31 March 2015

Day 57: German Vocabulary

Today was a crazy day - I was cleaning all day while trying to get school done. So here is a picture of Coqui doing his German. I already talked about our curriculum here. German in Ten Minutes a Day is a great book and we still love it. To stretch the lessons a little bit out and to repeat vocabulary that we talked about a few days or weeks ago, I have him do his own sheets of words. The book comes with stickers that you are suppose to put on the new learned words. I don't like that idea, and they do not stick really well.

So I have him pick any ten words a day. He sticks them on the paper and then he can draw a picture of it. So in the above picture, he picked shorts, salt & pepper, a bicycle, and he is drawing the refrigerator. Those are all words that we have learned within the last few weeks. It is a great way to repeat words that are not spoken very often. And it helps with the pronunciation - so more often he says them in German, the better he will pronounce any word.

Now the best part is really that Peanut, who has been very reluctant, starts repeating some of the words. Mostly, she wants to draw those words, too. So this was a great idea because Peanut learns better with hands-on activities. She will draw or sing anything, and memorizes it this way.

30 March 2015

Day 56: Sight words practice

Peanut is almost done with this great book that I picked up at a local store. It's Sight Words: Level A from Flash Kids. We have learned all 55 sight words and are now working on the reviews that you can find throughout the book to make sure they won't forget what they learned. So here she did her review and at the end, she was suppose to write a sentence with as many of the five sight words that she reviewed. Yep, she wrote this sentence all by herself!
It totally reflects her goofy character. She is my silly one, my goofiest, the one that can make us all laugh, and she doesn't even have to try - it is completely natural to her. She brightens our days, even though my dry nature has a hard time with her sometimes.

29 March 2015

Day 55: Art DVDs

Last year in July, I wrote about our wonderful DVD program Mike's Inspiration Station. Besides going to church, we had no other plans, so we pulled out the DVDs and drew Goliath. I think the kids did a great job at following directions as good as to their abilities.

28 March 2015

Day 54: Birthday Fun

Today, we did not do any formal school work at all, but.... we socialized! We were invited to a Minecraft birthday party filled with games and activities like coloring, cookie decorating, and pin the tail. Coqui had to use his social skills when running into an argument. Peanut learned to be more independent as Mami had to constantly run after Munchkin. The little one was a bit overwhelmed by that many kids and all of them were older than her. So she stayed real close to me where I encouraged her to get involved in the activities. We had tons of fun though.

At home, they just played - and it was that kind of awesome play where I knew I had to stay out of. It was sibling time and they were at it for over two hours. It is so good to let them be kids.

27 March 2015

Day 53: Peanut being an overcomer

I love Fridays because it is our field trip day. Today we got to go to the rodeo. We had a large group with many children and some more adults, who were all guided around the grounds for about three hours. We learned how a cow is milked, we saw a dog show and pig races, and we got to pet a bunch of super cute animals.

A total of three times, we went into that little area called a petting zoo. The first two times, it was just Coqui, Munchkin, and me. They are both not afraid of them and enjoyed feeding and stroking them. Peanut is a little bit scared and preferred to wait outside. Until the last time. She braved coming inside with us and ended up petting every animal from cow to goat to lama and even a kangaroo. She even fed one baby goat some food. What a big moment for her to overcome her fears. Big yeah.

26 March 2015

Day 52: How hard is the job of a paleontologist?

We are more than halfway through our science book - that might not sound great to you, but to us that is huge progress. Last year, we also used Apologia, the Astrology book, and without that awesome Homeschool planner app that I talked about a few weeks ago, we did not even come close to halfway. So we dropped it all together and started a new book this year: Zoology 1, which are the Flying Creatures of the Fifth day. The Apologia program for the elementary age groups follows the six days of creation, so we kind of skipped a few books but that is the beauty of homeschooling, we CAN.

So we finished the bird study of the first half of the book and now moved to bats, dinosaurs, and insects. Coqui is not always a fan of science, but at least the notebook is made interesting enough for him to stick with it for every lesson. Today, we studied the flying dinosaurs, the pterosaurs. One of the experiments was to find out how hard the job of a paleontologist is. He had to study a photo of a person that he doesn't know very well, but that I know. The student was asked to make a table with three columns. In the first column, he had to write down facts of observation. What did he see on the picture? In the second column, he had to make guesses about the person. Who was she? What did she like doing? And so on. He did really good. Then I had to tell him about that person and he had to take notes. The picture above is of my latest grandma, my mother's mom. She was a great woman and I loved her very much. He filled up the entire page with notes - this is big for my non-writer. He really liked doing this. And he learned a little bit about our family. Great lesson from a great book. We really like the Apologia books.

25 March 2015

Day 51: Classical Conversation's Timeline

In the last few years, I have build a great network of friends, most of them that are homeschooling also. We are not all doing the same thing, some are doing school at home, some are unschoolers, some Montessori followers, and a few that are part of the Classical Conversations community. When I told my friend that Peanut is learning a lot by singing things to herself, like learning the 66 books of the Bible in a song. She lend me her CDs with the CC Timeline songs on it.

Now if you don't know what those are, they tell the entire human history from the beginning to the end in chronological order. They follow the Story of the World, so the order is the same what we study. They only teach the order of the main events, so it goes very fast. But once you studied all the events, it is a lot easier to keep the order in your head. And that is the main idea for us, that we learn history happened in order, the events prior influenced things happening after.

As you can see in my picture above, track One is the Age of the Ancient Empires and we are all the way at the end of the ancient times with our study of the Roman Empire. We learned more about Julius Caesar today, and while the kids were coloring, I heard them sing almost the entire first track. They memorized the lyrics by studying the material and listening to the songs over and over. Now when we talk about Rome, they know that it came after the Greeks. It's such a great tool to have and I wish they had stuff like this when I was a kid, I would have enjoyed history a lot more. I am glad I can do that know with my own children.

Here is a link to a youtube video with the motions and the words: Click here. We have not learned many of them but they do help memorizing things. This video is another good one: click here.

24 March 2015

Day 50: The "Ransom Caesar" Game

As if History is not enough fun as it is, they got to play a game in class today. We learned about Julius Caesar and how he got captured by pirates, just to come back and kill them all. The Story of the World workbook provided us with our usual map work, questions, and color pages, but also with a game called "Ransom Caesar". Basically, it is Battleship but with the numbers One through Four and the letters that spell p-i-r-a-t-e. The kids each got one game sheet, then they had to 'hide' Caesar somewhere on the board, and then find it by giving coordinates to each other. They had fun playing and this story will live in their heads for a while. LOVE this curriculum.

23 March 2015

Day 49: Build A Roman Villa

We continued our studies about Ancient Rome, talking about Roman education, Roman, architecture, and Roman houses, including Roman bathhouses. When researching for this unit, I came across a webpage where you could download a pop-up Pompeii villa, so I did. It was a great day to assemble it today. Coqui has finally reached the age where he does most of the work all by himself, so crafts like this are easy and a fun way to have history come alive. I like that it came with mosaics and  murals to decorate the inside of the villa. So it's also a mini art lesson.

When talking about all the other buildings that were built by Romans, I had found this website called History on the Net and it gives a ton of information about different eras in history, so also about the Romans. It provided us with material to talk about and learn. I love that we have the internet as a resource.

22 March 2015

Day 48: Paint your own Pottery

So today, we picked up our pottery that we made last week when the grandparents were here for a visit. All three kids could pick out a piece that they would paint. So Munchkin chose a piggie bank pig. Peanut picked an owl - she likes owls. And Coqui found this dragon that goes right along with his love of knights and dragons. For two hours, they painted away and we were not allowed to 'mess' with their art work, at least the two bigger ones. Little Munchkin needed some help but she did alot of the painting on her own. Their creativity can be seen in their work.

The sad part came when we had to leave their treasures behind. Thankfully, it only took a few days for the place to burn it, so today, we could come and pick them up. Et voila:

21 March 2015

Day 47: Busytown Game

Another rainy day, so we just continued from yesterday. There was a big breakfast, and lots of board games all day long, until it was time to go back home.

If you have never heard of Busytown, you and your kids have been missing out. As mentioned in the link, it is an imaginary town invented by the authors Richard Scary. The people living there are all talking animals. He wrote a bunch of books, like Busy, Busy Town or What Do People Do All Day?  We got introduced to these books by a friend of mine when Coqui was just a tiny baby. Growing up, he loved me reading from the books. They are entertaining and educational at the same time. Then we heard about the movies called Busytown Mysteries and Coqui was hooked for a long time. He passed it down to his sisters and we still watch an episode once in a while.

So their aunt got this game, Busytown Eye found it!, a few years ago and whenever we visit, the kids just have to play it with her. The ultimate goal is for the players to reach the other side of the town for a picnic before the pigs eat the entire lunch away. Turning the wheel will advance the players, will send them on a hunt for items found on the six foot long board, or has the pigs eat an item from the picnic. It totally encourages team work, instead of having the players play against each other - so Mami loves this game. And so do the kids.

20 March 2015

Day 46: Visiting Family

We drove to the kids' aunt's house today, and the grandparents were there also. It was nasty cold and rainy outside, so we had a great afternoon of playing all kinds of games at home. The kids did tons of puzzles, played board games, and just ran around the house. It was nice to see them enjoying all the company - it builds great relationships. Thankful for travel mercies and blessed with family.

19 March 2015

Day 45: Spring is finally here

It feels like winter has been going on forever this year. Are you as tired of it as we are?
The weather was beautiful enough to play outside - before there is more rain coming our way. Ugh.
So the kids met their friends at the playground and we let them run, run, run for hours. They really needed it. So the boys played tag, football, soccer, and catch. The girls were drawn by the swings, of course. Especially my little Munchkin. She LOVES to swing. By the end of this trip, they were covered in dirt and sweaty, but it was worth it.

At home, we went for a swim in the bathtub, and then did our school in the afternoon. I love that we can be so flexible, and still get a full day of  learning in.

18 March 2015

Day 44: A challenging Math problem

Math comes pretty easy and natural to my oldest. He thinks very logically (like his Mama ;-)). So most times, I just have to tell him which page number and he just goes.
Today, I caught this picture above. It melts my heart. This is Math at its best. Take the Bible, read a verse, take that number from the verse, and calculate it the way it says in the Math book. He got every single problem right! I couldn't be any prouder of him.

17 March 2015

Day 43: Make It: Catapult and Castle

We joined a few friends at one of the local libraries for a one hour 'Make-It'-class. All these kids had to build a catapult and a castle. The design for the catapult was given including the materials to use. But for the castle, they were on their own. They had to decide which materials to use, how to construct it, and how to make it strong. At the end of the class, they were lined up as seen above, catapults outside the line, castles inside. Now they could shoot "canons" from their catapults trying to make their opponents castle 'fall'. It was so much fun seeing them all work hard, yet helping each other during the construction time. But once the battle was one, oh boy, they really got into it. What a fun afternoon.

16 March 2015

Day 42: Building the Great Wall of China

Recently, our Ancient Rome studies were 'interrupted' by a study about Ancient China. Yesterday, we dressed some ancient men in their traditional clothing, today, Coqui built the Great Wall of China in the front yard. He told his grandma all about it, too. How tall it was, how long, that it reached almost from one US coast to the other, and how it was made. It was really cool to see that he had listened and paid attention and then went to do this all on his own. Proud Mami moment!

15 March 2015

Day 41: Ancient Roman dress up dolls

Sometimes, when we have just too many activities in one week, we have to do the hands-on and fun things on the weekend. Today, we dressed ancient people. As we are studying Ancient Rome, we started with the ancient Romans, but that quickly led into dressing seven different people from Egypt to Japan. It was one, but also hard work, cutting all those little pieces. Phew....

Coqui's Roman soldier, and Peanut's Roman wife. Munchkin only got to color a few pages of Roman Gods and such - thankfully, she did not quite get what she was missing. And I was happy that I didn't have to cut more tiny pieces out. Lol.

Here are the links: the Ancient Roman Girls can be found HERE.
                               the Ancient Roman Boys can be found HERE.

14 March 2015

Day 40: Happy Pi Day

A few homeschooling friends and I celebrated Pi Day by eating pies, pizza and cake. We had a nice time without the kiddos, talked adult conversations and had great food. This could become a fabulous tradition.

13 March 2015

Day 39: How are bricks made?

I knew we would get dirty today!
Our field trip brought us to a local brick making factory. We had to wear safety gear, helmets and glasses. I am so glad it was a little fresh in the morning, so we had long pants and jackets on. The tour was led by a gentleman who has been in the business for quite sometime. He was knowledgeable and so patient with the kids. Usually, they only allow tours of fifteen people, we had 40 kids plus fourteen mamas! There were a lot of us. But he did awesome.

We walked the entire site, from where the clay comes into the plant, where it gets wet and made into a 'paste', then how it gets formed into a brick, where it is 'baked' to where it gets loaded onto trucks to bring the bricks to construction sites. In the picture above, you can see my two kids trying to break the brick. Could they do it? Yes, they could! Because the brick was still wet, so it could still get damaged. At the end of the tour, they even provided drinks and snacks for the kids. Did I mention this tour was for free? What a service. These guys out there work really hard every day, and yet, they were so accommodating to a bunch of kids, homeschooled kids! We did feel special.

12 March 2015

Day 38: How to keep the toddler busy during school time

I would lie if I tell you that homeschooling is easy when you have a toddler in the house. I mean to have one of those is hard enough, but trying to get some teaching done is hard. For a while, we did school while she was sleeping. That worked great. But the older two are getting older and their work load becomes bigger. And this little cutie from the picture above doesn't always take a nap.

So we had to get creative. Sometimes it works to send her to a different room to play by herself, usually that is for a short time only. Mostly, she wants to be where we are. So coloring has helped a ton, especially if I tell her that she is doing school like the big kids. And then we have those toys that only come out doing school time! Here she sits with her Threading animals. And while she sits there, she listens and she learns. It amazes me what she knows already.

So if you ever wonder how to keep the toddler out of the siblings' Math book, try a 'new' toy, a toy that hasn't been seen for a while. They get so exciting about 'finding' it. I have heard people use a blanket with those special toys. Toddlers can be trained to stay on the blanket for a period of time and entertain themselves. Really, all they want is feeling like a part of the family, of school.

11 March 2015

Day 37: Peanut wants to read

Today was a crazy day. Plans didn't work out and we ended up at a local book store at 9:30 am! Yes, it was so quiet inside - until we got there. We spend over an hour in the store, mainly because I like to roam through the clearance section on the lookout for good (and cheap) treasures. The kids read, or I read to them. So it was all good in my book - education doesn't only come from filling out worksheets and workbooks, it also comes from reading. After her success yesterday, I told Peanut to pick out an easy to read book, like those Step 1 books. My kids have rediscovered Dr. Suess and my Peanut loves cooking, so the above book was perfect for her. Here she is trying so hard to read, but she could not quite get it. We will continue to practice until one day..... she will surprise all us. I can't wait.

10 March 2015

Day 36: Peanut starts to write

I meant to write about our art lesson today, but then something unexpected happened. I have been trying to teach my Peanut how to read for over a year now. We already know that she doesn't learn the same way her brother does, hence not the same way I learn. So it is harder for me to switch gears towards her. We started out with "Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lesson" and made it about one third through the book before giving up. It just didn't work for us.

Then we moved to Hooked On Phonics and it worked for a little while. Again, I didn't feel the success in the nearer future, so we gave up again. I actually started to become a little bit frustrated. Hooked on Phonics worked well for Coqui, so much that he went from a non-reader to chapter books in one summer. I felt either I am not doing it right, or we just hadn't found what SHE needed.

I am reading countless blogs and reviews about homeschool curricula. That's how I came across Explode The Code and we started with the primers and she loved it - I just wrote about that a few days ago here. Those books combined with the A Reason For Handwriting and every encouragement that I can come up with to get her to read have finally paid of, I hope. She has never done this before. Usually she gets her brother or me to spell things for her. But tonight, when her sister and her came up with the great plan to share a room, she made this sign. It reads: 'No go on the bed'. And yes, she spelled it all by herself!

I am praying that this was our breakthrough! She CAN read, but she doesn't want to. She CAN spell if I ask her, but again she doesn't feel like it. I always wondered if she thinks she won't be dependent anymore for me to read stories to her. Bed time is kind of special in our house, and I love to read to all of them. It's part of our routine including singing songs and cuddling. Good night everyone.

09 March 2015

Day 35: The best aspect of homeschooling

If you asked me what was the most surprising aspect of homeschooling, I had to say that the above picture represents it well: the fact that I am not the only teacher to my children. I never anticipated that they would teach each other. Since last night, Coqui has decided to play 'babysitter' on his sisters, especially the younger one. He has given her a bath, dressed her, fed her breakfast, and taught her Math, phonics, and art. He had pleaded for me not to interrupt and that he could do it all on his own. My heart is melting just by writing this. Yes, I am proud, but also I am so happy by the bond they are creating, a bond I hope they will have for the rest of their lives, even after Mami and Daddy won't be around anymore. I am so blessed with these children and they are blessed with each other.

08 March 2015

Day 34: A working Roman Aqueduct

As you all know, Coqui LOVES History. He just soaks it all up and wants to do any hands-on craft you can think of, so History does come alive in our house quite a bit. After doing the Greeks and some India and China study, we are now fully engaged in our Ancient Rome unit. One of the crafts recommended by the Story of the World book is building a Roman aqueduct. So I researched the internet for some ideas. I wanted to build one that is working, but I also did not want to spend weeks on assembling it. Today was a great day to start this project as it was cold and rainy outside.

We used the template provided by the book, copied it, and then traced it onto cardboard. I cut it out with a knife. Then we build the top, that was not provided by the book, but we needed to connect those two arch pieces. Our source is a water bottle cut open on the top, and filled with rocks as space filler, so we don't have to use so much water for it to reach the intake of the aqueduct. We also needed a 'well' for the water to be collected after it's travel, so we used a small yogurt cup. The water line is a straw, cover on the top to make it more real. We connected everything with glue or duct tape. Eventually, Coqui got to work in covering some parts with clay, to make it look like a landscape. At the end, he painted it all. Et voila, our aqueduct was finished already. It took us maybe two hours. It is still drying now, but we got to try it out before we put it to the side. Daddy was quite impressed how we spend our Sunday afternoon.

07 March 2015

Day 33: The simple things in life

The kids had a relaxing day at home, for the most part. We stayed in PJs until after lunch, played games, and the kids just simply played. It is so important that they can let their spirits and imagination go without the academic pressure. Munchkin enjoyed herself for a long time with these fine motor skill games. Stringing beads and dress up magnet dolls. She talked to herself and she role-played. That is so important.

Peanut and Coqui pulled out the army guys and played battle after battle, some imaginary, and some reenactments. They also played a board game and some cards. Then I found them, like so many times, at their desks drawing. So I actually got some quiet time to myself to read some emails, catch up with my friends, and some devotions. I also looked through my lesson plans and our schedule for the next week to be ready for Monday. I love my Homeschool Planner.

We all did leave the house, too. To the craft store to buy some supplies we needed. And to the book store - as if we do not have enough books already, but who can resist! And we met some friends. We enjoyed the crisp air outside, so they are sleeping now real good in their beds, dreaming of more play tomorrow.

06 March 2015

Day 32: Our First Science Fair

Tonight, we participated in our very first Science Fair organized by one of our homeschool groups. Coqui had a hard time thinking of an experiment that interested him and still was presentable at a fair. Eventually, we came up with a cooking experiment. The big question was: Do noodles cook faster in salt water?

We filled two pots with four cups of water each, added a teaspoon of salt to one of them, and brought them both to a boil. Then we threw in the same amount of spaghetti and cooked them for nine minutes exact. After those nine minutes, we took them out and tasted them.

Now what do you think we observed?

For those that want to try it themselves, this is the part where you stop reading and go into your kitchen and started boiling that water. Those that just want to keep reading, the noodles in the pure water were perfectly done, but the noodles in the salt water were still hard on the inside, way before al dente! So they needed to cook longer. We threw them back in the water and cooked them some more and voila, we had dinner ready.

The big question now is why did this happen. We did a little research and found out that salt water has a higher boiling temperature than pure water which is at 212 degree Fahrenheit (or 100 degrees Celsius). Apparently, for salt water it depends how much salt is in the water, the more salt the higher the boiling point. So that's why the noodles were not done yet. Once we threw in the noodles, the waters cooled down a tid bit, and for the salt water, it took longer to reach it's boiling point again.

Coqui proudly presented his poster today, earned a reward, and got to eat that fabulous cake, done by one of my friends. All the kids did really great - I loved to see their little personalities coming out in the experiments. They were all interest lead and I love that. No pressure, no trying to out-do each other, but pure fun. Thank you to the two ladies that organized everything and put it all together. We love this community and are so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of people.

05 March 2015

Day 31: Explode the Code

It's Peanut again.... Today, she finished a book...... Let's start with last year, where I introduced her to the pre-literacy books "Let's Get Ready For the Code". These books taught her to write the consonants of the alphabet, lower case and upper case letters, and their sounds. She spent just a few days on each letter, enough to make it stick, but not to be boring. She liked it much better than other phonics books that we had tried, so I figured we'd stick with the books if she succeeds. My hope is really that she learns how to read this way.

She finished all three books fairly quickly. So this year, we officially started with the "Explode the Code" books. There are 14 books in total. The first book started with the letter family of -at and moved slowly through more and more families, including all five vowels. We only did one page a day, so we moved really slowly. I want her to want to learn how to read, which she still doesn't want. So I am trying to find a balance between letting her lead without giving up all control - because then we wouldn't learn at all, right? Some of the exercises she liked, others she didn't so much. Those were usually the ones where she had to write the words multiple times. It was also hard for her to read sentences on her own in order to match it to the picture shown in the book.

At the end of the book, so today, she had to read the two paragraphs you see on the left. It took her while to figure out all the words, but in the end, she was so proud of herself that she read that much and figured out the riddle. She beamed as you can see on the right. Now we are off to book 1 1/2. I do want her to repeat a few things before we are moving on to book 2. Hopefully soon, she will be ready to skip the half books, and just reads on her own. Until then, we practice every single day.

There is a good review by Cathy Duffy, the author of '100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum'.

04 March 2015

Day 30: Ear ache remedy with essential oils

Yesterday was a rough day. Coqui fell ill and we had to head over to the doctor who confirmed that he had an eye infection that resulted from rubbing his eyes too much due to his allergies. When the doctor checked his ears, she said that his right ear had some fluid in it, so if he developed pain, we should come back. Sure enough, he started to have some pain this morning. They were at a friend's house because I had a doctor appointment, so it took us some time to get home. By the time we got home, he was in pain. So I did a quick research online, found some remedies, and applied them.

Now, they did not work as instantly as Coqui wanted them to work, but I think they did. From laying on the couch crying to jumping around with his sisters, not even an hour passed by.

So I used purification first, I put a drop around his ear, all around, but not inside! I used downward motions because I wanted to see if I could drain the fluid that way. Then I put a drop of thieves over it. And for good measure, I used the headache roller that I made on Sunday because it had some of the ingredients in that I found online (like PanAway and Tea Tree). I made him put a pillow over his ear (applying heat is good too for the fluid to drain), too. He was better within an hour and hasn't complained since. I used this one more time, just to make sure.

Now why does this apply to homeschooling? It so does. My kids learn about plants and their natural healing power. They learn that medications have their place, but that we should try to improve our lives with natural remedies rather than popping a pill every time they tummy hurts - and trust me, kids say that a lot! Now my kids will ask to get some peppermint on their tummy. They ask for lavender when they have a cut. They also ask me to diffuse their favorite smell during school time: joy and peppermint. It smells so good that we have a hard time concentrating, lol.

03 March 2015

Day 29: A Reason For Handwriting

When Coqui was in Kindergarten and First Grade, I did not use any formal curriculum - I put my own stuff together. But I didn't know any better. My homeschool network has expanded quite a bit since and so has my repertoire of curriculum. When Peanut started to learn her letters, we used A Reason For Handwriting, a wonderful program for little ones.

The very first book was just awesome. She learned a letter a day, and with each letter came an animal that started with that particular letter. So we learned about that animal (science!) and then she had to color it, and then add something creative to that picture. She loved it!
That creative part was so down her ally. The second book is drier so far and she is not enjoying it as much, but she only has a few more days of simply writing her letters before we dive into learning letters and words with Scripture. Now that is the part I am excited about. Not that we don't learn Scripture already with our weekly program, but I think the more Scripture the kids are exposed to, the more will stick eventually.

We like that the lessons are short and to the point, we never spend more than fifteen minutes a day in this book. At this age, short is still better than overload. I totally love the way they explain the letter formation: with a tree house. It's ingenious - a tree house is visual and kids can totally relate to the parts of a tree house. I shared this with a friend and she was intrigued and adopted this. Also this book shows how every stroke of the letter is formed with arrows and numbers, so the child learns (or now is reminded) how to write it correctly. Now why is this important you ask, because correct writing of the printed letter will make it easier to transition into cursive writing. And yes, I totally agree with teaching cursive writing, but we will get there in a different post.

02 March 2015

Day 28: English From The Roots Up

Let's talk Latin and Greek.
I learned Latin in my ninth and tenth year of school, it was my fourth language after Russian, English, and French. My parents thought it necessary to know some Latin for any further foreign language. And it did help. I learned French faster and easier, and it helped me with the little Spanish that I know. Understanding is always easier than forming a sentence to communicate.

So it is natural to me to want to expose my children to some Latin. Now I think they are still a bit too young for proper Latin and / or Greek lessons - and I am not trying to attempt them speaking it fluently anyways. So we took the middle pathway, I picked up the book "English From the Roots Up". There is a volume One and Two - we are still in One.

The book is intended to help students understand English better, so their Spelling or Writing will improve. But I think it works the other way around as well. For now, the exposure counts. So we are working our way through this book.

The way we use it: we pick a new word per week and work on that word and it's uses in the English language. We are using these worksheets to fill in the Latin or Greek word, and then study their meaning. At the end, we review some older words, and once in a while, we play Match with the flashcards. It's a fun and easy way and Coqui enjoys it.

01 March 2015

Day 27: Table Manners

I recently read one of those funny articles about Germans and their habits. It was called 26 signs you were born and raised in Germany. Some of these are plain funny, other could come from any other country in the world (mostly), and a few are very German habits indeed. So is #1, which states that table manners are very important to us as Germans (and to our parents).
Oh, it is so true. My parents were very adamant at teaching my brother and me proper table manners. Now as a child, I only thought of it as annoying and obviously unnecessary. Today as a parent myself, living in a country where this is less important, I find myself sounding like my mother! It has become very crucial to me to instill good table manners in my children, knowing they won't see it much around them. In a country where finger foods are not only common among children, it is hard to stand firm on the importance of being able to use fork and knife. So my parental mission is just that: to instill proper (German) table manners.

Undoubtedly, I don't believe that children should not be taught to operate a knife properly. It is, after all, part of the table manners. Now one starts with a child-friendly knife, small and dull. So my children got handed a knife at a very young age, just like this one: Gerber Graduates Cutlery. Then we worked on learning to use a real butter knife. And so on..... Today, I have my five year old cut the bread with a real bread knife, my eight year old cuts all his meats by himself, and as you can see, my two year old is very busy practicing her skills with the knife because she wants to be just like the older ones.