Counting and the Alphabet

16195557_10154270436273059_8844578467252457715_nLately, the Little Fox loves counting.  We’re counting the lamps in the bedroom, we’re counting our fingers and toes, we’re counting bites during a snack, or seconds while I hold my PT and yoga poses.  We’re counting anything and everything holding my son’s interest.

It’s not the first time he’s been interested in numbers, but it’s a resurgence with an intensity he never showed before.  As I mentioned in last week’s post, he started becoming interested again with the books One Nighttime Sea and Wizard of Oz Counting.

61tkzjdun2bl-_sx365_bo1204203200_One of his favorite things to count — his absolute favorite — is counting letters.  He especially likes seeking out the letters in his name (he learned to spell his name courtesy of a cousin who sent a wooden bench carved with his name in it).  He’s always looking for the As and the Cs.  Sunday night, I read the whole Animalia to him, slowly enunciating all the words.  We didn’t just count the obvious letters, but also those hidden within the art on each page.  Sometimes we went far beyond his knowledge of counting, but he did his best to repeat the numbers I said.  Some pages went up to 23 instances of the letter in question.

This combined interest in both numbers and letters has become an exciting way of integrating the basics.  Though we’d never push him to start reading or doing math so early, we absolutely support him when he shows such passion for something.  Since he’s so focused, I’ve even started introducing the concepts of addition.  When we’re counting letters or animals or some other items in a book, and the items in questions are split between the folds, I count the whole, and then count those on either side of the page and add them together.

For example, seven lemurs are spread across two pages.  We count them as seven together, and then I count four on one page, three on the other, and say, “and four and three makes seven!”

I don’t expect him to repeat this, but by simply talking about it, the concept starts to sink into his mind, so when he starts to focus on adding and subtracting objects in his world, these lessons will have laid a preliminary foundation.

Random ideas for things to count:

  • Legos, ponies, cars, figurines, or other toys they’re actively playing with
  • Sticks, leaves, rocks, shells, or other common objects found on a nature walk
  • Seconds (while doing something)
  • Peas, chips, grapes, or other food that comes in multiples
  • People or animals in an area
  • Fingers, toes, eyes, ears, bones, etc.
  • Shirts, pants, socks, or other laundry items while folding (socks are especially good for counting if they’re learning to fold their socks)
  • Dabs of paint, crayons, or other items with varied colors (also integrates color lessons)
  • Wooden beads, buttons, yarn pieces, and other craft items they’re using in projects
  • The tires on different vehicles (e.g. bicycles, tricycles, car, semitruck, etc.)
  • The limbs on varying animals (counting legs: zero limbs on snakes, bipedal humans, quadrapedal animals, six-legged insects, eight-legged spiders and octopuses; wings or arms vs. legs; etc.)

Another part to teaching and learning counting is the concept of zero, nothing, and none.  This is crucial to all levels of mathematics, although the basic vague understanding of it comes along often in a young child’s life when they’re told they cannot have something, or when they insist they want to eat nothing when they’re cranky with hunger.  Nevertheless, as important as zero is, we often don’t remember it in counting, which is why discussions about limbs, for instance, can introduce zero as a number meaning none.

Whenever your little one starts taking an interest in numbers or letters, it’s time to start playing number and alphabet games, and singing songs (e.g. Hickory, Dickory Dock, 10 little monkeys, the alphabet song, and so on.)  Another great resource are “Alligators All Around” and “One Was Johnny” by Maurice Sendak and sent to music by Carole King (these are two books found in Sendak’s Nutshell library).  And if you’re counting months, don’t forget “Chicken Soup with Rice.”  If your little ones are Seuss fans, there’s also Dr. Seuss’ ABC Book; it’s not my favorite, but my son adores it.

 

 

 

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Planning Preschool at Home

preschoolplanOur lives continue to change and evolve.  In preparation for my daughter’s imminent entrance to college life, I’m also planning how best to make use of the approximately eight hours a day, four days a week, of one-on-one time with my son whose needs are vastly different than his sister’s were when we started homeschooling at a 4th grade level.

Preschool education, while in general a comfortable place for me (I love nursery rhymes and music circles and silly movement games), I’ve never taught this level full-time with one or more children.  Creating a routine isn’t easy for me either, but at this age, children need it so much more than the rest of us.

Together, my son and I will be establishing a new routine, one filled with games and exploration of our local world.  Routines filled with a more dedicated focus each week, to help me in staying on track with him and not falling into bad habits of idleness and home seclusion (something I fight from my upbringing and introversion).

Though he’s signed up for fall music and gymnastics, and once he’s four, he’ll be eligible for weekly classes in preschool farming, Aikido, parkour, and drama, there’s a lot of time between any classes where we need to be engaged in more than playing cars or watching Steven Universe.

Thus, I’ve laid out a weekly theme guide for the coming year.  For reference, I have started our preschool theme planning on the last Monday of September, when my daughter heads off to Running Start.  The three weeks before that are preparatory weeks to get the house and the family ready for this major shift in our current lifestyle.  It includes relevant holidays to us and planned visits with friends.  If you’re in a similar boat with a preschooler, these themes might inspire you to do your own.

Around these themes, I’ve tentatively planned certain field trips.  For example, Week 2’s theme pairs well with visiting the local Reptile Zoo, and “Fire and Rescue” lends itself well to visiting our local firehouse to meet our rescue workers and see how they operate.  Some of these trips will require more coordination and planning ahead than others, but all of them will include both at-home projects, art, songs, etc., and outdoor exploration.

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Little Fox uses cat as a pillow

SEPTEMBER 2016

Week A: Not Back to School outings
Week B: Ready House
Week C: College Prep / Mabon
Week 1: Human Body

OCTOBER

Week 2: Eggs & Who Lays Them
Week 3: Trees and Plants in Fall
Week 4: Our Senses
Week 5: Harvest / Samhain
Week 6: Samhain / [Friend Visiting] / Exploring Our Town

NOVEMBER

Week 7: Community Helpers: Fire & Rescue
Week 8: First Nations People
Week 9: Giving Thanks / Gratitude
Week 10: Nocturnal Animals

DECEMBER

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One of our neighbors on a walk through the neighborhood.

Week 11: Hibernation
Week 12: Arctic Animals
Week 13: Solstice / Christmas
Week 14: Keeping Warm

JANUARY 2017

Week 15: Snow and Ice
Week 16: Hygiene
Week 17: Nutrition
Week 18: Safety Indoors / Chinese New Year
Week 19: Imbolc / Start of Spring

FEBRUARY

Week 20: Sheep and Goats
Week 21: Love and Friendship
Week 22: Soil and Garden Prep
Week 23: Heroes and Leaders

MARCH

Week 24: Transportation
Week 25: Life cycles
Week 26: Spring Break / Ostara
Week 27: Flowers

APRIL

Week 28: Baby Animals
Week 29: Norwescon Prep / Crafts
Week 30: Little Fox’s Birthday / The Earth and Earth Day
Week 31: Forests and Jungles
Week 32: Deserts and Plains

MAY

Week 33: Oceans and Islands
Week 34: Fresh Water
Week 35: Beaches
Week 36: Garden Pollinators

JUNE

Week 37: Birds in our yard
Week 38: Dance
Week 39: Litha
Week 40: Outdoor Safety

JULY

Week 41: Astronomy and Space
Week 42: Rocks and Minerals
Week 43: Free Play / Double Birthday Week
Week 44: Zoo Animals
Week 45: Farming / Lughnasadh

AUGUST

Week 46: Sea Creatures / Aquarium
Week 47: Camping and Hiking
Week 48: Food Art
Week 49: Ponds: Flora and Fauna

SEPTEMBER

Week 50: Market Vegetables