Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sailboats and Problem Solving Skills with MGT

I don't know if it was a full moon, or if my kids were just exhausted from Tiny B's Feeding Tube-Free Celebration the day before, but it was *ridiculous* on Sunday evening in my home, so I found myself breaking out my Mother Goose Time materials at a time when I'm normally relaxing or planning for the week ahead. Tiny B has been begging to make a sailboat ever since she saw me unpack the lessons for the month, so I figured this would be the perfect activity to stop the pure crazy taking place! 

*You will notice that Stong B is absent for the first part of the activity. He was busy doing three year-old things (crying in his room because he wanted peanut butter on a spoon and I gave it to him on a fork and apparently this was completely unacceptable and enough to make a three year-old ponder the meaning of life, for an HOUR I kid you not). Anyway. Moving on. 

Tiny B decorated her boat and we discussed how to make sails. We also watched some short YouTube clips on boats sailing. I don't know that she had enough prior knowledge on sailing to truly understand how it works, and I think I was able to show her.

I then decided to combine two of the day's activities because they naturally fit well together. I had her go outside and find nature items that would make a good boat. She found some old leaves and twigs.

She finished up her own boat while I got the tub of water ready in the kitchen. Yes, in the kitchen. I regretted that before I even started. The May Gray here has made it pretty chilly. 

She did need help with taping the sails and figuring out how to place them on a straw. 

She took her sailboat and her nature materials for a boat and tried sailing all of them. She quickly learned that the sailboat floated initially, until it fell over in the water and her Little People fell over too. This made her sad but it led to a perfect discussion on what a boat needs to sail and how too much weight (including water weight) can cause a boat to sink. 

Her idea was to get her blow dryer to dry it. (Please note that it is battery powered and I knew there were no batteries in it anyways). We talked about how if there were a way to dry it that it might work again. I allowed her to pretend blow dry the boat for just long enough for her to see that it wasn't going to work. 

Oh, and those little legs in the picture mean that Strong B took a break from his campaign for a spoon of peanut butter in order to help Tiny B with ideas. (Also note: I would have just given him a spoon but hubby was insistent that we stick to our guns on this one because little man can't always have his way). 

Strong B was interested in the big stick that Tiny B had brought in to use as a boat. 

Tiny B decided the boat was non-functioning so she tried to float her dead leaves and discovered it did work. We followed the teacher guide suggestion and tried to come up with ways in which to move the "boats." On her own, she decided she could push the water and "make waves."

She also tried to blow the water and "make wind."

I offered up the wheel-thingy to try to move the water (it didn't work). We dumped the little boat manipulative in the water to discover if they floated. Then the sailboat went back in and some more dead leaves and even some cars. It was mayhem! But I suppose that that's the perfect end to a preschool activity that involves boats and water and the kitchen floor. And a three year-old with a hankering for a peanut butter spoon.

*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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Busy B's and Bees!

What a busy month May is! I've just ordered all of the teachers/therapists/aides end of the year gifts for these amazing women who work with and love my children. There are about 14 of them! I'm busily putting that together as well as organizing Tiny B's Tube Free Celebration for this coming Saturday. These things along with a bunch of other out of ordinary happenings have kept us busy as bees! Last night I couldn't sleep because my mind wouldn't stop racing with all of the things that I need to get done. I'm looking forward to next year where a few things that will really make a difference will be different and hopefully make for a calmer me. Strong B will be home with me so this means that I won't be dropping him off and picking him up 4-6 times a week, and I'm really praying that Tiny B can get her occupational therapy during her writing lessons in school. The extra therapies are what really exhaust me. I already know that I'll need to take her to additional speech, but I'm just praying that we can stop the constant in and out of the car, which will make for a much better homeschool teacher in me. But until mid-June, we'll continue to go one-hundred miles an hour.

A homeschool mama told me last summer that I would have so many social activities for the kids that it would be hard to fit school in. Boy, was she right!

I spent time planning out the beautiful Boats and Floats theme for Mother Goose Time (MGT) this month, and the kids are chomping at the bit to do all of the watery fun things. I decided to do one last day to finish up a few lessons that we didn't get to this month. 

This lesson goes all of the way back to Day 2 of bees and their food. (I started the month with the end of the month's lessons on butterflies because we were raising our own beauties). I'm attending a homeschool conference next month and one of the classes is on grandparents and homeschooling. At last year's conference one beautiful speaker described how she homeschooled her children throughout their childhood and her husband's mother or grandmother (or maybe her elderly grandmother?) lived with them and contributed a great deal to their upbringing. That really resonated with me. My mom and stepdad live very close and I love when she comes over and teaches them. She took a Waldorf art class about are and children last week and learned so many things. Today she did Mother Goose Time with the kids. What fun she is having! 

The first activity involved the kids being busy bees and transporting their pollen to their hive in their second stomach, which is for storage. I did want to use ice cube trays as their hive, as the teacher guide recommended, but I couldn't find any. That would have been fun. They still managed to squeeze their droppers and transport their pollen (water) for a surprisingly long time! I could probably have kicked back and read a magazine if I would have known how long they would want to explore with the droppers!

Strong B was really engaged with this activity. Tiny B got excellent fine motor practice as she squeezed the dropper over and over again. She kept looking at her brother's cup to see if he was filling it faster than her. She was not having that! I'm discovering just how competitive she is. I'm thinking God blessed her with this characteristic and she has used it for strength ever since she was born in her tiny one pound and eleven ounce body. 

After about 10-15 minutes of squeezing the droppers, we watched a few YouTube films on bees, and then we moved on to the "Fill the Honeycomb" game. First we counted the numbers out loud to sixteen (I want Tiny B to have mastery over this over the next month or so and definitely before kindergarten). Then we took the "pollen" (the see-through circle counters) and made a "window" over each number to set up the game. Again, perfect fine mother skill practice using the pincer grasp to place those counters. 

Here you can see grandma reading the MGT Teacher Guide. 

They took turns rolling a dice and then taking that number of pollen and placing it in the hive. We worked together like worker bees to fill our hive. 

April's curriculum gave us six beautiful weeks of lessons and now we are ready to move onto Boats and Floats. I've already chosen the lessons that I want to do and I'm hoping that we can somehow be done by the beginning of June in order to start A to Zoo Animals. We are ready and have our zoo passes and plans in place! 

*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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day Kit in MGT and Thoughts on Mothering

As May passes, I'm starting to think about our plans for the summer and next year. Last year at this time I was planning for kindergarten for Tiny B at the charter homeschool (and knowing that she was NOT ready--if she had not been so premature she wouldn't be in kindergarten the upcoming year) and I was up to my ears in anxiety over the fact that she wasn't eating orally at all and her migraines were being made worse by the constant tube feeds with the formula. I was planning on my son not being able to attend any sort of preschool. Three months later, Tiny B was off her feeding tube and starting her wean, I was able to convince the charter homeschool that she needed to enter transitional kinder instead of kindergarten, and my son was able to attend two mornings of preschool a week! God really turned things around in a total display of miracles and love for us. 

This year, I am not unsettled about anything regarding the kiddos and I'm looking forward to next year, where Tiny B will enter kindergarten and attend the charter homeschool two days a week. Strong B will be home with me every day and won't attend a preschool. He'll be doing Mother Goose Time with me and Tiny B, and I couldn't be more excited or confident. I feel so blessed that God has provided this opportunity for me to blog for MGT and receive the curriculum, and I am so confident that Strong B will be provided ample opportunities to learn the preschool objectives, as well as learning the love of knowledge and education. 

I've learned that a gigantic part of being a mom is making minute by minute choices for your children and doing your best in these choices. Some choices might seem "different" to others, such as weaning Tiny B off of her feeding tube with a team of doctors a world away in Austria and over the Internet. But I felt that tug in my heart to do it, and I think that all moms have that tug. I also feel that tug to stop doing certain things that I'm doing, such as sending Strong B to this amazing preschool (that I love!) two mornings a week. We are a one car family and our scheduling needs to change next year, and God has placed this sense of calm within my heart, that I am doing what He wants me to do. Every day I find ways in which I think I'm failing as a mom, but I think that it's the current culture that is causing many of us to feel this way. I think that we just need to continue listening to those tugs (often times the Holy Spirit) and our kids will be okay. 

I'm counting the days until I attend a homeschool conference next month, where I will attend lots of classes and rest in my very own hotel room where I will plan and daydream about next year, and probably eat way too many cookies. Last year my time at this convention was amazing, and it was almost as amazing to spend the time alone in my room, without having to meet little people's needs. I never understood just how hard being a mom was. I taught for ten years, having hundreds and hundreds of parent-teacher conferences, while having absolutely no idea what the moms across the table from me were feeling. If I were to go back to it, I'd be different, for sure. 

My mom is a mom who has loved me unconditionally my entire life, even when I was a big jerk to her. She still has such empathy for me and what we have gone through over the last six years. So when Mother Goose Time included an art project in their Mother's Day kit that came with the month's curriculum, I knew that the project was meant for my mom, and not for me. 

The owl was pre-cut, but I had the kids do everything else themselves. I love how Stong B's is so different. He wanted it to look different. Isn't that funny, that even a 3 year-old wants to be original? Tiny B was not happy that her brother didn't want to put the parts in the correct position, but hopefully we were able to show her the fun of originality. 

My mom adored the art and insisted that I laminate it. The kids handed it to her as they walked through her door and surprised her. I was watching through the window and I will never forgot the look of sheer joy in her face as she saw them. 

Please excuse my blurry pictures. I still haven't gotten a new phone (pure laziness!) and it is full, meaning that I have to take pics with my husband's phone and text it to myself. One of the many things that I'd love to change about myself in this phase of life is that I get lazy...I don't get everything done that I should. Maybe this mama will start to get better at this as Tiny B's needs become less. Being a mom is oh so tiring, but also beautiful. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Glimpse into One MGT Lesson

The school year is almost over and we've accomplished more than I thought possible. Tiny B taught herself how to eat and both kiddos just bloomed academically and socially. 

Tiny B has four weeks more for her stoma (feeding tube hole in her tummy) to close before she'll require surgery. It's more complicated than we had thought, but this girl has been through big surgeries and is so brave...She'll be okay if it has to happen. Of course we are praying that it will simply close on its own! It's the final chapter of The Tube and we are ready to close that book for good. 

 I thought it would be good for me to detail one lesson instead of going over many in one blog post, like I usually do. For each day, Mother Goose Time (MGT) gives four different activities and they basically tell you exactly what to do. You can change it if you'd like, or simplify or make it more challenging. In fact, they often give you ideas as to how to do this!
I followed this lesson exactly as it's written, and this is what I typically do. I love the natural way that MGT lays out their lessons. 

Our lesson was about butterflies and weather. I retrieved my weather pieces that come with the Circle Time tools and I cut apart the storytelling set given to me in the day's bag. I also set crayons and paper in front of my kiddos. 

I began by asking them their favorite type of weather. Tiny B said that she likes rain and Strong B said he likes sun. 

I then had them draw their favorite weather. Strong B drew crocodiles. When I tried to redirect him, he wasn't having that, so I just let him continue with his crocodiles. He's three and can't sit for long periods of time, so I really want to just encourage him to love learning right now. That is my goal. 

Tiny B drew her rain and trees. She is a very willing student. In her IEP meeting this week, her specialists went on and on about how hard she tries and how she is always paying attention during speech and occupations therapy and the one half day that she attends transitional kindergarten. 

I had the kids each pull a weather piece from a pile and describe what would happen to a butterfly in that type of weather. Strong B drew the snow piece and said that the snow would bury the butterfly. I was really impressed with this! Tiny B drew the rain piece and said that the butterfly would get wet. We talked more about the possible scenarios.

They took turns telling a story about a butterfly in different weather. Tiny B loves storytelling and perhaps hearing the sound of her own voice...and her story was long, didn't make much sense, and was absolutely adorable. She was just so excited with the story pieces and didn't want to give them up to her brother. The "assess" portion of the lesson made me ask myself if there was a beginning, middle, and an end to the story, and the answer was that there was a beginning and a middle but not much of an end. It just went and went and went...This is common with 5 year-olds and we will definitely be working on this. 

I love any type of assessment, whether formative (quizzes, anecdotal notes, questions to ask yourself such as what MGT asked) or summative (end of the year tests, final tests, state tests) because it really guides teachers/parents in what they need to teach next. This simple suggestion from MGT will truly help to guide our future storytelling sessions!

Strong B told a very short story about a butterfly, weather, and a fart. I love 3 year-old boys for reasons such as this. Never a dull moment! I wish that I could show you his smiling face as he told his story! Unfortunately I'm not doing front face pictures in my blog, but just imagine him grinning ear to ear! His story also lacked an ending. 

This is his fart face. 

After the fart story, Strong B had had enough and I had Tiny B draw a scene from her story and describe that scene in a sentence, and I wrote that sentence down for her. 

Look how beautiful the storytelling pieces are. I adore this part of the MGT curriculum. Storytelling is a place where Tiny B really shines. 

I intended to stop the day's lessons there and not do the craft, but they both insisted on doing it. So we did the Migrating Butterflies craft. Tiny B recognized "migrating" yesterday which shows that it really stuck with her. We discussed symmetry (a very hard mathematical concept!) and fingerpainted one side of the butterfly and folded it over so that the exact image would be symmetrical on the other side. 

I think this look sums up how Strong B feels when doing MGT lessons...PURE JOY!!!!