Monday, July 8, 2013

"Home School" Summer: Community Helpers Week

Community Helpers Week was a blast at our house.  We used the theme to give a little direction to our days, and having a loose plan helped me occasionally turn off the TV.  There was TONS of repeated language, which was my main goal for having themed weeks in the first place.  Here's what we did:

 On the first day, I introduced the theme with some of the nonfiction books from my first grade classroom.  These were obviously over his head, but held his interest long enough to repeat the words "fire fighter, fire truck, police officer, police car" several times.  I also have some small wooden figures dressed like professionals, so I would have Milo hold the fire fighter while we flipped through the "Fire, Fire!" book, and so on.  The books never really drew his interest again, but he consistently brought the wooden figures back out to play on his activity table.  It was a good introduction.

After the introduction, I fit in applicable activities whenever I could.  It was a holiday week, so there was no real schedule to follow.  We used a new chunky puzzle that had vehicles, focusing on the fire truck, and after a few traditional tries, Milo loved to use the pieces as toy cars, pushing them around and making engine noises.  I downloaded an app on the Kindle that had click and drag puzzles, giving us fine motor practice, and we repeated the one page that had an ambulance, police car, bus, and fire truck.

Milo is REALLY into cars right now, so the emergency vehicles really held his interest.  We have the Little People Wheelies police car and fire truck, and we used those to play make believe and to do some tire tread painting.  The tires were smooth, so I also filled it out with other cars and trucks that had a pattern to paint with.  A rice bin was really fun, even though Milo is still in a grab/drop/dump/pour stage with most sensory activities; I just threw in a bunch of the toys we had been using all week and we went to town.  Throughout the week, I browsed Netflix and ended up putting on Fireman Sam and episodes of Milo's favorites that have to do with fire trucks or police officers.  We watched Pixar's Cars five (million) times.

Two different field trips topped off our exploration.  The Fourth of July fell this week, so the parade we would have gone to anyway was a great place to see fire trucks and police cars in action.  Honestly, I'm not sure that Milo made the connection, but he enjoyed himself, and it's all exposure.  Later on, we went to the Children's Museum at Holyoke, which features a life sized ambulance and large fire truck with all the child-size uniform pieces you could imagine.  This, Milo went crazy for.  Let's just say I had to drag him away from an interactive defibrillator. Way more about the museum later, because it was awesome and we WILL be back.

If we had had more time and less heat, I probably would have packed everyone in the stroller and walked down to center of town where our police and fire stations are side by side on a relatively quiet street.  Without needing to make an appointment or get really fancy, I think just the sighting of the cars and trucks would have been exciting.  Other things I considered but didn't get to were emergency vehicles in a tray of shaving cream, more dress up opportunities, and finding videos on YouTube to watch.

Milo had fun, and I had fun, so this week was worth it.  At the flea market yesterday, he fell wildly in love with an old plastic fire engine that he has since carried everywhere and slept with.  His language is exploding, although not necessarily around the theme we're working on.  Regardless, we're looking ahead to a sensory theme for next week and calling the first week of "home school" summer a success!

*I've tried not to spend too much money finding things to fill our days.  We already had the toy cars and wooden people, and the puzzle I would have bought anyway.  We've been keeping our eyes peeled in the Target dollar bin and found some cheap plastic animals at Toys R Us, and Cutie Patuties in Leominster sells inexpensive toys both new and used.  You can find things at yard sales, flea markets, or on Amazon!

**I've been using these pinterest boards (homeschool summer and talk to me, baby) to help me come up with ideas.  You can also check out our plans for the rest of the summer here.

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