Monthly Archives: May 2016

PPDwater

Preschool Playdate: Water Play

Playdate: May 19, 2016
Inspiration: Heat…it’s getting hot in AZ :)

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers

Storytime:
Somewhere in the Ocean by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler
Delightful counting book written in rhyme. Features ocean mother-baby families, and supposedly there are hidden numbers in all the illustrations. I say supposedly because I don’t see them – the sweet peas can find them though.

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Literacy Center:
What’s water day without a little mess?
Since it was the last play date, we went all out with our messiest literacy station do date. The sweet peas could draw letters, names or words in the shaving cream with their fingers or the Popsicle sticks…or simply have a fun sensory experience.

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Math Center:
I incorporated water beads in this station since they were such a hit last week. The bottle caps were in one container, and the water beads in another. The beads could be counted to match the number on the bottle cap, or take it one step farther and sort by color and number. If the sweet pea isn’t ready for 1-1 correspondence, sorting to match the bottle cap and counting how many are going into the cup is a good start.

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Discovery Center:
Keeping it simple with brainbow water beads. Water+beads+containers+toys=
hours of entertainment.

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Arts and Crafts:
Puma and I-Bear made no-cook play dough so that the sweet peas could have a nice take-home from our last playdate of the season. The sweet peas got choose their color(s) and enjoy mixing the color into the plain dough.

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This time we finished with water play just before our goodbye poem and song…it was so much fun to see the kiddos enjoying the water balloons :)

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We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards.

SPFMay23

Blessed Receiving

As I seek to find the lessons through this season of grief, I am learning two more things… the true meaning of the word, incredible; and that there is also a blessing in receiving.

Let’s talk about incredible first: the Google definition says 1. impossible to believe; 2. difficult to believe, extraordinary.

It is incredible that since March 23 of this year, four people in or near our family circle have passed from this earth. As I write this, Daddy Bruss is on his way to see his mother, who may also be reaching the point where she needs end of life care. Incredible.

Also incredible is this calling I am answering from God to provide support to one of these families through their time of grief. I am not at liberty to share the details. What I can tell you: we serve a LIVING GOD. The pain they feel: Incredible. The little miracles that are happening, the daily answers to prayer – there is no other explanation other than the supernatural is in play here. Incredible.

The other lesson that I am learning is that although the Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), it is also a blessing to receive with grace.

So much in our U.S. culture is rooted in independent, do-it-yourself resourcefulness. We pride ourselves on being “self-made”, on “pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps”, “dusting ourselves off”, and “starting all over again”.

When we teach classes on postpartum, we talk about the importance of accepting help after the baby is born. It requires us, as adults, to do what we have been indoctrinated against in our churches and in our culture…actually say YES and RECEIVE when someone offers to help us.

As we have experienced incredible grief, and watch others around us experience grief, it becomes apparent that postpartum is not the only time that we need to say YES to help that is offered. If people are blessed by giving to us, then we are acting in grace to receive the gifts with an open and humble heart. Although maybe we are more comfortable giving, grief is another season that grows us in the art of receiving.

As we are in our season of change, I need to be gracious and accept the offers of help from all the students that we have had the honor of helping through the years. As hard as it is for me to accept help, I am saying YES.

The image that rested on my heart as we entered this season was a story about Moses. One of the Old Testament stories relates a time when his father-in-law tells him that the job of shepherding the tribes of Israel is more than one person can handle alone. He proposes a system of governance so that Moses can find helpers and also remain in his role of service to the people. I am so grateful that these words are in my heart, and for these stories that serve as an example.

Those that know me well know how much I love to give, and how much joy, I receive from being a “giver”. Beyond that, I wonder if even some of my self-worth is tied up in being in a position of giving.  I can see now that this lesson is timely and that it is one I needed to learn.  Mark off another notch on the growth chart…I am growing again.

As I apply this lesson to the season of change we are in, I can see that grief is big. Changing homes and saying goodbye to what we thought was our forever home is big. And handling these things at the same time – even bigger. So I am learning to say YES. I am not in a season of blessed giving…I am in a season of graceful receiving.

Tell me your story – how have you been blessed by receiving?

PPDcamping

Preschool Playdate: Camping

THEME: Camping – because our house was a mess and we needed to play outside
Play date: May 12, 2016

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: what do you do when you go camping? what do we take?
— Storytime

STORY TIME
I read the Sweet Peas the Spanish version of “Clifford Takes a Trip” by Norman Bridwell.  It afforded the opportunity for lots of conversation…the tent, fire safety, and how to interact with wildlife!!

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LITERACY CENTER
Skipped this today – we ended up with two math stations! And I also wanted to leave lots of space for imaginative play.

 

MATH CENTER
We brought back the clothesline numbers…because usually there are no washing machines when camping!! The kiddos had fun with the clothespins – and being outside, the “shirts” were flapping in the breeze. We could talk about how the wind helps clothes to dry when we hang it out to dry.

Charger created our second station – he made a game out of numbered tents…and remembered that we went up to six…and he made matching number cards – you can see it in the picture of the camp-out play stations below.

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DISCOVERY TABLE
This week we incorporated sensory play and imaginative play.  We used water beads and plastic fish for one station, and then set up three different “camp-out” stations around the front yard for the children to explore.

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
This was a craft inspired by our 18-inch dolls. The arts & crafts books created by Mattel for these dolls encourage children to get creative and make their own accessories. In that spirit, I thought of a cute camping craft that would be easy, and without incorporating the real sugar in marshmallows!! So we made these “marshmallow” treats to play with around our “campfire” and then we sang one of my favorite songs from Girl Scouts, “Make New Friends”.

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To make marshmallow sticks: colored a basic popsicle stick with brown marker, glued on a cotton ball, and then “roasted” it in our pretend campfire (reusing a prop from our Thanksgiving play!).

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Craft is great for child’s play, or for 18-inch dolls!!

We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  The big winners today were the sensory water beads and the roasting marshmallows craft.

We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards

SPFMay16

Season of Change

Seasons – such a great analogy for the pathways through life. Cassandra wrote about the current season she is in recently – that of FOMO and realizing that she IS just where she needs to be *for now*.

We happen to be in a season of loss.  Loneliness. Isolation. Grief can be a very complex place to travel – while you know the pain you are feeling, it’s not something that others can see. It’s hard to walk around with a broken heart, yet you are expected to interact sanely with other people. When all you want to do is cry or scream at every reminder that you are hurt and yet – SMILE. BE NICE. Pretend you don’t feel crazy right now.

Let me back-track a little…we are very blessed. Our lives are rich in blessings: healthy children, good health for us, the opportunity to pursue an educational path that works for our family, work that is fulfilling. We give thanks for our blessings every day.

So much of the work that I do outside of homeschooling our children is centered around pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding – the joyful welcoming and nourishment of new life, and helping families cope when there are complications that stem from pregnancy or the birth journey…yet it all goes back to LIFE and living.

This season of loss is completely new to our family. It started last fall when a mom at the dance studio passed away in a car accident…since then, several other losses of close friends, acquaintances, and my husband’s father two weeks ago. Five services or funerals in all. And now one more family member is in critical care – oh my heart.

As mush as I hurt, these are friends and acquaintances for the most part…I can only imagine what the families are going through as we are grieving with Bruss’s family. For those of you that pray, please keep all the families affected by these losses in your thoughts and prayers. Husbands are grieving wives, fathers and mothers are grieving their daughters, children are grieving their mothers and fathers…it takes my breath away to think of the pain people carry throughout their day.

While I am hurting, is not my heart that concerns me. I am an adult and I have coping strategies. What is really on my heart is my children – how do we nurture them and reassure them that while all this loss feels overwhelming right now, this is only a season??? Three of the people in those five: mothers. A couple of our sweet peas are having separation anxiety, there is definitely more patience required for all of them on a daily basis. Their questions and behavior indicate that they are starting to wonder if I am next on the list of mothers that is going to be moving on to the next journey. (note to self: call an art therapist: stat)

On top of all this emotional turmoil, we are going to be moving – so now the loss of their childhood home in preparation for a calling we have to be ready.

I wonder: why is our family being “forced” to learn about grief? What is the lesson? It feels like a sloughing off of all the material things that are not important.  Now we can **really** appreciate the things that matter: family, health, living a life with meaning and intention.

What are we holding on to? The promise of SPRING after the season of Winter. I know this is only a season; this, too, shall pass.  I wonder: is it also a preparation for “real life”? We have been in “summer” (abundance, comfort, security) for so long, it had to cycle…is this a call to be humble and walk with more humility? Is it helping us all recognize that it will continue to cycle as we grow and walk in the Lord? I don’t know…all I do is keep searching for the lesson in all that has been happening.

This story from the Bible is first and foremost on my mind: the one about the bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom – five were ready with oil for their lamps, and five were not.  The parable of readiness is really resonating: we don’t want to miss an opportunity. In our particular case, we want to be ready to travel light if we feel the call to do so. Is that across the country, or living abroad? Only time will tell.

So we are holding on to that: Be Ready. We are now going through the process of sorting through every room so that we can pack light for the next season, whatever it may hold. We have all seen and can appreciate what is really important – having each other, and taking care of our health so that we can live for the purpose God is calling us to fulfill.

And so starts the healing process – learning to GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I was really sad and angry when I read that verse out-loud in our daily Bible reading two weeks ago. I lost it in front our sweet peas, and honestly told them that I wasn’t ready to give thanks yet.  Writing today, I can see that from that anger, I have grown to a point where I can write with some gratitude for this season.

What have you learned from grief? First of all, I am sorry for your loss. I feel your pain. I would be tremendously grateful for any light you can shed on this season.

May the peace of the Lord and the grace of God be with you today…I am certainly learning to lean on it more, and to take comfort from the fact that we are children of a Living God.

PPDspace

Preschool Playdate: Space Day

 

Preschool Playdate: Space Day
April 28, 2016

— Welcome song in English (emphasizes printed name recognition as Sweet Peas find their card in a line-up and place it on our Name Ledge)
— Welcome song in Spanish (reinforces names as Sweet Peas sing to their peers)
— Discussion of theme: looked at pictures from the HUBBLE telescope – planets, comets, asteroids and the Milky Way
— Storytime
— Unsquiggle activity
— Poem/Song before we break for Centers

 

STORY TIME
Stella Goes to the Moon by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Philip Hopman
A whimsical bedtime tale of a little girl’s trip to the moon. We had the sweet peas check out the detail on her desk (lots of great science themed items!! and other toys) and find them throughout the other story pages.

The storyline lends itself to lots of acting out as you read along. Although it’s set at a child’s bedtime, not sure that it really works because it’s not necessarily a “quiet” story.

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LITERACY CENTER
“S” Sound Box
Featuring the letter “S” for space…I like putting in other items so there is some “no” as well as lots of “yes” when they are doing the matching.
This sound box had a square, soap, strawberry, sock, sponge, sword, and shark!

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MATH CENTER
This was a fun number matching game from the DLTK Kids website. Charger noticed that the numbers were higher…our observant little guy said, “Mommy, you usually only go up to five – why are you doing six?” After all the practice, they are ready for more!! HERE is the place to print your own game :)

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DISCOVERY TABLE
Space Play
I found a neat idea for planet play HERE and I had to make the color elements! I also found a different way to color the rice HERE which makes me happy because I don’t have to buy a powdered sugar drink to make it anymore. Three ingredients: rice, food coloring and vinegar!! The use of chick peas added a different texture and opportunity for play…some of the sweet peas said they were stars (and even called them red giants!) while others said they were planets…like Mars. I love it when the kiddos are already knowledgeable about our topic!

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Alien Play dough
We brought this idea back from last year’s Space Day. The book we read last year had a storyline where the little girl makes friends with an alien on her space travels. Even though this year’s book didn’t include an alien, the kiddos had fun creating them!

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ARTS & CRAFTS ~ Make & Take
The astronaut craft was another idea from the DLTK Kids website. We used a toilet paper roll as the base – the rest of the pieces are a printable that you can get HERE.

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Fun fact: all astronauts have a band on their space suit of a different color so that they can be identified once they are in. The visors on the helmet are not really see-through since the visor has to protect them from the sun’s rays and is dark from the outside.

We finish our Preschool Playdate with a sharing time: each child that wants to share gets to say what (s)he enjoyed the most about the morning.  We close with a good-bye song where children are welcome to give hugs.  It helps to set a formal end to the time together so that parents have a clear reason to insist that it’s time to go if they have somewhere to be afterwards. This week making the astronaut and the “S” Sound box were the big winners :)