Monday, June 29, 2015

Around the World in 10 Weeks- Introduction, Mapping, and Landforms

For our summer learning this year we are doing Geography. 
Last year's writing summer didn't go over well, even though the girls love to write. 
So I let them decide this year and they said they wanted to do Geography. 
A few days before we started I put up some extra maps and decorated the areas where we would hang their work. 
 We are using a "Oh the places you will go" theme and calling our program Around the World in 10 weeks. 

For our first day we read some books on maps from the library. 

And then some of our own books. 
I love the Usborne lift-the-flap Picture Atlas. It is a really fun book for kids to flip through. 
Also, the Small World books are really fun. 

We used construction paper to make our luggage to use on each of our "trips". 

The girls did some mapping activities. 

We talked about all that we would be doing in the program this summer and where we would be going. Then we moved onto landforms. 
After talking about them, reading about them, and looking at pictures it was time for a snack. 
I colored some frosting blue to form the different landforms on graham crackers. 
Then I had them match their cracker up to the correct landform on the Montessori sheets. 
If they got it right they could eat it.

It was a little tricky to do it with the frosting but the girls could tell what they were and had a lot of fun with it.

Their finished packets: 

To end the day, we played a few rounds of this eeboo Memory game with children from around the world. 

It was a great start!

Friday, June 26, 2015


Abi has taken swimming lessons for years. The best ones she has had were in Wisconsin, put on by the Red Cross for only $5. 
Unfortunately, at the time I didn't realize that each session was a different one building off of the last one so I only signed her up for one. She got the swimming basics in that one session but then needed to build swimming strength and technique. 
Since then every time I have taken her somewhere I have ended up disappointed as she didn't seem to learn much and sat on the side of a pool for most of the lessons. 
Because of that I really wanted to do private lessons. 
She is very interested in getting into a swimming club or on a team so she needs to learn strokes. 
I heard about O'Neal Aquatics from a friend and we signed up. 
While it is more expensive, the lessons are private. 
Abi has done great there and is making good progress with learning the strokes. 

Maddy is afraid of the water (she doesn't even like laying down in the bathtub!) so most lessons she sits next to me watching. 

But after a few lessons, Maddy decided she wanted to do them too. 
I was so worried as we waited for her turn. 
The reason: O Neal is a good place to learn fast and to get private instructions. 
But they are intense. 
They hold kids under the water and push them under the water. 
As I was watching I was seeing a lot of water swallowing and a few kids puking on the side of the pool into a puke bucket they have sitting there. 
I know I am an anxious mom but I kept looking around at the other parents wondering why I was the only one not stone faced. Is this normal? Do kids normally puke this much? 
There was one girl in particular that I did not want Maddy to get. She freaked me out. 
I knew that if she was the one that called Maddy's name I would have to tell them we wouldn't be doing the lesson because after watching her with another little kid that was scared I was pretty sure that Maddy would never get in the water again if she had her. 
Luckily, she got a very patient teacher. 
She got her to eventually float on her back while holding her. 

But then as she tried to move on, Maddy got really nervous and started crying. 
The hardest thing in the world was when Maddy looked over her shoulder at me with the saddest look on her face and yelled, "Mommy! Save me!"
But instead of forcing her, this teacher motioned me over and asked if I wanted her to push her or not. 
I said, no. Go at her pace. She is a very stubborn little girl and the more you push, the harder she pushes back. 
(I wonder where she gets that from....)
So they played with toys on the stairs and by the end of their time the teacher had her blowing bubbles. 

I quickly took Maddy off the lessons and have decided I will work with her myself. 
I watched some YouTube videos made by an Australian Olympic swimmer with tips on helping kids to learn to swim and their approach is completely different. I think it will be much better for Maddy that way. 
But we continue to go for Abi and she is doing great. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Reading

Summer is a great time for reading with your kids. 
In our family we make reading a priority. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and it has brought me so much joy in life that it is really important to me that my kids are exposed to it as well. 
Both of my girls have learned to read young. Abi was three when she started and was proficient by four. Maddy wasn't as interested as Abi so we took it much slower and she has just finished her lessons last month. 
I have taught quite a few kids to read because I have worked as a nanny and a pre-school teacher. 
I have used so many of the programs that are available and none of them hold a candle to the one I found out about when Abi was young. 
I used this book with her and I used it with Maddy. 
It is easy to do. You just sit down with your kids and read what it tells you to read, all in the one book. 
Anyone can use this with their kids. And by the time they are done with the entire book your kid will be on at least a second grade reading level. 

Now onto the fun!

Reading Program:
Every summer we get involved in the local library and Barnes and Noble reading programs to earn prizes. But we also do our own family reading program. 
One year, Abi had her timer bookmark and every time she got to ten hours of reading she got to have a special date with Doug or I. 
The next year she did a 100 book challenge. She picked out a toy she wanted and then after each book she read, she had to fill out a book journal with a summery of the book and a picture of something she liked from it. When she got to 100 books she got her prize. 

This year she asked to do the 100 books challenge again. 
She is working toward a Lego set that she picked out. 
With Maddy, however, we are doing a 40 hour challenge. We got her a timer bookmark of her very own to log her time reading. 
This way, it doesn't matter if she is reading a longer, chapter book or a smaller easy reader. She can read whatever she is interested in reading and just log the minutes. She is working toward a Shopkins toy. 

These challenges have really got them excited about reading. It is so fun to see them talk about the books they are reading and how far they are getting in their challenge. 

Bookworm Club:

To help them to love reading we also created the Bookworm Club. It is a mommy-daughter book club. We read for 30-60 minutes most evenings and then when we finish a book we have a Bookworm Club meeting with a treat and our Bookworm Reading Log. 
These have been so much fun! So far we have read Charlotte's Web, The Wizard of Oz, Ever After High #1, The Princess in Black, Princess Academy, and the first two Harry Potter books. 
We are currently reading the third one.

What if your kid doesn't enjoy reading?

Honestly, some won't. Or some won't right now.
But I think most kids can become readers by finding books about things they are interested in.
We go to the library a LOT. Sometimes they only pick out movies. Sometimes they just play on the computers. But sometimes they walk out with a bag of books because they have found something they are really interested in at that time. When they both were fascinated with dinosaurs I made sure that we had a lot of books about dinosaurs around for them to pick up.
Do not make the mistake of picking books based on their gender or age only. Again, every kid is different. Let them help you find what they like. Think outside the box and you will be more likely to find the right book!

My kids see me reading all of the time. So it is natural for them to pick up a book and come sit by me.

We also have family read-a-thons occasionally. We get treats and set up a fort in the family room and read for a few hours.

I had a friend that made her children's bedtime 7pm but they could stay up until 8pm if they were reading. We don't always do this, especially in the summer when schedules can get a bit crazy, but I think it is a great idea and we do try to use it during the school year.

 Get creative! 

Come up with your own program or use one that has already been made by someone else. I have a Pinterest board that I have been posting Summer reading programs to that you can go and have a look at. See it here. 

Most of all, have fun with it.
If your kids aren't ready to read or don't feel like it at the moment, don't force it. We want them to love reading, not feel like it is a chore!

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions or advice!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Library summer reading kick off

The first Monday of summer the girls and I went to the local library for their summer reading kick off party. 
They have a superhero theme this year. 
There were a lot of fun activities for the kids to do. 

They even had cereal and milk so the kids could have breakfast with the superheroes. 

The superheroes were a few people dressed up as some of the popular ones. 

The place went crazy when Batman walked in. 
They had a good time and we are so excited for our summer reading!

Princess Academy

The day after school got out we went to BYU to see their play of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy. 

We had just finished reading it for our Bookworm Club so the girls were excited to see it. 
We were a little bit early so we walked around the campus bookstore for a few minutes. 
There we found Hagrid!
They were pretty excited about that since we had just started reading Harry Potter. 

I bought the cheapest tickets and just pushed 'best available' when I got them. 
It worked out well because we were almost center in the second row!

The set didn't change the entire play and it was a lot more low-budget than I assumed it would be but it was still pretty good. 
Most of the actors did well. 
The ones that played Miri and Gerti were especially good. 
It was a fun outing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maddy's preschool graduation

I planned Maddy's last day of preschool with me to be the same as Abi's last day of school. 
After Doug got home from work I put a big black shirt on Maddy to be her robe. 
Then she wore this graduation cap headband I picked up at Target a while back. 
We put on the graduation music and I gave her a little diploma I printed out. 
She was pretty excited. 

Then she got to pick where we would go to dinner. 
And, since they had Littlest Pet Shop toys, we found ourselves going to McDonald's. 
I can't believe this little one is going to kindergarten in a few short months!
And I can't believe I am done teaching preschool to my kids!