Tag Archive | preschool

Alphabet Cards: A Preschool Project

Did anyone else hoard stickers from their childhood? I got stickers in stockings and birthday cards and then always just wanted to save them for a special time.  Well, turns out it’s a good thing I did, because that special time turned out to be 25 or 30 years later.  I have now amassed- what with childhood, my teaching career, and now with children (and my grandma sending me her hoard of stickers she’s accumulated in her 90 years)-quite a collection of stickers. Just in time for it to be very helpful in the education of my children.

My sticker collection

My sticker collection

Preschool is a simple affair around here.  Lots of free play.  Plenty of time outside.  Nature walks. Good books. Puzzles. Free form arts & crafts.

We also do a little bit of alphabet learning.  Leapfrog videos on Netflix are a wonderful resource.  We read alphabet books sometimes (Doodling Dragons from Logic of English is one of our favorites). We create alphabet books. One project we started last year and finished this year was Alphabet Cards. It was a simple and easy project which was very important for the goal of ever finishing it.


It was Z-urchin’s project (and Shortstop will do it next year), so anytime that he asked, “Can we do the next letter?” I would respond, “Yes!” Then I would pull out an index card and a marker and write the next letter on the card. We’d pull out the big box of stickers and look through them to find stickers of things that started with the letter on the card. Simple and fun. That’s my kind of preschool project!


Alphabet Card Wall

Alphabet Card Wall





Highlights of Charlotte Mason’s Volume I, Part II

Finding delight in nature

An Out of Door Life for the Children

Two weeks ago, I reflected on Miss Mason’s Preliminary Considerations in her first volume of the Original Home Schooling Series.  Today, I want to record a few insights, encouragement, or instructions that stood out to me in Part II, An Out-of-Door Life for the Children.

Delightful squirrels chasing each other in a tree

A game of squirrel tag-  I need to remember that when I’m outside, I see stuff like this! 

1.  “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” (p42)  She encourages parents to make full use of their opportunities- to eat meals outside and spend as many glorious hours in the fresh air and sunshine as they can.

We don’t do this nearly as often as we should.  I think that perhaps I am the one to blame in this area.  I find it uncomfortable outside (when I am out there for extended periods), besides somehow always feeling too busy to just spend hours outside.  Of course, if I would just go, I might have less picking up and cleaning to do, since the children would not be inside making a big mess.  This is something to ponder and aim for, anyway.  Maybe soon- when I have time (hah!), I can set the backyard up for being able to eat more meals and snacks out there.

2.  Though she wrote over a hundred years ago, I find this passage particularly insightful for us today: “In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s 1st duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time… the waking part of it spend for the most part out in the fresh air.” (p 43)

Observing a bay leaf with all of the senses

Observing a bay leaf with all of the senses

There seems to be a lot of pressure these days with regards to educating young children.  It seems that preschool is just the norm now and Kindergarten is the new 1st grade.  So this advice speaks to my heart.  I have tried and will continue to work on securing for my children a quiet, peaceful time for growing, playing, and being kids.  Getting them outside in nature helps with the advice to put “An Observant Child… in the way of Things worth Observing.” (p69)

3.  “Suppose we have got them, what is to be done with these golden hours, so that every one shall be delightful?”  (p44)

I am so glad she asks this question, because it is one that I asked when I first heard about her idea of spending hours and hours outside “every tolerably find day, from April till October.” (p44)  Her answer:

Time to climb trees

Time to climb trees

“They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens…. At the same time, here is the mother’s opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit…” (p44)

‘…while wits are fresh and eyes keen, she sends them off on an exploring expedition- Who can see the most, and tell the most, about yonder hillock or brook, hedge, or copse.  This is an exercise that delights children, and may be endlessly varied, carried on in the spirit of a game, and yet with the exactness and carefulness of a lesson.” (p 45-46)

SAM_2452Through an exploration expedition, the children are learning to observe.  When the return to mother to describe what they saw, they are learning how to express themselves and mother can increase their vocabulary and range of ideas as she discusses with them what they saw.

4.  Charlotte Mason recommends children keep a nature journal and a calendar of “firsts”- where they record the first oak leaf, tadpole, flower, fruit, etc.  Then over the years, they can look forward to their favorites as they arrive.  These are to be a source of delight to them.  (p 54)

We do keep enjoy entering things in our nature journals.  My daughter’s favorite thing about “school” is drawing, so these nature journals are fun for her.  The calendar, though, seems like a great idea… but I’m not sure how I would go about keeping one.  I’d have to learn more about how to do that in our climate here.

5.  “Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.” (p61)

SAM_2486A love of nature and the outdoors is a source of delight.  I really do love getting outside and taking a walk and breathing the fresh air.   It is also a source of health and well-being.  If I work hard at giving them the habit of going outside often and plant seeds of loving nature and the outdoors, they will hopefully find it easier to keep going outside.  There have been so many studies and books about how great going outside is- for children and adults.

I need to model this love of nature and the outdoors for my children and to this point, Charlotte Mason speaks as well, of “Two Things permissible to the Mother…. There is one thing the mother will allow herself to do as interpreter between Nature and the child…with look and gesture of delight… she will point out to the child some touch of especial loveliness in colouring or grouping in the landscape or in the heavens.  One other thing she will do, but very rarely, and with tender filial reverence…she will point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may belive He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human children rejoice in.”  (p79-80)


Easter 2011

Easter is coming up in a few days and we’ve been having all sorts of fun at our household getting ready for it!  When I was young, my mom thought carefully about what holidays she wanted to emphasize by celebrating with great hoopla and excitement.  As I have become a mother, I have done the same and given careful consideration to what holidays I really want my children to remember, anticipate, and understand.  So we celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in style… just like my mother did for our family when I was little.  Of course.

Last year, we began celebrating 12 days before Easter Sunday.  Each morning, there was a basket on the kitchen table with something in it that somehow pointed to who Christ said he was.  For example, our first day, there was a basket with sidewalk chalk in it.  The poem attached read, “A gift of chalk to draw and play, and remind us He is the Way.”  One day it was little Easter eggs decorated as sheep (He is the Good Shepherd), another is was grapes (He is the Vine), and another it was bread we used for our breakfast (He is the Bread of Life).  They looked forward to finding out what was in the basket every morning!

During Z-urchin’s morning nap (ah, it is with great fondness I remember the days when Z would take two naps), I used Betty Lukens flannelgraph to tell the stories of what Jesus did that last week before He died.  First, we would sing a few songs (Ho-Ho-Ho-Hosanna and Nothing But the Blood of Jesus), then search for 2 Easter eggs.  Inside the eggs, they found something that somehow related to our story for the day.  They would look for that element while I was telling the story and they exclaimed with great joy when they encountered it.  Often, they would retell the story (well, X-man wanted to creatively make up his own story usually) using the flannelgraph on the board.

We also did many crafts and activities- below are the highlights of last year’s “12 Days of Easter”-

They loved hunting for the eggs and cracking them open to discover what was inside! How I love the enthusiasm of young children- it is so refreshing!

The retelling of the story of the Triumphal Entry

We drew (with the new sidewalk chalk!) palm leaves on our walkway.

We placed jackets on our "donkey" and X played the part of Jesus in our Triumphal Entry re-enactment.

Z-urchin found the gift of chalk- perhaps here is where he developped his 'taste' for it.

The story this day was about Jesus washing the disciples' feet, so I traced their feet and they used sponges to paint them.

Our church had invited a Jewish man who works with Jews for Jesus to share about how the Passover Feast points to Jesus, the Messiah. So, armed with that information (and a booklet I got from the Jews for Jesus table that Sunday), I helped the kids paste pictures of Passover food on paper plates as their craft the day we did the story of the Last Supper.

We painted a picture of a cluster of grapes with "paint" made from koolaid. Wow- did that smell good!!!

The kids loved helping me bake cupcakes and then decorating them to look like bunnies!


All dressed up and ready to go to church bright and early on Easter morning!

X-man and Princess K really enjoyed our Easter celebrations. (Z-urchin was a little oblivious, being just 6 months old.)  They didn’t fully grasp the concept that all the fun was to get ready and anticipate Easter Sunday.  The day after Easter Sunday, they woke up and wanted to know what was in their basket!  🙂

A couple of months later, X saw that I was toasting some bread and that one piece had been cut in half.  He exclaimed, “Mommy, just like Easter! The bread is broken!”  Ahhh, all the effort was so worth it!  I look forward to the day when he completely understands what that broken bread really means.