Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 8: Halloween


Theme: Halloween
Note: I realize that many families of various faiths choose to not celebrate Halloween.  For our family, not only is Halloween my husband’s actual birthday (bringing about even another reason to party), but for us it is also an opportunity to invite friends into our home and get to know our neighbors.  My husband and I very much believe in building relationships with our actual neighbors as a reflection of God’s design for us as followers of Jesus.  Unlike any other holiday, Halloween brings your neighborhood to your door.  For our family, though, as we celebrate Halloween, we do steer clear of anything evil in appearance, so in our projects and celebration, you will not find any ghosts, goblins, witches, or devils. 

Objective: To enjoy a variety of projects in preparation for Halloween.

Letter of the Week: G 

Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters.   

Special Items Needed: 

·         Pumpkins

·         Paint, paint brushes, paint shirts

·         Halloween costumes

Halloween

Painting Pumpkins

Since my boys are 1 and 2 ½ years old, I decided to not even attempt carving pumpkins this year and instead opted for letting them paint their pumpkins.  I simply put large t-shirts over them, put washable paint on a plate, offered a handful of different size paintbrushes to each of them, sat them outside and let them just create.  Our pumpkins did not turn out looking “Halloween-ish”; however, the boys had an fun time and truly decorated their pumpkins on their own!  (I should add that as soon as their pumpkins were painted, I did have to take them straight to the tub and soak them as not only were their pumpkins painted, but so were they!)

Halloween Costume

While I haven’t attempted this yet, I am hoping sometime later this afternoon to let my 2 ½ year old try on his Halloween costume to get familiar with it.  Some toddlers may not be comfortable in a pretend type of outfit, so it may be helpful to practice wearing the “pretend outfit.”  I may also let my son wear his costume all day tomorrow as he is not a fan of changing clothes in the middle of the day.  If wearing it all day will help enable us to wear it tomorrow night, then that’s what we’ll do.  You may find that your toddler is ready and willing to dress up and pretend; however, if you have a toddler who is particular about things, this “practicing” of the costume may be a helpful exercise!

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Because we opted to paint pumpkins this year, we will actually be roasting our pumpkin seeds after Halloween, so as not to cut into the pumpkins (and keep them fresh) as long as possible!  Click here for step by step instructions on roasting pumpkin seeds.

Halloween Party

We will have having a birthday party/Halloween party tomorrow night!  To make things simple, I have made my husband’s birthday party an annual “Chili Cook-Off” so I am not spending all of Halloween trying to make dinner for a crowd.  This allows a potluck type feel to our party but with a little more pizazz! 

Not only will we judge the best chili (and have an awesome prize for it!), but we will also send a crowd of parents out with the little people to go Trick or Treating!  While some of us do that, another group of grown-ups will be handing out candy and serving hot chocolate in our front yard.  We are fortunate enough to live in a location that has rather comfortable weather on Halloween, so hanging out in the front yard is actually desirable.

For more Halloween Party ideas, click here to check out my friend's recent blog post on the same topic.

Letter Work

I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “G” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 

Coloring the Letter “G”

To introduce the later “G,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “G” to print).  We will talk about the letter “G” and will color it. 

Letter Search

We will continue our work on the letter “G” by trying to identify the “G” in words that start with the letter “G.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “G” and only have that “G” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “G.” 

Rainbow “G”

We will also practice tracing the letter “G.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow G,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “G” in multiple colors.

For additional Letter “G” activities, click here. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 7: Music and Movement and Miscellany


Theme: Music and Movement and Miscellany

Objective: To work towards a base level appreciation of music.  To practice gross motor skills. 

Letter of the Week: F

Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters. 

Special Items Needed:

·         Mirror

·         Music (I have included several YouTube videos below)

·         Large Balls

·         Small Balls

Music and Movement and Miscellany

Introduction to Music 

My son and I have begun listening to various types of music with him continually asking, “What this one, Mama?”  What he’s asking me is the title of the song and the band name, often with an emphasis on the band name.  Having only boys, I have purposefully exposed my boys to some excellent bands and solid worship music.  My personal bias is away from “children’s” music and toward “real” music.  You are free to choose whatever music you would like to expose your child to, be it Classical or The Wiggles or Jazz or Country.  The goal is simply to expose your children to music.

We started by listening to music in the car, often with me singing along.  Soon, I picked up on the fact that my son enjoyed certain songs more than others, so I would choose to play is favorites more often.  Eventually, he started “singing” along.  Currently, his favorite band is Something Like Silas (now known as Future of Forestry).  He also likes Gungor, David Crowder, and one specific song from For Today and another specific song from The Head and the Heart.  Below are a few of our favorite songs, feel free to play them for your kiddos, too!














 

Freeze Dance

Using a song from my son’s favorite band, Something Like Silas (to use the same song, play YouTube video below), I taught him how to freeze dance.  Before I did that, though, I set up our full length mirror in our large play room so that as we danced around, he could catch glimpses of himself, just like one might in a dance studio.  I showed him what we were going to do by my dancing when I played the song and my freezing when I paused the song.  At first he was a little shy about trying out the freeze dance, but soon he was fully into the freeze dance. 
 





Catching Large Balls

I have been focusing on developing gross motor skill such as catching and throwing large balls.  We have turned trying to catch beach balls into a game.  We go through each one, trying again when he misses the catch.  Then he gets to throw them back to me and I have to try to catch them.




Sorting Types of Balls

We have also been sorting various things over the last year.  The other day, quite out of the blue, we had our tub of smaller balls and I realized that some were hard and some were soft.  So, I showed my son how I could sort the soft balls into one bowl and the hard balls into another bowl.  He quickly understood and did this sort over and over again. 

Being able to understand difference between objects and sort (classify) them based on given characteristics is a vital skill to develop at this stage.  This skill is helpful as your child prepares for kindergarten.

Letter Work

I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “F” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 

Coloring the Letter “F”

To introduce the later “F,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “F” to print).  We will talk about the letter “F” and will color it. 

Letter Search

We will continue our work on the letter “F” by trying to identify the “F” in words that start with the letter “F.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “F” and only have that “F” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “F.” 

Rainbow “F”

We will also practice tracing the letter “F.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow F,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “F” in multiple colors.

For additional Letter “F” activities, click here. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 6: Fall

Theme: Fall

Objective: To build a base level knowledge of the seasons, with an emphasis on fall (autumn).

Letter of the Week: E

Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters. 

Special Items Needed:

·         Pumpkins

·         Leaves

·         Zoey’s Book of Seasons (or any age-appropriate book showing all four seasons)

Fall

Zoey’s Book of Seasons
 
I found this book in the dollar bin at Target.  You don’t need this particular book; however, being able to show your toddler pictures of all four seasons will help explain fall.  I read paraphrased this book to my son and then emphasized “fall.”  We talked about all the different indicators of fall: the weather gets cooler, the leaves change color, sometimes it is windy, etc. 

 


 
Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

We took a field trip to a pumpkin patch in our town.  Our particular pumpkin patch had about twelve playhouses and my son just ran from one to the next to the next.  He LOVED it.  I also took him to the little “pie pumpkin” section and let him pick out his very own pumpkin!


Leaf Walk

One morning, we simply stepped out our front door and looked for leaves of different colors in our own yard.  We gathered four leaves (looking especially for a yellow, orange, and brown one).  You could keep your leaf walk this simple or you could make it much more extensive by going to your local park or even hiking in a wooded area nearby!
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Leaf Rubbing

That same morning of our leaf walk, I taught my son how to make leaf impressions by placing a leaf under a sheet of paper and rubbing a crayon across the paper.  He loved this!  He definitely needed a little help to understand how to lay the crayon down and rub it; however, it was fun to open up a new way to use a crayon!
 
 
Letter Work

I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “E” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 

Coloring the Letter “E”

To introduce the later “E,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “E” to print).  We will talk about the letter “E” and will color it. 

Letter Search

We will continue our work on the letter “E” by trying to identify the “E” in words that start with the letter “E.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “E” and only have that “E” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “E.” 

Rainbow “E”

We will also practice tracing the letter “E.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow E,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “E” in multiple colors.

For additional Letter “E” activities, click here. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 5: Emotions

Theme: Emotions
 
Note: Starting this week we will move from a daily activity format to a general focus we are working on with various ideas or activities we did within that themed focus.  I have to admit that trying to maintain a daily preschool time has been a challenge as of late; however, we tend to still accomplish my learning objectives by the end of the week.  In order to make this more user friendly (and less “performance” oriented for myself), I will just list out our focus and ideas.  As for letter work, we will continue with the same three basic activities; however, if you want additional letter work, feel free to access the website at the bottom of the post.   

Objective: To understand that faces communicate emotions and to identify the emotions faces express. 

Letter of the Week: D 

Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters.   

Special Items Needed: 

·         Paper Plates

·         Mirror

Emotions

In an effort to build off our of “my body” coloring project last week, I wanted us to focus on the emotions that faces make.  Depending on your toddler’s understanding of emotions, you may want to simply start with talking about faces and that faces show us different things.

I began by simply drawing four basic faces, each on a separate paper plate: happy, sad, angry, surprised (or scared).  You could change or add paper plate faces based on the emotions you want to emphasize.  My husband and I have been talking with our toddler about emotions for quite a while.  Because my son already had prior knowledge of emotions, I simply introduced the paper plates to him, asking him what the faces were feeling.  We played around with the faces for a while, just talking about what each face was feeling.

The next activity we did was looking in a mirror, picking one of the plate faces, and matching that emotion on our own faces.  This was really fun!  You can see how much fun I had just be looking at the photos below!
 



At this point, my son wanted to play with the faces.  So, I let him take them into his play room for fun.  When my husband came home from work that day, my son showed him the faces and expressed the emotions on his own face.

Our final activity will be coloring each of the faces.  This will just be a “free” activity where my son will be encouraged to just color the faces. 

Letter Work

I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “D” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 

Coloring the Letter “D”

To introduce the later “D,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “D” to print).  We will talk about the letter “D” and will color it. 

Letter Search

We will continue our work on the letter “D” by trying to identify the “D” in words that start with the letter “D.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “D” and only have that “D” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “D.” 

Rainbow “D”

We will also practice tracing the letter “D.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow D,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “D” in multiple colors.

For additional Letter “D” activities, click here. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Week 4: My Body


Theme: My Body
Objective: To learn basic body parts, what they do, how they work.
Letter of the Week: C   

Note: At this stage (2-3 year olds), we will focus simply on capital letters only.  It is also important to understand that this introduction of letters is simply to familiarize our children with letters.  We are not expecting them to be proficient with these letters. 
Special Items Needed:

·         Butcher Paper
Note: I must share that we did not follow the daily schedule for Toddler Preschool for this particular theme.  Due to my son not feeling well, and later in the week my husband and I taking an unexpected getaway just for us, our daily Toddler Preschool time was a bit “compromised.”  I did, however, work on tracing, talking about, and coloring my son’s paper body with him.  We had a great time, and did it over just a two day period.  We also still worked on the Letter “C” throughout the week.  See below for our activities.

My Body
I took time to trace my son’s body.  The tracing part went fine once he was comfortable with the idea of lying on a large sheet of paper.  The cutting out of his body was a bit more tedious than I expected.  I had him work on letter work while I cut out his body.
A few days later, I set up our full length mirror in our play room and laid the paper body on the floor.  I then had my son go back and forth from the mirror to the paper, asking him as he looked in the mirror, “What color are your eyes?”…”Green”…”Let’s color your eyes green, then.”  We did this routine for hair color, lips, shirt, and shorts.  We had a great time with both of us coloring together.  We talked briefly about body parts (but not nearly as in-depth as I had originally thought).


Letter Work
I continued our regular letter work with the Letter “C” by following the activities we’ve done with previous letters (see below for an explanation of each activity). 

Coloring the Letter “C”
To introduce the later “C,” simply draw an outline (or Google a template of the letter “C” to print).  We will talk about the letter “C” and will color it. 

Letter Search
We will continue our work on the letter “C” by trying to identify the “C” in words that start with the letter “C.”  It is important at this stage to choose words that start with the letter “C” and only have that “C” in them.  Write the words in all capital letters.  Make a game of searching for the “C.” 

Rainbow “C”
We will also practice tracing the letter “C.”  This may be a bit difficult for some children, so please pass on this activity if it is too stressful.  We will do a “Rainbow C,” by tracing the outline of a capital letter “C” in multiple colors.