Thursday, September 26, 2013

Friends, Feelings and Five Senses!

You may be wondering why there are SO many different subjects up there this week, well, I guess I'm wondering too. But when I started my lesson plan it was just easier to include all of these different topics. If we talk about being a good friend, we have to talk about emotions and our feelings (and those of others). If we talk about our feelings we need to talk about observing things with our ears and eyes (tough and smell too) so, we just wrapped it up into a fun filled week of activities. My boys were still a little sick so I didn't get in all of our activities that I wanted, but there's always time later to modify or just do them! Here are some of the things we did do.

Care Packages
We're a military family and even though we are ready to face a deployment and loss, we are fortunate enough to have never dealt with one personally. However, when we moved into our new house we moved in next door to an Army family with a deployed husband. Fortunately, he's about to come home and as his platoon trickles in we were asked to make goody bags for the soldiers once they got off the plane. I jumped at the opportunity to help and included the boys in this craft.

This lesson was a tricky one, because without scaring my boys and threatening them with a looming Deployment for their Daddy, I just wanted to let them know that it made me feel proud to give back to the Heroes that serve our country. I think it worked because a few days later Henrik expressed his pride and loyalty to the men and women that serve this country when he said, "Mom, we need to make cookies for the Heroes so that they know we like them". And we will in a few weeks when our neighbor comes home, we're in charge of the cookie portion of that care package! 

Putting Feelings to Work:
We've been having a few issues in our house with hitting, kicking and biting. The boys just go at it sometimes and I though we've always encouraged them to use their words, I wanted to show them what emotions looked like so they could start to recognize when their brother was getting upset or was upset. 

Here, I wrote on the front and back of a piece of paper different emotions: happy, sad, scared and  surprised. I asked the boys to draw their different faces of happy, sad, scared and surprised. Henrik didn't know how to do some of them, but as we practiced making different faces he started to figure it out on his own and drew what he thought each of those emotions looked like. 

Playing with Adjectives:

I wanted to get the boys active so I decided to come up with a game where we could pretend to be different feelings and animals. We could have made it so we just acted out the feelings, but I wanted to make sure they participated so I chose to do animals. I knew that when they drew the "excited whale" they would giggle and open up and be silly with me. 

I made two bowls, one filled with different emotions and feelings and one filled with different animals. I had each child draw from their own bowl. We then put the feelings with the animal and got some pretty funny and very creative play out of it. I didn't get any pictures of them being any of the animals because it was too fun to just let them play. 

Silly Faces:
I went online and found a bunch of eye, nose and mouth clip art and printed them out. Once I cut them, I gave the boys a plastic plate and put painter's tape on the plate where the eyes, nose and mouth should go. Then I set them free! 

At first, I just let them play, they thought it was pretty funny to see different facial features and mix them up like Mr. Potato Head. But after a few minutes I asked them to find eyes that looked angry, or sad, or happy. Then I asked them to match the mouth with the eyes. We also played around with happy eyes and angry mouths. Theo went with the Picasso approach, but nonetheless he still loved the activity and had a blast making matching faces with the ones they'd created. 

Simon Says:
We played the actual Simon Says game this week too, but this was a fun activity so I could get them to settle down. I printed out the outline of a body and played the game in a different way. I said, "Simon says, color the right hand". Or "Simon says, color the thing that we use to smell". They thought it was fun because it was just an outline of a body, which gave them the opportunity to be creative. 

To make this easier for Theo, I asked him to tell me what parts of the body we used to feel something. He likes being barefoot so he said feet first, but eventually went with the hands as well. I asked Theo more questions about the five senses and he was able to tell me that we hear with our ears and see with our eyes. And of course, he colored the whole body, but at least I got verbal confirmation from him on what we'd been learning about this week. 

Number and Letter Writing:
We spend a lot of time recognizing letters and numbers through flashcards, books and signs, but we don't spend as much time working on writing as I'd like. Until recently, my boys had very little interest in actually coloring or writing, but since they've been on a coloring kick I decided to take advantage of their interests and tailor some writing practice to their new likes. 

The boys absolutely love writing on white boards, I guess there is something exciting about the squeak it makes when you write on it. I found these boards at Target and thought they would be good for a job chart that I was creating, but I decided against that and had them left over. So, because they had squares already on the board, I knew I could put them to use for Henrik especially. Henrik writes his H to fill up the whole page, he has little control when it comes to managing the size of his letters. If he sees a space he must fill it, but with a long name like his, we always run out of room. So, keeping the letters in the box was a perfect way to help him manage the size and gain more control of his marker. I did the same thing with number writing practice. Theo spent a lot of time singing the Alphabet song and writing all over the board, but to me, at least he's learning about letters and writing while he does it. I don't think you can ever start too early.

Copy Cat:
My favorite activity this week was to draw on the bathroom mirror with dry erase markers. I asked the boys to make funny faces in the mirror and watch what their face did when they expressed different emotions. After we made several funny faces, I wrote a word on the mirror and asked them to draw the emotion. If they got stuck, and weren't sure what the emotion looked like, I had them look at themselves in the mirror as they made that emotion and they could copy what their face was doing.

It's hard to see from the picture, but when I asked Henrik to draw "happy" he drew our whole family, and it was the best picture he's EVER drawn. He then asked me how to write family. I was SO proud of him. As you can see, he was pretty proud of himself as he drew different emotions too.

Music Therapy:
I don't have great pictures from this activity because my boys were WAY to into it and wanted me to play along too. How could I not? This activity was a two part activity. First, I turned on different kinds of music: 50s, jazz, disco, rock, classical and pop. I asked the boys to tell me how these different types of music made them feel. It was fun to see their responses to the music. Sometimes they would do nothing, sometimes they bobbed their heads, sometimes they got up and danced around. While we listened I encouraged them to move around to the music, in a speed or way that the music was telling them.

The second part of this activity was when we got our our own instruments and made music that made us feel different ways. I asked them to make music that made them angry and they banged on drums and their shakers as loud as possible. When I asked them to play happy music, they played their piano and xylophone quickly and wiggled around while they did it. When I asked them to play music that was sad, they played long and low.

5 Senses Sensory Bin And Water Play:
This activity was pretty easy to do and lasted over an hour. I set up these sensory bins and filled up one side of the sink with warm water and the other with cold. I added bubbles and some numbers that have various textures on them.

I wanted to add things that had different textures and feels to them so I put in lentils, and beans, squishy toys and hard toys, wet toys and dry toys and of course they had smooth and bumpy and cold and warm.

Five Senses Treasure Hunt: 
Right now my boys are big on treasure hunts, probably because of their new found love of treasure maps, but either way, I put a twist on the old treasure hunt. This time, I gave them each a notebook with pictures and words based on the five senses. They were sent outside to find different things that they could check off. We had to listen for sirens, planes, birds, dogs, etc. We had to find something smooth, bumpy, hard and soft. We had to find things that had a smell. We skipped the taste portion of the senses because we try to keep everything but food out of our mouths. 

This was a fun activity because we got out of the house and got active. Theo especially was proud when he got to check things off in his notebook!

This week we read some really great books about Friendship and Feelings. Some of our favorites were:

Fluff and Billy by Nicola Killen
Hopper and Wilson by Maria van Lieshout
The Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffries
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
Happy and Friends by Miles van Hout
We of course explored the Brown Bear, Brown Bear What to you See books as well as their counter parts the Panda bear and Polar Bear by Eric Carle.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Healthy Living Week!

Healthy living week started out grand, I had a lot of outdoor physical activities to do with the boys, we were going to be active and eat healthy and even get the boys in the kitchen to learn how to make healthy foods. We were going to piggy back off of Farm Week where we learned about how food grows and where it comes from, but, of course, my boys got sick. Really sick. So we did a lot of indoor projects that didn't require as much physical activity because they were coughing up a storm with Croup.

Start The Week Off Right With A Hike!
The boys love riding bikes and going on Colorado Adventures each Sunday, so I thought I'd make the week fun by getting them back on their bikes and going for a walk on one of the trails by our house. It turned out to be a miscommunication between Eric and myself and I thought it was a ONE mile hike, but it actually was a THREE mile hike, too much for the boys. At least they made it to our destination (and back) with a little cheer leading from me and a few snack and water breaks enjoying our lovely Rocky Mountain View.

Yes, I did end up holding Theo and I had to put Hank's bike in the stroller because his "legs couldn't do it any longer", but at least we were outside and enjoying the day.

Kids In the Kitchen:
After our hike the boys were hungry, I mean, like if I didn't feed them now they may eat the couch. But instead of unwrapping something from the pantry, I made them help me cook a healthy breakfast. We made smoothies and eggs. The boys helped as much as possible during both of these projects and actually, it helped them eat too. Sure they were already starving, but they took pride in the food that they prepared.

I've had a few friends do a Germ Week with their kiddos and I decided to barrow some of their ideas for our Healthy Living week. You can check out their blogs at Going Homemade and Counting Curls!
What we did in our Germ study was use some cookie sugar, rubbed it on damp hands and then I had the boys wash it off. The sugar dyed their hands a bit and I explained that that's why we wash our hands and brush our teeth, because we want our teeth and hands to be germ and sugar free!

As we washed we sang (to the tune of Row, Row, Row You're Boat):

Wash, wash, wash your hands,
Scrub the germs away,
Hurry up and rinse them off
So that we can play.

A Book A Day Keeps The Doctor Away:
Or in our house about 30 books a day keeps the doctor away (well, not this week, we ended up at the doc about 5 times between the two boys, but you get the idea). This week at the library I was pretty disappointed in the selection. I should have ventured to a different library, but I didn't have time. These were our favorites this week:

The Holes In Your Nose, The Soles of Your Feet and Every One Poops by Genichiro Yagyu
Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair by Lee Fox
Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin
Time to Pee by Mo Willems
Bear Feels Sick and Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables by Lorena Siminovich
Bones by Steve Jenkins

I also found a variety of books about different parts of the body and exercise at our library.

Pretend Play-Doctor! 
Pretty soon our week took a turn for the worst when Henrik got sick. I figured that the best way to lay low was to sit on the couch and pretend to make each other feel well. The boys had a blast playing doctor and taking care of one another. We've still got that play set out! They won't let me put it away!

Bones and Body Play:

I quickly discovered that my boys love bones, so I took advantage of that and the week turned into healthy bodies and bone week. We talked about what bones are made of, what they do for our bodies and what it would be like without them. I took a piece of string cheese and a dog bone and had them compare the difference between the two. I asked them which bone they'd like to have in their bodies to keep them upright and strong and I asked them to tell me how to care for their bones. The boys (Henrik) had a lot of questions about bones and so we just went on and on learning about as much as possible. I love it when they really get into something!

I found these skeletons at JoAnn's and figured they would be a great activity and then reusable for Halloween! I had the boys color the skeletons and as they did it I asked them where the different bones were and what they did. I was really impressed with the results.

Another project was to take a body outline that I got online and glue the bones and muscles to the body. I used noodles, beads, pike cleaners, string and of course google eyes. The boys thought it was really fun to make a person. During this activity we talked about how our muscles and bones work together and the boys couldn't resist showing me their muscles the whole time they were doing this craft.

I think their all time favorite project (even through fevers) was the paint X-Ray. It's pretty easy to do, you just need white paint! The boys LOVE painting their hands for projects and when I told them we'd paint their arms to see their "x-rays" they were thrilled. Of course, this project led to finger painting!

Before the boys got really sick (and we basically took a TV/movie break for a few days) I wanted to include a lesson about how to choose a healthy meal. I talked to the boys about the different food groups and where the different foods were made or where they came from. I also copied the new food plate from and cut out different foods for the boys to place on their plate. I had to do it by food group, like I asked them what things had proteins or which things were fruits (we talk about this stuff already at meal times because we tell Henrik why he needs to eat- he's our picky one) so it was actually pretty easy for them when I broke it down and had them focus on one thing at a time.

After they made their plates they asked for forks so they could pretend eat the food they made. It was pretty adorable.

Rainbow Meals:
Pretty easy, a huge hit and healthy!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

4 Day Week

Because of Labor Day, our schedule was all thrown off. It's not that I can't do school when Eric is around, it's that we'd rather do other things when he is around. We spent the holiday weekend getting our house completely unpacked, cleaned out the garage and of course heading out for some Colorado Adventures (our new Sunday ritual). But when Tuesday rolled along and kids were still out of school (a bonus day off) we ended up enjoying Summer one more weekend.

Though, we did manage to get a few activities in. I hope some of these you can do at your house!

Chalk Handwriting Practice:
Because Henrik is in pre-school now, and the new teaching methods are to teach lower case first, I decided to go back outside to get in a little handwriting practice. Now, Henrik knows all of his upper case letters, but the lower case ones are harder, so many curves! It's hard for little fingers to concentrate hard enough to make all those loops! But, nonetheless, we sat down with chalk and practiced. First, I wrote Henrik's name, below it, I wrote his name again, but used dots and arrows to show him where to draw the lines to and which direction the lines or curves went. As he wrote/traced each letter, I went over the first name I wrote with another color chalk to show him how to make it (for visual learners).

I let Theo have free play during this time because our neighbors were out and he wanted to play, but sure enough, he was paying attention. Later last week, Theo took some chalk and started writing. After a few minutes he ran over to us with the biggest smile on his face, "ABCs!" he yelled over and over again as he grasped his hands. We didn't get it right away, but sure enough, he pulled us out of our chairs to see what he had done... He made an A! He had several different scribbles on the sidewalk, some actually looked like letters, and as he pointed to each scribble he said a different letter. I guess he's always absorbing what we're doing! This little guy made me proud and also showed me that even though he's not always participating, he's involved in what we are doing. Not bad for a 19 month old! 


Over the holiday I went to JoAnn's Fabrics, HUGE mistake, but I wanted to finish a project I stared for entry way storage. It turned out awesome, see?

But while I was there, and waiting for two hours for some one to cut foam and fabric for me, I came across a Teacher's Board Kit. I figured that this would be a great addition to our play room and would give us a few opportunities for activities! 

Color Matching:

Theo isn't great with his colors yet, in fact, he says that everything is "Geen" and on a rare occasion, he actually says something is the right color, he quickly sees my excitement and shouts out three to six other colors just to throw me off. Or is he just pulling my leg? Either way, this packet incuded some great things! Crayons in the different colors, we put them up according to the rainbow and then matched different objects with the color crayon. The boys had fun matching them up and even Theo was able to participate here with all of his gusto. The kit included site words in the color of the word, but the boys got too wiggly so we will save that for another day. 

Shape Recognition:
The kit I bought also included Shapes. I let the boys play with the shapes for a while, for some reason they liked these more than the colors. After we went over the shapes and their colors, we put them up on the wall in the playroom too. The shape set was neat because they also included different shaped objects that kids would recognize on a daily basis. I had my boys play with those shapes and then match them with the actual shape. 

A friend of mine at Wildflower Ramblings wrote a post about creating a Montessori Bedroom. I liked that idea a lot but I wanted to create a playroom instead. One thing that really stuck out from her post was that you should have things at the child's eye level, so when I was thinking of these projects I made sure we had locations where the boys could place them without using a stool, where they could physically touch them without reaching, and where they would constantly see them. In the picture where Hank is putting up the baseball, he's actually sitting on the floor so that's why he's reaching, but you can see the window wedge at the top of that picture and he can reach it if he were standing. 

Bean Bag Letters:
A while back I bought these letter bean bags from Oriental Trading (they have awesome cheap stuff for teachers/ teach-at-home Moms). My boys LOVE them. I think Henrik likes them because they are a tangible way to see upper and lower case letters and Theo loves them because he can throw them. Anyway, we have an alphabet carpet in our play room and I decided to have the boys match the letters on the bean bags with the letters on the bags. It lasted all of a minute before both boys were having a bean bag snowball fight. So, like they say, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" I did. I made a rule that Theo had to tell me the color of the bag before he could throw them and Henrik had to tell me the letters on the bag before he could throw them. That worked like a charm. 

Shape Sorting and Puzzles:
I love Amazon and there I came across these cool toys for my boys. I think I've mentioned before that Theo is a tactile learner so I found these toys especially for him. Every once in a while we bring out these puzzles for different things, and since we'd spent the morning working on our shapes and colors, these would be perfect. 


These shape puzzles are from Plan Toys and they are simple, but perfect. Each shape is textured and each puzzle piece has a different animal that makes up the shape as their body. Theo could have done this activity for hours as he tested and felt each piece. 

I also bought these flash card puzzles. They are all based on colors and patters, some of them are touch and feel. Perfect for my hands on learner. 


Henrik really did well with this set and enjoyed making the flash cards, Theodor studied each card with such intent and then tried with all his might to make them fit together. He's not quite ready for this kind of puzzle, but he at least could make the matches. Because Theo got frustrated, I moved him over to chunky puzzles where he had much more "fun" making the pieces fit together. 


If you're wondering how our Farm Week science experiments have been going, well, the ones in the bag have done much better than the ones in the dirt. Henrik couldn't believe that plants could grow without dirt and he was pretty proud that he is a "Farmer" and can grow us food to eat. 

Next week we will be back on track, it's Healthy Living Week! Stay Tuned! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Farm Week

This week we learned a lot about farms, growing crops, seeds, harvesting and enjoying the great outdoors. We had a pretty busy social week, as it was the last week of Summer and all of our friends wanted to meet up, so we missed out on some of our home school activities, but we still got down and dirty doing farm experiments and crafts.

Theme Play Stations

We have a lot of farm toys, every thing from plastic figurines to large tractors so I decided to make some play stations in our play room. For a designated time, I only let the boys play with the stations I set up. In the play room it's hard, because they have a lot of bins and a whole closet full of project materials, but I stood my ground, and they actually had a lot of fun.

Safari plastic people, farm and ranch themed.

Our Little People Farm set

I also had different non-farm related play stations set up

Practice with snaps, buttons, zippers and buckles

And of course music! How can you have farm week without Old MacDonald?!

Reading Centers
Each week we make a trip to the Library to get books based on our theme. There are about a million farm books out there. 

Theo is very much in love with interactive books, Pop ups and touch and feel books are some of his favorites, and as a very tactile child, it makes perfect sense. We like the Baby Loves brand and the Baby Touch and Feel books.

Other books we enjoyed this week are:

Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle
Moo by Matthew Van Fleet
The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill
The Little Rabbit Who LIke to Say Moo by Jonathan Allen
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House by Judi Barrett

Sensory Play
My boys LOVE their water table, but sometimes you can make an old toy new by adding an new element to it. This time, I put corn and sunflower seeds in the bins! I added a few tractors, farm animals and characters and the boys had a blast!

How Does Your Garden Grow?
We live in a place with not a lot of shade and a more sunny days than Florida. I was desperate to add some color and life to our zero-scaped backyard. The boys and I went to our local garden center and picked up a few plants to add just a touch of color. It was also the perfect opportunity to talk about the plant life cycle, the difference between buds and flowers, and it's a great way to get dirty. My boys are big fans of The Little Einsteins there is an episode called Farmer Annie and the crew helps some pigs plant some seeds. The Einsteins go through the whole process, from digging soil to watering to getting sun to adding love. After we finished planting our plants, Henrik insisted that we add love to the plants by singing them a song, it was pretty cute. I told him that we could show them love by making sure we watered them each day. He thought we could do more :)

Farmer's Market Field Trip
We are very lucky to live in a place where there is a different Farmer's Market each day of the week! We've been to two different ones here and each time my boys find something new that they absolutely enjoy. Because it was farm week, while we were at the market I asked the boys different questions at each stand. What color are the fruits? What kind of veggies are there? How do carrots grow? Can you find the food that grows on trees? They were up and out of their stroller the whole time getting active and talking with the farmers about their products. The best part of this field trip was when I gave the boys money and asked them to pick out whatever they wanted so we could have it for dinner that day. They were beyond thrilled that they could really be involved in the shopping and dinner prep experience. 

 Seed Science
When I was in elementary school I remember doing a project where we grew beans in a plastic bag in the window. I wanted to do the same with with my boys so I could actually show them how roots and stems form. I asked Henrik to tell me what plants or seeds need in order to grow, he of course said soil, sun and water. I then asked him if we could grow plants in a bag with a wet paper towel! He said he didn't think so because there wouldn't be any dirt! We did the project and checked back each day and wrote down in our Field Journal our findings. Mostly he drew pictures, but we looked at each seed to see if there were any signs of life. He thought he was a regular farmer-scientist!

Because he didn't think that the ones in the bags would grow, (and I had a hunch in advance) I picked up a few containers from JoAnn Fabrics that had a window cut out. We planted our "control seeds" in these plants so we could watch as the seeds took root.

We placed them in the sun and waited. Henrik replied, "being a farmer is a lot of waiting". He has no idea. 

My boys like to do projects so I got my craft on and came up with some cute crafts to build our own farm! 

First we made horses! I took a cereal box and cut out horse shapes, but punched holes for the mane and tail. I'd highly suggest using a hole punch so the hole is big enough, I couldn't find mine so the holes were a bit too small. It was a good challenge though! 

Next we made sheep! The boys liked this one better, probably because glue was involved. They thought it was fun putting the glue on their handprints and making the sheep fluffy. You just add eyes and a mouth to the thumb and you've got a sheep. 

Of course, you'll need a barn once you have all the animals, so we got out some craft sticks and of course more glue. I drew a barn on some paper and had the boys put the craft sticks on the sketch I drew. It got a little messy, and it took some time for it to dry, but at least they had fun. 


After everything dried, you put it all together and get a cute little farm! 

Find The Farm
I found a really fun teaching site where I found these printables. I wanted Henrik to get some practice tracing objects to get better at his writing skills and hand coordination. Once he was done tracing the dots to get the animals to the barn, I had him practice his cutting skills. Theo practiced his stamping skills while we did this craft. 

I hope that some of these crafts or projects give you and your kids a fun afternoon! We sure had a great time together!