Tie Dyed Shirts and Kinetic Sand

Or… I need to keep my child occupied.

Sprout has been more than a little difficult lately. To be really honest, she’s been hell on wheels for several days. No amount of normal discipline/rewards were working. She is a child that cannot be left to her own devices, or she gets creative. Creative means getting into things she shouldn’t (liquid Tide poured on the carpet to clean it), or take things apart to see how they work. A bored Sprout is a Sprout that will destroy my house, and I am convinced kick-start the Apocalypse herself.

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with an answer to her behavior. I firmly believe with a little patience and some observation, you can decode a child’s behavior and get to the problem.

Last night, as she was bouncing in her chair at dinner, simultaneously stuffing food in her little face and eating at the same time, it hit me. She is really bored. Not the bored that inspires you to do something new, but the bored that ends up in disaster.

I have a bookcase stuffed full of things for homeschool. Her favorites have always been the sensory stuff I’ve pulled together and collected. Last night after she was asleep, I set out her tub of kinetic sand, and her sensory tools. She happily played in it. Then she wanted her rice and beans, then she wanted her red dyed rice (ok it came out more pink than red) and alphabet pasta. All morning long she measured and poured and counted and built sand castles and played. She just played.

When that got boring, we dug out some white t-shirts and a tie dye pack I had tucked away, and we dyed t-shirts.

I’ve decided to let her play with all the stuff I have for homeschool, the paints and stickers and crayons and markers and counting bears and tanagrams, all the stuff. I’m still not writing lesson plans, but the more occupied she is, the better off we all are. It’s outrageously hot here during the day, so anything I can come up with to keep her occupied during the hottest part is wonderful. We can adventure during the morning and evening when it’s relatively cool. I can restock my supplies in a month or so when the school sales start. I cannot get back the giggles and laughter as we poured dye over tshirts, or played with “squishy sand”.

I am covered in dye (forgot the gloves). I’m sure it’s stained my back porch. The urge to grab my vacuum and clean up the mess she’s made in my living room is nearly overwhelming. But that’s what life is about, making some messes.

~Jennifer

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Weather Week and Summer Break

Right now, we’re on summer break. After a year of schooling, Sprout was tired, I was tired, and my vacuum was tired. Everyone was tired. I had never really planned out whether I would take an official summer break or not, last year we moved cross-country over the summer and the planning and prepping for that took up most of the summer. Spur of the moment, I decided we’re going to take the summer off of formal lessons, planned activities, the works. If Sprout wants to do something randomly, then we’ll do that, but I’m not writing lesson plans until September. We need some time to soak up the sun, play in the pool, and visit a certain mouse with large round ears and a squeaky voice.

But before we ended for the year, we had weather week. I set out to get pictures every day that week, I had a ton of activities and ideas and things to try, but I could only do so much. Juggling a baby, a camera, and still teaching is an art I haven’t quite mastered.

These are from Monday, the first day of our week.

DSC_0288  Sprout starting Circle Time. I just recently incorporated Circle Time into our day. We sing some songs, work on sight words, do a little activity or two, and do our board. When I get around to doing a blog on my homeschool supplies and schedule, I’ll include some pictures of both times of the Circle Time board.

DSC_0289 We’ve been working on the days of the week and the calendar off and on since New Year’s. In the fall she was hit or miss with days of the week, since doing the Today Is, Tomorrow Is, Yesterday Was, in conjunction with going over the calendar (I bought a pocket calendar off Amazon, you can just see the corner of it in the picture), she has gotten much better with the days of the week.

Circle Time!! The board has the weather on one side, in addition a clock I cut out and laminated. She’s very interested in the weather all year long, so I have tried my best to play into her interests.
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The back side of the board is math skills. We have a problem of the day, which I have teddy bear counters to help her with, we go over place value. she’s reading numbers up to the thousands now, and the new addition, which is money. I downloaded a site of look-a-like coins, cut them out, laminated them, and put magnetic circles on them. She can put those on the magnetic squares on the board. Originally I started her out with just sorting the money by type, but she’s now got the value of change up to a dollar worked out.

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More for sensory play than for art, we mixed shaving cream with various colors. Originally I used just blue, to make clouds, but we ended up mixing in yellow and red for this batch. She painted with it onto card stock, once she was done mixing and squishing it. Mixing tempera paint with it instead of food coloring resulted in less staining, everything washed off fingers, clothes, and her table.

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Pudge joined us for Reading Time and Fine Motor Skills. I try to have Pudge with us as much as I can, she naps during part of our school day the majority of the time, and that’s when I focus on anything Sprout needs close help with, math skills, reading games and her science experiments. But for Reading Time or Sensory Play, she’s usually with us. The lacing card was left over from Insect Week, Sprout loves those cards.

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And finally we have our science experiment for the day. She’s making it “rain”. I fill a glass, I find a wide mouthed jar like a mason jar works best, with water, and put a layer of shaving cream on top. Then using an eye dropper or pipette, she drips blue colored water over the shaving cream clouds, and it rains inside the jar. I have a print out of the water cycle, and one on different clouds laminated back to back, we talk about the weather cycle and I attempt to make different types of clouds in the jar (that almost never works). And finally, she has a science journal, where she colors and draws the experiment she just did. When we first started journaling her experiments, it was mostly scribbles all over the page. Now she’s getting much better with drawing what she’s done, and I am all for anything that works on writing skills.

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And that was it. This took us, counting a snack and trips to clean up, just under 2 hours.

~Jennifer