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Friday, March 9, 2012

Reading Tips

I bought window cling words from the Dollar Tree - The "colors" words... There were 10 paint splashes with colors and the words... and 10 tubes of paint with colors and the words.

I took the window clings and put one set on the car window where Kira sits and the other set on the car window where Marisa sits.

Now when we're in the car, the girls can practice reading the "colors" and learn how each color is spelled. They think it's super cool and I get to work in a school lesson without much effort.

Both my girls sit on the driver side, so the cling stickers don't interfere with the driver's ability to see out the window. They like this so much that I think I may expand the project to include some other words, too. Right now we'll focus on the colors... then move on to something a bit more complicated.

One important part of educating your children is to think outside the box. Do something unexpected... to keep them interested in learning and having fun with the process.

Friday, February 25, 2011

To Tell or Not to Tell...

I was having a conversation with my son the other day about friends and such. He's sixteen now and getting information from him is worse than pulling teeth with no pain killers. This particular day, though, I must have asked the right questions.

I asked him if any of his friends drink alcohol. His response was to tell me that he was smart enough not to tell me if they were. Okay - fair enough. I guess I can see his point.

Then I asked him if any of his friends do illegal drugs. His response was to tell me that if they were, they were smart enough not to tell him.

I must be doing something right...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Got Toys?

I was visiting my sister the other day when her step-daughter dropped off the granddaughter for a weekend visit. The little girl is about 18 months old, and my sister mentioned that she had to spend most of her time following the child around to keep her out of trouble. I suggested that she give the girl some toys, but my sister pointed out to me that she didn't have any toys to give the child. Apparently all the toys that she buys for her granddaughter, the toys find their way home with the child instead of remaining to be played with another day.

After about ten minutes of watching my sister chase the toddler around the house - taking away every possibility of getting into just about anything - I took pity on them. Yes - BOTH of them. The child just wanted to play and explore. That is, after all, the job of any proper toddler. Get into EVERYTHING and explore the world.

Without a word, I attacked my sister's kitchen. She was slightly horrified until she realized that I did have a purpose and was not just randomly yanking everything out of her (slightly cluttered) cabinets and drawers. Out came the plastic bowls. Over there was a drawer filled with plastic spoons and measuring cups. Under that sink was muffin tins and a whole stack of plastic take-out cups from Wendy's. (I managed to avoid asking just why in the world my sister felt the need to keep all those take out cups... and just quietly thanked the heavens that she had.) I pulled out a treasure trove of goodies and placed them all on the kitchen floor - within easy reach of the very interested little girl. Within minutes, her granddaughter was joined by Kira and Marisa in the melee of cutlery and containers.

I also suggested the possibility of pouring some Cheerios into one of the bowls and letting the baby  experiment with transferring cereal from one bowl to the other. (Mind you - I didn't intend for her to pour the ENTIRE BOX of Honey Nut Cheerios into the bowl... Really - I didn't.) It didn't take long for all three girls to be happily munching on Cheerios, moving them from bowl to bowl, and shaking the sticky bits of cereal off their hands and pants. In fact, it didn't take very long at all for the entire house to be covered in trails of Cheerios. It was very easy to find any one of those girls.... JUST FOLLOW THE TRAIL.

My sister sat on the couch and laughed herself into tears as her little granddaughter shook her hands in the air trying to remove crunchy little circles from her hands. When I left that day, I couldn't help but gloat just a little bit. I had taught my sister (my older sister - at that) a very valuable lesson in toddler play. But there was a much greater reason to gloat as I was leaving that day.

... the mess was in HER house and not mine, so I didn't have to worry about cleaning up all those random bits of cereal. Ha ha ha....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Animal Shelter

Yay - oh yay - oh yay!!!

I contacted our local animal shelter today to find out about their volunteer program. As part of our school studies, Kira and Marisa will begin volunteering at the shelter next week. They will get to play with dogs and cats to their little hearts' content. The volunteer program allows for children of any age as long as they are accompanied by an adult. We can walk dogs in the dog run, play with kittens and cats to help socialize them, and maybe even do some grooming of the animals.

I'm very excited about this because I think volunteer work is very useful to a child's education. Also, I don't have to pay for access to this type of educational adventure. As home schoolers, we use the resources within our own community to enhance their learning, and I believe that it is very important for children to understand that they can impact the community by doing things to make life better for others.

So starting next Tuesday - Kira and Marisa go to work at their new job! Yippee...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Training Dragons

Marisa received a new movie for Christmas that has simply taken over our lives.

How to Train Your Dragon

Since this new movie about the most feared dragon - the Night Fury - has come into our lives, Marisa has become obsessed with a certain special dragon named Toothless. Now, if you're lucky enough to be familiar with this movie, you already know that the movie is pretty good. The plot, the animation, the concepts - it's all there and all very entertaining. If you are not already familiar with this movie, then you should probably find a way to watch this movie.

I should be kind enough to warn you of the possible consequences of bringing this movie into your home. Your child might find it necessary to own her own dragon. Your child might find the need to attempt to ride said dragon. Your child might even insist that you watch this movie on a regular basis - Oh, about once every two hours or so...

Lucky for me, the movie is entertaining enough to be tolerated when excessive exposure occurs. Lucky for me, I happen to find Toothless to be an adorable addition to our family - both the stuffed Toothless and the invisible Toothless!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I can haz entertainment?

Are you looking for an inexpensive and easy way to provide everlasting entertainment for your children (and your cats)?

The answer is right in your own back yard. You need only make a couple of minor purchases and then be on your way to never ending entertainment for your children (and your cats).

What you need: 

1 or more bird feeders
1 or more bags of bird seed

What you do:

Find a good spot in your yard to hang the bird feeders. Near a window is preferable.
Apply liberal amounts of bird seed on a regular basis.
Keep the blinds open so the kids (and cats) can enjoy the ever changing view.

Bird feeders are great, especially in the winter. We hung our feeders a few short weeks ago, and we're already the most popular house on the block. The sheer volume of hungry birds that visit our back deck every day is unbelievable. The girls (and the cats) sit by the window and jump for joy each time a new bird visits. The girls (and the cats)  twitch with excitement as we watch new birds settle in the nearby trees, waiting their turn at the feeders. We have even had the opportunity to learn about the various types of birds that frequent our back yard. Cardinals are frequent visitors, and we have learned the difference between female and male cardinals just by watching the birds that come to eat.

It is fun to feed the local wildlife. Your kids (and cats) get free entertainment, and you are doing something to help out in the world. You can also dispose of old bread, old cereal and leftover crackers in this manner. Just sprinkle the crumbs out in the yard for the birds and squirrels to scavenge. Those bits of food end up in some lucky animal's tummy instead of the landfill. See - just another way that feeding the animals helps.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Survival - Kira's Current Obsession

I told Kira and Marisa that we were going for a drive and asked Kira to tell me what we needed to put in the car in case of an emergency. So she decided that we needed a couple of blankets, some water, some food, flashlights, a lighter, and some toys... lol.
So we got 3 blankets - one for each of us - and a pack of graham crackers and a jar of peanut butter. I filled 2 bottles with water. She helped me gather all our emergency supplies and take everything to the car.

We had to go by the Dollar Tree to get batteries, so I got her and Marisa a Sprite and me a Dasani water.

Then we 'got lost' - literally. I asked them which way to turn at every light or stop sign. I couldn't even begin to tell you how we got where we went. I found a place called Bolding Mill campground. We stopped there and got out to look at the lake because there was a very shallow area where you could see the bottom. I explained that all the leaves that we could see piled up in the water makes perfect places for fish to lay their eggs because the babies can hide from predators. Then a guy came with his boat and we watched him put his boat in the water - move his truck - and go off on the lake to fish.

I taught Kira how to use my phone to call her daddy, just in case mommy ever got hurt and couldn't use the phone. Then we went on with our 'getting lost' adventure.

So then I come to a place called Toto Creek. Again, it is a local campground with boat docks. (lots of those around here)

I parked the car and we all got out and walked over to the edge of the trees. There was a big wooded area. Kira and I chose a good clearing (right near the edge of the woods/parking lot) where we could build ourselves a shelter - and then we pretended we were lost in the woods and trying to survive until somebody found us.

(I'm sure you're laughing by now... but it gets better.)

I had to use the scissors that we had included in our emergency kit to cut away some briers from our clearing. While I was doing that - without any direction from me at all - Kira was gathering longer branches that we could use to build a 'roof' over our shelter.

So I laid one blanket on the ground after I cleared the briers and twigs and pine cones out of the way. I sat Marisa down and covered her with another blanket so she could be warm. And then I used the branches that Kira had found to build a sort of wall by wedging it between the trees. We had chosen an area that had several trees kind of lumped together, but was clear in the center and had a natural "doorway" for the shelter. Anyways, I used the third blanket to drape over the branches to act as a wind break wall.

Then we snuggled up together and I made Graham Cracker, peanut butter, ghiradelli square sandwiches... which were beyond delicious!

We sat and talked about how we could build a better shelter if we were actually lost. What we would do if we heard voices out in the woods if we were actually lost. Lots of different scenarios...

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AWESOMENESS! And... I thought of this all on my very own!!! lol

I told Kira that we will go camping when the campgrounds open in the Spring and we will build ourselves a true shelter using trees and sticks and stuff.

I was amazed at how she "packed" our emergency kit and how she chose properly sized branches that were just right for wedging between the trees for building a shelter.

I just had to share. It was so much fun!
(Marisa was pretty much just along for the ride - and the chocolate peanut butter sandwiches... )