Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom BOOM!

I once had the brilliant idea to do to the ever-so-popular Chicka Chicka Boom Boom coconut tree.  I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea, but Elliott liked the book so I went with it.  During our first round, my intention was to complete a Letter of the Week program.  Each week Elliott begged me to read Chicka Chicka Boom by Bill Martin and John Archambault.  I read the book, he found the current letter and glued it to his homemade tree.  Then we read books, ate snacks and played games associated with our weekly letter.  This lasted through F, at which point we went on vacation.  At some point before we resumed our weekly letters, Emory ripped Elliott's tree in half and it eventually disappeared.  I make no confessions, but I have a feeling the trash can ate it. 

Nearly a year later, Elliott had not forgotten.  The child remembers everything.  EVERYTHING.  So here we go on Letter of the Week, Round 2.  I think we made it through H the second time.  We just couldn't get into it.  He already knew his letters and their sounds, and while he liked the activities, my execution wasn't the greatest.  His primary goal was to finish the tree, preferably as quickly as possible.  I didn't mind skipping 18 weeks of this...
One of Elliott's all-time favorite books.

I finally decided that since he enjoyed making the tree more than anything, I was determined to let him finish it.  We borrowed the DVD from the library, watched it a few times, read the book several more, and he completed the tree one afternoon.  It's on the playroom/schoolroom door now.  He is proud of his homemade coconut tree, and I'm happy it's finished.  Well, except we still have to read the book.  We both have it memorized though, so now I make him "read' it to me!

The finished Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Coconut Tree!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Power Outage = Books on my Shelf

The wind can think about whistling, and our power goes out.  I don't really know what caused it, but I knew I wasn't sitting in the house for 2-3 hours, without air-conditioning, when we hadn't even reached the hottest part of the afternoon yet.  Emory woke up, we had a bowl of fresh fruit for our afternoon snack, and we were out the door.

Our first stop was the library.   I did not have the stroller for Emory, but we somehow made it out alive without destroying the place.

We stopped at maw-maw Karen's house for Elliott to use the bathroom, and he got to play with his friend Ali.  That doll is absolutely in love with Elliott, and she was tickled to see him after several weeks.  Then we headed to the Dollar Tree, where we just got a few random things for the house and for Elliott's "school" supply that we are slowly building up.

After that, we made one last stop at goodwill.  I like to stop in there occasionally to see what kind of books and puzzles I can find for the kids.  I actually did really well today...

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? written and illustrated by Richard Scarry.  All of his books seem to have wonderful reviews, and I have seen his books in some literature-based curriculum packages for Preschool, but I don't want to spend a small fortune for preschool.  I had already picked up Busy, Busy World, so we'll use these cute little stories for regular readings...they'll make a great introduction to geography and community helpers.

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin; This looks somewhat twaddly, but all of the Diary of... books have good reviews, and it still looks cute.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.  We have several Dr. Seuss books, but not this one. 

Are you My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.  I remember loving this when I was little.

The Shy Little Kitten by Cathleen Schurr.  We really like the original Golden Books, (Emory loves The Pokey Little Puppy) and this one was recommended on the Early Years Read Aloud list on the Simply Charlotte Mason website.

Space Exploration by David Glover is a basic, but colorful introduction to space.

Ralph S. Mouse and Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary.  We already have The Mouse and the Motorcycle, but we haven't read it yet.  I enjoyed her books, but I figure these will be more suited to my boys than the Romona series that I liked.

The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton Burgess.  "The Adventures of..." series is recommended for Living Science Books on the Simply Charlotte Mason website.  His books seem to be popular among Charlotte Mason educators for early read-aloud material, so we are going to give him a try!

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.  I've never read it, but I recall seeing a literature based unit study on it somewhere, so I figure I can pre-read it, but it appears to have good reviews too.

Sounder by William H. Armstrong.  A Newbery Medal winner...I remember reading this one when I was little.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.  Another Newbery Medal winner that I loved!

The Preschool aged books are definitely going to be useful now, and some of the easier chapter books will make good read-aloud material now.  Elliott is getting interested in longer books, so we sometimes read during lunch or bath time.  Some of the other books will have to wait, but I want to build a good collection of children's literature.  We don't have easy access to the library in the winter--thank you country roads--so I want to have quality reading material readily available.   I want my boys to enjoy reading the same way I do.  I want them exposed to great thoughts, and to develop an appreciation and love of literature.  I think it's my job to encourage that growth, so I plan to start early!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Day on the Farm

It's not even our farm.  To be honest, there is nothing even remotely farmish about our property.  But I guess being adjacent to it makes the boys feel like they can wander it all they want.  And they can.  Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw love to watch the boys experience "farm life" if you can call it that.  So what's a typical day like for us?  Ha!  With two boys, no day is typical!  However, we generally have a pattern of starting on our swing set, making our way to Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw's backyard, then on to Aunt Becky's, and back again...and some of the things we do along the way...
  • Elliott likes to test which riding toy will roll down the slide the fastest, even though he won't actually ride one down yet
  • 20 jumps on the trampoline
  • Watch the mockingbird torment the cat
  • Emory likes to torment the cats a little himself
  • The boys pick wildflowers for me to wear in my hair
  • We pick rotten apples off the tree and see how far we can throw them
  • sometimes I panic a little as they pick wild mushrooms
  • Elliott climbs the apple tree and says he's not coming down until Saturday (Thank you Mother Goose!)
  • Emory has learned ducks run in a predictable circle when you chase them
  • Elliott counts how many eggs are in the chicken coop
  • We throw rocks in mud puddles
  • They get filthy splashing in mud puddles
  • We practice our farm animal noises as we pass the goats and cows in the fields
  • We stop to listen to the woodpecker
  • Charlie the beagle chases Elliott to the garden and back several times
  • Emory tries to crawl under the building to look for stray chickens

I remember playing outside and riding my bike when I was little, but I never considered myself an "outdoor" person.  Give me a book and air-conditioning and I was good to go.  I didn't grow up on a farm or spend my summers in a garden. It takes all my courage to let the boys get up close and personal with their grandparents' animals.  But I know they are learning so much from it.  They are getting their chance to be kids.  To run and play freely, to explore and learn from God's beauty.  It has certainly taken some habit training on my part to be willing to play outside for hours each day, but the more time we spend outdoors, the more I appreciate God's beauty the way He designed it.  It has grown from being a chore to being part of our routine that we all look forward to each day. 

This was a stop at the barn to check out some of the goats.