Saturday, October 22, 2016

A year ago today...or Then and Now.

A year ago today we welcomed you, our tiny Badger into the family. I saw your impossibly tiny ears and whispered into them as you fell asleep (and every night since) that I loved you. 
You placed your tiny hands in mine. I know this is your way of telling me now that you love me back.
Your feet have grown so much and have taken you so far. You are only starting to take your first steps now. I wonder where your feet will take you as we step into this new year together.

My sweet little Badger. Happy Birthday. Know that my hands will never be to small to cradle your face or wipe away your tears. You are such a joy, thank you for choosing our family. We love your mellow spirit and your sense of humor. You can be quite a little ham sometimes. Happy birthday and
shine on my beautiful boy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Too Many Pumpkins

Lest week our lesson plans were based around "Too Many Pumpkins" by Linda White. I hope we did this book justice because it is one of my sister's favorites.
Our sensory bin was black beans and orange pom poms with spiral pipe cleaners. I added a woman and a cat to represent the woman and the cat in the book. A very simple bin, but it was well liked. Enough with the beans already! Ok ok, I hear you and promise that this week's bin is different.
Badger's wonder basket held several little pumpkins, but his favorite was the real pumpkin and he studied, played with, and nibbled on it all week. The woman and cat represent the woman and cat in the book, and there is even a tiny truck.. You have to read the book to find out how they all fit together. 
Our Poem this week was "Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a Gate". The star stickers were hard for even me to peel off the backs, but Panda had fun placing them. Foam stickers are amazing for little hands and Panda had no trouble with them. This was great for getting him to use a pincher grasp on the stickers to get his hand ready for the proper hand hold for a pencil. It also was an exercise in following directions (stars go in the sky and pumpkins go on the fence). 
We also had a pumpkin sitting in our living room all week to warm up and for the kids to explore. They both loved rolling it around and sitting on it and patting it to hear the hollow thumps.. Thursday we cut it open to see what was inside. My sensory seeking little man who hates sticky slimy things dove right in! I am so proud of him. 
We then turned it into our happy Jack o' lantern. Panda says hello and bye every time we pass it. We did our 'normal' counting and letter exercises, but they had no pumpkin theme so I'm leaving them out, however one thing to note was that several days this past week Panda asked to work on them. This boy has such a thirst to learn. 
Panda cut out this pumpkin (with minimal help) using loop scissors and then made a hand print leaf. He was so excited to be making a pumpkin that he didn't even mind the paint on his hand. Several times this week he has proudly pointed out his pumpkin and has told me, "I make Pumpkin". That is a big sentence for my little guy and it also shows pride in his accomplishment.
One last craft we did was to paint mini pumpkins. Panda had a lot of fun swirling the paint around and discovered that yellow and blue make green! Oh the excitement and giggle when he put those two together. 
We ended the week with pumpkin pancakes and a trip to the pumpkin patch. This was our second trip there this year. The first trip was real rocky. Panda darted here and there and didn't listen to anyone. This time he stayed close by and came when called. We didn't even have a melt down when it was time to go. All in all, this week was a success.
Thanks for reading. What pumpkin activities have you done?
~Shine on~

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Caps for Sale

Last week our lessons were based around this lovely childhood favorite. "Caps For Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina. Wow, this book held Panda's attention so well. He's still requesting we read it this week.. And so we do. We have about 15 books he requests I read every day. Thankfully they are all seasonal so I wont go crazy reading them before it's time to switch to a new season. But Hooray! His love of books has returned!!!
Our sensory bin was made up so that we could act out the story. I made a peddler, five monkeys, and way to many hats. We also included $0.50 because that is what the peddler says the hats cost. I will never sew another one of these hats again, but I am glad that I made them. Panda loved them. He loved decorating the monkeys, swapping hats, putting them on his fingers, just cradling them in wonder at the tiny hats his mum made. I got the idea and patterns for them "Here".
They even worked well for math manipulative's! Ok, so we're still working on number recognition, but still. He is only three, and that is pretty darn good.
The five monkeys were used for Math as well. We counted and acted out the children's rhyme of five little monkeys jumping on the bed. This was a huge hit and the reason why I made exactly five monkeys. It met him where he is at. I am learning that Panda learns through reenacting play games like this best.
I had Panda walk around 'Slowly slowly' with caps on his head like the peddler and used this as an opportunity to practice "Stop!". This is a safety issue we have while out in public and it was such a nice and gentle way to work with him and meet him where he is at. 
Our neighbors gave us this amazing chalkboard. We have been using it to work on letter recognition and precursors to handwriting. Thank you! He loves it.
I also found a few coloring pages on line that were great for our crafts and art projects this week.
I didn't forget about Badger. His wonder basket this week had a hat, two monkey puppets, a banana, and several differently shaped yellow blocks. He really has been enjoying the new skill of being able to put on and take off hates lately, the blocks were a wonder and puzzle for him, and he laughed like crazy when the "mum" monkey kissed the baby monkey puppet and nibbled on the banana.
We had planned to go too the zoo, but we are still down with a cold. So instead we had a monkey tea party outside. Wow! This was great for both boys. We were going to make monkey bread, but Panda did not like it, so we used what we had on hand. I bought a ceramic teapot at a thrift store and Panda was able to practice being gentle and careful and pouring. He was SO proud to be trusted with a "real" tea pot. There was great imaginative play done in our secret garden. Please and thank you were practiced and he even worked on sharing with his brother and monkey friends. The two of them had an absolute blast playing together. Tea Parties are back on our docket!
Thank you for reading. This week has been off to a great start. I can't wait to record about it in this space next week. Till then, Shine on!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Badger's Wonder Baskets

Last month when Panda started a more structured Preschool at home I began making wonder baskets for Badger to play with. These keep him occupied while I am working with his brother. I had planned on doing separate posts for Panda's school and Badger's activities... But that has been proving difficult. I will be adding these into my regular school posts from here on out. That being said; for Apple Week Badger's wonder basket held a chiming apple, and nesting measuring cups that he took great delight in stacking and unstacking and banging together. I found some silicon measuring spoons to add in. They have been a favorite teething soother all month. We also worked on sorting apples into muffin tins and tasted all sorts of apple treats together.
For Talk Like a Pirate Day, Badger has a special one day pirate basket. He enjoyed playing with the boat the most out of this basket, so I followed his lead and gave him a bin of water to float the boat and splash around in while Panda was at therapy.
For our Good Night Moon Week Badger had a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush... errr... Make that a bowl and spoon. I also dug out a ball with a moon and a bunny for this basket. During the day we made a night sky by putting paint into a Ziploc bag and then smooshing the paint around.
For Squirrel Week I really wanted an acorn, but didn't have the time to stitch a felt one together. Instead I opted for several different wood slices, a squirrel, and a pine cone. Badger was fascinated with the pine cone. We spent most of our one on one time out on nature walks along the river this week.
And for Michaelmas and Dragon Week I put together a basket with a knight, dragon, crown, shooting star, and a marigold dyed play silk. Badger is starting to take an interest in hats and had a lot of fun playing with the crown. We also have a wooden dragon pull toy that he had a lot of fun studying and pulling around the house.
I don't remember where I first heard of the idea of Wonder Baskets for Babies, but they are wonderful tools to keep on hand for safe and fun exploration.
Thanks for Reading and
~Shine On~

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dragon Week

Last week we celebrated Michaelmas. Panda loves dragons so I worked dragons into all of our plans. This is the book we chose. It did not have the lesson of conquering your fears and letting your light shine as clearly as I would have liked for Michaelmas... But it did have the lesson that not all your plans in life turn out how you expect them to and That seemed to meet us where we are at right now.
I kept the acorns from last week's sensory bin and added horse chestnuts for this week's bin. Panda loves to peel the shells off and hold the glowing chestnuts inside. I used our book this week and the chestnuts to talk about how everyone is different and to find the beauty inside. As a Michaelmas gift I gave him a new Michael angel peg doll. It has been close at hand all week. On Friday we have little puppet shows. I used these peg dolls to perform a simple Michaelmas story. Panda was mesmerized. This is the first puppet show we have done that he has sat completely still for.
This year Panda helped make our Dragon bread. He carefully helped measure out all of the ingredients, pour, and stir..
Then he helped form and decorate the dragon. He was so happy and proud to have helped. While the bread baked he sat in front of the oven (for half an hour) transfixed. He stroked the front of the oven door and kept saying things like;
"Fire hot dragon. I blow on it."
"Don't worry dragon"
"I made you"
"I baked you hot"
And the best one...
"Don't worry little one. I eat you"
We made a fire breathing dragon tube. I found directions on Pinterest. Panda helped cut all the pieces out. He needed a lot of help because the tissue paper kept sliding out of the scissors, but he did make every cut. We practiced our letters on the tablet. It was not coincidence that last week the letter was "D" for dragon.
I presented Panda with this little dragon made out of paper plates and he ran right up and threw his harms around me in a giant bear hug... That is not normal behavior for my boy and it made me cry. He was so excited to paint this dragon. He picked out the paints and how he wanted it painted. He started to make stripes and then asked me to help him. I am so proud of how hard he worked on this little dragon.
One last activity involving chestnuts. While Panda was at therapy I drilled holes through several chestnuts to make beads. Panda loves to bead things. He was so happy when he came home and found this waiting for him. He sat right down and focused for about an hour. He would put beads on and take them off till they were just right. Then we practiced counting them.
When  he was all done, Panda gave the chestnut necklace to his brother. Badger has loved playing with it every day since. I don't know how long the nuts will last, but Badger has been loving practicing putting it on and taking it off and nibbling the smooth beads.
And that was our Michaelmas celebration and home school dragon week.
Does your family have any Michaelmas traditions?
Thanks for visiting and
~Shine On~

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Squirrel Week

Last week I scrapped our plans for a "Runaway Bunny" week in favor of a squirrel themed week. Panda has been loving watching the squirrels scurrying around outside. This was the perfect opportunity to follow his interest.
Our sensory bin was made up of many different types of acorns. Panda liked pretending to feed the figurines the acorns and picking the acorns up with the tongs. Badger liked the sound they made as he pushed his hands back and forth through the nuts, and the sound they made as they hit the tub when he dropped them.
We did simple counting and number recognition exercises.. He loves counting, but I'm not sure if the number recognition part is sinking in yet. Our letter recognition was mainly done on the tablet. There was a small break through last week. Panda brought the tablet up to me and actually requested, "A, B,C,E Please". So something is sinking in.
I found this game at a thrift store over the summer. Panda and I take turns matching colors and picking acorns up with the squirrel shaped tongs.
We welcomed the first day of Autumn with a nature walk to collect leaves, which we later used to make leaf rubbings.
I found free Autumn themed dot art pintables on "This" blog. Our Dot markers kept splattering, so we opted for some paint, and a pom pom on a clothes pin for a brush.
The last thing on our list that we were able to complete was a nature study. One of our neighbors has a chestnut tree. The chestnuts were Panda's favorite treasure in the stash. He enjoyed the feel of the shelled chestnuts and experimented with sizes by checking to see if he could fit different nuts back inside the different shells. The cylinders in the picture have lenses for viewing. Some of them are magnifying and some have different color lenses. Last week was a bit rocky due to sickness, baking madness, and graduations, so much of this theme will be carried on throughout this week. This will also let me finish up a few things we weren't able to complete.
Thanks for stopping by.
~Shine on~

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Goodnight Moon

 Hello, a bit delayed because of Talk Like a Pirate Day on Monday, but here is our homeschool lesson based off of "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown.
 Our sensory bin was filled with every element from the book. It was a lot of fun to play 'I Spy' while reading the book. 
As luck would have it, I found this game at the thrift store over the summer.
There are several different ways to play and it will grow with the boys. Right now, Panda enjoys taking turns finding cards and matching them on the boards.
I don't like a lot of screen time for my boys, but this app is worth while.
Panda's OT was using this during therapy before we switched to his new center and he loved it. Basically you trace letters and once completed 'fun things' happen. Flowers bloom along the letter, soap suds bubble, a train races over it, rockets blast off... That sort of thing. It is wonderful.
This was a sorting activity. There are tiny wood stars, large wood stars, and medium sized plastic stars. It took a little work, but he did this activity on his own and had a lot of fun.
Then we counted and stacked the stars for math.
We didn't get around to all of the art activities I had planned (I over plan art activities), but here is the calm down bottle we made with stars. Both the boys love it, so it will probably stick around for a while. Panda helped pour everything in.
These paper plate bunny ears, Panda cut out. I had to help guide his hands, but he did the work. We use loop scissors. They are easier to manipulate with tiny hands.
This is the last of the art projects we made. It was done in several stages. First Panda painted the moon and star. After they dried, he painted the other side. Then he had to paint the star with glue and sprinkle glitter on it. When it was dry he had to do the other side. I helped with the ties, but the lions share was done by Panda.
And that was our "Good Night Moon" week.
Thanks for stopping by.
~Shine on~