Homeschooling: Acorns and Squirrels!

I was super excited about this study! I am such a fall person and this felt very autumn to me. Plus, squirrels are cute, except when they eat my pumpkins that have been growing for months.

We did take things a little slower than usual this week, but Wyatt and I both seem to do better when our days have structure so we did do work, just more spread out throughout the day. We started the week with acorns and ended with squirrels, which was a fun progression. We learned about the parts of an acorn, the life cycle of an oak, and he made this cute little tissue acorn. Later we talked all about the different types of squirrels in our area, colored a picture of his favorite (the flying squirrel), learned about their habitats and diet and looked at their fluffy tails and pointy ears. My niece loved the red squirrels for their big ear tufts actually – they are pretty darn cute! My favorite were the fox squirrels though. We also took a short little hike through the woods, spotting squirrels and their nests. I found a little wood sprite too!

With Blossom and Root, we studied the letter I, read from Frog and Toad all year, and did some nature lessons around trees – and squirrels!

Billy always loves the evolution of the learning area through the week – it changes from start to finish and this week I tried to capture the different stages. In one you can see the game that we played this week too – one of my friend’s had given Wyatt this game when he came home from the hospital, and it fit so perfectly with our lesson plans this week!

So the resource roundup!

Resources and Printables

Squirrel Lap book and activities – Homeschoolshare.com

Acorn Anatomy – KinderPapery

Squirrel and Autumn Printables – Natural Beach Living

Fall Math and Literacy Packet – The Moffatt Girls

Books We Read

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Full disclosure: we only did a picture walk through the Chester Raccoon book, as it is about death and loss which I was not ready to discuss this week. However, if you need or are looking for a book on this topic for kids, this is a fantastic one.

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories || Little Acorn || Because of an Acorn

Extras

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Wooden Acorn Lacing Toy

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Next week we move on to bears!

Homeschooling: September

It’s been a month. From starting homeschooling to Wyatt’s surgeries, it’s been busy. We are using the Blossom and Root curriculum, supplementing with Chickie and Roo’s Kinder Nature Beginnings, and I am also throwing in my own stuff as well. It’s a lot to sort and juggle, but it is worth it. We read Aesop’s Fables and Stone Soup this month so far in Blossom and Root, and did some fun activities to accompany the readings.

We started September by studying apples, then moved on to red foxes because I love them, then ended the month with a two week leaf study. We didn’t get to everything extra I had planned but that is ok.

And frankly, this month has been such a roller coaster I can’t recall most of the resources I used for the first two units of extra study. Our leaf study though at least is fresh in my mind!

We discussed the parts of a leaf, played with a leaf ID puzzle, traced and colored leaves, worked on leaf IDs, did a My Leaf report page, and painted an autumn tree. We made a leaf squirrel after being inspired by Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, as we also read a bunch of books. My favorite was our leaf rubbing day, where we sat outside in the sun and read and created.

So, the resource round up!

Printables:

Kidsparkz Fall

Leaf Investigation Freebie

Wildflower Ramblings Leaf ID

Parts of a Leaf from Twisty Noodle

Books:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Pooh’s Fall Harvest || Fletcher and the Falling Leaves || Leaves || The Gold Leaf || Leaf Man || Hello, Fall || Illustrated Stories From Aesop || Stone Soup

Hello, Fall was a big favorite here – so adorable. And we always love David Ezra Stein, and the Fletcher books too. Wyatt is a fan of Winnie the Pooh so that is always a winner for him, but his favorite this time was the Flip-Up Fairy Tale of Stone Soup, which had lift the flaps and a CD.

Extra Materials and Links

Crayon Rocks – perfect for leaf rubbing!

Wooden Leaf Puzzle

Stone Soup Board Game

Next week we are learning about acorns and squirrels – it should be a fun week!

Homeschooling, Summer Ed: France, Part 2

My little artist. This week we spent a lot of time reading and playing around with art, which made both of us happy. Our allergies were crazy so we had to stay inside a little more than we wanted sadly, but at least we made the most of it.

We started the week with Renoir and The Wave, as our inspiration piece. I found this great idea on Pinterest and thought it worked perfectly with our unit study! Since we are homeschooling for the upcoming year, I bought a really nice set of finger paints, and Wyatt was excited to break it open and use it, so instead of the sponge he used finger paints mostly, with a little sponge for dabbing, but not much. As you can see…

We also talked about the lavender fields of France, and made another finger painting rendition of these fields. We added a little extra to this project though – Wyatt helped me to cut the spent blooms off of our lavender plants and we saved them all, and sprinkled the seeds over the painting. He completely loved this project, with the cutting and sprinkling. I loved it because it smelled so good!

Friday we worked on little paper miniature things. Wyatt has a love of tiny toys, he calls it baby size, so he really liked playing with his “baby Paris”. I cut it all out and he just moved the little paper cut-outs where he wanted them. Then he/we made a tiny art museum, complete with Degas stickers for the “exhibit”. Elmo was excited to visit this art gallery!

It was a pretty easy going week, but a good one.

Resource and Reading Round-Up!

(Contains Amazon affiliate links)

Travel Size Paper Paris – Made by Joel (free to print)

Kitty Kat, Kitty Kat Where Have You Been? Paris || Degas Stickers || Linnea in Monet’s Garden || Escargot (a favorite of ours- Wyatt gives this little snail so many kisses lol!) || Arteza Finger Paint

We are taking next week off, as it is Billy’s birthday week! When we pick up again we will do a week about the night sky and a week “exploring” Hawaii, then a break again before we start up again for fall. I am really looking forward to all of our future projects!

Exploring Folk Music

This week Wyatt is learning about the Great Smoky Mountains, and I thought it would be a great time to add in some music! He is a huge music lover of all kinds, and while we almost always have music of some sort playing in the house, I have never purposely included it in our plans – mostly because I am not well versed on music, at all. But I thought this was a good basic intro for him!

I found these folk instrument flash cards online and used them not really as flashcards to quiz him but as a way to talk about the different instruments used in folk music. Then I collected any instruments that we had around our house that were listed and set them out for him to play with. I usually have his small instruments out for him in a basket, but the guitar and ukulele are usually put away and for occasions with supervision. The guitar was his grandfather’s and is special to me for that reason. I want him to to use but treat it with respect which is sometimes hard for five year olds who are learning still.

We talked about all the instruments, the types that they are, played around with them, and then listened to music on YouTube. I specifically searched for fiddle music, banjo music, etc so that we could hear what each sounded like, and also threw some in just for fun.

We watched a few Lindsey Stirling videos because I personally love her style. I was surprised that they were not Wyatt’s favorites, because they are so lively and upbeat but I think she was his least favorite! He really loved the harmonica pieces we listened to and Abby the Spoon Lady.

Afterward we constructed a cereal box banjo/guitar but we are still working on the neck – I will update with photo later! I turned it inside out, taped it all back together and had Wyatt decorate it before adding the rubber band strings. His grandfather was an artist and was so talented with calligraphy and design – Wyatt decorating his little art project while we listened to country music just really made me feel like his grandfather was with us for a bit.

So it was a very basic intro but a good one! I am going to look into music for homeschooling as this kid seems to have music in his very soul!

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!

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!