Monday, January 16, 2012

Interesting Kids Through Story

One of the best ways to intrigue a child is by reading them a story.  Each turn of a book page draws them further into a world of make believe (or reality) and wraps them in interest to see how it will end.  Here are a few of my children's favorites:

pout_fish
Rudyard Kipling - THE JUNGLE BOOKS
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Charlotte's Web

What stories are your kids loving?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fun Weekend Game Q&A

I've been trying hard to focus on my kids' own creativity this week and haven't made it much farther in the Teaching Your Children activities.  To catch up this weekend, we'll be practicing how to ask a question:
When it's convenient and fun, name a category and ask your child to form a question about it. 

 For example, if the category is food, they may ask,
 "What food are we having for dinner?" or "How do grapes grow?" 

 Make the game spontaneous, encourage them, and then be available with the answers.  
If it feels comfortable, introduce them to the question words,
"What," "When," "Where," "Who," and "How."

Have fun and come back to let me know what questions you heard!

Monday, January 9, 2012

You Want to Know What?

Today's Teaching Your Children Joy focus is on asking and answering questions.  Specifically, listening and being available for all the questions your child is going to ask you throughout the day.

When I'm doing this, paying attention that is, I'm really really good at answering Beck and Peyton's questions.  That's how we ended up studying and learning about motorcycle sidecar racing.  I like to take their questions and interest-of-the-day and find activities and learning opportunities.  The days when I'm not doing it-when I'm preoccupied with cleaning (or shopping or the radio or the computer or a book or just myself) are always the days when I let myself be annoyed and the kids get bored, having taken my cues perfectly.

I'm trying harder each day to listen to the questions my kids are asking me.  Step into my world today:

"Mama, how are seals and walruses the same?"  
"Where do they live?"
 "Can I go see them?" 
 "And what about polar bears?" 
 "Why do they swim in cold water?" 
 "Can't they swim in warm water?"
"Do hospitals use red and white?" 
"So, then, that helicopter is going to the hospital?"
"Can I have strawberries?" 
"Can I have the mango things in the freezer?" 
 "Can I have a banana?" 
"Can I have a graham cracker?"
"When is Daddy coming home?" 
"Does he know I miss him?"


And finally,

"What are capers?"  I needed them for a recipe, but then decided not to buy them when I saw the price.  Two aisles further through the store Beck was picking up everything at eye level asking, "Is this capers?"  After explaining that he was holding jalapenos or salsa or tuna fish, I realized I needed to take him back to the aisle with capers and introduce them to him.

It was inconvenient.  I was a little annoyed.  But it was an important moment where I could choose to be a grumpy lady shopping with a boy or I could be my son's mom, teaching him something he wanted to know. We're having capers tonight for dinner.

What questions did you answer for your kids today?

Friday, January 6, 2012

1st of the Mental Joys: Interest & Curiosity

I'm here!  
Wow, what a struggle it has been to get re-motivated after the holidays!

Over Christmas break, Beck and I finished up the Earth chapter of Teaching Your Children Joy.  That also finished up the focus on Physical Joys.  We're moving now into the Mental Joys, beginning with Interest and Curiosity.

Kids are, of course, incredibly curious about the world around them.  The activities in this chapter help us to continue encouraging that in them, but also to teach them that they have the ability to magnify their interest and curiosity into creative and intelligent activities and accomplishments.

It has me reflecting back to the first focus my kids and I worked on with this blog: Spontaneity.    Today's activity helped me do that as well.  Here is the activity, and then how it's worked for me...

Watch your kids from afar.  What are they watching?  Watch that.  
Resist the urge to pull them out of their world.

First off, I'm 100% guilty of the latter part.  Over and over I will be aware that Beck is creating some imaginary story with the toys he is playing with, but I see a dirty sock on the floor beside him and insist that he pick it up.  Or he and Peyton will finally be playing together nicely, but I'm getting antsy and decide to load them in the car for a pointless day of errands or shopping to satisfy my own need for mind-numbing.  I interrupt their world of fun and creativity with my impatience and boredom.  

Sitting back and watching was a hard hard thing but absolutely worth it!  At McDonald's I let Peyton take FOREVER eating because in between bites and chewing he was watching every single person that walked by.  He saw the lights and the paintings on the wall.  He saw what was happening outside.

I finally figured out why my bathroom is always soaking wet, too!  Beck and Peyton have discovered the sink drain also fits onto the faucet.  It cracks them up to see it spraying.
After a day of watching and observing, the activity wore off on me.  In the morning Beck and Peyton were pretending a blanket was a boat on the open sea.  I remembered we had some sea-theme stickers and so for school I pulled them out for Beck to make a picture.  While I was still watching instead of interjecting, my son became a poet...
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and then an author/illustrator...

video

Try it and find out what you've been missing!

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