Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Honestly Speaking...

Yes...Let's be honest.

Teaching children to be honest is one of the hardest lessons to teach.  Where to we start?  When do we start? How can children tell the difference between truth and lies.  Let's be honest...this is no easy task.

When do we start...that answer is easy.  Start before your little one is conceived.  Be honest with honest with your mate.  Modeling honesty yourself is the first and foremost!  Surrounding your child with honest people is next.  If your child sees you accepting your spouses lies, they learn that it is okay for them to lie to you.

When our kids were small, we were shopping at a local department store.  I had our five kids with me, one small enough to be in a car seat.  That car seat was in the back of the cart.  We were done in the store and I had everything loaded in the car, all the packages in and the four older kids were in the car and buckled in.  I picked up the baby in the seat and went to buckle her in place when there I noticed a spool of thread that I had not paid for.  I unbuckled all the kids and toted the five of them back into the store, approached the cashier, explained that I hadn't meant to steal the thread and asked her to ring it up so I could pay for it.

The lady at the register was SHOCKED.  I had toted all five kids back into the store to pay for the $1.49 of thread.

That was one of the best $1.49 I have ever spent.  The honesty lesson was priceless.

When my son was four, we were at the local thrift store.  When we left and were getting into the car, I noticed that my son had a small trinket in his had that we hadn't paid for.  I marched him back into the store.  He had to apologize and return the trinket.  On the way home, I talked to him.  Half the conversation was focused on stealing.  The other half of the conversation focused on how proud I was of him for being honest and taking responsibility for his mistake.

Throughout the kids time of growing up, when we would come to a crossroads over a broken lamp and want to know what happened, we would give the kids options.  If you tell the truth, this is your punishment.  If you lie, this is your punishment....of course, the lying punishment was always double the honesty punishment.

Our youngest had big troubles with lying.  We did everything with her that we had done with the oldest kids.  Somehow, the lessons didn't stick with her.  She would come home from school complaining about friends saying that a friend of hers said she didn't believe her.  I would ask if she told the truth.  My daughter would, she had not.  She had not told her friend the truth.  Then I would ask her why....After trying and trying to figure our why she might be lying, I finally figured it out.  She wanted attention...she wanted to be the best.  Once I realized that, we worked on building her self esteem.  We talked about how wonderful it is to be the best...we also talked about how it's wonderful for others to have that same feeling and that we needed to take turns at letting everyone feel wonderful.  From there, the lying got lots better.

Just a few days ago that same daughter, now 17, approached me and asked, "Mom, what happens if I go to a party where alcohol is served.  Do you want me to tell you?  Are you going to get mad?  What happens?"
If we hadn't learned to be honest with each other, would she ever have broached that conversation...probably not.  She knows that her dad and I value honesty.  She knows that consequences of lying will be more devastating than telling the truth.  Being in a family where being honest with your emotions, and telling the truth, has allowed her to be open and honest with us.  This too, is priceless.

I don't have all the answers to teaching a child honesty....I have barely hit the tip of the topic.  I did find an article that might help give you more suggestions on teaching honesty.  You can find that here.

Today I am hooking up with We Are That Family and The Mommy Club.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading With Children of ALL ages

My children are all in their late teens and early 20's now.  When I talk with them I always find it interesting to hear their perspective on growing up with me as their mom.  Sometime I cringe when they recall things and sometimes I smile and think, "Yep, that's something we did right."

One of those things that we did right was read to our children.  Yes, we read to them when the were little and wanted to sit on our laps.  We read with them when they were learning to read on their own....but, we continued to read to them even as they grew into upper elementary students.

Even after that, I still read with them.  I would read some of the books that they were reading...only we each read our books separately.  I would ask them what they thought of this or that chapter.  I would purchase sequels.  I did everything I could to encourage reading.

Once I started providing in home childcare, I kept the tradition going with the children in my care....and not just with the little kids.  All summer long I read books to the school aged children too.  It was a great bonding time and even then, I caught my own children who were by then teenagers, caught up in the stories.

As summer is approaching, I thought today I would share with a list of some of my favorites to read to school aged children.

The American Girl books:
I found that boys like these pretty well too.  I would recommend any of these collections.  All include topics that boys appreciate more or the character have brothers that play into the stories.
Molly Boxed Set with Game (American Girl) (American Girl Collection)
Kirsten Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)
Kit Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)
Felicity Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)

A great boy series of five books is from Gary Paulson
Tucket's Travels: Francis Tucket's Adventures in the West, 1847-1849 (Books 1-5) (The Francis Tucket Books)
This is the story of a boy who is traveling west on the Oregon Trail with his family.  He is given a gun for his birthday.  He strays from the wagon train and gets captured by Indians.  He eventually meets up with a one armed mountain man and two abandoned children.  The stories are wonderful and each chapter ending has the children crying for you to keep reading.

Junie B. Jones is an absolute hoot!  I loved these books, even as an adult.  I read these with my youngest daughter and then read them again to the childcare kids.  The boys even liked these.  There are about 15 books in the series.
Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)
Junie B. Jones's Second Boxed Set Ever! (Books 5-8)

Of course there is the classic The Boxcar Children.  I have read the first Boxcar Children book at least 5 times in my life...There is a series of 12.
The Boxcar Children Books 1-4

For middle to upper elementary kids, we loved the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen.
The series starts with the book, The Hatchet.  13 year old, Brian is flying in a small airplane across the Canadian wilderness to visit his father when the plane crashes leaving Brian alone, the sole survivor in a desolate  harsh area.
Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition
Brian's Winter
Brian's Hunt
Brian's Return

We love the Marissa Moss books...some of our favorites were:
Rose's Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression
Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl
Hannah's Journal: The Story of an Immigrant Girl
Emma's Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl

Some other books that we stumbled upon and loved include:
Jake's Orphan
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
Letters from Rifka
Daniel's Story
The Black Stallion
Soldier's Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers
Time Enough for Drums and all the other Anne Rinnaldi books
Thunder at Gettysburg

(You can click on any of the titles to learn more about the books)

There are many more great books out there to read to children. Here we lean towards historical books.  There are great fantasy and sports books out there too.

Regardless of which book you pick, you are truly making lasting memories by reading with your children.
Today I hooked up with We Are That Family and The Mommy Club.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maurice Sendak

As many of you know, acclaimed author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died this week.

I have to say...growing up, I was not of the norm.  I was not a fan of his well know, highly publicized children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are".  The book plain out scared the be-jebers out of me.

I had no desire what so ever to go anywhere where crazy animals were "roaring their terrible roars, or gnashing their terrible teeth."  I was SCARED.

I was sure that if I were to go to "Where the Wild Things Are", I would not be able to control the nasty beasts with the simple words, be still.

As an adult, I never remembered why I didn't like the book...I just knew I didn't.  Then my elementary aged kiddo brought the book home and I read it with them.  It was then as an adult that I realized what had happened.  Max got sent to his room and it was all a dream!!  The animals were just a dream.

It was then that I felt a little frustrated.  Why hadn't some adult in my life explained that to me?  I want to encourage any adult, when reading this book, explain that Max acted naughty and was sent to his room. Explain that he fell asleep...explain that all those terrible animals were just a dream....Don't assume that kids know...I was a smart kid, but I didn't have a clue.

I want to thank Mr. Sendack for the book, "Where the Wind Things Are".  It has taught me many lessons in life:
1.  Stand up and face your fears.
2.  Take time to explain things to children.
3.  Lots of problems between parents and kids can be solved with a nap and a warm supper.

If you are looking for printables for the book, "Where the Wild Things Are" you can find them here at Making Learning Fun.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Getting Creative with Dannon Yogurt Containers

Often times after I am finished eating a prepackaged food like yogurt, I wash the container then set it in the window and wait for inspiration.

Today it struck in the form of a Dannon Light and Fit yogurt container.  I turned it upside down and started to use my imagination...what could it be.

I pulled the label off and then it was white...I turned it upside down and before long I had imagined a chicken!  I worked and played with the design.  The chicken looked a little fat and disproportional so what better than to be the big fat hen from the nursery rhyme One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.

Before long...I started thinking well I could make a turkey too.  Wouldn't these be cute to use as name place cards at the Thanksgiving table?  Simply write the person's name on the front of the turkey.

You can find the patterns to make these cute little guys on my website Making Learning Fun.  The chicken is here and the turkey is here.

I wonder if I can come up with another idea for these containers....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When to start reading

Today I thought I would address a question that came to me via my Facebook page.

"Just wondering what your thoughts on the baby can read program? And when is the earliest to introduce the basic phonic sounds? Is too early failure later?"

This is one of those loaded question that can start a whole firestorm.  I have not used the product baby can read but I can give you my opinion on early education.

I do think that too much "curriculum based" education can cause boredom later...but...more than that, consider this....

I think lots of people want to get their children "started" as soon as possible to get the jump on all those other parents who are "lagging" behind.  We get the impression that starting earlier can get our children to places quicker.  I don't believe this is true...especially if you want a child who isn't just book smart.

Constructive play offers so much to children.  Playing blocks with a child and counting the blocks as you place eight of them on the tower is so much more helpful to a child then having the child be able to recognize the image of the number 8 on a piece of paper.  It takes much longer for the child to learn the concept of one to one correspondence and understanding that units come together to make a sum then it does for them to memorize the image of the number 8.

Some children come to school with the knowledge of the image but have no concept that eight items together also means eight.  Schools have the resources to teach the child the image...schools don't have time to teach the concepts that guided play offers.

 That's why I believe the best way to teach is through play and experience.  If you want to teach your child alphabet sounds, start with the first letter of their name.  "Ben's your letter "B".  When you put an alphabet puzzle together, point out his letter.  In town on signs, point out his letter.  Start to give that "B" a sound.  "B"  "B"-en.  They start identifying other things with "B" B-en's sound. b-ed, b-anana....before long Ben is going to know that his name as well as bed and banana all have a "B".

Before long, he'll be ready for a coloring page....or printing practice page...or beginning sound activities.

 When they are ready move onto a new letter..."G" for Grandpa.  The greatest part of it all...there is no curriculum...nothing you need to buy...just you, your kiddo and a little quality time...