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Preschool Themes

September 02, 2014

We have taken a rather long break from any sort of tray/ activity set-up with Little Sis since we finished Tot School.  A lot of it was because I was trying to sort out what worked and what didn't, and how to be intentional with her without doing too much.  She is currently 3 1/2 and still so young, but we are transitioning from Tot School to Preschool.  However, I use the term "preschool" pretty loosely.   Actually, I don't think it will be too different from Tot School-- it's simply more of a name change.  I will continue to follow her lead and my intention during this next year of learning for her is more, "Purposeful Play"-- which I feel is what we have been doing all along, or at least trying to do.
We will read books, sing songs, and play outside.

We will discover numbers and letters with lots of hands-on, playful activities.

We will craft and explore and move.

We will Purposefully Play in our Preschool!

With that said, I've broken down our Preschool year into weekly themes with a focus on math and literacy skills, sensory play, crafts, and extra fun.  Our weekly themes are subject to change, however, here are the themes I will be organizing and gathering materials for over the next few months.  Some months I plan on incorporating a Before Five in a Row title as our weekly theme using the manual and activities I come up with as a guide.

As long as I remember to keep it simple and have fun, I think a lot of learning will be taking place!

September:
5 Senses
Nursery Rhymes
Carnival/ Circus

October:
Corduroy (B4FIAR)
Princesses
Pumpkins

November:
Turkeys
Family/ All About Me
My Big Green Pocketbook (B4FIAR)

December:
Gingerbread
Angus Lost (B4FIAR)
Christmas

January:
Dentist
Snowy Day (B4FIAR)
Pets

February:
Luau/ Hawaiian
Love/ Kindness
Outer Space

March:
Birthday
Dr. Seuss
Fairies

April:
Color Wheel
Bunnies/ Easter
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear {B4FIAR}

May:
Gardening {Flowers & Vegetables}
Transportation
The Hungry Caterpillar/ Butterflies

To help me not go overboard in all my planning, I've made myself a planning sheet.  I am *hoping* this helps me to keep things simple!  During Tot School I found myself continually adding more activities to Little Sis's shelves and it just got to be a bit overwhelming.  So I set up this preschool planning sheet to focus on one "subject" a day; that day may have 1-3 activities planned.  Obviously carrying them out will depend on her interest and the mood of the day ; ) Ha!  But overall, I am thinking this sort of layout will be easier for me to maintain and keep focused.
Preschool Planning Sheet
Here's a general topical explanation of what each "subject" may work on:
Math Skills: Counting, Number Recognition, 1:1 Correspondence
Literacy: Letter and Letter Sound Recogntion, Name Recognition
Sensory Play: Something to touch and explore with one or all of the five senses
Craft
Extra Fun: Science Activity, Fine Motor Activity, Field Trip, etc!

I'll share a more in-depth weekly breakdown of our Playful Preschool Plans in an upcoming post!  Stay tuned-- hope you follow along our preschool journey with us!
 
 ©2011-2013 School Time Snippets. All rights reserved. You are free to link back to my website but all text, photos, and other content may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author.
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Learn Math Facts with UberSmart Software {Review}

August 26, 2014

For some reason I never memorized my math facts; in fact, there are still some number sets that I still count in my head and/or on my fingers.  On the other hand I was always quick with recall on my multiplication facts.  In fact I still remember doing multiplication drills everyday in 3rd Grade!  My own little experience tells me that math drills- however tedious and mundane- are crucial in learning the very basics of math.
With that said I was very interested in trying UberSmart Math Facts downloadable program by UberSmart Software as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  UberSmart Math Facts is a Windows based software program that can be used with children K-6 or any student needing a math facts refresher.
UberSmart Math Facts Review
We received the UberSmart Math Facts standard version that allows you to download the program on all the computers in your home.  You can purchase the family license for $24.95; support and free upgrades are also included.  I downloaded the program to my laptop and it was very simple to do.

Once downloaded, we were ready to start drilling!

UberSmart Math Facts is a very simple program- no frills, all drills : )  It is nothing fancy, but does it work?  During the course of our review, I definitely noticed a greater competency in math facts with my 7 year old.  For the first several weeks, we did the program 2-3 times per week, however the last few weeks I have had him get on for about 10 minutes everyday, and his recall has improved immensely!

When you open the program, you are greeted by 6 bars at the top of the program:
Learn new math facts with Dot Cards or Flashcard Option
Practice math facts with dot cards, keyboard entry, and/or flashcards
Test-- complete an assessment test to see where student is and/or take a timed mastery test to see if certain facts are mastered
Compete with other UberSmart users to see who can answer the most facts correctly and the fastest; an Internet connection is required.
Report -- a place to check your students progress
Maintain is where you can change settings, add/delete students, find updates, and update password.
UberSmart Math Facts Review
My son didn't care for the dot card option in Learn or Practice Mode; he used it once and then chose to learn with Flashcards and Practice with the keyboard.  I liked the dot card option, though I think it would work best for those just beginning with addition/ subtraction; my son isn't new to these concepts.  I also think giving fewer options would also alleviate some of the "clutter."  My eyes got overwhelmed with seeing so many dots! 

We also didn't complete the general assessment test; we tried a few times, but it seemed to move very slowly and the beginning only consists of keyboarding.  Using the keyboard is obviously very important in using this program, as being unfamiliar will slow you down on the timed tests, however there just seemed to be too many of those questions in a row in the assessment for my son to complete it.  However, being that we do math everyday, I am pretty confident in what my son knows and with what he still needs more help with understanding-- and that is his math facts!  So I do not feel like we have missed out on anything by not completing the assessment; however, I think more of an assortment of questions in a row, would have eliminated my son's frustration.
UberSmart Math Facts Review
So how did we use UberSmart?  
Everyday for the past few weeks, my son has easily started up UberSmart simply by double-clicking the icon on my laptop.  We then chose a math fact to work on; he would do the learn keyboard mode once and then do the mastery test a few times, each time bettering his score.  Roughly speaking, he probably used the program for 10 minutes each day.  We focused only on addition facts, but UberSmart also drills subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Addition/ subtraction is through the 9's; multiplication/ division can be set all the way through he 20's.  

I think one of the reasons that UberSmart has worked well with my son is that it teaches one math fact at a time; thus you begin with 0's and work through to 9's.  Addition starts off "easy" and progresses, yet towards the end there ends up being less math facts to master because there are fewer "new" facts to memorize!  Focusing on one number group also helps students recognize patterns.
More Likes About the Program:
Progress Reports easily accessible and I personally love the visual graphs!
Easy to use
Easily shows what needs focus and what has been mastered; able to also do a "focused" drill of only the facts that you need help with
Gives encouragement {clapping sound!} and instructions at the end {tells if you have mastered it or if you need more work with friendly encouragement}
Program frees up mom from having to show flashcards!
Affordable

We have been very pleased with the program.  There were not too many things, if any, that I was displeased by.  I cannot say my son loves it; but sometimes you just have to do certain things regardless if you love it or not, ya know?  And it has definitely improved my son's math fact recall, so it is something we WILL keep doing everyday.  If your student needs help with his/her math facts, click below to read some what other Crew Members thought!
Click to read Crew Reviews

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 ©2011-2013 School Time Snippets. All rights reserved. You are free to link back to my website but all text, photos, and other content may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author.
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Oh, the Places You'll Go Craft and Writing Prompt

August 25, 2014

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The Poppins Book Nook  virtual book club theme this month , What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?, was a timely choice with a new school year underway.  My son has told me that he wants to be a Stunt Driver when he grows up {deep breath, Mom!}, but I choose to read a book and do a craft that was a little less dare-devilish.
I chose to read the classic, "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.  It is most often used as a graduation speech; in fact, our key note speaker at my high school graduation used this book in his speech!  I love the use of playful, silly, and rhyming text in many of Dr. Seuss's books, and this one is no different.

A week after we read the story, I stumbled upon a really cute craft from Fun in First Grade.  We painted hot air balloons and added a "When I Grow Up..." writing prompt to the balloon's basket.  Oh-- and we added a picture of my kiddos in each of their balloons, too!

I love the way they turned out!

I found a printable hot air balloon template online and printed one for each of my kiddos-- yep, my 3 and 1 year old made their own balloon, too!  However, they lucked out of the writing prompt activity.  I tried asking my 3 year old what she wanted to do/ be/ go when she grows up, but all I kept getting was "birthday!"

I gave the kiddos some paint and pom poms to paint their hot air balloons with-- a method we haven't done before!
Once they dried, I had my son fill out his writing prompt and then I worked on assembling the hot air balloons.  Using a stapler, I attached some string to the balloon and the basket to connect them.  Then we cut out a  picture of them and glued it into the basket.
Oh, the places they'll go!  

For more books and activities to go along with this months Poppins Book Nook theme, check out the links below!  And stay tuned for more fun next month!




Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama
 
 ©2011-2013 School Time Snippets. All rights reserved. You are free to link back to my website but all text, photos, and other content may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author.
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Happy Kids Songs {Review}

August 21, 2014

My kiddos love love LOVE moving and dancing around to music; in fact, my son chose to listen to Christmas music on my phone the other day because he wanted to specifically jam to "Jingle Bell Rock"!

We also love to jam and/or have music playing in the background of our general playtime activities; the "educational" the better from Mom's point of view, so I was interested in having the opportunity to review three song sets from Happy Kids Songs as part of the SchoolHouse Review Crew.

We received three downloadeable song sets:  Happiness and Attitude, Friends and Sharing, and Manners and Character and the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social, & Emotional Skills.  The songs are geared towards children ages 3-8.  I listened to the songs with my three children--ages 7, 3, and 1.  Each set contained 5 songs and can be downloaded for $4.95/set.  Or you can pick and choose songs for .99cents each.
Happiness & Attitude song set focuses on positive thinking, giving compliments, handling limitations, happiness, and being together.
Friends & Sharing song set focuses on friendship, reaching out and including others, being happy, and sharing with friends.
Manners & Character song set focuses on honesty, manners, appreciating differences, considering others, and understanding differences.

The writer and creator of Happy Kids Songs is Don MacMannis, Ph.D, known as, Dr. Mac-- a child psychologist and writer of PBS hit show, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. Dr. Mac realizes that "no child can be happy all of the time, but all kids can be happier with improved character, social, and emotional skills."   Happy Kids Songs seeks to not only entertain, but help teach and reinforce important issues for young kids in a fun and engaging way.  
We also received a 125 page workbook to go along with the Happy Kids Songs albums.  The workbook can be purchased for $12.56 in a physical softcover book, but they are also free for immediate download and printing.  The workbook includes lyrics, fill in the blank, matching, coloring, and other activities related to the 40 songs made available through Happy Kids Songs.

We often played the songs during lunch time-- which probably wasn't the best time to listen to them as they often wanted to get up and dance around to the music instead of simply listening while eating. The song sets are professionally done and include children singing and talking throughout each song.  Although children are singing throughout the songs, I definitely wouldn't describe the songs and/or voices as "childish."  The songs are not overly long and tedious to listen, too-- but seem to get the point of the song across in a simple, upbeat, and fun way.

My kids seemed to enjoy listening to the songs for the most part.  To be completely honest, of the fifteen songs we listened too, there were a couple that I did not enjoy.  One song was called, "Shake It Out and Dance"- which at first glance and by song title only, I thought would be a fun move around song, but I was sadly mistaken when it began and I kept hearing, "I can't.... I can't... I can't" over and over again the first several seconds of the song.  The song is about positive thinking so I understand the point they were trying to make but nonetheless it was a really sour beginning to the song in my opinion.  The other song that I just didn't seem to understand was "Six Little Kids," which is about perspectives.  However, neither song seemed to rub my kids the wrong way.  

On the other hand, I loved the message of "Sailing on the Seven C's":
"C stands for caring and consideration. 
C stands for commitment and communication.
Just add concern, curiosity, and  cooperation
And you've got the creation of the seven C's"
and "Quirks" which incuded some silly lyrics with the underlying theme of understanding and accepting each others differences.  While some quirks listed may have more to do with "manners" like burping and flared tempers, I think this song is a much needed reminder in a household were we are together all the time:
"Yeah, quirks are things that everybody's got
Some got a few, and some got a lot, and
Some are kind of cute, but some are not-
People's quirks need some understanding"

The songs were fun to listen too, and although "secular" they would have been a neat add-on to a character training program.  I could see using the songs, not as playtime background music, but as something to listen to and discuss afterwards.  I appreciated the Happy Kids Songs workbook which included lyrics, because otherwise my hard-of-hearing ears wouldn't be able to understand some of the lyrics-- which is typical of songs in general, didn't have anything to do with the sound quality of the music..  There were also some neat activity pages that my kids would enjoy completing.  

Raising happy, well-mannered, responsible children is what {I think} all parents desire and Happy Kid Songs may work well with your kiddos if they are auditory learners and love learning with music.  Click the banner below to see what other Crew Members thought!
Click to read Crew Reviews

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 ©2011-2013 School Time Snippets. All rights reserved. You are free to link back to my website but all text, photos, and other content may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author.
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Easy DIY Alphabet Wall

August 20, 2014

post may contain affiliate links.
If you follow along with us on our homeschooling journey, you may know that Little Sis loves counting and the alphabet has been a distant second favorite.  Well recently, she has really taken to LOVE singing the alphabet anytime, anywhere.  To faciliate her love for letters, I set up an easy alphabet wall to keep the alphabet in view almost at all times.

I remember my sister-in-law telling me she put up some alphabet flashcards in her hallway, and whenever her and her son walked through they would point to one, two, more letters of the alphabet.  I thought it was such a clever and easy idea, so I set it up for us, too!  

We actually have a set of cute alphabet stickers on the wall in our schoolroom, but that is more for decor purposes and they don't stand out very much.  They also aren't placed where we can easily make them a casual part of our day.  But I picked up a cute set of Alphabet flashcards from the Dollar Store and some tape and we now have an alphabet wall leading to our basement-- so everytime we walk up or down the stairs, the letters are right there!
Once it was all taped up, I called Little Sis over who coincentatally had a cape on... Alphabet Girl was Here! So for fun I called out a few letter and pictures to see if she could find them; she also got a bit o a workout climbing up and down the stairs to find the letters!  
Do you have any fun and simple ways to teach the Alphabet?  I'd love to hear!

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 ©2011-2013 School Time Snippets. All rights reserved. You are free to link back to my website but all text, photos, and other content may not be reproduced without the written consent of the author.
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