Weekend Vibes..

We had a fantastic long weekend together – it was a nice combo of lazy and active. Lots of reading, sitting around, playing games, but also exploring – and even some socially distanced social time!

On Saturday a few friends and I got together for some 6-8 feet away drinks and conversation. I put on a dress, my new necklace, slipped on sandals and off I went. We even all brought our own beverages and glasses so that we didn’t touch things others had touched – and so Kelly didn’t have to wash a glass. It was so nice to just see their faces – and I was so relaxed, watching the birds. And this was the very first time I had been away from Wyatt since March 12. I probably could have curled up on the outdoor couch and taken a nap, I became so comfy. I have taken to naming my friend’s homes lately (I blame all that British tv), and I have decided Kelly’s house should be called Refuge.

Then Sunday and Monday we spent pond dipping, as part of our homeschooling for the week! This week is all about ponds and frogs so we were hoping to catch some minibeasts in our catch and release beach aquarium. We only managed to find an aquatic snail in the water, but we did spot a Northern Water Snake, two turtles, a Great Blue Heron, a ton of Red-Winged Blackbirds, heard a bullfrog, and a little American toad! We brought the toad home as our guest for a few weeks, then we will let her go. Wyatt has named her Uh-Oh. the funny part is my brother found a toad yesterday and brought it in as a pet for my niece (who named hers Cupcake). But it all started with Kelly who found one last week and brought it in to avoid the cold snap. Her toad is a beast! They named her Theodora.

Later Monday evening my brother invited us, my mom, and my sister-in-law’s mother over for a socially distanced bonfire. It was so very nice to be near my family again, even though I itched to hug them all! Again, we all brought our own drinks and cups. What a strange new world we live in. Regardless, it was so fantastic to see their faces and talk to them, and not through a screen! Wyatt was so happy too, and just kept pointing to everyone and saying “Wow”. It was his first time seeing his family in months, and even though we were apart, it was wonderful to be sitting and talking together.

It was nice to be back exploring and seeing people again, no matter how we had to do it.

Homeschooling: Plants Week!

This week our theme was plants and gardens! We needed a break from our insect friends, although we start again with them soon. We apparently like bugs in our family.

This was a fun week, and so seasonal to what we are doing around our house as well. Our seeds that we planted a few weeks ago are sprouting so this was good timing – hmm, almost like I planned it..

We learned about the parts of a plant, the life cycle of a plant, and then talked about what sorts of plants we can eat. We worked on numbers and math and the letter F, on sequencing and matching, and on writing and fine motor skills as well.

I really dig our Kandinsky Circles Flower art project! I have stumbled into finding different projects for our weeks that are based on famous artists. We have done a Matisse snail, now these.

Then today I decided to do a special mini-unit day about strawberries! It is the new moon for this lunar cycle, the Strawberry Moon, so I thought it fit very nicely! It dovetailed nicely into our lessons about plants, and strawberries are just sort of fun and cheery, which we needed on this gloomy rainy day.

I am in love with this art project too. We used his little hands and he dabbed on the yellow paint with his fingers. We also read Audrey Wood’s book The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. Such a fun book! I also appreciate the fact that our strawberry plant cooperated and produced flowers for us today.

It was a fun week, but I have to say I liked our strawberry day the best.

Resource Round-Up:

Growing Plants by Mrs. Jones Creation Station

Strawberry Patch Printable Pack by Simple Living Creative Learning

Books:

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear || In the Vegetable Garden Sticker Book || The Tiny Seed || If You Plant a Seed || The Case of the Growing Bird Feeder

Art Projects:

Kandinsky Circle Flowers

Handprint Strawberry Craft

Extras:

(this section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Garden Building Set (Wyatt loves this way more than I expected!)

Overall this was a fun week! Next week we move on to Ponds and Frogs!

Homeschooling: Interrupted

Last week started off well – we kicked off butterfly week with some great activities and the emerging of our butterflies, which was exciting! Wyatt strung together this great looking banner (I glued them to heavy paper and cut them out first) then we hung it in his window.

Then we were derailed. We had a neurologist appointment for Wyatt on Wednesday (video) and we ended up getting an overnight EEG for him the next day. This kid is something else, he is so strong and brave and undergoes so many things with such a good disposition. He is pretty amazing.

I was a mess honestly. Having to go to a last minute emergency overnight EEG during a pandemic was the last thing I wanted to do obviously. But the EEG did show that Wyatt has seizure activity occurring in his brain, and we were able to start him on medication immediately.

So our week took a different route than we had originally planned, but we are home now and together and have some answers on something that had been worrying us for months. He was originally supposed to get this EEG during the peak here in Michigan and it was obviously postponed, until it couldn’t be.

Anyway! For those interested, I did download many resources for butterfly week.

Resources:

Butterflies – Little Pine Learners

All About Butterflies – Science for Little Learners

Butterfly Math – Linda’s Loft for Little Learners

Painted Lady Butterfly Unit – Stephanie Hathaway

Twig and Moth

Twig and Moth Butterflies and Moths

Books We Read:

Extras:

Wild Republic Butterfly Nature Tube

Insect Lore Life Cycle Toy

Homeschooling: Snail Week!

I was so excited about this week, since I love snails! Wyatt enjoyed this week as well if you can tell by his big smile!

I’ve been using the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum as a guide for thematic ideas, along with the seasons here in Michigan. We had to move different weeks around because it was really still winter here until like, well…hmm. It snowed yesterday but I am still calling it spring. We have been enjoying our weeks, and I have the next few weeks all planned already, which I don’t think is too bad for being kind of thrust into this role.

This week we focused on snails and the letter S as our theme and framework. I had to dig a little harder to find the resources I wanted but when I did find them I was super excited about them. We ended up with so many projects and lessons, and worked on many different ideas, including patterns, shapes, colors, comparing/contrasting, literary arts, numbers and counting activities, and of course, talking about snails and their habits and habitats.

And we have our own little snail to observe too, which made it more fun.

Meet Sampson, if you haven’t already.

I love watching our learning space fill up with Wyatt’s projects and work every week. On Monday mornings, the space is sort of bare but by the end of the week is overflowing with what we have worked on. And he is so proud of them, and he should be. He loves to show them off to his grandmas on his zoom chats with them.

I kind of really loved our art projects this week – a snail based on Matisses’ The Snail, and a cute project I found on Pinterest using one of our favorite books, Escargot!

Resources I used:

Snails and Slugs Printables from Family in Wanderland

Insect Centers for Preschool by Natalie Lynn (this is a huge bundle! 212 pages that I plan on using different activities from over the next few months)

Worms, Snails, and Slugs by Pre-K Printable Fun

Living Montessori Now Snail Do-a-Dot Printable

Chickie and Roo Snail Collection

Escargot Book and Craft from Raising Kinley

Escargot Story Hour Kit

and then this super cute song!!! The Snail Song

I do sort the resources and adapt and adjust as needed for Wyatt’s abilities.

Books Used:

Books linked to Usborne are part of my Usborne store; if purchased I receive a small commission that will be used for educational materials for Wyatt.

1001 Bugs to Spot Sticker Book || Snail and Worm Again || Bug Hotel || The Biggest House in the World || Escargot

Next week we start Butterflies! Our butterflies should be eclosing any moment now and we are really looking forward to seeing them.

Homeschool Week 3: Caterpillars

We are on week three of our homeschooling journey! This was never really intended to happen but with the schools closing here in Michigan, I decided to really go for it. I have support as well from Wyatt’s teacher, which is wonderful, and makes me feel a little more comfortable and like I am on the right track.

This week we learned about the life cycle of butterflies and about caterpillars. I bought Wyatt the Insect Lore Butterfly kit for us to use along with our studies, and Stephanie Hathaway Designs has a purchasable unit that goes along with this kit which I bought. It is so beautiful and has so much information – her store is quickly becoming a go-to for me when researching resources for our homeschool.

In J formation, getting ready for chrysalis!

This week we worked on letters and counting, sorting, letter writing, the life cycle itself, patterns, and even some occupational therapy with our crafts, among other things.

Wyatt had some definite favorite activities. He loved the memory cards again (this kid loves card games), and he enjoyed an activity we did where he used a round sponge brush to paint “eggs” onto leaves, as a number matching/counting activity. He also really loved making the Fruit Loop caterpillars, and while I had intended that he only had to construct one, he made four before he got tired of it. For Wyatt, that was a lot of work – lots of OT and also balancing to hold himself upright while working with both of his hands. We turned his little half made fifth caterpillar into a chrysalis instead.

I think the cutest thing we did though however, was his life cycle through movement! I came up with little movements to mimic the life cycle stages – egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. He looks so cute doing them too!

This morning we woke up and all but our Leo the late bloomer caterpillar is in chrysalis so next week we will begin a week about snails until they eclose into butterflies!

Resources Used:

Stephanie Hathaway Painted Lady Bundle (she also has a mini unit available for free)

Science for Little Learners All About Butterflies

Caterpillar Egg Counting Mats from Fantastic Fun and Learning (we used paint instead of pom poms)

Feed the Caterpillar from Fantastic Fun and Learning

Caterpillar Name Craft from Pocket of Preschool

Fruit Loop Caterpillar

Books we Read:

I did not have that many here at the house so not too many this week. I do have some on order but since they are non essential they are taking a bit to get here. Oddly I didn’t have The Very Hungry Caterpillar in our library, so we didn’t use any resources having to do with that book. I need to remedy our lack of Eric Carle books when things loosen up with ordering. Then we also watched the Gumboot Kids episode on Amazon Prime that correlates with the book below.

Overall, it was a fun week! I am looking forward to our upcoming snail week and butterfly week as well!

Mini Post: Super Simple Caterpillar Craft

Our theme for the next few weeks revolves around caterpillars and butterflies, and I try to incorporate art and crafts in as much as I can in the afternoons. We made the cutest little caterpillar the other day, and it was so simple. Too simple honestly, to make a blog post about it, but I wanted to share because it is so simple, if that makes sense. Plus, Wyatt absolutely loved it!

Last week we made a rainbow out of Fruit Loops cereal and I had a bunch that we had on the table that didn’t get used. We couldn’t eat them and I didn’t want to waste them so I bagged them up for future crafting days. Well, yesterday was rainy and dreary, the perfect day to make a cheery little craft. I pulled the Fruit Loops out and we got to crafting!

All you need to make these are pipe cleaners, Fruit Loops (or any cereal that is similar), glue, and scissors. That’s it! I cut the pipe cleaners in half, and then folded over one end to make the head. Then I gave it to Wyatt to string the cereal on. When he got to the end, I folded over the other end, cut little pipe cleaners for legs and antenna, folded them into V shapes, and voila, we were done! It was that simple. But the beauty of this whole project was that Wyatt wanted to keep making them. He must have spent an hour making them, adding Fruit Loops, taking them off, adding new ones. And it was was such good occupational therapy for him too, with the fine motor skills involved and it forced him to use both of his hands together.

So while these are not correct in any way shape or form, they are cute and cheery, simple to make, and my kiddo loved making them! A win all the way around in my book!

And we now have an army of colorful caterpillars!

Week Two of Homeschooling…

This week we focused on weather! I have to admit, I am starting to really have fun with this stuff! It’s a lot of work but I am enjoying finding all the resources and working with him everyday. (well we took Thursday off since he had worked so hard all week already!) Saturday we are baking something rainbow, that is yet TBD.

We did so much stuff this week! We worked on the letter W, which he is already pretty familiar with since it is the first letter of his name, and talked about sun, rain, clouds, wind, snow, and rainbows. We talked about the types of clothes we need for different types of weather, then did some sorting activities with that. We did an experiment, of will the wind blow it, with items gathered from around the house. We read books and made sensory bottles, worked on numbers and letters, sequences and patterns, and then created some art, including a name rain cloud.

These little cards were Wyatt’s favorites! He loved lining them up, naming them, playing a memory game with them, matching his little gnomes up, and then creating patterns. I printed them from out from a resource I found online, and glued them onto some cardboard I saved from cereal boxes. I am trying to save all sorts of things like that now for crafting and school use.

Resources Used: (no affliliate links)

Stephanie Hathaway Designs Weather Bundle – so many neat things, including all those beautiful weather cards

Little Learners All About Weather bundle

Melissa and Doug Alphabet Picture Boards

Weather Peg Dolls (I’ve had Wyatt’s for a few years)

Books We Read:

Videos we watched:

Catie’s Classroom – Wind

Catie’s Classroom – Snow

Catie’s Classroom – Rain

I was pretty excited about all of these Catie’s Classroom videos. Wyatt loves her so he was pretty happy about watching them too.

All in all, it was a pretty good week of school!

And of course, every school needs recess!

Review: Peaceable Kingdom Board Games

For Wyatt’s birthday this year, I ordered him his first board game, Hoot Owl Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom. We had gone on a little mini family trip (right before all the COVID-19 really blew up here in the US) and I thought playing a board game together one night would be a fun activity for our trip. It turned out to be a good move, and one that Wyatt loved too, thank goodness. He wanted to open it and play right away, so we set it up and started playing, before we even had breakfast – Billy and I did have coffee though, I can’t function in the morning without tea or coffee. I don’t think I could have even handle a preschool level game before coffee…

Anyway, we enjoyed Hoot Owl Hoot so much that we ended up adding a few more Peaceable Kindgom games to Wyatt’s birthday wish list. My dad bought him Snug as a Bug and I recently bought him Count Your Chickens for Easter, and we are having so much fun playing them. They are great to have right now, while we are sheltering-in-place, and also are great for play based learning for Wyatt. Overall I am very happy with them!

They all have very simple objectives, that are easy for kids to understand. In Hoot Owl Hoot, the point is to get all the owls back to their nest before the sun comes up. With Count Your Chickens, Mother Hen’s chicks have flown the coop and you need to get them all back home. And Snug as a Bug in a Rug you need to get all the stink bugs under the rug before they stink up the place – a concept that Wyatt finds hilarious.

Hoot Owl Hoot:

I think the game board for this game is so inviting! The rainbow swirl of colors leading to the big nest in the middle, the night sky, and of course those cute little owls. Players simply play a color card and move to that space – although if you have a sun card, that card must be played, moving the sun one step closer to dawn. This is a cooperative learning game, meaning that everyone works together on their turns, making a strategy to get all the owls to the nest without leaving one too far behind. I loved that concept, especially as this was Wyatt’s first time playing a game. It made everything so much easier, and teaches him about turn taking, which seems to be something we will need to continue working on… lol. It teaches skills like working together and problem solving as a team, such great and needed skills!

Count Your Chickens:

Ok so this game board is pretty cute too, with all of those adorable farm animals and bright colors. It makes me feel springy! In this game, you spin the spinner and move to the animal that the spinner lands on, counting the spaces as you go. Then you gather the same number of chicks as spaces you moved to the coop. This is a great game to work on counting skills, as you can count the squares and also count out the chicks. Again, this is a cooperative game, with no winners or losers. Everyone plays together, and wins and loses together.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug:

Snug as a Bug in a Rug is all about colors and matching and comparisons, like big and little. Before game play starts, you roll the die to see which attribute will be matched – color, number, or shape. Then for play, you simply spin the spinner, and find the matching bug. Once you do, you slip it under the rug! Another cooperative game, where the goal is to beat the game, not each other.

My husband teased me a little over the cooperative aspect of these games, and told me that of course I would find the most “hippie” games for Wyatt, although he did think it worked out well for our kiddo and is finding the cooperative part beneficial. I know this is a world that does often focus on winning and losing, and sometimes that is a reality yes that kids need to learn, that they may not always “win” but learning to cooperate, collaborate, and work together are also important to navigating life as well. I think our current situation in this country illustrates just how important it is to work together! Wyatt is learning to take turns, something he is kind of struggling with, and to play together as a team, skills he can take with him anywhere.

One other awesome bonus to these games – they are environmentally friendly! The plastic is corn based, and there is very little of it. The ink is soy, and the wood is FSC. They are 100% green which is fantastic, so I can feel good about that too. They are sturdy, attractive, and affordable at less than $20 each. I found mine online at Amazon and Target, but I imagine they can be found at other retailers as well.

Overall, we love these games. Wyatt loves playing, we love the family time and the learning, and I am planning on ordering more to add to our collection!

Mini Post: Tiptoeing into Homeschooling

I mentioned in my last post that I have always wanted to try my hand at homeschooling – and that now is my chance. I decided I might as well take advantage of this situation and give it my all. I never really wanted to teach the basics however, and my son has cerebral palsy, which results in some creativity on my end, as I am not a special education teacher – or any kind of teacher at all. I figure this is preschool though, and I have until September to do this.

I belong to a few groups on Facebook, and have for a while, wildschooling groups and unschooling and different curriculum based groups, like for Charlotte Mason. So I have a teeny bit of prior knowledge; I used to read what other people were doing to adapt their ideas for Wyatt. But it was always with the expectation too, that at least I wasn’t his only teacher. I did it more as an enrichment.

So, this week I decided on next week’s “lesson”, which I use that term loosely. I moved his room all around, making a spot for his studies. And we are all pretty pleased with the changes! As for the studies themselves we are going to focus on the letter R, and on rabbits – you know with Easter and all. My mom ordered him a Peter Rabbit stuffed animal and Beatrix Potter book, which we will use to start us off. Then I found so many great resources online, that I have printed off and prepared for next week.

Today my challenge is sort of organizing the what and the when, while remaining flexible. We are going to talk about rabbits in general, their burrows, make a rabbit sensory bin and diorama, and I plan on taking evening walks to count the rabbits we see, and then chart them. Of course we will read books, and we are definitely going to do a few crafts because that is my favorite, and his too. I still need to research those as well (meaning spend time on Pinterest..) Most importantly, I am going to do this slowly and more organically, as much as I can. Lisa at Boondock Ramblings suggested no more than 90 minutes of “instruction” and I think that is a good suggestion for my kiddo. I think we will do 30 minutes a day three times a day of different things, and see where we land. And looking at what I have collected, I might have to extend our “lesson” to two weeks!

If you are interested, here are the links to the resources and materials I have found. I plan on using bits and pieces from them all, adapting them to Wyatt’s needs and abilities. All of these shops have a multitude of offerings on all topics and themes – I had to restrain myself!!

Stephanie Hathaway Designs – Eastern Cottontail Mini-Unit

Firefly Nature School – Bunny Hop

Simply A Love – Rabbit Anatomy

Fiddlesticks Education – Bunny Burrows Nature Study Pack

If you have any tips or suggestions, I would love to hear them!