Kindergarten Home School Day 1

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Friends! I have always considered myself a hands-on mom and a crafty mom, but to all you home school moms out there: RESPECT. I find myself now in this position due to COVID-19, so… here goes nothing!

What were the biggest challenges I discovered in Day 1? Simultaneously caring for a 16 month old, and keeping Travis focused. To that end, I sprinkled in a few projects to keep Veronika busy, and used her nap strategically for when Travis needed me by his side the most.

Biggest takeaway from Day 1? Tomorrow we’ll have a firm policy of home toys packed away when school is in “session”, to avoid distraction. Also, it was clear that my kids perform best early in the day. Front-loading activities meant that I could dole out afternoon lessons with a little more space in between, which definitely suited the rhythm of our household.

Without further ado, here’s how our day went!

6.30-8.30: Breakfast, get dressed, free play.

8.30-9: Circle Time and Spanish. Sticking with his normal routine, we sat down and went through the calendar, the weather, and the day of the week. Then we sang along to a Spanish song from his teacher on You Tube, and he worked on a Spanish coloring page. (Lil sis played with big swings!)

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9-10: ELA. We “tapped out” his four words of the day on our fingers, then read a story (The Name Jar), focusing on what happened at the beginning, middle, and end. Then he did 20 minutes on the Lexia website (I stole a moment to bake bread!).

10-10.15: Snack time.

10.15-10.45: Recess! Get outside and dig in the dirt.

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10.45-12: Math/quiet time. Travis worked on his school’s math website for a dot matching game that emphasized the concepts of “more than”, “less than”, and “equal to”. He loved the game! We also tackled the problems on one page of How High Can a Dinosaur Count, a fantastic book we already have at home. Baby sister now needed me, so it was a good time for quiet activities like drawing a picture of his favorite thing and working on tangram puzzles.

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12-1: Lunch/free play. It was nice to give him some downtime!

1-1.30 – PE! This would have been his “special” today, so we juggled with socks, then had a family dance party to Can’t Stop the Feeling. We finished up with a few dances from Go Noodle that really got us moving and had both kids laughing!

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1.30-2: Arts and Crafts. We made pompom puppets.

2-2.30: Pulling from books we already have at home, today we read Usborne’s Big Book of Stars and Planets.

2.30-3: Board game. We finished off the day with some group fun, and today Travis selected Animal Bingo. You can see the kids were silly by this point!

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Class dismissed! We headed out for a family walk and some fresh air, which turned into fantastic fun with Travis “racing” me and the stroller to each mailbox. We returned full of vigor and ready for an afternoon snack.

Yikes, I am exhausted but ready for tomorrow. How is your family faring under social distancing? Please share in the comments; let’s all unite virtually in this unprecedented time!

Pompom Puppets

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Travis needed an art project for the first day of “home school”, so I turned to Highlights magazine for inspiration. It turned out the pompom puppets we tackled were a bit advanced for a kindergartner, but we sure got silly and had fun making them.

The method looked simple enough: Wind colorful yarn around the tines of a fork to make the body of a pompom.

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Tie with a small piece of yarn in the center, making sure to tightly double-knot, then slide off the fork and snip the loops on either end so you have the frills of a pompom.

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This sounded good in theory! But we quickly found out that the fork resulted in very small pom poms and they unraveled into pieces when we tried to cut the loops. Thinking quickly, we wound around mommy’s fingers instead! This resulted in workable pompoms.

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To turn them into puppets, wrap colored felt around your child’s finger until it is the right size, then use glue to secure.

Travis helped pick out decorations for his silly creatures, but once again the project was a bit hard for small hands. I jumped in with a little hot glue to secure pipe cleaner antennae, wiggle eyes, and button decor according to his wishes.

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What silly creatures!

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Travis loved waving them on his fingers. Soon they even had little space pods to travel around in.

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Plus he even had fun playing with the extra yarn from our failed attempts, in what turned into a very creative game. So these turned out to be great for imaginative play, even if the crafting was too advanced for him.

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Little Performer

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When my eldest was little, the instructor in his baby music class always encouraged the kids to echo syllables into a toy microphone, as in “ba ba ba” or “la la la”. Inevitably it took forever to go around the circle, and inevitably the kids clammed up when it was their turn, rendering the whole thing a big waste of time.

But the activity is not without its merits; the idea is to encourage mimicking, work on learning favorite sounds (like animal noises), and building the muscles needed for language development. I had a hunch that the privacy of the home would be a better spot for this activity, so today, Veronika was the star of the show!

I made a big deal of it to set the scene, of course. “Announcing, today’s performer, Miss Veronika!” She looked so pleased with the microphone in her hand.

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I started out with syllables. “Ba ba ba,” I said. She did it right back!

“Ma ma ma.” She echoed me again! I knew she was really in to it when she went three for three, using “la la la” on the third round.

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Then we got into animal sounds. Here’s quick clip including a “meow” for one of her favorite animals.

I stepped away for a quick chore, and returned a few minutes later to find her humming into the microphone.

Surely it will be no time at all before she’s belting out tunes into the mic. A little performer indeed!

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Big Swings

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Veronika got a little indoor batting practice this morning with a toddler version of T-ball!

For set up, you’ll first need to tie a length of ribbon to any child-sized ball. I liked using her sensory balls with holes in them, since the ribbon looped through easily, but you could also just tape ribbon to a solid ball.

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Now tape the other end of the ribbon above an open doorway. Make sure to use lots of tape so these are secure. Veronika reached up immediately, quite intrigued.

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I handed her a wooden spoon and showed her how to bat at the balls. She was a quick study!

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Whether using her hands or the spoon, it delighted her to see the balls make big swings back and forth.

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She also loved walking through the dangling balls.

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Or holding on to one as she spun and twirled and walked back and forth.

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An alternate title for this post could very well have been “How to entertain your toddler while homeschooling a big sibling”, ha. It kept her so busy while big brother tackled his morning Spanish and English Language Arts!

I Spy

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“I spy” is such a classic children’s game that it’s easy to overlook it. But don’t! And yes, you can play it even with children who are just beginning to speak.

Here are a few ways Veronika and I already play the game, at sixteen months old. First, I use pages of her Hello magazines as “I spy” prompts. “I spy a duck,” I might say simply, and ask her to point to the duck on the page. The magazine’s “Find It” page is particularly great for this activity.

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It’s a nice way to reiterate vocabulary she already possesses. She sometimes signs the word proudly, or sometimes says it orally back. “I spy a fish!”

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It’s also a great way to build on existing vocabulary, so I might instead say, “I spy something fast and red. The red car!” This is closer to the classic version you can play with older children (“I spy something red…”) and helps add colors, adjectives, and nouns into her repertoire.

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Then we take the game along in the car. If she has an issue of Hello open on her lap, I’ll make a mental note of what’s on the page. As we drive, I can say, “I spy a tree.” She’ll look up with a smile when she spots it.

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We also talk about what’s out the windows, though this can be harder for a toddler to grasp with so many items whizzing by. But big siblings will love jumping in on the game. Travis gave Veronika helpful clues like, “I spy an animal that’s furry and says woof,” just as we drove by a dog. What will she spy next? So many possibilities!

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Irish Soda Bread

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St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and I’m finally trying my hand at a classic Irish Soda Bread. This quick loaf needs no yeast to rise and comes together in a flash. Serve it alongside a heaping portion of your favorite Irish fare of course.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Scant 2 cups plain soy milk
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Use your fingers to mix the butter into the rest of the ingredients until it is like small flakes.
  3. To make vegan buttermilk, pour the lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add soy milk to equal 2 cups. Let stand for 5 minutes, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir until you form a dough and then spoon out onto a baking tray. Shape the dough into an 8-inch shaggy ball. Use a sharp knife to score an X in the top, about 1/4-inch deep.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, until lightly browned.

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The kids loved this so much that they even declined extra butter on their warm slices, a sure sign of a hit around here!