Category Archives: Kids Activities

Six Must Read Christmas Books

We schedule the entire month of December as our homeschool Christmas Break, but if we don’t have something planned, I find we get irritable and worn out.  So instead of loafing for an entire month we take a casual approach to school, join our library’s winter reading program, read a few Christmas favorites and don’t worry too much if we miss a day here and there.  This gives us plenty of time to craft, bake and visit neighbors without descending into total chaos.

Here are a few of the Christmas books I find myself recommending over and over!

The Glorious Impossible, by Madeline L’Engle tells the story of Christ as seen in Giotto’s frescoes from the Scrovengi Chapel.  We used it last year because it just happened that we were studying Giotto just when Christmas rolled around.  Easiest artist study ever! And we are re-reading this year as a way of keeping in the true spirit of Christmas.

Apple Tree Christmas, by Trinka Hakes Noble, tells the story of a young girl who has a hard time getting into the spirit of Christmas after losing something special to her.  We loved this one so much that we checked it out from the library for the whole month of December a few years running. Finally I started to feel bad about hoarding it and bought us our own copy.  Now we read it year round.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss.  Do I really need to say more?  We love the book, and the original movie too!  Just try not to recite along when you’re watching the movie.  I find the kids don’t appreciate it.

The Christmas Day Kitten, by James Herriot tells the heart warming story of how a kitten finds a home with an old lady and three hounds.  All of James Herriot’s stories give you a cozy feeling, and especially so when you’re snuggled up next to the fire with a cup of cocoa and your loved ones.

The Family Under The Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson is a story about a family who finds themselves homeless just as winter sets in.  They meet an old man who shows them the ropes of life on the streets, and helps them find a new kind of home.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson is the hilarious tale of the horrors that ensue when “the worst kids in the history of the world” decide they’d like to star in the town Christmas Pageant.

FYI these are NOT affiliate links, they’re just here for your convenience.

Even better, why not see if your local library has these titles in circulation?

Feel free to drop a book suggestion or two of your own in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Five Baby Steps To Getting The Family Outdoors

We all know by now how important time spent in nature is for our health, and especially the health of our growing children. Not only is fresh air and exercise essential for healthy bodies, more and more studies are linking time in nature with mental and emotional health.

Unfortunately getting out is one of those things we often strongly believe in, and yet don’t quite manage to do. I know. The commute is killing your evenings, and soccer is eating up your Saturdays. You don‘t know where to go, and when you get there the kids melt down. Then there’s the mess when you get home.

I had all those same issues keeping us from getting out as often as we knew we should. Finally I had to decide that getting outside was as essential as food and water and build bridges over the hurdles keeping us from making it happen.

1. Clear Time

We are in a over-scheduled season at the moment and it is making outdoor time harder to accomplish. For future planning purposes I intend to keep each kid to one activity at a time, and be very selective about my volunteer time. But for now one thing I’ve done to get us out is to make a morning walk part of our homeschool checklist. That way even if we can’t clear time later in the day, we’ve had some fresh air and a bit of nature first thing after morning chores. It’s not quite enough time for my taste, but it’s better than an hour in front of a screen any day.

2. Gear Up

As the old saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. Last winter I gave up trying to squeeze into my old snow gear and finally bought the right size. Suddenly taking the kids out sledding didn’t seem like such a chore. Having the right gear for whatever Mother Nature throws at you will keep you comfortable and enjoying your outdoor time much longer. At a minimum you’ll want to dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and a carry a backpack for snacks, water and a first aid kit.

When it comes to sporting goods, I’d recommend renting gear for your first season so that you can decide whether the new activity is going to stick before you shell out your hard-earned money.

3. Pair Up

If you don’t live in an area with easily accessible open spaces it may be that you are uncomfortable getting out because you are unsure where to go, and when you do get out you are on unfamiliar turf. It can be helpful to find an outdoorsy friend to show you the ropes until you get your legs under you. Another option is to join a nature study group or an outdoor education club such as Scouts or Camp Fire. If there is cell coverage where you venture, bringing a phone can also give you a sense of security.

4. Start Small

If you’re new to getting outdoors with the family you won’t want to jump right in with a full-on hike in the woods. Instead find an out-of-the-way corner in a nearby park, and ease into the dirt, bugs, and weather with short initial visits. As you get more comfortable being outdoors you can try a short jaunt to a good picnic spot, and then a day hike before taking on longer treks, or over-nighters.

5. Just Be

When you’re decompressing from a hyper-scheduled lifestyle it can feel like you should be doing something at all times. For that reason it may be good to have a scavenger hunt or a nature journal with you for your first few visits to the woods, especially if you are bringing children who are accustomed to fully regimented days. But part of nature’s wonder is the peace it can bring when you are able to let go and just be. Eventually you’ll find yourself ditching the crutches and letting your senses fully engage with the sights, smells and sounds surrounding you, while the kids get engrossed in watching bugs or clouds.

Getting out isn’t always easy, but I’m more and more convinced its absolutely essential. Taking these baby-steps will get you on the path to more time outdoors and all the good it can do for your mind, body and spirit.

For those who already regularly get out, what baby steps would you add?

Schooling Outside The Box

Homeschooling has been such a blessing this year.  I love being with the kids (most of the time 😉  ) and I love watching their wheels turn, while they make new connections, and discoveries.  And while I’m sure I still have TONS to learn, I feel pretty confident sharing our successes and tricks.

A topic that has come up more than once when I’m over-zealously sharing our experience with public school moms is “I’d be scared I’d miss something”.  That is a valid concern, particularly for someone such as myself, who didn’t want to use a “box curriculum”.  Not only do we not have the budget for a complete “open and go” curriculum, but I fear I’d get bored and toss it anyway, or dislike parts of it and just not use those parts, which would lead to–you guessed it–those pesky gaps in learning.  Depending on your philosophy, and your state’s law, that could be a problem down the line.  I happen to believe there will always be gaps, whichever education you pursue for your child, so philosophically, gaps weren’t a huge concern for me.  But there is a certain continuity needed for skill building–I’m thinking math and language arts here– and it’s important to comply with your state’s laws.  (More on my opinion about gaps here)

One tool I’ve used to be sure we’re meeting our state’s requirements is a Course Of Study. Simply put this is a one page outline covering what we plan to do for each subject for the year. It may sound overwhelming, but if you’re at the point where you’re researching homeschool, chances are you’ve already started this process mentally.

The first step is to find out which subjects are required by your state.  If your state doesn’t set requirements for homeschool, you’ll need to decide which subjects are important to you.  Some considerations are future college goals, necessary life skills, and any obstacles you anticipate for your student.  We live in a state that requires 11 subjects, but doesn’t specify when, how, or at what level each subject is to be covered.  For my Course of Study/outline each subject is a heading.

Now that I have my headings, I just plug in what materials or resources I plan to use for each subject.  Some activities, and resources may cover more than one subject, and that is okay.  I simply list them separately for each subject.  For instance I have Garden listed under Occupational Ed. and Health.

If you’re not sure what to use for a particular subject, a simple google search will provide an overwhelming number of options.  I’d recommend you start by asking homeschool families in your area what they are using, and if they would consider letting your observe a school day, or subject period.

Here’s my Course Of Study for 2016/17

Half Acre Cottage School
2016-2017
Course of Study
Required subjects: reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.

Reading

  1. Araya will read independently and narrate back to me from her choice of level appropriate books.
  2. Montana will read with me using Mc Guffey Readers, word building with scrabble tiles, Moby Max
  3. Whenever possible the other subjects will be literature based (ie living books for history, natural science etc.)
  4. Weekly library visits

Math

  1. Math Mammoth (workbook)
  2. Xtramath/ Moby Max

Science

  1. Nature notebooks (observations lead to questions/research)
  2. Weekly nature hike
  3. Burgess Bird Book For Children
  4. Museum and Dam Field Trips

Language arts (language/writing/spelling/grammar)

  1. Reading (living books for history, science, literature, and free reads)
  2. Copy work from the Bible, literary classics, (and Mc Guffey Readers for Montana )
  3. Daily journal prompt
  4. Vocabulary and spelling taken from reading selections
  5. Araya will compose written narrations for some readings.
  6. A Child’s Garden Of Verses

History/Social Studies

  1. An Island Story
  2. Fifty Famous Stories Retold (emphasize that some stories are based on real people/events but heavily fictionalized)
  3. Viking Tales
  4. Biogrophies: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Buffalo Bill

Health

  1. Daily life-conversations with mom, meal planning
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Weekly nature walks/hikes
  4. Garden

Occupational Education

  1. Life– chores, daily responsibilities
  2. Volunteering/ Camp Fire
  3. Garden
  4. Handicrafts (sewing and cooking at present)

Art and Music Appreciation

  1. Artist Studies
  2. Nature Journal
  3. Composer and Folk Song Studies
  4. Handicrafts

Remember, while we do have laws we need to follow, many of us choose to homeschool so that we can give our children a customized education.  Hopefully this helps you get an idea how to put together your course of study in such a way that you don’t forget any required topics.  Feel free to comment with questions on how to actually use any of the resources I’ve listed.

 

 

 

Teaching Multiple Ages, One Room Schoolhouse Style

One thing that initially drew me to homeschooling, and especially the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education was the idea that “school time” should not take all day. I love the idea of being done with our sit down work by noon, freeing up afternoons for “a scamper on the lawn”, nature walks, and handicrafts (translation: afternoons are mostly free time, with occasional input from me).  Learn more about Miss Mason’s Methods here.

But I have three kids. The Baby is very busy, and requires a lot of attention to keep her out of trouble. The middle girl is a struggling reader (we’re pursuing the possibility of dyslexia) and will need me to read everything except her reading practice to her. Finally my oldest is a voracious reader, holds her own in math and is a self-professed nerd. But she is also a video game addict who tends to think she already knows everything, so I have to watch her to make sure she isn’t rushing or skating.

If I were to work with each of the school aged girls separately while also attempting to juggle the toddler we’d be at it all day.

My solution is to combine as many subjects as possible and have my oldest read for the younger two as necessary.

In practice that means we combine everything except math and language arts (reading practice for the 7yo, spelling/vocab for the 9yo).

Since we follow a literature and narration based curriculum rather than a traditional textbook/fill in the blanks type curriculum found in most public schools it hasn’t been a problem starting them at the same level.  Levels in this system don’t necessarily correspond to traditional “grade level”, and students generally graduate somewhere between level 9 and 11, with a few outliers finishing up in level 8 and some moving onto level 12.  Parents who have used this program and sent kids on to college have reported that level 8 is approximately equivalent to grade 12.

We read great literature, live with art and music, and observe nature. Each student makes her own connections and takes from the material at her own level.  Again we are doing math and language arts separately, so they are getting skills practice at their appropriate “grade level”.  (As a side note I’m finding that my 7yo struggling reader is able to retain and narrate at a deeper level than my 9yo voracious reader.  Both comprehend well enough, but I suspect that the 9 year old is deeper ingrained in the fill-in-the-blanks mentality.  It is hard for me to resist asking pointed questions rather than let her struggle to retell the selection in her own words.)

How does it work out on the daily?

Monday – Thursday

Each kid has a spiral notebook with the day’s work laid out for them.  It’s really just a checklist. If they are up early enough to finish #1 before I’m coffeed up they may have some electronics time.

Next comes Bible and Breakfast. (Reading, Music and History, for the record)  While I’m making breakfast I play either hymns or Seeds.  We eat breakfast together and then my older girl reads the day’s bible story.  I’m not following the AO Bible rotation this year.  Instead we are reading together from The Story For Children.

Next is Morning chores. (This is Occupational Ed, for the record) They get dressed, make their beds and feed and water the animals.  We try to keep it to 20 minutes, but sometimes I have to crack the whip to get them back inside after they feed and water.

After Morning Chores comes math.  (You guessed it…this is math) We haven’t settled on our Math curriculum yet, so for the time being the younger one is practicing 2nd grade math using worksheets printed from the internet, and the older one is doing Khan Academy.  I try to keep Math to about 15 minutes.

Now it’s almost 9:00 and up next is Copy Work.  (penmanship, grammar, spelling) This looks different depending on the age of the child, youngest students start with letter formation, then move onto short words etc.  Right now both of my school girls are working on developing the habit of always making their best effort.  I require either five minutes of perfect effort,  or perfect execution, whichever comes first.  Right now they are using printed handwriting worksheets with short phrases, but will move on to copying selections from their reading freehand when they consistently produce nice work.

“A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course…Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself–let everything he does be well done… Closely connected with this habit of ‘perfect work’ is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished.” – Charlotte Mason

After Copywork comes our daily “circle time”. (Music)  We stretch, wiggle, and listen to/sing a folk song (usually a new one each week) to break the tedium of seat work. I also give each kid a chance to share something.  I usually ask a leading question such as “what was your favorite part of…”? We finish up Circle Time with a poem.  This week we are working on memorizing “Foreign Lands” from A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Up next we move onto our literature selections for the day. (The Literature selections cover History, Geography, Natural History/Science, Social Studies and of course Reading, but not necessarily all every day) We are following Ambleside Online Year One, with a few modifications for books we happen to have already read, or that I’ve chosen to substitute something else for. We are skipping Aesop, because we had already heard most of them, and Trial and Triumph because I didn’t manage to get it purchased and also because some other mothers on the AO forum thought it was boring and skippable. (how’s that for honest?) I’ve also added some independent reading for my older girl.  More about that later. The folks at Ambleside have been kind enough to lay the readings out in a 36 week schedule and allow each family to break the weekly readings up in whichever way works best for them.  I find that it works out to about two literature selections per day.   I try to pair a shorter reading such as one of Fifty Famous Stories Retold, with a slightly longer one such as a Parable from Nature, so that I don’t end up reading for ten minutes one day and 40 another.  This way it works out to about 30 minutes of reading and narrating each day.  Some readings have to be broken up over multiple days.  For short stories, I read the whole selection and then listen to narrations. For longer ones I’ll find a natural stopping point and have them narrate before reading more and having them narrate again.

Next is language arts.   I work directly with my middle girl on reading practice, while my oldest reads independently.  Reading practice with the middle girl is phonics flashcards, word building puzzles, and her reading aloud from beginning readers.  The older girl is reading from Lamb’s Shakespeare.  (Two Gentlemen of Verona, at present) Each day she narrates to me what has happened so far in the story and looks up the definition for one word that I have selected from the passage.

We finish up before lunch (around 11:00) and after lunch we have a mandatory Quiet Time/Reading Hour.  I put the baby down for a nap, put on some spa music, and the older two take books to upstairs for an hour.  I hope they read, but honestly as long as they don’t bother me, wake the baby, or burn the house down I don’t care if they doodle, daydream, gossip or sleep.  (Translation: Mama either gets to take a nap or get some writing done)

After quiet time they have free time – I strongly prefer and urge that they play outside in the mud, trees or water- (Nature Study) until 3:30 when we listen to classical music while doing afternoon chores. (More Music and Oc Ed) Afternoon chores typically include a quick clean up of any dishes, toys and books that are lying out, then sweeping and vacuuming while I tidy the kitchen (read: scrape off the top layer of mess) and start dinner.  At 4:00 they are given a snack to take outside so that Daddy doesn’t come home to a messy house full of loud children.  In September Gymnastics will start again, so whichever afternoon that ends up being on will also end up being our library/town/errand day, in which case we’ll head for town right after Quiet Hour.

Friday is reserved for making up anything we missed during the week (we haven’t had to do any catch up yet–there seems to be plenty of time M-TH), Nature walks/Nature Journaling, Art Study (Science, Art, and PE, for those keeping track of subjects), visiting friends, and planning for next week.  More about Friday later.

So far keeping the kids on the same AO year has worked well even given their different reading levels.  I love the simplicity of the approach, and the flexibility of being able to add, sub, or skip where needed.  Most of all I love being “done” by lunch and the structure that having a daily checklist has added to our home.

All that said, we’re a whole 4 weeks in here…give me some grace if I have to change things up later 😉

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Sensory Toybox

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend in parenting.

We’re convinced that our children aren’t getting enough “sensory play”, so we manufacture opportunities to feel a new texture, hear a new sound or absorb a new odor–yeah, I said absorb a new odor.

You know you’ve made the essential oil play dough.

Me too.

With Sparkles.

We’ve all seen the Pinterest boards. We’ve all made the busy bags, paint squishy thingy-dealys, and pop bottles full of beans. The’re fun. And they’re super handy for the plane ride, or for seriously inclement weather, or for preschool rooms where a dozen sets of fingers must be kept out of mischief.  They have serious applications in occupational therapy.

While they definitely have their places, and may be very important for kiddos who struggle with various sensory disorders, it’s been slowly dawning on me that for most kids these things are almost completely unnecessary (I say almost because there will always be waiting rooms and airplane rides).

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But how will you make sure your child is adequately stimulated, you ask?

Friends, I’m here to tell you, there’s something better out there.

You know, OUT THERE.

Where there is no electrical outlet for your glue gun.

If we all just let (or even force) our children outside in good weather, AND in bad weather, with and without shoes, coats, hats and toys, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I promise they will get all the sensory stimulus they need.  They will even learn some stuff.  They will learn how much water makes a mud which will squish sloppily through the fingers. Maple leaves smash into a delightful green slime.  Water from a hose laying in the sun is HOT!  Falling on the rocks can hurt.  Balancing on a slippery log, or steep porch rail requires concentration.  Twigs from the cherry tree are bitter.

Who needs a playhouse?

When they are new at playing in the actual world, it may take practice and getting used to, but before long the little tykes run, jump, climb, squish, smash, sniff, and build until their little sensory banks are full.

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Then they come in the house (hosing them off before you let them in is optional) and probably take a nap.  Do you know what that means?

YOU can take a nap too!  

You don’t have to seize the opportunity to bedazzle a rain stick for them, because they went out and heard, felt, tasted the actual rain.

Am I saying you should toss your busy bags?

NO!  Like I said before, they have their place.

But let’s also not attempt to do the job of nature with any number of clever doodads.

It’s just too sad.

A Word on Volunteerism and This Week’s To-Do List

If you’ve noticed less of me online it’s because I’ve gone completely mad and volunteered for everything under the sun. 

Moms, sometimes it might be okay to just sign your kid up for an activity and not volunteer to help out, or run the program, or sit on the board.  Maybe they call for volunteers and instead of yes, you say “Oh shoot, wish I could”.  Stick with volunteering for those activities about which you are passionate. 

Honestly it’s not that bad, but when we are eating pbj or hot dogs for dinner, and getting to bed late -again -I am wondering what was wrong with just raising the kids and taking care of the home and garden.  The plus side to all of these activites is that they are in the evening, when my energy levels tend to be highest, unfortunately that is usually when I take care of housework and planning, so those areas are suffering a tiny bit.

This week I need to accomplish some organizing and streamlining so that we can still have a normal life, even though I’ve over-scheduled us.  This is no one’s fault but my own.  I just need to learn to do my mommy work in the morning instead of afternoon/evening, and not take the orders from a six-year-old who comes home waving a flyer and saying “We have to go to a meeting and sign up tonight“!

Here are my goals for the week:

  • Make a meal plan and take full advantage of the slow cooker.  I’ve had varying levels success with making and sticking to a meal plan.  Life is inevitably easier when I stick with it.  This is THE list item which will have the most impact on daily life here. 
  • Clean out the chicken coop and partition the corner that we use for brooding.  It’s almost chickie time!
  • Get my rump out to the garden and get my spinach and brassicas going.
  • File taxes.  Not fun, and I’m not sure it’s even really required by the law,  but we’ll do it because we feel we should.  Also I don’t want to pay a lawyer and back taxes if the above video is wrong.  And seriously, I don’t have time to research this for myself.  But it is food for thought.
  • Bring the recycling to town.  Curbside is available here, but taking it to town is free and I’m headed that way anyway–lots of times. 
  • Drop off some paperwork at the Campfire office. 

What are you up to this week?

This post may be shared at The Homeacre Hop, Raising Homemakers, No Ordinary Blog Hop, and The Homestead Barn Hop. 

 

 

How We Help Our Children Express Gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming soon, many of us are counting our blessings a little more than usual.  That’s wonderful!  I love hearing what folks are thankful for.  A kind husband.  Bedtime for kids.  Enough money.  Wine.  You get the idea.  There are as many things to be thankful for as there are grateful souls in the world. 

At our house we do a couple of things to try to keep the “attitude of gratitude” all year round.  We hope our children will grow up with the positive outlook one gains from the ready recognition of blessings. 

The first thing we do to encourage our children to be thankful is to gently remind them when thanks are in order.  You’ve all done this.  The lady at the bank hands your kid a lollypop. You tilt your head toward your kid. 

“What do we tell the nice lady?”

And then your kid thanks the nice lady. I bet you didn’t even realize you were teaching your child something beyond common courtesy.  But you are!  You’re teaching your child to recognize a blessing. 

The other thing we do is to pray regularly.  When I was growing up our bedtime prayers consisted of the usual rhyme. 

“Now I lay me down to sleep…” 

 That is a great prayer, and littles love it, partly because it rhymes, partly, probably, because it is the same each time, lending another layer of consistency to the night-time routine. 

 At our house we do something a little different though.  I ask the kids to come up with two things they’re thankful for each bedtime.  Sometimes they have to dig deep to come up with any, sometimes they dish out the same ones several nights in a row, and sometimes they shock me with things I would never have thought to be thankful for.  Like Homework.  Really?  

Although a child who is thankful for homework makes me a little worried that there may have been a mix up at the hospital, I’m glad to see both of our children expressing gratitude.  Sometimes they even encourage me without realizing it. 

One such instance was a week or so ago.  We were leaving the house to take the six-year-old to the school bus.  We were on the verge of being late.  We’d searched the house for the coats only to remember at the last minute that they were in the car, the thirty-two degree car.  Then we’d nearly forgotten her lunch box.  All of this on top of the fact that I am not a morning person.  Then the little one was dawdling behind.  I turned to hurry her and saw her kneeling in the dirt, hands folded. 

 “Dear Jesus, Thank you for my love, Thank you for my family.   Amen”. 

Then she was up and running. I wanted to be mad that we were almost late, and that the jeans she’d just put on were already filthy, but seeing her take a moment to give thanks, without my prompting her to, made the rest of my day.  And I was thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Yet Another New Use For An Old Tin

We recently traveled to attend a friend’s wedding and knew we’d need to keep the kids happy on the plane.  We stocked up on fresh coloring books, crayons and snacks and put together kits for their backpacks.  Placing crayons in old Altoids tins ensured that they wouldn’t be broken in the airport shuffle.  I’m glad to report we made it home with all of our crayons intact. 

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Today I’m linked up at Works for Me Wednesday!

Sneaky Beginning Phonics Ideas

My five year old daughter, Araya,  has always been a dream student.  I started teaching her at home early on and she has always thrived on traditional methods.  It’s no surprise that she spits out ten-dollar words and complicated but correct sentence structures almost daily.  She’s attending Pre-K at public school now, and she loves it

When Araya started school, I decided it was time to start some one on one work with three year old Montana.  She is so kind, and has a very quick wit and a sophisticated sense of humor, making her seem older than she is.  I thought she’d take right to “doing school” with Mama just as Araya had, so I fired up the printer and got some preschool worksheets.  Montana was waiting patiently at the table when I sat down with her “schoolwork” and a crayon.  She took one look, got up and ran away.  Yikes.  This is uncharted territory for me but I could see I was going to have to be a little sneaky about teaching this one.

Since I believe that when one can read one can learn anything, I am mostly concerned with laying the groundwork for early reading.  First and foremost I read aloud to both of my children nearly every day.  I started this when the oldest was about two weeks old.  It familiarizes them with proper grammar and rythms of the english language, fosters the ability to focus for increasing periods of time, and leads to a desire to read independently.

Montana is at the stage now, where she wants to read on her own so my next challenge is to help her recognize the letters of the alphabet even out of order, and know which sound each represents.  Araya was more than happy with “All about the letter A”  type worksheets, but this isn’t going to work for Montana (yet) so I’ve had to find other ways to sneak the letters in.

My favorite sneaky trick is a video I found on You Tube.  Who’d have thought?  I play it twice in the morning and twice in the evening.  She thinks she’s just watching a fun cartoon, but she’s already singing the letters and thier sounds right along with the video, and even on her own throughout the day.  I am so thankful for the internet!

I have also made a game of using phonics to talk about what we’re doing.  For instance she might ask me for a glass of water, and I reply ” I’d love to help you get some water.  W says w, w-w-water.”  Or I might say “lets fold some laundry.  L says l, l-l-laundry.”  Sometimes she rolls her eyes, sometimes she laughs, sometimes she repeats it.  She may think I’m being silly, but her brain is so spongy right now that she can’t help learning whatever she hears and sees.

After a while I’ll start ask what letter things start with to guage where she is, and which letters need extra attention.  When she has all the letters and sounds down, I’ll start her on blending.  If she has gotten past her aversion to structured learning, we’ll start with simple consonant-vowel-consonant words on one side of a flash card and a picture on the other.  If she is still against tradition, I’m thinking we’ll create flashcards and post them around the house to read any time we pass them during our day.  I suppose I won’t know for sure until the time comes.

Although it’s a challenge to find ways around a kid’s aversion to “book learning”, it’s one I enjoy.  It’s so fun to watch little minds grow and change.  I really look forward to helping Montana find her learning style.  I think she’ll be a hands-on learner, and I think it’s a wonderful way to learn.  I just hope the public school system doesn’t assign her a label since she doesn’t want to sit at a desk and do worksheets.  I’m probably getting ahead of myself anyway, she may love classic methods when she’s old enough for public school.  That is, if we’re still doing public school when she’s old enough.

Any Ideas?

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