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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cutting cord

I noticed earlier this year that our 5 year old isn't terrific at cutting.  He isn't interested in art and craftiness like his older sister, so he typically doesn't choose projects that encourage him to practice his cutting.  He is also a lefty, so that makes things a little tougher.  When I realized he was a pretty terrible cutter, I made sure we had plenty of left-handed scissors and started looking for ways to invite him to cut...in a way he'd find interesting and useful for his world!

He currently loves any type of string or rope, so I got out some red cord, his scissors and an art tray and he spent some time hacking the cord up.  Then he wanted to try the wire cutters from his tool box, so he headed out to the garage to get them.  They didn't work super well, so then he wanted to use MY wire cutters, which are much sharper and worked pretty well!

All this to say, he spent about 20 minutes engaged in cutting and was highly motivated to participate in it...and he practiced his scissoring skills!  I was working on my own project at the table, so I chatted with him, helped him hold his scissors correctly, and gave a few suggestions, but mostly he worked independently on this task.

I have more "cutting for boys" ideas I will hopefully post in the upcoming weeks!



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Morningtime

We start out Morningtime with a verse.  I print off a label for each of our journals with the current verse.  We use white blank-paged (unlined) journals so we can draw/paint/write with no lines in our way.  
 Just a quick snapshot when we were making prayer lists last week during Morningtime.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Block Challenge

One day this week I made up a game on the fly...my two bigs were getting a bit wild and rough with one another and needed to be close to me.  I needed to finish handsewing some projects I was working on for Quinn's school event.  So....we made up a little game I could officiate while still having busy hands.  The kids LOVED it and have asked for it several times since.  This would be a great game to have in my toolkit when I need to interact with them and make dinner at the same time, or even on a roadtrip.  Thought I would share....though it is really nothing fancy!

My kids haven't played with these bristle blocks in a while, and they happened to be in the dresser drawer next to where we were sitting.  So I had them get out the blocks.  Each kiddo decided on their own team name, which I wrote at the top of a piece of paper.  Then I gave them different challenges, that I made up on the fly.

Build a boat using 6 blocks.
Build a restaurant using 15 blocks.
Build a playground using 13 blocks.
Choose just 1 color of blocks and build a school from them.

Etc., etc,.

Each kiddo had a little bell (this was Quinn's idea, which turned out to be a fun addition!) that they could ring once they were finished building.  It wasn't at all a race, but they did have fun ringing the bells.

When they rang their bell, I would ask them to tell about what they built, and they'd spend a couple minutes explaining their design.  I would ask some questions (and I did all this in an "announcer" voice and used "announcer-y" lingo).  Then the other person would have to say 1 thing they liked about the other sibling's design.  My kiddos weren't having a great morning getting along, so this was a way I used to help them practice kind words with eachother.

After they built each object and told about it, I gave them a point.  Quinn was much faster than Beck, so she got a couple challenges ahead of him, which still worked out fine.  I just wrote down at the bottom of the paper what the challenges he still needed to do were, so I didn't forget.  I had them return all the blocks to the box after each challenge, so that when they started the next object they'd choose different blocks, otherwise if I let them keep them out, they'd use the same ones and there wouldn't be much variety in what they built.

When they got tired of the game (which lasted about 45 minutes!!) and I was at a stopping point, we ended the game (in the announcer voice) and then I told them their reward was to share a cupcake (that we happened to have leftover from a babyshower the weekend before).  Of course the rule is that one kid cuts the cupcake and the other gets to choose their piece first. ;)

This game achieved my goal of peaceful play, but it also encouraged some problem-solving and higher-level thinking.  Educational AND fun!!  It could be played with any types of blocks, so it's very versatile!

Morningtime...why I love it!

During the summer all kiddos, and during the school year with whatever kiddos aren't currently away at school, we do "Morningtime."  This is a simple routine that lots of homeschool families (especially ones that practice the Charlotte Mason philosophy) partake in.  We do it because I think it's a beautiful and powerful way to be together and learn each morning.  AND...it's a great fit for us because it can be adapted to include a wide variety of ages!

Here's what we do:
Bible Study--we start by reading a focus verse together--the same verse every day for a few months until I feel like we're ready for a new one.  The kids eventually memorize it because we read it every day.  I print it off on a label that I put in their notebooks.  Only 1 of my kiddos read, but I still think it's important for the others to connect the words to print, even if all they know is that it says what we are saying orally.  Occasionally I have my oldest look up the verse in the Bible and read it from there, to remind us all that it's God's word we're reading.  Currently our focus verse is Jeremiah 29:13-14. 

Then we have a short little Bible lesson, which varies, depending on what we are studying, but about 10 minutes total.  We try to remember to pray, but I don't do a good job on this one.  That will be one of my goals for the upcoming school year!

After that, if I have all the kiddos, I read aloud some poetry.  I read the same few poems for about a month, and begin replacing them with new ones, one at a time, once my kids begin to get bored of them...or memorize them!  Often during this poetry time the kids ask to recite one of their past favorite they've memorized, and I always say yes!

We sing a hymn together--one that we are currently learning the words to.  Usually my kids like to move to the couch for this, so we can huddle up and all see the words in the old hymnal we use.  At our church, we sing using a projector and words, and more praise songs than hymns, so it is important to me that my kids learn the joy of using a hymnal and the beautiful words and truths in great hymns.  My kids love this time, and I love hearing them sing or hum little bits of the hymns during the day!

 During the school year when my oldest is at school, we do fingerplays, counting songs, and rhymes during this time, as well, which I consider my preschooler's literacy time for the day (of course we still do many read-alouds of great picture books several other times during the day, as well.)

Sometimes while we are already at the table for Morningtime, we might do an art project or activity.  This happens more when my oldest is home, because she loves art.  My littler ones are usually ready to get down and move around!

Sometimes Morningtime lasts 15 minutes and sometimes it lasts an hour, depending on the interest and attention of the kiddos and what we are doing.  It is structured in the sense that we follow the same flow, but we don't have a set number of poems to read or fingerplays to say....it flows naturally based on what the kids need that particular day.

Morningtime is powerful because it exposes my kids to scripture and beautiful language in a way that is natural and doesn't require a whole lot of preparation from me.  This makes it more likely that it will happen every day.  We also light candles and drink tea and sometimes even eat something yummy during this time, which makes it feel more special.  :)  Morningtime is great because there aren't any rules--you can do what feels right for your season and your kiddos....And it starts the day out on a positive time together rooted in God's Word.

Because we're a foster family, we often have a baby or toddler in our mix.  We include them in Morningtime if they are awake--I put them in their little highchair seat or pull the bouncer in the kitchen next to the table.  Sometimes toddlers get to hold the fingerpuppets or scribble with a marker during Morningtime.  Sometimes they last the whole time, and sometimes they need to get down and go play because they aren't up for sitting still.  We go with the flow here, too, including the little ones however is working out for that day and working our hardest to be patient and inclusive to find ways to involve them, as well.  Often it's singing a song we know they like or doing more fingerplays with manipulatives to they can follow along.  I know when I model how to include these little ones, my older kiddos are learning these skills that will hopefully translate to the times they need to include littler ones in play, etc.

HERE is a link to a more in-depth discussion of Morningtime.   

Making board books "irresistible" to toddlers....an invitation to read.

This little one LOVES books, but I have a little trick up my sleeve to get her interested in books throughout the day.  Occasionally when I walk past her little basket of books, I'll grab a few out and take them to some spot in the house and set them open, on end.  This always grabs her attention and she sits down with them and "reads" through them for a few minutes.  It's a fun and simple book invitation and a little surprise that gives her joy!!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Traveling with Kids tip

Thanksgiving break is coming up and we have two trips ahead of us....naturally my TeacherMama mind is already ticking along with ideas to help our roadtrip run smoothly.  We usually limit screen time on road trips and encourage our littles to spend some of the time engaged in various activities.

One thing that has worked well for us, particularly with my daughter, who is 7 (she's liked this since she was 4, though), are coloring sheets with information on the areas or states we are traveling through.  I usually bring a clipboard for each kiddo with sheets I have printed off and a pencil bag with colored pencils (marker lids get dropped and crayons melt in a hot car).

I often use the Crayola website, as they have all the state printables.  Also I just google "Oklahoma Coloring Sheet" and look at the google images that pop up.

My kids are also interested in seeing a labeled map of the US so they can find our state and the states we travel through, so I often print some of those, as well!

This is a great time-passer, but also adds some geography and map reading skills to your trip!!


For older kids you could let them read through the state info and then play a trivia game with little treats (Skittles, goldfish, mini cookies, etc) for correct answers!  My kids love trivia games!

For more of my travel posts and ideas, click the "travel" tag on the sidebar!  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Devotionals with Kids

I subscribe to the SHE READS TRUTH daily Bible Study emails and always find them such a powerful tool.  Today a new series started, a 10 day focus on Psalms of Gratitude, with a simple response each day.  Day 1 started with Psalm 100 and a simple reflection....perfect for Mamas, but ALSO perfect for Littles!  This can be adapted to any age....if you are looking for something to focus your family's hearts during this Thanksgiving season, I'd encourage you to check out this free resource.

It begins on today's date on their website (click). 

I am going to read this psalm with my kiddos tonight and then let each of them fill in their own blanks (see the assignment.)  I love exposing my children to scripture in this way and am very fond of the simpleness yet powerfulness of what this study will bring to our family.

Give it a go!!