Sunday, September 30, 2012

Preschool- The First Month: Letters A-D

As summer vacation began to come to a close, I started to seriously contemplate preschool for Tanner. I knew that I didn't have the guts to stick him in a daycare/preschool yet- (I'd completely bawl my eyes out if we were apart that much) but I also felt that Tanner needed to start some kind of structured/scheduled education.
I decided to start doing preschool lessons at home with him. I planned my lessons around the letters of the alphabet and went to work. We'd cover one letter each week. We'd start with "A" and work our way to "Z". I started planning 3-4 lessons per week, all revolving around the letter for that week. Each lesson would that a different theme, but would reinforce the weekly letter. I have about 1 1/2 hours of alone time with Tanner each day while Bailey takes her morning nap, therefore preschool is from 10-11:00 am, 3-4 times/week.
I'm not going to lie. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. It's A LOT of work!!! But its been a month now and I can see major changes with Tanner. His verbal skills shot through the roof. He's counting better, singing songs better, he's recognizing letters and even getting good at drawing some of them.  I couldn't be happier with the results. He's really learning and its so encouraging to me. For example, the other day in the car Tanner started singing a song he learned during his very first lesson and. This was nearly 4 weeks later and he still remembered it. We only sang it during that one day and he was singing it on his own. My heart seriously melted. He's really enjoying his preschool lessons and is learning. Even though it is alot of work, I kind of enjoy putting together the lesson plans and getting our supplies together for our craft each day. (Does that make me super weird?)
Anyways, here is a run-down of the lessons we've had so far. (If you are interested in the lesson plans, I have them all saved as word documents, so just let me know)

Week 1= Letter A
A is for Airplane
We learned about the letter "A". We traced the letter "A". Made two different airplane crafts. We flew around outside like airplanes, played an airplane matching game and sang an airplane song.
 Our first day was a total success with Tanner. He loved it and he loved making his own airplane!
A is for Acorn
We learned where acorns come from, traced a letter "A" with acorn tops, made edible acorns and colored acorn tops with markers. I don't think he enjoyed it as much as our airplane day, but he did pretty good!
A is for Alligator
We read "There's an alligator under my bed", traced the letter "A" over and over, talked about how alligator skin feels, made a letter "A" alligator and an alligator mask. At the end of our lesson we ate some alligator skin (fruit roll-ups).
A is for Apple
We traced lots of letter A's. We made our own apple tree, did finger painting to add red apples to trees, red two apple stories, ate apples and applesauce and made an apple with a worm inside that Tanner loves!

Week 2= Letter B
B is for Bugs
Its a new week and a new letter. B is for Bugs. Tanner loves his rock bug we painted together and he really loved hunting for bugs. We also learned what sound the letter "B" makes and traced lots of "B"s. The letter B is really hard for Tanner to trace, because its so curvy.
B is for Balls
We talked about the letter "B" some more. We gathered up all the balls in our house (which was a surprisingly high amount) and counted and sorted them my size and texture. We practiced throwing and rolling the balls and then made the yarn balls.
B is for Bike
More tracing the letter "B". We talked about the different parts of a bike and how you have to push on the pedals to make it move. Then after our "lesson" we went for a bike ride. We finally took off the adult push handle and Tanner pushed his pedals and rode his bike all by himself. He was so proud!

Week 3= Letter C
C is for Car
We learned about the letter C, traced a bunch of "C"s and then made this race car from a toilet paper roll. HE LOVED IT. He's actually slept with it that night!
C is for Cookies
We learned more about the letter C. Used crayons to color cookies differently colors, and counted chocolate chips. Oh and of course, made some yummy cookies. Tanner added all the ingredients himself.
C is for Crayons
More tracing the letter C. Talking about what sound "C" makes. Colored  different crayon worksheets and then we did this melted crayon art. Thanks Aunt Sarah for the awesome idea! Tanner LOVED it!

Week 4= Letter D
D is for Dog
We learned what sound the letter "D" makes, we traced the letter "D". We colored some dog pictures, we followed doggy paw prints to a bowl of doggy treats and then we counted doggy bones while wearing doggy ears and a doggy collar. Tanner counted all the way to 10 without any help, multiple times.
D is for Duck
We learned about ducks and did lots of "quacking". We did a ducky matching game and traced more "D's". Then we made this pipe cleaner duck that Tanner simply adores.
D is for Dirt
We did ALOT of digging in the dirt, lookin for worms. We traced the letter "D" on the driveway with chalk. We talked about what lives in the dirt and then made "Dirt cups" for our snack.
D is for Dinosaur
We hunted for the letter "D". We read dinosaur books, we did a dinosaur puzzle and a lacing dinosaur. Then we learned about dinosaurs- how they don't live on the earth now but we can find their bones. So then we went on a dinosaur bone dig. Look what Tanner found. What an awesome little paleontologist!

So that covers the first month of preschool. Its been really fun. I really do look forward to this one-on-one time with my little man each day. I can't believe the progress we've made so far. He's much easier to keep on track now too. He's gotten use to the structure and he knows that he can't run off and play during preschool. He sticks with me and for the most part gives me his attention. He's getting really good at tracing the letters, "A" and "C". I'm loving watching my boy learn. It's amazing!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Visiting Nanny and Papa in Branson

We spent last weekend in Branson and Springfield visiting Nanny and Papa. They spent the last week in Branson celebrating their anniversary. The kids and I drove up Friday morning and met Nanny and Papa at their condo in Branson. Tanner and Nanny called it "Nanny and Papa's little house in Branson" because each condo was it's own little cottage. Chris couldn't come because his schedule got changed at the last minute. I was so bummed. I was excited about some family relaxation. Oh well- still had a ton of fun!
Once we got to branson we just hung out for a while, played on the playground and Bailey took a nap. Tanner LOVED the tire swing.
Here is Bailey hanging out in Nanny and Papa's condo
Later, Uncle Joseph and his family came up and we all went to dinner at a steak house. Tanner loved this huge bear in the restaurant's lobby. It's Tanner-bear and Big-bear!
After dinner we took the kids to "Castle Rock" water park. It was an indoor water park with water slides, basketball pool and toddler water parks. Tanner had a blast. He loved having Papa chase him around, up and down slides and all around the park.
Bailey trying to climb UP the slide. Goofball!
Bailey and Mom
Snuggling the ball. What's better than some good ball snuggling. 
The water was a bit cold and took a bit of getting use to.
Bailey and Mom in the lazy river. We had just gone under the dumping buckets and got soaked!!!!Hence Bailey's face and my wet hair
Tanner and Papa on the lazy river
The kids were so tired that night. They slept hard!!!
The next morning we ate at iHOP. SOOO good. My kids ate like little piggies. Then I took Bailey over to the outlet mall and got her ears pierced. She did great. I'm so grateful she had a sucker to eat on, otherwise she would have been much more upset. Doesn't she look so adorable?
Then we drove up to Springfield and went to the Dickerson Park Zoo. It's such a cute little zoo. Lots of fun things for little kids. Tanner loved this petting zoo. Look at him feeding this huge bull.
Tanner feeding the goats
Bailey didn't care for the petting zoo. She mostly hung out in her stroller. And yes, my child was wearing shoes when we started out- but she kept kicking them off and I didn't want to loose them- so off they came and into the bag they went.
Eventually Tanner decided he wanted to relax for a while.
Bailey checking out the bobcat behind  glass. Does anyone else find large cats like mountain lions really creepy. This one was super scary looking. 
Bailey riding on Papa's shoulders. It's her favorite place to ride.
Checkin' out the elephants with Papa
Mom and Bailey wearing our animal print sunglasses
All three of us after our zoo visit wearing our awesome sunglasses. Of course Clark wouldn't wear his....Oh well. 
After this I ran a couple of errands in Springfield and then headed home. We missed Chris like crazy but had such a fun trip. Thank you Nanny and Papa for inviting us to come up and visit you on your getaway.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Camp-In, Football and Play Dates

On Chris' day off last week we decided to go camping. But as the day progressed and it got hotter and hotter we decided against. It's been really hot, miserably hot. So we decided that instead of having a "camp-out", we'd have a "camp-in".
The kids love it so much. We grilled burgers for dinner, since burgers are something we could have had while camping. We made s'mores and Bailey devoured hers and Tanner's.
 Then Tanner and Dad set up the tent in our living room and let the kids play. Oh and how they played. Aren't my boys the cutest ever?
Sweet Tanner-Bear
Our tent has this weird little zipper window in the back and until our camp-in we had no idea what it was for. Isn't it obvious?
Unfortunately, only one kid can fit through this little window at a time. Haha.
Tanner loved this little window. He must have zipped and unzipped it about a million times. 
 love that little face.
Sweet brother and sister hanging out in the tent
Then we let them lay down and watch a little TV. I know, I know- you don't watch TV while you camp, but they LOVED it!
Eventually I had to put Bailey in her bed because she couldn't calm down in the tent. She was sooo tired but wouldn't stay laying down- so to the crib she went.
But Chris, being the awesome dad that he is, slept in the tent with Tanner ALL night.
We had a lot of fun on our camping-in trip. The kids loved playing in the tent and they played in it all the next morning. I had to quietly put it away during nap time, otherwise I would have had a couple of meltdowns....
Also, football season started. It started out with a victory and went down hill after that. Oh well. We are still born and raised razorback fans in this family and we still love our hogs. And the kids still look adorable in their razorback gear.
Bailey in her football legwarmers
Little hog fan. I know I must be too intense about football because now whenever Tanner sees anything football related on TV, whether its a different team playing or a commercial- Tanner starts yelling "COMON HOGS! GET THAT BALL!" haha. It cracks me up. 
Bailey watching her brother call the hogs
Love these little Razorback tattoos.
I started a playgroup finally too. We use to have one but then most the moms in the group started having to work full time, so that left the kids and I without any playdate friends. But there are suddenly alot of new moms in the ward, so we started up playgroup again. My kids are loving it. We meet once a week at the park, weather permitting, and play for about 2 hours.
Here are Bailey and her bestie on the horsey.
Bailey on the slide
Tanner on the bike. Ps.- when did my little boy grow up into such a little man?
Tanner and his buddy Austin on the teeter totter. So fun!
Anyways, its been a gorgeous fall so far and we are loving having playgroups again. Hopefully this beautiful weather keeps up. I'm not ready for winter yet.