Sunday, 29 May 2011

Paint Bag Sight Words

This is a great and simple way to practice sight words (or letters of the alphabet if you are at an earlier stage). I squeezed a little yellow paint into a ziploc bag and made sure all of the air was out before sealing it carefully and spreading out the paint. We used this by me writing words on for eve to tell me what they were. There was an unexpected twist as Eve began learning how to spell the words also. I hadn't planned on asking her to learn their spellings, just to recognise them for reading purposes. It does however make sense to know how to write them as well seeing how often they will crop up in her writing. I had the idea from the book 'Success With sight Words' by Sara Throop - I wrote about the book here.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Learning About Oceans

When we were away at Easter at the coast, the girls were playing in the sea and Eve was talking about the Atlantic Ocean (I think she has picked it up from watching nature programmes). This week I pulled together a few things from various sources and we had our first attempt at lap booking!

I used pages from homeschoolfreestuff from their Ocean lapbook file, as well as pieces from myhomeschooleducation's Ocean lapbook which is based upon content from the Temperate Ocean pages of mbgnet. We made a spinning book with the names of the five main oceans in each section, a fan book with different creatures that were dependent upon the sea, and a layer book showing the three light zones.
We talked about what makes the ocean blue..... Eve's response was that it looked blue because it had blue bits in. Whilst not scientifically accurate as an explanation, I knew that she knew what she was talking about! We talked about how light that appears clear splits into it's different colours when seen through rain drops as in a rainbow. I then made the point about why we see an orange pencil as orange (it reflects the colours that make orange) and why we see grass as green (it reflects the colours that make up orange). This led to Eve stating that the sea looked blue because it reflected blue. Great!
We talked about waves, and to be able to see them when we weren't at the seaside we made up an ocean bottle following the instructions here. Eve tipped the bottle backwards and forwards and watched the waves rolling across the surface. She even made some breakers! We talked about the surface of the ocean (the oil) being the section that moved. To demonstrate we lined up five marbles then rolled another into the end of the line, and Eve observed that only the marble at the other end of the line moved. We then added some sequins to the ocean bottle and made waves again and we could see that the sequins stayed more or less where they were, without moving from one end of the bottle to the other. We finished up by talking about how the waves in the bottle were made (by us) and how the waves in the sea were made (by the wind). I reminded her about the wind turbines we had seen and how we had talked about how much energy the wind had, and how it could make really big waves.

When we talked about the midnight zone at the bottom of the Ocean, Eve was taken with the idea of bioluminescence. We watched some You Tube clips of bioluminescent jellyfish, then Eve painted some with fluorescent paints whilst looking at a page of google images of them.
There is a lot more that we could do with Oceans...... I think that I would like to be better organised next time...... much of this was done day to day and i think that I'd like a better balance of practical activities next time round..... it's all a leaning process!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Letter Formation Practice

I printed these letter formation sheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler. You need to scroll down the page to find the K4 curriculum and the A-Z Handwriting worksheets listed there. I laminated them to save on ink and paper by allowing them to be re-used. Faith is using them with a fine berol whiteboard pen that came in a pack of mixed colours from Amazon. I was amazed by her pen control as last time we did some letter formation in an activity book, her lines were shaky and she overshot the end of many of the lines. Just shows how children leap on suddenly even when you haven't been focusing on that particular aspect. There are some similar letter formation sheets on Sparklebox also, check out the resources here.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

An Ocean Going Vessel!

This is Eve and Faith creating a ship with their extremely creative, resourceful and in-denial-about-it father!

Here Eve is learning how to use a chisel to knock out post holes for the masts.

Faith is putting some elbow grease into using a screwdriver to secure the sails to the mast!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Multisensory Sight Words

A week or so ago I posted about making up a sight words barn game to help Eve to learn sight words in a fun way. Well by Thursday I could tell that it was losing it's appeal for her and she was showing signs of frustration about learning them again. Luckily I had ordered Success with Sight Words by Sara Throop. It has loads of fun, easy to set up, multi sensory games and ideas for learning sight words. I was excited even reading through the book as I saw a new way to put fun into something that Eve finds tedious and frustrating, anything to lighten the experience for both of us is great in my book!!

Today we made sight word biscuits! I chose to just review the words that Eve has already mastered. Whilst I rolled out the batch of dough, Eve pulled out magnetic letters to spell the sight words, some remembered and some prompted by me. I was impressed that she could spell them as so far we have concentrated on reading and recognising them and not looked at the spelling aspect. Eve then pressed the letters into the biscuit rounds and they were baked. To get a biscuit to eat, Eve had to tell me what the word said! Without even realising it Eve had read and spelled the sight words three times - once with the magnetic letters, once as she pressed them into the dough and then as we pulled them out of the oven. Brilliant! Faith also joined in with this but stamped letters that she knew into smaller biscuit rounds and she had two to eat after telling me the letters!

we are also working through '100 Sight Word Mini Books' by Lisa and Jay Cestnik which has as you may have guessed, has 100 mini books to be photocopied and folded then completed. Eve was very taken with Faith's alphabet mini books and providing some for Eve too has proved a big hit! They include a short poem with spaces to complete the sight word and a tiny word search on the back to find the word as many times as you can. The other useful aspect to the book is that it outlines a pathway through the sight words as later mini books build on the sight words that have come before it. I had been trawling through Eve's reading books to list what words she needed to know but as I am at present giving her the freedom to choose them herself this plan isn't working anymore. Plus I love a bit of organisation and a plan so this suits me too!!
I have plenty more fun ideas up my sleeve and will post as we try them out!! Hope I'm not boring you all silly with this sight word craze but it's where we are at right now and I try to follow the girl's needs!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A Pre-writing Game Invented by Faith!

Faith brought me this and told me that I had to match the same shapes to eachother. What genius..... a new game was born!

This is the letters game that eve made for Faith. She initially put the pairs of letters next to eachother (see the far left side). After I suggested that it would be more fun to have to look for the pair, she spread them out more. Eve very thoughtfully stuck to the letters that Faith is confident with so far (notice the backwards 's' that crops up still!).

I made this one for Faith.

And this is what Faith made for me. I was impressed with the thought and detail that went into this, as well as with the range of shapes and lines that she used. Visual matching is an important skill in being able to read..... Faith is practically teaching herself!!!! Just as it should be!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Creativity Flowing...

These are pictures of the girls creating kites made from craft sticks, glittery string, ribbons, strips of coloured felt and sellotape. I love the creative flair going on, and as I watched how easily Faith manipulated the sellotape, it took me back to when she was about two and determined to use sellotape. I sat for hours with her, helping to pull pieces of tape off the dispenser, untangle the stuck-together pieces and providing different materials and medium for her to try sticking with. It was time well-invested as she now confidently lines up and sellotapes her felt pieces (below).
I long ago decided that I would largely avoid narrow 'craft projects' that had the children completing identical pieces (although I do them sometimes if it fits in). This approach seems to have reaped rewards as the children are inventive and creative and skilled when they decide to make something!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

CVC Word Puzzles

I printed these CVC word puzzles from Sparklebox for Faith to begin using her movable alphabet with. I chose the words containing letters that she knows already for her to begin writing the words. I printed the CCVC/CVCC set as she seems to intuitively blend the consonants together already and I don't want to hold her back. The cards in this set often contain three boxes for three phonemes but two of my moveable letters won't fit into one box to create a phoneme (e.g. 'sh'). Very kindly the Sparklebox team tweaked it for me so all the cards contain four boxes! If you are using the cards with phoneme tiles, this won't be necessary!

I have also got out the egg word-picture match puzzle that I made from Kelly's Kindergarten a few years ago for Eve to use. It involves her reading the words then matching to the pictures. Some of the words are American and may not be appropriate for your child but I like the game - the link to it can be found through Laura's My Montessori Journey blog here.

I also have out my good old Montessori objects and picture cards in pink boxes to add to and change as Faith progresses. I'm going to merge pink and blue a little and add in some CVCC and CCVC objects and cards for Faith as well.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Succeeding With Sight Words!

Eve and flash cards don't mix well, but for some things like 'sight words' or 'high-frequency words' she just has to learn them and I've been trying different ways to help her without much success so far!!!

My latest attempt comes in the form of this game from Kidssoup (a subscription site with lots of printable resources and activities covering many themes and topics - a free trial is available).

I set it up on a tray with the animals, letters and selected sight words in separate pots and we had a play........

Monday, 16 May 2011

Spontaneous Sand Tray Letters

I left this tray out with sand in one side and pebbles in the other, thinking that the girls would build pebble sculptures in them. They had other ideas though! Eve drew in the sand and built with the pebbles, making letters for Faith to guess.... it was really nice seeing them work together like this!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Pebble Sculptures

Inspired by the freestanding stone sculptures that we saw on the rocky beach at Easter (see the photographs at the bottom), the girls and I tried a few tiny pebble sculptures of our own. I brought home a bag full of teeny tiny stones and we heated up the glue gun and got creative. The girls really enjoyed doing this and we displayed them in a tray of sand afterwards. They look so sweet and remind me of a blissful weekend of sea spray and relaxation!

These are Faith's.....

These are Eve's......

And these are mine.......

And from the beach......

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Beachfront Literacy!

These are a few photographs from Easter weekend at the sea where my parents in law live. Above Faith is writing her name with a piece of driftwood in the sand.

We read the names of the boats in the harbour - some Eve could 'decode' for herself and Faith identified the letters she knew and we thought of rhyming words to go with them.

Eve discovered the joys of writing on smooth pebbles with another pebble.

Friday, 13 May 2011

A pebble Alphabet for Faith

I had the idea for this when we spent Easter weekend with Dewi's parents where they live on the coast in West Wales. I collected 26 smooth flattish pebbles of similar colours and finishes. This week I got round to painting them. I pencilled the letters on first then painted over them several times with acrylic paints. I painted consonants in red and vowels in blue to complement the Montessori movable alphabet that I will use with Faith. I can't believe I'm now making literacy materials for my littlest girl..... where did my toddler go??!!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Royal Wedding Activities

We made a mini castle for the bride and groom inspired by an idea on Red Ted Art's Blog.
We used the wedding couple and the minister from the Happyland play figures to act out the wedding itself!

All the guests came in their best hats printed and cut out from Activity Village.

We decorated wedding cakes printed from here also.

We made Patriotic bunting using potato prints and paper triangles strung up (I did this as an activity at the childminding group that I facilitate). I simply cut triangles from white paper, let the children print with red, blue and white paint, then when dried, threaded them with wool and pinned them up.

We had Union Jack skewers for snack time.... made with cocktail sticks filled with strawberries, blueberries and marshmellows.

And played with red and blue sparkly play dough!
My lovely mum gave the girls a keepsake mug of Wills and Kate as she considers it part of the girl's heritage!!!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Literacy For Two!

I knew this time would come but I have suddenly found myself planning and prepping for two children when it comes to literacy! It was nice to sit at the table and enjoy both their company at the same time!

Faith has begun to read words that contain the letters she knows and has developed a love affair with the Finger Phonics books from Jolly Phonics. They introduce letters in groups, such as 's a t p i n' in the first book. They even have cutout letters to feel around which satisfies my Montessori leanings!! Faith isn't quite sure yet about 'p' and 't' so I printed out some alphabet mini books for her for just those letters. She enjoyed colouring them in.... I love her rainbow polar bear!

For Eve I thought that I would relax a bit for a few weeks. I've introduced a fair few new sounds and endings recently and there are about 25 readers that she knows all the sounds for now so I thought it would be good for her to choose from those and build her confidence with them. She reads beautifully but is dreadfully hard on herself when it doesn't come easily! Anyhow which book did she pick? Yes.... you guessed it....... the only one on the shelf with a new ending sound of 'le' after short vowel sounds. Well she had a really good go at reading the new words and did fabulously. She likes to do word searches so I printed off this one from tls books for her and we worked through the short vowel sound words that Eve can read. This word search was a new challenge for her as the words went backwards and diagonally as well as up and down and forwards!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Exploring Shapes with Pattern Blocks

I saw this idea being used on The Homeschool Den, and the printables come from PreKinders. Faith has never been very interested in the pattern blocks but she took a liking to the patterns for animals that I printed out.

Here Eve is combining shapes to build triangles. Faith later worked on this one and found lots of very inventive ways to combine the shapes and it was a learning curve for her. Whereas Eve intuitively knew which shapes would fit, Faith adopted trial and error to find out.

We learned some shape vocabulary along the way..... trapezium and parallelogram (or palallemogram of you are Faith!) were the new ones for the girls.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Look...... No Stabilisers!

This is Eve making her first trial without stabilisers...... on she got and off she went without a wobble! She is building up her confidence on the grass with lots of turns and stops and starts, but is more cautious on the concrete as she thinks she will hurt herself if she falls off..... probably true!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Inspired by Farmer Boy.....

Our wonderful girls have practically amused themselves for three whole days whilst we stripped back and decorated the living room. It was a mammoth task as it is the biggest room in our house, used the most and was in a very scruffy state. We were exhausted by the end and the girls were in need of a huge dose of parental input!!!
So this morning I sat down and we got creative with some very simple materials and made some accessories for the wooden stables that we have (made by Le Toy Van and absolutely beautiful, stocked with scleich horses and ponies, equally beautiful!).

We made feed buckets by cutting the bases from pockets of an egg box, dolloping glue into them and then tipping a good teaspoonful of pearl barley, porridge oats, popcorn kernels and red lentils in. All legitimate feed stuffs for horses, apart from the lentils maybe but they looked pretty!

Next we tied up bundles of hay liberated from the guinea pigs feed bin, and lastly made a water bucket by mixing blue paint with glue and painting inside a coffee jar lid. Next thing I knew the girls were discussing who got which colts and were off playing 'Farmer Boy' in amazing detail!!!

I have been reading it to them every night at bedtime, as we work our way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder series gifted by my brother and sister-in-law who live in Canada. We are nearly through, just one chapter to go and then on to Little House on the Prairie. The girls are enthralled by them and really they just potter on through everyday life describing processes in detail but it is life that is long past now and fascinating in all its minute details