Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mother Goose Time - Last Week of Cowboys, Dunes and Deserts

This week marked our last week in the Cowboys, Dunes and Deserts theme box. This month has really been a blast for Wes, Brady and I. We have really enjoyed the topics, activities, games and books in Mother Goose Time's boxed curriculum. These are some of the highlights from this last week.

One really cool activity that we did (and have done over and over several times already) is drawing a night time sky. We used the included black construction paper, white chalk and star stickers to create a night time sky. What I thought was super cool was Wes decided to make all of his stars "shooting stars" all on his own. We poked small holes near the stars to help them shine! I don't know why I never thought of using white chalk on dark colored paper, but it is something we will do a lot more of!

Wes deliberated on where to put the first star
Pulling the stickers off of the sheet is a great fine motor activity in itself!

Drawing a "mountain"

Creating shooting stars

This week we talked about Desert Cotton Tails. We made our very own Desert Cotton Tails out of the included materials - brown paper bags, card stock, eye stickers, cotton and fuzzy pink nose. When the cotton tails were all dry and ready, we had a cotton tail race by putting them on our hands puppet style and hopping around the house.

Getting material situated

The finished bunnies

Proudly showing off his work

Wes' girly bunny and Brady's "googly eyed" bunny

Complete with bushy cotton tails!

One of the fun things we have been doing is adding to our journal all month long. This week I traced Wes' hand and we made a cotton tail out of it. With older kiddos, I imagine you could have them trace their own hands, but Wes still needs help with hand over hand on a lot of tracing/writing activities. After I traced his hand, I let him color it in. I later added eyes, a nose and whiskers. Wes pointed out that his cowboy (on the opposite page) was trying to catch the bunny with his lasso. Good luck with that one cowboy! I don't think I've ever seen a cowboy lasso a bunny.

Mommy and Wes making another journal entry

Coloring his cotton tail 

This week, we worked on size differentiation with the included animal activity. We worked on it several different ways. First we went over which each animal was, because by this time we had studied about each animal in previous activities. Then, I took two animals and asked Wes to identify which one was smaller or bigger. We did this with several match ups. I then mixed the animals up and asked Wes to get the one that was the smallest and put it first. Then he picked the next smallest, etc. Then we would do the same activity in reverse. 

As I have mentioned before, I love that a lot of the included print materials and activities can be reused over and over. I have kept and stored a lot of them in ziploc bags to use as take along activities for doctor's appointments, eating out, etc. I bagged this one up and slipped it in our diaper bag.

Putting his animals in order from smallest to biggest

So happy to get it correct!
We also worked on patterning. This was another activity I packed away in a ziploc bag to revisit. There were enough cards to create several different patterns. What I liked the most is that the pattern cards were real photos of snakes and coyotes. I started off the patterning activity by withholding the cards, having Wes identify and articulate which animal came next. After a few rounds, I laid all of the pattern cards out and had Wes attempt it independently. Once his interest seemed to wane, we worked on creating a new pattern. Wes really enjoyed it!

Working hard to pattern

Matching the pattern

Wes has really developed a passion for painting activities. This week we made rattlesnakes with the included materials. First, the boys painted ribbons to create their snakes markings. I have never thought to use disposable eyeshadow applicators to paint with. I will definitely be picking more up at the Dollar Tree next time I'm there! I know what you are thinking...I've never seen a rattlesnake with teal and pink markings either.

Painting our snakes markings

Wes painting

Every time we paint, Wes ends up with this same hue of blue because he always mixes his colors together! But, come on! Talk about multi-tasking - it's another sensory activity to let them use the eyeshadow applicators to trace and draw in the paint! (Patting myself on the back for being a genius arm chair educator!)

Once the ribbons dried, we attached our rattles. The rattles were made out of the included skinny cardboard tubes and rice. The boys really enjoyed running around rattling their rattlesnakes.

Brady with is rattlesnake

Wes with his rattlesnake

Wes also took joy in pretending to be bitten by his snake and asking for band-aids. Silly kid!

"Ouch! It bit me!"

The final entry in our journal was drawing a snake with 18 diamond markings. Since Wes still has a hard time making defined shapes, I decided to alter the activity a tad. I hand over hand helped Wes draw the snake. Rather than have him attempt to draw 18 diamonds, I decided to draw them and have him count them as I drew. After we finished, I had Wes "check" that I drew 18 by counting them again.  I have caught Wes looking through his journal book from time to time. I think he is really proud of the work he has created.

As you guys know, I really like Mother Goose Time. I really appreciate the quality of the included materials, variety of activities and the ideas that have been created as an offshoot of a lot of the topics studied as part of their curriculum. I feel that the format in which I have introduced a lot of novel topics for Wes has been effective in spurring his interest in continuing to learn about them.

I have been able to include my older son, Brady in a lot of the activities. Brady, who is on the Autism Spectrum, has enjoyed a lot of the sensory rich activities alongside Wes. It is so special to me to watch them enjoy each other's company and work together.

What I love the most about the curriculum is the amount of flexibility it has given us. With summer here, we have been out and about enjoying a variety of activities and day trips. When we have an activity planned, we simply attack the day's tasks when we get home. Potty-training? No problem. Too hot for clothes? No problem, clothing is optional. Don't want to change out of jammies? No problem, because learning can still happen in your bed-time's best. Not feeling well? No worries, either. You don't miss out because you can simply push your days activities back one day. Shoot! You can also entertain your sickie with the activities if they are still up for it because moms know that just because they are sick doesn't mean they don't want to play. Got a vacation or family visiting? You get the idea. You are in charge of your schedule, so you can adjust when you will do the activities.

And, one of the most valuable things is that I can easily adapt the day's activities to each of my children's skill level. While Wes may be advanced in certain areas like phonics, he is still only 2 and needs a lot of assistance with cutting and writing. And with Brady entering Kindergarten soon, he still benefits from a lot of the sensory rich activities and still enjoys a lot of the activities which reinforce a lot of what he has already learned and mastered.

You may notice that I don't complete a lot of the activities seated at a table like you would find in a traditional school setting. Getting a small child under the age of 3 to sit still at a table and work is more challenging that you can imagine. So, my solution is to allow Wes to stand or kneel for a lot of the activities, keeping him in a comfortable position to complete a task. In my opinion, learning often happens best when we are allowed to move and not REQUIRED to remain still! Another perk to homeschooling!

I don't regret the decision to homeschool Wes for the upcoming year. This month has taught me that it is not only feasible, but is time well spent. The curriculum has made it easy to stay on task and organized for a month's worth of lessons. Do I only teach what's in the curriculum? Heck no, but the curriculum has given us the momentum to explore and expand upon the activities and topics we covered in the month's theme. I typically spend about 2-3 hours on the Mother Goose Time's curriculum but as you can imagine, there are a lot more hours I have to fill! But, what I have found is that Wes is asking to revisit a lot of the activities we have done with Mother Goose Time's theme!

I have truly enjoyed spending this time not only teaching Wes and Brady, but seeing what they are really capable of and truly interested in. Building upon those strengths has been a memorable experience. I think I enjoy it just as much as they do!

When asked if he was having fun, Wes responds with this face!
I'm excited to continue working with Mother Goose Time's monthly curriculum. We just received the Art Studio themed box for July! I've already dug in and explored the included materials! Perfect timing, too, as Wes has really taken a liking to art! Wes has gone from a kid that was very hesitant to get his hands dirty to someone who really enjoys finger painting in just a month! I truly cannot wait to explore more art with him! And, Brady? He returns to school at the end of the month but I plan on working a lot of the curriculum's activities into our time together outside of school. Being on the spectrum, he really does benefit from a lot of the activities as they provide a broad platform to work on his sensory and social skills. Plus, the boys are really enjoying doing more and more together.

For more information on Mother Goose Time's boxed curriculum, please visit them at

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