Monday, December 17
So here is our plan.
We are going to have a theme each week and do activities based on that theme. Our themes for January are Snow, Tu B'Shevat and Hands. We are also starting with a Nature Club which will meet once a month. I am still waffling on what do for Reading. We will probably use a combination approach mixing this and this and this.
I am setting up a learning corner in our playroom. I have been wanting a reading corner by the fireplace for some time now so we are moving some stuff around to get achieve all the goals. There will be a beanbag by the fireplace with a basket for books and on the wall next to it will be our learning poster and clipboard.
I made a monthly planning calendar which will go on our clipboard as well as our more detailed weekly plan and daily todo list - assuming I am ever that organized
It is such a nice plan. I wonder how it will survive the trenches.
Sunday, December 16
Chanukkah in Chlem - A silly picture book that Froggy enjoyed. While it does not tell the Hanukkah story it does talk about lights and miracles and oil. I found its character portrayal insulting not funny.
Grandma's Latkes - A modern story in which a young girl learns the meaning of Hanukkah with her grandmother. It is a longer, older story that we had to skip though for lack of attention. It is a good story that weaves culture and family in with the telling of the Hanukkah story. A big thumbs up for this one.
Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah - too dumb for even Froggy to enjoy
The Story of Hanukkah by Amy Eirlich - This is a beautiful but involved telling of the Hanukkah story for a mature audience. It is violent and graphic. The artwork is lovely but again violent. We will revisit this book in a few years probably when Froggy is 7 or 8.
Saturday, December 15
According to educators this is a skill which requires much focus and active instruction time. Why I ask? Is this such a difficult concept for children to understand? I cannot believe that. Children easily learn that underpants need to go on before pants and socks need to go on before shoes. They understand things happen in order. Listen to the stories they tell and you will see that when the story is important to them they put things in order. The key is when it is interesting to them. I think the reason student in school have trouble is two-fold. First the story is presented quickly and only one time. Second the story is not captivating.
I might be mistaken and this concept may be more difficult that I realize for students. I have not yet tested my theories. I would love to hear from people who have experienced teaching this to their children.
Friday, December 7
All of this is a prelude to saying that while libraries are great and people should use them, I am realizing they are not enough. We are starting to purposefully build a educational library for Froggy. A couple of months ago someone offered me a complete set of Junior Science encyclopedia which I snapped up even though Froggy won't even be interested in looking at them for several years. And now we just placed a large holiday order on Amazon of books which either the library does not have or we felt are important that we need to own. We didn't get all we want. We started a list of books to acquire as we can.
Here are some of the ones we ordered as well as those that are top of our list. You may notice a theme of religion and the holidays, mostly because these are the ones not available at the library.
Thursday, December 6
Every person in the house has their own menorah. This is a tradition from when I was a girl. I have a special pooh bear one and last year my mother got a special musician one for Froggy for her first Hanukkah. My husband has never had a special one, just the generic one that was mine from when I moved away from home. This year Froggy and I made him one out of Fimo. It was lots of fun to do a craft together and now we all have menorahs with meaning. I will try to post a picture of it once we get it off the camera. Despite him walking in while we were working on it we managed to surprise him which is very unusual. I think he really liked it. Candle lighting was kind of funny this year since both he and I got new menorahs as our presents for the night. Since the rule is candle lighting comes before any other Hanukkah activities, we lit generic menorahs and then moved the candles into our new menorahs after opening presents.
Froggy got to light her menorah as well. I lit the shamash for her and then held her hand while she lit the candle for the night just like my mom did for us when we were very little. One of the signs of growing up was being allowed to hold the shamash by yourself and then eventually being allowed to light it yourself.
Tonight we will introduce Froggy to latkes
Wednesday, December 5
Saturday, December 1
Developmental learning factors help show the steps that each child goes through as they develop. Each stage or path takes different amounts of time for each child. However, the fact that the steps are sequential helps determine the needs and challenges for each child. Ideally teachers will provide instruction in the "challenge" region for each child. Vygotsky calls this region the "zone of proximal development. It is the level of at which the best learning occurs.
In the early elementary grades that challenge region can vary immensely within a classroom. An adept teacher may be able to challenge the upper level and mid level students. But due to the outside pressures of the SOL and other standardized tests, they are often forced to present material above the challenge level and faster than the lower students can absorb. If a student has not yet reached a certain developmental level, they cannot master material that requires that skill. They must be allowed to work at and master the concepts appropriate for their developmental level to be successful. This is most important in the early elementary years when students are not only learning cognitive skills but also learning about schooling and how school works. The outside forces which push teachers and students on an external arbitrary timeframe create negative stress and build in many children an unnecessary dislike for school and a sense of failure in themselves.