Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

Wow...saying it's been a busy week just seems like such an understatement!

Even though I have not yet finished the post I planned for Easter, I thought I'd go ahead share a sneak peak pic:

So proud of the pink shirt he picked for Easter!

W had his first ever dental appointment, which went really, really well. Eli was a tad jealous because he LOVES going to the dentist!  I managed to stop at the Korean market on the way home to pick up some of our  favorite rice cakes (red bean mochi!!), some kim chi, and roasted seaweed.  W was definitely unsure about these foods, and he didn't really want to try any.  He came from a home where cheetos, chips, soda, and candy were plentiful...but fruits, veggies, and meats (other than chicken nuggets/ hot dogs) were not.  He is being exposed to so many new flavors and textures, I think it's sometimes overwhelming for him. We're trying to meet him where he is and make sure he has at least 1 or 2 familiar foods per meal...but it's harder than I thought it would be.  Allowing him to "help" cook has been great - he's more ready to try foods that he worked on.

In fact, both boys have helped some in the kitchen this week. They made corn bread - and other than assisting with some measurements and putting it in the oven for them, they were able to do it fairly independently.  W was so excited that he helped, that he ended up eating four servings...and clapped for himself each time! I also had them make what we call "fiestada".  It's an enchilada-flavored pizza-like entree that is very reminiscent of the food Patrick and I ate in public school as children.  Corn tortillas (the really fresh kind), ground beef, cheese and enchilada sauce are the only ingredients. Eli devoured his...and W at least tasted some without prompting.

Eli has been keeping up well with his reading. We are most of the way through "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back".  We definitely missed some reading days in the time after W arrived, but we are back to Eli reading 1-2  pages per day.  Thursday night, Eli got out "Green Eggs and Ham" and we alternated reading pages as a bed time story for the boys.  I can't believe how much his reading fluency is improving day-by-day.

W is learning his alphabet. We're starting with lower case letters, since they are the most common ones that we see. He has an ABC puzzle that we have worked on together, and I've had him start playing with the ABC page on StarFall. He's really not yet ready for any kind of written work, so I am giving him lots of activities for strengthening his fine motor skills (like painting and using chalk).  He currently knows the letter W and that's about it.  "Aa" and "Bb" will continue to be a focus this week.

In language arts, we are having Eli work on sentence scrambles and on writing some of his own messages.  The sentence scrambles are difficult enough that he really has to think about them, but he is able to get them without much help.  Simple ones, like changing "a This truck is" to "This is a truck" are much easier, of course, than longer sentences.

With W, we are continuing to speak to him a lot, and he is beginning to ask a lot of questions about what words mean. His conversation skills are improving, and we are starting to see him try to have conversations. He often doesn't know what to say to continue a discussion, so he mostly repeats himself (which is common at 3!). We actually sat and watched "Paw Patrol" together, and he asked me to explain more than half the dialogue. I think this is one instance where watching TV together might be helpful - we are definitely encouraging him to watch Sesame Street and Umizoomi with us. I am noticing his language begin to improve, though he has a looooong way to go.  His diction is beginning to show signs of improvement, too. 

In math, Eli is continuing with addition, and is showing a ton of improvement with sums greater than 10. He really doesn't have many of his addition facts memorized, but I've focused a lot more on process more than memorization.  We've used Khan Academy a bit this week, and he is really enjoying it. He's shown an interest in their computer programming class, so I may go through it with him.  We have been using Life of Fred once or twice per week, and he's almost finished with the first book (Apples).  I was really going to skim over one of the topics the book introduced, sets, because I didn't think it was necessary at his age - but he actually likes it. He has mastered the topics in the books, and at this point, we're reading the last few stories for enjoyment more than for learning new material.

W is learning to count to 4 on his fingers and I am using some flashcards to help him learn what the numbers 1-4 look like. We also have a number puzzle for him to become familiar with the shapes of the numbers. He has definitely mastered the concepts of "1" and "2" this week (the he does not recognize the numerals), and I've even heard him correctly use two in a sentence as complex as "Hey! Two water towers!" 

We definitely missed a couple of 50 States Fridays, due to W's arrival, and we are trying to get back on track. Eli jumped to working on New York, since a friend of ours is moving there. We will working on Hawaii this week, so we will be discussing islands.  Eli is also reviewing the 7 continents, and still loves the continent song.

In science, we've spent a lot of time outdoors. The boys made see-through planters at a local home store, and we planted strawberries in them.  I love that it makes it easier to discuss stems, leaves, roots, and flowers with W, since he hasn't had the experience. Eli remembers the information, but it enjoying the experience anyway - and can't wait to have a strawberry! With Eli, we are discussing the role of pollen and bees in a plant's life - and he's enjoying that, as well. The boys helped me plant some other plants in some containers, and have been excitedly watching our tomato plant develop tiny tomatoes.  They also planted cucumber seeds and basil seeds, and have been watching them begin to sprout and grow.  Eli has also been spending some time putting together some dinosaur skeletons (we got some kits from the dollar store). He still loves dinosaurs, and has learned a LOT about them from the Montessori dinosaur app that we have on our iPad.

Our growing cucumber seedlings!

The boys' strawberry plants in the viewing planters that they built!

Finally, we managed to sneak in some art time. I had the boys use stamps earlier today. W made a stamp page for his mommy, while Eli made a stamped card for Grandpa's birthday, then attempted to spell "Happy Birthday Grandpa" on the inside (Hape Brday Grandpa).

Later, Eli wanted to paint a picture, so I suggested he paint one for Grandpa. I gave him some suggestions, and we settled on the idea of a fish. I traced one for him onto a canvas, and helped him get started with acrylics. He's really into mixing colors, and is learning the ideas of layering them. I had him use some sparkly orange craft sand on top of his fish to make it stand out. W also wanted to paint a fish, so I traced one for him, too. He is enjoying the experience, and exercising those fine motor skills!

Eli's finished fish painting!

W's finished fish painting!

To be honest, I didn't have W work with acrylics. He's just not ready!  We're currently using inexpensive, washable, non-toxic finger paint. The viscosity and simple colors are easier for him to handle (even with a paintbrush)...and necessary for his wardrobe!  Of course, once he saw the craft sand, he wanted some, too!

Weekly Wrap-Up

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