Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Preschool, Circle Time and a Little Bit About Boys

So, since I did a post on Avonlea's curriculum for this year, I promised a post for preschoolers. Let me give you a little background about my son before we go any furthur. I do feel that every child is different and this greatly effects the specific types of curricula we choose for our children. My oldest and middle children are like night and day. They both have their strengths and weaknesses to which I teach to.

Lincoln, age 3

Lincoln just turned 3 in June and the boy is amazing in how he likes to put things together. Sometimes, I wish I could jump inside his little mind and see what's ticking in there! He's mezmorized by anything that 'goes'. He loves to use tools and fix things with Daddy. He's pretty good with a power drill if I do say so myself (yes, a real one!). He loves to be 'the protector' of us girls during the day. If there's a bug in the house, Lincoln will find a towel to save us. :) If something breaks while Rob is away, Lincoln will come out in full tool man uniform and he's ready for the task that awaits him. I fully encourage this little man to put it plainly. I don't respond with, "Oh, you're too little" OR "Just let Daddy do it when he gets home". Nope. Full out encouragement means messes and mess-ups, but it encourages him to keep on with his kinesthetic learning as well as his natural 'boyness', as I like to call it.

I've recently been listening to a book on tape called Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. It's amazing. It's also reassuring to parents because it reaffirms everything I've always thought about my son and boys in general. To have someone like Dr. Dobson (who loves the Lord and who I agree with 99% of the time in his teachings) tell you things that you've always felt in your heart, is so comforting. It's a must read if you have a boy or are expecting a baby boy. It gives you a glimpse into their minds and how boys/men think.

God created men and women so differently so that we may fill each other's gaps. He created women to be affectionate, care-takers, nurturing, kind-hearted, multi-taskers, etc. He created men to be the protectors, providers, fixers, etc. Not to say that a man can not be kind-hearted or even nurturing to his children. He should be. Not to say that a woman can not learn to fix a leaking toilet or provide extra money on the side. She should. BUT, God created men and women differently and for a purpose. Dr. Dobson gets into some touchy subjects such as homosexuality and why it's on the rise for single-parent children or children who lack a father and/or mother. The statistics and facts he presents are astounding. So, go out to your local bookstore and get a copy. Better yet, call your local library and request it. OR, go in on it with some friends and rotate it.

Okay, so about my little guy's curriculum...

We start out the day with circle time (when chores and breakfast are completed). Norah is down for a nap, so I have my 4-year-old and 3-year-old in our schoolroom. We do circle time together.

For circle time, we do the following:

American flag pledge

Christian flag pledge

Pledge to the Bible

We recite our address, phone number and to call 911 should there be an emergency.

We recite this lovely saying about obeying. I use this saying throughout the day when I need obidience and they're struggling.

Lincoln recites his alphabet and points to each letter with a ruler. Then he goes back to the beginning (starting with A) and says his phonics..."A in apple, B-uh in bell", etc.

Lincoln looks at this poster next and says his vowels. We only use short sounds for now, but will introduce long sounds as he's mastered the short ones.

We talk about what season it is. Lincoln usually does this.

Next is our calendar time. We sing a song ("There are 7 days, there are 7 days, there are 7 days in a week...Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday"). We then say what day of the week it is, what month of the year and we count in Spanish and English to place our date.

Avonlea counts by ones, fives, tens and twenty-fives saying what type of money is for which counting practice. For instance, I'll ask her to count by 5s like ______? She'll reply "like nickels".

We sing a months of the year song (Lincoln likes to hold this poster and turn it around for us at the appropriate times). We do this in Spanish and English.

We then count our pieces of money.

Then, Lincoln will go into the living room and he knows he can pick out a 20-30 minute movie while Avonlea and Mommy have schooltime. Our kids don't watch regular cable tv. I've tried Disney channel and some Sprout shows, but all in all, I'm disappointed with the character in a bunch of the cartoons as well as the time wasted with commercials, etc. There are some shows that come on before noon with Disney that I can't believe they let aire! So, we stick to movies and our kids don't know any different. They usually watch a movie that's educational...Sesame Street (the old ones are great!), Lincoln still likes Barney, The Beginner's Bible movies, Veggie Tales and National Geographic Kids videos.

When Avonlea is finished with her schoolwork and Lincoln's movie is finished, the two switch. Avonlea watches a 20-30 minute video of her choice and Lincoln comes into the schoolroom to work with me.

Lincoln's Curriculum:
We start with doing 'Mat Man' in his first workbox. I make a snoring sound and Lincoln gets Mat Man out from his nap in his box. I turn on the song and he puts him together. (See video below)

Then, we put letters together using our 'Mat Man' block pieces (above). For more about Handwriting Without Tears, visit HERE
. It's a wonderful program for little ones that want to learn kinesthetically (hands-on). I think Avonlea was born writing her letters and numbers. At 20 months old, she could write letters. Lincoln however, can only write "L"s and "O"s at 3. Like I said, they are like night and day as most siblings are.

We talk about the letter of the week. With Avy, we had a letter of the week box and we would walk around the house finding things that started with the "A" sound. However, with Lincoln, we walk around the house finding the actual letters and not yet the sounds.

We do a few games focusing on shapes,


and letters.

I used this book with Avonlea and still use some with Lincoln. He hasn't mastered holding a pencil or crayong properly so I only do one or two worksheets in a week. Handwriting Without Tears suggests using small writing utincils (versus the popular chunky ones) to get fingers to hold things properly. I agree completely.

We play some BINGO games with Avonlea.

We read a book.
We do artwork based on a letter of the week. I've seen some really cute sites/ideas on how to make animals for the letter of the week (the animals actually look like letters and are adorable), but we prefer this way. It cuts down on prep time for me and the foam animals are expensive.

Lincoln loves wearing stickers and when I saw these at the store, I knew they would be handy. Each Monday (when we introduce our new letter), I place a sticker on his hand (the letter of the week) and we look for letters during the day that match his hand. He loves the game.

With the art letters that we make, we made a book where Lincoln can look back and see what he's done. Here is his paper with feather Cs.

Here are his alphabet flashcards. These are in his number 3 workbox and we say them as we slowly (hey, I can only flip them so fast!) and then we'll play games with them...hiding them around the room and he has to tell me which letter it is, matching games, etc.

Preschool is a wonderful time to be CREATIVE and let children be children. I remember with Avonlea, I went 'gung-ho' and was WAY too detailed in my planning for her. I was unrealistic. Keep it FUN and keep it SIMPLE!


Ashley said...

Wow! I am impressed! :)
We took Growing Kids God's Way and we say all the way, right away, and with a happy heart- until I am blue in the face :)
Ben went to a tutor for his handwriting. She used Handwriting without tears. Its a GREAT program. I find myself singing to him still- where do we start our letters? (at the top).

Tessa said...

Thanks for this post. Lots of great ideas!