Showing posts from December, 2007

Time for School

In January, we are going to begin some more formal schooling. Something more on the lines of a preschool style although still all very loose and unschooly. I decided to do this. One I need a plan or I flounder when Froggy comes looking for something to do. Froggy is clearly ready for more learning than we have been offering. Second Froggy is no longer reliably napping and we need something to do quiet in the house while the little girl I babysit for naps.

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 goa…

Book Review - Hanukkah

Hanukkah is over. I have packed up the menorahs and many of our decorations (though not all). I have photos to capture some of the memories and gifts to remind me of others. But much of the learning and sharing that has gone on has revolved around books so here is a book review to help keep those memories.

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…


Sequencing -the ability to read a story and then place the events from the story in proper order.

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.

Building a Library

We are enormous fans of our local library. It is reasonably close, has an extensive selection of boardbooks and picture books. They have regular programs like story hour as well as special programs at least once a month. We attend story hour each week and come home with lots of books. Froggy knows the all 3 branches of the local library and where to find her books within them.

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…

Homemade Hanukkah

As a new family (Froggy is still considered new to the family) we are still working on our traditions. One tradition for Hanukkah that came from my family and is not likely to change is that each person receives a present every night. I want to keep this tradition without turning Hanukkah into a bevy of consumerism. So I have decided that atleast one gift each person receives will be handmade and we started that with my husband on the first night.

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…


It is beautiful out. When we left to go to storytime this morning, it was already snowing but not enough to be noticable. When we came out of the library, it was snowing fully and the snow was sticking on the greenery and cars. Froggy stopped just outside the door in total awe at this new stuff. I explained snow and we explored. She walked on the grass and left foot prints. We made snowballs and caught snowflakes on our sleeves. It was so joyful and carefree to be able to just take that time and enjoy her real introduction to snow (last year doesn't count cause she was too little to understand) even though we really were not dressed for it. The only regret is that since it was spontaneous we did not get pictures.

Developmental Learning Factors

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 al…