A wonderful article on why sharing isn’t always the best option for kids.

Here’s the link to a wonderful article on Slate.com about why sharing isn’t always the best option for children. There are also a lot of wonderful resources linked within the article.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2011/10/children_and_sharing_don_t_force_kids_to_share_.2.html

Whack a cracker.

Everyone is lined up with their newspapers and ready to play our game!

Yes, this sounds like a mistake from the start, but I thought it would be fun. Here are the things I was thinking that would make this fun:

  • Preschoolers have short attention spans.
  • This group of kids likes to hit things – bonus points if that thing is a person.
  • Preschoolers have way too much energy and they needed to be worn out.
  • They needed a game that wasn’t too involved with too many rules (like tag).

So, born out of these things came “Whack a cracker.” It is actually something my mother-in-law did with the whole family (kids, adults and all) and they loved it. So I thought it would translate well.

Basically, the goal is to hit everyone else’s crackers and not get hit.

I gave the kids newspaper and the rule was, you had to hit with the newspaper and aim for the cracker. Surprisingly, this worked. No one hit anyone anywhere except towards where the crackers were. Newspapers (rolled up) were a lot less painful – pain free actually – than anything else.

Crackers are all tied onto the preschoolers and everyone is ready to run around for our game.

The kids ran around like maniacs screaming and yelling and having tons of fun.

No one cried about getting hit, no one cried about their crackers.

The funniest part was watching them run around and try to hit each other. At first they all clumped up in the middle of the yard all together. But then someone hit someone else’s cracker and they all watched it fall to pieces. Then, all of a sudden, they were running around and screaming like mad people. I was a little worried my neighbors might think something odd was going on around the house, but they should be used to the noise a bunch of preschoolers make by now.

It was a ton of fun watching them all run around the backyard with newspaper trying to whack crackers off each other!

It was a blast. It did meet all my goals. I had 6 sweaty kids at the end. They all drank their milk (and water) without a problem after that. I even set out a batch of ice cubes in a bowl that they happily played with for about 2 minutes. It was great. When it was time to come in, everyone was exhausted and they settled down to listen to some stories. It was a perfect game to have and play.

It helped that they were all about the same size and ability level. It also helped that no one tried to break the rules. If there had been any danger, I totally would have stopped it. But there was no harm in this so they enjoyed it.

And they finished off the game by trying to “collect” the cracker pieces and daring each other to eat them. That was a little gross, but a little dirt never hurt anyone.

Making pizza.

Mini pizzas can be quite the lesson for a preschooler: math, cooking, and biology all mixed into one lesson. In addition, it is a fun lesson and he hardly realized how much he learned. Mini pizzas, as I approached them, because a project lesson – a holistic lesson that didn’t focus on a specific subject but instead brought all the subjects together in one lesson. It also let him practice various motor skills that he is going to need to develop to be a better writer.

All our ingredients for mini pizzas: cheese, sauce, pepperoni, and bagels/hamburger buns.

All good lessons start with good preparation. In this case, it was me splitting the bagels in half (or buns, since we ran out of bagels) with a knife. I don’t like to let him use a knife, so I do the knife work beforehand. I also put the spices into the tomato sauce so it would be ready to do. I got out the cheese and pepperoni, and a spoon to put the sauce onto the “crusts.”

Nicholas did all the work.

The math part of the lesson: Dividing the pepperoni equally (or unequally) and counting them as he put them onto the crusts. He also had to count out enough slices of cheese to make for the pizzas.

The cooking part: Making the pizzas counts as cooking. He can – accurately – tell you that his mini pizzas are made with a crust, then sauce, then pepperoni, then cheese. As a person who has married a man who doesn’t really cook, and who knows many young men who cannot cook, I realize that teaching him how to cook is important. In fact, it is vital. What happens when he is older and I don’t want to cook every day for him? He is learning now how food is made, and that is important.

The finished product: Math, cooking, and biology lessons all in one. Thank goodness he's still too young to recognize all that he's really learning from making mini pizzas.

The next question might be, “How in the world do mini pizzas count as biology?” Well it is simple.

Biology lesson: We eat plants and meat (pepperoni and tomatoes) so we are omnivores. We are not herbevores (not in this house) and we are not carnivores (although we do love some meat). So we talked about the difference between plants and meats. Then we talked about the food chain and we played the food chain game. I got to pretend I was a plant, and he got to come pretend to eat me (he picked being a cow), then I got to pretend to eat him as a hamburger since I was a person. I thought that would end the game, but my very creative son decided he was going to be a T-Rex and eat me – since a T-Rex will eat a person. I declared an end to the food chain and he told me I was wrong, “Mommy, a T-Rex dies and is eaten by God so it can go to heaven.” I decided not to correct him and took the sentiment as correct.

In addition, we named off the food groups we had. We have a picture on our refrigerator of the four main food groups: meat, bread, dairy, and fruits/veggies. I really wanted to add chocolate, but my husband reminded me the picture was for our son, not me. So at every meal he has to have all four food groups and name what he is eating out of each one. So he named them correctly: Tomato (fruits/veggies), crust (bread), cheese (diary), and pepperoni (meat).

That is how our task of mini pizzas ended up taking 1.5 hours to make and cook and eat! It was a fun lunch and we both really enjoyed it. He learned so much and still doesn’t realize how much he is learning.

And we are back.

More of the finger painting mess. By the time they were done, there were 14 squares of our floor covered in finger paint.

I took a break from blogging about our homeschooling adventures while we were setting up our preschool group and getting it running. Also, we have been doing some major fall cleaning and family support over the past few weeks. All this has left little to no time to blog with.

But now we are back.

Our preschool group is going well. It is amazing how much Nicholas loves it.

It isn’t that the group is covering anything – academically – that he doesn’t already know. It is simply a way to get out of the house and play with friends. The moms involved rotate teaching and hosting the group. We have a schedule and everyone sticks to it. The group is a ton of fun and I am glad we are doing it.

 

The beginning of the finger painting mess. Good thing floors - and kids - are washable.

Homeschooling continues. We work on stuff everyday. Yesterday our trip to the grocery store took an hour to get ready because Nicholas wanted to write out his grocery list himself. It is a good thing I made my own list too. But he took the time to write down the words (all 2 of them – bananas and waffles) and sound out what letter comes next (waffle was spelled “wafel”). But he did it. And then we went to the store. It was a great moment for me when he made all the letters correctly and was trying to sound out the words. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Then we did some finger painting. I love art. It is fun to do. Not so much fun to clean up though. Good thing that learning about chores and being part of a house if part of what I am aiming to teach Nicholas. He works hard at creating a mess and then works hard at cleaning it up.

 

Our finger painting adventure was cleaned up using vinegar and water and paper towels. Nicholas was responsible for spraying the water/vinegar all over the paint. Then we laid down paper towels and mopped it all up with them – with our feet! He thought it was great fun and I got to have my floor cleaned and the mess cleaned without any fuss.

Well, on with our week and I will get back to blogging.

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