Showing posts with label Preschoolers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Preschoolers. Show all posts

To My Golden-Haired Child, On Her Fifth Birthday

 


My Sweet Clarice,

Today is your fifth birthday, and as the sun was peeking up over the hill, I peeked into your room to see if you were awake.  As soon as my eyes met yours, you popped up in bed, and your face broke into a grin when I started singing you happy birthday.  This is your day, and you are bouncing and grinning as you take it all in.

This year with you has been a good one.  You have always been my quiet, introspective girl, but this year you started telling me more and more of what you are thinking behind those pretty blue eyes.  You have such an imagination,  and you are always coming up with funny stories to tell me and your dad.  We love hearing your imaginations!  You are also a little artist, always coloring and drawing pictures to mail to your friends and family.  Often in the last few months you'll present me with an envelope and a name of who the envelope should be mailed to.   I love how you've been thinking about others that we haven't seen often enough for your liking.

You have such a sweet, sensitive heart, and when something is bothering you, you get very quiet.  Sometimes I just pull you onto my lap for a hug until you are ready to tell me what's wrong.  I've especially loved seeing some of our Bible verses and catechism questions stick in your mind.  Hearing your sweet little voice reciting Scripture is one of my favorite things.

You're interested in all things princesses, and you color your princess pictures so carefully (you're really quite a good colorer).  You relate most to Rapunzel because you both have "golden hair" (when someone says your hair is brown, you sweetly correct them).  Your curly hair is beautiful, and you always make note when I wear mine curly, declaring that my hair is just like yours. Your big blue eyes are constantly twinkling with excitement or humor, and you have a bubbly and fun little personality.  Even when you don't say much, you win everyone over with your big smile.  

Your favorite color is pink, and when I asked you said your favorite food is "toast!".  Your favorite dessert is ice cream, which I could have guessed because on one of our days together this year, you thoughtfully announced to me that you wondered what mint chocolate chip ice cream tasted like.  We promptly got you some, and you were in heaven as you dug into your dish, occasionally sharing a bite with me.  Your favorite book is Cinderella, your favorite movie Strawberry Shortcake, but I suspect those answers would change depending on the day.  You asked for an Ariel birthday party this year.  

You respond "I don't know," with a grin when I ask you what you want to be when you grow up.  In fact, you frequently declare to me that you don't want to grow up at all.  When I ask you why not, you think for a little bit, and then it comes out.  "I don't want to leave you."  And it swells and breaks my heart a little every time, because way down I kind of wish you could stay little and stay here with me forever too.  

I love you my sunshine girl.  No matter how big you get, or where you go, I will always be here for you.  I'll always be your mama.  And even when you're grown, I think I'll look at you and still see you as you are now - my happy, blue-eyed girl, hopping around on the morning of her birthday, with the sun shining in her curly, golden hair.

I'll love you forever, my darling.  Happiest of birthdays to you, today and every year!

Love,

Mama





My Favorite "5 Senses" Learning Resources


The lady was dressed in a floor-length floral dress and a bonnet.  She stood by an ancient-looking hunk of iron in the corner of a dirt-floor cabin.  I stood with my siblings in tennis shoes and a sweatshirt, watching her move little metal doors and plates around, exposing the fire inside the iron stove.  

"Today we're going to make butter!" she announced.  "Have you done your arm workouts lately?"  She put some fresh cream and salt in a mason jar, and one by one we took turns shaking it until we heard a thumping inside the jar.  The bonnet-clad lady twisted the lid, and there it was - fresh butter.

She opened a couple more doors on the oven, and slid out a pan of hot gingerbread, and I still remember how good it smelled, and how satisfying it was with a little of our butter spread on top.  

And that was my first memory of learning about the pioneers.



I think what made me remember that field trip so well was, in fact, the yummy gingerbread.  There is nothing that can bring a historical period to life like experiencing a little piece of it through your five senses.  I think taste is an especially good sense to include!

I am trying to think of ways I can give my kids the same effect for our school subjects this year, ways that I can help a topic stick in their minds using taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing.  I have a whole post about including the five senses in learning on the Rooted Family blog this week, with really SIMPLE ideas, because I am all about simple homeschool activities.  If a learning activity isn't easy for me to do with my kids, it probably won't happen.  I hope the post can get your wheels turning and your creative juices flowing on how you can include all five senses in your homeschool day!  

I also wanted to link a few of my favorite resources and products that I referred to in that post over here!  So these are a few things that I'm trying to include this year.

(Some affiliate links below.)


Historical Figure Toys - Rainbow Resource sells these little toy sets that can correspond with different historical periods, and I have to admit I got pretty excited when I discovered this!  I bought my kids the Revolutionary War soldiers, British and Continental troops, and I am going to break them out as we read more about our nation's founding this year!

Rush Revere Series on Audio - As we wind down our school day in the afternoons, I've been trying to remember to put on an audiobook while the kids color or finish up their copywork.  Our favorite right now is the Rush Revere series!  We are currently listening to Rush Revere And The Presidency which is a great one for an election year.  We've also been working through the Little House series on audio.  There is something about novels that makes history stick in the mind so much better, and it's also a great opportunity to give my kids practice at listening well.

Background Music - I love Kristi Hill's resources on teaching music appreciation for kids.  If you aren't signed up for her emails, I'd recommend it - she sends out "Music Monday" emails with links and activity suggestions for different pieces of music.  She also has playlists on Spotify which make great background music for a homeschool day!

Picture Books With Recipes - I'm trying to make note of the picture books we come across that include recipes, so we can make them together!  "Thundercake" is on our list of recipes to try right now, at the back of the book by the same name.  (If you know of any other picture books that include recipes, please tell me! Still trying to gather a list.)

Picnic Blanket - Getting outside is the perfect way to create sensory memories of our homeschool days, and I am finding our waterproof picnic blanket (that my friend actually got me for my wedding!) really useful this year - we are trying to do more of our school reading outside, and spreading a blanket amidst the grass and flowers makes it that much more enjoyable.

Five Senses Learning Ebook - If you decide you really want to get serious about including all five senses in your learning, I wanted to also point you to my friend Elizabeth's ebook on the subject!  She has put together a "Five Senses Letter-A-Week Activity Guide" for the younger homeschool crowd. I haven't read the ebook, but I have read Elizabeth's blog for a while and she has a ton of interesting activity ideas.  If you have preschool kids and want to make their learning more sensory and fun, I think her book would be a great place to start!  I also asked Elizabeth if she had any encouragement to offer on this subject, and here's what she wanted to say:

What better way to learn than by captivating the five senses? By incorporating opportunities for your child to HEAR - SEE - TOUCH - SMELL - and TASTE as they learn, they're able to experience the world around them in a way that would not be possible with a textbook alone. 




Just from my own educational experiences as a kid, I can say that she's right - I think including all five senses wherever possible is the most effective way to draw your children into the learning process in a way that will make an lasting impression on them.   

If you have any favorite activities, products, or resources that incorporate learning through the five senses, I'd love it if you'd add them in the comments!  

What memories do you have of a time when something you were learning really came alive for you?


P.S. Don't forget to check out my post on Rooted Family - I'm serious when I say including the five senses can be really easy, and I hope that post can encourage you that providing memorable homeschool experiences doesn't have to be overwhelming.






Combed Hair And Dirty Feet - Clyde At Four




My Sweet Clyde,

Goodness, it wasn't that long ago when I was writing letters to "my sweet baby Clyde", but you are hardly a baby anymore!  How did that happen?

This last week, you turned four years old.  At three years old I think you still fall into the "toddler" category, but over the last month or so I've been realizing that you've left that stage behind and are solidly in the preschool stage now.  Your drawings are becoming gradually more careful, you will often make comments that make me realize that you actually were listening to the book we were reading after all, and you reject all mentions of being my "baby".  I tell you that you will always be my baby boy - even when you are a grownup.  And you laugh, and your little eyes sparkle when I say that.

One of the cutest things about you right now is how you are developing your own sense of style.  You like your hair to be fixed with gel; you love to wear sunglasses so you can look "cool".  You even picked out some sunglasses for me for Christmas that look a lot like yours, because you wanted me to look "cool" too!  I bought you a comb at the grocery store a couple months ago, and you treated it like a prized possession (until it was lost a week or two later in the black hole of your sock drawer).



Despite acting so grown up when it comes to grooming and style, when I think of you at this age, I think of a little boy running around with his hair perfectly combed, chocolate on his mouth, and dirt on his pants.  You are all boy, and will spend hours outside with your siblings, sitting in the dirt, making mud pies, gathering pinecones, and riding your little red trike (that you are almost too big for).  You are so often on the go, but you will drop everything for a chance to cuddle with my on the couch.  I remember being pregnant with you and praying for a cuddly baby, and the Lord sure answered my prayer.  I still treasure our snuggle times, and I will for as long as I can fit you on my lap.

The other thing I always want to remember about you at four years old is your sweet little voice.  It was recently brought to my attention that tongue ties can run in the family, and one of the side effects of having a tongue tie can be a lisp.  I immediately thought of you.  I know I should get you checked, because I want you to be able to speak clearly as you grow...but I have to admit, there is a part of me that rejects the idea of doing anything that will change your sweet little voice.  You have the cutest hint of a lisp, and I love it so much.  I know this may change soon, may have to change soon, but right now, when I think of you, I think of your precious little boy voice telling me "Mom, you're the bethtetht mom ever!"  You tell me that almost every day, and I love hearing it from you so much.  If I could freeze time at any point, I might choose right now.  Then I could keep with me forever the little boy with the sticky fingers, dirty feet, sunglasses, combed hair, and adorable lisp.  

But instead, I get to watch you grow - though it's bittersweet, that's even better.  

I am thankful every day that God made you mine, Clyde.  I love you so much.  Happy 4th Birthday!

Love Always,

Mama


A Homeschool Usborne Book Wishlist (First Grade)



One of the most fun things about homeschooling so far has been researching and trying to decide on different curricula.  For Kindergarten we haven't really done a curriculum per se, we've just been working our way through a bunch of different books, doing crafts, and working on reading and math skills.  I haven't quite made up my mind what curriculum we will use for first grade this next year, but I've been searching through different options, and I've come to a conclusion - whatever we pick, I want to use (or build) a curriculum that uses real books.



We got Wyatt the Usborne Children's Encyclopedia for Christmas, and he poured over it for two days.  He asked me questions about all the pictures, and I told him what the words on the page said, and he was just fascinated.  It was so fun to watch him learning just for the joy of it.  While I think we will follow some sort of curriculum, I want to make sure we have plenty of interesting books around that fit in with what we are learning, to make the whole year more fun.

I've been making book lists galore, but today I wanted to focus on Usborne books!  A friend of mine, Brittney, asked me if I would host an Usborne Facebook party, and it sounded like a lot of fun - so I've been going through their thousands of books and making a list of the ones I'd like to get for school next year.  I'll share the ones I'm thinking about getting, but first, let's talk quickly about the ones I have, shall we?

Usborne Books We Already Have




The Children's Encyclopedia - Like I said above, this one has been a hit.  I think it's the full-page gorgeous illustrations that have really sucked Wyatt in.  I'm not going to lie, there were a few pages I felt the required more explanation (like the world religions or aliens pages), but they are easy enough to skip if you don't agree with or your child isn't ready for some of it.







How Things Work - This book is just so cool.  It's a flap book, and under each flap it gives pictures and descriptions about how the different things in this book work. 






Horses & Ponies and Weather - I bunch these together because they are the same type of book.  These books have fun illustrations and less text because they are meant for younger readers - but I love it because the few words are used really well, and these books get a lot deeper into the topics than you would expect them to.  They have a bunch of these on different topics, and I'm hoping to get more!




Birds Pocket Book - Have I mentioned that our family is really into birds?  We don't know a lot about distinguishing birds, but we would like to learn more.  All of my kids love flipping through the Audubon bird app on my phone, and this is like the book form!

Starting Chess (not pictured) - I forgot I had this one until I sat down to start typing!  Derek is very good at chess, and I picked this up as a supplement for when Wyatt is ready to start learning (which probably is sooner than I think).

So those are the books I have, now on to the books I want.

Usborne Books On My Homeschool To-Buy List

These are the books that I would love to have as we introduce different subjects over the next few years, in addition to the ones I already have.


Science And Nature

The Outdoor Book - I think we would love this for ideas of activities to do outside and nature study!

Human Body Reference Book and Shine-A-Light Human Body Book - This is my area of interest (biology), so I think this looks fun.  And the shine-a-light book adds an interesting element!

Poisonous Animals (etc.) - This is one of those great books for young readers!

How Things Grow - I think I need this book to help my black thumb.

Astronomy And Space Reference Book - I don't know if I even need to explain this. Yay for space!

100 Science Experiments - Someone told me I need this, and I think I do!

History

Big Picture Atlas - I think this will be good for context with different historical events.

Living Long Ago - I'm still not sure my kids grasp how different life was 200 years ago, so this looks great!

Christopher Columbus - One of the few American history books.  Usborne, I know you are British, but more on the American History front please!

See Inside Exploration And Discovery and The Story Of Inventions - These looked really interesting to me.


Reading and Writing

Illustrated Grammar And Punctuation - We are a way off from needing this yet, but my grammar nerd is coming out!  I love this idea!


Illustrated Classics: Huckleberry Finn And Other Stories - This is one of a few classics collections that are condensed and rewritten for young readers, and I am really curious about them.


Miscellaneous (aka. Just For Fun)

Over 50 Secret Codes - I would have loved this as a kid.

Fingerprint Activities: Animals - This just looks adorable, and would be so fun for everyone, including the little two!

First Book About The Orchestra - The kids love Maestro Classics (#affiliate), and I think this book would be a great visual to understand the different instruments.

Big Keyboard Book - We are still hoping to teach our kids how to play the piano, and this looks useful!



I could go on, but you get the idea! There are just a lot of really fun books.  Clearly it's probably going to take me longer than the next year to collect all these!  Maybe I should retitle this post "Usborne Books For Early Elementary", because I think all of these will last well beyond first grade!

Now for a little plug - the Facebook party is tomorrow night at 8 PM EST, and Brittney has a bunch of fun things planned - including a drawing for a book prize!  So if you want to check Usborne out, this is a good chance! If you comment below saying you want to join, I'll send you an email to add you to the party!  Or if you have your eye on something and want to buy without attending the party...can you purchase through any of these links and select my eShow on the left before checkout? Because then I can earn discounts on books! (Shameless plug, I know.)  Party is open until next Monday!

Do any of you have some Usborne books?  What would you recommend to me for the elementary school years?  

I'd love to hear!




P.S. Brittany also made me this handy graphic for Usborne books that go with different curricula!  Pin this!






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