Toddler Tuesdays: Counting.

Legos work great for learning numbers and counting. Especially because they come in so many different colors.

Legos work great for learning numbers and counting. Especially because they come in so many different colors.

Kids learn numbers a bunch of different ways. For a while, Abby has been counting correctly to 4, and then skipping around after that based on what number she likes saying. “Nine” comes in after four a lot – mostly because she likes pretending she’s saying no while counting (Nine is no in German).

I figured it’s about time to get her counting “correctly” – or at least being able to do it when she needs to. She likes to play and learn. So I thought this Lego activity would be great.

Here’s what we used:

1. Lego Duplos

2. Construction paper with squares/numbers written on it.

Set-up took me all of 3 minutes to write the numbers and boxes on the construction paper. The longest part of the set-up was finding a piece of non-blue, pink, or purple construction paper. The kids really like to use those colors, so I didn’t want to use them for “school.”

Anyways, I sat Abby down with the activity and gave her these directions, “Place the right amount of Legos in a tower on the right number.” We practiced the first time through, then she wanted to do it again, on her own. I made sure to break up the towers from the previous time, then she did it again.

As is a theme when I get an activity together that she likes, she did it A LOT. She really liked breaking up the towers too. She would count backwards from whatever number she had to zero, and then say, “Bye-bye tower, until later alligator.”

So that was our lesson for Abby today. It was a great lesson.

Handwriting practice pages.

As everyone knows, I love Starfall. I like their online games and I love their resources section. In their resources section they have letter writing practice pages and all kinds of fun stuff.

Now, Confessions of a Homeschooler has some letter writing practice pages too. So here’s the link to those. The handwriting practice pages from Confessions of a Homeschooler are awesome. They practice a shape, then the letter. It’s kind of nice to have more than just the letter practice on the page. As an added bonus, they tie into the rest of the preschool stuff that she does on her page. 

We are using these as a switch from Starfall for this Spring. We will go back to Starfall in the summer. But I’m still using Starfall’s printable books – simply so Abby can color and trace the words in the book, then read them herself (well, I read them first, then she reads them to herself or her dolls. Repeatedly.). 

Hope your week is going to go well. 


Toddler Tuesday: My body.

1195424432502248826johnny_automatic_skeleton.svg.medI try and do more than simple practice of letters and numbers with Abby for her Toddler Tuesday. This week we are working on parts of the body.

First thing we did was go take a walk/run. Why? Because exercise is important to our bodies. I got to answer lots of questions about “why” on this walk/run, so it was fun. If you do it, just be prepared to answer lots of random questions about “why” exercise is important.

Then we came home and I laid out butcher paper. I traced each kid onto the butcher paper and then let them go crazy coloring themselves. We then took the black crayon and drew: eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands (traced), fingers, feet (traced), toes, belly buttons.

I had pre-printed labels from our computer with the words on them (legs, arms, chest, spine, forehead, cheeks, neck, wrist, ankle, and chin). I gave the stickers to Abby and Nicholas, and they put them onto each part of the body. Then they were handed the same words in German and had to do it with the German words.

We finished by using string to glue on hair – Nicholas picked blue string and Abby picked the purple string.

Next, we went over food groups. We covered grains, meat, dairy, and fruits/vegetables. I handed them each two pages of pictures I had printed out from the computer. They cut out the pictures and pasted the pictures onto the correct food group pages. I made them each little books (two pieces of paper, folded in half) with the food groups on them. They had to properly put the pictures in the pages.

We sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” It’s a song about our bodies, and it was fun. We also had to read – three times – “Farley visits the doctor,” – a Sesame Street book from when I was a kid.

Lastly, we had snack. They got to pick one thing from each food group and have it for snack. We ended up with cheese, smoothies (milk, fruits, and veggies) and beef jerky.

That was our lesson on the body.

When do I do preschool?

One of the questions I get asked is if I only do one lesson a week for Abby – my preschooler. The answer is no – I have lessons everyday for her.

First, the lessons we do on a subject she joins in. Sometimes she’s sitting on my lap handing things to Nicholas. Other times she’s doing the experiment as well. She cooks, cleans and plays with us all day.

Second, she gets her own work. While I’m working with Nicholas I give her a puzzle to do, or she’s doing art (a favorite), or she’s doing sticker matching….or sometimes she just plays. She isn’t as old as Nicholas and isn’t as capable of doing math. I don’t ask her to do developmentally inappropriate things. She just sometimes tries to do them 🙂

Third, we spend some time everyday on something just for her. Sometimes it is threading shapes onto string and naming the shapes. Or we count, or measure, or go around the house naming the letters that things begin with. But everyday we have something for her. I’ve listed the worksheets below that we used this week so you can see the types of things she does everyday.


From Confessions of a Homeschooler – letter B – B puzzle, B dot-to-dot, B matching

Sticker book – Dogs

Colored in her Strawberry Shortcake book



Letter D scavenger hunt (I posted letter D’s all around the house on Post-it’s and she had to find them)

Toddler Tuesdays: Shapes and Middle C.

Our “Middle C” worksheet. I helped Abby draw a Middle C and then she had to circle the other Middle C’s. It didn’t turn out perfect, but she got to see what Middle C looks like.

Today’s Toddler Tuesday lesson is on Middle C (yes, music) and shapes/colors/coloring.

First, the Middle C. I work with my daughter on music theory and music reading. She’s only 23 months old, es, but she absorbs so much. She’s not totally verbal yet, so I am never sure of how much she’s understand. We sat down with my improvised Middle C worksheet and I showed her what Middle C looked like. Then we drew a Middle C. Then I asked her to point to a Middle C. She managed to point to the correct note.

Lastly, I asked her to draw a circle around Middle C – and Middle C she wanted. I didn’t get a circle, but I did get Middle C completely covered in purple lines. She drew all over the Middle C notes. She then switched out colors to pink and drew over everything else.

Will she retain this knowledge as she gets older? I hope so. It’s my hope that by exposing her to music, and music theory, early and repeatedly, that she retains some of it when she gets older.

We also worked on our shapes and colors today.

My big problem with Abby is how to get her to do what I want, when I want it. She will happily grab you the yellow pants and purple shirt when she wants to wear it. She will tell you she wants the green, not blue, paint. And she knows that the sun is yellow and the car is gold – just try calling the car tan and she will stomp her foot and yell “gold.”

But how to I make sure she knows her colors?

I asked her to go get 2 different colored crayons from the art table and come color with me. When she brought them I asked which colors she has and she said, “Lila,” pointing to the purple one (lila is purple in German), and “Blue,” pointing to the blue one.

The next question was “Can you find a circle?” So she pointed to a circle. Then we counted the circles – we counted once in English and once in German. I then asked her to color the circles blue. She decided this wasn’t what she wanted to do and kept point at the triangles and trying to count them.

So I changed tactics; we counted out the triangles. Then she pointed at a triangle and said, “That blue.” And proceeded to color the triangles blue. When she was done with coloring the triangles she wanted she said, “All done mommy.” Then she smiled and ran away.

What was the result: The picture you see on your left.

Toddler Tuesdays: Getting dressed

For today’s Toddler Tuesday we are working on getting dressed. As adults, we take this skill for granted. As parents we are scared of what others might think of us if our kids dress themselves.

But making the choice of clothes, putting them on, brushing hair and teeth, and doing laundry are all important skill to learn.

To make this fun for my older son, he got to practice articles of clothing in German and load the washer with the right amount if soap. He also tried to talk Abby – my 18 month old toddler – into different clothes. He was trying to practice his persuasion skills. Too bad Abby is stubborn like a rock.

We went to Abby’s room and played there for a while before having her get out of her pajamas. Because her attention span is so small, I make sure to break up the tasks and give her one direction at a time.

Then she was asked to pick her clothes. She chose her shirt and shorts. We then practices spelling the works shirt and shorts. We also said them in German. Then I let her get dressed. She had a tough time, but when she got stuck I put my hands over hers and helped. I never did it for her.

Then we brushed hair and teeth. I had her brush her own hair and had Nicholas show her how to brush teeth. That way, Nicholas has his skills reinforced by teaching.

Then we did laundry. All my kids can take their clothes to the washer. Then I turn it on after the soap is in.

Abby got a “I dressed myself” sticker. I make them out I address labels on the computer. This way, everyone knows and no one states at me strangely.

It was a fun morning and I even got chores done!

Toddler Tuesdays: Shape puzzles


We have these shape puzzles. They are wooden and come with shapes of various colors and sizes. The puzzles boards have holes for the shapes that the kids have to fill in. The puzzles are basic things like birds and planes, trains and cars.

They are a great activity to do all together. They help my youngest learn her shapes and colors. She has to put the right shape of the right color in the right spot in order to make the complete puzzle. Nicholas gets the experience of learning to teach her. There is something very rewarding about watching him patiently show her where the green circle is and pointing to where it goes in the puzzle.

But we can also use this as German time. In addition to doing the colors and shapes in English, we do then in German. When I ask Abby what shape and color she needs for a puzzle, and Nicholas responds in English, I then ask the question in German and get a German answer.

Differentiated learning, where you teach children of different levels in one setting or lesson, is difficult but not impossible. Part of differentiated learning is letting the more advanced children teach. Teaching reinforces knowledge and doesn’t require a child to engage in pointless repetition. Another part of differentiated learning is finding a way of using the basics to teach a new lesson – in this case German.

Regardless, it is a blast for all concerned.


Bead work.


One of the great things about children is that they don’t always realize they are learning when they are learning. It is part of what is fun about teaching them – making lessons seem like play and not lessons.

We have a box of big wooden beads and shoe laces that sits in our closet and comes out sometimes. When I first got it I was using it to help my oldest learn the names of 3 dimensional shapes and practice motor skills by stringing the blocks onto the strings. Then we started working with them and patterns on the strings. We would always tie the ends of the string together to make necklaces.

Now they serve another purpose. I’m using them to teach our youngest her colors and develop motor skills. Nicholas still does the bead work too – but now we do the colors in German with him and count in German. So we have expanded the use of the beads.

Perhaps the best thing about the bead work is that the kids don’t even realize they are learning and working while they are playing.

I asked Nicholas to name, in German, the colors as he was putting the beads on and he did fairly well. Sometimes green and yellow got mixed up, but who can blame him (in German they both start with g). Abby was in charge of making sure to collect all the blue beads. Then she helped me put them on the string. And just like always, we wore the necklaces afterwards. Nicholas even took his to his preschool group for show and tell.

It is great fun teaching the kids.



Spectrum Preschool books.


We finished the Spectrum Preschool book. It's nice when they have certificates for the kids at the end.

I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel. In most cases, all the worksheets and standards I need to know have already been compiled somewhere. Spectrum does a great job of compiling everything into workbooks that cover the range of skills and knowledge each “grade” is supposed to know.

I’m not a huge believe in grades, but I don’t want to miss something that he should know. The Spectrum books help me make sure I’m covering everything.

Don’t get me wrong – like all workbooks they are a tad repetitive. I’m a little unsure as to whether his smile in the picture is because he’s done with the book or because he’s getting a certificate.

We only do a page or two a day from these books because they are repetitive and slightly boring for a kid who is beyond these skills and is an active learner. But I figure that it’s a good review and better to be sure he’s covered everything in the book than to miss something and discover it later on. Also, it made a good thing to take when we might be waiting somewhere. He did any number of pages while we were waiting for food at a restaurant.

Here’s a link to the Spectrum book at Barnes and Noble.

All about me and the letters R/S.


Today is preschool day! Well, it is my day to teach our preschool co-op. The theme for this week is “all about me.” I have the letters R and S for Tuesday and T for Thursday.

I found this great site with handwriting and letter practice sheets. It lets you pick, out of a few options, what the letters are for. I decided that R is for rocket and S is for snake. Since all 5 kids are boys, those are good choices. It is better than some of the practice sheets where R is for rainbow. The boys just laugh at things like that and then it is hard to get them to focus on practicing their letters. They really like to laugh at rainbows because one of the boys has an older sister who likes rainbows. Therefore, rainbows are for girls. It really does pay to know who you are teaching.

I also like to make sure we include some math. So I use this set of counting sheets on the days when I am teaching. We are doing the harder ones in the sets now. I pick 3 of the sheets and scatter them throughout the morning.

That is it for our traditional book work things. Onto the fun stuff.

Since the week is “all about me” we are making “all about me” books. The book is simply 2 pages of paper, folded in half, and stapled. On the front I wrote “All about me.” Then the kids are going to write their names (they can all do this). On each page their is a prompt. They will get to make a drawing for each prompt. The 6 prompts are:

1. My favorite color is…

2. My favorite toy is…

3. My favorite food is…

4. My house looks like…

5. My family looks like…

6. My favorite thing to do it…

They will have to draw something for each prompt. We shall see how this goes.

I also have some other activities in storage in case we have extra time: I cut out squares of paper that I am going to have them glue onto paper in the shape of snake. I have stickers of farm animals they can put onto paper once they draw a farm. And most of all, I have sugar cookies they can decorate and eat.

This takes 2 hours? Yep. And here’s why: I do an activity between each sit down activity. Our day will really go like this:

Circle time

Freeze dance

Letter tracing – letter R

Active songs

Letter tracing – Letter S

Hide and go Seek

Snack time

All about me books

(extra activities)

Free play for the last 15-20 minutes.

That’s the plan for our day tomorrow. I certainly hope it works out.


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