Friday, December 16, 2011

All About Snowmen!

We went to the library last week and got lots of books on Christmas and Winter. A lot of the Christmas ones were taken, so I adapted my plans more about snowmen. In fact, one of the days we went to the library it was actually snowing, (though it didn't stick) so that was fun!

Here is the coloring page, courtesy of making learning fun...which by the way is a great source of free printables and thematic ideas. I used it all the time when I was teaching kindergarten.
I usually just let him color however he wants, but this time, I wanted him to take his time and talk about what the real colors are for each of the items. For each one, he would either tell me the color or ask what the items was and what color it "should" be. I even saw him looking at the Christmas tree in the living room so he could color it the same color.
Here's the finished product, proudly displayed!

Speaking of displays...I referred to Mav's wall of work in a previous post and finally snapped a photo with my phone. It's not as good quality as the other photos, but gives you an idea. I used yarn and tacks, but I've seen better ones made with rope or twine and nails. It's heavier and can handle more paper.
(Notice the frame above with the factory pictures still in it...haven't gotten to that project yet)
I think it's very beneficial to keep his work displayed to serve as a constant review of what we've been learning. Also, he is so proud of all his work and loves seeing it hanging in his room. 

Back to this week... We learned the letter Ss and glued snowballs (cotton balls) on the S.
We are multi-tasking here...eating snack and doing school!

Getting better about SMALL glue dots.

I happened to find a snowman gel cling kit in the dollar bins at Target. I got it out the other day and let Mav rearrange the pieces and build his snowman. He loved it and came back to it several times.

Download these activities and more in Week 4 lesson plans here.

In case I don't get on here in the next week, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and remember the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh me, oh my, boy does time fly!

Has it really been two weeks since my last post?! The holidays are so busy!! Here's what we've been up to the last few weeks (besides the busy holiday stuff).

These examples are from week three lesson plans which you can download here. We finished up the "obvious shapes," as I call them, with the square page and hopscotch. 

Can I just say it was absolutely hilarious to see my almost 3 year old try to coordinate jumping and hopping on one foot. It takes quite a bit of skill to do hopscotch! We had an unusually 71 degree sunny day today so it was the perfect time to play outside!

Tomorrow,  I will post week four's plans as well as some pictures of the activities we've done so far. I hope you are enjoying this holiday season and not letting the busyness get the best of you (which is what I remind myself of every single day)!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Lesson Plans and Examples

To finish out our study of circles, Maverick hunted in a magazine and found pictures of circles.

I cut them out and he glued them.

After we finished the circle page, he wanted to look for triangles....all on his own! I let him, then after one picture, he started tearing out magazine pages and throwing them on the floor (see, just when you thought I had the perfect little child, hahaha) and I put an end to his "exploratory learning."

Sorting is another important foundational skill. Here, Maverick sorted buttons. These were random buttons that I probably have been collecting for YEARS from my clothes that have that extra button attached. As you can see I wear far too much black!
Originally I had wanted him to sort by color, but since there were only like 3 colors, I decided to let him figure out how he wanted to sort them. I simply told him, "Can you put the buttons that are alike or the same in piles?" He then lined them up like he does his Hot Wheels, like this.
Then we worked together sorting more of them by size, since that is the trait he chose. We talked about the biggest ones (which he calls Daddy buttons), the medium ones (mama buttons) smaller buttons and tiny buttons (baby buttons).

For each letter and sound we learn, I am having him make that letter with something on it that makes that sound. For the letter Q I chose quarters. Now, I could have found some picture on clip art or gotten those paper coins at the teacher store, BUT, after teaching in the public schools and seeing how many children in this generation don't handle cash/coins (think about how much debit, online payments, etc. we use) I thought it was important for Maverick to handle the real thing. (Yes, a very expensive letter Q, but don't worry, I will be borrowing quarters off his Q when I need them :)
I pre-drew and taped the Q so he could easily place the quarters.

I showed him what a quarter looks like (wow! another circle!) and we talked about what's on a quarter (good vocabulary exposure, I don't expect him to remember) then I had him hunt for them in our coin jar.
Looking for quarters...

The finished product!
Click here and here for a few more weeks worth of lesson plans. Just a note, these are loose sketches of what to do. There are SO many other blogs out there with cute ideas but quite frankly, with two small kids, I really need SIMPLE. So, here ya go! :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh the Things they Say...

My second year of teaching I taught Kindergarten in Oregon. Two days in, I realized how many hilarious things 5 year olds say in a day and decided to keep a diary. I saved the document on my desktop on the computer so I could easily pull it up and add to it as time allowed. This proved to be such a funny collection and helped me get through those tough teaching days.
Now that I am home with an almost 3 year old, I am reminded that I should be writing down all the hilarious things he says so I don't forget, so he can some day read it, and to help me get through those tough stay-at-home mom days. Part of me probably hasn't done this because the majority of what he says, I actually say on a daily basis and that's not so fact it's quite embarassing. But, maybe you all won't be able to decipher what I say and what he came up with on his own.
Here are a few recent ones:
*"Mom, you have Noah to help you, Daddy has Jesus to help him."
*"Hey duys (guys), don't call me Maverick, call me Mav."
*"Somepins (something's) happening in my booty." (This was when he was pooping in the bathtub, gross!)
*This is just downright rude...he says this as we are Black Friday shopping. "Hey wady (lady), stop blocking the way!" (See, I told you it's embarassing, but I promise I have not said this to a stranger)
*We are working on obedience (always!!!) and we are teaching him to answer "yes ma'am or yes sir" when we tell him to do something... Me: Take the toys in your room please. Mav: Why? Me: Say yes ma'am. Mav: Yes ma'am, why?
*"Why because?" (this is in response to "because" the first time he says why)
*He says this as we pass a blow up Santa in a helicopter in someone's yard (sidenote: apparently blow up things in your yard are SUPER popular in Tennessee. I NEVER saw this many in Oregon!) "Hey Mom, look at the Christmas man in the helicopter."
*"Mom, look at my eyes when I'm talkin." (Okay, that's a dead giveaway)
*When I first get up with him and Solomon in the morning, "Mom, your hair's all jacked!"
*Mac: Maverick don't do that.
Mav: Why?
Mac: Because I said.
Mav: No said.
*Me: Maverick, look at the horses!
Mav: I like horses. I wanna ride 'em.
Me: We can't, they aren't ours.
Mav: Jesus rides horses.
*As we are driving around the mall parking lot on Black Friday. Mav: Where are we going? Me: We are looking for a parking spot. Mav: Jesus will give us a parking spot! Me: Yes, yes He will.
*Solomon is screaming in the car because he HATES his carseat and Mav says, "Solomon doesn't wike (like) me anymore!"
**Disclaimer: I refer to Black Friday shopping, but we did NOT get out early!

Just a few for now, but I'm going to start keeping a record on my desktop.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grab a Pencil

A crucial skill that needs developing at this age is fine motor capabilities. This includes holding a pencil, lacing, or basically anything that requires coordination of small muscle movements (ie: fingers and eye). An easy and fun way to practice this skill is to practice lacing. You can use yarn with noodles, popcorn on string (a cute Christmas decoration) or beads on string or pipe cleaners. I happened to have small beads leftover from my classroom so I pulled them out one day to see how Maverick would do with them.

He did great and actually surprised me with how focused he remained working so hard to string those beads! These activities are great for teaching pre-writing skills.

Speaking of writing, a good place to start with little ones is having them practice drawing lines (vertical and horizontal), curves (think about the curves in letters like C, D, etc) and slants (like in the letter A). Also writing with different utensils such as chunky crayons, wet sponges on chalkboards, markers, pencils, chalk, fingers, etc.
Tracing the letter Qq with his finger dipped in water.

Writing with a wet sponge (I cut a normal sized sponge into small rectangles).

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This activity was from Thursday on the lesson plans I posted last week. Since we were studying circles, I remembered a recipe I had seen on Savvy Source for mini apple pies and thought it would go perfectly with our theme. I altered the recipe a little to only make 4 little pies, since Maverick really doesn't eat food like this and I didn't want to have to help him!
What you will need: 2 small apples, or one large, cut into thin wedges; small package of refrigerated biscuits (the kind you pop out of the can and put in the oven); brown sugar and cinnamon.
Apples cut into thin wedges (obviously an adult job)
Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. This part is super fun for the kiddo.

Next, smash one side of a biscuit on a cookie sheet, place apples on top, sprinkle on brown sugar/cinnamon mix then top with the other side of the biscuit (squished).
Here is what it looks like with all the ingredients, just missing the top
Make sure to poke holes in the top biscuit before placing in the oven. Follow baking instructions on the package of biscuits. oven does NOT get hot on the outside

Doesn't this look delicious?
Cooking is a great way to practice following steps, which is a great pre-writing skill even though there is no writing involved! Also, I tell him what size measuring cup we are using even though he has no clue what it means. The more they are exposed to this vocabulary and use these measuring tools, the better equipped they will be when they actually learn the mathematics behind it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lesson Plans

Today I'm going to include an example of a week's (VERY lofty goal) lesson plans. I have been an over planner since my first year of teaching in the inner-city of Los Angeles. You simply cannot "wing" it with those kids (really with any kids, but even more so with those) or they will TAKE YOU DOWN! So, I over plan which can sometimes be a good thing, but sometimes a frustrating thing when you feel like it takes forever to accomplish a week's worth of plans. However, tot school is about the tot, so we move at his pace!
These plans did not take us a week, in fact we stretched them over two weeks! We had several busy days in there, and ended up doing only one activity a day, instead of the two it shows on the plans.

You will notice the plans sort of go by themes. The shape he learned was circle, so I chose letters that use a circle (Q, O) and numbers that also use circles (8 and 6). I want to provide support so he can make connections between everything we are learning. Also, these lessons give me opportunities to point out and explain how they are connected.
Over the next few posts, I will break down each activity with pictures and descriptions.
The first one I want to show you is the circle lesson (Tuesday). Supplies: White construction paper, crayons or markers, various objects that include a circle as part of their shape for tracing (ie: cylinders).
Random things I used to trace circles.
I started by reading him a shape book, "Shapes that Roll," but really you could read any book that talks about shapes. Throughout the book I continually drew attention to the circles. He pointed them out after reading, and we "drew" circles in the air.
The book we read.
Next, I showed him the items I had collected and pointed out the circle part. I took his finger and traced the circle part of each piece. I then helped him trace the circles on a piece of paper. (This kind of tracing was pretty difficult) I let him color them and we counted and numbered them. I tried to get him to think of things that were circular, but that was WAY too difficult. Far too abstract for his little brain, so I drew a pizza and a smiley face to show him.
The finished product.
This will go in his room on his "work wall" so he can constantly have a reminder of what he has learned.
(Click here for lesson plans)

Monday, November 14, 2011


Remember I said I would write on here about my successes AND failures? Well, today was one of those failures. If you remember from my schedule post, Mondays are clean the house Mondays. Maverick had been helping me a little, but mostly just playing in the same room, or in his own room. I had to go feed the baby (because Solomon is on a nursing strike, I have to feed him in the dark nursery, rocking in the rocking chair...extremely convenient when you have a 2 and a half year old running around unsupervised!) and told Maverick he was to go in his room for "room time."
It was VERY quiet the whole time I was feeding Solomon which I found a bit strange, but delightful at the same time. I came out to discover Maverick with gobs of hair wax in his hair, on his forehead, and on his shirt. He had gotten into one of our drawers in our bathroom and helped himself to some hair product. He has never been one to get into things, so I was really shocked (I know I'm naive). I threw him in the tub and tried to wash it out, but wax doesn't come out!!!! This is what he looked like AFTER clean up...
This was DRY!!! Can we say greasy? Ewwww. I ended up having to shave his head.
All of his hair :(

The hair is all clumped together in one pile because there was SO.MUCH.WAX! Here is his after shot...

It's still pretty messed up because no matter how many times I wash it, that wax will not come out.
You know, there are some days that are just hard and I feel like I fail at everything I try to do. But, I try to remember to be present. (Sheila Thompson spoke about this at our church's last Mom good!) Don't wish the days away, because they already go way too fast on their own. So, I will choose to enjoy these mishaps...well, maybe not enjoy them, but learn from them and hopefully both of us will come out more disciplined in the end. :)

P.S. Tomorrow I will be posting LESSON PLANS!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I am a very schedule oriented person, thus my children forcibly willingly are as well (one can hope). There are several schedule samples for tot school all over the Internet, but here is what works for our family...

Monday is clean the house Monday. I found that it's way easier for me to spend most of one day cleaning the house, rather than trying to do a little bit each day. At the end of a Monday I feel such a sense of accomplishment looking at a completely clean (for 5 seconds) house. Maverick helps me with cleaning on these days as part of school. He vacuums with a little handheld vacuum cleaner (BEST purchase ever), sweeps with a small brush, and helps me wash the dishes.

These chores teach him responsibility, following directions, completion of a task and how to make a great husband someday (haha). (Side note: Laundry is not included in Monday's tasks as that literally takes ALL.STINKIN.DAY!) I also let him color, paint (with watercolors), play with playdough, etc. to keep him busy while I clean.

Tuesday is special project day. I try to do some kind of learning art project on this day. Wednesday is cooking day where he helps me cook or bake something that has to do with that week's theme. Thursday is another day to learn math, reading, science skills, etc. And Friday is our field trip day. On these days we go to the park, the library, some kind of play place, meet friends for play dates, etc.

Playing at "Shipwrecked," a local play place.
Now, as I said in an earlier post, things don't always go as planned and I don't always get to adhere to this schedule, but it helps me plan better and feel more organized. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Name Recognition

One of the first things I wanted to work on with Maverick was recognizing his name. I had already spent quite a bit of time pointing out the first letter in his name, the sound, other things that start with M, etc.

Here are the supplies we used for this activity: white construction paper (printer paper is probably too thin for this activity), liquid glue, a marker, and "o" cereal.
First, I went through and pointed to each letter in his name, said it out loud and had him repeat me (later that day I made up a little song for Mav to learn to spell his name). We then glued O cereal on an outline of the letters in his name. Of course he LOVED using the liquid glue all by himself (can we say messy?).

I had done this project with my kindergartners last year at school and they were able to do their whole name, however, Maverick is much too young for that so we started with the first letter. After the first letter, I asked him if he wanted to do another letter, and he did, so I let him choose which one. That was about all he had the attention span for. Since this project involves food, I had told him before we started that he could eat some cereal after the project. Of course, you could eat at any point in the project, but I used separate cereal since I didn't want him eating glue.
This is a really great hands-on project that keeps them quite focused for a while...especially when they get to eat as part of the project!
Another fun name recognition activity is what I call "The Secret Message" project. We used water color paints, white construction paper and a white crayon. I had written his name in white crayon on the paper beforehand.

I told Maverick I had written him a secret message and he needed to paint the paper to see what the message said.
With a 2 year old, the watercolors get all mixed up in the little paint pods, but I realized I needed to get over this because he could care less and water colors are super easy to clean up!
The hidden message revealed!
Once he had finished, I asked him what he saw and he said, "it says Maverick James Madedaden," which is how he pronounces his whole name (SO cute but I reminded him it was just his first name of course).
I make sure to write his name on EVERYTHING we do and let him know that's what I'm writing. Sometimes he asks to write his name, which is just a line, but these are all important pre-writing and pre-reading skills.