Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sticks, Bugs, and Goo

Yeah, I have boys.  Two active little guys.  This was definitely a week we embraced the delight of sticks and bugs and mess that comes with boy world!
I hadn't discovered the wonderful author Julia Donaldson before living here with lots of British friends.  She writes great books for kids!  One of hers that I had seen at the school library to which we have a membership here is Stick Man.  My boys LOVE sticks!  Isaiah thinks they are the most amazing treasures on the planet and carefully collects the perfect sticks and can't bear to part with any of them.  So, reading this book was perfect for them, and they both loved it.  I hadn't planned for it to be a big focus for us, but they were enjoying the book so much that I decided we would make our own Stick Men from an idea I saw on Pinterest.  We chose some of the treasured sticks, collected some leaves for hair, and then used our hot glue gun to glue it all together, adding some wiggle eyes!

The boys absolutely LOVE their Stick Men and both were insistent to take them along to my husband's office where we eat lunch everyday.  The Nepalis all were very intrigued (and understandably confused and amused by yet another crazy thing the foreigners do!).

 Predictably, it didn't take long for Stick Men to turn into swords at snack time!

I found an idea on pinterest (where else?) for frozen gelatin fossil excavation that seemed really fun and a good connect with interests.  Isaiah had recently watched an episode of Dinosaur Train where the characters discovered bugs trapped in amber, and he has talked a lot since then about Jurassic bugs trapped in "hamber."  So, I thought I would add some food coloring to the gelatin to make it look more like amber.  I mixed up the gelatin and poured it into my muffin tin with large cups to set and then freeze.  Isaiah was so thrilled with the idea and could not wait to jump in.  I gathered some scoops, tongs, and a big bowl of warm water, and the boys literally dug right in.

It was not long before the mess and the heat led to shirtless (and very focused) boys!

Ezekiel didn't really care that much about the bugs, but he was super thrilled about playing, pouring, and then splashing in the super gooey mess as it melted!  Needless to say, a bath promptly followed since he was covered in yellow goo!

Linking up to some great Tot School ideas over here!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Doing School

We haven't really had a theme lately, and the past couple of weeks have been packed with visitors and new folks coming to join the work here, so we've been a little loose with school lately.  
Just thought I'd share a couple of things we've been up to lately.
Isaiah cannot get enough superhero stuff still, so I found some badges that have the emblems for the original "Justice League" character, so I printed them onto cardstock.  He loved coloring them, and then we cut them out, and he made a whole plan of which one he was going to wear for each part of his day!  Next to his hand is the Green Lantern ring we made out of foam and pipe cleaner.
 Another pinterest find...Ice Chalk!  It was really fun, and it gave me the chance to chat with Zeke about shapes and colors we were drawing, and Isaiah and I made some drawings together, which he loves!  I did use a dab of washable paint instead of food coloring to make the colors, as washability is notable for us!  I would add more next time, as many of the colors were pretty light, but they do get darker as the chalk starts to melt.

 We finished up the last of our How to Be a Superhero unit from Impress Your Kids with "Magnificent Purity."  We read Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Fine China Plate (which Isaiah asked to read again), and then we did this ping pong ball activity, which the boys LOVED!

With Tot School in mind, I had washed (and washed and bleached and rewashed!) some rocks we collected here and written a capital alphabet letter on each.  Zeke doesn't know his letters really yet (though he is starting to pick out a few key ones, like the first letter of his name!), so I just printed out a fun alphabet sheet I found from 1+1+1=1.  My idea was just to work with him (showing him most of the letters) to put the letter on the matching letter (both sets were capitals).  I somehow thought perhaps the boys could take turns finding letters (even though it is much too easy for Isaiah), but they were not in a sharing mood, fought over the rocks, and we ended the activity.  They can't all be "wins," huh?

Ezekiel really loves locks and keys right now, and padlocks are used for most doors here, so I bought him one just to use for himself.  The downside is most of the locks here aren't made all that well, so it sort of slips and around and gets jammed, but he still was pretty excited to work on HIS lock!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Superheroes, Part 3

We wrapped up our third week of our superhero theme.  My older son is totally hooked on all things superhero right now, so we've continued to carry on a few things in the week and half since then, but we are looser and not in a full-on theme for it now.  
In this week's activities, we were working on the "Incredible Love" portion of the How to Be a Superhero.  We only got two things done for this week with it.  One was making a little art project with a portion of the verse and the other was the heart garland she suggested, which was a little forced with my boys.  Isaiah still has it setting in his room, but it was a bit challenging getting him to connect to it much.  

 One of our biggest projects through this unit has been a Superhero Alphabet Book.  Before we started the unit, Isaiah actually requested to make it.  I had put up a transportation alphabet series of cards during our transportation unit, and Isaiah asked if we could make a superhero ABC book.  Of course, I wanted to jump on his suggestion for that!  Given that my knowledge of superheroes before this unit didn't extend far beyond Superman and Batman, I enlisted the help of my brother who loves comic books and collects them.  Within 24 hours of mentioning the idea to him in a message, he sent me a list of at least 2 for every single letter of the alphabet!  Could NOT have done this project without his help!  I wanted Isaiah to have some investment in making it, but I also wanted to keep the actual book assembly fairly simple so that we could do 2-3 letter per day and fit it within three weeks of the unit.  I started by printing out pictures of the characters and asked him if he wanted to cut and paste them on colored paper, but he just wanted to have me write the names of each superhero by the picture on that same page.  I realized (especially given that he likes to really observe and study how something is done before trying it much) how valuable it is for him to just see me write things, so I continued doing that each day for our pages.
So, each day, he would pull the pages for that day out of his tray (usually asking me within 10 minutes of waking up who our superheroes were for the day!), he would put a sticker of the letter on that page, I would write the name of the superhero by each picture, and then I would tell him about each one.  THAT was what took me a LOT of time!  Finding the images and compiling some info for each one!  I knew, though, that he wouldn't be satisfied with just the name.  After a few days, I realized he mainly just wanted to know what their "powers" were, so I focused on just gathering that specific info.  He is VERY proud of his superhero book!

 One particular aspect of his focus on superheroes that is particularly amusing is that he has created a superhero out of the Madagascar character Melman.  Could there be a more unlikely character to be a superhero?  Ha.  Anyway, he makes up a lot of stories about "Super Melman" and is determined to make a movie about him (which we haven't gotten to actually tackling yet), so I did a quick photo chop to include "Super Melman" in our book!

 Isaiah found a Superman game here at a department store awhile ago, and I had been meaning to pull it out to play during this unit.  It's the first time that I have sat down with both boys and attempted to play a focused board game.  I have to admit, it was a bit painful!  Zeke is obviously too young to follow the structure of it, which is fine, but it drives Isaiah (our fairness police) crazy that he doesn't follow the directions or rules.  Ironically, Isaiah then tries to bend the rules anytime he feels he is getting behind and not winning the game!  Not to mention, it just isn't that well done as a game!  Yeah, we're going to need to stick to playing just Isaiah and me or choosing other games or something.

 Isaiah had asked about drawing circles, and I remembered this prewriting page from Over the Big Moon's Superhero Pack and printed it out for him.

 Of course, Little Man wanted one, too!  :)

Isaiah really has enjoyed putting his "badges" on his superhero cape.  Here he is putting his on for "Incredible Love" and "Fantastic Conduct."
 A HUGE highlight for Isaiah was that a care package from Grandpa and Grandma arrived, in which Uncle Ben had sent him some comic books!  He has been absolutely glued to them!

 Isaiah is my man of big ideas.  He constantly has requests for things to make and projects to do, none of which he connects to the actual effort involved (afraid that is a bit of an inherited quality on top of the developmental understanding!).  I find myself often saying no just because the thought of the effort involved overwhelms me a bit or I get too wrapped up in my own agenda for our time, so I am trying to say yes to more of them and/or adapt them to a more realistic undertaking.  Last week he wanted to make Wonder Woman's magic lasso out of a tall piece of grass he found.  So, I decided to go for it and pull out some yellow paint and gold glitter and let him do it!  Sadly, as you would expect from a piece of grass, the end broke off the next day, which was quite emotional!  Did I mention he also gets very attached to his ideas and projects?!

Little Man has a lot less agenda for projects, which seems like it will probably stick that way, given his personality, but when someone pulls out glitter and paint, he just wants in on the action and has a grand old time enjoying the process!

Tot School for Superheroes

I've written that we've been doing a superheroes unit, and it's been centered around my older son's interests and quite a lot of work, so I haven't been very good about doing things directly for Little Man lately.  
He did enjoy having a super hero "badge" of his own!  
And, a cape!  I can't resist how cute he is in his cape!  He doesn't like to wear it much, but he loves that he has one just like big brother!

Awhile ago, when we were doing our transportation unit, he had seen this bus sizing activity that I had printed and laminated and never got around to cutting out because we didn't use it during the unit.  One day, we were using our wet-erase markers, and he asked, "Bus?  Markers?"  I went and pulled it out, and he just drew on it.  He loves to draw with markers, and just pulling out something simple that he asked for was a good reminder to me that he is easy to please!

He isn't ready to actually write his letters yet, but anytime big brother is doing a writing or prewriting sheet, he really wants one of his own.  I have tried to give him another sheet that might fit him more, but usually he insists on having the SAME one that he sees his brother having.  His favorite is to put it in our sheet pocket and use the wet-erase markers.

I have been wanting some of these vehicle counters for a long time for him, and recently a family that was leaving here had a small set of them for sale.  Both of the boys really love playing with them!  Sometimes I have him try to put the matching color in the cup or try to count them, but he also just loves to play with them and pouring things between cups is another of his favorite things to do, so he pours his vehicles.

One of the activities I did make intended for him during this unit was a little rhyme with stick puppets, Five Superheroes Brave.  He has pulled out the little figures several times since then and said, "Whoosh" and put one behind his back, so we'll do the rhyme together.

As I wrote in my other posts, we have been doing Impress Your Kids' How to Be a Superhero series, and he has connected more than I expected with that.  I didn't really think he would be able to understand too much of it, and while I don't think he necessarily understood the point or main ideas or anything, he has made several verbal connections when we've talked about previous activities that were really exciting to me to see how much he is at least making note of what we are doing and remembering key things to anchor to in his little heart and mind!

Check out other great ideas for tots at this Tot School Roundup from 1+1+1=1

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Superheroes, Part 2

Rolling ahead with our superhero theme, which has been a lot of work, but my son has absolutely LOVED...
Not directly part of our superhero theme, we still kept working on some of our Raising Rock Stars Preschool stuff.  Isaiah has had a big breakthrough with his writing lately, and it is exciting to see him very confidently diving in on his writing.  New courage seemed fitting with our theme. :)

We kept going with our activities from Impress Your Kid's How to Be a Superhero.  I had some sticky felt, so I made them their "badges" for Super Speech out of that, and Isaiah was excited to put his on his cape.

I found this PreK Superhero Pack from Over the Big Moon.  We didn't do a ton of the activities, but it was a good pack, and I pulled out the cutting page for Isaiah to work on.
We also did the Dot Marker page, and the boys always enjoy using those!

This week we were doing "Fantastic Conduct" from the I Timothy-based series at Impress Your Kids.  We watched the Wise and Foolish Builders video on youtube that she linked to in her post, and then we painted rocks to remind us that hearing what Jesus said AND putting it into action is like building our house on a rock!  The boys really loved this, which isn't surprising since rocks are some of the biggest treasures around these days, and they have asked several times since then to paint rocks again.  I hadn't really intended for them to paint the foil; I was just using it to put the rocks on for the painting, but both of them painted a scene around their foil.

Another day of the "Fantastic Conduct," I read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego while they colored a picture I found online, and we talked a bit about the story.  A story like that really takes on another dimension of reality that leads to some very interesting discussions when living in a place like this where there literally are physical idols worshipped all over the place.

We made these "Superhero Control Panels."  I had to adapt a bit based on what we had available here, and I put together the majority of it, and the boys just added the "buttons" on top.  Zeke went for some shininess and then was done.  Isaiah went kind of plain-looking but was very methodical and made up what each button does.  My favorite one was the top left one that "sends stupid to the bad guys," so that they don't know what to do and can't think of anything! :)