Preschool Math Fun

flashcards My youngest daughter is at the stage where she absolutely loves learning!  The world around her is rich and pulsating with energy, and she captures the heart of life. Counting to 100, naming shapes, and manipulating numbers by adding and subtracting has quickly become my daughter’s favorite topic in our weekly lessons.

Although we’re using Math-U-See which is a wonderful hands-on based math program suitable for kinesthetic learners like my five-year-old daughter, I’ve also found some additional activities and resources that have been helpful in teaching and learning math concepts with younger children.

We tend to mix and match and add on to our main math curriculum to juggle things up a bit and make learning math fun.  Here are a few ideas we’ve been using to make learning math interesting for younger kids…Read More at The Homeschool Toolbox…

Teaching Kids To Read- Without Really Teaching!

Have you been trying to teach your younger child to read but it’s not going as smoothly as you’d like?  I know some parents who have successfully taught their toddlers to read using Hooked on Phonics (a great program, by the way), but not all kids are alike!   Some kids never catch on to reading until years later.

Well, in my latest post with Hip Homeschool Moms I uncover some practical and fun ways to get our early readers (toddler through first grade) interested in learning to read without really teaching actual reading skills.

Hop on over to Hip Homeschool Moms to read more...

Kindergarten Math With Manipulatives

In this video I shared some ideas for kindergarten math manipulatives:

Activities With Counting bears:

  • Sorting colored bears into the right colored cups
  • Naming the colors
  • Count each color category
  • Count total amounts
  • Practice addition/subtraction with them (take away/add)

Counting chips:

  • Choo choo train (adding/subtracting from the caboose)
  • Skip counting
  • Buid/design shapes into geometric figures
  • Geometry – creating shapes with counting

Building blocks:

  • Shapes

Wooden logs/flash cards:

  • addition using flash cards with manipulatives to reinforce the visual with the practical hands-on

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Bringing learning to life for your kindergartener or preschooler

Today in kindergarten, we read “The Princess and the Pea” by Lauren Child (also author of the Charlie and Lola series).  I really liked this version of the story as it appeals to our younger readers.

(The original author is Hans Christian Anderson, but this version is updated and kept my 5 year old’s interest).  I also felt we were able to do more with this book…in terms of language arts.

I printed three index cards with keywords from the book that I felt stood out the most.  We used these for sight words.  Each time we came to that particular word in the book, I held up the card, until eventually my daughter could name the word without my prompting.

princess2

 

(here’s a video our story and language arts time)…

Then we re-enacted the story.  Our play was fun.  (I played the king, queen, and the prince!  Talk about multiple roles!)  And of course, my princess played…the princess.

Here’s the scene of the 12 mattresses (we used three pillows…all the same.)

princess
So, of course I was inspired to write a post that will give you some ideas about merging pre-k fun with your curriculum.

Bringing “learning to life” for your younger preschooler or kindergartener:

1.)  Never stick with the book.  If you are using a curriculum mapped out from September through May, consider it your personal guide, but not your mandate.  Kids this age just need to have a lot of fun in their day … and I’m constantly reminded of this every single day we have school.  No matter what it is (whether math, science, or handwriting, if we don’t make it a fun and enjoyable experience, all of our plans will backfire).  

So find resources outside of the curriculum to help your child engage in the learning process.  I personally like Lesson Pathways (which pulls together free online resources all in one place).  Find DVD’s, games (both online and off), or art activities that help to solidify what you’re teaching.

2.)  Tap into your inner creativity.  This is where you’ll need to go way, way back to when you were a little kid.  What kinds of environments completed your educational atmosphere that helped you to learn better?  Who was that perfect teacher that made learning fun for you?  Emulate her.  Do what he did in the classroom to make it come to life for you.  Repeat the good things, the creative things, in your homeschool.

No, you don’t have to be a master artist or to be artistic, nor do you need a team of curriculum advisors to help you to make learning fun for your little scholars.

Remember, kindergarten and preschool is a time for fun and creativity and one of the biggest elements in a child’s memory of the pre-k years is the environment.  What did learning feel like for him?  Did school feel exciting?  Was school a drudgery or a chore?  Was school a loving place of whimsical fun?  Was it a time when you got lots of hugs and were embraced for who you are?  Was school a place of judgment?

Ultimately, we (the teachers, the tutors, the homeschool parents), are responsible for creating an environment that will set the tone your child’s memory of learning at home.

If you can allow yourself the freedom to get creative and see your world through the lenses of a child, you’ll find that learning on your 5 year old’s level looks drastically different than what we might have assumed it should look like.  Suddenly, gone are the daily grind of routine seatwork.  (And yes, there is a time and place for the workbooks…but it’s absolutely necessary to shift things up a bit sometimes and come at learning with a different approach).

Here’s an example of what I mean by creatively teaching outside of the box.

Do you live out in the country?  Take a walk through the woods and count your steps along the way.  Skip stones at a pond and count them.  Collect rocks, then count them and sort them. Describe the grass, the water, the trees.  Make up a story about a little boy who went for a walk in the woods.  Record your story on your smartphone so you can have your child write it down later.  Observe the pond water and collect a sample so when you get home you can compare it to faucet water and maybe start a conversation about how our communities work to provide clean drinking water for citizens.  You can also talk about how the pond is part of God’s creation of water systems, and how most of the earth is made of water.   Check the time on your watch on your way home and try to figure out what time it is and what time it will be when you get back home. Have your child skip on your way home and sing a song or make up a rhyme.

3.)  Leave lots of room for free play.  Of course we’ll want to have time for the “seatwork” (learning to read and count, practicing handwriting, exploring science concepts together).  But beyond seatwork, we should always remember to factor in time for your kid to simply be a kid.

For my daughter that means putting on a pretend play at our local children’s theater...

theater1

theater2

…or “playing house” with all of her dolls and teddy bears.

dolls

 

Whatever your child loves to play, make sure their day is filled with wonder and fun!

Hope you enjoyed these tips :-)

 

009-Homeschooling With Preschoolers & Free Curriculum Review

Play

For those of you with preschoolers (ages 3 to 5), you understand what it’s like to be finally free of the many wrenches the toddler and infant phase can  throw into your homeschool day when you have older ones….but you’re not quite free yet.

Now you have this kid who is halfway in between big kid and toddler and they’re not quite sure how they fit into things.  So they beg for attention in different ways, get into your stuff, cause a ruckus and a tremendous distraction.

How do you handle it?

Well…the best thing to do is arm yourself  and go in the war zone completely prepared!

I started with this book:

Then I found some resources that would help me to better serve my three, then four year old. I’ll list a few below:

Catalogs:

Magazines for preschoolers:

Preschool Themes and Unit Studies:

My video and resources on Montessori Education:

Free Curriculum REview:

Homeschool Pre-K & Kinder “Fall Leaves” Math Activity

Have you been running out of ideas for activities to do with your preschooler/kindergartner?  I was…until I ran across this website to help me with all my pre-k needs.

Searching ChildCareLand, I found another fall activity to do with my kinder last week that was a lot of fun.  Plus, it helps with her math skills.

Here’s a video to show what I did:

1.)  Basically I printed out all the numbers and leaves template from Child Care Land, colored them, and had them laminated.

Here’s my new laminator which I love!

(It’s the Purple Cows hot and cold laminator that comes with 50 pockets all ready to use).  I bought mine at Cotsco for about $20-$25 bucks.  So far, it’s been one of the best investments I’ve made for our preschool at home. We’re using it for all sorts of things!

2.) Then we cut out all the pieces.  My children helped, of course (too much work for mama!)  THat was the fun part for the kids…cutting.  Once we got them all cut out, I free-styled a tree on brown construction paper and we laminated and cut that out too.

3.)  We placed magnets on the back of each number and leaf piece and the tree.  The magnets were purchased from WalMart in the craft section.  Reason for the magnets?  They stick to the cookie sheet!

4.) Then we got to work on our activity.  As you’ll see in the video, we used the blank squares to write in our plus or minus signs if we want to work on addition or subtraction.  And for simple number recognition, it was an easy game.  We simply placed the right amount of leaves on the tree to correlate with the number on the cookie sheet.

 

Here we correlated one number with the amount of leaves on the tree.  I instructed to her count each leaf as she placed them on the branches.

Here’s an addition problem.  We could have also done any type of operations with the blank cards and a dry erase marker .

 

The cookie sheet, guys, comes in handy!  Go ahead and get one from the Dollar Store (if you’re U.S.-based).  You will use it for tons of projects with your preschoolers and kinders, trust me.

Anyway, that’s our fun project for the week!  What have you been doing with your little ones this week?  Drop me a line at this blog or at our Facebook page! I’d love to hear from you!

Fall Glitter Leaves and Thankfulness Garland Project

This fall, I wanted to make my house homey and get my family into the spirit of true thanksgiving.  So I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate crafts into our homeschool that’s fun, get my family thinking about our season transition into autumn, all while bringing the overall theme of “Thanksgiving” into the mix.  It’s a lot to tackle, but this one simple project seemed to do the trick.

I’ll share my project with you…but just hop on over The Homeschool Post to see the full article.  There I”ll post step by step instructions to show you how exactly I created this project.  Also, check out the following videos for step by step instructions as well.

Preschool Circle Time Moments

I love working with my almost-kindergartner… and there are moments that I’m super jazzed about “teaching”.  I admit, I can get beside myself with preschool stuff.  In college, I majored in child development and I had plenty of opportunities to work with preschoolers, and I loved every minute of it (or just about).  There is just something invigorating about walking into a classroom with blocks, play dough and a circle time mat, just pulsing with energy as it awaits the kids to stomp through and bring it to life.  I’ve always enjoyed 3′s and 4′s before I ever had children of my own, and it’s always exciting to me when my kids get to that special age.

But it’s not always easy, and I’m by no means perfect.  However, I try my best to make learning fun for my kids. When they’re 3, 4, and 5, it just seems so natural to make learning fun (after all, isn’t that what most public schools try to do?) The early learning years are such an important window of opportunity to enhance what our kids are already interested in  Anyhow, fun learning is a good topic for another post.

But today, I just wanted to share with you some things we’ve been doing in our preschool-at-home.

Our Preschool Circle Time Routine (calendar time, days of the week): 

Circle Time, pt. 2 (Bible and Telling Time)

Pre-K Circle Time Setup

Yet another pre-k moment…and here’s a virtual tour of our new classroom setup for my pre-k kiddo.  She’ll be turning five in a few weeks and life is starting to get really exciting in our homeschool.  She’s learning the days of the week, months of the year, and counting to 100.  So much to learn and it’s all so exciting when you don’t have that “pressure” you can sometimes feel in a brick and mortar school.  Me and my trusty Dollar Store posters  are making it happen for preschool at home and it’s actually working out really well…so far so good.

So, here’s our setup.  Enjoy the vid!

 

Pre-K Circle Time- Nursery Rhymes, Listening, Math

I love playing with my 4 year old.  Four is that whimsical age that although only comes around once, I sometimes wish I could repeat with my children.  It’s a beautiful age of self-discovery and reaching out to explore the world around them.

Fours are awesome.  It’s an age when they’re beginning to understand empathy for others and come alive to sensitivities toward others.  At four, a child begins to make comparisons (“same or different”).  She understands cultural differences and begins to ask questions about obvious differences between herself and others around her.

I love four…and my four year old will soon turn five in a few weeks.  I feel really blessed that I could be my own preschooler’s “preschool teacher”, and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

Here’s what we did this week for our preschool circle time. It should give you some ideas about how we incorporate nursery rhymes, listening skills, and math in our circle time.  We don’t do this every day, but we try to have a “circle time” meeting about once a week.

Do you have a special meeting time with your younger children? What kinds of things do you do?

Impromptu preschool writing

It’s days like these that I’m pretty content.  I feel I’ve done my work and I can relax a bit…chill down.  When my 4 year old decides to grab a sheet of computer paper and copy letters from her alphabet poster…all on her own…then I can just grab a cup of tea, and relax.  And who’s looking for perfection?  She’s got a whole lifetime to get those letters printed well.

So I’m a happy mama.    It’s days like these that make me realize it’s not about how quickly your kids zip through a workbook, but it’s about the time you invest in them to guide them (lead them) gently toward the love of learning independently.  The fact that I didn’t have to prod her to work on letters still resonates “wow” to me.

I think it confirms even more how much a relaxed approach to homeschooling can be so pivotal in our experience- whether we succeed or fail along the journey.  Seems to me, we need a combination of light structure and a whole lot of freedom for exploration…and just let our kids learn to grab a hold of the joy of learning.  It will happen with time.

Letter “A” With Popsicle Sticks Activity

My 4 year old likes to do art activities (as most preschoolers do).  I found a few activities that would help her to learn the alphabet- and she could still get her hands messy at the same time.  A win-win situation.  This week we’re learning the letter “A”.  We read a book on Amelia Bedelia.  Since she baked apple pie in the story, we also baked one at the end of our activity.  Meanwhile, we used popsicle sticks, construction paper, do a dot art, and glue to create a little art project about letter “A”.  You can read more about how we did that on my blog post about the letter popsicle stick activity.

I hope you enjoy the video.

 

Preschool Floor Activity Fun

Getting on the floor with my 4 year old has been great for me!  Seriously, it’s taught me to get on level with my child and figure out what works from her point of view.  Things that may seem fun to me may not be so fun for her, and I’ll never know until I see her world from her vantage point.

I’ve learned that card games, puzzles and colorful activities help my daughter learn easier- I mean, after all, it’s fun!  Watch my video to take a peak into one of our homeschool mornings with my preschooler.

Preschool Math: Puffball Counting

Through a few different resources online, I found that using a magnetic cookie sheet and a package of magnet strips works wonders for teaching preschool.  Add the magnetic strips to anything, like puffballs, and you’ve got a counting activity lesson you can do with your little ones.

I show a preschool counting lesson using puffballs, magnets, and a cookie sheet on this video.

Creative Storage Bin and Preschool Flannel Board Ideas

This week has been full of changes in our home school.  I feel that I am finally (after months of throwing my hands up in the air) beginning to make sense of our home life and start to rebuild (after the moving).  Settling in has taken time and I am so glad that I didn’t put the kids in school like I was tempted to a few months back.
Now I am really starting to catch the zeal for teaching my kids, investing in my family, and raising up Princesses for God.  It is actually an exciting journey (this homeschooling one), though it is a LOT of work to plan and prepare.  But the work I have put into preparation is worth every minute of the fruit I am beginning to see in my kids.  SO I love my job as a homeschool teacher.
Below are cubbies I made out of 6 storage crates which I purchased from WalMart.

Those crates above were purchased at about $4/crate.  I tied them together with yarn and stacked them on their sides to create a locker/cubby storage area for the girls’ school work.  Here’s  a YouTube video I filmed to show exactly how I did it.

I’ve also been busy creating a flannel board for what I hope will be the beginning of a new experience for my preschooler in our home – complete with “centers” and a “flannel board”.  I have that all in quotes just so you know that this is not something that came natural for me in the beginning.  Over the past few weeks, though, I have really been turning it up on making our school at home something my kids can be proud of.  I think the flannel board will be loads of fun for my little Z.  Just so you know, I am planning to print out the pieces on card stock, laminate them, and put velcro on the back for pieces.  I am definitely not cutting out and creating individual pieces out of felt.
So here’s a brief look at what I did.
All I needed to create my flannel board is:
  1. a poster board (from the Dollar Store)
  2. felt material (from WalMart)
  3. a hot glue gun
  4. scissors
Basically, all I did was:
  1. Cut out the flannel to fit around the poster board:

Then, hot glue the flannel onto the board’s corners:

 

Lastly, secure and dry:


Voila!

You can also watch my video tutorial on how to create a preschool flannel board on YouTube.

Lastly, this week has been a growing experience for me as I am tapping into my past work with preschoolers and learning to apply it to my own kiddo!

You can watch my preschool floor activity video to see me in action with my daughter.

She also loves her Curious George puzzle.

 

She’s working on an Evan-Moor consonant sounds folder game.  These have lasted us since my oldest was four years old (about five years now).Bible Memory was loads of fun, and we got this from the Dollar Store too– so cheap and fun.

Candyland- more fun!  Colors and counting.

We’ve also been doing more music together.  Ny loves to practice piano and wants to get better at playing.  I’m doing my best to help her until she passes Level 3 or so in the John Thompson’s.  In my next post, I’ll show you a clip of Ny and I singing a song together…
Until then…

 

Letter C And Muffin Tins

This week in our preschool we are learning about the letter “C”.
We read the book Caillou Tidies His Toys”
It’s a fun little, cute book and encourages my preschooler to clean up.  OH yeah…clean (starts with a little C).
As you see, we’re getting some good use out of our cookie sheet for our projects.
All I did was draw the letters on construction paper.  Then my daughter is using cotton balls to glue along the outline of the letters.
We could have used beans or glitter or any number of items to glue on it, but when I realized “cotton” started with “C”…bingo!

 

Also, I  got the idea of using  muffin trays for my kids’ lunch from two of my favorite bloggers, Muffin Tin Momand A  Mommy’s Adventures.  Muffin Tin Mom has tons of different meals and tutorials.
This particular meal idea is purely- whatever was in our fridge at the moment.  So, we have ramen noodles, carrots and dip, and grapes.

Balancing Language Arts With My 4th Grader and Preschooler

Sometimes it’s a bit of a juggle teaching two grade levels that are so far apart, but I know there are moms who have many more than 2 children to juggle, so I know that it must be totally possible!

In this video I show the way it works in our home- teaching two grade/stage levels the same topic simultaneously, but in different ways and using different methods.

Creating Preschool Cubbies Out of Storage Bins & Update on Homeschool Setup

I LOVE finding new ways to organize our homeschool to make things easier. If we can find an easier way to do something, we’ll try it. Especially if it costs less!
In this video I’ll show you some rearrangements we made in our home using storage bins to organize our materials. EnjoY!

How To Create A Preschool Flannel (Felt) Board For Under $3

I have really been getting into “teaching” preschool with my little one! (Sometimes I think I might be having a lot more fun than she is).
In all honesty, I never thought I would be a crafty mama and it always scared me to think of including scissors and glue in my homeschool curricula! :-)
But I’m finding this tiny, little hidden passion for creating things with my kids and for my kids. Yeah, it takes a little time to create, but if I can find a cheap, quick, and fun way to do it, I’m all ears.
So, here’s a little project I thought of in my need to find an inexpensive flannel board. Since I couldnt find one, I made one. Here’s a video showing how.