Houston Parents: Family Free Night at the Children's Museum

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Within the past year, the Houston's Children's Museum has undergone and extensive renovation to bring new exhibits and activities for kids of all ages.

My husband and I have talked about getting a family membership for this museum but we've just never gotten around to it. Plus, with the realized and anticipated costs of a new baby, museum and zoo memberships just aren't practical right now.


I just discovered, via the Children's Museum Website, that every Thursday is FAMILY FREE NIGHT!!!!! That's right! Your entire family is able to enjoy the exhibits and other special events that are held each Thursday evening, from 5pm till 8pm.

I am so excited -- the Little Lady loved her recent trip to the Library. I can only IMAGINE how much fun this interactive museum will be for her!

Here is a link for more information: The Children's Museum -- Family Free Nights

Week One Plans

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

After some rather hurried research, I decided to try a modified version of the Brightly Beaming lessons for two year olds. My primary changes are substituting the letter "E" for "A" and adding a Bible story, as well as implementing learning activities other than the ones the BB curriculum suggested.

I decided not teach the Little Lady her letters alphabetically. My purpose with teaching letters is for her to be able to recognize letters -- I think the best way for this to be achieved is to start with letters that she has shown an interest in. I'll be using the letters of her name, her baby brother's name, our names, etc., to begin letter introduction. My husband and I had already started working with her on her name, resulting in our Little Lady being able to recognize (most of the time) the letter "E." This week, I'll be trying to reinforce "E" with her.

As far as the Bible story goes, my husband and I have been wanting to find a good way to introduce the Little Lady to Old and New Testament stories, as well as reinforce the stories she is learning in Sunday School. We are going to follow the method some of our good friends shared with us; we'll be focusing on one story each week, reading that story every night before bed. During "Tot School," I will use art projects and songs to help her remember the story.

Here is an example of what I'm planning for this week (click on the images for full-size viewing):

I did NOT include any "times" with this lesson plan. I intend to keep "Tot School" very fluid and playful. I don't want my Little Lady to feel as though this is a chore. There is a lot of story time, song time, game time, art time, and play time because those are things she likes. I am not planning on really using work-sheets or drilling flashcards. The Little Lady likes to be active; she doesn't respond well to static instruction.

We'll see how this week goes; I will continue to research other at-home preschooling mamas for ideas. If you have idea or website suggestions, PLEASE let me know!

A List of Suggested Skills and Concepts

>> Sunday, July 26, 2009

I came across the following list on the Universal Preschool site; based on Piaget's cognitive stages of development, these concepts are what educators have agreed that little ones (2-5 years old) should be able to learn and master.

To be perfectly honest, it has been awhile since I've studied Piaget; that college course was a loooooong time ago. It was good to have a little refresher and remember how it is that toddlers and preschoolers learn. Furthermore, it was wonderful to get an idea of what the Little Lady should be learning over the next few years; I feel a bit less stressed now, having a concrete list of objectives AND knowing that these concepts aren't ones that she must master over the next 6 months. There's plenty of time . . . plus, there are several skills that she has already mastered. Yay for the Little Lady!!!

According to information at Universal Preschool, planned learning and play activities should help toddlers/preschoolers to:

Understand Size:

  • Big and Little
  • Long and Short
  • Match Objects Based on Shape

Identify Colors and Shapes:

  • Recognize and name primary colors - red, yellow, blue, green, white, black.
  • Recognize and identify circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles.
  • Match objects based on shape.
  • Copy a shape on paper.

Identify Numbers & Count:

  • Recognize numbers from 1-10.
  • Count to ten.
  • Count objects in one-to-one correspondence.
  • Understands more and less.

Reading Readiness Concepts & Skills:

  • Has been read to daily.
  • Has own books.
  • Looks at books and magazines.
  • Uses left-to-right progression.
  • Pretends to read.
  • Understands that print carries a message.
  • Recognizes some nursery rhymes.
  • Looks at pictures and tells a story.
  • Answers questions about a short story.
  • Knows what a letter is and is familiar with the alphabet.
  • Remembers objects from a given picture.
  • Pronounces own first and last name.
  • Identifies own first name in manuscript.
  • Prints own first name.
  • Identifies other children by name.
  • Expresses self verbally.
  • Can repeat a sentence of 6-8 words.
  • Can complete an incomplete sentence with proper word.
  • Tells the meaning of simple words.
  • Identifies parts of the body.
  • Identifies objects that have a functional use.
  • Knows common farm and zoo animals.

Listening and Sequencing:

  • Follows simple directions.
  • Listens to a short story.
  • Listens attentively.
  • Recognizes common sounds.
  • Can repeat a sequence of sounds.
  • Can repeat a sequence of numbers.
  • Retells simple stories in sequence.

Position and Direction:

  • Child should understand:
    • up and down
    • in and out
    • front and back.
    • over, on, and under
    • top, bottom, middle
    • beside and next to
    • hot and cold.
    • fast and slow
    • full and empty
    • day and night
    • time - such as morning, noon, night
    • knows age and birthday
    • Can identify a calendar

Motor Skills:

  • Child is able to:
    • run
    • walk a straight line
    • jump
    • hop
    • alternate feet walking down stairs
    • march
    • stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds
    • walk backwards for five feet
    • throw a ball
    • paste objects
    • clap hands
    • matches simple objects
    • touches fingers
    • button a garment
    • builds with blocks
    • completes simple puzzles (5 pieces or less)
    • draw and color beyond a simple scribble
    • zip a zipper
    • control pencil and crayon well
    • cut simple shapes with scissors (handles scissors well)
    • copy simple shapes


>> Saturday, July 25, 2009

Even though I'm eager to jump in with both feet and introduce the Little Lady to "school," I've realized I need to put a little more time into researching and planning for the skills and knowledge I want my daughter to acquire.

I did come across one site, Brightly Beaming Resources, that offers a complete curriculum -- mapped out week by week. There are a lot of things I really like about this particular site, one of which is the fact that their various curriculum is sorted by AGE! I haven't come across many sites that do this -- most toddler and preschool activities/lessons are simply lumped together in a hodge-podge list. That may work for some, but it doesn't for me. I do not have time to go through each activity to find ones that will work for a 25 month old.

On the other hand, I'm not sure about accepting a premade curriculum. I guess its the independent, obstinate side of my brain, but I'd like to have a little more of a hand in developing the weekly lessons for the Little Lady. Of course, I understand that I can take or leave activities, lessons, or modify the suggested ones. I just need to take the time to do it!

It's Time to Start

>> Friday, July 24, 2009

Since turning two, the Little Lady seems to be even more energetic, loud, and active than before. Of course, it could just be that my pregnancy hormones (you know -- the ones that are short and frayed) cause me to notice the changes more acutely.

(Introducing . . . The Little Lady)

Regardless, she is definitely at a point where she needs more structured, focused play and learning time. Whereas 4-6 months ago I couldn't get her to sit still and hold a crayon (let alone refrain from eating it), now she daily asks if she can color, "write" her name, read books, etc. She seems to thrive on intentional activities with Mommy, leaving her calmer, happier, and less prone to temperamental outbursts.

In my former days as a high school English teacher, I knew that my students needed daily, structured, and intentional activities to support their learning. If I gave them free reign or even free time during class, they would quickly become loud, out of hand, and, simply put, did not use their talents and skills for learning. But, if they were presented with literature and student-centered activities that forced them to use their brains and their academic vocabulary, they became model students.

Sheesh -- who knew the same is true at the toddler/pre-school level? I certainly didn't! I've had no training in Early Childhood Education, but the same skills and knowledge I used as a high school definitely applies to helping my daughter learn her colors, letters, how to write her name, and, well, the list goes on!

I loved lesson planning when I was teaching (I can't help it -- I really am an organinzing nerd at heart), and have decided to start this blog as a way to help me plan lessons for the skills and knowledge I want the Little Lady to learn. In addition, pictures of the activities and the results of each lesson will be documented here. . . .I know I'll need this if I want to repeat these lessons 2-3 years from now when the Little Lady's brother is ready for his own schooling!

Since I don't have a wealth of preschool activities and educational tools in storage (but, I do have fabulous lesson plans for To Kill a Mockingbird, Mythology, and Romeo and Juliet . . . if you're interested (lol)), I will be relying heavily on websites and blogs for inspiration. If you know of a site that I need to view, PLEASE pass it on! I promise I'll love you forever and like you for always if you do. :)