Thursday, August 31, 2017

Carter's Open House at Preschool

As summer started coming to an end, I started to get emotional about Carter going back to school. I just love having him home with me every day. I also love the freedom it gives us to piddle around in the morning before heading out for playdates or adventures. There was also that thought in the back of my head that this will be the last year before he starts going to school full-time, 5 days a week for kindergarten. But just as kids tend to do, he gave me exactly what I needed. I'm not kidding it seemed to be within days of me starting to get teary eyed over him going back to school that he started picking on Elise a lot more. As I started mediating more and playing less, I began to feel less emotional about him going back to school and more ready for that to be a reality. So we left this morning for his preschool open house more excited than anything else. He was so ready to meet his teachers, to see his classroom, and to meet some of his classmates. Ty left work and met us at Carter's school so he could see his room and meet his teachers. Carter was so excited to see daddy a "second time". It was cute!

We checked in and Carter was excited to find out that he will be upstairs this year in the big kid preschool area. He met his teachers and was immediately off playing. They had a sheet out on the table and Carter went over and started completing it without even reading the directions, just knowing what to do. At the top of the page it showed Aa and then there were different capital and lowercase letters in circles below it. He picked up a dabber and started finding all the Aa's on his own. I was very impressed. When he was finished he pointed to a d and said, that's a d not an a. He tried out every area in the room and talked quite a bit with his teachers. He asked them if they liked his hair because his mommy put gel in it to make it handsome for his special day. Of course Carter eventually found his way to the book area and pulled one out for me to read to him. I love that he loves books so much! I'm excited for this school year and everything he will learn in his new classroom with his new teachers and classmates. He didn't want to leave and that left me feeling very good about what is to come. I know it is time for him to go back to school. He is excited and ready to have a more structured learning environment. I'm sure the increased incidents with Elise at home are related to his readiness to be back in school. He will pick out a new bigger backpack for this school year since he will need to fit his lunchbox inside. I'm excited for him to do that in the next few days and we are all excited for Tuesday, his first day of school! It's hard to believe next year Elise will be starting 3 year old preschool but I know she'll be ready. She had a blast in Carter's classroom and didn't want to leave when it was time to go either! Read about Carter's open house last year here.
Carter working on his Aa sheet.
Elise cooking in the play kitchen.
Carter with his teachers.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Carter using my friend as a back rest.
Carter told me not to take a picture yet because Jake wasn't ready yet.
Looking at the sea turtles.
Elise decided she wanted to wear undies, socks, and mittens for the day.
We got them a box of little cereals from Sam's and they were so excited!
Carter asked for help to write this letter and put it on a pile of toys he had "wrapped" for me.
His note said, I love you so much I want to give you lots of toys.
Carter wanted to set up a party for Jake so we brought the pool inside and filled it with balls to play in.
They had to wear hats for the party.
Carter showing the size of the moth in our backyard.
Elise took a bunch of pictures on my phone.
Carter was "reading" to Jake.

Carter drew a picture of me and him.

Pictures from Elise's update photo shoot that I liked but didn't use in the post.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Solar Eclipse/Sun and Shadows

As the solar eclipse approached I started getting really excited about sharing the experience with the kids. I decided a couple weeks out from the eclipse to do a learning theme leading up to the solar eclipse. I already had a few ideas written down for a sun and shadow learning theme so I decided to use those plans and expand upon them to include the moon and the solar eclipse. It worked out great and was a lot of fun. Carter really enjoyed learning about shadows. All the frontloading about the sun, shadows, and the eclipse got him really excited for the eclipse. I loved that he was so interested and had a blast watching the eclipse with his special glasses. It was wonderful to see his expression the first time he saw the sun partially covered by the moon.

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:
  1. Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors.  (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
  7. Count with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last). 
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • 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 words sun and eclipse on sentence strips. First I showed Carter the word sun. I told him the sounds in the word and then had him blend the sounds together to say the word sun. When I showed him the word eclipse we talked about the letters in the word and then counted to see how many of each letter were in the word.
  • Expanding upon what we learned during our maps learning theme, we talked more about how the sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west. Carter was really fascinated with this fact and loved looking for the sun and talking about how high the sun was in the sky. We used a compass to find east and west in our house so we could determine where we'd see the sun come up and where we'd see it go down.
  • I asked Carter to share with me everything he knew about shadows at the beginning of the week. I wrote everything down and we talked about each thing he said. We also tried things out, playing with our shadows. I was impressed with a lot of what he said.
  • Carter had so much fun playing with shadows throughout the week. He liked playing around with the light behind him so he could see the shadow in front of him and then turning so the light was in front of him and looking to see his shadow behind him. He was always watching his shadow and playing around to manipulate the way it looked.
  • We used a flashlight to play with shadows. We used some toy dinosaurs to make shadows. We played around with the shadows by putting the flashlight up close to the dinosaur and then moving it further away to see how that affected the size of the shadow. I put a dinosaur on a piece of paper and Carter shined the flashlight on the dinosaur so I could draw an outline of the dinosaur's shadow. As we played with the shadows we talked about what made the shadows appear long or short and how we could make the shadow face different directions.
  • I printed off a couple different maps that showed where the eclipse would be seen. It was a great way to review maps and talk more about what we'd learned in our last learning theme. I showed Carter where we live and then we found the line on the map which showed where people would see a total solar eclipse. We figured out how close we were to the line. Then I showed Carter a map of Kansas that showed where the total solar eclipse would be seen. I pointed out where his Gma and Gpa live as well as where his Oma and Opa live. Carter was so excited to see how close his Gma and Gpa would be to seeing the total solar eclipse. We compared the different maps I had printed and discussed how they were the same and how they were different.
  • I read Carter a book about shadow puppets and then we made some out of construction paper. Carter loved that you can make shadow puppets using your hands as well. We watched a video on youtube of a shadow puppet show which Carter thought was awesome. I was impressed that Carter thought to use his transparent clipboard as a screen once he was finished with his shadow puppets. He put his puppets behind the clipboard and did a show for me while we were driving in the car.
  • Carter has been interested in learning Spanish so I printed off a page that showed how to say the word sun in lots of different languages. He was the most interested in practicing sol, but enjoyed hearing some of the other words. We talked about how the word sun was the same in different languages and how it was different. I told Carter even though the way you pronounce or say the word is different, it has the same meaning because they are all words used to mean the sun.
  •  I found a lot of great information and resources on the NASA website for the eclipse, here. I printed a book about the sun from a link on the website. We read the book and then Carter added to the pictures. He drew some more details and colored the pages.
  • I also used a print out from the NASA website to show Carter the size of the sun compared to the Earth. We talked about how the sun and Earth are much bigger than the pictures we had but they just showed how much bigger the sun is than the Earth. We went outside and measured how far away the sun would be from the Earth if they were the smaller size of our models. It was a good way to explain to Carter that when we are measuring we have to make sure to place the items we are using to measure from end to end. I helped him set the tape measure down to where there were no gaps as we measured and Ty helped him pull the tape measure out as they went. I had plans to show the moon in comparison but didn't want to mess with trying to make something that small so we just focused on the sun and the Earth. Carter liked looking at the picture of the sun and noticing the colors and the patterning on it.
  • Ty made a shadow puppet theater for Carter to use with his shadow puppets. I set a lamp up behind him on a chair and we put on puppet shows. At first Carter did stories about monsters. Then I made a Pigeon shadow puppet and he was really excited about acting out his favorite stories. He made a triangle and a square so he could act out the book Triangle by Mac Barnett. I was impressed by how well he remembered the story and was able to act it out. Elise wanted to put on a show but kept sitting directly in front of the lamp so we couldn't see the shadow of her puppets.
  • After observing the eclipse Carter wanted to write a book about it. He started off giving information about the sun and then told a little bit about his experience watching the eclipse. He drew the pictures and then asked me to write the words on the page for him.
  • After discussing what an eclipse was I asked Carter whether an eclipse would happen during the day or at night. He said it would happen during the day because the sun would be in the sky. I was impressed that he answered me without missing a beat. I thought he may need a moment to think about it before responding. We also tried out covering the light from a lamp with a ball by standing with a ball between our face and the lamp to show what it would be like during the eclipse.
  • I pulled out a Scholastic News about the sun. We read about sunscreen and why it's so important to protect our skin from the sun. Carter loved reading about how different animals in the wild use nature to create their own sunscreen. When we were at the zoo a few days after reading the Scholastic News Carter was very excited to point out that the elephant was using dirt as sunscreen.
  • To prepare for the eclipse we talked about eye safety. I told Carter we can never look directly at the sun without special glasses. I showed him his glasses to wear during the eclipse. I told him they needed to be on his eyes at all times when looking up at the sky. I told him not to take the glasses off until he had lowered his head to look at the ground and away from the sun.
  • We made a solar eclipse viewer out of boxes by cutting a hole for looking into and a hole to shine the sun into. Then we covered one hole with aluminum foil and poked a hole in it. Carter was pretty excited about the box but when the day came he was more interested in wearing the glasses and didn't want to use the box. It was also a bit difficult because I'd have the box positioned perfectly for the sun to be projected into the bottom but when he or Elise would try to look into it, they'd hold the box and move it.
  • I love it when Carter gets really interested in and excited about what we're learning. He decides to do activities or crafts related to the topic without me suggesting it. This time he drew a picture of the sun. He was proud to add all the scribbles inside the sun to show the hot gases and told me not to touch it because I would melt.
  • Something else that impressed me was when Carter drew a picture depicting the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. He proudly showed me the picture and pointed out how the sun rose in the east and set in the west. It was a really neat idea!
  • I saw a cute eclipse craft activity here. I cut a circle out and talked about how it was a circle with Elise. Then we taped a circle to each of their pages and I wrote the word moon on it while talking about the letters in the word. The kids drew around the circle with chalk. Then they used their fingers to pull the chalk out away from the moon to show the sun's corona extending around the moon which is blocking it's view from us.
    Elise spilled milk on hers.

Special Snack:
  • Leina sent me information about Krispy Kreme doing a special chocolate glazed doughnut to celebrate the eclipse. Of course we had to try them out! We were so excited to arrive while they were making them so we got to see the doughnuts going through the chocolate glaze. Carter decided he didn't want a special eclipse doughnut and went with a cake batter doughnut instead but Elise and I both tried the eclipse doughnut and it was tasty!
  • I saw an idea showing the phases of the moon using Oreos here. We did this activity after the eclipse so I asked Carter to point out what the sun looked like during the eclipse. He thought it was so cool that the sun looked like the moon during the eclipse because of the moon covering it.
    Showing me what the sun looked like during the eclipse.
Make Believe:
  • We read the book Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch, thanks to my mom who checked it out at her library for us because our library system didn't have it. Then we acted the story out, pretending we were the bear. We used a flashlight to make different shadows like in the book.
  • We sang You Are My Sunshine as well as a song about shadows. We also listened to an eclipse song on Youtube. During the Eclipse Watch Party at the Children's Museum they played songs about the sun, moon, and eclipses.
  • Carter watched a video about the Sun on BrainPop Jr. and a video about the moon on BrainPop Jr. He loves Moby, the robot, so those videos are always fun for him even though they are very short and informational.
  • I showed Carter a video about the eclipse and he also played around on a Sun Science App I downloaded on my phone. He loved seeing the different pictures of the sun.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • The highlight of this learning theme was watching the eclipse. We went to a watch party at the Children's Museum. Carter had so much fun checking on the sun and kept running over to me to put the glasses on so he could look at the sun. They gave out glasses to the first 300 people who paid admission (our membership counted) so we arrived before they opened and the line was already out to the street. We waited in line for about 35 minutes before making it into the museum and getting our glasses. We played inside for a while before heading outside to eat our picnic lunch I packed. The rest of the time we spent outside listening to the special music and checking on the sun. I packed the kids' swimsuits for the splash pad so they ran around playing at the splash pad while I monitored the moon's progress in covering the sun. Carter frequently ran over to check in. It was so much fun! I decided not to let Elise use the glasses because I was worried she would accidentally look at the sun. Instead I had her use her projector we made from a box but she had a hard time with that. I pointed out the shadows on the ground and that was the main way she experienced the eclipse.
Elise trying to look at the eclipse using her box projector.
Carter was so excited about his glasses. I had no idea they would be totally dark for some reason that surprised me!

Checking on the sun after naps to see if it was round again.
  • What the Sun Sees/What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri
  • The Moon in My Room by Annette Norris
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser
  • Shadows by April Pulley Sayre
  • Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch
  • Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons
  • The Moon by Seymour Simon
  • The Moon by Christine Taylor-Butler
  • Moon by Steve Tomecek
  • Sun by Michael Palmer
  • Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn M. Branley
  • The Moon by Carmen Bredeson
  • The Sun by Melanie Chrismer
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  • Moonbear's Sunrise by Frank Asch
  • Moongame by Frank Asch
  • The Moon by Melanie Chrismer
  • The Moon by Martha E. H. Rustad
  • The Sun by Steele Hill
  • The Sun by Martha E. H. Rustad
  • Sunpainters: Eclipse of the Navajo Sun by Baje White-Thorne
  • Making Shadow Puppets by Jill Bryant
  • Bright Lights and Shadowy Shapes by Jennifer Waters
  • The Moon is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
  • The Earth and I by Frank Asch
  • Moondance by Frank Asch
  • My Shadow by Susan Winter
  • Me and My Shadow by Buffy Silverman
  • Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows by Natalie M. Rosinsky
  • When It Is Night/When It Is Day by Jenny Tyers  
  • Shadows Everywhere by Gina Shaw 
  • How the Sun Got to Coco's House by Bob Graham