Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Well, a little bit is better than nothing!

I haven't managed to do much from my list for this week. Yesterday just seemed to be one thing after another and this morning, I was so loopy, I totally forgot.

However, Monday, I did play I-Spy with my niece. She really enjoyed it, although her attention didn't last long: she wanted to play with the objects I had chosen. lol. I think she's ready for me to play a small area of a room (like a single shelf or a window or on the table, etc.). I tried presenting the button frame, but she had no interest. She did end up playing with a Discovery Toys thing--a mosaic-making thing. Today, my dd must have played different board games with her for over an hour. She (niece) loved the interaction and the attention, but didn't like losing one of the games. ;)

I sat down with ds yesterday and really showed him the Africa things I had put together. He was very interested. He then asked if he could colour the flags I'd printed off--of course! I haven't put another set together, but think I ought to try to do some more for other countries.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Almost August!

August is almost here. That means the summer is almost half done. It's been a crazy July here: start of renovations (just painting to start with, but not all completed), out-of-town visitors for a few days (ah, but what fun!), then back to renos. Two weeks of reno chaos that are finally done and the house is starting to take shape again. If it needs to be that summer is half done for the chaos to be done, I'm all for summer being half done!

With things more in order around here, I'm going to resume tomorrow my morning mini-school time with ds and dd, but I also want to work with my 4yo niece a bit on some Montessori activities and try to have a general routine for the week or at least a different activity each day that sows some seeds of interest. :)

I've created a list of things I can do with my niece this week, but don't actually plan on doing ALL of them. If we do, wow, great! I just wanted to select what would be good to show her, trying to show her at least 2 things a day. Here's my list:

Practical Life
  • button frame (I have a cheap, wood embroidery hoop with material I sewed so a child can practise buttoning)
  • pouring water from a jug (I should maybe try to buy a smaller jug today)
  • dusting (Montessori kids typically learn to dust by sweeping from left to right, from the top to the bottom of an area, like the way we would write)
  • cleaning glass (I have a bottle with a mix of vinegar and water)
  • sensitize the fingers (this is just dipping the fingers in warm water for a bit and then drying; it helps the fingers feel the sandpaper on the touch boards and sandpaper letters better)
  • touch boards (have to find them! these are different grades of sandpaper that the child learns to distinguish)
  • geometric solids (I'll just show her how to feel the different sides and then name them this week, assuming I do this activity)
  • Mystery Bag (this is a small bag with different known items to the child; the child is blindfolded and figures out what the objects are just by touch)
  • I-Spy with beginning sounds
  • (The way this version of I-Spy works is that you start, with a young child anyhow, by having a single object in your hand, like a pencil, and say, "I spy with my little eye, something that starts with /p/." You only say the beginning sound, not the letter. Once they get the idea, then you use two objects, then maybe three, then branch out to a small area in a room, and so on.)
  • cursive sandpaper letters (she's already been introduced to these but we haven't had a chance to work on them consistently)
  • insets (see here for more info on that. The inset design they show, though, is by a rather skilled person, not one done by a child just starting out.)
  • land and water presentations (globe and landforms)
  • maybe, just maybe show her the continent map

For the older kids, since the Heritage Festival is coming up next weekend, I thought about making a theme week with different countries/cultures. However, I haven't gotten further than that at the moment in my thinking. So, let me think now. What could I make available or invite them to do?
  • pick a different country each day, or a couple of countries each day, and have their maps and flags available to colour/label
  • find recipes from the countries and pick a couple to make
  • make paper dolls with traditional clothing for the culture ( has stuff for this, I think)
  • find some books at the library
  • for my kids, draw out a family tree and label somehow the cultural heritage of our various ancestors
  • set up things so they could make a lapbook
All I can think of at the moment. My stomach is starting to grumble!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So I've finished Twilight

I have to admit I did like some of the suspense that finally came in, but there's just something that I find so hokey about so much of it. The last part of the book is definitely better than the beginning, but I'm still not ready to begin New Moon. ;) At the same time, I recognize that Twilight was the author's first book (if I've read correctly), and so maybe with experience under her belt, New Moon will be better. Except I didn't like the later Harry Potter books because I found she tried too hard to make it complicated. Okay, I have to admit, I didn't even read the last 2. I still have no plans to. When I first started reading Twilight, I was thinking I'd want to read the last 2 HP's before moving onto New Moon. But she kind of made up for it as the story went along and I think I would rather read New Moon before the other 2 HP's. lol.

I think I have 8 other books out from the library that I want to read, though, so they're going to get priority. ;) Not to mention a book dh gave me for Mother's Day that I still haven't finished reading and 3 other books loaned to me for reading... Apparently at the moment, however, a certain little someone has "left a present" in her diaper, so I must go attend to that!

Summer is 1/4 done

I had the realization that today is the 15th, which means that July is half done, which means that summer is 1/4 done. WHAT?! I'm not ready for that! What can I do to make the most of the remaining weeks? :)

Right now, the house is in chaos: carpet ripped up in the living room, lino in the process of being removed in the kitchen, walls on that level almost all repainted, stuff stored everywhere else... And 5 kids to watch and do things with each day. Typically, there's somebody in the kitchen and a couple of people in the living room, then a couple downstairs. Now we have to stuff ourselves into a crowded downstairs family room (because, of course, some things from the living room have gotten moved there) or try to split ourselves up between bedrooms and the family room. The family room is so stuffed, though, there's hardly room to do anything. *sigh*

We did have some wonderful company stay with us last week, though, so that was a highlight of our summer so far. (Yes, before the carpet was ripped up. ;) ) Having our visitors meant I stopped doing our morning mini-schooling. With things everywhere, I have no desire to really begin again just yet. Or not this week anyhow. After late nights last week and then we went to the waterpark on Sunday, I feel like I'm still recovering. I'm babbling, aren't I? Anyhow, my thoughts just switched to I *would* like to resume some schooling tomorrow morning. Just a bit of math with each of them. Dd really needs to master her math facts and learn division/fractions this summer to start her grade 7 program in the fall. Ds was just neglected mathematically this year. So, there we go.

Of course, it would help my mornings more if I didn't sit at the computer in my pj's until 8am, like today, and then have to rush to get myself ready before nieces and nephew arrive...

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Since my 11yo dd has friends who have read Twilight and seen the movie, she's had some interest in reading the book, too. Given the many things I've heard from parents who have NOT allowed their children to read the book, I told her I had to read it first and give my approval. Putting it off for sometime as I'm not usually into romances nor vampire books, I finally gave into my parental duty and picked up both Twilight and New Moon while at the library today.

Let me say this: nothing in the book comes even close to being as complex as the sentences above. Heck, the book is even less sophisticated in style and language than the first Harry Potter. Yes, you got that right: Harry Potter requires a higher reading level ability than Twilight. As I was reading, I was thinking, "Good grief, my 8yo son would be able to read this." I even looked it up online: an estimated gr. 4 reading level book.

I could try and say, "Well, a lower level reading is good because older kids who are struggling will have success with this book." But I can't. I despise this book. It's corny and sappy and, imho, horribly written. Bella comes across as a typical *junior* high school girl (even though her mom apparently thinks she is "mature for her age", more like 35 than 17), complete with "love at first sight" syndrome, lack of self-confidence and obedient. Edward's a moody jerk who tells her what to do all the time. And he can't bloody stop smirking or "chuckling". Other characters also come off as jr. high-ish and totally unbelievable. And just the whole flow and their stupid conversations... Good grief! The whole thing is frustrating me! I don't get what people are liking so much.

I'm about halfway through and can't say that I've found anything, so far, inappropriate for my dd to read, but let me tell you, it's getting painful! I don't think there's any way I could force myself to read New Moon to check if it's okay. After my tirades on the ridiculousness of the book, perhaps my dd won't even want to read the series. One can always hope! ;)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Insets and letters and placement

It just goes to show how making sure that there are things in the environment to connect with, and helping the child see those things, can help inspire the child!

I was cleaning up the materials shelves the other day--they've been woefully neglected for sometime. The cleaning made the sandpaper letters very noticeable, especially since I was standing right there. My 4yo niece saw them and just *had* to go practise some right away. :)

A few days later, I was cleaning out a box I had just thrown a bunch of stuff into and there were the insets. I put them on the table and the same niece just *had* to do some. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to sneakily re-present them to her. She's an independent sort and if she's already been shown something, doesn't really like to have someone show it to her again. Sort of an attitude of, "You've already shown me this, you know!" So I started one inset while she worked on tracing others and asked her if she remembered how I'd done all the tiny lines before. Instead of doing all the lines close together, I told her how dd and ds used to do them, and did one with the lines all very far apart. I said it was okay if they started out like that and that they would get closer and closer together with practice. Ah, my indirectness paid off: she made her first real attempt at doing an inset with the lines in the middle. :)

My next step is to figure out what I would actually like to show her and try to help her connect with the materials more often and make sure the shelves have things well placed. I also still haven't figured out any sort of plan for with the older kids. However, I guess it's only been the first week, we've been ridiculously busy, and next week isn't any better. *sigh* I guess the week after!