Posts Tagged ‘stuff we do for our kids’

Helping Jumpstart go for the record

Since 1993, more than 70,000 preschool children across America have benefited from millions of hours of Jumpstart service. This year alone, Jumpstart volunteers are serving more than one million hours with 15,000 preschool children in 80 communities across America.

Today, Jumpstart is recognized as one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations in the field of early childhood education. [from Jumpstart’s website]

Today marked the day of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record. Now I’m all for promoting literacy and the love of books and I always enjoy reading with my kids so we had no excuse not to participate. And when I found out the book everyone was to read for the record was Eric Carle‘s The Very Hungry Caterpillar my kids and I jumped at the chance to read it, again. Actually my oldest daughter took the lead:

Did you read to your kids today?

Literacy based curriculum

Well school is in full swing. Although my oldest is at school all day for grade two, I still have my younger two at home with me (my son goes to senior kindergarten in the afternoon).

Recently I discovered a great blog Raising Itty-Bitty Bookworms that’s about instilling the love of books with kids. They recently celebrated their second anniversary. And it was actually during their anniversary party that I discovered the true secret behind the Raising Itty Bitty Bookworms blog. It’s their preschool curriculum program; a curriculum based on literature.

When I read more about the program I was intrigued. They have two programs: Baily (for children 18 to 36 months) and Bo (for children 3 to 5).  I’m always trying to find new ways to enrich my children’s knowledge while they are at home with me so I’m trying out the Bo curriculum with my two youngest.

Each of the four weeks in October focuses on a different book so my plan is to post a summary of the weeks events, my thoughts and my kids thoughts. So if you’re looking for a program for your kids, stay tuned.

Wednesday is for Crockpots

I find now that two of my three are in school, fitting in outside activities and clubs is difficult. We’ve agreed to Beavers and Brownies as well as swimming lessons. In my mind there are three things all kids should learn: swimming, skating and riding a bike. If I look back on my younger days (way, way back) I can remember much of my free time or time with my friends rotating around these three things. My husband never learned how to skate and feels he missed out. He’s actually thinking of taking lessons now.

So that said, you would think swimming registration would have been on the top of my mind, since that’s the only activity the kids are doing this fall. Ha, nope. Turns out I only remembered two days after swimming registration, which of course meant I couldn’t get into the pool I wanted. I like to book all three kids for their lessons Saturday morning. It may take a chunk out of our Saturday, but it’s easier than trying to squeeze it in around other things.

So now I was left with booking what was available. My oldest I was able to get in on Saturday but my son I had to book lessons after school. Wednesday was the first lesson. I realized at the time I would have to drive to school and pick all the kids up and then drive them to the pool for my son’s lesson. If I wanted to try and keep us on our night time routine, I knew I had to look into alternative dinner arrangements. So online I went looking for quick and easy crockpot recipes. 

I don’t use my crockpot that often, but when I have I usually find it so convenient. So on Wednesday I planned on making a new and untried recipe I found online for Italian Sausage and Peppers. I actually had sasauges and peppers so that’s where my search started and I was fortunate enough to have everything else needed in the recipe, including the red wine.

Crockpot Italian Sausage and Peppers

Cockpot Italian Sausage and Peppers

Even though my kids loved this I don’t think I could convince them to eat it every Wednesday. I guess I’ll have to build my recipe box. Any suggestions?

Lego: More than just a Toy

What do I do next?

What do I do next?

Lego is big in our home. We own a number of construction sets and buckets of free-form pieces and still we keep adding to it. Lego is a great toy that all three of my kids can play with, usually without fighting too. But my son is the real Lego king in our house.

I’m always amazed when I watch my son play with, no immerse himself in his Lego. My son is no different from most boys. He is a bundle of energy that never seems to fizzle out. It’s hard to get him to sit still, even to eat dinner. But put a Lego construction set in front of him and I have a hard time pulling him away. He can sit for hours with such concentration and follow instructions and build a complete Lego set (the record has been 3 hours so far). I’m talking a set for kids 8 and older with over 1000 pieces. He can sit on his own and follow the steps from start to finish.

And if there’s no set to build he’s full of his own creative ideas. I think it’s his love of Lego and the creative flexibility it offers that has led to his new career desire: car designer.

So yes, Lego is a great toy, but with my son it’s more than that. It’s a tool. It teaches him to focus, to follow instructions, to explore his creativity. Nothing else seems to do that, not school, no even me. So anything that helps can’t be all that bad.

It’s a slow process

You may remember an earlier post I made about participating in Gallysmith’s Harry Potter Reading Challenge. I don’t actually own any of the books so I was fortunate enough to borrow the first two books from my mom. What’s that say when my mom owns and has read the books before me.

Since I enjoy the movies so much, I thought reading the books would be enjoyable. But the main reason I joined the challenge was to share the stories with my kids (who also enjoy the movies). We’ve been reading a few pages each night as part of the kids bedtime routine. The only problem with reading to the kids, I only get to read the book at bedtime , to the kids. This makes for a long read.

Some nights I would read ahead, thinking the kids wouldn’t know any better. The next night I’d get caught and have to read the chapter again. It’s been a slow process but we have finally finished the first book. It’s a good thing we have until next August to finish the challenge.

Getting into routine

Summer! Summer! Summer!

Summer! Summer! Summer!

During the summer we able to sleep a little longer and get up a little later; we travelled more and ate out; we didn’t worry about homework. We all had a little more free time to do things we wanted to do. Then September came along which meant the end of summer vacation and the start of school. It also meant getting back into a regular routine: no more late nights, back to getting up with the birds; no more hanging out in our PJs or yesterday’s clothes, back to keeping on top of the laundry; no more eating when we want, back to making snacks and lunches ahead of time.

You can guess we’ve been having a hard time in our house getting back into routines. The kids aren’t the only ones. I’ve been late walking over to pick-up the kids almost 5 of the 10 school days (remember my encounter with the school secretary?) I’ve volunteered to handle the Scholastic’s orders for my son’s kindergarten class. My hope is this will keep me in his teacher’s good graces for all those late days.

But I don’t dread all routines. I’m actually excited to start my EA Sports Active workout routine again. I know at some point we’ll be back on track again. The big question is when. Hopefully before the kids are off on their Christmas break.

Three truths I can wait for my children to learn

Do they have to grow up?

Do they have to grow up?

I can’t believe my oldest is now seven. Okay, seven really isn’t that old in the whole cycle of life I suppose. But it seems old(er) when I think of her as a small baby. Seems like just yesterday. Getting to a moment seems like an eternity, until you reach it and then it’s gone in a flash.

My daughter isn’t that baby anymore. Along with loosing baby fat, baby talk and baby teeth there will be the loss of innocents. I don’t mean that kind of innocents. I mean the child-like wonder that all kids have that eventually seems to erode away as they are exposed to the outside world more and more.

Although I’m excited to see all my children grow and develop, there are a few truths I’d rather they never learn:

  1. Mom and dad are actually the Tooth Fairy – The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, all those mythical characters that kids believe in and make the holidays delightful. I know one day my oldest will clue in, if she hasn’t already. I think she has some suspicions about the Tooth Fairy, though I don’t think she’ll admit them for fear of loosing out on the reward. I dread the disbelief in Santa Clause and not wanting to write letters to him anymore. So many of our fun holiday traditions rely on these beliefs and I’m not ready to give up on those yet.
  2. Mom and dad don’t actually know everything – I know, another misconception. And yes, it is hard to live up to. But there’s a great feeling of sharing and helping and molding and just being a parent when your child asks you about everything. And yes, being asked the same question over and over again can become frustrating and trying to answer a question when you don’t know the answer (or when there isn’t an answer) can be difficult. But one day my kids will start asking their teachers and friends and strangers about things and stop asking me. Another step towards independence that I’m not ready for.
  3. The outside world isn’t like kindergarten – My kids love school. They love their friends and learning new things. School to them is what the outside world is like. But I know there will come a time, many actually, when things won’t be all fun happy games and laughing friends. I dread the tears that will come when a best friend doesn’t want to be a best friend anymore or when someone does something mean and hurtful just because they can. No parent wants to see their child sad or crushed, no matter how much it’s apart of growing up.

These are just three fears that have been swirling around in my head lately. I’m sure if given time I could think of more. It’s too bad these truths have to be part of growing up. And some might say that learning these is just a way of developing independance and personal identity, a step toward adult hood. But if you ask me, wouldn’t we as adults have more fun in life if we still wrote letters to Santa or didn’t have to deal with hurtful individuals. Heck, maybe if we didn’t have to learn these truths there would be less hurtful people in the world to deal with. Well, it’s a nice dream.

Are there any truths you wish your children didn’t have to learn?

That’s my boy

My oldest was great at following rules when it came to house proofing. I’d tell her once to not touch the stove and she wouldn’t. Ask her to stay in one room to play and she would. I honestly thought the whole parenting thing was pretty easy.

Then my son arrived.

That's my little amazing guy

That's my little amazing guy

When it came time to setting house rules we found out pretty quickly that what worked for my oldest wouldn’t work for my son. (You’ve seen the circus trick video right?) So now when I outline the house rules, instead of following them my son views them as a challenge; he tries to find ways around them. Perhaps it’s a boy thing. I was having this same conversation with the photographer at our Today’s Parent photo shoot (he has a three year old son).

There are many things my son does that are amazing. He’s very affectionate and out-going and the amount of patience he exhibits when working on a LEGO creation is awe inspiring. I find I don’t praise him enough for the good things. Well, not today.

My oldest goes to school all day, my son just in the afternoon and my youngest doesn’t start school until next year. In the mornings when my oldest is at school, I like to work with my son on his school knowledge. There’s so much data supporting how boys struggle in the early years at school and I want to help him past that stage or better still, avoid it all together.

Today we were reading stories and going over some common words (like ‘the’ and ‘and’ etc.). My son started sounding out the letters to say the words. I was amazed. Okay, it’s not like he’s two and reading, but I’ve only gone through the process of sounding letters out with my oldest. Perhaps he’s learnt it from watching his sister. Where ever it came from, I was so excited. And he was excited because I was excited.

Sometimes I don’t give my son enough credit but not today. I was very proud of what he did on his own, without my guidance, and I made sure he knew that. And maybe if I acknowledge all the amazing things he does more often, he’ll surprise me again.

Some Fun with Children’s Literacy

I love children’s books. Love to read them. Love to write them. Love to review them. Books and reading are such a big part of my family’s life. All my kids love to ‘read’ and it’s the one activity that can occupy all three of my kids quietly for a couple of hours (even my two year old). But I don’t think my family is unique with their love of books.  What parent doesn’t love reading a good book with their kids or listening to their budding reader take turns reading to them. That’s why I thought you might be interestested in the following two things:

Literacy Lava 2

I blogged recently about a FREE online magazine produced by Susan at the Book Chook and other writers, parents and children’s literacy advocates. Well the second issue is now live. Be sure to hop over to check out Literacy Lava 2, where you’ll find ideas: for motivating reluctant readers, for literacy on the go, for developing the imagination muscle, for linking math and literacy, for having a pirate party and a book picnic, for rhymes, games, activities and more.

Literacy Lava 2 final-sml

Itty Bitty Bookworms Party

I’ve only recently discovered Tara and her blog Raising Itty Bitty Bookworms, another great site promoting literacy and the love of books with young kids. Raising Itty Bitty Bookworms is having an anniversary party until September 9, 2009. You’ll  find some great book giveaway’s and other literacy surprises. Be sure to jump over and celebrate a site that celebrates the love of reading.

Literacy Lava: promoting literacy with children

Books are big in our house. We love to read them and review them, and in my case, try  to write them. I’ve encountered a number of great book blogs online supporting children’s literature. One of my favourite’s is Susan at  The Book Chook.

Beyond her insightful and entertaining blog, The Book Chook has teamed up with other writers and bloggers with a passion for children’s literature and created Literacy Lava, a digital magazine (in pdf format) full of great tips and literacy activities for parents and their kids. Oh and the best part…it’s absolutely FREE!

The second issue, Literacy Lava 2, is scheduled to go live September 1. Here’s what you can expect:

LitLava_2Making literacy part of our everyday family life is often just a matter of remembering. We need to make sure our kids see that reading, writing, and communicating are important to us, and give them lots of opportunities to participate too.

Literacy Lava 2 is a free magazine that will bring you ideas: for motivating reluctant readers, for literacy on the go, for developing the imagination muscle, for linking math and literacy, for having a pirate party and a book picnic, for rhymes, games, activities and more!

 Brought to you by bloggers and writers who are passionate about children’s literature and literacy, Literacy Lava 2 is erupting with no- or low-cost activities parents can do with kids to promote literacy.

Be sure to visit The Book Chook September 1 to get your copy, just in time for back to school. You can also get your copy of Literacy Lava 1 there too if you missed it.