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River and Oscar have been in preschool for 52 days. Granted, this is much fewer than an actual kindergarten classroom and so, I don't see as much progress as their former classmate who is in kindergarten this year. The good news is, they aren't supposed to be kindergartners yet. As far as kindergarten prep, I feel that they are way ahead of where they need to be for their first day this fall. 

River's Math:

River began this year not recognizing any number above 5. He can now tell you up to 10 with great confidence. He can also figure out numbers he does not know (for example: 83) by looking at the 10's place and counting up to 80 by 10's and then adding to it with the one's place. He can take any two digit number and show it to me with 10 blocks. He can look at a die and instantly recognize the number present and can identify a bigger or smaller number when comparing dice. He can id all the coins, count by 10's to 100 and by 5's to 60 (prep for being able to tell time). He can id the math signs (+,-, = and 1/2) and understand basic division (how to divide a whole number between groups of people so everyone gets an equal share). He still needs physical objects to add and subtract single digit numbers. He can reproduce and create his own patterns, recognizes all his shapes and understands halves, equal, and has a basic understanding of odd and even numbers. 

Oscar's Math:

Oscar can do everything River can, though he struggles more with representing numbers with the 10 blocks. Oscar though can do simple math in his head. He recognizes the patterns in math problems such as zero taken away from any number will leave a solution of the number. I tend to challenge him with slightly more difficult math work.


Reading:

Both children are learning strategies for recognizing words in guided reading. For example, they might read (really more like guess or, after later readings, memorize) "The penguins jump" and then I question "They jump? Look at this word? Is that jump?" The word is actually leap. They look at the word and correct their sentence based on the beginning letter sound, the context, and my guidance. Both children can now take a suffix, change the prefix and tell me the new word. They know almost all the letter sounds and recognize all the lower case letters most of the time. Sometimes they miss a few. It's random. We have begun learning about vowels and the role they play. They know that sentences begin with capitals and when to use the proper punctuation. They understand that sentences are composed of words and words of letters and that all words have spaces between them. You can see the improvements in there inventing spelling and their handwriting within their journals. 


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River's first invented spelling assessment (September) compared to his newest (January)

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River's first journal (Robot)

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His newest journal entry.

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River does not enjoy writing. It is hard slow work, but this entry he really wanted to write what he wanted to write. He wrote "parachute transform". Thought it was one worth sharing!

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Oscar's assessment from October. He was always mixing up F when he meant T.

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Oscar's assessment from January. He stopped mixing up F and T. Note he often gets his orientation off. He's a lefty and I think that has something to do with it. Although reversing the positioning of letters is okay through to first grade. 

Behavior:

I rarely have any problems these days. They are mostly independent with their work. They know what to expect, raise their hands, participate  River is still so wiggly and has a very hard time sitting still. He can listen and roll about at the same time. He still has excellent retention and comprehension, but he needs to learn to listen well with his body.

Overall, vast improvements. They are still such fun to teach. This winter we are traveling around the world. I wish I had the time to share exactly what we are doing! 


While I am busy teaching River and Oscar preschool M, W, and F each week--another set of moms have been teaching a two year old all girl group of Mondays and Wednesdays. To give me a chance to contribute to that group, my neighbor (Adventure Mom) is taking the boys every fifth week to do preschool with them while I teach the little girls. Adventure Mom had her son in the boy preschool group until he went to kindergarten this past year. This means Oscar and River are very familiar having her as a teacher. There are many ways this is great. Switching it up gives the boys variety and the chance to do something new--something I wouldn't think of, for example. It also gives me a chance to contribute to Sage's early education and learn more about the girls in her group, some of which will probably be in preschool with her next year too when I can take a larger role in the younger group once River is in public school. 

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Sage's letter F. Glued on a feather, red and yellow tissue paper for fire, and a flower. 

But, whoa, big difference to drop down to the two year old level and oh, so much easier to plan. I picked my brain for what preschool looked like three years ago. I kept things simple. Low level, interactive books, silly songs, movement, simple games, pretend, physical objects to touch and hold, crafts that use budding fine motor skills but less steps.

How far River and Oscar have come. Growing in their ability to sit and listen, to follow a series of directions, to beginning reading and writing skills. Half the time, the little girls weren't listening at all. Wandering about or playing with toys or squabbling over something. Half the time they sat in a half circle around me, contributed, answered questions, listening with big serious eyes. I love both ages. I do. But the boys are certainty more work--planning, research, etc. The girl lessons are easy. More about learning how to listen and social interaction than academics. Though the rewards with the boys are far more apparent. Children that are beginning to sound out actual words and write them down, who are beginning to remove prefixs and place on new ones and then tell me what they read. 

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We learned about Farms this week. Here I had the girls glue cotton balls on the sheep and paint the barn red. 

I'm very lucky to work with both of my children and their age peers, but I'll be happy to get my boys back next week. I missed them so this week. I have to soak up all my time with them before they move on to the big world and big classrooms and all that big learning of public schools.

This week we talked about fall. We explored questions like: Why does fall happen? What does fall look like? What do we do in fall that is special? What do animals do in fall? What did people do in fall long ago? But before I share some of the hows of answering our questions, here are photos of the boy's drawings about our field trip. We will be making one of these each time we have a field trip and then taking them home in book format at the end of the year.

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This is River's drawing. He effortlessly dictated his sentence to me. As I wrote, I practiced sounding out letters and asked him, "What kind of punctuation would you like at the end?" or "Could you help me figure out which letter makes this sound?" Originally the drawing was quite tame, but in typical River fashion--the people became green aliens that then sprouted extra arms. I asked, "Now, River did that really happen when we went apple picking?" "No," he responded "But this is more fun." He then made dark clouds and rain coming down creating his own imaginary story. I am pretty certain he inherited my writer's genetics!

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In typical Oscar fashion, his work here was planned out and neatly executed  He will sit with his tongue peeking out one side of his mouth and his marker pointed up considering his next move. For his sentences, he carefully paid attention to my progress writing it out and participated in the writing in a way flighty, distracted River does not. 

Their differences are exciting and never cease to amuse me. 

*

On Monday, the start of the new month, I did my first round of monthly assessments one-on-one with the boys. It was a review of the first round of assessments only I simply tested their knowledge of the letters and numbers we had covered in September. I keep this information and a few selections of their work in a folder for each child. This way I can record their progress and keep a record so I know what to work on or repeat. All our first letters were a letter that either River or Oscar didn't know in capital or lowercase form or didn't know the sound of when tested on the very first day of preschool.

River is still calling a capital 'W' a "Y" but he now knows what a "V" in capital form (last time he said it was a "W") and he knew the sounds of "V" and "W".  He also recognizes numbers 7 and 8 and said 6 was 9 (an honest mistake). Overall, improvements.

Oscar knew everything in the second assessment. Improvements were him recognizing "K" and "T" the second time around and lowercase "k" and "t". He didn't know the letter sounds for "K" "T" and "W" the first assessments. No problems this time. He also counted from 1-39 then skipped up to 60-69. Last time he only went to 39. Overall, improvements from Oscar as well. 

So what does this assessment show me? Well, we will continue to work on numbers with River and we will continue learning to count higher.


Each day this week we went outside for preschool for our math and science. We collected leaves with tongs and then strung them on pipe cleaners. Estimating before-hand how many leaves we thought we could fit. We walked around and gathered colored leaves then lay them out, counted their points, compared colors and observed how the chlorophyll was fading away and the the real colors were showing through. On the last day we did a fall scavenger hunt that had them use letter recognition to see how many of each object they needed to find and counting to count the objects as they collected them. We did this all together, so their was an opportunity for me to verbally half numbers for the children (a review) as one child found 4 rocks and the other found 4 rocks for a total of 8 rocks. 

I wish I had photos, but I was too busy living it.

*

Here are some more photos of the work we are doing around the classroom. I went all out with the seasonal decorations!

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Craft for our Fairy Tale Friday book this past week. Great idea stolen from one of my favorite online sources, No Time for Flash Cards

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Oscar's fall show & tell for this week.

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Children traced these leaves and cut (most) of it out. Then they used water colors to paint them.

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Hand-print apple trees from the end of our apple week.

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Next week we are talking about birthdays since Oscar turns five on Thursday. As with all my weekly topics, the content is spread into each subject area. For Science we will be doing experiments with balloons and candles  In history we will be talking about how people celebrated birthdays in the past and how different people around the world celebrate birthdays in different ways. In Math we will be doing a special count off for blowing out candles and all our books for the week are about birthdays. 

We've hit our homeschooling groove over here and still having fun doing our thing. 
As a kick off to our fall unit, we spent this entire week talking about apples. Our local library had a lot of great picture books to work into my lessons. Below I've featured my favorite of the bunch. 

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We talked about Johnny Appleseed for history, estimated seeds in apples in math, and worked apples into every single subject area for the entire week. 

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our hand-print apple trees craft

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In this activity the boys rolled a die and colored apples for the numbers that came up. Practice with counting, letter recognition and quick recognition of a series of dots (on the die). 


Today we took a field trip to an orchard as part of my attempts to link our learning to the world outside our small classroom. Plus, we got the entire family involved. Isn't that the best kind of learning? 

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Tomorrow we make an apple dessert based on all we've been learning about fractions and measuring since school began. We'll also be asking some local stuffed animals if they prefer red or green apples (responses given by stickers on the feet) to graph our results. It's been a good preschool week. Just wait till you see what we have in store for October. 

Happy Homeschooling! 
We finished our third week of preschool today. This week we talked about our community and what we wanted to be when we grow up. Overall, the boys are getting better at sitting still, keeping their hands to themselves, and raising their hands. Right now, I'm really only having trouble towards then end right after snack. All we have then is Science and Math. It just takes a lot more redirection at that point in the lesson. 

I can't tell you this is always fun for me. It is a lot of work. I spend a chunk of my weekend planning for the week. The day before each lesson, I prepare which usually takes all of Sage's nap/River's cartoon time. I put in a lot of money in terms of supplies and sometimes the boys are hyper and hard to work with. But overall, I truly love having this opportunity. 

Here is some of what we did this week:

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This is the community map the children made. We had a special guest on Monday, Jensen. Jensen was in preschool for the past two years but went off to kindergarten this year. He had off from school on Monday and came back for a visit to our small preschool. I put down this poster board after we brainstormed what places in the community we wanted to draw. Then I set them to it. They built their houses out of Popsicle sticks and drew their family. River drew a muscle man on a skateboard in the upper left corner. My little boy who refused to draw at all last year and used to cry about not being able to... Well, that same little boy is now the child who never wants to stop drawing and insists he needs to add one more thing, just one more thing!

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I did not make them sound out what they want to be when they grow up. I wrote it out for them and they copied it to the best of their abilities. Can you guess which child did what? For me, this is easy. Oscar's work is always neat and very linear in his presentation. River's is always something of a mess and pure chaos! But you should hear the stories River tells about his work. He's so imaginative. 

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This week I tied in talk about The Liberty Bell to our discussion of the human body in the talk about sound and vibrations.  This week we focused on our ears/sound/vibrations and our breathe/voice box/lungs for Science. 

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Three entries into our first set of journals and I see much more comfort in the boy's trying to write. We do a lot of segmenting of words, listening for sounds we know and attempting to spell. Here is their most recent entry from today's class.

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This is River's Ice Ray Robot. He spelled ice as "is" and ray as "rai". Oscar also taught River how to make a square (rectangle).

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This is Oscar's orange dispenser. He spelled orange "arm (he said n) g" and dispenser as "ibs". At this point we are not worried about accuracy. I never correct them. This is about building confidence. On the first day Oscar only put a "s" and "p" for sheep. They were on opposite sides of the page. Here I can see he is getting better at writing from left to right and he is trying to really sound out the words. From everything I have read, students who work on learning to write as they are learning how to read, do both faster when they are done together. I look forward to comparing this first journal to their last. 

Happy Friday everyone. I am beat. This weekend I plan for next week. We'll be learning all about apples and taking our first field trip, apple picking, on Thursday!
Materials

For Classroom:

  • a wall calendar (available at any education store or amazon.com)
  • Velcro stickers for calendar to move around numbers and months
  • A weather/season wall poster 
  • A small wall chart for place value (counting days in preschool)
  • something to hang that shows the daily schedule
  • a whiteboard on stand($14 at Ikea)
  • whiteboard markers
  • Various bins for crafts supplies. I like to keep bins for my crafty subjects like History, Science and Math to help keep materials I need organized. 
  • Small lined whiteboard for practicing letter formation
  • craft supplies (pencils, sharpeners, markers crayons, stamps, paints, paper in various colors and sizes, tape, glue, glue sticks, etc)
  • cork board or a place to display things that change weekly

For Lesson Planning:

  • Teacher plan book
  • The followings book are great go-to resources:
  1. What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. :great source for parents who want to know what they can do with their kids to get them ready for kindergarten
  2. Mudpies to Magnet A Preschool Science Curriculum by Robert A Williams: experiments and other hands-on activities
  3. Jump Into Math and Jump Into Science by Rae Pica  :Games and movements to explore Math and Science topics
  4. Growing up Writing Mini-lessons for Emergent and Beginning Writers by Connie Campbell Dierking: The best and one of the only sources out there for implementing writer's workshop in Pre-K
  5. Little Hands Celebrate America! by Jill Frankel Hauser: making History crafty!
  6. Preschool Math by Bob Williams, Debra Cunningham and Joy Lubawy: one of the most highly recommended texts for preschool math.
Websites:

http://www.pre-kpages.com/ (This was my inspiration for the format in which I would teach and the methods I would use)
http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/ (great source for craft ideas)

Methodology

Children learn best when information is given to them in a variety of ways using as many senses as possible. Children learn best when they can be active in their learning. Children learn best when we create opportunities for them to be successful. 

I do not use worksheets or workbooks. I do not "lecture" longer than 10 minutes. Throughout "lectures" I am asking questions to have children participate.

My advice to homeschooling parents is not to take the easy way out and buy into a pre-made program or a run through a series of workbooks. It is instead to do some of the research and patchwork quilt your own style that appeals to your child's interests. Make it hands-on. Make is crafty. Make it reach into the community around them to make it real-life applicable. Always keep your goals in mind and assess to see what your child still needs to work on. 

And now, to go work on preschool set up for tomorrow, while my daughter sleeps and my son watches his cartoons.


Overview:

I'm writing this from the end of day six in our tiny preschool. Today was by far the best class. The children are beginning to know what is expected of them and work in their various roles. It wasn't till the end today that they got jumpy and silly, having to be redirected again and again and again. I can already see the tidbits I gave them falling into place. Today I worked in our lesson on halves from math which we have been talking about our last two classes. River had asked, "Why do I get two vitamins and Sage only gets one?" I said, "She is half the size of you and half your age." I gave him his two vitamins. "What is half of what you have in your hand?" He looked down and thought. "Well, two minus one is one. So one is half of two." I did a little dance and sang about how it was working. It might only be 4 1/2 hours of teaching time a week. And it might only be happening from my home in a put together classroom that is one wall of my dinning room. It might only have two students. But it has a effect. I can see it already. At the month end assessment I expect they will know those letters they didn't at the start, that River will know those numbers he didn't, and that they will have more confidence as students. 

I love my job. 

Lesson 3 

Topic: Families can be the same or different

1. Reading
-Pink! by Lynne Rickards
-Review how sentence begin with capitals. Talk about punctuation. Make sentences on the whiteboard.
-Have students pick a book and mark 3 period (or other punctuation) with arrow post-its
-Have students share finds with the class

Guided Reading
-Summarize what they recall from yesterdays reading
-Read the first bit of the book and then have students fill in the last word using what they remember and hints from the photos. If they get the word wrong, teach them the strategy of sounding out the word.

2. Writing
-Introduce Letter of the Week, K
-Demo Write it on the board
-Add K words to wordwall
-kids practice writing capital and lowercase K on their whiteboards at the table.

3. Snack
-read next chapter of our chapter book

4. History
-Practice the Pledge of Allegiance
-Talk to students about the founding of our country and how Betty Ross was hired to design and sew the first flag
-Look at the American flag together
-At their seats students will design there own flag using the colors red, white and blue and pre-cut white stars. (pretending to be Betty Ross)

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I added skewers (with the points cut off) to the papers to make them flags. We then hung them up as part of our "classroom" decorations. 

5. Science
-Have students taste a variety of foods. Which do they like? Which don't they? Why is it important we taste our foods? 
-Tongue/tastebuds
-Butterflies taste with their feet!

6. Math
-count days
-students roll dice and tell number
-count by 10's to 100
-# of the week, 8
-Math Activity: Patterns with Blocks
-make a pattern with colored shape blocks
-have students try
-Have students use the blocks to make a pattern building.

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Note how often they are talking and discussing what they do. 

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We then got a bit off topics and started making shape-men a great way to review our shapes as we talked about what we used to make what!

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7. Closing
-Read, Math Fables Too by Greg Tang

Reflections:

I was quite surprised that students remembered the punctuation, period and question mark from preschool last year. I used to write a message on the board and have students find capitals, a letter to tell me the sound and punctuation. 

When students did our second day of guided reading they got most of the final words right. In a few instances they used similar but wrong words. Such as "I like my MOUTH". It actually said, "I like my SMILE" So I asked students to sound out the last word. "What does this word start with? What sound does it make?" After that, they both shouted out, "smile!" 

River had some trouble writing lowercase k. I am not really concerned as this is all a bit advanced for kindergarten. It will be just fine if both of them go on to formal schooling just being able to write capital letters. I do lowercase more so to work on recognition of than actually mastery in penmanship. Even though Oscar fists his marker, he has very neat handwriting. Neater than River by far. But in everything Oscar is very neat and organized. He's linear. River is far more creative, imaginative and expressive. So, working from what I know, I don't expect them to preform the same, but I do expect them to try their best. River will often rush or fool around. I have made him erase and try-try (try neatly) to make his letters. Oscar, meanwhile, enjoys doing the best he can most of the time. 

The flag activity was a huge hit. They had so much fun and had such rich discussion about what they were doing and why. Science was also a lot of fun. The same went for math. The more hands-one, the more options, the more creativity and expression allowed--the more immersed the children are in their own learning. Their interest soars and time passes. They aren't eager for the end, they are eating into their play time...willingly. 

Lesson 4

Topic: Sometimes we don't always get along with people in our families but we always love each other. 

1. Reading
-Read: Pierre by Maurice Sendak
-Review beginning and ends of sentences by having students dictate a sentence for the board. Let them take turns finding capitals and punctuation. 

Guided Reading
-Read the book together out loud (choral reading)

2. Writing
-review segmentation on board
-review letter, K
-Writing Workshop
-give students their journal. Talk about where they will work (only on page 1) and have them draw a picture and write something about the picture.
-Share journals with group

3. Snack
-read chapter of chapter book

4. Fairy Tale Friday!
-using 3 little pigs toys, have student help you re-tell the story
-adding other elements to the story have students brainstorm how you can change the story

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5. Science
-Sing, Where is Thumpkin?
-Using a variety of objects in paper bags, have students guess what they hear when you shake the bag. If they can't guess, have them touch without looking. If they still can't guess, let them see.
-Touchy-Feely box: in a box place a varitey of objects (we used a rock, shell, pinecone, stick, pencil and feather). Cut a hole in the box and stable an old cut sock there. One student sticks their hand in the box and feels one object and describes it to the other student. Looking at an identical set of objects outside the box, the student guesses what his friend is touching. Let them take turns playing this game.

6. Math
-count days
-dice
-count as high as they can together
-review the previous numbers of the week, 8 & 6
-Cut 8 and 6  apart using giant legos
-How do we know they are in half? (if the two parts are equal or the same) 
-"cut apart" various even numbers of legos to demonstrate what a half is

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half of four is two 

7. Closing
-Show and Tell: 5 senses
-Read, Baby Sister Says No by Mercer Mayer

Reflections:

During guided reading the students were 100% successful reading through this leveled reading book for the third time! It's nice to know this method I learned about in college, really works, even with pre-reading students!

The students really enjoyed working in their journals. 

The fairy tale retells were hilarious. A small hammer added into the story and the wolf was busting down the brick house and having a huge pig dinner. Adding toy ice cream to the story, the pigs were throwing ice cream at the wolf, he ate ice cream instead of pigs and even shared with them. Adding a set of keys, the pigs locked the wolf out. Adding a pony, the pigs rode away from the wolf and he could never catch them!

For show and tell, Oscar brought in a huge toy train. We used all our sense that we could to explore this object. Then we did the same for River's new jacket that he wanted to share. 

My main goal with teaching is it integrate in topics again for review. I imagine it like braiding strands of information. Talking about halves with the two even numbers we've used as numbers of the week, was one way to do this. Using our Science topic of the five senses for show and tell this week was another. 
Overview:

You'll start to notice a pattern to my lessons this year. This not only makes it easier for me to plan each week (basically filling in the blanks) but also brings predictability to the children which, at this age, is good for them. I am also strategy and skill building. Consider it as laying the building blocks for reading and math skills. I repeat, assess, add, repeat, assess, add. 

My goal is to prepare the students for kindergarten. My promise is to do this without handing them a single worksheet. 

After this week's lessons, I will stop posting exactly what I am doing each day and share with you my resources, my beliefs that influenced my choices, special moments and little updates. I hope this information will be useful for other homeschooling parents. 

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Here is the boy's work from our first writing workshop lesson. 

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Lesson 2 

Circle Time will be about the same everyday. Today we ended this by reviewing out last topic (ourselves) and then branching into today's focus: feelings. How sometimes we feel happy and sometimes we feel sad. What other feelings can we feel?

1. Reading
-Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper: Discuss how the characters feel. How can we tell by looking at the pictures? How would you feel if--?
-Students find books independently in turns looking at the pictures to see how characters feel in the book.
-Meanwhile I finish the assessments of student phonics skills.
-We swap and then share our books at the end discussing them together.

2. Writing
-Today we talked about the letter of the week (one of the letters River missed/confusion during his assessment) We referred to a cork board. Compared capital 'W' to lowercase 'w'. We then brainstormed some words that began with that letter and discussed the sound 'W' makes. Finally I demonstrated how to make a 'W' and a 'w'.
-Using small lined whiteboards, students practiced making the 'W' and 'w' while I helped and observed. 

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This is our board set up for our second week.

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These are the letter strips I scored at target for $1. You can't see the lines on them, but they are there. The students love using the dry erase markers for their writing.It makes erasing mistakes so easy!

3. Snack 
-while I read 7 Little Mice Go to the Beach by Haruo Yamashita

4. Science
-song "If You're Happy and You Know It"
-Writing body parts on the board, I asked students to id what part it was and which sense it allowed us to use. (This is review from last year for the students)
-Book: My Five Sense by Aliki
-Sitting in circle we touched a variety of different textured objects and discussed how we would describe them. 
-We talked about how fingertips are very sensitive to touch and how everyone has different fingerprints. Students then went to the table, traced their hands, and used a ink pad to add their fingerprints to their traced fingers.
-To use our sense of sight, we played "Eye-spy." 

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5. Math
-count days of preschool
-subsitizing
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This helps students quickly recognize the pattern of number arrangements (think of the patterns on dice)

-Number of the week (6). What does it look like? 
-Math Activity: Using clothespins labeled 1-9, have students count the proper number of index cards to "feed" each clothespin.

6. Conclusion
-This will usually be the same each day as well. 
-As it is Friday, students were asked to bring in something they like to share with the class.
-We closed by reading, Because You Are My Teacher by Sherry North and discussed the places we would most like to go from the book. 

Reflections:

The things that stand out in my mind are Oscar saying that a character from a book was "concentrating" and how much the students loved the math activity, which, I was afraid they would find tedious and boring. No, on the contrary, the sat nicely on the floor with me happily counting out cards and clipped them into the clothespin mouths. A good way to practice counting without a worksheet! I did have some trouble during writing with having River take it seriously. And so, I help up both their work and had them compare. Who had the neater work? Who didn't? After this, River erased all his work and tried hard to be neat. Neatness, at this age, is not truly something we need to focus on, but I could tell River was simply being lazy and not just showing his brand of four-year-old writing. 

Lesson 3

Topic: We all belong to families. Who is in your family? (I drew the students' families as stick figures on the board and had them guess who the family belonged to)

1. Reading
-Read Ping by Marjorie Flack
-Pause to discuss and point out how sentences begin with capital letters. 
-Students pick books of their choice and use arrow shaped post-its to mark 3 capital letters
-Share books and finding/discuss

-Guided Reading
-Using small leveled guided reading book ask students to predict what the book is about from the cover
-walk through the book together and predict/observe
-Share title and discuss
-Read book to student (Were we correct with out predictions?)

2. Writing
-Review letter W and write on board. Let students try writing on board once.
-Writing Workshop: segmenting (students draw picture on left and write down letters they hear on right) Demonstrate first. Help students at table

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Oscar's work:  a rectangle, himself, a flower, a ball (His 'F' in rectangle is his 'T'. He said 'T' out loud)

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River's work (note he swapped side for the last one and wrote words in the wrong space on the middle two, thus the arrows) A spider (His 'B' was said aloud as 'D'), a ball, a face, a bomb (His 'N' was said aloud as 'M'). Note: River's 'S' looks like a 2. 

3. History
-Using map discuss where we live (USA) and where in USA
-Look at American Flag, discuss
-Demonstrate the Pledge of Allegiance

4. Snack
Read first chapter from Cat Wings by Ursula Le Guin

5. Science
-Song: Hokey Pokey
-Book: 5 Senses Guessing Game by Amanda Miller
-Guess what you smell (students smells variety of things.) like or not?
-Why do you think you have a sense of smell? (relation to taste)

6. Math
-Count days
-substizing
-review coins, penny and nickle
-count backwards from 10
-# of week review
-Math Activity: How long does it take?
-Toss a variety of objects in the air (paper towel, soft ball, hard ball, partially deflated balloon) and have students count how long it takes to fall. Is it always the same? Does one object take longer than another? Why?

7. Closing
-Add W words to word wall. Have students put one word into a sentence
Read: I Can Do it Myself by Diane Adams

Reflections:

Guided reading is an excellent way to build reading skills. We will be reading the same book all week, building towards more independence and confidence through our repeated readings of the same simple book. I find that children like to learn when they can own their learning. It isn't me doing all the talking. I am more like a guide bringing questions and topics to our group and helping them to think. I tell them, these are capitals. Now you show me some from a book of your choice. Own it, kids. Own it! 

I was so surprised by the students segmenting words. I can see how uncomfortable they are preforming. Afraid by how new this is and afraid of being wrong. I am constantly saying, "You don't know that sound, skip it. Just write what you do know and that's okay. You aren't supposed to know everything yet." I praise their successes--EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG. They write a K instead of a C = "Good Job!" I first need to give them the confidence to try before I get all nitpicky on them. Watching them explore with these new tools is the most rewarding part of teaching. The fine tuning will be someone else's job. 
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Preschool Round Three: Day One

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Overview:

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Wednesday was our first day of preschool. I went back through my ideas and took a few things out. I knew we'd need some time to get back into the swing of things. That I couldn't expect a pair of four year olds to hit the ground running on the first day. Especially when River was day dreaming about starting his own preschool--a school that was only playing-the-entire-time. I had to pull the stupid card. I did not want to pull to stupid card. I don't think it's the wisest choice. But when River confronted the reality that, not learning anything is preschool may very well make him the stupid kid in kindergarten, he agreed that I could teach him for part of preschool. 

My goal this year is not to put out a single worksheet. To make learning as hands-on and creative as possible and to directly teach very little. Mini-lessons should be no more than 10-15 minutes. The bulk of the time should be independent or group exploring with time for sharing/reflection at the end. 

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Here is an overview of our first day: 

Lesson 1

1. Circle Time
-How was your summer? What was your favorite part? Your least favorite?
-Reminder of how to sit and listen.
-Calendar, Weather, Season
-Introduction of Topic, Myself

2. Reading Workshop/Assessment
-Read Book, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont : pause throughout to make predictions based on pictures. Stress that pictures help us know what the book is about without reading the words. 
-Send one student to find a book independently and look at the pictures to learn what the book is about. Set timer for 10 minutes
-Do assessment with other student. Using letter cards test capital and lower case letter recognition. Have students count as high as they can go. Have students id number 1-12.
-Swap students
-Share books they found (how they use pictures to know what the story is about)

3. Writing Workshop
-Introduce Writing Workshop
-Draw a picture of myself on whiteboard and have students guess what I am drawing. Talk aloud about why I make the choices I do. Stress that by adding my name, even people who don't know that I wear glasses and have brown hair, will know it is me. 
-Send students to their seat to draw their own pictures of themselves and add their names

4. Snack/Reading
-As students eat snack read the book, The Roller Coaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman

5. Math Workshop
-Count days of preschool (add straw and number to chart)
-id-ing number 3
-Money (penny)
-Math game "Follow the Leader" to discuss terms first, second and last. Start as leader and keep reminding "I am first...and --- is second and --- is last." Swap positions. Vary what the leader does. 

6. Closing
-Pointing out good behaviors
-Reminder about show and tell
-Read book 10 Litte Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

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Reflections: 

River--

River has a hard time sitting and looking at me (instead of his friend), often interrupts and tries to be funny. I spend a lot of time redirecting him. Conversely, River is outgoing and likes to share and discuss. He is very strong in verbalizing his thoughts, making inferences from stories and summarizing/comprehending what is read. River knew all his capital letters but three: W (identified as Y), U (W), and N (M). Of his lowercase letters he did not know, y, u, h, q, and n. He incorrectly identified the following as j (i), t (x),p (b). Some of those are orientation based and typical for young children. River, as well as his fellow student and another student from last year (who start Kindergarten this year) can all count up to 39! I found that odd. After 39, River said 100! River can only identify numbers 1-5. I have worked with him all summer on this and he is still having problems. I need to research another way to teach this because rote memorization isn't working for him. 

Oscar--

Oscar is great at listening, sitting still and following a series of directions but has a harder time verbalizing. This may be due to being a bit shy the first day. It was noted that Oscar, who is left handed, fists his writing tools. We'll have to work on how he holds a pencil/marker. He also does not always write letters left to right and horizontally. (ie: RA and then SCO underneath) Though he wrote the letters in the proper order for his name. Oscar knew all but three of his capital letters, K, T (F), D (B). He knew all but four of his lowercase letters, k(y), s(l), q(p) and t(f). Oscar could count up to 39 and did not know what came after. He could identify all his number up through 12. I didn't have cards written out for higher numbers so I used the calendar. I asked him if he knew what 25 was. He didn't. So I asked 20. He knew it was 20. Then I asked 25 again. He knew 25. Then I asked 30. I could practically see him figuring. He then said 30. 

In Summary:

These assessments will show me where to start with the students and I will re-assess mid-year and at the end to see what has changed. Let's hope for something! Preschool last about 1 hour and 10 minutes with 25 minutes of play and 10 minutes to clean up before I took Oscar home. Later classes should take longer as I will slowly add in more teaching and a bit less play. I would like to keep the play between 20 and 30 minutes and just extend the total time of preschool. We'll see how it goes. 




The big question I had at the beginning of the summer was how I wanted to go about teaching preschool this year. The major difference being, I would be the only person teaching this year. This would give me a lot of flexibility. While last year the topics changed each week with each teacher, I would have the ability to extend and broadened topics as well as pursue multiple things as once. For example, Science and History wouldn't have to directly play into the umbrella topic for the week but could travel along beside it. Another benefit is assessment. I can more readily see what students need and then see to it, when I see them every week instead of every third or fourth week. 

Now, I am only educated to teach grades 1-6. Or certified to teach those grades. As part of my education, I studied how students learned from birth through to my certification. I worked with students younger than my certification and I substituted in kindergarten through high school classrooms. With two years working with preschool age children in our homeschooling group, I feel like I have learned so much. It has been a blessing, a lot of extra work, but a true blessing. Yes, it would be easier to just drive River to preschool, drive away, and be there to pick him up. Leaving these early years of his education to someone else. Maybe, if it wasn't financially a burden, I would do that a couple days a week. In many ways, I am thankful that isn't the route that works best for us. 

I have one more year before he is out of my life and truly on to his own. 

I'm going to live this last year up.

So, how to go about it?

I want my teaching to be hands-on, creative, interactive, applicable, textile, and engaging. 

I am planing to attempt a workshop style to the main subject areas.

Basically, what this means to me (as I continue to study and plan), is:

1. A brief mini-lesson where I model and discuss (thinking out-loud) a strategy or skill

2. Independent-work (students use materials to work and may put the mini lesson to action). I will be moving back and forth with aid and observing.

3. Sharing (students will share work with each other)

A lot of my teaching will be center based as well. And what this means to me is that I will have activities available for students to explore on their own on my school shelf that use skills we are learning about that week/month etc. I want to give a lot of options so students have choice. So their might be a few crafts that use math or literacy skills, a science bin, writing aids (pre-bound journals, letter stamps, etc), books on our topics, magazines for cutting, simple boards games, etc.

What I don't want:

worksheets (PERIOD)

I still have a lot of planning and a lot of shopping to do. I am going to practically milk our local library for books each and every week (which really isn't all that different than what we do now) and I'd like to get the students outside and moving as much as possible. 

It's going to be all over the place and fun and time consuming and very very rewarding. 

One more year and then he'll have a backpack on his little back and a lunch pail hanging from his little hand and I'll spend each morning saying goodbye. 

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