Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last Two Weeks of November

Well, I have been intending to write this blog post for the past few days, but with grocery shopping and Thanksgiving, time has gotten away from me!! So this will be a catch-up post for sure.
In Picture Book Preschool the first week, we were supposed to be reading Thanksgiving books to learn about the holiday.  Somehow (I suspect between a general busyness, a lack of interest the first week and the sheer amount of Thanksgiving books we had to read) we did not get more than two or three Thanksgiving books read.  So we extended that week of books into this week (Thanksgiving week).  We have continued to read the books for the past week, and even took them out to the river (where we celebrated Thanksgiving with family) to read.  It was a nice way to pass the afternoon while I helped cook and they waited to eat.  Also, they got to hear other readers besides me!! 
We have talked about Thanksgiving a little this week too and Frances mostly says she is thankful for "her friends and Mama" and that's it.  We also traced their hands to make turkeys and then colored and decorated them. 
I use the Kumon workbooks (I purchased them off Amazon) to help with basic skills like coloring, gluing and cutting - things that I notice Frances isn't as interested in.  We use the first level right now.  I tried the cutting workbook in September, but it was frustrating.  Frances and I are both left handed, and cutting doesn't come easily.  She tried to cut one page, and then lost interest.  I wanted her to learn how to cut correctly, so didn't pursue it again, although we've used the other workbooks since then.  Last week Frances picked up the cutting workbook and said she wanted to cut.  We took our time, practiced cutting the correct way, and generally celebrated her hard work.  Since then she has taken it out again, and keeps asking me which way her thumb should be pointing, etc.  I think we will continue to use these workbooks at least once a week.  I do recommend these workbooks - they are fun, and build on the skills kids learn.  They are called Let's Cut, Let's Glue and Sticker and Let's Color.
I have also just finished a really interesting book called The Well-Trained Mind: A Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.  This is the 2009 edition, and it was so interesting.  I am definitely considering home-schooling our girls, although I haven't decided for sure.  This book was comforting - a school year by school year guide, including which curriculums the authors recommend for each subject for each year.  The authors also include information such as how much time each week you should spend on each subject, and most importantly of all, they use their local library extensively.  That's something I really appreciate, and as a potential home-schooling parent, it makes me feel like I could really do this without slighting my girls.  In fact, this classical education model is definitely rigorous and would be a lot of work for all involved.  But I also think it would educate them in ways they could not consider now.  So...I highly recommend the book, and it's definitely something for me to think about.
Until next week...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Second Week of November

Here we are with another week of November gone.  It's time to really start panicking about Christmas, I guess.  This moving has set me back...
Last week in Picture Book Preschool we were learning about pets.  This week there were two books (Momo's Kitten and Let's Get Turtles) that we were not able to obtain from any of our regular sources.  So we substituted a couple of books we had on animals already checked out - Silly Suzy Goose and How Animals Care for their Babies (we had that from the curriculum a few weeks ago and hadn't returned it yet).  We had seen the movie for Millions of Cats a few times, and Frances wanted to go back to that book several times during the week.  It also has a really nice rhythm to it which makes it fun to read. 
This week we are reading books about Thanksgiving, and then we will try to do at least one "thankful" craft to help make the connection.  This is the first year that I think Frances can get the idea about being thankful, and we do have a lot to be thankful about!
We have friends who have little girls the same age as mine, and we try to get together about once a week to have playtime.  Last week we got together on Monday, and I had made Pumpkin Pie Play Dough for the girls to play with.  It smelled terrific, and luckily no one thought they should eat it!  All four girls played with it successfully and shared all the tools too.
Frances did have one day where she had some sort of stomach flu, but thankfully for me she bounded back quickly!  She just laid in bed in the "guessing room" (what she calls the guest room) for a morning, watching movies on our portable DVD player, reading books and coloring.  After her afternoon nap she was ready to go!
I decided now was the time to start potty training Gloria.  Gloria has a lot of experience watching everyone else go to the bathroom, and she talks about it all the time.  The girls and I are flying after Christmas to see my family, and I just thought it would be easier for her to be at least potty trained during the day hours.  So far, though, Gloria has her own ideas about this process.  She has gone on herself four times either right before or right after we were going to the bathroom (I set the timer for every 20 minutes).  We've run through plenty of pairs of underpants since Sunday.  Hopefully she will get the idea soon.
However, this process means that Gloria and I are spending at least 10 minutes together every half-hour, and Frances often joins us in the bathroom for some reading.  In the past two weeks, I unpacked all of our picture books, and they are enjoying looking at new books.  The biggest hit in the past couple of weeks is Maurice Sendak.  We have read In the Night Kitchen probably the most, but the Nutshell Kids books are a close second.  I grew up hearing Carole King sing those stories, and I can at least carry the tune.  But the other day we went on YouTube to see if we could find snippets from Really Rosie (the movie including those stories).  Now all of us sing the songs.  I think our two favorites - One Was Johnny and Chicken Soup with Rice are both good learning books too!
Well, that's it for this week.  Hope your week is equally great.  We are getting snow now, so I will post pictures next week.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Last Week with the Learning Girls

Hi everyone - well, we survived another week in the M  household, something that was definitely in doubt on several days.  On Halloween night Gloria came down with a fever.  I hoped it was from too much excitement, outdoors time and candy, but by the next morning it was still going strong.  We went to the doctor to get a diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth disease.  Although I was really lucky that Frances didn't get it, we still stayed inside the majority of the week because Gloria was contagious.  And the worst part of that was that it was a nice week - sunny and in the 60's, something that is so rare in our northwestern state at this time of year.  We wanted to play with our friends, but couldn't.
We did focus a little more on Picture Book Preschool last week - the theme for the week was food.  We read almost every book on our list.  I really thought that Aliki's A Medieval Feast would be  the book that we did not finish last week.  However, the frames around the pictures, including details of fruit, vegetables, flowers and animals that were used in the cooking process for the feast,  kept Frances looking and listening.  She asked questions while she listened too.  I worried about the glorious peacock that is depicted on the cover, as we had lots of peacocks near the library I worked in in Arizona.  But when we got to the cooking of the peacock, she did not say a word.  We enjoyed Stone Soup and Pancakes, Pancakes and I am going to keep Stone Soup  another week so we can make a soup recipe with it.  We didn't read Bread, Bread, Bread but we just overlooked it - we certainly had enough time to read it!
One of the preschool recommendations for last week was to cook together.  Frances is really getting in to cooking and "helping" me on a daily basis.  This week we made Chex mix together and worked on measuring and mixing.  Both Frances and Gloria are enjoying pretend cooking lately - there is a kitchen in our hall closet, as well as an actual play kitchen in their bedroom. 
Gloria is continuing to surprise me with her letter and number recognition.  She points out letters or numbers on shirts, books, TV, street signs - Gloria loves them.  She made a D on the Magnadoodle and told me "Look Mama, a D!"  So that is fun to see.  Yesterday was her two year old well child appointment, and the doctor asked if she says at least ten words.  I told him "Oh yes, she probably says hundreds."  I know he didn't believe me, but it's true.   
This week's theme is Pets and we will be working on doing some pet-related chores as well as our learning.  We are also lucky enough to have friends who are doing a preschool curriculum where the theme is the farm this month, and we will be sharing in that.  Thanks for checking in with us!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Welcome to our Blog

Hi to all of my (two) readers!  I keep meaning to write an introductory post about us and our learning so far, and never get around to it.  Today I have a sick girl, which means a lot of time watching movies, so I am going to take advantage of the quiet to write something and get it in here. 
 "Frances" is three and a half, and a real learner.  Right now she loves the aliens from Toy Story, and calls them Krakuls - she misheard what they say in the movies "You saved our lives, we are grateful."  as "You saved our lives, we are Krakuls."  She loves to listen to stories, and enjoys doing lots of things on the computer, including the Starfall website, Tumblebooks and the Sesame Street website.  Frances wants to do everything herself, except the things I think she should do herself.  Lately she has been helping me cook and we enjoy our afternoons together while Gloria is taking her nap.  Frances is also practicing initial sounds in words and rhyming.
"Gloria" just turned two this month, and is also a real learner.  At two she can recognize most letters and can count to twenty.   She enjoys playing by herself, and will sit and read books for long periods of time.   I'm not doing any active preschool with her at this point, but I think she would enjoy it. 
We are currently using Picture Book Preschool as our main form of preschool, but it's not enough.  We have friends who are doing a more organized home preschool curriculum, and I think we will try that soon.  We love reading the picture books in Picture Book Preschool, but the books are older, classic titles, and those can be a little long.   They are also harder to find in our small town.  We're lucky to have two library systems available to us - our local public library, and we have a cousin who is a school librarian here, and we use her district resources too.
We just moved to this small town about six weeks ago, and I am lucky enough to stay home with the girls now.  This has its challenges for sure - there are many days during the week that the girls watch TV while I do chores, or we spend all of our quality time together doing errands.  But we go each week to our public library for storytime (and we actually probably go to the public library at least twice a week), plus I volunteer once every other week in our cousin's library to do a short storytime for the Head Start kids.
My intention in creating this blog was to look at what we do each week, including pictures.  I am also going to use this blog to record the books we are reading for Picture Book Preschool - what did and did not work for us, and what was not available to us.  As a family, we are always learning and talking about the world around us, and I think this will be a fun place to record it.
So welcome to our lives and our learning!