Thursday, August 15, 2013

Preschool, Week 1: Alligators and the Llama

Before I had Cohen, I was a teacher. And, dare I say it, I was a pretty great teacher at that. I loved my job. I loved coming up with creative lessons and watching my students enjoy them. I loved watching children learn and knowing that I did that.

After Cohen was born, teaching was no longer my passion; my child was. I quit teaching a few months after Cohen was born so that I could be a stay at home mom. And I have loved this new "job". I can't think of any better way to spend my days than loving on my children, raising them intentionally. But lately? Lately, I've been feeling an old familiar itch. I miss teaching, but there's no way I want to return to the classroom just yet.

A few weeks ago, it hit me: I want to teach, and I've got a 2.5 year old who is my captive all day long. Instead of sending him off to preschool, why don't I teach him? Why don't I use my talents and passions to create an early learner in my own child? Sounds like a win-win to me.

I am using the Year 2 Curriculum from ABC Jesus Loves Me and modifying it as I see fit. My goal this year is for Cohen to recognize every letter of the alphabet and every number as well was grow in his knowledge of the Bible and his love of reading, so that is what I am really focusing on with this curriculum.

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created light and the sky
Shape: Circle
Letter: A
Number: 1
Color: red
Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama

Bible Lesson
We started at the beginning with Genesis. Over the weekend, I taught him the Bible verse in the form of a song (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?")

In the beginning (in the beginning)
God created (God created)
the heavens and the Earth (the heavens and the Earth)
Genesis 1:1 (Genesis 1:1)

He really enjoyed having a new song to sing, and by the time we started our lesson on Tuesday, the words weren't foreign to him. I am using The Beginners Bible with our lessons, and I read the first three pages every day this week: God created the heavens and Earth, God separated the light from the darkness, and God separated the waters and the sky.

On Tuesday, we focused on God creating the heavens and the Earth. I showed him a picture of the Earth and told him that's where we live. We decided that the blue on the Earth is water and the green is land. Then we each got a coffee filter and a blue and green marker. We colored green land on our coffee filters, and we colored blue water on our filters. Next, we took a spray bottle and sprayed our filters and watched the colors blend together.

On Wednesday, we focused on God creating light. I gave Cohen a little flashlight and took him into the bathroom where it would be completely dark. I told him this is what the Earth looked like before God created light. He didn't like it -- darkness reminds him of bedtime. Then I said, "God said, 'Let there be light!'" while at the same time turning on the flashlight. Cohen really enjoyed this, and we made a game of it for a little while. I'd turn off the light, and he'd say "Let there be light!" and shine his flashlight.

On Thursday, we read our Bible again, only this time, Cohen could "read" to me -- he could tell me all about creation days 1&2. After we read, he made a picture illustrating Day 2 by gluing cotton balls to the sky and painting the water blue. He likes all these crafts, but it really bothers him when his fingers get dirty.

Also, by the end of the week, he can recite Genesis 1:1 to me when I ask him. That's a pretty huge victory.

Shape and Color
Cohen already knows most of his colors and shapes already, but I want to formally teach him to give him a solid foundation. On Tuesday, I gave him a piece of construction paper with a large circle already drawn on it. I asked him what shape it was, and then we practiced tracing it with our index finger "round and round and round". Then I gave him a red crayon and let him trace the circle with his crayon, then later color it.

On Wednesday, we took our flashlight and went on a circle hunt around the room, shining our flashlight on all the circles we could find. He really liked this game and will frequently pick up his flash light and play the game by himself even when we're not having preschool. He's my new Circle Detective.

Thursday, I gave him some paint and a plastic cup and taught him how to "stamp" circles onto paper. After he grew tired of the cup, I gave him a straw to make smaller circles, but the straw was too flimsy and just caused him to become frustrated.

Letter and Number
I introduced the letter A to Cohen. I had cut out a large A out of green construction paper. We talked about the sound that A makes (ah ah ah). We created an alligator out of the letter based on these instructions. Cohen had a lot of fun with his alligator. We spent the rest of the week reviewing A and the sound it makes.

We went to the library for Toddler Time on Tuesday and afterwards I taught Cohen how we find books and let him check out his own book, Llama Llama Red Pajama. When we got home, he was so excited about his book. 

We investigated the cover and decided that the creature on the cover was a llama since he was wearing red pajamas just like the title said (Cohen originally thought it was a rabbit because it has long ears). We made a paper bag puppet according to the directions on this website. Cohen liked coloring the llama's jammies and gluing it all to the paper bag. It blew his mind when he learned he could put his hand in there and make the llama talk.

Cohen really loved the book and he giggled all the way through it. We read it three times on Tuesday. When we read it again on Wednesday, he impressed me with all the ways he could make text-to-self connections (yay, teacher lingo!).

Thursday, we read the book again, and just like with the Bible, he could retell the story all by himself. Since he loves his Llama Llama puppet so much, I thought he'd enjoy an activity that would help his llama go to bed. I found this quilt activity on Toddler Approved, and it was a hit. Cohen really enjoyed the freedom he had in choosing the color squares to make his quilt for llama. My original plan was for him to do this activity multiple times with a different rule each time, but he was adamant that I let him glue the squares on the first time. I choose my battles, so we got out the glue. 

Overall, we had a very successful first week of homeschool preschool. Cohen thoroughly enjoyed himself and asked to do preschool at least every hour of the day. I am impressed with what he's learned already in just 3 days of deliberate teaching, and I am looking forward to seeing his progress in the months to come.

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