Monday, March 8, 2010

Tot School Week 12 (March 4th-March 7th)

Alyssa is 27 1/2 Months Old
All activities are done under VERY CLOSE supervision (small items). 
Please do not use photos of my child on any website, blog, etc.  
Enjoy your visit and please come back again soon!!!!

Our tot school week was VERY short, but luckily we still accomplished a lot.  We took a trip to the coast, my hubby had an allergic reaction to mosquitos, AND Alyssa was sick this week.  I think we had tot school maybe 1 1/2 to two days this week.

My planning was inspired by The Kissing Hand book written by Audrey Penn.  This book or unit is usually used at the beginning of the year by teachers and daycare workers (just in case you'd like to do a google search).  I decided why not use it after our month full of LOVE (February) activities.  Then, I remembered I purchased a sweet book back when I was pregnant and still teaching titled, Little Raccoon's Big Question.  This motivated me even more to do a raccoon theme along with Alyssa's recent interest in them.  Here is a picture of my daughter smiling and happy about tot school time even though she is STILL sick from our trip.  We do have a classroom in the garage, but we work wherever she wants for now.  

Alyssa's raccoon activities were placed in 12 workboxes on the days we did tot school.  Read about Sue Patrick's Workbox System here!!!  If you google workbox systems and homeschool you'll find MANY other bloggers or teachers using this system.  I just wanted to show other bloggers how we have been organizing our tot school activities.  I started using this system when Alyssa was 15 months old.  We practiced recognizing, identifying, and matching numbers.  My husband bought shelves at Lowe's or Home Depot a couple years ago when they were on sale.  We set them up in the garage (now Alyssa's classroom).  The shelving was originally intended for storage, but that changed once I saw the workbox system website.  I bought 12 (20 Quart) Sterilite containers from Wal-Mart.  These containers are more expensive than others, but ... I don't have to worry about where I am going to store all the lids.  The lids push up against the sides when opened for oversized items placed in her boxes.  I used the provided box labels from the workbox system website and starter kit.  I plan on using different ones later, but this is NOT a priority for me right now.  I use the bottom of two of the shelves to store her workboxes so that she can have access to them (independently).  The top shelves are used for storage of school materials.  I try to make sure that I don't place heavy or breakable items in the top workboxes just in case she drops it.      

Raccoon Books We Read:
The Kissing Hand
A Pocket Full of Kisses
Little Raccoon's Big Question
If I Could: A Mother's Promise

I am sure that you can find all of the mentioned books above a lot cheaper at garage sales, thrift stores, book stores, online, or  you can save money and check them out at the library.  


The Kissing Hand Book
First, we looked at the picture on the cover of the book and I asked Alyssa to  predict or tell me what she thought the story was about.  She read the title as her answer.  So, I asked her what animals were on the cover and if it was day or night.  She responded correctly.  We reviewed the parts of a book and we did a picture walk.  We discussed things she pointed out on each page.  Then, we read the story together.  

Pocket Chart Shared Reading
I wrote the sentences from this week's MAIN reader on sentence strips and placed them in our pocket chart.  I gave Alyssa a pointer (Hobby Lobby) to track the print as she read the sentences aloud.  Then, she placed a picture of each animal at the end of each sentence (after the period).  She also read it again covering the animal word with the appropriate picture.  Oops ... I trimmed the picture of the raccoon a little too much.  The pocket chart pictures for this activity can be found at Hubbard's Cupboard.      

Animals at Night Sight Word Readers
This was her main reader for the week.  Alyssa read and pointed to each of the words in the sight word reader found here.  I had her place a glass heart on the sight words "not" and "at" on each page.  We discussed the term "nocturnal" and talked about animals that were nocturnal (just exposing her to the word).  I also gave her a heart popsicle pointing stick to track the print while reading the words in the reader (that is ... if she wanted to use it).  She preferred using her pointer finger.  

Raccoon Sight Word Puzzles
Alyssa was given the raccoon sight word puzzle pieces for the sight words "not" and "at" (7 pieces total).  I gave her the words first and asked her to use the puzzle pieces to build the word.  The sight word puzzles were found at Making Learning Fun.    

Another Reader
We used another reader titled, Everyone Has a Mommy.  We discussed animal babies and their names (including raccoons even though they weren't in the actual reader).  Then, Alyssa attempted to draw a picture of me.  She drew a bunch of green hair????

Raccoon Alphabet Matching
I gave Alyssa The Kissing Hand themed alphabet (three pages) and placed the uppercase letters from her alphabet arcs in a bowl.  She matched the uppercase letters to the uppercase letters found on the sheets.  The alphabet sheets were from a Complete Collection CD I bought from Kidsparkz.  The Kissing Hand Literacy pack available from this website includes these sheets or you can use clipart to create your own set of alphabet cards.  I believe I was supposed to cut the letters apart for her to place in alphabetical order, but I thought of a different use for them using the supplies I had at home.  Check out her FREE theme printables!  

Raccoon Character Mask
Alyssa helped me hole punch the sides of the raccoon mask and string the yarn through the holes.  She wore the mask around and acted like she was Chester (a character from the Kissing Hand book).  Alyssa REALLY liked the mask!  The raccoon mask was found at Childcare and Beyond.  She has other FREE mask printables available.      

Story Word Sticks
I wrote key or significant words from the story on popsicle sticks.  I stored them in a red cup; they will be moved to a labeled ziplock bag soon.  Alyssa read the words and acted out the words (somehow showed me what they meant).  The basic activity was found on page 43 in a book titled, Sanity Savers written by Sharon MacDonald.  For example, Alyssa blew me a kiss when she read the word kiss.  She pointed to her heart for heart, she signed I love you for love, and she whispered in my ear for the word secret.  She also identified and matched the stick words used to those inside the book.  I used the following words raccoon, school, kiss, love, forest, mother, tree, palm, night, good-bye, hand, secret, and heart.  The first picture shows my daughter blowing "runny nose" kisses.     
Ways to improve:
1.) I will eventually paint the sticks or use colored craft sticks instead of plain wooden ones.  I would also use more colorful markers when writing the words (add a little more color to make it more appealing for her).  
2.) I would use laminated clipart and velcro dots to make it a matching vocabulary activity (word to picture match).
3.) When she is older I will create story element sticks including ones for the character(s), setting(s), plot  - beginning, middle, and end events, problem(s), and resolution).  

Beginning Sound Clothespin Clip Cards
Alyssa did very well with this activity!!  I asked Alyssa what's the FIRST letter in the alphabet?  Then, I asked her what letter comes NEXT?  What letter comes AFTER B and so forth?  The cards were completed in alphabetical order.  She found the lowercase letter that matched the uppercase letter on the card.  The lowercase letters came from her alphabet arcs.  I did not laminate the cards this time, but I highly recommend it if you plan on using them.  These were originally intended to be used with clothespins, however Alyssa wanted to place heart erasers over the picture of the word that had the same sound as the letter on the card.  I provided both heart erasers and clothespins and gave her the choice.  Of course I would have loved it if she used the clothespins so that it could also be a fine motor skills activity.  The activity was found at Making Learning Fun.
Kissing Hand Alphabet Matching
The original idea or inspiration came from a paper-based activity found at Making Learning Fun.  I didn't want to print out all of the cards, so I created a reusable version.  I still need to work on some things, but we were able to use it.  Alyssa would identify the uppercase or lowercase letter next to or on the raccoon's belly.  Then, find the matching letter on the right side of the raccoon.    
     First, I printed and assembled the raccoon found at First School.  Then, I laminated it and placed two circular magnets on the back side of the raccoon.  I used Melissa and Doug's uppercase and lowercase letters (cheaper at Ross) for this activity.  I placed three wooden hearts on the magnetic board down the left side vertically each having a lowercase letter on top.  I placed an object underneath the magnetic board to left it up off the floor so that Alyssa could clip a clothespin on it next to the matching letter. I did this because I didn't place magnets under the wooden hearts.  I wanted to use the hearts for other activities and the magnets weren't strong enough.  I wanted it to be an activity that would also work on fine motor skills.  You can get rid of the clothespins completely if you wanted to and just have your child choose the correct matching letter.  Alyssa also tried working on the activity from her lap.      
     You don't need to buy or use the wooden hearts at all.  I had them and they fit the theme - that's why I used them.  You could just place the magnetic letters next to the raccoon or you could also print and laminate alphabet hearts found at one of these websites: File Folder Fun (laminate and cut), Childcareland (write letters on them, laminate, and cut), or Prekinders (laminate and cut).  Then, place magnets on the back and use them for several other activities that you plan or create for later use.
Alyssa also sorted uppercase letters from the lowercase ones (two separate piles on the floor).  I encouraged her to sit in front of the board facing the raccoon, but she preferred working from the side for some ODD reason.      

Poetry and Rhyme
The Kiss Goes On 
I wrote the words to the poem (or song) on sentence strips and covered the rhyming words with red wooden hearts found at Hobby Lobby.  Alyssa and I both used a pointer (Hobby Lobby) to point to and read each word in the poem.  First, I read the poem, then we read it together, and then we took turns reading it until she got tired of reading it (that was her choice ... it was like a game to her).  Alyssa tried to guess what the covered words were during the first reading - which was too hard since it was her first time ever seeing the poem and she doesn't understand rhyme yet.  We talked about rhyming words.  The poem or song was found at The Virtual Vine.  The poem was read (or the children sang it) to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.    

The Kissing Hand Game
Alyssa counted each heart on the raccoon card and found the matching number.  This math activity was found here.  I used adhesive, colored, foam hearts instead of coloring the hearts to save time.  Next, we discussed the color patterns found on several cards (mostly AB, ABC).  Then, I had her count out the correct number of glass hearts to place on top of the foam hearts.  Last of all, she placed the cards in numerical order from 1-10.  W should have placed the cards in numerical order first, but she did learn how to be careful while slowly moving them.  

Heart Count Match Flip Book
I found this activity at Making Learning Fun.  Alyssa flipped the pages of the book in order to find the corresponding number of hearts on the right side.  I asked her to only flip one side at a time.  I didn't want her to get frustrated.  
We did this activity twice.  First, she identified the number and counted the hearts.  If the number matched the amount counted she said "yes" and if they didn't she said "no."  After she found a match we talked about the number, sang a number formation song,a nd recounted the hearts together.  
Here's the easier way to do this activity: Rearrange the cards (hearts on the left and raccoons on the right side of the flip book).  I did this after Alyssa's first attempt at doing this activity. She counted the hearts on each page and flipped pages on the right in order to find the matching number on the raccoon.   
I also noticed Alyssa was counting the hearts on each page WAY TOO  fast ... so, I gave her mini linking hearts from Oriental Trading Company  to slow her down as she counted.  Then, she started sorting them by color on the floor.  So, I gave her tea light candle votives as sorting containers.  There were about 144 hearts and she sorted them all.
Kissing Hand Counting Cards
The activity was found at Play 2 Learn under the raccoon theme.  First, Alyssa placed the cards in numerical order from 0-5 and 6-10.  Then, she counted out glass hearts (heart erasers) to match the number next to the raccoons.  

Morning Math
Raccoon Calendar
Alyssa placed another calendar piece in for the date.  We discussed the ABAB pattern.  Starting on March 8th, I will have Alyssa match the St. Patrick's Day themed calendar pieces to the raccoon ones (to cover up the raccoon ones we have already done).  We will continue using the St. Patrick's Day themed ones for calendar math for the rest of the month.  I will take out the raccoon ones (without her seeing me) for her to practice 1-20 counting and numerical order.  I know that it is NOT good to switch out the calendar pieces, but I started calendar pieces that I did not want to continue using all month.  The raccoon calendar pieces came from Play 2 Learn.      

Raccoon Days of the Week
First, Alyssa matched the raccoon days of the week to the colored days of the week labels.  I couldn't find the colored ones I used (they might be on a CD I bought from Childcareland).  But ... you could use the FREE heart ones provided at Childcareland.  Then, we sang the Days of the Week song to the tune of Adam's family.  You could also easily make this into a file folder game.    

Fine Motor
Roll Die: The Kissing Hand Stickers
Alyssa rolled the plush heart die, counted out that number of kissing hand stickers, and peeled off the backing so that she could place them on the number board.  The numbered counting board was found at Spinner's End Nursery School.  I found and printed this hand grid game, reduced the size to 90%, and placed the entire sheet through my Xyron so that they would become permanent stickers.  Then, I cut each sticker out and peeled up the backing just a little bit to help Alyssa since it was hard for me to remove the backing (I didn't want her frustrated).  Then, we counted the stickers in numerical order from 1 through 20.  This activity will be used as a grid game next week.     

The Kissing Hand Snack
First, Alyssa toasted the bread using the toaster.  Then, she spread peanut butter on the bread.  She used a hand cookie cutter found at Hobby Lobby to cut out a hand shape.  We talked about where the palm was and placed a heart-shaped cookie cutter in the center of the palm.  We filled it with jam and she spread it with her pointer finger.  She ate the crust first and then FINALLY ate her kissing hand.  We found the Kissing Hand Snack activity at Making Learning Fun.    

Praying Continually
The words with actions can be found at Hubbard's Cupboard.

Name Recognition
Wet Dry Try
I would have placed a raccoon sticker or small clipart picture of a raccoon in the top left hand corner to indicate the starting point if I had thought about it in advance. 
This idea came from the Handwriting Without Tears Program ... scroll down to the wet dry try video to see how it is done.  
First, I wrote her name in chalk as she watched and spelled her name aloud verbally.  Then, she wet her finger and traced the letters of her name.  Next, she used a pom pom to dry the letters in her name (we ended up using a paper towel as seen in the video ... the pom pom didn't work as well as I thought it would).  Finally, I gave her chalk (she chose the color) to try and write her name.
I may try this activity several different ways with Alyssa: Try Wet Dry or Wet Try Dry!   

My Plans for Alyssa's Tot School
March 8th-14th: Raccoons Continued, Noah's Ark, and Rainbows
March 15th-27th: Rainbows and St. Patrick's Day Themes          
March 28th-April 4th: Easter Themes and Resurrection

NOTE: If you are reading my blog and have found other blogs exploring similar themes, please post a comment referring me to them.  I am starting to feel a little sick myself and may need quick resources just in case.  I have already found MANY websites and blogs, but I feel that you can never have TOO many resources.  THANKS A BUNCH! 

For more tot school and preschool ideas visit Carisa's blog (1+1+1=1) and Jolanthe's blog (Homeschool Creations)!!!


  1. I like your workboxes. My kids enjoyed the Animals at Night reader too.

  2. This was a short week? Wow!! Haha! And i cant believe shes only 27 months old!! Shes so smart!

  3. Thank you Rebecca! I can't believe some of the things she can do either. Staying at home with her has opened my eyes to a lot having to do with teaching. I am so excited!

  4. I have a great link page I use on my blog for homeschooling.
    :) Let me know if you stop by! :)