Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review Game--Good Idea that Never Materialized

At the beginning of the last school year I thought it would be fun to keep a running list of things the kids had learned so that we could play various review games during the year and at the year's end. I thought it would be fairly easy to jot down something at the end of every couple of school days on an index card for this purpose. My goal was to write down a new vocabulary word, science or history fact, math topic, etc. on these cards.

While I still think it was a good idea, it just never really happened. As I was looking ahead to the coming school year, I wanted to use the idea but actually carry it out.

What would have worked better? Was it just a habit that I never formed? Was it something I should have assigned to the kids at the day's end? Has anyone ever succuessfully carried out this type of idea? I'd love to make this work.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Literature: Paddle-to-the-Sea

There are a lot of great book lists out there. This summer we've been making our way through some of them. This week we had the opportunity to read Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling. It's a sweet story paired with lots of great geography. We discussed the book and traced the boat's travels on the map. We then watched the Oscar-nominated short film. I think I'm enjoying reading some of these books for the first time just as much as my kids. I'm a sucker for a great happy ending. I told them they could type their reactions onto my blog (which they thought needed more color, apparently).

Their basic summary of the book:
Paddle-to-the-Sea was a tiny canoe made by an Indian boy in Nipigon Country, Canada. The boy wanted it to sail to the sea. It had to go through five Great Lakes: Huron, Superior, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. It sailed over Niagara Falls and through the St. Lawrence River to the North Atlantic Ocean. It even ended up in France!
DD5's thoughts:
     “I felt happy for Paddle at the end, because he made his adventure all through and kept his courage.”

     “I liked the book better because it showed all of where Paddle went but the movie just showed only parts until the lighthouse at the sea.”

DD8's thoughts:

     “I liked everything. I liked when he made it to the Soo Locks. I liked the ending because the Indian boy found out that his boat made it all the way to the sea.”

     “I liked the movie because it had details, closed captioning, and it was short.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When do the kids listen to audiobooks?

In answer to The Mama's question I thought I'd give some idea of how we've used audiobooks.

We've done audiobooks at various times including:

-in the car while traveling (if it's a book everyone in the family will enjoy).
-during afternoon quiet time, each in his own room.
-during lunch sometimes.
-during the summer months when bedtimes are later each might read in their own rooms or listen to a book on tape before lights-out.

One thing I've noticed is that the kids are very willing to listen to something on tape or CD that is above their level, something they would not otherwise have taken off the shelf. It's happened with both of my children that they've enjoyed certain books this way. Often they return later to these books and they become some of their favorites. As a side note, ds8 has spent many hours reviewing history by listening to Story of the World on CD.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Books on CD-Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

The kids have had a good time listening to these clever stories first published 100 years ago. They're on my list of classics-I-should-probably-have-read-but-didn't. Now I can enjoy them with my kids.

The kids can appreciate them on their own level. They love hearing about the outrageous antics of the characters as well as the crazy explanations for how things came to be (how the camel got his hump, why cats will always be enemies of dogs and men and why they prefer to be alone...).

I can appreciate them on a different level. I find myself laughing out loud at Kipling's clever use of words. How can a story go wrong when the father's name is 'Man-who-does-not-put-his-foot-forward-in-a-hurry', the mother's name is 'Lady-who-asks-a-very-many-questions', and the daughter's name is 'Small-person-without-any-manners-who-ought-to-be-spanked'?

But I wonder what kind of looks we'd get from the kids if dh and I started calling each other 'my Lady and Delight of my Life' or 'my Lord and Treasure of my Soul' (as in the "Butterfly That Stamped"). Those would surely provoke eye-rolls.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Music Exploration-George Gershwin

Although we're on our relaxed summer break, I happened to come across a fun-looking book/CD combination through the library.

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue W /CD

It was really great. It tells the "why" and the "how" of how Rhapsody in Blue came to be. The kids were excited by the story and loved the catchy music, included on the CD. After reading the book and listening to the CD, the kids each spent some time using Finale Notepad to create their own original sheet music.

Gershwin kept a composing notebook, where he'd keep ideas of little themes of music he thought of. He never knew when they might be useful. As a future idea, the kids would like to keep examples of little themes they make up like this. Who knows when they might come in handy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is it my turn to pick the CD?

Is your household sometimes filled with the sounds of "No, it's my turn to..."

As an adult it sometimes boggles my mind that kids get so upset about (what seem to me to be) some very little things in life. I try to understand that these things are actually a very big deal in their eyes. Yet how can we avoid confrontations like this?

For us the answer came from above: God blessed us with two children, one born on an odd-numbered day and one born on an even-numbered day. I don't think of this as a coincidence. It's been a gift. It's alleviated some of the arguing over whose turn it is to do anything from choose what CD we'll listen to at lunch to who gets to give the offering envelope at church.

It might seem absurd that we "plan out" something as little as this. But I assure you, it's helped both of my children to remember that everyone needs their turn at things. Anything that helps them see this and then apply it in other situations is a valuable learning tool around here.