Preschool at our house – ready for a new baby!

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Here is the latest change-over for the twin’s preschool activities for homeschool time each morning. We are currently taking a school holiday break for 2 weeks, leading up to the birth of our 7th blessing.

I have found from experience that everything goes much more smoothly if we continue with school, rather than take a break at the same time as the newest arrival. Too much free time and lack of structure and supervision creates cranky kids who bicker all day and drive me crazy! I have made sure that the activities for this term do not require a lot of 1 on 1 time with Mum and the older children especially are able to work through without requiring my assistance, other than for the occasional question etc.

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These handwriting books are the one item in the preschool cupboard that will need my 1 on 1 attention. The twins are asking me how to write certain letters now and are keen to write their names. My opinion is that if they are going to write letters, they may as well learn how to do it properly right from the start, rather than need to re-learn later and correct bad habits. I should be able to fit in the 15 minutes or so that is needed to complete 1 page per day.

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I picked up some old activity books with dotted pictures. Tracing these dotted lines to make the figures is great fine motor practise. I have removed the pages from their covers so that the twins can easily grab one page at a time.

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I also found some old sticker books. Again, I pulled all the pages out so that they can choose one at a time. Some paper to stick them on to and a packet of textas is all that is needed for some creative fun.

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I have had these pattern block puzzles out before but the children do not choose to do them unless directed to do so. I have made a list of each picture with space for a sticker or stamp next to each one. After finishing a puzzle they can mark it as completed by stamping or sticking next to the corresponding name. A little added incentive!

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Cutting and gluing are still exceedingly popular with both children. This box has some large plain paper sheets, wrapping paper pictures, glue sticks and scissors for free creating.

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A carry on from last month – matching upper and lowercase alphabet letters. More work is needed on this skill so I have just changed the presentation and popped it back out again. The large jewels have capital letters on them and the ice block trays have both upper and lowercase. It is a basic matching activity.

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Addition and counting skills will be something we continue to work on for a while. With the rocks as the manipulatives, the children solve the simple addition sum on each peg before clipping it to the correct segment on the paper plate. Using pegs means that this also improves fine motor skills as well. The circle in the centre is the inside of a used roll of sticky tape. I just glued it onto the paper plate which provides a great place for the pegs and rocks to be stored when not in use.

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Three letter CVC words are going to be out for quite a while. With the same letter tiles and a new set of pictures (free printables here) the twins already know how to do this and need only a little help. Last time I had them lucky dip the tiles out of a bag but I found that they wanted to be able to see all the letters and find the one they needed so ended up tipping them all out anyway. Having them in the plate means they can see the tiles and choose the sound they are up to.

 

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10 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas!
    I am inspired by your ability to teach your ‘big’ kids and little ones at the same time! I have found it a struggle over the past few months to be pregnant, have 2 toddlers a kindergartener and a year 1to get to over the day. I have adjusted my older kids schoolwork so that I can spend some time training my toddlers (18 months and 2.5) to sit and spend time doing some of the wonderful activities you suggest.

    If you have any tips on how to begin with montessori activities I would love all the help I can get!
    Congratulations to on your little one soon to be arriving! My hopes and prayers that all goes well for you!

    Kind regards,
    Louise

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Hi Louise, thanks for your kind feedback. Yes, you are in the hardest time I would guess! No older kids to help out and lots of little ones. It does get easier as the age range broadens. When I had 5 children 7 and under it was a struggle at times. Training those toddlers will definitely make life easier so well done for recognising that. As for the activities, I would focus on the ones that can be used with a wider age range so that you can have just one or two sets that everyone shares, rather than different sets for 3 different ages. Sensory boxes, gluing, playdough etc that you can give to any of the children will make it easier to keep up. The transfer activities for example need to be changed regularly to keep interest up so I wouldn’t bother so much with those in this busy season. Chuck some tongs, ladles and spoons etc. into the sensory tub and consider transfer covered! Do the same with other trays that you can see will be short lived. I would suggest going for a walk through your house and making yourself a list of every appropriate toy/activity you already own and setting these up so that you can easily grab them and pop them out at any time. That’s what I did for the “mega list” series of posts https://angathome.com/2014/01/14/mega-list-of-highchair-and-table-activity-ideas-for-babies-and-toddlers/ You don’t want to be doing anything that needs heaps of prep or will need to be changed too often otherwise you will not keep up. Find a storage system that suits you and have them close by. When you need to feed your new baby you can toss a few tubs on the table, set the kids up and feed in peace. I also found it helpful to have a list of ideas on Pinterest or similar that I could refer to when I had the time to make something new and a running list of items I wanted to buy to be able to make them. That way when I was out and popped into a secondhand shop or where ever, I could pick up that pair of tongs, tweezers, packet of coloured rocks, stickers etc and keep them in the cupboard ready for the next change-over. Hope that helps and just keep in mind it will get easier as those little ones grow. (Especially if you train your older children to help the family with regular chores and household tasks!)

  2. what is a packet of textas?

  3. Americans call them felt tip markers/pens I believe.

  4. Thanks for the ideas! It’ll come in handy when the baby comes!

  5. Hi Ang, Hope you are well! I’ve been wanting to ask you what you do for handwriting with your kids. Where do you start ie. cursive, manuscript? Are the books you’ve got in this post what you’d recommend? Noticed they are Victorian cursive. Gail

    • Hi Gail I have done both foundation style (the old bat and ball style of text with no “tails”) and also cursive style. The theory with cursive is that it makes it easier to learn “running writing” later because they just join up all the entrances and exits, rather than having to change the shape of the letters. I have heard lots of people complain that this style is not as neat though. My children have done either without trouble and we are now doing bat and ball because the phonics and spelling programme I will use later does this style so I am avoiding swapping back and forth. The books in the picture are foundation style. An excellent way to start with young children is to use the “ant story” from the Smart Words word study programme. (Judie Bulluss and Peter Coles from Smart Starters Level A and B) This uses a simple story about ants to teach every pencil stroke that makes up the letters in isolation first, before they are combined to make any letter the child wants to write. You can then say to a child who asks “How do I write a ‘h'” “Straight stick, tunnel” and they are able to immediately put these two simple shapes together to make the desired letter h. They pick it up very quickly. I paid $40 for the book just for the 2 pages on the ant story after having used it when I was a classroom teacher!! (You are welcome to borrow it though)

      • Thanks Ang appreciate the tips would really appreciate borrowing the book when I see you next. Gail

  6. Also wanted to say I love the pattern block checklist idea. I’m quite sure this would be a great incentive for our boys to do them too as they also will not do them unless directed. So simple but Ingenious!!!

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