Friday, January 29, 2021

Winter Theme Activities

We're still taking a break from our Alphabet Themes to do some theme weeks. This week we did a winter theme. Now, I will say that Archer is definitely his own person and I do not force him into activities. Frustratingly, there were many activities with which I presented him that he did not feel like doing. Therefore, our activities feel a little more abbreviated than what I had planned.
As always, the shelf by his desk had some books for the week and I hung his artwork above. He has been very closed to reading "new" books, so we only read The Little Snowplow, Just a Snowman and Snowball Soup. Hoping to read some of the other great books next year!

I made a sensory bin with epsom salt, acrylic snowflakes and the penguins Toob.

I also got a big bin of snow from outside for him. I gave him cups of liquid water colors and some twisty droppers. He mostly preferred dumping water between all the cups. 
Don't Break the Ice with random words written on them with overhead marker.
Playing Little Cooperation and getting the animals safely to the igloo. I think this is currently his favorite board game.
Button art tray. He will do a couple of pages, but then looses interest. I think it might be too easy for him.
Snowflake and snowman stickers.

"Snow" painting. I gave him white and silver glitter paint, a cotton ball on a clothes pin, a q-tip and a porcupine ring. For a kid who dislikes arts and crafts, he lasted longer than I thought he would!
We did play dough a couple of different ways. I had one tray with glass gems and snowflake cookie cutters. A different day I got his shape stamps.
I got out several winter sentence cards I had made back when my oldest was a toddler. He had to put the words in order to make a sentence. This was the first time I showed Archer this kind of activity and he really liked it.
Failed snowplow tray. Archer was very very offended I used his diggers in this way and immediately took them out of the tray and put them back with his other vehicles.
Drawing a number and then putting that many beads onto a pipe cleaner. He did well but lost interest after about 3 numbers.
Winter 12 piece puzzle (he does these on his own now).
To go with his Dimensions Math, we did a Rough and Smooth sort.
Playing with his place value blocks.
Magna-Qubix were big this week. He played for hours!


Monday, January 25, 2021

Dimensions Math Pre-K with a Toddler Review


As you have probably already figured out, my little guy really has a thing for math. He loves counting, skip counting, counting backwards, jigsaw puzzles, place value blocks and other math activities (you can see my recent post of Math Activitives for Toddlers and Preschoolers here). However, he is only two and a half. He's got the fine motor skills and abstract reasoning skills of a two and a half year old. He is also like a puppy that you have to keep stimulated or he tears up the place. 

Therefore, I've been reading a lot about different methods for teaching math and started exploring curriculum. When my oldest was about 3.5, I adapted Right Start Mathematics for him (post here), but that didn't quite feel like the right fit for Archer at this point. I ended up reaching out to Singapore Math, explaining Archer's abilities and limitations and asking whether any of their materials would work. (I use Singapore Mathematics Standards Edition with my oldest, but we didn't start until level 4B). The very helpful customer service representative guided me to Dimensions Math Program. We decided, that while Archer might be ready for Kindergarten, Dimensions Pre-K was probably a good place to start. 

**In full transparency, I did receive a copy of the Dimensions Math Textbook Pre-KA and Dimensions Math Textbook Pre-KB. However, the opinions here are completely my own.**

The Curriculum:

You can see a full list of the scope and sequence of the Dimensions Pre-K level here. The curriculum is divided into two parts (A and B). Both parts have accompanying workbooks, as well as a teacher guide (there are sample pages on the linked webpages). I like that the textbooks and workbooks are all in color. However, since writing is still a developing skill for Archer (that he doesn't much enjoy), I opted not to get the workbooks. While I debated getting the teacher's guide, I decided that since we do a lot of "school" activities already, coming up with things that reinforce the lessons should be easy for us. Another family newer to early education would probably benefit greatly from the teacher's guides. We may start using them with higher levels in the future.

While Archer normally doesn't do "book work," adding in the textbook has gone well. I'm glad we went with the Pre-K level, because some skills feel familiar to him (color sorting), while other skills are new or are presenting in a way he has not seen. 

Sitting on my lap and flipping through.

The lessons in the textbook are very short. Each one is about one page front and back. On the bottom of first page of the lesson, there is an objective. Concepts usually start with some sort of scenario that provides opportunity to discuss what is seen. Then there is an opportunity for the student to answer questions or do simple tasks related to the concept. The lessons lend themselves to real world practice with manipulatives. Right now, we mostly do it with Archer sitting in my lap. He points to things and answers verbally, rather than writing. As we get further in the curriculum (and his fine motor skills improve) I will have him write more.

Here's an example:

Chapter 1 Lesson 5: Rough, Bumpy, Smooth

Objective: Explore textures and learn the word "rough."

So far, he has really liked it. When he sees the book, he asks to sit down and look at it together. While, I am trying to do them somewhat in order, at least in terms of supplemental activities, he often flips through it and finds pages that interest him, so we do those too. Right now, we're only getting it out a couple of times a week.

Honestly, for someone who just wants to open a textbook, look through the pages and have their student fill it out, just the Pre-KA textbook probably would not work very well. There is not a lot of instruction by itself. Also, kids learning these beginning concepts will need more reinforcement (hence the activity ideas in the teachers guides). I feel like someone wanting to use this with their Pre-K student (or toddler) has to be willing to do things with manipulatives and real world objects. That being said, I don't think there's a curriculum that could teach kids of this skill level without reinforcement. This real life reinforcement seems a little less necessary later in Pre-KA and in Pre-KB

Some of the tasks are similar to what you would find in a preschool workbook from a big box store (circle something, fill in something, draw lines connecting things), but these books go in a more systematic order.  They build skills in a way that will be beneficial later (using multiple ways to represent numbers, tens frames, etc.)

For us, I really like that it gives us some focus. We can look through the lesson together and then spend some time doing activities that reinforce it. It is simple enough that he can understand most of it, while still growing and getting used to the structure. My hope is that using these books will make for an easy transition into more formal math, when he is older and ready. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Trucks and Diggers Preschool Week

 Archer has definitely been enjoying our Alphabet Themes, but I like to mix things up too. He loves trucks and diggers, so I made a bunch of materials and we did a week with that theme. Because he loves math so much, it was pretty math heavy.
I made a sensory bin with black beans, a magnetic tile ramp, rocks, sticks and some mini machines.
This vehicle puzzle was a big hit this week.
I found these Cuisenaire Addition Trucks on TPT. Archer did great for the first time on each one, but refused to consider more than one possible solution for each.
Putting letters into a deconstructive Duplo truck?
Working on Water Wow-Vehicles
Construction Truck  mazes.
10s frames with construction trucks (Construction Vehicle Math Pack).
Looking at Construction Vehicles on Little Reader.
Construction Vehicle Vocabulary cards were a hit. He asked to do them multiple times.
Coin recognition (Construction Vehicle Math Pack).
Line and shape tracing (Construction Vehicle Math Pack)
Beginning graphing. We used a Do a Dot Marker to record each roll (Construction Vehicle Math Pack).
Place value blocks are still requested multiple times a week.
We started working on tally sticks. Archer still doesn't love the idea of crossing every fifth stick (Construction Vehicle Math Pack).
Counting by 2s puzzle (Construction Vehicle Math Pack).
This week's shelves. On the left I had Trucky 3, Magna-Qubix (played with frequently, so I am not allowed to put away), and stacking garages. On the right I had his Building Site Game, a 12 piece puzzle, vehicle magnets, a truck matching game, a magnetic truck building activity and a basket of cars.
I wasn't sure how he would do with Trucky 3, because he's still pretty young. He needed a few tries, but can figure out most of the first level puzzles.
He's had these stacking garages since his first birthday and it has been so fun to watch how his interactions with them have evolved as he ages. Now he spontaneously orders them or stacks them (and gets very mad if I mess with the order or suggest putting cars in the wrong garage).
More puzzles. He sure love jigsaws (as much as my oldest resisted them).
Vehicle magnets with a white board and stand.
Trying to put together the picture on the back of his truck matching game.
Playing big brother's the Detective Agency game on the Osmo.

Here are some other Trucks and Diggers Resources you might like (aff links used):
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