In one of my recent posts, I talked about the challenges of homeschooling and how to find the unexpected learning opportunities and then voila, one came our way.
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My daughter receives Highlights magazines and the last one included state stickers. She didn’t really care at first until we sat down and I read each sticker with her and we discussed why they chose the picture they did to represent each state. She might be a weird child, but she totally embraced this activity and insisted on reading them several times over, so I thought, hey, I can use this.
To transform this simple activity into a full blown lesson, I found a free printable, blank map of the states online. Together we placed each state sticker in it’s appropriate place (or as close to) with the help of a giant atlas.
Upon completing the map, we read the book Hello Kitty Hello USA!: A Celebration of All Fifty States by Higashi Glaser and looked at each state, learning what they are known for, their motto, state bird etc. A truly fun book to explore.
Have you ever noticed that when you start something new, suddenly you find it everywhere? That’s what happened here. The next day I went to TJ Maxx and there in the toy department was a Match It States and Capitals puzzle, as well as a floor puzzle.
So this week my daughter has been immersed in geography and she actually loves doing it and it has led to further exploration and songs about states on YouTube. I’m sure the excitement will eventually fade but learning has occurred and knowledge gained and that’s all a parent can hope for.
-Kate @ BTBL
We are three generations that seek a way to get back to basics. It’s not that we eschew technology, but sometimes simpler is better, especially in raising our children. Mom was a reading teacher, Amanda is an early childhood educator and Kate a children’s literature specialist and former school librarian along with the latest additions, a daughter (now 5) for Kate, and two sons (now 3 and 1) for Amanda. We advocate reading aloud, the simple toys that use imagination and encourage creativity and learning in the kitchen, which can be a fun mess but also teaches life skills. Join us in raising healthy, happy, inquisitive and intelligent children.
Used Book Finds!
It was a very hot Saturday yesterday and on the way to the grocery store the iced java craving hit, but disappointment soon set in when we found the local coffee shop closed for updates. Updates? Really?! How to assuage the disappointment? Books, of course! Disappointment quickly turned to joy at the wealth of literary treasures we found at the nearby Salvation Army Store. We are always on the hunt for great books and fantastic deals and the Salvation Army seriously delivered on both. At $0.10 a book you can't get much better, considering several of the books we procured appear to be brand new, some are signed by the author and others are interactive and fully intact (no missing pieces, yay)!
We often hear parents complain about the cost of new books when their children look at them once and then toss them aside or of not knowing what to choose at the bookstore. That’s why used book sales are such wonderful ways to grow your home library, not only for your child but for you as well. Used sales allow you to “try” out an author or genre without paying a higher price for something you or your child may not enjoy, though there is something to be said for being among the first to read a newly published book or to grab that long awaited sequel just released (I’m thinking of The Day the Crayons Quit and the sequel The Day the Crayons Came Home. Must haves in this house.)
This latest trip garnered some wonderful finds that are definitely a hit with the three year old. Snagged three Buck Wilder books that are signed by the author, several Sandra Boynton books, first readers, fairy tales, ZOO! A Big Fold-out Counting Book, and a unique Cinderella puzzle book by Ruth Sanderson where the pages are puzzle pieces attached with a ring and when the puzzle is put together, you and your child can use the illustrations to retell the story in your own words.
Our greatest finds are those books that been discarded because they are considered “old” or are no longer in print. We consider them classics. We love these older books because they often have more sophisticated vocabulary, open a window into history through subject matter and illustrations and just seem sweeter and more subtle. This may not apply to all older books but don’t disregard a book just because it has been published before your child or even you were born. A book that is thought to be old is just old due to its age and is still of value.
When the holiday’s come it’s always nice to reread those favorite books on your shelf, but new ones are always welcome. We found quite a few nice holiday titles.
So with summer in full swing and plenty of time to keep those reading skills sharp, consider all the places where you can locate some fantastic finds:
Happy reading and don’t forget that when you are through, please pass your book to someone new!
*Update 7/3/2018: Just two days later and we have snagged even more amazing books after a visit to another Salvation Army Store, Goodwill Store, and a library book sale!
Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles!
Lights, beeps, dings, buzzes. That’s what the toy aisle seems to abound with these days though to be honest, that’s what grabs a child’s attention, isn’t it? But how long until the novelty wears off? Do these toys actually support child development or are they just a temporary diversion? Parents can go broke during this time of gift giving what with all of these electronic gadgets and gizmos, but for an inexpensive, time-honored gift that aids in development, consider the classic jigsaw puzzle. Puzzles are great for all ages and com in a variety of sizes and shapes, from floor puzzles with large pieces that are easy for little hands to manipulate to 18,000 piece goliaths with teeny tiny pieces that will take days to complete.
For little ones puzzles:
My two year old daughter loves building puzzles together and even on her own. “I can do it all by myself,” is one of her favorite phrases when working on a puzzle that we have tackled together several times already and upon completion of one puzzle she is immediately onto the next, “How about my tower puzzle next?” Floor puzzles are always a winner with her and I consider the size, design and shape when choosing new puzzles, not the age on the box. Simple puzzles can be fun for her to accomplish on her own and puzzles with more or smaller pieces are a wonderful bonding time when we work on them together. Our favorite brand of floor puzzles has been Crocodile Creek. The pieces are thick, fit together smoothly and many of their puzzles come in unique shapes, like my daughter's favorite princess tower puzzle that is 48" tall! So gift your child this holiday with a captivating puzzle, open it up, cop a squat and exercise your brain with your little one!
-Kate from BTBL
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.