Sunday, September 28, 2008

Autumn Week

Our theme this week was Autumn.

We took a neighbourhood walk and collected leaves which we glued on our tree. There was more but they kept falling off.

Alastrin painting with Autumn colours

Morgan painting with Autumn colours
Alastrin making apple prints

Morgan making apple prints

Not picured is our demonstration of the four seasons. I did a quick drawing of a tree and a person in each season illustrating what happened to the tree and what kind of clothing you would wear in each season.

We also read autumn books and sang a few autumn songs and I answered all kinds of questions everytime we were outside about squirrels and leaves.

We didn't do as much as I'd planned, this was sort of a laid back week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Childhood Language Delays Go Unrecognized by Parents

One out of every twelve kids less than five years of age in Canada experiences a delay in language development. Yet a recent poll has revealed that 94% of Canadian parents of children under five rate their child’s language skills as average or above indicating that there is a potential to not recognize speech and language delays in pre-school children.

As a result, many children may be starting school without the fundamental language and early literacy skills that ensure academic success – and some of those children may never catch up.

Angus Reid Strategies conducted a one-day online survey on behalf of The Hanen Centre. The Hanen Centre is a not-for-profit authority in the development of family-focused early language intervention programs and learning resources. The survey was conducted among a randomly selected, representative sample of 1003 adult Canadians. The full report of their findings can be downloaded here. (pdf)

One of the learning resources available from The Hanen Centre is a calendar that can help parents of preschoolers to incorporate language and literacy tips into daily activities and play routines.

Here's a sampling of the tips included in the calendar:

* Follow the child's lead in conversation and keep conversations going as long as possible

* Create an environment full of meaningful print

* In addition to reading books together, make grocery lists, write birthday cards and read advertising flyers

* Use unfamiliar vocabulary in everyday conversation, explaining what the words means

I will be receiving a copy of this calendar and will add to this post after I see it with my thoughts.

UPDATE: I've received my copy! The calendar has 8 tips for each month, 4 for in the classroom and 4 for at home. The classroom tips and home tips are similar under each category, but just tailored for teacher vs parent, class vs children. There are four categories of tips for each month: Daily Activities, Pretend Play, Reading Books and On The Go.

Each month is dedicated to a different skill/idea such as Follow the Child's Lead in Conversations, Increase Children's Everyday Vocabulary, Stimulate Children to Think Beyond the Here-and-Now and Encourage Play with Sounds, Syllables and Words.

The ideas are great and are things every parent (and teacher) should be doing with the children in their care. I've been doing most of these activities since my children were born and people often remark that they think they are older than they are because they talk so well and have such a rich vocabulary. I'm not trying to brag I just want to illustrate that I can vouch for these ideas. Below is a sample of some of the ideas.

In the Classroom:

Use new words when pretending with the children and explain them by using simpler, familiar words. "I am anxious because I can't find my baby. I am very worried." Use the new words often in other situations.

Ask children to find pictures in an alphabet book that begin with a certain letter. When they find the correct picture, talk about the sound the letter makes.

At home:

Read the words on cereal boxes. Count the number of words on each box and see if any have the same letters. Talk about words and letters and point to the words as you read them.

Collect souvenirs from a trip. Use the items to inspire your child to dictate a story about the trip. Create a book from his story and read it with him. Leave it where he can "read" it himself.

The poster is a quick at-a-glance chart that summarizes the emergent literacy skills that children need to learn and what months you will find activities for that skill in the calendar.

My only suggestion for a way to make this product better would be to make the calendar also usable as a calendar. Right now the ideas are printed across the weeks so you can't use the calendar as a calendar itself.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Transportation Week

The above picture is because this post is being linked to other blog posts on teaching tots. click the picture to see more.

This week our theme was transportation. I further separated each day into a specific kind or kinds.

Monday - Planes and other Air Craft
Tuesday - Trains
Wednesday - Cars and Trucks
Thursday - Buses and other vehicles
Friday -Boats

Things didn't go exactly as planned (do they ever?) and so some activities crossed into others days. We didn't finish everything I had planned but also did some things I didn't have planned. We also did some basic street safety.


I don't have any pics for Monday. We made a cardboard plane but the pic isn't very good so I didn't include it. We went to playgroup today and airplanes were overhead on the way so we talked about them. I asked questions such as where do planes fly? Are they big or small? I said how planes are really big but they are up so high they look small. She doesn't really understand that though. We read a book about airplanes too.


Here Morgan is making a number train. she has 5 train cars with numbers on them and she has to glue them on my hand drawn train tracks in order. Then she colored them in. She liked this activity. I believe it was one of Jan Brett's pages.

Alastrin colored a train picture.
This wasn't on the plan but since we didn't have a chance to see a real train, I called up You Tube and searched for trains and we watched a few videos of trains. The one pictured was her favourite. You could see the lights of the trains for a while before you saw the train. I didn't but I would suggest you screen you tube videos before showing them to your children. We didn't stumble upon anything bad but we could have.
Way back when I was pregnant with Morgan, our friend Jay gave us this train set that used to be his. Until now I had never brought it out but since we were learning trains, I did. It's beat up and needs batteries which we didn't have but Morgan liked it. When it first started moving (the old batteries lasted a minute) she was scared of it! She's still a little young as she wants to push it around the tracks and it's not made to do that. It's completely electronic.

We also made an egg carton train but it didn't turn out great so I didn't post a pic.


Wednesday we didn't do much structured homeschooling as we went to playgroup in the morning and Girl Guides after dinner. We did talk about cars and trucks on the way to playgroup and watched a recycle truck at work on the way home. She did a traffic patterns worksheet from Bry Back Manor but our main craft waited till Friday. (see below)


We made this cool egg carton school bus. The yellow paint didn't cover the words on the carton though like it was supposed to so we glue yellow construction paper over it as well. I couldn't find magazine photos of kids though so it's adults in the bus. Oh well. It's just the top half of the carton so she can't drive it around or anything, it's just for show.

Thursdays we go to the library and to their playgroup so we didn't do much that day either. We did see a firetruck go by and talked about that. They had bus colouring pages too and we sang the wheels on the bus and read her Seals on the Bus book (by Lenny Hort)


We got an activity sheet from Enchanted Learning that had her trace the letter b, colour in a picture of a boat and then cut out some pieces to make a boat. The picture above is showing her decorating in her boat picture after gluing the pieces down. She loved this too.

Alastrin with another colouring page.

As stated above, we did our cars and trucks craft on Friday. They painted by rolling toys cars and trucks through paint on their paper. This was a hit.

Here is Alastrin doing her craft.

Not pictured for this week: more transportation books, practicing street safety, watching Barney safety video, watching Thomas the Tank Engine, watching Transportation Songs video, lots of chat about transportation as we were outside walking and a few homemade matching pages.

Next week is Autumn!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Opposites Week

NOTE: Today I also posted the rest of the alphabet activities. You can find them after this post.
So this week was Opposites. I had trouble finding activities online for this other than boring worksheets so I made up a lot of what we did. We had books from the library that we read every day. Unfortunately Alastrin didn't do much with this theme.
After reading some books, we demonstrated opposites as well as some directional words by using things around the house. Here Morgan is demonstrated In. Other examples included: The cat is ON the basket, Alastrin is BETWEEN the doors, the tree is OUTside, we are INside, Morgan is UNDER the highchair, Morgan is stepping OVER the toy etc....

Here Morgan is working on a "game/worksheet" that I designed She matched up the opposites a couple of times and then the last time she glued the cards down.

Morgan was really confused with hot, cold, warm and cool so we filled four cups with water at the appropriate temperature and felt the outside while going over them. Then I'd give her two to choose from and tell her which one to find. When she had that one down we chose from three, then all four. She seemed to really get it but today she was confused again.

This is the one and only real worksheet we did. She circled the hot things in red and cold things in blue. She actually did this before the cup activity and got them all right, so she can't be completely confused.

First we built a bridge and then a house and used toys to demonstrate opposites and directions. Dora is IN the house, Ducks are ON the house, girl is BESIDE the house etc.. We also did behind and in front of but just briefly. She enjoyed this activity and did it on her own a couple of days later.

On the weekends we go visit the Grandparents and Grandma has an activity or two to keep us busy. This week she had both girls glue on a table and then glue objects either on top of or under the table. Alastrin did one too but she did it so fast and wanted to glue more on so she glued on fun foam shapes until you couldn't see the paper colour!

Grandma did this one with just Morgan. It's of course a house and fun foam animals are stuck inside and outside the door.

So it was a pretty laid back week with not quite enough activities. We also went to playgroup three times, one of which had gym class and we rode bikes outside one day.

Next week is Transporation!

Other Alphabet Week Activities

I said I'd post a few more that we hadn't finished on time. Here they are.

This is the big project that took us two weeks to finish. For each letter of the alphabet, we stuck on something that started with that letter. It took us so long because we had to find all the items! Morgan absolutely LOVED this project.

In this picture: A is Aluminum Foil, B is Bandaids, H is Hearts, I is Insects (stickers), O is Oatmeal, P is Pumpkins (sequins), V is Violets (computer printouts) and W is wire (didn't work so well.)
In this picture: C is Cotton, D is Dog Food, E is Easter (stickers), J is Jewelery, K is Kidney Beans, L is Leaves (sequins), Q is Q-tips, R is Ribbon, S is Stars (stickers), X is X stamps (very hard to see), Y is Yellow Yarn and Z is ZigZags (ric rac)
In this picture: F is Feathers, G is Grapes (seqins), M is Makeup (stickers), N is Noodles, T is Toothpicks and U is Umbrellas (2 stickers and hand drawn by mom for the rest)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree Craft by Morgan. She chose to put the letters, on top of each other.

I just glued letters on paper for Alastrin and she colored on them.

Finally we made name bracelets!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alphabet Week

So week one went well. Our theme was the alphabet along with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We are still doing a few ABC activities this week because I had a couple migraines last week so we didn't get as much done. I'll post those later.

Here are some pics and explanations:

Exercising to the Alphabet Exercise DVD

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Craft

Doing an alphabet puzzle

Sorting through alphabet pasta letters to spell out her name. She then put them in clay and baked it.

The little one (16 months) "typed" letters on the computer.

Not pictured is all the alphabet books we read, the alphabet blocks they built with, magnet letters played with, another Chicka Chicka Boom Boom craft, some drawing and "writing" and a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom counting book that we made.

Also the two activities we are still working on will be posted later.