Monday, August 29, 2011

The Pocket Chart

Gilgamesh sneaked into this picture!

I haven't written times on the pocket chart we got at Michaels, and I'm not sure I will (we don't always start at the same time every day), but I do love the sequence aspect of it! There are always so many things on our to-do list, so it's nice to have a chart to show Gilgamesh and say, "Okay, what's next? Oh, math!"

First on the list was reading, so I let Gilgamesh pick out a couple books and we read together. One of these was Goodnight Moon. It's been a while since we read that one to him, but it used to be a favorite. This time through, he was excitedly pointing out all the words that rhymed: "Hey, mouse rhymes with house! Does hush rhyme with shush?"

Next on the list was math. I got out the raisins and grouped them into fives to demonstrate counting by fives and multiplication. Since Gilgamesh has shown an interest in telling time, counting by fives for the minute hand is very important. We only went up to twenty today and then went backward until it was 5 x 1 = 5. Backwards counting with edibles is the best fun! Alastor came over and ate some math with us, too.

This transitioned well into snack time. :)

Next up was writing. I had some worksheets and curriculum prompts for this one with both Starfall and Sonlight, so we spent more time on this 'learning center.' He ended up doing several pages of a Readiness Skills workbook we got through Sonlight. Most of these require some parental supervision or even guidance, like exercises where I instruct him to color the bird blue and put an X over the bone. One of these was particularly tricky because you're supposed to see if they can remember the instructions after a minute. He did pretty well, but completely forgot the instructions for the last bird/bone and ended up coloring the bird like a rainbow.

We also studied the letter 'T' today. I asked him to look it up in his Children's Encyclopedia and he did it all by himself. He also recognized most of the words in the 'T' section. After that, I helped him make a 'T' poster by drawing a big block letter 'T' with its lower case 't' beside it. All around the edges, he wrote words that start with 'T' and illustrated it. He narrated a few stories to me, which I wrote down on notebook paper, including one about his aunt visiting us for a week, and one fictional tale of a boy named Luke who won a swimming race and his prize was a lot of food he didn't have to share.

Hand in hand with writing went social studies, since we've been learning our address/phone number through copy work. Today he wrote his city, state abbreviation and zipcode - first tracing it and then copying it. Now that he's covered his full name, address, and the city, state, zip, we'll practice doing all of them together, maybe on an envelope. We do owe Nana and Papa another letter.

Science is one of those things preschoolers do by accident, but we do like to help it along with more structured activities. Gilgamesh hurt his finger playing and wanted to put ice on it. Then he saw all those ice cubes and decided we should build an ice cube igloo. I've never done that before, so I did some research and found a great project online that needs more ice cubes than we currently have. So that's tomorrow's science project. We'll be using ice cubes of different sizes, salt (because salt water takes longer to freeze than regular water and it effectively melts the ice at room temp), and slush for mortar. It will definitely take a lot of patience.

Today for science, we went with something else. Gilgamesh wanted to do a tarantula craft. I cannot remember what inspired this, but he decided he wanted to make a tarantula. I found a spider craft (not the same thing, but it was fun), and then for science, we looked at a diagram of a Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula and several real photos from Google images.

We often combine music with scriptures since has so many great music resources. Personally, I still find comfort and joy in songs I learned as a child about God answering prayers and the amazing world He created for us.

We sang I Pray in Faith which explains in song how to say a prayer. Then we started memorizing Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

Gilgamesh liked doing this call-and-repeat style and I found out I could start it at a random time throughout the day and he'd repeat it without skipping a beat.

Art was when we painted those egg carton lumps and put pipe cleaners through them with wiggly eye balls on top. :) That was fun. 

Alastor and Gilgamesh also painted on paper. Now that we have a nice little patio table, I'll have to get out the paints more often. The white carpet in our apartment has always given me mini panic attacks around painting toddlers/preschoolers. Even the dining room is carpeted. (To all apartment owners/managers of the world, this seems really stupid to me. Please explain yourselves.)

Midday we had nice naps, and there was much watching of Word World episodes and copying the words they built with our own foam letters. 

For exercise, we did some Kinect games, jumped on the bed (I didn't do this, but they did), and later ran around the toy section of TJ Maxx. Good times all around. We also picked up a new Cat in the Hat book Gilgamesh couldn't wait to read (but it was bedtime, so he had to). It's called Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe.

Alastor usually likes to color while we do worksheets (we just call them 'papers' since 'worksheets' sounds boring), but today he marched to the beat of his own drum. I found him playing with Gilgamesh's kindergarten readers and some alphabet block books. He wouldn't be enticed away except by homemade popsicles...

On an administrative note, I ran our printer/copier dry creating a 1.5-inch binder full of preschool learning/assessment worksheets. I now have enough for the next several weeks of lesson plans. While I've never been a huge fan of worksheets, these are all more like coloring pages that stimulate critical thinking, and Gilgamesh begs for more. He actually has been known to fuss and worry when I say we're done for the day.

Also, today we talked about this interesting question: "What is school?" Gilgamesh asked me that right before nap time. I told him it's the word most people use when they mean "a place of learning." We do "school" every day when we learn new things and practice skills like reading, writing, drawing, and math. I'll save the real debate on the definition of school for when he's out of the Grammar stage and into the Logic stage.

For now, I'm enjoying my little sponges as they soak up facts, ideas, and pieces of our family heritage and call it FUN! I hope they never lose that thirst for learning. Already, they've got preferences, and certain things they prefer not to spend too much time on, but their minds are pretty much open to all kinds of information. They want to know. It's awesome. 

Tomorrow is a bigger reading day, so I'll have lots of book recommendations for you. Until then, God bless!

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