Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mat Man

Mat Man is an idea that I got from the Handwriting Without Tears book that I used with Joy when she was 3 and 4 years old and really into learning to write her letters and draw. One of the skills in the book is drawing a person, with the correct number of arms and legs, etc. All of my kids when they first have started drawing, drew all their people as heads with arms and legs coming out of them. So this activity was a fun way of helping them remember to draw the 'body' and all the other parts in the right places. There is a song that goes with it..."Mat Man has 1 head, 1 head, 1 head. Mat Man has 1 head....So that he can THINK!" and it goes on and on for all the different pieces . He's called "Mat Man" because he is built with a paper 'mat' as the body but we like to change it up and use different things for his body. Joshua has gotten much better about drawing complete people because of this, but still likes to pull out Mat Man's pieces that I made for him to build with.
Mat Man's body became a book...
 Then a bowl....
 Then Joshua got some clothes to dress him up in. This was his favorite!


Okay, BINGO is not really all that creative or exciting, but CaptainAmerica's "BINGO" and "BLACKOUT!" faces were SO funny that I had to share them! LOL
He LOVES BINGO. I made some new BINGO cards recently, some with animals, some letters, some numbers and some Veggie Tales so its been 'exciting' again this week.  :)
 My silly boy said, "Let's play BINGO EVERYDAY!"
 And so we have, even if he's the only one playing! LOL!

Where's Samuel?

I've had a lot of people email me and ask me what Samuel does all day and what I 'do with him' while I am doing all these things with the other kids. Well...Samuel is right there with us all in the middle of it! He loves to hear the books read, play with many of the toys with the other kids, listen to the kids sing songs and just watch his siblings having fun all around him! :) Often, when we're doing things at the table, he's in his seat right at the table with us. He'll have his own toys or things to play with but I don't leave leave him out. When he's napping and when Faith is napping is when Joy, Joshua and I get more of our serious school work done and focus on our curriculum, but most of it can happen right along with the rest of our day.

Our Baby Flash has been REALLY into dumping lately though and can open the dvd drawer and the drawers of clothes underneath the bunk beds. SO....I've been trying to find him PLANNED things to dump. Some how, that's a little less frustrating to clean up than the pile of clothes he can throw out of the drawer or the mess he can quickly make flinging dvds all over the living room in a matter of seconds!! (Right over his shoulder! Frustrating, but hilarious!)

Here he is with his bowl of kitchen things that he dumped and explored one day this week....too cute!

 I think this is my favorite! LOL! He's got that 'deer in the headlights' look...

He'll do this all day long with big legos, blocks, any toys or his favorite... anything that ISN'T a toy and looks like it should be off limits for him! He's got his siblings well trained...he'll dump the whole bucket of whatever he's playing with, then they'll pick it all up for him just to watch him do it again! It's apparently entertaining for them, but I think we're going to need to start working on the 'putting it back IN' before Samuel thinks someone is always going to clean up his messes!

This little guy is SO funny, I can't wait for everyone to see him when you come to visit or we make it back to the States next summer! I hope all my blogging is helping you to feel like you still know the kids and can see their personalities. I know all the grandmas and grandpas are missing them lots! And we are missing you too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joshua's Room in Korea

Okay, this isn't about any of our activities or creations but it IS something 'Captain America' wanted to show off to all of his grandparents....
 He's very excited about his room. We put up his Superman when all of our household good came but we just added his name this week. I think the letters turned out pretty cute. I just found awesome free digital scrapbook letters, printed, then spent WAY too much time cutting them out! It was worth it though, he loves it! Samuel's name will go up on the other side when they eventually get cut out! LOL! He doesn't yet care about such things and isn't excited and impatient like his brother was to see his name on the wall! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Name Games with Faith

Today we took some time to play with names. Faith played match with her name on index cards and we practiced the correct order of the letters. 
Then we played with our name on the lids. She matched her letter lids up with the circles and letters I had drawn. Then I mixed them up and asked her if it looked right? She knew right away it wasn't right and told me, "I am an 'F'!" 
I told her, "Yes! You're name does start with an 'F'!" Then I put the 'F' in the right place and we continued to unscramble them, call them by name and sound them out until we got them in the right order. 
We sang our family name song. One that I started back when it was just 'MOM', 'DAD' and 'JOY'. With each sibling we've added their names and we sing it often. They have all learned how to spell 'MOM', 'DAD' and their own name as well as the names of their siblings because of it. Our song goes like this...
"M-O-M spells MOM, D-A-D spells DAD,
 J-O-Y spells JOY and (say it fast...) J-O-S-H-U-A spells JOSHUA! 
We are the Adams Family, (shout...) A-D-A-M-S!" 
So simple, but it's been such a great way for Joy and Joshua and now Faith to learn how to spell their first and last names. 

So after singing through our family name song a few times, we played a fun little game I learned from called Letter Connect. To play Letter Connect, you simply make connections between the letters in two names at a time, drawing lines to connect the matching letters. When there isn't a match, you make a big 'x' alongside the names. But we found matches in all of our names.
We started with the names of our immediate family. So she drew a line from the 'A' in 'FAITH' to the 'A' in 'JOSHUA' and said, "The A's are the same! And the H's too!" I said, "You're right! Hmmmm. Can you tell me whose name I wrote next and connect the letters?" I wrote 'JOY'.
She said I wrote 'JOY'. Then she drew a line from the 'O' in 'JOSHUA' to the 'O' in 'JOY' and said, "The 'O' is the same!" Then she continued to connect the 'J's in both and was excited that there was another match. I added 'DADDY' to the list next, followed by 'MOMMY', and 'SAMUEL' and Fatih connected letters and we talked about the sounds as she went. When we finished with our immediate family, she decided he wanted to do grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends. Our lists went on and on, we erased our board and wrote new names over and over again, and we got to see how everyones names were connected by letters.

It is so exciting for me, getting to be there when each of the kids learns something new or makes a new connection and figures something out. I LOVE it! It's one of the most rewarding parts of my day!  :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mommy's Helper

We are that crazy family that walks into the library each week with a giant basket to fill with books. I love reading to the kids and finding new stories each week. Recently, they've wanted to have me sit in front of them like the Librarian does during Storytime while I read to them, all piled on the couch. But BabyFlash wants to be right in the middle of it and help Mommy with the books. He's not happy unless he's got one to hold onto while we read! Here are a couple of pictures that WonderWoman took of me and my helper one day while we read. And this is only a small pile from the big basket of books we got that day! Mommy can only read so much aloud in one day though, so we've got to spread them out.  :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Amazing Boy

This is my blog so I can brag on my boy I've decided! :) We are 6 weeks into our school year and Captain America just keeps blowing me away. I knew that he had picked up on a LOT of learning just from being around while I was teaching WonderWoman things and occasionally being in on a game or a project where he'd be doing the same thing that she was. But I had NO IDEA just how much he had picked up.
I went ahead and let him start with the Kindergarten math and reading this year even though he's not Kindergarten age till May. He REALLY wanted to do school like his sister and was looking forward to the day when he'd have his own books and 'work' to do. So Peter and I decided to go ahead and let him start and just see where it went. If he lost interest or didn't really seem like he was getting it or was having a hard time then we'd stop and wait until he was a little older and continue with his fun learning games and preschool type activities like he did last year.

Well, so far everything has been SO easy for him with the exception of writing, which I'm not really pushing much. He does a little everyday, but I've found other ways for him to practice his letters and numbers without having to use a pencil and paper. Here he is writing in salt...
He's now 24 lessons into his Kindergarden math and I've realized that he probably could have just skipped the first half of the book. I knew it was kind of review for him because we did a lot of counting and patterns, shapes and direction last year for preschool but I guess we covered a lot more than I thought! Here's how it all started when I began to realize this...

WonderWoman enjoys doing addition flash cards and thinks it's fun to see how fast she can make it through the stack of cards correctly. So the other day I was flipping through the cards with her and she got stuck for a second and I hear CaptainAmerica say "It's 15. (She looks at him shocked)...Joy the answer is 15. (She still didn't say anything, she just looked at him, then looked at me)...Say 15," from the other side of the room where he sat, and I thought, was just playing with his Batman toys. I - was - SO - SURPRISED! I know WonderWoman was too, that's why it took her a moment to realize he was really telling her the answer! This was the addition fact that he jumped in and answered for WonderWoman...
I said, "That's right! Great job! I didn't know you knew that!"... and then the competition began. He realized it was okay for him to answer the flash cards too. Apparently this boy's been holding back! He continued to race his sister for the remaining cards to answer and we all had a good time laughing and celebrating right answers and beating one another to the answer first. He didn't get them all right, but he sure tried. And the fact that he got any of them right blew me away! Right now, lesson 25 in his math book is beginning addition '1+2 and 2+3' and writing his numbers 1 thru 10. I think he's a little beyond that. LOL!

He's still not very comfortable writing yet, but that's totally fine with me. We've got years to work on that and if he can keep moving forward and give me the answers audibly, I'm fine with that! So after realizing that he was well beyond his current math activities, I decided to do a little detective work and figure out where he was at in other areas as well. He was so happy just to actually being 'doing school' this year that I just let him start at the beginning and thought that would be good for him, but now we're reevaluating where we're at and what we're doing.

He's been moving right along in reading and recently has been asking to read 'real books', not just the reading program we're doing. So I decided to give it a try and sure enough, he's ready! Now being the personality he is, he was keeping track of how many 'real' books he had read to me and was so proud to tell Daddy when he got home, so I decided to make him a chart to keep track of his reading to Me so he could see his progress and show it off. Visual incentive really works for this boy!
Here is his sticker progress chart for reading we started last week...
Now besides math, reading, and some handwriting every day I hadn't really scheduled much else specifically for him. We do the calendar, bible devotions all together and big time vocabulary, play tons of games each day and do activities that reinforce and practice skills he's learned but as a part of my detective work, trying to figure out really where this boy is in his learning, I asked him if he wanted to try something new this week. He of course said 'YES! What is it?!'
I said, 'Do you want to start some spelling lessons?' He (jumping up and down) says, 'Spelling! Oooh yeah! I'm gunna learn how to spell! Let's do it NOW! PLEEEEEASE can I do it NOW?!'

Let me just say...if I can do nothing else than make my kids excited about learning and give them that desire and direction to seek out more knowledge...then I think homeschooling again this year will have been worth it!

I found an awesome curriculum that WonderWoman started using during the last 1/2 of the year last year. It's called "All About Spelling" and is a multi sensory method of teaching spelling that so far, makes complete and total sense to me! I wish I would have been taught to spell this way. I've learned spelling rules that I never learned in school, the 'why' for the way we spell certain things and tricks for helping you remember how to spell them correctly. WonderWoman has done so well with it and I just knew it would be a good pick for CaptainAmerica too. Especially given his current lack of stamina for writing, this program offers so many other options for every learning style.
I pulled out the book and he shouts, "Oh I know, the 'C' says /s/ before 'E', 'I', or 'Y'!".....
I stood amazed again. He was apparently paying attention a few weeks back when his sister was working on that spelling rule. Wow.
The book is divided up into 24 steps, meant to do at the students own pace so you work on each step until they have mastered it and then you move on. So we crawled into the bottom bunk and sat close together while we opened up the book and worked through the first few Steps.
We worked through the entire step for each one because I really wanted to make sure I knew what he knew. I didn't want to move on and skip anything. After the first two steps I thought we were done but he wanted to do more. So we moved onto Step 3, then I told him we needed to be done for the day. But guess what he was up and begging to do after breakfast the next morning?? Steps 4 and 5!
Here he is exchanging vowels to make new words...
So far we haven't come across anything that he didn't already know. But it has been a good, thorough review for him and helped him to understand the concepts more confidently. It's also been a more concrete gage for me to see where he's at. He's obviously ready to keep moving on with this so we made another chart!  :)  Here's the one for spelling that hangs on the other side of his door.
This boy LOVES charts! And everyday he likes to count and see how many more steps he has left.

I know it seems like a lot of structured work for someone who's not even Kindergarten age yet, but Peter and I decided, why hold him back just because he's not a certain age yet? He really does love learning and as long as I'm not pushing it on him and he keeps wanting to do more, than I'm going to be available for him and teach him as he's ready for the next thing. He still has plenty of time to play and explore and do unplanned, unstructured things during his day, so I think we've got a good, balanced learning environment going so far. Lord willing, we'll keep it up for the rest of this year and everyone of them will continue to flourish, and grow in their love of learning.... that's my prayer anyway!

Here are a few more of CaptainAmerica activities to show off from recent weeks...
One of his math lessons was graphing numbers. Well, he wanted to do more graphing after that so he made a bar graph of how many boys and girls were in the family and noticed that it was exactly even.  That led us into a conversation about even and odd numbers then we did some skip counting on our number chart. :) Then he made a bar graph of his big LEGO blocks and the different colors. I just dumped out a pile of them and this is what he created. He then colored one square for each block. Notice on his paper he pre dotted the color in the order that he wanted them in to match how he had them laid out. I've told you about how he likes things precise and ordered and in straight lines...but it still makes me smile sometimes when I see him do things like this. It's SO obvious in his personality how his mind works! And it's completely different from his wild, creative, dramatic, all over the place sister! They are both SO amazing to me and their minds are beautiful! I love to watch them work! :)
SuperGirl has been doing a number, color and shape each week for her tot-school time. During our week that we did the number three we read all the stories we could find that had to do with threes. The Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Pigs, etc. We did art projects and played often including these themes. Well CaptainAmerica sweetly put on a puppet show for his little sister retelling her the entire Three Little Pigs story on the puppet stage!
Cookie Monster was the wolf! And he used a pinkish Lion for the 3rd pig!
SuperGirl thoroughly enjoyed the show and of course my heart melted at his thoughtfulness to do this for her unprompted. All I can say, is I'm one lucky Mama. The Lord has truly blessed me with such wonderful little people in my life. I enjoy them so much! And I am so proud of all of them, but especially the new revelation about my CaptainAmerica right now.  :)

Hwaseong Fortress

So I know Peter already posted a lot of these pictures up on Facebook but I still like to add them to the blog. :) This was our trip to Hwaseong Fortress last weekend (that I'm finally getting around to posting!) It was SO beautiful! I loved all the stone design and the views!
 Of course Faith wouldn't look at me for the picture...
 Here we are admiring the waterfalls and counting the tunnels...can't pass up a chance to sneak in some learning! LOL!
 Daddy took our picture from up above in one of the towers.
 The kids were really excited to see the 'castle'!
 It's the closest thing to a castle the kids and I have ever seen in person, so we thought it was pretty cool!
 There was a show going on outside the gate.
 The girls had two amazing experiences this day. First, they were invited to join these two Korean ladies to have a traditional bamboo tea party! The girls were thrilled! They got to sit on the fancy silk pillows and drink bamboo tea!
 Faith told me she LOVED the tiny table.  :) Anything 'her size' is her favorite right now.
 Even Joshua tried some!
 She was already feeling pretty special at this point.
 But then we found the dress up!!! We were taken back to a pretty dressing room and two traditionally dressed Korean ladies got us dressed and literally tied up in lots of layers that make up their gowns. The girls were so giddy! They told me they felt like 'real princesses!'
 Even Mommy dressed up and we got to sit on the royal bench to have our pictures taken. The headpiece I'm wearing weighs a ton! And was SO hard to keep on. I had to sit very still and straight! Between the tea party and dress up, it just made their day! We had a couple of very happy girls.  :)
 Joshua's favorite part of the day was pounding the rice to make rice cakes. He loved getting to smash it as hard as he could!
 The girls took a swing at it too.
 Faith was not as impressed. It was very sticky.
 Here they got to stir the pulp the lady was using to make paper.
 There were potters and several other artists working that we had a chance to watch. The kids loved talking to the lady working with the clay. They asked lots of question and watched her make a few different pieces. She worked surprisingly quick!
There was so much to see and do and we only got to one part of it so we'll definitely be making a trip back to explore some more. It was worth the drive, we all had a great adventure!
See the Korean lady with the umbrella? That is really common here. They carry umbrellas when it rains, but I think I see even MORE umbrellas when the sun is shining.  :)