I wanted a shorter learning theme for the week before Carter's birthday so we'd have the week of his birthday to do a birthday learning theme. I felt like a family learning theme was perfect because we are getting ready to see a lot of family for Christmas so it will remind the kids who everyone is before they see them. Although Carter remembers everyone and little facts about them, his memory continues to amaze me. I am loving taking a learning theme and coming up with activities to work on skills with Elise, activities to work on skills with Carter, and activities that I can manipulate a bit here and there to make them appropriate for both kids. This was a learning theme that was geared more toward Elise but had lots of opportunities to work on skills with Carter.
Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks. I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives. Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.
The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
- Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
- Understand same and different.
- Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book.
- Use age appropriate scissors. (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
- Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
- Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
- Count with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last).
- Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
- Play make believe/Imitate the behaviors of others (adults and children).
- Know the names of and be able to point out body parts.
- Groups things together by size or color/matches like objects, understands hard and soft.
- Names common objects and is able to point them out.
- Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously. Can draw a line. Differentiates between a circle and square.
- Follows simple instructions (focusing on words such as in, on, beside, under).
- Others: counts to two, refers to self by name. These I want to start to expose her to, but she isn't quite ready to master then yet.
- I wrote the word family on a sentence strip and showed it to Carter. He pointed out the letters he knew and told me the sounds they make. Then I chunked the word into fam/i/ly and asked him to blend the sounds together.
- I had planned to have Carter pracitce writing his name and then trace the names of family members. One day he sat down and wrote his name. Then he asked me how to spell Oma, Opa, and Uncie J's name (Jeremy). I spelled each one for him and he wrote all of their names as well. I love it when he beats me to the punch on activities I had planned!
- I printed off pictures of our family and then our extended families including grandparents, aunt, uncles, and cousin. I had Carter sort the pictures into 2 separate piles, one for males and one for females. Then he counted to see how pictures were in each pile. He was proud to say we have more males in our family than females. As he worked he identified the people's names in the pictures and was proud to name each person.
- We used the same pictures to play a game of memory. We did one game with just our immediate family and then other games with the other pictures so we wouldn't have so many pictures to match at once. Carter loves playing memory and would get so excited to tell me whose picture he had flipped over.
- To practice names with Elise I showed her one picture at a time and asked her to identify the person's name. She was quick to say Momma, Daddy, and Bubba (for Carter). Then I showed her a picture of herself and she just stared at me. I think it was partly because she was done playing along and partly because she wasn't sure what to say. Carter told her it was a picture of her and her name is Elise. She repeated "Eese" back to him which I loved because Carter always called her Issy Eese before she was born and right after she was born. I loved hearing her say it the same way! She wouldn't name anyone else I showed her but when we were at my parents' house later in the week she would point at people and say their names. She knows Oma, Opa, Taco for Uncie Taco (Thomas), and J for Uncie J (Jeremy). I'm interested to see what she says when she sees her Gma, Gpa, Uncle Paul, and Aunt Amanda! She did say what sounded like Gpa once when she saw a picture of her Gpa.
- I had two copies of each person's picture so Carter could play memory with the pictures. I showed Elise the pictures of just our immediate family. We matched the pictures together and then counted to see how many there were. I'd always start by pointing and saying one and then she'd excitedly yell out 2! With Elise we really worked on learning the words brother and sister since she already knows mom and dad and the rest would be a little too much for her right now.
- Elise loved carrying around the family pictures. We used them to point out facial features and name them. She is really interested in eyes right now so she'd look at a picture, point to the person's eye, and yell out "eye!" I'd ask her to point out all the eyes and then we'd count them. She loved yelling out 2 when she realized there were 2 eyes. If I stopped her and asked her to name people she might give me one or two but typically that was the limit to her attention span.
- I had Carter tell me what Ty and my first names were and he was quick to give Ty's full name, including his middle name and just knew Liz for me. I was cracking up that he was so familiar with Ty's middle name. I do call him Ty Steven quite a bit. I just really like the ring to it!
- A while back I asked Ty's family to record themselves reading nursery rhymes so I could play them for Carter. They recorded with the phone pointing at the paper and then left him time to identify who it was. Then we flipped the phone around so he could see if he was right. I was impressed that he correctly identified his Gigi's voice because he hasn't seen her in a few months. I also had him read his book that his Gma recorded for him and asked him to tell me who it was and he knew right away.
Carter watching one of the videos on my computer.
- We looked at families from around the world as well as read a book about families from different countries. When we looked at the pictures and then read the stories, we talked about how the family was the same as ours and how they were different. What Carter always pointed out was the number of children in the family.
- By far my favorite activity of this learning theme was a game practicing with telling stories orally. I put all the pictures of our family members in a pile. Carter and I took turns pulling a picture off the pile and then telling a story about that person. Elise wanted to play too so we let her pull a picture off the pile and tell us the person's name. If she wasn't sure we'd tell her and have her repeat the name after we said it.
- We talked about the word siblings and that it means how many kids are in your family other than yourself, meaning how many brothers and/or sisters you have. Carter counted and told me he has one sibling. Then I pulled out the pictures of me, Uncie Taco, and Uncie J. I asked him how many siblings I have and he counted 2. Then I pulled out the pictures of Ty and Uncle Paul. He counted that Ty has one sibling.
- Carter identified himself as a brother. We talked about what it means to be a brother and his favorite things about being a brother. Then I wrote down what he said to make a book about being a brother. He didn't want to illustrate it so I'm waiting to put the book together until he has added the pictures.
Carter's pages about being a brother.
- We tried Facetiming multiple different family members throughout our learning theme. Carter loved reminding me how the person was related to him as we called. He also told me Oma, Opa, Gma, and Gpa are all his grandparents. We counted and found out that he has 4 grandparents.
Elise got to hold the phone when we Facetimed with Oma.
- I asked Carter to draw a picture of his family. He cracked me up because he drew himself and me. When I asked him who else was in his family he said daddy and Elise. I asked him if he would add them to the picture and he said, "I don't know how to draw big adults," in reference to Ty and then tried to claim the letter a in his name was actually Elise. While he was working I told Elise who was in our family. I held up a finger as I said each name. Then we counted my fingers. I drew the numbers 1-4 on a piece of paper for her and then she drew on the paper. Then I asked Carter why family is important and added his response to the top of his page when he was finished drawing.
Carter working hard on his drawing of our family while his gingerbread man looks on. Elise working hard on her family drawing. Elise's finished picture. She wanted to use colored pencils so it's hard to see her drawing. Carter's finished picture, I never could get him to add Ty and Elise to the picture.
- We read the book Toast to Family. Then I let Carter pick out one of the pictures of toast for me to make him and one to make Elise. He picked for me to make mother toast for him and brother toast for Elise.
The kids enjoying their special toast.
- We played a game where we switched roles in the family. Carter was the mom and I was the child. That quickly switched to playing with him as the teacher and me as the student which is one of his favorite pretend games to play right now. I love it because I get a little glimpse into what a day is like at school through that game. Then the game turned into playing PJ Masks for a LONG time!
- We sang the 5 Little Ducks. As we sang we reviewed the words mom and children. Then we counted to see how many children she had. Then we discussed the word siblings and counted to see how many siblings each duck had. Carter's favorite part, as always, was knocking the ducks off into the bath as we sang.
Carter acting out the 5 Little Ducks in the bathtub.
- I did a finger play with the kids that I saw in a book somewhere a long time ago. I wrote it down so we could do it with a family learning theme but didn't write down the name of the book I saw it in. Elise loved watching me wiggle my fingers!
This is the father, short and stout. (Hold up thumb)
This is the mother with children about. (Hold up index finger)
This is the brother, tall you see. (Hold up middle finger)
This is the sister with a toy on her knee. (Hold up ring finger)
This is the baby, sure to grow. (Hold up pinky)
And here is the family all in a row. (I wiggled my fingers and then we counted them)
- Since Carter already knew the words for family members in English, I taught him mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, and grandpa in Spanish. We talked a bit about it and practiced a little but I didn't expect him to remember all of them. Then we played a Spanish family member word game here. I'd read out loud the word in English and then tell him how to say it in Spanish. Then I'd tell him what color balloon the word in Spanish was with and he'd shoot the dart at the balloon to pop it.
Carter playing the Spanish word game.
- The great thing about doing this learning theme when we did was that we were already planning to go visit my parents that weekend so we got to use that as our field trip. We talked about how far away different people in our family live and where they live. We also talked about how we would get to visit Gma and Gpa in a little over a week and we'd see Uncle Paul and Aunt Amanda there. We talked about how they are far enough away it is much faster to fly to their house than drive.
- Families Around the World by Margriet Ruurs
- Families Around the World by Clare Lewis
- What Uncles Do Best/What Aunts Do Best by Laura Numeroff
- Cousins by Rebecca Rissman
- Little Elliott Big Family by Mike Curato
- Hug by Jez Alborough
- You Are My Sunshine by Caroline Jane Church
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- I Already Know I Love You by Billy Crystal
- Me and My Dad by Alison Ritchie
- Me and My Mom by Alison Ritchie
- What Grandmas Do read by Gma
- I Love You, Little Monkey by Alan Durant
- Grandfather and I by Helen Buckley
- Grandmother and I by Helen Buckley
- The Tub People by Pam Conrad
- The Tub Grandfather by Pam Conrad
- Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too? by Eric Carle
- Love Is You and Me by Monica Sheehan
- I Like It When... by Mary Murphy
- I Am Small by Emma Dodd
- Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer
- What Grandmas Do Best/What Grandpas Do Best by Laura Numeroff
- Mighty Dads by Joan Holub
- I Love My Daddy by Giles Andreae
- Who Is In Your Family? by Rookie Toddler
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- Toast to Family by Sandra Gross and Leah Busch
- One Busy Day by Lola M. Schaefer
- One Special Day by Lola M. Schaefer
- This Is Our House by Hyewon Yum