Week 2: Buggin’ Out (Day 1)

What little boy doesn’t love creepy crawlies and all things slimy, fuzzy, dirty, and strange? This week is all about insects at the Gingrich homestead. I chose this theme for this particular week because Luke was already signed up to attend a bug-themed art camp (through Fairfax County Rec-PAC), so I figured that Noah and I would just join in. Once again, I spent a little time on Sunday night after the boys went to bed setting up the “centerpiece reveal” to kick off the week. When the boys woke up this morning, I gave them three clues about our topic: it has eyes but it’s not a person, it has legs but sometimes more than two, and there are lots and lots of different kinds. Noah’s guess: “Lizards?” Pretty sure I will have nightmares tonight about lizards with lots of legs like a centipede or something. Anyway, the centerpiece for this theme was kind of tough because we don’t have a lot of “buggy” stuff around the house. I actually had to dig WAY back in our basement storage room to drag out my old American Girl Kirsten doll because I remembered that her summer set came with little life-like looking rubber crickets and a pot of honey. While I was rooting through her trunk, I came across the lunch from her school set and thought that would be cute to set up as a little picnic of sorts. I mean, bugs are typically found at picnics, right? The bumblebee craft was something that Noah had made at preschool this past year, and we had saved it in his art binder. The odd green/orange action figure is the character Twitch from Toy Story 3. My husband thought it was gross that I put our fly swatter on the dining room table. That’s probably pretty tame compared to many things that have ended up on my dining room table. Hello…there are two small boys living here.

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In addition, I decided to serve up an adorable, tasty, and pretty healthy breakfast surprise for the boys: peanut butter banana caterpillar “sushi”. Here is the link for the recipe. When I came across this I just couldn’t resist. I mean, there are several of my boys’ absolute favorite ingredients, and it’s just so stinkin’ cute! The only changes I made to the recipe are that I spread Nutella on top of the caterpillar then a dusting of cinnamon instead of finely shaved chocolate, and I also had to use two small Tootsie Rolls for the antennae because I didn’t have any “organic fruit strip” sitting around my pantry. (Should I???) Here’s how ours turned out:

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Morning Meeting: Since I just have Noah with me this week, I am keeping things REALLY light and REALLY simple as his attention-span just doesn’t hold out as long as Luke’s. I just want him to feel really special this week having personal time with Mommy, a rarity for the two of us. After we did a quick Calendar Talk, I introduced the special sight words for the week. Noah has absolutely NO basic phonics skills and only recognizes the letters of the alphabet up to about J plus N and O since they are in his first name. So I kept the list to six words only and really short words at that. I also added pictures onto the cards to help him. I really unpacked each word with him by taking his finger and putting it on each letter as we said it and just using a lot of repetition. We’ll do that each day this week.

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Something else I did on Sunday night in preparation for the new week was to switch out all the books in the Tub of Knowledge. To end Morning Meeting each day, I’ll let Noah choose one or two books from the tub to read and briefly discuss. Today he chose: Show Me the Honey by Tish Rabe and Bugs for Lunch by Margery Facklam. This second title was really cute. The first page poses the question, “If a bug was your lunch, what would you be?” Then it goes through all of these different creatures that eat bugs. At the end it has pictures of people who actually eat bugs. I asked Noah what he would be, and he chose a frog, so we spent a silly moment pretending that we were frogs catching flies with our long tongues. (I love his happy giggles.) We had a lot of errands to run this morning, so I cut our time off there, but I would like to also teach him an easy song each day about bugs. There is a list and even links for several on the bug theme part of the Pre-Kinders website which is awesome if you have never checked it out. It’s all organized by themes and each theme includes an extensive array of math, literacy, cooking, art, songs, free printables, book titles, and more. This is pretty much my sole resource for this week with Noah.

AM Activity: Today we played Bug Bingo to help Noah identify his numbers 1-8. I printed out two copies of the Bug Bingo card from the Pre-Kinders site. Scroll down to the Printables section, and you’ll see it there. I cut up small pieces of paper, one for each number 1-8 and put them in a jar, then I randomly numbered the bugs on the bingo card. Armed with Do-a-Dot paints (a favorite art medium in our home!), I pulled a number out of the jar and called it out, then Noah’s job was to find the bug with that number on his bingo card and “squash” it by stamping it with his Do-a-Dot paint. I am so glad I chose this activity for today because I quickly discovered that Noah knew 1-5 without a second thought, but struggled to correctly identify 6-8. Now my wheels are turning about how we can solidify this later on this week–tracing sheets, the numbers on papers hiding around the house… Noah enjoyed this so much that we ended up doing it four times. Since I only had two sheets, he just made his stamps in a different spot the third and fourth times we played.

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We built a 24 piece jigsaw puzzle of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and we also played three or four rounds of a cute game called Don’t Let the Bugs Fall that my mother-in-law gave Noah for Christmas this past year. It’s kind of like Jenga for preschoolers. Here’s a link for the game if you’re interested. Super cute. All of the pieces are lightweight plastic, not the heavy wooden pieces like the actual Jenga, so it’s good for little hands. Great practice for when he’s a surgeon one day, right??? Ha.

Lastly, we did a cooking project making Worms ‘n Dirt. You’re probably familiar with the basic recipe of chocolate pudding mix made with milk, Cool Whip, crushed Oreo cookies, and gummy worms. To cut down on the sugar, I opted to leave out the Cool Whip. Our milk of choice in our house is Trader Joe’s vanilla coconut milk, so that was all I had to work with. I didn’t realize that coconut milk would make it difficult for pudding to set up…wished I had looked into that a little sooner. Found out later by looking at some various websites that I should have cut back on the amount of coconut milk or added some other weird ingredients that I’ve never heard of to thicken it up. I served it up in small canning jars after dinner, and my kids didn’t care that it was more like a thick melted ice cream consistency…they still had fun eating it! Noah and I hid a gummy worm inside the pudding before putting the dirt topping and more worms on top, and he was thrilled when Luke shrieked out, “Hey, there’s something in here!” I had enough jars to fill two more which I screwed the lids on and stacked in the fridge for round 2 tomorrow. They’ll be excited that the treat continues.

Evening Review: Luke’s responsibilities this week are concise since he’s gone each day. We gave him as much time as he wanted at our nightly dinner-time Family Sharing to give us a run-down of the day. (Typically each person just shares the favorite part of his/her day.) After dinner he has to do the current day’s pages in his Summer Bridge Workbook and pick at least one Early Reader book to read aloud to Noah and me. As tired as he was from his first day at art camp, he ended up choosing three to read because he discovered a few about insects in the stack and thought those would be fitting for our theme. (Titles he chose to read are: What Do Insects Do? By Susan Canizares & Pamela Chanko and Creepy Crawlies by Susan Leggitt.) His third and final review activity is to write one or two sentences in a little journal that he and I made called “Diary of a Bug Artist”. At the top of each page, he’ll get practice writing the day of the week and the date of the month, diary style, then choosing some highlights of his day at bug art camp to record. I’m sure later he’ll want to go back and add pictures. Will try to post pictures of it later this week as he adds more.

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