Friday, June 28, 2013

Switching It Up

Turn boring activities into fun ones but making a few switches.

When I taught high school students, they famously hated taking notes. Teachers could not convince them that in college, that is what they did, or that at work, they would have lots of instructions, and writing them down would be helpful.

I was complaining about this one day, and a much more experienced coworker said to have them take notes on construction paper.


Desperate, I tried it. And it worked. So did taking notes on 3 X 5 cards, or hanging large paper around the room and having them write their notes on it.

It seems that taking notes the same way every day, for all classes, is boring. Switching the note taking means intrigues students.

I apply the same theory to my kids:

Old towels over rubber floor mats in the van with WATER paints - instead of the kitchen table.
Doing puzzles by the fireplace - instead of the kitchen table (again).

Using hangers to pull "cargo" - instead of the real truck pieces.

Gluing with expired spices - instead of glitter. This cleaned up way easier, too.
Making a few tweaks to everyday play is inexpensive, and keeps my kids playing longer.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Communication Junction

All three of my kids participated in a workshop put on by Communication Junction.

Normally I don't think much of taking all three kids to an event, but this was different - in a good way. Finishing this made me feel accomplished.


Thursday mornings, Abbey Cook, the owner of Communication Junction, takes moms, dads, babies, and kids on a mile walk. (This is why I am proud for bringing three kids with me. Walking with three kids is not easy). This exercise makes me happy for other reasons:

1. Research tells teachers that physically fit students are prepared to learn. When students work their bodies, they awaken their minds. Any teacher knows that students are sleepy in the morning but after recess, they are ready to learn.

2. Parents (both mom and dads attend) get exercise. Exercise can help adults' mental health, which hopefully leads to better parent-child interactions.

3. Parents and children are making a habit of exercising together - a great bonding time, a wonderful example.

I have attended twice. We meet at Running Central, chat, walk, get water, and sit in a circle. Abbey sings a song (which Za has learned after only attending twice), reads a story, and does another song which includes movement.

Sign Language

The entire time, Abbey signs with the kids - throughout the stories and singing. As a speech pathologist, Abbey believes that teaching sign language to babies and children increases their abilities to communicate.

Aside from broadening communication, kids also learn a second language. In talking to Abbey, she further made the distinction for me that "language is required in life and speech is a skill that we learn." I have never heard that point made, but it makes sense. Babies communicate before they talk.

(I also wonder if knowing sign language has benefits for when children grow. When I taught public speaking, I spent hours discussing the importance of hand movements - a form of communication. I wonder if there is a correlation between knowing sign language and being a competent public speaker who effectively uses hand movements).

After our first trip, Za and I discussed reasons why people learn sign language. She cooperated better the next time.

What to bring

If you are going to attend Thursday exercising and signing with Communication Junction, you will need:

* comfy shoes and clothes for you and your kids
* stroller (if your kids cannot walk the entire time)
* sunscreen
* five dollars for your family

Moms and dads have attended both times I have gone, and kids snack on crackers and bananas. It was a relaxed environment that provided exercise and an educational activity. You can learn more about Communication Junction on Facebook.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Elementary Kids Summer Activity: Week Five

Can you believe it? 7 weeks left!

Typing this made me a bit sad - summer is officially here and I have purchased a few back to school clothes for Ty and Za. We are having a great summer. A tad bit of structure and lots of free play makes for happy kiddos.

Here is week five of our school work:

Words: (theme: water)

Cloud: a visible collection of particles of water or ice, suspended in the air

Liquid: composed of molecules that move freely among themselves but tend not to separate

Hail: showery participation in the form of balls or pellets of ice

Erosion: the process by which the earth's surface is worn away by the action of glaciers, water, waves, wind, etc.

Geyser: a discharge of water ejected turbulently, accompanied by steam

* Note: we are also looking at pictures of these on the web.

Quotes: (Harry S. Truman)

Not all readers become leaders. But all leaders must be readers.

There is nothing new in the world except history you do not know.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our government a fair deal.

Once a decision was made, I did not worry about it afterward.

Bible Verse:

Philippians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Caterpillar Play Area at Grand Prairie

Caterpillar Play Area at Grand Prairie 

My kids get bored with shopping, frequently.

The Peoria Shoppes at Grand Prairie has a CAT play center for kids to burn off energy and exercise. The area has several "tractor" and "rocks." Kids can slide and climb on it all.

I like that while kids are cooped up while parents shop, they have a nice and clean area to play. It also works well for one parent to shop, and the other to go off to a few stores.

Plus, the area works well for all ages. Here is Za a few years ago, climbing from a "pipe."

The play area is located close to Dick's at the Peoria outdoor mall.

This was an unpaid review, and I received no form of compensation. This is 100% my own opinion. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Elementary Kids Summer Activity: Week Four

8 Weeks Left!

School seems far away, and that makes sense since we've been home for about a month now. Ty is attending World of Wonder in Peoria, IL this week, and he enjoyed his first day.

I wanted to mention that you can jump into the "word of the day" program at any time - they are themed by week, but not overall. Children want to learn and if your summer is not going the way you wanted, jump in!

Here is week four of our school work, albeit relaxed school work:

Words: (theme: nature)

Insect: an animal with a body divided into three parts and three pairs of legs

Spider: an anachnid that spins webs

Roots: part of a plant that anchors it and absorbs nutrients

Weed: a valueless plant growing wild

Compost: a mixture of various decaying organic substances

Quotes: (Judy Blume)

Little kids are amazing. They seem able to adjust to anything.
Not everything has to have a point. Some things just are.
The truth will make you odd.
Our finger prints don't fade from the lives we touch.
Snoring keeps the monsters away.

Bible Verse: Psalm 96:1

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Coin Activities

Their piggy banks runneth over.

Ty and Za have multiple piggy banks. They are so cute to give for presents.

The kids frequently mess with the money, counting the coins. To help them differentiate between the coins, I made them these sticks to help remember the names.

Our next project will be remembering the amount each coin is worth.

 For right now, they have fun sorting the coins, naming them, and counting their piles.

Easy activity and although it requires money, inexpensive.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Elementary Kids Summer Activity:Week Three

9 weeks left!

I just finished vacuuming the living room carpet. It had little pieces of grass and dried flower petals. I'll take it as a sign that Ty and Za are enjoying summer.

Here is week three of our daily start to our "school" work:

Words: (theme: machinery)

Boat: a vessel for transport by water

Crane: a device for lifting and moving heavy weights in suspension

Truck: a vehicle for carrying goods

Aircraft: any machine supported for flight in the air by buoyancy or by the dynamic action of air on its surfaces

Tractor: a powerful motor-driven vehicle with large, heavy treads

Quotes: (Walt Disney)

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

Never get bored or cynical.

All our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them.

I believe in being an innovator.

When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.

Bible Verse of the Week

Proverbs 20:11. Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Being Nice

The mom, not the kids.

Sometimes they fight. We are into the second week of summer, and I really don't get a break, which is super hard. Ty and Za get along most of the time, but they are little. (I have to tell myself that). They squabble and disagree on what to play, watch, read, where to sit...

They did not sit nicely much longer past the picture. 
And I am the example, the person who needs to be calm. If C.J. dumps out the dog water on an outfit when we are walking out the door or the dog runs away as we are walking out the door (those both happened yesterday and today), I cannot scream. I need to model for my children how to act when something goes amiss.

Because something will always go wrong in life. That's life. I need to explain how I think of a new plan and show them that we can get out the door, maybe just a bit later.

That's my SAHM goal for the week: being nice when things are messy. Being the nice mom who can show them that there are natural consequences for actions, but we can learn from them.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Elementary Kids Summer Activity: Week Two

10 weeks of summer left!

We are full swing into summer. Ty easily adjusted to sleeping a bit later and both kids love spending time outside. They cannot get enough of playing outdoors. Their inventive games and quests to go higher on the swings really are the moments I hope I smile about when they are teenagers or away at college internships.

They also took well to the "school" we do during the work week. It doesn't even last an hour, but this is what we do:

* Word, math problem, and quote of the day. Bible quote of the week.

* Discussions about what they think is interesting, if anything.

* Study sheets. Both have workbooks that include mazes, coloring projects, letters, etc. (I bought them from a discount store). Sometimes I find fun sheets online; sometimes they relate to the word of the day, other times not.

I hope anyone doing the "of the days" with me is enjoying them. Here is week two.

Words: (energy)

Solar: energy from the sun

Wind: produces energy by using rotational energy to drive a generator

Fossil: a natural occurring fuel formed by the decomposition of prehistoric organisms

Nuclear: powered by atomic energy

Electricity: energy from electrically charged particles.

(We are reading Ivy + Bean: What's the Big Idea. It is about global warming, so we have been discussing all ideas energy).

Quotes: (summer)

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. Wallace Stevens

In summer, the song sings itself. William Carlos Williams

Do what we can, summer will have its flies. Ralph Waldo Emerson

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. John Steinbeck

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. Henry James


I did not like doing math problems from a website, so I made them up each day. My four year old got addition, such as 12 +1. My six year old is working on subtraction, such as 58-10.

Bible Verse of the Week

Matthew 18:10. See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angles always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Have a wonderful summer week!