Letter C Basket for Tot School - TheEngineersKids
# Preschool

Tot School Letter Basket – Letter C

Leto and I really enjoying our mornings free without the other three older kids around, but lately he’s been asking to watch movies way too much. As soon as his siblings walk out the door, it’s, “can I watch a show?”

I think he’s ready for some more learning, so I’m trying out a new system to introduce Leto to letters and letter sounds. The idea of doing a tot school letter basket came from the blog 1+1+1=1.

I just wanted something to guide Leto and I in learning about letters and to make it fun. I chose a canvas bin that I had lying around, and one evening I went through the toys looking for things that started with C. The next few mornings we sat at the kitchen table and played with things in our bin and talked about the sound C makes. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

We had cupcakes from our princess cupcake game, that we used for a tea party.

We used our Melissa & Doug See & Spell pieces to identify the letter C in a pile of letters and learn about a few words that begin with C.

Another day we had another tea party with our fabric, velcro cupcakes (from ikea) we borrowed from Jules (shhh, don’t tell her, she doesn’t like people touching her stuff).

We did counting with My First Numbers: Let’s Get Counting! (mentioned in this post).

Now, when he asks for a movie, I just pull out the letter bin and we start playing! He is just becoming aware of letters around him, and has been finding M’s everywhere. Hopefully, the letter C bin will add C’s to his repertoire.

Letter E for Easter & The Number 12 - TheEngineersKids.com
# Preschool

Preschool Lesson – Letter E for Easter and The Number 12

Over the years we have saved a lot of money by organizing co-op preschools with our friends. With a group of 5-8 kids, you can have a lot of fun and they love learning together. Bigger groups can lead to feeling crowded in a home (and can get loud). Smaller groups don’t seem to generate enough chaos to make it something the kids look forward to.

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve done with co-op preschool groups in the past.  They usually were based on one letter and one number that we studied that day. Note, most of these lessons were taught in my home, which has never been larger than a three-bedroom townhouse, so you need a little space, but not an auditorium for a living room. Without further ado, I give you:

The Letter E for Easter and The Number 12

  • 10 minutes, Welcome in the living room
  • 30 minutes, Easter Egg Hunt
    • hunt for eggs
    • open eggs to find the letter E (capital and lowercase)
    • show picture from Animalia book – talk about eggs and elephants
    • practice writing the letter E (capital and lowercase)
  • 30 minutes, Snack and Story – apples, Horton Hatches the Egg
  • 30 minutes, Craft
    • Craft: talk about a dozen eggs, count to 12, practice saying “dozen”
    • color Paper Mache Eggs with markers, and put stickers on them
    • Color: Horton Hatches the Egg picture
  • 20 minutes, Easter Movie
# Preschool

My Favorite Books for Babies and Toddlers

My First Words, Let's Get Talking - TheEngineersKids

When my oldest was a baby, I was given My First Words – Let’s Get Talking, and it has become my favorite book for babies and young toddlers. It is an especially good baby shower gift.

I start off just sitting with my baby and pointing to the different objects and naming them. When they get a little older, they get how the game works, and then they start pointing and waiting for me to tell them the name. When they are about 18 months, I start saying “point to the shoes” or “where is the ball?” and they do the pointing. When they are 2 or 3 and can talk, I can just ask, “what is this?” Finally, when they are young preschoolers, I can ask them about the colors and numbers on the later pages.

Beside just the My First Words book, we also have copies of My First Farm and My First Numbers, which I like as well. Although, My First Words has more variety of objects, so it keeps their attention longer. I gave the books to the youngest two the other day, and they had fun by themselves just playing.

Baby Books, My First Words, Let's Get Talking - TheEngineersKids

What about you? Do you have any really good baby shower book suggestions?


# School

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool

I have this ongoing debate in my head about homeschooling. It started out as a fascination with people who homeschool, then a little bit of my love of interior design clicked in when I saw all the cute homeschool rooms they have on pinterest, then I thought about how much I like teaching the kids, then I started to think differently about public school (we can blame this TED talk and this book), and it all resulted in me flip-flopping between really wanting to homeschool and not.

See, we live in a great school district, and the kids have amazing teachers this year, so I have zero complaints there. I don’t really like homework, because I’d rather the kids learn all the stuff at school, so they can learn what they want at home by being creative and playing.

There are amazing resources like the internet in general and Kahn Academy and the myriad of awesome games (paid and free) like ABC mouse and even some of the ones on PBSkids.org. I think planning my kids’ curriculum would be so fun for me (as long as I can keep myself from over-planning), not to mention awesome to customize it for them.

There are other benefits and challenges to homeschooling that we regularly consider. We could more easily move to a larger house if we homeschooled, because we wouldn’t have to consider the school district. We would have to replace all the fun extras of school (music class, playing with friends at recess, having a teacher as a role model in life). It would require a lot of time and scheduling on my part.

It could be awesome, or maybe the kids would rebel and it would flop.

For now though, we are sticking with public school and trying to incorporate into our day some of the games, websites, and general exploration into various topics. I’ll probably continue to learn as much as I can about homeschooling though. It really is an intriguing option we might take advantage of at some point.

I’m curious to know about you readers. Do you homeschool? Have you considered it?

# Homework Hacks, Kinder-3rd

Snacky Math Facts

Pin Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotosdotnet

Starting in first grade and carrying on into second, kids are expected to memorize math facts. It’s flash cards, flash cards, flash cards, people. You have to get these numbers into their little brains somehow, because they would look a little silly in college counting on their fingers.

I’ll spare you the lecture on how important rote memorization of math facts is, and skip on over to my kids’ favorite way to practice. It’s a little game I made up one day called “Snacky Math Facts.” The rules are simple:

  1. If you answer a flash card right, you get to scoop some cheerios into your bowl.
  2. Get as many right as you can in one minute.

I set a timer on my phone for one minute, and flash the cards on at them. Once the timer is up, they pass the snack bowl onto the next sibling, and they eat up their snack while waiting for their next turn. I change up which snacks we do, depending on how healthy I want to be and how close it is to dinnertime.

Some fun foods we’ve done as snack:

  • One per correct answer – pretzels, grapes, apple slices, marshmallows
  • One scoop per correct answer – cheerios, craisins, trail mix

Everyone loves this game. My kindergarteners beg to play it. My preschooler joins in with color flash cards. How about you? What do you to make flash cards exciting? (Because, really I could use a few of your ideas too.)

Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.