Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Preschool report: June

This month we studied the joy of the earth. It was a good month to study it. We did lots of fun things, but I think our favorites were going to the zoo and camping out.

We went to Tautphaus Zoo in Idaho Falls. Brian and I had the most fun, since it was so hot and the kids got tired. But I know that they still enjoyed it. We loved seeing the otter show off for us under water. Helen told me afterwards that her favorite part of the zoo was seeing a snake from Asian that was pink with purple stripes (Imagine that--pink!). She still talks about it. She also liked the pink flamingos. Eric really liked the tiger. Eric also loved feeding the goats. To me, the zoo was the highlight of the month.

But if you ask the kids, I think they would tell you that their highlight of the month was our campout with Jeff, Heidi and their kids. Jeff took us up above Mesa Falls and Warm River. The cousins had a lot of fun playing together and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. That night, as we were going to bed, Helen saw the stars, which were amazing. She must have been inspired, because she started quoting poetry. The next morning, Helen woke up really early, so I took her on a hike through a mountain meadow. It was very beautiful. The sun was just coming up, and there were wildflowers everywhere. Helen burst into song, singing primary songs about nature. So I know she was feeling it!

We did so many other things too. We've also listened to Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Peter and the Wolf, for a touch of culture. We've tried yoga that imitates animals, and we sang nature primary songs every night. I also checked out a Farms discovery kit from the library, and Helen was enamored with Charlotte's Web. She loves pigs, and she's decided that she likes spiders too. We also checked out the Ecology discovery kit, and we got some books about plants and food from Usborne. We put some seeds in a jar and watched them sprout and grow (which is something I've always wanted to do).

I also bought a bird feeder, and it has been so much fun to watch the birds up close. The birds became really comfortable, and they'd eat while the kids played underneath, which was so cool! We've seen some birds that we haven't seen before, too.

And now, since we've found the camera, here are some pictures from last month:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Preschool report: May

So now we have finished our second month of preschool. Our focus this month was the joy of the body. It was a lot of fun, and we all learned a lot. One day Helen told me, "I have a beautiful body!" That is exactly what I was hoping she'd feel.

The first week I checked out a five senses story kit from the library, and we focused on learning the five senses. Helen loved reading the books and doing the activities. The second week I checked out a whole bunch of books about the body and different body systems. One favorite was Inside Your Outside, a Cat in the Hat book. It's not written by Dr. Seuss (the author is Tish Rabe), but reading it you would think it was. Helen also loved the Magic School Bus books that were about the body. We also traced the kids on a big piece of paper and let them color it. We played Simon Says to learn the names of different parts of the body (Simon says touch your shins. Simon says pat your hips.)

The third week we talked about how our bodies are temples and how to take care of them. We learned about the Word of Wisdom.

And then the last week was a lot of fun. I found a Youtube channel called Dance and Beats. It has dances for preschool kids. I picked three that I thought were good, and we danced Monday, Wednesday and Friday for preschool. We danced the crab walk, little butterfly and catch a fish. Eric really liked catch a fish, and Helen liked little butterfly. They both really liked crab walk. It was a lot of fun to use our bodies for art! I wanted to take pictures of the kids dancing, but I couldn't find the camera all that week.

For the first part of the month I was using Sandi Queen's Language Lessons for Little Ones Vol. 1. But it wasn't meeting Helen's needs. It was a lot of fun in some ways. But Helen was way beyond it when it came to letter recognition. But she wasn't ready to write the letters yet. She tries, but it wasn't working very well. And I realized I needed something that didn't require a child to learn to write while they are learning to read. The curriculum that I would prefer is out of print and so is very unaffordable.

So I checked out a whole stack of books on phonics and teaching children to read. I also grabbed The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, by Jesse Wise. I'd had an impression that it didn't use sight words to help the kids get started before they learned the rules for those words (which isn't correct). But my sister-in-law has used it for her kids, and I respect the author a lot, so I thought, why not? I discovered that it was similar to the curriculum I had wanted, and we have been using it. The first 26 lessons review the letter sounds, which is what Helen needed. We are about half way through that part. And Helen has been doing very well! It's just what we've needed. I'm hoping that Helen can start reading short words by the end of June.

We also focused on colors and shapes (mostly colors) for Eric. We made a color sorting train (that turned into a color train that I just put on the wall) like one that I found online. He also did a shapes puzzle and put it together really well. We also did a shapes collage all together. Helen ended up doing most of it. One week we also checked out a colors discovery kit from the library, and that had some good books, including The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown. I think that one was Eric's favorite.

So far preschool has been a lot of fun and we're all (including me) learning a lot.

I have some pictures, but I will have to add them later when we finally find our camera ...