ivey league preschool: busting out the B's!

This week we focused on the letter B.  I printed out the do-a-dot and playdoh mats for Caleb again since he had enjoyed doing those for A the week before, and also found some free printable layouts for some pattern blocks he has.

We also did a "letter scavenger hunt" with some of my old magazines.  Caleb would help me find both B's and objects that start with B.  I'd cut them out and then he helped me glue them into a collage.

He had a blast working on a "Rio"-themed pre-K pack as well.  He first saw part of this movie at church, then we were able to see the whole thing when it was free on demand a couple weeks ago, so he was thrilled when I found this.  I figured that it would work since "bird" starts with B!  We worked on pre-writing skills, cutting skills, patterns, "what's different?", counting objects, cut-and-paste puzzles, and letter sounds. 

We also had a fun hands-on activity using a balloon leftover from a birthday party we attended last weekend.  I saw this idea on pinterest....balloon tennis using a couple of heavy-duty paper plates with big craft sticks glued to them as rackets.  Caleb loves playing this in the living room!

For our Bible story, we learned about Balaam and his talking donkey from the book of Numbers.   Since it's a lengthy passage and it's not found in his storybook Bible, I found a brief animated video of it on YouTube and we watched it together.  Then we made a donkey puppet using a free printable I found online.  We talked about how important it is to listen to and obey God because He can use any means necessary (including a talking donkey) to make sure we do His will!

I made a B-themed treat as well...frozen chocolate-peanut butter Banana Bites!  I found a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter chips at the store, so I melted some of those down with a little coconut oil, dipped slices of banana in it and then put them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  And added sprinkles.  Because sprinkles make everything better.  Caleb liked them but also thought they were a little too cold for him...next time I'll only let them sit in the freezer for an hour or so to set.

Our background music this week was Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral").  Caleb liked it, and even remarked that in some places the instruments sounded like birds.  Listening to it reminded me of that old Disney movie "Fantasia" so all I could picture in my mind were centaurs and lightning gods!

Finally, our collection of B books:

Busy Busy Town by Richard Scarry
The Berenstain Bears Go Out for the Team by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Little Bear and Father Bear Comes Home by Elsa Holmelund Minarik
47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea by Phil Vischer
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds by Marisabina Russo
Barkley by Syd Hoff

Do-A-Dot Alphabet Pages (Home School Creations)
Play-Doh Letter Mats (Home School Creations)
Pattern Block Printable Templates (Jessica's Corner of Cyberspace)
Rio Pre-K Pack (Over The Big Moon)
Balloon Tennis (Ever Never Again)
Balaam's Donkey Video (YouTube)
Donkey Puppet/Mask Printable (Crafting The Word of God)
Banana Bites Recipe (Six Sisters' Stuff)


ivey league preschool: all about A

This week we decided to officially start preschool!

We're doing a very relaxed "letter of the week" kind of schedule, while also being flexible and doing a variety of things so we won't get so bogged down with one letter at a time.  Caleb knows his uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as their sounds, so I knew he would get bored if we tried to write letter A every day, read the same books every day, etc.

I decided to kick off the week with an art project, so we made apple prints with paint.  Caleb really liked this since he likes anything having to do with his easel!

Didn't turn out as "apple-y" as I thought, but it was still fun to use a fruit as a stamp!

We also worked on a "do-a-dot" worksheet.  Caleb used some of his stamps to fill them in.

 We also used some play-doh to make A's:

We also worked on numbers 1-20.  Caleb is very close to being able to count to 20 without mixing some of the "teens" up, so I found a free worksheet online where you glue in missing numbers.  He only needed a little help with this so I'm sure he'll be able to do it on his own soon!

I also wanted to do a Bible story for each week.  Since this week's letter was A, we learned about Adam and Eve.  Caleb found their story in his storybook Bible and we reviewed it together.  Then we did some activities out of a preschool pack I also found online.  We made puppets to act out the story and counted "flames" to represent the angel guarding the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword (Caleb counted and I wrote in the numbers for him).  We also talked about Adam naming all the animals.  Caleb would tell me what animal he saw, then he'd sound it out to figure out what letter it would start with.  Then I'd show him which word to draw the line to in order to connect it with the corresponding animal.

Finally, we did a letter A collage.  I went through a few old magazines and cut out a variety of A's.  This way Caleb could get used to seeing letters in different shapes, sizes, and fonts.  As he glued them down, he often commented on what made them different from what he was used to seeing:  "This A's skinny," "This one is short," and so on.

We also read a variety of books that showcased the letter A in some way:

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss
The A Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Albert the Albatross by Syd Hoff
Arthur's Reading Race; Arthur's Teacher Trouble; Arthur's Birthday by Marc Brown
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J Pinczes
Zack's Alligator by Shirley Mozelle

Obviously we read other books as well!  :o)

Finally, we listened to a little classical music while we worked.  I've found that some quiet music in the background helps Caleb focus.  This week we listened to "Carnival of the Animals" by Saint-Saens.  I'd tell him which "animal" we were listening to (birds, tortoises, lion, etc.) and he thought it was so cool!

I think we'll keep doing this kind of thing for the time being.  I like not having any set curriculum (there's plenty of time for that in the future!), but it's also nice to have several themed activities prepared in advance!

Apple-Print Painting (Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds: Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers)
Do-A-Dot Alphabet Printables (Homeschool Creations)
Play-Doh Letter Mats (Homeschool Creations)
"I Can Count to 20!" Activity (Teachers Pay Teachers)
Adam and Eve Preschool Pack (To The Moon and Back)


ivey league preschool: all aboard!

This past week we did a fun, informal preschool unit on TRAINS!  (One of Caleb's favorite things!)

It was all pretty laid-back.  I decided that if all we could manage was twenty minutes of preschool that day, that was a good start.  Caleb is ahead in some respects (he knows his letters and letter sounds, he can count objects up to 12, etc.) but isn't quite at kindergarten level yet with other areas.  Which is fine with me.  The kid isn't even five yet!

On Monday, we put together a cute train.  I did all the cutting, but Caleb was responsible for decorating and gluing.  He also insisted all the train cars have eyes "like Thomas."

Link to free printable!

On Tuesday we tried out some counting and math activities using a free printable preschool packet.  He successfully matched number cards with groups of objects (i.e., matched the number "3" with a group of 3 train tracks), found the missing number, and put together a puzzle by placing numbers in order:

He also decided on his own to work on tracing letters.  Since he's easily frustrated with this kind of activity, I just let him go at it.  We have plenty of time to work on pencil grip and on improving his fine motor skills.  As you might be able to see, our printer's running out of ink so some of the worksheets are a bit faded in parts (Caleb didn't seem to mind!).

On Wednesday we made a "name train."  I made the letter squares and railroad track, and Caleb had to tell me how to spell his name.  He got C and A right, but needed some help with the rest.  But all I had to do was enunciate the next letter sound in his name ("Ca-LLLLLLeb") and he would usually get it immediately, so he's close to being able to spell his name without help!  He glued the cars in order and added the wheels (it was also his idea to add the cotton ball steam!).

I also made an engineer hat for him.  I colored the stripes in since he's not big into coloring much lately.  He got a kick out of it when it was done though!

Link to free template and instructions!

On Thursday, we didn't do anything.  Oops. We ran some errands in the morning and time just got away from us.  But that's how it goes.

On Friday, we made chocolate chip train cookies!  He's had a train cookie cutter for awhile now and we finally used it.  I mixed up the dough and he helped me with the cookie cutter...as well as with eating the cookies when they were done.  I highly recommend this recipe; it's a great change from plain sugar cookie cut-outs, and the cookies hold their shape really well!

Link to recipe here!
Along with our usual reading, we also read several train books to keep Caleb excited about the theme:

Hey, Mr. Choo-Choo, Where Are You Going?  by Susan Wickberg
The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter
Train Song by Harriet Ziefert
The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet

The first one on the list was from the library, and the other three we own.  I was actually surprised we didn't have more train books since Caleb really likes trains!

All in all, this week was fun.  For both of us.  I didn't stress about Caleb meeting any kind of benchmarks; we just had a good time while learning a little.  And isn't that what you DO in preschool?  :o)


appliqued onesies!

So my little one was in need of some more short-sleeved onesies.  I found a set of five or six of them at Target and thought that was that.  But after I got them home I realized that some of them were just a little too plain.  So after browsing Pinterest for some ideas and digging into my fabric stash, I made some improvements:

There.  Much more personality.

I love this little dinosaur.  I just Googled free images of dinosaurs and found him.  I used a playful font for the "roar."  Unassuming, yet fierce.  Kind of like my little guy.

Next, some geometry nerd cuteness.  Sorry if you can't figure it out.  Didn't mean to be obtuse.  :o)

And finally, an ultra-casual look.  Because even little guys need a great pair of shades.

Of course we're having cooler weather today so he can't wear any of them yet.  I'm pretty sure that will change soon though!


Mommy Lunches : Baked Shrimp and Asian Slaw Egg Rolls

So right now I'm doing the Weight Watchers thing.  Some weeks are better than others.  But I've found that if I actually eat a substantial (yet healthy) lunch, I'm less likely to snack endlessly in the afternoon.  It turns out that endless snacking can actually impede your weight loss success.  Who knew?  :o)

For a couple of weeks I was on a big panini kick.  I got a panini press for free (yay credit card points!) and for awhile, there was nothing I wouldn't press between two pieces of bread.  But lately I've been craving egg rolls.  My husband isn't a fan of Chinese food so I haven't had any in a long time.  I remembered a baked egg roll recipe I kind of made up a few years ago so I gave it a try again today.  Yum!

I'm not a great food blogger so I didn't take pictures of every step.  Hopefully my directions are clear enough!  For some of the ingredients, I did a range of measurements (like 1-2 tablespoons).  It all depends on your taste.  Start with a little bit and then add more if you think it needs it.  I was okay using 1 tablespoon each of the rice cooking wine and soy sauce.  I also used nonstick cooking spray for everything since I'm trying to keep my WW points at a minimum.  I got 9 egg rolls out of this recipe...it all depends on how much filling you put in each one.

2 cups of bagged broccoli slaw (plain)
12-16 frozen shrimp, thawed and cut into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1-2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Pinch of onion powder
Pinch of garlic powder
Egg roll wrappers
Olive oil OR nonstick spray for pan (you could also use canola oil, grapeseed oil, whatever you like)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray (or cover with parchment paper).
2.  Heat oil/spray in a medium-sized skillet.  Add the slaw and move it around until it's moistened by the oil and starts to wilt.  Add the rice cooking wine, soy sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Saute further until slaw is softened.
3.  Add shrimp and continue to saute until the shrimp turns pink (this only takes two or three minutes).  Add more rice cooking wine, soy sauce, seasonings, etc. if desired.
4.  Take skillet of heat and set out the egg roll wrappers and a small bowl of water.  Place a wrapper on a plate and moisten all the sides with a little water.  Put a couple of tablespoons of the mixture into the center of the egg roll and wrap it up according to the directions on the back of the package.  Place each egg roll seam-side-down on the baking sheet.
5.  Spray the egg rolls with nonstick spray (or brush with oil), then sprinkle a little salt on top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before eating (these suckers are HOT inside!).

Yum!  While these are pretty yummy on their own, a good dipping sauce wouldn't hurt.  And keep in mind that an egg roll wrapper is basically a blank canvas.  You can use cabbage instead of the broccoli slaw, or add more veggies and leave out the shrimp, or use other sauces or oils you find in the Asian cooking aisle of the grocery store, or go crazy and fry them as nature intended.  Have fun with it! :o)

Note:  According to my calculations, each egg roll is 2 WW points.  This is based on a yield of 9 egg rolls.  Keep in mind that using oil instead of nonstick cooking spray and/or altering the ingredients will affect the nutrition and points value.


big boy room!

So after fixing up Micah's room a couple weeks back, I had to do something with Caleb's!  His poor walls were so bare!

I had a couple of Hobby Lobby gift cards so I decided to go there and look around.  All of their metal decor was 50% off!  I was able to get a few things there and add them to the other items I had:

I was really excited to find the multi-colored chevron hanging...they had several of these at Hobby Lobby on clearance.  All they consisted of was heavy fabric stapled onto a wooden frame; I think they had used them as a display at one time.  Most of them were kind of ugly but this one just seemed to stand out and yell Caleb's name.  So I snagged it for $8.  The horseshoe, metal "C" hanging, and gasoline sign were also all from Hobby Lobby and 50% off.  I found the mustache/top hat fabric remnant at Walmart and used it to make a dresser cover and a wall hanging (I stapled it to a cheap canvas I found at Jo-Ann).  The mailbox is from Jo-Ann...Caleb loves getting mail so I figured it would be fun to leave little notes and surprises for him in there once in a while.  I got the clock from Target; he can't tell time yet but it will be good to have when he can.  And finally, I made the Cowboy and Engineer pictures from that Goodwill book I found a few weeks back.

I hung stuff up yesterday afternoon.  I thought Caleb would come running when he heard me hammering nails into the wall, but he was distracted by a movie he was watching, so in the end it was kind of fun to see him run in there and see everything at once!  He hadn't seen any of the stuff I found so it was all a big surprise!

Here's one wall....it's the one to your right when you first walk in, between his bedroom door and his closet:

Then there's the wall by his train table...you can see it straight ahead as you walk in:

And here's what's going on over his bed:

And finally, his dresser:

Hopefully that will help it from getting scratched...and dusty.  :o)

There's still a lot of blank space above his dresser, but we can figure that out at some point.  Whatever we put there, it'll have to be like his other stuff...cheap or free!
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