Preschool: Learning with Dirt

We had a particularly rough homeschooling day, which actually left both my son and me in tears. I asked him to clean up our craft station because we were done. They were some Easter crafts which we made for grandmas and grandpas since we couldn’t be together this year, so we needed to get them done. That was kind of a task in itself which I pushed him through. Then, I was trying to get him to clean up because it was going to get windy in the afternoon, so timeliness was important to be able to get outside time. This SIMPLE task which should have taken maybe 5 minutes turned into a half-an-hour of refusal and finding other things to do. I kept telling him we would not get outside time if he didn’t clean up. I tried to set a timer. He kept finding other things to do, sometimes just laying on the floor.

So, that half-an-hour turned into think time. I told him to go to his room to think how to make good decisions, and this turned into a HUGE tantrum. I cannot always say I am the most patient, but I was still holding it together through getting him to his room, calmly telling him he was still not making the right decisions to get outside and he needed to think about what he had to do to get that.

His tantrums continued,and he started saying ridiculous things like- I never want to go shopping with you ever again…*eye rolls here

Anyway, he continued shouting, and I let him. Then, he started crying. Meanwhile, I came down to my 1 year old smashing a banana into the wall which he had grabbed off of the counter, so I cleaned that up and did the dishes.

Then, I heard the wind. It had started, and we would not get our dearly needed outside time. Both of my boys needed it that day. I needed it.

I. Lost. It. I just started crying. Abe heard me pretty much sobbing in the kitchen. He has a creaky bed and I heard him creep off of it and saw him peak out of his room. I just kept crying. He saw me crying, and he started crying, sobbing like me.

So, yeah. That was day whatever of homeschooling.

I was thinking about it, and I realized how hard it must be for working at home moms/parents to be trying to homeschool one or more of their children right now in this time that forces this on people who never planned for this. I do not have any committed job right now. I have made deadlines, but none that coworkers technically depend on, and this is hard. Some super moms might be able to pull this off with no tears and stress shed, but I am not one.

I want to say, I so encourage the parents out there for just trying- those not with jobs and those with jobs. You don’t see full time or part-time workers blogging about homeschooling their kids because they just are not compatible. Education is a fulltime job. Honestly, as a former teacher, I felt it was above and beyond a full time job. Something has to give in this situation we find ourselves in. I hope you all can find it in yourself to give yourself a break.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the things we did these last couple weeks. I forgot to take some pictures, but here are some ideas I hope might help some of you. I tried to choose the activities that held the attention of my preschooler for some time.

Theme: “Dirt” we did a lot of mass, density, and volume with dirt. We also incorporated fractions.

REAding:

5 words (10 minutes-15 minutes): We started running into problems with Abe not wanting to do our five words, where he would sound out five random words I put on a board for him. So, I have tried to make it a little more interesting. I have been making a “story” which is really a sentence for Abe to sound out like “Antman is very fast” or “Put the can in the bin.” We also have been doing chalk a lot and I will make a “story” about his picture. Yesterday it was “The dino likes to play with bugs.” I HAVE BEEN DOING ANYTHING TO GET HIM TO SOUND OUT AT LEAST 5 WORDS A DAY.

Sight Word Challenge (3 minutes): Abe has 30 seconds to get through as many sight words as he can from flashcards I made. When he gets 10, he gets a treat, and the next time I add another set to mix in. Read more about this and the graphing I have him do to chart his progress at https://erinbabysteps.home.blog/2020/03/29/quarantineschooling-ideas-spring-bunny-and-birds-for-preschoolers/

Books we read from ABCmouse.com, which again I want to say is FREE right now with a code provided by your school. We read “A Look at Matter” and “Professor Hester Investigates the Properties of Matter”

Math/Science:

Value and Importance of Soil Demonstration (10-15 min)- This was a little more hands-on, but it kind of launched dirt week off. I really liked this for the conversations it opened up about the importance of taking care and using our soil wisely because it gave a good visual of what a small praction of our earth is usable soil. We also opened up fraction conversations. I followed this lesson exactly- http://www.theusualmayhem.com/2014/04/what-is-soil-science-experiments-and-activities-for-kids-on-saturday-science/. We had conversations on fractions here (which it was pretty advanced for a 4 year old), but my motto is just exposure is important. It turned into a basic lesson fractions where I showed him how to write, 1/2; 1/3; 1/4; 1/5; 1/6, and what they all mean. We talked about the denominator (yes, its a big word, but my son knows tyrannosaurus like its nothing too) and how it means how many equal pieces the whole is cut into. We then cut an English muffin all the way into 1/32 pieces. Maybe challenge an older child to feed as many friends as possible and have them do a dividing experiment/exploration…

Dirt Layers Experiment (15 minutes): We watched this video of a guy simply putting dirt into a water bottle and adding water. When shaken and then let sit to settle, the layers reveal themselves. Abe collected materials and we did the experiment ourselves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeuQeAxJIjs. We talked about how the more dense things will be found at the bottom. I feel like we could do a response video that mimicks this video, which Abe would be capable of doing, I think.

Fractions and Mass/Density Dirt Experiment (hands-on 10 minutes and then they continue it on for hours): We took tuperware, measuring cups, and spoons out in the dirt. I had Abe fill up one with the dry dirt and one with the wet dirt which we could pack down. We talked about how our containers of dirt had the same volume, but different masses and densities.

We also did the playing with how many 1/4 cups were needed to fill the cup, how many 1/3 cup cups were needed to fill the cup, and how many 1/2 cups…

Then, they just played in dirt for a long time, and it was great.

Sorting Seeds (10-15 min): If you have seeds to spare, I did this at my 3 year old preschool I taught at for a short-lived bit of time. Abe and those preschoolers took to this more than I thought. Just pour some extra seeds you have into a bowl and have them sort. We had pumpkin seeds, cucumbers seeds, tomato seeds, bean seeds, corn seeds, pea seeds. They were some of the bigger ones, with tomato seeds being the smallest. You could have them make seed graphs with them. Sorting is a huge math skill for the preschool level. Just have them glue the seeds onto a grid, or plant them even once they are separated.

Density of liquids: So, this was not with dirt and it is handson, but it was nice to talk about density and the things we learned dealing with dirt with another material. https://www.learningliftoff.com/10-cool-at-home-science-experiments-to-do-with-kids/

Crafts:

handprint Art (10 min handprinting and 30 minutes making flower pots) We made handprint flower pots for our Easter cards, which it is too late for that, but could be for May Day gifts.

Treat Craft Dirt cups: After we watched the video from our “Dirt Layer Experiment” from our science section above. Labout 4 layers of the soils, orgnanic matter, top soil, sub soil, and bedrock.

Bedrock- chocolate chips; Subsoil- pudding; Top soil- crushed chocolate crackers or oreos; Organic Matter- oats and greet sprinkles (we did not have coconut like some pictures suggested)

We are going to have a recycling week this coming week and hopefully prepare for Earth Day coming up April 22nd as well as May Day, which I want to make these!! We will try to make a form of this for baskets with herbs to hang on our neighbor’s doors for May Day. http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/16-resourceful-ideas-how-to-repurpose-old-plastic-bottles/plastic-bottle-recycling-ideas-63/

plastic-bottle-recycling-ideas-63 - Fantastic Viewpoint

3 Comments

  1. You sound just like my daughter, the teacher! She is so good about making things and teaching her little ones during this, but she also has a Nanny every day to fulfill her ideas so it isn’t all on her like it is you. The beginning of this sounded just like me and Joe, only he is 18. I can now honestly tell you that homeschooling is NOT for me! I don’t know why people want to do it. It needs to be left to the professionals. You are a good mom, Erin! FYI – congrats on #3!!! I did see that on twitter and responded, but truthfully, I don’t know if you saw that or not. I took a month off and now in the last week, I have spent maybe an hour on there? I didn’t really go through any notifications. Anyway – going to read the next one! xo

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    1. Education definitely takes professionals. It takes experience and training. I read somewhere recently that 77% of parents now think teachers should be paid more now that they have had the experience of homeschooling. Haha! I know you and I both knew this already though.

      Thanks!! We are very excited! Number 3 was not quite expected, but already another loved part of the family. I just don’t know how on earth to divide up the time right… I am not a consistent twitterer anymore. The friendships remain, but I just don’t get on there as much as I used to. I miss a lot of notifications for that.

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      1. I am so thrilled for you! You are going to be a busy Momma after #3. xo

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