Name Activities

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Learning to recognize and then write their name is one of the earliest (and most exciting) literacy skills for young children. And even once they’ve mastered it, there is a pride that comes in celebrating it again and again! After all, don’t you want them to LOVE the name you spent countless hours mulling over and trying to agree upon with your significant other?!?

Here are some fun and easy (read: minimal prep!) name activities we have done to kick off the new school year!

1) Tracing and writing with pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc. – Simple, right?! But this will give you an excellent opportunity to assess your child’s pencil grip and fine motor capabilities, from there you can decide on appropriate letter size and whether tracing or copying is best suited for their level.

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2) Q-Tip Name Tracing – Put out a variety of paint colours (we used crayola glitter paint for some pizazz!) and have your children use q-tips to trace each letter of their name.

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3) Piercing Cardboard with Toothpicks – We had a few great layered cardboard pieces leftover from some IKEA packaging (you could also use Styrofoam or floral foam) that I printed each child’s name on. I then gave them a selection of plastic toothpicks and allowed them to pierce the letters of their names, naming each letter along the way.

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4) Erasing – I printed each child’s name on a mini-whiteboard and allowed them to erase each letter as they spelled out their name. Without realizing, this allows them to practice letter formation by undoing instead of doing for a change!

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5) Blocks – I labeled some mega blocks with the appropriate letters of each of the kids names, then I hid them in the rice table. The kids had to search for their letters and build ther name. Upon completion, I also had them count the blocks to determine the number of letters in their name.

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6) Wax Crayon/Candle and Watercolour Resist – Using a birthday candle (or a white crayon) I printed the kids names onto a sheet of paper and asked them to read it. Both of them told me I was mixed up and needed a pencil not a candle (silly mommy!). I set them up with some watercolour paints and told them they could just paint the paper, since my ‘pencil’ wasn’t working.The wax writing resists the watercolour causing their name to ‘magically’ appear! This one is lots of fun and always a big hit with the kids, as it really seems as though the writing appears from nowhere.

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7) Clothes Peg Matching – Print your child’s name on a sentence strip and then write each letter on a clothe peg. Allow your child to pinch the pegs over the matching letters on the sentence strip to spell their name. This is great for practicing the proper letter order of their name, as well sneaking in some fine motor skills.

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8) Wooden Stick Puzzle – Write one letter of your child’s name on individual Popsicle sticks (or larger wooden craft sticks). Mix them up and have your child order them to spell their name. Little Momma added a picture across her finished puzzle, to make it more ‘puzzle-like’, too.

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There you you have it – some great ways to encourage young writers about how fun writing can be, and all with their very favourite topic…THEMSELVES!!

Morning Circle

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I love circle time. Something about singing and collectively doing one task makes my teacher heart happy! And so although most of my homeschooling is more relaxed, I enjoy starting our learning time with this little routine everyday! (Note: My kids also enjoy it…but sitting and singing isn’t for everyone 😉 )

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Here’s how our morning circle time normally goes (you will have to mentally interject with random questions and needs for the bathroom and a snack!):

– We start each day with Oh Canada and Prayer (it’s a teacher thing…) and I personally value both of these!

Morning message: Each morning I leave a message for the kids on the chalkboard. I allow Little Momma to point out any words she recognizes or can read and ask Mr Man to point out his name.

Welcome Song:  My kiddos really love to be formally welcomed!!

‘Good Morning Train’ (Tune: She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain)

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

We say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to…. We say hello to… And we say hello to… how are you?

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Calendar Songs: We discuss each item before the song and I have the kids point along and try to make this as interactive as possible.

* count up to today’s date

* Identify the month

Months of the Year Song (Tune: 1, 2, 3 Little Indians)

January, February, March and April

May, June, July and August

September, October, November, December

Those are the months of the year.

Days of the Week song (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)

There’s Sunday and there’s Monday

There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday

There’s Thursday and there’s Friday

And then there’s Saturday

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week, Days of the week, Days of the week (snap, snap)

* Identify what the day of the week is today

“Today is…” Song (Tune: Frere Jacques)

Today is (Monday), Today is (Monday)

All day long, all day long

Yesterday was (Sunday), Yesterday was (Sunday)

Oh what fun, oh what fun

* We check the calendar for any upcoming holidays! birthdays or special days. If something exciting is coming up we count how many days and discuss.

Weather song (Tune:??)

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is the weather doing today

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is it doing today

(Then we hold up our hands like binoculars and look our the window to check the weather and move our dial to select the appropriate weather on our board)

* select the season

* Read today’s date together and then cheer it

Sing the ABCs

Review our plan for the day

Daily read-aloud story

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I know that in writing this seems to be never-ending, but it only takes us about 15 minutes in all. And it sets a happy tone for our day!

Do you do a routine circle time? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you have different routines you stick to?

Becoming a Homeschool Mom

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Today I became an official homeschooling mom. After much discussion and prayer, we determined that Little Momma would benefit most from home instruction for her Junior Kindergarten year. This does not mean I think every other kinder parent who put their child on a bus or dropped them at school today made the wrong decision. It simply means that our children are different, our families are different and as a result, we may do things differently. So please don’t feel even for a moment that my decision passes any judgment on yours (and I ask for the same treatment in return please!). I am fully aware that each of us is on a mission to do what is best for our individual families and children, and you’re best, and mine is AMAZING!

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Our first day was not perfection…in fact it was far from it!  Mr Man was a feisty terror, Baby Girl is cutting a million teeth and we had some extended family health issues and an extra canine family member to add to the mix (nothing short of exciting over here will do!). And yet still, more than once today I stopped and commended myself for sticking with my gut and making this difficult, and against the grain decision. Although I’m still finding my bearings, I truly believe this is going to be a beautiful and fulfilling journey for all of us!

My *goal* is to journal daily for each child on what we touched on that day (for the assessment and reporting obsessed teacher in me!) and I must say I am flabbergasted at how much we covered for our first day. Check out our Instagram feed @mommyschool for details on today’s activities! And keep following along to see what we get up to in the coming year. I am looking forward to sharing our adventures!

I hope to find my groove in the coming weeks, but for now I feel a sense of peace, telling me that for the time being, we are exactly where we are meant to be ♥

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Happy Back to School (or not) to everyone! 🙂

 

 

Back to School Countdown Craft

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Here’s a fun and simple craft to get little ones ready to head back to school! Earlier this week I shared my confliction with public vs home education, and after doing so Little Momma told us she would like to “try school for one day and see how it makes (her) heart feel”. And so we are in the thick of helping her adjust to the arrival of Junior Kindergarten. Preparing children for upcoming events can help to reduce any stress and anxiety they may have, and also gives them a sense of control over its approach.

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This is craft integrates many learning mediums and all you need to get started is: glue, scissors, tape, a black marker (to draw your template) and construction paper (we used orange for the strips, black for the details, yellow for the bus and red for the school house).

Step 1: Draw a template. Little Momma chose a school bus for her Junior Kindergarten countdown. For Mr Man I made a simple school house for him to countdown to the return of Mommy School.

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Step 2: Have your child cut around the shape and glue on the details. Every Kinder teacher will tell you how integral cutting skills are and what kid doesn’t love to glue!

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Step 3: Make your paper chain. For our countdown I wrote the numbers on each strip and had the kids order, link and tape them into place. You could also have your child write the numbers, although just making and attaching the links required lots of fine motor dexterity.

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The taping can be tricky and may call for an extra set of hands!

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Step 4: Attach your paper chain to your chosen template. And voilà, you have a back to school countdown!

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Allow your child to remove one link per day, and watch as the start of school gets nearer and nearer!

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The Conflict of Kindergarten

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I have been in the throes of deciding whether to send my Little Momma to public school this September, or to unschool at home. A decision, I might add, I never thought I’d be considering!

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My Little Momma is a beautiful, intricate and often complicated soul. She feels so deeply, expresses emotion with such great fervor and masks uncertainty and discomfort in a way I wish she wouldn’t. She’s 4…it should be okay for her to feel and express, but she is cautious and oh, so aware of watchful eyes, pretending all is well and fine until she feels safe to admit otherwise. In the last few weeks, this has resulted in multiple episodes of a sobbing, distraught preschooler in my lap, nervous and afraid of what’s to come. I can’t help but feel that this shouldn’t be a normal part of starting school, and thus I’ve been thrown into the thick of this inner turmoil.

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 I’m so conflicted. As a former elementary school teacher, I never doubted public school was the route my kids would go. I even turned my nose up at the thought of homeschooling (apologies to my Mother-in-Law, as I now stick my foot in my mouth!). But being a Momma does funny things to your heart and changes the way we see even the most mundane things.

{And now I hyper-analyze my own childhood} I have always been shy and struggle with anxiety in social situations. And now looking back, I really don’t think that public school was the best place for me. I always felt awkward and never had a real sense of belonging. Don’t get me wrong I did fine and was quite successful academically, but don’t we all just want a little better than fine for our own children??

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I don’t have an answer – just a heavy Momma heart.

I feel that homeschooling and unschooling are so very in-line with my parenting ideals, and yet I also hold the social experiences & real-world preparation of public education in high regard. But is my 4-year-old emotionally ready for this? I just can’t shake this feeling that I’m shoving my baby bird from the nest before her time. I feel like we should give Junior Kindergarten (JK) a shot and see how it goes, but I also feel so strongly that it just isn’t the right fit. I also have two younger children to consider in all of this. One thing is clear for sure….I’m conflicted!

So I guess I’m banking on an epiphany or some Divine intervention to guide me in this. I just want to do what is best for MY family. Motherhood has so many variations of best, that finding the optimal route for us is so very blurry.

I don’t want to rush this. I just want her to soak up every moment of being little and allow her beautiful self to fully emerge in all the ways it’s meant to. In her own time. That can’t be too much to ask, right?!?

Please send clarity & decision-making mojo my way…clearly I need it! 😉

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Teachable Moments ~ IKEA-style

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{Teachable Moments} 

When I was teaching in the classroom, I was always striving to be an intentional teacher, who pounced readily on teachable moments as they would arise. And now as a parent, my philosophy is much the same. I am fueled by seizing these fleeting moments and doing my best to make them memorable for my children (and me too!).

This Summer, I have taken on the complete overhaul of our current playroom, in hopes of having both a playroom (downstairs) and a school & art/craft room (in the current playroom) come September. So this morning I packed up the kids and headed to IKEA for some of the storage units and accessories I will need. The trip to IKEA was an adventure in and of itself! But upon returning home there was work to be done 🙂

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We’ve been going through a rough patch with my Little Momma as of late. We are pretty sure it’s a result of school anxieties creeping up on her, with her Kindergarten debut just around the corner. So I have been making a point to spend some extra one-on-one time with her and love her extra hard to help ease some of her jitters. And I do love an opportunity to teach some useful life skills…and who hasn’t needed to work their way though an IKEA assembly?!

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Move over Daddy, today the girly’s took on an assembly task of our own while the younger kids napped 😉 It was like our very own Goldie Blox adventure!

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We began by looking over the instructions and exploring the hardware. IKEA instruction manuals are excellent for kids to follow along with – all pictures and numbered steps, no reading required.

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Little Momma was such a great helper, locating the boards we needed, inserting the plugs and aligning & ‘clicking’ the pieces together.

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And the fine motor practice involved in turning the screws into place and then using an Allen key to tighten them was an excellent addition!

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Little Momma especially liked comparing the screws size differences to show what she had achieved.

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She even helped type and print out bin labels on the label maker for our toy bins. Now to finish the basement floors so the rearranging can begin. I promise to post some pictures once there is an end result to show off!

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And to end things off, what better use for a large flat box then to transform it into a beautiful art canvas ♥

I urge you to soak in all of the wonderful teachable moments you stumble upon….they really are the greatest of gifts!

 

Summer Book Club: A Bad Case of the Stripes

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If there is one thing I would REALLY love to pass on to my children, it is my love of reading and books! There is so much fun and adventure awaiting in every book and this summer we will focus on one book a week (some of my personal faves!) to share, along with some activities and/or crafts you can do with your own littles at home!

Week 5: A Bad Case of Stripes (Scholastic Bookshelf) by David Shannon

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With the start of a new school year, and Little Momma beginning Kindergarten soon, our August books are focusing on back to school themes, anxieties and excitement. This book is a cute story about a little girl who is so worried about what people think of her that she breaks out in a case of the stripes! It is a wonderful reminder of the importance of staying true to yourself and the beauty in being unique!

Story Extensions:

Face Painting

The kids chose what their ‘case of the stripes’ would look like. I attempted an airplane for Mr Man, while Hubby had a go at a pig for Little Momma! FYI: We used costume/Halloween face paint sticks from the dollar store and they wiped off with ease.

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Stripe Building

Using Mega Blocks, the kids were set with the task of building stripey towers.

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Lima Bean Counting (and tasting!)

We opened up a can of Lima beans (in the story the main character, Camilla Cream, is embarrassed by the fact that she LOVES Lima beans!) and the kids each tried one. Both kids said the had no worry about breaking out in stripes, seeing as they didn’t like Lima beans at all! I poured the can into a bowl and let the kids feel the slimy beans too, this STILL did not win them over ;P

I had been planning to use dried Lima beans with the chalkboard as a counting surface, but I got too excited about the sensory portion that I ended up just covering my prepped chalkboard with plastic wrap! I wrote numbers, 1-10 for Mr Man (who is 3) and 11-20 for Little Momma (who is 4.5), inside circles and had the kids count the appropriate number of beans for each number, for some simple one-to-one correspondence.

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B&W Photos

Colouring black and white pictures of themselves was a favourite for my little narcissists 😉 We used markers to add colour to the photos, with each kid giving themselves a unique case of the stripes!

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What are you reading this week? 

Check out our past Summer Book Club reads:

The Troll

Amazing Grace

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Is There Really a Human Race?