Thursday, March 27, 2014

Learning to Read. . . a Beginning

I was going to add this to the last post, however, I decided to give this it's own post.  This is a big thing for me, someone who has spend most of my adolescent and adult life consumed with analyzing and appreciating literature.  Reading is a big deal to me.  I never want reading to be something my kids are forced to do too soon and, thus, hate it.  I want to follow their lead, even if it's not on MY timetable whether I was more than ready to begin or if I wasn't ready at all.  
During schooltime, the preschool curriculum I am doing with Claire has us doing a new letter and sound everyday along with Bible stories, counting activities etc.  It's been fine for a 3-year-old, although, much of it has been a little too easy for her.  We've been practicing writing letters and she has fun with the letter activities but she has known her letters and sounds for a while now. I realized that we would need some sort of early reading program when I could hear her behind me in the with a book in her lap saying, "buh, aah, kuh, kuh. . . " etc.  Trying to sound out every letter in the book.  So I ordered a simple workbook system called Explode the Code. There is also an online system that goes with it, but I have not really delved into this.  I started her on it with the pretest and she aced it.  I'm looking further at it and I'm thinking this is exactly what she needs right now.  She loves the dorky little pictures and thinks the book is fun.  She's CONSTANTLY asking me what different words say. On signs, in books, everywhere.  So she's ready.  I'm not a "pusher" on stuff like this, but learning this will really open up a whole lot of self motivated learning for her, too.   Some homeschoolers use ETC by itself and then just supplement with early reader books from the library.  Others have a whole phonics system and then use ETC as a supplement.  I think we'll go with using the ETC book and then reading from library books.  I may also add an Usbourne book set called My Very First Reading Set and then I think that'll be enough to get her going.  I'm nervous and excited to teach her this.
I'm sure I'm being melodramatic about this but I keep thinking about how wide the world becomes when you can read.  Hope big a deal this really is.  I mean, her life won't change that significantly this year or even next but it will separate her from me one more step.  She won't NEED me to read everything to her.  Some things she will, of course, but not everything.  Comes with the territory of growing up, I guess.  Here goes. . .  


The Time of the Kings, Cassie's Bridal Shower, St. Patrick's Day

The Time of the Kings and Letter N
When you are learning about various kings of Israel, you HAVE to make a paper crown and wear it everyday for schooltime.  I measured her head and then gave her free reign with the stickers, crayons etc. so that she could decorate the crown.  Easy, fun little project.  

 We started out with her "Hide and Seek Page"  for Letter N.  These have become super easy for her but she doesn't mind doing them so we keep going.  Nice for reinforcement, I suppose!

Can't get over how cute she was with her little crown on ther head during school time. This picture was after dance class.

So the stories this week centered around the Kings of Israel. For our discussion of Joash, we talked about how he did some good things, but when he was older he turned away from God and began to worship idols.  But one of the good things he did was repaired the temple.  So I drew a wall with cracks on it (humor me) and then we made a paste out of oatmeal to "fix"  Funny thing, after we were done, she wanted to eat the paste.  Ok, then! 

Claire's "count on me" activity had her drawing pillars of the temple to count.  Simple this time, for sure!
Here she drew King Josiah who read the Word of God and told others to do what God said.  Notice the big smile on King Josiah's face :-)
All Dressed Up for the Choir Concert!
March is a pretty crazy month for me. The second week of March, I have a huge concert to put on with the kids at work.  Two middle schools and our feeder high school perform at a concert at the Vineyard Church (since it's a huge venue and it can accomodate all of us).  It's usually a really fun concert.  But, so far, the girls haven't been to one.  But this year that changed.  Since Christian works in Costa Mesa, it's a lot easier for him to get to where I am and pick the girls up if he needs to.  And Christian had never been to a District Area Concert either so we thought he could come this year and sit with the girls.  Claire could, easily, sit through the entire show.  Ashlyn, we weren't so sure since it started at about the same time she usually goes to bed.  He ended up leaving the concert with Ashlyn when we were finished performing and Claire stayed with me the rest of the concert.  The kids are really nice to my kids and Claire seemed to really love the music.  I'm so glad she got to hear it and that music and performing is going to be such a big part of my kids' lives.  

In the same week, I had to drag the girls to a Booster Club meeting for the choir which was paired with a Cast Parent meeting for my Spring Production.  I decided I'd take the girls out to dinner before to Olive Pit.  Claire loved the Hummus and Bread and Ashlyn devoured two bowls of the Avgolemono Soup.

So the girls have truly discovered the "dress up trunk" these last few weeks.  It's been fun seeing them get so into dressing up.  Claire will dress Ashlyn and then they parade around the house, making all kinds of noise and making a huge mess (which they are always required to clean up after playtime is over ;-) )

Flowergirl Fun
We've been blessed to have some pretty amazing babysitters over the last few years when I've had to work in the mornings.  Last year took the CAKE, however. We found Cassie through a mutual friend and the girls absolutely loved her.  It was very sad to lose her this year but we are so excited for her and her upcoming wedding.  Claire is especially excited since she gets to dress "like a princess" and be the flowergirl.  We went to Cassie's Bridal Shower and Claire had entirely too much fun "helping" Cassie open her presents and following her around.   

I got to hold my friend Rachael's newest, Judah :-)

St. Patrick's Day with the Family
The evening after the shower, my family came over for a St. Patrick's Day/Celebrate Grandma's birthday bash :-)  We all had a great time.  The house smelled like Corned Beef for a few days afterward.

For dance class that day, Claire wore her green tutu that we've been saving for her appearance as a Froglet in my production of Honk! at the middle school.  It will be Claire's first musical production but not her first show (if you count church performances and her Christmas dance recital).  So far, she hasn't been shy onstage.  She was pretty excited to wear the tutu a little early. . .
After dance class, they watched the first half of The Secret of Roan Inish one of my favorite movies, while I made dinner. 

Finishing Up With the Letter "N"
The rest of the week was filled with playdough "letter Ns" . . .
Serious cutting practice. . .

A little activity about things we can have as "idols" in our lives that went with our Bible story . . .
Coloring the "Letter N" (which she is getting very good at, by the way). . .

And swim lessons in matching bathing suits (because they love to match and I think it's cute, no matter what anyone else says :-) ).
We also started a reading program that I decided deserved it's own post. So there was our last couple weeks!  Someday, this blog will be caught up. . . just in time for our year to end. . . :-/

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Elijah Rock!: Or a Post Title only a Choir Nerd Would Understand

Talking 'Bout Elijah/Elisha
So, a couple weeks ago (yes, I'm still catching up) we did a week on Elijah and the letter "M."  One of the first stories had to do with God bringing food to the prophet Elijah through birds.  So it lent itself to a great sorting lesson.  We made our own trail mix using marshmallows, raisins and Kix cereal and Claire sorted each item.  She was allowed to eat it as a snack at the end :-)  

Letter of the week was "M" and we got a little practice writing letter "M" in our copybook.  I'm thinking about ordering the same little book for next year, just to see her progress.  But the curriculum we are thinking of going with next year (although, waiting for the CHEA convention to make the final decision) has it's own printing practice so maybe that isn't even needed.  It is neat watching things, like writing letters, that used to be so frustrating for her begin to get more fun and easy.

Each week we do a count on me page.  Claire draws a different picture in the boxes and sometimes she counts by 1s, 2s or 3s depending on how many or whatever the item is she can get into the boxes.  This time we counted by 1s.  Those are birds on her page :-)

Dr. Suess Day at the Library
When we can make it, I try to take the girls to the Cal Aero Preserve Branch Library for their story hour.  The girls like it, we get a chance to leave the house for a few hours and they
get to make a little craft after story hour.  This time it was Dr. Suess stories for Dr. Seuss Day.  Both girls were able to dial into this one.  Usually the storytime is geared for 1st/2nd grade kids and Claire usually follows but Ashlyn is a little bored with it.  This time, they both paid attention.  Got to love Dr. Seuss!

Cat in the Hat Craft!
Playdough, Elijah, and Neverending Oil
Second day we read about Elijah's "face off" with the prophets of Baal.  How they both cried out to their gods to send fire down on their altars from heaven and that God prevailed while Baal did not.  We created our own altars using the different colored dough.  Mommy made one and then Claire copied.

Then we read about the woman who asked Elisha for help!  She had no money and her debtors were threatening to take her children as slaves.  We talked about how valuable oils are and how God did a miracle by multipling her oil so she could sell them (like mommy ;-) ) and keep her children and stay out of debt!
Whittier Library
This week was also a trip to the Whitter Library with Grandma.  I hadn't been to this library for a while and in the children's section in decades.  It was so much fun for the girls.  Claire attached to this screen that reads books to you.  Ashlyn joined in for a bit.
Marisol liked most everything especially the bead runner thing.  In fact, most of the girls did.  They went home with a few books and I got to see one of my dearest friends, Nicole, who works there.  Sadly no picture of Nicole for the blog.
Riding to the Park
Claire got a Strider Balance Bike for her birthday when she turned two years old.  I love this bike. Love. it.  There are no pedals on the bike so kids learn to balance on it so that when they transition to a regular bike, the transition is easier.  Trying to decide if a regular bike is on her birthday list for her birthday coming up.  Then she would pass the Strider down to Ashlyn who will be turning 2 at the same time she turns 4.  Anyway, this week Claire rode all the way to the park on her own while I pushed Ashlyn in the stroller.  She did it all by herself.  She complained once or twice on the way home that she was too tired, but I had nowhere to put her bike and so told her we were almost home and that she could do it.  You know what, she totally did!

Finishing up School 
We finished up school for the week with more letter activities, reading more stories about Elisha and making soap out of powdered laundry detergent to go along with our story about God healing the man with leprosy (and then threw out the soup since it was regular detergent that has chemicals we avoid).

Ashlyn wanted to join in

"I want the soap to look like a heart!"
Family Spa Night!
After dinner on Saturday, we took advantage of an early dinner and more light in the evening and took the girls out for a swim.  The big pool was way too cold this time of year but the spa was nice!  

Baby model
I'll sign out with these pictures.  Ashlyn wore one of my dresses to church on Sunday.  I love this set of pictures.  She just sat there on the steps and posed.  I need to get some of me in the same dress and post some comparisons.  Til' later!