Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Twin God Daughters

A friend of mine was blessed with twins back in July. The twins are Zellie and Jacinta (from left to right). I was able to witness their homebirth and was honored to be the God Mother at their baptisms. I haven't been able to get a picture of them both with me until they visited us a few weeks ago. My mom snapped this photo while they were both awake. Aren't they just so precious?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Elilas' Cake and Party

We recently celebrated Elias' 1st birthday by taking him to the local mall, letting him play on the indoor playground, and eating out with Grammy and Paw-paw. He had a great day, ending it with his own piece of chocolate zucchini cake.

Over the weekend, we celebrated with some of the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Elias really enjoyed himself that day when he tore into his frog cake. Elias was also fascinated with the cards that he received with his gifts. He loved to open and close them like a book. He even went so far as to throw aside some clothes and toys to get to a card. It was rather unexpected.
I am amazed that it has been over a year since our little guy was born. We've been so busy this past year, with four kids in school, getting ready for my sister's wedding, and camping that the time has just flown by us. Before I know it he'll be two and talking up a storm. My how the time flies when you are busy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Camping Trip and School Field Trip

This past weekend we went camping with Grammy and Paw-paw. During our trip we took a wonderful hike and nature walk to teach the kids about some tree and plant species. The kids were amazed at the cliffs and waterfalls that we were able to see throughout the park. We visited the nature center, as well, and read some neat books about bugs, trees, and wildlife. Fortunately for us we saw three deer, many squirrels, some chipmunks, a snail, a poisonous snake, a turtle, and fish during our camping trip. Don't worry! The venomous snake was at the Nature Center in a secure aquarium.

One of the most interesting sights, to me, was the mini-forest of moss species (See the picture below). I was fascinated by how many different kinds of moss I found in one 4 x 4 inch area. You can get a general scale of this tiny and intricate miracle in the picture with M's finger by the moss.

This last picture is of our family in front of a lovely fountain in the nearby town where we attended Mass on Sunday morning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Phonics Fun and the Letter "P"

B has been so excited about learning her letters and phonetic sounds using a program called Frontline Phonics. This is a secular program that I've used with all of my older kids (three successful readers thus far). I started using this program 6 years ago when M was 4 yrs. old. I love almost everything about it (the exception is the "W" flashcard which has a witch). Their approach to teaching is varied in its methods and has many different itegrated items to help teach the lesson of the day. Frontline Phonics uses:
* a catchy (yet annoying) alphabet song teaches the phonetic pronunciation
*a song for each letter sound
* flash cards and pictures visually remind them as they sing the song
* characters picture each sound and are given as rewards cards
* a story uses the letter sound repeatedly and is about the character
*student workbook focuses on initial sound distinction and letter writing practice
*activity booklet gives additional exercises and hands-on experiences for reinforcing the sound
*beginning reader books that progress along with the lessons
*student starts blending and "reading" words after learning 5-6 letters BECAUSE THEY DON'T LEARN THE LETTERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
I try to supplement a little with my own activities to reinforce the lesson, but the activity booklet has some great ideas you can implement. Whenever possible we do a snack related to the letter of the day. Using as many of your senses as possible to remember something, helps my kids. This picture shows our "P" snacks for that day (Picante sauce with chips, Pretzels, Peanuts, and Popcorn). The older kids are more than happy to help teach the new reader when they get to share in the snack, too.
The workbook is supposed to be consumable, but I like to reuse many of the simpler consumable workbooks for the lower grades. I place a clear, flat, plastic sheet over the page and then have the student use a dry erase marker or an overhead projector marker to do their work. Once they are done, they erase it and the page is good as new ready for the next student to use it. When you have 6 kids on a tight budget, you have to reuse what you can.

Frontline Phonics is a secular program, so I very quickly start to suppliment it with wholesome Catholic early readers. Seton's Faith and Freedom series is fabulous for this, as well as, Catholic Heritage Curriculum's Little Stories for Little Folks readers. Basically, when I am done teaching my kids to read, they've gone through three different early reading programs. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses. I figure this way, I've hopefully filled in the gaps that any one program alone might have. Happy reading.