We read “Me and My Family Tree” and turned it into a project. The girl in the book used crayon drawings of her relatives, but Sagan wanted words so I made a list, cut it apart and we stuck them on using the book as a guide. Sagan is an only child so we put him on the trunk to save space, and he has dozens of cousins so we only named the last two he played with to save our sanity. We made the branches with brown crayon and stuck hearts on to represent couples who are still married.
So this was our take for Wild, Spectacular, Imaginary eggs for the fable “The Milkmaid and Her Pail“, the origin of “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
- Wooden eggs sprayed with white primer
- Rice paper
- Markers (we used Crayola. Sharpie would also work.)
- Rubbing alcohol for the grownup
- Sparkle Mod Podge
- A small paintbrush you don’t care about
- Stuff to keep a mess from spreading. We used aluminum foil.
We scribbled splotches on the rice paper sitting on top of foil. The grownup dribbled rubbing alcohol on it.
We waited. And waited. And waited. Finally it dried.
TIP: You could probably skip this step completely if you have some fancy tissue paper in several colors, but then you don’t get to scribble. You can also use hand sanitizer for more control, but part of the fun is watching the colors bloom and learning about the Color Wheel.
We ripped the paper into pieces and decoupaged it onto the eggs with sparkle Mod Podge. Mom will probably go over them with resin while the Youngling sleeps for durability.
So we’re doing a Child-led Classical Core Unschooling thing, I guess. Anyway, I take a reading topic based on any number of free curricula (or celestial events… or birthdays of famous people) and add things that match for “playing school”. The Boy Who Cried Wolf was the first story in a free Core-based first grade curriculum at CoreKnowledge.org It fits in with Classical and the Young Master likes wolves, so here we are.
We read it, answered the plot questions, watched a Cat in the Hat video about a wolf named Grayson, “A Howling Good Time”. (I’d link to Netflix but it’s giving me a Silverlight error, so….) We colored and read wolf and sheep science worksheets from Enchanted Learning. I adapted a Cemrel math lesson from cats and mice to sheep and wolves (It may be the first lesson plan in the first grade file.)
Then I set up a short playlist of different ways the story has been told on You Tube. It includes Muppets. I like Muppets!
We looked at Romulus and Remus art and learned some Latin in here somewhere.
We rewrote The Boy Who Cried Wolf and acted it out with him playing Batman (the townspeople), me playing Robin (the boy), and one of the cats playing a minion of Cat Woman (the wolf) coming to steal our ice cream (sheep).
After that we had art time. The promise of Art Time gets him to concentrate.
It’s not hard to figure out. Kraft greeting card, construction paper, googly eyes, cotton balls.
A three-year-old’s attention span being what it is, even though he likes “playing school” like Daniel Tiger, this took two days at 15-minutes to a half-hour here and there. That’s cool with me because the theme days are much more fun for both of us than filling in a stack of humorless worksheets. And we end up with a card to send to his grandparents!
How we turned those bins of tiny toys toddlers end up collecting into an organized set of teaching tools.
1. You need 26 containers.
Note: you’ll need more than 26 if you choose to use phonemes instead of letters. You know your child best so follow your instincts.
You can use what you like. Coffee cans, large plastic jars, food containers, a handbag collection, whatever is cheap and safe. I used leftover 6x6x8 Papermart gift boxes from a case I’ve had sitting around for too many years after I stopped selling gifts on eBay.
2. Label them with letters.
I used those stick-on foam letters because we happened to have them. You can use anything.
3. Fill with toys.
In went animal figures, tiny plushies, old measuring spoons, play food, interesting buttons, prizes from an Easter egg hunt, colored beading cord, scrabble tiles — practically anything that wasn’t a crayon or a Lego got sorted into the boxes. Then I supplemented them with two alphabet teaching sets because Sagan wanted “letters and numbers” for his third birthday.
Within minutes he figured out he could find most toys by spelling the name. So when he wants a lion and a zebra, he gets out the L and Z boxes. When he wants cars, he goes to the C box.
The best part is when someone gives him something new, he tells me which box he can put it in when he gets home. And that’s where it goes because he loves being able to find his toys using the Power to Read.
Bonus homework for the library summer program. The theme is science.
The challenge was to make a robot from a cardboard tube and recycled materials. This is a scratched CD, pieces from a magazine, electrical cord from a rewiring project, aluminum foil and part of a small, plastic bottle.
We added googly eyes and a glow stick, and there are stars punched in its chassis. He didn’t have to be reading, we just thought it would be cute.