Recommended Reading: Rainforest Edition

I just received my November curriculum yesterday, and November is going to be so fun! I’m especially looking forward to the STEAM Stations! Growing mold, exploring the Forest Floor, and Building a Nest are top on my list to share with my children.

With a new month quickly approaching, I’ve taken the guesswork out for you and have curated my top picks for books from Usborne Books & More for you to add to either your home or classrooms. Check out the list below and find out what made my #1 Must Have resource for November’s Theme Web on Rainforest Adventure.

Rainforests

Secrets Of The Rainforest

Rainforest to Color

Above and Below

Shine-A-Light Secrets of our Earth

Great Animal Search 

Ants

Underpants for Ants

Monkeys

Snakes

Deadly Animals

The Jungle Challenge (NEW title by Bear Grylls!)

Frog on a Log

Tadpoles and Frogs

Lift-the-flap Opposites 

My number one-must-have for the month of November and learning about the Rainforest is:

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This awesome activity comes with 10 3-D masks. Think of all the great Dramatic Play and Music & Movement activities you can come up with!

I hope you enjoyed my recommendations! As a special thank you for checking out my list, I’d love to offer to you a savings, but you must email me to receive the reimbursement, as my online ordering system does not accept coupon codes. Please email me at: beth.with.usborne@gmail.com and I’m happy to pass on to you this exclusive savings!

Keep Reading!

Beth

As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinionsand thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

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Creating a Reading Environment

My oldest son began reading when he was almost five, and in his last year of Preschool. The classroom that he was in had children who had birthdays later in the school year. We chose for him to start Kindergarten just shortly after turning six, instead of shortly after he turned five. We chose to do the same with Charlotte, and I’m so happy with the decision that we made for her, both emotionally and educationally.

I love the program that my children have attended half-day at The Learning Advantage, but for my sanity at home, I’ve found that I need to keep my trio really engaged instead of suggesting that they go play. I’m betting some of you reading this would agree that your child also need more concise directions, instead of saying “go play”.

One thing as a parent that I’ve always tried to foster for my children is a love of reading. In fact, it’s one of the number one reasons why I joined with Usborne Books & More. I wanted to surround my children with high-quality books that would help to build their creativity, boost their confidence…and so much more. Usborne and Kane Miller books allow that to happen. I was so excited to see how engaging all of the Language and Literacy objectives have been with Mother Goose Time!

In conjunction with the Literacy-rich environment that has been created for my children, my children are learning even more from the objectives provided by this curriculum. Charlotte is really starting to piece together (very rapidly, I might add!) all the parts of language and the written word. I know that her emerging skills are exactly where I’ve anticipated them to be, based on the skills she’s mastered so far looking at the Developmental Continuum.

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By using the picture cues and words, Charlotte can decipher what next word is in the sentence sequence.

 

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Charlotte decided that she needed to use the word “I” when reading the words as she was talking about herself. Oh, my heart!

I need to laminate the word arrows and the other pieces that go with it and punch them and put them on a binder ring. I swear this curriculum has thought of everything!

Keep Reading!

Beth

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

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Handwriting 101

I lovingly (and jokingly) will ask my husband when paperwork needs to be filled out if he’d like me to fill it out for him. It’s not that his handwriting is bad, it’s just different than my handwriting and the detail that I put into making sure what I’m writing is legible, especially when it comes to important documents.

My oldest is still working on his penmanship, and I know that he’s probably slightly behind his peers on his handwriting skills, mainly because of his vision impairment during his Preschool years. Some things simply got left out of our day to day routine, as we spent more time focusing on distracting him to keep his patch over his good eye to build up his weaker eye. My daughter loves to write, draw, doodle, color…you name it and she’s doing it! I know that I’ve mentioned before Theo’s hesitation in writing, and I’m so please with how he’s been doing lately! Thank you, Mother Goose Time!

It’s been so easy to see the progress that my younger two have made in just a few short weeks by naturally observing their skills when working on our lessons together, and also through a casual observation when they’re playing together or independently. It’s called Authentic Assessment for a reason, and I’ve taken some steps back this week in observing their lessons, focusing primarily on Theo’s recognition of the letters in his name and his first name, and in how Charlotte chooses to use her writing materials, especially when printing her name.

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I grabbed these wipe-clean pocket folders from Target in the Dollar Spot mid-summer. They’ve come in so handy! This month I slipped their writing plate that corresponds with this month’s theme. For Theo, I drew on two of the name plates: once using all capital letters, and the second time using the right way to print his name with both upper and lower case letters.

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Cross-referencing the Developmental Continuum, I’m able to keep track of this Authentic Assessment to add to Theo’s portfolio.

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Charlie’s working hard on remembering to hold her writing tool the correct way each time!

We did some traveling this week too to Atlanta for a wedding. I love these Wipe-Clean cards from Usborne Books & More to engage the kids and entertain them while I can quietly sip coffee in restaurants.

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Authentic Assessment in action! Observing how my children handle their materials when drawing, doodling, and drawing. It’s great to see their creativity at work!

 

What did you observe this week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

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As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

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A Book for Every Season

Whew! It’s almost October! You know what that means?!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Leaves changing colors! Cooler temperatures! Sweater Weather! Kids donning their favorite Halloween Costume! and, and, and….

It’s also by far the busiest month here at Heights Happiness, both social and work related. The madness is sprinkled with some travel out of state for a wedding, celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary, my daughter turns five, my niece (and Goddaughter) gets baptized, and while we’re mentioning it, two words every parent dreads: Halloween Costumes. October is also my absolute favorite month, and I wish it lasted longer in conjunction with everything that is filling the pages of my overflowing planner.

So, it’s an exciting time, and also a stressful time. Maybe you’re reading this, and like me, you’re contemplating how you’re going to A. Pull this month off and B. If it’s easier to hide under a blanket with your tenth PSL for the month. Amiright? Well, the good news for all Mother Goose Time families and educators is that I’m going to now provide to you my Top Picks from Usborne Books & More for October’s Theme: Weather & Changing Seasons.

Week One: Weather 

This week we’ll learn more about the Sun, Wind, Clouds, Snow, and Rainbows. Titles to add to your curriculum this week include:

Sun, Moon & Stars

Weather

Snowflake in My Pocket

Crow in the Snow

What makes it rain? 

Week Two: Seasons

Teaching about seasons is one of my absolute favorites! There were more titles that I could have added, and narrowed it down to the list that made the “cut”.

Cut & Color Playbook Seasons

Waiting for Winter

On the Seashore

Shine-A-Light Secrets of the Seashore

Shine-A-Light Secrets of the Apple Tree

Shine-A-Light Secrets of Winter

Week Three: Changes

This reminds me that here in Ohio, it’s gong to be Daylight Savings Time all too soon! Brace yourselves! Top picks to highlight the changes that happen in our World include:

Night Animals

Owls

Science with Air

Goose on the Loose

See Inside Weather & Climate

Weather & Climate Changes (also great for lessons during week four!)

Week Four: Storms

I’m SOOOO excited about the lessons in the Teacher Guide for the last week of the month! Here are some other resource books to add to the lesson for the final week of October.

Science Activities Volume 1

Science Activities Volume 2

Science Activities Volume 3 (this book also has great resources for week one’s lessons on clouds and rain).

Storms & Hurricanes

365 Science Activities

My top recommendation from Usborne Books & More to add to your home or school library as an additional resource for the month of October (and fantastic any time of year) is the Weather Picture Book Pack. This bundled collection of 4 books covers all the seasons. It’s a steal too at $14.99 for 4 books, that’s $3.75 for each book in the collection, and of course is backed by the lifetime 50% guarantee when you buy from an Independent Consultant (hint! That’s me!)

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I currently own many of the titles that I mentioned in this post, so I’ll be sharing them next month how I embed these books along with the recommended books listed in the Mother Goose Time Teacher Guide. 

Keep Reading!

Beth

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

 

Frustrations and Fun: Fine Motor Edition

So, real talk time. I wanted to share with you something different this week, as I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only parent that also is dealing with the same frustration as me: I get easily frustrated with my children and their fine motor skills development. There. I said it.

I can even remember when I first started to feel frustrated about this, and it was when my oldest son was an infant just learning how to pick up small bits of foods and Cheerios. For anyone following along or needing a refresher on Child Development, the Benchmarks and Developmental Continuum of Skills is a research-based tool that allows parents and educators to identify where their child is with their learning and meeting developmental milestones.

The thing about Physical Development, in specifics to Fine Motor Skills, is that there are so many factors that are involved in this major part of everyday living skills. Self-feeding, dressing and undressing, using writing materials properly, cutting with scissors, and printing legible letters are just a few of the essential skills that we want our children to master before they start their Primary Education. This is something that can be frustrating for both children and parents, whether or not a child does not have limited abilities in refining and mastery of these skills.

So, what is a parent to do when they’re trying to teach their child a new skill (like cutting with scissors) and not only is the parent feeling frustrated…but their child is too? The short answer is to continue to provide opportunities for your child and students to practice. I know this may seem easier said than done, as I’ve clearly been there before, and am still very much there today with my oldest who gives up tying his own shoes, and for my youngest who wants to cut with scissors so badly but doesn’t quite have the strength or dexterity to cut independently. It’s a frustrating process, but the lessons from Mother Goose Time overlap with so many developmental domains (Yay to research-based methods!) that a child thinks they’re just “designing” a t-shirt via their Creative Arts Lesson, when you as the parent-educator are able to gain a better understanding of how to manipulate materials to best help your child. This in turn becomes fun!

Let’s take a look at an example from this past week with my youngest.

Until just a few months ago, Theo was very hesitant to even hold a crayon or marker, let alone try to make a mark on a piece of paper. He wanted nothing to do with it, even though he frequently observed his older siblings coloring, drawing, and doodling. I even tried a few attempts with hand-over-hand instruction to see if he would open up more and try, after seeing the correlation that putting his crayon on the paper allows the color to appear on the paper. Nope. Not Theo. My stubborn child needed to be ready to do it when he felt like it, regardless of the number of attempts made by me or my husband. And, I’ve got to say that he’s doing pretty well with his grip of writing materials, considering this is an emerging skill for him. I’m excited to see his progress daily and his careful attention when he’s really concentrating on something too.

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After snack (see the evidence on his face?) we came back to the table to add the buttons to his shirt. I assisted him with coloring his buttons, as it’s hard to color an entire image or area when you’re still building up your strength to complete that task. Here too I also started the first threading of the button to the shirt, and after he was able to see that the thread went through the back to the front and back down again, he got the hang of it and pulled the thread through several times before he decided that he’d had enough.

When first looking at the lessons for this week, my defenses went up almost automatically. I knew that I was going to have to be cautious in my suggestions of how he could or should thread the button on the shirt, and I typically want my children to try something independently before automatically doing something for them.

This entire lesson became fun instead of frustrating! While he colored we talked about the types of shirts that he likes to wear, he identified his favorite pajamas “Which mama are and are not shirts…they’re like pajama shirts”, and we talked about buttons on the shirt he wore for family photos, and he remembered that his dada wears shirts with buttons to work every day. IMG_7489

I also wanted to share one more picture from this past week, because I love how versatile the Table Top Math resources are! Theo did better with this during this lesson by separating them out on his own without using the dice. He was able to announce what color each button was before matching it up, and correctly identified the colors on 11 of 13 attempts, which is progress from another observation I’d made earlier in the month. I know that he’s had an opportunity to explore and manipulate the buttons during this lesson, and we can come back again and use the strings that came with the buttons and practice lacing and stringing when he’s getting closer to the mastery of that skill.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s fine to admit that teaching fine motor skills to children is frustrating. Continue to make the lessons fun, unique, scaffold the material, and don’t give up. Break lessons down into smaller portions if needed, and assist after your child has let you know that they now need some assistance.

With practice, I know my oldest son will tie his shoes on the first attempt. I also know that soon enough, the scissors will all need to be hidden so my youngest son does not cut his hair, clothes, or the bin of My Little Ponies…of the Ponies that Charlotte missed, of course when she went through that faze.

Keep Reading!

Beth

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Learning About Your Child

So, this week during our Homeschool Preschool lessons from Mother Goose Time, there was a lot of learning going on for my trio. More importantly,  I also learned something equally important: my children love to be told stories about each of them. I know I’ve shared their birth stories with them on different occasions etc., but what was so great about our lesson this past week was taking the time to remind them how we’re all alike, and how we’re also different from one another.

Here are some of our highlights from this past week:

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The Teacher Guide provides the blueprint of what we’re doing each day. We got some help with our Creative Arts lesson with Self-Portraits and learning about Pablo Picasso. We did consult one of our Usborne Books  to see if this particular title had more information on Picasso before we headed to the internet. This book does not highlight Picasso or his works, but the children did see other examples of self-portraits.

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My youngest, who just turned three at the end of July. He’s very apprehensive to try new things, and I love that he sat and worked on his self-portrait. We discussed his eye and hair color, what shape he thinks his nose in, and how his face is different than mine and how it’s also the same.

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My oldest and middle really enjoyed seeing the different body designs that could be made using the tangram shapes and shape design mats, which were both provided for Table Top Math. Through this process, I was able to see if my children could use the tangrams to recreate the puzzle pictures. After the puzzles were completed, they took the process one step further to then recreate their own Tangram Bodies by pressing the pieces into Modeling Magic.

After Theo and I worked on Tangram Bodies together, I let him use the Tangrams open-ended to see how he would manipulate materials. By using the Benchmark guide provided to me in the back of my Teacher Lesson book, I was able to document where he is developmentally with Mathematics and Reasoning. Using Benchmark 18.2, he is able to sort objects by one feature, such as size or color. In the pictures above, Theo sorted the tangrams based on their size, and stacked each Tangram based on their size. He was also able to use deductive reasoning skills to tell me which of the shapes were bigger when given two like objects and two different objects. This is Benchmark 19.1

It’s not necessary to consider every move that my children are making when completing these lessons, but from an educational standpoint, I’m able to look at the Benchmark guide and see where my children are excelling at from a developmental standpoint. It’s nice to to jot down a quick note in the back of the guide to compile together in their Childfolio Assessment.

What did you learn this week about your child? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

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As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

 

Playroom Preschool

My home is quiet for the night, but there is still a buzzing in the air. The buzzing is the excitement that a new school year brings. My oldest son is a second grader this year, my daughter is in Pre-K Plus, and my youngest is starting his first year of Preschool. I knew that this moment was coming…that all of my children would be in school at the same time. I just did not realize how quickly it would happen, and now it’s right here in front of me just like their three backpacks hung on the hooks in the entrance.

My children have always attended a traditional Preschool and Elementary program, and my husband and I have felt that this has been the best fit for them so far with their education. Still…I’ve always had this nagging voice in the back of my head as a reminder that they needed more. I’m embarrassed to say how many things I’ve pinned on Pinterest over the years, with the full intention of doing.all.the.things with my trio.

The desire for me to do more with my children and continue to supplement their education at home has been been a priority for me, but I was always lost and not sure where to begin. I was frustrated by the list of the materials I would need to have on hand to complete a lesson plan, and I had an idea of curricula goals that my children needed to work on, and the developmental benchmarks for their development. But, for me personally, the planning and organization of it all was something that I continued to feel a lot of pressure about.

My children are busy children. They love to spend time outside, getting messy, and working on projects together. Even though they are each in three different developmental phases of their lives, they can agree on most things and play and learn together nicely. I was thrilled when I became introduced to Mother Goose Time, and only wish that I was familiar with and using this curriculum when I was teaching Preschool and providing Early Intervention home-based services!

So, I decided to try it out. I decided to throw my hat into the ring, and was chosen to be a Blog Ambassador! Each month I receive curriculum and everything else that I need to go with the lessons for each week of the month. How great is that? My first box arrived and I was blown away by it! Every month I receive:

The Teacher Toolbag that has the Weekly Teacher Guide, Theme Web, Teacher Newsletter and Activity Calendar, Gathering List, Skills Chart, and a CD with Thematic Music to go with the lessons for that month. What’s so great about Mother Goose Time is that it takes away the guess work of what I need to do! In each Daily Discovery Bag, most of the materials are provided for me. These are learning resources curated for each lesson and put in bags bundled together. Included are Letter and Phonic Concepts, Daily Topic Posters, Math Manipulatives, Logic Games, everything for writing, cutting, and coloring, activities to build on Friendship, Storytelling resources and Books, and even STEAM projects and ideas! Included were also materials to set up my Home Classroom, and can easily be used in any setting-whether home-based or in a traditional Preschool setting.

So, maybe that buzzing that I mentioned earlier isn’t just the excitement that my children have that they’re all starting or back in school. Maybe the buzzing is the excitement coming from me! I’m excited to know that I can continue to facilitate learning with my children at home after their “official” school day has ended. I’ve always felt that as their parent, I am their first teacher. I almost forgot to mention that Mother Goose Time uses Play-Based Research! That’s a HUGE win in my book!

How I plan to utilize the curriculum and plan our daily routine is to have my youngest Homeschool Preschool with me five days a week. He does not attend school on Mondays and Fridays, so those will be our official Homeschool Preschool days where we follow the lessons from Circle Time all the way through the provided lessons each day. Then, on Tuesdays through Thursdays, in the afternoons we’ll do more of a mini-lesson and choose one to three of the daily lessons and do them together. What’s great about the lessons is that I can break them down for my three year old who is still building confidence in learning his colors, letters, and numbers, but with my almost five year old and eight year old, I can also adapt the material for them and make it a bit more challenging to meet their developmental needs. I love the flexibility, and if we have a more relaxed weekend, or they want to do another activity from the week, we can do that again on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

So, let’s take a peek at my Playroom turned Homeroom Preschool!

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Our Playroom turned Preschool Station. I love the windows and the natural sunlight! This space is right off our main living room in our 1920’s home, so I wanted to ensure that it still felt very much a part of the house and to blend together.

This room had a bench that ran the perimeter of the room. We removed that when we tore out the carpeting, and my husband used one of the sections and re-purposed it to make an art and writing station. It’s a great place for homework and Homeschool table-top activities.

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This room had a bench that ran the perimeter of the room. We removed that when we tore out the carpeting, and my husband used one of the sections and re-purposed it to make an art and writing station. It’s a great place for homework and Homeschool table-top activities. This window is also a great space to hang up current artwork.

Thank you for reading! I hope that this helped to give you a little bit of inspiration and maybe some encouragement to think about what it is that your own children and family need. I’m exited to grow with my children this school year, and I know that you’re in the right place if you are considering Mother Goose Time for your own family or education center.

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

 

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.