Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beneficial Buddy Reading

When I taught 5th grade, one of the activities that we used to do quite a bit was "Buddy Reading" to the kindergarten kids.  It truly was a mutually beneficial (symbiotic, anyone?) relationship between the two vastly differently-aged kids...and something I highly recommend for parents with kids of multiple ages.  It's as easy as asking the older child to "be the teacher" to the younger child.  The older child (OC) will most likely love having the responsibility of being "in charge" of the younger child(ren) (YC), and will take his role very seriously.  The YC will love this because chances are good she looks up to her big brother and wants to be just like him.  (Added bonus is that it buys you 5 minutes to load the dishwasher!)

If your older child is not quite old enough to read the story, he can still teach the younger child by pointing out colors and identifying animals, cars, trucks, trees in the book.  If you only have one child, let her be the teacher to your pet dog or cat, or even a stuffed animal.

Changing up normal reading time makes it that much more exciting, and letting your child be the teacher will add even more fun to reading.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bringing Math into March Madness

Never mind the complicated algorithms needed to get team seeds and brackets, here's a great way to sneak in a little math with your kids while rooting for your favorite teams.  Give your kids a possible score (let's say 14) and ask them to figure out different ways the team could have reached a total of 14 points (i.e. 2 points + 2 points + 2 points + 2 points + 2 points + 2 points + 2 points). Then follow up with, "Hey, that's 7 groups of 2 point shots, [7 x 2]..."  What a beautiful way to bring multiplication in!  Next, ask if there is another way the team could have gotten to 14?" (i.e. 3 points + 3 points + 3 points + 3 points + 2 points)

Simplify it a bit by saying that your team has, say, 6 points.  Then ask how many more points the team needs to get to reach 10 points.  Or, compare your teams score (let's say 10) with the opponent's score (let's say 15).  How many MORE points does your team need to score to beat the opponent?

Complicate it a bit by asking questions like, how many groups of 2 point shots did our team get if it has a score of 42?  How many 3 point shots did we get if the team has a score of 42?

Let the Madness be an inspiration for more Math!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Gorillas: One Gigantic and the Other "Teensy Tiny"

We went to the zoo this morning.  It was a blast.  My 2 year old can't get enough of the gorillas, snakes and turtles...but really, we find ourselves back to the gorillas multiple times per visit.  There's more to learn at the zoo than I could possibly begin to share, but I distinctly heard my 2 year old use the word "gigantic" to describe one of the gorillas (the "Grandpa").  She then told me that the baby gorilla is "teensy tiny".

While I'm not sure you'll find teensy tiny in the dictionary, per se, I am sure that my daughter is ready for words other than big and little, and chances are, so is yours!  Instead of using the same words over and over again to describe the size of things, try expanding your child's vocabulary with synonyms.  For instance, you could say, "Wow, Katie! That Grandpa gorilla is so big.  He is gigantic." I know Katie already knows that "big" means, so using it in context, along with having the giant gorilla right there helps her figure out that "gigantic" means "extremely big".  Contrast it with, "Look, Katie, that baby gorilla is so little next to his Grandpa.  He is tiny/small/teeny/miniature."  Kids will have a blast using the new words, and because it is such a natural integration into their vocabulary, it doesn't feel forced or stressful.

Now, of course, you don't have to be at the zoo to introduce new words to your kids.  You could just as easily use a "gigantic bus" and a "tiny ant".  Try using words like "gorgeous" instead of "pretty", and "delicious" instead of "good" (when describing food).  For older kids, see if they can come up with their own synonyms for familiar and overused words.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring has Sprung -- Make it Meaningful and Measureful

If Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods, turn the glorious outside weather into an authentic learning universe! One ever-so-helpful activity that you can encourage your kids to do is measuring different plants and flower growth.  Measurement is notoriously tough for kids of all ages, so the more practice they can get, the better off they'll be.
It's sometimes tough to measure flora with a regular ruler, so let your kids pick a favorite ribbon or piece of string as their nonstandard measuring tool.  [This is also handy because they can measure the circumference of trees (the length around the tree) using the ribbon or string.]

Let your child pick what he wants to measure.  Is it the new dandelion emerging from the ground or a blade of grassing poking up through the crack in the sidewalk, or is it a bunch of different plants around the yard? Again, let your child choose!  Once your kiddo has picked what he wants to measure help him hold the string along the plant (or around the plant) and keep fingers on the two ends.  Lay the string or ribbon down next to a standard ruler, again keeping tabs on the two endpoints and help your child read the length of your specimen.  Depending on the age of your child, you may need to round to the nearest inch, 1/2 inch, 1/4 inch, etc.  This is also a great time to talk about the metric side of the ruler and how the lengths are the same, but the systems are just different.
Don't forget to record your child's findings (or let him do it!) and revisit the plant once a week/month to chart its growth!
Happy Measuring!! ;)

Mini Card and Note Cards are Here!

You asked for it, and we delivered.  We now offer note cards (traceable message on front and blank on the back for drawings and additional messages) and mini cards (a 5.5" x 4.25" version of our greeting cards).   Take a look for yourself!