Going with the Flow – Cars Style

I had my son screened for public 4K at a nearby school.  In our district, it’s only half day and I thought that it would be a great chance for him to get out of the house and have some fun after the baby comes.  Public 4K is exactly what I used to teach, so I know that most of the things that would be on the screening he could do before the age of 2, but still – a mom can hope.  Well, he didn’t qualify.  Back to Plan A it is.

I am working on some low-effort (large baby bump = need for small effort) learning notebooks that Carter will be able to use over and over for the next few months.  The first one will be based on the movie Cars.  This little guy is crazy about the movie and with Cars 2 coming out at the end of the month, the excitement continues.  What does any great teacher do with excitement and interest?  They turn it into an opportunity for learning!

We’ll be using this Cars Preschool Pack for many of our activities.  I don’t have this one ready for use yet, but once it is, pictures will follow.

I didn’t find any calendar pieces, so I made my own.  The clipart came from “Free Disney Clipart”, so I’m going to assume that it’ll be fine for me to share them with you.  I’d be glad for you to print and use them, but never to sell them or claim them as your own.

Cars Calendar Pieces

Don’t have a Cars-crazy little boy in your house?  Check out all the Preschool Packs here.  There are some fun themes – even one for Princesses.  These look like great, easy-to-assemble activities that will keep Carter learning while I am caring for a new baby in the house.

And here are the blank calendar pieces if you’d like to try your hand at making some to fit your theme.

I found some great planning forms here that I’ll adapt to work for me, but they make work for you just as they are!

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Life and Changes

Sometimes, though you have the best intentions, life gets in the way.

First, Easter week happened.  I work for my church and in the church world Easter is kind of a big deal.

Then, Carter went through a terrible bout with salmonella poisoning.  It began a few days before Easter and persisted and persisted and persisted.  During the week he was showing symptoms, we had NO idea what was wrong with him.  It was pretty pitiful and the kind of thing that drives a mother crazy.

Here he is trying to have fun on Easter, but ended up pooped in his Daddy’s arms.

Thankfully, he got better just a few days before we were scheduled to leave for NYC to visit my brothers.  As far as Carter is concerned, NYC = Subway trains.  He wants to ride them every chance he gets and he makes it his job to learn all the trains that we need to take and the stops where we need to get off and transfer.  He’s quite the conductor.  Here are a few images from our time in the Big Apple.

Tickle Time!

Carter Bug at the Staten Island Children's Museum

Preschool Art at Rockefellar Park on the Hudson

There are some great parks in NYC!

On the "Shakey Bridge" with Uncle J.

Life is good when you're 3.

Admiring the fountains at The Met before going inside.

Central Park

Enjoying an amazing view from a highrise in Brooklyn.

During all this time away from our daily “school” routine I came to some tough conclusions.  The first is that I’m totally missing what Carter is ready for with the activities I’m planning for him.  I realize that this may not come across as a problem to some of you, but it is one in my eyes.  If I am planning activities for my son to learn letter sounds and match uppercase and lowercase and the like when he is ready to read books and write, then I am wasting both our time.  If I am having him count items to 10, when he can easily count from 1-100, identify those numbers and write them I am totally missing the mark.  The larger problem is that the things I am teaching him now have been the things I have been teaching him since before he was 2 because those are the things I taught my students in PreK. It’s my comfort zone, so to speak.  Teaching a child who is reading and teaching a child anything past pre-math skills is a little beyond my area of expertise.  I can now see that keeping a bright child challenged is just as difficult as teaching an at-risk child to recognize their name and learn academic basics.

I’m going through a bit of a redo myself.

I have started to research some more things to challenge Carter from a language standpoint.  I read over this Montessori Language Scope and Sequence to find some jumping off points.  I’ve purchased some early readers: Miss Rhonda’s Readers and Bob’s Books.  I have purchased the moveable alphabet and will be assembling it today.  I am swinging by my library to pick up The Read Aloud Handbook and Reading Magic to take our read aloud time to the next level.

I have not yet started my research on math and beyond.

I say all this to say that I’m pausing to reevaluate and the site may take on a different direction, since it is just documentation of our learning journey.

If you have any suggestions for resources, I would greatly appreciate shared links, books titles and materials that will spur us forward.  I’ll showcase anything I get in a new post to make it easier for others to benefit as well.

Great Printable Resources – Plants

We’re rolling along through April learning about plants, seeds, growing and flowers.  It’s a lot of fun.  I found a lot of printable activities, some free some not, that go right along with our learning.  I don’t like to overwhelm our activity shelf with printables, but I’ve found that Carter is very interested in working through them when I rotate in a few at a time.

I hit the jackpot with this first resource: the Garden Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations.  There were so many great activites included.  These are my favorite.

Pre-Writing cards for tracing.  There are some easy ones and some more difficult ones.  Laminate these first for repeat use.

Sequencing cards – How a Seed Grows

Memory game with rhyming words.  Hint: some of the pictures are tough.  Write them down for yourself and go over all the names of the pictures with your child before you play.

A nice, simple introduction to the parts of a plant in puzzle format.

Sorting flowers and vegetables.  I haven’t cut these apart yet.  My only gripe with these is that they are TINY, but hey – they’re free!

Practicing beginning sounds.  I used clothespins for Carter to clip on the cards.  He calls this the “Clips Game”.  Below is a video that I captured while he was cleaning the game up.  He explains how to play it in his own words.

The next three activities are from Montessori for Everyone.  Once again, I LOVE, LOVE their gorgeous, real photos.

Sorting, Plants and Food.  Once Carter got the hang of sorting into two groups, we talked about which food was made from which plant and he paired them up.

The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin.  We haven’t done this one yet (you can see it’s not cut apart), but we’ll work on putting them in order, then we’ll try matching the words to the pictures as well.

Matching – Whole and Half Fruits.  Carter had a lot of fun with this one!

These last 3 are from KidsSoup, a (very cheap) subscription site for activities grouped by theme.  These were both from the Plants Unit.

Flower mini-book.  This one is simple enough for Carter to read on his own and has some great information about the parts of flowers and how they grow.

Word Families Game.  There’s a picture in the center of each flower.  Put the leaves with its correct word family.

Cutting practice.  I made a couple copies of these.

The “mouth of concentration” says it all – this is not as easy as it looks for a 3 year-old.

Enjoy and thanks for your comments!