Friday, February 26, 2010

Teaching our children about Jesus' forgiveness

Randomly came across this link on one of my favorite early childhood education sites. The basic premis is that your family finds/makes a box and for a specfied time (they use the time of the lenten season, but really it could be any time...) you write down sins you are sorry for (thus you can teach your children that this is repentence--confessing our sins and determining not to repeat them anymore because we are sorry for them). Your family fills this sealed box and at the chosen date you destroy it however you choose (they suggest throwing it away or burning it). Then you talk about how Jesus casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. The website says it beautifully: "And we'll walk home with an empty box of repentance, giving thanks that He has written our names, not our sins, in His book of remembrance."

Depending on the age of your child, you can read scriptures that explain God's forgiveness and his commands to confess our sins.

Young children have such a hard time understanding abstract concepts such as forgiveness and grace and even repentence. This takes it to a literal, visual, tactile level that they can better understand.

Love it!
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

A bedtime book we're lovin'!

We have had Time for Bed by Mem Fox checked out from the library for a month and a half now. It is the BEST bedtime story! It has simple text that rhymes, which is great for phonemic awareness. The animals are all adorable and the storyline is very sweet!
Q loves making the animal sounds for each animal and seeing the "baby" sleeping at the end. She likes to say, "night, night!"
I love that this book is great for all ages. Infants would enjoy the methodical sound of the lyrics and the illustrations, toddlers love the different animals, and preschoolers would enjoy learning the names of baby animals (ie: baby horse is a foal) and picking up on the rhymes.

A great extension for older kiddos would be to write a few more pages with other animals or even the names of family members.

It's time for bed, little Matt, little Matt. No arguing from you, and THAT is THAT!

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today I introduced the Lil' Bean to MARKERS! She loved them! And I love using markers with toddlers....they are easy to mark with--you don't have to push very hard to get them to write. Sometimes pens and crayons are more difficult for toddlers because they don't have the motor control to push hard consistently.

Q loves taking the lids off and putting them back on. Excellent fine motor practice! By the way, I usually prefer using Crayola Markers, as the lids go on better--off brands can be hard to snap on or they don't stay on well. And who likes dried out markers????

I always teach my students to listen for the "click" when snapping the lids on to make sure it is on correctly. All ages love this--from toddlers to elementary! We always say "CLICK" as we fasten the lid.

For right now we are just storing a few markers at a time in an old blueberry container. Later I want to make her a marker block (like the crayon block). In my old toddler classroom we glued the lids just above the top of the block so the kids could just pull the markers out and put them back without having to keep track of the lid.

Also, when initially using markers I only allow one out at a time.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

First step to scissoring...paper--tearing!

Didya know there are actually developmental steps to learning to cut (scissoring?) And learning to cut is a part of learning to write, as the fine motor control is vital for both.
The first step of scissoring is tearing paper. I started Q with paper-tearing these past few weeks. Here's the set up--a tray with "things to tear" on the left and a tub (used wipe box) to put torn pieces into. **only using the same set up every time for ripping work is important so your child learns this is where ripping occurs and not with books and your magazines, etc.!!! If you catch them ripping something else, bring them to the table, set out their basket of ripping work and say, "Here's where we rip paper!" They'll get it if you are consistent, promise!!!

Things to tear= any type of rigid scrap paper. It needs to be somewhat rigid at first so it will tear easily and little fingers can grasp it without too much bending and moving of the paper. My favorite "tearing items" are those annoying little cards they put on every other page of your magazine, mailers for roofing, cable and insurance (and who knows what else) companies, and the cardstock inserts that often come in coupons.
To begin with, I start the paper by putting a small tear in the top middle of the paper. Then I showed her how to put one hand (using a 3-finger pincer grasp--thumb, index and middle) on each side of the inital tear, pull one hand back toward the body and the other away....and...riiiiiiiiipppp! It's such a joyous feeling to see the paper part into two and hear that ripping sound!

Now of course Q was really interested in this....for about 1.5 minutes. That was it. The next time? Maybe 2 minutes. So we have just done tiny little sessions of ripping. Yesterday, though, I was putting away groceries and had lots of packaging that I was setting on the floor in a pile to take out to recycle bin. Q came up and took a piece of thin cardboard and handed it to me to "start" for her so she could rip it. Then she looked around for the tub to put the pieces in. I made sure to explain to her that this was, in fact, scrap paper and she could rip it. We got her basket and she had a good time!

I have started letting her read "real books" that aren't board pages and she has been doing great. I of course have a little fear that she will have some ripping fun with one of these....but we will simply get out the scotch tape and have a firm talk that we "read books" and we "rip paper with our ripping basket." Teachable moment!

Older kids love this too---give them colored construction paper to rip up and then have them glue the pieces into letter shapes (makes a cool name plaque) or different pictures. Could they make a torn-paper shamrock? Give them a challenge and see if they could do it!
Also, you can challenge them to rip the paper into different shapes--this takes VERY fine motor control and is great practice! Can they rip a square? Circle? Star?

Another fun activity Q loves is to dump out her little scrap paper holder and then pick it all back up again! And she never misses a phone call while she does it, you can see, because she keeps two phones at her side!
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We recently got a kids meal for Q at Wendy's across from Walmart while we were waiting on a prescription to get filled. We rarely eat at Wendy's, but I am glad we did! She got the coolest and most educational kids meal toy! It is made by the I SPY people....It's a little box of cards and overlays, and the goal is to match the silhouettes on the overlays with the picture cards.

Did you know this teaches a reading skill, even though there are no words present? It is teaching young children to pay attention to features of forms and shapes....which is absolutely necessary to learn letters and later words. You have to learn that "A" is made up of two slanted lines that touch together and have a straight line across their middle. And you have to pay attention and look for these features so that next time you see two slanted lines touching together with a line across the middle you remember--it's an A!
So working with activities that involving matching is an early step in this process. This game is one of the best examples I have ever seen for a game that teaches shape discrimination!
Right now Q is simply enjoying opening and closing the little container and taking the cards out, which is perfect for a toddler! Later on we will move to actual matching..

So...don't have Wendy's nearby? You can totally make a set like this in Word! Just use clipart to put several little pictures together to make a card in color. Print on cardstock. Then open the picture editing toolbar and change each picture to either "black and white" or "grayscale" and print out on overhead transparency paper. Cut....Presto! (let me know if you need more specific instructions...I'd be happy to help!!)

Here is a link to the I SPY books, which I strongly suggest for prereaders and beginning readers! My 2-year old preschoolers LOVED them and like I said before, they are great for teaching early reading skills! They have a set of board books in the series that are fabulous! just one sidenote...there are a few pages in the books, like the one with clowns, that totally creep me out. Be warned. :) Jk.

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The Pancake Game!!

The pancake game is a fun way to practice any it can be adapted for virtually any age child from toddlers to upper elementary! (keep reading for adapting to younger kids!)

Have your kids help you prepare to play--involve them in making the game pieces:
-gather supplies: scissors, pencil, "pancake-colored" paper, a cup to trace (about 3 in. in diameter)
-trace your circles on the paper and cut out
-decide how you will mount the skills--
(you could laminate the pancakes and then write on them with washable overhead marker, you could use small sticky notes, you could tape on words typed on the computer, you could use pencil and erase to change the words) You want to be able to change out what is on the pancakes so that once the current words are learned you can rotate to new ones!)
*I typed the words and taped them on for this example, but when I make a set for Q I plan to laminate and use overhead marker.
Get out a skillet and spatula.....

The easiest step would be to ask your child to match pairs of words (not read them yet--just match them). This requires your child to look closely at the features of each word--it's length, the letters in it, the shape of the word, etc. This is important because they MUST have a grasp on these "features" before they can read the word.

The next step would be for you to call out a word and ask your child to find it (and of course scoop it onto your plate!) This is simpler than the child reading the word, but still requires them to look at the words closely. If they choose the wrong one, say, "I asked for "said." "ssssssssssss" Look for the word that starts with "sssssss." Keep giving prompts until they figure it out.

The next step would be to ask them to read the words as they take the pancakes off the skillet.

And the final step--turn em over and play MEMORY! This requires them to read the words AND incorporates remembering where the words are.

A fun extension of this--make some real pancakes! Use some type of writable frosting to actually write the words on the pancakes and celebrate your child's learning! I have these little gel frostings that would be great, and I know there are even eatable food markers out there at cooking stores!

Now...other options rather than words on the pancakes?
-letter sounds
-names of family members
-picture pairs
-objects to match with the number (ie: one pancake has 4 dots and the other has the number 4)
-consonant digraphs (ch- ph sh- th- wh- -ch -ck -sh -tch -th)
-vocabulary words
-equalities (9X9, 4+5)

Some other fun extensions?
*play restaurant--help your children create a menu with the "flavors" of pancakes available (of course the flavors being whatever words or colors or shapes or numbers or whatever are on the pancakes). Customers can order their flavor and your child the chef will bring out that flavor!

*older children can create a simpler version of this game for little siblings

*remember to start out with only a few pancakes at a time and gradually add more as your child starts learning the words (numbers, colors, etc.)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to read aloud to your children....

This is the first book Matt ever read to baby Quinn. It was by lantern-light because we were in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. She was days old. The book is "Guess How Much I Love You." Go on, tell me you don't have a little tear in the corner of your eye.

The number one thing you can do to help your children become readers is to read aloud to them from day one (or day 3-4 if you are in a hurricane!).

Here are some tips from one of the leading experts on reading to your children--Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook (which is one of the best "education" books parents can read, in my opinion!!).

And, drumroll please, here are my tips!!
(tips marked with an **** mean that they are appropriate for preschool-age children.)

First, let your child choose the book. If you have a certain book you really want to read, tell your child that you have chosen one you are really excited to read today. If the child has no interest at all in the book, finish reading it quickly or just choose another book.

Find a REALLLLY cozy place to read. Q and I love to read reclined back on the pillows on our bed. She and Daddy read in the rocking chair in her room. Get creative! Read to your kids in the bathtub, under the kitchen table with a sheet thrown over to make a cave, read by candlelight or flashlight, read in a little tent or in lawnchairs, read on your porchswing or on a blanket thrown on the floor. Make it fun!

Start by asking your child to point to the title. If they are a baby or they don't know, you show them! Point to each word as you read the title. Then ask them to point to the author's name (and explain to them that the author wrote the book!) **For older children you can talk about the role of an illustrator and find that name. If the name is the same as someone you know, the kids will LOVE it! :)

**Take your preschooler/elementary child on a "picture walk." This is really important because it sets the stage for their comprehension of what you are going to read. On each page, ask your child what is happening. If they don't know or are completely off base, help them a bit. Say, "Well, I see the fox is knocking on the door. Do you think he wants to come in?" On each subsequent page, encourage your child to describe what is going on. Ask them to make predictions. "Who do you think lives in that house?" "Do you think they will let the fox in?" Don't worry if they are not following the exact same plot as the story, as long as what they are saying matches somewhat with the pictures.
Now, this is not going to be a huge success the first time you do it. They may not be interested in the picture walk or they may throw out all sorts of random comments. Hang in there, just like anything, they will get better with practice.

**If your preschooler or elementary student is learning sight words, look through the book to see if you can find any of these words. I love to use "highlighting tape" for this. Work together to find the words your child knows and cover them with the highlighting tape. Later, when you come to this word in the book it will already be highlighted and will remind your child that this is a word they know! Let them read it when you get to it! You can do this same thing by finding letters your child knows on a page in the story. If your child is learning the "p" sound, highlight all the p's you can find in the title or on one of the pages.

Now you are getting ready to do the actual reading. Ask your child to show you where to start reading. Older children can open the book and find the first page and point to the text. For toddlers, you open to the first page and ask them, "Where are the words?"

Now read! Point to each word as you read it for preschoolers, not for toddlers. If you come to a word your preschool/elementary child knows, stop and let your child read it. Stop along the way to talk about what is happening in the story and to let your child share their comments.

When you are finished ask your child what their favorite part of the book was. Go back to the pictures that match their favorite part. For toddlers, ask them, "where is that bear? Can you find the page with the bear?" This is starting to teach them that the pictures have meaning. They will first depend on the picture for the meaning and as they learn sounds and words, they will depend more and more on the word, but still somewhat on the picture, until they are very comfortable reading and can go to no pictures in later elementary ages.

And that's it! A fun, painless process that will become mechanical over time.

Remember that the picture walk is so important for children getting close to the reading stage. It causes them to begin to use some cause and effect relationships, make predictions, and use the knowledge they have about story structure (setting, characterization, problem, solution). It also prepares them to understand the story as you read.

As for the highlighting and sighword practice, I wouldn't do this with every story. Sometimes you just want to read to them for the pleasure of listening to a story. I might do it once a day or every few days. Usually kids love this activity and specifically ask for it! Keep the highlighting tape accessible so if they ask for it, you are ready!! Remember to make this fun!!

Highlighting tape--it's wonderful!

You can buy it at any teacher supply store (you really just need one color) and it lasts forever....Or I have also made it and it's soooo easy!

Teach your kids how to do it...they will love it!

Here's How:

Get a roll of scotch tape--the opaque kind, not the clear kind. Tear off several pieces in different lengths. You may want to cut a piece in half lengthwise to make a skinny piece. Stick them to a piece of fabric (ideally a white piece, but here I used my green pantleg). Pull them off and stick them on again. They are loosing some stickiness, which will prevent them from getting too stuck onto your book as you highlight.

Stick the tape onto a piece of scratch paper. With a light-colored permanent marker (or permanent highlighter), color each piece of tape.

Find somewhere to keep your tape. I like putting it on a plastic ruler, leaving the edge hanging off so I can grab it easily.

And here it is in action in one of our books!

Use it for highlighting whatever your child is currently working on. Punctuation marks, letters, words, numbers, etc. Send your child on a search with it!

I have also saved food boxes (cereal, granola bars, pasta, etc.) and combined those with highlighter tape and sent my students on "word hunts" to find words or letters they know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My home is a training-ground.....

A good friend sent me the following article that has really impacted me this week. Joy, the author, talks about the goal of the home as being a "training ground" where my little one is taught about God. I spend a lot of time planning out my daughter's cognitive growth and experiences that will help her grow emotionally, intellectually and physically. I really want to be more intentional about her spiritual training. I have started adding some Bible study "work" to her learning room. I have also determined to start a little Bible study time with her on a daily basis (as much as possible.) I am keeping this simple. Since we are using the Moses book, we will get it every day and read through it. Q loves repetition, and as we reread it each day, I can relate more details of the story to her. Also, I want to teach her how to find the story in one of her Baby Bibles (more details on that to come). We may also incorporate other activities such as singing and prayer. I'll keep posting my experiences as we experiment with a "Onesie Bible Study." :)

I also love Joy's discussion of ways to minister to others with your children. I will be putting thought into what that translates into for our family.....

Guest Post: Mothering and Ministry

from Biblical Womanhood by Crystal Paine
Guest Post by Joy Fourney from Joy in the Journey

As a missionary, many people ask me what I see as my role in ministry. I'd like to share from Scripture and my experience concerning what I believe a married wife and mother's place in ministry should be.

First and foremost, I believe that, as wives, our primary role is one of support. As a wife, it is my primary focus to make sure that my home is an oasis for my hardworking husband, making sure he has good meals, clean clothes, and lots of encouragement. There is much more I'd like to say about this, but for this post I want to focus on the role of mothering.

As a mother, my role is to train my children in "the way they should go". The home should be a "training ground" in which I impart wisdom to my little ones by teaching them about God, His Word, and life.

"She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26.

Where did we get the idea that to be a godly woman we must participate in all church activities, as well as lead as many of them as we possibly can? There's this idea that doing "ministry" can only take place outside the home, and that only "real" ministry can be done when the husband and kids are out of the way. Mothering these days is looked at as something to get through, or get away from so that we can do "real ministry".

Well, we didn't get this idea from Scripture, because Scripture is clear. Instead, we got this idea from our modern Christian culture, where appearances are paramount. We must "look good" to everyone else, and in so doing, let the most important thing slip through our hands.

Dear ladies, what are our children doing while we are out "doing" ministry, and who is watching them? God has given us such an important ministry! He's entrusted us with little souls who are searching for truth. What could be more important than that?

Yes, there is lots of ministry that we could be doing outside the home. But then, where would our precious children be? The only One we should be concerned with pleasing is the Lord. What is His plan for our lives in ministry? He is so clear: our first, our primary, our most important ministry, is right in our homes, training our little ones.

" that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands that the Word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:3-5.

This, as women, is our primary ministry. This, in and of itself, is enough. And, this is exactly what God has called us to. More than anything, I want this verse to be true in my life: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 1:4

So, if our primary role is mainly in the home, what can ministry to others look like? Let me just clarify that I am speaking mainly towards women with young children. Since that is the stage of life I am in, I could never speak to women older than I am or outside my stage of life.

First, before you think of expanding your realm of ministry in any capacity, you need to look around and ask yourself honestly, "Is my family cared for to the very best of my ability?" and "Is there something that I could be doing for them, that I'm not doing now?"

Whatever ideas you have about ministry need to be discussed with your husband first, and then prayed about to seek God's leading. So, what kind of ministry am I talking about?

First and foremost, wherever you go, whether it is to Wal-Mart or McDonald's, always seek to share the love of Christ. Make sure that you are the "sweet aroma of Christ" anywhere and everywhere you go!

Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

-Hospitality is a great area for the whole family to get involved. Invite your unsaved neighbors over for a meal. Here in Indonesia, I enjoy walking around with the kids and getting to know our neighbors. This has produced many wonderful friendships.

-Make sure friends and family know that they are welcome to drop in anytime, for a meal or for a night.

-Invite a single girl from church over to your home. She will feel honored and blessed by your invitation. Your house doesn't need to be spotless, you don't need to serve the best meal, just making your guests feel welcome and wanted is enough.

Find something that you and your children can do together to reach out to the community.
Some simple ideas might include:

-Prepare a meal as a family, and take it to a sick friend, a new mom, or an elderly member of your church. The kids will think it's great fun to help mommy cook, and then to share their creation with others.

-If you are baking for your family, make extra. Then get the kids and all go together to deliver it to a friend. Why? Just for fun--the recipient is surprised and the kids think that it is great fun.

-Have your kids write special notes to elderly members of your church or local rest home and then deliver them. Notes from little ones will melt any heart.

Any of these things can greatly enhance your life, as well as the lives of your children. However, you need to make sure you keep it all in perspective. If you're making a casserole for the family down the road, but have nothing to feed your family, perhaps it's time to rethink your priorities.

-Joy is the proud wife of a missionary pilot, as well as the blessed mommy to five. She and her family live on the island of Tarakan in Indonesia, where they serve as missionaries. Joy has a passion to encourage women to find contentment in the "mission field" right inside their home--their family. You can visit Joy at her personal blog, Joy in the Journey.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My number one suggestion on getting kids to read.....

Keep books EVERYWHERE.
In the bathroom, the car, every bedroom, the living room, kitchen (Q likes to "read" my cookbooks occasionally!), etc. Good books--rotate them regularly and become GOOD FRIENDS with your library! This photo is in the living room--we keep a stash between the couch and coffee table. I always move the books we have just finished using in conjunction with our past month's curriculum to the living room so Q can "review" them if she wants. These books have become familiar to her in the past month, so she likes to revisit her favorites and this gives her a chance to keep the comfort of familiar books while still being exposed to new books in the learning room.

So...when we finish February's "baby" curriculum, I will move those books out next to the sofa and replace them with the next month's curriculum in the learning room.
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Winter/Forest Life Books I recommend

Here are some books we used with our Forest Life/Winter unit:

Into the Woods is a great resource that shows the animals and fauna of the woods. It is organized like a scrapbook, which is neat, because it exposes children to a different genre of nonfiction. After reading this book it would be a great project to create your own scrapbook of drawings, specimens, photos, and information about the forest or even your backyard!
Into the Snow is a book about a birdfeeder in winter and all the different animals that come to it. It has sweet illustrations and would be neat to follow up with installing a bird feeder in your yard and recording what animals are seen near it. If your yard isn't a good place, local nature parks usually have birdfeeders with observation areas provided! We will make this book a yearly winter tradition!!!
This book has a beautiful story of friendship and sharing. The message in the story is that if you give away to others, often times you are blessed in return. In the story the hedgehog gives, not of his excess, but everything he has. This story would pair well with Biblical stories such as the Widow who feeds Elijah or the widow who gives her two talents at the temple. Another feature of this story is that the hat and scarf and mittens actually feel furry, which is so fun!

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Friday, February 12, 2010


We have started painting on a fairly regular basis. Lemme tell you, the "fairly regular basis" is the trick here! The first few times we've done it, it's been a nightmare for me. Paint everywhere, Q eating paint, paintbrush thrown on floor, and all that work for a whole two minutes that she's interested in painting. It can be a little frustrating! But if you keep with it and work to set up a routine for painting (or any type of artwork), even young children can learn to enjoy it! Here are some things that help me:
I like these paints. They are in small bottles, which is great for storage, and they also get used up somewhat quickly, so that means I have fresh paint. Big bottles that last forever tend to get crusty over time, and who wants to paint with crusty paint? I buy them at walmart. They are washable children's paint by Crayola.
I made a smock out of one of those plastic bags that sheet sets come in. I cut a hole for her head, slit it up the back and on the sides and added a little velcro. It can wipe off easily and is just her size. I wanted to use something I already had in my house, and this was just the ticket! If you need a smock, look around your house for what you can convert!
I always use an "art tray" for any type of art project. This helps corral materials and makes cleanup easier. Also gives children a sense of boundary, as art projects can tend to go all over the place. This is a big plastic tray we got from Ikea for .49! You can also use a big cookie sheet.
I love the plastic grid-like shelf liner. I use it for all sorts of things! In this case, I cut a piece slightly smaller than our paper to hold the paper in place while Q painted. Young children have trouble with their paper moving because they don't yet know how to apply even pressure as the write or paint. I also cut a round piece to put under the paint (contained in a sour-cream container lid).

Here is the table after she finished. Notice all the paint is pretty much contained to the tray. Much better than this.
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Heart Crayons

I have made these big chunky crayons before with regular muffin tins, but was inspired here to use heart-shaped muffin tins!

Here are the steps:

-gather up all your old and broken crayons

-soak them in a big bowl of water for a couple of hours

-peel off all the paper (the soaking helps facilitate this)

-sort them by color

-break them into small pieces and fill the muffin tins (which have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray)

-bake for about 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven

-let cool on counter 10 minutes

-let cool in fridge 10 more minutes or until hard

-tap on bottom of pan and tip over to remove

-package and give away!

*try combining colors

Here are the educational benefits:
*fine motor (peeling and breaking crayons)
*practice colors (great for younger preschoolers)
*practice sorting
*science--Before you put them in the oven, ask your child to predict what will happen and why they think this. Turn on the oven light every few minutes to peek at the about what is happening. Why do things melt? What things melt? After they harden again, talk about the change that occurred. What made the changes occur?
*Talk about what crayons are made of
*Have your kids make the packaging--they can do the writing on the packaging or draw pictures.
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Make a Valentine...

I made this little Valentine for Q's nursery teachers on Tuesdays while I am at Bible Study. I just covered some clothespins with pretty scrapbook edges (I also burnished the edges by rubbing them on a brown stamp pad), taped a ribbon across the card, cut out a little heart, and clipped the clips to the ribbon. The writing below says, "I love hanging out with you!"

Your kids could make this for grandparents, friends, neighbors, Dad, etc.! It could be customized to use whatever materials you have around the house and could be adapted for different ages.

Children could also decorate the clothespin by coloring a design on it with markers or crayons!

You could even attach a magnet to the back for a fridge hanger.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cooking Up Reading---recommended website!

If you know very much about my teaching philosophy, you know that I adamently stress the importance of cooking with your kids. Matter of fact, if you asked me to rate activities you could do to help them cognitively by level of importance, cooking would be #2 right behind reading aloud....

Hope that cements it in your mind a bit....and the best part? Cooking is fun and ANYONE can do it! You don't have to have special materials or lots of money or time....Best of all, the easier the recipe, the better!

So here is a website I love sharing with you:
Cooking up Reading
This website has recipes that go with book titles. So basically you can search by title for books you might be reading with your kids and see what recipes they have posted for you to cook together that are based on that book.

THIS BRINGS TOGETHER THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, people!! My husband would call it "The Perfect Storm." Cooking and reading. Can't get much more powerful than that...and not much more fun, either!

So, click on the link that says "recipes" and then find the link on the left that says "books with recipes" and you will come to an alphabetical list of books. When you click on a book, it gives a summary of the book, the recipe, equipment needed and some explanation.

You can also do a search to see if they have recipes for particular subjects or titles you are reading.

I am a big fan of using themes because it helps me stay organized. So our theme this month is babies.

I did a search for "baby" and it came up with the title Avocado Baby. I could then check it out at the library. The cooking activity is to cut up an avocado and eat it together! This is an easy activity, but as we do it we could talk about:
-the features of an avocado using our 5 senses
-where avocados come from (what country they are grown in and why)
-where we buy avocados
-what you do with avocados
-who in our family likes avocados
-the best way to cut an avocado
-kitchen safety
-fractions (as child cuts)
-how much an avocado costs (find store ads and look for avocado prices...actually count out that amount of money)

Then we could cut it and eat it and talk about the taste and texture. Then we could clean up and get some practice with practical life work. Finally, we could paint or draw an avocado or write a story about eating the avocado. Non-writers could dictate with Mom or Dad writing the words, and then child could illustrate.

In this way such a simple cooking activity could really be stretched out to encompass such a holistic approach to learning that involves different learning modes and engages science, math, language arts, culture, etc., etc.

That whole lesson cost less than a dollar for the avocado and your child grew more intellectually than doing a entire math or science workbook.....

And they will for sure remember it much longer!

But then again, that's just my soapbox. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February Work shelf

(see posts below for more discussion of the work)
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What's the point of having lesson plans....and the monthy scripture explained.

I always keep a copy of my monthly "lesson plan" posted in the learning room. This helps me take advantage of small windows of time to provide some focused teaching for Q. We don't have lessons every day, but I do try to find a small niche of time I can work with her as often as possible. For now this is just 5-10 minutes, as her attention span is short. I have started trying to push her focusing longer and longer, as I want her to learn persistance with her work. I do this by helping her choose some work (often I "direct" her choice to something I know she hasn't used much or needs lots of practice with) and then we begin working together. If she loses interest and tries to leave (for now we work on the big rug on the floor--later we will move to the little table and individual rugs) I redirect her to the task at hand. Often this means pulling her into my lap and showing her some "neat" aspect of the work we are using to reinvolve her. Through "stretching" her attention, I am teaching her to focus on her work until it is completed. Sometimes I have to "refocus" her several times, other times not at all. If she completely refuses to refocus or gets upset about continuing the work, I let her move onto something else. For now I want to use gentle redirection that will get more intense as she gets older and is able to sit still and concentrate for longer periods of time.

Anyhow, back to my posted lesson plans....having them accessible provides a chance for me to glance at the plans and be reminded of some of Q's goals and make a quick decision as to what we will work on that day. If full blown lesson plans aren't for you, jot a short list of activities/work you would like to do together with your child and post it.

Also, inspired by my friend Erin, I have started choosing a montly focus verse for Q. I don't have her memorize it, but rather I talk about it to her all month. She is very interested in stars right now, so I chose a verse about how Jesus wants us to "shine like stars," so whenever we see stars I can remind her of this and begin imprinting scripture on her little heart.

Inside the cabinet door I keep a copy of the Parents as Teachers Milestones for Q's age, which also helps me remember the general areas she is developing right now. This helps me focus on what things I can do to encourage this development.

Oh Baby, the books!

We had an easy time finding good baby books! Here are a few we've chosen for our curriculum this month. I try to mix some fiction and nonfiction as well as different types of illustrations (photos and artwork) each month.
These two books are by Helen Oxenbury, and she has a series of several. They are short and sweet and have great depictions of babies in action.
These two books are by Tom Arma. He has a whole collection of books on different themes where the babies are dressed up in different outfits. I used them a lot when I taught toddlers at the preschool and they LOVED them! They thought it was so funny that the babies were wearing funny outfits. Quinn is starting to enjoy them, too! I have found them at dollar stores a lot, which is great!
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