Toddler Tuesdays – lines and circles

My toddler is not going to be a toddler for much longer. I'm going to have to re-name the posts into something else.

My toddler is not going to be a toddler for much longer. I’m going to have to re-name the posts into something else.

It’s Toddler Tuesday time again! I’m not sure how long we are going to be able to continue the “toddler” part of this. She’s getting pretty big to be considered a toddler. The lesson this week was lines and circles.

Here are the links to the two worksheets we used:

http://www.education.com/files/465101_465200/465101/diagonal-lines-bugs-worksheet.pdf

http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/color-the-circles-prek/

After we did the worksheets I drew circles on a sheet of construction paper and had Abby put stickers into the circles. Then we went on a circle hunt around the house. She went hunting and had to find circles, then she had to come get me to see the circles. This works on her memory and spatial awareness skills as well as provided me with precious minutes to talk Nicholas through some harder math problems. The circle hunt went on ALL DAY. I mean, everywhere we went there was a circle hunt. Costco, wherever.

Lastly, we drew with lines. We made grass with green crayons (and then stuck funny bug stickers on it). We made the rays of a sun with yellow lines. We drew lines every direction with as many colors as we could. It was a fun activity.

We added the letter “D” to her letter garden.

Nature #2 – Rainbows.

It isn’t that this is the time of year for rainbows, it is just that this is a fun lesson for older and younger kids. It can be adapted for any age group. If there are younger kids, you can have them learn the colors. For older kids you can discuss and use prisms to show how light moves to make a rainbow. Best of all, you can pull out a hose and use a mist feature to create rainbows.

For the first time we made lap books. I know lots of people are fans of lap books, but after this experience I’ve decided I’d rather just make posters. Lap books can be a good way to corral all the “stuff” about the various things. But I’m teaching my kids to use iMovie and I’d rather have them make posters, hold up the posters, talk about the posters, and merge all that into a movie. Regardless – here’s how our lap booking went:

1. For the front I used a picture of a rainbow. I made Nicholas write the word “rainbow” under his. Abby just had to color the rainbow (which Nicholas did too). Here’s the link to the rainbow picture we used: http://www.coloring.ws/t.asp?b=m&t=http://www.coloring.ws/patrick/rainbow.gif

2. My kids love watching stuff on the computer. It makes them feel awesome. So we watched two clips on rainbows. Here’s clip 1, and here’s clip 2. Clip 1 is more fun while clip 2 is more scientific.

3. Next we did a rainbow counting puzzle. This puzzle was above Abby’s level, but below Nicholas’. To make it harder (for Nicholas) I not only cut the puzzle vertically, but horizontally too. The kids got to glue it together (this was the top inside page of the lap book.

4. For the last inside page of the lap book, Abby and Nicholas did two different things. Abby had to do this puzzle. I had cut everything out. She had to stack it all together. Then we stapled each set into the back part of the lap book. Nicholas had to do something else. We spent some time reading this page on rainbows. I wanted him to pay attention to how the white light hits the water, then refracts back to our eyes as a rainbow. He got a blank piece of paper and had to draw a diagram. That was an interesting thing to do. After that, he insisted on creating a movie about the rainbow, so we did.

5. For the back page of the lap book I took a plain rainbow coloring page, that had the colors in German, and had them recite the colors and then color in the rainbow, or der Regenbogen.

After this was all done, we went outside and played with the prisms to make rainbows. We also stuck the mister on the hose and made rainbows. Then we came inside and ate fruit loops because they are rainbow colors.

For reading/writing practice Nicholas wrote all the rainbow colors.  We also did more addition – we are working on having the 3’s as memorized as the 1’s and 2’s. We also had to read books today, and my kids chose all the Dr. Seuss books in the house. So I made Nicholas share reading time with me. He will read if he thinks we are reading for fun. But when he things we are reading for “school” he refuses to read. Silly child of mine.

 

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Nature lesson #1 – Leafs.

It’s nice weather outside again. This means we go back into nature lessons so that we can spend lots of time outside. So our first lesson is on leafs.

Parts of a leaf

Leafs are wonderful. They are our first nature lesson.

Leafs are wonderful. They are our first nature lesson.

The first thing we learn is the parts of a leaf. I printed this page – which has all the parts labeled (at least the parts we are going to learn) and some places to practice writing underneath. I had the kids color the leaf and then trace the words. Nicholas then had to write the parts of a leaf on the page as well. Abby just got to color the words.

Then I printed this page – but with the words whited out.  Abby had to name and point to the parts of the leaf. Nicholas named, pointed, and then had to write the words with arrows to the right spot. It got kind of messy with his writing and arrow drawing, but he still did it.

Purpose of a leaf

Then we went over what the purpose of a leaf is.

1. To produce food for the pant through photosynthesis (this includes the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange).

2. To look pretty 🙂

3. To help us know what kind of plant it is.

So we went outside and found leaves on our plants and talked about how they helped the plant with these three purposes.

Drawing a leaf

Next we drew leafs. We looked at the basic shape of leafs in our garden (most of the are ovals). And we drew them. Then we drew veins and stems on them. It was an interesting drawing project.

Leafs in our garden

Lastly, we went and looked at leaves in our garden and neighborhood. We took this leaf identification sheet with us. When we found a leaf, we looked at our sheet and pointed out what qualities it had and how it was, or was not, like other leaves.

Our other activities

In addition to our leaf activity we did other things today. We did our math and reading practice. We added another letter – L – to Abby’s letter garden. We also added another flower to Nicholas’ word flower garden. The flower had the following words on it: leaf, stem, blade, oval, green, and tree, on it.

Making screen time about more than just the screen.

Asking questions can be the best interaction during a movie.

Asking questions can be the best interaction during a movie.

There are days when moms just need breaks. These days come when mom is sick, there is a lot of cleaning to be done, or simply because life hits. Sometimes kids need breaks. We like to call these days, “Lazy days,” and I make sure we have one a month at least. They come after we do a lot of traveling, when there’s a lot of “life” going on, or because we just need some bonding time.

But I try not to make the day about plopping the kids in front of the screen (television, computer, iPad, LeapPad….) and not interacting with them. There have been numerous studies that show that if you interact with the kids during screen time, they will learn and retain more. Mostly, I use screen time as a time to teach them to follow story lines. Sometimes we use screen time to learn things (LeapFrog videos or NASA educaiton hour and various science shows/history shows). But a lot of the time it’s just about watching our favorite movies and TV shows on our off days.

I simply ask questions and listen to responses. They don’t have to be great responses – but they have to be ones that show my kids heard the question. Here’s the list of questions I have in my “Mom folder” and use when we are watching screen time. I’ve broken the questions down into two sets – one for non-educational programs and one for educational programs.

Questions for “fun” shows

1. What is happening?

2. What just happened?

3. What do you think will happen next?

4. Who is the main character?

5. What is the plot?

6. Who are all the other characters?

7. Why do you like this part of the movie?

8. What song are they singing?

9. Can you move like that? (I use this one when we watch anything with movement. Sometimes we run around like cars after the question, and sometimes we dance).

10. Where are they now?

11. When did that character do                                           ?

12. What does that remind you of?

13. Who is the protagonist and antagonist? (Yes, my kids know these terms. I use them and explain them while watching shows. I want them to get to know the proper literary terms as soon as possible).

* The key is to notice that none of these questions are “yes/no” questions. Instead they are somewhat open-ended and allow for interaction. I almost always grab the child in question and pull them onto my lap and cuddle while asking the questions (This won’t work for older kids. You might have to offer them a snack and pretend to be a cool mom instead).

Questions for educational videos

1. What are they talking about?

2. What have you learned?

3. Who is talking? Who is teaching?

4. When do you think you can use this?

5. Where does this work? (Mostly for science stuff).

6. What else do you know about this subject?

7. What else can you do with the things you are learning?

8. How might this work for us?

9. Can you sing me a song about what you learned? (My kids like to make up songs about what they learn).

10. How does this work with other things we have learned?

So why should I do this?

I’m not saying you have to do these questions – make up your own. But by asking questions you are interacting and reinforcing concepts the kids are learning in the videos. Even if they are playing a video game these questions work. It simply involved interaction with kids so that they aren’t all by themselves and becoming drones while watching screen time.

 

Finishing the orchestra unit – and the field trip.

Our completed orchestra seating chart.

Our completed orchestra seating chart.

I wanted the kids to learn about the orchestra instruments. We love music at our house and have multiple instruments available for them to play. In addition to learning about music, I teach piano. I teach both my children and other students. Music is an important part of our life, and learning about the musical instruments is a fun thing to do.

We learned about the instruments in their various groups: Woodwinds, strings, percussion, brass, and the conductor. I had a very old, “History of Music” book which provided some of the pictures. MS Word Clipart provided the others.

When we did each musical group we would:

1. Identify what instruments were in the group.

2. Show/learn how each one makes a sound – and thus why it is in the group.

3. Identify the similarities between each of the instruments in the group.

4. Listen to a famous piece that highlights that instrument (so when we did woodwinds, we listened to 4 different musical pieces).

5. Played an instrument from that group.

6. Learned about a famous musician who composed the music we listened to.

7. Learn the names in German.

After we did all that, we would put the pictures up on our orchestra chart. The pictures are all laminated so I can take them down and use them again when we do this next year.

The best part was that we took a field trip to our local music store afterwards. I had called a week in advance and asked if we could come and play the different instruments that we don’t have at home. I explained that we were homeschooling, and the kids were learning about instruments and asked what we could play. They nicely said we could play what they had. So we went, and got to play each and every instrument in the orchestra – and some that aren’t (think sax, electric guitar). It was a blast to hear the kids talk with the music guy about the different instruments.

By listening to them talking I learned that sometimes I teach stuff and it really does stick with them 🙂

Sorry for the break….

So it has been awhile. I apologize for the break. It has been such nice weather that we have really kind of placed formal schooling – what we call “bookwork” – on hold. Instead we’ve been doing nature thing – hiking, playing, swimming, leaf art….the list is somewhat endless. It has been fabulous weather here in CA and so we’ve been enjoying the weather.

We have gone to state parks. We went to John Marshall State Park and learned all about gold mining, what happened when gold was first found, and how people lived back then. The kids got to dip candles, eat food cooked in a dutch oven, and pan for gold. Of course we also played and hiked all over the park.

Nature hiking along the American River has been fun. We’ve counted birds and made leaf rubbings of different leaves. We’ve kicked stones (who can kick the farthest) and seen how big of a splash we can make by dropping stones in the river.

We have also taken a few trips to SF to the CA Academy of Science. We have a membership there and they’ve had some pretty awesome programs this last month so we go there too. That trip takes a whole day.

All in all, nature has been a blast. We’ve been reading the whole time we spend time in nature too, but we’ve just not really done formal bookwork. Now we are back to a normal schedule and working on bookwork.

I’ll be having lessons posted soon. After all, Homeschool Day at the CA Academy of Sciences is coming up and we’ve got to get ready for it.

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