Monday, August 19, 2019

Colored Foods 3 Part Cards

One of my Tot School Goals is to expose Archer to lots of vocabulary words.  What I found effective when Xander was little was making 3 Part Cards (a Montessori idea) and a corresponding Little Reader lesson. Since I am doing Color Themes and Archer LOVES food, I decided to put together vocabulary materials of different colored foods.

I made sets of both cards and Little Reader lessons for red, yellow, green, brown, orange, white and purple.

Here's an example for yellow:

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Games for Brains: Q-Bitz

Playing Time: 15-25 min
Players: 2-4
In this game there is a card and trays that have little cubes.  The cubes have different designs on them and you use them to recreate the image on the card. You compete against other players to see who can create each design the fastest.  There are three types or rounds.  One where everyone just makes the image on the card, one where you have to roll the cubes until you get the designs you need and one where you only get to see the design card for a short period of time and have to recreate the image from memory. I like that this game is easy to teach and play, so we can get it out with non-gamer friends and family and everyone can still enjoy it.

Brain Value:
We have been wanting to work on Xander's visual spacial skills and this is a great game for it!  Figuring out how to make the designs with the cubes is wonderful visual practice.  Recreating them from memory makes it even more challenging!  He has gotten much better at creating the correct design on the first try, but he is still working on improving his speed.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

4th Grade Afterschooling Goals and Curriculum

Xander is eight and a half and about to enter 4th grade.  Since he has been so far ahead from first entering public school, I've always supplemented at home. Because I was working, we mostly focused on math, with some other subject thrown in. Last year, he did a LOT of IXL.  This year, I've decided to take a much more organized approach to his "Afterschooling".
I wrote out my goals and then figured out the curriculum that would meet it, but he would also enjoy.  Since he does go to regular school all day, I've had to be picky about what I teach him so that he gets free time too.  My goal is about 45 minutes of afterschooling work most days. He doesn't normally have homework from school, but when he had a huge project last year, we just skipped my work for him those weeks.

Here is what I decided to supplement and how:
Visual Spatial Reasoning - While Xander has scored really high on all of his standardized and gifted tests, his visual spatial reasoning is just the tiniest bit behind the other areas of math.
  • Games - We try to play a lot of games together. Several of these include a visual spacial component (Carcassone, Pylos, Q-Bits, Tsuro, Brick Party, Blokus). He also has a lot of solo logic games that work on these skills as well.
General Math - He's always enjoyed math.  Every time we go to the library he comes home with Life of Fred books and he would watch Mathtacular on repeat if I let him. Since he tends to be ahead of where they are at school, I supplement at home.
  • Beast Academy - We just discovered these books and love them! He reads the textbook, which is written like a comic book, on his own. We do the workbook together. (Not affiliate link, just love them)
  • Library Call Numbers - I've started writing his/my list of library books by call numbers and having him find them
  • Cooking - I plan on having him bake every so often, but halving or doubling a recipe
Logic/Critical Thinking
Logic and critical thinking are some of those skills that spill into everything else, but don't normally get taught directly in school.
  • Solo Logic Games - We have tons of these, so we'll just rotate them weekly.
  • Family Games - We play a lot of games together, but I have no patience for luck only games. As a result, a lot of our games have plenty of strategy and logic.
  • Mind Benders Level 4 - Xander loves these logic grid puzzles. Sometimes he needs some help walking through them, but he can usually figure them out on h is own.
  • The Basics of Critical Thinking book - My goal is to have Xander read just a few pages of this every week. However, I'm sure he will probably sit down and read the whole thing the first week I get it out. I haven't looked through the whole thing, yet, but it seems like a nice approach to critical thinking.

The kid has hated drawing/writing/coloring since he was little. Unfortunately, it is causing him to shorten his answers at school, so that he can write less. He also sometimes writes so quickly, it is entirely illegible. We're working on it, slowly.

I'm a former science teacher, so there was no way I could skip the science. I used the Next Generation Science Standards, which are the national standards, to figure out what he should be learning in 4th grade. From there, I am going to write my own activities and curriculum to meet the standards. I'll share as I go, and probably put the whole thing together on Teachers Pay Teachers eventually.

Keyboarding is not taught in our district until middle school. I originally purchased a subscription to keyboarding curriculum, but Xander didn't really like it. Lately, he has just been using Nitrotype. I don't love it, but he does, so we're going with it.

  • Tuttle Twins Books - Last year, my dad got Xander the entire set of Tuttle Twins books for Christmas. Xander's read all of the books multiple times, but I also want to make sure he's pulling the lessons out of them. My plan is to do a monthly "book club" with him. I'll read the books and write discussion questions for us. It will also be a great way for him to practice his summarizing skills.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gross Motor Development Game for Colors and Shapes

Every kid is different, so I find myself trying to adapt learning activities to Archer.  He enjoys moving! To practice our colors and shapes, I made him this Roll and Find Gross Motor Game for colors and shapes.

Making the Game
You will need felt in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, scissors, the printable dice and the shape templates. To make cutting easier, I pinned the template to two sheets of felt so that I could cut multiple shapes out at the same time (you could easily use staples if you don't have pins). I made each shape in two colors, but you could easily make shapes in each color and play with all three dice at once!

Playing the Game
There are three dice, one with colors, one with shapes and one with actions (skip, tiptoe, etc.). For now we are just doing either shapes or colors.  When he gets a bit older, we will add in the action die. I might also make more felt shapes, so that he has to find the correct piece with both color and shape. 

Print the free dice and shape templates here!

Archer is only 14 months, but he did much better than I would have expected.  He did eventually get distracted by the stars, because he is a little obsessed with that shape.  He wanted to carry them around instead of stepping on them!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Color 3 Part Cards

When Xander was little, we found that making 3 part cards and corresponding Little Reader lessons was very effective for teaching him words and concepts. Archer already really enjoys the existing Little Reader lessons I made, so I am working on making more 3 Part Cards and lessons.

Since we will be starting color themes soon, I started out by making some Color 3 Part Cards. There are 12 cards that you can leave together or cut the words and pictures apart. I have not yet made a Little Reader lesson, because one comes with the software, even if it doesn't have as many colors.

Check out more Color Themes Resources

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Friday, August 9, 2019

Games for Brains: Hey, That's My Fish!

Hey, That's My Fish!
Playing Time: ~15
Players: 2-4

This is another one of those short and sweet little games that is easy to learn and quick to play. It comes in a small box, so I find myself throwing in the bag for when we go on trips (although, it is not a good car game, you need a table).  Basically, there are a bunch of tiles with different numbers of fish on them and you collect as many for your little penguins as possible.  The trick is, that as you play, you collect the tiles, altering the size and shape of the ice floe.  You can end up stranded or block other players onto little sections.

Brain Value:
The strategy in this game comes from how you end up removing the tiles.  If you can block yourself off into an area where you get a lot of fish, you give yourself an advantage.  There's some visual spacial reasoning (although not super heavy as in some other games). You also have to decide whether to go for tiles with 1, 2 or 3 fish, depending on their placement. On the other hand, the game is simple enough, that Xander probably could have started playing well at about 5.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Tot School Color Themes Goals

(Archer will be  around 15-18 Months)

My oldest is eight and a half, so it has been a long time since I have gotten to do tot school. I am very excited to start again with Archer!  Starting at the end of August, we will be doing a color a week (with a few potential breaks for holidays or vacations or if life throws us some curve ball) Organization makes me happy, so I made a list of goals for myself of what I was hoping to get out of our color themes.  I figured I'd share for anyone else planning their own tot school.

Let me start by saying that every family has their own educational philosophy.  I believe that little kids can and love to learn. However, I also believe that learning should be fun and low pressure.  Little kids need to play, move and have fun, so our "formal" school time is only when we're both in good moods and only for short periods at a time. I see our activities as enjoyable ways to spend time together that also allow him to learn.

  • Vocabulary Building - Having an organized theme each week, will allow me to add in some vocabulary building. Archer loves food and he loves watching new lessons on Little Reader, so I have made him some lessons around food of each color.
  • Fine Motor - I feel like the next few years will be focused on fine motor development, so we will try to include some activities that work on them. Nothing crazy, because he is still so young.
  • Gross Motor - Research seems to indicate that all of brain development is interconnected, so I definitely don't want to forget gross motor activity! Luckily, with an active little guy, getting in some gross motor play should be pretty easy!
  • Sensory Play - First off, sensory play is fun! It also exposes kids to a variety of textures and materials. There's some physics learning involved with pouring, dumping, piling etc. Plus you can bring in math concepts like sorting.
  • Math - Like with Xander, I'm avoiding exposing Archer to numerals. Instead, we'll do other math concepts like sorting, ordering and matching. He is still little, so I'll focus on modeling rather than expecting him to do it.
  • Reading - After teaching Xander to read as a baby, and his huge love of reading now, reading is definitely something I want to focus on with Archer. Once again, it is low pressure but exposing him to words will be a part of our Tot School activities.

Now you'll notice, that teaching Archer the colors is not an actual goal of Tot School for us.  For me, color themes give me a great way to organize our activities. He knows most of his colors already, and I know he will learn the others eventually, whether or not we do any Tot School.

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