Friday, September 18, 2009

Bits from Books--Ready, Set, Count by Marlene Barron

Ready, Set, Count--60 playful math activities for you and your child to share.

Okay. I love this book. It's from the libary, but I'm seriously considering buying it.

I love it. Really.

Marlene Barron is the head of the West Side Montessori School. I have been intrigued by Montessori, but this is the impression I've gotten of it.
  1. You must do everything in order or the window will close and your child will never learn a thing. He will be on the street for the rest of his life. (Obviously, I'm exaggerating--a little).
  2. You must always let the child lead the activities, or you'll make him hate learning. Once again, you might as well buy him his card board box and prepare him for street living.
  3. You should probably have a million dollars to buy all the materials.

This book changed all of that. Really. I am a recovering math phobic, but I'm trying to change my way of thinking. Read this quote--it's awesome.

What if you're not good at math? What if you hate math? What if you can't even balance your checkbook? Relax. You're not alone. Many of us can't. (It's not real math anyway, it's arithmetic.) ...People who say they're bad at math are often talking about computation. But if you can figure out which bag or bowl to put the leftovers in, you're good at math. If you can estimate how long it's going to take you to travel to your nearest national park, you're good at math. And if you can get all the different parts of a meal ready at the same time, you're exceptional at math. ...Put away those notions of being good or bad at math.

Isn't that amazing? I thought you'd think so!

Watch for some posts on this book until the ladies from the libraries wrench it out of my white knuckled fists. :)

Bits of Books--Growing a Reader from Birth by Diane McGuinness

Lately, I've been reading books like nobody's business--just the ones I pick up from the Parents shelf in our library. I thought since I was reading them, I might as well let you all know what I'm learning about so you don't have to read them! :)

The book I'm working on now is Growing a Reader from Birth by Diane McGuinness. I am about half way done and wanted to share some interesting tidbits.

Children learn to speak in two different ways. The first way is word by word, like building a house brick by brick. They learn each part of speech separately and then learn how to put them together. Other children learn to speak by "frozen phrases," kind of like building a house with modules already put together. The first child will painstakingly say "Daddy bye bye" after much practice with both of the words, while the second will rattle off, "Daddy go bye bye in car," without much thought. The single word learners almost seem to be late bloomers, but studies show that vocabulary evens out later for both types.

Studies show that there is a higher percentage among girls of "frozen phrase" learners, so this may account for the reason that girls seem to learn language much more quickly than boys.

My two boys represent each of the learning styles. John Paul seemed to be a "late bloomer," putting each word together slowly and not speaking in full sentences until well past the age of two. Joey was a "frozen phrase" learner. When he looked at me at 17 months and said "Do it again!" I nearly fell off my chair! He learned words in strings, and was able to separate them if necessary, but had no trouble saying them as a group. I was constantly shocked at his development, and now it all makes sense!

At (nearly) four, John Paul is very adept at most types of speech, but it is clear that sometimes he struggles with some stringing together. ("Joey is being mad to me.") However, his vocabulary is very extensive and I don't worry about his future ability to read or comprehend. Joey is very adept at grammar for his age. ("I want John Paul to go away from me.") However, it is clear that much of his comprehension is still at a two year old level. He has had a leg up on communication, which has resulted in less stress for our family, which is great.

It was so interesting to read this, being the 'word nerd' that I am! I hope you learned something about your little chatterbox from this post! More to come...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Artist and The Scientist

We recently did a painting project and I had to take this picture. The differences in my two sons' personalities was SO perfect in this project!

Joey (2) had a wonderful time painting--trying different brushes and brush strokes, seeing how things looked on the paper, and swirling the colors around to make pretty patterns. It really relaxed him, and he worked with both hands, my little ambidextrious (sp?) fellow. Meanwhile...

John Paul didn't want to use the paint for painting. He took the palate I gave him and didn't even try to paint a picture. Instead, he dipped the brush in all the colors and watched to see what the results were when he added a color to his water glass. "It changed, Mama, it changed!" What a little scientist he is!
Sometimes I can be tempted to treat them similarly because they are both boys and they are so close in age. However, it's good that I have little reminders like this to help me remember that God gave them DIFFERENT gifts to grow into very DIFFERENT people...and to use their gifts to magnify His Glory!

Pattern (Parquet) Blocks

My wonderful sister-in-law got us this set of pattern blocks from an education store. I LOVE them, and the kids love them too. I have seen patterns for making your own blocks online, but I would have to say this was definitely worth the money (100 pieces for under $10)

Some of the things we've done with them:
  • Counting
  • Sorting
  • Shapes
  • Pattern puzzles (
  • Making our own designs
  • Free play

They also really keep my Joey busy when I'm working with John Paul on something else!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of Homeschooling Pre-School!

So--I'm not sure who was more excited for today--John Paul or ME! We started our preschool Day with a picture. :)

Our first activity was pattern blocks. I have had pattern blocks on a list on my wall forever and my sister in law surprised me by buying us a pack! I was really excited. So I printed off some pattern block "puzzles from and let the boys go to work. I have to admit, for a math related activity, it was pretty fun.
This is how happy John Paul was when he finished his LONG snake! I love this picture...if only every day could be this fun, right?

Because our unit theme for these two weeks is Apples, I told a story of a father who told his son there was a star hiding in his apple. The boy looked and looked, but couldn't find it. (We cut up an apple the usual way and looked.) Then, the father cut the apple the other way (cross-wise) and there was the star! While we did this, we talked about the parts of the apple, properties of an apple, shape of an apple, etc. It was pretty fun.

To complete our day, we went to Daily Mass, to the library to find books on apples, and baked a cake for Our Blessed Mother's Birthday. It was a super day--low maintenance and upbeat and full of play--just like preschool should be!