Friday, May 31, 2013

Imitation, It Scares Me

Kids are always learning - and that can stink.

Kids imitate their parents. I've heard little kids (mine included) say a curse word, or a common adult phrase.

Ty is older than Za, and I don't remember him imitating me, maybe because he is a boy. I do remember him wearing golf hats and carrying around a golf ball, trying to be like dad.

From little on, Za wanted to carry a purse. She wanted to put lipstick on with me. She recently added that she wants to be a mommy when she grows up.

That's great, because I have lots of friends who once they got a bit older, realized they did not want to be like their mommies. They didn't have an example, a role model.

I'm glad I can be that for Za. I am not perfect, but I would count myself as a good role model.

To be honest though, that scares me too. Look at her with that grocery cart. The entire time in the store she kept saying, "I'm like mommy. I'm shopping."

Then she showed off exaggerated gestures, and facial expressions over the produce. And those gestures and facial expressions, they are mine.

Even as she put the items on the conveyer belt, she nudged the items along, started putting the frozen together, the cans in a pile. Just. Like. I. Do.

I cannot think about her imitation all the time, because I would lose my mind. I do know that the search for meaning is innate, and that part of kids' search for meaning is through imitation.  I will have to settle for trying to be a good person, a good mother - and admitting my shortcomings with grace and honesty when I'm not.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Elementary Kids Summer Activity: Week One

11 Weeks of Summer!

A few weeks ago I pondered doing a word of the day, or a math problem of the day. I turned an old picture frame into a dry erase board.

I want to have a bit of an outline for our summer days, while allowing the kids to have lots of downtime and lead me to the areas they want to discover. I'm going to do a word, quote, and math problem of the day, along with a bible quote of the week. I may have to change this up if it does not work, but this is what we are starting tomorrow!

Feel free to use this or part of it, just to spark interesting conversations during the summer.

My kids are young, four and six, so this probably works best for younger pre-K, elementary kids.

Words: (occupations)

Acrobat: a skilled performer of gymnastic feats

Magician: an entertainer who is skilled in producing illusions

Conjurer: a person who puts a spell on others

Actor: a person who performs in plays, television, movies

Conductor: a person who leads


I am doing the math problem of the day from Math Buddy.

Then Ty and Za will each get one from using this website.

Dr. Seuss Quotes:

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way!

A person's a person no matter how small.

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

Young cat, if you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you would learn! The most wonderful stuff!

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Bible Verse of the Week:

Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

(Note: I decided to do one bible verse per week so maybe they will learn it. I decided one a day was too much).

Let me know if you make an changes, and how it works in your house!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Loving With Food

Does our culture show love with food?

On Valentine's Day this year, Ty and Za returned from their classroom parties with bags full of junk. It wasn't just suckers either. It was full-sized candy bars and cookies. They had a few pencils and pads of tiny stickers but overall, corn syrup. To say, "I'm glad you're my friend," students gave each other candy.


I'm no better. I made a heart cake for celebrating Valentine's Day at home.

Now that t-ball season is upon us, the kids want to meet for ice-cream after games. The end of the school year is almost here, and I'm sure the kids will celebrate with a treat.

Then we have Memorial Day (parade with candy), the Fourth of July (picnics), back-to-school (celebrations), Halloween (candy), Thanksgiving (the ultimate food fest), and Christmas (non-stop feast). Birthdays will be peppered throughout the year, and bank tellers will still give my kids candy at the drive-thru.

It never stops! Why are we giving our kids all this candy, all this food?

A possibility could be tradition. My grandma was thrilled to give us treats. To her, they were "treats"" - her generation didn't always have food growing up. On special days, food did show love.

Do we need to still do this? We have enough food for the most part. I worry about giving my kids healthy food. I know I am fortunate to make the distinction, that I can shop for health and not just substance.

Is this a tradition that needs stopped, or is food love?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Art Garage

Za and I attended Toddler Time at The Art Garage at Studios on Sheridan. 

Peoria, Illinois has an art center that has opportunities for children, adults, and groups. Tuesday was Toddler Time. I saw people talking about the gathering on Facebook. To attend was $5 so I thought Za and I would give it a shot. We were there for an hour and had a very pleasant time. The hour included:

* a story reading - this time it was "The Monster At The End of This Book"
* cardstock masks
* paint

Za listening to the story.
and an added benefits to parents:

* a painting area that I did not have to clean

Smocks were provided!
Jessica, the owner, was very patient and helpful. She praised the kids for sharing and passed around paint for them. She dried the masks for the kids, which did have me worried at one point because Za's mask was quite heavy with paint.


Connecting literature and art is a great way to help children remember the story.

Za told everyone that she is not a real monster, just a pretend one like Grover. 

Za is still playing with the monster hours later. She had fun and talked to the other kids. While the paintings dried, the kids played with paper and crayons. Overall, it was a pleasant way to spend an hour, and for $5, that is a great deal. We plan to return to The Art Garage this summer for more artistic times!

I was not compensated for this post. This review is my honest, unpaid opinion. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Picture Frame Dry Erase Board

Three weeks until summer! I need some ideas for these three months - please give me ideas.

The finished "dry erase" board, with the first word of the day.
I believe school should be year-round. I thought that as an undergraduate, as a teacher, and now I think it as a parent. I even write about the benefits of year-round school.

That will not happen in the foreseeable future, so my family must adjust. The kids are signed up for t-ball (they have quite the handsome coach as well!) and a few educational camps. While schooling should not have a three month gap, I also believe in the power of "down time."

Maintaing that balance is difficult and keeping their minds exercised is on my to-do list. Kids learn constantly whether parents want them to or not, but teaching through example and from household chores will not fill all the hours in the summer.

I need a plan, or at least some ideas. I've consulted Pinterest and found some great sources. Crafty people posted examples of making your own dry erase board, only with glass.

Turning an old picture frame into a dry erase board took less than an hour. I had this black frame downstairs. The back is broken in one place, and two of the mattes are missing, so I don't use it for "good pictures."

Falling apart a bit.
It did clean up and my husband helped me fix the back with a piece of wood. I added colorful scrapbook paper and I am pleased with the results:

Child not included.
Now I have to decide what to put on the squares, which is where I would like some input. Should each square be designated for a fact, or quote? Should I do one each day, maybe Monday-Thursday?

My ideas to fill the squares:
* Word of the day.
* Bible verse of the day.
* Quote of the day. (Dr. Suess?)
* Math problem of the day.
* Chores.
* Goal of the day. (Give each other compliments, help a neighbor?)

Any ideas? I would love some input!