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Classroom Ideas

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the letter C

This morning we started with the letter C while we ate our breakfast. We talked about the letter C and Kaitlyn named some words that had the c sound ( caterpillar, ice cream * close enough, cupcake) Then we got out some of our homemade fundough that we made the night before. This is my favorite recipes because it is super easy and doesn't involve cooking....and everyone who knows me knows I am not much of a domestic goddess in the kitchen...but I must say I have improved a bit over the past year. At least I am no longer trying to dice onions with an egg slicer...yes that actually happened. One of my many cooking endeavors that went terribly wrong. Anyway...here is the recipe:
1 Cup Flour
1/2 cup Salt
1/2 Cup Water
1 pkg of kool-aid ( for color and smell)

Mix all ingredients in a  bowl and mix with hands into one large dough ball. Put in an air tight container for the next day. I've found if you make it the night before it is far less sticky.

We used the fun dough to make the letter C on our Letter C Mat (Get your very own mat in the printables section on my blog)
I slid it into a plastic page protector to keep the surface fundough friendly, and so I can reuse the letter mat throughout the week.
I also had Kaitlyn trace the letter with her finger as well as use her pom pom's to outline the letter.
After some letter hunting ( playing I spy the letter C) we read the book
The Very Hungry Caterpillar By: Eric Carle
She helped me name the colors and count the fruit as we read the story.
When we finished we started our Art project for our ABC book
First I had precut several circles out of tissue paper in all colors. Then I had Kaitlyn glue them on to her 10X10 paper, naming the colors and counting as she went.
Then we started our Finger Salt painting, we will let this dry overnight so the salt crystals set with the paint.
I squeezed green and yellow paint onto Kaitlyn's paper. She took a few pinches of salt and Kosher salt onto her paper. Then she spread the paint around with her hands. After she was done with the green one we did a red one in the same way.
We will save both of these till Wednesday and finish our Letter C page for our ABC book then.

Next we read the Book One By:  Kathryn Otoshi
Which we got from the Public Library, a great resource for kids this age. Kaitlyn loves picking and choosing her own books and reading them each night. this story is all about colors and numbers. It is a great book for teaching the color names, what a number looks like and basic counting skills.

To reinforce the book we got started on our Colorful Caterpillar Cupcakes!
Kaitlyn helped me make the cupcakes in our Mixer. I had her count out the muffin wrappers and place them in the muffin tin. Perfect review and helps to teach her one to one number correspondence.
After the cupcake wrappers were filled with batter.  I sprinkled a few drops of food coloring into each cupcake (step 3). I had Kaitlyn stir them with a toothpick (Step 4) and then put them into the oven to bake! 
She was so excited when they came out all colorful!

We separated the cupcakes and sorted them into color groups for two cupcake projects.
The first project was our Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcake
We took all of the green cupcakes and one red one to make our Very Hungry Caterpillar
We didn't ice these because they were so colorful already. We used some crunchy Chinese noodles for his antennae and his legs. We used some round yellow candy sprinkle dots ( Target Cake dept. ) and some raisins for eyes. Kaitlyn was so proud of her Very Hungry Caterpillar!
Our second project was Sorting and icing all of the colorful cupcakes. Kaitlyn counted them and put them into groups, we reviewed all the skills that she learned today with this fun and yummy activity...Thank goodness we have  playdate this afternoon and we will have some help consuming these yummy cupcakes!
Join us Wednesday as we explore patternpillars, finish our Letter C page and make our very own Very Hungry Caterpillar necklace!


Week 2: The Letter C and The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Next week we start our new letter. Letter "C" We will be reading the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar and doing activities that go along with the story....Next week we will be in the kitchen cooking up some colorful caterpillar cupcakes, creating our letter "C" page for our ABC book and learning all about patternpillars. I have a lot of great activities in store this week so come along as we learn a few more lessons on the little stuff!


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Check out the newest line of Kids Birthday Invitations: Bumblebee
Custom Favor tags that compliment the invitation...only $7 and you can print them from home. They make great favor tags, stickers for favor bags or cupcake toppers!


A is for Apple Part 2

Today we started working on our A page for our Alphabet book (this will be an ongoing activity throughout the year) For each letter studied we will do a 10X10 art project representing each letter. Today Kaitlyn used an apple and some paints to make apple prints on her paper. We reviewed the different parts of the apple and she reviewed her colors by naming the red, green and yellow paint as we went along. When we were all done we practiced her cutting skills by adding fringe ( small tiny cuts along the edge) to the red letter A I cut out previously.

Our second project was designed to help Kaitlyn with following steps in a process and multiple directions as well as work on her fine motor skills. I cut a small paper plate in half and used a piece of white construction paper to make a center for the apple Kaitlyn tore red construction paper into small pieces and then used her glue stick to glue them onto her plate. When she was done I connected the two plates by attaching them to the white construction paper (core) and then she used green torn construction paper to make her leaf. We once again talked about the parts of an apple. Naming them and pointing them out. At the end I drew 4 seeds we counted them and then she traced over them trying to keep her crayon marks inside my lines, it was a little harder than it looked :)

We reviewed our counting skills by playing a little apple tree game. I found all supplies for this at my local Hobby Lobby ( love that place) I would give Kaitlyn a number and she would count out that many apples and place them on her trees. We would compare trees and I would ask which one has more, less etc. She loved playing the game and of course asked if she could keep the trees for her dollhouse when we were done...love her :)

Here is our finished unit, she did a lot of projects that were hands on and fun. She loved getting messy with the paint and using all of the art supplies. But the part she enjoyed the most was the books she wanted to read each of them every night before going to bed, she loves to read her books :)
For the next two days we will have shorter sessions of "school" so w will focus on practicing her writing skills by using her blackboard and crayons to write the letter A, we will also play "learning games" Various puzzles that reinforce, alphabet, spatial relationships, shapes and colors. Most of which I picked up in the dollar section at Target...a teacher's favorite place!
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A is for Apple

This morning went fabulous, we are settling into our new school time schedule and Kaitlyn was so eager to start her first day! We started at 9:20 when she woke up with some apple oatmeal to get us ready to start learning. I know everyone has been at school for at least an hour or two by then, but at my school we value our morning sleepy time. It's awesome I'm actually on time :)
We jumped right in to our activities today, It felt like I was right back in my classroom...just with a much smaller audience!
Working with Kaitlyn reminds me of all the things I love about teaching. The creativity, the hands on activities the light bulb moments when they finally get what you have been repeating 700 times.
Two things I took away from today.....
 I miss the actual purity of teaching.  When you taught what your students needed to know, in a way they could understand because they needed it, not just because it was what came next in your teacher manual. In today's classrooms the purity of teaching is hard to find. It's been buried and hidden amongst the endless to do's, the "essential" data driven programs and the suffocating paperwork. But if you look hard teachers still have that glimmer deep inside that still exists. I just wish as a society we could have enough faith in them to allow them to do what they were born to do....teach.

Today's projects also reminded me of one more thing, the definite separation of primary vs intermediate teachers, I can definitely testify having been both . The separation and difference can be summed up in two words paint and glitter. Primary teachers love getting their hands messy and don't mind a little glitter on the floor, Intermediate teachers on the other hand start twitching when they see projects that list paint and glitter as their two main supplies. You can tell by the following activities, and run on sentences that I am DEFINITELY a Primary teacher!
So roll up your sleeves and get a little messy with your little ones....

Here was our First Day!

While Kaitlyn ate her breakfast she went through her alphabet and color books (I found these in teh dollar section at my local Target) using a pointer. I would ask her to point to objects, colors, letters etc. Great warm up activity to get her started. We talked about the letter A and I pointed it out in her books.
After breakfast was over Kaitlyn started her first activity. We made a sticker book with her name on it. I used some left over scrapbook paper cut to 5X7 had hr choose 4 pieces and then hole punched the sides attaching ribbon through each hole to make it like a book. I had her hunt for the letters on her sticker sheet (another Target find) to make her name on the front. I will use this sticker book as positive behavior reinforcement throughout our lessons. Each time she tries really hard or completes as task correctly or other desired behavior I will let her pick a sticker to put in her sticker book. As the holidays come closer we will make new sticker books and I will get different stickers for her to choose from. I have found in the classroom that this is a great motivational tool for young ones :)

When we started learning about the letter A we talked about the sound it made, I had Kaitlyn first use her finger to trace the letter on her blackboard (Walmart) and then use her special red crayon to trace the letter. Since she is a lefty I am trying to let her figure out how she is comfortable writing without too much influence from me. So the tracing really works for her as she is learning the basics of printing.

We read the Book Apples, Apples, Apples. We talked about different types of apples and the four seasons.

After we finished reading our apple book we worked on our 4 seasons project. 

First (Step 1) I put some blue paint on a piece of white construction paper. Kaitlyn used her hands to spread it around the whole paper. (Step 2) After it dried I painted her hand and forearm brown. I placed it onto the blue paper 4 times making 4 trees. (Step 3)For the first tree we added cotton balls for snow (Winter), for the second tree she used her fingerprints in green paint to make spring leaves. we added small balls of pink tissue paper for apple blossoms (Spring) For the third tree she used two colors of green for the summer leaves and the used red thumbprints for the apples. (Summer) For the last tree she used red, orange and yellow paint to add the fall leaves using her fingerprints  (Fall) When she was all done we reviewed the seasons and I wrote them on her paper.

For our cooking activity today we made Apple Croissants....they were fabulous! Kaitlyn and I cut open the apples and looked inside counting the seeds we found and naming the parts of the apple. I sliced them very thin and added them to some butter (2 TBS) and a few sprinkles of cinnamon sugar and pumpkin pie spices in a sauce pan on the stove. I heated them until they were soft. I unrolled the Pillsbury croissants onto a baking sheet added a few of the apples and then rolled them up...Baked till golden and bubbly about 15 min. when we took them out Kaitlyn drizzled some caramel on them....they were oh so yummy!

I hope everyone had a great first day back at school wherever your classroom might be, and I hope that you find these little lessons that we are learning to be helpful.

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Getting our classroom ready

The night before the first day of school is always quite exciting. No matter how many years went by in my career I would still be up all night with excitement the night before school started. Wondering what each of my twenty little ones would be like, excited to meet them and eager to start a new year. I would spend hours planning and prepping my room getting it set up just right....those days are long gone and the reality of me staying home is starting to really sink in. I do have to say planning and prepping my classroom this year was a whole lot easier. However the excitement is still the same, I am excited to see Kaitlyn's face when she walks in and sees the dining room all set up for her first day of school. We will start our first real week with our school schedule, I am eager and excited to see how things go. This week we will be learning about apples, we will focus on:

So join us for some " Lessons on the little stuff" as we begin our preschool homeschooling adventure!
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Our Pom Pom Jar....What behavior reward systems work at your house?

As school is starting on Monday, and the kids are getting back into their school year routines it is often hard to come up with the patience to deal with poor behavior. Here's a quick tip for how we keep the peace while raising a sassy little 3 year old and a giggly little 5 month old. We have a Pom Pom Jar that sits on the kitchen counter (a fancy name for a plain old spaghetti sauce jar) Kaitlyn earns pom poms for doing various things, whether its good behavior or a reward for finishing her chores. She also can have them taken away for unfavorable behavior or not completing her chores. Each line on the spaghetti jar is a reward that she can earn. Last month we went to Orlando and Kaitlyn wanted some figurines from the movie Tangled. It came with 8 different figurines. So they sat on the top of the refrigerator and each time she reached one of the lines on the jar she earned one of the figurines. The jar is not only for earning tangible items, some times she earns priviledges as well. Once we fill up the jar Kaitlyn decides what she wants to earn  next, this month she is working toward a date night with mommy and daddy to go see a movie. We have found that this is a rewarding system for her and it helps her to be responsible for her own actions around the house. With kids it's important to show tangible consequences when an undesirable behavior is displayed, having her take the pom pom out of the jar is reinforcing which behaviors are acceptable and earn her pom poms and which are not. This has been a great system that we use in our home, What do you find works in your household for your little ones?

The next 364 Days..What will you do?

Today was the first of my 365 days as a stay at home mommy, it was awkward for the first few hours. I felt like I was late for something, there was some place I needed to be. But as we settled in to our morning routine I quickly embraced the finer aspects of being home. The fabulous commute to the kitchen table and the fact that I can teach in my jammies, all in all two very awesome perks! Kaitlyn was so filled with excitement today she was eager to "go to school" even if it was in the dining room. She referred to me as "teacher mommy" and was filled with so much exuberance. As she worked hard and soaked up all I had to say it was then I realized how truly impactful these next 364 days were going to be. Not just to my little Kaitlyn but to me as well. To be granted the precious gift of time, time to listen, time to chat, time to just watch her learn about herself and the world around her. This is what I have always dreamed of doing since I was just 3 years old myself, to be a mommy and nothing else, to have the time to truly devote my whole self to my children and their needs. So I challenge you (whoever happens to be reading this, hopefully it's more than just my mom :) ) what will you do with these next 364 days? Will you finally do what inspires you? Will you take a leap of faith? Will you reach out? Will you make a difference to someone? What will you do with the next 364 days?


Lesson 1 Color Sorting & Letter Recognition

Today was our very first activity we started off with a few basic skills
Color Sorting
Color Identification
Letter Recognition / Writing
Fine Motor Skills

Here are the supplies we used, you will also need a hot glue Gun and a Hair Dryer (Adult use only)

Step 1:  Begin by identifying the colors of the crayons, have your child pick three or four of their favorite colors. We chose 3. Kaitlyn chose orange, pink and green. She sorted them into three different containers.

Step 2:  (step 1) Glue a piece of cardstock onto the top of your canvas. (step 2 + 3) Glue the crayons onto the cardstock using the hot glue gun. (step 4) Once all colors are glued onto the cardstock place it upright in the direct hot sun. Place wax paper underneath to collect drippings. If you are not in a sunny location or the temperature is to chilly you can also achieve the same effect using a hair dryer on the high heat setting. Simply blowing the hair dryer on the crayons will help to melt the crayons and spread them down the canvas.

While we were waiting for the sun to work it's magic we read a book about how crayons are made. We learned about wax and how the different colors start off as a powder and are added to the wax to make crayons.

After our book, we put together some of our learning puzzles, we went grocery shopping, took a nap......and finally checked on our project. The crayons had just started to melt and drip down so we brought it inside to use the hairdryer to finish the rest.
Kaitlyn learned all about the effects heat has on an object, she can tell you that the sun is hot and heat melts wax crayons. ***Important beginning understanding of how the world works :) After we were finished and the wax dried ( about 10 min) I cut the crayons into smaller pieces with a pair of scissors.

Kaitlyn learned all about the letter K, we practiced writing it on paper, and used our learning puzzles to learn about the sound a K makes by comparing "K" pictures, and tracing the letter "K" with her finger. She then painted her wooden "K" brown and added some small pink polka dots ( found in the scrapbook section at Hobby Lobby)

Kaitlyn starts with a "K"!

Mommy Hot glued her letter "K" on and Kaitlyn added a few owl stickers to her art work....and viola a finished masterpiece.....Kaitlyn learned quite a bit by having fun and now she has a unique piece of art that she made from scratch, I think I know the perfect spot for it, right on her bedroom door.

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Little Cupcake Party

For Kaitlyn's 3rd Birthday we went with a cupcake theme. It was super easy and the kids had a blast. Each guest got to make 4 cupcakes to take home in their own favor box. They were oh so cute and simply delicious! 


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