Thursday, February 28, 2013

Move over, Picasso!

Proud mom post coming up!

Abby was one of seven students from her school (and the only first grader) to showcase her art at the David Adler Music and Arts Center during the month of March for Youth Art Month.  Here is the picture she painted.

(Sorry about the angle - it was hung at about 8 feet high.)  It is a cardinal sitting on a branch on a snowy day.  She. is. seven. years. old.  WOW!!

Ok, ok, I may be biased.  But still.  Wow!!

Here is the corsage that her daddy bought her for her special night (and thanks for the fancy dresses, Ya Ya!)

Here is her sister, trying to escape the event.

Thanks to Mrs. Sartain - quite possibly the best art teacher ever.  You have brought out a talent in our child that only we knew existed and made it a joy for others to share. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family Movie Night #2

Tonight, we had our second family movie night.  We had the first one a few weeks ago, and I honestly did not think about blogging it.  That night, we watched "Harry and the Hendersons".  Do you remember that movie?  It came out in 1987!  Dan is the only one of us who had seen it before and, since it had been so long since he first saw it, he didn't mind seeing it again.  It was a funny family movie about...well...Bigfoot.  It is a typical 80's movie in that it is a simple "feel good" film.  Not a lot of thinking has to go on to enjoy it and there is no complex plot here.  The theme is that we have a tendency to fear (and sometimes persecute) whom or what we are not familiar with, and we need to learn to give things a chance before we judge or act.  Hmmm...this is certainly a lesson that we still have not learned, isn't it?  Good, wholesome fun, this movie.  Only PG for foul language and minor guns/fighting violence.  Both girls liked this one.

Harry and the Hendersons

Anyway, tonight's movie was "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules", rated PG for rude humor.  This is a fairly tame movie that centers around the main character, Greg, and his older brother, Rodrick.  It is another "feel good" movie, but it is also quite funny at times.  The humor is on a middle-school level (thus the "rude humor" comment) and the theme is that family is always there for you at the end.  Abby really liked it, but Juli fell asleep about halfway through, as did Dan.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

I think we are going to try to make this a weekly, or at least bi-weekly, event.  We really enjoy popping popcorn (tonight's was drizzled in dark chocolate) and snuggling under blankets as a family while watching a movie.

Unspoken rules for movie night:

has to be kid-friendly
has to be new to at least one of us
ideally free (i.e. on cable or tv)

Any suggestions?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not normally a mystery/murder/whodunit gal, but this book had me from page one.  I work in a bookstore, so after selling so many of them, I felt compelled to see what all of the fuss was about.  I am glad I did.  You should, too.

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Social Studies Unit

WOW!  Let me just start by saying, holy totsicles, it is cold in Lake County, Illinois!  I have not experienced this kind of cold before.  I love it, though.  Never have been a summer gal... I prefer wearing warm sweaters and snuggling under blankets to sweating and stinking any day.

We are just starting our new social studies unit.  Again - this is for the younger kiddos, ages three to four and we are using Sonlight core curriculum.  We are reading this book:

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day ?
What Do People Do All Day by Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry is a classic artist and author.  This book helps to give youngsters an overview on careers, how a house runs, and mailing a letter, among other things.  It also gives children a better perspective of the world around them and how they fit into it.

We started out by talking about a typical town and the careers that are a part of it.  It was just a few pages, but it got her thinking - I could see the wheels turning.  Then we asked her what she thought  she wanted to be when she grew up.  She does not know what she wants to be, but she knows she does NOT want to be a teacher.  If I had to predict, I would say that Jules will be in some sort of law enforcement or leadership position.  Abby wants to be a teacher like Mommy - that apple does not fall far from the tree in many respects.

Next time, we will explore a home and what makes it run.  It will be fun to walk her around our own house and show her things like the water heater, plumbing, etc.

We are at Mom's in Virginia for the long weekend, so there is fun to be had.



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our Fairy Tale Unit

We have spent the majority of January and the first part of February studying fairy tales - what a fun unit this has been!  As I wrote before, we started by reading Thumbelina, Dan the Dunce, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Ducking and The Nightengale.  These are such fun stories to read and we did cute activities with each of them, too.  We are reading them from this book:

A First Book of Fairy Tales by Mary Hoffman
We continued our fairy tale unit by reading The Selfish Giant first.  The moral of this one is to share, because it makes everyone happier in the end, including you!  Then we practiced caring for our plants by watering the ones in the house.  Here is a link to where you can by this book, if you just want this particular story.  It is never too early to introduce a child to Oscar Wilde!

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
The next story we read was Jack and the Beanstalk.  Again, we read the version in A First Book of Fairy Tales, but here is a link to an individual version.  A really great story about a boy who uses his quick wits to improve his family's life.  After we read this, we planted more seeds to see what else we could grow...this time, it was corn.

Jack and the Beanstalk retold by Steven Kellogg
Then we moved on to this story:

Sleeping Beauty by Brothers Grimm, illustrated by K.Y. Craft
We did not read the Brothers Grimm version (we are not ready for Grimm yet, but I look forward to those days!) but this is the version that I would buy if it weren't already in our book.  After this, we cut an apple in half sideways so that the girls could see the star inside.  I showed them how this would be a great stamper!  We enjoyed the apple for a snack.

A few days later, we moved on to The Frog Prince.

The Frog Prince by Brothers Grimm, retold by Edith Tarcov
After reading this book, what else could we do but hop around like frogs?

We then read a story I had never even heard of before - but I love it!

Diamonds and Toads - a Russian fairy tale

This is a great story about not coveting what someone else has.  Kind of a biblical moral, but told in a Cinderella-esque way.

Have you ever read The Fisherman and His Wife?  What a great tale!

The Fisherman and His Wife retold by Rachel Isadora
This is also a fairy tale about greed and how being greedy can cause you more trouble than it is worth.  The reason I recommend this version is because I enjoy the art of Rachel Isadora, who has won the Caldecott medal before.

We read one of my favorites - The Princess and the Pea.  I really relish the knowledge that I am introducing Juliana to these fairy tales.  I want her to hear them in their non-Barbie, non-Disney form before seeing them all commercialized.  I have nothing against Barbie and Disney (in fact, I wish I had stock in them), but it is important for kids to know that these stories have been around a lot longer than their favorite toys and movies have been.

The Princess and the Pea - a Little Golden Book!

I love that this is available as a Little Golden Book!

The last fairy tale that we read (and it will be the last one for a little while, as we are heading in to our social studies unit) is The Snow Queen - another one that I was not familiar with, but certainly a great one!

The Snow Queen by Susan Jeffers

Loving the art in this version of the story!  The fact that it encourages friendship between boys and girls is just the icing on top!

We are, of course, continuing with our bible stories, too.  We have moved into Judges and the story of Joshua.  Next, we will move onto Samson and Delilah - one of my favorites.

Soon, we will be learning about working, keeping house, and mailing a letter.  That's it for now!


Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Note to Teachers

I am in the position where I can view the classroom from a visitor's eye - as a guest teacher (commonly referred to as a substitute).  Over the years, I have come up with a list of suggestions (pleas, really) for classroom teachers.  And I know of what I speak - I am a teacher myself.  I am simply a "homeless" one at this point.

If you are going to have a substitute in your room...please:

1.  These people are not substitutes.  They are guest-teachers.  They are doing your job for the day (or week, or three-month maternity leave).  They deserve the respect of being called guest-teacher.  Not sub.

2.  When you see them in the hallways, don't ask them, "Who are you today?"  They are themselves - everyday.  They are not morphing into the teacher for whom they are guest-teaching.  My standard (read "cranky") answer to that is, "I am Mindi (everyday).  I am guest-teaching in Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So's room."  Nothing makes a guest-teacher feel lower than not being called by their own name.

3.  Overplan.  Have more plans than what the school day can hold.  You never know when the Promethian Board won't come on, or the school will have a fire drill, or the sub can't find the materials for science.  Give them other options from which to choose.  The worst thing that can happen is that the guest-teacher has to come up with something for the kids to do.  That is your job.  It is their job to make sure that it gets done.

4.   Leave a class list and a seating chart, for pity's sake!!

5.  Leave detailed instructions on how to call the office and/or the teacher next door.

6.  Leave them an hour-by-hour schedule of your day.  They need to know if they have time to use the restroom between classes or if they have a break at some point during the day.

7.  Leave them a list of students with allergies or behavior/medical problems.  This is necessary.  Really.

8.  Leave them a map of the school with pertinent places (office, restrooms, lounge, playground, fire exit) highlighted.  It is a courtesy, and a greatly appreciated one.

9.  Don't leave them a movie to watch unless it is part of your actual curriculum.  Kids choose this time to misbehave - believe me.  If you do leave a movie, provide an assignment to go along with it so that the students are forced to pay attention.

10.  Leave out the materials that the guest-teacher will need in nice, neat piles.  Don't make them take their eyes off the class so they can hunt for something you could have left out for them.

11.  If at all possible, schedule tests for the days that the guest-teacher is there.  This makes their job slightly easier.  You can even leave an answer key and I bet they will grade them for you!

12.  If they did a good job for you, request them again.  They do not have job security like you do.  They get jobs based on their performance.  Many of them are licensed teachers (like me).

That's all, folks!