loving life with the little man and an elephant

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mother Goose Time's Inside the "Weather All Around Us" Box

Where has September gone? I cannot believe I am already writing the post letting you know what you can find in Mother Goose Time's October box, "Weather All Around Us". I am really looking forward to this preschool curriculum. One of my favorite things Mason has been commenting on lately is how beautiful the day is when we are outside. (They really have been magnificent lately.) He will say things like "It is so nice of God to make a day like this for us". It just warms my heart. I think this unit will be perfect for us to enjoy some more beautiful days outside. One of the many things that I love about Mother Goose Time is that a lot of their activities encourage you to get your kids outside and to be active. This unit is no exception. 
In every Mother Goose Time box you will find 125 active discovery tools. In the activity Weather Patterns you will start by looking for patterns in the weather. What is the weather like today? Is it the same as yesterday? Then you will have a chance to get the kids moving by having them show how they can move their body like the weather. Maybe they stomp their feet for thunder or tap their fingers for the rain. You can then introduce the Pattern Guide to the kids and repeat the pattern together (umbrella, umbrella, kite, kite...) By the end the kids are moving again as you repeat the pattern and they are making motions associated with the pattern. It will be so much fun to change up the pattern with the extra pattern cards provided and watch the kids move along.
I know I have said it before but I think my favorite part of Mother Goose Time are their 13+ art projects provided every month. I love being creative when I have time so I guess I hope I am instilling that creativity in my own children. This month the kids will have the chance to make a windy collage by blowing glitter across a page, tie dye a coffee filter to make a colorful umbrella, build a bear den, and make thunder cloud shakers to make their own thunder sound along with many more art projects. In the art project pictured above, Night and Day students will explore why we can't see the sun at night. They will create their own Earth. They then get to add stickers of animals, mountains, and so much more to their continents and oceans. Lastly they add a black semi circle with a brad to their Earth. Then it is time to invite your students to twirl the black paper until you say stop. They then can identify if it is day or night where they live.
 From math to language arts there are 33 skills built in every Mother Goose Time unit. On Day 2 of "Weather All Around Us" students will explore the wind. I love how Mother Goose Time ties in this math lesson to wind. In the activity Testing Wind students are encouraged to create their shape design on the Shape Design Mat with the foam rectangles. They then are to try to use their own wind and blow the rectangles off the mat. You are tricking them into learning. : ) I can see Mason now. He will want to create the shape design just so he can blow it off the mat. 
On Day 19 you will be exploring hail with your students. In the activity Dropping Letters students will be able to choose a Word Puzzle and drop the correct letter onto the puzzle like a hail stone. 
I know I said earlier that my favorite part of Mother Goose Time's curriculum is the art I think a very close second is their themed music CD that comes with the unit every month. On each CD you will find 20 brand new sing-along songs. There are many times that you are encouraged in the lesson to play the CD while your students are completing an art project. I can still remember as a grade school student our art teacher having music on while we were working. I very much feel this took me to a different place where the only thing there was myself and the piece of art I was working on. I can only hope the same will come true for my own children one day. Right now we are working on keeping the paintbrush out of our mouth. Baby steps, right?!?!
 Not only are you provided with a library-style story time book every month but also a ton of activities to go with it. This month you will be able to explore the book Does a Bear Wear a Hat in the Winter? You will introduce the book on Day 2 when they are exploring wind. Students will be encouraged to make blowing sounds when the pages of the book are turned while reading. 
On Day 14 students will be able to put the Storytelling Wands in order in the activity Catching Leaves. Students imagination will then be stretched and they will have to decide what happens next. Students will be able to retell the story using the Storytelling Set. 
In the activity Sharing Stories students will be able to recall the characters they have seen before and act out the story as you retell it. 
Last on day 18 students will be able to play a matching game with the characters they have seen over and over again in the activity Twirling Matches.
When I was teaching first grade sometimes the hardest thing to do was the parent newsletter. I felt like I always questioned if what I was saying was what the parents really wanted to know about. With Mother Goose Time the work is all done for you. Every month you are provided with a Monthly Family Newsletter for each of your students. The newsletter includes information about the unit their child will be studying and extension activities parents can do at home. It even includes a book list of books related to the theme they could explore at home. 
As we know as educators, all students are different. No two students learn the same. Mother Goose Time gives a lot of support to educators on how to assess the needs of their students and how to reflect on if their lesson was effective for all their students. At the bottom of every lesson their is an assess and reflect section for the teacher to review. Mother Goose Time also provides a Toddler Supplement: Little Goose to help adapt the lesson to younger learners and More Math and More Reading and Writing supplements for older learners. 
Mason is really into playing games. His all time favorite is Candy Land. Each month you are provided with a number of discovery games. On day 4 you will be able to play Check the Weather with your students. You will start the game by asking your students what they could use to check the weather. Students will then try to collect one of each type of weather card by landing on each place. Students will learn how to take turns, how to read a die, how to move their game piece appropriately, and so much more.
My Little Journal is a great tool for all ages. Hailey enjoys scribbling and letting me help her trace the letters and numbers. This can be a challenging activity for Mason but it is also very rewarding when he is able to complete a letter or number on his own. Students will start their time with their My Little Journal of day 2 of "Weather All Around Us".  Students will be invited to write their name on the front cover and draw a picture of what it looks like outside. Students will also be invited to glue cotton balls to their picture to represent clouds. 
I Can Read books are provided every month for all students. They feature the sight words for the month on the back of the book. Reading through the I Can Read book is a very rewarding experience for Mason. On the day when it is introduced to him he always wants to read it to Ben when he gets home. I love how it builds his confidence in his reading ability.

Every month will feature new letters, number, and shapes. In October students will be taking a closer look at letters C, N, and U, numbers 2 and 12, and rectangles. Each letter is featured on a different day. On day 3  students are introduced to the letter C in the activity C is for Cloud you are encouraged to make a letter C out of masking tape on the floor.  Students then can touch, crawl, walk, and explore kicking a cotton ball along the tape path. Students then are encouraged to move like a cat or a cloud on the tape path. 
On Day 7 about Autumn you are provided with fake leaves as counting manipulatives. Students are encouraged to make piles out of the leaves. They then can choose two leaves from the pile to place on the Counting Card and blow them off. 
On Day 2 when talking about wind you will also have a chance to explain what being brave means in the activity Be Brave. You will talk about what sounds scare you. You will then practice making scary wind sounds with your students. You then will have the chance to explain to your students that being brave means you stay strong and keep going, even if you are afraid. A new friendship feather will be added every month for students to explore other traits. 
Two things I find very helpful every month are the skills chart and the gathering list. I refer to the gathering list every week before grocery shopping in case their is something I need to purchase from the store for one of our lessons. The monthly skills chart outlines what standards are being met with each activity. This is a great chart to post where parents can see it so they can see all the things their child is learning.
Last but certainly not least is the Teacher Guide and the Planning Journal. By the end of the month both are pretty interesting looking for me. I have already marked up my planning journal for next month while I was going through my box. The Teacher Guide provides step by step instructions for each activity. It also provides assessments and extensions for the activities. I use the planning journal to record any kind of set up I might need to do before a lesson and also any supplies I need to find for a lesson. I also use it during a lesson to mark down anything I noticed one of the kids were doing so I can address it later if needed. Both of these books are extremely helpful to me on a daily basis. 

Yet again Mother Goose Time has brought another exciting month of learning to our home. I look forward to my kids enjoying these lessons as much as I did looking through them.


Mother Goose Time Apple Day and Robinette's Apple Orchard

Apples are everywhere here in Michigan right now. Lucky for us Mother Goose Time provides Bonus Days outside of their regularly themed curriculum. One of their Bonus Days for September was called Apple Day! 
We started the day with an apple. We went apple picking a few days ago and since then I have had a bowl of apples on the counter. It is amazing how many apples my kids have eaten the last few days.

Our first Mother Goose Time lesson was called Apple Parts. I asked the kids which parts of the apple they knew. They really were not sure. We talked about how the apple has skin like them (great tie in to Mother Goose Time's September unit "My Amazing Body"). We then found some of our apples that had leaves and talked about how sometimes when you pull the apples off the tree you might pull some leaves down too. I then pointed to the stem and asked Mason what it was and he said "A worm". Too cute!
Then after talking about how only Mommies and Daddies use knives we cut our apple open. Mason immediately noticed the seeds. He asked why apples have seeds and we talked about how an apple tree can grow from a tiny seed. We also talked about the pulp of the apple and how that is the main part we eat. Lastly, we talked about the apple core and how that might be "yucky" to eat. 
 Our next activity was called Apple Art. We talked about how how apples can bruise or have holes on them. We talked about how the skin can protect them but sometimes when they fall or a bug gets in them they can get bruises or holes. I let them look through the apples to find apples with bruises or holes. We didn't find too many. We must have gotten a good batch. 
I then showed the kids the supplies for our Apple Art project. Mason wasn't too sure he wanted to color this morning so just the little ones colored their apples. I then had each of them sit in my lap and we laced the yarn provided by Mother Goose Time through each of the holes. It is amazing how much little ones love fine motor activities. 

Right down the road from us is an apple orchard called Robinette's. I decided since it was "Apple Day" that was the place we needed to go today. When we got there the kids had a great time playing on their "wagon slide", being amazed at the LARGE apple, and driving the apple bus. 

We then headed inside for some of their donuts and cider that they are famous for. They also provide lunch options for those that are interested. 

 Connected to the restaurant area they have a store where they sell already picked apples, jams, apple butter, and so much more. One thing they were featuring was a place to taste different kinds of apples. One of the activities in Mother Goose Time's Apple Day was called Tasting Apples. This was a great place to try to do this activity. We talked about what colors an apple could be. We pointed out there are lots of red apples but there are also green and yellow apples. They all tried a few apples and Mason said his favorite was called the "Blondee". 
 Then we headed out to the orchard and picked some of our own apples. The two little ones kept picking them up from the ground. But they had a fun time picking their own apples. 

When we got home we had some lunch and then everyone pitched in to make some apple pies. The little ones stirred (and taste tested) or pie filling while Mason peeled the apples on our handy dandy apple peeler (I don't think I would make apple pies without it!).

Here is the apple pie recipe we used:

Crumb Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour 
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
6 cups peeled, sliced cooking apples
Caramel ice cream topping
Topping: Stir together brown sugar, flour, and oats. Cut in butter until resembles course crumbs.
Filling: Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. 
Add filling to pie crust (I use store bought. Hey! I'm a busy mama!) Sprinkle crumb topping over apples. Cover edge with of crust with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Remove from over and top with caramel topping. 
Here were our pies before they went in. I didn't get a picture after because they were eaten so fast (or I just forgot to take a picture).

The pie filling kept dripping on the bottom of the oven so in the middle of baking the smoke alarm started going off. I ended up pulling the pies out about 3 minutes early and they were a little runny. Notice to self (and reader) put foil on the bottom of oven next time to catch drippings. : )

Overall, we had a really fun and tiring (I am tired just writing about it!) day. It is great to have these Bonus Days where we can go and do something fun and still learn!! 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Schwallier's Country Basket

So I picked up this handy flyer from the library when we were there last week. It is titled Kent Harvest Trails: Fun on Family Farms/Locally Grown Foods. (To see the website that has all the information click here). It is great because it has a list of all the local places that provide fall fun. While we have been to Schwallier's Country Basket before it is on the list and we had to go back! 

Here is a picture from our trip last year. My how much they have changed!!
There is so much to do at Schwallier's you could literally spend the whole day there and not be bored. 
Our first stop when we got there was the goats. When we first saw the goats they were eating donuts someone had thrown over the fence. But there is also feed you can purchase for a quarter. Once you have purchased your feed there is a contraption that you put the feed in and you can turn the wheel to get the feed to the goats at the top of this tower. The kids thought it was so much fun! 

Our next stop was by far my kids' favorite. The bunnies. Now there is a horrifying bad mommy story that goes with this bunny area. Last year when we came to Schwallier's Mason climbed inside the bunny house and would not get out. I was so embarrassed but somehow I finally got him out and on to something else. This year Mason was the master bunny handler. He would pick up a bunny and ask another kid "Do you want to hold him?" Once he handed the bunny off he would explain that you have to be careful not to drop the bunnies. They should be thankful all their bunnies were safe for the day...kind of.

Some other fun things we got to do in the farm area was see some chickens and play in the sensory corn silo. Hailey kept putting her hand up to the chickens and they would peck at her hand. You would think it would hurt but she laughed every time. 
 Then it was time to pick some apples. There are a ton of wagons that are provided by Schwallier's to pull the kids, apples, or pumpkins in. We went into the barn to get a bag to pick our apples. There was a nice man there handing out apples to the customers. The kids (and I) got a nice pre-apple picking treat.
There were so many apples to choose from on the trees. We picked some Gala apples. The thing I love about apple picking is the apples are low enough for the kids to easily pick. It  didn't take long for us to fill up our bag.

On our way back from apple picking we went over a set up they had where you could race rubber ducks with water pumps. Mason thought it was really cool and Hailey liked playing in the water. 

We ended our day enjoying our lunch on picnic tables by the barn. We also bought a treat there of apple cider and donuts. Overall, it was such a fun day. Schwallier's provides more fun things to do on the weekends. I think this will be a place we will visit every fall.