Apr 202017
 

Would you do me a favor and test out this video?

I am wanting to know if it played alright, or if there were any issues with it. If all work out, I may have finally found a way to share videos.

Yes, I realize YouTube is not new.  Yes, I have used it before.  So why the delay and using it to share videos?

That is a great question with a not very great answer:  It was yet another item in a long list of items, all of which I had convinced myself was difficult, time consuming, and hard to accomplish.

If it works, I was wrong.

Yet again.

 

Apr 182017
 

This is a post from a few years back.  As I reread this post, I was reminded to keep using what works, and adjust what does not.  We still move while learning, especially math facts and spelling words, but I need to find other methods to use for abstract concepts and general remembering. 

Last summer I went to a 3-day Parent Practicum held by a local Classical Conversations group.  My reasons for going were two fold:

  1. I was curious about CC.
  2. The kids got 3 days of a summer activity that was educational and fun.

I am so glad I attended.  Here was a group of parents who were pushing their kids beyond the standard I saw most of those around me doing.  What they were doing is what I had been trying to do at home with our kids without any guide to follow.  They were taking an active role in what their kids were learning and asking them to do things I would never have considered possible.  I left that practicum with a renewed sense of what I wanted our kids to do.

Then George started Kindergarten at the local public school.

George had been in preschool at this same school from Day 3 of living with us, and did well in preschool.  We did have some concerns about how he would do in Kindergarten, so set up extra help before he even started.  He was able to spend time each day in a much smaller class with a teacher who knew him.   He was able to get extra review of what he just learned.  Due to his learning disability, review is a must.  Though George might learn something one day, there is no guarantee that he will remember it in an hour, or tomorrow, or on Friday.  He might know something three times, then forget it the next five.  Eventually he gets it, it just takes a bit longer and a lot more review.  

The biggest difference between preschool and Kindergarten was the focus.  Instead of a small class setting where everyone had individual goals, they were setting the challenges for a class of over 25 kids.

school supplies 2013

I really struggled for the first few months.  The homework they sent home was too much for him to do every night.  Every night ended in tears and frustration on both our parts. Aren’t parents and kids were supposed to finish Kindergarten still liking each other? Life became better.  We learned through what we happened to be doing at that moment, something we as a family do naturally.  At one point I gave up. We did not do any homework.  None at all.

After a few months, I began to think of alternative ways to do the homework and help George learn at home. After all, what example was I setting to say that he did not have to do his homework?  What would happen when he got older and actually had to complete assignments?

I began to think back to the CC Parent Practicum and how the kids there seemed able to do so much.  In my searching online for ideas, I also kept coming across blogs of families who homeschooled their kids using Classical Conversations.  How were they able to learn so many things every year?  Not only that, how were they able to retain it and recite it back?

Reward chart for learning New Testament Bible books 2

Hand motions, songs, and movement is what I noticed accompanied all of the recitation given by the kids.  These things also showed up in the suggestions for how to teach the lessons.  It was also something I remember them demonstrating to the parents last summer.  And come to think of it, this was the exact method I used to teach George and Jack the names of the 12 Disciples and the books of the New Testament.

Okay, I may be a bit slow, after all it took me over 6 months to get to this point, but I got there.  Not sure why I didn’t make the connection sooner.  Perhaps because I didn’t think about the method I used when I taught them the Disciples and NT books – I just did it.

George needed something beyond verbal reviewing and me drawing demonstrations of concepts. (i.e. the things that caused him to shut down, me become extremely frustrated because I knew he could do it, and we both ended up in tears.)

So where do I find what is needed for George and what he is learning in school?  The audio CDs and DVDs that go with the CC material had some of what he was learning, but there was a lot that was not related.

I began the search for CDs and songs that would match the topics the school was teaching him – I searched online, asked people, checked out teacher resources … nothing fit what I needed.  Back to the drawing board.

(I’m not sure if we just do more with our kids in this area, or maybe we just do not know the right people.  Either way, there was no one around me who does something similar with their kids so it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was I was looking for.  I actually got a lot of confused looks from parents when I asked which CDs of songs to help their kids learn some of the things from school.)

One week, George came home with a new thing he was supposed to learn.  In a moment where I was short on time and patience, I turned to the web.  That is when I found a YouTube video that explained everything.  In fewer words than I would have used.  AND it had pictures.

He got it!

The next day I began in earnest to search for videos to review what he had learned, videos to cover things he might learn, and videos to review things he already knew.  It took a while to put together a list of videos that weren’t too flashy, too loud, too long or too boring,  I was looking for catchy songs, quality videos, to the point lessons without a lot of fluff, and ones that he would also enjoy watching.

With these in hand, I was able to make a play list for George (and Jack) to listen to during breakfast … or lunch … or after school.  We can even listen to these in the car while running errands.  What took him months of saying over and over, yet not learning, he learned in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  Now he may still not be able to count by 2’s and still forgets what coin is what value, but he can count by 10’s to 100 down, tell you the days of the week, months of the year, and many other things.  Add this to the Starfall, Reading Eggs, and an online math programs we are doing and I think we are set at home to help him review and learn in a fun stress free way.

Now I count it as doing his homework if he can sing me the song or pick up where I leave off while singing it.  At random times through the day I may break into song (didn’t I say they were catchy?).  There are even times I catch him singing while playing or explaining something to someone.  YES!!

Some of these, like the one above, have been helpful when we are working on things like reading.  I can remind George of the rule by singing the first line of the corresponding song.  A much better method than nagging him.

Once I got the basic songs down I began to look for others that he may enjoy or that Jack would like.  Speaking of Jack, he too has learned a lot of the songs and can sing them.  He is prepped for Kindergarten when it is time for him to start.  Actally, a few of the videos are for him, as his brain works differently and has been able to grasps concepts that George still struggles with.  To help avoid bad behaviors due to being bored, I began to give him things that he would actually be doing if he were in Kindergarten already or about topics he finds interesting.

Here is my current list of songs.  As time goes on there will be more added to this.  What are some songs/videos not on this list that you have found helpful?

Jack loves saying, and I love hearing, “fundamental process”.  He even tries to give it an accent.

GARDENING (Science)

The Garden Song – not a fan of the “Mother Earth” sentence, but the rest is cute

Spring Songs for Children – Spring is Here with Lyrics – Kids Songs by The Learning Station

THE PHOTOSYNTHESIS SONG

Butterfly, Butterfly! (a song for kids about the butterfly life cycle) – Harry Kindergarten Music

 The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – reading of the book and showing of illistrations

I Like the Flowers – by Beat Boppers Children’s Music

Let’s Plant a Garden – Nursery Rhyme

plant parts – the parts of a flower, sung to the “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” song

 

SCIENCE

Solar system

Solar System Lesson for Kids | Learn about Planets , Stars, Galaxy – a decsripition of the solar system, no songs

Animal (Classification) Song

4 Seasons In A year  – Harry Kindergarten Music – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – asks you to name the seasons as he describe them

Seasons Song: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – video asks you to name the seasons they show


LANGUAGE

ABC’s

Phonics song

YouTube.com, really like

Between the Lions: “When two vowels go walking” by BTLfanatic – fun to watch youtube.com and also catchy just to listen to.

Super “e”!!!!!!! (hip children’s song by Mark D. Pencil) by harry kindergarten music

The Sentence Song With Miss Jenny / www.edutunes.com – a quick video and song, but a favorite of our preschooler

Punctuation Explained (by Punctuation!) – not flashy, but very clear and to the point

Kindergarten Sight Words

Classic Schoolhouse Rock : A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing (1973)

 The Five W’s Song ♫♪♫

 

MATH

Shapes Song 2 – circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, diamond, oval, heart, then some more advanced shapes.  May work for a review of shapes rather than a teaching of the shapes themselves.

3D Shapes I know (solid shapes song- including sphere, cylinder, cube, cone, and pyramid) – Harry Kindergarten Music

Good video to go with it – The Big Numbers Song (counting 0-100) 

Learning Numbers from 1 to 100 – Counting Song for Kids 

Counting by 5’s

Favorite – Counting by Tens – Barbara Milne

Count by tens song – also mentions money though a bit busy

Counting By Twos Song

count by 2- a sing-along for early elementary – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching – a song that probably works best with the visual

Number Line Addition

Basic Addition

When You Add With A Pirate (addition song for kids)

Counting Song 1+1

Addition Songs for Children: Addition 1, Addition 2, Addition 3, Addition 4, Addition 5

Addition +1

Addition +2

VIDEO showing chart and explaining – 1st Flipped: Skip Counting

The Big Numbers Song for Children – Ep 6 

“Penny Your The One” Penny Counting Song (Money Math)

Coin Value Song- Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters! – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching

The Coin Song

Money Song – fun video for once the kids know their coins and values

 

CALENDAR – DAYS, MONTHS

Days of the Week Song – 7 Days of the Week – Children’s Songs

Days of the Week Song

Months Of The Year Song

Kindergarten Time (Sun travel with words) – a visual display of the different times of day – tracks the sun across the sky from morning till night.  Has words telling the time of day but no audio.

 

GEOGRAPHY

The continent song – this has become a favorite bedtime song, as we can do it with me singing the first part and the kids doing the response.

 HISTORY

No More King! (Schoolhouse Rock!) – Pilgrims sailing across the ocean to leave the King of England behind

 

This post is linked up at:

Prudent Living on the Homefront

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Oct 072016
 

city-garden-open-space-before-planting-spring

When I first saw this garden, in its wintertime bareness, I would imagine all the different ways it could be planted and decorated. Then I began to feel like a failure for not being able to do the same in my garden.

circular-garden-in-summer-bloom-2

Later I visited the same gardens. They were taking shape, colors were starting to appear, and the feeling was less of emptiness.

circular-flower-garden-in-summer-bloom

I also realized several things:

  • There are people who are hired full time to take care of these grounds. This is not solely a hobby.
  • There is more than ONE person taking care of these gardens.
  • The same pattern is used year to year. No need to reinvent the wheel each year.
  • Annuals are used, not perennials or bulbs.
  • There is a greenhouse used to grow all of these annuals. I would have to either build a greenhouse, spending months to grow these, or else pay retail.
  • This particular garden is larger than my yard. I could not replicate it if I tried.

Reminding myself of these things when the gardening doubts begin to creep in has helped me keep a more balanced view, to not judge myself so harshly. I am also able to enjoy the gardens more, appreciating all the effort others put in so I can sit and enjoy them. No weeding required.

Jul 282016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

what to do when life becomes a bit batty

continued from Part 2

What I found was a tired, motionless bat, laying on the shower floor. I called the kids in to see and talk through the situation.  Never too early to teach them how to handle certain adult responsibilities.  Who knows, they may end up marrying someone who would run away screaming at the sight of a bat, and they will need to know how to handle something like this.

We were not sure if it was still alive or not, which meant we treated it as if it were. FYI: do not pick up a bat with your hands.

A plastic tub was placed over the bat and the piece of cardboard slid underneath.  Yup, still alive.  The clue? When it started fluttering around to get up on the cardboard.

We stopped our morning routine, grabbed a container of sidewalk chalk and headed outside.  The bat, who had been kept covered the whole way out, was laid uncovered, still on the cardboard, near the street while we kept watch from the sidewalk.

Distracted by busy ants working in the grass, we missed the bat flying off.  I believe I saw it head to the neighbor’s house.  Don’t quote me on that though.

I like bats.  They eat mosquitoes.  I want to encourage them to live near us … but not IN our house.

A quick search online resulted in finding an Ento Wood Bat House Kit. Using a gift card from Swagbucks, the bat house was soon on its way  “Perfect.  The kids can help hammer and we can hang it somewhere nearby.”

It arrived about a week later and sat around for a few more weeks.  Finally the day came where we had time to put it together.

Going to the garage we spread out all of the pieces, compared them to the instructions, then began assembling.

bat house opening collage

George got mad at Jack and stomped off early on in the process.  He watched the rest of the time from the garage door.

Jack learned very quickly that placing all the nails into their holes before hammering may have seemed like an efficient idea, but did not work out so well.  When he started to hammer, the nails jumped every which way and fell out. Oops.  This being the garage, and my husband having recently gotten a flat tire while traveling, I was very firm attentive that all the nails be kept in a pile where we could keep track of them.

begin to build bat house collage

Once the pieces were laid out and instructions read, the kids had a hard time being patient with this first step, we started to put the pieces together.  Getting the side pieces lined up and straight was a bit of a challenge as I was trying to get them perfect.  I hammered the first two nails on each side in hopes of making it easier for Jack to finish the remaining nails.

putting together bat house collage

The back actually had two pieces, a top and a bottom.  These were not labeled, so I triple checked the pictures on the instructions before beginning.  I compared the holes in each piece, matching those shown on the photos and what was required in future steps.

After turning the piece over, I realized the side pieces did not quite make it to the top of the mesh.  This meant the ‘roof’ had two issues going: 1. it was below the holes pre-drilled for nailing it to the back, and 2. it was over top of the mesh by just a bit.  It would have been better for the bottom pieces to not be exactly level with the bottom of the box. So much for me trying to be perfect.

issues with putting together bat house collage

A few more issues we ran into were – the side pieces were not exactly straight and a nail went through the side when attaching the back.  The second issue was caused by the first.  Neither was a big deal in the end, but were both frustrations when we were in the midst of putting it together.

issues with bat house collage

The roof misalignment issue was fairly easily solved.  Nails were placed below the pre-drilled holes, in places that lined up with the actual roof piece.  There was a bit of a gap in the end, though very small and nothing noticeable once it was hung.  I also placed it on a side of the tree that is normally protected from the rain and snow.

bat house hanging on tree

When all was said and done, I was pleased with the look of the Ento Wood Bat House Kit.  The kids are excited for their first residents to move in.  More than once I have had to tell them to leave it be – no climbing toys to look inside, no poking a stick into it, etc.  My hope is that this will also solve the bat roommate problems inside our house.

This post contains affiliate links.  I was in no way compensated for this review.

Jul 252016
 

what to do when life becomes a bit batty

continued from Part 1.

Since I had not seen, or heard, the bat on the stairway I headed to the (door-less) attic space that is adjacent to our bedroom.  Moving slowly and ready to duck my head at any moment, I slowly began to look around.  There is space above our ceiling and my literal prayers were that the bat had not flown there.  Thankfully I found it hanging from one of the roof supports right inside the attic door.

Unfortunately I was not able to catch it. Not only did it fly back into my bedroom, it also took to flying up and down the staircases.

When if flew towards George’s room I had a thought, which quickly turned into a hopeful, pleading prayer, one that I thought sounded awfully selfish and highly unlikely, “Lord, please let it fly into the bathroom so I can close the door on it and go back to bed.  I know if probably won’t, but … please.”

Whether it was an instant answer to prayer or sheer coincidence, the bath flew right into the bathroom.  Into a small room with no open window. Yup, the one whose door was in the corner no where near the bat’s flight path. I did not stop to consider the dynamics of flight at that moment.  I jumped into action.

I closed that door and walked away, back to bed, and slept for a few more hours.

In the morning when I inquired of George about his quality of sleep the night before, he said he had not heard anything. I took this to mean the bat did not cause too much trouble knocking over items in the bathroom.

I cautiously peeked into the bathroom around noon, but did not see the bat hanging anywhere.  Not a surprise, as there were lots of dark corners (under the large tub, especially, which has a few trim panels removed currently) where the bat could have hid.

The next day I was curious about the bat and went back in, ready to hide if necessary for battle.  What I found was a tired bat, laying on the shower floor.  We were not sure if it was still alive or not, which meant we treated it as if it were.FYI: do not pick up a bat with your hands.

to be continued ….

Jul 222016
 

This post contains affiliate links. 

what to do when life becomes a bit batty

What should you do when life suddenly becomes a bit batty? Buy a house!

When work on our house began and walls were taken apart, some of the workers mentioned finding a couple bats inside the walls.  It was winter and the walls were filled with old insulation.  My first thought was “hibernation”.  Do bats hibernate?

Fast forward several months.  It was a dark night, I had all the lights off, the kids were asleep, and my husband was gone to class.  Out of the corner of my eye I see something move.  However, when I look nothing was there.  I tried to convince myself I was being paranoid and go back to reading on my Kindle.

Then I see it again. Though I wanted to continue reading my book, I knew the adult thing would be deal with it and not ignore it.

Once the lights the mystery  was quickly solved – a bat was flying around our kitchen/living/dining rooms. {deep breath} I close the bedroom doors and head online to see what to do next.

Within 10 minutes the bad had been put back outside and I went back to reading … with the lights on this time.

The scenario above played out three times over the next few weeks.

Then, no more bats. Maybe we scared them away?  Maybe they found a new place to live?

That was till a month ago.

Very early one morning something woke me up.  At first I was not sure what it was.  The sun was not yet up and no kid was standing right next to me.  Then I heard it, a soft change in the air right above me (I was laying in bed).  sigh We had a bat in our bedroom.

This time I knew what to do and did not overreact or freeze up.  I laid in bed till my eyes adjusted then got up when the bat flew away.  I stood in a corner to see its path, turned off the fans in hopes it would fly higher, and prayed it would not go into the attic or George’s room.  I was not looking to play hide-and-seek with a bat at 3 in the morning.

I left the room to find a box in the basement.  When I came back, the bat was gone. Oh, fun.

to be continued …

 

 

 

May 052016
 

A productive past couple of days has left me feeling accomplished and very tired.  It has also left me feeling very behind and lacking.

I have been finishing up the inside of the house, in preparation for new carpet being installed on Friday.  I have finally finished removing wall paper, priming, and painting two coats on walls, as well as priming and painting (2 coats) on the ceilings.  Old carpet and padding has been pulled. Floors have been swept.  Closets cleaned out.

So why is it that I am feeling behind?  Because my yard is covered in weeds.  Look at it! It is horrible.:

yard weeds collage

They are everywhere I look.  The kids only help by “blowing on the pretty white flowers”, not realizing how much I hate those pretty white flowers.  My mowing seems to only help for a day or two, then over night everything comes back stronger than ever. Or so it seems.

Then it rains. It all grows bigger and bigger, laughing at me, while I have been whittling time away on inside work.  All hope is gone, I may as well throw in the towel now and not even try gardening this year!

(throwing in the towel)

I decided to walk around the yard, snapping pictures of all the ways I am failing as a gardener. See, I wanted to show you exactly how bad things had gotten. The proof is not in short supply.

By the time I had completed my trip around the yard, I found more that I was expecting.

spring flower collage

See, my focus had been distracted to the one part of the yard that received the most impact from our house work during the past two years.  It is the place where a 6+ foot deep trench had been dug and the dirt piled up, where trucks had been driving, where trees had been cut down, where wood chips had been piled since late last spring, and where almost no grass is growing.  My focus had been on this part of the yard.  Even though this small part was small in comparison to the whole, it is what my attention went to every time I pulled into our yard or looked out a window.

Meanwhile, in other section of the yard, flowers were blooming and growing.  Places that in years past held no flowers or were struggling, were now showing signs of thriving.  Color was showing up everywhere, pushing out the brown and mud of winter.

Isn’t this often how we view our gardens and life?  We worry and focus on the small part we are working on, forgetting to look around, forgetting to look at those places we improved upon in the past.

There will always be bare spots, weeds, lackluster parts of our garden.  And life.  People, including ourselves, live up or down down to our expectations of them.  If all you expect are weeds, then that is what you will find.  You will find yourself too tired to go do battle to take back your yard.  Other things will call out to you which seem to have a higher likelihood of success.  You will throw in the towel before you have even started.

However, if you can look at your garden and find all the things going right, or the potential for things going right, then that is what you will see.  You will find you have more energy to make it like you want it.  The rainy days will not seem so forlorn, but instead will be watering your flowers, making them ready to bloom brighter when the sun comes out.

Don’t believe me?  Take a look again at the pictures above.  Can you tell which part of the yard I feel better about, the part I have higher hopes for?  Hint: it is not the one with the “pretty white flowers” that my kids like.  The part I feel better about I am more likely to spend time in, working to make it even better.

Yes, I am talking about gardening, though the analogy works very well for life.  A conversation with a friend this week reminded me of that very point.  I proceeded to tell her about all the ways I am failing (persistent weeds), all the things going wrong (quick growing weed), and all the ways I should have done better (deep rooted weeds).  She then proceeded to encourage me (spreading flower seeds) and remind me of where our family has come from in the past (those perennial flowers planted several seasons ago that are now stronger and flowering more).  I was reminded to stop looking over at my neighbor’s life (“The grass is always greener…”) and focus on mine.

Sometimes, our garden really is shabby.  That is when you choose a corner to start improving upon, pulling weeds and planting things you enjoy.  Other times, it is only your perspective, looking at the areas still in progress.  You forget to turn and see the things you have added to make your garden your own.  Do not get so focused on the seed that your forget to see the flower.

 

Jul 012015
 

nature center bird identification display

It is 4:37 a.m. The first bird started singing.  I really need to figure out which bird this is.  It does not really matter. I feel like we share this special time, while the rest of the world sleeps we welcome in the new day together. Though, it is an hour later than the last time I made note of my feathered  friend’s song. A reminder that the sun will start rising later everyorning from here to the Winter Equinox.