Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oliver's Tot School Plan

Now, Oliver's plan is much simpler!  I hope you guys are still with me, Silas's post is pretty detailed!  Oliver is NOT ready for preschool at all, the idea is laughable!  But he still deserves some mommy time where he's the focus.  To that end, we are participating in Tot School, from this blog.  I've got a rough plan for Ollie too, just to make set up and decisions a lot easier.  At least I hope it does!

Eventually he'll get into six trays.  But I've yet to find trays that I like, or can afford (no Target here!) so for now, I'm piling each activity into a plastic shoe box style tub.  Each one has a theme, and they are as follows: Fine Motor Skills (inserting mostly at his age), Sensory (in addition to the sensory tub), Magnets, Puzzles, Signing Activity (Oliver's getting really good at signing - more on that for another post!) and Wild Card Toys (mostly open ended toys such as blocks).  As far as the Signing Activity goes, we'll be using SigningSmart activity guide. I'll choose a different activity each week as I'm finding I'm not making time for signing with Oliver and he's not picking them up as fast as he could.

As you'll see in the blog linked above, the point of Tot School isn't to learn, but to have fun and benefit from some one on one time with an adult.  Toddlers do learn so much this way and it's good for everyone to do things their way now and again!

Here's how I see things unfolding, tot and pre school wise:  I'll set Oliver for a snack at the table and work with Silas next to him, or on the floor if we need more space.  Oliver tends to eat a lot and for a long time, so as long as he's content with that, it will work. If Oliver seems to be getting antsy, I'll give him his own tray activities to do.  Some more independent activities could be the wild card toy or the magnets, for example.  If I've already had a chance to introduce new toys, then he could play with them some more while Silas and I finish up.  Sunday night is the night I rotate all the living room toys, so that should hold some appeal!  If I was smart I would also rotate their living room books, but that may not fall into place just yet.

Silas could either continue with some of his activities or free play while I work with Oliver, or break out the play dough and sensory boxes (see this great blog for my inspiration!), and Oliver could join him later.  It could be a great lesson in caring if he were to join us and help me "teach" Oliver by following Ollie's lead (rather than taking over and doing it his own way!).  But I'm not sure I'm ready for that either!  I really only see Oliver's attention lasting around a half hour, but I could be way off.  In any case, I'd be happy to devote as long as he wanted to spend on it (especially if supper's ready to go!).

And that's it in a nutshell.  I'll try and get the planning form I use up for you to see!

Silas's PreSchool Plan

I always enjoy reading other's lists of planned objectives for their homeschooled children, and the resources planned to meet those objectives. For instance, this one and even this one, give me all sort of ideas, whether or not I think they're right for Silas at this time.  So, seeing as how I've spent the last week researching, reading, and writing thoughts, goals and objectives for Silas's upcoming year, I thought I'd post a bit about what's going to be going on for us over the next few weeks, possibly longer if I feel it's working out.  While I love to plan and research, I'm not gonna stick with something that isn't working just cause that's the way I planned it!

Basically, I'm going with a simple work box approach.  Except I'm using clear drawers.  Just gotta be different!  I like how compact they are and it seems to me that most things don't fit well in a shoe box style box anyhow.  For larger games and other things that don't fit, I plan on taking a picture, or a photocopy of the cover, or whatever, laminating it and sliding that into the drawer.  If, for example, Silas were to find a picture of a large puzzle, he'd know it was puzzle time and it would be located in a convenient, pre-arranged location (still to be determined!).  The boxes and large books and other objects sticking out all over the place really bother me in any picture I've seen.  Hmm.  I'm anal and visual, what can I say?

Anyhow, this gives me a way to loosely structure my plans around six short activities each focused preschool session (of around 45 minutes).  1 pre-reading activity (alphabet stuff mostly as he's really keen on this right now!), 1 pre-math activity (sorting, patterns, one-to-one correspondence, matching, recognizing numerals and counting past 12), 1 pre-writing (Kumon workbooks in tracing and cutting, collage and gluing, beading, coins etc) activity, 1 French activity (French songs, books and games), 1 art or music activity, and 1 wild card activity (toys such as puzzles, blocks, legos, marble mazes and board games - these could probably fit into almost any of the above categories, but that's okay.  It's a way to spend time together and learn while having fun).  This will be done twice a week, I'm thinking Monday and Tuesday after nap time (cause the other days are booked already - how does that happen?).

With both boys - obviously fairly limited participation from Oliver - I'll be going over the calendar each day.  Silas is always asking if we can turn the page on the calendar yet, what day is it today, do we go to Grami's today, and getting yesterday and a few days ago mixed up.  So I thought now's a good time for a bit of calendar learning.  I'm going to get a desk blotter sized calendar to cross off each day, probably as we eat breakfast.  We'll go over the days of the week, talk about what's happening today, tomorrow and any special events coming up that week, month or season.  We'll jot a quick note about our plans each day, for instance, if it's "Grami day" or "Park day" or what have you, so we can talk about what we did yesterday or last week fairly easily as well.  I'm hoping that will help him sort through that muddle in his head a little.

Additionally, on Fridays we'll go for a nature walk and collect items each time in a paper bag.  If they don't fit in the bag then I'll let Silas take a picture with my camera.  Saturday afternoons, we'll work on a Nature Journal together, recalling and illustrating our walk together (another way to aid in sorting out past and present!), learning about the items we collected or photographed, and putting all together in one special little book.

Sunday evenings as part of our bedtime routine, we'll talk about the month's virtue (following the Family Virtues Guide and Building Moral Intelligence).  I'm doing this with Silas in lieu of belonging to a church.  I would love to participate a the Unitarian Universalist congregation, where everyone is welcome to follow their own nose in spirituality and learn about the many different ways it can be done, however the nearest one is over an hour away.  I'm just not brave enough to attend with two little boys who aren't big on driving (not mention the cost of gas!).  Someday, once they're older, perhaps I'll be able to go, in the meantime I want to give Silas the terminology and focus on the little gems that make people so great.  And just a quick note:  I do not believe churches or religion make people moral beings, I believe the major factor is parenting and parents.  Church and religion provides a way to open up communication about values, virtues and expectations.  So I'm trying to do the same at home!

This month, I think, we'll begin with Caring, all the while building up his emotional vocabulary and enhance his sensitivity to the feelings of others.  I know he's still little, but I don't think there's any harm in using everyday situations to build up what he knows, as long as my expectations are appropriate.  I understand that my example, and others around him, are the best way to teach morality, however I want something a bit more intentional as all the learning in the world will do him no good if he's immoral.  I'm kind of drawing off of both books I mentioned above.  We'll read some books about Caring, we'll play some games using facial expressions and home made cards.  We'll see where it goes from there!

Finally, I'm hoping to do a few monthly themed activities: themed play dough and sensory tubs.  I was so inspired by this blog!  I'd like to try and make the sensory tub young toddler friendly so Oliver might use it as it is, but I'll make him edible play dough to go with whatever themed tools I've chosen for the month.

This is all a lot of work!  I'm going to try it for the rest of the month and see what needs tweaking, what needs some work, and what needs to be scrapped all together.  I've made a form to help things go smoothly, especially the gathering of materials on Sunday night!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tot School

Tot School

We've taken another week off here at Ranching Jeans.  Why is that even though July is jam packed, August just gets busier and busier, and Labour Day weekend seems a whirlwind?  Although we may not have been doing Tot School all week (nor this coming week either) life has not being boring or sterile, let me tell you!  We've had all sorts of interesting experiences and fun!  Here's a peek at what we've been doing:

The big news is that Silas has finally mastered the tricyle!   He got this tricycle for Christmas back in 2008, and he's finally figured out the whole pedaling trick.  Man, it was a long time coming, but now he's so proud!  Everyone who drops by has to watch him pedal across the patio.  As the gravel driveway is not conducive to pedaling, you can bet we'll be bringing the trike to our next park day!

Play dough has made a comeback this week!  Our old batch of play dough has was stiff and grey looking, so I tossed that and made up a new batch.  Oliver was so keen to try it, I mixed him up a batch of edible play dough from one of my old Early Childhood textbooks.  Both doughs proved to be a big hit!

We were also lucky enough to get a decent day in this week, so we decided a walk to the river was in order. Somehow, Silas and his friend went from wading with their pant legs hitched up to armpit deep in a shallow back eddy of the river!  They had such a blast, and as it was more than likely the last dip of the summer, it was even more special.  And Ollie?  He knew his limits and stayed put playing with the sand and rocks.  

Silas has reached a new milestone in his drawing development.  He's been labeling his deliberate scribbles for a while, but now his drawings have actually begun to resemble real live objects.  For example he'll draw two circles and a big 'bump' over top and call that his car.  Together, we can draw a person - he's good at adding the eyes and likes me to do the smile.  He once asked me if the person we were drawing had shaved her head, so we added some hair.

This week we were lucky enough to head to subalpine country for some hucklberry picking.  For those of you  who have never tasted huckleberries, you have my sympathy!  They are my all time favorite and we had a blast pushing our way through the brush in hunt for these little gems - all the more fun as went with friends, a few them seen here with Silas.

Here's a closer shot of Silas picking berries with me.  I would have loved to get a shot of Scott packing Oliver in his back pack, but we split up during the day and didn't manage to catch up with each other until late in the afternoon, when Oliver was sleeping wrapped up on the truck seat.  By the way both boys slept that night, I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all!

And finally, just today, we took in some local culture and attended both the Nicola Valley Fall fair as well as the Pro Rodeo that happens every year on this weekend. I've been going to this since I was small and always really enjoy it!  I seem to meet up with people there I rarely get a chance to see anywhere else - gotta love a small town!  Silas did enjoy it, although I was pretty glad kids under six were free as he didn't spend much time watching the performance!

And you know, even though this summer has been hectic despite my best efforts to slow things down, we still had a wonderful time and a lot of lazy, play-in-the-mud kind of days, as this final photo will attest:

Here's Ollie, as we found him, commenting on the plane flying overhead.

For an idea on how Tot School really works, please see this post!