Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dance Competition Begins

Stephanie had her first dance competition with the new studio over the weekend.  They had a lot of fun and did really well.   They received two special "Most Entertaining" Awards (one for tap and one for jazz), one special "Spirit" Award (to the studio for showing good sportsmanship).  In addition, her tap team was 5th place overall and her lyrical team was 2nd place overall.   I'm glad we ended up at this studio when the old one closed down.  Everyone there has been very accepting of our girls and they've made some wonderful new friends.

Bugs/Insects - Day 2 (spiders and ladybugs/beetles)

Over the weekend we had a good start to our next bug unit - I was actually able to show Georgie a live spider.  He was black, about 1 1/2" long and sitting in our bathtub.  Since our tub is white, it was real easy to see the two body segments and eight legs.  Georgie thought it was really cool.  Mommy was less thrilled and after we were done studying the spider, including touching him slightly with a tissue so he would move, we called in Daddy to take care of him.

We started with Spiders.  First we discussed how they were not insects (8 legs instead of 6, 2 body segments instead of 3).  We did a Fact File coloring page and a spider-themed connect-the-dots from the Learning Page.   Georgie is getting really good at coloring within the lines and loves making colorful drawings.  Even Vicki did a little bit in the lines this time instead of just scribbling.

We read Little Miss Spider by David Kirk and The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Bugs.  We read the Magic School Bus book on Day 1 but I'm going to re-read the sections on the individual types of bugs each day as we cover them.   Today we just re-read the section on Spiders.

We painted styrofoam balls to look like spiders and added pipe cleaner legs.  I used a large and medium sized ball to give the spiders two body parts.  I ended up attaching them together using a craft stick broken in fourths since the glue wasn't holding very well.   Georgie gave his spider a smiley face.

We did two magnet/dot pages from Making Learning Fun.  The kids enjoy doing these and they usually cover a letter or number so provide a little extra for Vicki.   I decided to pull out the dot painters to do them this time.  Georgie was very careful doing his.  Vicki kept squeezing the dot painters and making globs of paint.  Thankfully she's not too strong since we still have blue paint on the ceiling of the dining room from when we first bought these and Mommy squeezed one trying to get the paint started.

We watched The Magic School Bus Spins a Web.  The kids love Magic School Bus and we have all 52 episodes DVR'd so we can watch them when they fit in to our themes. 

After watching the MSB and discussing webs, we made our own spider webs.  We laced string through a paper plate with the center cut out and holes punched around the edge. When they were done, we glued a spider on the web.

After Spiders, we discussed Ladybugs and other beetles.   First we read the Scholastic First Discovery - Ladybugs and Other Insects.   Then we looked at a page on Ladybugs in one of our Your Big Backyard magazines (June 2009 issue).   We also read the section on Ladybugs in the Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals.

We did a color matching page from Teacher Book Bags (available from Currclick) and attempted another magnet/dot page from Making Learning Fun.  This time we went for gluing on punched circles.  Vicki had so much glue on her page, it looked white.  Georgie kept sorting the punched circles by pattern (I made a bunch of different ones from scrapbook papers).

We made a ladybug with movable wings by using two paper plates and a pronged fastener.  We also made a ladybug by gluing together parts cut out of construction paper.   I think they were starting to get tired by this point since neither of them showed that much interest in these projects.  This was pretty much the end of "school" for the day.

Since kids were starting to get tired, I pulled out the stampers. They both love using these and they can be as creative (or not) as they want to be. Georgie usually tells stories as he's stamping. Today's was about a butterfly chasing a dinosaur.   I again made the mistake of leaving the room while they were working and returned to find Vicki had once again decorated her face.  She's always so proud of herself.

Planning Ahead(?):  Anyone paying attention will notice that I'm no longer following the plan I had on Bugs/Insects Day 1, which was to do a bug-type a day.  We ended up a little behind due to our museum trip on Friday.  We also don't do too much on Mondays since we spend the whole day running back and forth to the YMCA for classes and we have to go out early to take Steph to dance.  We have classes again on Wednesday so I think the new plan is Spiders/Ladybugs-Beetles on Tuesday (Yeah! we stuck with our plan for one day, LOL); Ants on Wednesday (it's a pretty short unit so should fit in okay around our classes), Bumblebees and start Caterpillars/Butterflies on Thursday and finish Caterpillars/Butterflies on Friday (this is probably our biggest section).

Next week we'll be doing a Colors/Artists unit.  These were originally going to be a week each but Georgie is leaving the end of that week for a week's vacation with Granny Franny.  When he comes back we're going to do St. Patrick's Day/Ireland.
I just wanted to share something I overheard the other day between the two kids.   I thought that it was a pretty sophisticated conversation for a 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old besides being hilarious:

Vicki: "knock knock" George: "who's there" Vicki:"duck" George: "duck who?" Vicki: "Quack quack" George: "that's not funny ducks are supposed to go quack".

Vicki:"knock knock" George: "who's there" Vicki: "apple" George: "apple who?" Vicki: "hen" George: "ha ha ha apple hen that's so funny!!!"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Museum Field Trip

I decided to take the kids to our local County Museum on Friday.  I hadn't been there in close to 10 years.  I knew it wasn't real big and should be the perfect size for little ones.   Some of the best exhibits from my childhood were still there (40 years!!) like the dinosaurs, trains and rocks (including a small room with a black light since many are florescent).   In addition, they were having a special exhibit Snoopy Soars with NASA to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing (it happened 9 days before I was born) where the kids could try on astronaut suits.   It was a good trip.  Since the museum is small and doesn't tend to be crowded it was possible for the kids to roam wherever they wanted to.

Vicki face-to-face with a stuffed black bear.  There was a room of stuffed animals - many of which I remembered from when I was a kid.

Georgie looking through a photo board.
Georgie dressed in his space suit.

Vicki's space suit.
Vicki looking at the trains.
Georgie playing at the train table.
Vicki playing a music machine.  Rotating the handle forced pins to hit against xylophone-type plates and make music.  The same room had a bunch of punchcards that could be fed into machines using a handle and would play songs like "Happy Birthday".
There were a bunch of phones to listen to and hear information about various things about sound and technology.  George liked listening to many of them.

The museum was a really fun trip.  I definitely think we'll be going back again soon since we didn't really have a lot of time to play as much as the kids would've liked.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bugs and Insects - Day 1

Our bug/insect unit is a long one and I'm planning for six full days of activities.  We're starting off with general bug/insect information, then will spend a day each on Spiders, Ladybugs, Ants, Bumblebees and Caterpillars/Butterflies. 

We started off our Bug/Insect unit by going on a bug hunt.  I hid small plastic bugs around the living room and the kids had to find them.

While they played with the bugs they found we began discussing "what is a bug?" and "what is an insect?"  Georgie already knew that insects had 6 legs but at first still said that a spider was an insect.   We did a bunch of worksheets and activities from The Learning Page on insect anatomy and distinguishing an insect from other animals.   We also read the emergent reader Bugs from Hubbards Cupboard.  We're going to read this each day so George gets familiar with the words.

We used water colors to paint a bug shape and make our own bugs.

We made a sticker collage using bee, butterfly, ant and flower stickers.  They were plastic scrapbook stickers on a clear plastic backing and they were very hard to pull off the backing.  I began taking them off for Vicki and sticking them on the edge of the table for her to use but she decided that the table was where they belonged.  It was supposed to be a sticker scene but Georgie lined his up in neat rows, as usual.

While we did our unit I played some of the kids music I finally downloaded.  They loved a real peppy version of "the Itsy Bitsy Spider" that I think is done by Little Richard, and "Ladybug Picnic".   Vicki loved dancing around to the music but for some reason started doing the chicken dance.   After hearing "Ladybug Picnic" Georgie pulled a blanket out of the bedroom and requested a picnic lunch.

They used markers to do some worksheets and coloring pages.  This is what happens when I leave the room for too long while the markers are out.

We played some Scrabble Jr and I realized that Georgie goes right for the short three letter words so he can collect triangles faster.  When he didn't have a "P" to finish APE right away, he started to pout a little.   The game ended shortly afterward.

Today's resources included: Science Encyclopedia, Magic School Bus Explores the World of Bugs and Your Big Backyard magazine from July 2009.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Presidents Day and Patriotic Symbols

We spent one day this week discussing President's Day and Patriotic Symbols.    First, we read Then and Now to discuss the idea of History and long ago.   Then we read Presidents Day by Rockwell and discussed who Presidents are/were and why they are important.  We mentioned who our current President is and George had a lot of trouble pronouncing Barack Obama.

We read the section from What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know on George Washington, which includes the legend about chopping down the cherry tree.  We discussed what the story showed about Washington (his honesty) and why that was important.    We also watched a Sesame Street video about Washington and his father's cherry tree.

After our readings, we did coloring pages on George Washington and on the Quarter and Dollar.   Then we made a cherry tree by gluing red pom poms to a picture of a bare tree.  While they were doing their coloring/crafts, I read some of the information about Washington from Usborne Encyclopedia of World History.

After Washington, we discussed Abraham Lincoln.  We read his section of What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know and discussed how hard it was to learn to read by firelight.  WYKNTK mentioned the story where the nickname Honest Abe came from and we discussed the importance of honesty again.

After reading, we did coloring pages on Abe Lincoln and the Penny and $5 bill.    We made a log cabin out of rolled-up paper logs.  We were going to do an experiment which involved cleaning pennies in vinegar but they were too impatient and kept sticking their fingers in the vinegar.  The experiment was from http://www.exploratorium.edu/.

After discussing Presidents, we moved on to Patriotic Symbols.  We went to Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids and looked at the links for Patriotic Symbols.  We discussed the flag - why it has 50 stars and 13 stripes and the importance of red, white and blue.

We practiced with scissors by cutting red, white and blue paper into small pieces which we then glued to a star template.  Once the glue dried, the star was cut out and hung.

We also did an F is for Flag magnet page by gluing on paper circles from a red and blue star patterned scrapbook paper. 

I had recently printed out and set up bottlecap letter sheets for Vicki.  I gave her the first one today - FLAG - and she was able to do it very easily.  Too easily, once she was done she started peeling the letters off the bottle caps.  I think I'm going to redo them using sticker paper (I had just glued them) and Mod Podge over them.   Most of the letter pages were from Confessions of a Homeschooler but I did the Flag one up myself (she has F is for Fish).

We discussed the Pledge of Allegiance and decorated a print-out using patriotic stickers.

The books we used for this Theme:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow, snow and more snow

We had another snow storm right before Valentine's Day.  This has definitely been an unusual Winter for us.  One good thing...right before Christmas I decided the kids were old enough that they should have snow pants, snow boots and gloves so they could play outside.   I bought them big enough to last a couple of years but I'm still glad it didn't turn out to be a waste of money.  The kids love playing in the snow and I love the fact that most of the snow days we've had Daddy has been home to take them outside to play (I do NOT like the cold.)

Here's some pictures from our last snow storm, when Daddy took the kids out while it was still snowing.  Georgie was upset that, once again, the snow wasn't good for making a big snowman. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day was a very craft intensive topic but I did try to sneak in some learning activities here and there.   Since I don't remember the exact order we did things in this week, I'll list all the crafts first and then the learning activities.  Usually sticker activities are done right before or after messier activities.  Since the kids can do these independently it gives me a chance to clean up or prepare.
We used foam heart stickers to make our usual wreaths.  Georgie, as usual, was very meticulous in spacing out his hearts. 

We melted down some of our old crayons in a heart shaped muffin tin to make new colorful crayons.  I will admit with this one, I didn't let the kids just put the crayons randomly.  We took selected colors that we thought would look good together - brown and yellow, red and white, red and pink, etc.  Unfortunately, the kids also had trouble peeling the paper off the crayons (yet they never have trouble when I don't want them to peel it off) and breaking them, since many of them were fat crayons.  So, this ended up being more of a mom project but they waited eagerly for them to cool off so they could use them. 

We used more heart stickers to decorate larger foam hearts.  Georgie sorted his stickers and placed the larger stickers on the larger foam heart and the smaller ones on the smaller foam heart.  Vicki did one of her hearts in all purple.
We made hearts for the window using acetate sheets and tissue paper.  Neither of the kids filled up their heart completely which resulted in it not being real clear that they were hearts.  I think when we do these in the future, I'll need to add a frame.

We also colored coffee filter's with markers than sprayed them with water to make the colors run.  Just like the last time we did these, neither kid put a lot of color on the filter.  They spent a lot of time stacking and playing with the markers instead.  I think they still came out okay.
We did a V is for Valentine tracing page and V is for Valentine magnet page, both from the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler.   We don't use magnets doing the magnet pages since Vicki still puts things in her mouth.  We usually use dot painters or glue on foam circles.  I recently bought a 3/4" circle punch that I used to punch a bunch of circles out of various scrapbook papers and these are what the kids used this time.
We made cards for the grandmothers using doily's and sticker jewels.  This was the first time we used the stick-on jewels and they were a big hit, although Vicki did have some trouble peeling the backing paper off  since they were very small.

Vicki's been showing a lot of interest in letters and the various worksheets Georgie is doing so I figured it was a good time to start working more deliberately with her on letters.  V was a good one to start with since its what her name starts with (obviously) so I made up a worksheets with little pictures for V is for....Vicki, violin, valentine, etc.  I let her use our big and little V stamps to decorate it, along with markers.  At this point in time I'm going to work with her on whatever letter(s) go along with our theme for the week. 

Georgie was really interested in the V stamps while Vicki was using them (they are new) so I let him use them on his greater than/less than worksheet.   I made up this worksheet using Word.
Vicki also did a letter V search page, where she circled all the letter V's.  She did much better at this - both finding the correct letters and then circling them - than I expected her to.  The sheet we used came from http://www.beginningreading.com/.
We read two fun stories this week.  Valentine's Day is... by Gail Gibbons and The Biggest Valentine Ever by Steven Kroll.  After reading The Biggest Valentine Ever we made our own heart mice like the one in the story.   We also did a short reader from Hubbards Cupboard called The Hearts.

We had another snow storm mid-week and missed our YMCA classes so by Friday we were definitely bouncing off the walls.  I was moving all my bookmarks from AOL to Explorer on our new computer and I saw an idea for Musical Hearts on No Time for Flashcards and thought it looked like a great way to work off some energy.   I used some of our extra foam hearts and wrote a variety of suggestions on them.  Some of them I made things we're currently working on - "count to 20 by 2's", "count to 100 by 10's" - and others just for fun - "hop like a bunny", "spin in a circle".  On the site, she played with just one child and I was playing with two, and some of the cards were definitely going to be too hard for Vicki but I figured it was worth a shot.  The game ended up going pretty well and definitely worked off some energy.  Each kid picked a heart and did what was on it so we sometimes had Georgie reciting the alphabet at the top of his lungs while Vicki and I recited Twinkle Little Star at the same time.    The hearts also didn't stay in a circle for very long but it didn't seem to bother them any.
I took some more of our foam hearts (they were kind of slanted hearts from Oriental Trading Co. I didn't like them that much for crafts since they were kind of a funky shape but they were good for games) and made a number game for Vicki.  She's learning her letters well just through play but numbers seem to be harder for her so I thought this would be fun practice.  I numbered hearts from 1 to 10 and then just called out numbers for her to jump on.  She loved doing this, loved hopping from one to the next counting.  She's not ready for putting them in order but I'm sure that will come in time.

The good thing about the foam hearts is that they should be pretty sturdy and last a while.  The bad thing is they made me realize how badly my floor needs to be vacuumed.  They picked up every little piece of fuzz, hair and crumb from the floor.    These games, especially the musical hearts, also made me realize I need to get some kids music.  I had a lot when Stephanie was young but I have no idea where it may be.  I put on the Kid's Tune channel on Dish Network to play our games.  The kids loved the music but some of the songs were a little bizarre.  I could do without listening to the Bratz song.  So, I think I'm going to download some songs from ITunes and make a CD just for the kids.

Our books and videos for the week: