Friday, September 21, 2012

Learning at Home: Moon and Stars

Hey ya'll! We completed our first official week of a full preschool lesson plan at home and it was a big hit. We actually did more activities than I originally planned, and I've included those as well. I tried to include photos for most things, because I get most people are more visual.

People ask me a lot where I get my ideas. It's a combination. Some of them I've done before as a former preschool teacher. A lot of them I just make up. They are basic concepts of early childhood learning that once you understand are easy to think up ideas for. A lot of these ideas aren't new as well. I find stuff on pinterest, montessori sites, by googling, and on early learning blogs. A really great blog, I pulled some activities from (and tweaked a little) is No Time For Flash Cards. Seriously, so many ideas and activities there.

On to the lesson plan! We usually do our "school time" at the beginning of the day. We always start off with an alphabet activity and one math/logic activity. After that, we either read a book, play a game, and sing some songs, then we are done. Or instead of following it with books and songs, we will do an art or sensory activity instead. Or we will just save the art/sensory activity for the afternoon. The whole idea behind early learning is learning through play, so it should be fun for your child and not forced. If they don't like something or quickly get bored or frustrated with it, move on to something else. Adoration absolutely loves her school time, partly because it is one-on-one play time with mama, and because these activities are stimulating for her. And we don't do different activities every day. A lot of the time we start off with the same activities. As long as they are still interesting for Adoration. So try a few of these ideas, or copy the whole lesson plan, whatever works for you!

Theme: Moon and Stars.
Letters of the Week: M and S. 
Songs: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, ABC's, Going on a Bear Hunt. 
Books: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle; And if the Moon Could Talk by Kate Banks; The Jesus Storybook Bible (creation story.)
Any books that go with the theme would do, just search on your library's card catalog. We just added these into our before naptime/bedtime book routine.

Letters of the Week Coloring ( on the chalkboard.) ----> Alphabet, Art
We started off everyday with this activity. I just drew the letter on the chalkboard. Adoration would name the letter, then she would color away.


Letter Recognition Game ----> Alphabet
Place three letters before your child. Ask them to find/ pick out one of the letters. Repeat until it gets old. We do this with magnetic letters usually, but sometimes we will use some Trader Joe's letter cookies that we have (When Adoration finds the letter, she thinks it's really fun to get to eat it.) 

Counting 1-5 (one-to-one correspondence) combined w/ Marshmallow Toothpick Game. ---> Math, Small Motor Skills. 
*I made a sheet, drawing 5 circles, with the corresponding number above (we used this all week.)  
*For the marshmallow game portion, Adoration placed a marshmallow in each circle. Then together, we counted the marshmallows as she pointed at each marshmallow. By the end of the week she was doing this by herself. After counting, she used the toothpick to pick up each marshmallow and place it in the bowl and well...some went into her mouth too. ;)
PicMonkey Collage5

*Using the same number sheet, we also counted fruit snacks one day (minus the toothpick pick-up.) Another day, we used pennies. After counting the pennies she placed each penny in her piggy bank. Really....any small object would do.

Shape Sorting Manipulative ----> Math, Shapes
Any kind of sorting/puzzle falls into the Math category, because it uses logic. 
So together, we played with her shape sorting toy. I would have Adoration name the shape before putting it in. If your child doesn't quite have those verbal skills yet, ask them to point to a triangle, square, etc. 

Sorting Found Nature Objects ----> Math
Using feathers and shells we have collected in the past, I had Adoration sort all the feathers into one cup, and all the shells into another. We already had these nature objects, but you could go on a nature walk with your child, collecting leaves and sticks THEN do the sorting.
PicMonkey Collage

Puffy Paint Moon ----> Theme, Art, Sensory, Alphabet, Shape 
(from No Time for Flashcards.)

You will need: mixing bowl, spoon, measuring cup, black poster board/cardstock/heavy duty construction paper, white crayon, glue, and shaving cream.

*On heavy duty black paper (we used poster board,) draw a big circle for the moon in white crayon.  I also wrote "moon" on the sheet and the letter "M." I emphasized how "moon" starts with the letter, "M." I also had her name the shape (circle.)  You will eventually cut this circle out, but I wanted Adoration to have the letter visual as she was doing the activity.
* Mix together 1/2 a cup of glue and 1 1/2 cup shaving cream. Let your child help with the mixing.
* After it is mixed, let your child explore, spreading the goopy mess on the poster board, over the circle moon.
PicMonkey Collage2

*When they are finished, let it dry for a couple of hours (2-4.) Cut out the circle and glue onto another piece of black heavy duty paper. Hang up where your child can see it! (I like to keep our projects where Adoration can see them for at least a week after they have been completed. It helps them remember what they did, plus, it's a source of pride.)
Before and After: 

PicMonkey Collage4

Shaving Cream Color Mixing ----> Sensory, Colors
This activity was not originally planned, but my daughter was already messy and shirtless, and I already had the materials needed at hand. She enjoyed the moon activity so much and was itching for more.

*In a baking pan, squirt some shaving cream. Have your child help you squirt a couple of drops of food coloring onto the shaving cream. We did "red" and "blue" to make "purple." As Adoration was mixing it, she said, "a new color, mama!"
* Let your child explore, mixing it all together, using spoons, their hands, a paintbrush, etc. We also drew shapes, pictures, and letters into the shaving cream. PicMonkey Collage3

Constellation Craft ---> Art, Small Motor, Math, Alphabet
(from No Time for Flashcards.)

You will need: black construction paper, white crayon, star stickers.

*On the construction paper draw either a real constellation (we did the big dipper) or make-up your own (a shape or an object.)
*Draw dots on the constellation, as a guide for where the star stickers should be placed.
*I encouraged Adoration to stick the stickers over the dots for small motor practice. After the constellation was completed, we counted the stars. We also talked about how it looked like a spoon and that we could find that same shape in the sky at night.  And we talked about how "stars" start with the letter "S."
* After the constellation was completed, I let her go to town, sticking stickers wherever she wanted just for fun.

Sensory Play (with lentils) ---->Sensory, Small Motor

Using scoops, spoons, cups, and bowls, let your child play with dry beans or lentils.
(This can get messy. We did it where I can easily sweep up the mess. Or you could do it outside.)
PicMonkey Collage6

Extra/ Just for fun:
*  Make a fort in the dark with start turtle or flashlights (we have a turtle nightlight that projects stars onto the ceiling.
* Take a trip to a Planetarium.
* Stay up past dark and go star gazing.  

Hope this is a good resource for learning ideas! Next week, our theme is "The Human Body."


  1. oh, my bad. i thought you were NINE MONTHS PREGNANT!!! :) what the heck, girl. i thought i was doing good this week because i spent 20 minutes with Maitland going through a Cars "look & find" book. you are amazing! :)

    1. 1) you have a couple of more kids then me.
      2) this was my major and job.
      3) apparently, this is me nesting, because I was flooded with a wave of motivation to do it. ;)

  2. Oh my gosh, these are amazing ideas! I especially love the moon. How wonderful!

  3. Wow please come teach Anna preschool. I would love to be a homeschooler but this kind of thing totally overwhelms me. I feel like I don't have the personality for it. I don't think homeschooling will be in our future, *sigh. But if you were nearby I would totally pay you our preschool tuition! Adoration is going to be a bright cookie.

  4. Wow, brilliant ideas! I'm homeschooling my daughter and this will be a great addition to our activities. Thanks much!

  5. Thanks for sharing. Love the ideas. This saves me time from having to do a search for activities and put it all together. I have a 5 month old, but I want to keep my toddler stimulated. Thanks again!

  6. Wow, that marshmallow one looks super cute, and I think my son might even be able to do it. This is great!
    Thanks for sharing :)


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