Saturday, August 31, 2013

Intentional Movie Watching

We are so blessed to have collected a wide assortment of educational DVDs.  We don't have cable, so I can feel good about the screen time Xander does get.  However, he tends to get stuck in modes where he watches the same movie again and again and again...  I have decided I want to be a little more intentional about what he watches.

I gathered all of our DVDs to take inventory (and weed out the ones he has outgrown).  He had fun "helping."
Here is what I came up with.  I will choose 5 movies I want Xander to watch each week.  The first movie he watches for a day needs to be from the list.  If he watches anything else, then he can choose from his other movies or from Netflix.  Two of the movies each week will be an episode of Magic School Bus, first in English, then in Spanish.  The other choices will just be other movies we have in hopes of varying the content he receives.  Other than watching Magic School Bus in English before Spanish, I really don't care the order.

I printed up this little list and laminated it.  It now lives by the DVD player, where I also put the discs for the week.  
 To make sure I rotate, I scanned the disc list for Magic School Bus and typed up the list of our other movies.  I'll put a check next to each one as we watch it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Preschool Science - Goals

Last week I wrote about how Xander passed me by when I wasn't looking (you can see the post here).  Part of my solution to catching up and keeping him challenged was to add science into the mix.  It isn't that we have totally ignored science in the past, but I have never made an organized effort to include it in our Tot School.  Since the kid has an insatiable desire to learn and I'm working on a masters in science education, it only makes sense to make it a regular part of our school!

That said, Xander is still two (ok, more like two and three quarters, but you get what I mean).  He is not going to understand deep science topics.  I'll probably present him with information that goes over his head.  That's ok.  I truly believe he will still benefit from the experience.

Preschool Science Goals
Here's what I do want to make sure he gets out of it, any other science information he learns is bonus!

Make Observations:
Young children love doing things and trying new things.  I want to teach Xander to pay attention to what he is doing.  Scientific knowledge is based on doing something and observing what happens.  I want to make him more aware by asking questions while he does "experiments."  What does he notice?  What happened?  What does he see?  How does it look, feel, sound, taste, smell? 

Make Predictions
Okay, so we observed what happened when we did  whatever it was we did.  Next I want Xander to learn to make predictions.  What does he think would happen if he did this or that?  It is totally fine to be wrong, I just want him to be thinking about what might happen.  Then, of course, I want him to try it out!

Ask Questions
So most parents of toddlers are very familiar with the "why?"  Kids want to know the "why" of everything!  As annoying as it can be from time to time, I hope to fully encourage this natural curiosity!  He should continue to ask how things work and why things happen!  I sincerely hope he maintains the desire to understand throughout his life.  I look forward to the day when he wants to know why (or what, how, when, etc) and goes to find the answer himself!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writing Practice Sand Box

This school year we are focusing on how letters are formed.  As a fun way to practice, I made Xander this sand box.

It was super simple.  I just started with a photobox and some colored sand.
To get about the height I wanted, I put the lid on and placed a ruler just under.  Then I traced under the ruler.
I got to try out my sklls with a utility knife, but was able to get the box down to size without incident.
I put a white paper in the bottom for contrast, and poured in some sand.  However, I quickly realized I had WAY too much sand.  I slowly removed it until I had an amount the would cover the bottom, but still show up when I wrote in it with my finger.
Tadah!  There's my sand box.  A rubber band holds the lid securely, but it will still live on a high shelf!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 Preschool Curriculum

*Update:  I will be adding new workbooks and tools to this post as we acquire them, so do not be surprised to see changes!

I have decided not to send Xander to a traditional preschool.  Instead we will do home preschool activities.  Now that we have finished the Mommy and Me ABCs, I gathered together the list of a lot of the preschool materials and activities we will be using.  You can read about how I came to make the decisions I have here. I hope to cover the main subject areas (in bold) every week, but we will see how it goes.  We also plan to have a preschool backpack he works from every week.  Not every resource listed here will be used every week.  Also, this may seem like a lot of schoolwork, but Xander asks to do his "work" (his term, not mine).  

Right Start Math Level A (adapted for a toddler)
Lessons and Ideas from Marshmallow Math
Learning links and pattern cards (from Childcareland)
Your Child Can Discover
100 Number Board
Various Manipulatives
Logic and Thinking Skills

Pattern blocks and pattern cards
Sequencing Puzzles
Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles!
Pre-Writing/Letter Formation
Build a Letter from Tired Need Sleep
Dot Letters from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Alphabet pattern blocks templates from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Paint Bag
Handwriting Without Tears Pieces
Beginner Spelling Cards
3 Letter Word Cards from Homeschool Creations
Fine Motor
Sensory Bins
More misc. Tot Trays
Art projects (coloring, painting, etc.)
The Magic School The Complete Series
You can see our Preschool Science Goals here.

Kid Start Spanish (You can read my review here)
Little Reader Lessons (you can download mine here)
The Magic School The Complete Series - Can be viewed entirely in Spanish!
Misc Preschool
Brain Games Kids: Kindergarten*
Kindergarten Scholar*
Learning toys, games, sensory play, and pretend play 
(You can see some of what we use on the Tools and Toys Page)

*Note:  Keep in mind that my child is weird and asks for worksheets.  Not every two and a half year old would.  We also do not spend all that much time on them.  I give him one page at a time.  I pick the pages of each that are within Xander's abilities.  Also, I put them in dry erase sleeves so that he can redo them.

You can see my 2013 Curriculum Pintrest Board Here

See the 2013-2014 Post Here!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our New Light Table

I'm sure many other Tot Schooling moms can relate when I say that I have been drooling over light panels for a while.  All those beautiful Pinterest boards dedicated to light table play...  sigh.  However, with the light panel I wanted costing almost $200, purchasing one was just out of the question.

After some discussion with my dad, I decided to make one.  The plan was to get a couple of fluorescent lights, build a box around them, and slap some Plexiglas on top.  I was thinking it might be a good  birthday present.  I had mentioned this to my boyfriend because he volunteers at the Habitat for Humanities store and I thought maybe he could keep an eye out for some inexpensive Plexiglas for me.

Well he did me one better.  One day he showed up with this beautiful light box!  It is basically a wooden box made of baseboards and trim pieces.  It has LED lights in the bottom and a removable power cord with an on/off switch.  I was completely floored!  I am so excited Xander will have this wonderful new tool for tot school!  My brain kicked into overdrive thinking of all of the possibilities!  Be prepared for some light table posts in the near future!
Note: the Plexiglass in the picture had not been frosted yet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Z for Zebra

This was our last week of the Mommy and Me ABC units!  We did the letter Z and zebras!  Unless otherwise specified, all of the printables are from my Mommy and Me ABC Printables, which are free(for a detailed list of all the materials in the printables, check out this post).

Here was the Tot School set up for the week. On the left is his calendar.  His whiteboard had some alphabet magnets and his fridge phonics set (which, according to Xander, requires the volume to be set on HIGH).  The shelf had a bunch of Zs, some books, and some zebras (both Little People and from Toobs).  We really liked the book Lots and Lots of Zebra Stripes, which was about patterns.
 Aren't they just so cute?!
He absolutely LOVED his zebra mask.  I think he wore it most of the week.  He also told me he was a zebra because his shirt had stripes.

Doing some Z and Zebra Puzzles
We also did his zoo friends puzzle, since it has a zebra.
   Letter Maze
Finding all the Zs to get the baby zebra to its mommy.  Back to the purple Do-A-Dot to mark the Zs.
Letter Sensory Bin
Forgot to snag a picture of him in action!

Using his See and Stamp letters and a zebra stamp.
Letter Clipping
Letter Building
Using HWWT pieces to build some Zs.  He found them pretty tough, but I'm glad he tried!
 Peg Letter
My little zebra putting pegs in the Z.
 Spanish Habitats
We matched the zebras to their Spanish color savannas.  He loves helping the animals find their "homes."
 Zebra Number Tile Cards
Matching the number tiles to the card with the correct number of zebras.
 Dot Magnet Page 
 Xander won't hear of using anything but bingo markers and a wand on his magnet pages.  Can't really blame the kid, magnets are fun!
  Fizzy Sidewalk Paint
We played with some homemade sidewalk paint and then poured Koolaid on it to make it fizz!
Play Dough
He used his alphabet dough stampers to make do his alphabet play dough mats.  He also did lots of "baking" with the dough.  The Z cookie cutter became a muffin tin.  I really enjoy watching his imagination take over! 
 Zebra Cutting Strips
Using training scissors to cut apart the zebras.
I found this fun wooden zebra mask for a dollar at the craft store and just had to pick it up! 

Other Tot School Activities
Since I realized I needed to shift the language focus a little to make it more challenging, I got out the word cards for our pocket chart.  We've been using the pocket chart for a year and a half, but I've mostly ignored the word cards.  I showed him how to make some sentences.  He thought it was fun and wanted to read them over and over.  He was pretty upset with me when I put it away.
Doing some mazes.
Making some foam dough cupcakes!

Preschool Backpack
He only went to daycare three days last week, so it was a light Preschool Backpack.  It had:
worksheets and dry erase sleeve
Construction Sort and Match card with corresponding pieces
I also updated his sight words play mats with the only Dolche words he missed to send in the backpack.

 For more Zebra ideas, check out my Zebra Pinterest Board!
Tot SchoolA Mom With a Lesson Plan
Teaching Mama
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...