Monday, November 10, 2014

B is for Bat week

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B is for Bat week was simple because that week also contained Halloween!  It was the perfect easy unit study for Halloween week. 

First, I don’t just have a preschooler, but they are the easiest to write about.  I also have a second grader and an eighth grader and a senior as well!  But I notice that preschool gets front and center on my posts a lot because preschool is so easy to write about!  It’s much harder to talk about teaching my 7 year old to write in cursive or my 8th grader to write a 5 page essay.  Plus, I don’t get to be as creative!  I have to, like, follow rules and junk. lol…

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I use a metaphor for early education like a garage that is empty, and your job is to fill it with lots of boxes that have labels on them and very little IN them.  Each time you sit down with your preschooler to learn/play/read a new subject or unit study, you are giving them a new box.  You don’t have to fill it, or even put anything into it right away.  You just have to give them a space in their brain to categorize more information later.  Kinda like an empty box in a clean garage.  Then, as you collect information to share with them and they get older and have more experiences, you put more and more into that box.  Before you know it (seriously… it’s like a flash) they know more than you do and they are explaining to YOU why bats do not actually hibernate or why alligators only hatch one gender of egg at one time. 

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My preschooler, Luke, right now is obsessed with knowing the names of things.  It can not just be a bird, it is a Harpy Eagle or a Chestnut Chickadee.  And the bat study was no exception.  Stellaluna wasn’t just a ‘bat’.  She was a ‘fruit bat’.  It will not be long before he is teaching me instead of the other way around.  But for this precious time, I get to keep giving him boxes and little trinkets to add to them. 

Ok, so Bat Week! 

First, it was Halloween week… so it was CRAZY EASY to find bat items for this study.  Snack was bat pretzels or bat fruit snacks.

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Magnet board was a bat house:

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And I didn’t even have to cut out the bats, they were in a fall felt die-cut package from Michael’s Crafts store.  All I did was add magnets on the back.  I also added magnets to some craft sticks I had on hand and then we looked at pictures of a bat house and created one on the magnet board.  He decided that it needed to be warm, so he covered it with leaves and spent quite a bit of time letting the bats fly in and out of the bat house. It was cute to have him put all the bats upside-down until they were flying.  Then they were right side up!  So cute to watch their brains picking up all that information.

We had a conversation about what bats eat as well.  Stellaluna was a fruit bat, but the little brown bats we have around here (that we see quite often) eat bugs!  And thank goodness (because I am not a fan or mosquitos)!  So we used our bug math manipulatives and I printed out some free bug sorting cards from Pre Kinders.

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They have sorting by type of bug and sorting by color.  This was fun for Luke and he has done it several times this week.

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I had some fun with the chalkboard work this week.  I wish there were more fingerplays about bats, but as it stands, it took forever to find a bat poem appropriate for preschool and I had to change it a lot.

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The book basket reflected the theme once again.  This doesn’t have all the books we used in the picture, but you get the idea.  The library has been VERY helpful for these studies.  I always get simple books for Luke and then some for the older kids as well. 

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The art project this week was a bat silhouette picture.  He used a pencil to put dots all over the sheet, but after a while he felt that was taking too long.  So he just used his fingers.

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It turned out pretty cute!  Smile

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This week was less theme activities than most weeks because Halloween was Friday, but we had a great time learning about bats!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

O is for Owl Week!

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The chalk board reflected the theme this morning with a poem about a wise old owl.  As I post this, I realize that I spelled ‘wise’ wrong twice in that poem!  Mommyfail!  Don’t you wish that art had spellcheck like everything else does?  I was rushing to get it done before school started and didn’t even notice!  Haha!  I’ll be able to laugh at this later.  Right?

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Sensory table this week is black beans with sticks, acorns, oak leaves, and feathers.  There are small critters tucked in (guinea pigs, a rabbit, and a couple sets of chicks) so the large hooting owl (from Audubon) to snack on.  A magnifying glass finished off the table so he could look up close at the feathers.

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Off theme, but still fun and cute, I found these free flash cards to print out and I laminated numbers 1 – 12 so that Luke could play with them.  No formal number learning will be happening this year, but he likes playing with them!

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The Montessori tray activity was an owl mask kit from Target.  He LOVED this thing.  I had no idea he would be so into animal dress up!

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He wore the mask for hours and after a while he asked for wings!  The only thing I had at the time was a silk but he seemed satisfied.

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He decided to make the dog bed into a nest and he was the daddy owl and his little hooting owl was the baby owl….  so cute!  Seriously!

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As always, the book basket reflected the theme:

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We learned the difference between horned owls and barn owls and he could tell you which was the great horned owl in each book we read or looked through.

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The next day we did something we hardly ever do…. it was pouring outside, and so incredibly dark (as it will be for MONTHS now, here outside Seattle), so I ran to the library and brought home a basket full of library movies.  Winged Migration, The Story of the Snowy Owl and Ledged of the Guardians were all watched that day.  And nope, I am not sorry at all!  lol! 

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We made popcorn for lunch and watched movies until nap.  The other kids went on and did Math and English after that, but that was the entire last day of O is for Owl week for Luke! 

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Sometimes we just got to take a day off and play with our kids!  Smile  And it was a GREAT finish to a long week.  (Don’t you just love that little face??)

I forgot to add…. we started our week with this:

Friday, October 17, 2014

P is for Pumpkin Week

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P is for Pumpkin Week is our second week in October.  The next two weeks will be B is for Bat and O is for Owl then HALLOWEEN!  Fun dress up and even more fun books are coming!

But first we needed a field trip to the pumpkin patch!  I brought the library book basket with us for on the way and we got to read our pumpkin theme books.

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Luke LOVED the pumpkin patch!  There were three tractors to play on and a whole field of pumpkins to choose from.


I told him he could pick one as big as he could carry… he took me literally and picked the biggest one he could pick up!


He was SO proud of his pumpkin!

On his Montessori tray this week were a few pumpkin activities.  The first was Pumpkin Pie Spice play-dough. I ran out of pumpkin pie spice making it so I added extra cinnamon.  It smelled pretty good!

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Next day was a pumpkin life cycle card set from Montessori for Everyone (love that site!)

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And the last day of P is for Pumpkin week had a pumpkin printing project.  Luke LOVES this kind of project!  I put this project on thick watercolor paper so that we could make them into Halloween post cards for his little letters he likes to write.  Smile

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In his sensory table this week was ‘pumpkin pie’.  Simple oats with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and measuring utensils.  I added the cute stuffed pumpkin to add charm.  This table made the whole school room smell amazing! 

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In other grades around our house: Logan (second grade) was having a science lesson with a pumpkin this week too!  He got to do a pumpkin dissection investigation!  I cut the pumpkin in half and he drew the inside and outside and then estimated how many seeds would be in the pumpkin.  After this, he cleaned the pumpkin out and counted the seeds…. for 45 minutes!  By the time he was done he had a pile of over 300 seeds from this one tiny pumpkin!

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Luke and I decided to take advantage of those seeds and while the other kids were finishing their other work, we made them a snack!  It was SO yummy!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

F is for Farm Week

This week was F is for Farm week!

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It’s pretty easy to find farm activities on our little Urban Homestead… we already collect eggs, build out buildings, harvest from the garden, and care for all sorts of critters.  I needed an easy week, so this fit the bill!

Field trip this week was to Shultz Farm.  Lots of fun chickens and tractors to look at.



This very friendly donkey wanted to smell my camera pretty badly…  tried shoving his nose through the fence to say HI! 

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The song was, of course, Old McDonald!  He loves that song, although Old McDonald never has anything but PIGS!  Oink oink!

His Montessori shelf held puzzles this time.

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These puzzles are from our collection but they always seem new when put on his Montessori tray shelf.

The library basket reflected our farm theme with a couple fun books along with a few books on farm tractors which went to bed with him:

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Our sensory table followed suit.

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The bin had been refilled with farina (whole wheat cereal) and made into a little farm field and a John Deer tractor, ready to harvest some little orange pumpkins!  I even got some of the doll house stuff and made a sweet little garden plot to add to the real farm feel.

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A note on sensory tables.  Our sensory table is nothing but a under-the-bed storage container filled that is placed on top of a thrifted piano bench.  Beneath this piano bench, there is a bin (I found at a garage sale) that holds a small broom and dust pan.  It is perfect for picking up minor spills from the sensory bin before the dogs eat whatever has hit the floor. 

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I like to keep the bin covered and cleaned up as possible because Vader (4.5 mos old GSD) will eat anything that lands in his domain (the floor).

And speaking of eating!  I found some Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese that had farm shapes! 

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He LOVED that!

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Join us next week, where farm week turns into pumpkin week!

Friday, October 10, 2014

S is for Spider Week

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On the first day of “S is for Spider” week, Luke came out of his room dressed like this.  He said “I’m King Luke, of the Spiders!” and all day long, King Luke (of the spiders) did fun spider things with us for school.

In his sensory bin, the apple leaves had been replaced with fall leaves, and the glass gem ‘apples’ had been swapped for a small piece of bark where under it lived 6 plastic spiders.  A small, hand held magnifying glass and a few fresh hazelnuts (from our tree) completed the bin.

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The magnifying glass was a great addition and he spent quite a bit of time looking at all of the things under the scope while he moved things about.

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King Luke (of the spiders) was very happy with this table.  He was at it every day during spider week.  It was a huge hit!

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Our field trip was simple this week.  We took a nice long walk to hunt for spiders and webs!  We had to be camouflaged of course, so we got out spider rings and headed out.

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The song this week, is of course, the Itsy Bitsy Spider!

The Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the water spout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out!

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,

and the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

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We found this sweet ‘itsy bitsy spider’ to sing the song to.  Smile

On his Montessori tray, I had made a few water color sheets into post cards and made a glue-relief spider web on one corner and then let Luke (and Logan) paint them with fall colors.

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I think they turned out just beautiful!

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The library basket reflected our theme this week as well:

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It included a couple of fun videos to watch with Logan (2nd grade) too.

To finish off the theme, we made individual pizzas with ‘spider’ olives! 

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It was super simple, just cut one olive into the 8 legs and then another half an olive makes the body.  Add a few to the top of a pita with some sauce and cheese and you have a spider pizza lunch!

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