Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preschool Update

It occurred to me that I have a few friends who read my blog that are currently doing homeschool preschool with their kids. I thought I'd give you all a bit of an update for what I've been up to with my niece.

We just finished a unit on health and the body (some of you may remember that we did a lifesize drawing of Raylee that she got to color) we learned about washing our hands, staying germ free, how to cover our mouths when we sneeze and cough, and we learned about healthy eating.

I capped it off today by reading "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Suess. After the book was read, we talked about the moral of the story. The guy that says he doesn't like green eggs and ham had actually never tried them. We came to the conclusion that when our mommies and daddies try to get us to try something new, we should because we just might like it- just like the character liked green eggs and ham in the end. Normally we start preschool after lunch, but today I had her come at her regular lunchtime because after we read the book, we made green eggs and ham for lunch. Here is the recipe we used if you're interested in trying:

2 eggs
2 drops food color
1 tsp milk
onion powder, salt and pepper to taste
2 slices deli ham diced

crack the eggs, put the food color, onion powder, salt and pepper in with the eggs and scramble. Add the eggs to a greased pan to scramble as usual. Sprinkle the ham over the top and stir until they are cooked.

I wish you could have seen the look on Raylee's face as the eggs turned green. It was a mix of shock and exhilaration that no one can really describe.

I took a bite, but once they were done she ate the whole bowl by herself and I ended up eating some Ramen noodles.

We also decided to try a new food- apricot fruit leather. She didn't really like it, but we talked about how good it was that she was brave enough to try it without complaining. She was tickled pink with herself!

We've been learning letter sounds as we've been learning letters. I found some worksheets at that were a fantastic way to introduce using the sounds to read words. Raylee read her first words today! I was so thrilled. She even innately knew the sounds of letters we hadn't covered yet. We would go through each letter of the word individually and figure out what sound it made, then put them together. All by herself, without any help, Raylee read the words: Eel, Clam, Can, Am, At, And, Cat, and a few more. I was really floored when she read the word Clam. We got to it and I was expecting to have to help her but she had it sounded out and read before I knew what to do. :)

We've also been discussing how we use shapes to draw different pictures. Here is the result of one of our shape drawing sessions:

Its been awesome to see the changes in her drawings since this. She seems to love to draw stuff for everyone these days, all because she loves figuring out what shapes to use to make what she wants to make.

I took this "shape drawing" idea to the next level and we used the capital letters that we've worked on so far to make drawings yesterday. Raylee came up with some very interesting ideas, like making a lion out of the letter E...

If I don't have a doctor's appointment tomorrow we will likely end up doing the same thing with our lower case letters that we've worked on so far. Its the perfect blend between working on our penmanship and using critical thinking to be artistic and create something new.

Yesterday we also learned the song Baa Baa Black Sheep to go along with our continuing discussion about the number 3. I drew a big picture of a sheep with three bags next to it and then had Raylee trace the numbers 1 2 and 3. Then as an arts and crafts project we used paper curls to give Baa Baa Black Sheep black wool.

Today we started our weather/seasons/times of year unit. I suspect this will take a while. I intend to teach Raylee about the seasons (obviously) what weather you can find in the seasons, what holidays are in what seasons, and then we will start to learn about calendars and the months/days of the year. We had a special guest for part of our preschool today- my niece Addie, fresh home from Kindergarten. She came along with us for a walk. During the walk we talked about how you can use the trees to find out which of the 4 seasons you're in. The girls cleverly announced that we were in summer, then I pointed out the red and yellow leaves that were peeking out at the tops of the trees. They squealed with excitement when they realized that winter was after fall and that means that Christmas is on its way. When we came back from the walk, we all made a special craft to show what we had learned about the trees during each season. Here is what it was supposed to look like:
I didn't get pictures of the girls' finished products, but let's just say they got ahead of me and started putting leaves on all the trees that we made...I plan on using mine for a weather lesson next week. We are going to talk about how the weather is during each of the seasons and what kinds of clothes we wear. I will have some paper doll cut outs with clothes that correspond to each of the seasons. She will dress the doll up by gluing the clothes to it and then we will put it in the picture next to the tree.

I need to find a wall in our "preschool space" where I can put up a calendar soon. Once we get to learning about calendars, we will showcase the day's date and what the weather is like outside in some way. I have a few ideas, I just need to decide which one I am going to go with.

We also had some cheese crackers for snack time and worked on reinforcing our addition today. Raylee doesn't know how to write all the numbers yet, but she is a star counter! Its been really easy to give her simple math problems using little pieces of candy or toys to count. Today, with her handful of cheese crackers, we put together groups of crackers in different numbers and then I showed her the math problem (i .e. 5+3=) she counted the crackers and came up with the answer. She already has some of them memorized. Its been fun to call out, "Hey Raylee, what's 1+1?" and have her shout back "2!" with a lot of excitement.

Here is a little view at what our classroom is starting to look like. I've been having a lot of fun drawing pictures and cutting them out to showcase the number and letter symbols. They have come in handy. Sometimes Raylee can't recall off the top of her head what a number or letter is supposed to look like when I quiz her. All I have to do is point at the number or letter wall and when she looks at it, she instantly remembers what she should be drawing.

We also have a small alphabet chart that is a color sheet. As she masters a letter, we color it in so she can see how far she has come. You can kind of see it in the corner of this picture of our alphabet wall. I haven't had time to let her color the last few letters in that we've learned yet, I should probably do that tomorrow- she would love it. She is very proud of her alphabet chart. When her penmanship is really good (because even if we've mastered it, we keep reviewing) and I praise her she always points at the chart and says, "Of course its good! I'm a letter master!"

Here is a picture of our current behavior system. Its a game. She starts out the day getting 3 rolls of the dice if she is good all day- if she starts to misbehave she goes down to 2, then 1- if she gets to no rolls of the dice then she has to start having a time out (we haven't had to use time out yet) At the end of the day, she rolls the dice to see if she can get to the end of the game board (great for our counting practice as she moves the game pieces) If she gets to the end of the game board, she gets a treat. If not, her piece stays where it was last left after her rolls and she can try again tomorrow, with the option of using a second game piece to double the amount of treats she gets for being good. Since I've started using this, I can honestly say she's only been down to 2 rolls once, and has made it to 3 rolls by the end of the day every day since then. She loves that she gets a special treat if she is lucky enough to roll the right number and she knows that the more rolls she gets, the more likely she is to get a treat.

Attached to the bottom is a game we use for our free time. In the baggies are cutouts of different pictures that can be used to make faces. If we have spare time at the end of the day, we draw the shape of head that she wants to have and then she gets to glue together a silly face. She loves it!

In short, we've been very busy and having a lot of fun. She LOVES learning and gets really excited when she knows something that her friends at church or cousins don't know because of our special preschool. I have been super blessed to have this opportunity- that is for sure!

Hugs and fun until next time darlings!

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