Homepreschool and Beyond

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    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

    “Susan Lemons gives you the blueprint…”

    • 26 Chapters
    • Covers all areas of development
    • Covers all areas of curriculum
    • For a ages 2-8
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Literature based
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Posts Tagged ‘preschoolers’

Circle Time for Preschool at Home/Homeschool

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 12, 2012


When I was a preschool teacher, I always felt that circle time was the highlight of the day.  As a homepreschooling mom, that feeling intensified.  It absolutely was the best part of our day–and still is.  I’ve heard that some moms object to the words “circle time”…they prefer the words “lap-time” or “mommy time” instead.  Whatever you call it, it’s tons of fun.

We actually do TWO circle times a day.  One is first thing in the morning (Bible time), and the other  is a little later in the morning (our unit study or story time.)

What do we “do” during circle time?  What makes circle time different from story time?  To me, the difference is the fact that circle time includes more than just stories.  Circle time traditionally includes various activities such as calendar, finger plays, music, and story time.

There is really no right or wrong way to do circle time; experiement and see what you and your children enjoy. But to give you some ideas, here’s what we did during our first circle time of the day with all our  preschoolers (Note:  We do pretty much the same with children of all ages):

1.  Worship/music:  Hymn of the month, praise and worship songs, Bible-memory songs, or Sunday-school type songs (the calmer ones.)

2. Bible memory work/catechism

3. Bible story and/or devotional.

4.  Prayer

Afterwards, we do our chores together and then play outside (weather permitting.) Next is morning snack, and then our second circle time. During our second circle time (unit study) we:

1.  Do calendar:  We sing “days of the week” and “months of the year” songs, add the day’s date to a pocket-chart calendar, figure out the current day of the week and month of the year, and recite the date while pointing to the calendar (“today is Monday, September 21, 2010.”)  (We would sing the months of the year song from Greg and Steve’s “We All Live Together” volume 2.)

2.  Have fun with finger plays, patriotic songs, folk songs, fun (active) Sunday school songs, silly songs, movement to music, rhythm band, and so on.  This is so fun, and gets all their wiggles out before story time starts.

3.  Story time

Sometimes we switch things around during our second circle time or add other activities, such as poetry (listening), picture study, or show and tell (my kids LOVE show and tell; it helps them practice their language/speech/oral composition skills);  we might even “practice being good” (act out appropriate behavior—see my book!)

Keeping Circle Time Fun

“Short and sweet” is really the trick to keeping circle time fun—as is alternating the more active parts of circle time with the quiet ones.  As an overall rule, it is better to leave your children wanting more versus frustrating them with too long of a circle time.  Other ideas:  Spice up your circle time with felt board activities/stories, Monkey Mitts, puppets, and other musical/finger play/musical props/learning props.

After story time, we move on to the rest of our daily routine.

Circle Time for Older Children 

We enjoyed circle time so much with our young children that we’ve simply continued it even when our children got older, with a few tweaks:

-Remember to change your content according to the children’s abilities, attention span, and interests.

-Parents of children who are in grades Kindergarten until grade three or so  should recite the flag salute at some time during the morning.  We chose to keep Bible first, since it is most important; we’d do the salutes and calendar right before our first “academic” subject of the day (math). Once they learned it, we discontinued it.

-We still use the same basic structure during our second circle time, but we call it “unit study time” with our older kids.  Our “unit study time” routine generally runs like this:  Drills/recitation (we’re used ABeka’s bird, insect and plant cards to memorize the most common critters/flowers in our area; we’ve also learnied to recognize the major instruments in the orchestra by sight.  Other times we’ve memorized the presidents in order or memorized the capitols.)   Next is music/singing (once the kids are older it’s great fun to learn longer folk songs and rounds.)  Afterward, we read aloud and discuss what we’ve read.

-We usually save our second circle time until Bible, math, and language arts are completed for the day.

-After our second circle time, we might work on a notebook page, a timeline card, an art project or a science/cooking experience that’s related to our unit, or we simply might be done for the day.

I hope this gives you some ideas for circle time at your house!

Blessings,

~Susan

© 2010, 2012 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in circle time, Elementary School, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger Play Friday: There Was a Little Turtle AND Tiny Tim (song with motions)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on December 23, 2011


NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it.  I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations.  When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

There Was a Little Turtle

(NOTE: To make turtle, hold hands out with thumbs touching. Keeping hands in the same position, lay one hand on top of the other. There should be one thumb on both sides of your hands. To make “turtle” swim, twirl thumbs in a circle.)

There was a little turtle (make turtle, twirl your thumbs)

Who lived in a box (use pointer fingers to draw a box)

He swam in a puddle (use hands and arms to “swim”)

He climbed on the rocks (use hands to pretend to “climb.”)

He snapped at a mosquito, he snapped at a flea, he snapped at a minnow and he snapped at me. (say slowly; on the word, “snapped”, clap outwards like you are snapping at something)

He caught the mosquito, he caught the flea, he caught the minnow (do the same as you did on the word “snapped”)

But he didn’t catch me! (say phrase slowly and with emphasis; wag pointer finger from side-to-side)

(you can also SING this one; the tune is the same one that is used for Tiny Tim. <click to hear tune>)

Tiny Tim Song (with motions)

I had a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim (make turtle as above)

I put him in the bathtub, to see if he could swim (make swimming motions)

He drank up all the water, he ate up all the soap (make eating motions)

And now he’s blowing bubbles, out of his tiny throat.

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles………etc till at the end of the phrase, when you shout, “pop!”

Posted in circle time, Finger Plays, Music, Pets | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger Play Friday

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 28, 2011


NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it. I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations. When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

Ten Red Apples

10 red apples grow on a tree (put both hands up and out to make a tree)

5 for you and 5 for me (hold out the five fingers of each hand one at a time.)

Let us shake that tree just so (hold out hands and shake them)

And 10 red apples fall down below (make fingers fall down.)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (count each finger).

Naughty Hands

(This one is definitely politically incorrect, but I love it and think it is very appropriate!)

Sometimes my hands are naughty (hold our hands, then slap one with the other)

And so my mother says, that she will have to scold them (shake finger as if scolding)

And send them off to bed (fold hands in prayer stance, then place on side of head; lay head on fingers, turn head to one side as if resting on a pillow, shut eyes and pretend to go to sleep.)

So little hands, be careful, of everything you do (hold out hands and look at them–OR extend pointer finger and shake it)

Because if you are sent to bed, I must go there too! (point to self; then fold hands in prayer stance and place on side of head; lay head on hand, turn head to one side as if resting on a pillow, shut eyes and pretend to go to sleep.)

Posted in circle time, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homepreschool and Beyond, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger Play Friday

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 21, 2011


NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it.  I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations.  When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

Galloping Horses

10 horses galloped into town (start by holding your hands behind your back, then bring hands around to the front and “gallop” your fingers in front of you.)

5 where black (hold out right hand in front of you, as if you were motioning to stop)

And 5 where brown (repeat action with other hand.)

They galloped up (make hands “gallop” up)

They galloped down (make hands “gallop” down)

Then they galloped and they galloped right out of town! (“gallop” hands off to one hand.)

Posted in circle time, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, homeschool methods, Homeschool Preschool, preschool at home | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger Play Friday

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 14, 2011


NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it.  I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations.  When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

5 Little Monkeys

5 little monkeys, swinging in a tree,

(hold up one hand for “5”, then hang hand down and “swing” it back and forth like a monkey hanging from a tree by it’s tail.)

Teasing Mr. Alligator “you can’t catch me—you can’t catch ME!”

 (put thumbs behind ears and mock the alligator by moving fingers back and forth)

Along came Mr. Alligator quick as can be,

(make an alligator by placing hands in the “prayer” position and then hold them straight out in front of body to make an alligator’s head; wiggle from side to side, so the alligator “swims”.)

And he snatched that monkey right out of the tree!

(use hands, still in “alligator” stance, to open and close with a clap right on the word “snatched”.)

Repeat, changing the number: 4 little monkeys swinging in a tree, and so on, counting down to zero. When you get to zero, you say:

Now there’s no more monkeys swinging in the tree

(old up fist to indicate “zero”, while shaking head, “no”.)

But here comes Mr. Alligator (put palms together to make alligator; make alligator “swim”)

As fat as he can be. (On the word, “fat”, hold arms out to sides to show a “fat” alligator body; rock arms and body from side to side, as if waddling.)

Posted in circle time, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger-Play Friday

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 30, 2011


NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it.  I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations.  When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

 10 Little Soldiers

 10 little soldiers, standing in a row. (Hold up ten fingers.)

When they see the captain, they bow just so. (Bend finger-tips only.)

They march to the left and march to the right (move hands to the left, then the right),

Then shut their eyes and sleep all night. (Fold hands in prayer stance, then place on side of head; lay head on hands, turn head to one side as if resting on a pillow, shut eyes and pretend to go to sleep. We usually add soft snoring sounds at this point.)

      Have fun, and remember, it is your confidence and enthusiasm that makes finger-plays “work” and come alive with fun!! ~Susan

Posted in circle time, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, preschool at home | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finger-Play Friday

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 1, 2011


     O.K., O.K., I know it’s not Friday yet. But I wanted to get a head start, and have these in my subscriber’s in-boxes first thing in the morning. I hope to make “Finger-Play Fridays” a permament fixture around here for awhile–at least until I run out of finger-plays!  Let me know what you think.  ~Susan

 NOTE: This finger-play is written out as I learned it.  I do not know its original source. Most finger-plays, like “mother goose” rhymes, have been passed down from mother-to-daughter or from teacher-to-teacher, with slight variations.  When finger-plays are included in books, the author is usually listed as “unknown” or “traditional.” If anyone knows the original source of this finger-play, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

 10 Little Fingers

 I have ten little fingers, and they all belong to me. (Hold up ten fingers)

I can make them do things—would you like to see? (Continue to hold up ten fingers)

I can shut them up tight (close fists)

I can open them wide (open fingers wide.)

I can put them together (put hands together)

Or I can make them hide (quickly hide hands behind back.)

I can jump them up high (“jump” hands up)

Or jump them down low (“jump” hands low.)

And I can fold them quietly, just like so.

(Fold hands together, interlacing fingers. On the words, “just like so”, move folded hands slightly up and down for emphasis; say the words, “just like so” with staccato emphasis.)

 

Posted in Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, preschool at home | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Common Preschool Myths Debunked: Part 1

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 6, 2010


            It’s amazing to me that so many parents stubbornly hold on to these common  “preschool myths”–even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Many parents believe these myths so strongly that they will not even investigate any evidence that might disprove their premise.  I hope that you, my dear readers, will have open minds.  If you don’t believe me, look up the evidence I site and find out the truth for yourself.

Myth #1: We haven’t started doing anything educational with our young children yet; our children are “just playing.”

Truth:  All children are learning, all the time–whether we are aware of it or not.  All play is learning– especially child-initiated play.  Through play, children learn:

~Academic readiness skills/academics

~Thinking skills

~Speech skills

~Small and large muscle strength, control, and coordination

~Eye-hand coordination

~Play gives children the opportunity to:  Act out and deal with emotional upsets; practice social skills; develop their attention spans.

~Play is vital to normal child development. 

        Never underestimate the value of play, or your child’s need for it.  The best type of play for young children is “creative” or “dramatic” play—the type of play where your child comes up with “pretend” scenarios.  Examples:  A “Mommy” and her baby, a cowboy/cowgirl (“playing ponies” is what we used to call it for my daughter), a superhero, a doctor, firefighter, etc.  Preschoolers also need plenty of time for “manipulative” play; puzzles, play-dough, table top blocks, pattern blocks, rice bins, and so on.

 Myth #2:  Preschoolers need special, “educational” toys in order to optimize their brain development.

Truth:  All toys are educational.  Many of the toys that are labeled “educational” are simply labeled as such for marketing purposes. 

    The best toys are interactive and child-powered.  Avoid toys that are battery run or computer based like the plaque.  These toys often promise great educational benefits, but in truth, they fall short.  (Read the article, Hi-Tech Toys Offer No Educational Gain.  It is also wise to avoid toys that are based off  television shows or movies; these have limited play possibilities.   

     The best toys are the “traditional” toys.  They can be used in many different ways.  When your child plays with a Buzz Light Year action figure, he will always play “Space” or “Buzz.”  But when your child plays with blocks, he can use them as props for many different imaginary scenarios:  He could build a “space station” or add cars for a city; s/he could add plastic animals for a zoo; she could add small dolls to play mommy, or just practice building and stacking.  All traditional toys like blocks, cars, dolls, play kitchen, building toys (like magnetic building toys and Legos), balls, stuffed animals, plastic animals, and so on inspire endless opportunities for years of creative play.

 Myth #3:  The preschool years represent a limited “window of opportunity” when it comes to learning.  Preschooler’s brains are growing neural connections at an unprecedented rate.  We must take advantage of this brain development, or our children will lose the opportunity forever. 

Truth:  It’s true that it is very important to provide a loving, stimulating, and balanced environment for all children, no matter their age.  It’s also true that young children’s brains are growing new neural connections at an astonishing rate.  In fact, by the time children are 11 years old they have almost twice as many neural connections as adults do.  Starting at around age 11,  the unnecessary (unused) connections are pruned away. 

        Older children and adults continue growing and pruning neural connections throughout their lifetimes, and can learn just as well as young children can.  However, there are three areas of special concern when it comes to early brain development:

~Speech development:  Young children learn to speak by hearing speech and then copying it.  It is critically important for brain development and speech skills that you talk to your children all the time about everything you do (from birth.)  Make eye contact with your children, and engage them in “conversations” (yes, even babies!)  Conversations involve a “back and forth” interaction (i.e. baby makes a sound, you make the sound back, adding some speech as well; then wait for baby to respond again.)  It is also important to sing to your children, and read to them everyday (preferably many times.)  All these activities help to stimulate speech development and thinking skills.

~Language development (foreign language):  Baby’s brains are primed to learn language—any language.  So it’s true that it is easier for very young children to learn to speak a second language than it is for an adult (especially if you want to sound like a native speaker.)   However, this doesn’t mean that an older child/adult can’t learn a new language.  

     If you missed out on teaching a second language to your  young child, don’t worry about it; the window isn’t closed;  all is not lost.  Your children can pick it up later.  My daughter took up Japanese in high school (took 3 years of lessons from an exchange student) and I can vouch for the fact that interest and determination makes all the difference.

   If it is important to you that your child becomes fluently bilingual, you might want to introduce him to a foreign language early on (just be sure to do it in a fun, non-pressured sort of way.)  The best way to do this would be to find someone to spend time with him who speaks the language you want him to learn.  Have this person speak the language while playing with/reading to your child.  Ideas:  Foreign exchange students, extended family, etc.  If this is impractical, check out the resources offered by Sing ‘n Learn-especially the “Teach Me” CD’s.

~Music:  I don’t have any proof of it, but I’m convinced that the people who have developed a good “ear” for music–and those who seem to have “natural musical talent”–grew up in musical homes.  The amount of time you spend singing with your children and listening to classical/quality music together is directly proportionate to their later musical talent and “ear” or instinct for music (including pitch.)  It’s not only in the genes; it’s in the nursery (or the CD player?)  So turn off the TV and expose your children to music (see the tab, “My Articles”, then scroll down to “Why Music Matters for Preschoolers” for more information.)

         What about teaching very young children to read or do math?   If their brains are developing so rapidly, shouldn’t we take advantage of that growth and push them ahead academically?  I’ll address that in my next post.

 For more information about brain development, read Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think-and What We Can Do About It, and Your Child’s Growing Mind:  Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M.Healy, PH.D.

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Babies, Encouragement, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Mothering, Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »