Sunday, August 21, 2016

Learn to Love Learning

It's probably no surprise to you that I believe learning is crazy important. It probably shows in the fact that I'm a teacher and my husband is a teacher and we both seriously love our jobs. In fact a lot of our date night conversations revolve around teaching philosophies and current educational trends.  
We're cool like that. ;)  

What some of you may not know is that I'm a pretty religious person. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People know us mostly as Mormons. One thing that we believe is that there are living prophets on the earth. I found this quote from one of the apostles and I felt like I couldn't not share it because it really expresses how I feel about learning.

I believe that learning is an eternal process and that we continue to learn even when we aren't in school. Here are some things I have learned since I have graduated college: how to set up a preschool classroom & curriculum, how to do cool braids and hairstyles, how to sew Halloween costumes, how to (try) to keep a house clean (I am super serious about how much it took to learn how to do this. It took me a long, long, long time of working, trying, failing, and trying something new before I even started to make a dent in the housework), how to refinish furniture, how to take out a dead tree (I've done 3), and how to bake a potato (this was a skill that eluded me until about a year ago. You can ask my husband, I was pretty bad at it.)
Here are some things I still want to learn before I die: how to arrange flowers, how to garden, how to put up drywall, how to decorate cakes, and how to make a killer pie crust. We'll throw get a masters degree in there but I don't know what I want my focus to be yet so it's still undecided.

I hope that these words can inspire you to continue helping your sweet little ones to learn, but also to light a fire under you too. Just because we are done with school, doesn't mean we should stop learning. Learning to love learning is an important skill to achieve in this life.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Top Ten Back to School Books

 A great way to help your kids get ready for back to school is to talk about what they can expect before they go. Books are a great way to help them see what school might be like. It helps them see that other people get nervous about starting school too. It helps them see that it will be a safe place where they will have fun and learn. 

Here is a count down to our top ten favorite back to school books for young kids. 

10. School Bus by Donald Crews
The vivid pictures and simple phrases in this book give it an irresistible charm. It shows school buses big and little as they pick up their passengers. Many young kids don't ride the bus to school, but the school bus is an iconic symbol of starting school.

9. Little Piggy's Book of Manners by Kathryn Madeline Allen
It is always good to help remind our kids how to have good manners at home and at school. This book is a fun way to look at what to do and what not to do. It compares good little piggies with bad little piggies to help kids learn what to do. If you want a great lesson plan to go with it, check out our post from a while back. p-is-for-polite-pig.

8. Curious George's First Day of School by Margret and H.A. Rey's
Curious George is up to his old tricks, making mischief as he tries to figure out how to manage the interesting temptations at school.

7. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum is so excited for school until she gets there and starts to feel different from the other kids. She starts to "wilt" until a charismatic teacher helps her "bloom." This is a great read to discuss how sometimes we feel different, but we are still beautiful in our own unique way.

6. The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing
Following the traditional rhyme, this book outlines what it will be like getting ready for school and what the school day will look like.

 5. Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
Franklin has flies in his tummy as he gets ready for his first day of school. All the other kids seem to know so much and he feels like he doesn't know anything. When he gets there he realizes he knows more than he thought.

4. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Mom knows how hard it can be to leave and go to school so she gives raccoon a special gift to help him through his first day. A sweet story that can create a first day tradition for any family.

3. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
This book is amazing for helping kids who are feeling really worried about school. Wemberly worries about a lot of things and especially starting a new school, but in the end she realizes that there is nothing to worry about.

2. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
What kid doesn't love reading dinosaur books? The fun rhythmic words take kids through a comparison of what bad and good dinosaurs do at school. 

1. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Kids aren't the only ones who can be nervous about the first day. The surprise ending makes it my all time favorite first day book.  


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up"

 I'm sure you've seen these calm down jars floating around the internet. They are mesmerizing. They can be a great tool in helping kids learn about regulating their emotions and taking time to be calm when they are feeling upset. 

We decided to try them out and as we were working, I realized that I have never shared one of my most favorite books on here. I seriously can't believe I haven't shared this book and I literally have butterflies in my stomach because I am so excited to tell you about it. One of my third graders got this book for me from the book fair when I was teaching 3rd grade and it is the best. Okay, are you ready? Eek, I'm stoked. Okay here it is:

The Blue Day Book for Kids by Bradley Trevor Greive

The book goes through what it might feel like to have a rough day and uses the most incredible animal pictures that are sweet, funny, and touching all at the same time. For example:

And then it invites the readers to turn a blue day into a new day and offer strategies for cheering yourself up. Like:

Another fun thing about this book? There's a grown up version too! The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up
So, you have to go check out this book ( maybe the one for adults too) and after you read it with one of the little people that you love, maybe hop over to Momma Owl's Lab for instructions on how to make a calming down jar. The thing that makes her site better than all the rest is that she tells you about the science behind it at the bottom and that is beyond cool. So make sure to read that part too. 

Okay. You totally have to tell me what you think of the book. Isn't it the best?!

Have an amazing summer and I may or may not see you again before the fall. ;)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Letter Stomp

Practicing letters during the summer doesn't have to be boring. Try this fun letter stomp game! Write a letter on the top of paper cups. Call out the letter or the letter sound and when your child finds the right one, they stomp the cup flat. It is strangely satisfying and educational at the same time!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Passionate Thoughts about Current Preschool Education Trends

I don't always get soap boxy, but I feel so very strongly about this issue. I was recently reading an article that describes how "twisted" early childhood education has become. Preschools have increasingly moved away from what is appropriate for children that age. Preschools are including more and more desk work and drill in order to help kids "prepare" for kindergarten and they are taking out the essential hands on, sensory, play based learning. It is not what children that age need. It is depriving them of important development. Studies of brain development support the need for active learning and many preschool classrooms are depriving them of that opportunity. Here's a quote from the article.

"So never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.
Where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”
And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play."
This is why I teach the way I do and why I have chosen not to put my kids in other classrooms. "Play is the primary engine of human growth."
Preschool should be fun and full of play. Your children will have 13 years of sitting at a desk, doing worksheets, and being still for hours on end. When considering where your child should go to preschool, don't deprive them of some of the last moments they might have to learn about the world through exploration.
Please take a minute to read this article and consider carefully where your child attends preschool. Don't enroll them in a classroom that doesn't take your child's right to play seriously.