Monday, July 7, 2014

Learning Anatomy with Littles

Learning anatomy with littles is just a game away. 

Last evening, a little asked me to play a game.

"Great! I'd love to! Choose a game." 

Back she came, with Somebody.

Not somebody, Somebody, one of our favorite educational science games. We've owned this game for years, probably fifteen. Its helped littles learn parts, functions, and body systems in a fun, family-friendly way.

We gathered around the table, ages three to eleven.

We played. 
We learned together.

Somebody rejoined the rest of our favorites in the game cabinet. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mothering and Bowling

Family bowling day. 

Love the summer kids bowl free program. Our busy week had branched us out, but today we gathered together, to reset, to enjoy one another. As I watched each child approach, toss, and celebrate their frames, I reflected on my motherhood journey.

I reflected:

  • High five when they score a turkey...and when only one pin falls. Each pin is worth celebrating!
  • Sometimes you have to use strategy. Other times use the ramp to guide the ball.

  • Love your husband well, even if the ball rolls to the gutter. No doubt there was effort behind the throw even if the end result was not what was intended.
  • One person's three pin is an another person's strike; everyone is unique. Celebrate the individual, not just the accomplishment.
  • Use the bumpers (a.k.a support network) when needed...and be willing to be someone else's bumper.
  • Everyone needs encouragement, even the pro bowler (a.k.a veteran mother)
  • Don't head to retirement too early; there is always a beginner needing some tips and hints to the game.

  • Use the right size ball for YOU. Heavier balls, ones suited for someone else can cause injury.
  • Approach the lane confidently...and focus on the pins.
  • Adapt your approach to your game. Some bowlers walk methodically and launch, others walk to the line and throw. Each approach is unique to the bowler.
  • Don't let the one pin left standing discourage your game. There is a reset button.
Family bowling day. A day of family togetherness and learning, for all ages, bowlers and non-bowlers. A day well-spent. 

Key Lime Pie, Muscles & More

Preparing key lime pie with little helpers, I realized our taste buds and our handwriting skills would benefit from our efforts. Little fingers reach for half a key lime, then squeeze citrus juice into a bowl, a perfect way for our littles to help prepare treats in the kitchen and strengthen fine motor skills needed to write. Thirty-five key limes later, we were ready to mix--another opportunity to strengthen muscles!

We strengthened muscles but we also built conversation skills and did a little learning. Here is what we did:

  • We compared the size, color, and taste of key limes to oranges, limes, grapefruits, and lemons. Order by size. (Math, Science)
  • Defined and discussed spheres in regards to the citrus. Found other spheres around the house.
  • Measure the circumferences of several types of citrus with a string. Then measure the strings on a ruler to compare circumferences. Lay strings in order, shortest to longest. (Math)
  • Count the fruit sections of an orange, lime, key lime, grapefruit, and lemon. Are they the same or different? (Math, Critical Thinking)
    • Read the book Each Orange Had 8 Slices, Paul Giganti, Jr. 
  • Draw still life pictures of the fruit, practicing shading techniques. (Art)
  • Set the oven at 375 degrees. Write the temperature on a piece of paper using numbers and degrees symbol. (Math)
  • Set a kitchen timer for the length of time the pie will bake. Write the ending time on the piece of paper with the oven temperature.(Math) 
  • When the pie cools, discuss the definitions of diameter and radius. Measure the diameter of the cooled pie. Divide by 2 to find the radius. (Math)
Looking for ways to connect preparing snacks and meals to learning for your littles? Check out my resource, Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cornerstones of Freedom- Chronological Listing

Great finds at Friends of the Library used book store at our local library. Within 5 minutes of returning home, littles opened the tote bag, eager to listen to me read. We chose The Pullman Strike. Three paragraphs in, we were hooked, moving fast toward the back cover.

Our afternoon of reading made us curious about others we could acquire. Paula's Archives to the rescue. Not only was there a list of the books in the series but they were in chronological order. Double win! You may find a Cornerstones of Freedom title for your next living history study in the used bookstore of your local library. Happy hunting!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mentors Matter: Aviation

One of our favorite spring activities this school year was participating in Young Eagles Introduction to Aviation class. Recommended for ages 10 through 18, this 8-week class was taught by pilots and aviation professionals. Each class focused on a topic: weather, air traffic control, flight planning, pre-flight check, and  aviation careers. Students toured hangers and took a field trip to a working air traffic control tower. The final class included a graduation flight on which the class was divided into groups of three, each group having the opportunity to fly one leg (after safe take-off by the pilot) of a three-leg flight, flying in and out of three airports. Participants were given their flight log (which they continue to log for their aviation career) which was signed by the supervising pilot, a certificate of completion, and a code for ground school should the student want to continue their journey to becoming a pilot. 

It was an experience we will not forget, and definitely one of the highlights of our year.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Picture Speaks....When They Cannot: A Secret for Evaluations

Children nervous about annual evaluations? 
Photos to the rescue.

New situations (and even not-so-new situations) can bubble up anxiety. Annual evaluations are no different.
Amazingly, children, even nervous ones, come alive when photos are included in their portfolio of work samples. Photos supply visual cues, reminders of events and activities. They provide hints for conversation starters, offering pictures for unspoken words. An astute evaluator can use photos as vehicles for unobtrusive questions, inviting dialogue. Adding photos to the portfolio of work samples can be one of the greatest gifts a parent can provide an anxious child.

Photos talk when children are short on words during annual evaluations. With pictures, children are warmly invited into a conversation about their school year progress. Our experience has been children quiet, quickly become talkative and engaged, excited. Adding photos to the portfolio is well-worth the effort taken to include them. Photos talk when words are scarce.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Wonder of Marble Runs

"Mrs. Bastian, I found 118 marbles in your house!" 


No wonder. We have created marble runs with paper tubes, plastic tubes, and ramps. Experimenting. Trial runs. More redesign. More trials. Marbles rolling down, launching into tubes, landing into paper cups placed strategically. Some marbles going astray. Excitement in the room. Ideas shared. More trials.

Laws of motion. Centrifugal force. Momentum. Potential and kinetic energy. 

More runs. More ideas. More fun!

No wonder our young visitor found so many marbles. 

They had been launched with purpose, some going astray. 

He indeed found 118 misfired attempts. 


Ready-made runs can be found online. This particular one has blessed our friends with family fun.