B is for Butterfly, Bubbles, Bees, and Booms!

So as I posted earlier this week, I didn’t like what we were doing for our ‘homeschool’.  I just didn’t feel like he would learn much of anything from worksheets.  They are just something to complete and move on with.  I really wanted him moving, running, and having more opportunities to talk about what we were going over.  Like the circle project we did last week.

Monday – Since I still had them planned, we used worksheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Because worksheet or not, coloring is just fun.  And more then anything I want my son to enjoy ‘school’ and have fun with it.  He’s 3, it shouldn’t be a chore!  So, here he is coloring a picture of a butterfly because, after all, B is for Butterfly.  He used a few different colors and, as you can see, colored with BOTH hands.  I still don’t know for sure if he is left or right handed, although I’m leaning towards right.

After the butterfly, we did dot painting a letter B.  He really loves those dot painters and I thought it would help him with his letter recognition if nothing else. 

He had so much fun we did “find the B’s”.   He ‘found’ (paint dotted) all the capital B’s first and then he did the ‘tiny’ B’s. 
We then worked on patterns.  I’ve never done pattern work with him before so he didn’t do very well with it.  I didn’t really expect much else though and know it’s something we’re going to work on over time.  I do think we’ll try and do a pattern that’s a little more hands on though rather then worksheet type ones in the future.  He learns with his hands at this age and I just think he’ll do better with it.

Next was perhaps my favorite part of the day.  We did butterfly ‘matching’.  I printed these butterflies up on card stock and then cut them in half.  I laid them on the table and told him to match up the right color butterflies.  He did this without any problem and I pointed out the colors to him as he matched them.  The last three butterflies he decided needed to have eyes.  So, I drew smiley faces on them and Malcolm just loved it.  The very last butterfly he wanted to draw the face himself.  You really can’t tell it’s a face, but he named every part as he ‘drew’ them on which is the first time I think I’ve seen him draw with a purpose rather then just scribbles.  He then did a sheik of pleasure, laughed, and told me the butterfly was trying to eat him.  In typical Malcolm problem solving fashion, he then pulled the pieces apart and informed me, “Me tear butterfly in half! He no eat me now!”  I burst out laughing, it was so cute.

After all that fun, we decided to keep it up and worked on some puzzles.  A good friend of mine bought him a LOT of foam puzzles for Christmas and he just loves them.   We did a number puzzle first.  He knows most of his numbers even though he can’t count to 5 yet.  Then came the alphabet puzzle.  I let him put the letters back in any order he wanted to.  When he got stuck I just sang the alphabet song to him until we got to the mystery letter.  I’m hoping by just singing the song a lot throughout the day and doing puzzles like this will help him learn his letters a little faster.  At least be able to recognize them anyway.

Then, just like last week, we worked on our special shape.  This week I focused on squares.  So, I gathered up a lot of square items in the morning while he was still sleeping (one of the few mornings I’m awake before him, thanks to baby sister!).  We started with a larger square piece of cardboard.  I put a lego, a block, a post-it note, cheese-its, a napkin, and a piece of sample fabric I found laying around.  He wasn’t as interested in them this week as he was last week and just wanted to eat the cheese-its so, of course, I let him.

That ended our official ‘school’ time but I’m sure ad most parents know a lot of learning takes place just during a normal day.  We went on a walk to the local park.  We always take our little cloth bag with us so that he can collect treasures to put in his “treasure box”, aka big empty flower pot by our front door.  I love our walks and try to do them everyday now that Alison is a little bigger.  Today was very educational though.  Malcolm picked up a dandelion, as he does every time, and blew the little white wisps everywhere.  I pointed out to him, as I do most times, that they are little seeds and baby dandelions will grow where they land.  We found various other types of seeds along our walk too though.  Different seed pods, one closed and one opened, and loose seeds just laying under a tree.  When I told him that those seeds grow into baby trees it was like a light bulb went off.  I think he finally understands what seeds are.  We also talked about the color of the leaves, how they fall off of some trees in the fall (and winter here in California) but they grow back in spring.  He collected a brown leaf, and then a yellow one to put into his bag.  We ended up at the playground in the sand, of course.  What little boy doesn’t love just digging in the sand?  Here’s a look into his treasure bag for the day.

Tuesday –  I didn’t take a lot of pictures today.  It was just a busy morning and I didn’t have my camera near by.  But I can still tell you what we did!  We started off by singing a butterfly song we found at The Homeschool club called Butterfly, Butterfly, Fly fly away.  It counts backwards from 5, each verse a different butterfly, you guessed it, flies away.  We had number cards printed in the shape of butterflies so I laid out #1-5 and then took one away each verse.  He actually liked this a lot and wanted to sing it a 2nd time.  But then he got really sad whenever the butterflies ‘flew’ away.  It was just cute to see. 

We then did capital B, lower case b sorting on a little mat.  He whizzed through this.  Matching has never been a problem for him.  Then came the fun part of my planned day.  I grabbed an empty laundry basket and we went on a scavenger hunt around the house for things that start with B.  Of course, I helped him.  I would say something like “Hmm… I think Ba, ba, Book starts with B” and he would run, grab the book, and put it in the basket.  We ended up collecting another smaller basket, book, banana, bottle (of water), block, boots, bolts (wooden toy ones), a ball, and a brush.  He really liked finding everything and then was such a great helper when it was time to put them all back.  I was so proud of him.

Malcolm put everything back except the banana and bottle of water.  We went to his little snack table and he ate the banana and drank the water.  While he was having his snack I pulled out our poetry book.  Since he’s only 3, and has a very short attention span, we’re not actually reading real poetry yet.  Instead we’re reading from our Mother Goose book.  I only intended to read the first page, about 4 short poems or rhymes but he begged for more and since he was still eating and contained I ended up reading the first 3 pages.

We had a break from ‘school’ for a few hours.  He helped me clean up the house while we listened to our composer for the ‘term’ (next 3 months).  We’re listening to Mendelssohn, Ambleside Online’s composer for term 2 this year. One of the mom’s from that group posted a great playlist of his songs they recommend on Groveshark here.    This got in the next thing I wanted to make sure we were doing in school.  Listening to quality music, composer study.

After cleaning, he wanted to play.  I saw online (I don’t even remember where now, because I’ve seen it a few places) to help small, prewriting children learn their letters, they make them out of play dough.  So, I hand drew a capital and lower case A and B onto 2 separate pieces of paper in big block letters.  I pulled out the play dough and showed him what to do with the A, putting the play dough inside the lines.  He loved this SO much.  He did the B’s all by himself, pulled all the play dough off, and then did it a second time.

I don’t know why blogger put this sideways

We also spent a lot of time outside.  He played in his makeshift sand box I made for him and then we blew bubbles.  B is for bubbles!  There were also a lot of bees flying around so said the rhyme “Buzz buzz goes the busy bee”.  B is for Bees!

Wednesday – Another no picture day.  But a busy one.  Wednesday are no school days, but he begged to do school this morning.  He ran to the refrigerator and asked to learn a new letter.  When we start a new letter for the week, I put the letters from his leapfrog fridge set down to let him play so he only has the A and B right now.  So, we went to the ‘school room’ and pulled out the play dough.  He made more play dough letters (still just A’s and B’s), and then we practiced cutting the play dough.  He still doesn’t hold the scissors right and isn’t very careful with them so I just let him have the scissors that are so dull they don’t even cut paper and this way he gets more practice in with them.  He really likes cutting the snakes he makes.  We also worked a little on what ball was bigger, what snake was longer.  I had to sneak in a little bit of preschool math, right?

The baby was really fussy, needy today.  I think she might be going through a growth spurt.  We meant to leave the house at 9:30 and didn’t get out until 10 because of it.  Our first stop was the post office to mail somethings off, then gas for the car since my wonderful husband left me a car that was nearly on empty.  Then we went to one of the regional parks to finally get our new parking pass for the year.  I love going to the regional parks with Malcolm.  We call them our hiking parks and I honestly think he likes it more then playgrounds.  But since we were so far behind, we didn’t have time to actually go ‘hiking’.  I joined a  new homeschool group in the area and today was their park day!

Malcolm made a lot of new friends at the playground.  There’s just something wonderful in children that way.  He’s young enough that any other child just instantly becomes his friend.  I was so happy I found this group though.  The kids there ranged from 2 years old to 10 years old but a lot of them mostly around 4-7 I would guess.  Malcolm, after watching for a little while, joined in with the older boys.  There was a mob of boys much like Lord of the Flies.  They fought using light sabers, nerf guns, and one even had a sniper rifle made out of pvc pipes.  At the end of the day Malcolm came home with grass stains on the knees of his pants.  I couldn’t have been a happier Mommy.  I feel like he’s another step closer to being a real boy and not in that phase between baby, toddler, boy. The other mom’s in the group were really nice too.  We belonged to another mom’s group with play dates but I always felt out of place there.  The mom’s all felt like barbie dolls.  They all dressed, talked, and even sort of looked alike.  The mom’s in the home school group looked like REAL moms me! 

Then we hit the library.  I made sure to bring a list of good books to read since last weeks picks of letting Malcolm get whatever he wanted led to some interesting results.  I let him pick a few books that he randomly picked, so we still got some interesting results.  But, I know I have some decent books in there as well.  I’m picking books off of Simply Charlotte Mason .  They have a list of books for early education ages (3-5 years old) and they actually break them down into each age group.  I really like this a lot!  Before, I was collecting quality books from a list at Ambleside Online.  While these books were great, a lot of them were just to long or complex to hold his attention at this point.  I wrote all the books down that Simply Charlotte Mason has for 3 years old.  I picked 3 off the list and checked out two of them today.  One I just couldn’t find on the shelf.  We got Caps for Sale and Good Dog, Carl.  We read both books that day and Malcolm loved them a lot!  He really liked the baby riding on the dog Carl and I’m still laughing at the look of utter shock on Malcolm’s face when the peddler in Caps for Sale wakes up with all his caps missing.  It’s moments like those that make me feel much more confident in the join of curriculum we’re going to be using for our homeschool when he’s old enough for elementary school.  We’ll be following Ambleside Online’s lists for the most part, with some substitutions to make it secular.

Thursday –   Another busy day.  I feel like this week has been nonstop.  We started off the day doing our brand new sensory bin.  I bought some things at target and used some things we already had at home to create a new ‘game’ for Malcolm.  He loved it!  All I did was buy some cheap bags of rice, pour them into a little storage bin.  Then I added magantic letters I found in the dollar section at target and measuring spoons I already had.  He dug, poured, and scooped to his heart’s content.  When he unearthed a letter I would tell him what it was and I made sure to point out A and B to him.

He took a long time to tire of this and, of course, there was rice everywhere we had to clean up.  Once put away we pulled out my remaining worksheets.  First I counted the number of butterflies out loud for him and we found the numbers to match each one.  He got tired of it about halfway through, but we just kept on until it was finished.

We then worked on a little butterfly puzzle I printed out on card stock.  He really likes puzzles a lot.

Baby sister was a big distraction today so we spent a lot of time in between all of this with him running over to give her kisses, hugs, and to try and tickle her.  He was very loving with her today which was sweet.  She was happily watching laying down on her play-mat while he was doing school and every time he would run up to her, Alison would give him one of her big gummy smiles.  I love watching my children interact!

We spent the rest of our school time playing with legos.  He had to go get his trash truck at one point and pretended the legos were ‘trash’ that needed to be thrown away.  He ended up with 4 different trash trucks from his birthday and Christmas and they all ended up being great presents.  Malcolm plays with them every single day.  After the legos lost their attention for him we moved on to playing Hi Ho Cherry.  This is a great game for fine motor skills (he very carefully picks up each ‘cherry’ to place in the basket) and math skills.  He understands what the number four means.  When he spins a four on the counter he picks up four cherries to put in his bucket.  He just doesn’t say it yet.  When he counts to four it always sounds like “one, two, three, one”.  Although that last number can vary a lot, its always a repeat of one of the previous numbers.  I’m sure it’s something he’ll get all of a sudden and be counting to 10 all at once.  Malcolm always seems to make huge leaps forward when he understands something new.

After the game we packed everything up.  It took awhile but we got out of the house and headed over to Bolsa Chica wetlands.  I posted about it yesterday if you want to read about it in more detail.  Once we finally got home Alison had just had enough and was very fussy, clingy for the second day in a row.  It always hits her in the afternoons so I’m glad we get all of our school done early.  Throughout the rest of the day we ended up reading a lot of books.  Malcolm kept picking out Caps for Sale and Good Dog, Carl.  Even though he picked out a lot of other books from the library, some of which we haven’t even read yet, that’s all he wants to read.  I’m so glad he found some books he really likes and I’m sorry we’ll have to return them to the library later.

Friday – Today we just played a lot.  We went to a different homeschool group park day.  Still trying to find a good fit.  The women were really nice at this one, but it was full of 7-9 year old girls so I don’t think we’ll make it a permanent park day.  We have one more to check out next week but I think the one we went to on Wednesday will probably be the one we go to.  We did pick up a tray and seeds to plant our own cabbage plants.  I’m going to use it as a nature study project and watch them grow.  When the seedlings get to be about 4 to 6 inchs tall we are donating them to the local food bank.  I figured it’s a double lesson in there!  We’re going to save one to grow all the way through adulthood though so Malcolm can see it.

Edited to add:  I totally forgot about our art project this day though!  We made a stained glass butterfly that I found from Enchanted Learning.  This was so much fun.  I let Malcolm pick our crayons and I had an extra cheap grater.  I grated the crayons onto the wax paper and then we took a hair dryer to it to melt the wax.  It was hard not to take over because he kept picking browns and oranges.  I did manage to steer him towards a blue crayon for a little difference but it didn’t really matter.  He LOVES his butterfly.  I hung it up on the window and he insisted it be low enough that he could get to it so it is Malcolm eye level.

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