Mother Goose Day is May 1st!

One of the perks of parenting small children is adding a bit of FUN to the mid-week mundane. The easiest way to do that is through celebrations of silly and special days!

This week stumped me a bit, so I searched online for April/May holidays and discovered that May 1st is Mother Goose Day! What a perfect opportunity to celebrate the silly and explore nursery rhymes with both of my girls.

But first, why should we rhyme with our children?

Our older daughter was unexpectedly born 14 weeks early back in 2008, followed by a 135-day NICU stay. Those first six weeks, I sat by her bedside with a large stack of books–since this was pre-smart phone, I didn’t have Facebook and Instagram to keep me company during the long, long days.
One of the first books I read by the light of Addie’s isolette was Reading Magic by Mem Fox. Ms. Fox is an excellent author of children’s books, and she wrote this excellent book for parents about reading aloud.

Chapter 10 is titled The Magic of Language, and it profoundly impacted the way I think about nursery rhymes. (This is AFTER a degree in Elementary Education/Reading and four years in a classroom.) I’d like to share a few quotes with you:

“Songs and rhymes provide comforting rhythms in children’s early lives and also expose kids to gorgeous forms of language. They are a natural extension to the heartbeat of the mother and the rhythmic rocking of a child in loving arms or in a cradle.”

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“Rhymers will be readers: it’s that simple. Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
Read more about adding nursery rhymes into your routine with this great post from Story Time Secrets!
 The girls and I love to play a simple rhyming game in the car. One of them says a word, and then we all take turns shouting out a word that rhymes. Sometimes we talk about spelling patterns (cat, bat, sat, fat), and sometimes, this happens: shoe–true, flew, Gru, boo.

To prepare for our celebration, we went to the library and gathered up a handful of Mother Goose collections.

(Just a reminder that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

My second grader was SO excited to recognize a bunch of rhymes from her Spelling You See curriculum:

Can you think of any other Mother Goose anthologies I missed?

Be sure to check out our Mother Goose Pinterest Board for more ideas:

Mother Goose Day

April Tot School Unit: CAMPING

Every month on the 15th, we release a new pre-planned Tot School Unit for our friends who are either homeschooling their preschoolers or looking for fun, hands-on activities to supplement the preschool program that they love!

My own preschooler is a sensory-driven little girl who prefers inquiry-based learning and exploration over a curriculum with lots of printables, so you won’t find those around here. (If you are looking for amazing printables, check out The Moffatt Girls on teacherspayteachers.com. We love her!)

Camping-Themed Tot School Unit from lonestarsigners.com

We kicked off the camping unit with our own two girls this week by setting up our tent in the backyard, grilling hot dogs, and making s’mores. We talked about what camping together might be like and building anticipation for our “real” camping trip at a local campground later this spring. Once we were done with dinner, we packed the tent back up and went inside!

The next day, I had our camping books all set out for the girls to explore, and we whipped up a couple batches of homemade playdough. We used our leftover marshmallows for some building & fine-motor activities before spending the afternoon learning more about the birds building a nest in our backyard.

We have a whole month of fun planned–lots of active outdoor math, science, and literacy activities and several lessons about fire safety! If you’d like a copy of our PDF plans, including a list of recommended songs and books to round out the unit, you can

SIGN UP HERE.

And just for fun, enjoy a little mood music from The Okee Dokee Brothers. 🙂

Preschool at Home: Spring

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, so we are moving on to celebrating the arrival of spring! We’ve heard it’s already in the 90s in San Antonio, but here in Iowa…well, let’s just say that it snowed at our Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday morning. 🙂

Our adorable little town has a thing for tulips, so we’re starting to see them peek up  all around town, from the library to the main square! (We even have a few coming up in the flower bed in our front yard…)

Every day, we take a nature walk around our neighborhood to see what’s changing. The trees and shrubs are still mostly bare, but a few of our neighbors have small buds appearing on their trees. After experiencing our first real winter (and snow on March 19th!), anticipating spring’s arrival seems extra-fun this year!

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The girls and I are planning a handful of “preschool at home” activities for the next few weeks. Plastic Easter eggs are a MUST! 🙂

Your little one can match up tops and bottoms (upper/lowercase letters or numerals & dots), unscramble letter tiles to build words, or practice counting to 12 using an empty egg-carton!

This year, we even took our eggs outside for some gross-motor practice! Both girls enjoyed chucking them at a plastic bowl in the driveway. 🙂

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Of course, my girls love it when we make homemade playdough. This rainbow playdough invitation is one of their favorites!

We have a lot more Spring Fun planned for the next few weeks! You can download our $5 Spring Tot School Unit with more than 40 simple learning activities, available now through April 14th.

Little Learners Spring Unit March 2016-Available

 

Our favorite toys, books, and videos for talking about spring:
(Click on the image for a direct link–keep in mind that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

  • Spring Joy by Liesbet Slegers
  • Mouse’s First Spring by Lauren Thompson

  • Magnetic fishing puzzles from Melissa & Doug

  • Sidewalk chalk

  • Life Cycle of a Butterfly Puzzle from Discovery Toys

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  • Baby Signing Time, Volume 3: It’s a New Day

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  • Rachel and the Treeschoolers: Plants & Flowers

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You may also enjoy these posts:

What are your favorite activities to celebrate spring with your little ones?

Our NEW Homeschooling Space

We’ve been in our new home for six weeks now, and today I’m excited to share a tour of our homeschooling space! The girls and I love having a dedicated place downstairs in the basement for all of our learning materials, though using the “dining room” in our previous apartment met our needs for several years!

(Please note that this post does include affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

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We bought a few new pieces of furniture from Target (three of these and the two white bookshelves we already had) in order to really spread out. The girls are mature enough that I don’t feel the need to limit/rotate toys on a weekly basis anymore, though some of the larger items are stored in their clothes closet upstairs.

These three shelves below are where the majority of Kate’s preschool items are held. The totes hold various sensory bin items and manipulatives like buttons, Unifix cubes, pom poms, etc.

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The two shelves on the far right are where Addie’s chapter books and math items are kept. She also has a shelf for all of her textbooks so items can be grabbed easily and stored when not in use. Our large globe is hanging from a hook in the old-school “foam” tile ceiling.

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Both of the black IKEA desks have been around for several years–Kate’s has been sitting in storage in our previous apartment, but she decided she wanted to have a desk of her own when we moved in.They each keep a plastic shoebox full of school supplies (crayons, pencils, markers, scissors, glue stick, etc.) sitting on the edge of the their desks, which makes it easy for both girls to work independently.

Addie also has a large copy-paper box full of paper, ribbon, material, etc., so she can often be found “crafting” at her desk when we aren’t doing schoolwork.

These windows look out on our backyard/side-yard, where we get lots of mid-day sun. This room is definitely the brightest and most cheerful place to be!

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Our school calendar area (similar) can be found in this little nook by the door. There’s also a large bookshelf filled with more toys tucked against the stairwell.

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Kate loves to jump on the trampoline during the day, and she also has the neatest little play house that my mother-in-law made to fit over a card table.

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Having a dedicated learning space down in the basement has made a big difference for our homeschool productivity! We still have a few more finishing touches to put on the rest of the house–I can’t wait to share more pictures with you soon!

Rachel and the Treeschoolers: Extraordinary Earth

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When it comes to homeschool science for my 4- and 7-year-old girls, all three of us LOVE the show Rachel and the Treeschoolers, created by the makers of Signing Time. Nine episodes have been released so far, and they all come with FREE activity guides to extend the learning.

Several months ago, we helped with the activity guide for Episode 8: Extraordinary Earth.

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Ep. 8 Extraordinary Earth
(Affiliate link to the digital download)
When Chroma Chameleon discovers that her cousin’s habitat is endangered, the TreeSchoolers naturally want to help. With Rachel’s guidance, they discover that there are lots of things they can do to take care of our Earth! Along the way, they learn about

  • Months of the year
  • Seasons of the year
  • Geological formations
  • Natural resources
  • The seven continents
  • Conservation and recycling
  • Being an everyday hero

Our girls created a “handy craft” showing a tree during each of the four seasons. This month, I’d like to work on some of the other activities found in the guide. Spring seems like a wonderful time to celebrate our EXTRAORDINARY Earth!

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Download your free guide today!