A little while back I came across the idea of using megablocks to help with phonics skills and fluency. I thought it was a great idea. I’ll try to find the website where I first saw it, and will share it when I do. For now though, here’s our take on it:
Seeing how the girl has outgrown her megablocks and generally is using lego for building, I loved the idea of repurposing her old blocks. So today I pulled out my label maker and her box of blocks and set to work. This should give new life to all her old sets, that haven’t seen the light in several months.
I decided to put both a capitalized and lowercase version of the same word on each block. This way, when we start worrying more about proper capitalization her blocks will still be useful for her. Eventually I’ll be adding a whole lot more words – including many she has requested herself – as well as doubling up some blocks with words like is, was, it, and… as many of them can be used twice in the same super silly, extra long, sentence.
We also decided to use many of her blocks with stickers on them. You know how some sets (like Kai Lan and Diego) have themed stickers that get applied to some blocks? Well, we’ve labeled those too – with Kid kid’s choice of words. It can be nice for early readers to have visual hints when still working towards reading fluency.
So, here are our blocks. I ran out of tape in my label maker, so had to stop a little earlier than I’d have liked. But we still had enough finished to have a bit of fun. Lily-Ann loved my “Dad was stinky” sentence, and I loved that her very first one was “Lily-Ann is cute”. 😉
Childhood is about learning who you are and how you fit into the world. It’s about trying on as many different hats as possible, and seeing how well you wear each. It’s about learning through play.
I really though I’d have a lot to say today… but in all honesty? I’m tired out after a day of play. I love spending Thursdays in school with kid kid, but it does wear me out. Some very positive news came out of today though!
A literacy expert sat in on the girl’s kindergarten class for about an hour this afternoon – and she was excited by the girl. She’s promised that they will come up with a program that challenges Lily-Ann, one that helps encourage her already present enthusiasm for reading and creative play. I am feeling so much better knowing that the girl is going to have someone (other than me) pulling for her at school. Someone who gets just how important it is to not only focus on those who are behind, but those who have the potential to really excel. So YAY! 🙂
It’s been another long day.� So it’s been a long week.� I was sick.� Our old dood, Sweets (the Chihuahua) was sick.� Puppies spent the day at kindergarten.� More plumbing trouble.� Girl didn’t hardly sleep last night (so neither did Mommy).� So yeah.� I’m beat.� I’ve got nothing left in me to write a blog post.� So here’s something cute from another MomWriter friend of mine.� A super cheap and adorable little angel ornament you can make up for all your kids friends, teachers, and family members:
I volunteer in the girl’s classroom on Thursdays, and like any Thursday, I was there today. I love that the kids seem to enjoy my being there. They get extra attention, so it’s a good thing. I always get a ton of hugs, they draw me pictures, I read stories, and I just hang out and listen to anything they feel is important enough to share.
Today, Hailey came over to me, with her hands on her hips, looking very serious. She stood, looking at me for a second, one eye narrowed, before she finally spoke. Then in a slightly accusatory tone she asked “Why does Lily-Ann always look so pretty?” Pretty coming out with a little extra venom. I thought for a brief moment (stifling my laughter) and replied “Well, I guess that’s just how she feels inside.” Seemingly satisfied with my answer, she sauntered off.
Before anything else, I just wanted to wish you all a blessed Samhain. Hold close the ones you love, and remember well those who have already passed from this world. As the world enters the dark half of the year, gather close to share stories and memories, and soon we’ll return to the light. Brightest blessings, may your lives be filled with warmth, caring, and many wonderful new memories to share in the future.
Now… I want you to say hello to Fairy Berry. The girl was just thrilled when I finally let her see the ponysona costume I’d created for her. As I helped her into each piece, she’d run to the bathroom to see how it looked: and with pants, sweater, two wigs, and ears, that was several trips to check out her reflection. So she was quite happy to show it off while I snapped a few pictures before she headed to school this afternoon. It’s totally adorable on her, and the wings worked just as I’d hoped: they actually flap as she walks, skips, and hops along. 😀
On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed. Today was my first chance.
A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY. His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him. Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.
The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes. “Seven boys.” The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”. She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting. “Five girls.” That number gets written on the board too. An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers. “Twelve kids. Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”
Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral. At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school. At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space. And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that. If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?” Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY. “Who feels like a girl?” Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL. But I think we can do better. Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all? After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).
Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers. Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”. Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions. After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day. Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all. This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.
I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response… what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life. While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating. Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY… simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue… can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.
The night before school starts,
and mom writes my name.
On notebooks, and pencils
helping me to lay claim.
I’m not a poet,
that’s as far as it goes.
The rest of this blog post
is thankfully in prose.
My Sharpie is no longer sharp after writing “Lily-Ann” on 12 markers, 24 crayons, 24 pencil crayons, various notebooks, folders, and a scrapbook, as well as on shoes, pencil cases, glue sticks, erasers, a pencil sharpener, a bottle of white glue (with a no clog lid), and a backpack. Gotta love the night before the first day of school. Pre-k was easy all supplies are communal, but as kids enter the regular school system labeling everything quickly becomes the norm.
I remember my Mom scrawling our names on everything… And with so many of us it was no quick task. As our pencils and pencil crayons were wore down into little nubs, and all that remained was a letter or two, I’d still think of Mom writing our names every time I saw mine. It was a reassuring thing, though it didn’t register as such on a conscious level until many years later.
I hope, as Lily-Ann sits in her classroom this coming school year, that seeing her name spelled over and over again brings a sense of belonging and love. That she knows how treasured she is, not just by her Mom (who wrote her name so very many times) but by everyone who knows her. She really is such a special kid, and her joie de vie has left many with grins where previously there were none.
Girl is ready to be a “school kid” whether or not I am ready for the same. 😉