Monday, September 19, 2016

Second Week of School (plus great library finds!)

We had another fun week of preschool, though I'll admit I didn't take as many pictures as the first week. :)  Isaac, however, made up for my lack of pictures with his own collection that he walked around snapping for a "My World" book project he started working on.  The next step is to print these pictures, cut them out, and glue them into a book.  Our preschool curriculum is big on making different kinds of child-produced books for learning and preserving purposes, which I love.  Isaac's "My World" book will be the fourth one in his collection so far (since we started back in the spring).  Out of the 70-something photos he took for this book, I narrowed down a few of his better ones to share with you:

The "treehouse" he's been working diligently to build every day for a week.  Most of it is in his imagination, but he still spends a significant portion of each day on the front porch hammering, installing pipes, and creating things with sticks.  So fun to see his creativity!

The littlest brother.

The three musketeers.

He took lots of pictures of our chickens!

The coop up on the hill.

Mom and JoJo out choring.

His beloved stuffed lamb, inherited from Josiah.

Now for a few of the pictures I took:

Making berry-tea play dough (which smelled amazing, by the way).

Happy helpers!

Playdoukh cookies.

A snake.

Having fun with my children.
Photo credit: Isaac

Josiah enthusiastically telling me about his shapes.

More playdough fun with glass stones leftover from our fish bowl.

Isaac decided to make the earth.

Josiah made bread and hot dogs.

Dressing up in caps...

and playing the peddler from our various "Caps for Sale" books we check out from the library.

Drawing shapes in corn meal and practicing a few alphabet letters too.

Making lines.

Here the boys are playing a "run around the clock" game in preparation for learning to write the "clock-face letters" of our Spell to Write and Read program.

Stopping at the 9.

Friday night move night.

Isaac's creative dinner made of marbles and pretend food.

He created it all himself and was so proud to show me!  The marbles are macaroni and cheese.  There is also pizza, apples, and tea to drink. :)

Finally, here are a few library treasures we enjoyed reading these last two weeks:

In keeping with our hot air balloon kick-off, I checked out several stories involving hot air balloons.  This title by Margaret Wise Brown was our favorite.  Such an imaginative story with fun, colorful pictures as two children take a pretend balloon ride to far off places!

Caps for Sale has long been one of Isaac's favorite picture books.  I think we've checked it out on several occasions from the library since the time he was two years old.  You can imagine how excited I was to discover additional titles by the same author/illustrator continuing the story of the famous peddler who sells caps off his head and deals with mischievous monkeys. :)  These two books were by far the ultimate favorites of the week for both Isaac and Josiah!

I'm sorry this image isn't bigger, but it's the only one I could find on Google for the book What Daddy Loves, a Reader's Digest picture book.  The story was incredibly sweet about a little girl dog loving all the things her daddy dog loves because she loves him so much.  And the pictures were of the most whimsical, delightful kind.

Lastly, I'll share this adorable little board book that was one of Josiah's favorites.  It contains a "recipe" for putting six little rabbits to bed and all that the mother rabbit does to get them ready.  The rhyming text was simple and cute, but it was the fun, detailed pictures of all the rabbits were doing on each page that held the boys' attention so much.  I asked them lots of questions as we looked at the pictures about what they saw to test their observance of the illustration, which was both enjoyable and challenging for them. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

First Week of School!

While it seems we are always learning and creating around here, the boys and I started into our official school year last week.  It was so much fun to get back into the structure of planned and purposeful school days!  We all had a great time.  

The curriculum we are using for preschool is one I have fallen in love with after sampling it during the spring months with both Isaac (age 3) and Josiah (age 2).  It is called A Year of Playing Skillfully (hereafter referred to AYOPS), and is filled with delightful, easy-to-implement, hands-on learning ideas centered around a monthly theme.  For September, the theme is "The World Around Me," and the character trait is Wonder.  (For the rest of the year, most months will follow a more seasonal theme.)

The way the curriculum is laid out, I am encouraged to select 2-4 activities per day from the many options spread throughout categories such as Language and Literacy, Art and Music, Science and Sensory, Math and Manipulatives, and Gross Motor/Fine Motor options.  I love how this layout provides both structure and flexibility as needed!  In addition to AYOPS, I am also implementing the Spell to Write and Read program with Isaac as well as the preschool-level Mathematical Reasoning book from The Critical Thinking Company.  Bible Time is also an important part of each day.

Now that you know the general idea of what we are doing here at the Hilltop Homeschool, enjoy these pictures from our first week!

To kick things off, I had a special surprise waiting for the boys when they woke up: a "hot air balloon" ready for imaginary rides...(and a super cute photo-shoot)! ;)

Needless to say, it was a hit!

After playing and imagining in the hot air balloon for awhile and reading a couple library books on the subject, the boys made their own edible hot air balloons for breakfast.

Isaac was very excited with his completed creation.

Then, as they finished eating, I showed them a satellite view on Google maps of our house and land, as though looking at it from a hot air balloon, followed by a cartoony video on YouTube of how a hot air balloon is built.

Our official photo shoot begins!

After a few attempts, we realized this location was a bit too windy, damp, and humid for our purposes...

so we relocated to the back deck!

The littlest traveller.

Not one to be left out of anything! ;)

One of our activities for the day was to make our own "spindle box" for math and counting purposes. The recommendation was to use tin cans, but I didn't have enough of those sitting around, so jars worked just as well!

First, we gathered sticks and put the corresponding number in each jar.

Then, we found small rocks and did the same.  The thunking sound of the rocks was very satisfactory to these boys! :) (Love that sensory input!)

These Goliath-sized zucchinis are what awaited us upon our return home from vacation, so another activity of our day was to make (healthy) chocolate zucchini muffins for lunch.

My little chef helpers learning about measurements and following directions.

This was Isaac's "name letter museum." First, he found all the letters of his name from puzzles and then he had to find an object from our toy collection that went with each letter.  To help you know what you are looking at, that is pretend ice cream (I), a screw driver and spoon (S), an apple (A), an "astronaut" (A), and a camera (C).

Another day, we used a set of nesting cups to represent our home, our city, our state, our country, and the world.  We also used an atlas to try to better understand what all these terms mean and how they graduate in size.  That spurred a discussion with Isaac about our world as a planet and his desire to learn about the other planets in the Solar System.  We did some research on YouTube and then he wanted to build his own Solar System using balls.  The yellow balloon is the sun with the rest of the eight planets in line.  I was amazed how fascinated and motivated he was by this delight-led study.  Just another reason I love homeschooling! :)

Another day, we all thoroughly enjoyed the "big painting" idea from our AYOPS program.  It said to fill a knee high stocking with sand, but I didn't have any, so we used rice, which worked just as well.  Then, you dip it in paint and "thwack" it on butcher or craft paper.

Another great sensory and art project!

The boys LOVED this, and I had a ball watching/helping them.

Getting creative with hand prints too.

Our final product will be used for wrapping paper.

While Josiah took his afternoon nap and Adoniah played with toys, Isaac requested to make numbers with Wiki Sticks.

He did a great job!  So much improvement since the last time we tried this activity in the spring.

I was surprised how long he stuck with this, and ended up having to cut short the fun so he could take his nap. :)  After forming the numbers from the sticks, he traced over each one with his finger for pre-writing practice, which is an area we are really focusing on this school year.