Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rock and Mineral Weekend at the Museum

preschool corner

We ended up going to our local museum for their Rock and Mineral Weekend both Friday and Saturday.  It turned out that Friday was only the “Kick-off” to the Weekend and not part of the actual “Weekend” so a few of the activities listed on the website weren’t taking place on Friday.  Since I had won a Family Membership and our admission was free, we decided to go back on Saturday.  We brought along some friends which made it even more fun for the kids.

We started our visit in the Rock and Mineral exhibit (of course). 

Lots of interesting shapes, colors and sizes…..
getting hands-on with some amethyst, some of those crystals were really pointy and sharp……
and some snowflake obsidian, nice and smooth.
 A nice dark room with a black light to show fluorescence.  Members of the local Mineralogical Society were on hand to answer questions and identify specimens.
On Friday we were able to paint some pet rocks…
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and on Saturday they had a sandbox scavenger hunt.  The kids loved sifting through the sand to find fossils.  They were each allowed to keep a fossil they found and pick out minerals off a display table.  Both kids got pieces of quartz, I'm not sure what Georgie's fossil is but Vicki ended up with a really cool fern. 
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Of course, after searching for fossils we had to go and see the dinosaur exhibit.   The exhibit isn’t that big (and is almost exactly the same as it was ** years ago when I went as a kid) but these guys love it.

There is a model of a T-Rex skull, look at those teeth….
the bones of a ornitholestes…..
footprints to jump on and follow….
and a display on the tools used to dig up bones.
There were actually quite a few other fossils down there from the various time eras but the kids spent very little time looking at them. 
Lots of fun and we can’t wait to go back again.  Two days spent running around the museum wore the kids out.  Both are asleep and it’s not even 6pm.

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

We didn’t do much (any) schoolwork this week.  It was a short week and Georgie knew a holiday was coming, so it was pretty useless to try.  We did manage of few Thanksgiving themed crafts.
We made paper plate turkeys.
They also made Indian Corn. I thought they would love gluing beads to a corn and husk cut from paper.  I painstakingly separated out orange, yellow and brown beads into one cup and green beads into another cup.  This is how much they actually did…
So, I handed them some paper plates with the middle cut out and some stickers, pictures and glue and let them make wreaths. 
At this point, I finally accepted the fact that despite their cries of “what are we doing next?” they really weren’t into the crafts. 

They did play quite a few games this week, mostly with Daddy.  They played our Money Bags game, which helps teach coin values.
They played with our USA puzzle.  Daddy directed the building by telling them the piece was from the Northeast, Southwest, etc.  Then they looked at the pictures on the puzzle and discussed the different states.
Georgie also used our wooden ABC blocks to make words.  Even using the blocks, he made them all capital letters.
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We decorated a fun Turkey cake for Thanksgiving dinner….
and enjoyed some fun family time.
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We finished up the week with two trips to our local Museum for Rock and Mineral Weekend.  More about our fun field trips here.

preschool corner

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: 11/14-11/19/2010

The big girl is very rarely featured in our Weekly Wrap-up but this week I actually have two updates all about her!

Having been a dancer for 12 years and a cheerleader for 3 years (not to mention the fact that she refused to wear anything but dresses/skirts from the time she was two years old until she was six), you would expect Steph to be something of a girly-girl.  Well, you would be wrong (what she is is impossible to define) and she got to prove it last weekend when she played……Football!! 
Her school has an annual tradition where the Senior girls play the Junior girls in Powderpuff Football and Steph was right in there helping lead the Junior girls to a 12-2 loss.  srcstic   According to TRADITION the Senior girls always win (with a little help from the referees if necessary) but just wait until next year!

Our other piece of big girl excitement was her very first driving lesson with mom.  Steph completed her 6 hours of driving instruction with a licensed driving school a couple weeks ago.  Now, it is up to us to teach her everything else she needs to know and make sure she gets enough practice so she can pass her driving test and get her license in six months. 
She did a pretty good job considering instead of the nice compact Ford Focus the driving instructor had (with the passenger side brake pedal) she had to drive our Suburban.  For anyone who doesn’t know – a Suburban is HUGE!!  It took me a while to get used to driving it after my little Honda Civic.  Unfortunately she has no choice since the above mentioned Civic is a manual transmission.  She will eventually have to learn to drive it but I figured there were a few things she should get the hang of  - like straightening out of turns without hitting the curb (how she got a flat tire on the instructors Focus, thankfully not likely to happen on the Suburban) or braking without giving her passenger whiplash or accelerating up hills without pissing off the people behind her – before expecting her to take on a third pedal and shifting.    Learning to drive in a hugely populated area like NJ is not easy.  There are no wide open roads to drive on.  Instead she had to drive on major highways during rush hour with impatient drivers in a hurry to get home.   I’m sure she’s going to do just great (although I may have to take up drinking).bigtup
Now on to the little guys.  We had a pretty normal (but light) week.   I was hoping to start some Thanksgiving activities but for a variety of reasons we didn’t.   With the Holiday season coming on strong, I’ve decided to go ahead and modify our workload rather than try and do it all and be depressed when it never happens.

First thing we are going to change is to add a LOT of crafts.  Next week we will be making Turkeys, Indian Corn and Cornucopias.  After that it will be weeks of Christmas and Winter crafts - snowmen and snowflakes and ornaments and trees and stars and candles and.....
Second, we are going to read lots and lots of books.  Thanksgiving stories, Christmas stories, Winter Solstice stories, Hanukkah stories, Kwanzaa stories and any other stories we find relevant.

As far as our core subjects are concerned… I don’t want to just ditch them all because I don’t want Georgie to forget too much in the next six weeks.  He is doing so well that I don’t want to lose ground.  But, I also know that with the excitement of Christmas coming, sitting down to do worksheets isn’t likely to happen.  Our extensive list of books to read will help some but I want to do more.  So, I think we are going to play lots of games.   We have a pretty extensive collection of reading and math games that I think will do a great job of keeping up skills.  This will also give me the chance to feature more of our games on here for anyone who may be looking for ideas.
I’m also going to add some physical activity to our day.  The weather has been getting colder (and been rainy a lot) so we aren’t taking walks as often as we were, although the littles are still taking gymnastics every week.  I wanted to find something that would be fun for the kids so I made up some exercise dice that we can use along with our regular foam dice.  One die has stretching/warm-up type exercises – toe stretches, big and small arm circles, side stretches, etc.  The other die has more active exercises – jumping jacks, sit-ups, hopping on one foot, etc.  We’ll start with the stretching die and roll it together with two regular dice.  Add the numbers on the dice together and do the activity on the stretching dice that many times.  After a 2-3 activity warm-up we will do the same using the active die.  Of course, I will be doing every exercise right along with the kids. Smileys_30

Does anyone know a good program to add smiley's to blogger?  I think they work great to get across tone and I have a few saved as clip-art but they come out kind of odd.  I do use Windows LiveWriter to do some of my posts.  Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up 11/1 – 11/12/10 (2 weeks)

This week’s wrap-up covers two weeks since I never posted about our post-Halloween week.    We did do a few activities from our core curriculum that week but mainly what we accomplished was:

-two kids on Halloween candy induced sugar highs
-one Mommy on Halloween candy induced sugar crash (I never seem to get the energy boost anymore)
-one little girl who swallowed a penny
-one little girl with a cold
-one big girl getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time ever (and hitting a curb and getting a flat tire on the driving instructors car)
-two doctor’s appointments
-one little boy’s last soccer game of the year
-one big girl cheering at the last regular season football game of the year but we’re going to the Play-offs!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Georgie is still resisting writing lowercase letters.  He insists they are much harder than uppercase.  I am thinking about printing out some paper with wider spaced lines and seeing if that helps.  I’m thinking that since a lot of the lowercase letters mainly use only the bottom half (below the dotted line) of the paper that the writing small is what he dislikes.     He did complete one practice page of all lowercase letters a, b, c, d, e and f and one page of upper and lowercase G’s.  He’s finding lots of ways to make his work more interesting.  He often chooses multiple colors and talks to them, asking whose turn is it next and doing patterns.

All About Spelling is still going well.  We finished up short I words and did the entire step of short O words.  We also discussed what words should be capitalized.  He has a good understanding of it but of course he’s writing everything in capital letters at this point.   We do the lessons using a mix of the tiles, the white board and orally that seems to be working very well for him.  So far there have been very few words he even has to think about before spelling them.

Explode the code is also still going well.  He sometimes whines at the pages that require more writing and he sometimes asks for me to do the writing but I usually insist he do it.  There usually isn’t much and I do let him do his all caps.

Georgie really loves to read books now.  We have a pretty good collection of kids books and he’s started reading them to Vicki.  He can’t always read every word but he seems able to read enough to tell the story and not get frustrated.
We completed Lessons 24, 25 and 26 in MEP. He really enjoys the nice mix of activities.  A lot of our math work I do write for him.   A lot of the spaces are small and the discussion/understanding is more important to me than being able to write the answer down.
We did some addition practice.  He completed a Grade 1 workbook page and played domino parking lot.

In Time, we moved on from time to the hour to time to the half hour.  He had some trouble with the concept at first and kept wanting to point the minute hand to 3 (for 30?) but he seemed to understand it better by the end of the week.  We used to have a digital clock that sat right by our clock face but Stephanie took back her docking bay (that I had "borrowed") ;-) so we need to set up another one.

We moved on to dimes in our Money workbook.  Georgie has a little trouble telling apart the nickels and dimes.  He also had some trouble paying attention and at times just sat guessing the answer.   Once he can do quarters we have the Money Bags game that will help reinforce the coin values.  I may have to take a look at it and see if there’s a way we can adapt it to use just the coins we’ve covered so far.  Games seem to really help him to understand and remember concepts.

Vicki did a lot of painting this week.  She still loves the Paintastic pens.  I still love the reduced mess and that the paintings actually dry fairly quickly since the amount of paint distributed is controlled.
She also did a lot of stickers this week.  I hadn’t pulled them out in a while so they were new and fun again.
One of the items that were in her “Tot Boxes” this week were the Melissa and Doug lacing cards.  She has never actually done these by lacing them.  Instead she puts the lace through holes on either side of the neck and drags her “pets” around by their “leash”.
She played on the computer while George and I worked on money.  I did not want anymore swallowed coins and the computer is the one thing guaranteed to keep her attention.  She loves playing on Starfall, Nick Jr and PBS Kids.
Vicki sat down and “read” Brown Bear, Brown Bear to me.   She actually just has the story memorized but she really enjoyed reading just like her brother.
She did two counting worksheets I found at TLS Books, which has free worksheets for Preschool through Fifth Grade.  They were very simple – count the clowns, seals, bears and circle the correct number.   She also played her game where she rolled the dice and filled in the correct number of squares using a stamper.

For our Electives, we did a discussion of History.  We read the “What is History” pages from Story of the World and made a personal timeline of the kids lives.  We started with the most recent events and worked back from there to show events going into the past.  We discussed how we know about what happened in the past and looked through their baby books.  We also read Then and Now which compares various scenes from long ago with how they would look now (horse and buggy versus cars, etc.) and The Quilt Story which was a cute story about a quilt that is handed down.
We pulled out our rice bin and our Fall Sensory Bin this week.  I let the kids add the rice from the Fall bin to the rice bin.  Georgie had fun “feeding” rice to a rubber snake and then having it spit it into a cup.
From now until December were going to concentrate on our Core subjects and some fun crafts and games for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We’re also going to be visiting our local museum more frequently.  I went to a Tricky Tray with my mother and won a One Year Family Membership!!  I’m so happy since I’ve been wanting to go to the museum more often.  It is the perfect size for these guys with lots of fun interactive stuff.

I also won passes to a local zoo but those are going to have to wait until Spring and warmer weather.