Monday, January 28, 2008

Angus Lost

This week was dedicated to Angus Lost and proved once again that kids can be unpredictable. If you have been keeping up with the blogs, you will see that we have been doing hands on activities with an emphasis on learning through art work. I hoped that Stephen would begin to enjoy the projects as he saw Rhea working on them, but politely declined the invitations. I had planned this week to de-emphasize art projects this week, and, you guessed it, he wants to be an artist. We had just finished bear hunt and since he knew that there was a cave in Angus Lost, his first project was to design and decorate his own cave. This was entirely his idea and he exectuted it independently. He was also much more focused on his writing, but also had an increased interest in coloring the various characters that he encountered in his books this week. His other crafty activities were taken from the Kumon Method Fold books. We incorporated the horse that pulled the wagon, as well as other vehicles on the road that Angus might have seen on his journey.

Water Color Paintings from Dover
We did both the Old McDonald finger and Dog bag puppet project and the Dog/Cat popsicle project from A Becka Pre-K art. Here is a short performance of Rhea's "show".
Stephen did great with his memory work this week. Angus Lost was organized well and gave the kids the opportunity to tell us what was going to happen on the next page. Stephen was able to recall each scene by the third day and both kids had a great time making the appropriate animal sounds; loudly, of course.

I always try to spend an extra hour with Stephen with Rhea takes a nap. We read My Dog by Heidi Goennel one afternoon and it describes various types of dogs. We then looked up the AKC website to "research" each of these dogs followed by looking up other dogs of his interest.

We also had a wonderful time with our "go along" books this week. One of our favorties was Sally Goes to the Farm by Stephen Huneck. The illlustrations were huge accompained by a simple story and few words on each page. It is a story about a family get together at a farm. One of the families brings there dog to visit with the farm dog and the story takes us through all of their visitations the cow, horse, pig, and goose. Rhea really liked this book and was always quick to point out the page where the dogs join the pig for lunch. The illustation shows the behind of each animal and Rhea would clearly articulate "dog butt, pig butt, dog butt". It wasn't like there weren't other things to focus on in this book. oh well................... She did also always remember the pie that the dogs ate at the end of the book, so all is not lost; no pun intended for Angus's sake.
Another favorite book this week was Kiss the Cow by Phyllis Root. This was a cute book about a mom that would milk the cow each day followed by a kiss to ensure milk for the next day. This went great with Angus Lost since Angus finally comes home with the milk man. The mom used the milk to feed her children cheese and for drinking. The little girl in the story was very curious about milking the cow herself. She snuck up the hill, sang the same song as her mother, and milked the cow. She did not, however, kiss the cow. As you might guess, the cow did not give milk the next day and the rest of the book was to convince the little girl to kiss the cow. In the end, she did and all was well. This was a wonderful book to show the kids where milk comes from and its uses. The kissing just made a cute entertainment factor that both kids enjoyed.

Our other books this week included Click Clack, Moo - Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman, Black Dog Red Dog by Lizi Boyd, Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, Angus and the Cat and Angus and the Duck by Marjorie Flack. We are currently working on our transition book for next week's Good Night Moon. It is called The Moon Might be Milk by Lisa Shulman. It is about a little girl that wonders what the moon is made of. She is joined by a series of animals, a cat, hen, butterfly, dog and mouse that give their opinion. This is not a short book, but I think Stephen will like it more after he hears it a couple more times.

Our transition project focused on night and day. Both of these scenes are illustrated in Agnus Lost and this was a great introduction to Good Night Moon. Each child was given black and yellow paper and decorated it appropriatly to illustrate night and day.

Rhea's night time picture. She never made it to her day time picture because she realized that she could blow her cotton balls across the table. She then transferred the same concept to the floor until the dog ate it.

Our final project was to make a pie. The milk man's wagon in Agnus Lost looks like pie slices. I couldn't help but to wonder why a milk man would be delivering milk after a snow storm, but that is what happend in the book. We began by illustrating fractions with a paper pie. Stephen was never able to recall the correct terms, but he at least heard the words and went through the motions. He cut a circle in half, quarters and eigths followed by pasting them back on a whole circle. He was given line guides for his cutting, but did the whole project with very little instruction. Rhea, on the other hand, had a more eclectic approach to the project. After naptime, we took on the task of making our own crust. Butter crusts are usually made with a food processor, but we used a blender. Stephen watches cooking shows in the late afternoon while I cook diner, so he knew what the blender was going to do. I usually don't use it, so this was his first time. He started by running across the room before I turned it on, but quickly came back when he was certain that it would not be too loud. He and Rhea worked out a system of her putting the butter in while he controled the buttons. It was really cute to see them working together. The crust was finished by the time Daddy got home and it was time to make the filling. Tom did want me to mention that it was his idea to also tie in the Sally Goes to the Farm book since the dogs ate the pie at the end. OK, credit given :-) Tom proceeded to mix up his famous pumpkin pie filling with the kids. We picked pumpkin pie to also include the milk concept. We concluded by making spinach pie for dinner, but the kids didn't eat it as I expected. Tom and I enjoyed it!

Stephen learned that we could find recipes on the computer.

We could still use a little more time on fractions by evidence of the kids attempt to cut the pie:-)The week, however, ended with happy faces and happy tummies!

Monday, January 21, 2008

We're Going on A Bear Hunt

We had a GREAT time this week with We're going on a Bear Hunt. Our biggest project was preparing for our big HUNT. I started the week with reading all of our books. In addition to Bear Hunt, our book selections included Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See (motions), Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear (sounds), Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See, Snow Bears by Waddel Martin, and A Bear Went Over the Mountain by Rosemary Wells. We then began to prepare our Bear Hunt Guide that I compiled from Microsoft clip art. Stephen has been doing a much better job with cutting since I have encouraged him to do a little every day up until this point. He actually did this entire project in one sitting while Rhea was taking a nap/playing in her room one afternoon. Unfortunately, I had meant for him to color it too, and I think I pushed my luck on his attention span since it went into the lap book uncolored. The big event occurred after nap time on Sunday. We looked through our Bear Hunt Guide to see what we needed, put everything in their backpacks followed by putting on their appropriate hats. Each child was greeted by bear feet outside their doors leading them downstairs. By the time they made it into the living room, the foot prints stopped. We said "Oh no, where did the bear go? I guess we need to go on a bear hunt!" I hope everyone can see the video since we had a GREAT time.

I do want to address the other books we used since they were so interactive and probably their favorites so far. We started Angus Lost this week and the kids demanded Bear Hunt books again. Anyway, I thought the accompanying books by this author would be too redundant, but the kids really enjoyed the simplicity. The Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See focused on animal motions that we acted out, while Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear used animal sounds. I will include a video that Stephen made for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You Hear using animal card while telling his version of the story. Stephen and Rhea both enjoyed The Bear Went Over the Mountain and could sing the song by the end of the week, while Snow Bears was a wonderful book that calmed everyone down; I know, not a common trait of a Bough. It was a great story about how three baby bears went out to play with their Mommy and then came in when they got cold to eat toast by the fire. This book was typically then followed for a demand for another bear hunt, or the more attractive alternative of screaming while running around the kitchen island in the dark with our flashlights.

Stephen worked on a bear "research" project all week. He was required to pick a bear each day and we talked about its color, size, home and food. Bears included Polar Bear, Sloth, Spectacle Bear, Brown Bear, Panda Bear, and Black Bear. I wasn't sure how this would go, but he really enjoyed working since the information was focused on the four areas. After we were done with each bear, we went to the web cams and looked up the bear we had just studied. He was then allowed to pick other animals from the,, and

We wrapped the week up with one additional game, art projects and one more least bear hunt. Actually, I think we went on a bear hunt at least a dozen times with much laughter and playful screaming. The last game that we played was focused on matching numbers. Stephen has been working on "same" and "different", so this fit in nicely. I laid a path of cards number cards and bear cards for the kids to match on a game card. I am always so amazed with how much they work together. This game was followed by another request for a bear hunt.

Water Color Paintings

Matching Game

Our Lap Book

Brown Bear Matching and Story Cards - Bear Prints

Post cards from Tom's trip to Alaska, worksheets, and mini books

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jesse Bear

Our first day with Jesse Bear was filled with more bear fun. We introduced the book with the help of some paper doll bears from and a wooden bear puzzle that I found on ebay. Stephen really enjoyed picking out the appropriate winter clothes but was slightly confused since it was practically 70 degrees during the second week on January. We made the most of it, and Stephen still insisted that Jesse needed his full winter gear. Actually, Stephen is convinced that Jesse is a girl for some reason. No, I don't allow the dog on the futon. It appears from the picture that he was trying to blend in.

Stephen was able to recall his bible verse by the end of the first day. I have it written on the bulletin board (for my benefit), and I think he is reading a few words from it. I will take it down later in the week to see what happens. He has an incredible memory, so I don't think it will matter even if he is reading. It was amazing the first time I asked him what his bible verse was not only to see him look at the board but also to have him successfully recall most of the words.

Proverbs 15:13 - A happy heart makes a cheerful face.

Rhea liked the butterfly that Jesse Bear chased in the story so her art project was making one out of tissue paper and finishing it off with some shape and bear stamps.

Cut and paste project

Stephen's math project for Jesse Bear involved his counting bear set. He played with them for a short time a couple of years ago, then stopped when Rhea started to take an interest. Stephen gets an hour with me after lunch, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for him to play with the counting bears without Rhea around. The first step to this project was for Stephen to make counting cards from 1-10. I gave him a guide and made dots for him to follow. He then put the appropriate number of bears on each card. He made it to card 7 and decided that he was done, so I helped him place the rest of the bears while he helped count.

Stephen enjoys reading and building, but art and cutting are not at the top of his list. I started him on the Kumon series which he enjoyed for a short time until they became too hard for him. Recently, I have been giving him very small cutting projects with straight lines ONLY. His first project was to cut out a cover to a mini-book based on Jesse Bear. He then cut out clip art food for Jesse Bear's lunch and pasted them on a plate. In both cases, I think he responded more positively due to the engineering process that he likes so much. Kumon offers the same idea of cutting and pasting things together, so maybe, as with many things, it was a matter of his timetable. Materials for both projects are from We also finished an A Bekka bear art project from their Pre-K Art book, but did the pasting only, since there were several round pieces. Typically, Stephen gets frustrated due to cutting the round pieces wrong and starts taping them back together. We decided to cut out a large sunshine instead to go along with Jesses' outside play. It seemed fitting considering our recent unusually warm January weather.

Stephen is not one to enjoy tedious projects, so this one worked well. I wrote out 6 words and gave Stephen the same words to trace. We then cut them out together and matched them up before pasting them. He really enjoyed working on this project together.

Stephen's B Book

Here is another Mini book that Stephen made. He is getting better at cutting and has been enjoying it more after some simple, low stress projects. Again, we worked together on it while Rhea was asleep which he enjoyed too. It contain three pages in addition to the cover page. I made dots for his name that he is doing very well tracing lately. I helped color one of the bear pages while he colored and cut out the other two.

Sight word tracer cards

Stephen's Family Project
I found this great ABC dot-to-dot book at Barnes and Noble by Flash Kids. It goes along great with the Jesse Bear story. Each page consist of 6-10 letters and tells the story of a little bear's day; almost identical to Jesse Bear.

Rhea continues to play with her buttons from last week. I included a picture for you since I left it out of my last post. I keep trying to get her to do some art projects with the buttons, but she loudly objects. Rhea's other favorite activity was to pack a lunch for Jesse Bear using plastic food. I gave her some plastic containers for her to sort and dump to her heart desires.

We continued with the plastic veggies and decided to play our favorite game; throwing things.
Click on the bottom left arrow and you might need to click twice.

We try to do a family activity each evening after dinner. One evening, we played with some simple rhymes such as Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear Turn Around, and . Tom and I try to take turns, but Rhea doesn't seem to like how he does it and keep saying "Mommy's turn" until he stops. I don't think he takes it too personally since he is the go-to person when she gets hurt. The favorite was Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around. I originally did it with just the poem, but then realized after the fact that I had pick up that very book by Penny Dann at the Library the same day. I used the book the next day and they enjoyed it even more. We practiced during the day and then performed it for Daddy after dinner that night. I included a video of Stephen's interpretation of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear until Rhea decided to turn it in to "tackle time". Our other "go along" books are Snuggle Wuggle by Jonathan London (left over from our Corduroy week by Rhea's request), and Get Dressed by Gwenyth Smith. Get Dressed is a great multi-cultural picture book based on what children in other cultures wear.

A variation on this activity was to use sequencing cards. Stephen especially liked doing this since it didn't matter what order the cards were in.

Daddy had to leave this week for a trip to Alaska, so I thought it would be a great time to take the kids to Build-A-Bear Workshop. I was honestly just looking for something new to do with the kids, but it ended with a deeper meaning for them. Besides the fun that they had in the store, the care for these simple bears over the past couple of days has been touching. From the time we drove in the driveway, these two bears have had royal treatment from both kids. Since we read Corduroy last week, Stephen wanted a bed for his Jesse Bear like Lisa had for Corduroy. We managed to fix up a basket in his room with one of his baby blankets. Stephen's Jesse spends most of her day in her house while Rhea's Jesse sleeps and stays with her all day and night. If you know the story, Jesse Bear is a boy. Our kids have decided that their Jesse Bears will be girls.

The kids immediately became attached to their selected bears; so much that Rhea freaked out when she saw what the ladies were doing to the stuffed animals. I reassured her that the bears were not being hurt, but rather, they were making them "squishy". She calmed down and realized that she could have control of the stuffing machine. Mostly, this took her mind off of the stuffing going into the bear that seemed to bother her so much.

Squeeze Test

Teddy Heart

Stephen was very interested by the time his turn came around. He listened very carefully and was focused on doing his job. After his bear was finished, he headed over to brush up his bear and helped his sister with hers.
Let's face it, Build-A-Bear is a money maker where you could sink A LOT of $$$. No, we didn't buy the car, but I let him play with it in the store. I distracted him with the wall full of clothes to get him away from the very cool car. I told him that he could pick out any outfit and he insisted on a T-shirt and jean shorts. If you haven't experienced the store, they had every type of outfit a kid could want, but Stephen stood firm on his choice.

The making of the birth certificate

Rhea's finished product

A happy boy
Our Lap Book