Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Creativity amidst Tiredness

I've had a tiring couple of days. Just felt yucky and tired on Monday and very drained of energy. Yesterday was better and today was so-so. I haven't had a full class of kids all week. At least one or two kids have been absent, each taking turns, so it's kind of been nice and not too stressful.

We've been working on a lap book in phonics, courtesy of the lapbook page I mentioned in my last post. There is a lot of cutting and pasting involved so to offset the tedium that could result from lack of variety, I have been teaching them to recognize the color words by going through a workbook I put together of the various color names.

For art I've been getting a bit more creative. Monday we made fish out of paper (I drew, they cut and decorated their fish) and I made them each a fishing pole out of string, a magnet, and either a chopstick or a straw for a handle. (I only had 3 chop sticks). Then I attached a paper clip to each fish and they got to take home their fish and fishing poles.

Yesterday we made tic-tac-toe games out of foam board with foam shape pieces to play the game. I stapled a little pouch out of cardstock for them to store their game in. They decorated and personalized their pouches and then each got to take home their own game of tic-tac-toe.

Today I made stencils from the scraps of foam board from the previous day and we "stamped" the images onto card shaped card stock, using tempra paint and painting sponges. It was a challenge to keep them from putting the templates down into the paint dish and to stop some of them from mixing the colors. Not that it would be so terrible, except for the conservation factor. I can't really reuse mixed bleh paint. You know what I mean. The color you get when ALL the colors get mixed together. The final product of our painting endeavor was each child had a 6 card set to play games with. There was a heart, a star, a sunburst, a hand, a diamond and a twirly thing for the shapes. I'm going to combine all the sets and play some games with them tomorrow.

Maybe this is what is tiring me out.

Just so you don't think I'm a genius of creativity, all of these ideas came from a book that I found around the house. It pays to be a book junky sometimes. This one is called something like Paper Fun for Kids. I'll get the correct title and info tomorrow and update this.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lap Books

Wow, after a busy weekend fighting a beast (see my other blog at
I decided to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing and browsing the net looking for ideas for school. Only one month to go now, and the days are counting down.

I've been at a standstill, trying to figure out how to get through to the kids. They can't seem to remember from one day to the next what they learned the week before. Not all of them, mind you, but they all seem to take turns at selective memory. Makes for a frustrating last few days of teaching.

Hopefully, my research has payed off, as I stumbled across Here I found a wealth of resources to teach lapbooking. And they have FREE ones!

I've always been fascinated by lapbooks and the professional look they give to a project. So I have decided to help my class finish the school with a bang, and two or three lapbooks. We are going to make one concentrating on phonics and phonemes sounds (pl, bl, sh, ck, etc.), a Fact Family one for their math, and then a butterfly book for science and literature.

Over the summer, I want Eric and Cassie to collaborate on a Tiger lapbook, and maybe even a penguin one, to finish off and tie together all they learned over their years of fascination with these two creatures.

So here is the confession. As an unschooler, I really don't like the rigid form of school, and would rather follow a more delight driven education path. At the same time, I know that radical unschoolers wouldn't even consider introducing a "project" to their kids. Yet, I have learned that what children love are "projects" and sometimes they need a little help to get interested in one.

So please don't mind me if I do carry on with my own kids doing some cool projects. I'm actually looking forward to what we can do, when working together. Hopefully I'll be sharing some great lapbooks here soon!

Friday, April 11, 2008

An Eric Day

Eric doesn't come to school with me anymore. It just wasn't for him. And since we have brought him back home, he has really mellowed out. To the point that, for a treat, I decided to bring him to school for a day. Originally, this came about because the senior class was doing a breakfast fund raiser and had promised to bring pancakes, or "flapjacks" as Eric prefers to call them. And Flapjacks are his favorite breakfast food!

Eagerly, he came to school hoping for his beloved breakfast. I had warned him that this senior class tended to be "flaky" and did not always come through on their promises. Good thing I warned him as this was the case. Thankfully, Auntie Jo, the school secretary and everyone's "auntie" had made fried rice, ham and eggs, so Eric at least had a good breakfast that he enjoyed. Donuts were sold at snack time, another of his favorites. And then I splurged on KFC for lunch, so my food addicted 8 year old was quite pleased with the day.

I noticed that having Eric in the classroom greatly increased the imagination level. Even N. whom I had noticed lately seemed to have a serious lack of imagination, was caught using hers! For Art Eric instigated a castle drawing contest (he loves a good competition, especially if he thinks he'll win). I provided paper, paper scraps, glue, scissors, crayons, and foam shapes and told the kids to come up with their own castle creation.

Eric preferred to use crayons and pens as his medium. As he put it "I'm more comfortable drawing than cutting and gluing".

Cassie diligently put together paper scraps to create a very artistic castle.

And N. surprised me the most. At first she was in shock that I didn't provide her with a model to copy. But then, after quietly contemplating the materials she managed to produce a very nice castle replica.

J. carefully drew a castle in pencil, but ran out of time to add any embellishments. He had limited time due to a math test that he was struggling through.

M. was in a whiny mood and told me castles were "boring" and did a sloppy job at her project. Usually she is my queen of gluing and cutting so I was rather surprised at her lack of enthusiasm.

And the rest of the class glued and cut and colored and created, well, something I guess. If you really stretch your imagination I guess you could call them castles. After all, art is in the eye of the beholder. Or is that beauty? Whatever the case may be, it was a fun day. Pictures will be posted soon.

And Eric's conclusion is that maybe one day a week at a school would be a welcome change from his usual routine of sleeping in until noon.