## Monday, October 29, 2012

### Preschool Math

Aiden is just about 4, so we have begun more purposed math this year using games and manipulatives.

The National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics (NCTM) has a list of expectations for each mathematics topic organized by grade and I refer to these as I plan Aiden's math experiences for the week. There are six major mathematics topics:  number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, process and data analysis & probability.

I created several math felties to use as a basis for math conversations. I am SO not crafty, but these are really easy to make and he really enjoys playing with them.

As he plays with these I can ask questions like, "If you put two fish in the castle how many fish will you have left?" or "If you had four friends come over which pizza would you serve?"

Concepts like addition, subtraction, fractions, one on one correspondence etc. can all be discussed using the math felties. Aiden also forms his own math connections as he plays with them independently.

I also purchased several games and manipulatives which I rotate throughout our week. I modified Elle's game Ratuki so it was age appropriate for Aiden. We play Slap Jack (Actually Slap Ratuki) with it. Aiden calls out each number as I flip them over and then we race to slap the Ratuki card when it appears to win the deck. In the picture above you can see how each number is represented four different ways. This game did wonders for his instant number recognition.

Lauri's Number Play has been a great staple. Besides practicing counting we use it to make patterns and compare the sizes of the puzzle pieces. I just love the material the puzzles are made out of.

I hesitated to purchase Inchimals because they are a little pricey, but I am so glad I finally bought it! It is basically cuisinaire rods for younger children. It comes with a booklet full of addition and subtraction challenges. Aiden is not writing the number sentences out yet, but he loves to solve the puzzles.

Sum Swamp is a fantastic addition and subtraction game. Players take turns rolling two number dice and an operation die. They then add or subtract depending on their roll and move that many spaces forward or backward. I give Aiden teddy-bear counters to use to solve the equations.

My amazingly talented mother-in-law (thanks mom!) sewed these superhero beanbags for Aiden. Beanbags are so versatile and can be used to play all kinds of math games.

We have a raised herb and vegetable garden the children help keep up. Our family garden                           provides a wealth of  natural math experiences for the children, especially in the area of measurement.

We also use How Tall Am I to practice measurement. Players roll the die and then choose the article of clothing indicated. The object of the game is to build the tallest person. When everyone has completed their wacky person each player measures them using the slide ruler provided.

Block Buddies has over 76 challenge cards divided into four different levels.                                                  This has been one of the most played with toys at our house.

Tangoes Jr comes with a magnetic board, a set of tangrams and several pictures for children to make. I like that each picture is two sided. One side has lines and one does not so this game really grows with the child.

We use geoboards for all kinds of things, but this, "Geoboard Pictures for Little Hands" is a great starting point. It comes with a set of pictures for children to make using rubber bands. Aiden also really enjoys making his own pictures and patterns.

Pattern blocks are great for building geometry skills...and they keep Aiden busy for quite some time:)

Mighty Mind scaffolds very nicely. Each card builds on what they learned on the previous card. They get progressively harder as you move along.

I have a huge stack of in the frame puzzles that were picked up here and there by my grandmother at the thrift store. We try to do at least one puzzle a day together.

Cooking is another excellent way to provide natural math experiences for your child. Elle and Aiden have learned oodles about fractions and measurement while we spend quality time together in the kitchen. I especially love the Bento Box cookbooks. They are fun to make and have been a delicious way to teach shapes!

The Gamewright game Hiss is a lot of fun and perfect for counting, comparing sizes and patterning.

Thinkfun's Clever Castle is fantastic for reading a grid and patterning.                                                                   I have been very impressed with all things Thinkfun, We have several of their logic games                              which, thankfully, all tuck nicely into a little drawstring bag.

So...this is Aiden's math! I really try to make it as natural, fun and hands on as possible. I purchased all of the store bought items in this post on Amazon when Elle, my eight year old sweetie, was little. Aiden now loves them and Elle still uses most of them. so we definitely got our money's worth out of them. I hope this helps as you build your own math 'curriculum'. Happy counting!

## Wednesday, October 17, 2012

### Fall Fun!

I love FALL! Even though it is still pretty hot here and the palm trees are as green as ever we are making pumpkin bread, pumpkin dip and soup in hopes that it will cool down.

We sewed some cute Halloween creatures from felt. These are super simple and Isabel and Aiden were both able to help make them.

We have been reading lots of books about pumpkins and Halloween, so we planted pumpkins in our garden. We planted them way too late so we won't have a crop until December! LOL!

We read all about sunflowers and then had a go at planting a sunflower house. My fingers are crossed in hopes that the birds and squirrels don't eat up the seeds!

We spent the entire day Friday with some of our dearest friends making fall crafts and then we took the children on a picnic.  Our girls sewed a few pumpkins out of felt (Amy and I ended up helping just a bit:) and made presents for their little brothers and some of their other younger friends.

Amy and I cut out the pieces to dress up the pumpkins. All the pieces fit nicely inside the pumpkin when they are done. I found the cute dress up templates at the mer mag blog

We have also been playing lots of Halloween games. Above, Aiden has sorted his pictures by their  beginning sound.

We have had a lot of fun playing the Roll a Pumpkin game. The children roll dice and then add them up. Then they find the number on the chart and draw whatever it says to draw on their pumpkin. I found this at the happy home fairy blog. The kids really love this game! So cute!

Aiden had a playdate with his friend Cole and the boys played Candy Corn Bingo. They rolled dice and added them up and then placed candy corn on the matching number.  I found this game and the one below at the Oceans of Fun blog.

Aiden making tens using a candy corn ten frame.

He also made his letters using these adorable beads we found at Michaels. Love those 40% off coupons!

We made pumpkin  playdoh  and it smelled so yummy. We died macaroni green to use as stems. Elle and Aiden made a big pumpkin patch for his Star Wars guys and her Lalaloopsies.

Aiden is counting how many drops of water he can put on a penny before it overflows. He really enjoyed this experiment and did it a few times.

Finally, for writing, the children made haunted houses and then decorated them. We folded poster paper in half and then cut doors and windows in them. The children hid spooky bats and monsters behind them. Elle wrote a scary story to go with her haunted house and Aiden told me a 'scary' haunted house story.

We (By we I really mean my husband) made a Jack-O-Lantern!

Aiden loved digging out the seeds. Excuse the PJ's...that is how we roll on the weekends:)

## Saturday, October 13, 2012

### Homeschool Room Extraordinaire!

We have teamed up with some of our good friends to do an election unit. While we were visiting                 my dear friend Katie let me snap some pictures of her adorable and very functional homeschool classroom. After much deliberation (i.e. after we compared every shade of green paint chip at Lowe's) she decided to paint it an apple green since it is soothing and reduces anxiety. Green also enhances creativity making it the perfect choice for a classroom! O.K. her fantastic husband Todd actually did the painting...but choosing the color may have actually taken more time...LOL!

Katie gave each boy their own area which she personalized with their name in spelled out in wooden letters.Her dad built a fantastic fold up desk for each of the older boys which maximizes the space in the room. Each desk can be folded up to be used as a chalkboard or down for a work area. Each activity bin (IKEA) has their work for the day along with a small smiley face held on by velcro. As each boy finishes the work in their bin they remove the smiley face and place it on the big smiley face above their activity bin.

Katie has three boys ages 2, 5, and 7, and if any of you remember the 2's you know she has her hands full trying to keep Mr. Alec productively busy and learning while instructing the other two. Alec's area has a smaller table. He was very excited to show off his activity bins to me:) Instead of a desk he has a small table.

Katie also put a work table in the center of the room for group work, art and games. Just behind Cason and Elle there is a large bookcase with all of their most used books and supplies as well as some toys for Alec.
In the corner of the room there is a swing for the boys to read and relax. My picture didn't turn out, but this is the same one (IKEA). My children LOVE to swing on it when they are over.

Here is their word work area!

The boy's chore 'chart' is actually in the family room, but I wanted to include it. Each boy has a pocket and Katie simply places their chores for the day in their pocket. She placed a picture as well as the task on each chore card.

She also put up rain gutters next to each of the older boy's bunk beds to hold their books. They really hold a lot and were quite inexpensive to install! These would be great in a homeschool room too!

What do you love most about your homeschool room or area? Send me your best pics and I will post them to share with others! If you would like some more information about work bins check out the amazing Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler.

## Tuesday, October 2, 2012

### The Letter B

We had fun reviewing the letter B this week.  We made a river out of aluminum foil and put the hose on drizzle so Aiden could sail his boats down it. I found this cute idea at the adorable Camo and Bows blog.

Aiden enjoyed working in his letter B Activity Book throughout the week.

We read, 'Going on a Bear Hunt' while Aiden acted the story out using the pictures from his letter B pretend play packet.

After the story,  Elle and Aiden packed up for their own bear hunt. As you can see Aiden was completely fierce about the whole thing. They were thrilled to find that this bear had a treat for them.

B is for Barista! I love coffee way too much, so we made coffee playdoh recipe that we found on the wonderful Tot Treasures blog and the children pretended to be Baristas. This was a fun way to practice  money recognition for Aiden and making change for Elle. Elle talked Aiden into serving her dolls...I am sure in another year or so there will be no way that's happening.

We listened to the Beatles this week and the children drew what they thought an Octopus' Garden would look like.

And of course we couldn't listen to the Beatles without drawing some yellow submarines:)                          Aiden arranged his shark so it was eating a fish. So much for peace and love.

We read the hilarious Shel Silverstein poem, 'Band-Aides' and Aiden put band-aides on Yogi Bear (my old bear from when I was his age...awww!) I used bandage tape so I did not use up our entire box of band-aids! This was a great way to review body parts too. Aiden is looking appropriately sad at Yogi's terrible misfortune in the picture below...great bedside manner!

We played with balloons and bubbles. Sometimes I forget that the simplest things in life are the most fun when you are three...

Aiden and Elle made some birds with the feathers I have had sitting in the craft corner forever. This craft somehow ended with feather's all over my kitchen floor.

Aiden is absolutely obsessed with glow sticks, so I let him take a bubble-bath with them and turn out the lights. He thought it was the greatest thing ever and would have stayed in the tub until they stopped glowing if I would have let him.

Finally, we planned Elle's 8th Birthday together! Which is why this blog post is being posted in the middle of the letter C week:)