout the day, and here's what I got.

What is your name: "Ribbit"

When is your birthday: shrugs shoulders

Who is your Mama: "Hop" (more frog responses..)

Who is your Daddy: shrugs shoulders (clearly, these questions didn't interest him)

What does your Daddy do: "He's an Army, but he doesn't have a gun."

What is your favorite color: "Um, let me think. Maybe blue, but tomorrow it will be red."

What is your favorite song: "What do you do with a scurvy pirate?" (I think this is a song he made up, but it may have come from Veggie Tales: The Pirates That Don't Do Anything.)

What do you want to do when your grow up: "Be a pirate."

Where do you want to live when you grow up: "On the ship."

What is your favorite food: "Chocolate milk and eggs."

What is your least favorite food: "Living things." (Crumpet won't eat meat.)

What is your favorite animal: "Maybe deer and elephants because they don't eat living things."

What do Mom and Dad do after you go to bed: shrugs shoulders

What is your favorite movie: "Darth Maul Star Wars."

What is your favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Chocolate."

Where do you like to eat: "Home"

Who is your favorite person: "Darth Maul"

Who is your best friend? "Maddie and Michael" (his cousins who live 2 hours away)

What is your favorite book? "The Zoo book" (Dear Zoo)

What is your favorite thing to do? "Play pirates".


Monday, February 15, 2010

Fitness Challenge

This post is not about Crumpet, but I only have the one blog, so here goes:
I'm joining the Fitness Challenge over at Families are Fun. It's a 6 week challenge to get healthier overall. Recently, that has become a huge fixation of mine. I'd definitely like to lose weight. More importantly, I want to make exercising a habit, and I want food to become fuel to me, instead of an emotional crutch. I've been doing reasonably well on my own, but I think having a group of people watching my progress and focusing on the same goal will help keep me on track.
This morning, I've weighed and measured myself (No, I don't think I'll share the measurements!), and each Monday I'll post my progress. My goal is to exercise at least 5 times a week and to lose 1 pound a week. Totally achievable. Wish me luck! Better yet, join us!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Art Box 2/14

This week, we made Valentine's Day cards for our neighbors. We made this flock of flamingoes together. Crumpet decorated the heads and helped with the gluing. Aren't they cute??
While I was cutting and prepping, he made his own flamingo, completely by himself. Isn't this awesome? I couldn't believe it when he was done. I kept this one for myself!
He also made this heart person - the blue pipecleaners are legs. He insisted that they be the exact length of one of his marker caps and showed me how to measure by lining them up against the marker cap.
And Crumpet drew this picture. He drew a couple of things this week and told me that many of the little squiggles represented specific letters. Maybe it's time to start writing soon?
Have a great week!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I was given a blog award by Jana over at Homeschooling a Texas Tornado. Thanks Jana, I LOVE awards!!

The rules for this award are as follows:

Thank the person who kindly passed this to you, and link your award back to them.
List 7 things about yourself.
Pass it on to 15 blogs that deserve a Beautiful Blogger Award.
Let them know they earned this award.

I've been trying to come up with 7 things about me, and came up with a total blank. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, I'll tell you 7 things about my relationship:

1) I met my husband online!
2) Our first date was breakfast and the 9a.m., opening day showing of Star Wars Episode 2. Yep, we're dorks...
3) I fell for him because he loves traveling and animals, and because he treats me incredibly well.
4) Traveling and animals may be the only 2 things we have in common! We are very different people... Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but we hope our relationship will teach Crumpet that all people can learn to compromise and to love each other, no matter their belief system, abilities, or interests!
5) We've been together since May 2002 and married since October 2003.
6) We went on our honeymoon in Greece. A month before our wedding, and with my 2 best girlfriends. We rarely follow the norm...
7) I have been really lucky that despite his totally different upbringing, my husband has been completely accepting of my choice to cloth diaper, breastfeed, make my own organic babyfood, and now homeschool our son. I couldn't do any of this without his support! I love my hubby!
I'm lazy and not up to linking this to 15 blogs right now, but I'm sending it out to all of my followers (15 exactly, how perfect!). I would like to specifically send it to someone pretty new to the blog world, Brandie at Our Turn to Dance. Her blog is lovely - go check it out!

"Let's Explore the World Together"

As we set off on a beautiful snowy hike this morning, Crumpet said to his Daddy and me, "Let's go explore the world together." I got a little bit teary because I'm such a sop, and I thought this was so sweet and exactly what I hope to do with my boys every day.

Crumpet decided to "make a pattern, handprint, footprint, handprint, footprint..." He did this on his own - I was so proud!
Have a beautiful day!


We got SNOW! Hurray! Crumpet announced that winter is the best season because there is snow and hot chocolate! He asked if we had marshmallows, and when I said I wasn't sure, he told me it would be ok because we could make our own. Here's the recipe for marshmallows, apparently:
Flour (Flower?), Plants, and Trees - yum...

Catching the first snowflakes on his tongue:
Our very unhappy dog:

Our backyard when it stopped snowing:
Our insane cat hoping that the birds will just freeze and fall into her mouth:
We're looking forward to going out and playing again this morning! And of course, drinking more hot chocolate!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This was a really good school week with Crumpet. We only did 2 days of school, but they were full, fun days. It seems that if we get up and just jump right into it, we stay motivated and Crumpet just keeps asking for more. It helps if I have good plans too!

Science: I finally got around to doing some of the ice experiments that have been traveling around the blog world. I ended up just combining everything I'd seen into one great big project. First, I froze little toys in ice cubes, which I'd colored with food coloring. I saw this idea here at Monkeyin' Around. Crumpet had to guess what was in each cube before we melted them. Then we talked about the many ways to melt ice. We tried waiting, cold water, warm water, salt and talked about using the hair dryer but didn't actually do that. After we got tired of waiting and poured warm water on all of them, we mixed the leftover colored water together to see what colors we'd get, as seen at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, here. Crumpet did pretty well with remembering which colors would appear, since we've done similar experiments before.

Here is Crumpet guessing what's in the ice cube:
Then we tried something I found on a science website, somewhere, but I never wrote down the source. I froze water, liquid soap, vanilla pudding, and honey, and we talked about the different textures that resulted.
And yep, you guessed it, here is Crumpet eating the vanilla pudding cube...
Math: We found a cute book called Rabbit and Hare Divide an Apple
by Harriet Ziefert. It is a fun, easy introduction to fractions and Crumpet was quite interested in the concept. We practiced cutting up an apple and some bread into various equal portions.
For math, we also read a book called I.Q. It's Time by Mary Ann Fraser. This is a cute book about a mouse who goes to school and learns about the times that various things happen during the day. We used our teaching clock to set the times and follow the story. Crumpet can tell time to the hour when we are doing activities like this but it doesn't translate to real life yet - if I show him my watch, he can't tell me what time it is.
Geography: We received a wonderful package full of great fun and educational materials from Natalie and Anna over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. I had expressed great lust for her dollar globe from Target, and she happened to pick one up for me. I am so thrilled to have this now! Crumpet is too.
We used the globe quite a bit this week. I found a wonderful book called On Earth by G. Brian Karas. It is a pretty simple introduction to the motions of the Earth, and the reasons for day, night and the seasons. It was also Crumpet's first introduction to the idea of gravity. The whole book fascinated him, and it was so wonderful being able to demonstrate with the globe. We also looked up the geographic settings of many of the books we read.
Phonics: We also received a great letter Bingo game from Natalie and Anna, and we used this for our phonics practice this week. All of the cards have letters on them, and the clues involve guessing the beginning or ending sounds of words, or filling in blanks in the alphabet. This was lots of fun. We also reread the first book from Progressive Phonics and practiced reading some 3 letter words, but we can only do this in short bursts once a week or so, or Crumpet rebels. I'm taking it as it goes, and I know that he tends to do best when I let things ferment in his little head for a while. Someday, it will just click, and he'll read me the newspaper!

Fine Motor Skills:
I had Crumpet and a friend place golf tees in styrofoam boards and try to balance marbles on them. I saw this idea here at Confessions of a Homeschooler. Crumpet wasn't terribly interested in this project but his 2 year old friend spent ages doing it.
Household Skills:
We hadn't cooked together in ages, so when Crumpet asked to make chocolate custard (a treat we read about in The Pokey Little Puppy), I jumped at the chance. He measured and whisked and complained that the cooking took too long! The end product was just kind of eh, but Crumpet loved it. He loves all things chocolate.
Crafts: We made Valentines for the neighbors. I admit that I did a lot of the work on these, but he decorated the heads and helped with most of the glue work. I saw these in Our Big Backyard magazine and had to make them...
And, the big news here is that Crumpet seems to be potty trained!! At last. It was a rotten few weeks, and I had lots of nervous breakdowns, and Crumpet did a horrendous amount of screaming, but it's done! Hurray!

And after it all, we're still smiling. Here's my goofball:
A goofball who is suddenly very into his tools, and loves using Daddy's old toolbelt (which wraps twice around his waist!).
Have a wonderful week! We think we may finally get some of this snow everyone else is buried under, and I'm SO SO excited. I'm from the North, and I miss snow down here in Georgia. I'll post pictures if it really happens!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Art Box 2/8/09

There wasn't a lot of interest in creating this week. Crumpet did enjoy the new mini paint rollers I bought though. He used them as lawn mowers and cut the grass for a while! He was upset when we ran out of green paint, and not thrilled about the shade of green I created by mixing blue and yellow, but he decided he could work with it. The Navy won't move liquids, so these days, if we run out of something, that's it, no more 'til we settle in our new place. Imagine how much fun our first trip to the craft store in Hawaii is going to be!!
You can't see it very well, but in this picture, he attached a paint brush to the end of the roller to see what kind of new designs he could create as he rolled it along. I thought that was pretty creative!
The newly cut "grass":