Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I have a new toy!

 Well... My short lived relationship with HP is over...I have crawled back to Dell!!
 So my old HP laptop, which isn't even a full 2 years old, hasn't been able to keep up (or something) with me and has continuously crashed and refused to start up for the past 4 days!
  It has been so annoying and so my wonderful hubby (who always gave me crap about buying an HP instead of a Dell), decided to go ahead and order me a new Dell Inspiron laptop, complete with Windows 8 and all. It's all so new and I am still playing around with it now. It's like Christmas again!
   Hopefully this Dell, which I will admit is a good brand and has never given us any major issues, will be able to keep up with me and all my projects, creations, downloads and such.
   I have quite a bit to share with you... But for now, I am going to keep playing with my new toy!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Math is "snow" much fun!

    Well, winter is in full effect here in Western New York.. snow everywhere... everyday, it seems. Throw in some cold Arctic air from our northern neighbors in Canada and you have a miserable, cold and depressing winter!
   But we will get through it. Hey, we are 3/4 of the way through with January... that takes us 3 months closer to Spring. Well, here at least because it has snowed in April before, so... Winter can be very long out here!
   Anyhow, the little munchkin and I have been keeping busy indoors with some fun math activities. She is over the moon about learning sight words and reading simple sentences, I needed to make sure she was still eager to learn about math concepts. 
   I created some Winter Addition Mats for her to use to practice addition. 
   Click HERE to get your own copy for only $1 until the end of January!!!
    And we have tried out our Quiet Boxes and so far she has only gone through three of the boxes, which is good because I am not ready to switch things out quite yet.
    I put this Mitten Math activity (FREE at Make, Take, Teach) into one of the boxes to reinforce numbers and sets.
   She seems to enjoy the activities that I have placed in her boxes. She is used to my interaction with her when we play games and such,  I have had to remind her that she has to work independently with the activities in the Quiet Box. It's an important skill she needs to learn for kindergarten!
   Well, now back to finding-- or probably creating more games and activities for her. 
   She was so excited when she came home from school today with her second set of sight words! She whizzed right through all the sight word activities that I created for her with her first set of words (which reminds me--I need to share with you later this week), and she is ready for some more. 
   Thank goodness for Pinterest and all the wonderful bloggers around... there are amazing ideas everywhere! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yay!! It has been a very EXCITING week!

  I have some very exciting news to share!! 
  I have been having "Proud Mommy" moments all week!
  Ready?! -- I have an emerging reader on my hands!
  Last week, my daughter's preschool teacher sent home the first set of Sight Words that the kids would be beginning to learn this month.
   I have been slowly exposing the munchkin to sight words since this summer, but shied away from any kind of explicit and ongoing instruction. I chose not to teach her sight words, in addition to the ones I knew she would learn in her Kindergarten Readiness program, simply because I didn't want to overwhelm her.
   Once I saw how quickly she was recognizing some of her words, I knew she was ready for more.
   So I made a few materials for her to use at home to work on her sight words.
Sight Word Search:

Sight Word Match:
   Every day this week, we have worked on sight words (at what she now itcalls "Mommy School"), as I wasn't sure exactly how much instruction she was getting in school because the teacher said she was going to expose the children to the first set and take it from there. 
   We used flash cards to identify the sight words, and worked on spelling her sight words as well.    
Sight Word Spelling: 
Sight Word Spelling & Writing:
   Then on Monday night, we worked on the little Sight Word mini-reader that her teacher also sent home... And with some help, she read it!!
   I was near tears!! I immediately called my sister via Skype so she could see my daughter reading!!
   She will be five years old in March and I know she is a sponge and is quick in her learning, but I didn't think she would be reading for another few weeks! Granted, it's just simple sight word sentences...but she's reading!!! 
   Now she can read the mini-reader without any assistance!
   And she is SO very proud of herself! 
   I have so many fun and interactive ideas in mind for her, to keep her progressing further. I also plan to upload some materials into my TPT store. I have a few tweaks for the materials that I just created in the past 2 weeks, so they will be available soon!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nap Time Blues!!!

  Well the time has come, as I knew it would....
  The Nap Time Blues!!
  The little munchkin is slowly outgrowing her naps! She is going to be five years old in March, so I think I have probably been blessed to have had her napping for this long, even if it's not an everyday thing.
  However... I know she isn't ready to completely give up naps altogether though EVERY day. How? Because it's no good for her and she completely falls apart if she goes too many days without a nap. It doesn't help that the rest time at her preschool is only 30 minutes long. I would say that she still takes a nap (no more than an hour and 15 minutes) at least 3 days a week. Some are just short cat naps when she gets home from school and the longer naps happen on the weekends.
  Anyhow, since I know that she is not ready to give up naps altogether, I read up on Quiet Boxes / Busy Bags from moms and teachers everywhere. I think it's a nice way to give kids that down time where they can work independently and quietly, without struggling with them to take a nap.
  These are great for stay at home moms who have kids that are transitioning out of naps, like my munchkin... And for preschool teachers who need ways to keep non-nappers busy and quiet during rest time.
  I went and bought 5 clear shoe boxes and labeled each box with a number and a label, and placed  about 3-4 different activities in each box. I am thinking these can occupy her time for at least 45 minutes. (I hope!)
  Here are a few pictures of the first round of materials that are going into the Quiet Boxes. I looked through my teaching stuff and other toys & junk in the garage, bought a few items at the dollar store and I also visited homeschooling blogs and teaching blogs for some free printables that she can do quietly on her own. Every box has some kind of writing/ coloring activity, 2-3 books and/or a Highlights magazine as well. And I will be adding homemade play-doh in 2 boxes. 







  I plan to change out the materials activities every week or so, depending on how often we utilize them. I don't want her to get too bored with anything. I've already got a little box that I am filling up with random toys/activities to rotate!
  I can't wait to introduce the Quiet Boxes this week! I also have a few little rules about the boxes, such as:
1) You have to work quietly for at least 30 minutes.
2) You can only use the materials that are in one box, each day.
3) Clean up all materials when time is up.
  Do you use Nap Time/Quiet Time/Busy Boxes with your children or students? Do you have any type of rules for using them?
  Please share any fun ideas and activities that can keep kids busy and quiet when naps are a thing of the past!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is there a thin line between love & hate for snow days?

  Oh, snow days how I love thee. But enough already...ok?
  I wonder if there is a thin line between love & hate when it comes to snow days? Sure, I know kids love them. But how do adults feel?
   I think alot of people can honestly say that they are going a little stir crazy today... I know I am! The kids and I have been holed up in the house since Monday afternoon. It has been far too cold (in Buffalo) to leave the house and I admit, it is starting to get to me and I can tell it is driving my muchkin a little mad. The routine is all messed up and meltdowns (from the little munchkin) are happening throughout the day!
  The one good thing about snow days is that it allows me extra time with the kiddos. And I have been able to get the learning fun back on track after the long holiday break.
   But I will be glad when the kids are back in school tomorrow... they need the structure and routine back... and I need to get a handle on my own sanity!  =)
   Anyhow, over the winter break when I had some downtime, I did some searching on TPT, and I have found yet another favorite seller: Lavinia Pop. She has some awesome packets. I purchased a few of her Winter (math & literacy) packets to use with my daughter throughout the month of January.

     I put together a  little January Work binder for the munchkin and she will pick and choose a few activities that she wants to complete during our random "work times" or at any given time during the week.     
    When school started up in September, I chose not to have an established work time, simply because some days she was too tired after school and other days, all she wanted to do was work. So, now we just go with the flow. I think it will be easier to have worksheets like these on hand along with other manipulatives to complete them, (rather than just pencils and crayons), so they are ready when she wants them.
     Today it felt right to read a few winter books and focus on some winter vocabulary. And this pack (also by Lavinia Pop) came in handy.
    We chose 10 Winter Words to put in our pocket chart. 
    We reviewed each word, focusing on the beginning sound. I then cut out the pictures of the words she chose and she glued each picture and copied each word onto the pages of her Winter Words book.
She was very excited to "read" her Winter Words book when she was done!
  And of course, she had to make a snowman! I came to notice that she was bringing home alot of artwork from school, and a huge chunk of it was simple shapes that the children may or may not have cut out themselves and glued together-- not very much process art. I mean, I can understand why preschool teachers would have children do art this way; I have done it myself at times.
   But for the sake of art variety, I am going to continue to focus on providing the little munchkin with somewhat open-ended process art activities at home. Plus, I love to see what children's imaginations create in art, especially hers!
   So here is the process art snowman she made: 
   She was ectastic when my son and I joined in on the art activity. (And later told daddy he needed to make one!)
   And the snack of the day was..... Donut Snowman!!
   Well, the snow days have been fun. But now it is time to get the kiddos back into school and get that routine started up again! I just hope there are no more crazy snowstorms in the near future that would cause everyhing to shut down again! 
    BUT-- I am in Buffalo, so ya never know!!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!
   So, I am back. I have been on hiatus for about 2 months. As you may know, I have taken on the role of SAHM this school year. And wow- talk about just as much work!! So many little errands to run, carpooling issues, school events, etc... Then I took on a part time seasonal job for some extra holiday cash! All of those things combined really ate up my time.
   But now the holidays are over and I am getting back into a more relaxed mode. There will be more time to do fun learning activities with my daughter, as well as more ME time! YAY!
   So, school started back up... or well, it was supposed to! Thanks to this Polar Vortex that a good chunk of the country is swallowed in... the kids have been in school 2 times in the past 4 school days! There is some relief soon, which is good because my 4 year old thrives on routine and wow- this weather and being at home one day, at school the next, then the weekend.... she is really starting to lose it!
   So anyway... now I am rambling...
   Point is- I am back!! With a new year comes new goals and one of my goals is to stay on top of all my projects and devote time to each one--- while I have the time to do so!
   So I intend to show my face around the blogging world a little more often again!
    Stay Tuned!!