Friday, December 12, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
But this year, I came up with an idea to use all four kids' artwork on one card.
And it's such a simple way to spend time with them, nevermind the fine motor skills they're developing!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
These were just too cute not to share, and it's such a cute craft idea for all ages, I had to blog about it.
Within two days, two of my children, 4 year old Luke, and 10 year old Analisa, brought home from school these adorable Thanksgiving turkeys. Using basically the same materials -- colored tissue paper, brown construction paper, and glue -- these two age groups created these fun turkeys.
Luke's turkey (on the left), involved his cutting out a pre-drawn turkey head, and then gluing it on a paper plate (with the center cut out), and then gluing several square-shaped pieces of tissue paper around the plate, like a wreath. He even colored in a yellow beak, and a couple of eyes.
Analisa, who is in 4th grade, took her project a bit further, and after cutting out her turkey breast and head and gluing it onto a piece of construction paper, she then "pinched" each piece of colored tissue paper before gluing it around her turkey, giving it a "feather" look.
A simple craft idea that kids of all ages can do! As a mother of 6, I know I'm always looking for ways to keep everyone entertained at the same time!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
4 year old Luke's preschool is a firm believer in sharing time with our children; so much so, in fact, that several times a year his teacher sends home a Family Coupon Book that contains "coupons," each coupon listing a simple activity we can do with our child just to spend some time with him/her.
I'm listing this month's coupon ideas, because I think it shows how simple it is to share a few minutes of time with our pre-schoolers:
- Make and drink some hot chocolate together
- Make and eat some popcorn together
- Draw a picture together
- Sing a song together
- Play at the park
- Match mittens or socks together
- Bake some cookies (and eat them, too!)
- Write a letter to a friend, and take it to the post office
- Play a game together
- Set the table together
In spite of the crazy, hectic daily schedules we all call our lives, I've found through these coupon ideas that it's really a simple thing to spend some time with our pre-schoolers (oh, and you get to eat a lot, too!).
Visit http://www.MyLittleRembrandt.com for some fun and creative ways to use your child's artwork as unique gifts this Christmas.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I won't say I never have bad days (just ask my kids!), but I try to be organized and that has been the key to my "success."
But busy as I am as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I've learned that we can teach our children through everyday activites that only take a few extra minutes of our time, especially if we include the "teaching" with the everyday activities that we're doing anyway!
Take laundry (PLEASE!!! Take ALL my laundry! I feel like I'm drowning in it some days!). 4-year old Luke likes to help me fold laundry, so I ask his assistance by having him sort the clothes. He makes a pile for each sibling and one for mom and dad, and one for the towels. You can't believe how much this actually helps me! Then when I start folding, I take one person at a time, and it seems so much simpler this way. Luke then likes to take his siblings' folded laundry and place it neatly on each person's bed (for that person to put away when s/he gets home from school). He also takes his folded clothes, which we've sorted into "shirts" "pants" "underwear & socks" and "pajamas" and he puts these away in the correct drawers in his bedroom.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Admittedly, I often have to shoo him away because I'm in a hurry or because, quite honestly, it's not the easiest thing in the world to cook dinner when a 4 year old is measuring and stirring and helping!
But when I have time, he's so eager to jump up on a chair and help me read the recipe, and measure the ingredients, and stir everything together, then open the oven door while I put our creation into the oven.
Sometimes while we're working together, we talk about "WHY?"
- "Why do you think we only put a little bit of salt in this recipe?"
- "Why do you think we don't put peanut butter in the mashed potatoes?"
- "Why do think we have to cook the lasagna before we eat it?"
We also talk about colors (what color is the pepper, what color is the flour, what color is the corn? why is the potato brown on the outside, and white on the inside?) and textures (does the egg feel gooey or soft?) and smells (why does sugar taste sweet, but smell so bad? Does the onion smell sweet?).
He's always so proud when the family sits down to eat a meal that he made. And I have to admit, after having the opportunity to spend that time with him, and seeing the smile on his face and the pride in his stance, my food always tastes a bit better.
If your little chef needs an apron, check out the designs available at http://www.MyLittleRembrandt.com/customaprons.html. You can even send me your child's artwork, and I can put that on an apron for you (or I can put it on an apron for Grandma!)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Luke played "Follow the Leader" at pre-school today, and wanted to teach me how, so I let him lead the way.
The version of "Follow the Leader" we played was similar to "Simon Says" except that we were walking, and I was following behind him. We walked through the house, with him announcing "raise your hand" and I dutifully complied. "Jump on one foot!" "Turn around" "Scratch your head" "Look in the mirror and make a funny face" "Touch your toes" "Jump 4 times" (I told you 4 is his favorite number.) "Lay down on the floor and roll around" "Do a somersault" "Jump on the bed" (yes, I allowed this one today, for the sake of the game). We had such a good time, we collapsed into giggles (a mother's favorite sound).
Then it was my turn to lead, so I threw in some "rights" and "lefts", such as "Raise your left hand" and "Touch your right ear." Since Luke was behind me, he was able to mimic my moves, rather than standing in front of me, when his "rights" and "lefts" would have been mirrored.
I have a feeling this we'll be playing this game frequently this winter...
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Luke was excited to be riding on a float, waving his American flag, and singing patriotic songs.
I'm certain he didn't truly grasp the importance of what he was doing, but I hope that as he grows older, and learns more about his grandparents, and his uncles, and some of his older cousins, and the sacrifices they made for his freedom, that he will learn to appreciate the veterans, and will wave his flag with heartfelt pride.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I decided to break away from colors, and focus more on other physical characteristics, so I went with STICKY, SMOOTH, ROUGH, SOFT, FLAT, COLD and WARM.
I was really curious to see what he would find for each of these physical descriptions, and he didn't let me down!
I think the most fun was sticky....when he opened a piece of Halloween candy, put it in his mouth, then spit it out on his hands, announcing that his hands were now sticky!
He found the outside of the refrigerator smooth, and the inside cold. The top of his dresser was flat. His blankie was soft. The basket on the table was deemed rough.
He wanted to play more, so I threw in some shapes (triangle, rectangle, oval, circle, and square).
It's always so fun to play with our kids, and when they are learning in the process, it makes it even more rewarding.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Knowing that the cold rainy weather is on its way as early as tomorrow, when my pre-schooler hopped off the school bus today, I suggested that we sit out on the front porch for several minutes and enjoy the weather while he showed me his papers and told me about his adventures at school that day.
While we were talking, the falling leaves from the tree out front caught Luke's eye. He remarked, "Look, it's still Fall!" Which led naturally to a discussion about seasons, and that seasons are many weeks long, not like holidays, which are only one day. Our discussion then turned to things that we see in Fall, and the next thing you know, we had a list of things, including yellow leaves, and red leaves, and green leaves, and orange leaves, and nuts that fall from the trees, and sticks (small sticks, medium sticks, big sticks), and even rocks (small rocks, medium rocks, and big rocks).
With our list in one hand, and a bag in the other, we set off on a scavenger hunt to see if we could find everything on our list.
I think Luke most enjoyed finding the "big stick" which he insisted on dragging back to the house (although he was disappointed that I wouldn't let him bring it inside!).
When we returned to the porch, we looked through our treasures, and commented on the different sizes and shapes and colors.
It was a fun game, and Luke asked me if we could play it again tomorrow. Since the weather is turning cold and rainy, I'm thinking an inside scavenger hunt might be fun.....
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008
As my kids have watched their television shows (i.e., Disney channel primarily), they have been told over and over about how important voting is in our country. In fact, I think it was the Disney Channel's website that actually had an online "election" where the kids could vote for either presidential candidate.
At school, my three grade schoolers (2d, 4th, and 6th) are voting in a mock election.
Voting is in the air!
Fortunately, we live in a very rural community, so when we arrived there were only 6 people in line ahead of us. As we walked through the line, the judges were so gracious as I explained to the kids about how they first ask for my identification, so they can first be sure it's me, and also to "cross my name off" because each person only gets one vote.
We stepped further down the line, where a very patient and kind judge explicitly explained the electronic voting procedure (we didn't have the option of a paper ballot this year), how to input the "secret 4-digit code" and then how to turn the wheel to select each candidate before pressing the vote button.
When at last we stepped into the voting booth, the kids gathered around, and watched closely to be sure I didn't make a mistake and vote for the wrong candidate! After all my selections were made, I pressed the "cast ballot" button, and we all double-checked the printed ballot that appeared, then, with their hands all on mine, I pressed the "cast ballot" button one last time and our vote was cast.
The kids then proudly wore their "I voted" stickers to school, and couldn't wait to share their story with all their friends.
On the way to school, I explained to them how privileged we are in America to have the right to vote. But I also explained to them that whichever candidate is elected, he will be our President, and even though that may not be the man we selected, he is definitely a person worthy to be president, and we should respect that he is in that position because of the "will of the people."
I just hope the excitement they are feeling today will stick with them as they mature into adulthood, and they will never forget that the freedom to vote for our candidate of choice is one of the many things that makes our country great.
Monday, November 3, 2008
But, now it's time to get back to blogging and talking about fun pre-school learning activities!
Luke (who is now 4 and attending pre-school 3 hours a day) is growing and learning so much! But we always have time to squeeze in some learning in our everyday activities.
Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
- We were at a doctor's office last week, and Luke noticed the office number "4" on one of the doors (He's really into the number "4" now that he IS four!). We spent a few minutes walking up and down the hall pointing to each number and saying them out loud.... "1" "2" "3" "4" "5"!
- Luke loves to sort things, so when I unload the dishwasher, I place all the silverware (that's not too sharp) on the table, and let him sort them, then put them away (this has also become one of his "chores" and he receives a weekly allowance for helping out).
- We went for a walk and gathered leaves, then when we got home we separated them in various groups. First, we did colors (red, yellow, green, brown). Next, we did small, medium, large.
I've found that the best way to teach a pre-schooler is to keep it fun! And when I show an interest in sizes and shapes and colors, he is more excited to participate. Keep it positive....never push.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008
This game has since become one of his favorites, and we play it together every chance we get.
I encourage him to come up with creative ways to stack the cans, and he always amazes me. Sometimes he stands them upright and builds a castle, or a "garage" for his cars and trucks; sometimes he lays the cans on their sides, supports the ends, and builds a pyramid; sometimes he lines them up like a snake.
Without fail, however, his favorite part is knocking them down!
But the last few times we played this game, I was thrilled with how he wanted to SORT the cans. He put all the green beans together; all the peas together; all the tomato sauces together, etc. (Sorting is a primary building block to math!)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Forgiveness is a tricky concept to teach. I don't like to force my kids to say “I'm sorry” unless they really mean it. I also don't let the forgive-ee brush off the apology with a simple “That's ok.” Because it's NOT okay. Rather, I teach my kids to wait until they really mean it, and then tell the offender, “I forgive you.” Sometimes it comes immediately; sometimes it takes a few days. But when it comes, it's sincere.
A few weeks ago, Luke had the time of his life with a huge bottle of baby powder. I can only imagine that it was calling his name. However, the result of his festivities was a sibling's room that was now covered in a layer of sweet-smelling powder (every single surface was covered!), and a lesson in asking for forgiveness.
I was in the kitchen when I noticed it was quiet in the living room. Too quiet for Luke to be in there! He couldn't have been gone more than a few minutes, but as I walked into the living room, he was walking up the steps from the basement where Victoria's room is. He had an extremely guilty expression on his face, and I immediately noticed that he was covered with a fine layer of powder. He smelled wonderful! Like when he was a newborn! He resembled Pigpen from Charlie Brown, with a fine cloud of powder trailing behind him. However, when I asked him what he'd been doing, and he said “nothing,” I knew I needed to investigate.
When I opened the door to his big sister's bedroom, I was overcome with hysterics! It was like a blizzard in there! I couldn't help myself. I laughed until I had tears rolling down my face. I only wish I could have witnessed the fun time that Luke had in that room by himself with that brand new bottle of baby powder. (He later told me he was playing “Smoke & Fire!” -- as he squeezed the plumes of “smoke” into the air.) I also laughed because I'd been asking Victoria to clean her room for several weeks, and now I was going to get my wish! You see, should would never allow ME to clean it (she's 18....her room is her sanctuary!).
I couldn't let Luke see me laughing about his antics, because I knew that in a few hours Victoria would be home from school, and he would need to learn about asking for forgiveness.
When I went back upstairs to talk with him about what he'd done, he was sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a blanket over his head, hiding. He was so afraid that his big sister was going to be angry and think he was a “bad boy.”
I hugged him and assured him that, yes, Victoria would likely be very upset. But, I explained to him, you can't hide from what you've done. I told him that when Victoria arrived home from school he would need to tell her what he had done, and tell her that he was sorry. Then it would be up to her to forgive him. I warned him that it might take her some time, because he had made a very big mess, but I was sure that she would eventually forgive him, and that no matter what, she would always love him.
As for Luke, well, he thought that telling Victoria he was sorry might work; however, he still stayed under the blanket for most of the afternoon, just in case.
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Saturday, February 2, 2008
These women are beautiful, well-off financially, have lots of friends, great kids, active in their church and their community.
In any event, I've become extremely grateful for my good health; I've become grateful for my house that I wish was a little bigger and a lot cleaner; I've become grateful for my 2-year old van that is littered with goldfish cracker crumbs and stray gum wrappers; I've become grateful for my children who bicker and argue most days, and who don't always get As and Bs, and who aren't the best athletes on the team; I'm grateful for my friends, whom I don't spend nearly enough time with; I'm grateful for my parents, who raised me with a good work ethic and a strong faith; I'm grateful for my husband who loves and adores me and, after 6 children, still tells me almost daily that I'm beautiful and that he loves me,and who remembers to thank me for dinner every night.......
I could go on and on, but the point of this post is to say how important I think it is that we teach our children gratefulness.
Since Lent begins in just a few days, I'm planning a "gratefulness lesson" for my family. Each day, I'm going to ask each of them to tell me one thing they are grateful for that day. How hard could that be?
Perhaps it will open their eyes to all that they have to be grateful for, as well.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
It will really make you stop and think about the way we teach our children, and how important creativity is....at least, it made me stop and think.
I hope you'll take 15 minutes to watch it.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I learned an interesting thing when Analisa was in kindergarten.....there is a direct correlation between math and reading.
In other words, if you were to place 10 pennies down on the table, and ask Analisa to point to them one at a time as she counted them, she would come up with 12 pennies, or 13 pennies, or any other number. Her counting was not in time with her pointing. She was saying the words 1-2-3-4-5 in the correct order.... and she was pointing to the pennies; however, the timing was off. She would be saying the number 3 while her finger was in the air between pennies, or the number 5 while her finger was in the air between pennies.
I thought she was just uncoordinated, but her kindergarten teacher explained to me that this ability to count and point is a basic building block in learning to read. Amazing!!
She stressed that it was VERY important that we practice this basic skill.
Analisa is now in 3rd grade, and has officially been tested and found to be "learning disabled" in both math and reading. I don't know if we didn't practice enough, or if this is just a skill that Analisa was unable to grasp.
In any event, I'm taking the information I learned from Analisa's kindergarten teacher and hoping to help 3-year old Luke become proficient at this important skill. When we read our books every day, I always ask him questions about the pictures he sees. Now that he's grasping the concept of "how many?" I ask him on many of the pages that we read "How many _______ do you see?" and then we POINT and COUNT the butterflies, or the chickens, or the apples, or whatever.
I hope this will help him later as he learns to read...in the meantime, it's just another way to make our reading time more interactive, so it's something we both enjoy anyway!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
As we read books every day before nap time for the past few days, every time I see a capital "L" in a book, I point it out to Luke, and then say, "L is for Luke! and L is for Lisa!"
We were at the grocery store today, and saw lots of Ls on labels and signs (lemons and lettuce and lemonade).
While I don't think Luke quite yet understands the sound of L, he's learning what L looks like.
Our plan is to take one letter at a time, beginning with the first sound of the names of all our family members --- with 5 siblings, that will take up quite a bit of the alphabet, and keep us busy for quite a few weeks!
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