Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Creative Boy

A little stick figure named Sam started showing up on the pages of Isaac's math notebook last year.  Sam would often leave little messages for me that I'd find when I went to correct Isaac's work.  Sometimes I'd comment back.  Well, it wasn't long before there was a whole repertoire of little stick figures parading through his math notebook.  Now Nitram, Scarecrow, Joe, and Robber have joined Sam.  (I'm sure there are others, too.  Those are just the ones I'm most familiar with.)  They all have very distinct personalities.  And fonts, now, too, apparently.  (See two of his math lessons below.) 

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I love my Isaac so much.  I wrote this post about him when he was two years old (!), calling him my dawdler.  He still is my dawdler.  I can give all the kids a 10-minute we're leaving soon warning.  Then a 5-minute better have your shoes on and be by the front door! warning.  Then, when it comes time to actually leave, I'll find everyone at the front door except for Isaac*, who will still be doing whatever he was doing before I gave the 10-minute call.  He just gets a little lost in his world; in his drawing or creating or building with LEGO bricks.  I used to think he was sluggish or lazy, and that this was a sin issue. It has taken me years to understand that it is just his personality.  This is the way God created him, and this is a gift.  (An exasperating gift, at times (for me), but a gift nonetheless.)

His mind is always busy creating and imagining.  He creates a story out of everything.  His math pages look too stark for him with simply numbers on them.  So he enlivens the pages up with characters, fonts and borders.  And dialogue.  And an ongoing story.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for him in the future.

*and Audra, who is EXACTLY like Isaac in this way.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The New Ungame

Did anyone else have parents that pulled out The Ungame for Family Nights?  I'm quite sure The Ungame was my mom's favorite game.  In fact, she would probably still pull it out at family gatherings if she could be sure we wouldn't all tease her.  (Maybe she just has the questions memorized and sneaks them casually into conversation. ;))

Anyway, if you've not heard of The Ungame, it was a game created in the 70's that consists of cards with questions on them like: "If you could choose to be any type of tree, what type would you choose to be, and why?" 

Not really.  

I totally made that question up. 

Fast-forward to our family vacation in August.  We were going to be spending 5 hours in the van each way, so rather than just rely on the individual snack bags I'd packed for them and our standby games (the ever-popular slug-bug game, ABC game and the license plate game), I came up with some road-trip activities.  I made little travel books for each of the kids, with pages and pages of games.   In my search for games to fill our book, I stumbled upon some great questions, here (from a mom who wanted some conversation starters for their dinnertime), and here.  I used some (not all) of their questions, and made up some of my own.   Then I cut them into strips and put them all into a plastic jar with a lid, and we took the jar with us on vacation.

Every so often I'd pull out the jar and pass it around and everyone would pull out a question.

Silly questions like:

-Would you rather wear your shoes on the wrong feet or wear your pants backward?
-If snow could fall in any flavor, what flavor would you choose?

And more thoughtful questions like: 

-If you could be an Olympic athlete, in what sport would you compete?
-If you could jump into any book and be a character in it, which book would you choose and why?
-If you could travel back to a specific moment in history, what would it be?
-If you could invent something that would make life easier, what would it do?

Maybe it's just my kids, but they LOVED those questions.  They always wanted to answer each others' questions and then pass the jar around again to draw another question.  We still had leftover questions when we got back home, so I just shelved the jar.  Last night after dinner was over, I asked a random question for everyone to answer and they were all asking for another question.  It was then that I remembered our jar, so I scurried off to get it, and we passed it around the table.

It occurred to me then that our little jar of questions is pretty much the The New Ungame. :)  Oh well. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"My Word Book"

"Tommy's new words are written in his 'note-book' in print hand, so that he can take stock of his possessions in the way of words." ~ Charlotte Mason 
Mason goes on to describe that these are words the child knows and is able to "pounce upon anywhere".

That quote from Charlotte Mason, recalled to me through Laurie Bestaver's book The Living Page is what made me want to put together some sort of Word Book for the little girls this year.

It was a scene from a movie, though, that gave me the inspiration for what those books might look like.

{ photo from the movie The Book Thief }
In The Book Thief, (an excellent movie based on the book), Liesel is captivated by books but doesn't yet know how to read.  Her adoptive father immediately recognizes this and creates a word bank of sorts for Liesel in the form of a chalkboard wall that wraps around their basement.  As Liesel learns a new word, she runs downstairs and carefully writes her new word upon the wall.  It was a good visual to me of someone taking "stock of his possessions in the way of words."

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Armed with my computer, a classic typeface, our printer and some scrapbook paper, I made "My Word Books" for my pre-reading girls, ages 5 and 6.  (Remembering my book-binding class from college, I also sewed the pages together and taped over the remaining thread, though it's not a necessary step.)

Ta-da!
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My plan is that as they learn new words throughout the course of our school year, we'll pull out their little books and they will carefully copy down the words they now recognize.

For now, they've just copied down everyone's name in our family.  :) 

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Audra's word book
Perhaps you're not of the mind to sew together pages and don't have years of scrapbook paper on supply as I do.  No problem!  You could easily make one buy buying a blank book (Moleskine, perhaps?) and a set of alphabet stickers and you're set!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lines from My Journal This Evening

It's a bit after 5 o'clock.  Mark came home about an hour ago.  He gathered the kids to clean the living room with him and then took them all to the library.  

I get to stay home.

I should be making dinner but he told me to rest, so I am.  

I came outside with my James study, my Bible, journal, pen and book.  I parked my chair on the sunny swath of grass, on the far side of the yard, by the raspberries.  I can hear the breeze rustling in the big tall trees in Ashley's yard.  The birds are chirping.  Our birds- the chickens- are looking at me curiously.  A squirrel is making his way to the top of the playhouse roof, and making quite a commotion as he goes.  It's warm out here.  The overcast day of earlier has been transformed into blue skies and full sun.  

I yearn for quiet amidst these crazy days of school, and I am thankful for this gift of it.  I am also thankful for this day with my kids.  For our walk about the neighborhood this morning, searching for Fall treasures to draw in our nature notebooks upon our return home.  I am thankful for You, God, gracing me with compassion for a sobbing child at the end of our walk, when that precious-to-him chestnut, all in its protective shell, was jostled and clattered across the sidewalk.  Thank You for giving me kindness in that moment, taking the usual place of impatience.

I am thankful for my fiery girl, always moving, always talking, with her constant questions.  But who, when asked, "Come, sit with me on my lap for a second", sat down without hesitation.  And stayed.  I'm thankful for the weight of her sturdy little-girl self, thankful for that wild hair of hers that brushes my face whenever she's near.  Thankful you saw fit to make this amazing girl my daughter.

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I am thankful for good books to read aloud, for colored pencils scattered across the floor, for dishes piled in the sink, and for tissues littered everywhere- traces of two little girls with colds.  

I am thankful for the sounds of their voices.  For getting to hear the word mommy all day long.  For the privilege of doing this.  

I am thankful for my beautiful, competent Ella, who is pining to make dessert for us all tonight, who volunteered to help Audra build a fort this afternoon, who diligently practices her piano.  She loves and serves and sees what needs to be done and does it.  She is a treasure.

I am so grateful, Lord.  Thank you.  You are a good Father.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Books and Podcasts: What we're Reading and Listening to

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Little boy Isaias (from the archives)

Isaias, now 9, just finished reading:
Mattimeo (Brian Jacques)

He is currently reading: 
Farmer Boy (Laura Ingalls Wilder) 
Young Music Makers (Ireene Wicker)




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Little boy Isaac~ in his dressing-up-like-a-cowboy phase
Isaac, now 10, just finished reading:
Wild Trek (Jim Kjelgaard)

He is currently reading:
Red Cap (G. Clifton Wisler)












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Cute little Ella-girl (with bangs!)
Ella, now 12, just finished reading:
The Princess and Curdie (George MacDonald) 

She is currently reading:
Betsy-Tacy (Maud Hart Lovelace, on audio)
A Wind in the Door (Madeleine L'Engle, on audio)
The Savage My Kinsman (Elisabeth Elliot) 
{my reads}
I just finished reading:
A Praying Life (Paul Miller)
I am currently reading:
A Mother's Heart (Jean Fleming) 
How Should We Then Live? (Francis A. Schaeffer)
Teaching the Right Brain Child (Dianne Craft)

{reading aloud}
We are working our way through The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare), which is excellent.  We all love it.  We're also reading The Story Book of Science (Jean-Henri Fabre) and The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales (Charles Kingsley).  In the evenings, Mark is reading aloud Mary Emma & Company (Ralph Moody), as we work our way through the Little Britches series. 

{podcasts}
Occasionally Mark and I will work on a puzzle while listening to a podcast together, which has been so enjoyable.  Other times I've snuck in a listen while I've been cooking or on the treadmill.  Here's the list of what I've listened to:

from Sarah's inspiring Read-Aloud Revival podcasts:
Episode 1: Reading Aloud to Older Kids
Episode 2: Engaging Conversations- How to Talk to Your Kids About Books
Episode 8: Every Book is a Mystery
Episode 10: The Art of Choosing Books

Andrew Pudewa: Nurturing Competent Communicators
Andrew Kern: Teaching Literature Without Killing the Book or Student

Many thanks to Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things for this post of her favorite podcasts.  :)

Okay, now tell me.  What have you been reading or listening to?


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