I have been home schooling my oldest, Sprout, for a year. Before that it was more of a turn the tv off and play type thing, but this time last year we made the decision to home school, and I started lesson planning, working on creating a space to teach in, and getting serious about things.
The one area I am horrible with is themes. I do them as little as possible; they are difficult to pull together, and I hate having to buy something I am going to use just one only to either toss it or pack it away and never use it again. But I got serious about organizing my teacher stuff, and found I had just enough space to pull together themed units. Especially if I use more printed materials for the theme than anything else.
To test run my new-found love of all things themes, I pulled together Valentine’s Week. Hubs has a solid week off every other months, and this week was it for us, so I knew in advance we would be doing some family outings as well. In general I keep school fairly light, Sprout is not quite 4 and does not need a heavy day of lessons, but especially with Hubs home this week, I did not turn myself into knots to plan a big huge themed week.
Today was the first day we have done everything I had planned on, if Sprout does not want to do something, or wants to skip an activity, we skip it. I never force her to sit through a lesson or activity, she’s not old enough, and it is just not fair to do that to her. This morning everything came together though, and I grabbed my camera just in time.
First we did Happy Heart People. I do a version of these at every holiday, it’s very easy. For this one I cut out hearts on construction paper, let Sprout decorate them however she wished; then we added eyes and pipe cleaner arms and legs. For Halloween and Christmas, I used a circle template, and we made Happy Pumpkin People, and then Happy Christmas Ornament People, respectively. I did use purple construction paper, and different colors/lengths of pipe cleaners for the arms and legs. While she was putting them together, we talked about how everyone is different colors, and not just like red paper hearts, and how some of us have different shaped arms and legs.
The next two projects include printables I found at prekinders.com. Everything on that site is free to download and print off; it has become one of my favorite websites for resources.
Since Sprout is working on her reading skills, I thought she would like the heart match game. Each page has pictures, she had to match the starting letting of the word represented by the picture to a heart with a letter on it. The hearts are colored in groups, to give her a little boost, if she needed it. After doing a couple she was off and running.
The original directions called for using small wooden hearts, instead of the paper hearts. However, I just colored in the heart template, matching to the picture pages, and used those. The hearts are small enough to work on fine motor skills too, and I love any activity where I can get two or more things out of it.
We also did candy heart patterns. I’ve used these pattern pages with buttons, rhinestones, unifix cubes, Skittles and M&Ms. Today we used conversation hearts; we did have to substitute the pink hearts for the red dots on the pattern pages.
This is the first time she has used the double pattern cards, which include two spots she has to fill in, I was very happy to see she caught onto it quickly.
Our newest toy for school is Brain Flakes. I found them on sale at Amazon, and they came last night. Sprout loves these, and in addition to working on spatial awareness and her building skills, they fit tighter than her Duplo blocks, so her little fingers got a work out. The best part about these, they’re flat, no pain if you step on one.
When it was all said and done, she checked on her baby sister, who had fallen asleep by this time.
All in all, we had a good morning, and it took us maybe 2 hours to do everything, including a break for juice and a snack. Tomorrow, of course, nothing will go right, and I will be pulling my hair out by noon.