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A lazy “yes” day

The JavaKids didn’t have school yesterday, but since JavaBoy had a bit of a cough, I curtailed any thoughts of taking a field trip, and instead gave us a lazy “yes” day.  I decided to go with the flow, and to say yes to most of their requests!

Yes, I will read every book you bring up to me.  Yes, I will immediately look up the answers to every one of the questions you have for me if I don’t already know the answer.  Yes, we will be silly!

It was a welcome relief from our often busy days.  At one point, I took a cue from JavaBoy’s school and we had DEAR time (drop everything and read!)  That meant EVERYONE had to read, including me.  JavaBoy is able to read on his own, and I asked JavaGirl to pick out some books she could look through, while I read a book about… reading aloud!  (The Read-Aloud Handbook)

At some point during this, JavaGirl asked me why the illustrated fly on the cover of her book (we’re talking a very, very tiny fly) had “squares on his eyes.”  I tried to explain to her how flies’ eyes work and then decided to look for images of “fly eyes” online.  From there we looked at all kinds of insect and animal eyes online and talked about why different animals need different kinds of eyes.

Once we tired of reading and exploring online, we got out wooden blocks.  I have many childhood memories of playing with my wooden blocks, but I find that today kids have so many toys, they don’t often play with the simplest ones.  We made towers and pyramids and discussed what makes one tower fall and the other not.  Being down on the floor with them, I realized it had been a while since I’d actually been down on the floor with them.  When they were younger, we were always rolling and playing on the floor, now we do a lot of things at a table.  I am resolving to spend more time on the floor in the New Year (or earlier!)

We took some time to do a little bit of math and JavaBoy delighted in using the entire family room floor to lay out tally sticks (popsicle sticks) to represent the numbers 1-10 and then matching them to cards I have with images of abacus beads for the numbers 1-10 as well as of fingers showing 1-10 and then finally cards with cardinal numbers. 

Prompted by JavaBoy’s Tiger Cub handbook, we spent some time looking at a local map and circling places we go to frequently.  We looked at the route I have to take to my Junior League meetings all those nights I tell them I have to go because “I have a meeting.”

As the kids got more engrossed in activities, I took advantage of an opportunity to stretch out on the sofa for a bit.  This immediately led to requests to snuggle in what JavaGirl calls my “triangle.”  Resting on my side, I put my back to the back of the sofa and bend my knees so my feet also touch the back of the sofa, making an empty “triangle” for her to sit in, resting her head on my hip.  More so than sitting on my lap, my kids love it when I make a “triangle” they can smoosh into and yesterday they decided to both get into the triangle at the same time — resulting in us looking like a pile of new puppies, limbs all over the place!

This was the position we were in when JavaDad came home and asked what we’d been up to all day.

“Oh, nothing much,” I replied.  “Just a lazy day.”
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Love Books? Head to the National Mall on Saturday

A late-breaking entry to the Fall Fun Guide:

Library of Congress National Book Festival
Saturday, September 26 from 10am to 5:30pm

Join PBS Parents and PBS Parents Supersisters  at 9am for a “pre” Book Festival meetup at the
PBS KIDS Raising Readers Pavilion.

You will have a chance to meet Elmo and Chris from SESAME STREET, Steve Songs, PBS KIDS favorite characters Clifford, WordGirl and many others.

The PBS KIDS Raising Readers Pavilion will be located in the middle of the Book Festival on the National Mall, near 10th St. and the Smithsonian Castle.

Super WHY! Activities – Day 1

A, B, C, D… sing with me!  Yep, it’s time to break out the Super WHY! pre-assessment and Alpha Pig activities today!

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, jump back a post and catch up — we’re going on an interactive journey with the characters of Super WHY! this week. AND… if you comment on the PBS-related posts this week, I will put your name into a drawing for a DVD (I’m awaiting its arrival, so I don’t have the title yet) from PBS.  Yes, if you comment on more than one post, I will put your name in more than once. 

So, let’s get started!

First, you will need the pre-assessment questions.  You will also want to go ahead and save and print all the worksheets— you will need these both for the pre-assessment and for the corresponding days of the week.

The pre-assessment, of course, allows you to see where your child is in his or her literacy journey before you begin this whole process.  Please try to remember that this is not a pass/fail kind of a test — there is no winning or losing, this is just to gauge where your child is in his or her development.  At the end of the week, you will do the same exercises with your child again.

My observations:I did these separately with JavaGirl (turned 3 the week we did this) and JavaBoy (5).  JavaBoy already reads, so he basically whizzed through this pre-assessment.  JavaGirl was familiar with the story of  The Three Little Pigs, could point to the letters W-O-L-F,  couldn’t read “wall” but once I read it, could read “fall” and “ball” because she knows her letters, didn’t know how to spell “big” and “pig,” knew the opposite of the word “big” and knew the opposite of the word “bad” and figured out that “good” was the word that started with the “g.”  The problem for me, as a non-teacher, was that I didn’t really know what this meant in terms of where she was in her literacy skills — I just knew that she knew how to do some things and not others — I wished the pre-assessment had a little more info for a novice like myself!

Who Let The Pigs Out?

alpha-pig-day2I have a really terrific photo of  JavaDad wearing the Alpha Pig mask playing Bingo with JavaBoy, while shirtless, but he has threatened to yank my high-speed Internet connection if I post it, so instead you will only see partially obscured photos of JavaBoy.  Yes, he is wearing Christmas pajamas in May.  That’s how we roll here in the Java household. 

Print out and cut out the Alpha Pig mask (this file prints out all the masks or just select one) — color is ideal.  I made a small hole on each side and ran ribbon through, Teach Mama apparently finally put hers on kiddie sunglasses — do whatever works!  By the way, she is a much better mother than I am because she had her children cut theirs out as a bonus activity and I, always short on time, cut the masks out myself while the children were busy with something else.  You will also need the Alpha Pig Day instruction sheet, and the bingo instruction sheet, the bingo cards, and the bingo markers (or if you already have bingo markers, save yourself the trouble, and use those).  Incidentally, the bingo instruction sheet refers to some 17×11 sign — this was never in my kit and I have no idea what they are referring to, but apparently you don’t need it.  I just wrote down the letters I saw on the bingo cards and made my own letters to call out.  Nor do you need 20 bingo cards — just as many cards as you have players.  You will also need the Alpha Pig worksheets, which you have already printed out for the assessment.

Okay — so you’ve printed out a zillion things, now watch the show!  It’s available either in podcast or quicktime format — and today you will pay special attention to Alpha Pig.  After watching the show, follow the instructions on the Alpha Pig Day instruction sheet — transform into Alpha Pig, do the worksheets, and if you have time, sing the song and play bingo!

My observations:We’ve seen this episode before, but the kids enjoyed having something interactive to do afterward.  JavaBoy already knows how to spell his name and was more interested in practicing coloring neatly inside the lines (as this is a challenge he’s working on) as he colored in the letters.  JavaGirl does not yet know how to spell her name (it’s a bit complex even for grown-ups) and she’s still learning how to write letters, but she happily circled the letters when I told them which ones they were and was happy to color them in.  Then we ended up having a little bit of a handwriting lesson, which I was actually glad to have because I only recently grasped the fact that one of the reasons she and I have had some challenges in that area is because I’ve been to dim-witted to realize she’s a leftie!  (By the way, if anyone has tips for a right-handed mother with a left-handed kid, I’d love to hear them — I never realized all the challenges that could present.)  They both enjoyed hunting for letters in Storybook Village, although I think I was the only one who noticed the correlation between the letter and the location (i.e. L was on the library, W on the windmill…)  I missed out on playing bingo because I had to take a phone call, but JavaDad said they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh, and yes, you will be humming the Alpha Pig version of the alphabet song all week.  Seriously.  I find myself singing it under my breath at the oddest moments now.