Monthly Archives: February 2011
I got a book, 100 Years of Children’s Books in America as a reference for books for the boys. Also I love the study of Child’s Books (books like The Magic Kingdom are fascinating to me). So 100 Years serves a dual purpose; it was an interesting look at Children’s Lit decade by decade and also a great collection of notable titles many I had not ever heard of; it also includes a list of all the Newbery and Caldecott award winning books and Honor books. Everyone knows how I love a good book list.
I have a dear dear friend that has 9 children, ranging from 18 months to 20 years; and she has GIRLS something I do not have, and older kids (of course) that read. I had a great time, and eventually loaned her the book, noting book I thought some of her children and teens might be interested in, in addition to creating quite a list to add to my ‘books to look at for the boys’ list. As I took note of more books for her teen girls I realized there were a lot of ‘young adult’ books that I had missed in my own youth.
Thus started my current reading tread. I am ‘catching up on’ award winning, or notable, young adult fiction that I have never read. I am having so much fun. The books are quality if not challenging. The stories are honest and not ‘complex for the sake of being complex’. I can read an entire novel in a day or maybe 3; it is fast and satisfying.
I am staying away from the deep dark novels that seek to ‘expose the dark side of life’. Homelessness, mental illness, death, drugs, abuse, homosexuality and the other hot topics of “realistic fiction” are of no interest to me. I have worked in youth shelters, I have worked in batter women’s shelters, I have been a CASA, I have been in family court, I have sat up all night with crying children – I do not have any desire to squander the very little free time I can carve out to read (sitting in cars waiting on appointments, or nursing a sick 3 year old for example) on emotional turmoil. I admit that while I am seeking quality and ‘good books’ I am still seeking to enjoy mind candy and so I am looking for the happy ending. With the exception, I guess, of tough and touching novels (some out and out fiction, some based on reality) of children in Nazi Germany so on, historical stuff.
I am reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond currently.
Here are a few of the books I have read:
- Good Night, Mr. Tom Michelle Magorian
- Fever 1793 Laurie Halse Anderson
- Number The Stars.
- The Devil’s Arithmetic
- The Upstairs Room
Here are a few of the book I have (thank you paperbackswap.com) waiting for me to read:
- Jacob Have I Loved. Katherine Paterson
- The Cricket in Times Square (Chester Cricket and His Friends)
- Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos
Library yesterday. Took Molly with us since it was warm enough for her to wait in the car, and also library trips are short. She was kinda shaky in the car, so we need to get her out and about more. Generally she will be going with me / us almost all the time; the only reason she has been home for the last two weeks has been the extreme cold. I took her with me today to take the boys to classroom and let her walk around the park a bit too.
New Library books:
- The Littlest Wolf (new)
- Please Bury Me at the Library (new)
- My Best Friend Moved Away (new)
- Desmond and the Naughty Bugs.
- Batman: Race Against Crime
- Superman: Robo Monster
- Over in the Jungle
- Olivia Forms a Band (new)
- Olivia (new)
Big’s OT Therapist gave us a list of sensory activity to try out at home. We made boy-sandwiches!! The boys got to do it to me too, but no photo of that.
I am not DONE, but this is a good start .. still some research to do.
Hubby and I had a long talk — amazing — at breakfast Saturday about kindy here. It is nice to sit and go over things, our goals and how we think it is best to get there. we are, as parents, dedicated to preserving the boys’ childhood for them (and us) so we are in no rush to dive into academics and seat work.
Big Brother has met all the pre-school goals we hold for our family and is ‘legally’ kindergarten age in Aug of 2011; according to our state. He, and we, are blessed that he has a ‘late’ birthday and thus will end up being one of the oldest in his class when he does attend a classroom. Always better to be a little older than a little younger, boys tend to be less mature than age same girl-peers and Big Brother tends to be a little less mature than his male age-same-peers. In our state Kindergartner is not legally mandatory (this is true in about 30 states, though no one goes out of their way to publish this fact). Officially and legally we do not have to enroll him till the fall he is 6, so actually fall of 2012 due to his late birthday (he turns 6 just 2.5 months after the deadline). We are choosing to enroll him for Kindergarten this fall (Aug 2011). I have met with the gifted teacher at the local elementary school and Daddy and I have settled on dual enrollment. I e-mailed the district a couple of questions last week, and apparently Big Brother will be the first DE at the grade school level so there is no SOP this is going to mean, either I get to write my own ticket (:) ) or they are gonna be a PITB. Hubby made me feel great when he said “well you can certainly produce anything they might ask for, you are going great, I am not worried about it at all”. The teacher for the gifted program does a couple of skills assessments with the kindy kids, and we want to take advantage of that. All fun for Big Brother and informational for us. There is no pull out gifted program until 3rd grade, so he won’t have any real experience with her or the school this year outside seeing her a couple of times; less contact at the school, by far, than this year.
I am drafting out ‘scope and sequence” for Kindy — for our family. (I’ll post after it is done) We have chosen not to buy a boxed curriculum for this (Kindy) because we feel the approach still needs to be normal life, directed, and “school work” needs to be secondary and additional. We are not going to implement a good deal of structured seat work or time until Big Brother shows himself ready. As such we did not want others expectations. We want positive experiences that fuels a love of learning, and excitement for what we can find out next; we do not what struggles and frustration and for Big Brother to feel in any way not successful and competent.
We are planning on only 3 core subjects: Reading, Math and Faith, are the very foundation of all education and all life; and they form our core. I have to say our plans seem a lot more complex and involved and weightily written out here than we mean for them really to be. We are not looking for a lot of pressure, a lot of table time, or a lot of anxiety.
NOTE regarding all books I discuss as ‘possibilities’: I shall read them first to determine if there are truly what we what the boys exposed to both in quality and also in coverage. Once I have a final list of “core books” or “spines” I’ll blog about them, and of course I’ll keep an on-going list of the literature and stories we read.
READING / PHONICS
I have ordered, for myself Handy English Encoder Decoder: All the Spelling and Phonics Rules You Could Ever Want to Know and The ABC’s and All Their Tricks: The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling as guide books to basic phonics. These are clearly for momma, I read well but I can’t remember any of the rules. I need to bone up myself and also have a good reference. I own Phonics Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling and have Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons waiting for me at the library. I have to say the actual ‘phonics and reading’ while the most important thing for us to cover and build a stable and strong foundation in, is the area I am the least sure of how to proceed!! Really, this is the area I am still in the murk on. I still have a lot of research to do.
MATH / NUMBERS
At the start of the fall semester the gifted program teacher at the elementary school is going to do a skills assessment with all kindy kids; the reason we want to dual enroll. That will point of strengths and weaknesses and give us more direction. Our biggest goal for Math is to HAVE FUN. I shall be pulling practice sheets off the Net for free, any worksheets you want is easy enough to find at this level. We are looking at, and considering an on-line interactive math program / game for Big Brother; but that is not going to be immediate. Given that we, as a family, want the foundation of the boys education – in all areas – to always be reading, literate and books I have been spending a good amount of time reading about Living Math on and we will be trying to incorporate as much ‘math reading’ into program as possible.
Materials under consideration:
- Family Math (Equals Series)
- Family Math for Young Children: Comparing
- Dr. Wright’s Kitchen Table Math
I have two goals for our Bible study this year (or the next 3 semesters or whatever it works out to be). First of all I want to work our way though the Bible in a systemic pattern. I plan to find coloring pages for the boys to read as I read to them. We are reading though: Super Heroes Bible that Big Brother got for Christmas but honestly a lot of it is still beyond Big Brother and the translation is not pleasing me. We are going to keep reading big passages, not only stories, but everything. I do find it valuable to read them the ‘stories’ they know from the actually Biblical text. I also have ordered this book (used) 1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to the Bible I am very excited that it covers the entire Bible not just the “stories”. My boys know a lot of the standard stories, and some of the lesser ones too, but I want them to grasp (start to) the Bible as a whole. As the living word of God, as history, as literature as more than a story collection. I am very please this book has activities and thoughts for covering each and every book of the Bible and takes the Bible as a entirety, not as a story book.
Secondly I want to start working on memory verses with them, mainly Big Brother but Little can’t help but listen. I have more work to do on this area.
Social Studies / History is going to be mainly comprised of read-a-louds about stories of different times and places. There are so many good ‘children’ and ‘young adult’ books that are set at different historical times, and present a ‘impression’ of life (think Farmer Boy by Laura Ingles wilder – not non-fiction, but still a worthy read at this level). Our goal is to use our family reading time to expand the boys’ exposure to times, life styles (historic) and environments. We will also dive into the children’s biographies of famous Americas. The concept is not for them to learn a time line or to memorize a lot of dates and names and facts; but to start to build a foundation of ideas and a familiarity with people, places and ideas (farms, Native Americans, wagon trains, explores, plantations, life without running water and TV and so on). Hooks, we are forming hooks and offering exposure – later this familiarity will benefit us.
The only other focus of Social Studies and this is a bit of a stretch, is I want to master the calendar. Holidays, when the fall, and their “meaning”. Also the seven days of the week, the 12 months of the year, and the concept of: ”yesterday” “today” and “tomorrow” and “telling time” on a calendar. This is the only ‘pre-school skill’ not mastered here, and I admit it is all Momma’s fault; we have simply just not done it.
A few examples of possible read-a-louds:
- George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
- Dr. Seuss: Young Author and Artist (Childhood of Famous Americans)
- How Children Lived
Geography is also going to be reading and art based, that is a by-product of art and reading not a focused area. we are going to get a big map and I want, by the end of the year, for Big Brother to find us on a USA map and to find the USA on a world map; and finally to locate on a world map our friends that live out-side the USA. We are going to try our hand at drawing ‘local maps’ (the way to the post office, where our house the park and our friends houses are in relation to each other) but that is going to be more art and fun and no stress; and if he is not really grasping it, I’ll push back to 1st grade. Beyond that, and maybe some discussion of animals that live in difference places that we do not have here in the USA I don’t plan to look at Geography much at all. We will play the great leap frog Geography / globe game the boys got for Christmas and be happy to start to get a feel for the whole of things; rather than specifics. I plan to do things like find related coloring sheets for them, or maps to color as I read different books and stories about different locations (and times also, al la history and social studies).
Our bookshelf is going to serve us well. I am REALLY excited about getting to travel though: one of the boys’ Christmas gifts. Around the World in 80 Tales80 super short stores from all over the globe. We’ll read and find the spots on the globe and if Momma gets really creative do a craft. Another one off our own shelf is How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. we have several collections of short stories from Japan and China and other collections of ‘around the world’. It is going to be really fun.
Also under consideration; books such as:
Science will be all activity based. Games and “experiments” and activities (many tied to math and art) that allow for active participation and doing, rather than “book learning” of rules and facts. Momma is not a pro-at science and much of it seems to complex for the boys at this point. I plan to find a book much like this: The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! and concentrate on the fun of discovery, observation, a willingness to try and also following directions!! The only real science goals we are currently planning on including coincide with math goals; such as sorting by characterizes and simply classifying.
Handwriting is an area I am going to ‘play by ear’. Big Brother is staring to write notes and make signs, so he is interested. However, his fine motor is just so much there yet, that is to be expected he is young and he is a boy. So I am going to tread lightly. I hope to keep him from committing too many bad habits to muscle memory and keep him having fun so he is interested in and willing to write.
We are using the D Nealian Handwriting style and and I have D Nealian Handwriting: Level K. I am planning to print examples off the Net (http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/ ) and then laminate them so he has a “look at” but really we are not going to start handwriting for a while yet.
I am looking at a couple of books on simple drawing like Draw Write Now, Book 1: On the Farm-Kids and Critters-Storybook Characters. We’d only do the draving, not the handwriting as a way to do more ‘directed fine motor use’ (and if we like them, there are about eight different books) He does a lot of mazes and we are adding more and more dot-to-dots. He just needs time and practice and no stress or demands.
And finally adding (hopefully) a tumbling class if I can locate a good fit and defiantly trying to be more dedicated to our Yoga DVDs here at home.
I still have some time to put in on this, so look for the final version still to come …