Monday, May 30, 2011

Tot School - Letter Z!


Well, we have finished the letter Z! We are done with school for the year - woo hoo! Originally, I had scheduled two review weeks, and have the verses & songs to go along with those weeks, so we will see if we have some rainy days these next couple of weeks, we may pull one of those out at some point! And of course the learning won't stop - we'll be playing outside a lot, reading many books, being involved in summer camp, having a new baby, and doing some of our favorite learning activities at our own pace as we have time & the desire to. :) At the end of our letter Z post, I'll be sharing my plans for Z's fall curriculum, which I am getting very excited about and possibly a little bit obsessed with planning before the baby comes (8 weeks till my due date!) :)

So, we studied the letter Z! Here is our morning board. Our Bible story for the week was, Surprise- Zaccheus! :) Z loved singing the traditional "Zaccheus was a wee little man" song along with the song I chose for the week, and he learned his verse really well! He also took the Bible story to heart, about how Jesus loves sinners & helps them to change - one night as he was getting ready for bed, he asked me, "Why was Zaccheus a naughty wee little man?" :)

Here is Zachary asking me to read the words of our song - Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners. He loves following along with words as I'm reading & recognizes quite a few in books & on signs that we see when we're out!

We made a Zebra Stripe Z collage, which I was very happy with. Here he is spreading the glue stick all over the Z.
I cut out some long skinny triangles of black construction paper, and Z stuck them on our Z. :)

He was about done at this point, but I think it was fun. :)

Natalie thankfully can not get the glue stick open...

Our finished Zebra stripe Z! I really love how this turned out! Notice I added more triangles after Z got bored with it. :) (he said I could)

And here is our (almost) finished alphabet on the wall of our schoolroom!!! We still need to re-make our G since it got so greasy & ruined from the Goldfish crackers!!

When we finished, Z found some leftover string from our Yarn Y & was making it into U's. :) I don't know why, but I'm glad he made the connection & knows what a U looks like. :)

Another day, Zachary colored a Zoey page with markers & Natalie joined in, too, with her own coloring page.
Zachary's page was a maze, and he did very well at it. :)


We used our consonant cards to play hide-and-seek again, one of Z's favorite activities. Do you see the card 'hiding' on the window sill?

He found it! :)
We also matched the letter cards with the pictures for a few minutes, until it was naptime.


We played with playdough, and also used Pick-up-sticks to make our Z. Zachary did a good job, and I loved how creative he was, using the same blue stick for the bottoms of both the big & small Z's. :)


Natalie enjoying her favorite activity - putting the sticks in the container & taking them back out. She LOVES containers & putting things in, and taking them out, over and over and over. It is so funny. :)

We finished our school year with one of Zachary's favorite activities - dot painting! He did a Z is for Zebra page from www.makinglearningfun.com. Since the dot paints are NOT washable, Natalie is pretending to dot paint with the cap on. :)

Apparently she is still having fun. :)


And this is why I'm excited to be done with school for the summer - how can I make them stay in & do school work when the weather is like this??? We played at the camp's pond beach this week, and had a great time. :)

They worked together to fill up this bucket with sand, it was SO much fun to watch! :)

I'd like to share just a tiny bit of what I have planned for Zachary's preschool curriculum for the fall, and hopefully this writing it out (again) will help me think through it better, too. :) Zachary will be turning 4 in December, and is ready for a little more structured preschool time rather than the Tot School we finished this year, I think.

I shared last time about our new Circle Time board, so I am really excited to use that for circle time this fall (and summer, too!). Along with that, we will be using the morning board from this year - I plan to use the Active Exercise Cards again, and continue with the sight words we haven't mastered yet. For our Bible curriculum (memory verses and songs), I plan to use the Songs for Saplings CD & corresponding printables from Totally Tots. Click on any of the things I've mentioned to be linked to the activities or supplies I'm using. I like to use a weekly Bible story, too, that goes along with the verse, but I haven't found any ready made things like this available for the Songs for Saplings curriculum - does anybody know of any stories to go along with the weekly verses, or do I need to think of my own?

As far as our reading & math curriculum, I am taking most of the activities I'll be using this year from Confessions of a Homeschooler. She has a full preschool curriculum available, designed in the Letter of the Week format - called, appropriately, the Letter of the Week curriculum. I am going to use many activities from her Letter of the Week posts/printables section, and also several (almost all, really) of the activities from her NEW K4 expansion supplement to the LOTW curriculum. Zachary seems to be a little more ready for some seatwork at this point, he likes to go over to the table and 'do an activity' after we have circle time, which he was not ready to do six months or a year ago. So I have many worksheets that I hope to use with him along with learning games and manipulatives such as these M&M Color Matching Puzzles and this adorable dice game. A couple of other activities I am planning to use are these dot painting pages from Homeschool Creations, and several activities from www.beginningreading.com.

We are going to focus a lot on handwriting and tracing, since we didn't really start on that much at all this year. Just one more activity that I'm really excited to use with Z are the Alphabet Builders - I think it will be really good for him to start understanding how letters are put together using this tool!

As far as Natalie, she will be doing Tot School activities this fall, alongside Zachary - I won't be doing anything too structured with her since she will turn two in December, just playing learning games & exposing her to books & letters as I did for Zachary when he was two. No organized 'seatwork' for her, except coloring & painting along with her 'Bubba'. :)

Looking back on the last year, and where Zachary was learning-wise when I started planning for the school year, I am amazed at how far he's come! He is like a sponge that just soaks up learning & reading & just loves it. He would read books 24 hours a day if I was able to sit & read with him every minute. :) He is also becoming slightly more independent, finally willing to do some things for himself and by himself, so I am very thankful for that, especially with another very dependent one on the way! :)

Check out what everyone else is doing for Tot School this week over at 1+1+1=1!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pretending

Zachary will be three and a half in just a couple of weeks. It is high time for my stubborn sweetheart to be potty trained. Especially since I will have both a newborn & toddler in diapers just two months from now, and I'd rather not also have a preschooler in diapers along with the two of them.

As we were changing his diaper, I began to discuss the process of potty training with him. We've tried a couple of times, but each time it has gone miserably and we (okay, I) have given up and vowed to try again at a later date. He is excited about the prospect of picking out treats to enjoy when success does happen, but the rest of the process does not sound very exciting to him. :)

As I was finishing up changing him, I heard him muttering under his breath, "I am not a big boy. I just pretend to be a big boy. I'm really a little boy."

And I totally understood. Because I'm not really a big girl either. I'm just a little girl, intimidated by the thought of potty training, scared to death by the idea that in less than nine or ten weeks, I'll be responsible for three babies' welfare. But I have to pretend that I'm a big girl and bravely go along with this idea that I'm an adult now. Since I suppose I am. :)

And as I think about this 'pretending' and the feeling that I'm not ready for this, I'm not enough for the challenges that God has placed before me, the answer to Zachary's problem and my own come to me quietly. "My strength is made perfect in weakness. I will never leave you nor forsake you. When you are weak, then I am strong." (borrowed from 2 Cor. 12)

And that's why I can be the mommy to three darlings who are three and under (without losing my sanity). Because I'm not doing it on my own. When I'm 'done', 'at the end of my rope', 'out of patience', there is still more. There's God, and His immeasurable grace and love for me. And His all-powerful strength to pick me up and love my babies through tired, weak me.

And that's how we're going to do this potty training thing. This time we're not going it on our own. We're going to pray. A lot. We're going to keep our focus on what God wants for us, even in the midst of accidents and frustrations. And we're not going to give up...

At least for a day or two... :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Out of Bed During Your Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Being that I am in the third trimester of my third pregnancy (in 3.5 years), I consider myself somewhat experienced in the matters of pregnancy. :) So I thought I would share with all of my friends a step-by-step guide to the plethora of middle-of-the-night trips that pregnancy (well, at least my pregnancies...) are famous for.

Step 1. Wake up. This is the easiest step of all, especially with the aid of a bladder the size of a pea and a preschooler who enjoys being tucked back into bed several times each night.

Step 2. Dislodge all of the pillows your oddly-shaped pregnant body requires in order to sleep comfortably, and place them next to the head of the bed.

Step 3. Using any muscle strength you can muster up, roll carefully so that you are laying on your side, belly protruding over the edge of the bed. At this point, if the previously mentioned preschooler is present, you may have to inform them that Mommy IS, in fact, attempting to get up, and ask them to please hold on a few more minutes, as the process is not quick.

Step 4. Since you have no ab muscles to aid you at this point, use your hands to help you slowly sit up on the bed. If there is no preschooler present, you may want to take a minute at this point to recover from the exertion the previous steps have taken.

Step 5. Carefully stand up and waddle to your destination. After meeting the needs of the child or bladder in question (or both), waddle back to your bed.

Step 6. Lay back down.

Step 7. Locate each of the necessary pillows and replace them in the areas they are needed.

Step 8. Sleep for an hour or two, then repeat.

**I hope you've enjoyed this lighthearted look at some of late pregnancy's 'trials' and know that I am beyond thankful for this blessing (all three little blessings) that God has given me. I really do LOVE being pregnant & I smile and thank God for my sweet son each and every time I feel him violently kick me. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tot School - Letters X & Y

I think I should subtitle this post: The Slacker Edition. :) We are SO close to the end of the school year, and have had such gorgeous weather the last week or 2 (the last couple days excluded), we've been doing school & Z has been learning, but we haven't been as 'strict' with school as I sometimes think we should be. :) However, I did want to share an exciting blessing & the fun school-y things we did accomplish! :)

First, I want to share the most exciting thing that happened in the last two weeks - a box showed up at my door unexpectedly! A friend who has taught for years mentioned to me a circle time board that she had seen recently, and as we were talking about it, I realized that I had seen the same board in the classroom where my SIL teaches, and LOVED it! I was VERY pleasantly surprised when a box arrived last week containing the very circle time kit we had talked about! Here is a picture of it all put together:

I am so excited to use this with Zachary! I just finished putting together the whole thing this morning, but already Z has been asking me each day, "What day is it?" so he can slide the star to the right day. :) He was very excited to see it all put together! :) I'm thankful that God used our friend to bless us with this great learning tool! :) It is from Lakeshore Learning, if you love it, too, you can find a link to it here.

We studied the letters X and Y the last two weeks - the first week was letter X. We did an X collage, with small strips of paper that we made X's with on our X. Apparently the only things that start with X are xylophone and x-ray and I didn't know what to put on the collage, so we just made X's. This was more difficult than I thought & Z & I were both in bad moods, so I ended up doing most of it myself, with Z telling me where to place the X's. Here it is:

WE dot painted an X page - X is for Xylophone (from makinglearningfun.com), and Z loved doing this one. :)



We used our Wikki Stix to make an X on our Playdough Mat.

We also played Potato Heads - here is Mr. Silly, Zachary's creation. :)

We also colored! Here's Natalie's favorite part of coloring - taking the crayons ALL out of the box:

She did color, more than usual, so that was exciting. :)

Here is her finished page of coloring (the black spot is from Z's dot painting from last week):

Zachary colored, too, and he made the Grouch, Bert, and Ernie all the correct colors, so that was fun. :)

Then we studied the letter Y! We made a Yarn collage together. Here's Z asking me to put the glue on:

Here's Z putting the glue on himself:

Natalie watching:

Zachary putting some yarn in the glue:

Our finished Yarn Y:

We played with our Rocket Numbers again, and Z did a great job! These are from Musings of Me's space unit.

(notice that my (green) belly made it into this next shot - whoops! Missed that in the editing process!) :)

We did 'free painting' this week - Z was 'stamping' with a foam circle brush at this point. He kept saying something like, "Stamp!" :)

Natalie painted too:



And Zachary finished with a brush:

We played with playdough on the porch, on an old tablecloth so the playdough wouldn't fall through the cracks. Natalie took out the playdough & put it back in the container most of the time. :)


Zachary loves cutting his playdough with a butter knife.

He used 'worms' to make a big and small Y on his Playdough mat!


Although his little Y was kind of funny looking....

In conclusion, here is a cute smile from Zachary! :) He is growing so fast! I am looking forward to the break after we finish letter Z this week, but he isn't sure what to think. He keeps asking me what we're going to do when Z is done! :) Of course, we won't stop learning this summer, but we will be spending lots of time at camp, and playing outside...until baby brother arrives sometime in late July!

And here's a 'first' for Natalie - her first set of pigtails!!! I learned on this day that she does not have the patience for Mommy to put in pigtails. :) I basically had to wrestle her head still while the rest of her was buckled in her car seat to accomplish this look. At least it lasted all morning. :)

Well, to see what everyone else is doing for tot school this week, head on over to 1+1+1=1! Next week, I'll be sharing about our adventures with the letter Z (I'll try to be a little better about taking pictures this week, but who knows, we have a busy week planned - I think we'll be out every morning till Friday...maybe letter Z will go through next week too...). Anyhow, in my next post (the last for the year!) I hope to share a little about what I have planned for Zachary's fall curriculum. He'll be turning 4 in December, so we'll be doing more as far as 'preschool' type activities this fall, and I'm looking forward to that - I think he's ready for a little more of a challenge! :) At least I don't have to wonder what we're doing for circle time! :)