Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter Hiatus

Some of you might be wondering where the Letter of the Week posts have been.  I assure you, I haven't fallen off the alphabet-wagon.  We are just in the middle of what I like to call a "Letter Hiatus."  If you read the previous post, you know we made an Advent Calendar.  The first week of Advent, we still learned letter I, but I realized that I was getting a bit stressed trying to fit everything in.  The former teacher in me wanted to press on and do the letters as planned, but then I reminded myself that I do not have a set curriculum that needs to be finished by a certain time, and I originally started this whole Parker Prep endeavor for something for Parker and I to enjoy.  I came to the conclusion that Advent and Christmas activities would take over for the month of December, and we would start back up with letter J in January.  Perfect!

Aside from reading the Advent scripture every night (well almost every night), we did a variety of Christmas and Advent activities.  I just kind of fit them in whenever.  They were a lot of fun!

We got out the felt tree I made him last year.

Baked a gingerbread family.

Strung a candy cane

and hung it on the tree.

Sorted bows

and painted with them.

Made salt-dough ornaments.  I didn't like any of the finished products, but Parker had a great time rolling out the dough.  

Filled in these pictures with pattern blocks.

Ordered the paper strips from largest to smallest

to make a Christmas Tree.

Put stickers on paper ornaments and strung them together.

And played roll-the-dice nativity.

We read quite a few books.  Here are some of our favorites.

Hope you all have a great time celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Calendar

I set out to make an Advent Calendar in November of 2012.  I found a lot of great ideas on Pinterest, mixed them with my own ideas, and got started.  

First, I purchased 25 mini cardboard boxes from Hobby Lobby.

I really wanted it to look random, so I don't have the same number of each, and I think there are 7 different shapes.  That idea had it's pro's and con's.  (Maybe a lot more con's.  It's amazing how difficult it is to make things look random).

After re-arranging them a couple hundred times, I finally got them in the order I wanted.  Then it was time to cover them.  I bought 10 different kinds of scrapbook paper to cover the tops with.  I played around with those a few hundred times as well.  Once I figured out where I wanted each kind, I cut out a net figure, glued it down with craft glue, and then painted over the entire thing with Modge Podge to make it shiny.  Finally, I spray painted the bottom of the boxes red.  That whole process was done by December of 2012, but I still had nothing to mount them on.  Parker was only two years old, so I figured I would relax for this year and finish next November.

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving of 2013, I did a lot of research on what I wanted in the Advent Calendar.  There are several different options, but I really wanted it to be Christ-focused.  I ended up going with a model I found on Pinterest.  Each day has a reading from the Bible and small trinket, (such as an angel, soft cloth for swaddling, a donkey, a cross, etc) that goes along with the story.  After re-arranging the boxes again, I wrote out the Bible reference on a piece of paper for each day and stuffed the boxes with everything.  I also made a few little cards that said fun things like, "Get a Christmas Tree,"  "Make Gingerbread Men," "Watch a Christmas Movie," and I've just been putting them in when it works out.

So, now what am I going to put these boxes on?  I thought about gluing them to a dry-erase board and painting the frame red, or fastening them to a white canvas, or even a picture frame with a glass background, but my husband had a clear vision - which turned out to be way better than my ideas!  He decided to make me a frame out of a pallet.  My brother-in-law is a contractor, so he has an amazing shop to work in, and happened to have an old pallet in his burn pile =) 

We took it all apart, laid things out and Ryan took over from there.  After assembling, he sprayed it with lacquer to make it nice and shiny.  It turned out PERFECT!  I actually want a couple dozen more for other things!  (And of course I forgot to take a picture of just the frame. Boo)

After drying for about 24 hours, it was finally time to glue the boxes to the frame.  You'll never believe this, but I rearranged the boxes again...and again...and again.  It is NEARLY impossible to make things really look random!  And of course I had wanted the one with the Santa's on it for  #24 and the Christmas tree one for #25.  After a while, we decided it was impossible for that to happen, so we put #25 in the #1 slot.  It was perfect!  Then we realized that if we just turn the frame around, #1 would be in the #25 spot again.  We turned it around, and guess what?  We rearranged it again.  Ryan was just about to give up when we finally got it just right.  There is literally no other way for the boxes to work out perfectly random =)  

Then we realized we need numbers.  Ryan made them all on Photoshop. We printed them out, glued and modge-podged them all on and finally glued the boxes to the frame.  Ryan bought some crazy adhesive and those suckers are NOT moving.  

Ta daaa!  

After one year and 50,000 arrangements, the Advent Calendar is finished!  And it's way better than my original thoughts, thanks to my husband =)  

In summary, to make something like this, you will need:
- 25 mini cardboard boxes
- At least 5 kinds of scrapbook paper
- Craft glue
- Modge Podge
- Red spray paint
- A pallet
- Lacquer
- Strong adhesive to stick the boxes to the frame
We are enjoying it very much this year and are excited for it to become a family tradition!

Merry Christmas!

I is for Ice Cream

We made it to letter I!  We're about 1/3 of the way through the alphabet and I think Parker is learning a lot.  This week got a little crazy because we started doing Advent Activities, too.  More about that in the next post.  All in all, it was a fun week!

Day 1

We started out by singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."  Then we sang 
"Immanuel, Immanuel
His name is called, Immanuel.
God with us. Be near to us.
His name is called, Immanuel." 

We talked about how that is another name for Jesus, and that it started with "I."  
Then we did this little activity on the board.

We reviewed letters A-H and their verses, and then learned Letter I.  I love when we say each letter's verse.  Parker remembers them better than I do!  Then we learned this week's verse,

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind." - Jeremiah 32:27   

For our Intro to Letter I activity, I used scotch tape to make upper and lower case I's on a cookie sheet and had him trace it with ice cubes.  He loved it!

Of course he wanted to eat one.

Next, we did what I called an "Ink Experiment."  I poured some vinegar into a divided formula container, and tinted each section with a different color.  Then I covered the bottom of an 8x8 dish with baking soda and a little bit of water.  Every time he dropped the ink into the dish it sizzled and expanded.  It was pretty cool!  He played with it for quite a while, and then ended up dumping the whole container of vinegar in to the dish =)

Then Daddy did this book with him.

And we read

Day 2

I checked out an Insect Discovery Pack from the library for today. It was full of fun ways to learn about insects.  First, we read a little book that told us about what makes an insect an insect - they have three parts to their body, they have six legs, and they have two antenna's.  Then we used a magnifying glass to look closely at all sorts of different insects.

It also had a special eyeglass that showed you what it's like to look through a fly's eye, an insect match game, a butterfly sequencing page, and a few books including this one.

Day 3

  I have to mention that the night before we were reading our Advent Calendar reading, 

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a great sign.  Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she shall call His name Immanuel." - Isaiah 7:14 

and Parker said, "Mom! It said Immanuel like in preschool!"  I LOVE when things cross-over like that!  We started out today by discussing what we read the night before and singing "Immanuel."
We also counted to 30 and recalled the different things we'd already learned about that started with letter I.  Then we did this ice cream cone letter matching game.

Next, we read 

discussed the sequence, and played with this sensory dish full of sprinkles, large puff balls, cupcake tins, and an ice cream scoop.  We had a great time making ice cream sundae's together.

Finally, we went to a friend's house and brought the ingredients to make ice cream in a bag.  The boys had a great time shaking and throwing the bag around, and an even better time eating it up! 

That's it for I!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thanksgiving Theme

I'm taking the approach during holiday weeks to just have a few options of preschool activities we can do.  If we get to them - great.  If not, I'm not going to skip watching the Mayci's Day Parade to make sure we fit our preschool stuff in for the week =)  Since we were going to be out of town a majority of the week, we just had one day that we learned about Thanksgiving.  Here's what we did!

We started out with a Thanksgiving Tree.  
We talked about the verse that we had memorized during E week,

"Every good and perfect gift is from above." - James 1:17

Then I asked Parker to think of things that he really likes and is thankful for.  (I thought drawing it on the board would be a bit easier than cutting out several hands).  My personal favorites are 'boats' and 'pick-up trucks.'  What would the world be like without them?  

Then we read

And made a pilgrim hat.

 Later that day, we read

And had our neighbors over to make cute little turkey handprints.  Below is a picture of Adley's.  
I forgot to take a picture of Parker's before I gave them away.  

I tell ya what - I am SO thankful to have to opportunity to create Parker Prep.  It has been such a joy planning and teaching it to Parker.  I'm looking forward to Adley's Alphabet someday, too ;)