Spring Time Updateย 

We are chipping away at the materials for preschool. Some days I don’t think he’s learning anything (today was one of those days), then all of a sudden he amazes me with what he knows (this happened yesterday). We will be continuing our 2+ morning a week school schedule through the summer. He lost a lot during our 2 week vacation and it took him almost a month to catch back up. He doesn’t know any different and it adds structure to our week, while still being flexible, so we will continue on. 

I’ve decided on the curriculum for the fall and I’m excited to dig in and start planning. I’m taking on a bit more of that planning role this coming year vs the mostly pre-planned curriculum we used this year. Soon I’ll give a tour of our new stuff but for now, here’s a look at some of the things we are currently doing. 

As I said above, yesterday he surprised me. After doing a letter identification activity, I decided to try a phonics activity. I put 5 letters in front of him and asked him to point to the one that made the “p-p-p sound as in pig”. He got it correct! I took the p out and replaced it with another letter. We did this for 10 letters (p, c, a, b, j, l, m, t, s, & x). He got 9/10 right!! (The only one he got wrong was x, which is a hard one. He pointed to s…so in a way he got that one right, too.) I’m now even more confident the reading curriculum I chose for next year is going to be the right fit. 

Here are some other things we are working on: 

Easter Egg upper/lower case letter match.

Day & Night Thinking puzzle (our first outside school time in 2017)

Wedgits Thinking puzzle (I following ‘structions!)

Learn and draw animals using finger tip crayons

Lowercase Alphabet search with do a dot markers

Do a dot letters

Kumon cutting skills (for as hard as it is for him to write, his cutting skills are not lacking!)


We also have a new addition to our homeschool room for the next 3ish weeks. Stay tuned for our butterfly adventures! 

Calendar Time

We start every school day with calendar time. It’s similar to circle time in preschools but obviously a bit different being there’s only one student. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The following is our routine: 

  • State the date and write the date 
  • Months of the year song: (to the tune of 10 little Indians) January February March and April, May June July August September, October November and December, these are the months of the year. 
  • Days of the week song: (to the tune of Adams Family) There’s Sunday and there’s monday, There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday, there’s Thursday and there’s Friday, and then there’s Saturday; Days of the week (xx), days of the week (xx), days of the week days of the week days of the week (xx)
  • Yesterday/tomorrow song: (to the tune of are you sleeping) Today is Monday, today is Monday; all day long, all day long; yesterday was sunday, tomorrow will be Tuesday; oh what fun, oh what fun!
  • Count the days in this month so far
  • Weather songs: (to the tune of Msrry had a little lamb) What’s the weather like today, like today, like today; what’s the weather like today; today it’s sunny. Followed by this song: (to the tine of bingo) this morning when I looked outside I saw the weather was sunny; S-u-n-n-y (x3); I saw the weather was sunny. 
  • Find the letter of the week
  • Find the number of the week
  • Address song: (to the tune of a tisket a tasket): my name is —-, this is my address; 123 my street lane, my town and my state. 
  • Phone number song: (to the tune of twinkle twinkle) I can call my mommy’s phone, I know what her number is–234-567-8901; I can call my mommy’s phone, I know what her number is. 
  • Bible verse of the week
  • Make learning choices from choice chart 

Science and Social Studies

These subject areas are probably Snowflake’s favorite. I love how fun timberdoodle makes learning. Each day we do school (2-3 days a week; 45-90 minutes/day) Snowflake gets to choose an activity from each subject area. These are lumped together and he unfailingly tries to pick more than one activity. I have to say, I don’t blame him! 

Primary Science Kit and H2O Lala Tablets: these are by far the favorite. There are some simple science experiments included, more on Pinterest, but mostly he just plays and mixes colors. 

My Very First Castles Book (Timberdoodle), How Children Lived, and Castle Blocks: How Children Lived and Castle Blocks were things I had from when I had my daycare. They make a great addition to the timberdoodle castles book. 

Map Work (Timberdoodle), My First AtlasUS and World Maps: Snowflake loves maps. Every week we try to find new states or countries and learn a little bit about them. 

Board Games: we do these as part of our curriculum because it’s a lot of work for Snowglake to learn how to play and take turns. I lumped these in with the social studies because they fit with sharing and learning how to win/lose. Eventually we’ll pull these out of our school time and play as a family but he’s not quite there yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Big Book of Things to Spot (Timberdoodle): I wasn’t sure where to put this either. It’s basically a big book of where’s Waldo but every page is different. It covers different seasons, climates, cultures, etc… We do 3-4 scenes a week. 

Critical Thinkingย 

One of the unique parts of the timberdoodle curriculum is the emphasis on critical thinking skills. Almost all of these activities are hands-on, which we love. Some of them were too hard in the beginning of the year but now he’s amazing me with his ability to master them. 

Farmland Math: (timberdoodle) in addition to teaching basic math skills, this activity is also helping little ones learn critical thinking skills. 

Day and Night: this fun “3D puzzle” includes 24 cards with pictures and silhouettes to copy. The cards increase in difficulty and are a fun way to work on critical thinking. 

Bunny Peek-a-Boo: this is our FAVORITE activity. From the timberdoodle website: “Bunny Peek-a-Boo is a delightful brain game for your two- and three-year-olds. As they arrange the large, sturdy wooden blocks and lovable bunny to match the cards, they will develop the critically necessary skill of 3-D spatial perception, important for reading and mathematical reasoning.” This is one he could not do at the beginning of the year, but he’s rockin’ it now! 

Wedgits: Another favorite. Teaches spatial perception, vertical vs horizontal positioning, order, and patterning. Each day we do this, he does 1 or 2 designs on the cards and then makes up one of his own. Such a fun way to learn and improve critical thinking skills. 

Building Thinking Skills: a colorful and fun book that helps progressively develop thinking skills. Not a favorite but necessary. 

Floor Puzzles: I include these in critical thinking because they require the same skills as the other activities in this category–planning, visual perception, etc… We have several floor puzzles. 

Language Arts

This year we used timberdoodle as the foundation for preschool. It’s been an amazing program and we’ve had fun. Next year I plan to use bits and pieces from timberdoodle; however, I’m completely changing up our language arts curriculum. That said, we’ve had fun and Snowflake has learned a ton with the timberdoodle curriculum. (I just found another curriculum that fits his leaning style a little better.) At the beginning of the year, Snoefkake knew about 6 letters, no sounds, and had little interest in reading books. Now, he knows 22/26 uppercase letters, about 10/26 lowercase letters, several sounds and loves to read and be read to. Following are the activities we do to help him learn and have fun in the process: 

Foam Alphabet Dice: we do several activities with these. Pinterest has a ton of ideas. 

Alphabet Cookies: there are several things we could do with these. So far we’ve mostly worked on identification and alphabetical order. 

Books, books and more books: I’m not ashamed to admit we have a children’s book library of over 400 books. We read a lot! 

Bananagrams: (timberdoodle) similar to the alphabet dice. We use these for uppercase identification and building familiar words. 

Montessori Letter Work and Alphabet Puzzle: (timberdoodle) again these help with letter identification. We are currently working on the lowercase letters. 

See and Spell: works on letter identification, phonics, and word building. 

Letter and Picture Pairs: we use this to work on beginning sounds. 

Alphabet Cookie Cutters: similar to math, we use these for letter identification and building familiar words. 

Do-a-Dot Alphabet: he loves these. From Pinterest….


Alphabet Stamps: letter identification. 

As you can see, most of our language arts material focuses on the same skills. However, having variety keeps it interesting and promotes retention of the information. We definitely have our favorites but the variety is much appreciated. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Mathย 

So much for my more frequent posts to introduce our curriculum… ๐Ÿ™„ In my defense, I’m now working a part-time job from home that’s taking up what little free-time I had. I’m loving it but it leaves little time for anything else. Hopefully, I’ll get through talking about this year’s curriculum before the school year is over. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve got time as we are going to be schooling year-round for the next couple of years. I’ve noticed that anytime eve had a break of a week or more, Snowflake loses a lot of what he’s learned. Since we are currently only “doing school” 2-3 mornings a week for 30-60 minutes, we’ll easily be able to keep this schedule through the summer. 

On to math… One of Snowflake’s favorite subjects. He can count to 20, identify numbers to 10, create AB and ABC patterns, identifies all shapes and colors, and understands many position words. We are currently working on counting higher than 20, skip counting by 2s, identifying numbers higher than 10, creating other patterns, and anything else he shows interest in. Below are some of the activities that help him learn math concepts: 

Melissa and Doug clock: teaches numbers, shapes, and how to tell time. (Right now we are working on understanding the difference between the short hand and the long hand.)

Number Cookie Cutters: in addition to helping develop fine motor skills, we use these cookie cutters for math (and language arts). We cut out numbers, create double digit numbers, sequence numbers and eventually, we will move to doing simple addition and subtraction problems with play dough numbers. 

Melissa and Doug Bead Sequencing Set: this helps with following and creating patterns.

 

Melissa and Doug Shapes and Number Beads: another activity to help with patterns and numbers. 

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Pattern Blocks: helps identify shapes, position words, and spatial awareness. 

Montessori Number Work (timberdoodle) and Hape Wooden Numbers: we use these to practice number recognition, sequencing, tracing, counting… 

Farmland Math: covers all math skills in a 36 week guided outline. (I thought this would be a favorite but we both loathe it…we do try to do it a couple times a month…)

Homemade Velcro Popsicle Stick Shapes: a Pinterest idea. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He loves creating and naming different shapes. 


Trail Mix and Match: (timberdoodle) patterns, sorting, following directions… 


Finally, every day we start with calendar time: we cover everything from counting to days/months, identifying numbers, and writing numbers. 

So that’s our math curriculum for 3 year old preschool, in a nutshell. I’m happy with how he’s progressing and look forward to watching him continue to learn and grow. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Motor Skills

I’m going to try to post once a week this month to highlight our 3 year preschool curriculum. Several people have asked what I do for certain subject areas, often because they want ideas for their own kids. Also, I want to be able to look back and remember what we did. 

We use the timberdoodle curriculum and I supplement with other activities to add variety. What I love about timberdoodle is how much of it is hands on–perfect for my always-on-the-go learner. When highlighting the different activities, I will make a note if the activity is something from timberdoodle and link to their website if I’m able (they change up their curriculum frequently so some things may no longer be available from them). Also, many of the activities fit into more than one category, so you may see them more than once as I go through everything. 

If you’ve followed me on Facebook for any length of time, you’ll know that Snowflake needs no help with his gross motor skills. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ He’s been climbing before he could walk and every other gross motor skill since has come naturally. We do provide lots of opportunities for him to practice these skills (and get the energy out). He has 2 trampolines (a big one in the basement and a small rebounder in the living room), we allow him to climb and jump on furniture (within reason), he loves riding his bike and running outside, throwing and catching balls of various sizes, playing on his swing set and spending a lot of time at playgrounds (weather permitting). 

While his gross motor skills are at or above where they should be, his fine motor skills are lacking (very typical for boys). His pencil grasp is still a fisted grasp half the time. It’s definitely getting better (it was fisted grasp 100% of the time back in September) but he’s still behind in this area. I’m working with him daily to get him caught up. Here are my favorite activities for fine motor practice: 

Let’s cut paper: Timberdoodle

Journal: just a notebook and a pencil. I like these pencils because they are easier for little fingers to hold. We practice writing letters, numbers and shapes. Also his name. 

Dry erase board: another medium for us to practice writing. I love this one with the extra wide lines. I got it from the target dollar spot about a year ago. 

Dot to dot for tiny tots: Amazon

Draw and learn animals: originally from timberdoodle but now found on Amazon. I love this book as it teaches placement of facial features and following directions, too. 

Kumon tracing and uppercase letters: I picked these up from 5 Below for $3 each but they are also on Amazon. Here and here

Trail mix and match: originally from timberdoodle but now on Amazon

Reusable sticker pads: he got these as a gift and there are several options on Amazon

Farm finger crayons: these are my all time favorite for helping those fine motor skills. Kids are forced to use their fingertips to draw. We use thes a lot for drawing/writing activities. Found on Amazon

Wooden lacing beads: this is something I’ve had from my years as a daycare provider. It’s similar to the trail mix and match but adds some variety and teaches numbers 1-10. Found here

Alphabet cookie cutters: we use these with play dough or baking sugar cookies. A great fine motor strength building activity. Found here

Letter stamps: I think I picked these up for less than $5 at hobby lobby. Again, these are great for working those fingertips. Any stamps will do, I like the letters because it covers a couple learning concepts. 

So there you have it. My top 12 activities for improving fine motor skills in preschoolers. ๐Ÿ˜Š Does your child struggle with fine motor skills? What are some of your favorite fine motor activities?