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H is for Hip Hip Hooray!

~Malachi is 4 years, 3 months~
We have had hhheaps of fun studying the letter Hh! Here is what we have been doing the last 2 weeks for Preschool. 

ABC Book:

 Memory Verse:
Instead of a memory verse this lesson, we are working on a concept from Romans 12:8 to ". . . help cheerfully" which I explained means to help with a happy heart!

A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle
Animal Homes, by Eric Carle
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

The Hayloft, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Through all the pleasant meadow-side The grass grew shoulder-high, Till the shining scythes went far and wide And cut it down to dry. Those green and sweetly smelling crops They led the waggons home; And they piled them here in mountain tops For mountaineers to roam. Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail, Mount Eagle and Mount High;-- The mice that in these mountains dwell, No happier are than I! Oh, what a joy to clamber there, Oh, what a place for play, With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air, The happy hills of hay!


Hokey Pokey
Hip Hip Hooray Hippopotamus  "A Hippopotamus" (tune of "If you're happy and you know it" and I changed the words a little) Oh, if I were a hippopotamus. Oh, if I were a hippopotamus. Oh I'd hop and I'd dive, Do a happy little jive. Oh, if I were a hippopotamus.

Get Set for the Code Activities:

Vocabulary words this lesson included hat, horse, hammer, hot dog, house, hangers, horn and hand.
I love how Mali draws a little road instead of a line from the hat to the letter it begins with. He used to draw a broken line in the middle like a street, but when I asked him why he didn't do that this time he said, he was drawing our dirt road. :-)

Hands-On Experiences: Handprints
Precious little hand prints. After these were dry, I printed the handprint poem on these to save.


This was a great activity for motor skills. It was a challenge to hop on one foot then two. I made the squares small enough to reach easily.  We counted as we hopped and even tried picking up the rock.

We hopped like frogs, kangaroos, bunnies and any animals we could think of that hopped!

Hungry Hungry Hippo
We munched marbles with Henry, Harry, Happy and Homer Hippo! 

Hi-Ho Cherry O
We sorted colors, spun, counted, and learned to take turns. I need to play again while Elli is sleeping. It was a little hard with her. She wanted to keep the spinner. A fun counting game!

We took these with us camping last weekend. He kept throwing them over hand and they flew everywhere but the post. I showed him to throw it underhand and he managed to get a couple around the post. 

Make a Hat
Just newspaper folded and taped. He carried this with him everywhere the day we made it. He even wore it to a soccer game.  

Making Holes

This was a challenge. We tried a regular hole punch, then a leather punch, and a three-hole punch. The 3-hole punch was easiest!  I helped him make more holes so that we would have lots of dots for the letter d!

Different Types of Homes/Houses

We talked about what a house is - a place where someone (or something lives). And we  discussed different types of animal houses. We learned that a Hermit Crab lives in a shell from the book A House for Hermit Crab. I had planned to have him decorate a new shell for our hermit crab that we bought for a science lesson, but I learned that they had died. It would have tied in nicely! We discussed where other animals live and read Eric Carle's Animal Homes. We also identified animal homes on a hike.  We learned about the different kinds of houses that people around the world live in. Some people live in huts, others igloos, others tents, for example and we did a lapbooking component called Different Kinds of Houses (link below) and staked out where we will hopefully be building a house.

Mali's job was to spray paint the stakes once Pop hammered them in.  

Tot School ~ "Pretty" Matching, Button Sewing, Sequencing and Scooping

~Eliana is 28 months~

Here is what we did for Tot School last week.

"Pretty" Color Matching

Matching pink clips to pink headbands. Elli loves pink and she loves matching the "pretties"on this tray.
She doesn't care to wear the headbands but she will wear the little scrunchies. She is better about letting me do her hair. I have her pick the color and she usually picks pink, but now that we are matching colors, I ask her to pick a color that matches her dress. Half the time she will choose a color that matches, other times she still wants pink. I also started asking her how many pretties she wants in her hair and let her choose how we do her hair. I try to make sure she is dressed and her hair is combed in the morning before we do tot school, so that she knows this is a set apart time.

This is her favorite tray and I only photographed it once, but she did this tray many times throughout the week!

Button Sewing

I used Children's Needles, large buttons in pretty colors and matching embroidery floss. Her job was to match the colored thread and needle to the right button and sew! This is her first button sewing and I would love to include more activities like this one. She did a good job matching the colors. The needles were a little tight going through the button holes, so after she threaded it, I helped her pull them through and then let her finish. I think I will try this again with a regular yarn needle because it is such a practical skill for her.

What Does Not Belong?

Elli passed this tray up several times over the last two weeks, so I encouraged her to try it. Her job was to find the picture that does not relate to the other ones. I began by saying, "this is an animal, this is an animal, this is an animal, this is not an animal . . . which one is different?" Then I let her try on her own, but she still needed oral prompting. This activity is a free printable from Montessori for Everyone. I discovered this wonderful site from a blog I shared last week - My Montessori Journey. There are many wonderful printable ideas for Tot Trays!

Story Sequencing

This is another printable from Montessori for Everyone. Her job was to put them in order, which happened first, second and last. Doing this activity prompted her to ask to paint! So we made handprints.

Making Handprints

Malachi is doing reinforcement activities for the letter H, so we thought this was a good idea to go along.


Another H activity. We hopped around the living room, like a frog, a kangaroo, a bunny and any other animal we could think of that hopped!

More Story Sequencing and Picture Cards

With Mali's help, we were able to do a few more story/picture cards while we ate "ants on a log."

Scooping Watermelon

This was a spontaneous exercise and good scooping practice. She loves watermelon, so this was a fun activity!

Playing at the Park


We spent a day at the park playing with cousins.

And that is what we did last week! To see what others are doing for Tot School, visit 1+1+1=1.

Swimming Creatures Lesson 11: Echinoderms

Last week we covered the wonderful world of spiny skinned creatures, otherwise known as echinoderms. These benthic creatures which have no eyes, no brain and tube feet include Sea Stars, Brittle Stars, Crinoids, Sea Urchins, Sand Dollars, and Sea Cucumbers. Notebooking assignments included making a notebook page for each of the following animals: sea stars, brittle stars, crinoids, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea cucumbers. Today, we finished up by doing a project with salt water to create salty brittle stars by crystallizing salt.
We boiled some water, added food coloring, and then made a saturated salt water solution. Then we added some cotton yarn tied to together to make a star shape and we are waiting for salt crystals to form into a salty brittle star!
*Update: Here is our salty brittle star after only 2 days!

J is for Jellyfish

~Malachi is 4 years, 3 months~
ABC Book:
Memory Verse:
Sing the Word from A-Z
"Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today and forever . . . (Hebrews 13:8)

Bread and Jam for Frances,  by Russell & Lillian Hoban
Jamberry, by Bruce Degen
No Jumping on the Bed, by Tedd Arnold Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback
Jesse Bear, What will You Wear?, by Nancy White Carlstrom

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart

Get Set for the Code Activities:
Malachi is moving through the activities with more confidence and speed.  He still needs prompting to decode the sounds.  For example, I will ask, "What sound do you her at the beginning of jumprope?" And he will say "/n/" I will then ask him to say the word outloud himself and he will correct himself and say "/j/."  He is also writing more on his own. He asks for notebooking pages that his brothers are doing and writes the letter he knows (he recognizes and writes more than we have studied).  

Art and Activities:
The inspiration for our first activity:
'Jam in the morning, jam on toast,
Jam is what I like most.' ~ Frances
Making Jam 
This went along nicely with our book, Bread and Jam for Frances, and we have been enjoying jam! Mali helped me smash the strawberries and I made 10 half pints of jam.  (We have already eaten 2 jars).

I got the idea for this cute little guy here

Java Dough
A silky smooth dough that smells like fresh-brewed coffee.  We experimented with the recipe from Kid Concoctions and came up with a fun dough with an interesting feel and smells good!
We used:
3/4 cup fresh brewed strong coffee  2 cups cornstarch 1/2 cup salt then added flour to desired consistency

Jumping and Jumping Jacks

This made for some fun and active movement for both of my little ones. We tried to see how high we can jump (jumping off of furniture did not count!) and practiced doing jumping jacks counting to 10. 

Jelly Bean Sorting and Counting

We sorted jellybeans by color and then counted to see how many of each color we had (left). I bought two bags, but we could not find one, so Mali shared the tray with his sister. It was so cute how they worked together, shared and counted together. We found the bag later and they got to do it all over again. :-)

I realized that we need to work more on numbers. He cannot consistently count to 10 yet (but his 2 year old sister can) so I am singing more to him.

Delightful Books:

Delightful Links:

Tot School ~ Now I Know My ABC's

Tot School
~Eliana is 28 months~
I have been singing the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" version of the alphabet to Eliana. Here is how it looks:
Sung to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," it breaks up the confusing L-M-N-O-P. I still have to add on the "Now I know my ABC's. . ." because she asks for it. Well, this week I caught her singing the whole alphabet! I have also been singing the number song from Audio Memory Addition Songs. It counts 1-20 and she is getting that too. Which brought to my attention the effectiveness of singing and encourages me to sing more with her and my preschooler.
I have a couple clear plastic trays and like that they give my Tot-Schooler a defined place to play. I only have 2, so instead of putting all the activities on the trays on a shelf, I am putting them in a small white basket and then putting that on a tray. I try to pick a quiet time of the day, ask her if she wants to do Tot School, pull 2 baskets and let her choose which one she wants to do and then place that basket on a tray. By allowing her to pick from two choices, I am giving her some control, but ultimately I have the control (a concept I learned years ago from Parenting with Love and Logic).
Here is what we have been doing:
Tot Paper Dolls
I printed these cute paper dolls, cut them out and laminated them. I then attached clear velcro dots to the dolls and clothes for little hands to use. She was so excited! "Oh, cute!" she exclaimed. "Oh, thank you, Mommy!" I will have to print the Annie Doll ones next.
Transferring Pom Poms
I liked this tray because it was so colorful! She is getting better at using the tongs. I gave her a small pair for this activity.
Color Matching and Scrunchie Stretching
Inspired by this idea here, her job was to match the colors and then stretch the mini scrunchies over the cardboard tubes. This was good practice for her, and I loved watching her facial expressions as she played. She still says, "harder" when something is a challenge for her. I bought a wooden dowel to cut into lengths and color code to do next. I loved this tray because it is so practical. :-)
Shape and Lace Train
I bought this Shape Train game at the Dollar Tree, laminated it and punched holes to connect the cars and lace the engine and caboose, then I attached the shapes with velcro. As she learns the shapes, I will call the shape on the car and have her attach the correct shape. She also practiced lacing for the first time.
Another Practical and Challenging Tray
Inspired by this post here, her job was to match the hair clip to the hair tie, and then clip it on. This tray was a challenge for her and she said, "It's too hard." I helped her pinch the clip with her thumb and forefinger and she was able to accomplish the task of clipping all 6 clips!
She passed this tray up a couple times, but happily did it this day. They were just wide enough to require two cuts. After a few, she asked me to help her, so I held the strips for her.
Water Droplet Transferring
Eliana got sand in her eyes and I used a dropper to rinse her eye out with purified water. Afterwards, I grabbed a tray and let her transfer water drops with the dropper and a small bowl. Then I added a baster and a bigger bowl of water. She really enjoyed this and transfered the water back and forth playing with the water.
Stringing a Necklace
Another idea springing from My Montessori Journey. I chose the color green for a themed necklace. For the flowers, I laminated flowers from a picture book and stuck them on sticky backed foam, then punched a hole in it. I love the feel of them! Other items included various green beads, green and white straws cut into various lengths, and pipe cleaners twisted around a pencil and cut into quarters, and green paper clips (anything I could find with a hole).
We also did some "J" activities with Malachi for preschool.
Be sure to check out 1+1+1=1 for more Tot School ideas!
Delightful Links:

Swimming Creatures Lesson 10: Cephalopods

This week, we have been learning about the four different kinds of "head-footed" animals, the octopus, the squid, the nautilus, and the cuttlefish, which are all cephalopods. We learned how they swim (by jet propulsion), what they eat, what kinds of mouths they have (beaks), the kinds of defenses they have (camouflage, ink and excellent eyesight), what a cuttle bone is, how many arms (not legs) cuttlefish and squid have (10), and how many arms an octopus has (8 of course), and why scientists think an octopus is intelligent (large brains and good problem solving skills - it will actually "play"). We also learned how a nautilus moves in the water (releasing and taking in gas/water to rise and lower itself), and what a chiton is (a sea creature that resembles a roly poly bug).
We learned that an octopus does not have a blind spot like we do and did a Try This! Experiment to learn about our blind spot.
We tested to see where our blind spot is by holding the book up, covering our right eye, focusing on the + sign with our left eye, then moving the book closer until the dot disappeared, then reappeared a little closer. When the dot disappeared, it was right on our blind spot. Octopuses do not have one, which is one reason they have excellent eyesight.
We made notebooking pages for each of the five animals we studied in this lesson, illustrating them and writing down the interesting things we learned.
Here are a few of the pages:
Then, we filled out our scientific speculation sheets and set up for an experiment to create our own little cephalopod and learn about buoyancy, but our medicine dropper would not fit inside the bottle top, so we will have to do that one another day.
We all decided that we want to finish up this book by the end of May (which is 6 weeks of lessons in 2 weeks) so that we can pick up where we left of with Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and study insects. If we lived near an ocean, Swimming Creatures would be so much cooler, but alas, we don't. So, we are looking forward to being outdoors doing some more "hands on" school catching bugs.

Tot School ~ Dancing Raisins

Tot School
~Eliana is 27 months~
I didn't have any activities planned for Tot School this week. I did manage to catch her playing with the dressing bear puzzle.
And we did an experiment to see some raisins dance. Check out Leslie's post, called Dancing Raisins, for full instructions. Just be sure to read her instructions and follow them! If you do like I do and don't pay attention, then make sure you at least have a towel handy. :-)
My little ones really enjoyed this. Thanks Leslie!
I know we had messes of play dough (as we do at the moment), puzzles, games, etc. out and about, so there must have been more. But, this is all I caught.
I did spend some time finding some new ideas for Tot School that I will share soon. In the mean time, see what everyone else is doing for Tot School at 1+1+1=1. And thank you to Carissa for hosting Tot School. :-)