Saturday, November 5, 2022

Construction Week: Preschool Gymnastics Lesson Plans

 I drew up a plan for our themes for the entire year at the start of the summer, and could not have planned this theme more perfectly if I tried! It just so happened that during the two weeks I had the construction theme planned for, our gymnasium was under construction! I didn't even have to decorate, as the construction crew took care of that. Since I knew we would be changing rooms, the only decoration I hung on the wall was “Gymnastics Zone” spelled out on orange cone shaped construction paper.

While our themes change twice each month, our "lesson plan" typically remains the same so you will find this lesson plan to be very similar to our Safari theme. We change out some props and the narrative of the exercises to keep things fresh and fun for the littles. Boredom will definitely make your preschool program bust, so its good to change things up every once in a while. A weekly theme was too much work, as was coming up with complete new plans for each theme, so structuring our preschool program with two themes each month with generally the same lesson plans was our happy medium.

For warm up we played a fun game called builders and dozers. We broke the class into two teams (sometimes coaches versus students). One team (the builders) tries to build pit blocks in stacks of three while the other team (the dozers) crawls around and knocks down the stacks. To make it more or less challenging, we would add rules like you had to crab walk, bear crawl, skip, hop on one foot, etc. to move around.  

We then made stacks of the blocks about the floor and they each had to log roll towards their stack and knock it down. 

We also played a game of red light, green light (the coach is the traffic director around road construction). This game is great for helping little ones turn on their "listening ears". 

The entire narrative of the warm up stretch focused on construction. Since we were under construction, we asked questions like "what are you most excited about" while we stretched, but you could ask them if they ever built things out of legos, if anyone has a family member that works construction, what their favorite construction vehicle is... you get the idea!

The floor setup was very similar to Safari week, but instead of hopscotch on the animal tracks, we placed directional arrows. They would jump, turning either 1/4 turn or a 1/2 turn, to position their feet so they were pointing in the direction the arrows were pointing. Then they would log roll down the cheese mats, tight like a compactor, cartwheel on the cartwheel mat, jump up to a panel mat and roll off, lever down to pick up a plastic construction vehicle, and then walk their feet up a wedge that was propped against the wall (handstand drill) while pretending they were a dump truck lifting its bed to dump the load. 

Remember our mini watering hole during safari week? Well it turned into a construction site! As a side station, they could play in the construction site while waiting for their turn.

For bars instead of swinging like a monkey to knock down a wedge, they stacked pit blocks and swung to demolish their building.

The swinging safari bridge became a rickety bridge under construction to walk across.

Beam also had a few transformations. Instead of a Safari puzzle, a construction puzzle was used. The puzzle pieces were placed along the beam with the puzzle board at the other end. Starting at the puzzle board, they would walk out to the first puzzle piece, pick it up, turn around, and walk back to place it in the puzzle. They would continue this until they completed the puzzle.

Instead of crawling into the tigers den, they crawled into a mining cave. 

On the third beam we placed construction cones to jump, leap, and or step over, and the follow

For the final beam station, we pretended the dots were mud and they would place their strong arms on the beam and jump from side to side on the mud splatters.

Undergoing construction was completely worth it! Check out our new preschool space where we finished up the last few days of our construction theme. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to share more inspiration preschool gymnastics themes and lesson plans!

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Safari Week: Preschool Gymnastics Lesson Plans

 It's a Jungle in Here!!! If you are looking for a roaring fun time with your little monkeys, this is the lesson plan for you! 

Since my budget is essentially zero for planning each of the theme weeks, I enlist my kids to help with some DIY decorations. Thankfully I have some super crafty kids that thrive on assignments like this. They made some construction paper animals which we attached to a sign that said "It's a Jungle in Here" on large brown packing paper. 

They also made some construction paper loop snakes. 

For the viewing window we cut out construction paper letters and wrote "Do NOT feed the Lions".

I then went through the home and gathered some safari themed puppets, stuffed animals, and puzzles to incorporate into the lesson plan. While we were able to gather everything we needed, I also included some links in case you fall short of supplies.

The end result was a super cute room that coupled with a creative lesson plan was wildly successful.

So let's get to the lesson plans! The key to this (and really any of my preschool gymnastics lesson plans) is to be super silly and make lots of noise. It certainly sounded like a jungle in the gym!

My favorite part of the warm up was our Roll a Block activity. I pasted print outs on the side of a cardboard box, but you could also use a Pocket Cube. They would roll the cube and then complete the animal exercises. The activities we came up with were:

Alligator Crawl (army crawl) 

Gorilla walk (squatted sideways walk, swinging arms)

Cheetah Runs (sprints)

Lion Prowl (where they would crawl slowly then pounce)

Zebra kicks (donkey kicks)

Giraffe Reach Down Stretch (reaching up and then reaching opposite hand down to opposite leg and repeating on the other side)

After we stretched and did some other warm up exercises it was time for our floor circuit. We set floor up in a large square so it is easy for the children to move from one exercise to the next and for me to easily access each of the children if they need help. 

I taped animal tracks to dots and arranged them in a hopscotch pattern. They then log rolled down two cheese mats, jumped up onto and rolled off of a panel mat, practiced levers by picking up stuffed jungle animals, and more!

I try to always have a bonus station where the preschoolers can go when it is not their turn. To go along with the safari theme I made a watering hole using the donut mat, pit blocks, and plastic animals. They could join the animals at the watering hole and jump in it, walk around it, plank over it, and more! This was a huge hit!

For bars, we always have one station where the bars is against the wall with a wedge mat so the children can practice walking their feet up and either candlesticks or pullovers. I made a paper chain snake and taped it above the wedge mat. The child would walk their feet up the wedge and then when they got close to the snake I'd say, watch out, its' going to bite you, and direct them to pull their feet back.

To include the safari theme on the rest of the bars rotation, they swung like a monkey to kick down a wedge mat, swung on the rings like tarzan over a hula hoop filled with stuffed animals, walked across a swinging bridge suspended from the p-bars, and more!

We had four different beam stations. The first was a safari puzzle walk. All of the puzzle pieces to a Jumbo Knob Safari Puzzle were placed on a beam with the puzzle board at the other end. Starting at the puzzle board, they would walk out to the first puzzle piece, pick it up, hold it above their head, turn around, and walk back to place it in the puzzle board. They would continue this until they completed the puzzle.

For the next beam, we made a tigers den out of wedge mats and a tiger sheet draped across. They tiger crawled (aka bear crawled) down the beam into the tigers den.

On the third beam we placed safari animals to jump, leap, and/or step over.

For the final beam station we placed dots with animal tracks on either side of the beam and they used strong arms on the beam to jump their feet from side to side over the beam.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to share more inspirational preschool gymnastics themes and lesson plans!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Literature Based Study of South Korea

I typically thrive on planning homeschool unit studies. I love coming up with all the crafts and projects and doing all the things. Several years ago I read the book Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. I was struggling with wanting to do all the things while having a new baby at home and lots of little ones in the house. I was exhausted and feeling like a complete failure. I learned then, and it’s been reinforced through the years as more babies have been added to our family, to show myself grace and acknowledge that learning is happening even when it doesn’t look like it. Sarah MacKenzie wrote another book called The Read-Aloud Revival. I have not personally ready that book but I have listened to her Podcasts and have made read alouds a large part of our learning experience. 

The last few weeks it was not a new baby that brought me down, but a major autoimmune flare. I felt worse than I have in ten years. So our study of South Korea was a little different and included lots of snuggles and books. If you are looking for activities and crafts you can check out our Korean Heritage Study that we did a few years ago. 

Let’s take a look at our book list:

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
The kids are always making fun of me for crying at the end of stories and this one certainly brought out the tears. Set in a 12th Century potters village, it explores the life and art of ancient Korea through the heart warming tale of a 12 year old orphan boy. You could definitely have some fun trying different pottery techniques while reading this novel.

Last year we fell in love with World War II history and spent weeks reading historical fiction novels that take place during that time period. However, there are still so many excellent books out there we hadn’t read yet so I have been trying to incorporate them into our study of countries around the world. Once again I cried while reading the parallel tales of a Japanese family escaping from Northern Korea and their return to Japan. You could follow their journey on a map.

Dear Juno by Soyung Park
In this picture book, the young boy receives a letter from his grandmother who lives in Seoul. He cannot write yet, but he can draw pictures and in that way “writes” letters back and forth. You could write a letter using pictures to tell about the recent events in your life.

A cute little picture book about the popular Korean food Kimchi. Of course after reading it we had to try some Kimchi (thank you Walmart food pickup, lol). You could of course try to make some Kimchi, or make the Kimchi pancake recipe that is found in the back of the book. 

The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo
A Korean take on this popular fairytale, we had fun discussing the similarities and differences. You could make a Venn Diagram to compare. 

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
It is hard enough being a new girl in school, but what about being the new girl in a new country where people cannot even pronounce your name. Great book for launching conversations about identity, celebrating differences, culture, and kindness.

Thank you for stopping by! For more homeschool inspiration, check out the Homeschool Tab at the top of the page, or follow us on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures.

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

Iceland Homeschool Unit Study

We said Lehitrahott to Israel and GoĆ°an dag to Iceland. Due to a quarantine and subsequent ice/sleet/snow storm, we found ourselves with plenty of time at home to really dig into this study. Should you choose to study Iceland, just be warned that you may find your kids asking you for plane tickets to Iceland... don't ask me how I know, lol!

As we "travel" around the world, we always start with our reading from Passport to the World. I also checked the book Iceland: Enchantment of the World out from the library to use as a resource, reading a chapter here and there from it throughout the two weeks. I chose several novels to use to guide our studies. The first one we read was The Hardy Boys Book #48, The Arctic Patrol Mystery. While engaging and fun, this book actually contains a lot of facts about Iceland in it and is a great book to use for a literature based study of Iceland. I wrote a complete unit study plan that includes more than 40 writing prompts and 50 activities for exploration that encompass all of the scholastic subjects that is available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers

We studied Norse culture and made rock trolls out of clay.

We dug deeper into Geysers and how they work with this book.

We did a little experiment to simulate a geyser using diet soda and mentos. Then we watched several YouTube videos of actual geysers in Iceland. We also watched a video of how Icelanders use this geothermal energy to bake rye geyser bread.

We read a book about glaciers and found some of the major glaciers on a map of Iceland.

Our daughter painted a scene of the glaciers against the backdrop of the Northern Lights.

When we read that Polar Bears occasionally cross to Iceland from Greenland on ice bridges that form, she then painted this picture.

This led to a study of other animals that can be found in Iceland. Our children fell in love with the puffins and decided to draw some. They even drew entire puffin families.

We made an Icelandic inspired meal, complete with Salmon, Kartoflusalat (an Icelandic Potato Salad recipe from the book Iceland: Enchantment of the World), and Piparkokur (Icelandic Pepper Cookies). 

We have one daughter that absolutely loves horses, so we read Winter Pony.

Then I stumbled across this gem at the library. Horse Diaries is a series of historical fiction novels, and this first one, Elska, is about Iceland Circa 1000 A.D. I always try to plan learning around the interests of our children, so I used Elska to create a second literature based unit study of Iceland

Because this book takes place Circa 1000 A.D., we dove into a study of the Vikings. We read Leif the Lucky and made Viking ships. 

We already read several Magic Treehouse books, including Viking Ships at Sunrise, Narwhal on a Sunny Night, and Polar Bears Past Midnight.

Takk (thank you) for stopping by! For more homeschool inspiration check out the Homeschooling Tab at the top of the page and visit us on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Space Coast Florida

For Christmas this year we loaded up in the RV and we in search of family, fun, and Florida sunshine. We had originally planned to go to Saint Augustine, but the weather moved us further South to the Space Coast. 

We were able to get last minute reservations at the Titusville KOA. This particular KOA I'd rate just as ok. We did book the sites last minute, but we booked two of the same type of sites at the same time for the same price. When we arrived, they told us they were not able to put us next to each other and one of the sites was more expensive than the other one (even though the RV park was not very busy, there were plenty of sites next to each other, and online we had booked the same type of sites at a lower price). I'm not sure if the person working there did not know how to correct it, was too lazy to correct it, or the KOA system is really that inflexible that it couldn't be corrected, but everyone in our crew was tired and not willing to fight it. The spaces are concrete and level. There was a playground  and the kids did take a quick dip in the small pool. The laundry facilities were clean, but it seems to draw a lot of locals, especially in the evening. It is conveniently located though, and there is a Dunkin Donuts just across the street (and this momma runs on Dunkin, lol).

You are also only a few miles from the launching sites. There was a SpaceX launch at 5am one of the mornings we were there. I woke all the kids and we watched the countdown eagerly from our phones, but unfortunately it was so cloudy that you could only see a slight blob of light rise behind the clouds. You could still hear and feel the launch though, and the kiddos were still happy that I woke them up so early. We have been to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, and even though I hear that all of the Space Centers are awesome and unique in their own way, we decided to skip the Kennedy Space Center this trip and wait until some of our boys were a little older, and to try a different adventure.

So what better way to celebrate Christmas than a trip to Christmas, FL for  Airboat Rides at Midway. This was a fantastic family adventure! Everyone from the youngest grandchild through the grandparents was able to go and enjoy this tour together. 

Everyone is provided with a set of headphones so you can hear your tour guide. The boat is LOUD and the wind was COLD, but our kids all did great and had a blast. Dress warmer than you think you need to!

The kids wanted to see an alligator and our tour guide made that happen. We actually saw more than one and I was surprised how close we were able to get. We also learned a lot of facts about the wildlife we saw.

They are located on the St. John's River. Cattle actually roam these wetlands.

We saw many different types of birds, including bald eagles, but our favorites were these pink Roseate Spoonbills. 

In their gift shop they also have animals that you can look at and interact with, including birds, snakes, their beloved pig Porkchop...

and ALLIGATORS that you actually get to hold! This is perhaps the coolest part of the entire experience. Some of our kids were more intimidated by the alligators than others, but we all got a chance to hold one and pose for a photo.

Remember those Roseate Spoonbills that I told you we saw? Well after our airboat tour we headed to Merritt Island National Wildlife. The Visitor Center has some exhibits on the wildlife in the area.

There is also a short boardwalk nature trail.

From there we drove out to the Playalinda Beach, which is part of the Canaveral National Seashore. You do need to have a National Parks pass to enter (or you can pay the daily use fee). On the drive we saw a couple of HUGE alligators sunbathing along the side of the road.

Be warned! Nude sunbathing is allowed at Boardwalk 13, and I have read that you can often encounter nude sunbathers at the earlier boardwalks as well. Fortunately, it was a cool, breezy day and we were one of the only ones at the beach so it was not a concern. There is RV Parking at Boardwalk 2.

The kids did not mind at all that it was cool and breezy and loved having the beach to themselves. 

Thanks for stopping by! You can follow our adventures on Instagram @Pocketful_of_treasures or click the Travel Tab.

Israel Homeschool Unit Study: Geography and Cultures

Welcome to 2022!!! We wrapped up 2021 with a short unit study on Canada (sorry, no blog post yet) followed by a Christmas in Germany Unit Study. I think it was fitting that we happened to start off 2022 with a unit study of Israel. Throughout our study of Israel we were reminded of God's provision, plan, love, and the hope we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

We started with reading about Israel in our Passport to the World book, which we read in the small shelter the kids built in the woods. We are doing the 1,000 Hours Outside challenge this year, so you can expect to see us doing more and more of our schooling outside. Anyone else taking the challenge?!?

I chose a few books from the library that we sprinkled in throughout the week. Israel ABCs is a wonderful book giving a broad view of the people and places in Israel. Everybody Says Shalom also takes you on a tour of historical places in Israel. We pulled up some YouTube videos on some of the places mentioned in the book. We also watched "Lessons from the Land: the Gospels" by Barry Britnell on PureFlix, which took us on a tour of some of the more popular Holy Land sites. 

The Two Brothers: A Legend of Jerusalem is a heartwarming tale of sibling love.

The futility of hatred and power of love was one of the main themes of our main read aloud for the week: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. While this is a longer book, it was enjoyed by all our kids. This first century historical novel can be used to dive deeper and discuss other topics:
*Roman soldiers
*Zealots, Maccabees, Pharisees, and bandits
*Trades: Fishing, Blacksmithing
*The Gospels
*Jewish law
*Jewish festivals, including Day of Atonement
*Weapons and Catapults
*Family and Friendship
*Revenge vs. Love
*Geography of Israel

What's better than trying out some Israeli treats while reading? The girls made these Heavenly Israeli Date Squares. They were rich and delicious!

For art, we watched several YouTube videos on stone mosaics, and then each child used stones and or shells to create a mosaic in plaster of paris.

For more homeschool inspiration click on the Homeschooling Tab at the top of the page and visit us on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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