Jan 29, 2011

School Workboxes

A new home…

When my husband got a new desk for Christmas, he offered me the table that he had been using.  Of course I don't want it!  Where would we put it?!?  Well, fortunately I gave it a second thought and consequently produced the best organizing achievement of Tamsyn history.  There have been so many blessings that have come from our new system and I have been very excited to blog about it today.



Days of our lives

The crux of the system revolves around having a bin for every day of the week.  I borrowed this idea from heartofwisdom.com.  The basic concept is that at the beginning of the week you take a few minutes to put worksheets, manipulatives, and other school items in the daily bins and when the respective day comes you just take the box out and complete the work inside it.  We have been doing this for about two months and it has worked great for us.  My young children have noticed that school will be done when the box is empty.  This is easier for them to understand than a check-off list.  They are learning the days of the week too!

This tote came from Wal-Mart, and was made from two plastic dressers.  They came with four small drawers and three large drawers.  Michael and I each had one and I stole two little drawers from him.  He wasn't using them anyway.  :o)


 School supplies

The funnest part of this project for me was gathering the school supplies from the four corners of the house and bringing them all together in one place.  Now the pom-poms, craft sticks, crayons, glitter glue, play-dough, flashcards, and all the other random supplies have gathered into one space where I will ACTUALLY USE THEM!  As my family grows, I will probably need more of these drawers, but for now we are content to have labeled: Paper Supplies, Craft Supplies, Flash Cards, Manipulatives, Laminated Toys, Workbooks, and one left-over drawer which is begging me to finally buy tempera paints since it's out of the children's reach.



Puzzles

Before:  Puzzles were stacked on the bookshelf so the children would be drawn to them.  Result?  Mommy did the puzzles more than the kids and the puzzles were conveniently never unpacked when we moved here.

After:  The puzzles have a home in a tote with a lid.  This tote was previously filled with random school supplies, but when they found a new home in the drawers, this tote was repurposed.  Result?  The puzzles are getting used without destroying my sanity.  The other tote that is the same size as this one is our sand exploration center

 
School Toys

Any toys that were originally purchased for educational purposes were gathered into this tote, leaving less clutter in the playroom, and more focused use by the children in the clean environment of the kitchen table. 



Bits of Intelligence Cards

These are part of Glenn Doman's Encyclopedic Knowledge program.  Construction paper is stored in the back for easy access.



Conclusions

This is a wonderful addition to our kitchen.  Aside from the common advantages like "a place for everything and every thing in it's place" and "store it where you use it", there have been a few unforeseen advantages to having the school supplies in the kitchen.

·                    Housekeeping is not my forte, and if I have to choose between a school session and cleaning up after lunch, I always choose the first.  I tend to avoid the kitchen...  Having the supplies downstairs has been great for the kitchen table and the floor underneath.  I don't want sticky pancakes on our puzzles!

·                    Educational toys make great temporary entertainment while I finish making dinnerWhen I'm in the kitchen, the children love to be there too, and I can help them with their puzzles and toys while I'm cleaning.

·                    Child-led school time.  Understandably, the table is a tempting place for the kids, but I have strictly enforced that it is MY table.  However, every night they have the opportunity look in the drawers and pick out activities for the next day.  I also tend to give in when they beg me to do school with them.
·                    Brief sessions during mealtime.  With the bit cards so handy, we have started pulling them out.  As the children watch the cards, they sometimes forget about being picky eaters.

As our family grows and their needs change, we will add more totes and perhaps a bookshelf, but this kitchen learning center is here to stay!

Jan 28, 2011

Polar Bear unit study

About a year ago, my youngest siblings made these polar bears with my son.  We printed out the template from www.thebestkidsbooksite.com, cut and glued them onto blue construction paper for contrast, and had fun gluing cotton swabs to them.  We found that the most effective way for the younger children to do this was to have them dip the cotton into a small tray of glue, instead of gluing the polar bear.  Some of the kids wanted there to be snow in the picture.  Sometimes the joy is in the doing, not in the results.  :o)

This was part of a unit study on polar bears.  We also read Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World from the library and discussed how penguins and polar bears do not live together and showed the kids where polar bears live on a globe.  We showed pictures of polar bears from the National Geographic magazine, and said a polar bear rhyme similar to the one found here.  We also snacked on fish crackers because polar bears eat fish.  I think that unit studies like this are especially helpful for introducing new concepts to younger children.

Similar post:  Frog Day

Jan 27, 2011

Adapting Math-U-See for the pre-primer crowd


I had a friend who recently introduced Math-U-See to me, with the recommendation that children learn their numbers and numerals up to nine before beginning.  This was good advice.  As I poured through the Introduction to Mathematics book (now replaced by the Primer) and became excited about the program, I realize that they need this foundation before being ready to begin the formal program.

Therefore, my goal is to teach my three-year-old his numbers up to nine.  As I contemplated how to get him there, I decided that the answer is quite simply to play with the Math-U-See blocks with my children.

 In the beginning, I referred to the blocks by their number and color.  "Will you please hand me the orange two block?"  After a couple of weeks, I just started asking for the number, and if he was confused, I would clarify by telling him a color.  In a way this is teaching him to associate numbers with colored blocks, but this information is being used in the real world too.  In the month that we started playing with the blocks, he has gone from understanding two to understanding four.  If I give him three raisins and his sister four, he will complain using real numbers.  Although he knows that the violet block is "six", he still doesn't recognize six objects in a different context.   But understanding six in any context is pretty good for a three-year-old, and further understanding will come with practice.

Building Walls

This activity has even worked with my 22-month old.  I will choose a larger block, like nine or ten, to build a wall on.  Then I will place a slightly smaller numbered block and ask my children which block I need to finish the row.  My son is often involved in his own building project, and will shout out "three".  My daughter is more excited to help me, and grabs me a pink block.  She recognizes the missing space up to three, but struggles with four or more.  Since she does not even say her numbers yet, I think this is a great start.  My son can do it with all of the blocks now.  He reached this mastery by building his own walls.  We build ten walls, nine walls, eight walls, and so on.  My daughter prefers to make her own six walls, because violet is so pretty.


Unit Puzzles

I made these puzzles to teach quantity and numeral recognition.  Procedure?  Give the child a handful of unit blocks, tell them the name of the puzzle that they are doing, and let them place the blocks on the cards.  They are willing enough to do these puzzles if all I give them are unit blocks, but if the rest of the blocks are within reach, they won't touch these.  I only occasionally pull these out, but I have had good results.  Those familiar with the Math-U-See program will recognize this format, I have simply repurposed it for my younger children.  You need Math-U-See blocks to do these puzzles, but if anyone is interested, feel free to print these out and use them.




We love Math-U-See, and we haven't even started yet!  In the future, we will be purchasing more blocks, and using their full curriculum.  It is amazing to me that these manipulatives can be used from the pre-primer stage all the way through algebra.  Playing with blocks is fun = Math is fun!

Jan 26, 2011

Decimal Street


Recently we have started using the Math-U-See curriculum in our home, adapting it for our pre-primer children.  One of the highlights of the program is making a poster of a placed called "decimal street" to teach place value.  Looking for ideas, I found The Daniel Academy's lapbook.  I really liked the idea of using Cars characters to make the street more appealing.



For our edition, green units go to Mater's tow yard (mater is green!), tens go to Sally's hotel, and the hundreds get to go to Lightning McQueen's castle.  Sweet!  The Sheriff is there to make sure that none of these places become too crowded.  Only nine units can be in Mater's tow yard at one time, for example.  If there are ten, then they trade up to become a ten block and can go to Sally's hotel.  The helicopter is there because he's just cool that way.  Un-pictured are the numeral cards that can be placed on the respective squares to say how many blocks there are (or should be) in the different places.


My children (namely my son) love to use their trucks to load the different blocks.  If a tornado stirs things up, it's the truck that puts every block back in it's place.  "Mommy!  The semi-truck is taking the tens to Sally's hotel!"  Getting to play with the math-u-see blocks is their reward for finishing the rest of their school.

I have been amazed at how my son has picked up on the idea of place value with this poster, because he still doesn't understand his numbers yet beyond four.  Four-hundred and forty-four makes perfect sense to him, but five is still a little hard for him to grasp beyond knowing that that's how many fingers he has on his hand.  Playing with the blocks every day is helping him learn his numbers too.

Jan 25, 2011

Chess for preschoolers

"Checkmate in two moves" says my son after an engaging match.

Then I wake up.  The truth is, my three-year-old son does not even have the attention span to play Candyland.  Before he was two, he knew his basic colors inside and out, and so when he was 2 1/2, we gave him Candyland for Christmas.  He thought that the board was cute, and that the little gingerbread men were fun toys, but we ended up putting it away.  Even now, his version of the game is to walk the gingerbread men down the path and to talk to all of the characters as they journey to the king.  We managed to play half of a real game once, then he threw the pieces all over the floor and said "The end!"  Fair enough, we put it away.

There is something that I heard Susan Wise Bauer say 10 years ago at a homeschooling conference that means more to me today than ever before.  She said: "There is an intellectual maturity than can be given to children through a superb education, and then there is a social maturity that only happens when they've gone around the sun a few times."  I find myself thinking these words all of the time.  What was my goal in presenting Candyland to my son in the first place?  He already knew his colors.  Sitting down to play a game like that requires a certain social maturity that he just doesn't have yet.  Next year I'll probably be rolling my eyes at this article because it will be all that he'll want to play.

So why chess?

When my son was a baby, I saved this article from the Mothering magazine and decided that I would introduce chess to my children when they were three.  That was before I had heard of Doman or any of the other early programs.  Studies have shown (that's vague, I know, I'm not going find you a study for this post, sorry!) Ahem!  Studies have shown that children who play chess do better in math and science, and overall academically than their peers who don't play chess.  I believe it.  My family loves chess, and my children are often exposed to it when we visit them.



Going back to the social vs intellectual maturity idea, what can you teach a preschooler?  What are they intellectually ready to handle?  I've put it to the test with my son and here is why I have found:

1.                  They are old enough to learn how to respect the pieces.  When he would throw the pieces all over the floor, we immediately put them away, even though he still wanted to play with them.  He doesn't throw them around anymore.
2.                  They can learn the names of the pieces.  He knows them.  Even my 22-month old knows the difference between a pawn and a horsie.
3.                  They can learn how the different pieces move.  This has been our biggest breakthrough.  He knows how about half of the pieces move, and he thinks that it's funny that they can only move certain ways.  How silly!  Moving on with his version of the game…
4.                  They can learn that only one piece can occupy a square at a time.  This was actually a tricky thing that had to be learned.  Pictured is how my daughter set up the board, you can see that she doesn't quite understand this yet.  My son does.


5.                  They can appreciate the beauty of the pieces and the board.  This is the number one thing that makes them request the game again and again, I think.  The pieces are beautiful.  The board has intriguing spatial patterns.  They want to learn.
6.                  They can even learn how to set the board up.  We're working on this, but he now knows where the pawns go, and that the rooks go in the corners.

Where do we go from here?  As soon as he can play Candyland, I will introduce him to Lincolnshire chess (referred to in the Mothering article as "The Pawn Game").  When he can play Candyland, he will have mastered the art of taking turns, he will understand that somebody wins and somebody doesn't, and he will have the patience to see the game to the end.  Here is a video showing how to play Lincolnshire chess.



As a side note, Frank Ho from math and chess shares a kinesthetic way of teaching how the different pieces move.  I can't wait to try it!

Jan 24, 2011

Dinosaur sorting


I am the oldest of 11 and for Christmas my younger brothers completed a sewing project that they got from Washington Online, which they gave to my son for Christmas.  My children have had a lot of fun with this toy.  It has reinforced color and sorting.  We have talked about big and small, and sorted the dinosaurs by size as well as by color.  I wanted to highlight this project today and tell my brothers, good job!  My siblings have had a lot of fun with the K-12 curriculum this year. Editors note: My youngest sister helped too. Thank you!

Jan 22, 2011

Fun with tangrams

I have recently rediscovered and been enchanted by tangrams.  What an amazing discovery!  They have a fascinating history, and so many uses, from story telling, understanding area, puzzle solving, and more.  I stumbled across a fantastic book, Math games and Activities.  It has several tangram worksheets like the one I cut out and laminated on construction paper below.
My husband had a hard plastic tangram from high school that we played with, but it was very slippery on the lamination, and as I thought about what else I could use, I discovered that the foam sheets that I had purchased from the dollar store were the perfect size!  I traced a tangram on all six colors, and cut them out to make a very attractive set.  I also cut out all of the exercises in the book, as well as a double-sided set of puzzles that I found here.  These made an excellent Christmas present for our extended family.
I am amazed at how versatile tangram activities are.  Some of the puzzles have challenged me, and yet my daughter who is not yet two has been able to do outlined puzzles.

There are a lot of creative ways that I have seen tangrams used, such as for breakfast, on felt, or in a homemade book format (scroll down to see this one).  Have fun!

Nap time!

My daughter is a little monkey.  She loves to climb.  She also has a gift for falling asleep whenever, and wherever the mood strikes her.  For example, the kitchen table,
or the piano...
Where have your children fallen asleep?

Jan 21, 2011

Mommy, what happens to fish in the winter?

Well, it's a good thing that ice floats, or they would all be dead.  Luckily, what happens is that they just keep swimming and and living during the winter as they do in the summer, but the lake freezes on top.  Yesterday we illustrated this with a tasty treat, albeit with foods containing food coloring and corn syrup, which are usually avoided in this house.
We made blue jello and added Swedish fish.  If you add them right away, they will all sink to the bottom, so it's best to let the jello set a couple of hours before adding them.  My husband is the one who put the fish in, and he said that after some experimentation, the cleanest way to put the fish in was to make a slit in the jello with a butter knife and then push the fish in with the knife.  When the jello was ready we pulled it out compared our treat to fish in a lake during the summer.


In the winter, the surface of the lake sometimes freezes, and then is covered in snow.  If the ice is strong enough, people sometimes go ice fishing.  Our snow and ice was demonstrated with whip cream.  The children loved it!

Review for hometownseeds

One of the links that was lost when I transferred the website hosting over was for hometown seeds.  The good people from this company contacted me and asked for a link in exchange for a seed packet.  I was really excited about that and agreed, and I'm excited to be planting them this year.  It's only fair that I again refer to them on my blog.
The product that I was most impressed with was their survival seeds.  These seeds are non-hybrid seeds, which means that you can plant the seeds from your crop and sustain your garden from year to year.  Hybrid seeds sometimes produce sweeter corn or larger tomatoes, but you have to keep purchasing the seeds from year to year, so for long-term emergency situations they are less ideal.  It is impracticable for us to have more than a year's food storage while we're living in a two-bedroom town-home, but a year's supply of sustainable seeds makes us feel prepared for the long haul.  Our seeds came from a ward activity, but if not, we would definitely purchase something like this for our storage.  They've put together a nice package for a great price.

Jan 20, 2011

Teaching Spanish

I am lucky to have a wonderful asset for introducing Spanish to our children- my husband!  He served an LDS mission in Mexico, and is bilingual.  So far I have not tapped into this asset, largely because language is not my forte, and I have wanted to focus on other academic pursuits.  This post is about my husband.  He said that he doesn't want to miss this window of opportunity for our kids, and that although he is very busy with work, he does have 10 minutes to read to our children every day in Spanish.  He asked if the library has any children's book in Spanish, and the answer for our growing Hispanic community is definitely yes.  Now when I go to the library, I try to pick out a handful of simple, repetitive books that Michael can read to the children.  This week's features are in the picture.



The other thing that we have done is to start watching movies, mostly cartoons in Spanish.  The kids are every bit as engaged when we do this.  Interesting.
There has also been a side benefit.  Michael has also been helping me learn how to read in Spanish (I know it's a phonetic language, but I confuse so many of the rules with Italian.  Never-mind the diction classes I took in college...).  Peter has seen this, and it has helped him to realize that learning to read is an on-going process, and that even Mommy and Daddy are still learning.  It has given him confidence to be where he is now, knowing that fluency will come later.
¡Buena suerte!

Jan 19, 2011

Lacing cards for the quiet bag



Here is a simple project to keep little hands busy and quiet during Church services.  The pictures came out of the Ensign magazine.  I printed out a little tidbit of information for the picture on card-stock, used a glue-stick on the other side for the picture, laminated it, and used a hole-punch around the edges.  When I originally did this project, we used a shoelace, and were subsequently mortified at how loud it was when our children used it during the meetings.  We experimented with several mediums before settling with boondoggle.  Fortunately Michael has an abundant supply from his boy-scout days.  It slides very nicely with the lamination.  My toddler doesn't have the attention span to finish these (8 1/2" by 11"), so I'm going to make some smaller ones for her.  This is a fast and easy project that you could use to teach any subject, and they are also great for car trips.  It's essentially a bit of intelligence card with holes around the edges.  Have fun!

Jan 18, 2011

How to make flip-up cards



Flip-up cards template for Word

Flip-up cards PDF file


For more pictures and suggestions, see this previous post:  Teaching my baby to read.

Snow density

Here is a simple experiment that we adapted for our preschooler.  When we had a blizzard last December, in addition to making snow cones with juice concentrate, we filled our graded measuring cup so that there was about 2 cups of unpacked snow.  We talked about how snow is made of water, and that when the snow melts it will take up less space.  This means that it will have less volume.  We also talked about how some snow is more dense than others, and that this snow was especially light and fluffy.  It was an introduction to the vocabulary and concepts and he seemed to think that it was interesting.  I am going to do this experiment next time it snows and compare the results.

Jan 17, 2011

Teaching reverence during church services

 Less than perfect

Okay, I admit it.  Yesterday our family was not the quintessential example of reverence during church.  I have a new calling as the ward organist, and we are learning the new ropes of what this calling is going to mean for our family.  While I played prelude music (so far so good), my husband brought in our three little ones and fed them a little lunch snack of quesadillas and apples.  The plan was for him to come in five minutes before sacrament with the children, but a diaper blowout prevented this, and wired nature of the children convinced him to stay in the foyer.  After the sacrament song, I went out to find him, and to his credit, all three children were sitting reverently on the couch.

Our family joined the congregation after the sacrament, and at first things went well.  There was a baby blessing, so seats were few and we accidentally split up a family as the father had taken a little one out and came back to find us.  For the intermediate hymn, I had to walk up in front of everyone, and pass behind the bishop to get to the organ.  When I sat down, I walked in front of the speaker and realized that I could have planned that better.  The closing song went all right, but during the talks I had to take Patrick out just to bounce him, Peter verbally wanted to know why the impact hammer in his book was tearing up the road, and Helen didn't want to stay in her seat.  I suppose it must not have been too much of a disaster since both my husband and I were able to enjoy the talks, but overall we decided that it is time for us to refocus our efforts to teach reverence during this most important meeting of worship.  After all, if we can't master this art now, as our family grows, well, we're doomed.

These two blogs, MormonChic , and BellaOnline, have some great advice on the subject, but my favorite blog was written by a minister's wife that I read two years ago and I couldn't find the article to share with you today.

A beautiful example

She said that the truth is, if you want to teach your children to be reverent at church, they are going to have to learn to be reverent at home.  If children are allowed to run the show all week long and then we expect them to sit quietly for just one hour at church, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  The time of preparation far-spent.  This good sister has several children, and to the amazement of their peers, the children would all sit quietly and listen to each sermon.  She was asked several times how she did it, and so she wrote the article that I read.

When her husband was called the ministry, she looked at her small but growing family and knew that each Sunday would be her own battle, and she wanted to win it on her own turf- the home.  During daily devotionals with her family, expectations were explained, expected, and enforced.  She started small, by changing the environment for their bible study.  They sat on chairs instead of laying on the floor- little ones included.  Then she started adding things to scripture study- audio cassettes, films, inspirational stories, and singing time- until she had an hour-long devotional every day in her home.  Although her children were of course still children at church, teaching them how to sit still and listen at home made all the difference on Sunday.  After all, at home, it was just mom.  At Church they got to listen to dad, hear a live organ, and a real choir.  How wonderful!

My new resolutions

·                    No treats.  One of the things that has helped our family a lot during sacrament meeting is to leave the treats at home.  I was a believer in them, thinking that they were crucial for the little ones until a sister in our ward shared an experience where her church was remodeled and the bishop asked the families to leave the treats at home.  She told her husband that she had two small children and thought that it was unfair for the bishop to ask this of young families.  Her husband sided with the bishop and so she agreed, thinking that they would come to their senses after seeing how the children behaved after a few weeks.  Instead, her heart was changed as she didn't have to clean-up after the meetings and her children did just fine.  Sacrament meeting is the first block of the day and it is possible for them to not starve to death, especially if you feed them before the block.  We have already seen improvement in our own children by leaving the treats home.  I make an exception for the baby.  I believe on nursing on demand, and although I always feed him before church, he's little and the wants of a baby are the needs of a baby.
·                    Sit at the front.  This was our plan last Sunday, but it didn't quite happen that way.  Crossing in front of the speakers to get to the organ was, quite frankly, embarrassing.  So even if the family doesn't sit in the pews during all of the prelude music, we will now reserve a spot close to the organ so that I can fulfill the needs of our family and the ward with less disruption.  Does this help my readers?  Maybe not, but I know that sitting in the front when I was in college helped me be more attentive because there were less distractions.
·                    Stress the importance of family devotional.  In the past my husband and I have read scriptures independent of the children.  For the children, at bedtime we snuggle on the bed, sing primary songs and read from the scripture stories.  Often they roll around while we sing.  We will still snuggle at bedtime, but we are going to follow the pattern of the minister's family and start studying as a family, and the children will be part of our formal, unabridged study of the scriptures
·                    Let the children come to organ practice.  Okay, so this one is definitely not as useful for my readers, but during the week we are going to dress the children in their Sunday clothes and Michael is going to sit with the children while I practice for 20 minutes or so.  I can do a formal practice session on my own at another time, but teaching the children how to sit through music presentations is something that we want to teach them anyway, and doing it privately in this manner will benefit everyone.
·                    Reevaluate the contents of the "activity bag".  We do have a church bag with activities reserved for Sunday, and it has worked wonders for us.  I have made a few things that I will share in upcoming posts that have preserved the nature of the Sabbath, but perhaps the matchbox cars, and the ensuing "Vroom!" that comes with them, would be better served with the rest of the daily toys.  Yes, I'll take those out of the bag today.
·                    No reward for rambunctious behavior.  My son is new to primary his first week as a sunbeam he cried that he wanted mommy so I came and sat with him for a few minutes.  I left, and he cried again.  When the kind brother brought him down this time he sat with me in relief society and fidgeted the rest of the meeting.  Week number two when he refused to go to primary we went outside and he got to sit in his car seat.  He was content to do so for the rest of the block, defiant that he didn't want to go to primary.  It wasn't until the rest of the family came out to the car that he started crying, "I want to go to primary!"  That's great, Peter, next week you will get to go, but it's over today, you missed it.  I'm so excited.  Not only did he go last week, but he told me that it was a lot of fun, and he told me all about Daniel and the lions den.  It sure beat sitting in his car seat!  I hope that we nipped that problem in the bud.

Well, a short blog post has turned into a book, but these are my new year's resolutions, and my ramblings for a better Sabbath.  Of all of the things that I wish to teach my children, moral character, the gospel, and a love for our Savior, Jesus Christ are the most important.  Reverence is an essential part of the gospel.  I feel obligated to teach my children, and I am grateful for my husband's support in this endeavor.

Jan 15, 2011

Your Baby Can Read

 My Journey to the program

My journey in trying to teach my children to read began almost when my son was born.  I was learning about elimination communication, and saw in passing a comment made by a parent that the reaction people have to EC is similar to that of teaching your baby to read.  What?!?!  That started a new searching frenzy that led me to Glenn Doman, the yahoo group
Teach Your Baby to Read, and my desire to homeschool my children went into overdrive.
Glenn Doman's writings as applied in our home have made such a big difference for our children.  But the one fundamental part of the picture that was lacking was in our reading program.  After a discussion about the importance of phonemic awareness and some of the damage that can be done with whole-word methods, I decided to focus on phonics from the start.  At first, everything went well- my son learned his ABC's, and read a few simple words, and although that was great, I wasn't seeing the results that were typical for parents who were teaching their younger children to read.
The difference?  The whole word method!  Phonics was often taught later, but it was always the whole word method that got the feet in the door.  It makes sense too.  When a child starts putting two words together in a sentence, it is a major milestone.  Tiny children have a hard time remembering more than one thing at a time, and so when sounding out the word "C-A-T", by the time they get to the "T" they have forgotten about the "C".  At least this was my experience with my oldest son.  He was so excited about the letters, that he struggled to think of them in the context of a word.  By applying the whole-word method first, they learn about words first, they learn that the GOAL in reading is to know what the word is, and then the sentence.  Perhaps I am reiterating myself, but to sum it up, I have come to be a believer in the whole word method first, phonics later.  You need both to become a truly proficient reader.
The problem is, I was burned out.  The idea of reading lessons for my son was a bit stressful to me, because Peter didn't enjoy most of our reading sessions.  Every time we started, he would be eager enough, but soon he would become frustrated and avoid it all together.  So we would wait a month and try again.  Meanwhile I eyed the Your Baby Can Read program and fell in love with the interactive books and cards that come with the videos.  So I sold my college textbooks (the ones EVERY vocalist should have in their library, but since I chose to be a professional mother instead…) and came up with the money to buy the whole program.  Let me tell you, I have an extreme lack of buyer's remorse!  It works!  And the best part of all is that my children love it.  They are eager for the movie, they request the book and cards, and my 3-year-old son has started bringing me his toys and asking that I help them to learn to read as well (giving him more practice.  SWEET!)


How the program works for our children

In less than two weeks, we are already starting to have success.  The video above is not anything amazing.  He's not a whiz-kid, and I don't expect anyone to watch the video and think that he is.  The point of the video is to say "This is where we are, and it's working for us".  I am tickled pink with the progress that he is making, and I am so grateful for a program that has jump-started our reading program and put us back into gear.  The best part of all is that he LOVES it.  He now wants to know what everything says, he is brimming with confidence at his ability to learn, and he is eager to continue the journey.  He can't wait for me to get out the Volume two materials, but he has to wait…  I was a little bit worried that he might be too old for this method, but he's not.  Life is good. 

On a side note, has anyone noticed their child having a harder time with serif fonts?  I read somewhere that they do, and you can see it in this video.  He usually reads "elephant" just fine.

The program is working for my 22-month old as well.  She isn't reading as many words as Peter, but she is reading.  Then again, she isn't really talking as well as he is either.  All of the vocabulary words in the movie have become some of her favorite.  When I hum the theme song to YBCR, she gets excited and starts to dance.  I am trying to teach her to read as well, of course, but I am focusing on Peter, and will show the videos at his rate first, going back to fill in the gaps with her later.

As for my 4-month-old baby, when he's awake he gets the reading sessions with the other kids.  He is usually very attentive to the movie until it gets to "Twinkle, Twinkle", at which point he decides that breast is best.  He usually watches the tail end, and loves that part too.

Application in our home

We're doing the whole program in our home.  We watch the videos after breakfast, and at night.  At bedtime the lights are out and the kids get to sit on "the big bed" to watch it before they go to sleep.  They do not know that we've moved "lights out" time up, and they think that they get to stay up later.  It is a win-win situation, and there are no distractions.

The pull-out cards are viewed when do go through our school box, the book is read during every story time, and the parent's guide flashcards are shown randomly, but at least once a day.  It has been really helpful for us to connect our reading sessions to things that we were already doing.

Thank you, YBCR, for creating such a wonderful product.  Whatever it is you did, you nailed it.  We love the new release, and we look forward to using the Your Child Can Read videos when the time comes.

Jan 13, 2011

Welcome to the new hosting

Site Build It!I have to admit it, I love Google!  This website was hosted with Site Build It!, which was great for so many things.  It had e-mail hosting, I could build forms, send newsletters, see insight to my traffic, host pdf's, and just about anything else you could want to do with a website.  It was great, and I learned so much.  However, as professional-mothering grew, I found that what I really wanted to do is just blog.  And the best place to do that is with blogspot.  It's free, it's EXTREMELY user friendly (it was very easy to transfer all of my content over), and I was even able to keep my domain name, with the help of my techie husband.  The only thing that could be better is to be able to delete the date from the URL for individual sites.  So if you had bookmarked an individual page on my website, the link is probably broken.  The content is still here, but you may have to dig a little for it.  I'm sorry about that, but I'm not going to complain about the free hosting.  The entire website was uploaded this last week, so January has a TON of posts.  That's okay.
Thank you, Susan, for helping me with everything.  I'm releasing your content back to you to do with as you please, it was fun working with you!

Violin for Toddlers

First of all, is the violin for toddlers? A few years ago if you had told me that I would start my boy out on the violin while he was two, I probably wouldn't have believed it. But that was a few years ago. As I have studied early childhood development from authors such as Maria Montessori, Glenn Doman, and Sidney Ledson, however, I have adopted a different philosophy, one of creating a learning environment for my children. When I read "Nurtured with Love" by Shinichi Suzuki a year ago, I knew that I wanted the violin to be a part of my children's education.

What is Suzuki?

This was a question I had to ask myself and search out on my own to answer. Growing up there were many musicians whom I admired that wanted nothing to do with it, and openly admitted that they secretly cringe when they find out a new student was trained in the Suzuki method since many of them can't read music. Note to self: no Suzuki for my children. But then Glen Doman praised Suzuki and his methods in his books, and I recalled that I knew some VERY talented musicians who trained in Suzuki. Some of the best musicians on campus in college, where I was a music major, had their start with Suzuki. Suzuki can start children out very young, and having a diabolical plan to turn my children into the next Trapp Family Singers (mwahaha!), I decided to give Suzuki the benefit of a doubt and read his book.
The method, especially at first, relies a lot on the ear. I think a lot of the reason students fail with this method is because this method relies a LOT on parental involvement, with the mother taking lessons with her child and they learn the instrument together. It also involves creating an environment that encourages musical growth. Just as all Japanese children learn to speak Japanese, this approach teaches much by the environment of the child. I have decided that this is something I want to do with my own children, in conjunction with note reading via the Kodaly method, which can also start in the toddler years.

If you give a toddler a violin…

If you give a toddler a violin, a dump truck, a spoon, your cell phone, or any other item, be aware that to your child it will be a toy! It will be so tempting to tell your child to be more careful, to become tense and raise your voice as you see them continually drop their instrument, climb couches with it, drag it across the floor, and many other unspeakable horrors to a fine instrument you have invested in for your child. It makes no difference to a two year old. To them, it is a beautiful instrument just their size made just for them. It is a toy. Violins are not made of porcelain, they are made of wood. They are not terribly expensive to repair. If you are not prepared to allow your child to play with their violin (within reason! I drew the line when he hit his little sister with the bow…), then wait a few years. Peter's violin has survived a full week, and he has really grown to love it. We took a risk and bought our 1/32 violin on e-bay and we were very pleased with the results.

Preparing the Environment

To prepare Peter to be excited about his gift, I began pulling my violin out of its case and actually started practicing again. If you don't have a violin and have never played, that is okay, get one now and start learning. If you do not show a vested interest in the violin, your child probably will not either. I also bought the Suzuki 1 CD and started playing it, and playing with it. Sadly, my intonation is not what it was when I was in high school, and the CD has really helped me correct that. I am sold on the CD. Even if it was a bit pricey, it is music played beautifully, and it is fun to play with the CD. I did this regularly for about a month before we gave Peter his special gift. Now we play the CD together and march around the room to the "Twinkle, Twinkle" variations.
I am also very grateful to track 18, which says "Please tune your violin to the following tone." It is only because of this track that Peter will surrender his instrument long enough for me to tune it. "No, Mommy. It’s MY violin." Yes, Peter, it is indeed yours. In spite of some of the less-than-gentle treatment it receives, Peter is very careful and gentle with it his instrument when he puts it in it's case. It is so endearing to see my little boy love his gift so much.
In light of preparing the environment, I found an article about finger games for the violin for toddlers which may be helpful.

Sizing the instrument for your child


This is a picture of my full sized violin next to Peters. It looks so tiny, but in his hands it is easy to see that it is just the right size. Getting the right size is crucial to your child's enjoyment of the violin, and is fairly simple to do. Simply place the violin under your child's chin and see if they can comfortably curve their fingers around the scroll. The right size for your child is the largest size with which they can comfortably do this. We tried a 1/16 at our local music store and it was too large for Peter so we knew that we wanted a 1/32. We would have had to ask the store to special order it for him, or we could order one ourselves. If children are given a violin which is too large for them, it can be very uncomfortable to play, and being forced to play it could even turn them off to playing the violin forever. It is not worth it. But giving them the right tool for the right job with the right environment with proper encouragement is bound to bring good results, and a positive experience for your family.

Jan 8, 2011

Volcanoes

Ah yes, the classic science experiment of pouring vinegar over baking soda for a chemical reaction. This is one of my children's favorite activities to do. I have a pie tin set aside to catch the results, and a baby bottle that we use as a volcano.
The volcano was actually a tool that I used to teach my son his colors. I use white vinegar, and pour it into a clear shot glass. We would then talk about our chosen color and add a few drops of food coloring to the vinegar. For green, orange, and purple, and brown, we mixed primary colors. It was the volcano that taught my color the concept of "clear" also.
When I was a child, we made several volcanoes out of salt dough. We molded the dough around a baby-food container or small glass baby bottle, and then baked it in the oven to make it permanent. My brother once made a whole dinosaur landscape which included a volcano. After the baking, he painted the scene with tempera paints. Then my mom helped him hot-glue small plastic trees and shrubbery to the scene.
Whether the simple experiment is a launching pad for discussion of colors, dinosaurs, volcanoes, or chemistry, the baking soda and vinegar reaction is bound to remain a favorite.

Is it a boy or a girl?

As my body blatantly advertises the upcoming birth, this is the question that friends, family, and complete strangers use to strike up a conversation. My response? "That's what we're hoping for."
It was not that long ago that discovering the gender of your baby was something that happened at birth. Now our society expects an early discovery through the technology of ultrasounds. Those who ask me if we know what we're having are all well-wishers and I appreciate their attention to my belly. My comment here is about the overall shift our society has taken. It is interesting that the general population expects me to know what I'm having before it happens.
Guess what? I don't know. I have never had an ultrasound, actually, and I'm planning on having a home birth like I did with my first two. Casually answering this way has been a great "missionary" tool for homebirth. It is non-confrontational, and creates awareness that there are other ways to give birth, and that somewhat normal looking people like myself are choosing it. If they are curious to find out more, they now know that I am someone that they can talk to, but there is no pressure for them to reply with anything but, "Ah, I see."
In the meantime, I have now washed all of our neutral clothing, and there are boy and girl clothes standing by, waiting to be added as appropriate to the baby wardrobe after the birth. Peter is hoping for a boy.

Crayon Rubbings

Recently I took my children to the playground and noticed that the kid table had built-in pictures and the ABC's, designed for crayon rubbings. Placing the blank sheet of paper over the pictures and rubbing a crayon on its side is the perfect activity for this environment.
Before the weather becomes to cold, I am going to take my children on a walk and let them gather nature items for the activity. The only real requirement for a good rubbing is that the items be relatively flat. A rock is usually not a good candidate, but leaves in all of their varieties are perfect. As a gradeschooler, I remember a special activity my mother guided us through, where we took a field book, identified 5 different trees, and then did crayon rubbings of their respective leaves.
There are also plenty of things that you can find around the house and in your community that will make great rubbings. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Money
  2. Kitchen strainers
  3. Toys
  4. Stamp pads
  5. Grass
  6. Flowers
  7. Bark
  8. The sidewalk
  9. Words on local monuments
  10. Grave stones of family members
Have fun with your little ones!

Breastfeeding

Last week was international breastfeeding week, and as I was thinking about it, I realized that I have never shared any of my breastfeeding experiences on this site. I plan on writing an article about it soon, but today I wanted to just tell you the introduction I usually give at my local LLL meeting.
I was always planning on breastfeeding, and took it for granted that it was something that most mothers just did. After a few bumps along the way, I did have a successful experience breastfeeding my oldest. Shortly before his first birthday, I went to a workshop about extended breastfeeding, and it was my first exposure to the concept. After doing my research, I decided that I would continue to breastfeed him, even though I was planning on getting pregnant again soon. At his first birthday party, we announced to our family that we were expecting our second, and I breastfed Peter until he was 27 months old. We gave him a "Halloweaning Party" which coincided with giving him his violin.
Tandem nursing was successful with Peter and Helen, but when she was about 6 months old, my milk supply started to be compromised, and I had reached the two-year mark, which for me personally was the goal. I had planned on continuing to breastfeed Helen for that long as well, but I became pregnant sooner with her, and when she was 13 months old and I started my second trimester, she decided one day that she was done, and was very adamant about not breastfeeding, so she was weaned at that age. I had mixed feelings about it, but every time I tried to feed her, she bit me and crawled away, so my persistence did not last long.
Now I'm looking forward to breastfeeding my third child in a few weeks. I kind of miss it!
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Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God



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On giving yourself permission to not be perfect

What a crazy few months we have had. There are so many things that as a wife mother we feel we should be doing that sometimes, at the end of the day, just don't get done. What a relief it is sometimes to be able to say to yourself: "I'm not perfect, and that's okay."
Then we pick up the pieces and move on with our lives. One thing that I struggle with is to keep up with the dishes. Usually that is not a problem, but with the house showings that we had as we tried to sell our house, sometimes with very little warning, it became a stressful thing to always keep the sink empty. My solution? I bought a large opaque tote which I dedicated to our dirty dishes. Before a showing, I would quickly put all of the dishes in the tote and within a couple of minutes I would have a beautiful empty sink. Sweet, now I can vacuum...
In today's market, I am so grateful that we found a buyer for our home. We are preparing to move next week, and our baby is due in less than 6 weeks. I know that consistently teaching our children is the key to their success, and I have continued doing preschool activities with them all summer. A couple of weeks ago, as I struggled to keep up, I told myself, "Tamsyn, it's summer, you're pregnant, you're moving, and your oldest child is only three. Their academic success in life does not depend on you doing school right now." Giving myself permission to take a break has been so rewarding for me. I have many things that demand my attention right now, and by allowing myself to focus on the most important ones, and letting the others slide, I have gotten more sleep, I have been a happier mother, and ultimately, that is what my children need the most.

Natural remedy for cuts and bruises

Recently we discovered an excellent natural remedy that we have used in our home a few times and it really works. Mix half-and-half comfrey powder and cayenne, then add enough honey to make it a sticky goo, then place on the cut or bruise. The comfrey helps the skin heal, the cayenne will stop the bleeding, or help with blood circulation for bruises, and the honey, especially if it's raw honey, will act as a disinfectant.
We used this when my husband bruised his leg up doing Kung Fu. We put the mixture on a large bandage and covered the worst part of the wound. The next day, it was almost comical how the part that was covered with the remedy was almost completely healed and the rest of the bruise had gotten worse.
We also used it on my son's cut, and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. I tested the cayenne on my own wound to verify that it wouldn't sting, and it didn't, so I felt comfortable using it on him. Now when he wants to be "Dr. Peter", he tells me that he wants comfrey and cayenne to heal people.

Flying Machine

Of Flying Moterhomes

 If you run into my son at the grocery store and are polite enough to give him eye contact, he is sure to tell you about one of the features of his flying moterhome. "I have a flying moterhome, and it has boosters that make it go really fast…"
Where he got the idea, or why it has so captivated his young imagination, I am not sure, but whatever it was, he's hooked. Suddenly blimps and spaceships are variants of his mot erhome, and we begin seeing the world with different eyes.
Flying machines are actually very common in children's media. Just think about the house inUp, the blimp in Kiki's Delivery Service,, the make-shift balloon-flag in The Great Mouse Detective, or the many hot-air balloons attached to boats that make their appearances in the Saturday morning cartoons. All of them captured the imagination of my son.



 

Creating our own flying machine

After hearing, "I want a flying moterhome" every day for several weeks, I contemplated how I might give him one. The answer for us was to make our own flying machine out of paper and helium balloons.
Our boat was made from the comic section of the paper, attached to four balloons. To make it "sea worthy", we connected a fifth line to make an "anchor", which was tied to a heavy toy so that the children wouldn't accidentally send our craft on any un-wanted adventures.
For hours that day the flying machine traveled through the air, carrying whatever small toys that were light enough to enjoy a ride.

 

 

 

Feeding the flame

Children learn best through play. When teaching moments accompany something that they are interested in, their ability to focus and retain knowledge is increased.
While playing with our "flying machine" we discovered which toys could fly in the boat. He solidified the concepts of heavy and light as he experimented with different toys. He learned that four balloons will carry more than two.
  He also learned about origami. On day two of our flying exploration, as our boat sank to the ground, my husband helped me make lighter ships, carried by two balloons, and doubling the fun. I will post a video soon on how to fold paper boxes like the pictured posted on the right.
When my children are older I want to repeat the experiment with a scale. We will weigh how much one balloon can carry and make predictions for how much weight two balloons can carry. How many balloons will it take to carry a marble? A toy car? A plush toy? Will a bigger balloon carry more? How much more? How many balloons would it take to carry a house? What about a person? Has it been done before? (Yes! check out http://www.couchballoons.com/ )
Happy Flying Everyone!

Snack Time!

Inevitably when you have children, at some point in time, they are going to want to eat. This inclination does not always fall during mealtimes, and so, snack time was born. This newsletter highlights some of the things I feed my children when they are hungry.

Banana Cones

 For my children, it seems like one of the biggest attractions of ice-cream cones is the opportunity to eat the cone! I recently came up with a healthier alternative that holds as much appeal. I cut a banana in half and place the middle of the banana in the cone. If I have any other fruit lying around, I will accent the banana with it. Strawberries are pictured here, but raspberries and cherries work great too. The crunch of the cone combined with the creamy banana is also yummy on its own. My children love it!

Edible Play Dough

This is one of my favorites that my mom used to make for me. It is made with a mixture of half-and-half peanut butter and honey. Then, to make it less sticky, mix with powdered milk until you have the desired dough-consistency. Because of the strong flavor of the dough, and the price of the ingredients, I do not suggest large serving sizes, especially for smaller children. I have taught my husband how yummy the peanut butter and honey combination is, and when he wants a snack, he will often make this dough without the powdered milk. Sometimes he will add nuts, raisins, and craisins.
You can take this dough-play a step further by adding other ingredients. My son loves poking raisins in his dough, and he tells me that they are rocks. Carrot sticks, celery, chocolate chips, and apple slices have also been used.
Once I tried to recreate the Marshmallow Buildings  project with this dough and pretzel sticks. It didn't work. The dough wasn't sturdy enough to support the structures, but it was still tasty! I did this experiment with my younger siblings, and porcupines, bridges, teepees, and hot dogs were the successful ventures. Pictured here is an animal of some sort.

Other Snacktime Ideas

  • Coordinate your snacks with story time. We recently made muffins after reading If you give a Moose a Muffin.
  • Come up with your own concoction to go with other school activities. For example, see our Frog Swamp Soup.
  • Make a trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and maybe a little chocolate.
  • Dip carrot sticks or apple slices in peanut butter.
  • Take the traditional PB&J to the next level by cutting out the sandwiches with cookie cutters. For a less messy alternative, cut single slices first, and then add the topping. In our home, Mommy's share is the crust.
  • Use all of those yogurt lids you have accumulated as snack time plates. We buy yogurt by the quart, and one day I was looking at the 50+ lids I had stacked up and realized that I had struck a goldmine.

Summer Music

The weather is warm, school is out, and summer vacation is here. With the warm weather come farmers markets, family reunions, county fairs, rodeos, festivals, and holidays to divide our time. It is a wonderful time of year for children, if you can beat the heat.
With all of these festivities and celebrations comes an outpouring of live music in child-friendly settings. Listening to recordings is wonderful for every-day use, but it should not replace live music.

Live Music Opportunities

Here are some of the avenues you may find free opportunities to listen, but you may have to do a little digging on your community calendar to find them.
  • Art in the Park. Depending on the size of your community, these may be nightly, weekly, or monthly, or unfortunately, not at all. Look into neighboring cities if your community doesn't offer something like this. Usually held in the evenings, you bring a blanket and young children play in the grass while being serenaded by beautiful music.
  • County Fairs There are often competitions held during county fairs, which gives children an opportunity to hear and see a large variety of talent in a short time. Come and go as you please.
  • Farmers Markets Farmers markets will often have live music to listen to as you shop for local produce and homemade items.
  • Community Performances For example, our city offers "noon music at the tabernacle". It gives local musicians an opportunity to share their talents and it gives the community a free opportunity to hear fresh talent. Churches will often be the buildings to host this, and it doesn't hurt to check and ask for a calendar of events.
  • Community Theater These may or may not be free, but they are worth looking into. There are usually more performances like this done in the summer.
  • ParadesThe marching band is a big hit for young children, even if they don't throw any candy.

Listening Tips

In light of all of these opportunities, there are a few things that you can do that will enhance your family's enjoyment of the music. Here are a few quick tips before we close:
  • Dress for the occasion. If the event is in the evening, dress warm. If it is in the heat of the day, wear sunscreen and bring water for the kids.
  • Watch your child's attention span. There is no shame in leaving a performance early. I recently took my children to hear the Presbyterian Church's beautiful bell choir. The children were enthralled, for the entire first song. During the second song they began to be really fidgety, and were distracting others in the audience. I left, and Peter talked about hearing the bell choir all day. If he had been forced to stay the entire hour, he may have been singing a different tune.
  • Learn about the instruments before you go to the performance. Show your child pictures of the marching band instruments and tell your child what they are. When they see the tuba go by during the parade, your child will be excited because they will recognize it.
  • If you are going to an orchestra and they have advertised the program, play recordings of the music at home in the background before you go to the symphony. Children and adults alike love to hear music that is familiar to them.
  • Eat before you go to the performance, or if appropriate, bring food. Children will listen to their stomachs before they listen to the music.
  • Express your own admiration for the performances. If you are obviously not enjoying the music, chances are your children will share your attitude. Fortunately the opposite is often true.

Closing Remarks

Summer is a great time to enjoy all of the cultural events with your family. Whether you simply cheer for the marching band as the walk past or design a schedule based on your community's events, your positive attitude toward the music you hear will make all the difference to your children. So enjoy the music! Be safe, and have a great summer.

Bedtime Special

With summer looming around the corner, the days are becoming longer, our schedules are changing, and it seems the sun is working against our efforts to maintain bedtime order as the evenings become a time for play.
I don't claim to have it all figured out. Bedtime at our home is often chaotic, but in the end, we do finally go to sleep, and there are a few tricks I have up my sleeve that help to get the job done.

Creating a Routine

What are some of the most important things you wish to accomplish before your children go to sleep? Make a list of them and create a bedtime chart. This was an idea I got from "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley, and making the chart has been a real lifesaver for me. However, I don't recommend spending hours pouring through magazines to find the perfect picture like I did. Your time is worth something too. I recommend doing an image search to find a good picture to represent your task and printing it out.  My list consisted of

  • Get a drink
  • Bedtime snack
  • Clean up the toys
  • Story time
  • Brush your teeth
  • Go potty
  • Hug Mommy and Daddy
  • Say your prayers
  • Go to sleep
In retrospect I would have added "Put on your pajamas". Oh well. I made my chart by cutting out pictures and the title, pasting them on a colorful piece of cardstock, decorating it with stickers, then laminating it at a local office supply store. 
Then I put velcro dots by each item. My permanent "stickers" were made by cutting out a variety of shapes, coloring and decorating them with stickers, laminating them, and putting the other side of the velcro dots on the back side. This chart was made in conjunction with my "Spackman Preschool" chart which is pictured here. The stickers are for this chart too. The bedtime chart has helped to remove me from being the bedtime dictator, and has reinforced that certain things just need to get done before we go to sleep.

Nighttime Activities

One of the first things from our routine that we neglect is the "clean up the toys" item. My solution to this is to have a "bedtime activity" that requires a clean floor. Even if they don't help me clean up, at least they are willing to part with their toys in anticipation of the activity. Autumn leaves and the math pond  are two cases in point. But one of my children's favorite is one we call "Twinkle, Twinkle little star." The floor is cleared, I place some glow-in-the-dark plastic stars under a bright light, scatter them on the floor, turn off the light, and sing the classic nursery rhyme as the children giggle, run around the stars, or simply crawl to the nearest one and put it in their mouth, as the case may be. Extension activity: teach the different kinds of astronomical items if your stars are applicable. Vocabulary introduced to my little boy includes planet, rings, shooting star, galaxy, star, moon, gas giant, and Earth. 


Massage

For the longest time, my ultimate bedtime plan was to nurse Helen to sleep and then to help Peter. Well, Helen has self-weaned because of my pregnancy, and I needed a new plan. She loves to be close to me and still needs some special attention before she goes to sleep at night. Massage has turned out to be my lifesaver in that endeavor. Peter enjoys our sessions too!
I have been to a few workshops on baby massage, and they have told me to use baby lotion or essential oils like lavender to help the child go to sleep. Sometimes I do this. But the thing that helps the most is to just do it. Almost always Helen gets a good foot rub and it really helps her relax. It is her "go to sleep" cue, and it usually works.
For my preschooler, I like to tell the farming story my Dad always did with me when I was little. First run your fingers down their back and tell them that you are plowing the fields. Then plant the seeds as if you were typing on their back. The rain comes down as your fingers become lighter. Then tell your child that the wheat has grown so tall, and you love to run your hand over the grass. Beginning at the shoulders, gently stroke the back downwards. Then finish your harvest by rubbing in just a little bit firmer for a grand finish.

Closing Remarks

Bedtime can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. We don't have a set time that we go to bed, and admittedly, it's usually rather late. But beginning the routine helps the children know that it's time to wind down, and in the end, we all go fast asleep. Good luck with your summer schedules, and sweet dreams!
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