Saturday, September 8, 2012

A new (and full) school year

Alright, so the truth is that we started our homepreschool journey last fall, but had to put everything on hold last January. Baby Monkey was just not at the right age to be able to be present and allow Big Monkey the attention he needed. He was just really good at destroying things. This year is going to be different, and it's going to be a full year!

Things have started out full, that's for sure We've actually been doing school for two weeks now, but there just hasn't been enough time to post anything. I'm hoping to be able to somehow keep up with at least a post a week, but we'll see how that goes.We wrapped up summer with a trip to the beach and local aquarium. The boys loved watching the wild seals, dolphins, and pelicans. Big Monkey and Baby Monkey really are turning into two peas in a pod.

A lot of the summer also consisted of some curriculum planning. I decided that this year Big Monkey would use the Letter of the Week Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I bought her lesson plan and full set of worksheets for $10, and what a great deal! It comes with everything you need including a daily lesson plan. The reason why I had more work to do is my own fault. Her plan is based on a 5 day school week, but I really need a few days to do things like buy food and clean the monkey household. Overall school only takes us about 1.5 - 2 hours each day, but we use up the boys' best time of day for school on those days. So we settled on a 3 day school week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So far it's working great, although week 2 was adjusted to allow for the holiday and a Tuesday trip to the zoo. So instead, we did school on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Ahh, the flexibility of homeschool.

We're starting with vowels. So week 1 was A is for apple and week 2 was E is for elephant (hence, the zoo trip). Baby Monkey is quite the ham when I take out the camera. Big Monkey was placing building blocks on the letter A.

Baby Monkey has his own "curriculum" as well. I downloaded some Tot School Letter Printables from 1+1+1=1. We use the printables mostly for coloring and "cutting" (Baby Monkey holds the scissors, but usually resorts to just tearing the papers to bits), but there are a few sheets each week that have photos of various items/animals/etc... I am using these images to help Baby Monkey learn different words. He has a much smaller vocabulary than Big Monkey did at this age. He's also focusing mostly on gaining fine and gross motor control, sensory exploration, and color and shape recognition. I'm sure he'll pick up a lot more as he listens and imitates his brother. 

I broke down and spent a little more money and purchased some power magnets from amazon. These things are really cool! They are just magnets, but both boys think they are fun. We stick them to the circles on our magnet pages, but the boys also got a lesson in magnetism as they tried to find the "buddy" for each magnet so they would stick together.  

We attempted a rice sensory bin for the first week with a few problems. The bin contained some sweet black rice (it had been in the pantry too long), some hotwheels construction vehicles, 2 glass baby food jars with lids, a funnel, 2 ice cube trays, and some scoops. I put the bin on a towel, but I would recommend that a rice bin either be placed on a hard floor surface (I have it on the carpet here as I really wanted to run on the treadmill while they played) or a much much bigger blanket (the blanket I tried the second week was better, but still not big enough). I think I will forever be vacuuming rice out of our high pile carpet. Second problem - Big Monkey has some allergies as well as super sensitive skin, and for some reason the rice made him break out in hives from his neck to his forehead. Sigh, he was dosed with benadryl for the day after this...

Big Monkey tackled color by number this week and did a great job! He's even learning to color inside the lines. Baby Monkey scribbled some, but spent more time asking Mommy to color his page.

Big Monkey used Scrable letter tiles to match to lower and uppercase letters on our elephant letter page. He did pretty well, although he had a hard time identifying which little letter went with some of the big letters.

Baby Monkey enjoyed lining up the tiles like his brother was doing as well. Look at that concentration! This is how this kid works all the time. It amazes me.

Lacing Blocks...

Our second attempt at a rice sensory bin! I threw out the old stuff, washed the bin, and washed all the toys and supplies. I laid out a larger blanket and we tried again. I replaced the rice with brown rice that we regularly eat around here in hopes that since Big Monkey can eat it, he could also play in it. We lost a little less rice into the carpet and Big Monkey remained hive free! 

Next week is I is for inchworm!

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