Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning by Heart – January

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
– Henry Ward Beecher

deerThe sweet deer that visit us weekly at our nature center.
  We are getting to be good friends with these graceful and beautiful animals. :)

I’m not sure where the time has gone this month!  We haven’t done a ton of learning activities, but we are slowly getting back into the swing of things.  I’m re-thinking and re-planning some things as we go.  I’ll try to just hit the highlights of this month in this post (sorry if it gets too long!).

~M is 4 years old~

(independent or semi-independent activities)

Mostly, I’ve been rotating toys on M’s shelves this month.  New toys from Christmas make this easy to do for a while.  I have plans to create a page where I can list all the activities I rotate on the shelves for M, because I think it’s fun to read that kind of thing, but also because I think it gets kind of tedious on these weekly posts to keep listing the same things time after time.  I will, however, make sure to mention any new items that I put out for him.


M folds laundry like a pro (towels and washcloths mostly), but has been practicing his paper-folding skills since we got this great little book.  He loves this book, and I let him do as many pages as he wants.  He tends to get obsessed with something until he has mastered it; apparently this is just what makes him happy and how he learns best, so I don’t really follow the rule of stopping an activity while he’s still enjoying it.  Doing that frustrates him and makes him less likely to take it up again.  Here’s a little example of what this book is like:

See the little mouse?folding paper

Eek!  It’s really a giant elephant! ;)folding paper 2

It is so much fun – I’m not much of a fan of traditional workbooks, but the Kumon group of books is excellent.


Cutting and Pasting – I cut construction paper in several colors to size, hole-punched the edges, stuck it all in a 3-ring binder and gave it to M for his own photo album: M, working on his photo albumHe has his own digital camera (an old camera of ours that doesn’t have a memory card, but takes about 20 pictures at a time), so I’ve been printing out some of his photos for him.  He loves to cut them out and place them on the pages.  He actually uses double-stick tape most of the time for the “pasting” part of this.  I think it will be so much fun for him to look back through when he’s older.  It’s not the best quality, but it’s simple, inexpensive, fun, and a good way to sharpen those scissor skills. :)

As you can see, he’s fond of self-portraits, hee hee: photo album


Mazes and dot-to-dots - I also made a little book of these for M.  The mazes were from another Kumon book, and the dot-to-dots were something I found on Amazon.  I cut off the binding and placed each page in a page protector, then all of it went into another 3-ring binder: maze book

This has been a big hit with him.  There are, I think, roughly 80 mazes – great for reasoning skills and fine motor skills.  The dot-to-dots each go up to 100, which is a real challenge for him right now, and we normally do those together.  Since the pages are all in page protectors, he uses a dry-erase marker to do them, erases them with a piece of felt, and then does them over and over again.  I think this will be a great car-trip book!

Math: Not much has been done on this front, although M continues to enjoy counting anything and everything.  One day he decided he wanted to count to 100 and surprised himself by actually doing it. :)  He only needs a little help once in a while, and he does not recognize the written higher numbers, but wants to, so that’s what we’ll do next. 

Science: M loves doing this: coloring ice cubes

Mixing colors of water in an ice cube tray.  He asked to do this, which he does from time to time.  It’s one of his favorite things.  He likes to watch the colors mix, use the pipette, etc.  Normally he then asks for these ice cubes when he’s taking a bath, and enjoys watching them melt and color the bath water.

We’ve been doing one mama-led science experiment per week, and I’ll post about these at Science Sunday on Ticia’s blog – stay tuned!

As you may know, M is obsessed with all things electric, especially light bulbs and batteries.  He has been itching to know how these things are made, and I found a couple of interesting you tube videos about just that – How Light Bulbs are Made, and How Batteries are Made.  He was fascinated by the machines that make these things and loved the videos, although I’m not sure how much he really understood (the voice over sounds like a computer voice and has what might be a British accent).  I was pretty fascinated too!


Literacy:  We’ve been reading, reading, and reading some more these past weeks.  We are content for now for that to be the main thing in this area.  Actually, more than content, we are loving it.  I feel like we’ve found so many great books lately, which I hope to post about soon.  I’ve decided to wait until this fall to start any book units with extension activities – that’s what we will do if M doesn’t go to a “real” preschool then.  We’ve been reading chapter books at lunch over several days, and picture books for about 1/2 hour each afternoon (snuggle time!).  M’s comprehension of the longer books continues to amaze me.  Sometimes he understands things I don’t even catch!  He’s developing a real love of books, which makes this mama very happy. :)

He is also a rhyming fiend.  Everything has to rhyme lately – oh goodness, you can imagine the nonsense going on here.  Things like, “Mommy, did you ever see a bug licking a fug?”  {Sigh}  or “Are you a dishwasher, made out of fishfasher?”  {Sigh again}

I found some great nursery rhyme sequencing cards here.  I made a little cardstock mat to place them on:sequencing mat 

I printed out several sets of sequencing cards, and by looking at the cards, M was usually able to tell which poem they were for.  Then we’d say it together and then he’d say it again, while setting the cards out, in order, on the appropriate square.  He really enjoyed this.  I’ll probably set this out on his shelf with more cards for him to do independently.sequencing nursery rhymes


Karen at Prekinders has these fantastic rhyming mats and cards, which we also did.  M always enjoys doing these!rhyming match game


Art:  We’ve started going to a weekly music class – it’s very informal – lots of playing around with a great assortment and variety of instruments, some movement songs, and lots of rhythm activities.  We enjoy it a lot, but I’ve noticed it’s the same activities, in the same order each week.  Occasionally there’s a new song thrown into the mix, but there just isn’t enough variety to keep us interested in going each week.  There are only 6 more sessions, so I think we’ll try to make it to 2 or 3 more.  It could be such a wonderful program if a little more effort went into the planning.

As far as other art – this drawing cracks me up:drawing of M jumping

It’s just a regular drawing of him, but see the rectangle drawn around him?  And how his feet aren’t touching the bottom?  It’s M jumping!  Hee hee, I love it.

We’ve also been doing one planned art project per week.  Most recently, we colored on white construction paper with crayons, then rubbed over it with mineral oil.crayons and oil rubbing art project  This was an idea from one of Mary Ann Kohl’s books (can’t think of which one right now), and it was supposed to make the colors brighter.  It didn’t really seem to be working, so I showed M how to make a loopy design and then color in each open area, hoping that with more color all over the paper it would work better.crayons and oil rubbing art project 2

It worked okay, and actually the oil made the paper seem more like a thick vellum, which was pretty neat.  We hung the finished artwork in the window to be a suncatcher, but unfortunately we haven’t had much sun lately. finished art


Miscellaneous:  Lately I wander around my house, seeing things like this:taking toys apart

screwdrivers and taken apart toys left lying around

tightening screws on my wobbly rocking chairM has definitely mastered his screwdriver skills, and I realized that I really don’t need to worry about providing many fine motor skill activities for him anymore. :)


This is a little old, but every year, once Christmas is finished, we set our tree outside and make treats for the animals:

bagels, peanut butter, and birdseed

stringing popcorn

the decorated "After-Christmas Tree"

This little red squirrel does not like to share.

We also read The After Christmas Tree, by Linda Wagner Tyler:   which talks about the tree’s “second season of giving”. 


Finally, I’m not sure what category this falls into, but it was fun!  I filled a bowl with water, added a bunch of small objects, and let it freeze outside overnight.  The next day M chiseled away at it to get all the little things out.  He really enjoyed this! pounding ice

After the pounding was through :) 

Hope your winter is full of coziness! 


I’m linking this post up to Preschool Corner, Friday Wrap Up,and Weekly Wrap-Up; be sure to check them out!

Have a beautiful day! :)



  1. It was good to catch up with what M has been up to - his engineering tendencies crack me up. Anna also enjoys non-fictional videos a lot and currently obsessed with Lego and all things space.

  2. I love the idea of setting the tree outside and making treats for the birds. We recently moved and this house is a little more in the "country" than where we were before. We are loving watching the birds come to our birdfeeder.

  3. What a fun week! We LOVE Kumon books here too! S is currently doing the Mazes one as well.


  4. What a wonderful idea to give M his own album and camera. It will be so fun for him to look through it later in life. Kerri


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