Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sparkle Writing Words (A- E) List # 1

Here is a great list of "Sparkle" words -great words for writing. I give this list to my 3rd grade child when she is writing in her journal or doing a writing assignment. This gives her some great ideas and makes it easier to keep on writing. I found these ideas on

affirm- to agree with
altercation- an angry argument
anecdote- a short, entertaining story
balk- to refuse to go ahead
bedlam-a noisy, confusing environment
behemoth- huge
benevolent- kind, generous
brilliant- quite intelligent
captivate- to gain everyone's attention
cataclysmic- the absolute worst
catastrophe- a sudden and total disaster
complacent- willing to please
culpable- deserving blame
dilemma- in a troublesome situation
discombobulated- confused, mixed up
doubt- to think something might not be true
embellish- decorate by adding detail
empathy- the ability to share another person's feelings
enhance- to improve, to decorate, to embellish
enthrall- to captivate, to fascinate
epitome- a person or thing that shows typical qualities
eradicate- wipe out, destroy
exacerbate- make worse
exuberant- over-the-top happy

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Writing Book

What a great find! I just happened to be looking online for more Montessori style learning toys/books and came across this great board book for young toddlers learning their letters.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Grow a Lily Pad-Claude Monet

Grow a Lily Pad in a glass bowl! You can add a lesson about Claude Monet. Use some pastels to color a picture of waterlillies.

Michelangelo's Box

Materials: Large cardboard box (big enough for a child's playhouse) and art pictures or printed famous paintings. You could use images of the Sistine Chapel or any other art! Glue or tape pictures inside the top of the box and have kids lie down and look up at their artistic ceiling using a flashlight. A great time to include a lesson on Michelangelo and read a book about him!

Homeschool Centers

I have realized how difficult it is to teach a 3rd grader and keeping a toddler happy and involved in learning as well. I began making centers around the house, changing them every day to make it a new adventure especially for my 3 year old boy. Please post comments any other ideas on more centers! I will run out of ideas soon! Here are some of my center ideas:

Reading Center (use a pop-up tent or bean bag chair)
Building Blocks
Wedgits building blocks
Wooden puzzles
Dinosaurs (a basket of play dinosaurs and a dinosaur book)
Cutting wooden food (Melissa and Doug)
Sandpaper letters
Car center (with play rug)
Legos or Lincoln Logs
Puppet center (have some cardboard or boxes to create a puppet show theater)
Craft center (glue, paper, scissors, etc)
Tool center (plastic or real tools such as large bolts and nuts) Great for their fine motor skills.
Lacing (age 3 +) -you can use large beads or rigatoni uncooked pasta
Nature center (rocks, leaves, magnifyling glass)
Herbs (smelling and matching fresh or dried herbs)
Hop scotch (indoor mat set)
Musical Instrument Center
Cutting Center (Kumon cutting activity book with safety scissors)
Measuring cups/spoons with dry beans or pasta (scooping exercises)
Big cardboard boxes for building
Exercise mat with music
Electronic educational game center ( I limit this activity)
Drawing/coloring center (provide nice crayons, colored pencils, markers)
Mr. Potato Head
Pet doctor center
Large vehicle center (vs. matchbox cars)

Melissa and Doug

I love products from Melissa and Doug! They have some great puzzles for toddlers developing their language, sensorial, practical and fine motor skills.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Homemade Playdough

Here is a great homemade playdough recipe. It is fun to mix up a batch and explore different colors!

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups (colored) water -use food coloring
3 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar

Mix all ingredients in a large pan on medium heat stirring constantly. Stir until the mixture becomes a dough like consistency. Remove from heat and knead real well. Let cool completely before storing in an air tight container or zip lock bag.

Homeschool Ideas-Toddler Sandpaper Alphabet

For ages 3 +: You can make your own sandpaper alphabet (concept from Maria Montessori) by using sticky felt letters and placing them on a pre-stretched canvas (decoration for child's bedroom as well) or a display board. You can use your own custom colors (acrylic, non-toxic paint). There are many creative ideas on how to display the alphabet...possibly using the grid pattern as I did or place each letter in a painted bubble floating on the canvas but making sure the alphabet stays in order.
During "teaching" time, have your child trace the letter in the direction of how the letter is written, saying the sound (before the name of the letter) 3 times out loud. I would stick to only doing a maximum of 3 letters each lesson. The child will visualize the letter, hear the sound and feel the shape! A great sensorial and language activity.