Projects

Favorite Book Art

You or your kids have probably had this idea already. Consider this a reminder!

You will need: large paper, permanent marker, tempera paint and something to put the paint on. Oh and brushes or something to spread the paint around with.

I use a paper plate.

Draw outlines or have your older children draw outlines for things related to their favorite book.  Read the book out loud while they paint or beforehand.



I actually painted this one by myself because my kids were hungry when I had it all laid out. Note to self: It is important to invite the children to participate when they are interested, not always when it’s convenient.

I really enjoyed mixing the colors to get orange and purple and brown. It was almost therapeutic. I also cut up an old smelly dish sponge into heart, triangle, and circle shapes to make stamps with. (Those blobs around the butterflies.)

You may have noticed that I have the same book on the shelf twice. This is because I just bought Wow, Said the Owl because I and my kids love it so much. Mr. 1 loves it so much he learned how to say “WOW!!!” and says it over and over the whole time we read. We read it at least 5 times a day, which is also what inspired me to make this art project.  I need to return the other one to the library.

Feel free to comment and let me know which books inspire your children to make art!

 

Daily Lessons, Language, Parenting

The rest of the day

I know that last post was a little hard to read, but writing it out definitely helped me get some perspective and help cement my realization that I just need to be more patient. 

Also, the bad times help us appreciate the good times more, don’t they?

After they woke up from their nap, we ended up having a wonderful afternoon. We did a lot of playing outside. They picked wildflowers (weeds) and rocks in a field near the house, and dug a large hole in our backyard. 


It was really awesome watching them work together on the hole, and getting along for at least 20 minutes. Every once in a while Mr. 3 would say, “Excuse me M—-, I am trying to dig here!” 


I told him he has to speak clearly and slowly to his brother and so now he emphasizes each word, and it’s so funny to hear him talk like that.

Little brother kept trying to climb into the hole.

We also discovered that while raw green beans have a tough shell that is kind of gross to chew, the little pods inside the shell are juicy and delicious. We spent quite some time shelling and eating the green beans in the garden. We compared flavors of the different sized pods.


When we got back inside they took a bath together and then immediately wanted to play in the sand box. 

The 15 month old has made some great vocabulary strides in the last few days. He can say “WOW” when we read Wow, Says the Owl. He can also say “baby” out loud, but I think he was really trying to say Brother, which he also just started signing. 

It’s adorable when he signs brother and walks through out the house (or toy store) looking for his big brother. 

He handed me a bib and said “b b b bib!” 

He is trying to jump and just kind of bounces up and down on his toes.

Big brother on the other hand is working on standing on one foot now. And he does great impersonations of his favorite Blippi shows. And he didn’t ask for the Kindle once yesterday, I think he has accepted my computers are for responsible people speech? 

And guess what? When he pooped in his diaper in the evening, I calmly asked him if he wanted to go potty, and when he indicated “no”, I told him to let me know when he was done and we could get him cleaned up. 

See, I CAN do this wonderful job of taking care of and helping my children explore the world. 

Daily Lessons

A Pre [Home] School Week in Review

What did we do?

We tried to spend a significant amount of time outside, since the weather was so beautiful. We took the stroller to the library (over 1.5 miles both ways) and stopped at the playground on the way home. We played on the trampoline and fertilized my garden. We  harvested some green beans and one beautiful carrot. [My favorite is the thyme plant, there isn’t much of it but one tiny leaf has such an amazing smell and flavor.]

2017-06-09_16-22-25_563Mostly the kids played in the sandbox. The picture above shows my two minutes in paradise; getting to read while the children play together.

All of these things help the kids practice their gross motor skills such as walking, running, and jumping. Their fine motor skills were active in learning how to pick the green beans without pulling the entire plant out of the earth. Their senses were engaged in sand box play, making goop, painting [on] the patio.

When we went to the aquarium this weekend, our one big excursion, they spent most of their time at the outdoor harbor seal enclosure. It is surrounded by large stadium style benches and both boys enjoyed walking along the benches and practicing going up and down the stairs. The 3-year-old practiced jumping down and up the stairs, and jumping off of the benches. Then the show started and we watched the trainers work with the seals. (Fact: Harbor seals can hold their breath for 30 minutes!)

What did we learn?

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the children are learning at any given moment, but they are always learning. Whether it is practicing a skill that is new to them or expanding one they already have. Here are some things that really stood out to me for my kids:

Mr 3: Jumping. He’s been jumping off and on to everything. Today he was seeing how far he could jump on his racetrack carpet. If he isn’t jumping, he’s galloping.

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Mr. 3 is also improving his tolerance for his brother. We are seeing more moments where they get along and can play together. Mr.3 is also saying things like, “What’s wrong, my friend M—?” when his little brother is crying. There is still some pushing and crying when 3 gets tired, but I do think it is getting better.

Mr. 1 – He is into everything. He spends a lot of time opening and closing the screen door. He also spent nearly an hour with a bottle of bubbles, putting the plunger in and trying to blow the bubbles. He wasn’t successful with the blowing, but he was very interested until he accidentally spilled the whole bottle on the patio.

Mr. 1 is also starting to combine words. He was saying “Hi Dada” when they went on a dog walk together.

Me: I’m learning that if I go too far out of my comfort zone, then I get easily stressed out and start feeling bad about myself again. It’s all well and good to try to be a perfect parent, but if I don’t make small changes then I am setting myself up for failure. We briefly tried no screen time limits and no bed time and it was a nightmare.

I want my kids to be respected and listen to their bodies and tell me what they need, but it’s not a skill that can be learned in two days, but I can’t stay up until 10:30 every night with the 3-year-old.

I have a theory that Mr. 3 most likely doesn’t like going to bed because he doesn’t want to be alone. So we are getting him a big bed so that someone can lay down with him. Usually if say, “I’m tired, will you lay down with me?” he will join us very eagerly.

What did we read?

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We have some really AMAZING library books this time! I’m going to limit myself to telling you about 5.

Cars Go by Steve Light – Just simple pictures of cars and onomatopoeia of the sounds they make. Mr. 1 will follow you around the house with this one until you read it at least 3 times. (Amazon – for more info)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this book lately because the sequel just came out, but I’m honestly not that big of a fan of it. Unfortunately, my 3 old always wants to read it when he goes potty. It’s an okay story about how dragons love tacos, and parties, and taco parties.  (Amazon – for more info)

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins – from the creator of Maisy Mouse.. this beautiful and bright book asks you to pretend to be a bird for one day and then takes you through different bird actions from sunrise to sunset. I think it’s adorable, and my 1-year-old really loves the pictures. (Amazon – for more info)

Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty – This is a cute story about a little bear who pretends to be a doctor. This inspired my 3-year-old to play paramedic with me for a long time. I would fall down and cry for help and he would race over in his truck and then try to tie a ribbon “bandage” around my hurt area. We got to practice body parts, work our imaginations, and try tying knots. Plus, we practiced “calling” 911. (Amazon – for more info)

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood – This is a book about an owl who stays up all day and discovers all the colors around her that she normally doesn’t get to see. It’s a really pretty book and is fun to read. Both of the kids enjoyed this one and have asked for it repeatedly. (Amazon – for more info)

In Conclusion –

We had a great week and hope you did too!

(My week was extra awesome because we had two date nights! For our 4 year aniversary we went indoor sky-diving which was awesome! And then on the weekend we played tennis for two hours and then had lunch after. I’m so happy I could burst. Last night Mr. 3 was being super silly. He keps saying “I’m the babysitter” and then laughing maniacally.)

 

Daily Lessons

A Benefit of School Being Out for Summer 

My initial thoughts about school being out from a homeschool perspective is always, “great, all our favorite places are going to start getting super crowded, now!”. (Sarcastic)

But I am changing my tune to,”great, this is an opportunity for my little kids to learn from the bigger kids that we meet!” (Heartfelt)

Granted, not all experiences will be awesome, that will depend on the older kids. 

We had 3 encounters with older children in Tuesday, and two of them were positive enough to inspire me to write this post.

The first, at the library, involved two older boys at the library desk asking the librarian to help them find some books. While the Librarian was working the computer, the kids were taking an interest in Mr. 3 and Mr. 1. I wouldn’t call it a conversation but they were being friendly and saying hello. Also it is good for us to see other people interested in books!

The second encounter wasn’t even an encounter as I tried to walk away as quickly as I could push my double stroller through the doorway. There was a group of teenagers getting on the elevator and in the space of 1 minute I heard a superfluous amount of curse words. This is not something I want my kids to get comfortable with.

The third encounter was my favorite. We were on our way to the elementary school playground where we came across 2 boys riding skate boards. They politely asked us what time it was and then heard me explain to Mr. 3 about the skateboards. They offered to let him try it out and both boys rushed to make sure the skate board was being held still so he wouldn’t fall. Mr. 3 had one foot on but was afraid to do the other and so we said thank you and went our separate ways. Still, the kids were exposed to politeness, sharing, talking to potential friends and many benefits that I will let Peter Gray explain in his book, Free To Learn.(Sidenote: This is the first homeschooling book I read, and I read it a while ago but it was awesome. It made me feel like not only could I do it, but I should because the benefits to my children are extensive.)

Here is a small taste of what psychologist Peter Gray has to say,

 In age-mixed groups, the younger children can engage in and learn from activities that would be too complex, difficult, or dangerous for them to do on their own or only with others their own age. They can also learn simply from watching the more sophisticated activities of older children and overhearing their conversations. And they can receive emotional support and care beyond what age-mates could provide. These benefits may in some ways seem obvious, but here I’ll elaborate to show how valuable such opportunities are to children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.

The benefits aren’t just for the young children either, the older kids learn to nurture, can reinforce their own knowledge by teaching to others, and just generally feel awesome because they are being admired by such impressionable people. 

Here is to a summer of learning! 

(You can find Free to Learn by Peter Gray on Amazon.)

Parenting

Learning All The Time – Part Two – Unconditional Parenting

​I am still gathering my thoughts after reading this insightful book by John Holt about how young children can and will learn by themselves. (Learn more about the book here.)

There is a section where he explains that children that are praised or punished a lot will lose their inherent motivation to learn and discover, and develop a fear of failure.

I don’t want that for my children. My goal with homeschooling has always been to teach them a love of learning. According to John Holt, I don’t even have to do that, all I have to do is not destroy the desire that they already have.

What children want and need from us is thoughtful attention. They want us to notice them and pay some kind of attention to what they do, to take them seriously, to trust and respect them as human beings. They want courtesy and politeness, but they don’t need much praise. (John Holt – Learning All the Time)

I think my toddler has been trying to tell me this for a while. He is always asking me, “what am I doing, mommy?” or some variation thereof. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about acknowledging him, even when distracted by his baby brother.

The not praising practice will be a difficult habit to break for me. I was raised in a reward\praise system, and perhaps did not receive enough of it because I was always striving for more.

My two older brothers had the opposite, where they were satisfied with the occasional praise… Good job passing that English class! Where as I felt barely acknowledged for (almost) getting straight As.

You could say the system worked for me. I received a masters degree in accounting. I worked as a CPA until I became a stay at mom. I am married and have a beautiful family. One of my older brothers still delivers pizza, while the other is slightly better off. But there I go comparing, and how can you truly compare happiness?

But I don’t want my kids to experience either of these extremes, I want them to be motivated because they WANT to learn about something, or WANT to be good at something.

So instead of always saying “good job” or “that’s not right” I just need to acknowledge what they are doing and not jump in the middle of it. I need to learn to let them be themselves, not who I want them to be.

It’s going to be a challenge to change the way we do things at home, but I’m going to start small and work my way up to it.

A common style of conversation at our house goes as follows:

Mr. 3: What am I doing mommy?

Me: I don’t know sweetheart, what ARE you doing?

Mr. 3: I’m building a garage on wheels!

Me: Ooh, that’s great.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: Good Job!

My goal for this week is to end the conversation differently. Not to praise, but to acknowledge and get him to talk more about it.

Mr. 3: I built a garage on wheels!

Me: I see, you are parking all the cars inside the garage!

I know there are a few good books about unconditional parenting, so I should probably check out some of them to get a better understanding of how to put this into practice. Feel free to leave me a suggestion if you have a favorite book. I am also interested in finding out how you convinced your significant others to implement the same parental practices. Consistency is important, after all.

Also, I would like to thank my husband for taking care of me this weekend while I was sick. I don’t know how you managed to do the dishes, fix the laundry doors, install the rain barrel, mow the lawn, pull weeds, take care of the kids and take care of me. You are amazing. 

By the way, the book Learning All the Time by John Holt is only $2.99 on Amazon. (Affiliate link, but who wouldn’t?)

Projects, Science

Project: Sticky Zoo Collage

I have a new project for you guys! I randomly thought of it while on the airplane.

Sticky Zoo Collage

You will need: Contact Paper, Permanent Marker, tape, and pictures of animals.

I cut most of our pictures out the magazine sent by our local zoo for being members. Also, it may be better not to overwhelm the child with too many pictures at once. I think my 3 year old was a bit frustrated having to sort through them. Here we go:

Step 1: Cut your contact paper and lay it on the counter, clear side up.

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Step 2: Draw your zoo map. Include as much or as little as you want. You could even have your child help with this if they are interested.

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Step 3: Turn the contact paper over and tape it down as you peel the cover off. You should tape it so that the sticky side is up.

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Step 4: Give your child some animal cut outs and let them fill the zoo however they want. You may need to stick a few on there to show the younger ones how to do it.

Above, I included some construction paper cutouts taped to the non-sticky side to provide more color. I was hoping to get the child to think about different environments but I didn’t force the issue.

Mr. 1 enjoyed the project once he figured out what to do. Mr. 3 wanted to put the animals into his safari truck and drive them to the zoo.

Comment below if you try this out!