Left-Right and Top-Bottom

Today’s work was all about left-right and top-bottom.

By now, we know the difference between top and bottom. We’ve been doing it during play for a while. We crawl to the top of the play structure, slide to the bottom of the slide……we wipe chalk and mud off the bottom of our shoes………all of these have taught top and bottom.

Today’s top to bottom was a little different. I drew pictures of Caterpillars and some feet and had Nicholas draw the legs, top to bottom, that connected the Caterpillar’s body and feet.  We drew some fireman poles – from top to bottom – and did some flower stems and balloon strings- also from top to bottom.

Then we worked on left to right. First of all we practiced reading with “Cat in the Hat.” And we made sure to read lines from left to right and top to bottom.

Then we drew lines connecting animals and their babies from left to right (I printed out pictures of animals and their babies using MS Publisher – thanks ClipArt for the multitude of images). Then he had to draw the letter of the animal above each line, and we went from the top to the bottom of the page.

We also practice writing the words: top, bottom, left, right.

Then we did the Hokey Pokey song and worked on our left and right sides of our bodies.

Why the emphasis on left to right and top to bottom? Well, these are some basics that need to be reinforced before serious reading and spelling can work. We are already working on some sight words and sounding out longer words in stories, and having him read stories he’s familiar with. And we, here in the USA, read left to right and top to bottom. So we are simply reinforcing the concepts he needs to read with some extra fun work.

And we had the letter M today. We drew lots of letter M’s today. After all, M is for Magnificent Mom.

Motivating your preschooler.

Motivation is a hard thing to get a grip on. We want kids to respond to positive motivators (praise, rewards, etc) because it is more fun to be positive than negative. However, a lot of kids respond to negative consequences (time outs, punishments, etc) better – or at least more rapidly – than they do to positive rewards.

So how do you motivate your preschooler/pre-K student to do their work without associating school work and practice with negative things?

Part of it is finding the right time to do schoolwork. At our house, if we don’t get writing practice and practice math in the morning, then it won’t get done. He also has to have had breakfast. While we might get other work done during the day – like learning words, reading, science, and stuff – he won’t sit and do letter practices late in the day.

It’s also important to realize what kind of rewards motivate a child. My son likes small positive rewards with each effort. I’ve found that the best way to get him to do his work is to (1) let him pick out what pencil he wants to use and (2) give him stars for each thing well done, on the paper.

There are still times when I have to be an enforcer (i.e. – do your work or go on time out). But by remembering to use the things he likes and doing work , it makes doing school work and practice writing a lot more fun for both of us.

Keeping the baby occupied.

So, for every child being homeschooled there is generally at least one sibling. In my case, there is only 1, and she’s 2.5 years younger. So while Nicholas is onto drawing letters, learning to read, and math, she’s still at using crayons. But what do you do when you are teaching your older one?

Keeping the baby occupied – a.k.a. “I want a lesson too” – is a planning task. 

Currently, the plan is to teach Abby colors. I give her 2 crayons, and we spend the time Nicholas is doing lessons drawing, coloring, and saying the name of each color. She knows blue from red now. I also use purple/yellow, and green/orange. We are working on the other ones.

What do you do to keep the younger ones occupied while working with the older kids?

Book Review: Play and Learn About Science

I really like the book “Play and Learn About Science” by Janice VanCleave. 

It is a book of science experiments to do with young children that answer some of their basic questions. One of my son’s favorite outside activities is to catch air. There’s actually an experiment in the book about catching air. 

The experiments are quick and easy and require few supplies. Most of the supplies you would have around the house.

Anyways, if you have a little one into science this book is great to have some quick and easy experiments and answers for basic questions.

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