Friday, January 28, 2011

Homeschool: Clifford unit

I recently borrowed one of the ready-made kits from IDEA to see what they were like; this time we chose Clifford. Along with the startling number of Clifford books we've amassed (who knew I'd bought so many Clifford books over the years??), the IDEA Clifford kit and some amazing online resources we came up with a pretty fun Clifford unit for the week after we got back from Oregon.

Here's something not related to Clifford that I've been doing with Mr. T lately. They've been tracing their names for a few years now but I haven't really been seeing much progress in Mr. T being able to move into writing his name independently. So last week I made this page for him to trace and then write his own name independently twice. I walked away to see if he could do it by himself and he did a great job. So he's been working on first tracing and then writing independently. At the same time we've been practicing saying the letters of his name so that he knows how to spell it too and he can almost tell me all the letters of his name in order (he usually forgets one!) :-)

This week my building project for them was to build different dog houses for the different stuffed dogs we have. We actually have a stuffed T-Bone (a gift for Trevor when he was born) and the IDEA kit came with a stuffed Clifford. I found that independently building two walls and a roof is still way beyond Mr. T's capabilities. Once again, after the first day, I had to take several big steps back and structure the activity way down. I both tried building next to him and also setting out blocks that would work for doing walls and a roof to help him focus his building (he tends to choose triangles and round pieces and then gets frustrated when his buildings fall apart!). We also worked on saying (and using my hands to model) "two walls and a roof" each time we talked about building a dog house. He's definitely still more comfortable staying in the "tower building" phase but he's starting to move into the "bridge" phase where you can understand how to use blocks to bridge a gap (like a roof).

This is O Boy's house he made for Clifford.

Here is Mr. T's extraordinarily improbable house for Clifford. :-) You can see how he still struggles to understand how to choose blocks that would fit together well to make a sturdy building.

This was another house he made for some toy plastic dogs a few days later. The construction is much more solid but we joked with him about the hole above the one dog's head! He refused to add more roofing. Must be a sun roof!

I made some lacing cards for them out of cardstock, contact paper and string. I wrapped strong tape around the end of the string to make a "needle". Mr. T has known how to do lacing cards (in/out) for a long time but doesn't understand the concept of lacing it around the object. At the suggestion of his speech therapist I labeled the numbers around next to the dots and gave it to him to do. After simple instructions I walked away to let him do it on his own. He did it correctly the first time! Hooray!

Cleo and T-Bone lacing cards (thanks to Google Images!)

For a hand strengthening activity I had Mr. T find all sorts of "Cliffords" (red counting bears) in some playdoh.


Here is Mr. T doing another one of his school jobs: a Clifford puzzle I bought a year or so ago. To break down this task I separated the puzzle into 3 groups: top, bottom and center. Each day he did one of the groups. The easiest was when I built the outside of the puzzle and he fitted the pieces into the center. It's not a very easy puzzle so this was quite a challenge for him. You will notice that the Little Sweetie has planted herself right next to him (putting his puzzle in a precarious position!) to read her Clifford books.

One fun thing that was included in the Clifford IDEA kit was a set of Clifford phonics books along with a tape they could listen to and follow along in the book. Since I haven't done something like this before with the boys (phonics readers) but they love listening to books on tape, I added it into their school jobs. I was totally surprised to find O Boy reading the first few books independently after just listening once. It was pretty amazing. I'm not sure if he could transfer this knowledge to another setting or another book but he was definitely figuring out how to read these books! Cool! Mr. T sort of got the pattern for the first few books but mostly he's just not that motivated to move forward in this direction and hasn't developed yet some of the readiness skills that I see falling into place with O Boy (like understanding one-to-one correspondence with the words on the page). But he LOVES books on tape and can follow along perfectly with the directions so he really enjoyed this too!

We haven't done pattern block pictures for a while so I looked around the Net to see if I could find a dog picture and sure enough, someone had made one!

On Scholastic's Clifford page there were too many fun things to pack into one week. A few of the things we did that the boys enjoyed:
The memory game was easy enough for both boys to handle with no problems and they always love a good memory game!
The sound match game was fun but much harder than the same kind of thing on Starfall. Instead of clicking and then dragging an object all the way across the page you had to click, hold down on the mouse, and then drag the object all the way across the page. This was very complicated to implement for both boys. For Mr. T it was challenging enough to match the sounds but then adding the computer piece made it too hard. So I would usually do the computer piece (or do hand-over-hand) and then let him pick out the matching sounds.
They both really enjoyed writing a postcard to Clifford and getting an immediate answer back even though that particular activity seemed to have no redeeming educational value whatsoever in my opinion! Perhaps having to spell out their name was the redeeming value...?

Mr. T listening and reading. Usually (just for the first 2-3 books) after he listened to it on the tape I would have him read it back to me. At least the first book or 2 he was able to do fairly well. After that he lost both accuracy and interest.

O Boy doing a dot-to-dot I found I think at Scholastic's Clifford site. The Little Sweetie was THRILLED to have her very own Emily Elizabeth page to color next to O Boy!

I always try to do some painting or coloring and some cutting each week. So this week we painted each of the 3 main Clifford characters, one each day. Here is O Boy painting Clifford. Please note that he was fully dressed in our dog costume, which he wore for the entire first day of our Clifford unit.

The finished products! Their features got a bit covered over by the paint but they sure make a colorful display in our living room! I was really happy to see how both boys's painting skills are getting more refined. It was nice to do the progression of Clifford (all one color) to T-Bone (2 colors) to Cleo (3 colors) and see how they did keeping the colors in certain areas to match what the characters actually look like.

O Boy's paintings

Mr. T's paintings

The Little Sweetie wasn't too into actually doing these paintings each day (I was surprised) but she was THRILLED to see her paintings hanging up when she woke up from her nap yesterday!
Tot School
Here are a few of the Little Sweetie's tot jobs for the week:

Here she is doing her train puzzle for some reason with surgical gloves on. Fascinating.
You can see in the bottom of the picture some of her picture puzzles that I made for her. She really loves these!


"I did it!" Putting together the two halves of Mimi's face!

This is a tot job that Mr. T is always willing to try too! Scooping and dumping, after all, is one of his favorite things to do! I used packing peanuts at the suggestion of a blog I follow and won't repeat that mistake. It may have worked wonderfully for that other blogger's family, but at our house my kids' favorite thing to do with them was crinkle and crush them - no matter how many times I asked them not to! But here Mr. T was spooning them very nicely.

One thing the Little Sweetie has enjoyed doing this week is working on her " 'puter" (an old keyboard) in our playroom while one of the boys is painting (the easel is right next to the playroom). Sometimes she makes meals or gets drinks for me, but for some reason they are always, always "too hawt" (so she tells me). So I always am instructed to "Bwow on it."
This is always a favorite of everyone's: pounding golf tees into insulation board. There are a million and one fun things you can do with just these 3 simple objects: hammer, golf tee and insulation board.


1 comment:

Hamel said...

Hands on learning at its best. Good luck with Clifford and the gang!