Tag Archives: learning

What Type of Learner is Your Child?

What Type of Learner is Your Child

One size doesn’t fit all. This goes for clothing, shoes, bicycles and individual learning. Kids are different. Their abilities are different. The efforts are different. Their struggles are different. Their successes are different.

Each year as the school year begins we are faced with choices on how to deal with achievements and disappointments. Having multiple children with different learning speeds makes homework and report card time stressful as parents.

Our eldest daughter is given leeway on her work and study time. She’s trusted to complete her work with little micro management from us. She’s already completed 11 years of school and is quickly finishing her senior year of high school. That’s not to say her school career hasn’t been without bumps but overall her learning personality has been easy to work with. School conferences have been uneventful, reports cards have been mostly excellent. When the instances presented themselves that classes were more difficult we approached them with revised study methods.

Studying has never been our son’s strong suit. Entering fifth grade brought a whole new world of teaching that he didn’t know was out there. For his first few years of school his effort was always appreciated. It was enough to please teachers and provide good grades. This year his teacher is expecting more. She’s looking at the details and wants her students to do the same. He’s now spending more time on penmanship and research than he’s used to. Homework is sometimes a struggle but when he completes a story summary with complex details I do a little dance of joy. While he may need more supervision to finalize his work it’s worth it to see the high grades coming home. His passion for reading grows each day and that in of itself is something to celebrate.

The youngest has always craved learning. Since she was a toddler she’d find a book to look through or a scrap of paper to scribble on. These days as she’s waiting for her school day to start she’ll work on an art project or new story to show to her teacher. Her first half of first grade has gone very well. She’s been introduced to advanced reading work and is working more independently versus other students. She comes home ready to tackle her weekly homework in just one night. Her enthusiasm to learn is refreshing and I hope she never loses that excitement.

My child are smart cookies. Each have their own passion and zeal for life. Each have their own interests and hobbies. We work on a harmonious blend of all of these traits to hopefully end up with well rounded, educated, productive members of society.

Learning achievements are one of the best motivators to get children more excited about earning better test scores and grades. Celebrating each child’s achievements in their own way encourages them to keep striving for the best of their ability.

Teach the Joy of Giving Year Round

Every now and then we have the ME, ME, ME Monster creep into our house. This can happen any time of the year, but it seems more common around a big holiday. When this happens, I love to turn to a book for help.

We recently used the book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, to help remind everyone that when we give and share with others we can all be happy. You can, of course, twist this around to adapt for any upcoming holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. The more we talked about it, the more I realized how important it was for us to remember and practice these principles year round. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.

How Can You Teach Love and Giving In Your Home?

Here are some of the ideas my children came up with after our discussion of the “Giving Tree”. Another benefit is that many of these ideas allow them to practice their reading and math skills without it being “work”!

 

Write a Special Note

A little note has a lot of power and can go a long way! Encourage your children to write positive notes to friends and family. It will not only make everyone feel good, but it is a great way to practice their writing skills.  I know I have a box of notes that I kept from over the years from loved ones and it has become very special to me. As I go through my kiddos drawers,  I have discovered they keep their notes, too!

 

Bake Treats Often to Share With Others

Who does not feel all warm and fuzzy getting a treat from a neighbor?  And I think that feeling is equally shared with the giver. Teach this love of giving to your children.

My children love to help me bake and they really enjoy delivering them to neighbors. It is a great way to practice math and reading skills, too. Who says you giving and loving can’t be educational?!?!

 

Take Opportunities To Provide Acts of Service

Providing acts of service is another way to grow and share your love. We have been practicing sharing our “Love Bug” (kind of like a Service Bug) in our house and you can always tell which child has just passed on the Love Bug. They are beaming and giddy. I love it!

7 Fun Learning Activities For Halloween Candy

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Candy, candy everywhere! If your house is like ours, your house started collecting Halloween candy before the official day even arrived. Take advantage of your child’s attention to their candy and “play” with it. Here are 7 ways you can use your candy to help promote learning.

Spelling

Use the candy to create words. If you have a beginner speller, this is a great opportunity to have them practice sounding out the words as they are “writing” them. If anything, you can have them just write their name or practice the ABCs. My daughter loved this!

Counting

My children love knowing how many pieces of candy they have collected. You can count the total, count each individual piece or count each individual pile from when they were separated. This is a great way to practice counting to 100, something my Kindergartner is practicing everyday. For more advanced counters separate and count by 10s as far as they can go.

Number Recognition

Practice number recognition by using the candy to write the numbers and find the same number of pieces of candy to go with it.

Colors

Separate all the candy by colors. For a more advanced activity, you can name them all and practice spelling them out loud.

Addition

Use the candy to practice basic math, like addition. You can use basic math like, “1 starburst + 1 starburst = 2 Starburst” or for more advanced little mathematicians you can use the candy to create word problems, like, “Sally has 2 bags of M&Ms and Jim has one. How many bags do they have all together?”

Size and Shape

Separate pieces of candy by size and/or shape. This is a great way to practice greater than/less than by size, too.

Play a Game

Use a dice to play a game with all that candy and if you can make it a nice competition between siblings or parent and child, it adds to the fun. Have the player roll the dice and add that number in pieces of candy to their pile. First one to reach 100 wins.

This is just a small list of all the things you can do with your candy stash. If it is going to be in the house, you might as well get some education use out of the candy, right? ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

Needle Letter Fun Activity

Fun with letters

As my children have been learning over the years and are now in school, there is one important word that stands out to me…Repetition! Repetition is practice and a lot of the homework being sent home is just that. The more they practice, the easier it gets. Can you tell this is my new speech for my 2nd grader on why he has to read and write every night?

My new Kindergartner L.O.V.E.S. any excuse to practice. She enjoys the repetition and since she does not yet have homework like her brother, I have come up with a few ways for her to practice what she knows while her brother works on his homework. One that she has enjoyed that was inspired by some art she brought home from school is this Needle Letter Fun Activity. Even my 7 year old wanted to get in on the fun!

What You Need:

  • Print out of alphabet letters
  • Colored sheet of paper (card stock, construction paper, etc)
  • Needle – knitting needle works well for younger children
  • Carpeted area for them work on
  • Stapler

Step 1: Print out a sheet of alphabet letters. The Rusty and Rosy software has a worksheet or you can quickly find one by searching “alphabet letters” on google.

Step 2: Place the printout on top of the colored sheet, lining the corners up together. Staple the top 2 corners so the two sheets are attached together, but the bottom can be lifted up to look underneath.

Step 3:  Place the paper on the carpeted floor. Use the needle to poke holes in the paper following the outline of each letter. We discovered that a knitting needle was easier for her to hold and we did not have to worry about losing a small needle. Also, by placing the paper on the carpet it will allow the poking easier and will not put any dents on the table.

Step 4: When ready, lift the top sheet and place the back sheet towards a light (window, ceiling light, computer screen etc.) and enjoy the view. This is the part that my daughter loves the most!

 

This is a simple activity, but it makes basic letter practice exciting for my children. If you want to increase the difficulty, below are a few ideas of advanced activities you can add.

Extras:

  • Ask your child the name of each letter they are working on
  • Practice the sounds of each letter they are working on
  • Ask your child for words that start with the letter they are working on

Play to Learn – Memory Games

Memory Game Fun

I have learned over the years that the best way for me to help my children learn is to incorporate learning into some type of game.  We have an obsession with playing and sharing games!

My children are big fans of memory games and they love this version because there are many different ways to play it! Just to name a few ways…we can turn it into a sensory game, a game to practice using description words or a “what’s missing game”. This game is also great because it is easy to adjust for different ages and learning levels.

What you need:

  • a variety of small items (usually toys) with different textures, shapes and sizes
  • small blanket or towel (optional)
  • blindfold (optional)
  • At least one eager player. If there are more than two, than one person can be the seeker

Directions:

Step 1: Pick out a certain amount of small items/toys from around the house. For younger ages start out with 4 items and work your way up. With my 5 and 7 year old we started out with 8 items.

Step 2: With all the participants out of the room or their backs turned, lay the selected items out on the ground and cover them with a small blanket or towel.

Step 3: Have participants turn around, remove the blanket and give them a certain amount of time to look at the items in front of them on the floor. We usually do 10 seconds.

Step 4: Cover the items again and have all participants leave the room or turn around while you remove one or two items from under the blanket. Make sure to keep the selected “removed” items out of sight.

Step 5: Invite participants to turn around or come back in the room. Remove the blanket and let them figure out what is missing.

Step 6: Repeat. Switching up a few or all items every now and then will help keep the game fresh. If you are playing with older children, let them take turns being in charge.

Variations:

  • Make it a sensory game by choosing a variety of mystery items with different texture, sizes, smells, etc. You can have them guess the items or have them talk about what they are feeling (a great opportunity to practice descriptive words).
  • Keep participant(s) blindfolded and have them figure out what is missing by sight.
  • Sometimes I let each of the kiddos secretly pick four items and put them into a bag for me to add to the game. They love knowing which items they picked out and cannot wait to see what everyone else selected.

Hide and Go Seek – Sound Version

Hide and Seek with a Twist

Since we are a house of young children, playing hide and go seek seemed to be a little difficult until my oldest hit 1st grade and learned by playing with bigger kids. So, we learned from our cousins a variation of the game using sound and have been using it for years with all the younger aged children, even our 7 month old is playing it now. It is a great game because you do not need a lot of places to hide and hiding behind couches, chairs or spaces you do not quite fit behind over and over again is okay. It is a great way to practice those listening skills and have fun at the same time!

What you need: 

  • At least 2 players
  • Confined space is great to start out with depending on the age of players (i.e. the kitchen, downstairs only, etc.)

Directions:

Step 1: One player (usually the adult) hides. For super young children, start out hiding pretty close and in pretty obvious places, (i.e. around the corner, behind a chair, etc.).

Step 2: Once the player is hidden, they start calling out “Beep Beep” or for babies say their name. Sometimes popping up and shouting their name gets their attention and grabs their curiosity to make them start heading for you. Make sure that when the seeker(s) find the hiding player that you make it an exciting event and they will learn it is a good thing to find the “hider”.

Step 3: Hide again!

Once the younger children start understanding that they need to call out “Beep beep” when the seeker says “Say beep beep”, all but one can hide.

This is a perfect game for preschool aged children to play with younger children. I love this picture below. You can see the two preschool aged children are way too excited to even stand still OR stay hidden and my 7 month old is excited to scoot toward them! For now they are popping out and calling her name to get her attention. They could do this for at least twenty minutes if my baby had enough attention span!

I also found this game to be a great way for children to learn how to respond or answer back when they are in another room or out of site (probably being naughty!). When my son was “lost” outside we could call out “Say beep beep” and we would then hear his little “Beep beep” back that would help us find him. We really have had a lot of fun with this game!

Choosing the Right Educational Website

Online Homework Help with Rusty and Rosy

I have three kids in three different grades who learn thre different ways. Their ages are spaced far apart so homework time is a huge obstacle some nights.
The oldest is almost out of high school so her homework is usually done independently but the two school age kids often need help.

It’s been many years since I’ve been to school so sometimes I’m not the most helpful with “new math”, improper fractions or combining sentences with participles. These examples are true representations that have come about with our 4th grader. I’ve turned to Google, Wikipedia and Facebook for explanations and refreshers. I realize it’s the only way for the kids to stay on top of the skills they are learning each day.

A little screen time each day on select sites and software is how we are keeping minds sharp and fresh. Each company below offers something different than standard workbooks or flashcards. Digital content is updated often to reflect current learning trends and changing information. These are some of my favorite reputable and supportive resources that are helpful for just about any age or grade.

online homework helpSpellingCity.com is a Free (Premium membership available) efficient game-based website focusing on literacy and language art skills for children from Pre-K to 3rd Grade.

Education.com is a comprehensive collection of printables, activities, games and articles for children in pre-k through high school. The fun and insightful content spanning many subjects is a great educational boost to assignments from school.

KhanAcademy.org is a whole different level of learning. This donor supported non-profit resource hosts a library of over 4,000 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of other life skills to practice.

DiscoveryEducation.com offers FREE resources for teachers and student turning lessons inside and outside the classroom into engaging digital learning environments.

RustyandRosy.com is a skill building educational software tool for pre K- 2nd graders. Rusty and Rosy teaches phonics, vocabulary, language concepts and math through games, songs and activities.

No matter what tool, website, software or method you use to enhance your child’s school education make sure it’s a fit for your family. Rely on tools that encourage what they are already learning.

Go Fish with a Math Twist

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Each year my son’s school throws together a night to celebrate math and play games. We always come home with a new handful of games that we love to play and that encourage him to practice math. The added perk is that his little sister gets a lesson in math, too, as she tries to join us in all the games. A game we have been playing recently is a version of Go Fish with a math twist.

What You Will Need:

  • Deck of cards with numbers (UNO, Phase 10, Regular face cards – remove any cards with letters because that may get a little confusing)
  • At least 2 players that know their numbers 1-10

Directions:

Go Fish

To be able to play this version of Go Fish you must know how to play Go Fish itself first. I would hate to assume everyone knows how to play and leave them hanging. So if you already know how to play, skip to the next section below. 

Object: Collect pairs of matching cards (two 4′s, two 9′s, etc. Having two spades or the same of any other character does not count. For this game the numbers matter)

How To Play Go Fish: Each player is dealt 5 cards. The remaining cards are place in the middle face down for a draw pile. Each player takes a turn asking one other player for a card/number they currently have in their own hand. (The goal is to get matches, so if you have a 4 in your hand, you would ask one of your opponents, “Do you have a 4?”). If the player asked has the card, they must hand it over. If they do not have it, they respond “Go Fish” and the player who asked for the card must pick from the draw pile and their turn is over. Continue play until all matches are made. Common instructions say that a turn keeps going if a match is received, but for my sanity match or no match it is the next player’s turn.

Go Fish With a Math Twist

Object: Collect pairs pairs that differ by a certain number (i.e. if you choose that they differ by one, then a 2 and a 3 are now a match because 2+1=3).

How To Play Go Fish With a Math Twist: Choose what number you want your pairs to differ by. Follow the directions above for Go Fish except instead of each player asking their opponent for a card that matches one that is currently in their hand, they will ask for one that differs by the selected number (i.e. same as above: if you choose that they differ by one, then a 2 and a 3 are now a match because 2+1=3). Keep going until no more pairs can be made.Go Fish with a Math Twist

This is a great way to practice math and have some fun together. As I mentioned above, my soon to be Kindergartner loves to join in with her big brother and although she needs to ask for help, she catches on pretty quick. We have been practicing plus 1′s for now because she is playing with us, but as we get more comfortable or if it is just me and my son, we can start doing subtraction only or numbers differing by 3 (just for example). The sky is the limit on the amount of variations you can have with this fun and simple game.

The art of taking breaks

boy running

It’s hard to sit for a half hour. Really hard. Especially when there are distractions everywhere.

High school and middle school classes are, usually, about 50 minutes a day, often less, sometimes more. Elementary classes rarely top 20 minutes of sitting and focusing. So when homework for a 9 year old takes 40 minutes, how can we, as parents, help our children?

On Julieverse, I’ve been studying and discussing homework strategies for a few weeks. I’ve focused on ways to overcome stress and help your children achieve success with homework without doing it for them. One of those ways is by taking breaks.

Children are not wired with long attention spans. They play with toys for just minutes before moving on to the next. They can sit, comfortably, at a dinner table for only a few minutes before squirming, thus the necessity of crayons and paper at most restaurants, even white linen restaurants. Even movies are adept at providing to short attention spans as they shift scenes allowing for children to shift positions and take breaks.

The same should be said for homework, seat work, busy work… even reading time. Young children need to learn to create breaks, and parents can help them. After a time of sitting and working, encourage your children to move. It gets their blood flowing and fills their creative juices by allowing them to think differently and see things a different way. Whether a child is reading, practicing handwriting, solving math problems or completing a deep research project, a bit of movement will help children to last longer and stronger in their assignment.

How to take a break

Children age nine and under should take a break every 10-15 minutes. For children who have long tasks ahead of them, break assignments into chunks by agreeing to a stopping point. For example, if a child has two pages of math facts as an assignment that will typically take him 10 minutes per side, agree that after finishing the first side, he may take a 2 minute break, then go right back to completing the task. Not only will the task look less daunting to him in chunks, it will teach him to better manage his time.

What to do during a quick study break

In our house, we have a set of choices for break time.

Have a snack: If it’s snack time, we often set out crackers, cheese and pepperoni or celery and peanut butter for break time. Healthy foods encourage children to keep learning and give them a boost of energy.

Go for a run. I love to challenge my kids to run around the house 4 times, or as many times as he can. Movement is key when a child has been sitting for a long time, as it allows the blood to flow.

Do yoga or meditate. Most basic yoga moves can easily be practiced by children, and most children love to try yoga stretches. Another great way to move your blood, stretching allows creative development and meditative breathing allow for oxygen to enter the brain.

Draw. While all children should move, some may be energized and encouraged using the creative sides of their brain. Having a coloring book and crayons near by allows children to see things in a different light and use their fingers in a different method.

Sing and dance. Another opportunity for movement and using our minds differently, children who dance and sing will use their lungs and body.

Get a breath of fresh air. As with meditating and yoga, allowing fresh air to enter the body pushes new oxygen into the brain and, with it, new spaces for ideas. An excellent opportunity for an easy break, we often encourage the children to “just step outside.” A walk, a quick slide down the sliding board or swing on the swings, and the kids come back inside ready to work, and finish, their assignments.

More Than Just Breakfast – Learning With Letter Pancakes

Learning Letters with Pancakes

I am always on the lookout to squeeze some learning games into our day. Lately, my two children have been craving pancakes. They love to help make them, too. So, when I got the idea to make letter pancakes, I knew it was right up their alley. They loved playing with their food this particular morning!

What You Need:

  • Pancake mix (from scratch or box…it doesn’t matter)
  • 1 or 2 squeeze bottles
  • Funnel
  • Greased frying pan or griddle
  • Plates
  • Eager helpers/learners

Directions:

Step 1: Purchase your squeeze bottles or wash and clean other empty bottles from your fridge. (i.e. ketchup or mustard bottles) I found these two bottles below in the kitchen section of my local store for under $1 each.

 

Step 2: Prepare pancake mix and fill the above squeeze bottles with the finished mix. This can be a fun adventure to watch, too.

 

Step 3: Now let the fun begin! Slowly squeeze the bottle of pancake mix onto a preheated greased griddle or frying pan. Keep the heat low as the pancakes will cook fast.

My children wanted to be involved in every aspect, so I let them have a try at making and frying their own letters and/or words. They, of course, loved it!

But most of the time our griddle looked like this below. I went through most of the alphabet, as much as possible, and created two of each letter (one for each child).

 

Step 4: Once cooked, let them cool and separate one of each letter on each child’s plate.

 

Step 5: Now the time for “the game”. This is just one suggestion on what you can do…I said a word out loud and had my first grader figure out how to spell it and my preschooler had to find the sound the word started with. Then I would ask my first grader what other words he could make by switching one letter/sound. The preschooler understands rhyming, so she added her two cents, too, and would switch her letter pancake to change the beginning sound when needed.

Eventually, it led to my 1st grader teaching/helping his little sister figure out how to spell each word by him sounding out each letter of the word for her until she found  the right letter.

 

Step 6: Eat and enjoy. This had to be their second favorite part to actually cooking these letter pancakes, as you can see below. They devoured them!

 

Playing with our food has never been more educational! My favorite part was when my older child stopped and patiently helped his little sister learn. I think she is gaining a love for letters and words because of him. Again, gotta love that!