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.

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