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!!  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

@Mamaschool....sink or float experiment.

I told you he was into science experiments!  His other interest this week has been sink/float experimentation.  This probably came about because of a couple new boats he bought with his chore money at the dollar store.  Anyhow, we've done sink/float several times over the past couple years and he remembered it and asked to do it again.  Yesterday I set him up with a nice table of objects and a big glass bowl of water and he had a good time experimenting.  Today he asked to do it again while I was doing some dishes.  I didn't have a good window of time to set up the "big" activity, so I told him to get out a tupperware bowl (no matter what, it's best if the dish is clear so you can observe the object from all sides) and sent him out into the backyard with a small bowl and instructions to bring in 5 objects to see if they'd sink or float.  After sending him BACK out to dump out the bowl of sand he though he'd try (maybe next time, buddy....creative but it wasn't a good time for kitchen floor mud!) he came back with a pecan, a shell, a pine needle, a little teacup from Quinn's fairy garden (DON'T TELL HER--YIKES!) and a rock.  He got straight to work trying them out.  So today's experiment was a float/sink snack, eh?!  Just a little tidbit of time he spent exploring and a smaller set up than we often use, but he was still exploring and doing science!!  Besides just the floating and sinking, he was also exploring the properties of water/a liquid!  Wow, such scientific power in a few minutes of curious play! edition. A great book for babies!

This week we had a little 4 month-old fosterlove with us.  Of course she was included in Mamaschool, too!  Beck and I set up our little play gym and Beck happily and lovingly hung EVERYTHING he could find for her to look at.  :)  We also found the perfect book to prop open for her to look at.  

Ten Little Beasties is a short book that can be sung to the tune of "Ten Little Indians."  I love books that are also songs, and so do babies!  The high-contrast illustrations are perfect for tiny readers--even newborns would be captivated by this book!  My big boy loves it, too, which is a win-win!  
 We often prop up books around our babies, especially when they learn to roll on their tummies!  This allows them to see something beautiful, stimulating and interesting at their level!
We just love Ed Emberley's books!!!!

@MamaSchool....the daily things.

At MamaSchool we look for the learning in the little things...the daily things that happen over and over again, but leave openings for little hands and hearts and minds to grow.

Lunch is one of these times.  Learning to set the table properly.  Taking time to add beauty through the dishes and linens we use.  Handling breakable dishes carefully and learning what to do when one of them accidentally breaks.  Learning to pour tea independently.  Using a knife to spread peanut butter and jam (fine motor!).  These are all niches for learning to occur.  Sure, it might take a little longer to teach a small person to carry our good pottery plates instead of tossing out some plastic ones.  Of course I could have made that sandwich WAY quicker and FAR less messy.  But these are the moments in our day that MamaSchool is most beautiful....when Mama takes a breath and steps back and lets him do things himself...or takes a breath and steps up to show him one more time how to do it carefully and correctly and with his very best effort.  

And no, lunch doesn't always happen this way.  Sometimes I do make his food and it is on plastic...and that is life and that is okay....But we try hard to slow our days enough that being 4, and all the lovliness that involves, can he learns to gracefully and kindly and lovingly navigate this world around him.  And me?  I am still learning those lessons too.  So it's MamaSchool for us both! with magnets!

During the week my big girl is in first grade all day.  That leaves me and the little man (he's 4) home together.  He always gets asked if he goes to school too, and saying, "No," didn't seem quite right, because we do a whole lot of learning during our days, so we started calling it "MamaSchool."  Typically our mornings are devoted to his "schooling," with lunch and a brief rest (and a bit of work for Mama) afterwards, then we go get Q from school.

My background (and my passion!) is teaching early childhood, so of course I can't NOT school my kiddos. :)  

I strongly believe that young children learn primarily through play and self-initiated exploration and their own curiosity with the world around them.  You won't find us doing letters of the week or math lessons....or really any type of conventional "lesson" at all.  However, we do spend our days learning a whole lot.

We base our days and our studies on my Little Man's interests.  Right now he is ALL ABOUT doing science experiments.  Not sure where he heard about science experiments--probably one of his audiobooks.  Anyhow, that is what he asks to do any chance we can!

He has also been interested in magnets.  I don't remember exactly how that came about, but he was asking questions and expressing interest in magnets, so I followed his lead.  I got out a few magnets I had from my classroom days, and we went to Mardel with some of his birthday money and bought  a little set of various magnets (the strong science type that have the poles marked on them.)  Then we got out a tray of stuff and set to work figuring out what things the magnets would pick up and which things they wouldn't.  As we worked, I began to use the correct vocabulary--repel, poles, attract, etc. as I talked with him about what we were doing/seeing.   I showed him how two magnets with the same poles would push away from each other.  We just played and played with magnets.  Through this, he was absorbing and exploring fundamental principles of physical science and of magnetic force.  We were also having so much fun!  Of course the first day he used the magnets for about 5 minutes.  But we've gotten them out every day since and he's stretching the time he wants to spend exploring.  He'll repeat some of the same activities again that we've done previously (repelling magnets, etc.), but often I will show him (or he will figure out) something new.  Today we put paperclips on a tray and moved them from below with a magnet.  

As I teach my son science simply by DOING SCIENCE with him, I hear the wise voice of one of my wonderful college professors in my head.  He drummed into us the importance of teaching science by just letting kids do science.  Not by vocab sheets or matching terms or definitions....not by writing out a lab report...but early on, just by doing the work of a scientist.  By using the tools scientists use--and learning to use them correctly.  By trying things.  By exploring.  And that makes me smile, because Dr. Vincent is right.  
Tonight the kids decided Matt would read bedtime stories to Quinn and I would read to Beck.  Beck commented that boys go with girls and girls go with boys (Matt/Quinn & Beck/Me) and further observed that it was kind of like magnets, how North goes with South and South goes with North.  AND HE'S FOUR!!! 
Best of all, this type of learning was so easy for me to facilitate.  Magnets and objects....and that's it!  Other than that all I have to put into this is the gift of my time--sitting down and playing and learning and talking with my little scientist.