Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Expedition

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How We do Preschool (Posts 3+4 of 4)

Two weeks ago I left you with a description of Circle Time. Rereading my own post it sounds like a rigid and monotonous routine. In all honesty, though, that is the only formal school we do, and it really isn't all that formal! I 'm pretty sure that my troop of toddlers is incapable of formal, rigid, or monotonous anyway.

Circle Time is followed by Table Time. While Cousin F sings the alphabet, Agent 004 sits down at the table to complete the weather chart. I watch that F points to each letter as she sings, then set her up with a number or letter task. Today she worked on the clothing number matching cards on her mat.

As soon as Agent 004 completes the weather chart she starts the task that I have set out in her cubby. Recently this has included her sound mat, a maze, or a file folder game.

When the girls complete their assigned task, they move onto "Mat Time," which is a Montessori-ish child led activity period. It isn't so much preschool time as it is time to play with small and messy things that would otherwise drive Mama bonkers.

In practice the only differentiation between Table Time and Mat Time is that I choose the first activity for each child (Table Time) and from that point forth the children choose their own activities (Mat Time).

Here are a few snapshots of Mat Time this week:

Cousin P is gluing a collage while Agent 004 uses a workbook and Cousin F plays a number matching game.
Agent 002 pours split peas while Cousin F, Cousin P, and Agent 004 watercolor.

All four children drawing on the windows with Crayola markers.

And that is how we make preschool time Work for Us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the Book Basket

We picked up a lovely stack of Sesame Street Golden Books at the thrift store
this weekend, as well as a board game, milk pitcher, and pink dress.

Picture Books

Mama's Downstairs Books

Mama's Bedtime Reading

Think I should head in a new direction? I think I might go with some heavier selections during Lent.

Book Group

Monday, February 23, 2009

Unplug Your Kids - Clothing

When I saw that this weeks's Unplugged theme was clothes I wanted to make one of these mini-clotheslines or this matching game.

But I wasn't quite that motivated.

I went with a simple paper matching game to reinforce numeral recognition

Match the numeral on the shirt to the number of dots on the pants.

Visit Unplug Your Kids for lots more creative "clothing" ideas.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dinner This Week

Sunday: chicken cacciatore over whole wheat pasta

Monday: meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Shake-it-up chicken nuggets,* oven fries,* lima beans 2 thumbs up

Wednesday: [Day of fast for grownups, no meat for kids] spaghetti and sauce tuna sandwiches

Thursday: C.R.A.P. we are going away for the weekend, so it may be even more craptacular than usual!

Friday: OUT - Ant P. will make ravioli and penne at ski condo

Saturday: OUT - eat at a restaurant after evening mass with Ant P, Uncle M, Uncle Ichabod and Cousin D

See hundreds of menu plans at OrgJunkie
Note: For my own information, I updated last week's post to reflect what we really ate. This was an atypical week in that were invited over for a last minute dinner twice. Great food and great conversation in both cases. Thank you!

Breakfast Rotation

We are trying to incorporate nutritious breakfasts into our menu plan; we will try the following rotation over the next few weeks.


Sunday: kids eat cereal, yogurt, or leftovers before church; mr warillever cooks a time-intensive brunch after church.

  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • French Toast
  • breakfast casserole (that Mama prepares ahead of time)

Monday: eggs

Tuesday: oatmeal with mix-ins

Wednesday: beans and toast OR yogurt

Thursday: pockets

Friday: muffins or quickbread

Saturday: Mama and kids eat cereal, yogurt, or leftovers first thing; everyone eats an early lunch

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Should a Meme Make me Cry?

Kate tagged me for the 6th picture meme.

Here is the 6th picture from the 6th folder on my external drive:

Agent 002's first day in America, running accross Grandma's backyard (well, actually Ant P's yard, but they live on adjoing lots).

We had arrived at JFK the day before, spent the night at Grandma's, and were just about to buckle him up for his arrival home.


I think that Kate and Heather have already tagged everyone I know, so I will leave this open to anyone who hasn't joined in yet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes

  1. I spent a few moments feeling "behind" on my posting this week before I remembered that this blog is not supposed to be a release, not a stressor. The funny thing is that it wasn't even a particularly stressful week -- no major injuries, traumas, or tragedies. Well, there was a black eye, a split lip, and several broken toys, but nothing outside of the norm.

  2. It was the book post that got me backed up. It takes longer to summarize and link to a picture book than it does to read one! I am (sort of) glad that I did such an intensive book post this week, because it made me more conscious of our reading. Not that I need to worry with Agent 004 in the house -- she loves books! Cousin P is starting to request read-alouds, but his selections are limited to songs-in-a-book (like Baby Beluga) and books about trucks (like Tractor Mac Builds a Barn). It's a start, right?

  3. On the topic of prolific reading, I just finished reading my 16th book of the year. Two years ago, my new year's resolution was to read 25 all year! I should slow down, not because it is directly interfering with anything, but because I have been staying up way too late. I am having way too much fun, though. I have just one more book to go in the Stephanie Plum series, then I will start in on my growing backlog. I have Nourishing Traditions on order through interlibrary loan, but if that doesn't come in on time I think that I will read Square Foot Gardening again.

  4. I made it out to the bunny slope last weekend with mr warillever and the Agents. We didn't spring for lift tickets (the beginner's area is free at our local mountain), so Agent 002 was under-challenged. He and I spent a lot of time waiting at the bottom for Papa and little sister to make it down. We started in on the silliest rendition of If You're Happy and You Know It. Have you ever tried to spin around on skis? How about touch your toes? These are the moments I hope he will remember for the rest of his life. And hopefully not the grumpy Mama that he sees more often.

  5. Speaking of bonding time....

    Agent 002 had school on Presidents' Day, but mr warillever did not go to work. Instead of working on the 412 projects on his to-do list, mr warillever brought his little girl out on a "date." They went to the preschool show at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium followed by lunch and a romp at McDonald's indoor playground. Father-daughter time is precious, and I am very glad that they got the opportunity.

  6. We are now officially eligible to provide foster care. I am anxious to have another child or two in our home, but am saddened to realize that that this will only happen if a child is facing a horrible situation. I pray daily that our home is not needed, but that if we are called to provide a home for a child that we can do so with strength and grace.

  7. The art gallery:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Tutorials on This Blog

This is what art time looks like at my house. Pretty sure that you don't need a tutorial on it. They do clean up after themselves (sort of).

Kind of pretty in an abstract kind of way.

Not sure there was learning involved, but we did manage to "recycle" a whole stack of paintings that have come off display.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh the Books We have Read

Inspired by Nina's journey of 1000 books, I have kept track of every book that I have read aloud this week. I was curious to see what kind of books we were sharing. This was a tedious, but illuminating task.

I have annotated the beginning and end of the list, but just could not find the time to finish up. I will come back to this post to complete it as soon as I can.

  • The Mitten by Jan Brett - one of our all time favorites.

  • The Mitten (Hubbard's Cupboard printable) - an emergent reader that goes along with the Jan Brett classic.

  • My Animal Book (Homeschool Share) - another printable to go along with The Mitten; Agent 004 and Cousin F ordered the animals before assembling.

  • A Second Is A Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins - offers concrete examples to illutsrate the abstract concept of units of time.

  • Snow Tree by Caroline Repchuck and Josephine Martin - the illustrations are beautiful, but the story is vapid. Worth borrowing from the library, but not one that we will purchase.

  • My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone, illustrated by Christopher Corr - we read this simple rhyming book six times this week and labelled a map to go along with Granny's journey around the world. This is new to our collection, but is quickly becoming one of our favorites. I picked up a load of geography books to go along with it over the coming week.

  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz - a cute but forgettable winter tale.

  • Cocoa Ice - a story in two parts, Cocoa Ice describes how chocolate and ice came together to make ice cream in the 19th century. It is told through the eyes of two little girls - one in Dominica (chocolate) and one in Maine (ice) -- that are connected by the merchant that trades with both families. My four-year old daughter enjoyed the story, understood the geography, but couldn't quite get a grasp of the time period. A great book, but intended for an older (7-9 year old) child.

  • Temperature and You

  • Mathterpieces (just Agent 002)

  • Who Hibernates (Scholastic printable) 2

  • The Reasons for the Seasons (Gail Gibbons)

  • Baby Beluga (Raffi) 3

  • Ginger Bread Boy (Agent 002's school reader); we reread it after seeing a real fox.

  • How do you count to 100? (Scholastic mini-book)

  • The Winter Visitors

  • Secret Valentine

  • St. valentine's Day (non-fiction) 2

  • Papa, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M Joosse; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee - a young Maasi boy learns that a father's love is unconditional. A great book for reinforcing paternal love and affection as well as introducing a new culture.

  • I Love My Pirate Papa by Laura Leuck; illustrated by Kyle M. Stone - a wonderfully illustrated tale of a boy and his dad. On a pirate ship. Some crude humor, but otherwise very cute.

  • Dear Garbage Man by Gene Zion - Stan is a new new garbage man who can't bear to throw anything away. He gives the broken treasures away to the people of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the broken items are returned to the curb the next morning. The book's message seems to be that fixing things up is futile and that broken things are better used as landfill than reused. It was not all bad, however -- it led to great discussions about creative ways to reuse broken things.

  • Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Beuhner and Mark Buehner -a cute story about snowpeople's nocturnal antics.

  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss - the simplest Seuss for youngest use is permantly stored in our van and pulled out as we wait in various locales. Fortunately, I only read this lovely book twice this week.

  • I Can Count to Ten and Back Again - this is another book that we keep in the van. It is a cute story in which Big Bird opens a store on Sesame Street.

  • Spooky Riddlesby Marc Brown - Agent 002 selected several "scary" books from the school library this week; the girls have asked me to read this one several times.

  • Tractor Mac Builds a Barn by Billy Steers - a book about a tractor and farm animals. Any wonder why it is one of Cousin P's favorites right now?