Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

And so it goes …

on May 14, 2014

In the four months since I last posted, we’ve bought a house, spent a month getting it ready to live in, moved, and somehow nearly finished first grade. Yes, Little Bear is just five and is officially a kindergartner. But when I sat down to plan our “first grade” curriculum, I realized I was buying second grade texts for everything except writing. In the midst of the moving process, we ventured into the world of homeschool co-ops, devoting one morning a week to craft, art, and dance classes in a more traditional classroom setting. Then, late last month, we celebrated Bitty Bear’s third birthday. The day after her third birthday, Bitty Bear solemnly informed me that she was now old enough for school and that she wanted some school books of her very own. Last but not least, Buddy Bear has progressed from a sweet-but-helpless newborn to a still-sweet-but-ever-on-the-move crawler … with an affinity for eating paper, crayons, and markers.

So what exactly are doing these days? Whatever we can squeeze into the day.

Today, we began the day with some just-for-fun reading in the girls’ room, while Buddy Bear played happily with their maracas, tambourine, and bells. When I tired of reading Mr. Men and Little Miss books, the girls introduced their brother to a few more instruments and some of their favorite songs.

At last Buddy Bear tired of playing and wanted his morning nap. I read today’s Bible story followed by a chapter of In Grandma’s Attic; then, we practiced this week’s Bible verse and sang a couple of songs as I rocked Buddy Bear to sleep. We also took time to squeeze in a chapter of Uncle Wiggily’s Adventures before moving on to academics.

Today’s memory verse was John 8:12 — “I am the light of the world.” We used this verse as a springboard to delve into a bit of the science of light. Closing ourselves in a dark room, we turned on one flashlight, then another, then finally the overhead light to observe how light dispels darkness. The girls observed that the greater the light, the more darkness it dispelled. The girls also observed how quickly light dispelled darkness and learned that light moves faster than any other known substance in the universe.

Moving on to math, Little Bear started her lesson with a timed subtraction flashcard drill and answered 52 problems in just over three minutes with only two errors (both times she added instead of subtracted) — not as fast as I’d like, but definite progress! We completed a couple of addition with regrouping review pages orally in Primary Mathematics Intensive Practice 1B, then moved on to some fun probability and estimation activities in Mathematical Reasoning Level B. Little Bear then completed one more addition review page on her own while I worked with Bitty Bear.

Bitty Bear had tackled a number train floor puzzle during Little Bear’s math lesson and had gotten stuck after number 12. I helped her finish, then spent some time reviewing numbers with her. We counted together; she counted alone; then, she jumped on numbers as I called them out. (Good thing Melissa & Doug puzzles are durable!)

Next, we worked through a few pages of Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 1, the math book I purchased for her at her request. Today’s lesson reviewed shapes, lines, and corners, then required her to find shapes that best fit descriptions. We also reviewed the concepts of more, less, and equal.

Math finished, we sat down to read and discuss the next couple of chapters in The Adventures of Laura & Jack, Little Bear’s current “reading book.” Both girls had questions about the story, so with the Internet at our fingertips we took time to view images of covered wagons, learn a bit more about life along the trail, and see how wagons  ford a creek or river. We also reviewed distinctions between pilgrims and pioneers and discussed why a good watch dog (Jack in this case) was so important to a pioneer family. By the time our reading-turned-social studies lesson ended, it was nearly lunch time. I sent the girls outside for some fresh air and sunshine while I fixed lunch.

Just before lunch was ready, Little Bear came running in with Bitty Bear following close behind. “Mommy, Mommy!” she cried, “{Bitty Bear} put a BEAD up her nose, and she can’t get it out.

I could neither see nor feel a bead, but Bitty Bear insisted it was still there. After several unsuccessful attempts to get her to blow the bead out, we headed to the urgent care clinic. Much poking and prodding later, the nurse practitioner concluded the bead had either come out or gone down somewhere along the way, but that there was nothing still obstructing Bitty Bear’s left nostril.  Add in one impromptu health and safety lesson about NOT inserting foreign objects into bodily orifices, and we were on our way home for a late lunch and the rest of our work.

After lunch, the girls spent some time drawing, coloring, and reading. (Little Bear read while Bitty Bear listened.) When they tired of playing together, I called Little Bear over for a quick phonics lesson since we hadn’t gotten phonics in this morning. We reviewed the /th/ diphthong, then tackled the /sh/ diphthong. Little Bear brainstormed a list of words that began with sh-, a list of words that ended with -sh, and a list of words that had -sh- somewhere in the middle. (The last list was idea because “sushi,” her current favorite food, included an -sh- but didn’t fit on either of the two previous lists.) We wrapped up today’s lesson with her listening to t-, s-, th-, and sh- words, identifying the beginning sound, and writing it on the Magnadoodle.

Bitty Bear then wanted to do her lesson, so we read an alphabet book, sang the alphabet song, and practiced letter recognition with alphabet flash cards.

We wrapped up today’s planned work by reading about skin in National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why. I drew 1-inch squares on the girls arms, and we learned that every square inch of skin includes approximately 9 feet of blood vessels, 12 feet of nerve fibers, 3 million cells, and 32 million bacteria. (No wonder Mommy tells them to wash their hands before they eat!) We also learned how melanin creates skin color and sebum makes our bodies almost entirely waterproof. At the girls’ pleading, we took time to do a few puzzle cards from the The World Almanac for Kids Puzzler Deck: Life Science.

Then, with them still begging for more, I banished them to the great outdoors and ordered them to run, jump on the trampoline, swing, and play in the sand. We never got around to today’s planned art activity, but sandcastles adorned with custom-made flags sufficed.

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