Monday, September 15, 2008

WP I'm Ready to Learn - Farm

Despite a long month due to NIU Marching Band, it was looking like we had a bare spot in our curriculum this year. Stephen was perfectly happy with his McRuffy Phonics, Singapore Math, and Bible Stories. He especially was enjoying the Bible stories. Rhea enjoyed working with Daddy and Stephen on the Bible stories, but was even more content with the the crafts and sticker pages. However, when they were done, they wanted more of something. While Stephen has been happy with picking out Encyclopedias and a ton of books of his choice from the library, that "something" was still missing. So far, we have cover Dinosaurs, Knights, Castles, and Airplanes. Last week, he woke up and asked for an Usborne Internet-Linked book on Outerspace. I thank God every day for our library and for Usborne. Rhea, however, enjoys her libary books, but needed structure and more to go along with her book treasures. I noticed that she was picking all farm related book which reminded me of the Winterpromise program I'm Ready To Learn. This will be a great introduction to our Animals and Cutures unit next year.

It was August 23rd, and I couldn't believe I was actually going to order a curriculum so late. I did anyway, and received everything within two weeks. I am so glad I got this for the kids! There is something for everyone and more importantly, Rhea can be more involved. There are a number of activity books included that could have been ordered without the program, but Winterpromise has done a wonderful job with organizing and scheduling everything for me. We also found that Tom loves teacher manuals because they keep him from trying to remember my ramblings.

I had every intention to add pictures of our animal crafts along the way, but they were all joyfully played with and thus mostly destroyed by the time we were finished, so "not so much" on the pictures. We used each animal project in our circle time since we had songs and games to go along with our themes. The kids still randomly sing these several months later, which is really cool to hear.

I drew this mural the night the box of curriculum books arrived. You could say I was only a little excited. Stephen liked it so much that he wanted to draw his own, BUT he had to add the right amount of fire alarms.

Our Paper Plate Barns - Rhea's is on the left, and Stephen's is on the right

I love how easy and adaptable this curriculum is for both kids. We use all of the activities which allows both kiddos to be included. Clearly, some of the activities are too old for Rhea, and Stephen merely humors us by participating in activities that are more Rhea's speed. As always, we really enjoy the crafts and I can't say enough about the trinket box. I don't follow the schedule for the box since we like to explore it in its entirety. Rhea spends the whole time sorting, while Stephen uses it for story starters. Again, there is something for everyone so that brains are occupied and my house stays intact. They have enjoyed this box so much that I have added a few things to it from left over art projects that are similar to what is already there.

Our Firefighting Cowboy

Chicken and Hen Week - Easter in September

We did a really cute song about a Farmer that would come in and "steal" the chicken eggs. This prompted me to do Easter in September since we had the eggs out. Or, maybe it was the craving for Jelly Bellies that led me to that activity. Anyway, all of the "chickens" would close their eyes with their egg in front of them, and the "farmer" would come and swipe the eggs. The "chicken" would then have to guess who the farmer was. We played this over and over again and the kids loved it. Yes, we hid Easter eggs all over the house too for fun.

OK, so here is a funny story; well, funny for me because it happened to my darling husband. It was Cow Week and we always talk about what we get from each animal. We obviously talked about getting milk from cows and figured we would make ice cream. We have done this once before and it was a big hit. We happened to have some bannanas that needed to be eaten, so it was a perfect opportunity to make bannana ice cream. The bannanas were mashed, the ingredients poured, and the ice cream maker didn't start. So, here we are, it is almost October, and no ice cream maker. I needed a break from the morning, so Tom decided to take the kids to the hardware store to buy a replacement motor. I didn't know you could do such a thing, but wasn't going to question my opportunity to get a little peace. Time passed and I began to wonder what happened to my family. Three stores later, my darling husband comes home with a new ice cream maker. Now, you have to ask yourself, how did he find an ice cream maker in our region in the fall. He says that it was God since there was only one and it was in the out-of-season isle. I would have been willing to make bannna bread and take the kids out for ice cream, but we still had our ice cream thanks to a faithful Dad.Stephen's Barn

Our first field trip with Winterpromise's Farm unit included a nature walk. We had just visited a farm at the Zoo, and plan on some farm visits with our fall activities, so it was time for something a little different. I made sure we kept it simple since Tom is working most Saturday's and I was on my own. We went to our local Phillips Park where we have a sunken garden, small zoo, mastodon museum, and a really fun playground. One of our Winterpromise activities throughout the week was to go on nature walks. Since we live in suburbia, this calls for drastic measures sometimes depending on the topic. The garden was our focal point, but I didn't think we would be there quite as long as we were. Three hours later, I informed Stephen that we just had to go before Rhea started into a complete melt down. I think I phrased it differently, but that's what I was thinking. We started out in the garden and I had put together a simple drawing bag for the kids the night before. Yes, two of everything (Sidebar - I could never figure our why my parents thought it was necessary to buy two of everything for my sister and I. Shouldn't we be able to teach our children to either share or be happy with what they had as individuals. I can hear you laughing from here, Mom. Now, no matter what it is, if I think we MIGHT need two, I buy two). So, Stephen headed into the garden (running), with his clipboard, paper, and crayon box. I am so glad I though to get a picture of it. Maybe someday he will be an artists and I can pull this out and show him his first adventure. Otherwise, it will just be a wonderful memory for mommy.

We must have stayed in the garden for about an hour with Stephen drawing for the first time, the WHOLE time. Rhea, on the other hand, spent about five seconds "drawing" and decided that she wanted to see and touch instead of stand still for too long. Part two of our nature walk was to collect treasures along the way, so that satisfied her. Luckily, we were in a sunken garden, so she couldn't go very far or get away from me too easily. Rhea eventually announced that she needed to use the potty, so off we went after I promised Stephen that we could come back to the garden on the way back to the car. The bathrooms were located at the Mastodon Museum, so we stopped and checked out the very large fossils. Stephen had just finished his Dinosaur encyclopedias, so he was very interested and drew some of the fossils in his nature book. Next, was off to the little zoo where the reptile house was the main attraction. When I say little Zoo, I mean suburban zoo with crocodiles, turtles misc. animals and a 50 gallon fish tank. It is small, but enough for a stress free trip to satisfy little minds and antsy bodies. Yes, the playground was last on our list and we stayed for a short while before I thought it to be wise to head back to the car before the cranky children troll arrived. Stephen didn't forget that I promised a second trip back to the garden, so off we went. On our way, he asked to stop to sit under a tree to draw. I knew what the results were going to be since I didn't have a blanket, but I agreed. We sat down and by the time I got out the paper and crayons, here came the first army ant. Did I mention that our home is in the heart of suburbia. Rhea then freaked out at the Daddy Long Leg, especially when I picked it up to show her that it would not hurt her. An ant interfering with Stephen's work was NOT OK, and Rhea thought that Mommy should NOT be handling "big giant spiders", so we were on the move again. We made it back up to the paved path with Stephen still drawing as we walked. I told him that we could sit on the path for awhile, but he insisted on continuing on to the garden where we spent another hour. This was about the time that I was running out of snacks for Rhea and she was now flat on her back in the stroller with her blankie hanging out of her mouth. It looked like naptime to me, so we finally headed home.

We did manage to find some roosters and this was Stephen's impersonation

Time to Play

Our Journey Back to the Garden

No Creepy Crawlies Here

The family fun activity for this week was singing "In and Out the Barn Door", which Stephen didn't care for, but Rhea loved, followed by animal charades. These activities are done either before book time in the morning, or after dinner when Daddy gets home. Here is our "barn" and we added a few non-traditional farm animals according to some masks I had from our Noah's Ark unit. Stephen decided that this activity was cool enough for his participation and proceeded to have a great time! We did the activity correctly the first time and the kids enjoyed guess what the farm animals where. To my surprise, they actually took turns acting out and listening to each other at the appropriate times.

I started using the Williamson Science Play and really liked it. However, it just gets too cold here too fast and stays like that for too long. That said, it was best that we save that book for spring and summer. We did manage to do a couple of projects in the the book. The first one is the bug hotel. This one frustrated me at first since it is looked down upon to have bugs in the suburbs. I honestly couldn't attract ANYTHING. I was just about it give up until one day when I had been munching on an apple while the kids played out side. I walked over to our little bug hotel and put the apple core in there along the the untouched cheese. We had ourselves a little army of ants by the next day. Stephen was pretty grossed out, but I thought it was pretty neat to watch. I think he will appreciate it more this spring.

We were fortunate to have a warm start to fall this year, so the pool was left out a little longer than usual. I figured that I wouldn't stop with that and have them wash the car too!

A Patient Dog

Mix and Match Spinning Plates

Sequencing Crowns

I took sequencing cards out of some workbooks for these crowns. Rhea's was very simple with tree pictures showing bird eggs hatching to go along with our Chicken theme this week. Stephen's was a series of four sequences. Two are on the front and two on the back. He taped them together and used some scraps to complete the crown so that it fit his head. These are still a hit even a few days later

Painting with Circles

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