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Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

AIMS Getting into Geometry (A Review)

AIMS Educational foundation is dedicated to helping teachers give students a solid conceptual understanding of math and science. They are a non-profit foundation, driven by passion to produce exceptional math and science experiences for children. They provide hands-on activities which are captivating, motivating and downright fun! (adapted from their website).

I had never heard of AIMS until I was asked to review one of their activity books.  We were sent a downloadable e-book called Getting into Geometry.  It is basically a teacher's guide to over 40 activities to help students learn basic Geometry.  Some of the topics covered are 2-D shapes, 3-D solids, symmetry, and spatial relationships.  The e-book included all of the printables necessary to do the activities. In addition to the printables, other items needed all seemed easy enough to find around the house (drinking straws, scarves, chalk, pipe cleaners).

I was going to go through the book and randomly choose a few activities to do for the purpose of this review but as I flipped through the book I was so impressed at the quality and the types of activities, I decided it was best to start at the beginning and work our way through.  Hence this review is written having only been through the first seven activities in the book.  The book stated that it was for K to 1st grade but these first lessons I used very easily with Eden who is in PreK.  Eli, my first grader loved the activities and even though they were not very challenging for him, they were great to reinforce what he has already learned.  Having read ahead,  I am sure as I go through to the end of the book Eli will be provided with more of a challenge and Eden may or may not be ready for some of the concepts covered.

fun with chalk shapes on the driveway

making shapes with clay and straws

Each lesson is laid out similarly in the book.  It describes the topic covered, a key question, the learning goal, materials needed, the procedure and questions to guide learning. The material is definitely written to be used in a classroom but most of the activities can be adjusted very easily to be used at home with one or two kids.

The activities in Getting into Geometry are great for kinesthetic learners, engaging both gross and fine motor skills.  The activities are short and precise, easy to do and don't require a lot of prep. 

The company also  have many other math and science activity books for all levels between K and grade 9 covering topics such as:

Addition and Subtraction
Earth Science
Problem Solving

...and lots more!!

The books are available as bound books or downloadable e-books and cost around $20 to $25 dollars for either version.  The bound books come with a CD containing all of the printables needed for the activities.  The company also sells math manipulatives and lab kits for one stop shopping!

We will definitely continue to use Getting into Geometry and I have also started looking at several of the other titles which look like they would be a good fit for us.  Go over and take a look and see if you can find something for your kids!  You can also check out some other reviews over at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.

*Disclaimer -As a member of  TOS Homeschool Crew (Review Team) I was provided one downloadable e-book for the purpose of this review.  I was required to provide my honest, (positive or otherwise) opinion in exchange for this book. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tot School - Marcus at 14.5 months

Tot School

If you read our Week in Review post and our Preschool Corner post, you may have been wondering what Marcus was up to all day. Last year this time he was still a newborn and would sleep a good part of the day but now he is a toddler and likes to be involved in whatever everybody else is doing... which can be a challenge! I try to spend some one on one time with him each day and also give him enriching things to do while the others are working on projects or school work. Here are some highlights of our first two weeks.

 Lacing beads in a mini muffin tin...Marcus kept busy moving them from one place to the other and also throwing them on the floor.  As he gets older we can work on sorting them by colour and shape.

 I let him have a little homemade play dough.  He enjoyed sticking things in the dough and seeing the prints it made. 
Marcus loves touch and feel books.  Eden was showing him the fluffy chick.

 He was facinated by caterpillars that the big boys were using for caterpillar races.
 There is always plenty of noise music everyday!
 I laid out items I found outside of various shapes, textures, weights.  We talked about heavy, light, rough, smooth, wood, rubber, stone etc.  I let Marcus explore each item as he wished.
 He liked stacking them all up.

 I punched holes in the top of a canister and stuck chenille sticks in.  I knotted the top and bottom of the sticks so that they couldn't go through but the stick could move up and down.  This kept his attention for a little while but it wasn't one of his favourites.  As he gets older I can give him the sticks to push through himself.

 I gave him a couple of stampers and some scrap paper and let him do his thing.
This activity was one of his favourites.  I stuck clothes pegs around a plastic box and he pulled them off.  He isn't able to put them back on by himself yet but we can work towards that.  For now he likes pulling them off and throwing them on the floor.

 In addition to all of these activities, he has lots of free play, play time with his siblings and what he likes more than anything... time outside.  He is an outdoors child for sure!

 So that's how Marcus spends his days!  As you see all of these activities use things I had around the house. You don't need a huge budget to engage the mind of your little one.  Just look around your home and see what you can turn into a learning opportunity!!

This post is linked to Tot School where you can see what other moms are doing with their little ones!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preschool Corner- All About Me

Eden has started preschool and is loving it! We will be using the Raising Rock Stars Preschool (RRSP)material as a base this year and adding preschool packs, lots of hands on activities and free play.

Before starting with our RRSP program, I decided we should start the year with an All About Me theme. Here's some highlights:

 Our verse for the week was Psalm 139:14  "I Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  I printed the verse and let Eden put her fingerprints all around it.  We talked about how God made each one of us special and unique.

One day we talked all about her name.  It's meaning, how to spell her first, middle and last name.  We read a custom made book that she was given for Christmas one year called My Very Own Name from a company called i see me inc.  (Thanks Auntie Robyn :) 

Another day we talked about her age and her birthday.  She glued candles on a cake to represent her age.  I also put together an activity using our count down cake.  I put 11 blocks numbered 0-10 in a gift bag.  She reached in and pulled out a "present" and then put the corresponding number of candles on the cake.
On the day we talked about our family we used the cutouts from our All About me sensory tub.  Eden had to put the family members in size order and then match the name cards with the person.  She loved playing with the cutouts and did so several times during the week.

 We practiced our phone number using number magnets and made a "Me on the Map" book which you can read about here.

Another day we talked about body parts and continued our discussion about how God made us special.  I traced Eden's outline on a huge sheet of newsprint and let her colour it however she liked.  (the first thing she did was give herself nail polish... truly a girly girl but I have no idea where she gets that from!)  We labeled the body parts when she was done and then hung it up on the wall.  (Unfortunately Marcus thought it was there for him to pull down and tear apart!)

In addition we did some painting, played with playdough, had lots of fun with the boys and Eden attended her first ballet class!

It was a great start to our preschool year!

Linking up to Preschool Corner @ Homeschool Creations

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week (s) in Review: The first 2 weeks.

Our first two weeks of school were great! I wouldn't say we are now homeschool pros,  but there is definitely a difference between this our 3rd year of homeschooling and the first two years.  I for one am much more organized, know what to expect and am way more laid back!  I am not tied to my teacher manuals and know that's its okay to replace a textbook lesson with a game when things appear to be falling apart.  I have learned that homeschooling is not an event, it is a lifestyle! 

Here's a look at our first two weeks:
For language, Micaiah spent the last two weeks reviewing grammar in the First Language Lessons Level 2.  We are hoping to finish off that book very soon and start on Level 3.  He has been enjoying reading books about sports such as American football, baseball and cricket and also about local sports legends like Champ Hunt and Calvin Bummy Symonds.  He has enjoyed taking a break from our All About Spelling curriculum to check out the Big IQ spelling program we were given to review. (You can read my review here.)  I am planning to merge the two programs together, using AAS to teach and BigIQ to review. Since I really like the AAS program and he really likes doing his spelling on the computer we get the best of both worlds!

We also have been using Big IQ for math drills and used these 2 weeks to finish off our Horizons 2 Math-- there were a few lessons that we didn't get through.  I also threw in some pattern block math problems from a book someone gave me.  

Although Eli is reading very well we are still working through The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading  I want to be sure he has a good understanding of phonics while we continue to build on his sight words.  I plan on reinforcing the phonics work when we begin All About Spelling Level 1 in a few weeks.   I have ordered a couple All ABout Reading  readers and am looking forward to getting those to add to our reading work.  Eli is also using Big IQ math and spelling each day but I am still working out what works best for him for math going forward.  He hates worksheets but  loves anything hands on.  He was given a Zoob set for his birthday last month (thank you Granny and Grandpa!)  I turned that into a math lesson (counting, adding, sorting, patterns) and he spent the week putting together a motor cycle with the set.
Eli started Sonlight's Introduction to world cultures so we were learning about dinosaurs and the first people- what they wore, what they ate, where they lived.  Micaiah continued with Story of the World Book one.  He was fascinated with the story of King Tut and the discovery of his tomb. 

The kids attended their monthly homeschool class at BAMZ where they learned about endangered animals.  

Although we didn't have any formal science lessons  at home we did spend some time outside observing catepillars.  The boys were trying to have caterpillar races but I don't think the caterpillars were too cooperative!

We also observed what happens when you put marshmallows in the microwave.  We were following these directions to make marshmallow volcanoes using marshmallows, peanut butter and red sprinkles for Wacky Snack Wednesday.  They didn't turn out much like volcanoes but the kids got a kick out of seeing them puff up.  Eli kept shouting "they're gonna explode!" We ended up with a sticky mess but they enjoyed eating them too!

Sports & Games

We played our version of musical chairs, using pillows...

had fun at the playground...

Micaiah had his first football (soccer, for my American readers :) practice...
and I didn't get a picture but the boys started tennis again.

We have had a busy first two weeks!  But we have even more exciting things planned for our next two weeks!  Stay tuned for the next week in review :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pin it Do it Challenge Week 3

 Welcome to week 3 of the Pin it Do it Challenge!

While I was planning Eden's All About Me week for our introduction to preschool, I found 2 ideas that I knew I had to recreate.

First, I love sensory tubs... I love putting them together, and the kids really enjoy playing, discovering and learning with them.  The Totally Tots website has a "What's in the Tub" feature where they put together sensory tubs each month around a specific theme.  It is a great resource and it is where I found this sensory tub:

Totally Tots- What's in the Tub

 Here is my version.  I had fun putting this one together.

  • The filler is abc pasta (first week of school, letter review) lentils (for some colour) popcorn seeds and wagon wheel pasta (that's what else I had in the cupboard!)
  • Next I took a picture of each person in the family.. even Marcus cooperated! After removing the background with Photoshop, I cut them out and laminated the pictures.  They stood up nicely in the filler.
  • I added name cards so Eden could match the name with the person. (name recognition)
  • Foam and wooden letters which spelled out her first and last name (she fished these out with a spoon to practice spelling her name)
  • magnetic numbers- the numbers in our phone number to practice.
  • magnets from our Melissa and Doug calendar (My Birthday, Ballet & Gymnastics- Eden's activities)
  • plastic star shape (star was our shape of the week)
  • wooden flower and leaf beads (to add some more colour and texture).
I like how it came together and Eden enjoyed playing with the tub (even Eli asked to have a turn a few times).  Eden's favourite part was the cutouts of the family.  One day she spent almost an hour playing with them! 

The next project I pinned  was from my dear friend Mari-Ann's website Counting Coconuts where I always find some great ideas (she is amazing!)

This "Me on the Map" book is a circle shaped book.  Each circle of the book from smallest to biggest represents our home,  neighbourhood, parish (city), island (country), continent, and planet.  The circles are decorated with pictures and held together with a brad.  Eden enjoyed putting each piece together.. we did it over 2 days and the highlight for her was sticking a little star on each page approximately where she would be.  It is a great visual for how we fit in the world.

Here is our version which didn't stray too far from the original (Hey, why recreate the wheel!)

Well, that's how I brought Pinterest into real life this week!  What about you?  Link up below, I'd love to see your great projects and  ideas!