Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our favorite Do - A - Dot Marker activities plus a GIVEAWAY for everyone! :) Read on to find out how you can get your own personalized dot marker activity pages! GIVEAWAY runs Tuesday, July 17 - Friday, July 20, 2018 at midnight EST

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Kindergarten Q & A

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I was so excited to hear how excited y'all are for Kindergarten too! It sounds like there's a good group of us headed to K together this year! :) In response to a handful of emails and DM's I decided to write one big blog post with our FAQS. If you're wondering something and I missed it feel free to email me at hello@alittlelearner.com 

When do you plan to start?

We will start the first week in September. I know technically that's "late" and it coincides with Labor Day so we will be flexible with expectations. Our calendar for the year will look different so starting in September will suit fine since we'll do school year round as opposed to a traditional calendar.

Why did you choose to do year round? Don't you want Summer off?

The calendar we're using this year starts in September runs for three months through November and we have the whole month of December off. We'll pick back up in January and run through March- take April off. Then will finish out the year starting in May going through July. Combined with a couple educational weekend trips we'll get in the full 180 days. We'll have time and space throughout the year to enjoy (Christmas in December) and to relax/build up new creativity (April and August.) 

What curriculum are you using?

We aren't using a specific curriculum this year. I'm sure I'll pick a curriculum in future grades but for Kindergarten I wanted to focus on making learning engaging and developing her heart to love exploring through education. I'm using the Common Core standards to guide what we will do and mapped out a basic plan for our year. (You can read about that here)  I'll plan lessons each week from the curriculum map with the goal of learning each of those objectives/subjects by the end of the year. 

What planner are you using?

I LOVE the planner I'm using! It's simple and easy to modify and adjust for teaching at home. I include our family plans and meal plans along with lessons all in one planner.  You can find it at Target or on Amazon here

Do you have a school supply list?

I have a few basics we always get: primary journal, crayons (lots), glue (even more), construction paper, safety scissors (if you don't have some already), regular pencils, watercolors, dry erase markers, and a plastic folder. 

How are you going to teach kindergarten to your oldest with your other two around? 

Flexibility is the key and mini lessons make all the difference. It's not reasonable to ask her to sit and directly teach for 6 hours. They don't even do that in "real" school. ;) We will do a lot of activities all together- read aloud, hands on activities, etc. I'll do a daily mini lesson (5-8 minutes) in literacy, math, and social studies or science. In addition we'll organically sprinkle in activities like picture study, composer study, French and Poetry. Singing together is another fun way we can all learn together too. (Basically we'll learn French in song form)  I plan to try a morning basket routine to easily keep those subjects in the loop. 

What is a Morning Basket?

There are a number of different takes on a Morning Basket. Here's what I'm planning to start off with: A small basket with our Children's Bible, Gospel ABC set, a picture for our picture study, a couple stories within that month's theme, and any flashcards we'll go over (alphabet, sight words, etc.) This is how we'll start the day. After breakfast we'll comfortably settle in with our morning basket, read, sing, and review what we're learning. From there we'll break out into hands on activities with manipulatives or arts and crafts, etc. 

Will you be using your preschool curriculum?

Sadie (3) is going to do preschool this year so she'll have some activities specially tailored to her skills. I'll pull some from the preschool curriculum and modify the things I do with Macie Jane to prepare lessons for her. 

Will you be sharing your kindergarten activities and plans? 

I plan to share the things we do as we do them on my website and mostly through instagram. I'll also prepare monthly themed packets to supplement teaching and post them on my resource page. However, what I'm most excited to share is our Little Learner Through the Year Notebook. It's still in production and I'm working out the details but I hope to share more VERY soon! 

Any other questions? Always feel free to email me hello@alittlelearner.com or comment below! I hope you'll enjoy following along with our new adventure! 

Mapping Our New Adventure

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This is it, we're really doing it. Macie Jane goes to Kindergarten this year and she won't have to travel too far. In fact we'll be doing kindergarten together here at home! I am SO excited! The teacher heart in me swells thinking about getting to teach my own baby while the mama heart in me gets so sentimental that this day is coming- she's ready for school. (Wasn't she born a few months ago?!) 

As much as my heart is in denial I can't deny how ready she is. She is eager to learn about anything and everything. She's bouncing up and down at the thought of reading and will gladly join in any opportunity to do what she calls, "mommy school." (oh my soul, isn't she the sweetest?!) 

So here's our plan. Technically in South Carolina you can opt out of Kindergarten so technically that's what we're doing. But in reality I'm doing Kindergarten with her but using this year as the guinea pig year. (first born probs) I'll use the state standards to loosely guide me along with LOTS of wisdom and support from homeschooling mamas walking beside and ahead of me. 

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I've spent hours and days researching homeschool strategies and curriculums. I've talked to countless homeschooling families. My sweet husband (who was homeschooled through high school- my mama-in-love is amazing) helps keep my grounded. And so far I've decided for this year we'll take a very basic Charlotte Mason approach to Kindergarten. We'll read living stories, study artists and composers, memorize scripture and poetry along with learning basic number sense and how to read. We'll sprinkle in a little French and do a couple science experiments too! Because it's important to my husband she'll develop her digital literacy skills with him in the evenings or on the weekend. 

I'm not committing to a specific curriculum because I'm admittedly naive and want to plan out activities on my own that match the map I've written out for the year. Maybe I'll regret it. :) I'll let you know how it goes. A couple things I know I'll use are Coffey Design's Gospel Alphabet, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Evan Moor's Everyday Literacy: Math to supplement activities, and a super special project I have in development. :) Here's a sneak peek: 

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Curious to see what that map looks like? You're in luck! Click the button below to find where I linked up our Kindergarten Learning Map. It's not finished quite yet but I'll update it as we go along. There's a blank download for you to use too if you want. :) 

Anyone else new to homeschool? I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans! Oh, and if you're a fellow Charlotte Mason fan I would LOVE to hear any and all the advice and wisdom you have!!

Sensory & Sounds Dinosaur Dig

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One of our most favorite activities in the Dinosaur unit is definitely the letter sound sensory  play activity! This activity will need a little extra prep (cutting, getting small sensory bin set up) but the reward is well worth it. Here's what you'll need if you want to play! 

  • small sensory bin- this can be anything from a plastic shoe box to a sheet pan, although you'll want the sides of the bin to be high enough to keep the sensory items inside while still being low enough for your little to reach in. We're using the container from a melissa and doug stamp set. :) 
  • small sensory material- dry rice (or rainbow rice) dry beans, or if you're super brave maybe sand? 
  • picture circles
  • dinosaur cards
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Macie Jane has been working on letters and their sounds for about a year now so she could probably do all 26 cards at one time but in an effort to protect her from frustration or from the activity extending longer than the novelty lasts I only had her find and match half the letters. 

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She would hunt through the tray of dry beans to find little picture circles. She would identify the picture and it's initial sound. Then she would search through the cards to find the letter for that initial sound. It helps to lay out all the cards to see all the possible letters (some can be tricky.)

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Sadie (young 3) had fun jumping in to play with the beans and look for pictures. This activity could easily be adapted for speech and language practice with different picture cards to support articulation skills of various sounds (phonemes.)

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Unit 11: Transportation Recap

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We began the first week as we always do with a little letter fun! This week we pulled out the paint and play cars and didn't waste any time! The girls painted the letter W with the Wheels of toy cars! Tire tracks make great decorations! :) 

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Donald Crews is an author we've read a lot of books from this year. Freight Train didn't disappoint. It was a perfect book to read/look through with all three of my children (ages 5, 3, and 1.) While Sadie (3) continued to explore the book and we talked about colors, Macie Jane used number train cars to practice ordering numbers. 

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This activity helped her review number order but was also a good practice in left to right progression. 

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When it was all finished I hung it up over our calendar area for a reference anchor. Isn't it adorable?

Next up was a sorting activity. Macie Jane and Sadie looked at several different forms of transportation and had to determine where they traveled- land, water, or sky. Macie Jane practiced scissor skills cutting out the forms of transportation and had fun gluing them where they belonged in the sorting chart. 

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The torn paper traffic light was a hit! For some strange reason preschoolers LOVE shredding up paper. I gave the girls 3 sheets of paper- red, yellow, and green. They happily tore the paper into tiny pieces and sorted them into three piles according to their color. Then using the printable as a guide they filled in the three traffic light circles with the correct colors. 

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There were several more activities in the unit including a great speech/pronoun practice activity. If you want to see more you can find the full unit along with a book and resource list by clicking the button below. 

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I helped Sadie review and practice using pronouns like he, she, and they. Sadie has a tendency to use the pronoun "them" when she should use "they" and doesn't use he/she pronouns frequently or correctly. Technically this is still developmentally appropriate and nothing to be concerned over, however, I don't believe it's a bad thing to practice correct pronoun use either. We had fun with the activity, I reinforce it in conversation, and we'll just watch her speech skills develop. :)

We wrapped up the unit with lots of giggles and fun! We got a wooden board and a few toy cars, made predictions on how fast those car would go at various heights, and tested out those predictions. Cars raced across the den and the girls had fun seeing how fast they could get the cars to go. :) 

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Great Picture Books About Transportation

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Typically when we start a unit I'll grab a Gail Gibbons book along the same lines of what we are studying? She's a great non-fiction storybook author. Her books are perfect for curious little eyes to explore pages full of information even before they are ready to read. This one is no exception covering every form of transportation from cars to cruise liners. 

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Freight Train by Donald Crews is a good one for younger preschoolers with few words but colorful pictures. It names the various cars on a train and uses fun imagery to show the speed of a train racing down different tracks. Short and sweet! 

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Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen is another great preschool book! Full color pages with lots of action and describing words. Seeing play different forms of transportation zoom around different scenes is so much fun! From traffic to trolleys and choppers this adorable book is definitely a great one for the lover of everything that goes! 

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If your littles are like mine you know that it's not just the forms of transportation that captivates them its their sounds too! Zoom Zoom by Robert Burleigh is a perfect solution to meeting both those desires! His rhythmic and rhyming story tells of a city full of sound! From sun up to sun down and everything in between this cute book is a thrilling ride! 

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Y is for Yacht. The letter we are studying during this unit is the letter Y which inspired reading this book. It is one of those awesome, interactive preschool books. Your little will love reading all about the many different kinds of boats (there are SO many! ) This board book format has pages that open up into huge pages with giant illustrations of ferries, and sailboats, and tugboats and more! Great for the nautical loving little in your life! 

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The pigeon, need I say more? We love this silly, sometimes emotional, little fella! Mo Willems has a fantastic sense of you humor and littles pick up on the silliness right away! This one will have you in stitches. Bless that pigeon's heart, all he wants to do is DRIVE THAT BUS!!! (Also, the pigeon is part of a larger series of books all of which are adorably funny! Definite favorites around here.)

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To the typical family travel is not the most fun part of vacation, aparently that's not the story for these bunnies. They take 12 different modes of transportation to arrive at their destination- home. Your little is sure to love the adventurous traveling these bunnies do and the fun pictures accompanying them. 

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Last, but not least Delievery was a sweet book to read and comes perfect right after our valentine celebrations last week! "Aaron Meshon's playful, tender and almost wordless story, a grandmother sends love to the moon and back to get a very special delivery to a very special boy!" This book was written with so much love and you can certainly feel it!