Friday, November 10, 2017

Fun with Yarn

The other day I got some sticks out of the backyard and some yarn out of the craft bucket and taught the kids how to make god's eyes.  I was thinking of Peanut when I started, but the Rabbit wanted to make one too, and then Frog had to join in.  All three of them did great and loved it so much. 

The only problem is that now they want to make god's eyes all the time.  As I keep telling them, yes, they're pretty, and they're fun to make, but there's only so much you can really do with them.  So let's please not fill the entire house with them. 

I need to get them back knitting again, or doing something more useful with yarn... 

Sight Word Activities

Recently I had a great conversation with a friend of mine in my ward.  She is an experienced Kindergarten teacher.  I talked to her about Peanut and her specific challenges with reading, and asked her what she does with kids like that in her classroom.  She says she gets one or two like that each year.  She talked about how music and movement help them learn, and I pumped her for more ideas of ways I can use these things with Peanut.  It was great to hear from an expert that there are other kids out there like Peanut, and while it is rare, it is not too uncommon, there are plenty of things you can do to help them, and with help, they do just fine.  Very reassuring.

So I have redoubled my efforts to keep Peanut moving while I teach her to read.  Before we start Peanut time every morning I have her do a few cross body exercises.  That does seem to help her focus while we read in a book.  After a little bit of book work, I try to have her do a movement activity with her words.  "Word hop" has been such a great success, and I keep finding new ways to adapt it, making it more fun and exciting.

Word hop up the stairs!  This was a huge hit.

Sight word Twister!  This was a little trickier, but it was fun for awhile, and it helped her learn.

I got an email the other day from The Good and the Beautiful saying they have a new Level K Primer, which will bridge the gap between PreK and Kindergarten levels.  This was sorely needed, and I am so excited about it.  Peanut loved the PreK book and was so excited about the Kindergarten book, but from the very first lesson it was too big a jump for her.  It was a major train wreck and she was really sad. So was I.  I knew that eventually the Jenny Phillips crew would fix the problem, but I didn't know when that would be.  We went back to using the "100 Lessons" book, and then this fall I picked up "Phonics Pathways."  Now I find out about this new Level K Primer I want to buy it on the spot, but I've had to ask myself if I really need it.  I have two great books for helping with sounds and reading, so why should I buy another?  I don't know... another thing that really attracts me about it is that there are a bunch of songs that go with it, and that is exactly what Peanut needs.  So we shall see. 

Meanwhile, I am grateful for Peanut's progress, and for all the things I've been guided to do to help her.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Star Wars Crew

This year for Halloween, my youngest five children were all Star Wars characters.   May I present the Rabbit as Rey with Leaf as BB8, Peanut as Princess Leia with Twig as R2D2, and Frog as Yoda.  


My children love to trace.  Give them a pad of tracing paper and one of Mary Englebreit's fairy tale books, and they will stay busy for hours.  Roo and Rabbit have done this for a long time and now Peanut and Frog are getting into it too.   It's the perfect time to read aloud to them.  Get them all busy tracing and they will listen happily for ages. 

True Love

Peanut drew me a picture of a squid because she knew it would make me happy.  And it did.

Family Dinners

Growing up, my family had a nice dinner together every single night.  With the table all set with a tablecloth and everything.  Homecooked food from scratch.

I had no idea how hard that was to pull off until I had a family of my own.  Mom, you are superhuman.  Especially since I only ever helped you with dinner under duress.

At our house, dinner tends to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing.  It gets made at some point during the evening, whoever's home dishes up themself and dishes up for whatever small children are floating around at the moment (my big kids are really good about helping feed the small people.)  Then people sit at whatever table they can find a chair at.  Chairs can be tricky in this house because we're always trying to hide them from the twins.  It's not often we all sit down together around one table at the same time.

This is something I'd like to work on improving.

I have help with this: my daughters.  If we do all sit down together, it's because either Roo or Rabbit said, "can we have a family dinner tonight?"  I say, "sure, if you'll set the table."

They loooove setting the table.  They like to try to make it nice, with a tablecloth and stuff.  They don't mind rounding up enough chairs and dragging in the piano bench.  It is so funny to me because when I was a kid all this was drudgery, but my girls think it's fun.  Probably because they only do it once every week or two, and only when it's their idea.  Be that as it may, it brings me great joy to watch them have so much fun setting up our family dinners. 

Recently I made wild rice soup for dinner.  That is a special dish from my childhood in Minnesota: a creamy soup with wild rice, ham, sliced almonds, and shredded carrots.  We don't have it very often, and it's absolutely amazing, so my girls decided it warranted a family dinner. 

One little problem: our dining table seats eight, and the twins decided that they were going to steal Peanut and Frog's spot on the piano bench.  If they won't sit in their high chairs, we can't all fit at the table. 

It's hard to get upset when the usurpers are so adorable.

Peanut decided to sit in the high chair, and Bean was happy to sit in the living room chair, so we made it work for now.  But if we're going to keep having family dinners, the time has fully come for a new dining set.  It's really hard to find one that seats 10 that doesn't cost a fortune, but we will keep looking! 

Another thing we need to work on with family dinners: no one wants to clear the table after dinner. 

We have plenty of room for improvement, but I'm grateful for family dinners.  Some of our best memories are made when we're all together around the table. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

3rd Annual Autumn Poetry Reading

Yesterday we did our autumn poetry reading for the 3rd year running.  It has become a tradition I really look forward to.  Most of the kids are also pretty excited about it, mostly because of the popcorn.  My teenage sons weren't too interested this year, but we had a lovely time without them.  

As the poems wind down, the kids play in the autumn sunshine and I love being outside to watch them.  I don't do that often enough.  

Our ash tree is at its peak of color, which isn't as good this year as in past years, but it's still pretty. 

Our neighbor's tree across the fence is absolutely gorgeous.  

Oh look, I found my missing mixing bowls!

It's hard to keep the Rabbit off the trampoline.  

Long live the autumn poetry reading!