Monthly Book Club ∼ Jan Brett

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With the New Year we have started a monthly book club for a group of fellow homeschoolers in our area.

Each month will feature a new children’s author and share the love of reading with our early readers. The plan will be to read a story together, have other titles by the author available for the children to read and then bring our story to life through a craft and hands-on activity.


For the month of FEBRUARY we celebrated the beautiful stories of Jan Brett!

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Our primary focus for book club was “The Mitten”, but we also had the following titles on hand for the children to enjoy:

  • The 3 Little Dassies
  • Mossy
  • Armadillo Rodeo
  • Trouble with Trolls
  • The Hat
  • On Noah’s Ark
  • The Umbrella
  • Gingerbread Baby
  • Cinders
  • Hedgie’s Surprise

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We began by lacing a card stock mitten. Each child then got a bag of animal cutouts for a sequencing activity. While I read the story aloud, the kids got to put the appropriate animal into the mitten, the cut-outs had both pictures and words so they were great for a variety of ages.

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After reading the story we discussed what kinds of things would typically fit inside a mitten. We came to the consensus that this was likely a fictional story, which had been exaggerated just a bit!

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 For our craft we made some stained-glass mittens. I lined the backs of some cut-out mitten frames with contact paper and had a variety of tissue paper pieces for the kids to stick to the tacky paper. Each child was able to punch a hole in their mitten and thread a string through to hang them.

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And they look very pretty collecting sunlight in our window!

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My eldest and I also did a follow up comparison activity using Jan Brett’s, The Mitten, The Umbrella and The Hat. These stories all follow a very similar story line from which many similarities can be drawn, but they also have very obvious differences. And can even be used as a great springboard for a unit on animal habitats.

Come back next month and dive into the timeless and tongue-twisting tales of Dr. Seuss along with us at Mommy School!

A Snowy Playdate

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Stuck inside on a cold day or just wishing Winter away with some hibernation…here are a few fun ideas to help make it a bit more bearable!

 We had a great little snow-themed play date with some little friends this week. It was nice to enjoy the idea of snow, seeing as ridiculously cold temperatures have been keeping us mostly indoors.

 We began with reading this adorable snowy story about what snowmen get up to while we’re sleeping – the kids thought it was great!

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The littlest and bigger kids alike loved this fine motor activity that consisted of transferring little ‘snowballs’ (cotton balls) into different containers using tongs, tweezers and scoops.

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We even brought some snow inside and enjoyed painting it using squirt bottles, spray bottles, droppers and paint brushes with water and food colouring. It was lots of fun – the kids came up with many different designs and especially loved covering every square inch with vibrant colour!

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Last the kids enjoyed a cute ‘build a snowman’ craft using some small parts (beads, buttons and orange triangle pieces), felt shapes (hats and scarves), googly eyes and round cotton pads. Everyone had access to all of the materials, along with some white glue and a sheet of paper…and no two snowmen were alike!

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Have you done any fun winter crafts or activities lately? Please share – I’d love to see them! 🙂

Cooking with Kids: Toblerone Shortbread

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I love baking with my kiddos! Yes, it’s messy and makes WAY more dishes than if I just do it myself, but their excitement for the process and pride in the finished product is TOTALLY worth it!

This was our favourite new recipe over the holidays – Toblerone Shortbread Cookies –  and we used it to practice our reading and measurement skills this week!

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I began by taking out all of the ingredients and measuring implements required and placing them on the table. Then I wrote out cue cards of each amount of ingredient that would be needed. I laid everything out for the kids to explore.

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The kids looked at each cue card and found the matching measuring cup/spoon and ingredient. It was a great practice for number, letter and word recognition/reading.

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If they found the correct match they got to measure it out and mix it into our recipe, which added a nice competitive streak to the whole ‘game’ of it!

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Bonus: We even got these delicious cookies out of all that learning 🙂

Book Club ~ Mo Willems

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With the New Year we have started a monthly book club for a group of fellow homeschoolers in our area.

Each month will feature a new children’s author and share the love of reading with our early readers. The plan will be to read a story together, have other titles by the author available for the children to read and then bring our story to life through a craft and hands-on activity.


For our first month – JANUARY – we are celebrating the silly and fun stories of Mo Willems!

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Our primary focus for book club was “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, but we also had the following titles on hand for the children to enjoy:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  • Knuffle Bunny Free
  • Edwina – The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct
  • Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
  • That is Not a Good Idea
  • The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

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We began by reading the story aloud. I had the children collect unifix cubes for each time we had to tell the pigeon – “No!”. The kids all agreed that the pigeon was not doing her best listening.

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After reading the story we did a survey of whether or not we would let the pigeon drive the bus, if we had been the bus driver. Each child added their pigeon to our pictograph, and we added up our findings. Two kids were brave enough to let the pigeon drive, while the other 4 stuck with the bus driver’s discretion.

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Using my hand-crafted worksheet, (since printers only breakdown when you need 8 copies of a black-line master) the kids each got to choose, write and illustrate another vehicle that the pigeon would need to be stopped from driving. The children had some excellent ideas, like a truck, a train, a helicopter and an airplane – that crazy pigeon!

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Before moving on to some unstructured playtime, the kids each completed this cute hand print pigeon craft (credit to Pinterest!). Overall, we had a pretty fun inaugural book club, thanks to Mo Willlems silly tale!

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Come back next month and dive into the beautiful stories of Jan Brett along with us at Mommy School!

Novel Study: Freckle Juice

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Little Momma LOVES to read. She loves choosing books to ‘read’ on her own, she loves choosing books for me to read with her and she loves listening to me read-a-loud – makes a book-loving Momma like me proud!

I have wanted to start reading chapter books with her for a little while now, but the chaos of our bedtime routine just wasn’t allowing the greatest of opportunities. And so choosing homeschool for her this year has been a blessing in how it has carved out some extra time to make this a possibility!

I decided to start small with a short and easy chapter book, Freckle Juice. It’s a cute little story (only 5 chapters long) about a little boy who wishes he had freckles and his endeavors of trying to get some for himself!

We read a chapter each day and then spend some time discussing (and checking for understanding) and then predicting what could happen next. From my studies (and even common knowledge really!) I knew there were great benefits to reading aloud material beyond a child’s reading level. However, after completing our first novel, I am blown away by its positive impact on Little Momma’s comprehension, recall and imagination, as well as her oral communication. Reading novels has opened up a whole new world of literature for us, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Some of our freckled fun upon finishing our novel:

Making ‘Freckle Juice’

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Following the same recipe the main character does in the story, Little Momma had a blast mixing up some Freckle Juice of her own!

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Paper Plate Andrew

We drew the main character, Andrew’s, face on a paper plate and then used blue bingo daubers to add some fake freckles. Then we counted how many freckles he had, mine had 9, while Little Momma’s ended up with 28!

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Retell

By sectionning a paper into thirds, I had Little Momma depict the beginning, middle and end of the story. She completed this task on her own and even added some words. they were not a definite beginning, middle and end, but they WERE in chronological order, so a great first step!

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I am am very excited to choose our next novel and continue to read, learn and love together!

Join us on our journey and please share any novels you have read and enjoyed with the young people in your life!

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?

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?

Summer Book Club: Is There Really a Human Race?

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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 4: Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell

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If you’ve never read this one, do it – now! It is a cute story about a little boy with many questions for his mother about life. It’s a refreshing and fun reminder that even the most weighted terms we use are both simple and silly in the eyes of a child :p Plus, it teaches us to be kind…and kindness is king around here!


Story Extensions:

M & M’s

A yummy treat and a good visual lesson to go along with it!

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I gave both Little Momma and Mr Man a few M & M’s and we talked about how each was a different colour. Then they bit into each one to see that they were all chocolate on the inside. It gave us a great opening to talk about how finding similarities in others trumps pointing out the differences.

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Hockey Players and Princesses

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Tapping into their interests, we flipped through a Hockey Magazine and a Princess Song Book. There was great variety in how the hockey players and princesses looked, however the kids had fun finding similarities instead.

“They have hockey sticks”

“They talk to animals”

“They wear helmets”

“They love to sing”

We all agreed these common interests were far more interesting!

 

Colour a Rainbow

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Take out a box of crayons and then choose just one colour and begin to draw a rainbow.

Little Momma was very quick to interject that I was missing colours, and that a rainbow could not be all red. Together we drew a rainbow and talked about how all the colours added something special, and saw how our own differences are much the same.

 

Rhythm Flags

I poured out 6 colours of paint onto some paper plates and lined up 6 music selections from around the world. We headed outside with some white fabric and barefeet and let the rhythm guide our painting!

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With each song the kids would step into a plate of paint and then dance on their respective flags however the rhythm moved them. The end result was messy, colourful and all kinds of fun 🙂

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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

Summer Book Club: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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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. 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 3: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 

by Judith Viorst

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Bad days, we all have them…even kids. This story tells the tale of a young boy, Alexander’s, horrible day, from start to finish and teaches that no one is exempt from having a terrible day every now and then.

Story extension activities:

Balloon Emotions

We used our playdough-filled Emotion Balloons to talk about the various feelings we have. Then we did a picture walk through the story and described how we thought Alexander may be feeling at different times.

To make your own Emotion Balloons you will need balloons, playdough and a Sharpie marker. Fill each balloon to the desired size with playdough (approximately half of a regular-sized Play Doh container worked for us), tie each balloon and draw on some expressions (we have happysadsurprisedmadscared, and silly.

These also make wonderful stress balls for those fidgety kids who may need an incentive to sit still or to help children build fine motor strength!

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Silver Linings

We then played a little game of Hot Potato with our balloons. Whoever ended with the balloon had to identify the feeling and tell about a time or situation when they felt that way.

For the ‘negative’ ones (sad, mad, scared) we discussed how the issue was resolved or how it could have been avoided. It was a great conversation and lesson in empathy!

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Food Collages

In the story, Alexander is not happy about some of his meals. I put out some grocery flyers and magazine picture of food, along with scissors, glue and construction paper and asked the kids to make collages of foods they like. And even though Little Momma was certain she wouldn’t find any because she’s a “picky eater” she managed to fill 2 whole pages (and shockingly it wasn’t all junk either!).

This activity gave the kids a chance to practice their cutting and try to hone that ever-tricky scissor grasp!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   What are you reading this week?

Check out our past Summer Book Club reads:

The Troll

Amazing Grace

Summer Book Club: Amazing Grace

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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 2: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman 

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A beautiful story about a little girl who is blessed with a lovely family who encourages her that she can do anything she puts her mind to!

Story extension activities:

A Caring Manual

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Flipping through the story we found images that demonstrated caring. Then we made our own manual for showing others that we care.

Giving hugs.

Telling stories at bedtime.

Listening when someone is talking to you.

 

Amazing Portraits

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I gave each of the kids a mirror and some drawing materials and then they began to sketch a self-portrait of their AMAZING selves!

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Drama and Dress-Up Fun

In the story, Grace, loves to dress-up and act out pantomimes and so we followed her lead! Little Momma requested that the entire family act out Cinderella and so we chose our characters over dinner:

Little Momma – Cinderella

Mr Man – Step-Brother (in lieu of sister!)

Baby Girl – Step-Sister

Daddy – Bruno (the dog)

Mommy – Fairy Godmother

As everyone got into character, I snuck to the basement and put on my prom dress. The kids were in awe of Mommy’s pretty dress, especially Little Momma, who wanted it all for herself! And you know what? It didn’t even matter that I can’t zip it up anymore…any wishing for my pre-baby body was replaced with the utter joy of playing with my kiddos!

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Check out our past Summer Book Club reads:

The Troll