Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How's the Weather?

It's freezing at our house today and the weather report calls for 100mph winds coming over the mountains before morning.  We decided to forego today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity and play games instead.  Maybe if it's nice where you live, you can get out and do some exploring for us!

Take a nature walk.  
Ask your kids what they can see and hear.
Point out "nature" and "non-nature" items.

What did you see?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Round Two with the Senses

Remember this chart?
Click the chart photo for a reminder
We re-visited it today...just flipped it over and traced the lines...this time charting how we use our senses in nature.
Of the items in nature Beck chose (trees, mountains, dirt, deer, rain, & tarantulas) we decided that the only one you can taste is rain.  I decided to keep my mouth closed and not put any ideas in his head that you could probably eat dirt or give him a lesson on where meat comes from...

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Joy of the Earth

My initial thought in starting this chapter was this:

"Studying nature in December?  The world looks so boring and blah!"

I've changed my tune.  Of course the earth is beautiful in all it's variations seasons.  And, of course, looking at it through my child's eyes is helping me to see that beauty.

First things first, today we put the final leaf on our Autumn picture.  
We've been collecting one leaf every Monday since September and studying the ways they change as we get closer to winter.  The leaves are gone and there is snow on the mountains.  Winter is pretty close to being here...

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:

Create a telescope and then use it to help your child focus on specific items or sounds in nature.

Beck LOVED this activity, mostly because now he has a telescope, but also for the things he got to see.  He convinced himself the telescope was helping him to see things bigger.  He looked at the dirt on the mountains, the pine needles under the tree, and the cactus in the garden.  

He even let me have a turn...

Studying the earth together is going to be fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week & A New Focus

I like school weeks right before a holiday when we put the normal workbooks away and do something a little different.  This week we're using the Thanksgiving Pre-K pack I found at Over the Moon.
Beck especially loves the puzzles.

For today's craft/activity Beck & Peyton painted Indian Corn (an idea I saw at I Heart Crafty Things). 

And to make the week even more exciting, we've started a new chapter in Teaching Your Children Joy.  The last of the Physical Joys, this month we're focusing on Nature.  With all the other busy things going on this week, we're just going to take it easy.  Maybe we'll...

~ Look at picture books of animals, habitats, and plants
~Make an extra effort to point out things we're seeing outdoors
~And even though it's getting really cold, bundle up and take a nature walk around our neighborhood

What adventures are you having with your kids this holiday week?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to entry #34 (chosen by!  
Please check your email and respond so I can get your prize right out to you.  

And thank you to all who entered.  I look forward to seeing you around here!

Friday, November 18, 2011

No School On the Weekends-Family Play Time

Finally, the last Teaching Your Children Joy activity focusing on the body and it's a fun one!

Family Play Time and Recreation
Come up with a way for everyone in your family to have input and initiative on family activities.
Maybe it's slips of paper in a jar.
Or a poster on the wall.
Or dry-erase markers on the refrigerator.
Or a rotating schedule every Monday evening.

Whatever it is, make sure everybody's involved and no idea is too outrageous.
Have fun together, run around together, lose your breath, and laugh together.

Now tell me, how are you going to start doing this today?

Finishing Up The Joy of the Body

I'm really eager to get on to the next chapter in Teaching Your Children Joy, but today we're looking at second to last activity focusing on the body...making good food choices.

I'm lucky that both my boys love fruits and vegetables.  Beck's friends look at him so strange when he shows up for a playdate with a stalk of broccoli as his chosen snack, and last week he and Peyton got in a knock-down, drag-out fight in the front yard over an entire crown of the hearty green vegetable.  They definitely like their cookies and candy, but are just as content nibbling on bell peppers, an apple, or fresh berries.
Here are some of the ways I've helped them learn about healthy foods and "special snack" foods:

  • As I'm preparing dinner I have no problem letting them eat the vegetables as I cut them up.  I used to get upset thinking they would ruin their appetites, but then decided the important part was that they were eating the good stuff.  It doesn't matter to me anymore if they're eating it at the table or while we're cooking.
  • Awhile back Target had cute divided lunch trays in the $1 sections.  This tip is more helpful for me than for them, but having four different sections I have to fill at lunchtime has done wonders in getting them a well-rounded meal.  The portion sizes are right and it's fun for them to eat their way around the plate. (Check out these cute trays at Target and Amazon)
  • Grocery Shopping is a great time to teach about different types of food.  I like to cut images out of the weekly flyers and then give a few to Beck that he can "shop" for at the grocery store.  He's getting good at exploring the produce section!  
A fun activity:  
Gather the weekly grocery flyers, a brown paper bag, some scissors and glue. 

 Let your little ones cut out their favorite foods and glue them onto the bag. 

 Great opportunity for recycling, 
and now they'll have their very own shopping bag to fill on your next grocery run!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning Through Games

I discovered the PERC (Parents Education Resource Center) at my local library yesterday.  It's a small room in the basement of the library crammed FULL of toys, games, and educational materials.  I really mean crammed and I really mean full.  It was overwhelming.  I'm quite certain they've saved decades of educational materials and I'm extremely excited to dig around for flannel boards and file folder games to fit my lessons perfectly (and those just to get started...).

Today we played one of our newly borrowed games. It was educational for both Beck and me.  Here's how:

The Dice: My instinct was to shout out the number immediately after Beck rolled.  I started thinking about how I look at the dots and automatically recognize the number by their alignment, but he hasn't learned that yet.  I started making a conscious effort to stay quiet and let him count each dot individually to determine how many spaces he could go.  As we neared the end of our second round I noticed that there were numbers he was starting to recognize by shape without needing to count.

The Spaces: My husband and I have never been too strict about how Beck moves spaces when we're playing games, but today it felt right to let him know there are actual rules and ways to know how far he's supposed to go.  I guess it was really getting him to understand what "spaces" actually are.  He learned how to start counting at the very next space from where he landed last time and that each box represents one number or "space".  When we started he was scooting his piece random distances, but when we ended he was counting spaces just as well as he was counting dots.

The Creativity:  This is what Beck is continually teaching me.  At the end of our first game he wanted to play again and he wanted us both to have two playing pieces.  I assumed he meant we would each take two turns and move our pieces individually.  But just like when he taught me playing Candy Land, he had his own ideas again today.  Yes, he wanted us to both have two pieces, but he wanted them to travel together.  I got a little more excited to play another drawn-out round when I realized it was going to take us twice as long!

Also on my mind while we played was last night's episode of NBC's Parenthood.  (If you've never watched it, you definitely need to catch up on the back episodes and catch up.  It touches home every single week!)  In the episode one of the family's was confronted with the need to teach their 6-year-old how to lose graciously. I was glad today when I made it to the finish line first both times and Beck took it in stride.  The second time he kept playing and even enforced his own lose-a-turns.  He's pretty amazing.

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:  
Look at photos of people in varying degrees of fitness
 and talk about what things help us to stay healthy and in good shape.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Treat Your Body Like A...Car (Preschool Comparison Activity)

It's our last week of activities for the Joy of the Body chapter in Teaching Your Children Joy.  I have to admit I'm kind of ready for this section to come to an end.  A lot of the activities were things B had done before and we both struggled to be interested with quite a few of them.  Having said that, however, today we had a lot of fun.  I got an unusual burst of motivation and creativity and came up with this...


Today's and tomorrow's activities focus on taking good care of our bodies and today we did that by comparing our bodies to a car.  Rather than just talking about it, I found images for each of the ideas written in the book.

First we looked at a clean car and a dirty car...

Preschool ActivityPreschool Activity

Then we compared them to a healthy body and an unhealthy body...

Dirty CarUnhealthy Body

I used these outlines for the base of the poster...

[B&W outline of child]    Free car coloring sheets for your kids

To compare cars and the body, we looked first at what a car needs for each of the categories below, and then figured out what that would be for a human person. I had printed these images for B to glue on the appropriate side of his chart...

Good Food
ComparisonHealthy Eating
A car needs gasoline, a person needs fruits and vegetables.

Washing the Outside
ComparisonPreschool Comparison
A car goes to a carwash, and a person takes a bath.

Washing the Inside
Seat Tribu Concept - Interior drawingHomeschool
We vacuum to keep the inside of the car clean and brush our teeth to keep our mouths clean.

Keeps Things Running Well
  We take a car to the mechanic for repairs and take ourselves to a doctor when we are sick.

Rest & Sleep
The car rests in the garage at night.  Our bodies rest while we are sleeping.

B cut out the pictures, we talked about what they represented, and then he glued them on his poster (with a lot of being silly and trying to trick me by pretending to put everything on it's opposite side). 

 Most important thing? 
 To both have a fun time learning!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Kids Think I'm Crazy

There is a scene in the movie About A Boy where Hugh Grant's character is singing onstage in front of an entire grade school, so lost in the moment that he has no idea he's completely making a fool of himself.
Click image to watch this video on YouTube
That happened to me today...

If you'll remember, a couple weeks ago I tried to get my kids and their friends to dance with me for our Teaching Your Children Joy activity and they were not having it.  Today's activity was to create a "body band" by exploring all the ways our bodies can make music.  Listening to our kid music station on Pandora, Beck, Peyton, and I were laughing while we clapped, snapped, clicked our tongues, and stomped our feet along to the beats.

Then, without knowing I was doing it, I got up off the couch and started dancing.  Not just moving my feet and shaking my bum, but full on joyful amateur ballerina dancing.  It was almost the length of an entire song before I realized the boys had become quiet and still.  They were just staring at me...confused and worried looks painted across their faces.

I bowed out quickly.  Because I'm not a dancer, and yet there I'd been lost in the moment and learning my own lesson that we can find joy in the unexpected abilities of our bodies.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our Bodies: Big and Small

Yesterday's Teaching Your Children Joy activity taught how our body parts can help us to be big or small.  It was a fun opportunity to get down on the floor with Beck, look him in the eye, and have fun playing together.  Here are a few of the big/small discoveries we made...

Moving our legs, knees, and toes

Using our Arms, Shoulders, Elbows, Hands, & Fingers 

Stretching and Bending our entire bodies

I can't wait for Peyton to wake up so we can play "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes!"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Education Mirroring Life

We did do a full school session today-math, letters, cut and paste; the first time this week...but then Beck asked if we could learn about motorcycle sidecars for school.  Resisting all my natural instincts to squash his joy and excitement, I cautiously said yes and then got to work figuring out how this lesson would come together.
You see, he got this new toy at our local thrift store today.   We made an agreement that he could have it if he didn't "be mean to Peyton" the whole time we were there.  He was the quietest boy he's ever been!  As soon as we'd paid for it, the whole story changed; his imagination for sidecars has not taken a moment's break!

For the lesson we talked a little bit about how the sidecar changes a solo motorcycle.  For example, 3 wheels instead of 2 and easier to balance but harder to steer.  Find a lot of great information here.

We loved these unique sidecars...
After looking around online, I discovered the sport of Motorcycle Sidecar Racing.  Absolutely insane!  Yet the first thing Beck told his dad about it was that our whole family was going to get motorcycle sidecars and then do motorcycle sidecar racing!!!

The great news is the sidecar race circuit comes to our local racetrack.  The bad news is we just missed the races and won't be able to see them here for another year.  Beck says that will be plenty of time to practice.  I guess I hope I get to be the driver...

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy activity:
Create an obstacle course and practice balancing, climbing, & flexibility


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