Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Pumpkin Patch Party with Mother Goose Time!

I'm loving that Tiny B and Strong B cannot get enough pumpkin in their life. They are truly feeling the wonder of Fall. 

Note: Being in Southern California means that we really don't see much of a Fall (honestly it almost looks the same as it did last month) but we like to pretend that we are in the midst of wearing wooly sweaters and scarfs and sipping pumpkin spice lattes.

We went to a very busy pumpkin patch, and after about five minutes we took the kids to the farthest corner and let them run through the Big Mac pumpkins. It was a beautiful scene that I'm sure I'll always remember.

The kids had been excited all week because we were going to have a pumpkin patch party. They probably asked about it 2,457 times. Mother Goose Time sent us a beautiful kit inside of this month's box. It included everything needed for a fabulous Fall party. 

We invited a friend over and handed her a ticket to our party. (Seriously, the stuff couldn't be any cuter and I really wish that Mother Goose Time could plan every party of mine being that I'm just dreadful at it). 

She came inside and was immediately greeted by an adorable sign, and many of the materials layed out on the tables.

Strong B could not keep his hands off of the stuff! I'm lucky that my party materials actually made it to party time. You know three year-olds and their hilarious/maddening lack of restraint.

Every single activity was planned out for me. Honestly, I barely even looked at the instructions until we were actually doing it! (This is how I usually do it with Mother Goose Time...I fly by the seat of my pants! My partner teacher and I used to joke about this because we secretly knew that we were both learning the lesson approximately six seconds before we taught it). 

We began by singing a song about about pumpkins, and then I read them a pumpkin poem while they acted it out with hand movements. 

We then made pumpkins in the Design Your Own Pumpkin activity. I have to be honest, Tiny B and Strong B had been so stinking excited about this party all day that by the time it came to do activities, they were very tired! Have you ever gotten yourself so pumped up about an event, so much so that you can't sleep? And by the time said event happens, you're not at your best? That would be my little darlings! Luckily, our guest was very intent on paying attention to detail, and that helped reel my kiddos in.

Next we made pumpkin faces in bread with highly processed cheese, and let me tell you, if you're ever in need of a food product that's easily moldable, this is it! I seriously think their creations were cuter than the model creations. Something about seeing the art of my babies makes me get all sentimental. Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater Snack activity was a success.

We played Pin the Patch on the Scarecrow (closing our eyes instead of using a blindfold), and the kids' squeals were evidence of a great time being had. Look at the little wiggle in his body. So cute.

The would roll a cube, pick out the matching "patch" and pin it on the scarecrow.

Beware of the Bat had them identifying numbers and matching them to a cat. A lucky "bat" got to chase the cat. This was the game that Tiny B said she enjoyed the most.

In Pumpkin Seed Search the kiddos used their fine motor skills to use tweezers (provided by Mother Goose Time) to pull pumpkin seeds out of a bowl of dried oatmeal.

It was a beautiful party, and mom of our little guest told me that her child wished they did homeschool our way! When I was a teacher, I used to pilot different curriculums. This is one that I would surely have recommended to the district if I were still in that position. 

What a sweet pumpkin party for some sweet kids. I had told you that they were so excited about the party that they could barely do anything that day. In all honesty, I was just as excited for it, and it surpassed my expectations. Life is all about creating these fun memories that will stay with you forever.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Apples and Important Skills with Mother Goose Time

It hardly feels like Fall over here, but at least I have my Mother Goose Time Curriculum to help us pretend that it's Fall!

Allow me to wear my public school teacher hat for a bit: We are learning about different types of fruit trees this week during our "Into the Orchard" theme of this month. A very important thing to remember though, is that these themes are really just the vehicle to learn the important objectives in reading, writing, math, language, etc. While it's very interesting for them to learn that seeds turn into saplings that turn into trees, it's more important (at least from an academic standpoint) that they learn reading comprehension skills while learning about the trees. That is something that truly stands out to me regarding the years that I spent teaching elementary school. One of the 3rd grade science standards was to learn about habitats, and while I did test them on these concepts, what I was really looking at was using the exciting subject matter to get them to write sentences, and then form those sentences into paragraphs.

Now I will put on my homeschooling hat: Learning about these trees and seeds and nuts can possibly be just as important as Tiny B learning how to form the letter T and learning inferencing skills while reading. I feel like every teacher (homeschool, public school, private school) needs to be very careful about keeping the joy in learning. Tiny B and Strong B are not begging me to do Mother Goose Time because they are excited about the fact that they are learning how to sort and pattern (well, maybe a little bit). They are mostly excited about the fact that they are learning about APPLES! And apples are yummy! And they went to an apple orchard with mommy and daddy and they're going to go to a pumpkin patch next week!

Honestly, I wear both hats and sometimes it really helps, and sometimes it holds me back. I'll explain that in an upcoming post about how being a former public school teacher affects my being a current homeschool mama.

Now onwards to telling you about one day of lessons in which we learned many things! Every day looks different in my home regarding homeschool. My three year-old son attends an amazing preschool for nine hours a week. During this time I'm able to focus on more academic things with Tiny B. On this particular day, I saved all of my lessons to do with Strong B because he is an apple fanatic.

Every day we begin with a greeting song, and today's song was about apple trees, of course. They learned the lyrics and we sang them several times.  After this we used the pattern blocks that come with the curriculum, to make their own apple tree designs. (Of course, they had to have their own apples to eat as we enjoyed our activities. Watching them BOTH eat apples is heavenly to this tubie mama's heart).

We then talked about the life cycle of a tree and I had them retell the information using the cards.

We tasted our two different types of apples, Empire and Pippin, with our eyes closed. We described the different tastes and I introduced new vocabulary words such as tart and sour. We discussed our opinions regarding the two apples.

Next on our agenda was reading the beautiful book that came with the program, called "Johnny." The colors are bright  and beautiful and their attention was absolutely captured. When I read to them, I try to make sure to ask them different types of questions. When I taught elementary school, we used to call them green, yellow, and red questions. The green questions are easy and are right on the page. An example would be, "What was Johnny Appleseed carrying in his pocket?" A yellow question would be something like, "How did Johnny feel when he gave the apples to his friends?" The answer is there, but it's not exactly written on the page. They told me that it must make him happy to share because he keeps planting the seeds and making new friends. The red level questions are sometimes easier than the yellow questions and they are sometimes more difficult, depending on the question asked and the child's particular life experiences. They are the questions that go beyond the text and require a child to truly think about what they just read. After I read the story I asked them what type of seed they'd like to plant and why. Strong B simply said, "seeds" because he was wiggly and ready to get up. Tiny B said that she'd like to plant red seeds because she'd like to eat them. (***She wants to eat them! Again, I can't even begin to explain the joy that this gives me!)

*Please note that sometimes I just breeze through a book and I don't care one bit about different levels of questions...I'm only counting down the minutes until they're in bed!

We then made Johnny puppets. Mother Goose Time has different types of art projects. Some are totally creative and open-ended and the child decides on what the final product will look like, where some are more based on the end product and what can be done with the products. I absolutely LOVE this about the curriculum because kids excel in different things, and both of these types of art projects are important! In this case, they of course glued and colored which allows them to practice their fine motor skills, but more importantly, they used the puppets to act out the story, first by listening to me retell it, and then by retelling it themselves. What a perfect way to work on reading comprehension, summarizing, and language acquisition in one task!

It was a lovely day of homeschooling. I'm just so thankful that this curriculum came into my life. Now I'm off to eat some apples :)

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Into The Orchard with Mother Goose!

The arrival of the Mother Goose Time box is cause for jumping, screaming with joy, and total excitement in this house.

I was especially excited because the subject matter this month revolves around Fall things, such as trees, seeds, fruits, nuts, etc! There is nothing better than loving the subject matter that you are teaching.

I always frantically open my box to see all of the magical manipulatives, art, pictures, and songs that I will use to teach my kiddos this month. Every day's lesson comes in a closed bag, so that all that I have to do is open the bag, open up my teacher guide, and begin teaching. I used to spend HOURS prepping and planning when I was a classroom teacher, particularly when I taught 6th grade. This is a welcome change! 

Before we even started our unit, we went to my mom's home to do our anticipatory set. 

*Side note: I earned my teaching credential in the year 2000 and begin teaching that year as well, and the anticipatory set is what we called the beginning of the lesson, before we actually started. I always chose something to get the students especially excited...There is nothing better than seeing kids actually looking forward to learning!

We walked around her property and looked for all the things that we would be studying--trees, seeds, roots, branches, fruits, flowers, animals, etc. The kids begged to bring their pumpkins to collect seeds and other special goodies such as flowers and branches.

A few days later we went back to my mom's house and started our first day, in which we were studying seeds. We observed, counted, and classified seeds. 

*There was a wee bit of fighting over the magnifying glass. Thank goodness we were able to reference our lesson in sharing from the prior month's Friends and Feelings unit!

We dissected an apple and counted the seeds. (Why was it that my apple from the grocery store had seeds approximately as big as sand??)

We used finger paint to paint an apple craft. Tiny B does not like to get her hands dirty. I chalk this up to being a former micropreemie and having some sensory issues. I think if I was born at a pound and lived in a glass box with bright lights and loud beeps, I'd have sensory issues too! Anyway, using her fingers to touch slimy things is one of the best things that she can do.

We ended our week by taking a family field trip to an apple orchard and picked Golden Delicious and Empire apples! It was a lovely day and a fabulous way to reinforce the concepts that we had learned.

One of the reasons that I chose to homeschool was to simply spend time with my children. They are only this young for a blink of an eye...The time that I spend sitting a few inches away from my kids, teaching them while they put their bare feet on mine, watching their little fingers try to grasp seeds and pencils, is something that I will cherish forever. 

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.