Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Preschool Ideas for the Twins

I am at the beginning stages of planning my homeschool year for my 4 year old twins, Scout and Sawyer.  Here is my philosophy with my 4 year olds: whatever I do with them is icing on the cake, so to speak.  Whether or not I make some elaborate plan, they will learn.  I was shocked when my daughter started writing her name at 3 1/2 years old without me ever teaching her how to pick up a pencil.

However, I find that life is a LOT easier when we have a game plan.  When we don't have a plan for the day, I get overwhelmed with the kids and (surprise, surprise) it becomes a lot easier to let them spend way too much time on electronics.  Or, something like this happens:



Below is a compilation of things I'd like to work into my upcoming homeschool year with my 4 year old twins.  Most of these ideas came from other bloggers.  I am so incredibly grateful for all the time these bloggers taken to share their work.

This post is simply my personal resource page and the process I use to help me think through our plan.  There are entire blogs out there that are devoted to compiling preschool plans.  After I compile a list of ideas that will work for us, I'll shape them up and put them into our schedule for the year.

General

Dude!  I should just pick one of these learning tray activities a day from this Pinterest board!

Kumon - My First Book of Cutting and My First Book of Tracing


Starfall - this is a great site for the twins to visit when I need a little time to focus on Merrick, my 7 year old.  We're going to have to bite the bullet and pay the $35 membership this year!

I really like The Wannabe Homesteader's flexible schedule here.  I like the idea of using Uno, the card game, for a math game!

Confession of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Day curriculum and printables.

Letter of the Week web site.  Also has sound of the week ideas!  

Bible

For the past 2 years, we've been using the free bible lessons from God's Hand in Our Lives for the core of our bible lessons.  For the most part, I just have the children color the coloring sheet while I tell them the Bible story.  However, I feel like this gets monotonous at times and loses its effect.  I still plan on using GHOLs on a weekly basis, because it helps us to get through all the Bible stories in the Bible.  However, I'm thinking of breaking it up a bit and adding in some other Bible curriculum like the following:

Good Morning, God - This book looks great!


Math

Love these ideas of how to use Hotwheel/Matchbox cars for math at the Measured Mom!


Phonics and Handwriting

Totally Tots alphabet crafts.  Totally Tots also has a Letter of the Week plan here.

Science

I really need to be better at incorporating science into our weekly curriculum.  Typically, we get great science ideas from blogs such as Science Sparks.  Also, we will be using Janice VanCleave's 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, & Incredible Experiments (Science for Every Kid) with Classical Conversations.  However, I have been meaning to get Magnets to Mudpies for a while and may just have to pull the trigger on that.  Or, I may look through blogs like Science Sparks and make a list of one science project we can do together a week.  


Independent Play



I think I'm going to have to give in and make workboxes for each of the twins, including sensory bins.  Clarissa, again from 1+1+1=1, has a video that is so helpful here.   Confessions of a Homeschooler also has an awesome workbox video as well!

As I do my research for the twin's school year, I think the plans are shaping up in my noggin'.  I think my game plan will be to start off with a Bible lesson for all 3 children.  Then, I will send them to their workboxes.  In the twins' workboxes each day there will be:

Bible lesson (together)
Sound/Letter of the day/week activity
100 Easy Lessons (with Mommy)
Handwriting
Books to read independently
Motor skills
Math game


I'm not sure how to work this in to the workbox system, but we will probably add reading with Mommy and a craft to their schedule at some point. And, we may have to have a "chore" box as well. I also love the file folder idea. I can not believe that it has taken me three years to come across the workbox and file folder ideas! Brilliant! I can totally see how those two ideas could give our entire homeschooling experience a complete face lift! I can't wait to get started!

Now to go obsessively pin pages into my new file folder and workbox Pinterest boards!  

Yeah!!! I feel like I am one step closer to planning my "home's cool" year!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Preschool Goals for 4 Year Old Twins




My crazy, adorable twins, Scout and Sawyer, are now 4 years old.  Three years ago, my oldest son was 4 years old and I was spending all my free time researching and planning for our first official homeschool year together.  It feels like that was just yesterday!

Now, I am in a bit of a different boat.  This coming year, I will focus on homeschooling my oldest son (2nd grade), but also want to give attention to the twins' education.  Though I don't push any formal education on my kiddos at this age, I do want to take advantage of this time when their brains are like sponges.  My daughter asks me to homeschool regularly.  My twin boy, though not as interested in sitting still and doing worksheets, is also very curious and is clearly soaking in the information.

The most precious thing, of course, is seeing them sit together and learn together.

For the coming year, 2013 - 2014, my goals for my twins is the following:

- Treat them like the individuals they are.  Understand that they will have different interests, different strengths, and different challenges.

- Read together every week day.

- Involve them in the weekly Classical Conversations memory work (if they are willing) and daily Bible lessons.

- Have fun playing games, doing crafts, exercising, and snuggling together.

 


- In regard to knowledge, I want to focus on the following:
  • Phonics - able to recognize every letter and tell me the sound(s) it makes.  We will start working through 100 Easy Lessons together.  The challenge, of course, will be figuring out whether we should do this together or separately.  If separately, my time will be stretched!
  • Handwriting - Begin handwriting readiness.  Develop motor skills like cutting and tracing.  
  • Colors - recognize and identify every color
  • Shapes - recognize and identify the major shapes
  • Numbers - recognize and identify 1 - 100.  They will also be exposed to skip counting (1's - 14's) via Classical Conversations.
  • Personal Info - I'd like them to know my phone number and their address.

What am I missing?  I would love to hear from other preschool parents, especially parents of twins.  I don't want to obsess about this, as I feel a lot of their learning happens so naturally.  However, I also do not want to neglect their education as I devote a lot of my homeschooling focus on their older brother.  


Would love to hear from you!  Thanks in advance for all your comments.  


{CC} Cycle 2, Week 3

Here is our list of ideas that we will use when making our plans for our homeschool week for Classical Conversations - Cycle 2, Week 3:

History


Eleanor of Aquitaine {via}

For history this week, I think we may "act" out the crusades.  After reading a little about the crusades, I think I will have one child represent Richard the Lion-Hearted, one child represent the Muslims, and one child represent the Jews.  They will probably use very non-middle age weapons such as light sabers, but the pretending will be fun.



A little info where we can learn about the weapons and armor used in the Crusades.

Here is an incredible homeschool resource page for ALL of World History.  I will definitely be using this link for future reference.  

Middle Ages for Kids - some very simple info regarding the crusades

Not sure this has any thing specifically to do with Eleanor of Aquitaine or Richard the Lionhearted, but I really like the idea of making this castle together!


Awesome timeline of the Middle Ages and Renaissance period (and important figures).  Super helpful!

Science

Food Chain game and free printable from Teach Beside Me.  Also recommends a couple of The Magic School Bus books.


Food Chain idea from Bookish Ways in Math and Science

FUNNY YouTube video just for pure entertainment.  Merrick loves this video.  ;)




Geography

I will probably end up just making some food from some of the western european countries we'll be studying this week.  For example, I will make some crepes while we talk about France and a Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Potato Omelet) while we talk about Spain.  But, here are some craft ideas as well:

Ireland - Irish recipes here at DLTK (though, truthfully, I'd rather just pick up some Irish soda bread from the local store).  I really like this idea from Choices for Children (picture below) for my younger kids.  There's also a version for older kids in the shape of Ireland itself.  


England - Palace guard craft made out of toilet paper rolls by DLTK.  Of course, we'd have to watch a YouTube video on the changing of the guard.  And, I will most definitely have to throw in a video like this one!  Watch the movie Robin Hood (I loved this movie as a kid!).  

Portugal - Some craft ideas from Culture Cottage.

Spain - Since we will only be talking in very broad terms about these countries this week, I will probably tell them what stood out to me the most on my trip to Spain (many years ago) - the flamenco dancing and the bull fighting.  I will probably just show them a couple of YouTube videos like this one (Flamenco Dance) and this one (Guitar) and this one (bullfighting - if we watch this one, we'll only watch the first 2 minutes).  Then, we'll probably act out a flamenco dance performance where my daughter dances and my sons play the guitar (or dance).  Scout, my daughter, will totally dig that!  We might even have to give Marcos, my husband, a performance when he gets home!  Here is a cool post on how to make maracas out of leftover plastic eggs from Easter.  

France - I like the idea here of making an Eiffel Tower out of Legos!  I also like this idea from The Chocolate Muffin Tree of making a "stained glass window" like the one in Notre Dame.  My husband and I just returned from Paris this past week and have lots of pictures to share with the kiddos of these windows (and all of Paris, really).  

There are lots of great Europe Unit Study boards on Pinterest.  Here's a good one!

Or, we could always do a Europe Lapbook!

As usual, here is my disclaimer: 

I should mention...this is just a list of resources and ideas.  We don't actually complete all of these activities.  In a typical day, we have a Bible lesson, review the CC memory work, do phonics and math, and (perhaps) complete one craft activity or game that correlates to our memory work. We also spend time reading together.  Merrick will be in the 2nd grade starting Fall 2013.  The twins will be 4 years old.  Aside from the Bible lesson, I do not expect any thing from the twins in regard to their formal education.  If they choose to join us, they may.  If they do not want to participate, they may play independently.  

I'm linking up to the Cycle 2 Weekly Link Up Page on Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood blog.  It is one of the most helpful blogs there is for CC parents!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Classical Conversations - Ideas for Memorization

Here are some ideas for introducing memory work.  

1. Funny Voices

2. Weird Positions

3. Funny Acronyms

4. Erase-a-word

Type out the grammar that needs to be memorized.  Fold up the sheets and put them in balloons.  Each child gets to take a turn popping a balloon and reading the grammar.

6. Everyone Who....Game (another from Children's Ministry Ideas)

a. Everyone who has a pet at home, stand up and say the new grammar.
b. Everyone who likes to play soccer, stand up and say the new grammar while kicking your foot.
c. Everyone who plays a musical instrument, stand up and say the new grammar while raising your arms in the air.
d. Everyone one who loves summer...
e. Everyone who loves to eat pizza, pat your tummy while saying...
f. Everyone who is wearing shoes, march in place while saying...

7. More Physical Movement Ideas
a. Jumping Jacks
b. Toe touches
c. Head, shoulders, knees, toes
d. Arm circles

8. Fun hand motions

9. Run under the table

10. Cards behind the back (works great for Timeline cards)

11. Jump on Cards (Works great for skip counting).  Could also be turned into Hop Scotch.  

12. Duck, Duck, Goose - this is good for introducing Latin or English Grammar.  Instead of saying, "Duck....duck...duck...goose," the child says the memory work while tapping ("o, s, t, mus, tis, nt!").  On the last word of the memory work, the child that is tapped gets up and chases the tapper.  This idea came from The Adventures of Bear blog.

13. Circle Game 
Have the children stand in a circle facing one another.  Each child says one word of the new grammar.  If a child gets a word wrong (or doesn't know it), he/she sits down.  The winner is the last child standing.  

14.  A Message from Our Sponsor/ Puppet Theater
This would be good for those kids who like to perform.  Have each child take a turn performing or announcing the new grammar to his peers.  You could have a DIY doorframe puppet theater set up.  You could bring in a box with a hole cut in it and pretend it is a tv and the child is a newscaster.  Or, you could just bring in a puppet and let the kids take turns making up voices for the puppet and reciting the new grammar to the other students.

15.  Limbo - Sing the history sentence while doing Limbo.  Use a pool noodle for the limbo stick.  Thanks to Sola Gratia Mom blog for this idea (and many more).  

16.  Musical Chairs - Play musical chairs while singing the history sentence.  When the music stops, the person without a chair is out.  He/she gets to become the conductor for the music for the next round.

17.  Skip Counting Ladder - great for math!  Cut up the numbers, then put them in the correct order to make a ladder!



18.  Stacking cups - Another great idea for Math memorization.  ABC and 123 does a great job of explaining this fun skip counting activity.  And, it is so simple!  Line up the cups, stack them, then make a race out of it!  



19.  Guess Who - This idea comes from Children's Church Ministry.  Have one child stand by the teacher, but with his back turned away from the memory work board.  The teacher secretly points to a word in the memory work (without allowing the child that is "it" to see).  Then, the class repeats the memory work, but instead of saying the chosen word, they *clap*.  The kid that is "it" has to guess which word was the chosen word.  

20. Raisin Geography - This is an idea for geography memory work.  Give each student a map and some raisins (or other special treat like m&ms).  Ask the students to show you where a particular location on the map is by placing their raisin on it.  After you've gone through the list of countries, cities, etc, you can go in reverse and say, "Now, eat the raisin that is on Baltic Sea..."

21.  Popsicle Skip Counting - even though this is meant to be a preschool activity, I could totally see this working for the CC class as well!  Put the skip counting numbers on the ends of the popsicle sticks.  Scramble the sticks and have the kids (or teams of 2) put the sticks in order in the play-doh.  

{via}

Review Game Ideas for Classical Conversations


I have seen so many great ideas for review games out there.  I thought I would compile a list of my favorites to have as a resource.  I figure if I could come up with 6 great games that work, I only have to use the same game 4 times in a year!

1.  Zap! - This is my favorite game so far simply because the smartest group doesn't always win.  It's kind of like Jeopardy, but with a curve ball - if you get the "Zapped" card, you lose all your points!  Thanks for sharing, Mathtastrophe!  Game instructions and printable here.


Another take on this game is Bazinga by Simplifying Radicals.  

2. Nerf Gun - Love this idea!  Draw a bullseye on the board.  Divide the kids into teams.  Ask a team a review question.  If they get the answer correct, they get to shoot at the board to see how many points they earn.  So fun!



3.  Jenga - I really like how Living Out His Love blog does this one.  She writes with a sharpie marker directly onto the Jenga piece.  And, she write a subject and week on both sides of each piece.  Though, if done this way, it seems like you could only do this at the end of the semester (because if you have Sciene, week 7 written in sharpie and you're only at week 3, that wouldn't work!).  Another idea is to tape the subject and week with clear packing tape and then re-do it as your progress along in the year.  


4.  Power Tower - Similar to Jenga, but with paper cups.  Write the question on the cup.  If the class answers correctly, they get to stack the cups.  If the tower falls, they have to start over.  


5.  Mr Potato Head - For every question the class gets correct, they get to add a body part to Mr. Potato.  I also like the idea on 2nd Grade Rocks! blog.  She uses it as a behavior incentive.  Every time the class has good behavior, they get to add a body part.  When Mr. Potato is completely put together, they get to have an ice cream party!


6.  Snowball Fight - Love this idea for Texas as this may be the only snow the children ever see.  Write the review questions on a piece of paper.  Divide the kids into 2 teams.  If the kids get it correct, they get to crumble it up into a ball.  After all the questions have been answered, they get to have a snowball fight using the paper balls!  





7.  Chair Tic-Tac-Toe - Put nine chairs in 3 rows of 3 to make a square.  Divide the class into 2 teams.  Ask a team a question.  If they get it correctly, one of their players gets to sit in one of the chairs.  The first team to have 3 players sitting in a row wins.



8.  Memory Mogul - Awesome (and free!) printable game from Sola Gratia Mom blog.  This one seems like it could take some time printing out the cards and possibly creating a game board.  But, the game board and cards could last all year.  Click here for instructions and printables.



9.  Stinky Feet - My 7 year old son would love this one.  Very simple with little prep time.  Idea and instructions can be found here at Teaching in the Fast Lane blog.  


10.  Classroom Board Game - This game may require a little adapting, but it looks like fun.  Turn the classroom into a life size game board.  Great ideas for how to do this game here at Blessings for Bible School Teachers.