School is in Session!

We officially began homeschool preschool last week. Hip Hip Hooray! We started sooner than I had initially planned. I was thinking of waiting until middle of September to really get the ball rolling. However, Travis has been super busy, and if you personally know us then you know exactly what I mean, so to pass the time I decided to go ahead and begin school the first week of August. I've been researching for a little while on the best way to begin with an almost 3 year old, what curriculum would be best, and what approach would benefit Anna the most. I can imagine all the veteran homeschool moms chuckling as they read this. I already had one chuckle from a dear friend of mine after I asked for advice on how to get started. Play, play, and more play she advised. And throw in there letters, number, shapes, and colors, and Anna will be fine. Perfect! Except for someone like me; I like a plan, direction. If I don't have either one then Anna would play with her LaLaLoopsies all.day.e'ery.day. I like seeing what others have done before me, what's worked, what hasn't. So after a few weeks researching I found a curriculum I believe will work really well for us.

As soon as I found ABC Jesus Loves Me I was sold. For one, it's free (for in-home family use)! Two, they talk about Jesus, and not just that, it's their focus, which I love. Letters, numbers, shapes, and colors are included in each week's activities and play is encouraged above all. I also liked that I didn't have to go out and buy a bunch of supplies. A lot of the activities suggested items found around the house and books we could borrow from the library. It also encouraged incorporating learning into normal activities throughout the day from singing songs in the car to counting at the grocery or finding the color of the week while out walking. We can make it as elaborate as we want or as simple as we want picking and choosing the activities we feel best suits our family. Along with simplifying our home, I'm trying to make homeschool simple as well. This curriculum allows that, for which I'm grateful.

Since this was the first week I had no idea how Anna was going to handle school. She's gone to childcare at church and the YMCA and has been a part of a dance class for 8 weeks but she's never really been in a classroom setting for an extended period of time. I told her the night before we started that the next day during Theo's morning nap we would start school where we'd read a story from the Bible, sing some songs, and do an art activity. She seemed excited so I was excited. The next day came and after I put Theo down for his nap right on schedule I asked Anna if she was ready for school. "Nah, I want to play with my 'WaWaWoopsies'" Hmm, ok. After I sat with her for about 5 minutes letting her play I directed her over to the couch and we started our story. She seemed happy at that point and so I continued. We read our story, I introduced her to a few new songs, and then we did our craft at her new school space in our kitchen. First day was a success! The next 4 days were great too. A little push back a few times but all in all we both enjoyed it and it kept us busy while Travis was gone, Theo was napping, and kept us away from the LaLaLoopsies! Plus it was sweet seeing her learn and retain so much in just a week's time. It makes me excited for what else she'll learn in the coming year!

Read on to find out what we did this week. You can find more activities on ABC Jesus Loves Me.

The Bible Theme: God Made the World Around Me, Creation Day 1 & 2
Each morning we would read from The Beginner's Bible pages 9-11 which is the story of God creating the first two days. We started our Creation Day Book by making the first two pages. The first page was God created the night and day (you can see the first page in the picture at the top). The second page was God created the sky and water. We did a fingerplay: "On day 1 (put up number 1 with finger), God created light (close fist and then quickly open in the air and bring down to side creating arches. On day 2 (put up number 2 with finger), God created the sky (wave arms in air) and water (make waves with hands)". Using a coffee filter, markers, and a spray bottle we made the earth. We colored the coffee filter together with blue and green markers and then Anna sprayed the coffee filter with water. When it was dry it looked like the earth.

Creation Day Book Day 2: Anna glued cotton balls at top of page for the sky and the water was made from shaving cream and blue paint.
Turned into painting herself, naturally. 
Coffee filter earth. She loved spraying the water!

Verse: Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Tune:  Are You Sleeping
In the beginning, (2x)
God created (2x)
The heavens and the earth (2x)
Genesis 1:1 (2x)
This ended up being one of my favorite things about this week. Anna picked up on this song super quick and I would hear her singing it by herself a room away. This is one of the reasons I love this curriculum so much because it's teaching kids bible verses through music. What a great tool to help children retain what they've learned!

Song: This Little Light of Mine
We sang all four verses ("This little light of mine", "Hide it under a bushel, No!", Don't let Satan blow it out", "Let it shine 'til Jesus comes"). Anna loved this song and can now sing all four verses by herself.

Color: Red
We began our week by taking a color walk searching for all the red items we could find along the way. Anna found cars, car lights, Theo's stroller, her shoes, and a stop sign. In the middle of the week Anna used a red crayon to color a balloon that I drew on paper. We paired this with the fine motor skill activity and had her color on a vertical surface (the refrigerator). Throughout the week we looked for the color red in our house and while we were out. Anna wore her red sparkly shoes most days and we ate red raspberries.

Letter: A
Although Anna already knows the letter "A" pretty well she's not quite ready to practice handwriting so I printed out a block letter A and we added "Animal Stickers" to it. We worked on her knowing that her name and animal starts with "A".

Information: first, middle, and last name
ABC Jesus Loves Me suggests working on saying first name in the two year old curriculum but Anna's already past that. Instead we worked on her first, middle, and last name. We also talked about Mommy, Daddy, and Theo's full names.

Self Care and Manners: sitting quietly
We worked on sitting quietly while I read our Bible story.

Number: 1
We're making number flashcards and each week we will be adding to the cards. This week we made our first card. On the flashcard I wrote the number 1 and then Anna picked out a button and glued it below the number. Each day we counted the button on the card. We also found ways to count to one throughout the days. (You can see our number flashcard in the picture at the top.)

Shape: Circle
We searched for circles around the house. We took a circle walk looking out for circles like tires and balls. We drew circles on paper albeit not perfect ;) 

Book of the Week: Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
This book is super cute. Anna really liked it and by the end of the week she was able to say the last word in each sentence. We would read this story before nap and at bedtime. Throughout reading I'd ask Anna to find the red items and circles.

Motor Skills: 
Fine Motor: color on vertical surface
As mentioned above I had Anna color her balloon on a vertical surface. Coloring on a vertical surface allows extra muscles in the wrist and hand to be strengthened. These muscles are not used when writing on a horizontal surface.

Gross Motor: Play "Put the Fire Out"
This game lasted for about 1 minute before she was done. The idea was to draw a ladder with sidewalk chalk leading to a chalk drawn "fire". On the other end of the ladder you place a bowl of water with a sponge. The child fills the sponge with water, hops over each rung to get to the fire, and then squeezes out the water to put out the "fire". Anna did this once before she decided she just wanted to play in the water. So I let her.

Since this is all very new for us all we only spent 30-45 minutes each morning during Theo's nap on formal lessons (Bible reading, singing songs, and the art activity of the day). Everything else was thrown into our normal activities throughout the day. This schedule seems to work for us now. I also want to mention that we're working through the 2 year old curriculum although she turns three next month. She is further along developmentally in some areas taught in the 2 year old curriculum, however, a majority of it she still has yet to learn so I decided to keep her back. I felt the 3 year old curriculum would be too challenging for her at this point. When we get to a concept she has already mastered I'll alter the lesson to meet her needs.

I'm excited for what this year holds. It could fail miserably and my dreams of homeschooling my children throughout their school years could come to an abrupt end but I'm hopeful that it will be an amazing year full of play, laughter, and lots of learning.

{I received no compensation from ABC Jesus Loves Me. I just really liked it, and thought I'd share how it's helping our family.}

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