Lesson Plan: A is for Alligator

We’re starting our preschool year with the letters of the alphabet. Each letter goes with a theme that we focus on for the week. Each week covers math, science, geography, sensory activities, crafts, letters, calendar, weather, music, ASL, Bible, P.E., and story time. It may seem like a lot, but Isaiah gets through most of it in under two hours each day. Some activities are only once or twice a week. If it takes longer, it’s because he’s having too much fun and wants to keep doing something longer than originally planned. I’m sure not going to argue with that.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Just being cute

A is for Alligator

Click here to see the full lesson plan for the week. Feel free to use all or part of it yourself.

Our days all start out the same. We look at the calendar, discuss the weather and sing the ABCs. This is an opportunity to practice counting (days on the calendar), learn about dates, learn the weather, and do a little quick review.

The “name” section on the lesson plan is pretty simple. Isaiah does not write his name yet. He has learned the first two letters and really struggles with the rest, so we have to work on that every morning. I try to give some variety and do things he enjoys so that he’s more willing to practice.

I chose 5 Little Monkeys to learn this week because I couldn’t find any rhymes specifically about alligators. The rhyme can be found here. Isaiah loved it and picked up on it very quickly. Along with the rhyme, we always sing a couple of songs. I wrote in some songs I knew he’d know well to kick off our year because I wanted to keep things simple. Music is pretty flexible, though. Once we did what was written on the plan, I let him pick a couple of songs he wanted to sing. The purpose of music time is simply to have fun and get a basic introduction to music, though, really, he’s already pretty familiar with music because he’s in a music loving family.

Isaiah saying his rhyme

I have chosen to work on American Sign Language with Isaiah as a foreign language. He’s also working on Spanish with my dad, but that’s not on the lesson plan because he’s not around during our school hours. I believe that learning more languages is good for his brain’s development, so I work hard to give him lots of opportunities to learn them. Again, we started really simple. I didn’t want to overwhelm him at the beginning because school needs to be fun at this age. There’s certainly freedom to add more during phases where he’s picking things up quickly. The lesson plan will still just show a few key words that I really want him to know by the end of the week. Just assume he’s likely picking up a bit more than that. These words also go on his word wall. (If you’d like to do ASL with your child, this is a great free resource to get you started.

Our reading plan was a bit all over the place this week because the library had nothing about alligators. Oops. We also make sure to take some time for a Bible lesson. This includes reading Bible stories and working on his AWANA book and memory verse.

Isaiah's first AWANA verse

Science is Isaiah’s favorite thing in the world, so I wanted to make sure to nourish that. This week’s science included a video because he learns well through that. He’s been watching several science shows for quite a while and regularly amazes me with his understanding. Wild Kratts (and really anything by the Kratt brothers) is really popular with him and has tons of great, kid friendly information. After watching the video, we discussed what he’d learned and what he thought about it. On another day, we took it a step further by coloring a picture of an alligator’s habitat. This was another opportunity to talk about where they live, what they eat and what they look like.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Coloring the alligator habitat

Math varies a lot for Isaiah because he doesn’t count very high, but within the numbers he knows, he’s able to do simple addition and subtraction. This week focused on getting him to count a little higher. I printed off pictures of alligators for him to count. I laid out different numbers for him and asked how many he saw. When the numbers got too high for him, I helped him to keep going.

Geography is another activity that Isaiah has shown a specific interest in. He’s fascinated by maps and wants to be able to read them. He loves to ask where people and animals live, when looking at maps. So, we’re working with maps as much as possible. This week, we charted the American Alligator’s territory on a simple outline map. This was also an opportunity to introduce him to using books for research (he’s used to seeing me Google things, so it’s important to me that he learn that information can be found in books, too). Since, obviously, he’s not reading, I helped him locate the right page in a book about animals so that he could find the map and copy the territory to his map.

A is for Alligator Map

Isaiah's completed map

Sensory and craft times are lots of fun. This week, Isaiah practiced writing the letter A in shaving cream, made an alligator from the letter A, played with water beads, made a card for his cousin, and played in a bucket of beans.

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Not so sure about the shaving cream

Letter A Alligator

Working happily on his alligator

Preschool 9/8-12/14

Water beads

P.E. for us is just an opportunity to burn some energy. Sometimes it’s pretty organized, other times it’s just Isaiah being wild. This week, I taught Isaiah how to play hopscotch. He was absolutely thrilled and has started using the tiles in the kitchen as a giant game of hopscotch. We also played with a mini trampoline and played games. Sadly, the weather went sour on us, so he didn’t get to ride his bike, but he’s hoping for a dry day to do next week.

Isaiah made up a song to help himself get the steps right

Hopscotch

Hopscotch fun

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Handkerchief Doll

Isaiah loves making things, so when I came across some cloth napkins and styrofoam balls in a box of craft supplies, I decided to let him make a handkerchief doll with them. He thought that was a pretty cool idea and begged to make more when he finished his.

Isaiah's finished doll

Making the doll is pretty simple.

What you need:
1 large handkerchief or cloth napkin (handkerchiefs are softer)
1 ball–this can be a styrofoam ball, a wad of stuffing or a wooden bead
1 piece of ribbon or yarn, about 12 inches or so
Markers

Spread the handkerchief out flat and place the ball in the center. Pull the fabric up around it and make sure there’s a smooth area for the face. (For older kids, you can have them sew a face and hair on with embroidery floss before putting it on the ball, but with little ones, they’ll be drawing features after the doll is assembled.) Take the yarn and wrap it around the fabric, just below the ball, a couple of times, then tie a double knot and bow. Turn your child loose with markers to draw a face, hair and designs on the “dress”.

Coloring the doll's dress

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Superman Party Ideas

Isaiah turned 4 last month. We waited to have the party until this month, but I wanted to share some of the things we did, in case anyone else is trying to plan a Superman party.

Food

Our food was pretty simple. My mom and I fixed everything for tacos and laid it out so everyone could build their own. Between the taco ingredients and some fruit, it makes it pretty easy, even for picky eaters, to find something everyone likes. I put little signs by the food that listed a super power that the kids would get if they ate it.

Superman Party Superman Party

Cake

Isaiah specifically requested cupcakes for his party, so that’s what he had, though I had great ideas for a cake, too. I bought Wilton’s food coloring (well worth it–the colors are so much more vibrant without thinning the batter or icing) and colored the cake batter bright blue. I baked the cupcakes in red paper and topped them with bright yellow icing. I printed off Superman logos and glued them to toothpicks to stick in the tops of the cupcakes and got a “4” candle for Isaiah’s cupcake.

Superman Party Superman Party

The Floor Game

I want to start this section by saying: I’ve seen similar games online in the last couple years, but this is the original. My mom came up with it on her own, long before blogs, when I was Isaiah’s age. We’ve done it at every kid’s party ever since because it’s such a huge hit. Many of my friends started using the game at parties, as well.

To make the floor game, you need to collect a few images that match your party’s theme. In this case, that was Superman pictures. You’ll also need a simple design, like a smiley face or basic outline (I used the Superman logo). Print a few of each kind of picture, making sure there are more of the basic one. For older kids, you’ll want more basic cards, while little kids will need lots of picture cards. The more kids you have, the more pieces you need, to give them room to spread out. These need to be big enough to stand on, so I use a full sheet of card stock when I make it. My mom’s original version was squares made of mat board with smiley faces; pictures were coloring pages that she’d carefully colored herself and taped to blank pieces.

You’ll also need a small prize of some sort to hand out. You’ll be giving out a bunch, so keep it simple. I usually use either tickets (made with theme-appropriate pictures) or M&Ms.

Set up the game by arranging the cards in a large circle on the floor. It’s quick to set up, so we usually set it up when we’re ready to play, rather than stepping around it for the rest of the party. Space the picture cards out randomly through the circle.

The rules are pretty simple. Have all the kids stand on a simple square, no pictures yet. Give the birthday child a large die to roll. When they roll, everyone moves according to the number rolled. If anyone is standing on a picture, give them a prize. Let the kids take turns rolling the die and play until the kids are done or you run out of prizes.

Superman Party Superman Party Superman Party

Find the Bad Guy

This is a simple treasure hunt game. I printed off a cute little characters in the classic black and white jail uniform and hid them around the room before the kids got there. Since we were renting my parents’ church, it was easy to hide them in a different room so no one saw them before it was time to play.

Superman Party Superman Party

Obstacle Course

I gave the kids some simple “flying lessons” and taught them how to leap tall buildings. I made a couple buildings by wrapping cardboard boxes in solid paper and attaching blue squares for windows. The kids jumped over those a few times, then I put them out with a very simple obstacle course. It had them jumping the buildings, walking along a piece of tape (balance beam) and doing a bean bag toss.

Superman Party Superman Party

Decorations

The kitchen has a big window into the fellowship hall where we were holding the party, so I hung red, blue and yellow streamers from it with balloons at the top. It was a nice way to add some color, while also serving the purpose of hiding the kitchen and the food stuff. I also got a Superman birthday banner that I hung along the counter.

Superman Party Superman Party

I made a cupcake display by wrapping boxes in blue paper and stacking them. This allowed me to put the cupcakes on different layers, instead of just putting them on the flat table. Between the stand and the logos on the cupcakes, it turned the special dessert into a decoration.

Superman Party

I put Superman decorations on the table and had Superman logos on the floor that doubled as targets for the bean bag toss. The buildings the kids jumped over in the obstacle course were arranged on the prize table when they weren’t being used in the game. I opted to keep the decorations pretty simple, since we were using the church and everything had to come down before we could go home.

Superman Party

The kids’ party favors had a few Superman themed toys in them, along with snacks. They also got super hero suckers–Tootsie Pops with capes attached to them. Each kid got a cape to wear during the party and take home with them. I was able to get them in a couple different colors at DollarTree.

Superman Party Superman Party Superman Party
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A Comfort Corner

I made a comfort corner for Isaiah. He loves it. This is my most recent attempt at helping him learn to calm himself, instead of going totally crazy when he’s overstimulated. I thought I’d share what we did, in case anyone else wants to try it.

So, first off, what is a comfort corner? A comfort corner is basically just a space where a child can get away from some of the constant sensory input of a normal house and regroup. Usually, they have a comfy place to sit and a couple of calming toys. You can use just about anything to make a quiet, comforting space somewhere out of the way, but still in the main part of your house.

Cozy Corner

Showing off his comfort corner with the teddy bear

Isaiah knows he’s free to go into his at any time, but I’ve also strongly encouraged him to go there a few times when he was getting out of control. We’re also using it for a quiet time in the afternoon. He loves crawling in there and has spent quite a bit of time there since I put everything together. I would like for him to learn that this is a safe place to go when he needs a break, no matter what the reason. That could make his life a lot easier.

Cozy Corner

Rest time

Cozy Corner

Playing quietly

Our comfort corner is actually portable. I used a small Cars tent that he got for Christmas. During the day, it’s set up in the living room, where he can have easy access to it. At night, everything gets tucked away so the animals don’t mess with it while it’s unsupervised. Inside, he has a small pillow, a teddy bear, a blanket, some books and a couple of sensory bottles. He’s free to bring anything else that he wants inside, but I try to make sure those things are always there.

Cozy Corner

All the treasures inside the tent

Categories: Gentle Discipline, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wave Bottles

Isaiah and I made a couple of wave bottles tonight. The goal was to make one that glowed under a black light. Our first one did not, so we made a second.

Wave Bottles

Well shaken wave bottle

Instructions

supplies
Empty plastic bottle
Water
Highlighter (make sure it’s fluorescent)
Oil (we used baby oil)
Confetti

Wave Bottles

Supplies for Bottle #1

Take apart the highlighter and put the foamy ink cartridge out. Put it into the water to soak. You can squeeze it to make the ink come out faster, but beware–you may end up with dyed fingers. I used a fork to press the ink out, though I still ended up with some on my hands. Isaiah even, somehow, managed to get it on his face. Once the water has a good bit of ink in it, take the foam out and throw it away. Pour the water into the water bottle, filling it about two thirds of the way. Drop in a bit of confetti and top off the bottle with oil. Hot glue the lid on and you’re ready to play.

Wave Bottles

Soaking the ink

Wave Bottles

Finished bottle

As I said, our first bottle didn’t work. My pink highlighter (Isaiah’s color of choice this week) wasn’t fluorescent. Oops. We also didn’t put any confetti in that bottle. It still makes an awesome wave bottle. The color from the highlighter looks really nice and very different from what we would have gotten with food coloring.

Wave Bottles

Isaiah says it makes really good waves

Wave Bottles

Waves

For our second bottle, we used a yellow highlighter. We tested it with the black light before pulling it apart to be sure it would glow. I let Isaiah put some confetti into this bottle, which he was pretty excited about. Then I turned him loose to try it with the black light. My dad propped it up against the side of the tv so that Isaiah could do whatever he wanted with his bottle, without someone having to hold the light the entire time. Isaiah raced back and forth, putting the bottle in front of the light, then moving away for quite a while. He decided to test a few other things under the black light, too.

Wave Bottles

Looking through the glowing bottle

Wave Bottles

Floating confetti

Glowing Boy

My glowing boy

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Science, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Circus

Topic: The Circus

Books: Circus

Objectives
•Practice recall skills.
•Identify different parts of the circus
•Discuss experiences

Vocabulary
•Circus
•Acrobat
•Elephant
•Performer

Supplies Needed
•Blue paper plates
•Blue half circles and long rectangles
•Eyes
•Pictures of the circus

Large Group Activities
•Read Circus
•Show students pictures from the circus, talking about each act and what they remembered about it.
•Give each student an opportunity to tell what their favorite part of the circus was.

Circus 2013

Circus Clown

Circus 2013

Elephants

Table Time Activity
•Hand out plates, paper shapes, eyes and glue
•Allow students to glue the parts together to make an elephant’s face

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Lesson Plan: China

Topic: China

Books: China ABCs

Objectives:
•See items from China
•Be introduced to important aspects of Chinese culture
•Develop an interest in learning about another country, such as China

Vocabulary
•China
•Country
•Culture
•Dragon

Supplies Needed
•Desert sized paper plates
•Dragon face
•Crayons
•Scissors
•Strips of crepe paper
•Objects from China (paper fan, Chinese coins, dragon)

Large Group Activities
•Pass around objects, telling students about each one as they look at them
•Read China ABCs, taking time to explain unfamiliar topics
•Allow students to ask questions

Table Time Activity
•Have children color dragon faces and cut them out
•Glue dragon faces and crepe paper to plates

Dragon Face for Craft

Here's the face we used for the craft

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I Spy Bottles

I made an I Spy bottle years ago at a 4-H day camp. I kept it for years and really loved it, so I wanted to do one with Isaiah. There was only one small catch… Isaiah can’t read the list of items to find. I went ahead and got supplies to make the bottle, then, as we were making it, I realized that I could easily take a picture of the items to attach to the bottle. It worked great!

I Spy Bottles

I Spy bottle

In the end, we actually made a few bottles with different things inside. We’ll probably make more later. It’s easy to get things that go together and make bottles with different themes. We can try different fillers, too.

Here’s what you need:
Plastic bottle
Filler: We used rice for two bottles and birdseed in a third. You can also use sand, colored salt (or colored rice) or beans.
Trinkets: This can be just about anything that will fit into the mouth of your bottle. Ours had shaped erasers, buttons, a crayon, rubber bands, bobbie pins and beads.
Glue: White glue works fine, though hot glue dries much faster and tends to be a bit more secure.
Ribbon: I tied the list onto the bottle with ribbon. I only actually attached a list to one bottle, since Isaiah is more interested in shaking it to make cool sounds and seeing the treasure inside than he is in deliberately searching for an object.

I Spy Bottles

The list of treasures

I let Isaiah fill the bottles himself, which was pretty exciting for him. He filled them about halfway, added the trinkets, then put in the rest of the filler. Once everything was inside, I helped him put on the lid and shake the bottle to spread the toys throughout. It’s really important to make sure there’s some extra space left in the bottle when you fill it or nothing will move when you turn or shake it.

I Spy Bottles

Carefully filling the bottle

I Spy Bottles

He's pretty proud of his bottles

I Spy Bottles

Shaking his finished bottle

Categories: Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Bottles, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sensory Bottle–First Attempt

Isaiah and I made a sensory bottle last night. I only had one bottle, so we just made a very simple one this time. Here’s what we did.

Sensory Bottle

Our finished bottle

What you need:
Empty bottle (we used a Gatorade bottle)
Water
Glitter
Food coloring (must be water based)
We also used some stickers because we didn’t have confetti

Sensory Bottle

Isaiah with his bottle full of glitter and stickers

I let Isaiah put the stickers and glitter into the bottle before adding the water. Once he was done adding glitter and stickers, I carefully poured some of the water in. With very close supervision, I allowed Isaiah to add food coloring to the water. Giving him control resulted in a really dark color, but he liked the independence of doing it himself. I added the rest of the water and glued on the lid. He’s been playing with it ever since. Next time, we’re going to try using baby oil for some of the bottles.

Sensory Bottle

Excited that there's water inside

Sensory Bottle

Dye mixing

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Making Sensory Toys, Sensory Processing Disorder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lesson Plan: Bear Hunt

Preschool Lesson Plan: April 9, 2013

Topic: I Spy

Books: Bear Hunt

Objectives
•Recognize patterns
•Repeat phrases
•Predict the next step

Vocabulary
•Search
•Hunt
•Adventure
•Spy

Supplies Needed
•Empty bottles
•Rice (or birdseed)
•Small trinkets (erasers, beads, rubber bands, etc.)
•Labels with I Spy list

I Spy Bottles

Here is the list for the bottles. Since most 3 year olds don't read yet, I decided to print a picture of what's inside, rather than write a list.

Large Group Activities
•Read Bear Hunt
•Sing “Silly Bear Hunt”
•Talk about looking for things and going on adventures

Table Time Activity
•Hand out bottles filled with rice and trinkets
•Have children put the trinkets into their bottles and put the lids on
•Seal bottles with glue
•Allow children to look for the things they’ve hidden in the rice

I Spy Bottles

Isaiah working on his bottle

Complete I Spy bottle instructions are available here.

Categories: Crafts, Homeschool, Lesson Plans | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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