Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September with Little Goose

We are in the middle of week #3 (clothing) with Mother Goose Time preschool curriculum.  The kids are enjoying it more each day! 

The main participants are my daughter and my niece. They're both two years old (newly two at that!) so we use the Little Goose supplement for infants and toddlers with them. Noah, my almost 5 year old, is busy with his own kindergarten curriculum, but he still likes to tag along for "the fun ones" with the little girls.
Just a reminder, in the interests of full disclosure, we receive our curriculum free of charge in exchange for our honest opinions and reviews.
As the queen of eclectic schooling, I'm often surprised by the ease of lesson planning with Mother Goose Time and the satisfaction it brings me to hand over the reins (for the most part) to the folks who send us the big yellow bus box. For the most part, I love it!

Life is pretty crazy right now between my daughter's speech therapy appointments and preparing for the new baby, so we have mostly been focusing on Little Goose activities without attempting many of the more challenging preschool activities (meant for older kiddos) in the regular teacher guides. We average 4 to 5 activities from Little Goose each day and I'm pleased to report that my daughter's vocabulary is exploding!

Here are our favorite parts of Little Goose:

Cuddle & Snuggle - 

According to Mother Goose Time, the purpose of this curriculum feature is to foster emotional well-being, positive relationships, self-esteem, and confidence.  Since we use our curriculum primarily with two little girls, I feel like that makes this part of the day extra important. Girls in our society often struggle with low self-esteem and lack confidence as they grow and face growing pressure to look and act a certain way. I appreciate having these small moments in our day to spend extra time building a strong foundation with our girls while they are young.

Last week, the girls had a lot of fun with every cuddle & snuggle we did! On Monday, they spent time looking at family photos and naming all our loved ones. On Tuesday, we made silly sounds together in keeping with a focus on one of our 5 senses (hearing). I also let them practice with different volumes at this time. There was lots of giggling as we practiced yelling "MOO!" and whispering "cock-a-doodle-doo." Thursday, my 5 year old gladly participated in one of his favorite activities: rubbing lotion! We talked about our sense of touch as we touched one another's hands and felt the squishy lotion between our fingers.

Wiggle & Giggle - 

[No, not all the curriculum features have such cute names!] However, these are our favorite! Mother Goose Time does offer a more in-depth music and dance curriculum feature for older children that I almost included in my first order. My kids love music and I was thrilled to discover "Wiggle & Giggle" is a daily part of the Little Goose supplement. In case you're wondering... music, dancing, and other activities set to music are also included in the traditional Mother Goose Time schedule for older children as well.

So why include this feature? Mother Goose time understands that physical and mental development are intertwined for young children and physical activities help stimulate brain processing and gross motor coordination. Besides, it's a great way to break up the activities that are more "sit down at the table" type deals.

My children have loved almost every song on the Head to Toe CD included in this month's box! They love it so much that lately I have to be sure it's in the car any time we leave the house. My daughter's favorite songs are "Too Hot to Touch" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Even my son enjoys the song called "Dancing Shoes." All three kids have a great time dancing around the house, playing freeze dance or hot potato with the music, and singing along in the car.

Check back in a few days for a few of our favorites from Week #2 on the five senses and Week #3 about clothing. The kids are loving it and I can't wait to share it with you!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Mother Goose Time: Getting Started

September is our first month using Mother Goose Time curriculum for young children. 

Being the self-described queen of eclectic homeschooling, I'll admit that I was nervous about using a "boxed curriculum." But Mother Goose Time has a lot to offer and I'm so glad we decided to use it for our youngest two learners this year!
Before I start telling you what we love about it, let me share (in the interest of full disclosure) that we do currently receive Mother Goose Time and the Little Goose companion free of charge in exchange for sharing our honest opinions and experiences on the blog.

Mother Goose Time sends an entire month of curriculum, organized and ready-to-use, in a giant yellow school bus box each month. When our box arrived, my daughter Ada Grace was the first to discover and unbox all the cool stuff. I was really excited about the way it is all organized. Each day's curriculum is packaged with all the activities in individual bags.
(It's a lot of plastic bags, but we have been able to reuse them for lots of other things around the house and eventually they make their way to our recycling bin, so I don't feel too guilty about it.)

Each month has a theme and this month the theme is all about the body. I ordered enough supplies for my oldest because he loves learning about the human body, but he has only been interested in participating in about 1/2 the activities with the two year old girls.
For our first week, we focused on body parts: head, arms, legs, hands and feet. Ada Grace and Elly are inseparable best friends, but they have very different personalities. Therefore, they both enjoyed different activities each day. In the end, there were some activities that all the kids just loved!

5 Favorites from this week:

  1.     The Head to Toe CD - They loved dancing, playing freeze dance, and singing along with the songs on the disc. Not even my oldest could resist wiggling and giggling with the little ones as they danced around the living room!
  2.     My Puppet Activity - All the children had fun making puppets from paper bags and construction paper. (I liked that I only had to provide glue and crayons.) After they finished building their puppets, my oldest organized an imaginative puppet show for me in the living room. Elly, my niece, enjoyed hugging and caring for her puppet for the remainder of the day. 
  3.     X Ray - This was Noah's favorite activity! He even asked if he could keep the x ray pictures Mother Goose Time sent as a visual to display in his room. In this activity, the children explored bones in the body by creating skeletons with some neat punch out "bones," black construction paper, and chalk. Noah was focused on making his skeleton anatomically correct, while the girls just enjoyed pasting "bones" all over their papers and having too much fun with our glue sticks.
  4.     Big Blue Pocket - Each child made a pocket with construction paper, yarn, crayons, and pom poms. Ada Grace insisted on coloring her pocket purple (her favorite) and Noah enjoyed gluing extra pom poms to his pocket. My favorite part? Having the children practice threading with the yarn in the pockets is a great way to build fine motor skills in preparation pencil grip and early writing.
  5.     Head to Toe by Eric Carle - All of the children love the book! This story is great for teaching them about the way their bodies can move and the way different animals use their bodies. Not to mention, they all loved acting out the different animal movements. Can you wave your arms like a monkey or arch your back like a cat? They definitely thought it was a lot of fun to try! 

...stay tuned to learn more about Mother Goose Time and next weeks lessons about the five senses. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Little Scientist

Strangely, at least to me, many other homeschooling moms seemed baffled by my questions about science curriculum for my four year old. Some people even told me it wasn’t really necessary at his age.
I think science is a core subject and I can’t imagine leaving it out at any point. Besides that, Noodle loves science! He is fascinated by chemistry, biology, life science, and anatomy. I looked at several different Kindergarten curricula and continued to feel that the science for each wasn’t strong enough by itself.
I really like to tailor-make the lessons for Noodle anyway, so I started piecing things together.
AHere’s what science looks like for us:
I throw in books from our library related to different topics we are studying and episodes of the Magic School Bus from Netflix.
Image result for the magic school bus
I try to alternate what we do so our week ends up looking like this:
Monday: Berenstain Bears’ Book & a nature walk. Today the weather was lovely and we took a picnic to our local park and walked around looking for animals. Noodle & Nugget had fun tossing their apple cores and half eaten cheese puffs to the local squirrels.
Tuesday: We break out the Squishy Human Body and dissect it. Noodle loves pulling everything out and naming all the organs. After that, we usually watch an episode of the Magic School Bus on the couch while Nugget falls asleep. Then we finish up with our human body puzzle from T.Shure.

Wednesday: This is Noodle’s favorite day, because we always do a science experiment. We are currently working our way through all of the experiments in his Mind Blowing Science kit, but I tend to pull resources from the Primary Science kit (because the quality is way  better). Noodle loves anything that involves baking soda and vinegar. He also loves wearing his safety goggles. He’s pretty cute in them too.
Thursday & Friday:  We alternate between more of the Bears’ nature book and science experiments. These are the days we practice computer programming or “coding” with Robot Turtles too (more about those later).
Science is one of Noodle’s favorite subjects. At this point, Nugget loves the nature walks. The rest is all a bit much for her.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How We Do It: Our Schedule

There are always lots of questions about our schedule and how we begin our day. I hesitate to answer because many parts of our day are fluid rather than set in stone – life with young children is like that, you adjust.
My kids usually wake up between 7 and 8 am. Occasionally, Nugget wakes up at 5:00 when my husband’s alarm goes off. She has always been a light sleeper.
After changing Nugget’s diaper and getting her a cup of water, we watch nursery rhyme videos on the Roku until her brother wakes up. — Yes. TV is sometimes the savior of my sanity. If you’re anti-screen time, you might hate this blog.
When Noodle wakes up, I get him to the potty and then send him to join his sister on the couch while I make them something to eat. After breakfast, usually about 8:30 – 9 (depends on when they wake up), I get both kids & myself dressed. Then, they can play until 9:30 when I start school.
I turn the TV off during free play time, so they have to entertain themselves with the toys they have stashed all over the house. While they’re busy playing superheroes or making imaginary cake in the play kitchen, I set up our first few activities.
On a perfect day, Noodle and I work for about an hour completing the bulk of his lessons while Nugget alternates between playing on the floor and hanging out in my arms.
What does Nugget do? She’s not yet 18 months old so mostly she listens to our stories, claps when we sing, and colors on scrap paper with crayons. I’ll admit, sometimes she just watches cartoons off and on. Yes, for an hour. I’m not ashamed.
At 11:00, I send the kids off to play again while I clean up a bit and make their lunch. After lunch, Nugget is ready for a nap… REALLY ready.
Noodle has quiet time while I put Nugget down for a nap. He uses this time to do work on the computer (more about that later), watch silly youtube videos, or entertain himself quietly. After she’s asleep, Noodle and I finish any lingering school work and clean the house. Nugget only sleeps about an hour and a half so we have to work fast!
That’s a typical homeschool day with Noodle & Nugget.
Are there days when it doesn’t work out so nicely? Yes. Are there days when we can’t get it together? Definitely. Are there days when we are finishing school stuff after supper? Sometimes, yes. It works for us. If you’re just starting out, hang in there. You’ll find our own best system before you know it.