Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Compound Word Puzzle

My daughter is loving this old-school puzzle where you piece together compound words. We even added some silly fun by me mixing them up wrong on purpose, ie: "Bee-brush, Tooth-hive" for her to unscramble. It would be easy enough to make your own homemade version of this game with any variety of compound words. Have fun!

As simple as adding a puppet...

We love borrowing puppets from the library and often we'll get books that accompany whichever animal we're getting.
Puppets can make stories come to life. Recently we read an adorable book called, "Emma's Turtle" by Eve Bunting, with a turtle puppet. In the story, the pet turtle gets out of his pen and imagines he is traveling to all sorts of strange countries, when in reality, he has never left the backyard. It's an adorable tale, and we used it to review and explore our geography afterward. We were able to take our turtle puppet from the page to the map, to the globe, to our backyard.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ahoy! Mermaid Pirate Party Extravaganza

For my daughter's 5th birthday, we threw a Mermaid Pirate party. It was a day to be treasured! For the invitations, my daughter put pirate invites into sandwich ziplock bags that she filled with sand and shells. We asked her friends to swim or sail to Mermaid Cove for the big day. For the decorations, we used aqua colored plastic tablecloths that I stripped into seaweed to hang in the doorway and hung on the windows to give the room a blue 'under the sea' tint.

We used pirate and mermaid plates, and for favors the boys got telescopes, eye patches and pirate pencils, the girls got colored hair braids to clip on, mermaid dolls, pencils and bubbles.

The cake was a hilarious disaster. It completely fell apart. So the kids just shook a bunch of stuff all over it and had fun. (Horrible cakes seems to be a 'thing' for me, see my son's Cowboy Birthday Hoedown from last year, lol!)

For the food, we did SHELLS and cheese with OCTOPUS hot dogs! We also served goldfish and whale crackers.

For games, of course we had a TREASURE HUNT! My husband dressed up as a pirate and led the kids on a backyard adventure... he read each clue as they found it and made the kids yell their loudest "RRRRRR"'s first. They all loved it! It was awesome.

For the treasure I filled a box we got for free with plastic gold coins, beaded necklaces and confetti. The kids got to divide it up and take it home.

For a second game we made up our own version of 'pin the tail on the donkey' and had the kids pin a jellyfish on the octopus.

Everyone, pirates & mermaids alike, had a wonderful time at Mermaid Cove!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Thankful List, Thanksgiving 2011

1. Our Heavenly Father, who blesses me beyond my imagination, who makes time for me whenever I make time for Him, which I make sure to do, every single day.

2. My beautiful family: My hard working husband and 2 amazing kids, who I am blessed to serve and know.

3. My mother, the woman who has taught me all I know and who I am lucky to call my best friend and neighbor, and her husband, Kelly, who has unexpectedly been the answer to many prayers.

4. Our humble and blessed home, I am thankful every day for this roof over our heads. I truly love this house, it is our forever home and it is all that we could ever need and more. It is God's house and He graciously allows us to live here and open our home to others. How blessed we are!

5. Clean drinking water. Honestly. There are so many in this world who don't have it, especially in such abundance.

6. The means to make ends meet.

7. The path of home education. It is a road I never saw, and what a blessed road it is! I feel so privileged to be able to enjoy so much precious time with the children God has blessed us with and watch them grow, see them learn and experience their potential, their imagination, their childhood! I wouldn't trade it for the world. Every moment I get to witness their growing process, and it's already going by so fast. After we decided it was the educational option that would work best for them, which was not an easy decision to make, it still took me a while to feel comfortable embracing the amazing fact that I get to be there to see them experience life! What a blessed role! They only grow up once, and what an honor not to miss it. I wasn't expecting the experience of parenthood to include educator, but now that I'm here--wow, I am blessed. I don't have to trade out those moments. When they learn something new, when they ask thoughtful, curious questions, as we explore the world together, it's all worth it.

8. The world of home education. Oh how God has blessed me with some of the most amazing people I've ever known through the world of homeschooling. These women are amazing and I am blessed to call them friends, I am blessed to know them and their families---not only have I been blessed by friendship but my kids have been blessed by knowing and loving their kids. I am assured time and again, whether it's a good day of the co-op, a fun field trip, a packed roller skating rink, or a number of families finding use of the free books I help to distribute, that this is truly, my Calling.

9. The gift of the written word, both by my hand and by those who move or inform me with what they write.

10. My camera. So many moments captured that I am grateful for. I feel a warm appreciation that comes in focus as I focus on what I am capturing. Mental pictures are of value, too, but I appreciate the ability to make those cherishable moments last even longer.

11. The ability to appreciate my blessings. I may lose sight of them at tense moments of stress or frustration, but I am grateful those moments are few and far between and never last long---the perspective of gratitude is something to be cherished. I am grateful to feel and live and truly believe in Psalm 23 in the depths of my heart and soul.

Monday, November 21, 2011

There was an old lady... delighting in the classics

We recently borrowed a few cute titles from the library that we stretched a little further into more activities. For "There was an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly," the kids used some cheap plastic spider rings to wriggle on their finger every time the line, "that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her" came along. We also did this cute craft where the kids pulled the animals through the old lady as we sang the song. I KNOW AN OLD LADY CRAFT.

The second book was, "There was an Old Lady who swallowed some Leaves" which was really cute, and featured, "perhaps she'll sneeze." At the end she sneezes out a scarecrow, which the kids of course thought was hilarious, and afterward we built our own little mini scarecrows using paper bags, leaves and fresh hay... which they had so much fun pretending to sneeze out that they had fallen apart by the end of the afternoon! ;) What a fun adventure for fall!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Frog and Toad Literature Unit

My daughter is reading the Frog and Toad books by Aronold Lobel. We have The Frog and Toad Thinking Book which gives various activities and creative thinking ideas to accompany the books. They are perfect for her reading level, and the library even had some as books-on-tape which my kids love also. In the past we've compared how frogs and toads are different and similar, but here we are comparing and contrasting how the characters Frog and Toad are different, but still friends.
Here are some related literature activity ideas for this series: E-Theme Frog and Toad.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Place Values: Tens and Ones with Craft Sticks!

This super simple math activity from Everyday Mathematics was the game that finally got the concept of place values to "click" for my five-year-old.

Bundle up some craft sticks in groups of 10 (I did 3 bundles) and leave 9 sticks loose. Make up some quick number cards or tags and mix into a pile to pick from, then have them display the chosen number with the sticks, through place values- the first number being how many tens they need, the second number how many ones.

Hooray for hands-on ideas, and for seeing the "Aha!" light trigger on. She was a pro after just a few minutes, when prior to this, explaining place values on paper was getting us nowhere. Even using the manipulatives before in a similar way with toothpicks, shells, etc. wasn't keeping her interest. Once it was a game, where she got to pick the number and make it, that was just enough element of fun to make it work.

What games or activities have given you success in math concepts? Share, please!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The conscious choice I made to embrace Christian music and reject hypocrisy

An old friend of mine recently made the comment to me at a wedding reception that he was surprised and caught off guard that the newest mix cd I made for friends was steered in the direction it was. He isn't, and never expected me to be, a fan of "Christian music" of which many of the songs I chose were. It didn't surprise me that it surprised him. It was a surprise to myself. Not because I am not a Christian, because I am. But because it's a genre that I'm only recently exploring over the last two years. One of the slightly intoxicated comments he innocently made was that he has always felt that Christian music is an oxymoron.

I have been chuckling about this, in small doses, ever since.

It started that I simply didn't listen to any music with profanity in it once I had children. They were always with me in the car or anywhere, and if we weren't listening to the rock-and-roll version of the ABC song, or talk radio, then it was family friendly music, of which I had a descent collection of anyway, (I've never been 'mainstream' in music) just weeded out a few cds here and there that weren't appropriate for young, precious ears. As my young daughter has approached the tender age of 5, and is growing her range of friends, I found myself analyzing things deeper. Her friends in our homeschool group and in girl scouts range in age. She has best friends who are 4, and best friends that are 5, 6, 7, 8, and even 9. She spends quality time at length with some of these older girls from our hs group, and luckily because they aren't mainstream families, I don't have to worry about them influencing her in the same way older girls of mainstream would. (They play with Barbies and My-Little-Ponies together, not blaring Hannah Montana and trying on training bras!) As she grows through her childhood, her friends will pick up more influence of her, too. My husband and I have issues with the way society tries to steal the youth of little girls. Dressing them as if they were young Britney Spears wannabes, or entire lines of clothes that are aimed at creating fashionable miniature sex objects. Six-to-eight year olds are being sent to school even in our small town with skimpy skirts, "sexy" shirts and, yes, even knee-high black boots. I don't know why some moms feel pressured or agree to allowing their young daughters to be visually prostituted in this way. Is it just like anything else people give no thought to? Do they simply go with what they find on a mainstream rack at the store because the ads and their girls tell them "it's the style" and play on their need to conform and have their children fit in? At what expense? You aren't helping that child's self esteem by making them think clothing and conforming is the way to attain it. But it expands beyond clothing. The media uses every opportunity to market to young girls in this way. That includes television, movies... and music.

Knowing you want to combat our culture and actually doing it, are two different things. Many songs, even if I'm not a fan, have catchy beats and attract attention... but as one good friend humorously pointed out, I don't need my 4-year-old daughter asking me what Lady Gaga's disco stick is.

So it started me on the path to find "cool" music that also packed a meaning. Striving to live the character model I'd like the kids to follow started me down the road to Christian music. My kids are growing up and starting to slowly notice that the world has things to offer. Someday they'll be immersed even more in the consumer-driven world, and hopefully by then we will have instilled the values they need to fully be individuals and make their own decisions. I can't control everything that they see, hear or do. But it is my God-given job to shape it, and that means living and leading by example. I'm thankful for the change in perspective, because I've made the conscious choice that listening to music that reflects your values is not just a smart moral imperative when it comes to raising kids, but even a very cool oxymoron. Yes, it may be rhetorical, even though there is no inherent contradiction, but the properties of faith and music most certainly can occur together. In fact, the irony is, I find the contradiction to be on the contrary. Kids have enough idioms in the world, and the obvious is never "needless to say". Indeed, the trap of allowing things to go unsaid or grow in assumption when it comes to little ones is, at the very least, irresponsible. It matters more the older my children become. Not that we'll "exclusively" listen to just Christian music. But doing what's in the best interest of my children has continued to shape and inspire me into a better version of myself. As with so many other outwardly choices I've made in my life as a parent to avoid dreaded hypocrisy and to show through example what matters in life, I've embraced the journey of finding music that moves me body, mind and soul, and I've grown beyond the need to disregard such inspiration simply because it's considered "cool" and "clever" to only imply and read between the lines to find the depths of revelation.

I find much more grace and revelation in dancing in the kitchen with my kids to Jamie Grace's "Hold Me," than in Gwen Stefani's "Holla-back Girl."