The other day I told you a little (or a lot...) about how we are working on Einstein's preschool skills at home this year in preparation for kindergarten (at home or at school) next year.
We are insanely relaxed in our daily schedule (especially during the summer, and especially since the baby was born), so right now we're focusing less on the content of what we learn and more on the process of doing some specific activities at more set times during the day.
Most of these activities are way too easy for Einstein (4) and just about right for Miss Euler (2 1/2), but this way Einstein can feel like he's helping out. Also, Einstein has a much more cautious, deliberate personality, and when he's being introduced to something new, he needs to feel successful or he gets discouraged and either gives up or starts goofing around. So having some easier things to do right now are helping build his confidence, I think, and just helping him enjoy the routine of learning in a slightly more structured way.
I've been finding fantastic ideas for activities in many places. While I don't necessarily agree with every aspect of the Montessori method, there are a ton of very hands-on "Montessori" learning ideas out there, and we've been using a few of them. I've enjoyed Montessori Home-School (monthome.com) because it has a ton of ideas (with pictures!) of activities. Many of the activities require special equipment (much of it homemade), but we've gleaned a few great ideas that can be easily prepared with items commonly found around the house. Here are just a few:
Using different sized spoons, ladles, and strainers to scoop small beads out of a bowl of water
Eating with chopsticks (no tofu here, though). This one was pretty tricky and quickly devolved into just poking the cheese with the chopstick like a skewer.
We do practice the alphabet with these magnets, but we've also been playing "what's metallic in our house?"
And I've been finding magnets all over the place...
I was having so much fun with this one that I forgot to take pictures, but we tested various objects' buoyancy in water, then talked about where to "graph" them on our picture. This one made me SO excited for when the kids are old enough for "real" graphing... I'm so nerdy.
This is a little hard to see, but we set up a dish washing station on some chairs and the kids helped me wash some things. I'm not sure why I never thought of this before, but they loved it and it was genuinely helpful.
Okay, this is my secret shame. I discovered this beast out in my husband's office and splurged on laminating sleeves (they are quite pricey). So I am being careful to conserve my laminating resources...
This is what the laminating is for. This particular set is from Confessions of a Homeschooler's free Pre-K Letter of the Week series. We have been using dry-erase markers that we already had, but then the only thing that gets the marker off is a "magic eraser" type thing. Apparently, wet-erase markers (like for overhead projectors) come off with just water, so I'll have to see whether new markers or a continuous supply of magic erasers is less pricey. Einstein LOVES this (we have some number and letter ones, too), and he is much more willing to try these than he is with pencils or crayons on normal paper, for whatever reason. Miss Euler loves the markers, but she is still more interested in doodling on the backs than in tracing.
I am probably learning just as much as the kids right now, trying to figure out what to do, how much to expect, what works best for each kid (and for me), and when to just relax and go play in the garden (most of the time!).