Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lesson Plan : Week 13

MV - Memory Verse    CT - Character Trait    FP - Forest People    To see our resources click here

Posts Detailing Activities From This Week:

It's so nice to be back on schedule this week after our sick week last week!  If you look closely, you'll notice something different on Friday for math.  Last week one of our facebook followers shared with us her website, FUNancial Literacy, which is a site dedicated to teaching children to be responsible with money.  I checked out the site and it looks great!  They are still working on putting it all together, but one thing that is ready (and free!) is a short story with coloring pages geared for the youngest of children.  The story is called Saving Salvatore and is about a squirrel and what he does with his acorns.  The message is simple, but clear and profound, seemingly perfect for the preschool crowd =)   I'm excited to give it a try with my kids!  We already practice the principles that this website teaches, but I think my 3 yr old will be able to really understand the cute story of Saving Salvatore and my 1 yr old will love coloring the pictures!

What are you doing this week with your children?

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Holding Hands During Prayer

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My husband and I always used to hold hands when we prayed before a meal...then our first baby came along.  Then, more often than not, at least one of my hands was busy either bouncing our new baby to keep him quiet, nursing him, or reinserting his pacifier.  Welcome to a family of three =)  The bouncing turned into shushing and the nursing turned into peeking to make sure he wasn't grabbing for food on the table.  Enter baby #2.  At this point I had long forgotten about holding hands during prayer.  While focusing and actually partaking in prayer is the obvious goal during dinnertime prayer, I found that in realty my goal was just to maintain the quiet.

A month or so ago the kids and I were at a friends house to play and eat lunch.  Before we ate, our hostess asked us if we held hands when we prayed.  I replied, "No, but we sure can!"  While she thanked God for our lunch, I noticed that I wasn't having to peak to make sure that my children were sitting and not reaching and not distracting themselves or others by fidgeting.  How did I know these things? Because I was holding their hands!  Light bulb moment!

Needless to say, we tried this at home and haven't turned back =)  As a parent you can know so much about what your child is doing by simply holding their hand.  Obviously they could still be making faces or something like that, but with a small child they usually get 'squiggley' when they are doing something silly like that, so you can still tell by the movement of their hand if something is going on that shouldn't be.  Then, I find it so much easier to simply squeeze their hand if they are doing something wrong than to try to reach or motion or loudly whisper to get their attention while my poor husband is trying to pray.

After doing this just a time or two, my 1 1/2 yr old little girl caught on and asks to hold hands now when she sits down.  She usually has already grabbed at a few handfuls of food, so before everyone is even seated, she will reach her gooey hands out wide and say "ands? ands?"  Priceless for a mommy to watch =)

How do you handle prayer time in your house?  Do you have any tried and true tips that help parents and children be able to actually focus while someone is praying?

Happy Praying!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good Books Copywork - run, the, in, so

I'm so happy to finally be done with Christmas thank-yous and back to doing our Good Books copywork!  I briefly considered not coming back to this, because Trevor can sound out all the words left on the list, but I decided to keep with it, because it will hopefully help him get more familiar with the words and start to be able to recognize them without sounding out each letter (or letter combo).  Also, I do believe that there is something to be said about the method in The Writing Road to Reading, so I really do want to stick it out!

In case it is your first time visiting or you just need a reminder after a few months off, here is what these pages are all about...

I am putting together copywork pages for each of the spelling words we are learning this year.  These sheets are a marriage of two resources, The Writing Road to Reading and the 1000 Good Books  list at Classical Christian Homeschooling.  The spelling words are taken in order from the Writing Road to Reading and I have paired each one with a sentence from one of the books on the 1000 Good Books list.

These sheets are a great way practice the daily spelling word, gain greater proficiency in writing letters, and start to learn basic sentence structure (capital letter in the front, lowercase almost everywhere else, punctuation at the end, space between words, etc.)  Then you can sit down and enjoy reading the book that the sentence is taken from and have your child try to spot the sentence they just copied!

Previous weeks copywork packs:

This week's copywork pack:

Happy Writing!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Simple Winter Fun

If you have children that are anything like mine and you live in an area anything like mine (winters that actually keep you indoors for most of the time), then you are probably starting to feel a little cooped up about now and your children are probably starting to bounce on your couches a little too much =)

Well, I've been taking Trevor to a 3 year old boy's gymnastics class for the past few weeks and it sure is a great way to get the jumpies out in an appropriate place!  Most of the things they do there are to teach balance, hand-eye coordination, strength, and things like that.  One activity they do is hopscotch.  They practice doing "feet together, feet apart."  It's a great mental/physical combo activity for little ones, and even thought it's too cold to go outside and draw a hopscotch board on the ground with chalk, I thought I could create it indoors!  I'm sure that I am not the first mother to think of this idea, but I'll share in case you haven't seen it because we are having a really great time using it!

All you need is carpet, masking tape, and a ruler (if you want to be precise).  Here's with we came up with!

Have you ever done any fun things with masking tape on the floor for you kids?

Happy Hopping!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Lesson Plan Week 12

MV - Memory Verse,   CT - Character Trait,  FP - Forest People,  to see our resources click here

Sorry this is more of a "This is what we did this week" instead of a "This is what we are going to do this week."  There are just so many posts that I want to get up these days that  I wasn't able to do this one until today.  I guess that is a good problem =)

This is our first week back to our regular reading/writing lessons after taking time off to write "I'm thankful for you." notes at thanksgiving, celebrate advent, and then write thank you notes for Christmas gifts.  We had to get back up to speed on some of the sounds that letter combinations make, but other than that he really did well.  I'm so pleased with how his writing is coming along by just doing copywork.  He still is working on perfecting the 'angle' letters like K, V, and W, but other than that it's really good!  When we do writing, along with the copywork I give him a 'test' of sorts by asking him to write different words that we have learned in a special notebook (when we started, it was just writing letters).  This is neat because it challenges him to have to sound out the word and then think which letters (or letter combinations) make up the word, and lastly think of how to write the letters.  It's a great multi-step process for his little brain =)  Sine we do this all in one notebook, it's really neat to look back to September when his attempts at individual letters were mostly illegible and compare that to just a few short months later when all his letters are looking pretty good and he is actually putting them together to form words!  This teaching stuff is hard work, but it is so good!

What have you been learning with your children this week?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ray's Arithmetic in Action

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Earlier this year (after we got counting to 20 down =) I started using Ray's Arithmetic with my three year old.  If you're not familiar with Ray's, its a charming little set of textbooks from the 1870's that focuses on manipulative math that leads to mental math instead of today's common workbook mentality.  It helps the child learn the 'why' of math by using household items to work the problem for themselves, instead of just memorizing fact tables without gaining any actual understanding.  I love it because at only three years old, my son has been able to figure out every one of the questions in the lessons that we have done so far (we are up to lesson 11).  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division have all been touched on in simple ways that children can grasp by simply moving pegs (or apples, or rocks, or whatever!) around.

If you frequent this blog and have seen my lesson plans, you may have noticed that we do math two days a week.  I believe that Ray's suggests three days a week, but since Trevor is so young, I thought two was plenty enough.  Ray's suggests taking one lesson per week, visiting it anew the first day and then going back to it subsequent days to see if the child's comprehension has deepened.  Playing games that stimulate the 'math mind' are encouraged for days that do not officially have a math lesson.

I want to show you an example of what one lesson in Ray's New Primary Arithmeticwould look like...

There is a picture in the book, but I printed out my own so it would be larger, clearer, and able to manipulate.

The questions would go like this (I modified a few since my picture is slightly different than theirs in the book):
  • In the picture, how many birds are sitting in the tree?
  • How many birds are flying in the air?
  • There are three flowers on one branch and three flowers on another branch: how many flowers are there together on both branches?

Then the manipulation would start, looking like this...

Trevor moving the birds around to solve the questions below.

The questions would go like this:
  • How many birds are two birds and five birds?
  • How many are seven birds and four birds?
  • So, how many are 2 and 5? 7 and 4?
  • How many birds are five birds and two birds?
  • How many are four birds and seven birds?
  • So, how many are 5 and 2? 4 and 7?

You can see how it gets them to start learning different things about numbers (like 2+5 is the same as 5+2) in a simple, fun, doable way.  The goal is that eventually the child will naturally move from having to manipulate objects to solve a problem, to being able to visualize the solution.  After doing this for a few months now, I have seen that Trevor no longer has to point to objects as he counts them and he is starting to be able to very simple problems without moving anything around (ex. If John has two apples and his sister gives him one more, how many apples does John have now?)

I think it's a really neat way to do math.  Technically the Rays Arithmetic Series goes up to 8th grade (I don't know how long each individual child would take to go through it) and is less than $80 for the entire set that can be used over and over for subsequent children (no workbook pages that need to be replaced!) so for me it was worth the gamble and so far it has been totally worth it!  Or if you are comfortable not having a physical book, you have get the entire thing for FREE online!  Since the book is so old, it is public domain.  You could just print out lessons as you need them or read to your child off of your eReader if you have one.  Here is the link to the free online book.

Have you ever used the Rays Arithmetic Series with your children?  I'd love to hear how it worked for you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Science Activity - Texture Hunt

Last week for our Sid the Science Kid activity we went on a texture hunt around the house.  We first talked about our skin.  I showed Trevor (and Mackenzie =) how skin is all over out bodies...on our hands, our legs, and even our faces!  We talked about how we are able to feel things with our skin.  Next, I brought out four items from around the house that were examples of different kinds of textures...


The kids took a minute to explore the different items and say how they thought they felt.

We explored how even the skin on different parts of our body could feel textures!

Now it was their turn to find other items around the house that had different textures.

If this activity sounds fun to you and your kids, check out this and other Sid the Science Kid episodes!

Have you done a texture hunt or other fun science activity with your children?  I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Exploring!

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Design on a Dime

I regret to inform you that this eBook is no longer for sale.  Please do still check out Growing Home blog if you haven't already, it is a lovely place to be encouraged! 

Do you have a blog, but wish it looked a little more professional?  Do you have a blog that you wish looked a little more professional, but don't have the money to hire a designer?  Jacinda, from Growing Home, has the perfect solution for you.  She recently created an eBook that tells you everything you need to know to design your own blog without spending any money!  If you think it's too good to be true, check out Growing Home because just this past week she redesigned it using only techniques found in her eBook!  Her blog is beautiful and professional looking and yours can be too!  Here is what she has to say about what you will find in her eBook...

In Blog Design On A Dime, I will walk you through every step it takes to create a blog header, button, and social media icons without the use of expensive photo editing software.
You'll learn how to create drop shadows, circle buttons, and position elements for maximum impact.  You'll know all about color codes, how to make your own grab box, and link your Facebook page to an icon you make for it.  You'll learn how to create a properly sized header and how to center the elements on your sidebar.

If that sounds like something that you benefit you and your blog, check out Blog Design On A Dime, you won't be disappointed!


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