Saturday, October 30, 2010

School Time: Week 8 (Ss concluded)

It was nice to be feeling better this week.  Thank you to everyone for their kind comments regarding our getting better.  This week we finished our letter Ss lessons.  I just realized I neglected to work on the sign language this week.  Ooops.  Our words were the same as last week:
 slide, skunk, sandwich, snake, socks and seal
We had three days of actual lesson time.

Of course, our muffin tin had NOTHING to do with the letter Ss.  The theme this week was Halloween, but we chose (okay I chose) to do pumpkins because we don't celebrate Halloween.  We had a great time; the girls helped make the soup and the cookies.  You can check out our Muffin Tin Monday post for more details.  This took up most of our time on Monday.  We actually had our lesson time while the cookies baked.

We spent some time focusing on our tactile letter activities

 And made our tactile s out of sunflower seeds

Then I asked Tabitha if she could form an S out of the seeds without an outline.  She wasn't sure what to do until I formed one in my spot on the table.  Then she got the idea.

And we worked on our worksheets (they are in a sheet protector so we can re-use it with the dry erase markers).

Of course we did two different projects related to two books we were reading.
We made a squirrel after reading The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tarfuri

And a sand castle after reading Sand Castle by Brenda Shannon Yee.

Our final Ss activity was our salt art, which we worked on today.

They look like Christmas presents to me.

During the week Tabitha had some special time "reading."  First to Hannah:

She was reading Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy

Then she read her Bob book the way Steve reads the books in Blue's Clues (or the way mommy does if it is a big book, but she wanted to be like Steve).

One of the only activities that was used off of our shelves this week was the dry pouring.  

I'm linking up to:

preschool corner

Tot School

NaNoWriMo: Sign up to write a novel, it's FREE!

A few months ago I was introduced to NaNoWriMo through this post written by Janet over at Homeschooler Cafe.  NaNaWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the post written by Janet directs to The Young Writers Program.  After some research I decided to sign up (for free, always a bonus) to write a novel in the month of November.  Writing is to commence on November 1st, which is really really close.  I thought I would share this with my readers on both my blogs.  I figured readers of my Tots and Me blog would be interested in this for their children (or for themselves).  Here is their description of the program:

National Novel Writing Month happens every November!
It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants novel writing event where the challenge is to write an entire novel in just 30 days. That means participants begin writing November 1 and must finish by midnight, November 30. The word-count goal for our adult program is 50,000 words, but our Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 years old and younger to set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals.
The thing that matters most in NaNoWriMo is output. Our high-velocity approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: you will be writing a lot of strange stuff, and some of it will be just plain bad. But that's a good thing! For 30 days, you get to lock that inner editor in the basement, let your imagination take over, and just create!
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants of all ages are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.
In 2009, 167,000 adults participated through our main site, and 35,000 young writers participated through our Young Writers Program.

So, to recap:

What: To meet your word-count goal and write a novel from scratch in one month’s time. You will be able to enter your chosen word-count goal in your profile starting October 1.
Who: You!
You should sign up on the Young Writers Program site if you are:
  • 17 years old or younger participating on your own.
  • In a K-12 teacher-led class that is participating in NaNoWriMo.
  • An educator facilitating NaNoWriMo in your classroom.
If you are 13 or older, you can sign up on the main site at Just know that you will have to write 50,000 words since the adult site doesn’t allow you to set your own word-count goal.
Why: The reasons are endless! To write freely without having to stress over spelling and grammar. To be able to talk about how cool your novel is any chance you get. To be able to make fun of real novelists who take far longer than 30 days to write their books...
When: You can sign up whenever you’d like to add your name to the roster of budding young authors and participate in the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach your word-count goal by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the celebration begins.
Still confused? Just visit the How NaNoWriMo Works for Young Writers page! If you are an educator, visit the How NaNoWriMo Works for Educators page.
See you in November!

Children from Kindergarten through 12th grade can sign up for the Young Writers program.  My husband and I signed up for the adult program which you can access here.

So, needless to say, I will probably not be posting as detailed posts each week for our homeschooling.  Pictures take way too long to upload on my computer so there will be a minimum.  I do not foresee this affecting our lessons as I will be writing my novel while the children are sleeping.  I am really excited about seeing where my imagination will lead me.  I wish my girls were old enough to participate.

Would love to know that there are other bloggy families out there who will be participating.  Hope to hear from you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What We're Reading October 18-29 2010

There were 4 picture books the children have really enjoyed during our study of the letter/sound Ss.  Two of the books I have posted about in the two craft/activity related posts.

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri was a cute little story about a squirrel who was just too busy to accept all the other animals' invitations to join them in some fun or relaxation.  It reminded me of the Eric Carle book, The Very Busy Spider.  Can you guess what he was busy doing? We made a cute Squirrel S craft.

Sand Castle by Brenda Shannon Yee was a simple repetitious book about some new friends who meet and work together, each supplying their own unique skill, to build a grand sand castle.  We made our own sand castle for dessert.  Here is the post.

We also read Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy.  In this Mathstart level 2 book 3 children are competing in a contest to build a sandcastle with either the tallest tower, the deepest moat, or the longest wall before the tide comes in.  The children then confuse themselves by trying to measure with different spoons, shovels or feet.  Then they discover the only reliable measure is the measuring tape used by the lifeguard who measures the inches.
I would still like to do some measuring activities to explore this concept with the girls.

Our Sesame Street Alphabet book is Ss: Slimey's Sister, Sloppy by Tish Rabe.  I'm sure most people who are familiar with Sesame Street know Oscar's pet worm Slimey.  In this book we are introduced to his sister and all the fun they have together.  I really enjoy the Sesame Street Alphabet books that read more like poems, with the rhyming and rhythmic text.  This is no exception.

Our chapter book these last couple of weeks was another one of Janette Oke's Animal Friends books titled Spunky's Diary.  Spunky is a young puppy who lives with the Dobsons. It is enjoyable to see the adventures through the naive view of the puppy.  He doesn't understand why he can't go to church or to school or do other things.  What people would see as disobedience or naughtiness I see as the confusion of a puppy who doesn't understand.  Makes me stop to think how it may be the same way for a child, to not understand and try to interpret the world around them from what they know, which isn't much to start with.  At the same time if Spunky doesn't learn to obey he is going to get himself in a world of trouble (just like little children).

I am linking this up to Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the Word blog (which I just discovered).  And I will be linking up to What My Child Is Reading over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns tomorrow.


Friday Blog Hops: October 29th 2010




Here is another new blog hop I found today.  Go check out Mama Bear's Letters Arranged into Words blog.
Sneaky Momma Blog Design

Sand Castle activity


Shibley Smiles

I posted about our Squirrel craft the other day.  This week we did two different activities based on a book.  Another favorite book this week was Sand Castle by Brenda Shannon Yee.  In this story Jen is building a sand castle on the beach and is joined by other children, one at a time, offering their own unique help to make this castle be one spectacular castle.  There is repetitious text, reminding the reader on each page what each child is helping to build (a moat, a path, a wall, a road).  We enjoyed the simple text and the beautiful pictures.  This morning the children brought their alphabet blocks and spools into the living room.  Tabitha told me it was sand (as I told her not to toss the blocks into the room) and they were going to build a sand castle.  We built a castle out of the blocks and used the spools for a moat and a road.  Sorry I didn't get any pictures, but we were just too busy playing.  The block building was spur of the moment, yay, what fun!  However, the sand castle snack we made I had planned in advance.  I knew I wanted to use graham cracker crumbs. But I needed to figure out how to get it to stick together. Knowing butter would help I decided to look for a recipe for pie crust.  I found a recipe for graham cracker pie crust at  

We started out by crushing the crackers in a plastic baggie with a can.  The bag ended up with a hole, so I switched to my Magic Bullet and the resulting crumbs were so finely ground it was amazing.

Scooping graham cracker crust mixture into the pie pan
(2 "inside" packages of cinnamon graham crackers, 1/3 cup sugar, 6 Tbs butter, melted.  The mixture truly looks like sand)

Sandy beach

Using a measuring cup to press out parts of our castle.

Dumping them into the sandy beach

Then we used a spoon to form the moat.

The blue jello was the perfect consistency to scoop into the moat to create water.  It had been in the fridge for  approximately for 2 hours.

This was very yummy for dessert after dinner.  We put it in the fridge after making it until we were ready for it.
The only thing I would have liked to have done differently would have been to use a bigger plate so we could have made the wall, path and road.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Squirrel S


Shibley Smiles
  The Attached Mama’s Ultimate Alphabet Craft Collection

One of the books we have been reading these past two weeks is The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri.  I was introduced to this book at our first library story time and knew I would have to get it out for the letter S.  I knew I wanted to make a squirrel and use the S for the tail.  Probably not very original, but I thought it would be cute.  As I was having trouble trying to draw my own, I copied the one shared over at Totally Tots so I could have the basic shape.  I cut it out of white paper and had the girls color their's gray.  Tabitha actually grabbed hers up last night and colored it all on her own (on both sides).   Then we gave him some food in storage.  In the book the squirrel is very busy hunting for food and has to keep rejecting requests from other animals to come and play.  Sort of reminded me of the book The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle,

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