Friday, February 21, 2014

Lewis and Clark and Yahtzee

"MOM!" One excited learner yells while running from backyard to front.
"Come quick!" Another shouts, following three feet behind. 
"Look what we made!" Two voices joined in unison. 

We had just finished reading The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Ormonde De Kay (Step Up Books).
Imaginations were churning. Thinking.
Dad had just finished trimming bushes.  
Branches piled along the driveway, waiting to be bundled in twine. Perfect.
Imaginations and dad's trimmings, a perfect combination to bring history to life. 

The result: A lean-to in along the back wall of the house. Creative! Ingenious! Fun!

"Watch how we can climb in!" 
"I bet Lewis and Clark had to make these!"

"Can we eat dinner in here?"

(Sure, why not! I used to eat dinner in treehouses when I was young and pretending.)

When explorer tummies were full and baths washed away dirt, we sat down around the coffee table to play a family game of Yahtzee--notice the arrow doodles on the bottom of the page!

"Mom, do we have any other books about Lewis and Clark. We want to learn more!"
"They were amazing!"

Product Details

Let's look in the (home) library.

Meriwether Lewis, Boy Explorer (Childhood of Famous Americans
Learning leaps into a new day. 

What will we learn tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Playing Store

Playing store. Growing up I played "store" or "restaurant" in the basement with my childhood friend. Her mom saved empty oatmeal containers, cereal boxes, plastic ketchup bottles, and any other container resembling our favorite foods. When a container couldn't be saved, we made our own paper food--fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, lettuces. We also made our own menus (spelling and handwriting practice) and added prices on handmade receipts (math practice). With all the fun we had, we never once thought about the academic skills we were practicing!

Funny how some childhood games and activities cross generations. Years ago as a mom of two young boys, I saved their favorite food containers. We set up a small store along the wall of our already cramped kitchen. When I mopped the floor, empty boxes tumbled off make-shift shelves. When the boys were learning to add, I made the prices using single or double digits (yep, cheap cereal). Later when they learned dollars and cents (which was way before the textbook told us to...cause they wanted to learn), adding three digits was one of their favorite past times (adding decimals can be learned early if there is practical application and interest). They played for hours, practicing math skills, learning conversational/interpersonal communication in a natural, real-to-life scenario. Best of all, they learned to cooperate, take turns and defer to one another.

Fast forward 8 to 10 years, my daughters have taken "store" to a whole new level. For the past few years they have worked at building a "community" in our garage. And, yes, on the way to our extra fridge, I weave my way through the streets, pass the Buy One Get One signs (handmade) and eye the paper Mochachinos (they look so real my mouth waters).Shops have come and gone as interest waxes and wanes or neighbor children knock on the front door to play. It is fun to watch. On any given afternoon life-learning and role-playing take math and language arts concepts off the page and into mock-life experiences. I reminisce as I remember the relationships and practical learning that took place in a basement 35 years ago.