Eric has been showing an interest in the alphabet lately, pointing at letters and mostly calling them “B.” In my mind our homeschooling day is comprised of two sessions: a morning session when the kiddos learn together, and an afternoon session for Katie during Eric’s nap. For today’s morning session, I decided to design a mini-lesson around the classic book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for Eric, with Katie participating also.

We had breakfast first this morning, since we all three were lie-abeds. (Usually they do a bit of work first). I made this for the kiddos, after seeing the design on Pinterest:

It’s the coconut tree! When I saw it about a week ago, I thought it would be a great tie-in to Chicka Chicka.

Eating their coconut trees…

After breakfast, we had calendar time and then circle time. I read Chicka Chicka, which we’ve read many times before. Then we brought out our felt set:

This was a breeze to make. Just cut out a palm tree base, fronds, coconuts, a set of capital letters, and a set of lowercase letters. Maybe 45 minutes of cutting?

I had the kiddos assemble the palm tree, and then we tried to reenact the story with the felt letters. Eric was super into it at first. He loved putting on the coconuts! Then he had a realization and he said, pointing at the coconuts, “Boppa. Nani (he calls “Amie” by the name “Nani”—so now she is kind of “Amie Nani” in our house). Then he made his sign and sound for plane. I hardly thought it was possible, since we went back in January…but I asked him, “Are you thinking about seeing the coconuts and palm trees with Boppa and Nani in Hawaii?” He actually nodded yes… Which would be incredible, since he was approaching only 17 months old when we were there. I knew that kind of beauty would impress itself on his mind forever…

Then a little while later, Eric wandered off for awhile. But dutiful sister kept on playing and learning.

Next we worked on an alphabet puzzle all together. Eric placed several letters himself, and I quizzed Katie about vowel sounds and so on while we worked. Then Eric started taking out the pieces and throwing them around the floor. Hm.

After we picked those up and quickly put them all into the puzzle, I suggested we play with their big bouncy balls from Easter (yes, in the house—I personally love playing ball in the house, crazy, huh?). The person bouncing the ball to the other person would call out a letter, and the person catching the ball had to give the sound of the letter as he or she caught it.

Then I needed some time to clean up and get us ready to transition, so I put on The Muppet Alphabet Album, and we played it through the letter “G.” Oh I love this album. My dad actually took my old album that I used to listen to as a girl and converted it to a CD, which I then imported into my iTunes. I remember spending quite a bit of time in my room listening to my Muppet album, and my Disney albums. The memories are vivid—so relaxing and peaceful to be with the music, sprawled on my floor, looking at the covers. I wasn’t much older than Katie. I love that my dad did this for us. Bonus: we’ve been using the muppets/monsters as part of our “monsters and imagination” unit, so playing this album today  helped to give Chicka Chicka Day a place in what we’ve been doing.

In the afternoon, Katie and I buzzed through some work. She is doing great with time telling, and we love love love her Kumon book for that. We also worked on: adding pennies, nickels, and dimes; review of “long A” and the start of “long I”; review of word family “-ick” and start of word family “-ack”; penmanship; and number sets (identifying “which is less” at a glance without counting).  The proudest moment today? She was writing out an answer to one of her money problems (“12 cents”), and she reflected and assessed herself, completely unprompted. “Mommy, I need to work on writing my 2s.” I told her okay, and I set up some “2” traces on one of our slates (we have three, and one has actual lines for writing on it). She traced and then practiced, but still she wasn’t satisfied. So I asked her if I could hold her hand and do it with her so she could feel it. We did that, and then I explained how the first swipe of the pen is like making part of a heart. Something inside her clicked, and then she made a bunch of 2s—the best I’ve seen yet from her.

I told her earnestly how PROUD I was of her, and above all, how much I RESPECTED her for identifying her own area for growth and for setting her own goal. First time she has done that so specifically, outside of asking to practice her reading.

That’s what this is truly all about: getting her to be a reflective learner and instilling in her a desire to seek out actively what she does not know and then to know it. I believe reflective learning and a passionate love for learning go hand-in-hand. Mrs. Altaras and Mrs. Dutton both really showed that to me in my 10th grade year of high school. So important…

That single moment of seeing Katie reflect and then set her own goal—and meet it because she wanted to from within herself—was better today that watching her add three nickels or even work her way through her word families. It was as exciting to me as watching her take her first steps, because I know if she can feel that in herself, her journey will be beautiful and passionate in this life.