September 27, 2010

Teeth Books

We read a LOT of books about teeth. Losing your first tooth is a very popular subject, apparently, and has spawned numerous bad books. I know--I read through dozens before picking the best of the lot to bring home and read to my children.

Here are my favorite books from our teeth unit:

Toot and Puddle: Charming Opal by Holly Hobbie. I love all the Toot and Puddle books, and this is definitely the most charming "losing your first tooth" book that we read.

George Washington's Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora.

This was a huge hit in our house because it was interesting and my son is obsessed with George Washington. If you look online, you can find lots of pictures of George Washington's fake teeth. Pretty cool, actually.

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby B. Beeler. (Did you know that some Eskimo tribes put the tooth in food of some sort and feed it to a female dog? I didn't!)

The School Play by Rosemary Wells.

Why Do We Need to Brush Our Teeth by Isaac Asimov.

ABC Dentist: Healthy Teeth from A to Z by Harriet Ziefert.

PS--Sorry I haven't posted in forever. I am teaching a course for a local university and it takes a lot of time to put together a course for the first time. I have grand intentions though, so don't give up on me!!

September 11, 2010

Teeth: Health and Manners Unit

We finished our first unit: Taking Care of Our Teeth. I think this unit best falls under the "Health/Manners" school category. While it was short, we certainly enjoyed it.

Day One: Read a bunch of books about teeth. (My next post will list our favorite teeth books.) Then, draw and label a picture of a tooth.

Day Two: Read a bunch of books about teeth, including one about George Washington's teeth--or lack of teeth, rather. Make poor George a new set of teeth out of clay (or playdough--or something like unto it).

Day Three: Take your children to a dentist appointment. (I didn't even remember they had dental appointments for the week I scheduled the teeth unit--that's homeschooling serendipity right there.)

Day Four: Read a bunch of books about teeth. Get your little sister, who is a dental hygienist, to come and give a fantastic presentation on teeth. I know this might not work for everyone, but it sure worked for me!!

Cowen learning how to brush in a circular motion.

Lindsay had her hubby and myself be teeth. She covered our faces (not quite sure why) and stand back to back. Sterling said he was hanging his head in shame for being such a dirty tooth. Whatever. The kids put little pieces of paper all over us that represented stuff that sticks on your teeth. Then, Lindsay gave the kids a turn to "brush" the stuff off with a car windshield scraper brush. The kids thought that was awesome.

It was a good object lesson, made even better because the kids couldn't get to the stuff stuck on our backs. Lindsay rubbed "dental floss" between us to get the hard to reach stuff. It certainly made me think about flossing periodically. Ahem.

Cowen looking through Lindsay's magnifying glasses.

Lindsay let the kids take out all the teeth and then Miriam put them all back where they should go based on how many roots the tooth had. Miriam loved it and only got two teeth out of place.

Lindsay showing the kids how she cleans teeth with that vicious looking picker tool.

The unit only lasted four days but the kids loved it, didn't have a chance to get bored with it, and was sorely needed around here.

September 6, 2010

Twas the Night Before School

I love the excitement of the night before school starts. I love to see new school clothing laid out neatly, after the children spent agonizing minutes deciding which new items to wear first.

I love that the kids tucked their underwear into their new clothes, and out of sight.

And yes, Cowen laid out his clothes in the girls' room. It was more companionable, I guess.
Miriam has been so thoroughly anxious to get her hands on the school books (from the library). She had a thirty second glimpse while I took the picture then I shuffled her out the door.

Emeline's cubicle/locker is pretty empty. That will change as I figure out what she wants to do and she refuses to throw anything away.

IKEA bookshelves turned sideways and hung on the wall. Perfect for school. Miriam helped me finish labeling all the binders today and then she carefully placed each one in the correct cubicle.
The kids have art books, math binders, logic binders, and a binder to hold all their best work. Along with a few notebooks for language arts.

Miriam was practically giddy looking through all her notebooks and binders. And, of course, right now they should be sleeping but the can't.

It isn't Christmas, but it is still pretty thrilling.

September 1, 2010


Today I met a new friend at the library--Norah--who recognized me from Frolic and Farce. I felt like a movie star. This note is to her.

Nora, look up my post called Yankee Peddler. It is categorized under Frolic and Farce on the sidebar. It talks about some things I did with early American history and the curriculum I used. I would be more than willing to lend that curriculum to you for the year if you are interested. It has a TON of great ideas.

Just let me know.

And, thank you, for making the effort to say hello to me. It is always fun to meet another homeschooler.


Counting Down

Hello, Homeschoolers!!

I'm getting pretty excited for next Tuesday when we officially start our school year. Some of you sent me good ideas for how to make the first day special and I'm using them! On Monday I'll give my kids all their school clothes to look through and ooh and aah over. I love watching them decide what to wear for the first day. My son always lays his clothes out on the floor in a person shape--including shoes. Very cute.

Tuesday morning we'll go through our new routine for the first time. It might be rocky but I've promised myself I will be CHEERFUL no matter what--the entire first day. So we'll take baths and tidy rooms and get dressed (and take time out for first day of school pictures) and have a fancy breakfast.

Then we'll have devotional. We're studying the New Testament this year and focusing our discussions on the life of Christ and how we can be like him. Our devotionals are short--we read out of the illustrated New Testament, read an article in the Friend, sing a song, and say a prayer. It isn't lengthy but it sets the right tone for the day and reminds me of one of the many, many reasons that I'm doing this. It also gives me an opportunity to bear testimony Mon-Fri to my children. President Eyring said that the best way to improve our teaching is to stop saying things as quasi-statements and instead declare them with firmness and bear testimony more often. That's my goal for devotional--to bear testimony of at least one thing we talk about.

After devotional is music time. I am so excited for music time this year--or first few months of the year. I found a folk song guitar book on amazon that I'll be purchasing for my hubby for Christmas. In anticipation of Christmas morning when he pulls out his guitar to try out some songs, and my children flock to him as though the guitar has a gravitational pull that exceeds the earth's, I'm teaching my children songs that are in the book. That way, hubby will start playing and my children can start singing. Picture it. Magic. We're learning Erie Canal and Scarborough Fair and The Cat Came Back, among others. I also threw in Mama Mia and Waving Flag--just for fun. Music time is always a highlight of our day. We sing, we learn choreography, we dance, we play instruments. Then we sing at rest homes once we've learned all the music. My children love it. So do I.

After music we'll have a group activity that will be easy for the two youngest to join in. We're starting this year with dental health. I can't wait to make teeth out of clay and label teeth parts and practice correct brushing. Trust me--we need this unit.

I have a five year old boy--that means I work in lots and lots of breaks into our schedule. Music time is very active, the morning activity is hands-on, and before lunch we have "PE." That usually involves the children racing from one fire hydrant to the other, doing sit-ups, push-ups, "jumping jacks" (are my children just really uncoordinated or are jumping jacks really hard for kids???), and stretching. I love watching a three year old stretch. Hilarious.

After lunch is quiet time for Emeline, nap time for Eli, and work with Mom time for the older two. Cowen does have a short quiet time at first (this really helps him refocus later--have any of you found that with your youngsters?) while I read my scriptures and Miriam reads to herself. This accomplishes two things: 1) I read my scriptures; and 2) Miriam sees me reading my scriptures. After that, Miriam reads out loud to me for 15 minutes. She loves this snuggle time with me and it is probably the most valuable thing I do with her all day.

I'm starting something new this year that I am very excited about. After Miriam reads to me, we're going to have baptism prep. A short, 10-15 minutes, reading and talking about baptism. What it is, what it means, what she should expect. I have a baptism book that someone gave to me when I got baptized that I am going to use for a conversation starter. We'll read a few pages and then talk about it. If anyone has other good baptism resources, please--shout them out!

Cowen won't be neglected, especially now that he's officially a kindergartner. We'll be spending our 15 minute one-on-one time going over letters and sounding things out. He likes to do that with me, but 15 minutes is a pretty generous estimate. He usually lasts five minutes before he's "done" with reading. That's okay. We'll just take it one minute at a time with him.

When both children have had their one-on-one time, we'll combine again for the last hour of school. I've thought and thought and thought about the math/language art issues I had last year and decided the fault lay mostly in me. I'm a teacher--by trade and by choice. I can make most subjects interesting if I choose. Last year, I didn't choose to make math interesting. I didn't do fun lesson plans. We just worked out of a book. This year I am taking myself to task and restructuring math and LA. First, I'm going to trade weeks as trying to do too much makes me stressed out and hurried. The important things--music, family bonding, hands-on activities, devotional--all take place in the morning, so anything that gets done in the afternoon is bonus. (Remember, I don't think kids need to go to school at all until they are 8--I'm not what anyone would consider an academics nazi).

So, the first week is LA. I have a few materials that I love like Sequential Spelling and Imagine It! reading comprehension tests and Language Lessons for the Very Young. I'm going to use those resources but also keep firmly in mind that I am a teacher. I will introduce new concepts in accessible and fun ways. That's my job. The second week will be math, and same goes. I have more resources to draw from this year, but I'll remember that my own creative brain is the most important of those resources.

Friday mornings are nature day because no one in their right mind stays inside every day in Utah in the fall. It is really the best time of year anywhere, but especially here after the dreadful summer heat. I already have a list of places we're visiting.

And that is it. My grand plan in a nutshell. Probably more info than you wanted, but it felt good to write it. To know all my summer musings and prayer have solidified into a plan of action. Now I just need to finish putting everything into page protectors (the best way to reuse materials) and finish a few other details and we are ready to go.

I hope everyone else is also excited for the new year, or that the new year got off to a great start if you've already started! Good luck to us--and that means you!