Monday, November 29, 2010

Aids to Writing

Even before my daughter could write very well, she loved to make cards for people.  She would draw pictures, add stamps and stickers, and she would stencil someone's name.  She asked me for help with spelling, but she could find the letters on the stencil and then write it on the paper.

Through her initiative with the stencil, we began to use the stencil as a regular part of writing practice, spelling practice, letter recognition, etc.  We began to distinguish capital and lowercase letters and to use the capital letter at the beginning of a name and lowercase for the rest of the name.  Now, due to overuse and being a little torn, I need to replace my stencil for my next daughter, who is learning to write.

We also use letter stamps to spell words as well as letter stickers.  We have played matching games when teaching letter recognition: I write something and then the girls "write" it on their own pages with stamps or stickers.  They have helped me make cards before, by using stickers to spell "Merry Christmas" or "Praying for You."

One of my friends does a Bible verse activity with her son, where they cut out letters from a magazine to spell out a Bible verse and then glue it onto a sheet of paper.  She is framing these to give away as Christmas gifts from her son to grandparents.  I thought this was a great idea! But my older daughter is not too much into cutting and gluing and she wanted me to do the whole thing for her.  Maybe next year...

Anyway, through the use of cutting and gluing, stamping, stickers, and stenciling, we can have practice with spelling, making words, etc without the fine motor skills of having to form the letters perfectly.  Just another way to keep it interesting and build confidence.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Activity TV

Now, I'm not a huge TV fan but occasionally it is a good learning tool.  We have stumbled upon, which whole purpose is activity not just mindless viewing.

We have done some of the more exercise oriented topics, such as cheerleading, ballet, and dance.  We have also viewed clips from cooking, juggling and science experiments.

Now, although the purpose, especially of the more athletic ones, is to get the kids up and moving, my kids are sometimes just glued to watching it.  But I like it because I watch it with the kids and then we can all try to do it - like a short cheer or some dance steps.  It gives me some ideas of things to try with the kids.

We recently watched the classic science experiment of making a volcano erupt with baking soda and vinegar.  My daughter is already asking when do we get to try that.  Soon, I hope.

I enjoyed the cooking one about tools of the trade, because it teaches the names and uses of different items in the kitchen.  I definitely think the kids will learn more about cooking by actually doing it rather than just watching it on tv, but it gives us some ideas and it is something I feel good about them watching when we do have some screen time.

So check out

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Bible Song: John 3:16

A friend recently taught me this song:  John 3:16 to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me"

God so loved the world that He
gave His one and only Son
that whosoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.

Chorus: John 3:16 (3 times)
For God so loved the world

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Theme Week

This week we learned about Thanksgiving, with Bible lessons, library books, movies, handwriting lessons, crafts, and geography lessons.

Our week began with our Bible lesson from our normal Bible coloring book.  The lesson we have progressed to is from Exodus, when the people of Israel were complaining but God was gracious to provide them with quail and manna.  The people of Israel didn't really have a great attitude, but God is a gracious and good God, providing for our needs, so we should respond with gratitude and thanksgiving.  We have been learning 1 Timothy 4:4 "Everything God created is good; receive it with thanksgiving."

I explained the origins of our Thanksgiving celebration.  We had a history/geography lesson.  I pulled out our world map (a map mailed to us by a missions organization).  I showed how the Pilgrims had crossed the ocean from Europe to the New World.  We haven't done a lot of world geography yet, so it was a good introduction to talk about continents and oceans and countries.

The next day we were able to get a few Thanksgiving books from the library.  One book (Friendship's First Thanksgiving) was the history of Thanksgiving, with details about the Mayflower voyage, about the Indians Samoset and Squanto, about planting, about the harvest and about the feast in 1621.  The other book (Celebrate Thanksgiving) had more about modern traditions of food, parades, football and family.

For handwriting practice, we made a list of thanksgiving foods that we want to have next week.  My daughter independently wanted to do a craft: she drew an Indian, then cut it out, put stickers all around it, added a magnet to the back and stuck in on the fridge.

On Friday of this week, we watched on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  It was great - it had even more details than our library book and was a great review to all that we had been talking about this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's Make a Book

It started with stamps and ink, just decorating paper, but it ended as a book my four year old is very proud of.  And now book making has become a regular part of our learning activities.

My four year old daughter had a few pages full of stamps, many of them from my Christmas stamp collection.  We cut out some of the pictures into square pages and stapled them together.  On the back pages, I wrote words to describe the next page, mostly dictated by my daughter.  It was a pretty simple book.  It said something like, "two penguins" or "a black bird" on one page and "a gold bird" on another.  Some pages actually had a whole sentence.  But it was a fun activity and my daughter was proud she could "read" this book to everyone.

That was several months ago and we are trying new things with our book making.  I bought some stickers that she helped me pick out.  We make a book out of some small pages stapled together (like a forth page). She puts one or two stickers on each page and then she writes one or two words describing it.  This has become our spelling and handwriting practice.  She is able to sound out a lot of words for herself, but I help her as she needs help.  So far, it has been a lot of animal stickers - cow, horse, cat, fox, bug, sheep, pig, etc. (very doable words).  But we also have lots more stickers in our collection that we are working toward - sun, star, barn, tree, ball, and harder words like butterfly, shovel, etc.  She sometimes wants to write adjectives as well "black, pink, sparkily, small" or numbers if she puts on more stickers - 5 butterflies, 3 stars, etc.

I bought a storymaking kit ($10 at Wal-mart).  It had two hard bound books, that have lines for writing at the bottom of each page and blank space at the top for illustrations.  It also came with 100 stickers and some markers, for the illustration part.  We have started working on that a little.  At first I had envisioned my daughter actually doing all the writing and illustrating herself, but in our planning phase, she came up with quite the elaborate story.  I wrote what she dictated and she is working on illustrating it.  ...

Other ideas for using book making for teaching, is to make a book to review what you have recently learned.  I purchased some planet stickers and we will eventually make a book out of these stickers, labeling them.  This type of activity could be done with any number of topics.  You could use stickers, stamps, cut outs from magazines or drawings and the words can be simple or an elaborate description, whatever fits the topic and the interest and ability of your child.

I love the idea of making books, because it is so versatile.  It keeps the learning interesting and interactive and at the end the child has something to show off what they are learning.