Archive for October, 2012

Preschool–LOW Week 2 (Bb)

Monday, October 29th, 2012

This was our second week of the Letter of the Week curriculum.  It is still going really well.  Although I will admit that some of the themes are a little strange.  Like in two weeks the theme is eyes…I think we might be switching that one up a little!  Here is our learning poster for the week:

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Letter – Bb, Number – 2, Color – green, Theme – jungle, Vocabulary Word – vine, and Nursery Rhyme – Little Bo Peep

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We practiced dressing her baby doll for a practical life activity.  She still gets very discouraged if she can’t do something right the first time, but we are working on gaining confidence and independence!

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I started implementing a sticker chart last week to help with her independently completing activities.  She is always wanting me to do some part of the activity for her.  For each activity she completes on her own (for the most part), she earns a sticker.  When she completes a row of five activities she gets a piece of candy.  If she fills up her chart she gets a sucker.  So far it is working out well.  Although, if she doesn’t earn a sticker then she tends to give up for the day!

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Shape race.  I laid out green shapes on her desk and then would call out a shape for her to race and get and place on the blanket.  She would choose which action she wanted to get from place to place (i.e. run, hop, skip).  She did so good with this!

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We practiced writing the letter B all over a balloon. 

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Bird and nest letter match – she matched capital letter to capital letter.

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I gave her a sheet with different pictures on it, some starting with B and others not.  She had ot choose the B objects and color them.  Then we cut them out and glued onto her butterfly.  I was really impressed with how she was able to determine the correct sound the words began with.

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On this worksheet with her nursery rhyme she colored to B’s with a purple marker and the A’s with a yellow one.  This required a little assistance and we had to go line by line, but she did great!

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She glued white pom poms onto a cut out of a sheep.  Then we talked about what you would see around the sheep.  She said she would see green grass, a red sky and a yellow sun.

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She practiced stringing letter beads onto a piece of string. As she would string the letters she would say their names and sometimes their sounds.  (Helpful tip – place a piece of string on the end they will be stringing the beads or objects onto to decrease string from fraying.  Also tape down to the surface you are working on to keep it steady for little fingers!).  Please take note of the collection of "objects" watching her during learning time!

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Sheep number match.  The sheeps bodies had certain number of dots and she had to match up the heads with the correct number.  We did the same game with some capital and lowercase letters later in the week too.

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Letter B bear!

We also played with her blocks and babies a lot this week.  I didn’t do much with the theme this week because I ran out of time to research it!  We did make a rainstick though out of a paper towel tube, toothpicks and rice.  She has enjoyed making music with it this week.

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She also enjoyed playing teacher this week and walking through our calendar time, which includes going over our learning poster!

Here were her journal words for this week:

  1. Name – we continue to practice this and get her writing it at an appropriate size.  She writes so large right now it covers the whole page and is all over the place!
  2. Green – she found pictures of green things in a magazine and I cut them out for her to glue in her journal.
  3. Baby – I modeled for her how she could draw a picture of a baby on her own.
  4. Vine – she practiced drawing squiggly lines for vines.

Next week we will move onto the Letter C, as well as trying to do a few fun Halloween activities!

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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 10/22-10/28

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Not much new to report this week, but we did do a couple of noteworthy things!  On Friday night we had a Family (and friend) pizza and movie night.  We made homemade pizza and breadsticks and then set up a sheet and projector outside by the fire for us to watch movies on.  Mikayla chose Finding Nemo for her movie and Ben chose Top Gun for his.  Both are great movies!  We enjoyed the cool air and warm fire while watching them and munching on our pizza.

On Saturday we had to head into town to pick up Sister Barbara from the airport so we made a day of it.  We headed in for breakfast at one of our favorite stops in Manzini, Baker’s Corner, for donuts and quiche!  Then we popped into Mliliwane Game Park for an hour or so.  We saw lots of new animals and some of the regular ones too.  Mikayla really got into spotting the animals, so we created a game out of it to see who could spot the next animal first!

Last night, or rather this morning we woke up to Skype with our friends at the annual Halloween Party.  I think this is the 8th year that is has been going on!  It was so fun to see all their costumes and faces, even if we were super tired!

Yesterday we had a relaxing day at home, making pancakes and bacon and then burgers and sweet potato fries for dinner!  It was a great family day at home.

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A female Kudu

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Crested guinea fowl

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Another friend we are having a hard time identifying, but Ben came through and figured it out (Ground Hornbill).

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Beautiful roan antelope

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I am not sure why, but this guy had PVC piping on his horns!

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Posted in Life |

Preschool–Letter of the Week (Aa)

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Last week I mentioned that we would be starting our Letter of the Week Curriculum (LOW).  I found this curriculum here, and am using it as a springboard for our activities each week.  This curriculum centers around a learning poster comprised of a letter, number, shape/color, vocabulary word and nursery rhyme.  It isn’t a very detailed program, but I think it is great one to use as a guide and then expand on it as you see fit.  If you are looking for a cheap preschool curriculum (this one is free) then I would recommend checking it out.  We are only one week in, and I am finding it very helpful.  It also offers different levels if your child is older or younger than three. 

As mentioned above, each week has a letter, number, shape/color, vocabulary word and nursery rhyme.  I will be sharing each of those items from the learning poster each week and then expanding on them as I see fit.  Here is our learning poster from this week.

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And here are some of our activities for the week.

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This is from when I taught kindergarten.  She matched the apples (uppercase letters) to the worms (lowercase letters).  Afterwards we had to use the worms as characters and play with them for a bit!

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She made apple prints with apples halves and paint.

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We put the characters from our nursery rhyme (Hey Diddle Diddle) onto popsicle sticks and then reenacted the NR.

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I read her the story about the Little Red House and then we cut open an apple to see the star inside.

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Then we took the poem version of the story and matched up pictures for each line.  When I taught kindergarten we did this in a pocket chart.

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We graphed apples based on which color we spun on our apple spinner.

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Number spotted cows.  She used glitter glue to make corresponding spots for each numbered cow.

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We talked about real and fantasy and what fantasy in our NR and then glued pictures onto the correct side.

I was not very good with the camera this week, but here are a few more  notable activities we did.

  1. I held up shape cards and she would jump for each square and touch her toes for any other shape.
  2. Part of the LOW curriculum is to have a counting book that you add to each week. This week we placed one sticker on the number one page and practiced writing the number.  I will try to snap a picture in future weeks to show what the book looks like.
  3. Read some books about Johnny Appleseed.

I also have Mikayla doing a journal "writing" each day.  I write the word and then leave an extra line for her to write the word if she wants to.  She also has space to draw a picture or glue something each day.  Some days she is really excited about writing something and others not so much.  I only really push it on the days she is supposed to write her name (which will happen each week).  Here are her journal "writings" for this week.

  1. Name – practice writing her name on designated spaces (this did not go well Confused smile)!
  2. Cow – She glued a picture of a cow in her journal and then  colored it.  She also practiced writing the word.
  3. Apple tree – I drew the tree and then she stamped her fingerprints for the apples.  She then counted the apples as I wrote the numbers beside them.
  4. Aa – she used her letter stamps to stamp A’s all over the page.
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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 1-/15-10/21

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I am a bit late in posting this because we were away this weekend (which is when I usually write my blog posts).  We decided to hit the road for a weekend away in Nelspruit with our friend Joe.  We didn’t do anything spectacular, but scouted out some Christmas gifts, ate some yummy food (that I did not have to prepare or wash the dishes from), and purchased some tortilla chips and salsa!  It was great to get away and we were even able to sneak in a few baths for Mikayla (and myself)!

As far as the past week goes, we had a pretty slow week.  Ben stayed busy with work and Mikayla and I fell into a pretty good routine.  While the sisters are away they asked us to feed one of the healthcare patients they feed each day, Nkosingphile.  He is one of our clients that requires higher need than most and the sisters have taken on this task.  So we began each morning with cooking some sausage, buttered bread, fruit and a side or two (beans, rice, potatoes).  While I cooked, Mikayla enjoyed putting together his "goodie bag".  He takes home some bread, fruit, sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies) each day.  After he was taken care of we would begin school, then play for a bit before lunch.  After lunch she would take her nap while I worked on house stuff, preschool planning and any other Cabrini type work that needed taken care of.  When she wakes up we head to the hostel for play time with the kids and after school enrichment program.  Then it is time for dinner, shower and bed!  I am loving being back into somewhat of a routine.  Of course, not each day is so set in stone, but at least it gives us something to guide our days!

We received a special mailer this week from some folks that used to attend Broadway UMC with us.  Their daughter’s class is sending out Traveling Charlie’s (similar to Flat Stanley if you are familiar with him) all around the world and she decided to send him to us.  Traveling Charlie is a paper cutout that she decorated and we keep him for a week or two.  While we have him we snap some pictures around our area.  We mail our pictures and letter or postcard back to the school before mailing Traveling Charlie off to someone else.  Each child in the classroom does the same thing.  The goal is to have letters and pictures from all over the country and world.  It is actually a really fun idea and one that I am excited to participate in.  Mikayla is excited too.  We have already snapped some pictures and I hope to blog about our whole experience when we are through!

Not much else to report, it was a pretty quiet week around here!

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Mikayla dressed herself for school last week.  I always love the outfits she comes up with!

Posted in Life |

Preschool–Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Since we finished up all our letters and Mikayla is getting older, I felt it was appropriate to begin preschool with her.  If we were living in the states and both working, we would be sending her to a preschool at this age, so why not!  This past week we started our journey with one of my favorite books Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  If you have never read it, you should.  It is a book about all the letters climbing to the top of a coconut tree, falling out, and starting the climb again. There are also two follow up books we used Chicka Chicka, 123 and Boom Chicka Rock.  The first is most similar and about numbers that climb up an apple tree, the second is a book about the numbers on a clock having a good time when no one is looking!

I wanted to start off our first week of preschool with some fun stuff and what is more fun than Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Next week we will begin with a more structured letter, number, shape approach, but more on that later.  For now, here are some of the things we did this week.

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Isn’t her little smirk here hilarious?

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She is so hard to get an actual smiling picture of!

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Journal time.  I wanted to incorporate daily journal "writing" into our learning time this year (still not sure how that will look, so I am open for suggestions).  I got her this plain composition notebook and let her decorate it with stickers to make it hers and we talked about what it was and how we would be using it.

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Chicka Chicka tree hat.  She was not as excited about this one as I was.  But I thought she looked cute!

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Counting with sticks.  We did something similar last year with pom poms, but this time I used "coconut sticks" as the counters.  She is still not a huge fan of math and really struggles to complete any math activity.

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For this week’s journal, I wrote a word and she drew the pictures.  Our words for this week were sun, tree, coconut, and letters.  On each page I wrote our word for the day and then left a space in case she wanted to practice writing her words (which she never did).  I think starting next week I will make one day each week practice writing her name.

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Chicka letter match.  The tops of the trees were capital letters and the bottoms lowercase letters.  She was awesome at this game.

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Chicka hand tree – leaves are her hands, trunk is her forearm and then foam letters were used to spell her name.

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I gave her free reign on this activity.  She got an outline of a coconut tree and her letter stamps and went to town stamping letters all over the tree.  We talked about the various letters as she stamped them too.

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Special coconut tree snack – apples for leaves, banana for trunk, peanut butter balls for coconuts and butterscotch chips for the sand.

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We pretended this paper towel tube was a coconut tree and matched the letters using stickers.  This one back fired a little because the stickers kept falling off and it turns out I didn’t actually have a sticker for each letter!  Oops!

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Coconut investigation.  I think this was her favorite activity from the whole week.  We cracked open a coconut and used our senses to investigate it.  She was not a fan of the taste of a real coconut, but didn’t seem to mind the shredded coconut!

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Coconut number match.

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Coconut shape tree.  First we sorted and identified the different shapes and then glued them together to make a coconut tree.  She also really liked this activity.

Like with most weeks we had lots of activities planned for the week that just did not happen.  I overestimate the amount of time she will stay focused each day so we end up with activities that don’t get completed.  I guess it is better to be over prepared than under prepared!  Next week we will start with a Letter of the Week curriculum, but more on that to come.

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Posted in Parenting |

Our Learning Space

Monday, October 15th, 2012

For some time now, I wanted to created a special learning space for Mikayla to use that wasn’t our kitchen table.  I wanted it to be an area that she felt was hers and could take ownership of, but also a place that would encourage learning.  Plus, while in the states we spent some time at my friend Lara’s house and her and her daughter were so excited about the learning area she created, I got inspired!  Last Christmas we bought her kid sized table and chairs that would be perfect for a learning space, but the problem was where we had it (scrunched in a corner) was not practical or ideal for learning time.  So one day last week I set out to rearrange furniture to make room for this space I envisioned in my head.  But no matter what I did, the furniture just would not fit in our living room the way I wanted it too.  It looked crowded and forced.  So I sat on the mess for a bit and then an idea hit me…why not use some of the extra space in my room for her learning space.  And it was perfect.  You see, we have a huge bedroom and if you rearranged the furniture just so you have a nice corner of the room with a blank wall to use.  Here is the preliminary set up.  I hope to add more pictures and learning posters on the wall as we go, but at the moment I did not have any sticky tack. 

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Here is the whole set up in the corner of our room.  She was so excited to see the space after her nap that she sat down and started working.

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I think she was most excited about the little Mickey Mouse pencil bag I picked up in the states that was filled with her personal school supplies.

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Supply corner.  The baskets are filled with games I can pull out to play anytime and the top shelf holds our activity supplies specific to that week.  The rec basket has calendar stuff in it and of course our chalkboard.

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The chairs are actually sturdy enough that I can sit on them and be next to her or there is enough space that I can stand behind her to help her with different activities.  I think I am going to really like this space and so is she!

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Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 10/7-10/14

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Have you missed us?  The month of September (and part of August) was filled with travels to the US (hope to blog about some of our adventures in the future).  While we were there I took a blogging hiatus to enjoy time with family and friends.  But now we are back home and back to the grind!  We were so busy/tired last week that I didn’t get a chance to blog, but this morning I woke up before Ben and Mikayla and decided to do a little blogging.

When we got back to Swaziland we were in the midst of a very busy time for Cabrini Ministries. Ben was working on year end reports and annual progress reports.  Plus we had a special visit from the regional director for HIV care for Southern Africa with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a bunch of other country big wigs.  This paired with the arrival of other visitors on the same day made for a really stressful and busy Tuesday of last week!  We started our slew of visitors by saying goodbye to two sister candidates from the states and two from Ethiopia who had been here for several weeks (they arrived just before we departed).  We also had a medical team in from Australia doing healthy child physicals throughout our catchment area.  Then we had a three month intern arrive as well as a former volunteer back to do research for a couple of weeks.  Eesh!  It has been a whirlwind. I spent most of last week cleaning and prepping the volunteer house for our new visitors.  I also cooked a lot of extra food last week because the team was gone from like 6am to early evening each day going non-stop.  We said goodbye to the Australian team last Sunday and everyone was able to take a big sigh of relief and breath a little easier.  We were still busy, but able to get back to a semi-normal routine!  We even started our first week of preschool this past week!

Yesterday, we celebrated Joe’s birthday.  It was pretty low key, but we had some yummy food and good laughs!  Ben and Mikayla even made him a rainbow cake for his birthday!  We will really celebrate his birthday in a couple of weeks when both of the sisters are back.  He has requested a Dessert themed party, so that should be interesting. 

Today we will take Sister Barbara to the airport for a two week trip to the US and spend a little time in town grabbing a bite to eat and grocery shopping.

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Ben and Mikayla made Twizzler glasses one day that were hysterical!

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Posted in Life |