Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Child Led Learning

Not much to report this week.  Iron Man and I are basically just doing bare bones reading and math.  I think the boys can tell I don't quite have my energy back yet, and they've have been really good at keeping themselves busy, and I'm quite proud of their choices this week.

There's been a lot of Lego and Lego Duplo building, which has led to a lot of imaginative play.

They've also entertained themselves with board games.  Of course, they're getting out ones they can play without much adult assistance, such as Topsy Turtle and Hungry, Hungry, Hippo.

There's been some dress-up play as well.

I tried to play picture Dominoes with Hulk, but he was more interested in making a fence for his animals.

They've both been drawing.  Here's Hulk showing off his scribbles.  Though if you ask him, there's usually a grandma, a fish, a dinosaur, a race car, a rocket ship, an ocean or river, or any combination of the above in his pictures.

One day Iron Man came to me and asked to paint.  I couldn't find our watercolor paper, so they were stuck with regular copy paper because they were being impatient. I'm not sure what this red one started out to be (it was a secret) but he decided to change course and do something different.

He changed to a children's Melissa and Doug watercolor set for the first time, and I was quite disappointed with the quality of the colors.  They were very dull and even he noticed that his colors weren't as bright as the ones his little brother was using.  I asked if he wanted to switch (because Hulk wouldn't care) but he said no.

He then let it dry and decided it needed stickers.  It's supposed to represent his grandparent's farm, although he took a few artistic liberties of course!

Naturally, Hulk wanted to do his own paintings as well.  As you may be able to tell, his even cheaper Rose Art paint resulted in brighter colors.  Oh well, it's about time we started investing in nicer art materials anyway.

Any suggestions for this artistically challenged momma?

Here he is showing off his version of the farm!

Oh, and if you've been a reader for any length of know my boys do NOT like to color.  I couldn't tell you how many untouched coloring books I've donated over the years.  I've never been concerned, though, because they do like to paint and draw.  I figure if there's some creativity in there somewhere, I'll let them express it however they want.  But apparently this coloring thing becomes really cool if it involves a Star Wars coloring book!

Iron Man has probably colored about half of his book, and in much greater detail than I've ever seen him use.  Here is his Yoda.

Even Hulk worked at coloring all of the light sabers in his book!

A very unstructured week, but I don't doubt my kids are learning.

V, W...

V is for Vegetables

Note:  If you are sensitive about your picky eaters, you might want to skip this part.  Admittedly, this is not just about vegetables, but you know...all those gross foods that picky eaters say they don't like. Fruits and Vegetables just seem to come to mind when I think of "picky eaters" because they seem to be the major hang-up. My boys like broccoli, peas, carrots, celery, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, peaches, apples with the peel, various types of berries and melons, and the list goes on. I constantly have people saying what good eaters my kids are (although I find this hard to believe myself sometimes) or asking "How do you get them to eat that?" What do you mean, how do I get them to eat different food? I serve it to them. At the risk of sounding mean and insensitive here, your precious picky eater is not going to learn how to eat new foods if you don't make them.  No, I don't mean force the food down their throats.  We don't want to traumatize our children over vegetables.  I mean when you offer it to them, don't say "Well, if you don't like it, I'll fix you {insert favorite food} instead."  I'd rather have lucky charms over oatmeal any day too!

What I mean when I say make them eat it is...don't omit it from their plate because they didn't like it last time. Some children take longer than others (some studies say it could take 10-20 times before a child will try/like "new" foods) but that doesn't mean their bodies don't need the nutritional value that a healthy variety offers. It's your job as a parent to at least offer the foods!

Yes, I serve some foods to them over and over and over and over....and sometimes I don't think they'll ever learn to like something. No, they still don't actually eat everything I serve. I'm not delusional.  Squash hasn't crossed either of their lips since it was pureed as baby food.  However, the oldest finally figured out he does in fact like red peppers after he found them in his fajitas one night. My youngest has always refused chili. If I had served him a "kid-friendly" meal last night just because he's never cared for chili before, he would never have eaten almost an entire helping of it.  He dug right in without hesitation.

Another thing I've learned is not to serve snacks too close to meal time.  This way I can ensure they're hungry enough to want what is on their plate. I don't know about your children, but mine will not starve themselves. I don't mind reheating dinner, but you won't find a short order cook in my kitchen.

Oh, and sometimes it doesn't hurt to get creative and make the meal fun! ;-)
Humpty Dumpty Lunch

Please know that I'm no kind of childhood dietary expert.  I just feel strongly about it.  I was a picky eater as child, and I wanted to spare my own kids the trauma of having to force down new foods, so as not to be rude to their host.  You should know, though, I'm a much better eater as an adult.

Also, I do feel differently about children who have sensory issues, food allergies or other dietary needs that have to be taken into consideration. I have friends and family that must work around these special circumstances, and that is completely different.

W is for Why Homeschool?

These are no particular order, but are some of the reasons we chose to homeschool.

Love of Learning: Children may start off with the desire to learn, but then suddenly it seems to wane by late elementary school, and I believe the monotony of school and peer influence is a huge part of "hating school." I want to create an environment that encourages my children to enjoy learning and find learning opportunities everywhere, not just in a textbook.
Impromptu Frog Study

Growth: I want my children to be able to learn and grow at their own pace. For instance, because of Iron Man's birthday, he was unable to enter the public Pre-K program during the year in which he would have most benefited from it, academically speaking. By the time he was "old enough" by government standards, he was well beyond their so-called academic standards, and I wasn't interested in cluttering my house with paper crafts when I knew he would rather be creating his own unique art or outside exploring nature. Homeschooling allows us to tune into the child's needs, and respond accordingly.

Family: We are very family-oriented. We enjoy church together, family night, sitting in the floor working puzzles together. We don't shuffle our children off with a "go to your room and play" so we can do something else. I know homeschooling is not for every family, and I understand that. However, it works for us. It allows us plenty of educational opportunities without sacrificing our time together as a family.

Flexibility: My husband and I like to visit family during months that are considered part of the traditional school year, or being able to sporadically take long weekend trips, so homeschooling allows the flexibility of schedule. Plus, who can resist the homeschooling discounts that many places offer during the year. Some we've taken advantage of have been the Creation Museum and Parrot Mountain, to name a few.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Monday, July 16, 2012

Angry Birds Sensory Tub

My boys are huge Angry Birds fans, and have been for quite awhile.  Their bathroom is even decked out in Angry Birds decor.  Very cute, and I was able to get a few stuffed animals off the bed by taking their stuffed birds and pig and plopping them way up high on top of the bathroom cabinets for more decorations.  Win-Win!

Anyway, I saw this Angry Birds Sensory Tub at Counting Coconuts a long time ago, and I knew Emory would like it, but we didn't get to it until recently when we needed some indoor activities to do!

decorative river rocks
large black and brown beads
pompoms and feathers in angry bird colors
a green egg
wooden blocks
lincoln logs
brown "nests" (baskets that originally held decorative seashells)
birds, pigs and slingshot from our angry bird game
plush birds from our angry bird toss game

This tub certainly allowed for a lot of imaginative play, and there were birds and pigs flying across my living room every time we had it out!  Normally Elliott only plays with little brother's tubs for a few minutes, but this one was hit with boy boys!

For more Angry Bird Ideas:
Angry Birds Sensory & Imagination Bin at 1 + 1 + 1 = 1
Angry Birds Mini Unit from Counting Coconuts
Angry Bird Inspirations at Sun Scholars (ideas for holidays, food, crafts, games and more)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Big Truths for Little Kids

Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt bring you Big Truths for Little Kids. It is a storybook that is designed to help you teach the basic truths of the Christian faith to children.

The book is set up with a few general faith-based questions with given answers before each story. Following the story, there are specific questions for discussion and prayer opportunities. The authors heavily encourage you to use the book to teach catechisms.

Catechism is not something we practice, but I still figured we could use the stories as a springboard for further discussions.

However, my five year old was not interested in the stories. We can read longer chapters from quality children's literature (such as the original Winnie the Pooh series) and he listens and recalls fairly well, so I know it is not his attention span. I just don't think he liked them.  It doesn't matter how good a message, if the book can't engage the listener.

Although the book didn't fit our family, I think other families would find it useful.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Crossway Homeschool Book Review Program in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

Iron Man - 5 yrs - Kindergarten

My dear, dear son.  We had a short week again, because we took some time off for Character Training.  (read:  attitude adjustments)  Here he is being goofy and sweet...but for some reason that was not the case this entire week.  I assume all children go through these stages, but right now I am looking for that brick wall so I can bang my head against it!  However...we can't be productive if I cannot keep my heart and head together, so I try not to show my frustration in front of him.  I just pray that we work through this quickly.

Despite that, he actually wanted to follow the directions in his math book and color the page earlier this week.  Normally when it comes to coloring, I allow him to circle or X, or we adjust it some other way...because he has never enjoyed coloring.  I was just going to allow him to work the problems with manipulatives, but he wanted to do both.  He started out coloring.  He ended with halfway scribbling the correct color in the correct spot.  I knew it wouldn't last long!

He did ask one day if he could choose something on his own, and when given permission, he chose these links.  He chose this pattern out of the book, then made another one with the remaining links (red, red, blue) for his brother.

The other work this week was already discussed in Teddy Bear Picnic Day.

Hulk - Tot School
As always, Hulk is never required to participate, but I usually set something up at his spot anyway, in case he chooses to join us.  He tagged along during Teddy Bear Picnic Day, mostly by playing with these toy bears.

Hylk actually spent most of his time this week cutting and snipping bits of paper.  "It's like cutting your fingernails momma!"  He's only now getting interested in scissors, so I just give him scrap paper and let him play around.

He also worked on this poor old Diego puzzle and compared baby Jag to a tiger...then crawled off roaring like a tiger!

Not a busy week, but since we're working on some character/behavioral issues, and I think that is more important at this age, it was productive.

Bailey - Puppy School

The dog has suddenly regressed in her table manners too!!

Tot School

Thursday, July 12, 2012

U is for...

U is for University
I think I have mentioned that I am taking classes, but I don't think I have ever gone into specifics.  In case anyone actually cares, I have an Associate's Degree in Professional Office Administration with a Legal Specialty, but never went beyond interviewing in law offices.  The legal classes I took were interesting, but it wasn't the path I was looking for after all.

I eventually found a job at a bank that I really enjoyed, and decided to take a few banking classes at the nearby university through a program at my work. I enjoyed them, and decided to pursue my Bachelor's in Business Administration. I ended up choosing a different university because they offered more options for online courses, which worked better with two small children and a full time job. As you probably know, I am not working any longer. I left so that I could be home with my children and begin homeschooling the oldest. However, with my transfer credits and the courses I had already completed, I was so close to finishing that I didn't see the point in giving up. I believe you finish what you start. I was on track to graduate this coming spring, but as you can see below...another "U" in my life may postpone that to the summer.

U is also for Ultrasound!
Yes, that is a surprise little peanut! This was taken at 8 weeks 1 day. I am now finishing up my first trimester, which I think might explain why I have not been posting much over the last several weeks or been able to read my favorite blogs. I'm starting to feel a little better, though still fatigued, but I think the worst of it is almost over. While it was a surprise, we are always thankful for God's blessings! In case you're wondering, we're not "hoping" or "praying" for a girl this time. We pray for a healthy baby and that God blesses us as He sees fit.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teddy Bear Picnic Day

Between Lego and Star Wars and Lego Star Wars, the boys have been cooking up a storm on their grill for their Curious George monkeys, so when I saw that yesterday was Teddy Bear Picnic Day (who knew?) I figured we'd have an impromptu Bear theme.  Nothing major, just change up our routine a little.

Not that this is helpful for anyone now, but there is a Teddy Bear Day later this year (again, who knew?) and there's always next year.

Iron Man and I did our reading instruction as usual.  For math however, we're trying out a new program, and the next lesson was a coloring page.  As you may very well know, Elliott is not fond of coloring pages.  So to keep him semi-interested, we worked through the problems with the counting bears.

These were all dancing bears who had partners.  Or something like that...

While Iron Man was using the counting bears, I set out a few different toy bears (from Toobs and other playsets) for Hulk.  He spent about half an hour growling, roaring, and talking about caves and a dragon.

I also pulled out our U.S. Animals Flash Cards (Target $1 Spot) and we read about the Black Bear and Grizzly Bear.

There is no bear more beloved than Winnie the Pooh, so for literature we started the second book, The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

We also read Alphabears and Numbears, both by Kathleen Hague.

Iron Man declined to do any traditional puzzles, but Hulk chose this one, which was way too easy for him.

Both boys played briefly with our Melissa & Doug Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle.  We also have a single bear puzzle that I bought several years ago at Target's $1 spot, but that only works for one kid. When I found the M&D puzzle last year at local discount store for an exceptional price, I knew we had to add it to our collection. Iron Man dressed each bear once, but Hulk spent most of his time examining the faces and making his own faces, so we talked about emotions.

For our Teddy Bear Picnic Lunch, we had a slightly themed lunch.

A bear shaped sandwich: one boy had meat and cheese, and one had peanut butter and blackberry jam. They enjoyed Berry Yummy Fruit since bears love berries.  The ants on a log were partially for the picnic tie-in, and because bears will rip open logs for grubs. Then jello, at their request. Nothing fancy by any means, but we haven't had a themed lunch in a really long time, so they enjoyed it.

We didn't do it this time, but our Polar Bear Dessert (from Polar Bear Math) was a huge hit last time!

Oh, and did you know Black Bears are the ones common in national parks?  They're the ones most likely to raid your campsite!

Did you do anything for Teddy Bear Picnic Day, or do you have any general bear themes you want to share?

Linked Up:  Homeschooling on the Cheap, It's Playtime

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The 4th of July Story

Elliott - Kindergarten - Year 0.5

We've been reading The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh as our history over the last several days.  It's a gentle introduction to the birth of the nation.  There are few names and only important events, so that younger children can still grasp the concept.  Many times, young children see July 4th as a holiday for picnics and pool parties, fire works and hot dogs.  I want my children to have at least a basic understanding that the holiday has historical significance as well, and this book really helps at this age group.  Marie Nonnast also does a great job with old-fashioned, gentle illustrations that are still full of action!

To go along with the holiday and the book, we did a few extension activities.

Motor Skills
The kids like using bingo markers, but we rarely get them out, so when I saw this Dot Art Flag {free printable} from I Can Teach My Child I decided to go ahead and print it.

After awhile, Elliott decided it would be quicker to "color" the flag (i.e. drag the dot marker along) so that he could finish and move on.

Instead, put Legos in front of him, and he's fine.

Map Skills
One thing I noticed Elliott enjoys, is whenever we mention a place, he likes to find it on the map. So for this book, we've pointed out England and traveled across the ocean to several of the original colonies now.

Because he enjoys finding places on the map, I set out a magnetic map of the United States with the picture available for him.

He wasn't interested until daddy put the first couple of pieces together and left it for him.  Since then, he will put a piece or two together once or twice a day as he walks by it.

Food Fun
For a sweet treat we made Red, White and Blue popsicles with our homemade popsicle kits. I used blue Gatorade for the blue, Capri Sun for the white and Cranberry juice for the red. Kool-Aid probably would have yielded more vivid colors...but...oh well. Sorry, no pictures!

Emory - Tot School - Year 0

Emory working his Dot Art Flag like his brother.  For a few minutes anyway.

As you can see, his interest quickly went elsewhere. 

He also spent some time sorting pompoms by color.  I was going to just do red/white/blue, but he wanted all of the Lego buckets, so I added yellow and green.

 He used children's tweezers to transfer them.

He also played with his July 4th/Patriotic Sensory Tub some more, before I had him help me disassemble it--which is a great activity for sorting and organizing!

We may have done a little more this week, but with mom not feeling well (and starting classes back up this week), and Elliott being sick on and off this week, it was best to keep it simple.

Tot School

Shibley Smiles

Also linked up:  Link & Learn