H is for Hiking!

We moved on to letter H last week and got to do one of our favorite letter H things… HIKING! Twice in one week!

On Monday we were supposed to meet some friends at a state education forest, only to discover they are closed on Mondays. As one friend said, “Who knew you could close a forest?” Apparently you can. So we headed a few miles down the road to this nice, but much less shady greenway along a river.

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The kids enjoyed running down the greenway and checking out the river. We stopped in the shadiest spot we could find for lunch and tried to get a group picture with a ridiculous number of kids!

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Then on Thursday at our kindergarten readiness program our teacher had a nature hike around the school planned for us!

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We had these cool little scavenger hunt cards to help us find things in nature.

We found almost everything on our card!

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We have gotten into the routine of having a craft or art project to go with each letter. This week’s was easy peasy since we had bunches of heart stickers left over from Valentine’s Day!

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Dino-mite Dinosaurs!

Another Parks & Rec program! Last week’s topic was dinosaurs and I am AMAZED by how much they pack into a little more than an hour.

First up was making dinosaur masks! All we needed was half a paper plate with an eye hole cut, some triangles for ears and nose, googly eyes, and crayons. And a straw for the handle.

Next, the kids got an idea of the size of a dinosaur by seeing how many of their feet could fit inside the print of one dinosaur foot. Then they headed out into the hallway with the longest tape measure I have ever seen and pulled it out to the length of several kinds of dinosaurs. Even the parents observing were amazed seeing how big some of these creatures were! I mean, you know they’re BIG, but WOW!

After that they headed back into the classroom to make their dinosaur feet to complete the whole dino look 🙂

Then some hands-on fun and probably Maribel’s favorite part… they used droppers of warm water to melt the “glaciers” to find the little plastic dinosaurs. It took team work and the girls were SO excited when they got their dinosaur out. Then they headed over to these bins of sand where they were able to play paleontologist and dig for fossils. Let me just say those table clothes under the sand bins were a good idea. My kid is not good at keeping the sand in the sand box.

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They ended with a fun snack, so I actually stand corrected… eating dinosaur claws (bugles) was Maribel’s favorite part!

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G is for Grape!

We have moved on to letter G and started our week with some G worksheets and a fun craft. It’s funny though… I feel like I spent 15 minutes prepping something like this and it takes her all of 3 minutes to do and she has moved on to the next thing!

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But at least she enjoys it while she’s working on it…

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And is proud of it when she is done!

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There we go 🙂

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Now off to the Grocery store this afternoon to buy some Grapes for snack… and some Green leaf lettuce… and Granola bars…

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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

I have mentioned before how much we love our town Parks and Rec department. They offer lots of great programs for preschoolers. Last week we attended one centered around the kid’s book, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!” This program was intended for 4-5 year olds, but Maribel loves the book and we’re deep into learning letter sounds, so I asked if she could join in a little early. I’m so glad I asked, because she LOVED it!

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The first activity related to the book was to color in the coconut tree, cut it out and paste it on construction paper, then put foam letter stickers in it.

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The second activity was letter matching. I have seen different versions of this on pinterest, but never the coconut tree. It was perfect! I’m sure there are free printable versions out there, and you just use regular dot stickers and write letters on them to match those on the worksheet.

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An alphabet memory game was next, but that proved to be a bit too much for the kids. I think using just 6-8 letter pairs would have been better. The idea was to match the upper and lower case letters, but to do the whole alphabet was taking foreverrrrrr. Haha!

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Last was a game of letter bingo that Maribel thinks she “won” because they kept going until everyone got bingo 🙂 This ended in tears because it was the last activity and she didn’t want to go home!

We have signed up for a few of these events in the coming weeks. They aren’t exactly cheap at $8 per event, but those 4 activities would have taken a lot of prep time/materials and planning for me, so I feel like it is worth it. I limit it to just the subjects she is really interested in and especially things that would be hard for me to set up (like today we’re going to a dinosaur event where they’re digging for fossils). I’ll report back on that one!

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“D is for Dragon”

Happy Easter! We had a nice holiday with some quality family time and yummy food.

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Today we moved on to letter D and did our usual routine of writing the capital and lowercase versions on the chalkboard and finding/thinking of all the D words that we could. Then we read a few alphabet books and one used Dragon for D. It made me think of the 1977 Disney classic, and my favorite childhood movie, Pete’s Dragon. I decided to give it a go. It is crazy long by today’s kid movie standards, so I really didn’t expect it to hold her attention, but she loved it! What is it about that movie? It was the first time she asked to watch a movie again on the same day too. Our afternoon activity was making a dinosaur out of a D, but she informed me that we needed to make Pete’s Dragon instead. She was proud of her masterpiece… little brother doesn’t seem impressed. (Notice the pink tuft of hair on the head and end of the tail).

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Next I let her look through a few of our letter activity books with me and pick out what she’d like to do. She chose these do-a-dot letters and I figured we’d do a quick review of A-D while we were at it. It was funny how she did A so perfectly and was so careful trying to write the As at the bottom, then by the time she got to D the dots were erratic and the “writing” at the bottom was crazy scribbles. I should have gotten a picture of that! I’m learning lessons along with her every day and today I learned that reviewing 4 letters in one sitting might be a bit much.

Maribel has been wanting to rush through the letters at lightning pace, but I’m going to make D last until at least Thursday this week! She has her first Dentist appointment and I’m nervous about how it will go. I’m thinking if I can find some fun D activities about the Dentist I can make it more about fun and learning and she may be more excited about it. We’ll see!

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Animal Crackers and Cauliflower

After two days with “B” as our letter, Maribel asked if we could move on to C. I didn’t think much of it, just told her that we still had some B stuff to do. Well, the next morning she stumbled out of her bedroom in pajamas, messy hair, holding her dolly and said, “is it still B today?” I had her repeat herself because it was so out of context I didn’t know what she was talking about! When I realized she was asking again if we could move on to C, I said sure.

I hadn’t prepared for letter C yet, so I wung it (winged it?) a little. We were gone all morning at an Easter picnic with friends, so later in the day we wrote big C and little C on our chalkboard, but were running out the door to grocery shop. So instead of the playroom, we found our C things at the grocery store:

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I know there are different ideas about how to introduce the different C sounds, but we’re just doing it all at once. You would think it would be so confusing, but she seems to have a handle on it. We even talked about the sound “CH” makes when put together because we picked up a chicken and saw some Easter chocolate.

Earlier in the week we went on a spring nature walk around our yard, looking for flowers and bugs. We collected a baggy of flowers to press. I’m pretty sure they really need more than 24 hours in the flower press to completely dry out, but 3 year olds aren’t known for patience!

So, on Thursday we made this collage from flowers in our yard and talked about what “collage” meant. Lucky for me, that is another C word, so again it looked as if I planned it!

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This morning Maribel woke up and exclaimed, “It’s D today!!!!” Wow, this kid is moving too fast! I told her we had a few more C activities to do today and then we could move on to D. Clearly, this curriculum is not going to last me the 38 weeks intended (all the letters, review weeks, plus vowels).

And some exciting news – I just registered us for a local homeschool co-op that begins at the end of August! I am very excited about it. The location is perfect for us, just down the road. We have several friends already in the co-op or hoping to join next year. We don’t know yet if we are “in,” but there is a planning meeting at the beginning of May, so I imagine we will know by then. It truly is a co-op in that there are 3 “periods” and each parent is lead teacher for one subject, assistant teacher for one, and one is a free period to socialize with other parents. There is lunch and playtime included too and lasts almost as long as a regular school day, but I am told the overall atmosphere is very laid back and low key.

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“B is for Bunny”

Our letter this week is B, which is appropriate since it is also Easter week and we have an abundance of Bunny books! (I didn’t do that on purpose, but let’s pretend I did!) We have also had this little visitor outside our kitchen table window every night this week! Always in the same spot chowing down on clover. He has been fun to watch at dinnertime.

I want to say this has been another busier-than-usual week for us, but I think I may just need to realize that we always have busy weeks. I would like to have a regular morning routine down where we do similar things in the same order each day (or at least as many days as we can). On Mondays we introduce the new letter of the week, write it on the chalk board, and search the playroom for things that start with the letter. I’d like to follow that up with flashcards and/or a letter worksheet. Then “DEAR time” (leftover from my camp counselor days… Drop Everything And Read) where we read books related to our letter, plus seasonal/holiday and general alphabet books. This depends a bit on baby’s morning nap time though. Then music/songs, weather wheel, calendar review, and something Maribel chooses. She is constantly asking me to play with her and so often I have to say no (feeding baby, cooking dinner, working on the computer, etc…). It would be nice to have designated play time just the two of us while baby is sleeping.

On Monday morning she pulled this puzzle out of the box for us to do together. I found this in a grab bag of baby toys on a yard sale site and it was such a great find.

It is great for recognizing patterns and matching, as well as recognizing textures (the “furry” card is actually furry, etc…”and that morning I also used them as flash cards. I covered the picture and held up the cards just showing her the words. Several of the words she recognized immediately (cat, pig, frog, fish) without even needing to sound them out. These will be great again later when we get to adjectives and nouns.

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We did a few “B” worksheets and I got a kick out of this one. The directions said to color in the items that start with B. Maribel told me, “I’m going to color in the bubbles, but not the man, because Mmmmm Mmmm Man starts with M.” Very literal!

Later that day after quiet time we worked on a few thank you cards for birthday gifts. I pre-wrote the message in the cards and was going to let her decorate with crayons and stickers. She surprised me when I opened up one of the cards and pointed right at the word and said “that spells love!” That was one I didn’t know she knew… maybe that was from all of our valentine’s books from GG!

We practiced writing her name on the cards and other than running out of room (hehe) I think she did pretty well!

Wednesdays are “Grandma Stephie” days and today was a special one… dyeing Easter Eggs! Maribel doesn’t exactly have the terminology down. She kept saying, “Is that egg going to die?” LOL! We used a few techniques including rubber bands and crayons to get different patterns on the eggs. And of course it was a good lesson on color mixing, but since Grandma Stephie was an art teacher, Maribel has got that down!

The plan for after nap is a special spring nature walk to find flowers we can press for our spring board. Maribel is very excited and asked if she could bring along her magnifying glass!

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