Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Promoting Good Will in the Family--An Experiment

Is bickering an inevitable occurrence when people are living and working closely together?

I didn't want to believe it was inevitable, but it seemed to be happening quite a bit between my kids in the first weeks of January.

Enter two items that really got me thinking:

1. I was part of a discussion in which several parents put forth the idea that bickering is largely just a manifestation of feelings of selfishness. 

It seemed quite logical. When I'm focused on myself and my needs and wants it's easy to become discontented. In that case, I'm much less interested in what others need and want.

2. I read in the February issue of Family Fun Magazine about one family that celebrates Valentine's Day by giving gifts within the family. They secretly draw names and purchase small gifts for each other. At a special Valentine's day meal they reveal which name they drew.

Couldn't these ideas be combined?

After talking it over with dh, I announced to the kids that we would be celebrating the first 14 days in February in the loving spirit of Valentine's Day.

1. We would exchange names secretly.
2. We would think of non-monetary ways to show our love toward that person.
3. We would have a special Valentine's Day meal and reveal which person we had been secretly doing good for.
4. In order to "throw others off our trail" we could also do kind things for the others in our family, but we could not neglect the person we'd chosen.

The kids' immediate reaction:

1. Excitement
2. "Why do we have to wait until February?"

Yes, why would we wait? Why not build on the excitement of the day (this was about halfway through January) and try the experiment early.

The results:

We exchanged names and spent the next two weeks thinking of nice things to do for the other people in our family. The kids began by giving out extra hugs all around. Eventually they added more concrete things to do for others. I had several offers to load the dishwasher and take out the trash when they weren't assigned. The kids were more likely to invite each other to a 2-player video game instead of playing 1-player more often. I found myself saying "yes" to more of the kids' requests for my time and attention. These are just a few examples.

When the two weeks were over, we tried to guess which person had been our secret    do-gooder. We gave examples to support our theory, telling good things we had seen people doing.

One thing dh liked most about the experiment was that it made a person think not just about the person they had chosen. They also thought about what they could do for the others as well.

Ds8 was excited to tell people outside the household about the project. He hoped they would share it with their families and that "the tradition would go on".

Dd6 summed up her experience by saying that she was happy she drew Mom's name because she loves me and thought of ways to be nice to me.

Wouldn't that warm any heart?

Everyone agreed that they'd love to do the experiment again for the February days leading up to Valentine's Day. They're already thinking of new ways to do good. They're also dreaming of the mousse pie we'll have for our "big reveal" meal.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Celebrating the 100th Day of School

Where did the week go?

I'll just list a few of the 100th day of school activities we've used over the years. We like to look at it as a day to do some things outside of our usual routine.

* Read a book with more than 100 pages.
* Work together as a group to read more than 100 pages.
* Read today for 100 minutes.

* How many 100 point books can you read and test on bookadventure.com?
* There is a sampling of books you may be able to get from your library: 
     * 100 Monsters in My School by Bonnie Bader
     * 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days by Bruce Goldstone
     * The 100th Day of School by Angela Shelf Medearis
     * 100th Day Worries by Margery Cuyler
     * 98, 99, 100, Ready or Not, Here I Come by Teddy Slater
     * Counting Our Way to the 100th Day by Betsy Franco
     * Emily's First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells
     * Jake's 100th Day of School by Lester Laminack
     * Many Ways to 100 by Betsy Franco
     * Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
     * The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong (Note: Some of you may wish to scan this one on your own before you give it to your kids. There are some tales that may be disturbing to young children.)
     * Young Cam Jansen and the 100th Day of School Mystery by David Adler

* Handwriting: Make a list of 100_____. This could be animals, places, numbers, anything you decide. You could also write 100 words that start with a vowel or 100 words that come before kangaroo in the dictionary.
* Help mom blog about the 100th day by writing about your favorite things you did to celebrate. How about writing about your least favorite 100th day things, too?
* Journal entry: I am 100% _______ (excited, scared, mad...) about __________ (going to the dentist tomorrow, having my friend over this afternoon...)
* Story starters: There once was a dragon with 100 teeth... There once was a girl with 100 brothers...There once was a dog with 100 fleas...There once was a rabbit with 100 carrots...

*Journal: Make a list of 5 things your parents must have told you a hundred times.

* Find at least 100 mistakes in this letter I've written to you.
* Parts of speech practice: Write 10 proper nouns, 20 common nouns, 20 action verbs, 10 helping verbs, 10 pronouns, 20 adjectives, and 10 interjections (100 total).
* Put these 100 words in alphabetical order.

* How high can you count in 100 seconds? Or how many seconds does it take you to count to 100?
* Fill in the missing numbers on a 100 chart.
* Sort and graph these 100 M&Ms (or Skittles, or Fruit Loops).
* Make a 100 cm line and a 100 inch line. Compare.
* How tall is 100 inches. Do people grow to be that tall?
* The 100th day is a great opportunity to practice decimals.
* What number is 1/4 of 100? 1/2 of 100?
* Find people in your acquaintance whose ages exactly equal 100.
* Estimate which weighs more--100 _____ or 100 _____. (This could be pieces of cereal, paperclips, etc.) Weigh and record to check your estimate.
* Put these 1-100 number cards in order.
* Find out how many _____ you could buy with $100.
* Pretend you have been given $100 to help someone else. Make a list of things you could do or buy.
* Complete this list of 100 math facts.

*Make a perler bed project with 100 beads.
*Make a collage with 100 bits of...

*Do ten activities ten times each for a total of 100. (10 jumping jacks + 10 windmills + 10 lunges...)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Projects for Care Center

Pretty soon it will be time to take the kids to the local retirement Care Center again. The kids always like to to take something along to give to the residents. I think it's a great way to interact a bit. It opens up conversation and gives the kids something to talk about. We're always looking for new things to take besides cards.

This trip the kids will be taking along some Perler Bead projects. These are a couple of their own designs that they'll be taking.



Here is a post from last year showing the cards we took once.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One reason I'm thankful that I get the chance to homeschool

I have to say that I sometimes enjoy the "thrill of the hunt" just as much as the kids. By this I mean that when we discover an interesting tidbit of history, for example, I'm just as excited and interested as them.

Sometimes these tidbits are just that--interesting tidbits. Today we learned that the mayor of London during the plague had all cats and dogs destroyed (thinking that these animals were spreading the disease). London rats, then, were able to multiply without their natural enemies and, whoops, they were carrying the fleas which actually caused the plague.

At other times we learn about things that make me stop and think more deeply about life. According to memoirs of the time, there was a Moghul emperor in India who used to weigh  himself or one of his sons yearly. (Some reports say that this was done on a "new year" holiday. Other reports say that it was done on a birthday.) An equal weight of gold, cloths, grains, or other goods would be distributed to the poor. That's an interesting idea! Would I do such a thing today?

Today I'm thankful for this opportunity to share moments of learning with my kids.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't Dread Getting Back Into Schoolwork

Whether or not dd6 will be well enough to join us in her schoolwork tomorrow is still questionable at present (see post below). But here is my plan for making the first day back after break fun and not-at-all-dreadful. I wanted to have something special and different for them (and me).

1. We rented a much-anticipated game from Redbox (a small $1+ price to pay for motivation).

2. I broke each of the kids' lessons up into workfolders so that each had certain items to accomplish for the day.

3. For each lesson completed, they will receive one puzzle piece (see picture).

4. When each piece is collected, they will solve the puzzle (written in code, of course, for  my Sherlock and Mr. Watson).

5. The solved code will lead them to the location of the hidden game. Having completed all of their assignments for the day, they can enjoy an afternoon of free time playing it.

6. Can I play, too?

When life hands you lemons...

...you lay around watching movies and playing subdued Wii.

Today is dh's birthday. He took the day off and we planned to spend a day out doing something fun. It was to be the "last hurrah" of Christmas break.

...Enter dd6's 12:30 a.m. trip to the bathroom with very flu-like symptoms...Fun...

I have to just laugh and be thankful that we've been very healthy up until this point in the season. Everyone was well for the holidays and pretty much all of the fall.

Will school start back up tomorrow as planned? We'll see. For now, I'm not worried, but I am washing my hands excessively.