Friday, February 25, 2011

Preschool Week of 2/25

Well, it seems that it's time for a break from school again. This was a somewhat challenging week. Crumpet learned two big new things this week, and both made him cry. His new trick in all things is to burst into tears to see if I'll back down, and he used it frequently in school...

Phonics: We started working on reading two vowels together, like 'ai' and 'ea'. He did ok with this, but now any word that looks like it might take some thought makes him fall apart.
Math: We started formal addition. Crumpet has been adding in his head on his own for a while, but now that it's written down in the book, it's just too much for him to think about.
Science: This, at least, was a lot of fun! We made a simple circuit and lit a light bulb with a battery. We both enjoyed this. We changed the placement of wires and battery to see what would happen. We also experimented with adding things into the circuit - a penny, a metal paperclip, a plastic coated paperclip - to see if the light would still shine. Very interesting!
(I'm sorry about my topless boy. I'm not a real fan of boys going shirtless, but Crumpet's best friend never wears a shirt or shoes, and now Crumpet wants to be just like him... Sigh. Choose your battles...)

Other Crumpet news: This week, we saw Gnomeo and Juliet at the movie theater. Very cute. It came at a good time too, because we had just read the Magic Tree House book about William Shakespeare, so I could explain the connection. This seems to happen a lot in our studies - we'll read about something once and then it's everywhere. Maybe I just never noticed before?

As for the afternoon rest I wrote about earlier in the week... well that has been challenging too. Crumpet is definitely ready for a break at 2:30 every day. But, if we go read and snuggle, he falls asleep every day. Clearly he needs the rest. Except that no matter how brief the nap, he is up til late at night, and wakes at dawn the next day. So, now I'm just trying a break in the socializing. I send his friends home and we read or run errands. It seems to help with the meltdowns, and he still sleeps at night. A work in progress...

We're heading to Maui for a week on Sunday. I can't wait! I'm hoping that school will be less upsetting for Crumpet when we return. If not, I may slow things down a bit. Maybe he just isn't ready for all these new ideas.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Practicing Gratitude Gifts 376-400

More good things to be happy about!
376: We didn't drown when the tent flooded last week on our camping trip!
377: The library had a copy of the book that DID drown in the tent, so I can finish reading it!
378: My joints!(They are giving me trouble right now, so I appreciate them more when they don't hurt!)
379: We have a great substitute yoga teacher who is helping me modify poses to help with the joint issue...
380: We leave for Maui on Sunday!!
381: I have a new snorkel mask which won't leak like my old one.
382: A kind neighbor has offered to watch the cats while we are away.
383: A kind friend has offered to drive us to and from the airport.
384: Travel guides. I LOVE them.
385: The evil, screaming, swearing neighbor has moved at last.
386:Our new neighbors seem to be quiet and nice.
387: We have a new sprinkler system so maybe I won't have to water the garden by hand so much, and hopefully, less water will be used.
388: I have always been serious about conservation. Military housing has started giving a credit to those who use less electricity than the average family, so my husband is finally on board with my green ways. We used $100 less than the average last month. Not a bad payoff for turning off the lights!
389: I finally organized some of our closets.
390: I've discovered that Goodwill is the best place to shop for clothes here - best selection, great deals. Seriously, the clothing stores are no good..
391: Another year of life.
392: Birthday calls from great friends and family.
393: Hand me down clothes for Crumpet.
394: Crumpet's goofy jokes.
395: I discovered Magic Tree House reference books that go with the stories. We aren't quite ready for them, but I'm excited to know they are out there!
396: Birdsong in the morning.
397:The Valentine's chocolate is gone. Now I can start eating better again..
398: The right kitchen tools for the job.
399: Fun pancake molds.
400: I don't live in the Middle East. That situation is scaring me to death...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Preschool Week of 2/18

Another week. Lots of learning.

Phonics: We finished the Progressive Phonics book on long vowels, and Crumpet is pretty comfortable with this new skill now. I love that our McRuffy book seems to be going along with the same topics at the same time. It reinforces the skills and often teaches reading rules in a more thorough way than Progressive Phonics.
This week Crumpet started reading entire pages of the Progressive Phonics, even when he should have had no idea what a lot of the words were. He's learning to sound out more difficult words, and he's learning to use the context of words to decipher them. Wow. He still has no idea that he can read things other than his school reading materials, but he's starting to come running to me screaming that he can read signs or the title of my book. (Or my e-mails. Aack.) Any day now, he will realize that he can read anything and the world is totally open to him now!

Math: We are doing great counting by fives, and we started working with nickels this week. We also read a cute book: Dollars and Cents for Harriet by Betsy and Giulio Maestro. This is a great book about different sets of coins adding up to a dollar, and it works on counting by ones, fives and tens.

Science: This week, we did some McRuffy experiments building simple systems. We built a basketball hoop from some random objects. We also built some ramps and practiced starting and stopping balls along the way using various tools. At first, this freaked Crumpet out - huge tantrums. He is not a fan of coming up with his own hypothesis about something, and I think it's because he hates being wrong. When he finally realized that life would go on even if we made a mistake, he had a lot of fun with these projects.

Art: We made these corn syrup hearts based on Nicole's directions at Tired, Need Sleep. This was so much fun! Crumpet loved it!In the end, it turned into a glitter horror show, but seeing Crumpet enjoy an art project made it worth the mess!Extracurricular: We spent some time at the botanical gardens with friends. We fed the ducks and fish, and then did some geocaching. We're going to try tent camping there this weekend.

We also went to another children's play. It was called The New Sense-sational show, and it was a magic show about the five senses. It was fantastic. We took Crumpet's neighbor friend. He'd never been to a play before, and he went completely bananas, he was having so much fun.

And, this week, we bought a Kinect game system for the Xbox. That will be a whole separate post because I have some serious mixed feelings about it... But the boys love it...

Have a great week! For more preschool posts, visit Homeschool Creations.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts on fixing our day...

So, I've realized a couple of important things which I hope will make our lives run smoother.
1) I am not the kind of homeschooler I thought I'd be. I thought I would be creating fun games to play, bringing in extra topics, creating unit studies, etc. all the time. I thought I would hate using a boxed curriculum. Ha. I realized the other day that I haven't done a geography study in ages. Geography was really the only subject I was teaching using my own ideas, and I can't even manage that lately. Instead, I open the McRuffy textbooks and follow the lessons. Sometimes I even read their scripted teacher lines. Aack.
I find that I rarely prepare more than five minutes in advance. Life is just too crazy here. (And I'm lazy, I admit it.) As my excuse, (because I'm good at justifying my weaknesses)I'm going to say that we spend very little time doing actual bookwork, and spend most of our time going on field trips or learning while living our regular everyday life. Who has time to create lesson plans? Who wants extra school lessons in the classroom? That's great in theory, but Crumpet made it clear that even that minimal book time was not going to work for him if I didn't start mixing it up a little. He wanted to know when we were going to start doing some fun school stuff again, because school was getting boring. Oops.
So this week, I changed things a little. I start school with a game or a puzzle. This has been a huge help in getting our day moving the right way. We get up early and usually play for a while before starting school around 9am. It can be hard to get Crumpet to focus and change from the land of pretend to the land of math. Playing an educational game slowly redirects his mind. I try to use one of the many games I've collected over time, or pull one from the book Mathematics Activities for Home Schooling with Unifix Cubes. Then, between subjects, we play a short game from Games for Learning by Peggy Kaye. He loves these mini games and asks for them over and over again. It is making a huge difference in our schooling time. Here's hoping it continues to work for us!
2) Crumpet NEEDS a rest period in the afternoon. He's mostly beyond naps, and if he takes one, he's up quite late at night. However, after yet another major temper tantrum and ruined day yesterday, I realized that at 2:30 every day, things start to fall apart. My angry boy starts yelling about anything and everything. Today, when it happened just before we went for a walk with the neighbor, I decided enough was enough. We are going to have a one hour rest break at 2:30 whenever possible. I sent the poor neighbor home (he was very accepting - he's seen Crumpet freak out enough to know when a break is in order) and told Crumpet to go rest in his room. He asked for stories, so we snuggled and read two stories and then he passed out. I'll try waking him after an hour to see if we can avoid a really late bedtime. Could mere rest be the solution to the angries that seem to attack more and more? Oh, that would be lovely. Again, here's hoping...Even if that doesn't solve our entire problem, a break for me should ensure that I'm patient enough to deal with him til bedtime.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pay It Forward

Well, today is Pay It Forward day. I said I'd do a random draw and pick 3 people to receive a little gift from Hawaii - but only 2 people threw their names in the hat! I guess I don't have enough followers. Anyway, the winners are:

Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom
Melonie at Wandering Quail Road.

Could you both send me your addresses? Thanks!

If a 3rd person wants to join in, I'll send a package to the first person to comment on this post! The rules of the game are here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Preschool Week of 2/11

This was an easy peasy week for us. Very mellow school work, not too many outings. Ahh...
Phonics: We continue to work on long vowels, and Crumpet is improving quickly. Of course, now he forgets and pronounces short vowels as long vowels, but not too often!
Math: We are still working on counting by fives. We've made some progress, but I have to be honest - I haven't been very diligent about it.
Writing: Big progress - in my eyes anyway. Crumpet started making letters on his own while playing with the white board! He got frustrated quickly when they weren't perfect, but I think he did a great job, and I'm thrilled that it was his idea!

Crumpet made some very simple Valentines from the craft store for the ladies on our Meals on Wheels route. They were so pleased!
We went to a play at the children's theatre about the first moon landing. It was a bit over Crumpet's head but he enjoyed some of it. We have another play to go to tomorrow, which is geared toward younger children. We are looking forward to it!
We have found an animal shelter which will allow young children to help with dog walking and cat cuddling, so we'll be starting to volunteer there soon! Crumpet is very excited. Me too!
Crumpet and the boy next door spend almost all of their time together now. They go back and forth between the two houses all day long. It's so nice to see him with a close friend, and it's lovely to have an hour or two a day to get some work done around the house when he is next door. We had a few low key play dates with other friends this week too.
We have had a couple of run-ins with a neighborhood bully over the last week, and Crumpet has handled it remarkably well. It crushes me to see someone be mean to my baby, but I know that this is part of growing up. I have been impressed by Crumpet's strength and kindness in response to this boy. Of course, I intervened when necessary, and I have to admit, I wasn't as nice to the boy.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Practicing Gratitude Gifts 351-375

I am truly blessed. Many people around me have lives that are unfairly falling apart right now, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am for every breath I get to take. Or how much time I am spending crying right now...
351:The sounds of Crumpet and his friends playing.
352: We are taking an unexpected trip to Maui in 2 weeks!
353: A new volunteer opportunity for Crumpet and me.
354: A friend's husband who babysat Crumpet while we had a girls' night out.
355: The courage to do something crazy that I never thought I'd do.
356: Friends to join me in my craziness.
357: A package of cool new cooking tools that arrived in the mail!
358: We will be watching not 1 but 2 dogs in March! yay!
359: Two children's plays in one week!
360: Good doctors for my best friend's mother, who is my second mom..
362: Being so close to that friend that I knew something was wrong before she told me.
363: Help at last for a very troubled girl.
364: Peace and hope for her parents.
365: Cheap long distance phone calls...
366: Another day of life and health.
367: Dress up clothes!
368:My thyroid values came back normal after 3 weeks off of medication! We'll recheck in 3 months...
369: Abundant farmer's markets.
370: Love.
371: Joy
372: Crumpet misses me when I am gone.
373: But he finally lets me go.
374: Strength to carry on during a difficult week.
375: Clean sheets.

Well, this was sort of a downer list...I hope you are all having an easier week!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Preschool Week of 2/4

So, this picture demonstrates Crumpet's attitude this week. Pretty much: "You want me to do what? No way."
It was a frustrating week, and I'm realizing that some changes will have to be made here. Like I'm going to have to stop being a marshmallow, and learn to be stricter. Sigh...

As for school work:
Reading: We started working on long vowel sounds. He is having some trouble with this, and it's making him angry.
Math: We started counting by fives. Crumpet can count by tens, and can almost make it to 100 when counting by ones. He gets bored along the way, but he's close... We've also been working with a fun book I bought at our library book sale a few weeks ago. It's from the 80's, and it's called Anno's Math Games by Mitsumasa Anno. It's full of fun brain teasers for young children, and Crumpet loves it. I had planned to buy a few similar things for next year's school work, and now I'm sure he'll be happy with them.
Science: We are working on a unit about living things, and learning about the life cycles of frogs and butterflies. He is pretty familiar with these, but there are some new words that we are talking about.
Memorization: Crumpet now knows the days of the week, and my cell phone number. Now we can go back to memorizing nursery rhymes, which is much more fun!
Motor skills: I made a button snake this week. So far, Crumpet would like to pretend it's a pet, and not work on his buttoning skills...
Art: We tried shaving cream paper marbling this week. Crumpet loved mixing the paints and pretending to make a birthday cake, but then wasn't interested in decorating the paper. I love that he has his own mind, and he's creative in his own way, etc etc, but just once I'd love to have him participate in a project as I planned it... Just once??
Anyway, the technique is simple. You layer shaving cream at the bottom of a pan. Pour some paint around the top, and swirl with the end of a paintbrush. Crumpet's is on the left, with $10 worth of paint dumped on top of the shaving cream. Mine is marbled on the right.
Then, press a piece of paper on top of the shaving cream, rubbing it all over to transfer the colors. The paper comes off the shaving cream looking beautiful:
After that, we had a bit of trouble. We scraped the paint and shaving cream off the paper, but it never looked as pretty when we were done. I don't think I had a good enough scraping tool... On the left, I tried using a paper towel, but it smeared the paint too much,and on the right, I used a piece of cardboard like many sites recommeded. Maybe a shower scraper would have worked better? Anyway, I loved this project!
Creative Writing: We have been reading a lot of Magic Tree House stories around here. They are making a huge impression on Crumpet. He always tells me stories of his own creation, and now they often have elements from MTH. He often separates his stories into chapters. This week, he started naming his chapters. "Chapter 1: Danger. Chapter 2: Can't See." It cracks me up!

Have a great week. For more preschool posts, head over to Homeschool Creations.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Practicing Gratitude, Gifts 326-350

Another week of blessings:

326: Crumpet is fully potty trained. It has been months since he had an accident, even at night. Do you remember last year at this time when I was despairing because I believed he would leave for college in a diaper??
327: Cast iron pans
328: My Mom is coming to visit in March. I am so excited!!!!!
329: I've planned a most excellent surprise for Mom during her stay here.
330: We had a lovely weekend camping on the beach.
331: Sunrise on the beach.
332: Falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing.
333: Ice cream
334: Pillows (which I forgot to bring camping..)
335: Friendly camping neighbors.
336: A great dentist referral.
337: Things seem to work out the way they are supposed to.
338: Anticipation of 2 packages that should arrive next week. It always feels like Christmas.
339: Sleep
340: My poor sickly cat has nothing seriously wrong with her. Just old age and a touchy stomach.
341: Crumpet was incredibly well behaved at the vet.
342: Stain remover (Nature's Miracle= truly a miracle) for carpets where said kitty let me know she didn't feel well...
343: Automatic car washes
344: Family hide and seek games at night on the playground.
345: Parents and in-laws who have never been judgmental about the way I have chosen to live my life.
346: We are not experiencing any of the truly scary weather that so much of the world is seeing.
347: My husband tolerates my moods so very well.
348: The leak our tenants found turned out to be no big deal.
349: A pair of new shorts. You cannot buy shorts in the 'winter' in Hawaii, and all of mine are destroyed from too much wear. I found a pair hiding in a corner at Target and snatched it up!
350: A fun, unexpected play date with a friend we hadn't seen for awhile.

Pay It Forward Game

At the beginning of January, Natalie from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, wrote a post about a Pay It Forward game she was participating in. I thought it sounded like fun, so I threw my name in the hat for a chance to win. And I did! Now, we are looking forward to receiving a little package from California.
So now it's my turn to Pay It Forward. The rules are simple. Leave a comment saying that you would like to join in. On February 15, I will choose 3 winners out of a hat, and I will send you a little gift from Hawaii! (You should be prepared to continue the game on your own blog if you win.)
Let me know if you'd like to play!