a content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/> Kenna's Felt Forest: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting organized

YAY!! A trip to Ikea yielded some much needed organization for our schoolroom. I've been doing Tot School with Kenna each day, and sort of cramming everything onto a shelf when not in use. This Ikea bookcase with 9 bins is going to be much easier to manage. I plan to set this up like our Tot Trays, only in bins. I'll have one activity in each bin for Kenna to complete. I plan to make some labels- after an extensive "workbox" search on google, I now have about a million ideas in my head on how to label these things- I just have to pick one! Basically each box will be numbered, and Kenna will work through them in order. She'll take the number off the box as she completes the work inside. Eventually, some of the boxes will be labeled as "mom helps" so that she knows she can't work on it without me. Right now I do everything with her! The bottom three bins will be "free play" and hopefully they will be a great incentive to complete her work.

I am still in the process of reorganizing our supplies, but I did put out our supply cans, which hold glue, markers, paint brushes and scissors. I also sorted our crayons by color using some baby food jars.

She can do those bottom boxes, plus some planned computer time (like starfall.com) while I work with Little Man, who is about to turn 1 year old and is ready to start Tot School! (For me, Tot School means I plan intentional time to work with Little Man each day. We'll be playing and learning, and he'll get some one-on-one attention.) This special, soon-to-be one year old is our foster son, whom we are hoping to adopt in the future. I can't post pictures of his face, and I can't reveal his name, but I'm excited to share all of the fun things we'll be doing together.

Gardening Toddler

Kenna is so proud of her garden! She picked a bunch of okra today- HUGE okra! They were perfect yesterday, and grew giant overnight. I have some other pictures to add to this- on the computer that is currently off the network. Sigh. We've grown tomatoes, carrots, radishes and more. Kenna has learned so much about plants and gardening this year!
We've also seen some awesome bugs. Check out this cool caterpillar, snacking on our tomato. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

H is for Hippo

I am so thrilled to share this picture with you! We have just started working on patterns in earnest, and this was Kenna's first attempt at this game. She matched the pattern with the little hippo cards completely on her own!! WOW! She's 31 months old, and I am certain that all the pre-pattern work we have done helped enormously. We got this matching game from here...
After we matched the hippo cards, I gave her blue and green pop cubes, and asked her to make the same pattern. She got right to work! Here you can see her carefully touching each cube ( I love these, because they have a tactile hole for her to count) and saying "blue, green..."
Her "tower" of blue and green grew and grew! She was talking aloud the entire time, "hmm, which one do I need next..." It was fantastic!
When she used up all the pop cubes, she declared herself, and her tower "AWESOME!"
I agree.
One other activity we did this morning was to spell out HIPPO with our capital letter discs. (Another confessionsofahomeschooler activity.)
This has become waaay too easy for Kenna. She knows all of her letters. I need to make this harder- I think I am going to provide the uppercase printout, and lowercase letter discs. That should be more challenging. We'll find out! She surprises me every day!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our Little River

One of our summer "bucket list" items was to make a tin foil river down our driveway. I started this adventure early in the week, when our good friend and favorite 11 year old, Brenna, came over for a few hours to play with Kenna. Kenna loves Brenna because she plays with her and is crafty, and I love Brenna because she makes Kenna so happy. I cut up some envelopes and asked the girls to paint them. While the envelope "sails" were drying, I cut up the egg carton I had begged Brenna to bring (being vegetarian occasionally limits our craft supplies). I sent Kenna into our yard to find some thin (great vocabulary) sticks, and we used a bunch of tape to create our little boats.
The next afternoon, we rushed through dinner and coaxed Daddy outside to help us make our river (aka help drag the hose to the front of the house for us). Kenna was watching me unroll tinfoil from the deck, shouting with glee and truly beside herself with excitement. She and I had talked about rivers all week, and how the water flows and can move things when it flows fast. (This picture is our trial run on the driveway- we decided we needed a gentler slope so that more water would puddle in our river- and moved to the grass. My husband declared me all-powerful. Next, I'll move a mountain...)As soon as the hose was in place, Kenna started sending her boats, bottle caps, and even some leaves down the river. It was such fun! I was surprised that it didn't hold her attention longer, but she was so intersted in the boats themselves, and then picking leaves, and then playing with the hose... she was distracted. I do have a confession. Our little sailboats didn't do great in the river. The bottlecaps and empty egg carton pieces floated more easily. Kenna didn't care, though- she thought that capsizing boats were hilarious!
As the sun went down and the mosquitoes swarmed in, we carefully rolled up our river, set our boats to dry, and dreamed of playing with our river another day.

Green Water Table

For G week, we've been doing a lot of green activities. I set this little plastic shoe box full of green water (two drops food coloring is all you need) and some fun tools out on the front sidewalk. Kenna found them after nap and was enthralled.
I taught her how to use her funnel to fill he squirt bottle full of green water. She did this soo carefully. She also filled the bottle with the turkey baster, which she mastered today. Green water inspired her!
She squirted our plants, my minivan, and then discovered the joy of squirting our sidewalk chalk outlines we drew yesterday. The chalk color ran beautifully, and she loved it.
I know most people provide much larger water tables, and sometimes I do too, but I wanted to show how much fun could be had with such a small amount of water!

G is for Green, goldfish and glitter

So much fun with G this week. I didn't get a lot of pictures, nor do I have a lot of time to write, but here is a bit of what we did!
Glitter Glue Pens!! My mom found these in her closet, left over from when my youngest siblings( now 19 years old!!) were doing school projects. I pulled them out, since G is for GLITTER, and we had a blast. I have to say that they were a little hard for Kenna to squeeze out, but that just made it challenging, and prevented her from emptying an entire tube in 12 seconds. :)
I do have a picture of the final G art somewhere- I'll look!
Well, a week late- but here it is!
Kenna stamped the G stamp all over the Captial G outline, and then cut it out with scissors. I was very very impressed with how she used her left hand to turn the paper as she cut with her right. Her scissor skills are rockin! Here is the craft- Kenna hung it on the wall herself. :)

Simple activity- provide a lowercase g and every green writing utensil I could find. Tada! G is for green!! (as of this posting, Kenna has scribbled on this for a total of 4 seconds. She is simply not into coloring this week- it is all about the glueing, or the "gloofing" as she calls it.
We also did a bunch of the Gumball activities provided by COAH, but I have no pics to share. We've had a whirlwind week, and it seems like we've done our learning in tiny bursts, with a screaming baby and a teething toddler trying to intervene. Homeschooling with little ones is challenging, but this week has been worse than usual. I know that things will be better next week. I need to breathe. I want to be all things for all of my children, and it is so hard. How do you manage to entertain your littlest ones while you do school? I have a bunch of Tot Tray plans for when my 11month old is a bit older, but until then, I am struggling. I thought I would just take the week off, but Kenna BEGGED to do "learning". How can you say no to that? :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

F is for Fish!!

Go Fish!!
I have a confession- I am scared of fish. They freak me out, and I really don't like walking past fish tanks, or going to aquariums, or knowing that some of them can fly. That said, let us soldier on.
HOORAY for FISH week!! :)
The collage pictured above was a lot of work for Kenna. All that cutting of squares, dipping into glue, and sticking onto paper wears a girl out.
*note* I have no idea how this craft is supposed to be set up(Please someone tell me!) so I winged it. I cut out a black fishy frame and supplied tissue paper and watery glue. It was kind of nightmarish. Here are the gory details:
1. tissue paper is thin and once saturated with glue, gets sloppy fast.
2. Painting glue onto tissue paper just slid it around and mucked up the pieces we already laid down.
3. I put down wax paper to keep the mess at bay, and our tissue paper stuck to it.
He's adorable, as faux-stained glass fish go, but this was a very poorly executed craft (moreso than usual.) Someone please tell me how to do this better!
We drew water on the capital F and stamped orange fish with our handmade fish stamps.
Okay- this was the all-day, keep on going craft! First I drew a lower case f, and we painted it blue to represent water. While the paint was drying, we cut out ovals and triangles. (Kenna cut the triangles herself.)
Then we glued the ovals and triangles together to make little fish! Cute! After they dried, Kenna drew eyes and smileys on them. Cuter!
Finally, we glued the goldfish onto the blue water, and then STOOD at the front door waiting for daddy to come home to show it to him. The kid has endurance...
Fish sorting- We went to the grocery store and bought several kinds of goldfish crackers. The minis, the originals, and the rainbows. We sorted the fish by size, then we sorted the rainbow fish by color. I offered enough fish in the activity to make a nice snack when she was done with her work. She really likes Goldfish now!! :)
Other Tot Trays:
Fish 1:1 goldfish game We used number cards and piled goldfish crackers on each card to corrolate ( three goldfish crackers on the number 3). Easy and fun.
Dry Erase games- this week I pulled out the dry erase markers and some clear sheet protectors. I put Kumon mazes in some, F outlines in others, and a couple of other fun worksheets. The novelty of the dry erase markers, and a special "wiping cloth" made all our learning so much fun. She worked diligently on tracing, mazes, and finding F in a word search.
Do-A-Dot F- Kenna did this fast because she wanted to eat her pretzels. Surprisingly, she was pretty accurate for a toddler in a hurry.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Dream of an Elephant...

E is for Elephant
Have I mentioned that we go to the Library on Thursdays to pick up thematic books for the following week? Well, we do. We have a great, small-town library, and always find cute books and enjoy reading them all week long.
This week, for the letter E, I focused on fiction and non-fiction books about Elephants. The fiction books were cute, but by far our favorite was I Dream of an Elephant by Ami Rubinger. The subdued pastels are so beautiful, it made me want to frame these images and design a nursery around them! Kenna and I read this book about ten thousand times this week. Each page has a rhyme for a color, so it was the perfectchance for me to introduce kenna to rhyming. bShs still a little young, but this book was a nice and simple anf the rhymws were based on color words, with visual clues. awesome!
The non-fiction books we checked out were mostly used to look at pictures, since a lot of the info was way over kenna's head. It didn't stop my husband and I from learning a ton, though. Here's a few facts you should definately add to your list of "useless facts about elephants".
1. elephants walk on their tippy-toes.
2. Elephant skulls, with a large central "nose" hole, probably started the myths about Cyclops.
3. Elephants can only digest half of what they eat, so they eat ginormous quantities of food each year.
4.And the saddest fact I learned- elephants have no known predators except humans, and yet all species of elephants are endangered.
Kenna and I focused on elephant body parts- trunk, tusk, and ears, and them we talked about how their skin feels (texture), and what they might use their trunk for. She especially liked the images of elephants squirting themselves with water, and of the babies holding their mommy's tail with their trunks.
** my computer won't let me hyperlink at the moment. Elephant skull pic-

E is for Elephant

We had a blast with the letter E this week. Kenna has an "E" in her name, so she knows the lowercase e really well. This made for a fun week. We did ELEPHANTS like crazy and I now know a TON of really cool/useless facts about the largest land animals in the world. :)

Red and black E Collage:
This was easy to set up and she really liked it. She can already identify lower-case e, so we worked more on upper-case E. I cut a bunch of different sized ones out of black construction paper, and left out a glue stick and a red piece of paper. After lunch, she wandered over to the table and got so excited! She spent a lot of time deciding where each E went, and hung it on her magnet wall as soon as she was done. I'm pretty proud that only one E was glued on completely backwards.

E Puzzle: Sorry for the sloppy game crafting- I should have made a nice pretty one for the photo, but honestly, I didn't have time! So here's what I did: I cut some foam to make the pieces of the E. Then I traced them, so it became a matching puzzle. (Make sure to make the top and bottom bars the exact same length, so as not to totally confuse and frustrate your toddler.) Simple, easy and a great "still waking up, don't talk to me, mommy" activity.

We started this project with some fun color mixing. I didn't have any gray paint (and with three kids, we just weren't rushing out to Hobby Lobby this morning...) so I decided to let Kenna mix some blue, green and white to see what we could come up with. We ended up with a really nice khaki green that actually suits our Elephant well! :)

I drew the Elephant with a sharpie and let her go to town with the paint and a nice soft brush. After it dried, I cut it out (with her guidance) and added some eyes. He is so easy and cute. After defending my "tusk" to my husband, I'll let you decide whether you can draw a better one, or just skip it.And yes, his ear is ugly- what can I say? Kenna was hurrying me!!

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