Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enrichment: Sunflowers

Last Friday we participated in our first enrichment program with a family we're friends with. First my friend read us a story about a little boy meeting Vincent Van Gogh titled Van Gogh and the Sunflowers. I loved the book. Son is not a very crafty person, but enjoyed creating the project with his friends. In the end we ended up with some knowledge about this impressionist painter and his paintings and a neat sunflower.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sponge Art

This Thursday I wasn't feeling so well so I wanted to organize activities that the kids could pretty much do on their own, with as little as possible supervision from me. After breaskfast and piano practice, I instituted sponge art. Yesterday my kind sister-in-law gave me a bag of shaped sponges in different colors. What a treasure. I knew the children would love creating and exploring shapes and colors with them. 

Daughter got creative right away and started stamping away in blue with a ladybug, heart, and dog shapes. I took off her shirt and told Son to take off his shirt to minimize the inevitable mess. It wasn't so bad. They are pretty clean kids (unless you put Daughter near a dirt pile!).

I gave Son an assignment. Since we finished our K Math for this year already, I wanted to take a short break before we started on MCP Math Level A. Level A's first few chapters are all a repetition and practice of Kindergarten Math, so I know I'm not going too fast with him. I think we're going to vary with Miquon as well to make it more tactile and fun. 

I told Son that he can pick any shape he likes and any color, but that he can make up his own problem, addition or subtraction. I wasn't going to be picky today. This is what he came up with: 

4+4= (then he proceeded to stamp eight stars)
2+2= (stamped four dolphins)
5+5= (then he proceeded to stamp elephants all around the paper).

I try not to be too fussy with the reversing of numbers, but this is hard for me. I made him correct his number 2 (who looked like an S to me).

I christened it "Math Art" and after two pages of his Phonics workbook and a Level 3 Reader titled Kirby's Circus, we called it a day. Daddy can read a chapter of A Bear Called Paddington to him tonight. This is what a Mommy Sick Day at our house looks like. Not bad. Daughter learned about shapes and colors and Son reinforced his knowledge as well as practiced his math in a low-key way. Below is Son's piece:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

Whenever there's a sale in March, it seems the operative catch phrase is "March Madness". Typically I don't find anything particularly maddening about March, especially in my tranquil woodsy area. However, madness certainly describes this week so far. We had St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday and Aruba Day on Wednesday and Mama was baking, cooking and still not done baking. 

This is why sane people don't have any holidays back to back. We celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing green, going to the local library's Story Time (themed), and eating corned beef and cabbage at 9 o'clock at night (I never knew it took more than two hours to simmer).  The kids are "a li'l bit Irish" like one of Son's old shirts used to say, and so we try to be as green as we possibly can. 

On March 18 it was Aruba Day, the National Day of the Flag and National Anthem. Sounds cheesy, but in Papiamento it sounds respectable. The kids are half Aruban. Son copied the Coat of Arms and I explained to him the significance of each symbol: the hill means the Hooiberg, the tallest elevation in Aruba and where people can see the land from the ocean, the gear means industry and work, the clasped hands means friendship with all countries, the aloe signifies Aruba's first source of prosperity (now it's tourism), the white cross means faith in God, the laurel leaves portray peace, and the lion symbolizes power and generosity. Son also drew the flag. I was going to prepare a local food, but it was not to be that day. I'm going to be preparing pastechis this weekend -- possibly today. We're all somewhat sick and maybe contagious, so perhaps saying home is better anyway.

This weekend Husband's jewelry store is hosting "Treasure Fest", where treasure divers will be talking about their exploits and visitors can see genuine artifacts dated hundreds of years old. Next week we're headed to Tampa with Uncle to attend a wedding, and we may stay an extra day. I've also begun work on an international cookbook.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jumping Arithmetic

Son, typical five-year-old boy I hear, is jumpy. He wants to move, has the cliched ants in his pants. I never understood that term until I lived with Son. During lessons sometimes he gets restless, even though less so when I've done my part and have made sure he's had a wholesome, substantial breakfast and some exercise before lessons. So what do I do? First I did all the wrong things: I admonished him, nagged him, scolded him, even physically tried to stop him from moving.

Then it hit me: the boy needs to move. It's not that he's being defiant, he's not purposefully trying to undermine what I'm doing. He just needs to move. So on days like this I get creative. I either: 

- put some music on and we all dance before lessons
- have him water the lawn or perform some other chore that uses a bit of that energy
- incorporate movement into the lessons

This led us to so much fun when I just grabbed some of our sidewalk chalk (which were previously untouched as.. alas, we have no sidewalk near our home) and announced: let's do jumping math!  I didn't plan this, and as some of my best ideas, it was spur-of-the-moment and born out of a need. Our whole house is tiled, and from the kitchen to the laundry area we have a continuous line of tile. In each tile I wrote numbers, from 1-12 as we're working on arithmetic. 

Then I told Son, who looked curious, eager and interested all at once, "I will tell you the sum, such as 4+3, and you will step onto 4 and jump three spaces ahead." I showed him the numbers. For subtraction, I simply told him e.g. 11-3 and he would jump those spaces. The only thing I had to do was keep track on on which tile he was and go from there. He started with 4+3 which would land him on 7, so my next sum for him would be 7+2, or 7-1 etc. 

He loved it! He also burnt a lot of energy. I let him play as long as he wanted for our last math lesson, as I felt it was important for him to get down the math facts in a fun, non-pressured way. The key was that he was interested, he was learning, and he was getting exercise at the same time. 

If you don't have tile but have a sidewalk or tiled porch or terrace, you can also do this. You can do this on almost any surface you can write on safely with chalk. You can even make your own squares, or don't make squares at all, simply a number line. I've made a mental note for the future to do negative numbers like this when that comes up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Months Later

It's hard to get back into a habit once you've fallen off the bandwagon for just a few short weeks. The few short weeks lingered well into a few short months. Whoops. I apologize.

We have been in fact, very busy. I noticed that my lifestyle includes healthy choices such as not smoking, not doing illicit drugs, being in a long-term monogamous relationship, eating pretty well and resting accordingly. The only missing link to a long life was exercise. More of a couch potato, I resolved to change my ways. My new goal for the year is to get fit.

Hence, I've been spending less time on the computer and more time in the outdoors. Husband helps me do regular walking, biking, playing tennis, and if anything else fails and we don't end up getting out of the house, as a last resort, Wii Fit. As soon as it gets warm enough, which won't be until 85 degrees or higher, I will go swimming as well. We also did a week of shoveling, which is what I call natural exercise.

As a result of a more active lifestyle, Son got more interested in biking. He's going much faster now and enjoys it. He's also taking tennis lessons from his Dad.