February 02, 2016

Routines and The Learning Process

Every month Mother Goose Time gives the Blog Ambassadors a Focus Topic.  This month (well January, I am a day or two late) the focus was on routines.

First I will give a super quick overview of our ideal day of using Mother Goose Time.  This doesn't always happen, but this is our time table on days that everything is running smoothly and we don't have errands to run.

9:00: Circle Time - Circle Time Song, Days of the Week Song, calendar, weather, concept review, the days activity and the new song.
9:30: First Activity - I don't always go in order.  I save the art project for last usually, and try to get the things that are most challenging done first.
10:00: Second Activity and the I Can Read book.  This is not scheduled everyday, but I like to do it.
10:30: Bitty Baby needs a bottle at this point, so we read the day's book, plus whatever other books we have read during this theme
11:00: Third Activity
11:30: Last Activity - usually the art project so he can take as long as he wants.

We don't do breaks.  Little Guy might appreciate some breaks, but I am not good at taking them.  Once I take a break from something I very rarely get back to it.  Snacks are also only for special occasions (birthdays, vacations, or a super fun MGT recipe) or if a meal will be late at our house, so we don't have a snack time.

Mother Goose Time believes that learning is a process of inquiry and investigation.

Today while we were doing Safari Movements I took notes on our conversations and activities that occurred.  This did not go as well as planned, because Bitty Baby chose this time (admittedly the completely wrong time for school, 7:30 at night) to exercise her lungs despite being fed, clean diapered, and held.  
Each preschool activity starts with a "Discuss" section.  Little Guy doesn't do that great most of the time, but this time the question was pretty easy, and I kept pressing for more thorough answers.  This is our conversation:

Me: If you could be a safari animal, which would you want to be?
LG: Elephant.
Me: Why would you want to be an elephant?
LG: Because I want to be a boy elephant.
Me: Why would it be fun to be an elephant?
LG: Because its fun.
Me: Why is it fun?
LG: Elephants can spray me.
Me: It would be fun to spray people?  
LG: With my nose.  No, with my trunk, not my nose.
Me: Would anything else be fun about being an elephant?
LG: My feet.
Me: What about your feet?
LG: Walking to the watering hole.  To play.

Although it took a little while to get good answers out of him, in this conversation you could see quite a few things that he had learned this month: 1) Elephants can spray 2) Elephants have trunks, not noses and 3) Elephants go to watering holes.

The next section is always explore.  This step gets skipped quite a bit in our house.  I know it is a great way for the kids to learn on their own and experiment with things, but we often have a time crunch.  As it is, my house doesn't look like its been cleaned in months (it has) so sometimes saving time so I can run laundry and do dishes is necessary.

Dancing like an elephant
The Explore section today was to pretend to be a safari animal and dance.  I put in the Safari Songs CD.  I asked him which song he wanted and he picked Little Zebra.  At first he didn't want to dance, but he got really into it and was jumping and running around like a maniac by the next song (he chose Baboon).  At the end of Baboon the song says to sit down.  He was paying enough attention to the song to sit down at the end when it said, which really surprised me.  Since he was jumping like crazy I picked Jumping Dance.  Then, since he had wanted to be an elephant, I put on Elephant Stomp.  Without any prompting, he got down on all fours, crawled around and made elephant noises when it started!  After that he wanted the giraffe song (My Giraffe) and remembered that the song talked about the giraffe having a long neck, which was pretty good since we only listened to the last few songs on the disc a few times.  Partway through the song he apparently got tired, because he sat down peacefully.  Since he was no longer wanting to dance, and he had participated really well, I decided we were done with Exploring.

The main part of the activity (at least in our house) is Play.  This is where there is more of a structured activity instead of free play.  This is where the baby really got loud, so I didn't get as much done.  The game was to spin the Wild Animal Spinner, then roll the Movement Cube.  After you had an animal and a movement, you moved like the animal to where the cube told you to go (stomp to something yellow, jump 9 times, etc.)

Spinning the Wild Animal Spinner
First he spun a lion.  I asked him if the lion was a daddy lion or a mommy lion.  He knew it was a daddy.  I asked why and he said "Because it has a mane."  He was able to name all the animals on the spinner.  The movement cube told him to find a "10".  He growled like a lion while he looked for it, but needed a lot of direction on where it was.  This was a recurring theme.  He kept looking at me like I was crazy because I would say "find the "e"" and he would point at it on the Movement Cube and say he found it.
Rolling the Movement Cube
Each part of the learning process serves a purpose, both for the child and the teacher.  The Discuss portion helps a child think more deeply about things, and gives the teacher a chance to know what the child knows and impart knowledge.  Explore gives the child a chance to be comfortable with what they are going to be doing, as well as gain independence and problem solving skills.  The teacher is able to observe what the child is capable of and find out what they enjoy doing to better be able to teach the child.  Play is important for the child because it gives them the opportunity to learn skills and follow directions.  The teacher is better able to observe and assess abilities during the structured activities.
Jumping 9 times like a gazelle

January 31, 2016

Learning About Life in the Grasslands - Mother Goose Time Curriculum

For our third week of Going on a Safari with Mother Goose Time we learned about how people and animals live in the Grasslands of Africa.

Beads - Day 11:

I don't have any pictures from Bead day.  Hadlee and the girls were all home and it was to hard to get pictures that didn't have anyone's face in them.  So I will just briefly (as if I can ever be brief LOL) explain what we did.  First on the list was Maasai Bracelets.  We talked about what we wear when we dress us (usually just for church, we don't go very many fancy places) and I told them that the Maasai tribe in Africa traditionally wear red fabric and beads.  Then we counted beads for how old each of the kids are, and they made bracelets.  They were able to grab more beads after they counted, it was just an easy way to add in some math to the fine motor project!

Then we did Bead Shapes.  Every day we have a topic poster, and this month we saved them all to look at for this activity.  I was really glad the girls were here for this, because what we did was look for shapes in all the posters, and they were really good at it, which I think helped Little Guy know what to look for.  Then we used our Shape Beads and Shape Design Mats to make patterns and match them.

Stringing Words was a word family game.  It is really hard to explain without pictures, so I am not really even going to try.

Hut - Day 12:

To start Hut day, Little Guy got to make a mini hut.  Mother Goose Time provided a souffle cup and sand and Little Guy put it together.  I helped him actually because he was WAY more interested in squeezing glue all over the souffle cup than making sure that it was all covered in sand.  Mother Goose Time also included some little paper people for him to play with in the hut.  I don't really know how well he did playing with them, because I was doing dishes.

We also used our Storytelling Set today.  I was a little disappointed in the Storytelling Set this month.  Not because it sucked or anything, but last month the pieces were directly out of the storybook, and this month they were similar but not exact.  Little Guy LOVES Giraffes Can't Dance, and I am pretty sure he would have been beside himself with excitement if they were the same.  As it was I told a story and he was great at following along with the pieces.  He put them on the set when I said their names and had them act out the story as I said it.  

Migration - Day 13:

Usually when I play a matching game with Little Guy I have the pieces all face up.  This time I decided to be hardcore and have them face down for Elephant Matching.  HE DID AWESOME!  I don't know why I am surprised, he has the memory of an elephant.  In a year or two he will be kicking my butt at matching games...  We have talked about herds a few times this month, and today we talked about how Elephants live in herds for safety and love.  We sorted the cards by color, and then attempted to sort them by eyes.  

Animals Move to Shapes used the owl shapes again.  Well it wasn't supposed to, but it did in my house!  I taped the shapes on the wall around the room (which was to messy to photograph) and then called out a shape, a movement, and an instruction.  Then he "migrated" to that shape and did what I said.  Example: "stomp like an elephant to the rectangle, then touch the rectangle with your foot."  He did well following the directions, although he did get a little caught up in walking like the animals.

Roll to Safety was a winner.  I taped the Letter Flags to the door and then set a blanket in front of them.  I told him about the Great Migration when millions of wildebeest walk from Tanzania to Kenya (also read a book about migration that was pretty interesting) and that they cross over dangerous rivers to get there.  We pretended the blanket was a river.  He drew a Phonic Photo Card and then identified the name and sound.  Then he rolled a ball across the river to the corresponding Letter Flag.  He played this for quite some time, probably because it involved a ball.

I am really glad to see the Safari Counters move on from being a school tool to a toy.  Little Guy liked them TO MUCH!  He wanted to play with them all the time and when we used them for a game or activity he didn't want to move on from that activity when it was time (and I was not really rushing him).  We talked about where animals find food and where we get food, then I hid some Safari Counters around the room (only four, I am so mean!) and put a pan of cornmeal on the floor.  He went around the room and helped the animals find food.  Then he played for like 30 minutes with the cornmeal and the Safari Counters.  And when it was time to use the Counting Card he was really pissed of that he couldn't play in the cornmeal anymore.  We only counted a couple times, and took away a few animals, because I didn't want to get to a point of either of us getting exasperated.  

Music - Day 14:
I don't know why, but we did school time in the afternoon/evening on this day.  The girls were home which always makes it a little more interesting, and at the same time a little more chaotic.  No pictures again...  Our discussion question was: When do you, or people in your family, sing?  We came up with the shower, the car, Circle Time and church.

Repeat the Beat was great.  Why?  There was only one supply needed.  A bowl.  First we made sounds (scary, happy, sad, etc.).  Then we took turns pounding on the bowl and having the other people copy us.  Little Guy did well when the pattern was short, but got a little overzealous when the pattern when on for a while.

Next we did Letter Chant Circle.  We practiced making different kinds of sounds (loud, quiet, baby, etc.) and saying phrases in different ways with different emotions.  Standing in a circle, I held up a Phonic Photo Card and sang the sound while doing a movement.  Then the children copied me.  We passed the card around the circle and everyone took a turn, then we repeated it with the other letters.

Our craft project for the day was an African Shaker Stick (only Little Guy gets to do the arts and crafts, because I only get a one child kit).  He drew on it with markers, insisting on drawing on the inside too.  Then I couldn't find my stapler so I didn't put it together.  A week or so later I found it, but couldn't figure out how it was supposed to put the pieces together, so we didn't finish this one.

Food - Day 15:

Probably once a week, our Circle Time song really catches Little Guy's fancy.  This week it was "Grow":

to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Grow, grow, grow a yam
Grow it every day
Growing, growing, growing growing,
Grow a yam today

The Mother Goose Time Circle Time CD comes with 2 versions of almost all the songs on it, one with words and one without to use with the daily themed songs like "Grow".  It also has days of the week, months of the year, clean-up, welcome, and good-bye songs.

Growing a Feast was a participation story, and we started out by discussing where food comes from.  He knew that food grows in a garden with no prompting.  We read the story and he acted it out (with some instruction) then did awesome at the discussion questions.  He remembered that we grew watermelon in our garden last year, and said cantaloupe is his favorite food.  Which is good because someone has to like the lame fresh fruit bowls they serve at restaurants aka a bowl of cantaloupe with two grapes.
Yes, he is wearing his pajamas.  Sometimes I really need to do laundry.  Okay, all the time I really need to do laundry.
We talked about what kind of animals we eat (which was nothing new, I talk about this almost everyday, because I find it weird when older kids don't realize they are eating a cow at McDonalds) and which animals could eat us.  Then we filled in a Food Web, which was pretty advanced for a 2 year old.  I attempted to teach him that meat eaters are carnivores and plant eaters are herbivores, but he didn't catch on.  I might bring this Food Web out a few more times and try to get it to sink it a little better.

Every month Mother Goose Time provides a Bilingual Book.  I am not really teaching Little Guy Spanish, so we just use it as another opportunity to work on literacy.  I like these books because they are quite short, repetitive, and the pictures REALLY match the words so he can "read" them himself.
Little Guy and I get to use Mother Goose Time curriculum for free in exchange for sharing our experiences on my blog!  All opinions are my own!

January 30, 2016

Learning About Wild Safari Animals - Mother Goose Time Curriculum

Safari Animal week was not all about lions!  We also learned about 4 other animals through a wide variety of crafts, games and activities provided by the Mother Goose Time Curriculum.  We actually did the right activities on the right days this week, which is pretty impressive for us!

Elephant - Day Seven:
We started out our day with a Circle Time activity focused on "Ee".  I taped up the Phonic Photo Cards to opposite sides of the room (this is the clean side pictured here :) ) and then he ran between them slapping them and saying "E!".  This was intended as a follow the leader activity, but I was holding the baby so I was more of a manager than a participant.  

I told him how baby elephants hold onto their mommy's tails like he holds my hand.  Then I stuck a sock in my pocket and he followed me around the room, holding onto my "tail".  The actual point of this activity was to learn about "E" but since I didn't want to make a paper "E" that is bigger than myself I skipped that part.  Mother Goose Time has a wide variety of activities to do everyday, and the ability to change them up as you need/want is awesome.

Our Sight Word Book for the month was "Can It Fit?".  The words he worked on were jumps, in, out, and of.  Instead of just looking at it once, we read it every day this month, and he can read it pretty well now, although I am 100% certain he just memorized it and isn't really reading it.  I kind of wish that the sight word pointers were not all different colors, because he just learned which color was which word.  If they were all the same color he would focus more on the letters.

We read "A Baby Elephant in the Wild" which was about a baby elephant named Liza.  He really liked this book, and despite only reading it once (we read most of the others a few times, but this one was long) anytime he sees a baby elephant he says "IT'S LIZA!  We also used the book for playing Feed the Elephants.  I set out a pile of letter leaves and a bowl.  He randomly picked one.  If it was lowercase he fed it to the baby elephant, uppercase he fed it to the mommy elephant, not an e he put it in the bowl and if it had ants on it he put it in a box.  I explained that elephants eat leaves but are afraid of ants getting in their trunks.  When we started this activity he was having SOOOO much fun, but about halfway through he got pretty bored and was highly irritated when he drew an "E" and had to go feed the elephants, and tried to get another one.  Preferably with ants on it, because he found those to be hilarious!  Since Little Guy is the only kid in my "class" I really need to remember to adjust the activities to scale so he doesn't get burnt out and bored.  I don't like to let him quit in the middle, but I need to make sure that the end isn't so far away!

The last activity was Digging Tusks, which I really skimped on.  It was raining outside, and although the kids all have rain gear, Bitty Baby and I don't.  So I gave him a stick, told him a little about why elephants have tusks and then let him dig in the dirt for like 30 seconds before we went back inside.

Rhino - Day Eight:

The Rhino Horn craft project was DEFINITELY in his top three craft projects to date.  The other two would be the violin and binoculars.  Sadly for him, he left it at Michael's mom's house the night he made it and it is probably in the trash by now.  

We played Wild Animal Match with this month's set of Vocabulary Builder Cards and talked about what animals have horns.  Then we were supposed to "write" to Mr. Rhino, but all we got was "Dear Mr. Rhino, Hi!  I like your horn.  What is your name?  My name is (redacted)." and that was mostly just copying me.  Then I taped some of the vocabulary builder cards around the room.  I spun the Wild Animal Spinner and he moved like that animal around the room until he found it.  He really enjoyed playing, but the animals on the cards did not entirely match the animals on the spinner, so we both got a little confused a couple times.  

Rhino Charge was fun.  I told him how rhinos are aggressive and charge when they are angry, then we build some towers and charged them like rhinos.  Then I hid the provided puzzle pieces under some cups.  Well I intended to hide them, but the pieces were to big so he could see them, my spacial skills are a bit lacking I guess.  Then he charged the cups until we "found" all the pieces.  Working together we put together the puzzle.  

Watering Hole was a game much like Parcheesi.  He took turns really well, but still needs a lot of instruction on where to move his pawn (or Safari Counter in this case) on his turn.  He also got to do one of his favorite things ever, which is play with his Safari Counters in a "watering hole" (a bowl of water).

Zebra - Day Nine:
Apparently I didn't take any pictures on Zebra day, so, nothing to look at.  Sorry.  We also only did half of the activities because I didn't have masking tape or craft sticks.  Plus my mom came over this day, so we wouldn't have finished anyways.  This is why I like to go through my Teacher Guide and mark which things I want to do each day so I can plan for some light days if we have other things to do.

Anyways.  We did Wild Patterns (each month Mother Goose Time sends a new set of pattern cards) and talked about which animals have skin and which have fur.  We also got Wild Animal Fact Cards and learned a few things about different animals.  Including snakes *shudder*.  Then we continued the ABCD pattern of animal prints.  At first the ABCD pattern was to hard for Little Guy, but by the end of the month, he was pretty much a pro at "lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra" from our calendar time.  I don't know if it will transfer to other ABCD patterns, but its a good start.

We also did Zebra Stripes Art, which was fun because instead of using white paper, we used white chalk on black paper.  I wish I had a picture, but I didn't take one I guess...

Giraffe - Day Ten:

Giraffe Spots game was fun.  We talked about how all giraffes have different patterns, just like zebras have different stripes and people have different finger prints.  Then we played a game where we put foam (I just wanted to spell it phome.  Yes, I caught it before autocorrect did LOL) spots on a giraffe picture.  We drew a card with a number on it, then counted out that many foam ovals (shape of the month!) and put them on the poster.  Sometimes he did well, sometimes he didn't, but its all practice.  He gets ahead of himself with the rote counting, and then messes up.  
Then we did Giraffe Portrait.  Our poor giraffe didn't have eyes because somehow the eye stickers ended up at the bottom of the box and were only found on the last day, long after the giraffe portrait was gone (I think my mom took it home with her).  Anyways, we traced his foot (which is why my mom wanted it) for the giraffe head, and then used brown paint to add spots.  Since Little Guy LOVES to paint, he was very into this craft.  Then I put down a line of glue and he added a yarn mane.
Letter Leaves was the last activity of the day and the week.  I was smart this time and learned from Feed the Elephant.  Rather than taping up ALL the letters like you would in a class of 10 kids, I just taped up a dozen or so to avoid burnout, but not teaching him to be a quitter.  We talked about what giraffes like to eat, then I put the Phonics Photo Cards in my pocket*.  You were supposed to use a paper bag, but I don't have any little paper bags and a giant grocery one seemed like overkill.  I told him that giraffes have long necks to eat leaves from the tops of trees.  Then I taped up the leaves as high as I could with him still able to reach them.  He took a photo card out of my pocket then took down a matching letter leaf.  He did excellent and finished with no complaints or boredom!

Little Guy and I are given Mother Goose Time Curriculum to use free of charge in exchange for sharing the educational and fun preschool activities, games and crafts they provide for us to use.  All opinions are my own.

*Want to know a secret?  It was my bathrobe pocket.  Despite the fact that Little Guy is dressed right after breakfast almost everyday, I usually am in my pajamas until I realize that the girls and Michael will be home soon and I should probably not be in my pajamas...  Which means I put on yoga pants.

January 13, 2016

Learning About Lions with Mother Goose Time

Today was one of the best Mother Goose Time pre-school days we have had so far!  We were able to do all the activities, in a timely manner, and Little Guy was cooperative the whole time.

First we did Circle Time.  This month's pattern is ABCDABCD and it is to hard for him, but he keeps trying.  He really likes the Days of the Week song from the Circle Time CD, and the last few days has asked if he can do it himself (usually I hold his finger over the correct day during the song).  I tell him yes, but then step in and help him since he still just points at them randomly.  I always give him two days of the week clouds and have him identify the day that it is by the first sound (and never give the poor kid a Tuesday and Thursday cloud at the same time!).  I think next month I will start giving him three options, because he gets it right EVERY time.

Today's Circle Time activity was supposed to focus on the shape of the month (oval) but since I didn't want to cut out a bunch of shapes, I just reused the owl shape cards from last month and used the blank side.  These didn't have an oval, but since Little Guy knows his shapes I wasn't to worried about it.  He got to pretend to be a lion (which he hated doing last week but totally loved today) and pounce on the shapes as I called them out.
Lion Roar Experiment was a failure as far as science goes, but a lot of fun.  We used some random cups and containers and a couple of spoons and made lots of noise by banging on them.  Then we roared into them and were supposed to see which ones made the loudest noise, but it didn't work that great.  It didn't help that Bitty Baby was crying over the top of us (we apparently held her to much the first month because now that we are "back to our regularly scheduled program" she is pretty irritated).  Little Guy used the two spoons to pretend to play the violin.
Next we played Be Patient, which was a game that involved the Friendly Bees, which we didn't use last month.  These games seem to be very classroom oriented, and a little harder to make into one child activities.  The Friendly Bees are supposed to teach you character traits and citizenship so it makes sense they would be group activities.  Anyways, I explained to him the being patient was waiting nicely, and then we played a number game.  There were zebra number cards and lion number cards.  He drew one lion card and then I called out numbers and when we got to his number he got to run across the room to eat a zebra.  I am a little morbid I guess LOL.  At the end of a few rounds he got his Friendly Bee Badge.  The game would have done a lot better at teaching patience if I had thought to wait until the girls got home to play.

Lion Mask was a very long craft project.  In the end it looked like crap because two year olds are not good artists.  First he made faces in the mirror while I cleaned the bathroom.  I asked him if he would rather meet a happy lion or an angry lion.  He made the right choice because an angry lion would eat him.  Then we set out making the mask.  Which took forever.  Partly because there were so many pieces and partly because Little Guy loves to paint.  I have been putting on the theme CD during art projects and today he asked if these were "my safari songs".  When I said yes he started dancing.  It was freaking adorable!  He also made an "x" with the strips of paper for the lion mane, completely unprompted and was pretty excited to show me!
The last thing we did was an interactive story called "Why Am I Small?".  We looked around the room and decided which things were big and which were small.  He did okay, but does better with identifying big and small in a group of items rather than finding them himself.  After the story were some comprehension questions.

I did the first part on the left page.
He also did a page in his Safari Journal, and since we did the Stamp a Map activity last week he did much better at tracing the lines and has been doing better in his workbook too.  Apparently "follow the path" makes way more sense to him than "trace".  I am pretty excited to see him learn this important pre-writing skill!

Today was awesome.  We had a lot of fun playing games, reading stories, and creating a mask.  Having the opportunity to use this stuff is amazing, and I express how thankful I am to have all these opportunities for quality time with my little boy!

*I get Mother Goose Time curriculum for free in exchange for sharing all the awesomeness on my blog!  This is a great blessing, but all opinions are my own!*