Since we have been on the subject of familiesthis month we touched on the idea of homes. Where we live, what does our house look like, in our case what did our last house look like as well, who lives in our home and what are things that we do in our home
I set up this easy art idea after our morning circle time. I used a set of family shaped math sorters and
foam blocks. I set up our family and built a simple shaped house on the side. I cut out different shapes out of varies colors of construction paper. One blank sheet of paper and a glue stick was given to each of them.
With W my main objective was for him to identify our family with the sorters (which one is baby, which one is mama?...) and while gluing identify shapes and colors. With B I did all the above but also had him identify and glue the shapes he saw more intentionally. (a triangle on top of a square for the house etc.) I still allowed him to glue it on his own so it was still his own creation. The results were fun, colorful shaped art pieces that the boys are eager to talk about, letting me know what shape is which member of our family.
While they dried we pulled out the rest of the blocks and sorters and the boys spent the rest of the morning making families and homes with them. Speaking of family, in case anyone is ever curious of what goes on while the boys are doing all this stuff. Here you go, 9 times out of 10 I am holding this baby and my camera. Check our that double chin in all its glory.
These pictures were taken last week on my first real outing with the boys all on my own. That's right folks, three kids, three and under. Although I was nervous I am so glad I decided to do this. We had such an amazing time. The park we went to is more of an arboretum than a traditional park, filled with old aspen trees and duck ponds. I forgot how good it feel to get out, it really helps both the boys and myself get out of the rut and explore our surroundings. I don't have to mention how much the boys like exploring right?
While there I ran into an older couple, the women noticed that I was holding both the older boys hands and wearing Hawk on my chest. She stopped and admired the boys. She went on to say that she had five children all within one or two years from each other. She gave me a pat on the back and told me that she knew how hard it can be with them being so close during this age, and that I would survive. She went on to say that it is so fun seeing them all grow up to be so close now. That small validation was all I needed. I don't often talk about the challenges, frankly because who really wants to know all the details but the truth is motherhood is hard no matter how many kids or how close they are. It's always hard, and it's so refreshing to see someone on the other side of it encouraging you and letting you know that you are not crazy for having "all these kids". That staying home with them counts for something and I making a difference in my boys lives by "just" getting up with them each morning. My words, my actions are making an impact on how they will view this world. Although so often I feel like that is a daunting task that I may never be ready for. I am honored to know I have been blessed with this task and will do my best to help form my children into, caring, compassionate individuals with awesome senses of humor... because really that is a must. I mean I wouldn't survive poop explosions, farts, and tackling battles without it.
I've been holding off on doing this post because I wanted to get a feel for what actually worked for us. It's been a little under a month and this set up is still working great. We don't actually have a spare room to homeschool in so this is actually just a corner of the boys room. The calender and plastic photo holder get put up each morning and get put away in the afternoon. This is to prevent curiuos toddlers to destroy it in the night. At first I wasn't sure if it was going to work (as I tend to be sort of forgetful at putting things away) but actually it's worked great and it just gets tucked on the side of their toy shelf before nap time. The rest of the items on the wall are too high to reach so they get left on the wall.
2. photo pocket chart that we use to hold our scriptures and theme related items for the month
3.our color of the week name and animal (based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear)
4. Weather chart
To the side of that I have a small book shelf that we use for toys. Typically things that go along with our theme or used for cognitive work. And I am going to let you in on a tip my MIL gave me that has changed my life and the struggle to have the boys pick up after themselves. Seriously it's amazing and so simple. Are you ready?....
You place a matching picture on the box of toys and on the shelf itself. That way they know EXACTLY where to place the item. What's even better about this is they are learning something in the process, in my case it's shapes but this can be used to matching animals, letters (capital, and lowercase) maybe even math equations to the answer, just about anything. I am so sold on this because it has really made a huge difference on how much the boys are able to clean themselves, even W can clean things for the most part on his own.
I've also found that limiting the amount of toys on a shelf as well as limiting them to have to play with only one or two items and having to clean and put away something before pulling something else out has made a big difference. Note: this routine took my MIL about two months with the boys when she was here to really ingrain it in them before she left. I can't thank her enough, it has made this one less battle I have to deal with since they are pretty good about it now, but it just takes being consistent. So keep at it, I no longer feel like my house is taken over by mountains of toys that aren't being played with and the exhausting after bedtime clean up.
What's on our shelf?
one tile puzzle with container of appropriate tiles
family photo matching game
babies and blankets
two sets of blocks
basket of animals
daily reading bible
On the top shelf and wall I have our art from the prior week displayed as well as our circle time books.
Lastly, our art work is typically done on our dinner table and the boys sit across from each other in their booster seats. This setup workes best for us because there are times when I may have to step away (change a diapers, switch the laundry) and depending on how messy the project is I would prefer it to be contained a little. I keep all our school supplies in the hall closet. As they get older I think we will have art supplies more accessible and an art table for them .
That's it, our classroom in a nutshell. I am sure there will be things that we will switch around and find more helpful as the time goes on but for now this is working great.
Oh yes! Fall seems like it is finally approaching. Adding that extra blanket on the bed at night, wearing cozy socks around the house and of course the ever anticipated Pumpkin Spice Lattes have hit Starbucks.
This hands down is my favorite time of year. I am eager to see what Idaho has to offer this season. So far I am loving what I see. I can't wait for sweater weather and pumpkin patches. Awe, I can see it now.
This week our main focus has been birds and their families. It tied in great with both Brown Bear, Brown Bearas well as the topic offamily. We discussed how baby birds are dependent on their parents for food, and shelter much like they rely on us for the same thing and how the Lord has given us (as parents) the job to protect them and care for them. They have been especially fascinated with how both parent birds feed their babies. I found THIS
book at the library and it was a perfect fit. I decided I wanted a craft that would replicate a baby bird with an open beak.
Here's what you need
toilet paper roll
two orange construction paper triangles (beak)
two diamond shaped construction paper cutouts in whatever color you chose (in our case it was red)
paint (for bird body)
1. first color your whole roll whatever color you would like your bird to be (allow to dry)
2. glue your triangles on the top portion of the roll (this should look like an opened beak
3. glue wings on side of roll and fold to look like they are flapped open
4. glue eyes on side under one of the beak triangles (allow to dry)
The idea is for it to look like a baby bird with its head back and mouth opened.
small snack (nuts, dried fruit,) something they can pinch.
baby bird (from craft above)
a plate to catch food underneath
tweezers or tongs
I had the boys pick up one berry at a time using the tongs and "feed" the baby. Wolf had a hard time with the tongs so we opted for him to use his hands. The tongs we used were a little big but Bear seemed to get the hang of it. We also tried using a pair of fine point tweezers. If I had to do this again I would have wished we had kid plastic tweezers. But it worked with what we had on hand.
After filling the baby birds belly we lifted up the bird and enjoyed the snack ourselves. Now the boys can't stop talking about the babies being hungry again. Looks like we may have to give this another go soon.
Dramatic Play is a fun way to reinforce lessons you have taught your kids. I recently found this tutorial via The Pink Doormat on Cardboard Finger Puppets. I loved how simple and cute these looked. The original post has you cut circles so you place your fingers through the holes to make legs. I decided to skip this step mainly out of impatience but also I thought popsicle sticks would be easier for little toddler hands to grab.
What you need
colored pencils, markers, anything to color your characters
Draw and color all your characters, I used our family members. Cut out your puppets and tape the popsicle sticks to the back. Ta-da!!! Easy right?
Since our core subject this month is family it felt like a perfect opportunity to talk about behavior and how we should treat our friends and family. We were gifted the Little Dos & Don'ts: A Gift Box Set written by Karen Katz and I especially loved her 'No Hitting' book . It's basically a story about kids who are upset and giving them alternatives to take our their frustration.
This felt just right with a very determined, temperamental three year old that I have had on my hands.
Book: No Hitting by Karen Katz
clay (we used air dry but really any mushy sensory clay would work)
We read the book and talked about things that make us upset and what are ways to let me know that he is upset instead of hitting, pushing, or yelling at someone. In the book the example of playing with clay was given so that is what we did. I set out a small ball of clay in front of them and let them explore it when it was dry. After a few minutes I poured some water on it and let them explore it wet. Once done I set their creations to dry and will later go back and let them paint it.
It was a simple way to explain different ways to let out frustration and something I have been referencing back to over the last few days that has really seemed to help. I am looking forward to using the other two books in the set in a similar fashion as well.
**note Mr. Rogers has a three part episode series about just this. Finding different ways to let out your anger, it has been a wonderful addition to this lesson**