Saturday, March 17, 2012

Homeschool Week in Review

L and E are 31 months old.

Here are some random photos of the activities we've been doing (these are actually from the past 2 weeks since I didn't post last week).


We explored triangles with the geoboards this week.  The girls' fine motor skills are really improving.  L made triangles with relative ease, and E impressed me with the 'Christmas Tree' she made (I showed her how to make the first two triangles and then while my back was turned she added the other two!).


Friday, March 16, 2012

My Amazing Kiddos

Having three children under the age of three can be both a challenge and a blessing.  I love every age and stage they go through, but right now seems like such an interesting time for all three.

I started blogging because I always said that I wanted to scrapbook or at least record memories of the children as they grow up, and I figured that an electronic medium was perfect for me since I'm a computer-nerd.

I noticed that I tend to write more about the activities we do then personal notes on the children, so I'd like to start blogging here and there about all the phases the kids are going through.  If you read my blog for ideas of activities to do with your kids, you can skip the personal posts.

I'm a Time4Learning Reviewer

Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson plans, homeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.

The twins have really been enjoying their computer time as we've gone through free trials of a variety of programs from Reading Eggs to K5 Learning to PBS Kids Play, so I'll be able to provide a comparison of Time4Learning with some of these other products.  I'm especially looking forward to trying their Math curriculum with the girls (who seem to be handling pre-K and Kindergarten math just fine), since I haven't been able to find a lot of online math programs I like.

Check back for my review over the next 30 days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yarn Octopus and Jellyfish

The girls were fascinated by the yarn I pulled out yesterday, so I decided to make a couple yarn crafts with them this morning.

The no-sew, no-knit yarn octopus doll idea has been around a long time (I imagine it's from the days before plastic manufactured toys), and is a lot of fun to make.  It ended up being more of a Mommy-craft, with help from the kids rather than something they could do all by themselves.

Making Orange Juice

I like to let the kids make their own orange juice once or twice a week (it's actually made with clementines not oranges, but we call it orange juice anyway).  It's a great Montessori motor-skills exercise with cutting, squeezing, and pouring practice. It is also useful for being able to describe the sequence of events (they tell me what we do first, what comes next, etc..).

Here are some pictures of the kids making their own juice:

The twins (31 months old) are not strong enough to really squeeze all the juice out, so for that part we either do it together or take turns.  Usually two clementines only produce a shot-glass full of juice, but it's the process that counts.  I always try to sneak in some liquid vitamins into the juice since the Vitamin C from citrus products helps with iron absorption.

In the past, we would also include a lengthy first step that involved scrubbing the clementines and then rinsing them in water, which the girls loved to do.  Unfortunately, my husband decided that the wonderful fruit-and-vegetable-scrubbers we had would be great for cleaning the bathroom, so we've stopped that part until I can get some replacement scrubbers. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exploring Sound: Science, Math, and Music Activity

Last weekend we did Lesson C-2 in Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) - "Sound, Vibrations, and Energy", and I decided to integrate the lesson with some fun music and math activities.

First we made string instruments out of rubber bands and cookie cutters:

The sound out of these was not that impressive, but the kids enjoyed holding them up to their ears and also strumming them and then feeling the vibrations in the cookie cutters.  We talked about how the vibrations from the rubber bands travel through the particles in the air to their ears (they understand the concept of air as a substance so maybe they got it, or maybe there's just some association made between vibrations and sound, which is fine too).  Then they put their ears on the wooden table and listened to sounds through this solid (they were surprised by the result and giggled). 

Next I filled up glasses with varying amounts of water and let them make some music.  The girls know how to distinguish high/low pitches and ascending/descending intervals from Kinderbach, so we played some games identifying the difference in the sounds each glass made:

 We've been doing a lot of work with patterns and number recognition lately, so I wanted to demonstrate the different ways we can make patterns with music. 

We composed music using different manipulatives.  One way was to put numbers in front of the glasses, and then, moving from left to right, strike each glass the number of times displayed on the corresponding card.  L really enjoyed rearranging the numbers and then asking me to play her composition.  Another way we composed music was to use two instruments (a glass, and a container for a drum), and assign a different color to each one.  Then we combined MegaBlocks to make a pattern to play:

For example, to play the composition above, you would play glass-drum-drum-glass-drum.  E was really good at this activity, probably because it combined her love of building with blocks with her love of music.

Finally, we took out our whole collection of percussion instruments and played some games reading quarter notes:

Sometimes I'd hit a drum a certain number of times and the girls had to pick the card that depicts the correct number of notes, and sometimes I'd pick a card and they would have to play the rhythm.  I think they can finally identify a group of four objects, which is something they've struggled with for a while in our RightStart Math curriculum.  In the picture above, L is playing the game, while E is making the letter "T" with her drumsticks (they're so creative!). 

Since the kids enjoyed this very much, I plan on expanding on these types of activities to include different rhythms and patterns.  I'll have to also search the web for more ideas on experiments to do with sound - I'm sure there are other fun experiments out there.

(Pizza) Pi Day

Since I'm a math-geek, I had to take some time away from my work today to celebrate Pi Day (3/14) with the kids.  First the twins used dot-paints to put toppings on their paper-plate pizzas:

We turned it into a dramatic play activity with a pizza box that was lying around (excuse the grease spots!).  E and I put together a 'house', and then we would call up the pizza parlor (L on the couch) to order a pizza (the girls loved pretending to talk to each other on the phone).  L would then drive the pizza over to our house for delivery, where we shared the pizza - yum!

The girls played 'pizza delivery' over and over and over. L noticed that it was hard to share the pizza, so I got her some scissors and she cut it in half to share with her sister:

For the 'pi' part of the lesson, I showed the girls how to take yarn and measure the diameter and circumference of our pizza and then compare them (yep - the circumference was approximately three times the diameter):

I had other math-related activities planned, but the kids were fascinated by the yarn, so we ended up doing some free exploration with the yarn instead.

Happy Pi Day!

Monday, March 12, 2012


It's been a couple days since I've blogged (yes, Mom, everything is fine).  We had a great weekend, and I have tons of photos and activities I want to share.  The problem is that it takes a lot of self-discipline to work from home (and actually get work done), and it's been too tempting to play with my amazing children and enjoy the beautiful weather lately.  So I'm behind on work, and have some catching-up to do for an upcoming deadline.  That means that the kids are going to be watching a lot of educational videos and entertaining themselves this week while I get my work done, and my blogging time will be severely limited.  Hopefully after a burst of productivity (and a lesson in time-management), I'll have a chance to post more about our homeschool preschool adventures.