Thursday, January 23, 2014

Intro to Geography Weekly Wrap-up

We have been focusing on some basic geography this week, including learning about different types of landforms and how to use maps. But, of course, we've done lots of other things too! Here's a sampling of some of the other fun things we did this week:

Practical Life

Learning about family relationships

Observing a construction site - cranes lifting steel support beams

Cutting, gluing, handwriting practice
This started at a Reggio-inspired art program at the library. They read the story Perfect Square by Michael Hall about a square that is transformed into all different things (a bridge, a mountain, etc.). Then the kids were given lots of different colored squares of paper, scissors and glue to create their own masterpiece. M was really proud of her final product. When we walked out of the library the wind was blowing the paper in her hands. She said, "No wind! That's my project! Mommy, why is the wind trying to take my paper away? Do you think it wants its own?" So when we got home she made a second collage for the wind. She wrote the wind's name on the paper (we talked about what letter sounds were in the word wind), and she took it outside to give it to the wind. We didn't want the wind to blow the paper into the street, so we decided to punch a hole in the top and hang it by the front door for the wind to enjoy. 

Helping with chores

Preparing real and pretend snacks


We go to Creating Artists for Tomorrow every month for "table time." They have an amazing setup and some really creative ideas. M loves that she can get as messy as she wants, and that she can choose from several different activities each month. 

This month she did fish prints, made a paper hat, blew bubbles in paint and made bubble prints on paper, painted with different textured tools (paint rollers, dusters, etc), and (her favorite) played with squishy fish in a giant tub of green goo! 

The Children's Museum is another favorite location for awesome sensorial activities. We have a membership that my parents got M for her birthday, and we take full advantage of it. They have great programs in addition to all of the regular exhibits.

They just opened the new Robot Zoo exhibit, and had a bunch of fun programs leading up to the opening. M had a blast helping to paint and build the cardboard village. She even made a cool wind chime for the "porch" out of cardboard, string and bottle caps!

We just recently got a family membership at Roper Mountain Science Center so we would get the discounted rate for their preschool programs (as well as free admission to the Starry Night Planetarium shows). Members also receive free admission to the Second Saturday programs, so we decided to take M to try it out. I honestly thought she'd be a little too young for most of the activities, but she LOVED it! The theme was "Giants of Land & Sea" and they had a ton of different exhibits and displays set up for the kids to explore.

Here are a couple of the life-sized giants:

And lots of hands-on displays, animals to pet, and things to look at and explore.

We also do a lot of open-ended art activities at home - painting on the easel, watercolor painting, play-doh, etc.


Duplo Letters
M has been interested in following directions (maybe because of the maps we've been looking at?), so I downloaded a few apps for her Nabi with simple directions to build things from duplos. There are several different apps - here's one for building animals, vehicles, and the alphabet.

M struggled with the directions a little because we don't have a ton of duplos and she wasn't able to use the exact colors from the directions, but with a little help we made quite a few letters. She liked walking the letters around and "talking" for them (making their sounds).

I followed the directions on Moms Have Questions Too for this awesome DIY moveable alphabet set. I made the vowels red and consonants blue to match the sandpaper letters we have. I made 5 of each letter (lowercase only for now). M and I have had fun using them to spell basic words, or just playing "search for the letter that says..." She has also used these in combination with the sound bags I created last month.


Aside from our normal counting activities, we've been working on learning about the calendar (days of the week, months of the year, number of days in a week and month, etc.). We're also working on correctly using the terms yesterday, today and tomorrow. I love the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Calendar we have because M can help put the numbers on the calendar each month, and can choose activity or holiday magnets to put on each day. This helps her keep track of what we did yesterday (or two days ago, or last week), and look forward to upcoming events.

Cultural Studies / Science

A lot of the activities above could fall in this category too, but here are a couple more:

This is from a recent field trip to the local police station. We got to go on a tour of the police station and see the courtroom, 911 dispatch operator, booking room, holding cells, and the inside of a police car. M also got to see what her fingerprints look like.

A lot of our learning comes from "teachable moments" rather than planned activities. We were outside playing in the yard, and M noticed something up in the tree. She asked, "Is there fruit on that tree?" We searched around on the ground and found the sweet gum balls that had fallen from the tree. She felt how prickly the balls were, and we talked about why they might feel like that, and how it might help the tree (seed dispersal by sticking to animal fur, etc.). We cracked open one of the balls to find the tiny seeds inside (that could easily blow away in the wind for dispersal). It also gave us the chance to talk about what a fruit is, and how not all "fruits" are edible by humans!

The Children's Museum has an exhibit for young kids called Grandma Betty's Farm. M has been really interested in all of the farm animals, and spent a lot of time during one of our latest visits playing with the chicken coop in the exhibit. When we were playing soccer outside one afternoon, she decided that the soccer ball was her egg and she was the mother hen. She climbed up into her "chicken coop" (swing set), and rolled the "egg" down her slide. She played this game for quite a while. You just never know what she will come up with!

Phys Ed

These gross motor skills may also be considered Practical Life activities by some. The weather has finally started warming up a little (and it hasn't been raining every single day!), so we've been trying to get out as much as possible. We've been running, climbing, swinging, hopping, learning to skip, playing soccer, and more!

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Weird Unsocialized Unschoolers's Weekly Wrap-up

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