Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to School - Week 10! INSECT WEEK!

Last week, we learned all about SPIDERS! Ephraim was VERY excited. Naturally, in our reading and learning, we discovered that spiders are NOT insects. Insects have 6 legs, and spiders have 8, among other differences. Not surprisingly, Ephraim asked what types of things ARE insects. (I was anticipating this question and preparing for insect week. Two points for me!)

Obviously, there are many, many types of insects, but we are going to take the week to do a broad overview. This may extend into a couple more weeks, depending on the questions that arise, or it may go in a completely different direction. This is one of the beauties of homeschooling. I am able to foster my child's love for learning by following his interests to create lesson plans, rather than lesson plans that disregard his interests. ;)

So, HERE is this week's lesson plan.

We are continuing the same memory verse from last week, although Ephraim has already memorized it. It continues to be relevant and appropriate. In our reading last week, Ephraim discovered that if we did not have spiders, the world would be overrun with bugs. So, he said, "Mom, that's why God made spiders and said they were good!" YESSSSSSS!!! This week, we'll try to figure out some of the reasons He made insects and said they were good. ;)

Also, I think I failed to post the link for this last week, but we are continuing to review Dolch Pre-Primer Sight Words, using these flash cards. Ephraim still has to sound out a few of these words, so I am just going to keep reviewing them until he's mastered them all. Then, we will move on to the next level. This is just a simple, easy way to keep moving forward with the reading skills he's gained through "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."

Anyway, hope you have a very buggy week! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Crabtree Park

The Great Park Adventure took us to the Lakewood area today, where we visited Crabtree Park. I have to say, it was a PERFECT park day. Crabtree has lots of amenities, including a playground, swings, a baseball field, and two basketball courts. The park was clean, shady, and totally graffiti-free. It was really great. Seriously. Go check it out sometime!

Now, I don't know if all other parents secretly do this when they visit parks without other parents watching, but I am a full participant. I slide on all the slides, test out the swings, climb ladders and twisty things, and dangle helplessly from the monkey bars.... but as of today, I have decided there is one thing that I will never do again. Read on.

As you can see, Crabtree has the slightly older playground equipment with metal slides. They are super fun in this weather, but I imagine my opinion would have been different had we visited in July. It is still REALLY shady though, so it might not be so bad. :)

Plenty of swings, all in working order. There was, however, one baby swing that had been thrown over the top bar. We weren't tall enough to untangle it, but it appeared to be just fine. :)

There's a nice little covered pavilion for your parties and whatnot.

You are free to make fish faces at Crabtree park. So, that's good news.

You can also pretend to be in toddler jail, which is fun.

And here it is.... the thing I will NEVER do again. Every couple of weeks, I decide to crawl through one of these tubes again, thinking that my memory of hurting knees from last time was just a fluke. Well, it's not. It's time to face the facts, momma. You are too old to go crawling through these tubes. My knees hurt SO bad after one crawl through this 6 foot tube that I swore them off forever. If you ever catch me in one again, or if you are at the park with me and I start rationalizing reasons to enter, just slap me in the face. Seriously. Permission granted in advance. 

It's fun if you're a toddler and can practically walk or sit on your patootie, but it's no fun for a momma! Who's with me!?!?

I started considering installing a dugout somewhere to trap my children when I need to clean or get other things done. They would be happy and just feel like they were on a special baseball team. What are your thoughts?. 

Anyway, other than the knee incident, we had LOTS of fun at Crabtree Park! Go check it out! 

Here is its website, and its amenities are listed below.

Park Amenities

Baseball Youth1
Basketball Lighted1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic Tables2
Playground Equipment2
Security Lighting
Softball Youth1
Trash Barrels6

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back to School - Week 9! SPIDER WEEK!

We have FINALLY finished "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons!" Yay! I am SO glad! We are now switching over to themed lesson plans. I've been sort of cataloging things that Ephraim is interested in so that our lessons will be interesting to him and help foster a love of learning. Basically, four-year-olds have a wide variety of interests and ask lots of questions. When he asks something I don't know, like, "How do spiders make webs?" I make a mental note. Later, we'll find out. I want him to realize that he can investigate and learn about ANYTHING. I want him to LOVE learning. Personally, I feel like Pre-K should still be rather unstructured because they are really young (contrary to what my lesson plans may lead you to believe!). The way each of these activities fit into our life are pretty rhythmic, throughout the day... and if he's not feeling it, I don't make a big deal of it. We move on.

The thing that he is and has been most interested in lately is SPIDERS. Mainly, he wants to know how the spider bit Peter Parker and turned him into Spiderman. Obviously, we'll save the answer to that question for the grand finale! ;) This is a great time of year to learn about spiders, though. They are everywhere! I've got a list of things he's interested in to learn about for the next several weeks, and each week will be based upon a different theme.

Quincy will be continuing on with the Calvary Chapel Curriculum, which they mainly do through morning/bedtime devotionals, and that is basically unrelated to our theme. He does review the Calvary Chapel memory verse, but they don't focus a lot on memorization/repetition. I have found a verse that I think will coincide well with spider week, and we'll work on memorizing it together. I've edited the verse to make it a bit shorter and kid-friendly, but I think it is appropriate for a four-year-old and spider week.

Last year, we did lots of letter-related themes, which helped him to be very well-prepared for reading. This year, it's time to expand our minds a little more!

Once I've decided upon a theme, here's what I do. Go to the Jacksonville Public Library Website. Log in using my library card. Search the catalog. I search for "spider" as my keyword. I select "Children's Picture Book" as my category. I then see what pops up. I look through the books, do some quick internet research, and choose the ones that I want to read. I then place them on hold using the library's online hold system. I am doing this two weeks prior to when I need them. Usually, the library is really fast about having holds ready for pickup. They send me an email, and I go get them. Library books are checked out for 3 weeks, so it's plenty of time... and if I need them longer, I can renew them online as well! For the NONFICTION books, I just type in "spider" as my keyword, choose "Nonfiction" as my category, and select "Juvenile" as my reading level. This will show me where spiders are filed in the nonfiction section. The books were mostly in 595.44. On one of our library days, I just cruise on over to that section and pick out the ones I like the best. I also check out this same section in the readers portion of the children's library. Sometimes you can find level 1 nonfiction books that early readers can handle all on their own. Lots of the nonfiction books will still be a bit too difficult or long for Ephraim, so we'll read sections, summarize, and check out the pictures.

I have also heard a rumor that the children's librarians are happy to put together a box of themed books for you, so go talk it over with your local librarian! FYI, in case you are working with an even younger child, there are TONS of phonics books available that teach just about a certain letter. Ephraim and I read about a zillion of those.

I love the library. I think it is one of the best resources available to us as homeschoolers. So, before you go buy a book, check it out from the library! For the record, we started "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" with a copy from our local library. There are also several homeschool teaching resources, kids craft books, and kids cookbooks available.

Finally, HERE is this week's lesson plan!

Have a creepy week, spider friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back to School - Week 8!

Here is this week's lesson plan.

THANK YOU JESUS, we are finishing "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons!" It really is a great book for teaching reading, but I am SO BORED with it.

There's a change in my schedule this week. Our library got hit with a budget cut, so they are closed on Wednesday mornings. Preschool Family Story Time has switched to Thursday mornings. I'm cool with it.

Anyway, I don't have much to say right now because I'm feeling really lazy and would like to watch excessive amounts of TV and eat chocolate. Don't judge. You know you feel the same way.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to School - Week 7!

Here is this week's lesson plan.

So, Quincy's been jumping around a bit with this Bible curriculum since it is overlapping the original one that we were using, which is fine. Ephraim loves doing Bible time with his Daddy, and I know Quincy loves teaching him.

Since Columbus Day is this week, I thought I'd share some FREE Columbus Day activities I've found on the web.

Coloring Pages

Book List

A Fun Skit

Ship Crafts and "Sh" coloring pages

Crafts, Printables, and a HUGE variety of activities

Milk Carton Spanish Galleon

Christopher Columbus Story for Little Ones (This site, TeachersPayTeachers, is a favorite of mine! Lots of free activities there, created by teachers and homeschoolers, all grade levels.)

From Pinterest:

And this last one is $5.00, but it looks REALLY cute! :)

I hope school is going well at your house!

Happy Columbus Day! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Great Park Adventure - St. Nicholas Playground

We had SO much fun at this park today! I highly recommend a visit, especially in this GORGEOUS weather!

This is a tangent, but we drove behind the Weinermobile on our way! Yes, I took pictures while driving. :)

Anyway, St. Nicholas Playground was very clean, with minimal graffiti, and there were a few other people there, running the path that surrounds the park and playing on the swings. It is always encouraging when you see others making use of the park! :)

This park has plenty of playground equipment to maximize your fun factor, but be aware that it does sit in sand, rather than wood chips or rubber mulch. Aspen dumped out her shoes when we got back in the car. :) It was pretty shady when we were there, but I imagine that a few hours later, the sun would have been beating down on us! St. Nicholas Playground also has baseball fields, swings, and basketball courts.

Oopsy! This was broken. :(


Sun head!

Fossils! (and graffiti)

I appreciated this graffiti. It says, "Stop Saying Bad Words." HAHAHA! I love the irony of the graffiti artist advising the potty mouth. Kids...

Something's not quite right about that.

So, as we came up to this bit of equipment, we jumped right on.... and then we saw....


Oops. The caution tape is on the back and has mostly fallen off. Don't climb on this thing. Not safe. Incidentally, Aspen kept climbing on all the equipment saying "dangerous, dangerous" over and over. First, it is funny to hear a one-year-old saying "dangerous." Secondly, I guess I am warning her a lot, or she thinks dangerous = fun. :)

Aspen was a bit afraid of the swings today! Yikes!

As we drove away, we saw these shoes on the power lines. So, if you need some, go grab them!

As I said, we had a ton of fun at St. Nicholas Playground today. I'd highly recommend you check it out! Fun times!

Here is the park's website, and its amenities.

Park Amenities

Basketball Lighted1
Bike racks1
Car Parking20
Drinking Fountain
Perimeter Site Fencing
Playground Equipment6
Security Lighting
Softball Adult Lighted1
Softball Youth1
Trails Paved (Miles)0
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