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Scissor Skills with Junk Mail: An Everyday Fine Motor Material

July 23, 2014

We are no strangers to fine motor activities around here and today I am sharing a fine motor activity to go along with Still Playing School's Everyday Fine Motor Materials A-Z Series!  Today we are sharing an activity for the Letter J....
J for Junk Mail!

Something we all get right?!  Nothing like walking out to the mailbox to get the mail only to find ads, mailers, application forms,... etc. But! Don't just toss it!  Start up a junk mail stash because it makes a great everyday fine motor material!
Give your child a pair of scissors and have them practice their scissor/ cutting skills! And if they aren't at the cutting stage yet, it's never to soon to build those finger, hand, wrist, arm muscles needed for writing-- have him/her tear it up for you.
This activity kept my 3 year old busy for nearly a half hour!  She was very content to just cut any way she wanted; however, you could suggest that your child try to cut out a letter and/or picture, make a shape, cut fringe, or draw lines for your child to cut over.
Junk mail is a great and *free* way to work on those scissor skills!  I especially loved that my daughter wasn't just cutting up our nice construction paper only to be thrown away later.  However, if your junk mail was especially colorful, you could bring out the glue and make a collage, too!

And if by some crazy chance you do not have any junk mail, but your child needs some scissor practice check out our other cutting activities:
 ©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.


A House for Birdie Storybook Activity

July 22, 2014

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Awhile back I had these grand plans to put together Little Sis's preschool plans using MathStart books by Stuart J Murphy.  I read several titles to Big Brother over the past few years and he always seemed to enjoy them, so I purchased a few to "get me started" since our local library doesn't carry many of the titles.  One of the books I bought was A House for Birdie that is supposed to introduce capacity in a fun and engaging story.  

 Birdie is in search for a house that fits him perfectly, and enlists the help of his four of his friends.  As they fly through the neighborhood, each bird house they come across is either too tall, too short, too wide and/or too narrow for Birdie-- but just perfect for one of his friends.  In the end, it is Birdie's friends who help make a house just for him. 

To put the math concepts in action, I made an activity called, A House for Me.  I grabbed an large gift box and four toy figures that had differing attributes: tall/ fat, tall/ thin, short/ fat, and short/ thin.  Along with capacity and sizing, I think this is a great story to introduce opposites!

Once I had my four toy figures, I laid them on the box and traced a door that would fit each figure.  I used a sharp knife to cut three sides to make the door.  I added a little brick decor to the house and called Little Sis over to read the book and explore the activity with me.  
Interestingly enough, she enjoyed putting Mickey in the tall/fat door and putting the teddy bear in the tall/thin door-- etc. etc.!  But it made for some fun pretend play, too.  And I always have to remind myself that this is all for exposure anyhow; these early years should all be about playful learning and exploring and that was my ultimate goal for this activity!  

I did purchase some other MathStart books, so hopefully at some point I'll share some more MathStart go along activities.  Do you enjoy the MathStart series??

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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.


Blueberries For Sal Preschool Math Activities

July 15, 2014

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Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a great book to read to your preschooler.  The book begins with Sal and her mother on their way to pick blueberries to can for the winter.  Along the way her mother encourages Sal to pick her own blueberries, thus Sal's adventure begins!

To go along with the book, I put together some activities for Little Sis that each focus on a certain math skill:
1:1 Correspondence
For this activity, Little Sis was to use the spoon to pick up a marble and put it in the bucket all the while saying, "Kerplink- Kerplunk- Kerplank!" and count, of course!

Sorting Pom Pom Blueberries
This tray works on classification and sorting by size and color.  To add in more fine motor practice, I also added in a pair of tweezers for Little Sis to use to pick up the "blueberries."

Roll a Pie Number Recognition Game
To help Little Sis with number recognition, I made an image of a pie and put the numbers 1-6 on it.  Little Sis was to roll the dice, find the corresponding number on the pie, and then add a blue sticker onto the number.
Click HERE for your Roll a Pie Printable! Enjoy : ) 

Have you and your preschooler enjoyed Blueberries for Sal yet?  These math activities were simple to put together, so pick up the book and try one of them out!

We'd love for you to check out some more of our Preschool Math Activities!
Button Bingo
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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.


Homeschool Heart Talk: Should YOU Homeschool?

July 13, 2014

Should YOU homeschool?  I've seen the questions floating around... Should I? Can I? How do I? What if?  etc. etc.  Questions and decisions regarding our children and their future is exciting and nerve-wracking; we all want to do what is best for our children.

Well, unfortunately, I cannot answer that question for you.  It's personal. It's real. And every family is different.

Here's our story:
Should we homeschool? was never really a question for us; initially it was my hubby's desire for his {future} children.  In fact, while hubby and I were dating {oh so long ago!}, it was mentioned that he would want his children homeschooled.  I don't exactly remember what I said back then, but it probably went like, "um.... okayyyyyy...."  Secretly thinking, homeschool?  That is so weird! Ha!

Well, the joke was on me, huh?

You see, I grew up in the public schools and even went to college initially to be a school teacher!  However, I believe through a series of events and people that crossed my path, God slowly opened the door to my heart to actual want, desire, and feel a peace with homeschooling our {future} children, too.

I read books about homeschooling from the library.
I prayed...
I read more books...
Enjoyed reading homeschool blogs....

and gradually the idea just became something we were going to do.

I would encourage you though, that if you have been thinking about it and questioning it-- trust your gut.  Trust that God is whispering something in your heart.  I encourage you to pray; to listen; to talk to other homeschoolers.

Forget about your inadequacies, failures, doubts; it is not about you-- it is about your children. Forget about what other's say.  You can do ALL things through HIM who strengthens you!!

And, the reasons that homeschooling may be on your heart will be unique to you.

Homeschooling isn't all about picking and choosing curriculum and academics; it is about building relationships with your children and nurturing their hearts and minds.  You are with them all day everyday, and you have the blessing to nurture their spirits and talents.  Do know that some days are not sunshine and roses-- but that is just "parenting" in general, right?

It is all a learning process-- for you and your children.  Homeschooling is a journey, it is  lifestyle.  To think of the future is often overwhelming-- relax and take it day by day.

I pray that you would listen to your heart.  It is always easy to say, next year or 'when our finances are better' or 'I just don't know enough'....

You are fully capable of teaching them what they need to know and then some.  Remember, you aren't doing it alone.

But, you are enough; YOU are their mom-- the one who wants the best for them.  And more than likely, there will always be something "in the way"-- calling you away from that whisper of "Should I?".

So, has the thought of homeschooling been laid on your heart?  I encourage you to listen to that whisper.

©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.


Moving Beyond the Page: Homeschool Unit Studies {Review}

July 09, 2014

Moving Beyond the Page explores concepts in ways that appeal to all sorts of learners-- especially those that are naturally gifted, creative, and thrive with hands-on learning.  It is a complete homeschool curriculum that follows a unique strategy for challenging and stimulating your child's learning abilities.  Moving Beyond the Page:
  • Meets National and State Standards
  • Appeals to different learning styles
  • Project-Based Instruction
  • Encourages Critical and Creative Thinking
We had the opportunity to review two individual units.  Each unit can stand alone, but do coordinate with another unit to maximize learning.  We chose to work through coordinating units about the Rain Forest, geared towards students ages 7-9.  I used this unit with my almost 7 year old son knowing my son loves learning about different animals, but little did I understand that the rain forest is much more than animals!  It is a very complex study.  One that in hindsight would be better suited for ages 9 and up.  We received:
Science Package -- The Rain forest
Includes: Spiral-bound Physical Science Guide, and books: The Shaman's Apprentice by Lynne Cherry and Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

Language Arts Package -- One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest
Includes: Online Language Arts Guide and book, One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest by Jean Craighead George
For a summary of skills for our units, click here.  
Both of these individual units are also a part of Moving Beyond the Page's 7-9 Year Old Curriculum Package.  Within the school year, the curriculum covers four main concepts.  Each concept is made up of 3 individual units.  Each unit contains about 10 lessons and a final project.  Our units are part of Concept 4: Relationships.
Upon receiving our Science Guide and books necessary for the unit, I set to work reading through the physical and online guides to get a "big" picture of how our days over the next several weeks should be spent.  Within the full curriculum, each unit should take about 3 weeks to complete.  Working on our Science and Language Arts Units daily, we did complete them in 3 weeks-- however, there were a few writing intensive projects that were skipped as they were just too involved for my 6 year old son.

Moving Beyond the Page suggests spending 2-3 hours a day just on these units alone.  You can imagine I was a bit shocked and had to do a "double-take" and read and re-read that section to wrap my head around it!  We spend a max of 2 hours on school with math and several other subjects, so I was a bit nervous to see how this would all turn out.  Having worked through the unit now,  I do understand why they suggest so much time--our units involved a lot of Internet searching and were writing intensive.

One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest (Language Arts)
The flexibility of the online guide was nice, but I much prefer having a hard copy in my hand.  I went through the online Language Arts guide and printed out the lesson introductions and activity pages. The Unit Introduction included:
  • Questions to Explore
  • Facts & Definitions
  • Skills
  • Materials Needed
  • Brief Lesson Introduction
  • Comprehension Questions
When you log in to the the online guide, everything you need is conveniently laid out for you.  Moving Beyond the Page includes "Getting Ready" resources such as Student Activity Pages and Reading Comprehension Questions.  Spelling and vocabulary words are also included to make this a complete Language Arts program-- however, we did not take advantage of either list.

Along with reading a chapter from One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest each day, the Language Arts Unit included 3 daily activities.  Activities for Day One included finding Venezuela on a map, illustrating different types of relationships, and making a rain stick.  Some other LA activities included:

  • Daily Charting of Rain forest animals
  • Nouns & adjectives
  • Paragraph Writing
  • Writing a Poem
  • Dramatizing a Scene
  • Final Project: Field Guide or Documentary
Important to note is that you are almost "renting" the online unit, as you will only have access to the online guide for 90 days once activated.  If using with other children in the future, you can "reactivate" the unit at a small fee.  If using the guide with more than one child, the online guide may be more cost effective as you are able to copy the activity sheets for more than one child.
Going into this review, I knew my son was younger than the recommended ages and planned on doing most of the written work orally.  However, we ran into issues with the persuasive writing and plot diagramming assignments.  Both activities were not developmentally appropriate for my son.  Throughout this unit, many of the student activity pages had two options one "easier" and the other more advanced-- and we always chose the "easier" option.  However, some activities like Plot Diagramming didn't have any sort of guide, and it wold have been helpful for me!

Overall, he enjoyed the hands-on activities and completing his final project where he pretended to be an Ornithologist and created a documentary on four different types of birds.   However, many writing activities in between were often over his head.  I think a lot of this was due to the focus on Rain Forest relationships-- and while some relationships were easy to understand, others were not.  Nor is this something he can experience first-hand, which I think would have really helped him understand this ecosystem.  In the end, I think I ended up doing more of it-- writing, explaining, and talking.

The Rain Forest (Science Unit)
The Science Guide came spiral bound, but I had the binding cut off and placed everything in a large binder.  It seemed to work well for the most part.  This also helped keep the guide and activity pages separate; before cutting the binding, the activity pages were after each lessons directions so I would have had to tear out the pages and/or share the guide with my son.

The Science guide consisted of 5 Lessons that lasted 2 days each and a Final Project.  I appreciated having this guide all printed for me, however I wish the Day 1 and Day 2's lessons were on a separate pieces of paper.

Over the course the science unit, we covered plants, animals, people and preserving the rain forest.  The lessons included:

  • Mapping the rain forests
  • Making a Bromeliad
  • Enjoying some rain forest recipes
  • Rain forest food chain
  • Interview with a rain forest animal
  • Rain forest Tribes, Human Relationships with Plants, etc...
Unlike the online guide, the physical guide cannot be copied-- even amongst other students in the household.  Moving Beyond the Page has a very strict copyright in place and  if using the physical guide with other children, you can purchase an additional set of activity pages through their website.
Again we did many of the written activities orally and skipped some altogether such as human relationships with plants where my son was to draw a picture of the plant, describe its uses, then "prescribe" the appropriate plant for different scenarios.  We also briefly touched on deforestation and the "great debate."  Although presented in a un-biased way, I felt these issues were inappropriate for my son's age and interest.

And, in the end it was the hands-on projects that won my son over!  He also loved his final project and chose to make a Rain forest Diorama.  This was also the perfect excuse reason to head to the craft store!
Overall, I enjoyed the literature based feel of the program.  Just proves that there is definitely more to books than simply words on a page!  The unit studies offer many different activities for all types of learners; I think learners that thrive on discussions and critical thinking might really enjoy this unit.  However, being that my son was a bit younger than the recommended age and now knowing the complexity of issues this unit tackled, I am a bit hesitant to purchase any of the other units in the near future-- although, several of them look very interesting for when he is closer to the end of the age range, or even older than the suggested ages.

Moving Beyond the Page is a very creative approach to learning, and I am glad we had the opportunity to use it in our homeschool!  Many other units were used by other Crew Members, click the banner below to read more.
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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