Monday, July 30, 2018

Weekly Learning Theme: Prairie

We completed this learning theme way back in the spring and I never finished the post on it. We've completed one learning theme since then and have spent the summer with less formal learning. I still have the kids' learning objectives in mind and practice those skills. Carter has had a weekly sight word to practice and we've had a lot of fun playing school. I can write a post more on ways we practice with sight words at home. From now on I see us continuing with less formal learning at home. Carter will be in full time school, Elise will be starting school, and I'll be working 3 days a week.

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:

Writing Skills:
  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp.
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means adding to.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                   
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  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 such as size, color, hard, soft).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
  • At the beginning of the week I showed Carter the word prairie on a sentence strip. I had him tell me the letter names and then the sounds. Then he counted to see how many letters were in the word.
  • I found some prairie finger puppets here. The kids colored them. Carter cut his out and I helped Elise with hers. Then we played with them, making up games and having the animals talk to each other. Carter liked making up stories and acting them out.

  • We researched prairie animals and plants by reading nonfiction books. I gave each of the kids a clip board with a piece of paper. They kept track of different animals and plants from the books by recording them on their paper. It was good practice for Elise to look at the plant or animal and decide which column to put them in. I had Carter determine which column was animal and which was plant by identifying the beginning sounds in the words. When we were finished Carter counted to see how many he had in each column.

    Carter's finished recording sheet.
  • After researching life in the prairie we turned our hallway into a prairie. We measured out 6.5 feet for the height of bluestem prairie grass. It was good practice for Carter to place his finger at the end of the ruler and then lay the ruler end to end to get a correct measurement with no gaps between the rulers. Both kids enjoyed cutting up the piece of paper to make the blades of the grass to make the grass.

  • I made different prairie animals out of tangrams for Carter to practice making. There was a coyote and a rabbit. We used the time to talk about shapes and their attributes.
  • We used prairie animal cards to play with. Carter sorted the animal cards and told me how he sorted them. We sorted based on herbivore and carnivore the first time which I thought was smart! Then I had him sort the animals based on their beginning sounds. We also used the cards to make patterns. I had two sets of cards so Elise played with them, matching like cards together. Then we all played memory together.

  • Carter's sight word for the week was in so he made a book with his sight word in it. We used prairie animal pictures for his story. He glued a picture to each page and then I wrote "The ____ lives" and Carter would write "in". I'd finish out the sentence by writing, "the prairie." He loved reading the book since he knew the words and because he'd written part of it on his own. 

  • I made pattern block templates of an owl and a bison for the kids to make. Carter counted the number of each shape he had in his picture and we talked about how many sides each shape had. Elise and I talked about colors and shape names.
  • With Elise I talked about what the prairie would look like in the morning, noon, and night. We discussed which animals you might see out and what you'd see in the sky
  • One day when we were playing school we did a little minilesson about habitats. I wrote the definition of a habitat on paper. Then the kids drew an example of a plant and an example of an animal on the paper. Carter wanted to write the name of the plant and animal he drew so I helped him sound the words out to spell them.

  • I had Carter practice blending sounds and putting them together to make animal names. We did grass, bison, rabbit, hog, deer, and owl.
  • Carter used the prairie animal finger puppets to point out each sight word on the word wall as he read it. It was a fun way to practice his sight words.
  • I used parts of different prairie animals' names to practice coming up with rhyming words. Carter thought it was fun because I had him do it on a dry erase board and he got to use a dry erase marker.
  • Elise practiced with same and different by pointing out ways prairie animals were alike and how they were different. I'd place 2 pictures down and ask her to tell me what was the same about them and then what was different about them.
  • Carter practiced chunking sounds by chunking animal names into different parts. We practiced with bison and rabbit. I also had him say bison without the son and rabbit without the ra. It was fun to see what a good, little reader he is becoming!
  • Carter saw a picture in one of our prairie books and wanted to paint it. He ended up painting a prairie picture.
  • I found some prairie coloring pages for the kids. Elise enjoyed coloring hers and wanted to display it in the hallway when we turned the hallway into a prairie.
Elise coloring a page with different prairie animals on it.
Elise working on her coloring page of a bison from Prairie.
  • Carter and Elise drew plants and animals to decorate the hallway so we could turn the hallway into a prairie. My favorite was Carter's prairie dog village.
    Carter drawing a sunflower for the hallway.

  • We listened to and sang, "Home on the Range" during our learning theme.

  • Carter built a tallgrass prairie and then a shortgrass prairie with a fun game here. He liked guessing which plants and animals would live in the different kinds of prairies and counting to see if he'd chosen 4 on each section. It was really informational. I sat with him and read sections to him so he could learn as he played.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:

  • We visited Woolaroc where we got to see bison. You stay in the car and get to watch them roam around on the premises. They also had a mountain man camp going so we got to see how fur traders would have lived when they first lived in our country.

Standing by a covered wagon at the mountain man camp.
We were so close to the bison!
Baby bison!

  • When we visited Keystone State Park for a hike we found some tall grass and stood by it to compare it to the prairie grasses we learned about. While we hiked we looked for prairie animals and plants.
  • In the museum there was a stuffed bison.
    We also visited Osage Hills State Park and pointed out different plants and animals you might also see in a prairie.

  • Bison by Melissa Gish
  • Bison Babies! by Donald M. Jones
  • There's a Bison Bouncing on the Bed! by Paul Bright
  • Antelope, Bison, Cougar: A National Park Wildlife Alphabet Book by Steven P. Medley
  • Prairies by Melissa S. Cole
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (audiobook)
  • The Prince of the Prairie by Betty Selakovich Casey
  • The Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet by Claudia McGehee
  • Prairie Dog Song by Susan L. Roth
  • A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Prairie Food Chains by Rebecca Pettiford
  • Prairie Dogs by Patricia J. Murphy
  • Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Hopkins
  • If You're Not From the Prairie by Dave Bouchard
  • Prairie Train by Marsha Wilson Chall
  • Prairie Summer by Nancy Hundal
  • Prairie Town by Bonnie Geisert
  • Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers by Dougals M. Ladd
  • Out on the Prairie by Donna M. Bateman
  • What Lives in the Prairie? by Oona Gaarder-Juntti
  • Who Needs a Prairie? by Karen Patkau
  • Prairie Habitats by Mirella S. Miller
  • Plants in Different Habitats by Bobbie Kalman

Friday, July 27, 2018

Midsummer's Night Races

Saturday was the next race in our summer evening race series. Ty sat out the race in June so it was my turn to sit out this race. I didn't mind because I ran a mile time trial on the track that morning which was fun and had a long run the next morning with Thomas. Since Ty is so sweet, he's sitting out 2 races and I get to run another 10k in August. Hopefully I'll be able to run it a little faster than the one I ran in June. Since I was just over 44 minutes, it would be cool if I could break 44 but it will also likely be much hotter than the June race so we'll see what happens. That morning Ty took the kids' car seats out and washed them. When he put them back in the car we switched Carter over to a high backed booster and Elise got to switch around to forward facing. Rear facing is the safest position so it is recommended to keep your child rear facing until they outgrow rear facing in their car seat. Elise's seat allows rear facing up to 40 pounds and/or 40 inches. She's no where near 40 pounds but she's just over 39 inches so I felt it was safer to turn her around then chance her outgrowing the car seat's rear facing capacity while still rear facing. I thought Elise might be disappointed she couldn't see Carter anymore but she was super pumped. She loved that she got "a new car seat like Carter," although neither of them got new seats. She also liked being able to see me and wants to play games with me in the car while I'm driving! I'm still getting used to it because she'll talk about something she sees and I'll look behind us before realizing she can see the same things I can.
Elise fell asleep for a late nap and was still napping when it was about time to leave for the race. I had a hard time waking her up and she was a bit grumpy in the car. By the time we got there she was more awake and ready to party. She had refused dinner before we left so she did get hungry on the way home from the race. The fun run started first and Carter wanted to run by himself. Elise wanted both Oma and me to run with her. I was standing with them at the start but then remembered during the Starry Night Fun Run Ty had taken a video of the kids starting the race so I went to go get a video while mom started the race with Elise. The announcer tried talking to Elise at the start and she was not having it and decided she didn't want to move. I had told her if she didn't want to do the race that was fine, but if she wanted to do it she needed to either walk or run. I wasn't going to carry her. After walking for a ways she kept asking me to carry her and I told her we'd just go back then but she insisted she wanted to do the race. I carried her for a little bit and then she was good to walk the rest of the way. We saw Carter coming and got so excited. We cheered for him and he stopped to give me his light up bracelets which he'd put together to make a necklace. After Carter went by Elise wanted to turn around so we turned around early. She walked all the way and then wanted me to carry her across the finish line. I had asked Jeremy to check Carter's finishing time for me if he was at the finish line so right after I finished with Elise he came over to tell me Carter had finished in 11:02. He's pretty consistent with his times. If he'd start a little slower so he wouldn't need to walk, he'd run faster but he's having fun and that's all that matters!
Ready for the race to start.

Elise at the start with Oma.
Tired girl during the race, she got upset that I took her picture.
Elise and Oma during the race. Elise didn't want to wear her tutu this time.

Cheering for Carter.

Carter finishing the race.

Meandering to the finish line.
I love that Carter always comes back to run or walk Elise to the finish line.

Elise asking me to pick her up.
Kisses for my sweetie.

The best part of the race for the kids is getting ice cream afterward. At the Starry Night Ty stayed to watch the 10k start and then took the kids home so they could get to bed not too long after bedtime. I was tempted to watch the 5k finish before heading home but decided it was probably best to leave after the start of the 5k. It cracked me up that Elise walked the whole race but then ran around like a wild woman after the race while we waited on everyone else to start their races. She and Carter found a little boy to play with and were running circles around the parking lot. The kids had a lot of fun playing and dancing before cheering everyone on at the race starts.

Didn't run one step during the race but was all over t
The 10k started before the 5k, at 8:20. We got to watch them take off and Ty looked really strong and determined. After we got home I kept checking the supposed "live results" to see how everyone had done and they weren't up yet. Finally around 10:00 they had them posted and I saw that Jeremy was 5th overall which surprised me because he'd finished 2nd overall in June. But then I looked at the times and realized they had accidentally put a couple 5k runners in the 10k results as there was no way anyone had run a 20-something 10k! Jeremy was 3rd overall and 1st in his age group with a time of 44:24. Then I searched to find Ty and I couldn't believe it when I saw he'd finished in 55:08! I was pretty sure that was a huge PR so I searched and found that it was a minute and a half PR! I couldn't believe it!!!! He was just hoping to finish in around an hour. He finished 14th overall and 5th in his age group. I tried calling him and he didn't answer so I just kept calling people in my family until I finally got someone and was able to talk to Ty. He said he'd had an awesome race and felt really good. He had a woman he was pacing with who was also hoping to run around 9 minute miles and eventually was able to get a ways ahead of her and ran with someone else for a bit before kicking it in to the finish. Mom said no one had seen Ty coming in because they weren't expecting him yet and Jeremy yelled out that he was coming. They all looked and said he was really hauling it to the finish line. I looked at his Strava later and he'd finished the last 0.2 of the race in 6:40 pace! That was 2 minutes and 14 seconds under his average pace for the race. I calculated that to have run that much under pace as my finishing kick, I'd have had to run the last portion of the Starry Night race in 4:52 pace. There is no way I could ever even run a tenth of a mile at that pace. I was so impressed. Then I looked back at my finish at the Starry Night 10k and I'd run the last 0.2 in 6:54 pace so he beat my finishing kick. He said he would like to see his finishing pictures because he probably looked rough. When I saw his picture I said it would actually be a really good finishing picture for me. We laughed at how I looked like death in my finishing picture from the Starry Night when I ran over 2 minutes slower than my PR and Ty looked really good while running a minute and a half PR! I guess we can't all take good finishing pictures...

Ty getting ready to pass a 5k runner at the finish.
Ty running a PR compared to me running a so-so race.
The 5k started about 15 minutes after the 10k. Thomas tried to pass stuff off to me before the race but I reminded him I was leaving before he would finish. I knew Thomas was likely to run something surprising because he's been putting in a lot more training than usual. Since he's training for a marathon and is serious about getting in appropriate mileage so the race doesn't suck for him, he's been sticking to a training plan. He's said he had no idea how much long runs help by making you stronger, even for a 5k. After the Firecracker 5k when he was only around 30 seconds behind me, I realized if he keeps training I may not be able to beat him in races anymore! He said he had a strong first mile and then in the 2nd mile was passing so many people he didn't realize he'd slowed down quite a bit but was able to pick it up in the last mile. He finished in 21:02 which put him 6th overall and 1st in his age group. My mom was super impressed and he reminded her that he's actually been training. Normally he does races without running much beforehand. She'll have to get used to him running decent times again! Dad finished in 24:06, his standard finishing time since being diagnosed with COPD, which put him 24th overall and 3rd in his age group. Mom finished in 34:38, good for 120th overall and 2nd in her age group!

Thomas' picture is awesome because she caught both his feet off the ground.
Dad coming in to the finish.
Mom finishing, not sure why her picture turned out so dark.
I was laying in bed reading a little after 10:00 when all the sudden Elise's face appeared above my book and made me jump. I scared her a little bit but then I laughed so hard. She ended up not falling asleep until around 11:00. Darn that long, late nap! I thought it would be a good thing because she would be able to stay up for the race but she was able to stay up way too late! She was still awake when everyone got home. I was proud of myself that I didn't even get bummed about not running the race when I saw that I could have just jogged either the 10k or the 5k and finished top female. It would have been a race I could have run as an easy training run and still won. Which is crazy because at the June race I couldn't have won the 5k even if I'd been racing. The top finisher ran an 18:46 at that one and I'd have to be in top shape to run a time like that! That's the thing about these evening races, you never know who's going to show up! Ty's excited with how his race went and said he just needs to run that pace for over twice as long to hit his goal of a sub-2 hour half-marathon. I told him I always run a slower pace at these summer 10ks than I do in my goal fall half-marathon. In 2016 I averaged 7:15 pace for the 10k in August and then ran 6:58 pace for the half-marathon in November. So even though it sounds like a crazy goal to him now, I think it is totally attainable if he puts in the work!