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Showing posts from April, 2017

Let’s Play!

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My son asked me toplaythis week. Now I am good at playing games with them. I can read aloud and color, do puzzles and shoot hoops. Butplay? He was asking me to engage in his imaginary story and become part of that world. And I froze. I am embarrassed to admit that I truly didn’t know how to respond. It was so easy to play along when they were little–have a tea party, drive big trucks, rock the baby doll… But as they have aged and their stories have become more complex, I realized that I had stoppedplayingwith my kids. Is our imagination like a muscle? Can it atrophy? I was truly lost when I only had my imagination to lean on. Needless to say, this bothered me terribly,and after our rousing time of bomber planes and army soldiers ended, I began to contemplate the value of knowing how to play. In a world of screens and noise, imaginary play often takes a back seat. This great gift, that is always with us and doesn’t require batteries, is often not exercised to its fullest potential. I re…

Ponder a Picture

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I have a challenge for you–stop and look, look around you. What do you see? So often we are in such a hurry that we do not actually see what is right in front of us. This was driven home to me this week, in the dentist’s office of all places. Our family was visiting a new dentist for our six-month cleanings and I spent a good bit of time in the one room as he worked with both of my children. Near the end of the visit, my son had to cooperate for an uncomfortable procedure that would last for two minutes. As I was scrambling to distract his mind from the large piece of equipment in his mouth I blurted out, “Hey, bud, look at that picture! What story does it tell you?” Now, I had been ‘staring’ at that same picture for the past hour, but as we actually looked at it and I pointed out unique elements of it for him to think about, it dawned on me that I hadn’t really seen it at all.
How often does this happen to us? Maybe it is a teachable moment or a memorable experience; perhaps it is a b…

As Different as the Snowflakes

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It is snowing today–a lazy, slow snowfall, with tiny little snowflakes. The last time it snowed the flakes came down as huge, wet globs, quickly coating everything in sight. Not only are there many different kinds of snowfalls, but each individual snowflake is different. This scientific fact has never ceased to amaze me! How creative God is to design millions and millions of different flakes. Yet, how often do we stop and think about how each person–each child–is different as well? God has designed each of us with unique interests, learning styles, abilities, and purposes. Even within the same family, siblings can be very different from one another. My son is a verbal/kinesthetic learner; whereas my daughter tends to be more visually driven. One is very social; the other craves solitary time.

Many wonderful books and internet articles have been written on the variety of learning styles and how to incorporate those styles into our teaching. It is easy for me to fall into the rut of teach…

Falling in Love with Books Though Our Ears

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I was reading aloud to my children at breakfast this morning and one of my favorite things happened. As my son was munching on his cinnamon toast, the plot built to a suspenseful climax. As I used my voice to express the tension of the moment, I happened to glance across the table. There sat my nine-year-old boy, as still as a statute, with mouth gaping and toast hanging from his fingertips, completely enthralled with what was happening in the story. I continued to read, but my heart smiled and shouted a huge “Gotcha!” He was hooked. One of my favorite things about oral reading and audio books is the way that our minds engage while we listen to the story. The characters and settings come alive as we hear them being described, hear different character voices, sense the speed and tension changes of the plot and hold our breath until the climax comes to a conclusion. Although much of the same can be said for silent reading, it often seems that involving more of our senses allows us to ima…

History in the Making

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As I contemplated the coming election and the events surrounding it, I realized that the last time a new person was elected to the office of president, my daughter wasn't even born and my son was only 2 years old?!? Somehow it seems impossible that life could go by so quickly!

This election season provides us with a great opportunity to teach our children so many things- the privilege we have to vote for our nation's leaders, exploring the election process,  learning the story of other U. S. presidents, tracking the election results... the list is endless. So often these conversations are much more meaningful when the events are actually taking place. This election will become part of our children's life history - let's make it memorable.

Learning Through Exposure (Appreciating Classical Music Part 2)

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Some people say that classical music is archaic and has no relevance for the youth of today. Is this true? Are we wasting our time exposing children to this age-old genre? I would like to encourage you to recognize the value of classical music, regardless of the age or interests of the listener.Classical music has the potential to engage both the heart and mind of a child and propel them towards a greater interest in the things around them.  In our last blogwe discussed introducing our children to classical music through EXAMPLE and EXPERIENCES. This week we will talk about introducing our children to classical music throughEXPOSURE.
Expose your child by using all of the senses to incorporate classical music into his environment.

1. There are many wonderful CD collections with a variety of composers and musical selections. Look for ways to incorporate them into your daily life. Allow classical music to be part of your child’s environment–something they are comfortable with, something tha…

Learning Through Example and Experience (Appreciating Classical Music Part 1)

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It has been said that “A love of classical music is only partially a natural response to hearing the works performed, it also must come about by a decision to listen carefully, [and] to pay close attention...”1 As teachers and parents, we need to be intentional about teaching our students to love and appreciate this unique genre. Let us share some creative and practical ways to introduce your students to classical music. This week we will talk about introducing our children to classical music throughEXAMPLEandEXPERIENCES. EXAMPLE: The main way that children will begin to appreciate classical music is by watching you enjoy it. Do they hear it playing simply for your pleasure? Do you have a classical music playlist on your MP3 player?Do you ever hum a classical song or mention that you recognize what’s playing at a restaurant or store? It is very important that our children know we have listened to these songs and enjoy this style of music as well. I like to turn classical music on while I am…

Tending Our Gardens

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This summer we have become gardeners. My children planted vegetables with their grandfather- tomatoes, lettuce and onions- and we are now reaping the benefits of our labor. As we have watered, weeded, worried, and worked for this crop, I have often marveled at the similarities between gardening and teaching. As Papa built the garden box and we placed the seeds and sprouts in the ground, enthusiasm ran high. The kids were so excited, grand dreams of a bountiful harvest running through their minds. Our school year starts the same way- we are all excited about new books, new subjects and our new schedule. Just as they regularly checked for weeds and dry soil the first few days, so too do my little students approach each lesson with enthusiasm and diligence. As the summer progressed however, our plants held less appeal. Weeding and watering became mundane chores.That is, until fruit started to appear. All of a sudden they wanted to check their gardens each day, counting and watching each …

Lessons Learned

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A few weeks ago, I walked by my first grade daughter’s bedroom door and heard her reading aloud to herself. What caught my attention was that she was reading with great expression. As I stood outside her door, listening with delight, I found myself marveling athowshe was reading—full voice inflection, volume changes, even some character voices. Our whole family enjoys read aloud time: the children (and Daddy!) as listeners and myself as the reader. I love bringing the story to life with my voice. I intentionally draw them into the plot and introduce them to the characters through volume differences, verbal speed changes and voice inflection. Reading with expression is a skill we should encourage in our children. Beginning readers are naturally slow and stilted when they read, as they try to process each sound. Often their voice will be monotone and drawn out. As a child improves in his/her reading skills, we must not overlook the sound of their voice while they read. Not only will the…

Art, Art, Art...

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Art. Why does the very word conjure up scenes of mess and mayhem in my mind? Why do I feel anxiety in the pit of my stomach every time my children want to paint, glue or (gasp)glitter?!? Do not get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the arts, I want to encourage my children in the appreciation and creativity art produces, I think art should be a regular part of their lives. But it is very hard for me to swallow my “This is going to make a huge mess and take me hours to clean up” words and let my budding artists have at an art project. Several weeks ago, our small town hosted an Art Walk. Many different kinds of artisans and mediums were represented. We toured a local art gallery, watched painters and sculptures at work, participated in some hands on art ourselves, and overall had a wonderful time. The kids were so inspired that they spent two hours “crafting” after we got home. Through this experience I realized some things that were not clear to me before. Art provides an opportunity for a…