Category Archives: early learning

First Day of Preschool

I must preface this by saying I am writing this post in TEARS. I never thought I would be so emotional! Mostly because I was always planning on teaching my daughter preschool at home… but I knew in my heart that wasn’t the path for us to take. So here I am now- typing this post while my nervous daughter is far away (aka down the street) with a room full of strangers. Oh dear- this post is turning out to be more like my therapy than a list of our first day of preschool activities!!

Last night our family did a few special things to get ready for the big day. We read the Night Before Preschool- a book about a boy that is SO nervous to go to preschool. We can relate to that!

My daughter drew a magnet for our fridge to use to hang her artwork.

We also watched some back to school movies on youtube.


My daughter wasn’t a fan of this one, but it totally got me choked up.

After a restless night, I tried waking up my daughter who had climbed into my bed sometime during the night. She is NOT a morning person so it was a bit of a struggle. I believe her first words this morning were “I do not want to go to school.” And of course I wanted to tell her that I didn’t want her to go either, but I played the part of the semi-strong mom.

I made her a special breakfast on our I am Special plate. Daddy, who usually goes to work before we are out of bed, stayed home this morning so he could have breakfast with us and walk with us to school. He also gave my daughter a special fathers blessing to help calm her nerves. Of course she was petrified of that, too. 🙂

We spent a couple minutes taking some pictures and then we were off to school. We are fortunate enough to attend an amazing school that is only five houses away. My daughter looked for potato bugs as we made the short walk.

Boo walked in to class, I believe she gave her sweet teacher one of her “I am scared to death” looks, we hung up her backpack, and she sat down and worked on a puzzle.

Daddy signing daughter into the roll book while Boo waves to the only other student she knows- a cute little girl from her primary class.

And my husband told me it was time to go. I think the hardest thing about leaving was knowing that I wouldn’t be there to comfort her if she was hurt or scared. I wouldn’t be there to help her is she had a question, or give her a hug if her heart was sad. She is my baby- my husband and I waited 7 years to adopt her, and letting her go is heartbreaking. Even though its only 2.5 hours twice a week.

UPDATE:
I was so excited to pick up my daughter after school. I was SO, SO thrilled to hear about how much she loved school. Boo can’t wait to go back! Her favorite part of school was circle time because they got to hear a story. There is also a boy from her soccer team in her class. It just makes my heart smile to know she loves it!
Boo came home from school to see that her stuffed animals threw her a little surprise party. They were happy to see her, too!

We spent the rest of the day going out to lunch with a friend, going to a Halloween store and looking at some of the scary displays (per my daughters request), a playdate with our cute little neighbor, a soccer game, and some tasty homemade pizza rolls and corn on the cob on our I am Special plate. What a day. So many emotions- just incredibly grateful that Boo had a fabulous day- it validates our decision to send her to preschool.
Happy Teaching!

Animal Unit: Overview of Animal Groups

We started our Animal Unit!  Today was all about introducing the 6 different animal groups: Mammals, Fish, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates. Nothing over the top- just a day to familiarize ourselves with the groups. Here is a recap of today’s learning adventures:

  • Brought out the tub of non-fiction animal books. We looked through a few of them and I left all the books in our family room so she will have easy access to them throughout the next few weeks.
  • Bought some new apps. I am a huge sucker for Montessori apps…just love the organization and design of ’em! We got Vertebrates, Invertebrates, and Baby Animals. Boo already had Mini Adventures- Animals (free) and ABC Wildlife (two very, very similar apps but we like them both).
  • Animal Sorting- We have a ginormous amount of small plastic animals. After we had talked a little about the different groups of animals, I showed her the cards I made for her field journal (more on that in upcoming weeks). I had planned to have her sort the animals but before I had time to officially introduce the activity she started placing them in their families. Boo would pick an animal and hopelessly declare that it was lost, and then she would have another animal guide it to the correct card. It was hilarious to watch and yet very, very educational! 
  • Boo sorting the animals into their correct group: Fish, Amphibian, Reptile, Mammals, Birds, and Invertebrates. You can see that we have a LOT of mammals!

I got the information for the animal group cards from Home School Creations. I was going to print the cards but our printer was out of ink. Of course.

What you can expect in future Animal Unit posts: websites, sorts, books, games, and other activities with Diego as our animal adventure guide!! Can I just say I am SO excited about this animal unit!
For more ideas on teaching animals, check out my Animal Pinterest Board.
As always- Happy Teaching!

Number Day Plans and Free Printables

In just two days is the start of a new month, and the perfect opportunity to start a new learning goal. A couple years ago I taught my daughter her alphabet with a month of special letter days and activities (read more about that here). We did the same for her colors. It is time to do it again- this time with numbers!
Each number will have it’s own day. On August 31, I will teach my Boo about the number 0. Why the 31st? Because September 1 marks the day we will learn about number 1… and I wanted to integrate learning numbers on a calendar. It just made more sense to me!
On my wiki I have a number book cover and number pages 0-30 that you are free to download and use. The activity page is simple- the number of the day is found on the top. There are 6 activities on each page. The first two activities are tracing and writing the number. The third activity is stamping… I have a bunch of number stamps my Boo will use. The next activity is self explanatory.. trace the number word. (We are doing a lot of tracing these days, can you tell?) The “show the number” activity is where my kiddo will show me the number using objects (stickers, stamps, squiggly lines, dots, etc) The last thing on the page is finding and circling the number of the day on the good ole number line!

click here to see all the number pages to download
I also made a blank calendar for September 2011 that my daughter will use to write or stamp the numbers in each day.
Some other ideas for number ideas might include:
– making up a silly song about the number
-writing the number with sidewalk chalk
-going on a number hunt- looking for objects or groups of objects that correspond with your number of the day
-pull out the Montessori math manipulatives (and ipad apps) or unifix blocks
-connect the dot pages- there is a lot available here for free!
-plus a million other great ideas at the Ideas for Preschoolers site… and tons of free downloads! This site is an incredible, thorough resource!!!!
My hope is to gear these number days to my kiddo-she is already a good little counter, our focus will be learning to write digits 2-9 and recognizing written numerals 11-30. And most importantly- to have a heck of a fun time with numbers!
Happy Teaching!

Cut, Color, and Play! Fun with Scissors

My cute daughter and I had fun practicing her scissor skills. She loves to cut and gets better every time we work on it! Most of the time we practice cutting straight lines. But a few nights ago we had a fabulous time free cutting. I let my daughter cut out random shapes. Then we would decide what that shape looked like….a horse, a cat, a cave, etc. We did teamwork and colored the horse, cat, etc. (or in other words, I colored most of it since my kiddo is not into coloring …although she did help by coloring silky wings on everything!) the greatest part was playing with our handmade creations!
I would insert a picture of our masterpiece here, but my sweetie was so enthusiastic about cutting that she snipped our creations into tiny pieces. Hey, it’s more scissor practice! I can’t complain!

SPLAT! Fun Game for the Magna Doodle

My daughter recently upgraded her mini Magna Doodle to a larger one with stamps and she LOVES it! We have played several SPLAT games. I’ll explain what those games are in a minute. First, let me tell you the one thing you need to know when playing SPLAT… use one of the magnetic shapes to splat (or stamp out) the correct answer (whatever that answer may be- it depends on the game!) If you don’t have a Magna Doodle with shape stamps- no problem! Use a magnet from your fridge!
These are some of the SPLAT games we have played:
SPLAT all the letter “A”s, “B”s, ….etc

SPLAT the letters in alphabetical order
SPLAT the number 1,2,…..etc
SPLAT the word cat, dog, her name…etc
SPLAT the oval, rectangle……etc
The possibilities are endless!
We have had so much fun (and learning time) with this toy! Yay for unsuspected education! 🙂
Happy TEACHing!

Advent Calendar Idea: Coin Recognition

The time for advent calendars is here! Can you believe it? Where does the time go! I was getting our advent calendar ready with treats and had an idea to easily incorporate coin recognition over the 25 day advent calendar time period. The total cost for this activity? A mere 25 cents. Objective? To learn the coins: penny, nickel, dime, quarter.
Inside each little cubby in our advent calendar (and next to our little treat of course!) I will place a penny. If you don’t have an advent with cubbies, you can just give your child one penny every day in December until Christmas. The penny will be placed in a little canvas wallet that I will have my daughter decorate with fabric markers, but any wallet/purse/baggie will work to hold the coins. Every morning we will open the advent cubby, take out the penny, add it with any previous coins, and stamp how much money we have so far in the “My Christmas Money” book. (This book is just a stack of index cards connected with a book ring! Simple but efficient!!)

After we have counted and stamped our daily total, I will have my daughter write the number. This might take a bit since we have NEVER written numbers (and she can write just a handful of letters) but I know she will be OK. On day #5 we will introduce a nickel and she will be able to trade in her pennies for one nickel; Day #10 She will trade in five pennies for a nickel, and then the two nickels for a dime; etc. We will finish the activity by eating the advent treat. 🙂 I am hoping the treat will act as a little motivation for her money work!
Happy Teaching and COUNTING down to Christmas!

Questions for a Daily Calendar Time

For the past few months I have wanted to start doing calendar time with my daughter. I think there are many great educational ideas centered around the calendar such as number recognition, learning the days of the week, practice counting, talk about the weather and activities throughout the day, learn terms such as yesterday, today, tomorrow. It will also be the beginnings of a daily structured learning time. I even have visions of us happily skipping to the piano for some lessons afterwards (I can dream big, right?).

What are some ways that you have implemented calendar time? I would love to hear your ideas!
Happy Teaching!

Tumbling Tuesday- Toddler Balance Beam

A few months ago I came across this post from Little Hands, Big Work about making your own toddler balance beam. I fell in love immediately. For two reasons- one, I am a sucker for DIY projects, especially when you can save a lot of money. And my daughter LOVES any large motor skill activity I can rummage up. So making a toddler balance beam just seemed to make sense!
If you want a professional looking homemade balance beam, click on the link at the beginning of this post. Our beam is more of a “creation”- or “what can I find lying around our house that would work”. Luckily we had a piece of vinyl fencing and a bookshelf full of bulky computer programming books. It took all of 30 seconds to put together. (Laid the fence board over three piles of books)
The first thing my daughter did when she saw the beam was to jump over it. So we played the jumping game for awhile- jumping back and forth. Then taking turns with Mommy jumping (it was great exercise!) We finished up our jumping game by holding hands while we both jumped at the same time. It was a great, spur of the moment, beam activity.
When we tired of jumping, I modeled the skill by showing my daughter how to walk across the beam (very carefully mind you- I thought that with Mommy weight the board was going to break at any moment) She instantly understood what to do and walked across beautifully. Several times. There were a few falls, but she is a trooper and would tell her self out loud, “let’s try again!” I just love her diligent little spirit!
What do you have lying around your house that would make a great toddler toy? Have fun with your little one today!
Happy Teaching!

PS. Thanks for the blog award Shafer Family! I love your blog TONS! Your recognition of my little blog means so much to me!

Tea Time and Rhyme Thursday- HUMPTY DUMPTY

Thursday we had a great time learning about one of my daughter’s favorite Nursery Rhymes- Humpty Dumpty. We read an old Humpty board book (which she loves- and will point out the pages when he is feeling grumpy and happy and all the cracks he gets from falling down). I found a printable book from readinga-z.com that we read and colored together (I gave one of the king’s men purple boots,then my daughter wanted to give them ALL purple boots 🙂 )


We also made a Humpty Dumpty! This turned out SO much cuter than I thought (I am looking through the eyes of a biased momma, after all!). I took an egg pattern I found here, and then traced my daughters hands and feet on colors she picked. I also asked her if she wanted big or little eyes, and you can tell which she picked by looking at her masterpiece! I love this!

Happy TEACHing!

Duck Duck Goose problem solved!

OK, maybe this is a crazy teaching post…. I am sure most of your kiddos have mastered this game in no time flat! But if there is just one mommy out there that can benefit from this, I will consider it worth my time!
I LOVE playing with my daughter and started teaching her to play the classic game Duck, Duck Goose. (FYI she just recently turned 2) She easily got the chasing part down- no sweat there! In fact she will make a few laps around the circle before trying to figure out where to sit. But she was a little confused on WHERE to sit. She kept trying to sit in her original spot. I then had the clever idea to have everyone sitting on felt squares. This easily shows the empty spot where the child needs to sit. Problem solved! Of course, she is still running multiple laps, but why not let her use her energy while having fun? I can’t complain!
Happy Teaching!

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