Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why is Preschool Even Necessary in a Homeschool Family?

We homeschool our three boys.  The older two boys are only two years apart and Peter, the middle child, never saw any reason why he should not do what his older brother was doing.  So the two boys are at approximately the same grade level on many things.  I can pretty much teach the same thing to both boys with only slight adaptations for attention span.  You would think, that because I am only teaching children at two different grade levels (older boys and preschool) that finding time to schedule in preschool would be easy, but it is NOT.  I can't imagine, how a homeschooling Mom could do preschool and multiple other levels of teaching at once. When I get overwhelmed preschool is typically the first thing dropped from our schedule, I mean, is preschool really necessary?
Preschool is necessary and for me the number one reason is - timeOne on one time with my child.

I am so fortunate to receive Mother Goose Time in exchange for writing about our experiences.  However, even if I had to pay for Mother Goose Time, I would somehow find it in my budget to buy at least ONE box and here is why. 

My kids have never been ones to sit on my lap and enjoy a book, they were too busy for that sort of thing.  And we all know all the studies that show how important reading with your child is to their development.  Much of what I have heard from those studies is that it's not necessarily the reading part but the time of closeness with your child while building vocabulary.  This is where Mother Goose Time saved us - quality time together exploring, learning and building vocabulary.

When you buy your first box of Mother Goose Time you get a Welcome Kit with all you need to set up a stellar Circle Time display.  Every morning you can spend time with your child discussing the weather and what clothes they should wear, putting up the calendar piece, singing about the days of the week and the months of the year.
Just a walk down memory lane.  This is when Lachlan was little and we were having some fun with Mother Goose Time.
Then you get to dive into the Daily Discovery Bags.  There are 20 in each box meant to last you one month.  But you really can pick any topic you think your kids would be interested in and take as long as you want to work through it.  The calendar pieces can be used over and over again if you adhere them with poster tack so you can make the 20 Discovery Bags stretch as long as it works for you.

Each box introduces three letters, two numbers, a shape and a color.  So in your box you will have activities that really hone in on those things each month.  What this means is that if you just buy one box, you won't get the complete set of alphabet letters, and numbers.  But you can always buy a set of flashcards if that is important to you and use some of the teaching techniques you will learn from MGT to introduce the other letters and numbers.  This year though, you will get all the colors and shapes which came in the Welcome Kit.  You also get an alphabet strip to put on your Circle Time display. 
Tiny Peter learning about Alligators and the letter A.
But I personally, wouldn't be too worried about the letters.  There is so much more to preschool than learning your ABCs and 123s.  In fact, many homeschoolers choose to homeschool just to allow their children to be able to slow down in those areas and just enjoy being a kid and exploring.  That's what Mother Goose Time is so good at!!  They cover so many amazing and wonderful topics, far MORE than just letters and numbers. They follow all the current best practices and are constantly doing their research.  With this curriculum everything is explored through a multi-sensory approach full of fun and play. 
Learning about Vibration Pollination.
Now back to the goal of time with our kiddos.  We all want to spend quality time with all of our children, but it can be hard with so many demands on us as educators, homemakers, wives and mothers.  This is why, when the moment comes and you can grab a Discovery Bag and explore with your little one, Mother Goose Time will instantly be worth it's weight in gold.

I am speaking from personal experience here.  Life has been busy and hectic lately, who am I kidding, it always is.  We have been diligent at getting school done with the older boys but not very good at preschool with Adam.  But on this day, Adam hopped up at the table as his brothers were working on school and asked to do something too.  It was easy, I pulled out Day 1's Discovery Bag from the Weather All Around Us theme.

We jumped right into the Make & Play craft with the goal of making a sun.  Everyone became interested in the craft, some might say distracted.  But it was good for us to work on a project like this together and we still got all the other school done too.  Peter and Lachlan heard we were making a sun and had to make a re-creation of the solar eclipse which is still fresh in our minds.
 Adam colored his "sun" blue and then I showed him the technique they used on the example of using the small souffle cup as a stamp.
 Lachlan made a sun on one side and the moon on the other.
 Adam grabbed the large souffle cup and cut the edges.  He really enjoyed exploring every detail of the materials that were provided for us.

As they were working I got out the Circle Time display and got it all updated.  I grabbed the first letter from this month which was in Day 2's bag and put it up.
Then I made my letter station on the fridge.  This is the letter magnet set by Leap Frog and the Muscle Movement cards from Fundanoodle.  Adam loves to explore this station and really enjoys learning his letters.  I put up a new letter every few weeks following the MGT schedule, but you can easily do this on your own.  If he pushes on the magnet it sings a song that helps him learn the sound that each letter makes.  Then, if he wants to take the time he can trace the letter C.
 After that I said today's date and we counted to 9.
 At this point Adam went to the bathroom and I thought he just had to go potty.  But it turns out that what he was doing was washing the blue off of the souffle cup because he didn't want it to be blue anymore.  He came back to the dining room in tears that he had ruined his paper.  Poor guy.
Thankfully I had another large souffle cup that I was able to trim down to be small like he wanted.  Then he colored it red instead of blue.  He looked up to give me a nice smile but he was not going to stop coloring for nothing.
 The older boys were now done with their MGT craft and back to business.  They put their reading glasses on to get started and Adam decided he wanted reading glasses too.
He was doing his reading after all!  This I Can Read book was in last months box.  We love all of these little readers which have repetitive phrases easy for little ones to pick up and they each include some of the most commonly used words that the kids can pick up as site words, long before we realize they have the ability.

To make Adam feel happy and included, we got out an old pair of sunglasses and popped out the dark lenses.  I think it worked.
 Next he hopped up on my lap to read his book.  He grabbed a word pointer and he found the word "is" as we read through the book, which we did at least three times.  After the first time he would hush me as I tried to read and said "no, I read it."  Okay Dude, go for it.
When he reads it, the words aren't always perfect, but he tells one heck of a story and that is such an important part of the process of reading.

The last thing I did was to write his name on the provided nametag, in a thick yellow marker.  Then I left it at his spot at the table with a thin red marker sitting next to it.  He knows what his job is now, because we have done this a few times.  He follows the yellow lines with his red marker as best as he can.
If this was my one box of Mother Goose Time that I could fit in the budget, I would write his name in yellow, then laminate it and he could practice writing his name everyday using a dry erase marker.

Later Adam asked for another nametag and he drew a perfect square and then rectangle.  Inside the rectangle he drew a bunch of lines which he explained to me as "all of my family standing up!"
We had so much fun!  And it took me about 2 seconds to prepare.  Well I guess I haven't ever timed myself to find out how long it takes to cut open a Discovery Bag, but I think you get the idea.

Preschool is necessary for so many reasons but for me the most valuable of these is this quality time I get to spend with my children!  That's what being a Mom with a Dandelion in Her Hair is all about.  And I just have to give you a quick recap on me.  I am not a crafty person, I am not an amazing homemaker that makes all the other Moms jealous, my house is not spotless, my children are not always clean or dressed, I do not spend hours a day planning lessons.  With out Mother Goose Time, the reality is, my poor little man would be left out.  I wouldn't have the time to collect all the resources to do these things with my kids.  I mean, where does one purchase a souffle cup anyways??
Adam's souffle cup sun!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Do you hear what I hear?

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In Oregon we heard much needed rain fall on our rooftops and on our forests.  As soon as it rains I consider it candle lighting season and I just couldn't choose which one to light so I lit them all.
In the second week of the My Amazing Body theme we learned all about the five sense.  On this day we were focusing on the sense of hearing and we made our very own musical instrument out of a bowl.  First he colored the paper bowl, then I helped him stretch two rubber bands over the bowl.  When you pluck the rubber bands it makes an awesome sound.
We did things a bit backwards (for us) and did the Make & Play craft at the table as we were eating breakfast.  Then, after breakfast, I moved the Circle Time board to the living room so we could sit on the rug and try to work through the full Circle Time routine.  I asked the opening question about hearing, we checked the weather, talked through the days date, and I set out a few of the tools we were going to use that day.
This month I put all the calendar pieces on the calendar and created a gold star that I could use to mark the current day.  I was putting the dates up as we worked through the month but if we got a few days behind it would take a lot of time to catch up on our dates and delay the start to our day.
 Here is a close up of the gold star.
Once we completed all the Circle Time stuff we moved into the My Senses Game.  We were given a beautiful spinner with the five senses and cards with photos of items we could either hear, touch, see, smell or taste.  Some of them we could do multiple things with of course.  You can smell a skunk and possibly touch a skunk.
He spun a nose, I asked what he could do with his nose, smell of course, then asked which item he could smell. He found the rose first.
Next he spun an ear and I asked him what he does with his ear.  He pointed to his ear but gave me no response so I held my hand up to my ear like you can see him doing and asked again.  Honestly, I don't think we ever talked about how our ears hear, so he couldn't come up with the word.  See! Even the topics you think have been well covered by your little one in everyday life haven't been.  The information was never put together for him in this way.
Now we were off to find something we could hear.  He pointed straight at the french horn.
Here we go, spinning again and this time we got the mouth.  What do you do with your mouth? "Eat something" he said.  True.
Then he found the banana picture at the same time he happened to be eating a banana.
So I asked him, what does a banana taste like?  That's when I got the face you see below.  He took a bite and looked up as he chewed and thought about what a banana tasted like.  "A banana" he said.
Fair enough.  I am not really sure how I could describe a bananas taste either.  But it was fun for him to ponder.  The older boys were around as we were discussing this and I asked them which part of the mouth tastes.  Lachlan knew it was the tongue and that we had little bumps on our tongue that did the tasting.  I am assuming I can thank the "Magic School bus" for this scientific understanding.

At this point I lost Adam, he was ready to move on.  We had only one more activity to do to complete the day and it was a science experiment.
So I gathered all of the supplies and put them together and left them by the Circle Time board.  I figured there would be a natural time in the day where Adam would become curious and we could pick up the items and we would get started.  We were to drop the items in this metal bowl one at a time into the bowl and sort them by which items were LOUD when they hit the bowl and which were quiet.
This month all the Blog Ambassadors are talking about their routines.  Ours has always been pretty simple, we start at breakfast, usually doing Circle Time while we eat.  I ask about the weather, we talk about the date, study the pattern on the calendar, count along with the numbers, talk about the letter and the sound it makes.  Sometimes we sing the alphabet as I point to all the letters along the bottom.  We almost always sing the days of the week song and the months of the year song.  Usually by that time Adam is almost finished with eating breakfast and I get out one or two of the days activities that can be done at the table.  When he is ready to get down he is free to do so and I gather supplies for any remaining activities and leave them out for us to grab later in the day.

However, on this day we did things a bit different. We have been going to a preschool co-op where they are using Mother Goose Time and doing a formal Circle Time with other preschoolers once a week.  This inspired me to try to get him down in front of the board on the floor for a nice one on one formal Circle Time.  It went pretty well and I think I might try to incorporate this slightly switched up routine into our weeks more often.

Since our Circle Time has always been so informal I have never done much research or looking into how to do a good Circle Time.  But recently I have been watching videos and gathering ideas from the other Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassadors and hope to keep testing and trying out a variety of options to see what works best for us.

And now it's the big kids turn.  Lachlan finished up his writing assignment and then spend quite a while building a Lego RV.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mother Goose Time - at the counter, at the table, preschool co-op, Grandma's house and outside!

*This post may contain affiliate links.  

We have been having a lot of fun learning about "My Amazing Body" with Mother Goose Time.  When we learned about heads we made paper bag puppets.  Adam wanted to stand on his chair while he worked and I was afraid he would fall off so I moved him to the learning tower at the counter.  He was able to stand and move and wiggle with out a worry of falling off.
He built himself a nice little puppet with brown hair and a yellow shirt, oh and four eyes!
Later we got out our tanagrams and built people using the shape design mat this time moving back to the table.
But not only have we been learning with Mother Goose Time at home, we have also been learning with Mother Goose Time at our brand new preschool co-op.  One of our fellow bloggers is teaching the preschool class and she made an amazing interactive Circle Time board.  It's magnetic and the metal is screwed to heavy wood boards that can be laid on the ground and walked on.  We all sit around the board as we stick the magnets on and then sing the songs.
Here is a little guy walking right across the board as he chooses the weather for the day.
Next Stephanie has us move onto stations.  At the first station we investigate, since we were learning about islands, we floated our alphabet islands in a little bin of water and tried to see what we could balance on them.
When it was just one square it was really hard.
If we got it just right we could make them balance.
But then I helped Adam connect all four alphabet squares.  We could balance everything on their at once!
It was so much fun to do Mother Goose Time in a room full of other preschoolers.  I was asked to teach the class initially but I knew Adam most likely, wouldn't let me.  I was right.  He wouldn't let me leave his side.  Maybe after a few weeks he will.  For us though, this is the best case scenario.  I can help Stephanie as an assistant, stay with Adam and give him the opportunity to learn with his peers!
Adam also made a pirate patch and posed with his brothers.  They are taking a conversational Spanish class.  We are only there for an hour every Wednesday, but everyone LOVES it!
Did I mention that it's really hard work to do preschool for an hour?
Another new thing for us this year is the morning program at my boy's homeschool charter school.  They are going from 9 to noon on Tuesday and Thursdays.  The school is in the next town over but it's only 6 blocks from my parents house.  So we go there while we wait for brothers.  Since Mother Goose Time is so easy to pack, I throw it in a bag and we are ready to go.  So we got to do Mother Goose Time at Grandma's.  He worked on his pocket and checked on Grandpa who was chatting on the phone.
I put a little tape on the end of the string to make it easier for Adam to thread.  He went up and down through the holes in perfect order.
And Grandpa is still on the phone.  Grandpa was talking to Uncle Dale and teased that Adam was doing school to learn more, "as if Adam needs to learn more" he said.  They sure do get a kick out of his vocabulary.
After he completed the pocket I wrote his name in pencil and he traced it with a crayon.
Now here we are at a new location!  Lachlan insisted that we move outside for school on this day.  The big boys were doing their math so I brought out Adam's math which was the pocket cube and tanagrams.  But he wouldn't have it.  He wanted a paper and pencil because that's what brothers were doing.  So I got out his My Little Journal and turned it to the number one page and the number two page.  He traced a bunch of number ones and then did the twos perfectly.
After that we moved onto these awesome and new hidden pictures.  These things are so cool and captivating for all kids.  So much so it was hard for the big boys to focus.  There were hidden pictures with letters in them, so they had to find the skirt on a girls dress with the capital letter H hidden in it. Or the shirt with the capital letter A hidden in it.  
He had a great time working through every single one.  We got to talk about all the letters and shapes hidden in the pictures and it really reinforced his knowledge and helped us introduce some new concepts too.
These are my new favorite learning tool from Mother Goose Time.  For now anyhow, I am sure I will have a new one tomorrow, they are all just so good!