Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Moments Slip Away

I hated saying goodbye
Not my father; it couldn't be true
The moments overcome me and I can't help but to cry
Because forever in my heart I'll always love you
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

But, I also wish I had known you
I wish we had been deeply connected
Our relationship more than a pass through
Life is but moments collected
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

So much time squandered
So many memories I wish we'd had
Further paths wandered
And days to be glad
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

I came to see you and you met me at the door
Arms held for a long embrace
Emotion that could be held no more
Two hearts estranged now finding their place
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

Surely there is a second chance
Tell me we have more time
To twirl about in a father-daughter dance
And enjoy a relationship in it's prime
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

I held your hand within my hand
I spoke in assurance of a good life complete
Some things we'll never fully understand
I look forward to the next time we meet
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

This is where our story ends
There are no more years to write
We conclude having made amends
And this shall be the highlight
But time fades to a new day
And the moments slip away

Though you are not with us any longer
Your words and lessons remain
They will undoubtedly make us stronger
"God, family, and a simple kind of life" are the priorities to maintain
But time fades to a new day
And these moments-
       These moments are here to stay.

My father, Mark Phillips
March 25, 1955 - April 10, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

This Week in Our Homeschool: Preschool Week 16 & Prek Week 14

    I enjoy snapping a few pictures and jotting a few notes about our school time activities. It's nice to be able to look back on all that we've done together! At the end of a week/unit, I load all the pictures and scan in all the paper activities into a photobook. At the end of the year, we'll have a lovely keepsake of our preschool and prek year. (I don't intend to do this for every school year. These early years are too full of cute projects and activities to not keep as a keepsake.). I thought I might share a sample of our weeks on the blog as well. A lot of our activities overlap between preschool and prek. We do as much as possible together as a group. But, I've tried to differentiate those intended for preschool and those intended for prek for anyone interested. So, this week we:

Preschool & Prek: Character: Generosity

  • definition, coloring pages, poem etc. from Character First
  • books!
    • One of my favorite instructional books was *Generosity by Lucia Raatma. There's an entire character education series, which I highly recommend. 
    • I'll share in another post the list of story books that we checked out to demonstrate this quality.

Prek: ABCs and More

  • Letter j craft- This is one of his favorite activities. We use the templates from All About Learning. We have a pretty fun little collection of letter crafts.
  • Pretend to Be game- I create cards with images and words that begin with the letter of the week to insert into a *differentiated instruction cube. This is always a favorite activity each week. It's also nice that it's one we can all enjoy together. We take turns rolling the cube and acting out whatever side it lands on. Since we were focusing on the letter "j" the cards were: jaguar, jackrabbit, jellyfish, juggler, joy, and jump.

  • Introduced the circle- I created ten circles of various sizes and colors. I then took advantage of a beautiful day outside by setting up a scavenger hunt with those circles. (I'm all in favor of doing as much as possible outside while the weather (and bugs) are tolerable here in TX!). The children enjoyed running all over the yard to find the circle pieces. We practiced counting them each time we found one. For Tennyson, I also presented the concept of addition/subtraction. (He's proficient at numbers and is capable of taking it further.) Again, a fun activity that we can all participate in. Note: We've done the same activity with different shapes in previous units. To add an element of challenge, I can use multiple sets of shapes and they then have to not just find a shape but determine if it's the desired shape. 

Prek: Outside
  • Listening- We practiced this skill two ways:
    • We sat quietly in a room and named all the sounds we could hear. Then, with his eyes covered I made a few sounds for him to identify.
    • We listened and identified the sounds we heard while on our daily walk around the neighborhood.
  • Extra- Daddy showed everyone all the larvae and worms he found as he prepared the garden beds for planting. Gardening and all the aspects that go with it is always a good opportunity to learn some life skills. 
    (If you're wondering why we have milk jugs in our gardening beds, they're for irrigation. We poke holes in the bottom and then bury them beside the plants. The holes slowly release the water from the jug to keep the soil moist for the plants. I learned this trick from my grandparents. It's been a successful irrigation technique for us as well!)
  • Of course, lots of playtime in the backyard
Prek: Story Time
  • Big Book of Things to Spot (Usborne)

A blanket and books is always my favorite pastime! 
  • Read aloud- Peter Pan (Great Illustrated Classics)
  • far too many books read throughout the day to list!
Prek: Educational Toys
  • Fit-a-space- We sorted through all the discs to find the circles. Then, sorted the circles into piles by color and then size. Finally, he laced the circles into a necklace. 
Preschool: Coloring
  • Shapes Card- She colored the large shape according to the color instructed, and then found the small shape to color likewise. (Ex. Color this big circle brown. Then, find the other circle on the page and color it brown as well). 
A silly face is a pretty accurate portrayal of her. She has a good time at all times. haha
Preschool: Storytime

    Up next: the letter k, number 5, a poem, some play dough, character lessons, and lots of outside play and storytimes!

*Note: I am personally affiliated with As such, I receive a compensation for purchases made through the provided links. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Simplest Way to Do a Preschool Theme Unit

  One of the simplest ways to do a learning theme for preschool/prek is to focus on a stack of quality books. Then, add one or two additional elements- a toy, small world or exploration bin, documentary, outing etc. It's tempting to make a theme more elaborate. In the past, have planned lessons in terms of fine motor skill, gross motor skill, literacy, math, sensory, pretend etc. While these units were wonderful, they were also a lot of work. And, right now, I've decided to simplify my To Do List so that I may be attentive and present with my children during the day in a more meaningful way. I still love chasing after themes though! If a child displays an interest in a subject matter, then I can't help but to provide ample materials to nourish learning!

     Without a doubt, the most prized toys in our home are little figurines. This has been one area that I haven't minded spoiling just a bit. They're high quality toys that spur open-ended and imaginative play, and lots of learning. (The children can also remain entertained for a period of time, which is always a bonus!). Thus far, purchasing a set of figurines has been followed by checking out every related book from the public library, watching a documentary or other educational video, and lots of conversation. 

     One particular set that has been a favorite is a *set of sea animals. (I like that these are larger and less likely to be a concern for younger siblings or easily lost). I checked out a stack of books on the ocean and each animal. We then also watched any available documentary- walruses, octopi, squids, orcas, sharks, gray whales etc. Of all the videos that could be watched, the top request quickly became a documentary. And, sure enough, I would have a child excitedly bouncing on the couch watching a National Geographic documentary. We looked up the names for the various features of the animals' bodies like the bumps on the back of a gray whale and from where an octopus inks. We looked up how a gray whale eats (which is fascinating, by the way. I recommend exploring that further). We talked about how whales and walruses have a special layer of fat that keeps them warm in frigid waters. (And then later, that feature was used as an argument for going outside to swim when it was too cold. "but I'm a gray whale! I have blubber!" He got the idea, no doubts there). And on and on.

      A similar experience was gained from a set of desert animals*. My oldest child accompanied me to the store eager to browse the figurine section. I permitted him to choose a new set. He decided on a small set of desert animals. (These are unfortunately so small that they're difficult to keep up with and I must be diligent to keep them out of the hands of the younger ones. However, there are so many options, even beyond animals, that they are still worthwhile). The next day, I had made our book reservations at the library! Some books were highly informative, while others were silly stories. We poured over these books whenever possible. We also enjoyed documentaries on the various deserts in the world, and the animals that live in them. I even found a great Bill Nye the Science Guy dvd on deserts (I think I enjoyed this as much as the children as it brought back fond memories of watching it as a child!). Fortunately, we live in Texas and so a "field trip" to see some of the terrain and plant life isn't too difficult! 

        The possibilities for theme units are endless. (You certainly don't have to have a toy for every unit. Phew, that would be far too much!). Other ideas include a music theme in which you focus on a composer or instrument. Gather a stack of books from the library on the desired subject. Listen to a recording of that instrument/composer/style. Attend a symphony if available. Perhaps an artist study is desired. Again, start with a stack of great books. Then, perhaps try your hand to create in the same style. (I highly recommend *The Usborne Art Treasury). You can do a theme on a season or holiday. St. Patrick's Day is quickly approaching, and my plan is to provide a few books to learn about the occasion and a coloring sheet they can enjoy while I read. Soon after is the first day of spring. What better way to spend it than to spread a blanket outside upon which to enjoy a stack of spring books and perhaps even a picnic meal (that's my plan for us!). Character qualities are always a desirable theme. I just checked out a large stack of books on generosity from our library. After we read the story we will discuss how generosity was demonstrated. And, again, if a child shows even the slightest interest in something, then chase after it! 

     I feel like we're all receiving quite the education! I certainly know more about sea and desert animals than I ever did before! 

     A simple stack of books and time spent together is such a sweet and meaningful way to add to learning in the early years. It's amazing how much their little minds absorb simply by reading quality books on a wide variety of subjects! That learning is retained more when paired with a special memory like a special outing to chose a figurine, cuddling up to watch a documentary, or pouring over a stack of books together. These moments count, too. I have to remind myself to keep it simple. The greatest of all is my presence. 

*Note: I am a personal affiliate with As such, I receive a compensation for purchases made through the links in the post above. All opinions are my own. 
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