Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homeschool Preschool - Week 19 & 20

L and H are almost 3.5 years old.  After a long holiday break, we're getting back into our Homeschool Preschool routine.  Some days are definitely better than others.  Even on the more frustrating days where I feel that the kids watched too much TV and didn't learn anything, looking back I still see that there was plenty of learning going on.  The girls always see me taking photos of our activities, so they've been asking for their own cameras to take pictures as well.  Here's what we've been up to...

Math

After breakfast, I like to bring out various math manipulatives.  Sometimes things that are as simple as Q-tips turn out to be a lot of fun.

I like to give the girls little logic puzzles to help their mathematical reasoning skills.  For example, I'll ask "If you want to make a square, how many q-tips do you think you'll need?  Can you make another square now with only 3?  If I give you one more q-tip, can you make you square into 2 rectangles?"   I remember playing games like these with toothpicks or matches as a kid, so I have a lot of fun with them too.

One of the puzzles we've been working on is to count the number of triangles/rectangles in shapes like the ones above - it took a while for the kids to learn to see the larger shapes that are composed of the smaller ones..

We also use the various manipulatives to reinforce the concepts we're covering in RightStart Math A (tallying and parallel lines shown above).  We're almost half-way through Level A, but we've been going back a lot to review many of the concepts.  There are definitely a lot of logic skills that I think the girls have to grow into.  For example, they easily recognize that 5+1=6 and 5+2=7 even when they see the problem in different forms, but when I hold up five fingers on one hand and 3 fingers on another they forget that it is 8.  That's fine, because I don't think memorization is the key to learning, but when they don't know the answer, instead of trying to figure it out they guess totally illogical answers (call out random numbers).  I try to show them some strategies like if they know that 5 and 2 is 7, 5 + 3 must be more, since we only add one finger, it's probably the number that comes after 8.  I don't want them to just memorize the process for figuring it out, but rather formulate their own problem-solving strategies, but maybe they're just a bit young for some of those skills.

We're still working a lot on the tens, and engaging in a wide variety of different math games and activities.

Although I was doing fine teaching the girls to read using my own homemade activities, I thought they could benefit from a more structured program to help with their fluency and to make sure they go through all the reading/spelling rules more systematically.  We just completed our first week of All About Reading Level 1, which the kids love.  The hands-on activities are giving them a lot of extra practice and boosting confidence in their reading abilities.  I like the fact that I don't have to do a lot of preparation before the lessons so we can have something to work on whenever the kids ask for it (and yes, they really do ask to 'read flashcards'.. a lot!)

Free educational games on the iPad are always a big hit, as well.

For read-alouds, in the past two weeks we've already finished The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up, and abridged version of The Wizard of Oz (kids and I absolutely loved it and they reference it often in their imaginary play) and all four Catwings books (they were shorter than I expected to we read one a day for 4 days in a row and both girls adored them).  I haven't decided what is up next - maybe The Wishing Chair Again since the girls enjoyed the first one so much.

Everything Else

The girls got real ceramic tea sets for Christmas, so we've been enjoying afternoon tea-time.  I incorporated tea with a little lesson on England, and they always like to say that they are going to London to have tea with the Queen.

We've been spending a lot of time playing with some of the new games the girls got for Christmas.  Here E is playing with her Imaginets set.  She's good at both following the patterns on the cards and doing creative play - both are equally important for learning.

Working on concentration and fine motor skills.

Matching instruments (from Toob) with flashcards (\$1 Target)

Coin matching.  I meant to start teaching them about money this week, but I didn't get around to it.

The science experiments this past week were totally child-guided.  For example, I gave them water, measuring cups, droppers, etc, and they invented their own experiments - seeing which containers hold more water, dropping objects in to see if they sink or float, adding soap, etc...

We've been doing lots of art, music, dramatic play, dance, and gymnastics, too - I just haven't been good about capturing photos of those.

My favorite part of the past two weeks has been how much my girls are taking the initiative to ask for certain learning activities and also creating their own learning experiences.  A lot of times I just sit back and watch what they come up with all by themselves and it's so fun and creative.