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Everything posted by skueppers

  1. In addition to all the other great ideas, how about: Playing memory -- you can play memory with ordinary playing cards, or make your own deck. Looking at art together -- you can talk about the picture (what is going on in the picture, what is going to happen next, what do you like about the picture, etc.) or you can play games with the picture (can you find two white flowers in this picture? what do you see that I should find?
  2. For my daughter, these have been quite worthwhile, even though she rarely reads one more than once. She seems to feel that it's cheating to read something she's read before. Sometimes she's willing to read an earlier one to her father or brother, though. We got them at Costco in late August, and she's in the third (final) box now. They definitely get much more difficult as they go along.
  3. We were expected to memorize the multiplication facts, but I don't remember any emphasis on the addition and subtraction facts. I certainly DID memorize the addition and subtraction facts, but just through repeated use. I entered first grade in 1975. I never did memorize the multiplication facts, despite years of effort. I am abysmally bad at rote memorization; I was also terrible at memorizing the 50 state capitals and important historical dates. Honestly, the only time it ever harmed me not to know the multiplication facts was during timed math tests in elementary school. My sixth-grade math teacher didn't figure out until the achievement tests at the END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR that I was good at math; I think he never noticed that although I got lousy scores on the timed portion of the math tests, I got perfect scores on the word problems that were at the end of the same tests. It certainly did not negatively impact my study of more advanced math, such as algebra and calculus, except insofar as it had left a sour taste in my mouth about the entire subject of mathematics. Oh, and I scored very well (~95th percentile) on both the SAT and GRE (general) math sections. I think I would have benefited greatly if I had not been subjected to so many years of math that mainly emphasized how quickly you could do the work. Math is so much more than that.
  4. My children are much younger than your older son, so I'm not sure how applicable this is, but here's what we do: * When we visit art museums, we try to pick out one thing to focus on. For example, we might encourage the children to examine several Monet paintings, or a group of related works by different artists. * Either at a museum or using reproductions, we play games like, "OK, I see five cows in this picture, can you find them?" The child also gets a turn to pick something out of the picture and ask if we can find it. Either way, they're looking at the picture! * I sometimes facilitate an art project using similar techniques to those used in a specific artwork.
  5. For what it's worth, I have the plastic (non-linking) and wooden Cuisenaire rods, and I think they're both really nice. The plastic ones don't feel cheap at all -- they're solid and have a nice smooth finish. The colors are also brighter and more consistent than the wooden ones. On the other hand, the wooden ones are better for building things because they aren't as slippery. And of course, one might prefer wood for environmental reasons. I mention this because I would have expected the wooden ones to be substantially nicer than the plastic ones, but I haven't found that to be true. I don't think the plastic ones are in any way an inferior product to the wooden ones, they're just a little different from each other. I got an amazing deal on the wooden ones (they were actually less expensive than plastic ones would have been), but I think I would probably be just as happy with the plastic ones. As for the original question, manipulatives we use here include: Cuisenaire rods coins (real) M & M's Pattern blocks Small colored magnets (on a magnetic whiteboard) Dominoes other miscellaneous household objects I'd say if I could pick only one thing, I'd get Cuisenaire rods, but it's nice to have some variety.
  6. I think that sounds like a great solution! When I was a child, one of the reasons I hated reading anything my mother chose for me was because she made no secret of her disdain for the books I was drawn to. It would have helped a great deal if my mother had read some of the books I liked, tried to understand what I saw in them, and appreciated that some of them had genuine literary merit. I mention this because I wonder if there is something else going on that might be causing her to drag her feet on these books, not because I think the issue is likely to be the same!
  7. I find that my daughter NEVER writes numbers backward if my own handwritten model appears on the same page/whiteboard. A printed model (as on a workbook page) doesn't have the same impact.
  8. I think it depends. If she's just writing numbers on her own for fun, I wouldn't correct her. If she's writing them in the context of a math or handwriting lesson, I would correct her. This is just about the only thing I do correct about my daughter's number formation during math lessons. She seems motivated to learn to write the numbers correctly, and for the most part, now spots errors herself.
  9. I start playing with them myself. The kids always want to join in!
  10. I considered mentioning that I wouldn't have expected we'd be doing this if you'd asked me when my daughter was his daughter's age, but the conversation moved on before I got around to it. I actually often find discussing education with this guy interesting, but this is the first time we've discussed something that was going on with my kids! Thanks for the story about the support group meeting, it was informative.
  11. Yesterday, I was talking with an unschooler about my daughter's math obsession. She has wanted a "math lesson" pretty much every day for the last three weeks. I joke that I've "fallen off the wagon," because I really didn't intend to do math lessons with her until next year (her K year). But if she's begging for it, I see no reason to deny her math instruction. We're mostly doing MEP year 1, with some other stuff thrown in. So anyway, this unschooling father (whose only child is under 4), seemed to feel that even if my daughter was asking for math lessons, I shouldn't be providing anything one would normally think of as a math lesson. He seemed to think that I should only teach her math through day-to-day life activities. I explained that my daughter has been very clear that this is exactly what she wants to be doing, that I don't have any learning objectives for this activity, and would be totally fine with it if she lost interest. All of which is true. He is also aware that I plan a more formal academic program for my daughter next year, and that I'm not an unschooler. I encounter him on a regular basis, because our kids are involved in some of the same things. How do you talk to unschoolers? I'm very secure in my own convictions about the education of my children, and don't mind talking with this guy about educational issues. I'm just baffled by the idea that even children who WANT formal teaching shouldn't have it...
  12. I just don't do it. I make sure my daughter has time to play with other kids, and she and her brother play together pretty well. My daughter's idea of quality time with mom is math lessons. Before she was obsessed with math, it was board games.
  13. Ours is a little over $100 a month, but much of that is for my husband's work, which requires both near-constant availability by phone and hundreds of text messages a month. They would provide him with a cell phone, but he wouldn't be allowed to use it for ANY personal calls. He'd rather provide his own.
  14. I'm a total Olympics buff (one of the highlights of my life was visiting Olympia, Greece and the stadium in Athens from the 1896 games in the same week... swoon!), so I would probably go totally overboard with this. During the last summer games, we staged our own "Olympics" with some friends -- the kids participated in different "events", made "medals", had "awards ceremonies", etc. I would probably take the time to read some books about examples of great sportsmanship during past games. Also the intersection of politics and the Olympic Games, perhaps examining the 1936 Berlin Games, the 1972 Munich Games, and the 1980 Moscow Games. My husband suggests having at least the older kids learn about the figure skating scoring system and consider the weight of different judges' input in the final score. Also the consequences to the final score of making particular errors, like falling on a jump. He also thinks there's a lot of math and physics that could be done with sports like ski jumping, anything involving laps, and curling. Also the history of individual sports, and the impact of technological innovations, such as the clap skate in speed skating, aerodynamics in bobsledding, etc.
  15. My kids like pattern puzzles- pattern blocks and cards to go with them, and/or mighty mind. Depending on how you feel about the computer, you could let her do educational computer stuff. She ought to be able to navigate those kinds of web sites on her own at this age. Simple mazes are another option. Good luck!
  16. You want the ones with offset handles. Like these: http://www.fiskarscrafts.com/tools/t_no-8-non-stick-scissors.aspx http://www.fiskarscrafts.com/tools/t_no-8-bent-scissors.aspx You should be able to get them at any office supply store, Target, etc. Happy cutting!
  17. We love Playmobil. My daughter got the Forest Lodge when she had just turned 4, and had no trouble with it. My son was just 2 at the time, and he loved all the little animals and such. Some Playmobil sets have more small pieces than others, but yes, small pieces are definitely part of the playmobil "thing." I had lots of Playmobil as a kid in the late 1970's, and I remember loving all the little pieces.
  18. I've generally been satisfied with Fiskars scissors, you can get an appropriate pair for $20-$25.
  19. Just testing out my signature.
  20. I hated cursive handwriting in school, and only ever used it when I was required to. The only time I use cursive today is when I sign my name; otherwise I print or type. I'll be doing K with my daughter next school year, when she'll be almost six. I plan to use Getty-Dubay italic with her, but since the method I learned in school was different, I figured that since I have the luxury of time, I should learn it myself first. So this spring, I'm planning to work through the "Write Now" book and practice enough that the Getty-Dubay handwriting comes naturally to me. Am I nuts? Anyone else do something like this? Have you taught your kids a handwriting style you haven't mastered yourself?
  21. My husband doesn't get involved in decisions about nursing -- he figures that since I'm the one who nurses the children, it's really up to me.
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