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September 5, 2013

Even a Mini-Van can be a Great "Classroom"~

Caleb, my oldest, is turning two next week, and it seems like he is currently a walking sponge - soaking up anything and everything he can possibly learn! I am loving this stage - The teacher in me is over-the-moon excited, and the mommy in me is incredibly proud. It is so much fun seeing all kinds of "new" things through his eyes.

Caleb has adjusted well to having a new little one in our family! The biggest challenge so far has been keeping him from turning the house upside down during Isaac's feeding times.

Wanna know what's working for us right now? Pasta! Yes, pasta!
This little batch of goodies (uncooked noodles, kitchen utensils, and plastic containers) has been the perfect thing to help Caleb stay busy while I'm nursing or cooking dinner or going to the bathroom or...you get the idea.
Since bringing his little brother home from the hospital, I have tried to set aside dedicated time to spend with Caleb. This has been difficult at times - especially since Daddy has returned to the office - but it's going really well! As our littlest one grows out of his sleepy newborn stage, I have a feeling we will need to readjust - but we will roll with it as it comes.

One of things Caleb and I have been doing [since Daddy went back to work] is having "school-time" in the mornings. We are planning to homeschool our kiddos, and I think that having [somewhat] focused learning time throughout the preschool years will do wonders for us when the time comes to transition into the kindergarten/first-grade years.

Starting the day after Labor Day (since I wholeheartedly believe that's the perfect time to start a new school year), we began officially attacking the alphabet. The plan is to aggressively focus on one letter each week (taking a break around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, of course). *smile*

Here is a glimpse into what this has looked like for us this week.

A's, A's, A's, and more A's...everything A!  
A letter magnets, A cookie cutters, A flashcards, A puzzles, A blocks, A cutting/pasting activity sheets, etc. 
We've used the A cookie cutter and play dough to create this week's star letter. We've used chalk (indoors with small sticks of chalk & outdoors with large pieces of sidewalk chalk) to "write". These activities have been great for motor-skill practice.
We've used paintbrushes dipped in water to "paint" the letter A onto construction paper. The water eventually dries and you can reuse the same paper over and over again (notice how wrinkly our two pieces here have gotten).
 **When it comes to writing the letters with chalk, paintbrushes, etc. Mommy is doing most of the work. My little one creates lines - but he is attempting to mimic my creation of an A, and that is completely the point.

We will have an "Object Box"/"Object Basket" for each week. I gathered a few A items from around the house and put them in a basket. It was very difficult - just kidding. We visit this basket each day, and I have read "Amazing Airplanes" aloud approximately 19 times this week - and it is only Thursday. (My lesson plan only called for two read-alouds of this book.) Folks, that was teacher sarcasm at its finest. I hope you enjoyed it. *smile*

 Remember my recent post about our new magnetic board? Well, this activity area has come in handy for our new little schooling adventure. We have been ordering the letters, classifying them by color, etc. and Caleb has loved it.
I am a firm believer that learning can happen anywhere, and since we spend so much time in our hot rod mini-van, I have tried to make it a place of where Caleb continues to learn. I try to play kid-friendly/educational music - but this must be mixed in with music I like as well. One can only take so many replays of "The Wheels on the Bus" (currently #1 on Caleb's Top 40 Countdown).

Okay...back to the mini-van - I found this great Chicka Chicka Boom Boom "Car Seat ABC" set - This hangs in front of Caleb's car seat, and the square flashcards can come in and out of the pockets.
Various flashcards stay in our center console. While David is roaming around Lowe's and I am waiting (for hours) in the car with the boys, we do flashcards. (Poor kids...Do you think they'll ever wish their mother wasn't a teacher?) These picture flashcards are perfect for my kiddo right now - and this week, we have a big celebration anytime we come to a word that starts with the letter A. Next week, we will party over B words...then the next week, we will jump up and down over C words...you get the idea.Since we average 3-5 trips to Lowe's per week, I have a feeling most of Caleb's future learning experiences will be taking place in the minivan.

A couple of extra thoughts:
Have you ever checked out Starfall? Their website is great! Their app is awesome! We use Starfall around here lots - It includes learning activities for kiddos of all ages! It's one of my favorite resources~

Most of my educational supplies/toys have come from yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment sales! You do not have to spend alot of money to provide resources for your children.

Gathering/Implementing these little activities has been easy. Before each week starts, gather your goodies - Scour the playroom, the kitchen, the art cabinet...everywhere! You probably have great resources all around you!

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