Sunday, March 8, 2015

Learning Letters (birth-18 months)

After teaching for a few years in public school, then venturing down the preschool road with James, Nana, Remi and now Adam, I have learned a few things about teaching children their letters. First of all, don't fear. It's easy. It's fun. However, I believe they learn their letters best when you start from day one.
The first few months of a child's life they are learning EVERYTHING. This is the perfect opportunity to begin teaching them their letters. At first, letters are abstract objects, like shapes, and can be easily memorized at an early age. If you will point out the letters in your child's environment they will quickly begin finding them on their own. Just as you would point out a star in the book you are reading, it is also wise to point out letters.
With Adam I began with simply pointing out the letter A everywhere we went. He has A's in his room, there is an A on the Walmart sign, at the Dr's office, on the trashtruck, etc. By the time he was 12 months old he was finding A's all over town. He simply learned what the "shape" of it looked like and can find it anywhere.
When teaching a new letter, it is best to attach each letter of the alphabet with a meaningful name, object, or word. For example: A is for Adam, D is for Daddy, H is for Honey Bunny, etc. As they learn more names and objects they can learn more letters. If you will attach each letter with a person or an object then the abstract letter can become more meaningful which will help later when you begin teaching letter sounds. I will not have to work hard at all at teaching Adam letter sounds because he already knows A is for Adam and I can slowly transition into A says "ah" like Adam. Seriously it's that easy!!!
The first 3 years of a child's life are the easiest time to teach letters. Please don't think I'm crazy when I say this. It's true. They are sponges. If you have missed that window of time it's ok. Children are sponges for a very long time. Just start today pointing out the meaningful letters that you see. If your child doesn't know a word or person that starts with U then skip that letter and come back to it. Once he/she masters a new letter then add another one to their list.
I add one to two letters at a time to Adam's life. This week I added E for eat, P for Papa, and H for Honey Bunny. He knows the sign for eat so I say E is for eat and I sign the eating sign. When we look out the window at Honey Bunny we point to his letter. Sometimes Adam finds an H in the playroom and then goes to the window to show Honey Bunny.
Here is a video of one of Adam's letter tubs. He simply has to match the foam letter to the written letter. I started this tub months and months ago and he would just have an A for Adam and a M for Momma. Each time he gets really good at those I add another letter.

Letters can be learned easily if you just start talking about them. Point them out, play with letter stickers, write letters in front of your child, play letter games, find them on billboards, find them on menus, etc. Start now with attaching each letter with a meaningful name or object and I guarantee you it will be a piece of cake to teach your child the sounds each letter makes.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Great Goat Chase A.K.A The Great Kid Chase

 Have you ever read this book, "The Great Goat Chase"? My neighbor gave me this book last night and James and I curled up on the couch to read it this morning. It was a good book: funny, predictable, adorably illustrated. But I couldn't help seeing some of you, yes you, as I read this book.
Here's a synopsis of the story.
1. Farmer grows lots of beautiful turnips
2. Goats get in the fence and eat the turnips.
3. Farmer tries to chase them out of the garden, but can't.
4. Dog tries to chase them out of the garden, but can't.
5. Horse tries to chase them out of the garden, but can't.
6. Pig tries, but can't.
7. No one knows what to do. They all cry.
8. Bee comes along and says she knows what to do.
9. Everyone laughs at her because they think she's crazy and too small.
10. Bee threatens to sting goats so they quickly leave the garden.
11. Goats rest happily where they are suppose to be.
12. The End
Do you see the correlation to parenting, maybe your parenting, in this book? Here's the synopsis I see of some "modern" parents out there:
1. Kid gets into garden (disobeys parent).
2. Mom tries to chase them out of the garden (begs child to leave)
3. Dad tries to chase them out of the garden (lectures child)
4. Mom tries to chase them out of the garden (takes away a privilege)
5. Dad tries to chase them out of the garden (removes a sticker from their sticker chart)
6. Mom tries to chase them out of the garden (sends them to their room)
7. Dad tries to chase them out of the garden (yells at child)
8. Mom tries to chase them out of the garden (fill in the blank with a million other things that are attempted to get children to obey)
9. Trio has wasted a WHOLE DAY, maybe more, trying to correct behavior that isn't changing.
10. Everyone cries.
11. No one heeds the counsel of the Bible James 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right"   AND "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" Proverbs 13:24

I could compare and contrast God's way of parenting to the world's way of parenting all day long. All of us have our reasons for how we parent, but I believe many of us are believing in a lie. We have believed the lie that tells us the Bible is outdated, out of touch, and out of line. We believe we know what's best for our family, we know what's best for ourselves, and we know what's best for our children. Really?? Because that sounds an awful like "follow your heart" which is a load of hogwash that the world is pumping into our souls every second of every day.

Lies the world tells us that the Bible doesn't support:
1. This is a phase, your child will out grow it.
2. Your child will learn to hit if you spank them.
3. Your child will fear you if you spank them.
4. Your child is naturally good they just need time to mature.
5. Your instincts will tell you how to parent your child. Momma knows best.

You don't know what's best for your family!
You don't know what's best for your self!
You don't know what's best for your kids!
Therefore, you must read God's word and heed wise counsel.
It's the only way.

I will leave you with this verse that we quote often in this house: "Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond." Proverbs 29:19  Your child hears you. Your child understands you. Your child doesn't care.

God's ways are not outdated, not harsh, and not out of touch. They are good. Disciplining in a biblical way is actually kind of beautiful. Your child disobeys, you bring pain (not all of the time, but most), your child repents, you go and enjoy your day. It's not hard. It's done in love and with self control and it works. It's worked for thousands of years and it will work a thousand years from now. Please heed the wise counsel. Please act according to the scriptures and save yourself and your child a lot of time and pain. If you are not enjoying your child then the problem lies with you. If you are spending your days dealing with behavior problems then there is a problem in your approach. I want you to enjoy your parenting years. I want you to enjoy your kids. I want you to hear the truth and let the truth set you free.

Did you notice that at the end of the story the goats were all resting happily? No one was happy until the bee stepped in. The goats were not traumatized, fearful, or deprived. They were happy and that is possible for your family as well. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Adam's Tubs: 12-18 months

Adam's tubs are out and ready to be explored. I'm a little late getting new ones out because he's really been enjoying his Valentine tubs from a few weeks ago. There was no need for me to switch things out. However, the time has come to introduce some new things and once he wakes up from nap time he will be in tub heaven!
This is how his shelf looks when it is all set up. I won't have it like this when he wakes up today because he doesn't know how to do all of these yet, but a few days from now he'll be able to do these any time he wants.
 These are linking blocks, at least that's what we call them. They are fun for little hands to practice snapping things together. These are purely for exploration but I do require him to keep them in the basket as much as he can.
 This is his sorting activity for this week. I went with the color purple because we haven't really talked much about purple and because it matched my cute little sorting dish (Dollar Tree). Inside are just some little animals and he'll put the chickens with chickens, the horses with horses and so forth. This will a great time for us to talk about the animals and practice the sounds. We got this little set of animals from Lakeshore Learning and they are fantastic.
 His sensory tub is construction themed (because he makes the cutest little car noises) and the base is pinto beans. The middle brother has already been playing with this all morning so I know it will be a hit.
 He's obsessed with using a fork or spoon when he eats so this tub was designed to help him practice his spooning skills. This tray is also from Dollar Tree and I use this all the time. It's great for practicing tongs and other types of instruments for transferring objects. He will spoon the ball from the outside into the inside. This way he doesn't have to balance the ball on his spoon, but mostly just toss it in.
 We're still keeping our frog on the shelf because he loves the song "3 Little Speckled Frogs"
 This next basket is filled with some cute shape containers that several of my friends advised me to get from Dollar Tree. They have matching lids and are great for lots of different games. For now Adam will just practice getting the lids off and putting them back on.
 This bucket has his baby flash cards in it. He still loves these cards. I've started spreading about 10-12 on the floor and asking him to hand me a particular one. He's so cute as he looks through all the cards to find the right one. I never had these with the other babies, but I'm glad to have them now.
 This is our Melissa and Doug beading set; however, Adam isn't able to do the beading part yet so we just use the beads and put them on a big stick (metal chopstick) stuck through an old formula container. He can stack 5 beads on here and I know he'll love this tub. He's always ready to stack.
 This is a needle and thread set made by playschool. This is a much easier set to use for actual threading.
I'm looking forward to watching him play with these. Hope he wakes up soon :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Valentine Tubs

 The great thing about Valentine's Day is that the holiday season doesn't last very long. I don't know about you, but I get so tired of doing Christmas crafts and activities after a whole month. With Valentine's Day I can get all excited and be creative for a couple of weeks and then I'm done!

Adam was excited for me to bring out his new tubs this morning. He knows when I have my basket of goodies that he's going to get some new games to play. I had bought this four pack of Valentine cups a couple of years ago to use with James and so I brought them out for Adam to do stacking games with. The first game we did looked like this:
 I put him outside the playroom and built a tower and then he ran in/crawled in and knocked it down. This led to him wanting to build the tower and me running in and knocking it down. It was so much fun!
Then I showed him how all the cups fit inside each other and he did this FOREVER!!! He loved figuring out how to get them lined up and stacked up. I love his open mouthed thinking face :)
Once he finally got them all stacked he was so happy with himself that he clapped! Ha!
 Next I laid out four paper hearts and told him to put one cup on each heart. This was great for one to one correspondence practice and counting out loud.
 Again with the clapping! Too cute!
 I had these little heart containers left over from the year James was learning to count and so I brought them out for Adam. I just had him put one little heart eraser in each container and then he put the lid on it. He liked this a lot, too.

 The lids are numbered from when this was James' game. He had to put that many erasers inside and then shut the lid, but Adam isn't ready for that. One eraser was plenty and we still got to practice counting to 3 .
These are a set of heart cookie cutters that fit together like a puzzle. I showed these to Adam and basically let him explore them today. I showed him that they fit together, but we didn't necessarily work on that.

 I got these flashcards off a local garage sale site and they are great. Each one has a texture to touch and mommy hints on the back of things to talk about. Adam carries these around the house, especially the rabbit card, and loves bringing them to me 14,000 times a day. They are cheap on Amazon if you need some.

 I've tried this a couple of times this week and it seems like he really gets it. I give him these two bowls and then I have a pile of pom poms. I show him the orange pom pom and ask him to put it in the orange bowl. If he puts it in the wrong bowl I say, "No that doesn't match" and then I take it out and tell him to "try again". He's gotten really good at it and I think in a few days I'll switch up the colors and see how he does.
Dollar Tree is FULL of Valentine things right now. Go grab you a few festive manipulatives and you'll be amazed at what your baby can do. If they can't do it, don't worry, they will in a month or two. Enjoy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Learning the 50 States and Capitals

We've spent some time that last couple of months learning the 50 states and their capitals. This was not an easy task, but both boys now know them and feel quite victorious.
We have this large chart in our school room and I found the states and capitals as flashcards at Dollar Tree and it's been helpful especially for the capitals.
The boys first learned the 50 states song in order to help them at least pronounce the states correctly and sing them in ABC order. Here's one of  the songs we used. Here's the other one.
After they learned the states, and could point them out accurately on the map, they began learning the capitals. Then we used the chart to match the capital with the state. Here's the song we used to learn capitals.
This was at least a month of effort, but sometimes there are just things people need to know and this seemed like a quality thing to have them memorize. They are so capable of memorizing things so I like to always have something going on like this. 

Spelling Words and Shaving Cream

Do your kids ever dread practicing their spelling words? I have just the remedy. . . shaving cream! It's fun. It smells good. It feels good and they still have to "write" their words. Works like a charm!


We did a little painting today. Adam liked using a circle paint brush. He was pretty good at dobbing it on the paper. He's never thrilled with painting. He would much rather color, but I love painting with babies so he plays along with me for a while.  

 Here he is signing "please" because he's begging to be done. Ha!