Friday, January 25, 2013

January Kiwi Crate update

The kids have completed the two crafts from our January Kiwi Crate and now I'm back with some info.

First, I don't think the sibling add-on was quite worth it for us. While Vivie is a 2-year-old and doesn't share well, I think there still would have been enough materials for her to participate.

I'm dropping the add-on option for the upcoming month (and watch it be the type of month where duplicates would have been worth it!).

Comet toss game:

I had to help with all of the assembly on this one. I didn't read the instructions close enough, and taped the circles wrong, so I had to cut it and retape it (with my tape). That was my fault. I also had to help them assemble their little ball comets.

Johnny enjoyed throwing it and it was good practice for him, since his throwing skills aren't so great. Since it was a frigid day outside, it was nice to have an indoor physical activity to do.

He also got a huge kick out of the bingo card element. Throw the ball to a certain color, mark off that color on your bingo card. I think more bingo is in our future.

We then moved the target rings to our foyer, and dropped the comets from our balcony. That always makes things more fun, right?

We experimented with the comet by taking the ball out, and dropping just the ball or just the fabric square. Didn't work so well. Physics!

Overall, this activity was ok. Nothing mind-blowing, but it was entertaining and something I didn't have to come up with on my own. The ball and fabric square can be re-purposed for something else, but the cardstock rings won't last.

A DIY version could be using rolled up socks and throwing them in different laundry baskets or shoeboxes or such.

Game board:

Since we only had one glue stick and one pack of markers, I did have to round up another glue stick so they could both glue at the same time.

They both used the markers (and it was fine to share the 8 markers) to decorate their game tokens and the game board. Johnny didn't seem to want to decorate much on the board, and at first he liked gluing the pieces on the game board but he got tired of it and I helped him finish.

I just let Vivie do her thing, without much guidance. I figured she didn't need to follow the rules -- she just needed to stay occupied and out of Johnny's hair.

We put the game board together and did two rounds. Johnny won both times and easily understood the rules. It's a simple, Candyland-like game.

We spent about 40 minutes on the game board assembly and playing it.

I haven't done the "explore more" activities yet, but some of the videos and activities sound good.

I think I was more excited about this crate than the kids were, though Johnny says he liked doing it. Perhaps if they were a little bit older, it would have been even better. I thought about saving one game board and materials to do in another year or so, but then I decided to just let Vivie have one now.

Still a fun thing for us and while I'm dropping it down to one child, we'll do a few more months at least (and it does help that I have a referal credit to save $10 off my next crate!).

If you'd like to give it a try, use my referral link to save $10 off your first. Cancel if you don't want to continue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Results of Kidzmet personality profile

I had Johnny take his first ever personality quiz just now, called Kidzmet. Heh! I took it twice on his behalf (I did the text version and then the visual version and got slightly different results: Introverted Intuitive; Introverted Sensor) and then I had him do the visual one and he got something a little bit different.

All three came up "introverted" just like his parents.

Johnny's result was "introverted thinking."

I think all three types fit him to a degree. And really, what's a personality profile going to show in a 4-year-old? What he's like now isn't indicative of his learning styles on down the road.

I imagine over the coming months and year, learning styles will become more obvious. Right now, the results suggested he learns best by observing.

Also, I'm working my way through Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Pics for Homeschool Curriculum. I figure it would be better for me to work out my teaching style and my kids' learning styles, and determine what I'm seeking from a curriculum so I can make better decisions.

Right now, the "buy too much and figure it out later" approach isn't working :/. lol.

I seem to be a "Competent Carl," and I can see traits of that in Johnny as well.

At this point, I know that I will not, nor likely ever, find a curriculum that perfectly matches my goals with my kids' learning styles. I will have to tweak everything to some degree, no doubt. I know this.

More thoughts on that book to come.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Family Game Night - January 2013 Kiwi Crate contents

We received our second Kiwi Crate in the mail Friday, and I've opened it and looked at the contents and I can't wait to dig in with my kids.

I know it can be a lot of fun for the child to open it himself, but I'd rather have a bit more control of when we do the activities.

I hid the box and photographed it from my closet. Heh.

Since last month's crate was huge success and Vivie participated as well, I thought it would be worth adding the sibling option for an extra $8. Some months it might be well worth the add-on, but others I can see how they could share the contents easily.

For instance, last month's Arctic Adventure was a one-kid option, and there were absolutely enough materials to share.

Here's what's in the box:

My Board Game

  • Sturdy game board for decorating and sticking on game pieces (x2)
  • Card stock punch-out colorful squares for gluing onto game board (x2)
  • Card stock game pieces (x2)
  • Glue stick
  • Two wooden game tokens to decorate (x2)
  • One wood cube block for a colorful die (x2)
  • Pack of thin markers. Not marked washable, but then again we're going to color on things that we don't want to smudge with usage  so maybe that's fine for this activity (STAY CLOSE BY THOUGH, EEP!)
  • Beautiful instruction guide for making game board and also game instructions
Comet Toss game
  • Silky purple square (x2)
  • Green squishy ball (x2)
  • Bingo card (x2)
  • Ribbon (x2)
  • Tape squares for assembling the paper loops (! Tape! How about that?)
  • Sturdy papers to make circles to toss the comet in (x1 set)
  • Instructions
Also included: Two samples of their homemade valentine kits. Looks like we'll have enough materials to make 2 cute little Valentines.

We're going to do the comet toss game after lunch. I've taken the other materials out of the box, so when he opens it we can focus on that one activity.

I think this will be a fun time for us. Kiwi Crate would be a good gift idea to a mom who just had a baby, and who also has 3-7 year-olds. 

P.S. they also have online "explore more" extension activities, featuring book suggestions, online videos to view and more at-home games. 

Here's my affiliate link, good for $10 off your first box (with no commitment for future months but you would need to cancel) and it's also good for a $10 credit for me. Thanks!

Will report back on what the kids thought, and if the sibling add-on pack was worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Free Thornton Burgess books for Kindle

I first became aware of books by Thornton Burgess by browsing the Heart of Dakota curriculum website. The paperbacks aren't expensive -- you can get a boxed set of I think 5-6 titles for under $10 on Rainbow Resource -- but today I found more than 25 titles by the author for free on Kindle.

I don't believe these editions have illustrations (and I'm not sure if all the paperback versions do, aside from the covers). There are some titles that DO have illustrations, but those aren't free. Of course.

Still, free is free and it's a nice way to preview some books or have a bunch of children's read-alouds on hand.

I haven't decided how I'll approach Kindle books with the kids. I think they should have paper books for the most part. But for illustrationless read-alouds...I think a Kindle version isn't such a bad alternative (especially a free one).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A peek at our week

We're battling yet another head cold, so we've been mostly trying to rest/avoid total boredom from not being able to do a lot. It's a fine line.

Wanting to get back in the groove of things and back on the preschool track after a little hiatus, I tried to be more intentional with some of our activities this week.

On Monday, we opened up Johnny's new science kit (gift from the grandparents!). I previewed the contents and instructions by myself the night before, and I was disappointed at the "70 activities" the box advertised. Some of the activities are nothing at all. Many of them build upon the prior.

We used fizzy tablets to make the 3 primary colors in test tubes, mixed the colors, used pipettes to move water around, and added some sort of polymer crystals to the colored water. The crystals swelled up and turned into a jelly-like blob. Kinda fun!

Wednesday, Vivie threw a fit while at Hobby Lobby, so we had to leave before buying anything (big sad! Arg! but ya gotta do it). We came home and she took herself a little nap.

She doesn't nap much anymore, and I'm not sure what this will do to her bedtime, but Johnny and I took the opportunity to have some one-on-one time.

I practiced my fine motor skills (hee!) while cutting out some more felt figures from our new Betty Lukens Through the Bible in Felt package. This is gunna take me awhile.

Johnny did a few pages in his Kumon books -- a coloring page (just coloring in the white circles), a folding page (made a zebra), and several pages in his maze book. Two or three pages to go, and he'll complete the maze book.

It seemed like we should have stopped a few pages back, because he started getting discouraged when his crayon crossed the black line, or if he couldn't immediately see how to get through the maze.

Next activity: We opened up his new Mighty Mind game (gift from the grandparents for Christmas, yay!). It's a tangram activity and he did a good job trying to get the pieces where they should go in the little plastic tray thing. Again though, he got discouraged and said "it's too hard," and that's when I showed him the diagram, and we finished it together.

This "it's too hard" thing is new and I'm not sure where it came from. I'm going to try to keep my attitude positive. I'm definitely not pushing him too hard, so I'm wondering if he just didn't want to do it?

I think we'll put Mighty Mind away for a little while though, so next time will be fresh.

p.s. can someone comment? I don't know if commenting on these posts is easy or if you have to jump through hoops. I don't want it to be hard.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Teaching Spanish?

Do any of you have programs or some sort of method for teaching your child a second language? I'd like to teach my kids Spanish, since that's what I took in high school and college. I'm not fluent. I've had no real opportunity to practice. When I was in school, the focus was on translation, conjugations and more written language than spoken (ugh).

I think there's value in exposing young ears to second languages, so I'm interested in looking into DVD or computer programs.

I think I'd like Rosetta Stone when they're older (there's some reading involved, apparently, and it's more for the 6+ set).

I'm looking at The Learnables and Little Pim, but I'm definitely open to others. (Both are way cheaper on Homeschool Buyers Co-op).

Little Pim is available at my library (yay!), as is a Muzzy DVD.

Oh, and I just remembered about Speekee, which could be a good option at $7.50/month. A free one month trial can be had here.

Some Googling pointed me to a show produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting, called Salsa. There are 42 free episodes available for online streaming. (!!!) Each episode includes a pdf transcript, which has English and Spanish.

Other ideas?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Some takeaway points from The Organized Home Schooler

I picked up a copy of The Organized Home Schooler at Half Price Books the other day (what can I say, I got it for cheap!) and had a chance to flip through it.

I didn't particularly like the author's tone, and in general it wasn't my favorite book. I do think I'll hang onto it for review in a few years when I might need some help with house and heart reorganizing (this is a book written from a Christian perspective and has plenty of scripture references).

There were two points within that I thought were good takeaways. This is a paraphrase:

1. Make an accessible list of all curricula and resources you own. This is so you can make better use of what you've already got on hand. It should help from overbuying and from forgetting to use some great things you already own.

2. Decide what goals you have for each student, in each subject. What do you want to accomplish in a semester/year in each area? Figure that out on paper, THEN look at curricula to find a good fit. This approach is easier than starting with a curriculum and tweaking it endlessly, since you may not have chosen that item to begin with.

Straightforward, but spot-on.

I am tending to be a curricula collector. If I see something that looks interesting at HPB or a used sale for a decent price, I'll buy it. If I find a hyped-up item for a good price on Amazon, I'll buy it (maybe with cash, maybe with a gift card). What can I say? It's true.

Unfortunately, I already have way too much. There's no way I can possibly use all that I have with both children (and I do plan to resell some items). But what's worse, since some of my items are hiding in a closet, I may forget about them when my kids hit the right age for something. That would be such a bummer!

So...I'm going to take inventory here. I'm going to list all of my resources, by subject. The purpose is two-fold:

1. Help me to keep track of what I've got, so I can make good use of it.

2. Share with friends. If you see something you'd like to look over in person, you'll know I have it ready and available for borrowing/browsing or maybe buying from me. Or if you're far away, I can answer more detailed questions about something.

These lists will be static pages with navigation at the top of this blog page.

* affiliate link of course

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Such a fun day -- can we do it again sometime?

Yesterday, December 31, was such a fun day. It was just a regular day at home, and yet the kids were mostly cooperative and I was inspired. I want to record some more details of the day so I can look back and smile at how much fun this age is.

We started the morning with me in a grumpy mood due to little sleep (both of them ended up in my bed!). I realized that attitude was helping no one, and turned on my iPod to view the Bible verse of the day to get my heart on straight.

We made blueberry muffins (from a mix, whatever!) and Vivie had three time-outs in a row for not sharing/not listening. We're in that stage right now, but hey, she's 2 and she's learning. The muffins were delicious and messy.

I checked the weather and saw we were due for more snow in a few hours, and the temperature was a balmy 32. So, we bundled up and went in the backyard to try some sledding.

Unfortunately, with more than a foot of snow, it's hard to sled until you pack it way down, and we tried -- but it would have been easier if I still had an inner tube instead of a small seat-sled.

It was fun anyway, and the kids liked marching around, digging around in the snow and just being outside.

Normally, I am anti-snow and anti-winter. But sharing the wonders of the season with my kids makes it a lot more fun for all of us. Snow really is pretty neat, even if it makes roads a hazard.

After playing outside, we warmed up and had some lunch. We read some library books:

And Johnny's new book, the Bearenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature. I preordered this and with a promo code got a good deal. This is a three-in-one book and I think I have the Nature Guide book from when I was a kid.

I am on the fence about how I feel about regular books in the Bearenstain Bears series, but this book doesn't follow that same story structure. It's meant as a science and nature guide!

I was amused that the first book in the volume (an almanac) started on New Year's Day. How about that timing?

We only read a few pages (it's a huge book. It's also in the Sonlight curriculum for I think the 4/5 age set?).

We made a craft thanks to our first Kiwi Crate. I saw a friend share a Black Friday deal and thought it looked fun. It was absolutely worth the $8ish it was with promo code. Next month it will be $19.95 and I plan to order one more before deciding whether to continue.

Will write more about Kiwi Crate to come. We did the oil pastel/watercolor postcard activity.

We did some free play with their new toys (Vivie can't get enough of her Playmobil123 farm!) and they were so wound up around dinnertime, I couldn't prepare the meal.

So, I went to the garage and retrieved their ride-on train and trike and let them do laps around the house while I prepared our New Year's Eve dinner of appetizers and snacks. Heh. It worked! I don't think I'll do that often but it was fun to let them get the wiggles out.

Overall, nothing particularly exciting happened that day, but it was a nice one and I also appreciated how Johnny treated Vivie all day. He is usually so great with her, but he really stepped it up a notch. We have been talking about what to do when Vivie isn't sharing or isn't being nice to him, and how if he treats her as he wants to be treated it goes so much better. Imagine that!

I love watching them get along and being friends. Doesn't get much better than that!

(Links are affiliate)