Wednesday, November 27, 2013


We played a group game called Odd Bean today.  This was really a "just for fun" activity filler but ended up having some learning points!

Since I have 5 students ranging from 4 years to 10 years, we first reviewed what an odd number is.  This is my favorite little poem to use because they seem to really "get it" after listening to it.  

Odd and Even
If you are an even number
You always have a pair
So if you look around
Your buddy will always be there.
If you are an odd number
There's always a lonely one.
He looks around to find his buddy
But he's the only one.
Marg Wadsworth

I had provided a bowl with 12 beans, one per child.  I didn't tell them there were twelve.  Their first job was to put them in an organized line in groups of two.  This was mainly for my youngest 3 students.  I REALLY push organization.  Then they skipped counted by 2 to see how many they had.  We talked about how it was an even number....each one had a buddy...and how we could turn it into a number with "an odd one out".  Then we played.

One student scoops a few beans out of their bowl and into their hand.  With hand closed, asks the student to their right if they think it's odd or even.  (This was a good time to reinforce that this was a game of chance!)  The student to the right responded with either odd or even and the first student opens their hand and lets the beans out on the table. Then the other student arranges them in a line, in groups of two to see if they were correct and to find out how many beans there were.  If they were correct, they added those beans to their own bowl.  If they were incorrect, they had to GIVE the exact same number of beans to the other player.  If their bowl becomes empty, that child drops from the game (I had a tray of fidgits for them to work with while we finished the game).  The student with the most beans at the end of the game is the winner.  

It was PERFECT this morning because it ended up being between myself and the 2nd grader...who benefited very much from this activity... from the fine motor control, organization reinforcement, skip counting by 2s, to odd vs. even.  I "took a chance" and had him guess on my whole bowl of beans.  :-)  So he took the time to organize the whole bowlful in a line along the table and skip count into those bigger numbers.  Tee hee!  So glad that he actually WON....made all that extra "work" I required of him, worthwhile.  Ha!  He had to organize and skip count to 56.  Definitely good practice.  

I thought the game would take "forever" so I set a time limit of 10 minutes...but that round was done in about 10-12 minutes on its own so that's a perfect time filler game!

Friday, October 4, 2013

September 30-October 4

Clock Cookies
A pinterest idea.  :-)
 When you have a larger group, it's especially important to be pretty organized so that the school day goes smoothly.  :-)  Picture on the left, dough (AllRecipes) made and ready to go.  Typically, I'd have one of the kids help me make it but time is of essence this week.  They each had wax paper, a glass, access to a bowl of sugar, chocolate chips-big and small, and pretzels.  We added the paper towels later...definitely needed them to wipe the bottom of the glass.  :-)  I chose this dough because it was NO ROLL.  :-)  We talked about how to break up a ball of dough into thirds evenly.  Then they rolled it into a "nice" ball and sprinkled with sugar.  Pressed the glass straight down and added the chips.  Ta da!  
 They looked like this...actually pretty small but you can't really tell in the comparison pictures.
They came out like this. You can tell that they grew!  Quite a bit actually, way more than I thought they would!

More time telling....
Hands on IS important.  This kiddo's fine motor skills are still being worked with so drawing on the math workbook pages is a bit of a challenge.  So me what you can do...he can sure show me a lot!  Such a capable kid...when he wants to be.  Tee hee! I've always wanted one of those Judy clocks...
 but it always got shoved to the bottom of the "to buy" priority list.  They always seems so much more easier and enjoyable to use.  Oh well, we've used puzzles such as this one, paper clocks, dollar store clocks, real clocks, and the latest...snapcube clocks.  :-)  It gets the job done.  Here L. is showing me what he knows about elapsed time.  Having a hands-on approach is very helpful with showing what elapsed time is.

Math1: Sums to 20.

This activity look familiar?  Yes, there are times I take the time to cut out all the pieces for the kiddos.  Oh, they get their fair share of cutting and etc. but time is of essence with a larger group so the activity gets done quicker if the pieces are precut.  And, with this activity, the outcome looks much nicer when the leaves and petals are all cut out of their boxes.  Ha!

Going back to the puppet stage.  Since we are doing "money", that puppet stage will soon be changed into a shop of some sort so we get more practice counting money.  :-)
We pulled out last year coin sorting mats, which you can find here free from K. Double Stuffed.
Needed to refresh our memory on what each coin is and its value as well as it's easier to count from high value to low value and the mats help us remember which is the higher value between dimes and nickles.  :-)  Changing the skip counting patterns (25, 50, 60, 70, 75, 80, 81, 82, 83...for example) is NOT easy for many kids.  It just will require practice and'll be put on our Daily Math board.  :-)
Sometimes all they need is a visual.  :-)  Decimal notation.  What goes first?  Bills.  What goes to the right of the decimal point?  Coins.

Language Arts
 So, 2nd grade vocab isn't going so swell for us.  Last year the 2nd graders absolutely LOVED vocabulary online.  I wouldn't say L. doesn't "like" it.  He likes it fine, especially Boat Adventure.  Ha! routine that seemed to work okay this week.  I created word and definition cards.  We do introduction of words together and he then does the practice of the same word set.  (So 2-3 online lessons at once).  Then we use the matching cards in various ways...and those matching cards will be used each day until the end of the unit.  Seems to have helped.


Got the puppet stage out on Sunday.  Monday it got WELL used.  :-)  We saw a retelling of The Lion and the Mouse, magic shows, and on the right is A., the 5th grader "narrating" the story The Goose and the Golden Egg and L., the 2nd grader using his stick puppets to go along with it.   A simple puppet stage can be used in so many ways...but it's especially great for retelling practice!

And, OF COURSE, choosing the puppet stage to have out this week has NOTHING to do with the clock on the top.  Ha ha!  The kids are starting to figure out that there is very few things that are actually "random" happening at our house.  There is a lot of planning on my part on how to fit what they are learning right into their play.

Some Language Arts visuals I used this week.

Digraphs vs. Blends
Target dollar section had these cute little pumpkin table scatter.  :-)  So, wrote out some of the words being used in the lesson and she put a pumpkin for each SOUND she heard so we could reinforce that in a blend you can hear both sounds but in a digraph, a new sound is made.  Here's the chart I used last year and again used this year.  Seems to really help them understand.  (It's in the picture below.)
Oriental trading foam leaves that have been around here for years and get used for manipulatives vs. crafts more often than not. I made sure that we had the blends and digraphs that have already been introduced, or will be introduced this week and next and a few extra.  :-)

Creating a quick visual for the phonics lessons is always helpful. 

 I am a strong encourager of using visuals such as thinking maps.  I think it makes a BIG difference in many kiddo's learning.  Here we simply created a bubble map for -ift and -ill words...directly from the Phonicsworks lesson.  Pic on the right...her "thinking pose".  :-)

A funny gal!  I get so many pictures with awesome expressions from K.  She's so much more expressive (and dramatic) than the boys...or even the girl that I had last year!  Anyway, here I'm making a PhonicsWorks activity independent.  -and, -end, -ond...adding letters and deciding whether they are real or nonsense.  Cute little letter beads...did the trick!  Wish I had a set of lower case ones!

-tch vs. ch
 What a difficult concept for them!  You definitely can't hear the difference.  Anyway...refresher...-tch is usually after a short vowel but -ch is after any OTHER sound.  So this individual has so kindly shared her hard work...a sort and a writing page.  Check it out at TeachersPayTeachers.

Sight Word Activities of the Week
Day 2, say spell say while building the words with shells.

Day 3, say build write in sand.  

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.  The preschooler really wanted this activity himself so we'll do a version of it for him.  :-)
Day 4, we missed practice that day somehow or another.  Oops!
Refresher:  Days 1 and 5 are introduction and checkpoints for sight words for us and usually days 2-4 are independent practice activities.

Art2 happening here.  How Artists Use Color/tints and shades, etc.  This turned out MUCH better than last year! Check out how much it "feathered"!  He loved this.  And, of course, A., the 5th grader can sniff an art project a mile away so he was out doing his own version.  :-)
Differences from last year...
*  Instead of construction paper I used The Ultimate Art Paper from Discount School Supply.  It's about the only Colorations product that I actually like. 
* Instead of spraying the paper with water prior to painting we painted the paper with a wet brush.  I also made sure they noticed when the white paper was drying and for them to add more plain water to those spots to keep it "feathering" and mixing.  
* I also made a point to moisten the watercolors myself vs. letting the kids do it.  It helps get the "puddles" started without the colors mixing.  :-D

The other part of the above lesson :-)

I gave him the whole container of paints and asked him to review the primary and secondary colors and choose one of them.  This kind of thing (like most concepts) must be reiterated over and over again before they really "have it".  So it's very beneficial to slip in past concepts into your other work here and there to keep those brain connections healthy and active!
And his Colorful Cat! 

Science5: Atmosphere
So, Mr. A...does not do well with following written order.  Ha!  I've mentioned this before.  So, I have the goal this year that he does most science experiments "on his own".  They are done where I can observe and help if needed but I try to keep my mouth shut after making sure he has all the materials.  This is REALLY hard for me!  Well, today, it took him about an hour to do an experiment that would have typically taken 15-20 minutes.  Any guesses why?  Because I was keeping my mouth shut and letting him read the instructions.  But do you think he followed the instructions step by step?  Nope. the end he had an attitude issue and went off to his bedroom...but, unfortunately for him, I needed to get the kitchen ready for lunch so the quickest way to get him out of that "funk" is to walk in and give him a "warning ticket"...which simply is a post-it note with WARNING across the top and a one-two word description.  In this case..."attitude/pouting".  They then put it on our little chart on the fridge.  If they have to be corrected again for the same behavior, they get a FINE ticket...which they have to pay off in extra chores during their play time.  It far!  Anyway...he came right out and said, "I have a problem."  Oh, what is your problem?  His answer...I didn't read it very well.  Ha!  YES!  So...progress!  :-D  By the end of the year...with mom keeping her mouth shut...and him finding out the hard way that normally mom's suggestions were good ones...he will take BIG strides in accountability/responsibility.  Next year's goal is............. independent study skills.  Now THAT'S going to be a treat!  :-D

Science3: Birds

 After C. did his lesson on birds we decided to make string nests and clay birds.  The idea was from Chocolate on my Cranium

Well.... we found out that homemade liquid starch just didn't cut it.  So bought a bottle of heavy duty spray starch and I sprayed them down every day for a few days...and it just didn't cut it either. 

So we went onto making the birds and painting them.

 That was fun!  In the meantime I found my purchased liquid starch.  So we had a vote.  Do the string nests again or try a new I had done in the past with other school-agers.  Spaghetti nests.  Spaghetti nests won.

Glue and paint. 
 Break the spaghetti and mix it up.
Mold it into a plastic bowl and wait....
This nest and bird extra has taken MANY more days than I had planned.  Oh well, it's good for them to experience "experiments" not working quite as planned.  We'll give these nests the weekend to dry and then peel off the bowl (which by the you think we could find ROUND plastic bowls?) and let it dry some more.  :-)  Spaghetti nests are fun but they take a long time to dry!

 Physical Education
We can actually get our hours in for PE by the students' extra curricular activities of Tae Kwon Do and Soccer (and other sports as the year progresses).  My kids do TKD, the other family does the other sports.  However, I try to reiterate that attitude makes such a big difference in the transition from brick and mortar schooling to schooling at home.  If the children are only doing academics...all the time... and there aren't breaks, physical activity, "fun stuff"...their attitude is going to be "I don't like being at home."  Seriously, it's very important to plan in physical activity during the day, breaks/recess, and the arts.  Crafts, games and etc.  are all things that give our brains a much needed break.  And not only the kiddo's brains...but ours, as learning coaches, also.  I don't know about you all, but some of this stuff I have to relearn again!  My brain gets tired too!  It's not as young as it use to be.  :-D  It might seem like you aren't getting as much school work done as you could be...but it will pay off in so many different ways!

With the kiddos home all day...we have many more opportunities to "help".  When they were at brick and mortar and I had a preschool/child care in my the time they got home from school...we were all tired and cranky.  I love this aspect of schooling at home!  Who says we can't stop what we are doing when we see Great Grandma outside picking apples?  :-D

 This was what I observed one morning a few minutes before lunch.  Don't quite remember what the preschooler was doing right off...maybe helping me with lunch prep...but wow!  I couldn't complain about craziness that day!

And no, it's not always like this.  Ha!  The closer we get to lunch, the louder and crazier they normally get.  Tee hee!

Baking/cooking is an awesome "educational" activity!  :-)
Came across these on Pinterest.  They were quick and easy!  Corn muffin mix with hotdogs in them.  We used a basic corn muffin mix from All Recipes.


You probably remember other pictures like this one.  :-) Specifically with these DWN binders.  Ha!  Actually, I do this with other binders also...sometimes with 2 open so there is a complete "barrier" between students at the table.  :-)  Some kids get much more distracted than others.  Using simple techniques, such as making a barrier with binders, help a task get done in a timely manner for us.

Outside Surprise!

We have one of these guys every year this time of year but it's always exciting to see them again for the first time!