When I stopped reading chapter books to my child

I found this gem in my drafts, never published.  Never shared.  Why, I don't know.  I think it's a super lesson I had for myself.  I wrote this about a year ago I think, in Jan '14.

An interesting thing happened yesterday afternoon.  But before I explain the story I have to back track a bit to last year.  Kindergarten with Connor. 

Last year we used Heart of Dakota.  It worked great in that it's all laid out for you each day.  It's so easy to use, which was perfect since we had a newborn.  The only thing I didn't like, going forward with the curriculum, is that it's mostly just American history, each year.  Being that my kids are Canadian I feel like they should learn Canadian things too.  It could easily be supplemented though!

When I first began the program I was skeptical about their idea to read chapter books each day.  Say what!?  Read books with few to no pictures to my 5 year old!?  Are you all mad!?

We got through the first book, and each day I felt it was a struggle.  Lots of anger (on my part).  Lots of frustration (on his part).  Each day I felt it was a struggle to just have him sit still so I could read aloud 2-3 pages.  Sometimes I'd stop and ask questions after a sentence or two, to be sure he was listening.  (he'd often answer correctly)

He was so wiggly and would never sit still.  Sometimes I'd let him play with clay or play-dough to occupy his fingers, so long as he would answer my questions correctly - so long as he was still hearing the story.  But most days I just didn't have the time and patience.  (I had a newborn and was recovering from surgery)

We got through 1.5 books before I gave up and dropped it from our daily routine.

Yesterday I learned an important lesson.

Yesterday, Connor came up to me and asked, "mom?  Why didn't we finish my Reddy Fox books?  You used to read them to me, but we didn't finish. .... Mom?  Can we finish them?"

Then he quickly ran to our book shelf and grabbed one, running back to me.  "Mom?  Can we start over, at the beginning?  With the fox?"

As it turns out.... he was listening.  Sure, he wiggled.  Sure, his hands fiddled.  Sure, his eyes roamed.  He was 5.  He was/is a little boy.   He still heard me.  I was the problem.  I didn't have enough patience.  I didn't have enough understanding.

Just because he wiggled didn't mean he wasn't interested.  In truth, he adored the books.  In truth, I was too blinded by frustrations to see he enjoyed them.

We underestimate our young children.  We can read them chapter books, ::gasp:: with no pictures to occupy them, and they will love the stories.  If we just give them the chance.

Let them wiggle.  Let them play quietly.  They will hear you, so long as you don't give up.

Connor's recollections of the Thornton W. Burgess books:
"Well.... I liked them because....", and he looks away with a wistful smile, and goes quiet.
"I like them because I wanted to role play it.  Because I liked the rescuing. .... But, I didn't like the starving parts."

linking up with


Corduroy {b4FIAR}

Recently we completed a "row" with Corduroy, by Don Freeman.  This book quickly became Emma's favorite and she still frequently talks about at home, or even while we are out.  Most recently we went to the mall and seen an escalator in the distance.  She was so excited.  We stepped into a Lush store and Emma excitedly told the cashier all about Corduroy and his adventures involving an escalator. 

As I've said before we are working our way through the b4FIAR curriculum with a preschooler (K4) and a 2nd grader.  What this has ended up looking like for us, is Emma will listen to the story while Connor works on something like math or penmanship.  Emma and I might do a few fun activities related to our book, then I'll introduce Connor to a themed topic at his age.

This post is not intended to replace the b4FIAR manual.  The manual is so rich in content and a great asset to have, especially if you are new to homeschooling.  It is plenty enough as a stand alone, so what we did in addition is just extras.

Bible/Character Trait

We do devotions separate, but we sometimes also do an extra tie-in.  This week we focused on being loving with Proverbs 17:17 at Totally Tots

We also adore the series by P.K. Hallman.  Perfect for a week with Corduroy is, Let's Be Friends.

For Social Studies we read a few different books on homes, families and stores.
  • Where We Live by Brenda Stones.  This book takes the young reader all around the globe, looking at different homes.
  • Around the World: Home by Kate Petty  Another global look at homes, but through the eyes of the children.
  • Families Have Together by Harriet Ziefert.  A simple rhyming book of belonging.
  • What's In Store? by Pippa Goodhart.  This book is a "search and find" within the setting of a department store. 
Language ArtsWe do language arts separate from the b4FIAR, but I still like to find cute books related to our row, if I can.
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett.  This is an adorable and funny book that all my kids just loved.  It's a book that plays on the words and grammar of "Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear".  Just brilliant.  "Apple, Bear" ; "Apple Bear".
Math.  We focused on actual coins last week, so this week we talked about saving, since Lisa had to save up to purchase Corduroy.  Again, we love to read.
For math we also played a scholastic printable game, Lady Bug Spots, to learn even and odd numbers, using buttons.  Another day we did a maze using a printable from SchoolhouseTeachers.com, Read and Play section.

  • Homes by Yang-haun.  This is yet another book on homes, but this time of animal homes.  Very poetic and the illustrations are lovely.

Again, using SchoolhouseTeachers.com, we did a craft for Corduroy.  Emma just absolutely loved this.  It was great cutting practice and a great practice of diligence (she would not stop until every speck of plate was covered).

For fun reading we read
2nd grade tie-in

For our Corduroy week Connor learned about the history of toys, he learned about homes in other cultures and we talked about money (saving and spending).

Math:  For math Connor read My Rows and Piles of Coins, by Tololwa M. Mollel.  I really loved this book and how it relates to the story of Corduroy, but in a more grown up way.  Like Lisa in Coruroy, the story of My Rows and Piles of Coins has a young boy, Saruni, saving money to make a purchase.  But in contrast, Saruni is saving up to buy a bike - not for his own pleasure, but to help lighten the load of his mother.

We also read Math at the Store by Ellen Weiss.

Social Studies:  {community helper, builder; department stores; history of toys}

Connor read Nate the Great and the Big Sniff by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.  The setting of this story is a department store, so I selected this as an independent read for Connor.

In the story Corduroy longs for a loving home.  I was looking at the library on non-fiction topics of homes and seen this easy reader on building a home, A Day in a Life of a Builder.  Connor loved this book and read it often.  At one point he was following me around the house spouting off information on the characters and what role they played in the story. 

Connor wasn't excited about one book I chose for him, Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions, until I read one chapter, then I read the index.  He was so intrigued and finished the book on his own.  "(Play-doh) started out as a product for cleaning wallpaper"

This cracked me up.  He read about play-doh then grabbed our most recent homemade dough and tested it out for cleaning our sliding glass door.

Art:  we made a piggy bank, inspired by Delightful Learning's post of Corduroy.  (Emma wanted nothing to do with the making of the piggy bank, so this was Connor's project).

 Linking up with:
Delightful Learning   Hip Homeschool Moms Weekly Wrap-Up Love to Learn Linky


Joyfully Homeschooling Through Winter + a Giveaway

Many people have a hard time enduring the long gloomy months of winter, especially with the past few "arctic" winters and the Ice Storm of 2013.  It can be uncomfortable to go outside into the bitter cold. You might opt to avoid the cold outdoors, which then leads to what we call Cabin Fever (extreme irritability and restlessness).   The solution would be to go outside, but again many want to avoid that due to being uncomfortable. 

One could argue that summer is uncomfortable as well, being hot and often times humid.  We cope by dressing in cooler clothes, we head to the beach, we sip cool lemonade, or we play in the sprinklers.  We find joyful solutions and we embrace the beauty of hot weather months.

You can do the same in the cold weather months.  Seek joy, and you will find it.  Be purposeful in going outdoors often, even for brief periods of time.  In the summer months you dress appropriate for the weather and drink cool drinks.  Likewise, in winter you need to dress appropriate to stay warm and maybe drink warm drinks (keeping in mind plain water is important as well). 

By making the choice to be outside your mood and physical health will naturally improve.  Nature improves our mental wellbeing, reducing stress and anxiety.  Likewise, physical activity reduces stress, anxiety and anger as well as reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease.  By being intentional to get outdoors and be active as a family, you will also encourage lifelong healthy habits for your children.

Winter has so much to offer for many ages and levels of fitness.  Outdoor ice-skating (need I even mention hockey?), snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding/tobogganing, and more!

When you decide to go outside to spend time in nature, you need to layer your clothes and you need to be thoughtful in your choice of gear.  Wear those hats, not worrying if you will mess up your hair.  Wear proper gloves and winter boots.  By dressing properly you won't quickly get cold.  In fact, you are likely to be too warm if you're doing a more vigorous activity like climbing sled hills.

As a homeschooler, the winter months have so much beauty and so much opportunity to teach.  There is much amazement to behold - and that amazement will rub of on your children.  Or on the flip side, your child's amazement of winter can rub off on you.  Either way - get outside!

Start out by deciding on a simple walk.  Walking outside is more effective than any exercise indoors because you can't just give up halfway through.  You have to follow it through to the end, if you want to get back home.

Here is my list of educational (and in turn, physically and mentally healthy) reasons to embrace winter.

1.  Bird watching is particularly easy in winter.  The leaves are gone, and birds (especially the cardinals!) are easy to spot.

2.  By going outside in all seasons you could create yourself a perpetual calendar.  Visit your favorite trails and parks all year and compare what's same and what's different.

Kids will learn so much of nature, with little to no work on your part if only you just take them there.  Take them to a pond in the summer and enjoy the ducks and the flowers.  Take them again in winter and wait until they ask, "but where's the ducks!?" 

Prompt them:  "What does it look like when we look up into the trees in the fall?"  "What about the winter?"

"What is this hill like in the spring?"  "What is this hill like in the winter?"


3.  Winter is a great time to do lessons on shadows and animal tracks.  Shadows are particularly easy (and beautiful!) to see on the snow.  (animal tracks - and people tracks - are also easy to spot).

4.  Creativity.  If the snow is right, jump on the chance to encourage your kids in creativity.  Build a snowman.  Build a wacky snowman.  Build a fort.  Make snow angels.  Make snow smiles.  The world snow is your canvas.

Find some icicles and pretend you're a saber tooth tiger.

5.  Food.  For years we got really grumpy in winter with so little (recognizable to us) fruits and vegetables to choose from.  I soon realized this was a really narrow minded way to go about winter grocery shopping.

Really embrace all that winter harvest has to offer you.  Those squash are so full of nutrients, and they really keep well.  Now is a fantastic time to try new soups and casseroles.  Learn what food is in harvest in these long months and truly embrace it.  Don't be afraid to try new things - for the sake of yourselves and your kids. 

If you don't know how to choose a particular product, or how to store it, or eat it - look it up on youTube or another website. 

My new favorite winter fruit is pomelo.

In the future, plan ahead and stock up on local harvest and preserve.  This is a great lesson to do with the kids as well.  Start out simple. Do something like picking blueberries then bag and freeze them to enjoy all year.  Buy extras in fresh produce (like grapes) when they are in season and freeze them.

With your children, research why winter is so important to certain crops like cabbage, apples, or maple syrup.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

6.  Beauty.  Winter has so much beauty, if only you'd go out and see it.

Which brings me to another point.  Snowflakes and hoarfrost are much easier to see and capture now than they were in the times of  Wilson Bentley.  Read Snowflake Bentley or look at Snowflakes in Photographs and then try to capture your own.  Set a black sheet of paper in the freezer to get it cold.  Then set it outside and catch flakes.  Take a magnifying glass outside and see what you can see (not forgetting to hold your breath when you are close).

I captured mine with a macro phone lens by Photojojo.

I am in agreement that some days you just should not go out.   Like when it's negative ridiculous out.  Or sleeting.  Or ice covered all Elsa style.

In those cases when you absolutely should hibernate, there's still cheerful things to occupy your mind until spring. 

1.  Buy flowers.

2.  Bake.  There's no better season to turn that oven on.  (and let the kids help!)

3.  Head to a community area.  YMCA, a play centre, a library.  Someplace you can stay warm, have fun, be active and get out of the house.

4.  Pretty up your outside with kid friendly decorations.

Winter is just nothing short of amazing.  Don't be afraid to embrace it.  Choose joy.

I have joined a team of Canadian bloggers and we are bringing you a really fun winter themed e-book giveaway.  The giveaway starts Jan 28th at 1am and ends Feb 11at 11:59pm.  This giveaway is for Canadian's only, and 18+.

To read more about what the giveaway contains, check out Lisa Marie's post over at The Canadian Homeschooler.  Enter the giveaway below:

West Word Blog's top 10 of 2014

Today we are sharing a count down of our most popular posts from 2014:

10.  Our musical week with Lentil

Lentil at West Word Blog
9.  Our blast into the past week with The Rag Coat
The Rag Coat at West Word Blog

8.  Our "quacky" week with The Story About Ping

The Story About Ping at West Word Blog
7.  Our orderly week with Madeline

Madeline at West Word Blog

6.  Our stormy week with Three Names

Three Names at West Word Blog

5.  Our sunny week with Who Owns the Sun

Who Owns the Sun at West Word Blog

4.  Our circus week with The Clown of God

The Clown of God at West Word Blog

3.  A peek into our homeschool rooms

School rooms at West Word Blog

2.  The week we Stopped By the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost week at West Word Blog

1.  Our slithering week with When I Was Young in the Mountains

When I was Young at West Word Blog
{linking up with Pea of Sweetness)
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