Prep School – Abby’s new work!!!!

Since she’s getting older I’m changing “Toddler Tuesdays” to “Prep School.” Prep for what? Well, for other things. She’s “preparing” to do more math and drawing. She’s “preparing” to discover he own interests and not always be involved in her brother’s. As a side note, I’m going to hate the day when they both won’t do the same lessons anymore. Right now she loves to mimic her brother, so we can do lessons all at the same time. But later, I’m sure that’s not going to work out so well.

Therefore, we needed to change the name. She decided on “Prep School.” She actually wanted it to be called “Princess Prep School,” but I declined on the princess thing. We’ve got enough princess stuff in the house as it is.

This week we’ve been working on the letter F for her.

I decided that we would make “books” for her, since she likes to make sets of things. The “Letter F” book contains the following:

1. A sheet of paper with all the words that being with F that she can think of.

2. A dot-to-dot marker F page.

3. A fairy ballerina, a flower fairy, and a flying unicorn to color.

4. The number five to put stickers on.

5. Pentagons (five sides) to put groups of five stickers in.

Here’s how it went:

We started on Monday by making a list of “F” words – she came up with the following:

Food, fairy, frankfurter (yes, we learn German), foot, feet, fine, flute, flying, fancy, four, ,float, and fin. So those are the words we wrote down on the paper.

Next, we did a dot-to-dot F. She got the dot-to-dot markers out and she colored in her F.

For the next few “lessons” she got to color in things that begin with F. She didn’t have much trouble deciding what she wanted to start with – the Ballerina Fairy! She also has a Flying Unicorn and a Flower Fairy to color for her book.

Lastly, there’s the number five – that starts with F too. So I wrote the number five on a sheet of construction paper and gave her stickers. She placed the stickers over the lines of the number five. For her second five activity I drew pentagons – because those have five sides – on a paper. Abby had to put five stickers into each pentagon.

Then she got to staple her book together and show it to her father – who was properly excited. Next we are mailing it to her grandmother, because Abby wants to send a book to her grandmother.



What will your verse be?

Robin Williams died yesterday. I really loved most of his work. He was first introduced to me in “Dead Poets Society” and then I became a fan. I’ve watched Mork and Mindy, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, and a ton of other movies because he was in the movie. In honor of his death, we are spending today’s lesson reading poetry and talking about it. In fact, we have made our own “Dead Poet’s Society” in our house.

We built a fort.

Then we watched this fabulous clip where Robin Williams is asking the students what heir verse will be.

Now we are reading poetry and talking about it.

Here are the poems we are reading today:

Walt Whitman: Oh Me! Oh Life!

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken 

Rudyard Kipling: If

We then talked about which poem was our favorite. Each of us got to draw a picture representing our favorite poem, then tell everyone else about the picture.

Was there talking and reading in this lesson? Yes. Was there presentations and public speaking? Yes. Did each of us have to decide on a favorite and articulate a reason why? Yes. We practiced all these skills in a simple poetry lesson. And we also got to have a lot of fun huddling in a fort and doing class in a place that wasn’t a table, classroom, or desk.

More play?

There has been a lot of interesting research done on children and learning. And the bulk of it comes down to this: Kids need more play. Kids learn through play, so they need more play.

I totally believe in play. People might not think so, since I’m always posting lessons and experiments. But we do a lot of play at the house. Some of it is organized play (board games, Lego building contests, block building contests, science experiments…….) and some of it is unstructured play (as in I tell them to go play).

We also have unstructured play in nature. We head to the beach and I let my kids play all they want there. We go hiking, and we always stop for “snack” in a convenient location that lets them play around. We also head to museums that have play areas and I let them play. Or playgrounds…..or the front yard……..

I think you catch the drift.

Kids can get over-scheduled. When that happens they lose their time for play. It’s important to have enrichment activities, and equally important to have play activities. So how do you balance them?

It’s a very personal decision. Sometimes it means we do bare minimum work and have a play day. Sometimes it means we do equal play and work in a day – it just depends. I can tell when the kids aren’t getting enough play because I start to feel it too. But when they are getting enough play, it’s more fun! First of all, they don’t like coming in from play. But if they are getting enough play, I can use it as a bribe in order to get other things done. “Finish your writing work and we can go play,” is very commonly heard around my house. It’s fun to play, the kids want to do it, so they do their work before hand and then we go play. If we aren’t getting enough play, then we don’t have an easy time doing work.

Here’s the links to two articles I really like on the need for play.

Article 1

Article 2



Adding to our German resources.

We’ve been studying German for a year. We have had a German tutor, a German program (which was fun, but we didn’t do religiously), and my husband speaking German with us. So now what do we do? I don’t think the kids are ready to move onto the higher level German courses, but we need a way to still practice.

Browsing on Amazon I found the following resources –
The Everything Learning German Book: Speak, write, and understand basic German in no time

German for Children with Two Audio CDs, Third Edition

Lightning-Fast German for Kids and Families: Learn German, Speak German, Teach Kids German – Quick As A Flash, Even If You Don’t Speak A Word Now! (German Edition)

I haven’t gotten the books yet, but I hope they come in soon. This way, I have extras to add to my German course. I am also having the kids watch German cartoons on YouTube. The words go really fast, but it gets them used to the cadence of the language. Nicholas was so excited yesterday when he could pick out some of the words in German. Since the kids have to work at watching them, I generally pick the German shorts. Even better, I get to delegate this task to the husband. He gets to do it, and send me links.

Delegating it to the husband has a bunch of benefits, not the least of which is that he feels involved. But the kids also like watching something that daddy has picked out for them – they watch it with very little fuss. It’s been amazing having him so involved in German. If only he could get more involved with a lot of other things too.

We are starting Latin!

I’ve decided to start Latin this year. We are doing a good job with German, and so we need to add another language. I can hold off on the history and stuff, but languages go better when the kids are younger.

I’ve done a lot of research and narrowed it down to two programs: Song School Latin and  Latin for Children. In the end I went with Latin for Children. The books looked like more fun to do. I ordered one Primer book, two activity books, and a key – because my Latin is very rusty.

Why Latin? Latin is one of the roots of the English language, German is the other. Since we are already studying one, we might as well add the other. Plus, Abby is really into art and ballet. If she is going to continue this route, learning romance languages is ideal – and Latin is the base for all the romance languages. Nicholas is doing well with science, and Latin (and German) will really help him there with all the base words and prefixes and stuff. I really think this is the right idea.

In one sense, I groan at adding another thing to the schedule. We already have a lot. But for another reason, I think this is a good idea. I really do. I remember learning languages when I was older, and while it wasn’t horribly difficult, it wasn’t as easy to do as I wish. I’ve watched my kids pick up languages super easily. It’s a breeze for them. They pick up German, know what I’m saying when I get angry (Russian and Spanish mostly), and have spoken French with a friend for a bit. It’s simply another puzzle to their brains – and it’s easy for them.

So here are the links to the Latin books we are using:
Latin for Children, Primer A – Activity Book!

Latin for Children, Primer A (Latin Edition)

Latin for Children, Primer A Key (Latin for Childred)


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