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~

Monday, September 19, 2016

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2016

Ahoy there my hearties! Today tis Talk Like a Pirate day. Any land lubber can tell you that today tis one of me favorite holidays.
So, just for today we had a special school plan. The boys received a treasure of dollar store pirate coloring books, and crayons. My sister and her family found a brand new pumpkin potato head pirate at a thrift store, and stickers I've had sitting around for years that I keep forgetting about.
Our book, might not be the best pirate book around, but it was one we had on hand. Every page is filled with tiny details and it was fun to play the 'I spy' game with the boys. We read it outside... Actually we spent most of the day outside.
Badger had his Toddler Tuesday wonder basket filled specially for the day. Hopefully I will start posting about his adventures soon. 
We tossed our gold doubloons pillows into the treasure chest and counted them as we tossed.
We practiced taking turns and learning about balance with this game. I have had this game for about 15 years now. It's amazing that the pieces are in as good of shape as they are still.... But then again, we don't normally pull it out except for Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Then because there needed to be a big treasure hunt, we went on a nature scavenger hunt. I found a lovely printable nature hunt free online "Here". On our hunt we saw many different beetles, a tiny duck, and several different types of seed pods... But the mosquitoes descended before I was able to get any pictures.  
We finished our day up with a pirate sensory bathtub. Badger liked the seashells. Panda liked the boats. Both of them ignored the coins, but loved the cookie scented bubble bath... Yum.
And that, me hearties, is how our adventure be.
~Shine on~

Monday, September 12, 2016

Apple Week

We're back! Last week was our first week officially homeschooling. We've jumped up a notch from our Toddler Tuesday school days. This week our book of choice was "Apple Farmer Annie" By Monica Wellington. This happens to be one of our favorite fall books. It has vibrant pictures with adorable details, such as places where you can count apples, see the many varieties of apples, the lifecycle of an apple and so forth. It's not on the BFIAR book list, but it was a good and familiar book which made it a good jumping off point.
The base for our sensory bin this week was GF oatmeal and cinnamon sticks. This was by far one of the most loved sensory bins we've done yet. There was a lot of oatmeal rain and burying the little apples. I did have to keep an extra close watch on Badger with those bright, shiny ,chokeable apples; but it was worth it. They were both excited and ready to play productively for about a half hour every day with the bin.
Here are the art activities that we managed to make last week. Most are self explanatory, but the red blobs were supposed to be apple prints.. They didn't turn out well, but we had fun and Panda is proud of them; that's what counts. I did have a few more crafts but we didn't get around to them. We were going to stamp our arms in brown paint and make an apple orchard. Then use our finger prints to make green leaves or red apples. I also wanted to make a "stain glass" apple using tissue paper and clear contact paper, but I misplaced my tissue paper.
Our salt tray was so lovely and scented with cinnamon... But this did not go so well. I think I pushed a bit to far. Panda loved the tray and making shapes, so we scaled back and practiced shapes and handwriting readiness skills. We will still focus on letter recognition,but we wont be writing any letters for a little while. He just isn't ready.
We had more luck with this activity. I drew a Dot to Dot 'A' and Panda traced over it with chalk. Then I had him trace over it again with a q-tip and water. There are two sides to this slate (it belonged to Bear when he was a boy), so we were able to practise 'A' four times in one sitting.
I found this idea on Pinterest. Panda really enjoyed this activity. The red apple is actually GF play dough. There are "seeds" (black beans), "stems" (twigs), plastic worms, and leaves from a real apple tree in this wonderful invitation to play. We also used the tray to dissect an apple and put skin, stem, seeds, core, and flesh all in the different compartments while talking about the parts of an apple and taste testing different varieties. I don't have a picture, but we also baked a few batches of apple muffins, apple crisp and had cider as special treats this past week.
For math we counted and sorted apples with these Attribute Apples. I love them. There are three different sizes and colors. Some apples have leaves, and some have worms. These are one mighty teaching aid to have on hand. Both boys loved just holding them. In this picture we went bobbing for apples. Panda used the tongs and Badger used his hands. 
This was a simple color sorting activity that both boys enjoyed.
Our song for the week was "Way Up High in an Apple Tree". We liked the song  so much that we might keep it for our opening circle time song.
This was a simple game I found on Pinterest. It was supposed to be a memory matching game but Panda isn't ready for that. Instead we took turns flipping the caps over to see who could find the most apples. Turn taking is going to be a big social skill we will be working on.
We finished the week with the Apple Star story. I want to do a puppet show each week, but I kept this week simple by just telling the story and sloooowly cutting the apples up. Panda was entranced and thrilled to pieces when I showed him the stars in the centers. We were also supposed to have a field trip to the apple orchard, but they aren't open yet for the season. All in all I think our first week went rather well. What have you been up to? Stay tuned,  I will be bringing back Toddler Tuesday. Staring Baby Badger!
Shine on,
P.S. I would have posted links to the Pinterest items, but I'm not on my normal computer and am having Pinterest difficulties. I'm sorry about that.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A New Beginning

It has been such a long time since I have had time and peace to type here in this space. This past summer I've been trying to decide if I should close this blog and start a new chapter or forge on ahead. Life has changed so much since I started this blog. Then I thought, this space I've carved out is about Our Family. This space has always served to keep me on track and to record events to look back on. I don't want or need to give that up. We're here to stay. And so...
At the beginning of the year Panda was seeing several different therapists all at different times and my dream of homeschooling was going up in smoke. He gave up reading books and started hitting himself. As the reality of what it means to be a parent of a "special needs" child burned itself into us, hope dwindled further and further away. I was burned out and needed some respite. It was a bad summer.
I am so happy to announce that this week he started therapy at a center where all of his therapy will be handled at the same time and place, every day! The only available slot was during the morning, so I had to pull him from the school districts program. By default we are now homeschooling in the afternoon! Next week I will begin blogging again about our school week, but for now, we are back and in action. I can already feel the peace and rhythm rushing, cascading, flooding back into our home. Panda loves the center. Their teaching style resonates with our wishes for Panda. He has stopped hitting himself, and for this entire week he has brought me book after book to read. One night he brought me twenty bedtime stories. If there is ever a good reason for staying up late that was it. I know we can't always do that, but finally I feel like my boy has been returned. The future is looking very bright.
Panda and Waldorf do not mesh. It's a sad fact that I have to honor. I love Waldorf and there will be several aspects of Waldorf in our home and educational life, but it's time to honor how my son learns and let that 15 year old dream go and embrace a new one.
So what does our Education Plan look like?
Before Five in a Row is the backbone of our education plan.
Basically we read a book every day and base all of our activities off of that book. Very similar to our Toddler Tuesdays. Some books we will be using wont be on the BFIAR list, but the process is the same and easily applied to any book.
Waldorf (because I can't let it go completely) will be used for our daily rhythm and art. We will also be using Math Gnomes. They aren't exactly Waldorf, but often the two get thrown together.
Reggio-Emilia will be used for science- and his therapy center is also Reggio-Emilia based.
Montessori will be used for life skills.
Charlotte Mason will be utilized for early reading and focus.
(yes Mouse, this should all look very familiar. It was a good plan, and fits us well).
But lets not forget Badger. He will even have baby school (soon to be the rebirth of Toddler Tuesdays) to keep him occupied while working with his big brother.
Perhaps I shall name our Home school Frankenstein Academy because of all the different styles we have cobbled together. Lol.
Deep Breath.. And THAT is everything that has been happening in our world, and a glimpse into what is to come.
Shine on!