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Shared Journals

I am always searching for ways to be simple and connected. Creating a new tradition of a shared journal with each child allows for freedom to share, be creative and to keep communication with your child. My hope is that even though my son is not one to chat and share the details of life, he will know that I am always available and that I do care what he thinks. I want him to know that I will be there if he ever needs it. My daughter on the other hand has a different need. The need to feel loved and to know how much she is cared for. So, on those busy days when life is like a tornado, and maybe we missed the chance to show or say we care, she can find a little note to remind her on how special she is to us and the family. Raising children is intentional and can be challenging. So, I tried this with my children because I knew it was easy enough to keep up and the message I wanted to give to them was clear, “I want to know how you feel, It may have been a crazy day but I am happy we are family, you are a special and important part of the family.”  I know that days go by in every family and we do not know where they went. Life is whizzing by, so try this simple and easy journal and see where it takes you and your child.

Buy or make a journal that is easy to keep or place on or near their bed. Decide your rules. I do not have rules for my experience, maybe that will change. Right now we write when we feel like it and then place it on the persons pillow to find. Sometimes, a lot of time goes by and I will find it and re-write something else to get it started again.If you have a child that does not want to write, you can ask simple questions. It does not have to be deep, it can be simple and short. At least you are opening up for a possible dialog and showing that you care enough to take the time to write.

This is not the time to edit or critique writing skills. It is the art of expressing one’s self and to also foster the lost art of writing cards and notes to people, as we have texting and electronic tools to do that now. Of course, role modeling correct writing, sentence structure and grammar is always a nice bonus.

Here is my one dollar find and could not be more perfect.

My Many Colored Days

I just love designing a day around a theme. Colors are fun and creative and simple.

Read the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. It explores the many feelings children experience throughout the day. The bright pictures are attractive. Discuss how colors resemble feelings. Have children fill in the sentence:

Today is a _____ day because____________.

Then using the main color from the sentence and the mood, paint a picture.

Blue can be many things including sad or peaceful. In this case it was a peaceful and relaxed feeling.

Click here for more color theme ideas!

Rainbow Poetry

Creating a color poem is fun and can be incorporated into mini-lessons and most curriculum. Here are a few ways to use this creative poetry lesson on your class or home.

Rainbow Poetry

Many Colored Days:

Read the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. It is about feelings and a great way for parents to discuss feelings with their children. The book goes through emotions and ties them with vibrant illustrations and color. Make a large list or a personal list in a journal of how certain colors make the writer feel. Transfer thoughts on to strips of paper that match color as the sample pictured.

Click here for another activity for this book!

Color of the Day:

Younger children may enjoy the color of the day or week. Choose a color and focus the whole day and lessons around color.

For example: Red day or week may include eating red foods such as apples, strawberries, cranberries, berries, red bell pepper, red potatoes and the list goes on!  A quick and fun lesson on adjectives or using descriptive words in writing could be to bring in several red items. Have the children list words to describe. For little ones, you will need to write a list for them. A red ball could have several words such as round, bouncy, smooth or bumpy, etc.

Make a red (or any color you choose) collage. Collect red items such as paper, yarn, tissue paper, buttons, art supplies like sequins, ribbon, wrapping paper and more. On sturdy paper like card stock or poster board have the children create a collage. If you have room in your house or classroom, you could have a large poster board size for each color day to reinforce the theme and have some super fun decorations up for color week.

Make prints with fruits or vegetables. Red or green apples make good prints. Potatoes are easy to carve and make prints.

For each color, books and poems should be incorporated either as a read aloud or as a introduction to an activity. Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a great example for the red day.

Games and clothes: Have the children wear the color of the day to school or at home. If you have a large class you can play games like red rover or red light, green light.

The possibilities to include writing, reading, math, science and more into the color theme is endless. Have fun!

Of course do not forget to write one line per day about the color so at the end of the thematic lesson, children can make the rainbow poem.

Spring Poetry Unit:

Poetry ideas are fun to incorporate throughout the year and there is not an age limit. Tying all of the writing skills and expression at the end of the school year is a great way to showcase a student’s progress. Study words and poetry. Have the children or child start a word collection journal. as they read poems, quotes or passages that sound good to them they write them in their journal. This appreciation of words cannot be taught, but if you can show them and have them stop to soak them in, you are giving a gift of  loving words. Words can be powerful and move emotions. Allow students to choose their own and allow for time to share.

Earth Day Song and Poem

This is a simple song and tune for children of all ages to enjoy. Ideal for Earth Day or during any unit on nature and recycling.

Recycling

Sing to the tune of I’ve Been working on the Railroad

We’ve been working on the recycling.

All the trash we can.

We’ve been working on recycling.

It’s a simple plan.

Separate your glass and paper,

Separate your plastic and tin.

Take the trash you have recycled

to the recycling bin!

If you would like a memorable, yet simple activity for children to celebrate nature, try writing a poem.

Write Your Own Poem or Song

First have children with a paper and clipboard or poetry journal if they have one. Lay down outside and watch the sky, trees and surrounding environment. Have them write words, phrases and feelings that come to their mind. then, gather at a table or back inside. Have them write a poem using the words and feelings they noted outside. Another version is write a letter to the earth or nature.

A List Poem

Poetry is an exciting way for young learners to play with words. This is an easy but still important poetry lesson. It is a simple way to introduce brainstorming and adjectives as well as poetry. if you are working with a group of children such as scouts or a classroom you need to have a board or large paper for the group poem. this is to role model the process. as I always state (or think in my head) this lesson can be tailored for younger or older students.

As a group decide on the topic of the group poem.

Let’s say someone said dolphins:

Then you would write the title and write down all of the responses of descriptive words. Depending on the crowd, you may have too many words. So, this is your chance to discuss words that are similar and how to eliminate.

Then you write the final list poem.

Dolphins

Sleek

Friendly

Fast

Jumping

Dolphins

When you have completed writing the first poem together, allow the child or the children to write their own.  The beauty of this lesson is that it can be used for almost any topic. It would be ideal for animals, seasons, nature, social studies and much more.

A Few Examples:

Beginning of the year:  Have students write a list poem about themselves.

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: Have child make a card and write list poem inside about parent.

Earth Day: Choose a topic such as the earth, land, pollution, ocean, trees etc and write a list poem. Extend it into an art project using paint and paper to illustrate the topic.

Veterans Day Celebration

Honoring military veterans, the holiday Veterans Day falls on November 11th.  This is the anniversary date of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1.  In the 1950′s the name of the holiday Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day to honor all veterans.

Each Veterans Day check your local area for celebrations, parades and activities.

Here are a few things and activities to do with your family at home:

IDEAS:

READ STORIES (Appropriate for age)

My favorite book is The Wall by Eve bunting. Most of her books are my favorite!

  • Activity Idea:  In the story they make a rubbing of the name on the wall, you could place objects like a quarter under paper and rub with the side of a crayon to make your own  rubbing.

Books about Flag

  • Design flags
  • Write words/phrases on flag as below that have to do with story read or Veterans Day

Here is the plain flag that was bought from the store. The child could draw or paint the flag and then write on it when it is dry.

The words were written on the flag with a fine point sharpie permanent marker.  The words below were written by an eight year old boy who studied the civil war in his second grade class and also had just read the Star Spangled Banner.  That may explain some of his words he chose to write on the flag!

WRITE LETTERS

  • Design notes and letters to send to troops or veterans.
  • Younger children draw pictures and have the adult write a short message and note the child’s name and age.  If the child would like a certain message, put quotes around the message along with child’s name.

If you do not know anyone to send letters to, we  have found troops to send to through churches, local VA medical centers and check with local retirement center for veterans that would like to receive notes of thanks.

RESEARCH

Older children can research American war heroes such as George Washington. Have them write or present their findings. They could even act out the part for a meaningful experience they will not forget!  Give some creative free choice on how to present the material, children (and students) always amaze me how creative they can be when allowed the time.

Little Miss Picky-Spelling Game

Children love to play games and anytime children are involved in learning without knowing it they will be more involved. So, this game is based off of a spelling game I used to do in the classroom.  You can easily modify the game for ages four through eight years old.  In the example, I will use letters but older children could be learning suffixes and non-suffixes, compound words  and non-compound words or adjectives and non-adjectives .  This should be a fun and short way to reinforce spelling and word properties at home or in the classroom.

Example:

Write the heading “likes” and “dislikes” on the whiteboard or paper.  Then have the child or children guess what little Miss Picky might like to eat.

SHHH….. Do not tell them what she eats. As they guess, write down their guess in the appropriate column.

For this example, Miss Picky will only eat foods that start with the letter “S.”  But it could be only words with a long o sound, short a sound, two syllables, five letters….you get the point.

The object of the game is to discover the pattern of Miss Picky.

So on with the example:

In the “Likes” column you may see; spaghetti, strawberries, sandwiches, squash.

In the “Dislikes” column you may see jelly, tomatoes, bagels, oranges etc.

*If you have a few more minutes and they have guessed the pattern, allow them to come up and continue the list.

*Artsy people can draw a Little Miss Picky and write the accepted words on her body or dress.  If you are using this in a classroom, laminate Miss Picky and use a dry erase marker each time you play!

WORD MATCH-Simple Activity for Beginning Readers

Perfect activity for emerging readers, practicing spelling words and makes a great center for classrooms.  This is so simple and easy to organize. Choose the words your child or students need to practice. Then, write or print the words on a list. Then print the words again large and cut the letters apart as in the picture shown.  I used sentence strips, I just love them!  Place everything into a bag or plastic container. The list of words can be taped to the front of the container or bag.

If you plan on keeping these, I would organize by color or some other system so you can easily pull out the words you will need. For example, colors could be a code for easy to difficult, or grade levels or the week of the spelling list.  Use what makes sense to you. Happy spelling!

POOH BEAR DAY January 18

Did you know that there is a day just to celebrate Pooh Bear?  The day is in honor of the English author, A.A. Milne.

Choose a story and read aloud as you munch on some Pooh Bear Treats!

Pooh Bear Sandwiches

Children can cut their own bread with a bear shaped cookie cutter. Mix peanut butter and “hunny” and have children spread on their bear shaped bread. Yum.  we toasted our bread first, and then cut out. I have heard you can freeze the bread before cutting.

Pooh Bear Tasty Treats

    Ingredients:

    1/4 cup crushed wheat flake cereal
    3 tablespoon honey
    1/4 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup nonfat dry milk solids
    Non-stick cooking spray

Reserve two tablespoons crushed cereal. Mix honey and peanut butter. Gradually add nonfat milk, mixing well. Spray hands with non-stick cooking spray (or butter)and shape into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in reserved cereal. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Store in refrigerator. Adult help may be needed and makes about 24 treats.

Pancake Fun

A yummy in the tummy way to practice letters for the little ones!  Using your favorite pancake recipe, look at mine below, make the letter of the day or the child’s initials on the griddle.   Or, as a class focuses on the letter “P” have a pancake snack and serve up letter P pancakes. Yum!

In the younger grades it is fun to read “If You give A Pig A Pancake” and have pancake snacks that day, as well as other literature activities. If you are in a school, please check your policies. As when I taught, we brought the griddle in the class.

One way is to write a letter on the pan let it cook until you see bubbles. Then pour batter over letter to make a “normal” pancake.  The image is in the pancake. Have fun with this, you can make smiley faces etc.  Also, note that you will need to write the mirror image for letters like “L”  or they will be backwards!


Or, just write a large letter to be the pancake itself. A turkey baster works well, but I just used a spoon for mine.

The whole family agrees that this recipe is the best so far.   Hope you and your family or class have a yummy in the tummy pancake experience!

Basic Pancake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
  • 2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Preparation:

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Blend in melted butter. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, and lightly browned on the bottom; turn and brown the other side. Recipe for pancakes serves 4.

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