Saturday, September 3, 2016

Our "Aa" Week

We've officially had our first week of Pre-school Play! And it was fun. :) While I am not sure I'll be able to devote this much time to every child, or necessarily have the need of doing these activities, some of which are more busywork type things, for Hadassah right now, this is definitely the right thing. It makes me intentional about playing with her and doing special crafts, which she loves. And right now she really likes letters and numbers, so these activities aren't stressing her too early. Plus, I figure I'm learning things that work well for kids these age, so I'll be able to draw from these plans for activities for younger siblings to do while the older ones are doing homeschool. All-in-all, we had a great week and Hadassah seemed to enjoy being a student. When I asked if she liked preschool, she said, "Yeah, I like doing new things!"

But I just want to say if you're a mom and not doing these things with your 2/3 year old, I no way think you're doing wrong! I never thought I'd start so many structured things this early, it just kind of happened along the way and I got pulled into the fun of planning and teaching. I guess I've missed it. :) But this age really does just need the opportunity to play, explore, create, and be outside. If we had a backyard, I have a feeling we'd be OUT more and do less crafts in. But, this is where we are right now.

Below are pictures of some of our fun. Feel free to bypass if you're not interested. :) But I drew a lot from blogs that shared activities and ideas (hardly any of these are my own) so I'm sharing in case others want some inspiration.

Dassah on her first day of "school" - hard to believe we're at this age, though I still maintain there's no need to start school this early. ;) But in China formal schooling does start for almost everyone at age 3, so Hadassah is excited to do "preschool" like some of her friends. :) 

For our first day we had fun making an Ant, coloring a random Astronaut page, doing do-a-dot markers to find "A" and "a" (free printable here) and having fun with the new do-a-dot markers on a blank sheet. Dassah loves anything artsy and new! And I was amazed at how quickly she found all the a's. Though we're doing letter-of-the-week as a structure, she already has very little trouble identifying her letters, just from the books we've read and toys she has.

 Since I don't have a laminating machine (something I do hope to buy when we're in the states as they're are so many free teaching resources out there!) I decided to make simple felt apple trees instead of printing a freebie. We made apples out of playdough and I switched the number on the trunk a few times for her to put that number of apples on the tree. Again, not much difficulty for her, but it was good to practice counting. She enjoyed squishing all the balls at the end too. :)

 This "Arctic Ice Jump" game I made up proved to be a favorite. We put towels on the floor as the "icebergs" and jumped around between them. Anything to get her moving (she has a lot of energy!) and she got into the imagination of it all too. :)

 After a while she jumped on the couch for a rest and said she had found a boat. :) We took turns hopping on all the "icebergs," timed how fast we could each do it, and then declared it was summer and all the ice melted away, and pretended "swimming" in the water. Then she said it was winter again, so they went down again, and very quickly it was spring and they melted. Love how it doesn't take much for a young one to imagine things.

 I put some of her books on a special "A" shelf to read a few together each morning. We're also borrowing some from friends each week - they were kind enough to let me look through their books to request some each week. In absence of a library in English here, friends in our same complex are such a blessing! Plus we're giving them some books to borrow too, so all the children are happy with new books. :) I found the Usborne "Look Inside" books on Taobao for the equivalent of $6 (great deal!). It's nice when living in China means some things are a lot cheaper, like books printed here than exported elsewhere, or a lot of school supplies. Hadassah so enjoys books with flaps. She wanted to read it every morning and looked at it on her own multiple times!

Dassah was so excited to see that these books started with A as I emphasized they were for our A week. As the week went on, she would find random A's in other books, and very excitedly tell me, "mommy, this is an A book!! We should use it for preschool!!"

 We made an "airplane" snack - not the best looking one, but Dassah thought it was cool to make and enjoyed eating it. :) Idea was from Pinterest of course. ;)

 We did an "Active" chalk hop, another pinterest idea. This one wasn't a long lasting activity, but again, got us active. I think it would have been more fun with more kids doing it at once, to laugh as the others "stomped and roared" or did the bunny hop. As it was, we had a very nice Chinese mom and son trying to talk to us the whole time. I appreciated their friendliness, but it was a little harder to focus on playing with Dassah when I was trying to understand Chinese and figure out how to reply almost the whole time. ;)

 Dassah loves letter matching, so this printout (find it on this page) was colorful and fun. We finally have a home printer, bought online in Chinese but thankfully had an English option to set up. I bought some bottles of ink that were super cheap ($1.50/bottle, and will fill each cartridge multiple times) not realizing you had to use a drill to drill a hole in the cartridge to fill it up. But, Ryan figured it out and now we have a super cheap way to print whatever we want! So it's fun not feeling bad printing things in color. :)

 We made an airplane with window flaps, and she drew the faces of our family, complete with hair :) in each window. I love seeing her drawing develop. She also helped draw the "A"!

We did a lot with airplanes for A. Here I pinned a scarf to her shirt and attached it to her wrists with ponytail holders, then had her zoom around as an airplane. It didn't last long, but she got some energy out. She really liked it when I picked her up and had her "fly" around, sideways, spinning, and doing some tricks. :)

 I also let her play a little with our Airlines game, putting the little airplanes on the board. Usually adult games are not allowed for her to play with, so she felt special. :)

 Each day I tried to think of something for her to do with Ellie, to encourage sister togetherness. Ellie absolutely loved watching us do "The Ants Go Marching" song one day (and Dassah got into the Hurrahs! so cutely), and another day I pretended to be Asleep and have them touch me to make me Awake. :)

But this Animal slide was the biggest hit. I threw the animals up to Dassah and she would let them drop. Ellie loved watching the action.

 Ellie then had a turn at the top. She dropped a few animals, but really wanted to dive down the box herself... little daredevil!

 So since it was a strong box, I let them turn it into a slide for themselves.

 Ryan arrived home for lunch as the fun was going on, so he got to enjoy all the smiles and giggles too!

She was always excited to show Ryan whatever she made that day over lunch. I'd debated where to hang her art display ribbon, but I'm glad I decided on the dining room, as she's so excited for others to see what she's been learning. We made an apple print using paint and a real apple (eating the part that didn't get paint on it of course!). First we dissected the seeds and counted how many there were. 

And as she loves anything with stickers, putting these animal stickers on an A was a treat for her! At first she started putting them anywhere, but quickly got the hang of only putting them inside the letter.

Another cheap Taobao find were these animal match-up puzzles. Gave me a few minutes to do a chore in preparation for friends coming. :)

 Dassah loves stickers - anything with stickers! I got some Usborne letter and number books that I'm letting to do a page in once/week, and these dot stickers were fun for her to do a letter maze (free printable here). At first I tried to have her just do the ones in the maze, but she wouldn't rest until she had covered ALL the A's and a's. I didn't push it. I admire her thoroughness, and right now learning is for fun. She can learn to follow all the directions of a sheet later. ;)

 On Thursday we usually have a friend over to play. The girls enjoyed playing with play dough, using an ant coloring page and then coloring it. It's fun to see them interact. We also did the apple tree number game again.

 Friday was one of those mornings. I was tired. We stayed up late playing a game (so much fun!) but then baby unexpectedly woke in the night and there were two phone alarm mishaps. Dassah seemed extra wired (maybe from chocolate cake the night below?) and I felt extra slow. Not a good mix. Usually I might eventually turn on a youtube something to get some peace. But having things planned ahead of time gave me stuff to fall back on. Like this "Archaeologist" letter find. I hid the letters of her name for her to find, and she had fun, even wanting to do it again. But the morning continued to be a challenge, such as when it was time to clean up and instead of helping, she spread sand all over the floor... Yeah. One of those mornings.

 She had fun with dot stickers and a number worksheet (printable here). We're doing a number a week too. Again, she was very thorough and wanted to fill all the squares at the bottom instead of just one as instructed. I let her. ;) She said she was making a blueberry pie, but then when she grabbed the blue capped marker and found it to be green (she likes to mix up the cap colors!) she decided it would just be a green cake. I love almost-3-year-olds.

 Inspired by the books about "little g" and so on, I decided we'd act out our own version. So she dressed up as "little a" and found things for her "sound box." The first thing she found was "a shirt!"  She was so excited, I didn't have the heart to tell her that shirt didn't start with a, and the article "a" didn't really count. It's all about fun anyway!

 We found a few more "a" things, mostly with my suggestion. As soon as she put the apple in the box all she wanted to do was eat it, so I let her as it was snack time anyway!

A week complete! We did almost all of the planned activities, and added a few more along the way. Not pictured is our Bible story we acted out, Adam and Eve. She really loved having the "snack" (a caterpillar toy) come up from behind the pillow "tree", eating the apple, and hiding in the "trees" (curtains). First I read the account in the Bible, to get her used to sitting and listening to longer passages, then imagining how they would be.

Each morning we sang two songs, one from "My First Hymnal" and one from my mom's ABC verses-into-song book. By Thursday she was able to sing almost all of them. She usually doesn't sing along and I don't push it, but when I asked if her stuffed animal sitting with us could sing along, I heard she knew the whole the thing! We're also learning a verse each week that starts with the letter. The thing I am most thankful for from being homeschooled myself is the scripture my mom had me memorized, planting those seeds early. So I am passing on the same blessing to my daughter.

Each week we're practicing a skill too. This one was Answering "Yes Mommy" more often. She got a sticker when she did it well and we remembered to put it on. We also had a talking topic: Animals and how to treat them. I loved asking her random questions too, and was quite surprised when to the question of "what's your favorite animal?" she answered "a llama!" She remembered a book we have about a petting zoo and how kids brushed the llama and thought that would be fun. :)

She drew A and a in the sandbox outside with a stick (my suggestion) and it's neat to see how she knows how to form them, even if they're a bit wobbly. She's also noticing a's EVERYWHERE, in books, on wall artwork, and always so excited to point them out to me. It's fun to see her learning and starting to realize how words are formed. I'm enjoying connecting more in meaningful ways with my big girl and how keeping her a little more occupied with creative things when we need to stay inside does help us both a lot!

1 comment:

  1. I nannied two children who were just the age Hadassah and Ellie are right now, and I loved doing letter of the week activities just like this with them! We did a lot of the same kind of crafts, and had Bible stories and memory verses that fit the weekly theme as well, which was always one of the best parts!

    Something else I really loved doing with kids was having a weekly "learning basket" full of books on a certain theme. You could do this along with Letter of the Week, or do it on its own. One week's theme might be "Apples" and have age appropriate children's books that fit the theme. There are lots of resources out there with ideas about this I'm sure - here is just one blog post from a homeschooling mom that gives some details on how she uses learning baskets in case you're interested:

    The other thing I really loved doing with kids was also having a theme country (or place) for a week to learn about. Again, this could go along with your Letter of the Week theme (using a country or state or even a city that starts with that letter) or it could just be a fun side activity by itself. You are super creative, so I'm sure you can think of a million activities one could do in learning about different places around the world. (This is also a great way to get children interested in praying for people in other countries.)

    Wow! Reading this post sure made me miss my nannying and teaching days! Homeschooling can be so much fun! :-)