Feeling brilliant today…

My 4 yr old has wayyyyy more interest in ‘school-y’ stuff than his older siblings did.  I’m sure its because he see’s them reading and writing and he wants in on the ‘fun’.  I fully support lots of books but regarding ‘school-y’ stuff typically I’d prefer he developed more important 4 yr old skills like playing pretend, retelling/narration or digging in dirt but he admittedly does a good bit of that as well so I won’t keep him from doing ‘school-y’ stuff.  He’s pretty fascinated at present with the letters in his name and gets them all recognizably on the paper except the letter S; that usually is all kinds of backwards, occassionally more Z like and sometimes has more twists and turns in it than a directionally impaired pirate map.  Today I came up with a fun idea to teach him the more specific and defined shape of the letter S and he loves it so much that it left me feeling brilliant and like I couldn’t ‘not’ share it with my friends.

All I did was type a really huge letter S in  a word document setting the property of the font to ‘outline’.  Then I found some clip art via google images to add to my little letter ‘map’ that would fit Bayus’ interests and have a defined start and finish.  For the first one (which I show pictured below) I put a house at the start of the S, a tree to go around, some ducks to avoid hitting and a play ground as the final destination (he loved that).  The next one I made (which isn’t pictured) has a rocket ship to start, some clouds and birds to pass, some shooting stars to avoid and the planet saturn to finish at.  Basically I placed the paper in front of him, handed him the first colored pencil in his pouch (the green one) and said ‘Hey Bayus, the boy with the green shirt wants to go to the park.  Let’s start at his house, go around the tree, pass by the ducks and then he can play.’  After Bayus followed along while drawing  a line, I grabbed another pencil and said ‘lets have his blue friend go play to, start at the house’.  We went through all his pencils and markers eventually saying there was a party at the park and finally the brown and yellow markers made their way as well (the cat and dog that didn’t want to be left at home).  Later I made the space themed one and he enjoyed having each of his ‘characters’ climb in the space ship and make it to Saturn.  He’s requesting more adventure papers with themes of the zoo, the jungle and such other things.  I’m not sure how many I make but I know I’ll definitely revisit this idea whenever we have a need for more detailed attention to another letter of the alphabet.  Hope this idea helps someone else make handwriting FUN!

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The yearly question

Starting last year I began what i hope will be a tradition of asking the kids ‘What do you want to learn this year?’  It gets their creative juices flowing with anticipation and helps me get a window into what things their little minds are pondering that I don’t know about.  We don’t necessarily cover everything they tell me about and I very likely have things planned that they don’t know they will be interested in but I love getting their input just the same.  This year I’m particularly intrigued by the ‘themes’ I see emerging in each kids lists as it shows a bit of how their minds work and from what angle they view the world.  I’m excited that this year much more than last year their reading skills have a really firm foundation so many of the things I see they are interested in but may not hit the actual curriculum schedule can be explored through some good reading books being available.  Without further ado here are the words of my kids when asked- ‘What do you want to learn this year?’

(please excuse any grammatical and particularly punctuational errors, I was trying to notate their words as they spoke to me)

Elias- Frogs and lizards, castles and knights and horses- just a whole bunch of stuff about castles and horses and that kind of stuff. Dinosaurs, cowboys and indians and snakes- how ’bout more about bugs?  Cows and whales and seahorses and dolphins. Can we learn about noodles? Squirrels and chipmunks, rabbits and movies and race cars.  How to make glass and how to row a rowboat and how to make a mirror.  I want to learn how to cook fish and crabs and also learn about crabs and monkeys and gorillas and parrots.

Hannah- I want to learn about countries.  I want to learn about how hair changes color.  I want to know about how skin changes with age, like how it gets all wrinkly.  I want to learn how to sew bigger things and how your body makes your eye color.  I want to know about candles, how to make soap and how to play the violin.  I want to learn how to make dye and how people make shoes.  I want to learn about how petals on a flower are made and how a flower knows it’s winter and closes up.  I want to know how the piano makes different sounds and what is the smallest bone in a guinea pigs body.

They both just ran to me and asked I add that they want to know about puffins too.

Happy School year everyone!  May your curiosity find many fruitful paths to explore!

Sarah