April 27, 2011

Fly Swatter as Educational Tool

My son Cowen is a kinesthetic learner. In plain English that means Cowen is a boy and therefore CANNOT HOLD STILL TO SAVE HIS LIFE.

I have such fond memories of Miriam curled next to my side, soaking in the reading lessons, happy to be with Mom and more than willing to actually look at the words on the page.

Not so with my son. He cannot hold still long enough to look at more than one letter of a word, and so he makes wild guesses at what a word says based on the first letter. Or, if glancing at the word is too much trouble, he just guesses without referring to the text at all. While the guessing and glancing is going on, he's also busy sliding off the couch, turning upside down, making strange noises, and flailing his limbs about in boy abandon.

I've reduced reading time to three measly pages a day. It is all I can handle.

However, a university student of mine told me about a great idea she got from watching a kindergarten teacher that I now use with my son (did you follow that?). The kindergarten teacher gave her students fly swatters and had the students hit things.


Imagine my son's utter happiness when I handed him a fly swatter and told him to whack the letter that makes a "sssssss" sound.

He gives himself extra points if he makes any letters fly off the table from whacking so hard.

We've used the fly swatter idea for a variety of activities. We started with hitting the correct lower-case letter (he is a lot stronger with upper-case than lower-case). He's also whacked the letters that make certain sounds. It can also be used for sight words.
He loves it.

Don't imagine that he actually stays standing on that one chair. No, no. He stands on one chair, hits something with the swatter, jumps to the next chair, crawls around to the bench, jumps to the ground to get the letters that have flown to the floor, does a few kicks and scrambles around, and then winds up on the first chair again.

It drives my hubby bananas to watch it.

Most days I think Cowen is hilarious.

Other days, I wish he'd snuggle next to me and hold still for a few minutes.

But mostly I think he his hilarious.

PS--Another good trick for kinesthetic learners is to focus on writing. My son enjoys writing because it involves movement. He loves to make up sentences that he thinks are funny, like: "My Dad sat on a cactus." If you put that sentence on a paper and tried to get him to read it he'd act like it was written in Chinese. However, he has no problem writing it.

Another good idea is have your kinesthetic learner spell out words with letters spread over a table or the floor. The more he/she has to move to get to the letters the better. So spread out the letters and then say, "Write the sentence: Mom is fun." The learner finds the letters he/she needs and puts together the sentence. Works like a charm because there is no holding still involved.

If you have a kinesthetic learner at home--good luck!! We need it. :)

April 25, 2011

Units For Sale

You might have noticed the snazzy new link at the top of the page announcing Units for Sale. I had a friend request an easier way to access all the info for a unit. I wondered at that. I thought I had organized the blog sufficiently well that finding all the posts for one unit would be easy.

Then I looked through my blog with the eyes of a new visitor.

Then I realized I had a reasonable organization system, but there was a lot to sift through.

So then, again due to a friend's recommendation, I put together the units in a word document--using cut and paste mostly--and my sweet hubby spent many hours figuring out how to make them available on my blog.

And now they are available!!

The units for sale are pretty much exactly the same as what I've posted on my blog. I made a few changes. For example, I'm putting together my reptile stuff right now and added more ideas and more websites. On my blog, I wrote about my failed turtle craft. I thought 4 craft ideas that looked great would be more helpful than a long description of one that was useless. So in that way some of the units were "perked up" a little. But only a little.

For those people who want to look through my ideas for free--feel free. Everything is still here. For those of you who like the idea of having everything together and easily accessible, the units might be for you.

In the future I'll be adding more units as I put them together for my children. I'll also be adding some free stuff. I want to start putting together some good book lists (another recommendation from a friend) and those will definitely be free. After all, one of my main purposes in starting this blog was to encourage more reading! Also, anything I do by way of devotionals or gospel study will be posted for free. Once Miriam turns 8 and finishes Baptism Prep, I'll put that together in a nice, organized unit form and post that as well.

Hopefully you will all continue to find this blog useful to you and if you have any more suggestions (hopefully suggestions that won't take as much work as putting the units together!!!) I would love to hear them!

April 13, 2011

April 8, 2011

First Hike of the Season--Bonneville Shoreline Trail

During the two days of sun, we managed to get in a hike.

It lifted my spirits like you wouldn't believe.

Usually I love winter and hate to see it end, but this has been a very long winter.

Rain, rain go away. Don't come back. For a very long time.

April 7, 2011

Audio Books

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Provo with my kiddos to hang with my sister and her kiddos. It is a good 90 minute drive or more. When thinking about the drive, I realized that I would go bonkers if I had to listen to 50 Silly Songs for Kids one more time. Usually I don't mind, but lately, man it has been annoying. We'll blame it on hormones. (If they would only choose Newsies every once in awhile, or our Disney collection--or anything but "the smile was on the crocodile" etc.)

Then I had a brain-wave. The reason my children were listening to silly songs instead of the classical station is because my hubby gave me a new cd player for the van. We could now participate in one of my favorite activities--listening to an audio book.

So I went to the library and got one of my favorite books, hoping the reader would do a good job. He did!!! He really, really did. Graeme Malcolm, whoever you are, you ROCK at reading books.

Those of you who listen to audio books know that a reader can make or break the book.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (a GOLD STAR book for sure) was read brilliantly. The drive was over before my children realized they should be annoyed by the length of it. When we returned home, my children insisted we take the cds inside so they could finish the story immediately. They loved it.

So will you. If you don't have time to listen to it (I don't listen to books on tape much now that I don't commute), please read it. Great book for ages 4 on up (at least, my four year old loved it).

While we are on the subject of audio books, I must HIGHLY RECOMMEND my very favorite audio books.

The Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman.

These are available in written form, but if at all possible, do not read these books. Listen to them. The reader, a Barbara Rosenblat, is without a doubt the best reader I've ever heard--and I listened to A LOT of books on tape during my year commuting.

My very favorite of the series is the second one, The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax. Mrs. Pollifax, if you've never heard of her, is an elderly widow who is bored with life. She feels useless. Her two children are raised and gone and all Mrs. Pollifax does is grow flowers and meet with her garden club. So, one day, she decides to go to the headquarters of the CIA and offer her assistance.

Because of a few odd circumstances, she winds up with a job. One that is supposed to be easy and danger-free and is, of course, quite the opposite.

The second book covers her second assignment and it is hilarious and wonderful. A small disclaimer, one of the characters in the second book says, "What the hell," all the time. So if you are opposed to that, you might want to skip the second book. There is no language in any of the other books that I can remember. Normally I don't approve of swearing, but something about the Hungarian accent made it really, really funny to me. Sorry if your opinion of me has now diminished. ;)

If you assign these books to your children (I would say 10 and up would enjoy them although they are aimed at adults), use them for fun or in conjunction with geography. Each book has Mrs. Pollifax flying off to another exotic location for another "non-dangerous" mission that becomes very dangerous very quickly. Off the top of my head I remember a book set in South America, the Middle East, Hungary, China, Africa. Okay, that was vague, but it was off the top of my head.

And if you have a trip to go on in the near future, please, please, please get the first or second Pollifax book on tape. You will be highly entertained and will not regret it.