Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Trick or Treat Night!

With the anticipation and last minute preparations, we took an extra day off from school today.  Hope you had a happy night of trick or treating!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Dad Involved

I nearly fell asleep at the table today while Beck was doing his school artwork.  With a terrible cold dragging me down, I was glad to see my husband get off work early today.

I sent him outside with Beck & Peyton to have fun with today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:  Playing with balls.  Nothing like a little catching and kicking in the yard to get two little boys and one big one using their bodies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Veering Away From the Lesson

I never want to be that blogger who portrays life as one peachy world where everything goes as planned and nothing ever goes awry.  And to give you a perfect example of that, I'll tell you that today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity was met with absolutely no enthusiasm by my boys or the friends they had over.  None.  At all.

We were supposed to listen to different styles of music and encourage expressive dancing and movement based on what we were hearing.  I found the CD channels on my tv and gathered them all in to our small living room.  They pretended to care for about the first 15 seconds.  Then they were all bumping into each other and complaining that the song was boring.  Beck insisted he could be a car that was dancing and started running all over "vroom-ing" loudly.  He knocked Peyton over.  Peyton started crying.  The younger of our two friends disappeared into the bedroom to find more toys.  The older friend stood staring at me like I was crazy.

Today nobody in my house wanted to be dancing.  This is what they did want to be doing...

 

And so that is what we did.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I love this artist I found on Pinterest.  Click the image to see her portfolio.
Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity was actually for us as the adults.  The instruction was to happily talk about the activities you're doing.  Ask questions like "Isn't it fun to...?" and  "Wasn't it great to...?"The idea is that anytime we interact with our child we should be helping them recognize what they're are thinking and feeling so it becomes a habit for them as they grow.  

At first I thought, "Of course.  Isn't that common sense?"  Initially I was thinking about it in terms of needing to teach them what they are feeling.  But, after I contemplated it a little while I came back to the thought that children are born with inherent joy and happiness.  I'm encouraging it in my teaching, but I'm not introducing anything new.  

My role as parent is to show them that all these activities, indeed anything I do, is making me happy.  In other words, teach by example.  Children live in the moment and exude joy in their total attention to what they're doing.  As they grow, if they see me enjoying the little things all around me and the activities I'm involved in, that interest in life will continue growing with them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charts and Puzzles

First, I want to clarify my opening thought from yesterday.  I realized today that the "rut" stems from my lack of preparing for school beforehand.  It doesn't surprise me-I'm nothing if not a procrastinator. My homework is to make being organized and ready a priority.


We had a lot of fun in school today.  The Teaching Your Children Joy activity today introduced Beck to charting.  I was a little nervous that he wouldn't understand the concept, but he caught on quick and even put his own spin on it.

Back to the senses, the top of the chart is the 5 senses

The side of the chart is 5 random items Beck and I chose

Start the charting, identifying which senses you can use on each item

What made me laugh and smile?  
As I was cleaning up I realized Beck was singing his chart to me. 
 Here's a little snippet:
video

Instead of a craft today, Beck and I did puzzles together.  I scored huge at our local thrift stores today, finding these great puzzles and the uncut felt games as well as a few other things. 

 We spent an extra half hour doing puzzles than we normally would for school and it was worth every minute!

Monday, October 24, 2011

School Blah Already?

Beck is still loving school, but I'm already in a rut.  Definitely going to have to get over that...

This week for school we're using this preschool pack from 1+1+1=1.  Today Beck LOVED working on the page of patterns.
Pumpkin Fun

Here's an update on our Changing Autumn Leaves poster, five weeks into Fall.

And today we had fun painting Halloween Rocks which Beck calls his "Halloween Cars that only come out at Halloween."  (This was our version of the idea we saw at Craft Gossip)

As for today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity, it took a lot of creativity on Mom's part.  Still working on the physical joys, we tried making letters with our bodies.  With just the two of us it took a lot of bending and turning.  It'd be a lot easier if you were able to gather several kids for this activity.  Regardless of how many you have assembled, it makes it fun for the kids to form their letters in front of a mirror (we were mirror-less, but used our reflections in the tv-that was Beck's idea!).  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No School On the Weekends

Hope you're enjoying this crisp fall weekend.  When you have some downtime, check out this great article with activity ideas for focusing on the senses...

Developing Brains: Laying the Pathways to Learning

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Great To Be Able To Hear

We have cousins at our house today that are almost the exact same ages as Beck and Peyton.  It was fun to have them join us for school (and an eye-opener to the social skills that Beck and I still need to work on).

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity focused on the sense of hearing.  I found this website with sound effects and had the kids guess what noises they were hearing.  Check them out here:


For the most part they thought this was a very funny activity; even if it took awhile to understand that they weren't going to see the noise on the computer screen.  Their favorite sounds were definitely under the heading, "Bodily Functions."

And then for fun we made Halloween puffball creatures.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Isn't It Interesting?

Of all the weird or unusual things I convince my kids to do, wearing a blindfold is where they absolutely draw the line.

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity was to identify objects using taste, smell, touch, and hearing.  No seeing. 

It did not go smoothly.  I don't think I'll be blindfolding Beck again anytime soon...

Appreciating What We Have

Yesterday's activity from Teaching Your Children Joy involved trying to do normal things while pretending we were missing certain body parts.  For example:

  • Tape your thumb and forefinger together.  Then try to pick up a penny or open a jar of peanut butter.
  • Make a fist with your hand and then try to put on your shoe.
  • Try to walk up/down stairs without bending your knees.
  • Plug your nose and try to smell something fragrant (I used something unrecognizable so Beck wouldn't react before he'd tried to smell it.  Shrimp paste did the trick!)
  • Cover your ears and try to hear what's going on around you.
Beck thought most of these activities were hilarious.  He giggled and giggled.  On a serious note, though, it led smoothly into a conversation about people who are different from us and who's body parts don't always work like ours do.  We talked about being blind or deaf, about having arms or legs that don't work or are missing.  It was a nice conversation to help prepare Beck for encountering people different than him and understanding that all people have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Part of the Body is Our Senses

Today we talked about the five senses.  It was a fun review for Beck and it was a great opportunity to teach Peyton parts of the body.  He loves to point at his mouth, nose, ears, eyes, and hands.

After dancing the "Hokey, Pokey" again (it's total chaos, but my kids have been begging for it since we first did it the other day) we decided to take a walk to the park and use our senses along the way.

We saw the leaves were changing colors and heard them rustling in the wind.  
The wind felt chilly on our skin and we could see it blowing the American flag.
This mailbox was our favorite site along the way:
We heard trucks and vans, wind chimes, and the stroller wheels going through water.
We saw the neighbor's horses and then smelled them, too.
We stopped to smell roses and a lot of other flowers.
We felt flower petals, sticks, the cold metal playground equipment, and wood chips in our shoes.
We tasted water in the fountain and our snacks when we got back home.

(We've scheduled the ultimate in sensory activities for tomorrow night when we'll cut open our Halloween pumpkins for carving.  Is there anything more potent than the initial smell of fresh pumpkin?  And what affects our sense of touch more than squishing your fingers through gooey cold pumpkin innards!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Learning from Skeletons

This post may contain affiliate links.

Halloween is the perfect time to be learning about and celebrating the body!  Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity is to make a body puzzle that will help your child learn the names and placement of body parts.  A few weeks ago I'd bought a foam skeleton and it worked perfectly to use it today!


We added googly eyes and a bright red heart to make the skeleton a little less creepy.  We identified everything visible from the skull down to the toes first on the skeleton and then on ourselves.  It turned out to be a great lesson as I found out that B was confused about which is the elbow and which is the shoulder.


Once assembled, the real fun began! 
 B was still making his skeleton dance and groove hours later, and when his dad got home from work it was the only thing B wanted to show him.

Check out this educational foam skeleton puzzle for more learning fun!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Great Children's Games

I love that so many activity suggestions in Teaching Your Children Joy are simple and classic.  Yesterday and today's activities were games that everyone knows, yet I have never gotten around to playing them with my boys.  We have now, with mixed reactions.

Yesterday we played Simon Says.  I thought it would be great to teach body parts to my younger one, and directions to my older one.  What really happened is that Peyton walked away immediately and Beck HATED it because he was so bored.  This is definitely a game we're going to have to try again when we have a larger group of people to play.

Today we did the "Hokey Pokey" with much better results.  My boys love music and dancing, and the "Hokey Pokey" lets you be completely goofy.  We LOVED it! 

 Why not crank up your computer volume and dance along!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Joy of the Body

I'm so excited to be moving into Chapter 2 of Teaching Your Children Joy!  First, it means I actually started something and stuck to it.  Second, because the activities look really fun and a lot of them I think I will be able to do with both Beck (4) and Peyton (19 months).

We'll be back tomorrow with the first activity.  Until then, here's a quote that's feeding my motivation...

"First, we must help them to try physical things...Then, beyond that, we must help them find and concentrate on the particular physical things that they do especially well."

Friday, October 7, 2011

The End of Spontaneity

I can't believe I've made it through the first section of the Teaching Your Children Joy book without quitting or getting completely frustrated!  Rather, it's been such a learning and bonding experience already!

If you've read over the "Notes" page, you're already familiar with the way each chapter is arranged.  At the end of each chapter is a larger activity idea to implement permanently as a family.  As we head into the weekend, let me share the first of these activities with you.  Ponder how you can make it work in your home and continue having spontaneous fun with your little ones!

Create a treasure chest for special surprises.  Have a special lock on it that only mommy or daddy knows the combination.  Choose special times to give your child a treasure!  Ideas could be candy, an item from nature, a sponge to help with the cleaning, a special toy or book.

I'd love to hear how you've been able to implement these first lessons
 on spontaneity in your own family!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Box of Surprises

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:

Create a box labeled "Surprises."
Peek in and act surprised.
Take one thing out at a time and have fun making a show of it.

Surprise suggestions:
Label a box "Yummy, Yummy" with a small snack inside
Label small containers "Big or Little" with handkerchiefs or scarves
Box labeled "Watch Out" with a suction cup that will pop in the air

What ideas do you have to fill your Surprise Box?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Memories

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:

Tell your children some of the silly things you remember doing when you were a child.  
Talk about how fun it is to be surprised or to surprise someone else.  
Tell them how much better kids often are at being silly because adults forget how.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Every Kid Loves Games

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:

Play "Duck, Duck, Goose", London Bridge, or other anticipatory games

What are your children's favorite games?

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