Sunday, November 22, 2015

Play School with Jack~ Letter Ff

Play School for One-Year-Old (13M) Jack
Week Six
Letter Ff

Letter-of-the-week box~ Letter Ff

This week's letter box is filled with a frog puppet, a plush frog toy, a jumping frog toy and plastic frog toy, footballs, a fish, two books about farms, a fire truck book with wheels, a picture of a fox, foam letter F, and a foam number 5.

Jack enjoyed exploring his letter-of-the-week box, especially the footballs and the frog puppet. I made the puppet croak and talk to him, much to his delight.


This week, we listened to French children's songs and forest sounds on YouTube. His favorite, by far, was the video below, which simply consists of a frog singing French songs in a Chipmunk-pitched voice.

On Thursday, we played this relaxing forest sounds video and listened to the gentle sounds of forest animals, rivers, and brooks. It really mellowed the atmosphere in our home.

Other language activities~

We read Forest Babies (Animal Babies) together a few times this week. Jack enjoyed "petting" and giving kisses to all the animal babies. We talked about each animal and the sounds they make, and when he was open to it, I read him the actual text.

  • lots of talking, listening, and signing (still working on "more" and "banana")
  • ABC song and counting
  • talking about pain (he was dealing with some terrible teething pain, so we talked a lot about pain, where it was coming from, and medicine to help relieve it)
Physical/Sensory activities~

Jack is still mastering the skill of walking. He certainly walks more than ever but still relies on crawling to get him places fast. He's also still climbing up and down stairs and has become quite adept at it. Rocking in his little red rocking chair is one of his favorite activities.

Exploring the world~

We went hiking along the Tuolumne River in Modesto, and though I mostly carried Jack in the wrap, he enjoyed looking up at the trees and pointing whenever a bird flew overhead. He held branches, acorns, oak leaves, and other nature treasures.

His favorite part was crawling and walking in the dirt and leaves. He mucked through it all, picking up tiny sticks and throwing acorns, until his pants and socks were full of crunched-up leaves. When we got home, he took the longest nap he's ever taken.

Now that the weather is cooling down, it's hard to get outdoors as often, but the payoff is worth it!


  • We need more outdoor/nature time, even if the weather is terrible
  • I really enjoyed playing nature sounds instead of only traditional music
  • I would like to incorporate Jack into more of homeschooling activities, especially poetry teatime and P.E. class (as just an observer, of course.)
There will not be a play school post next Sunday because we are taking the week off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. But we'll be back with letter Gg!

Our Three Most Treasured Thanksgiving Stories

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday--the colors, the food, the gathering, the warmth of home, and the pumpkin-infused everything. Over the years, we have read (and re-read) some wonderfully beautiful Thanksgiving stories, and I want to share them with you!

We'll start with the best:

 Cranberry Thanksgiving  by Harry and Wende Devlin is so delicious and heart-warming, it has become a family tradition. Set on a cranberry farm in New England, the story centers around a treasured and secret cranberry bread recipe in danger of being snagged. A sweet and delightful tale, Cranberry Thanksgiving shows us how important it is to reserve judgements and how easy it is to love Mr. Whiskers!

An Outlaw Thanksgiving by Emily Arnold McCully is a captivating story based on the true events. Young Clara and her mother find themselves at a Thanksgiving banquet with a man whose face seems oddly familiar to one they saw on a wanted poster, the notorious Butch Cassidy. Clara learns about human complexity and the unexpected in the Wild West in this adventurous Thanksgiving tale.

Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House #27) Like all Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osbourne, readers are plunked right in the middle of the action. Jack and Annie find themselves at the very first Thanksgiving where they meet Squanto and the Pilgrims. What we loved about this book was how we felt simply transported back in time with a rare firsthand look at the origins of Thanksgiving.

 Do you have any Thanksgiving favorites I failed to mention? I want to hear about them!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Super-Mini Sword in the Stone Unit Study

It is no secret that our family loves Disney and that we try to work it into our homeschool whenever possible, but I noticed that it had been some time since we had last done a Disney-inspired homeschool unit.

We took a quick break from our regular studies to briefly visit King Arthur and the medieval period.


We read some of The Tales of King Arthur by James Riordan and compared it to the Disney film.

Social Studies:
We also read the ridiculous and informative You Wouldn't Want to Be a Medieval Knight by Fiona McDonald. The book places you right in the metal pants of medieval knights for a firsthand look at what life was really like in "the dark ages."

Of course, we watched Disney's Sword in the Stone!

 Language Arts/Vocabulary/Latin roots:

We explored the meaning of "mediocrity," a quality Merlin warned young Arthur to avoid. Exploring its Latin roots led to a fun discovery of what the word meant visually. We talked about how "mediocrity" literally means "middle of a jagged mountain." We had been reading many Hero's Journey types of stories lately, so this definition made sense from that angle.

More social studies/Coat of arms:

After reading about knights and seeing a picture of a coat of arms, Aidyn wanted to see our family's coat of arms. I printed out a shield (see end of blog for links), and he colored according to our family's unique coat of arms. It was even fun to look up the Latin meaning of our family name.


Aidyn copied an inspirational quote from the movie (and even repeated one of the lines!). We talked about freedom of choice and perceived destiny. Nine-year-old children begin really understanding their individuality, and stories in which characters pursue their own goals can help them vocalize this new stage of life (we have also read Norse myths lately, for this reason).

We enjoyed a very short unit study with Sword in the Stone, but if you would like to take it further, check out these links to get started:

Sword in the Stone Pinterest Page
King Arthur Unit Study from Layers of Learning
Medieval Unit Study

Play School with Jack~ Letter Ee

Play School for 1-Year-Old (13M) Jack
Week Five
Letter Ee
(Pictures/comments for this week are sparse because Jack is busy mastering how to walk and he is cutting a tooth, so I have been busy observing and healing his jaw pain)

Letter-of-the-Week box~ Letter Ee

Letter Ee box is filled with egg cartons, letter Es, an elephant finger puppet, an egg and chick stencil, a large elephant card, envelopes, cards with an eagle and elephant, and the book Green Eggs and Ham.

Again, this week, Jack showed disinterest in his letter box. I'm assuming it's because he's busy with walking! Still, I left it out for him to explore but never forced him to play with it. 


We lovingly flooded our home with the King of Rock 'n' Roll: Elvis Presley. I played YouTube playlists of Elvis music and sang and danced along with them. Jack seemed to enjoy the new music.

Other language activities~
  • lots of talking, listening, and conversing
  • continued sign language exposure (mostly "more" and "banana")
  • singing the ABCS
  • counting (steps, buttons, fingers, and toes)
Physical and sensory activities~

As I mentioned, Jack is focused on walking right now. He constantly practices pulling himself up (on furniture and without assistance) and takes many steps. Pulling himself on a riding toy is his latest victory. He's also been working on his pincer grasp.


When Jack is more consumed with a emerging gross motor skill, I have learned he is less interested in other activities, which is okay. My only goal for this stage is exposure (not mastery). 99% of what I'm doing is strewing and allowing him to explore on his own timetable. Meanwhile I am learning him, what he likes and doesn't care for right now and his personality.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Play School with Jack~ Letter Dd

Play School for 1-Year-Old (12M) Jack
Week Four
Letter Dd

Letter-of-the-week box~ Letter Dd

This week's letter box was filled with dominoes, dinosaurs, a dolphin, an orange die, a duck, a picture of a dragonfly, cards (duck, doll, the letter D, the word "dog," donkey), and foam letter Ds.

Jack wasn't very interested in his Dd box this week with the exception of the dinosaurs. He loved playing with the little toy dinos!

He explored it on the first day, and maybe once during the week, but nothing except the dinosaurs grabbed his attention.

D is for dump your toys!

This week, we listened to Disneyland music. I searched YouTube for baby-friendly Disneyland music and found several playlists of Disney songs on piano (with usually a single image) and Disneyland music loops (again with a single image until the "land" or mood changed).

 Here are two, but there are many more available on YouTube. My goal was to immerse ourselves in Disneyland music (mostly instrumental) without  all the flashing images. While the music played, Jack typically played with his toys, crawled around, and practiced walking.

Other language activities~
 Throughout the week:
  • I sang songs to Jack
  • I talked with him during nursing sessions
  • I talked with him during diaper changes and other caregiving activities
  • I sang the alphabet song
  • I counted stairs we descended or fruit pieces I served
  • I used "math" language when serving halves and fourths of fruit pieces
  • Jack said, "I done!" after eating breakfast one morning
  • Jack practiced his babbling and baby talk
  • We started a sign language "program" (very loosely), focusing on signs for "more," "banana," "grapes," and "milk." I practice them with him every day during meal time, only concerned with exposure, but he has signed back "more" a couple times!
  • We have been using Sign With Your Baby: How to Communicate With Infants Before They Can Speak .
Physical and sensory activities~

 Jack was fascinated with taking his foam letters out of this tub and putting them back.

 Watching rain fall outside.
 Playing with crayons.
  He loves grabbing Adyn's light-saber and standing with it. He walks well if he's holding one.
Jack enjoys climbing onto his little red rocking chair. Although I never help him up into it, he crawls onto it, stands, and sometimes rocks himself on it.

We had a very simple week. Jack is right at the precipice of being a full-fledged walking child, so it's been fun just watching him work his leg muscles and test his balance. I still do not assist him with walking or coax him into doing it. I trust that he will walk as he wishes on his own timetable.

We decided not to go on any field trips this week because we are saving for two very important D activities: Disneyland in December! 
Despite the more chill environment, I've enjoyed simply observing his independent play.