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DIY – Word Blocks

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”.  😉

 

Strawberry Cream Cheese

I love hearing how other people see my daughter.  I know how I know her to be, but how a child behaves at home and how they behave when Mom isn’t around are often two different things.  So the stories I heard from kid kid’s teacher today were very nice to hear.

Apparently, after coming back from a lesson with Mr. G (who teaches both music and phys.ed) the kids were telling Ms. W how one particular classmate had been bad.  They all reported in, one after another, how this classmate had not behaved and ended up in trouble.  Then one student said “Lily-Ann was bad”.  Their teacher stopped and with a quizzical look repeated, questioningly “Lily-Ann was bad?”  To that, she explained, came an entire chorus of  “No” or “Lily-Ann is never bad” and “Lily-Ann is good.”  LMAO  I guess it was just a question of one student’s Freudian slip.

We also talked about how she, as their teacher, gets a unique look into each of their home lives.  Through the things they say and do, she’s able to figure things out about each of their lives.  How one student must watch a lot of horror movies, and another is jealous of their sibling(s).  She continued to tell me, with a smile, how Lily-Ann is always there to help and encourage her fellow students.  How she is always supportive, even through creative play.  And how a couple of days ago she was playing in the kitchen center and told the student pretending to be the child how she, the mom, was preparing strawberry cream cheese because it’s sweet like they were.  And how she was going to make it from scratch by cutting up her own garden strawberries.  I’ll admit, I like the story of our home life that paints.  🙂  And it’s true.  I make her mini-bagels with yummy and sweet strawberry cream cheese because she’s sweet like a strawberry and it’s just one way I can show her that I love her.

My daughter isn’t just sweet and supportive though, she’s strong too.  And she’ll defend herself, standing her ground if you try to tell her otherwise.  I guess one boy has been teasing her, telling her he’s stronger than she is, trying to get her goat.  But she’ll just look him in the eye and tell him otherwise…  he’s gotten himself in trouble with the teacher a couple times now for insisting she’s not as strong as he is.  LOL

The kid isn’t one to back down if she knows she’s right, but she also knows how important it is to offer love and compassion to those around her.  It makes me proud to know these are lessons she has internalized simply by how we treat her.  It’s nice to know others see the amazing girl I do when they see her too.

One pricey book order

I loved the scholastic book orders when I was a kid.  Mom and Dad always made sure I could get a new book (sometimes two or three) every month.  I looked forward to going through the brightly coloured pages of the order, searching for the right one.  Something that piqued my interest:  often it would be something about unicorns, or wizards, or fairies.  So You Want to be a Wizard was one of my very favourite books, and I remember with fondness the Unicorn Queen series as well.

The Secret of the Unicorn Queen, book one, Swept Away

I absolutely love that the kid being in school means we once again get the excitement and joy of a monthly book order.  She loves looking through the pages as much as I did.  And her teacher always makes sure to find us a copy of the “big kids” book order sheets too.  After all, the pre-k book order is all picture books and board books – and we generally like to order chapter books.

Normally we get a book or two, or if there’s a really good deal on a pack of books we’ll get that.  This last one though?  Eeeps.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on a book order.  But honestly?  It was something we couldn’t pass up.

The best time to teach a child about ANY topic is when they are passionate about it.  And right now, thanks to first reading a book about Odysseus and now reading the Goddess Girls books, the girl LOVES learning about Greek myth.  So when a four piece children’s encyclopedias all about mythology showed up in the last book order, what else could we do?  We figured out the money, because one doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  😉

So soon, we’ll be sitting down with the girl’s very first encyclopedias.  And she couldn’t be more excited about them.  It’s going to be really cool, and I love that this is a topic that enlivens her.  Learning can be so much fun – especially when you are allowed to follow your passions!

Teaching about Sex and Gender in the Classroom

Shortly I’ll be presenting at a few high schools as well as at Breaking the Silence.  I’ll be talking about sex, gender, identity and the labels that can help or hinder us as we discover ourselves and how we fit on the spectrum.  I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be covering, but I really would love to hear from you on the subject.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the gingerbread man diagrams that have been floating around the net for the last couple of years.  There have been several different incarnations of the drawing, and I’ll be creating my own for my presentations too.  Basically it just maps out the differences between sex, gender, expression, and orientation.  By having this type of illustration handy I hope to equip everyone who is there with the proper language – as that will go a long way to facilitate discussion.

What I’d like to know from anyone who’d be kind enough to reply is this:

If you were, or are, a high school student what would you like to know but might be afraid to ask in a classroom setting?  What would you want to know about sex?  about gender?  about gender expression?  about sexual orientation?  Is there something you wish you knew?  Is there something you do know that you wish others knew?  What would you want discussed that you might be to embarrassed to bring up with a room full of people watching?

I want to ensure that those who need the information, get it.  But if I don’t know what questions people have, I may miss something important.  This is basic information that schools haven’t often given students a chance to learn – information that people often have to discover on their own – feeling alone and insecure.  I want to arm youth with the power that comes with knowledge, and knowing that no matter where we fall on the spectrum, that we’re all totally normal with the potential to be awesome!

gingy from shrek

On our way…

Just playing around on our walk home from the wee girlie’s school.  As you can see, she went to school dressed up like a fairy (tinkerbell to be precise).  She loves picking out her own clothes, and if the worst that ever happens is she occasionally goes to school dressed as a fairy, a princess, or a pirate, well…  in my mind, that’s just fine.  😉

On our way...

 

As parents it is important for us to guide our children, but we have to be careful that in our guiding that we don’t take over.  Having choices to make for themselves helps build their sense of self, and can help to build their confidence and slowly prepare them for the larger decisions that will come their way in the future.  We need to allow our little ones to have fun, and to look a little silly (from a grown-ups prospective), and to support the choice they’ve made in doing so.

Lily-Ann felt great about herself in her costume, and had a real sense of pride over having made her clothing choice herself.  I love watching her check the temperature each morning and then going through her closet to decide what would be best.  Occasionally she needs a little nudge from me towards something more weather appropriate, but generally she does really great.  😀

Another year older, another year…

It was a good day.  Spent the morning cuddling with my wee girlie.  Spent the afternoon with her doing some thrift store shopping at the Sally Ann.  Spent the evening with my family (including my parents and most of my siblings).  Got a vegetable gardening book from my parents, and the really cool watering can and stuffed snake in the picture from Lily-Ann.  It really was a very nice day.  🙂

I was really proud that Lily-Ann did such a good job of shopping.  She had reasons for each of the gifts, and both made perfect sense.  The watering can is for my new garden, and it has strawberries on it because I call her my little strawberry.  The snake is, as the wee girlie explained: “because your animal sign is snake.”  And that it is.  She did good.

So, I know they say “another year older, another year wiser”… but I’d like to think it’s not so much our years that make us wise, but our willingness to be open, and our eagerness to continue learning.  Both are traits I hope I never lose.  And both are things I hope the wee girlie models as she gets older herself.  That said, happy birthday to me!

😀

gifties from the wee girlie

To: Mommy

During the Roadmap Saskatoon Conference

Loved the composition here…  just the way a teacher happened to place her things while listening to a speaker, and loved the way the shadow is playing and interacting with said subject matter.  🙂

glasses, a pen, and a clipboard

Teaching/Learning

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