Welcome to PreSchool at “Klemm University”

September 23, 2014 at 7:15 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , )

Teach Your Child to Read Outside and Play – A Lot

It’s been awhile since I shared a bit from our homeschooling adventures.  Since my last homeschooling post, we purchased Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and have progressed to Lesson 9.  We’ve taken Poet Laureate and Professor Mark Strand’s advice about memorizing 1500 lines of poetry and memorized the first four verses of Psalm 1, with the intent of memorizing a verse a week until we know the whole book by heart (no, I did not do the math on this and I have no idea how long it will take – I think the less I know in this regard the better).  We’ve moved, and have done a lot of exploring our new school-site – via bubble blowing.  We’ve learned to play Checkers (pretty exciting for an almost four year old), and we’re tackling bead projects.

Drawing Dinosaursdinosaurs

She got this cool dinosaur coloring book awhile back, but has really taken to it in the last few months.  The book teaches your kid how to draw properly named dinosaurs step by step.  Whether you’re a die hard dinosaur believer, or a skeptic to their existence, all kids love dinosaurs – they’re just so cool!

Activity books like these teach kids to follow step by step instructions, help with dexterity and handling writing utensils, and keep them busy for thirty minutes to an hour at a time.  Win, win for everyone.

Moving and Acoustics

Empty HouseThe great thing about moving with a small child is teaching your kid the art of donation from a young age.  What we don’t need anymore, we’ve been donating.  For a kid who has outgrown those things, it’s time consuming, but giving them the knowledge and opportunity to come to conclusions about their own belongings is an eye-opening experience.  I haven’t forced her to get rid of anything, and I’m overjoyed to have so many moments when my kiddo comes to me and says, “Mama, I don’t need this anymore.  We can give this to another kid.”  And off to Goodwill we go.  (At our garage sales she selected things to sell and was quite the little negotiator.  She made about $5 off old toys other kids carried off and put that money right in her piggy bank.  Now, she keeps telling me she has plenty of money for Chick-fi-la…)

On top of all that, every kid should get a chance to stand in an empty room and shout at the top of their lungs.  (Or spin in circles singing All Around the Mulberry Bush while shooting a soft dart gun…)

teach read book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This book came highly recommended by my sister who has taught 5 kids to read (not including myself when I was 4) and has 2 more that are on their way to starting lessons.  The above link is for Amazon.com, but I actually purchased my copy from hpbmarketplace.com.

Teach Your Child to Read goes straight into the phonics and skips the step of learning what a letter is called.  My kid could already identify all her letters and knew most of her phonics, but she’s enjoying diving right into the decoding process by seeing an “m” and knowing to say “Mmmmm.” We’re only on Lesson 9 and she can already read words like “mat” and “sat,” “am” and “Me” just by sounding them out.  These beginning lessons do not teach sight words but sounding out and decoding a word even if it means you don’t understand the word right away.  I like this because it allows a child to read outside their vocabulary and have the tools to learn new words.

We do the rhyming and say it fast/ say it slow exercises while outside playing bubbles:

bubbles

Here, she’s not just practicing the “sssss” sound (and writing it, look at the chalkboard behind her), she’s also blowing some stellar bubbles while sporting a Seed Savers t-shirt, compliments of S. Smith, author of the series.  Kiddo adores Sandy and the shirt she gave her.

Beads and Dexterity

No preschool program is complete without crafts!

While moving I rediscovered some craft supplies from my own childhood.  I thought about donating these as well, but kiddo begged to do a bead project and I determined that these were worth saving.  The star was her first try, it took about an hour to complete; so if your preschooler doesn’t quite have the patience and attention span, be prepared to split a project like this into two sessions.

beadsCheck out Klemm University for more frequent updates. We are an online homeschool group based in Texas and would love for other homeschool moms, teachers, and general citizens to pipe in with ideas for keeping our educational journey more exciting, diverse, and thorough.  Come join the conversations!

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Singing Kiddo

September 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books

P1000289I remember singing a lot as a kid.  I was a choir girl.  I loved the oldies, I loved the nursery rhymes, I loved hearing my voice, I loved making noise, I loved it all.  I also loved books.

Kiddo is very much the same.  Instead of oldies, though, she listens to a lot of Michael Jackson.  I’m terrible about remembering old nursery rhymes, but we sing a lot of Disney music.  She adores a good book.

So when I found Sing With Me, I grabbed it on the spot.  I didn’t want kiddo to miss out on the childish songs.  The “Ants Go Marching” is fun! “Down by the Bay” = Awesome! “Skinamarinky Dinky Dink” is also a fantastic favorite.  But when I was faced with singing them with my kid, I couldn’t really remember them.  And apparently I’ve been singing all the wrong words to “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

Kiddo loves this book.  It came with a cd and we play it in our radio in the library of our house.  Sometimes we take it on car rides.  She likes flipping through the pages and following along with the lyrics.  The audio and visual word recognition at the same time (that I don’t have to do) is a nice break from reading all day.  We love it and I highly recommend it to other moms and teachers for their preschoolers.

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Song for Papa Crow

June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

songforpapacrowTitle: Song for Papa Crow

Author: Marit Menzin

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

I was delighted to have Schiffer Publishing contact me to review a selection of their picture books.  There can never be too many children’s books here in the Klemm household, as kiddo devours them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.  We’re readers. We read.  We’re also artists and we love admiring quality picture books.

As a homeschool mom of an aspiring birder, I couldn’t find Song for Papa Crow any more perfect.

This is a lovely story about how Little Crow loves to sing.  He sings his heart out and in the course of teaching children what birds of North America make what sounds, we also follow Little Crow on a a journey of self-discovery and why it’s a beautiful thing to be yourself.

Menzin’s collage art is gorgeous.  Kiddo and I adore all the rich colors.  We spend a good deal of time outdoors and it’s wonderful to see nature portrayed with so much texture even while confined to the pages of a book.

Of course, after every book, I ask kiddo what she thinks.  My three year old smiled broadly and responded, “I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous, naturally, being pronounced ridicooooolous and said for the sheer enjoyment of using the word.  Proven by the fact that she has asked for me to read “the Papa Crow one” at least twice a day since our first reading.

Now, a week later, I ask kiddo:

“Would you like to say anything about Papa Crow to our readers?”

“Yes,” she says decisively.

“What would you like to say?”

“Nothing at all, I just want it to be SEEN.”

Powerful words from a three year old, I think.  She’s right, we could talk about how awesome Papa Crow is all day, but when all is said and done, Menzin’s collages simply must be seen.

Songs for Papa Crow will accompany us to Story Time at Half Price Books Humble for the next two weeks (July 2nd & 9th).  We meet every Wednesday, all summer, at 10:30 am.  Though we typically read multiple titles, we tend to choose a favorite to feature each week.  We will also have a few Schiffer Kids Spring 2014 Catalogs for patrons of Story Time to peruse.  Snacks are provided.

I look forward to reading more from Schiffer Books as well as Marit Menzin.  The Klemms are officially fans for life.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves and Dewberry Pie

May 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Homeschooling adventures have turned into some serious life skills lessons, which in turn have become foraging.

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As previously mentioned, we use foragingtexas.com as a main source of information, but we do a lot of external research on our own as well.

Mustang Grapes – from foragingtexas.com

Scientific name: Vitis mustangensis
Abundance: plentiful
What: fruits, leaves, young tendrils
How: fruit raw (very tart), cooked, dried, preserves, wine; leaves and tendrils cooked,
Where: Edges of woods. Mustang grape leaves are fuzzy and have a white underside.
When: summer
Nutritional Value: calories, antioxidants
Other uses: water can be obtained from the vines (see technique in grapes- muscadine post), wild yeast from the fruit
Dangers: Mustang grapes are very acidic and handling/eating large amounts of the raw fruit can cause burns to hands and mouth.

When homeschooling, this is a good time to teach your kiddo about plant classifications.  While picking the leaves (we had a mixture of Mustang grape leaves and Muscadine grape leaves, but I don’t recommend stuffing the Muscadines, they end up a little stringy).

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Vitales

Family – Vitaceae

Genus – Vitis

Species – V. mustangensis

Our lessons then continue into the kitchen where we follow recipes and learn about fractions and conversions.  You’d be amazed at how much a three year old will pick up on if you just show them.  We halved this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/my-own-famous-stuffed-grape-leaves/ as well as added lemon balm from our home garden to the rice mixture.

P1020054Our dewberry & grape leaf haul.

Dewberries – from foragingtexas.com

Scientific name: Rubus species
Abundance: plentiful
What: flowers, berries
How: open mouth, insert flower/fruit, then chew. seep flowers/young leaves in hot water for tea
Where: Sunny wastelands, borders between woods and fields. Dewberry plants grow as a low, horizontal ground cover.
When: Spring
Other uses: wine, jelly, tea, wine
Nutritional Value: carbohydrates, vitamin C; small amount of minerals and vitamins A & B
Dangers: sharp thorns

Again, our goal is to memorize the classifications and understand how they work:

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Rosales

Family – Rosaceae

Genus – Rubus

Species – R. arborginum

Well, that and to make pies.

We used this pie recipe, except exchanged the blackberries for dewberries, and used a bit more sugar.

It was a hearty dinner and dessert.

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Bouquet of Color

March 7, 2014 at 11:40 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Revisiting…

dirt

Title:  I Love Dirt!

(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)

Today, we went for a much needed walk in the woods.  When the weather is nice, we’re out there five days a week.  When the weather is too hot to be nice, we’re out there four days a week.  When the weather is obnoxiously freezing cold, wet, and completely unnatural to a born and bred Texan, we hide indoors and rock back and forth holding our hot coffee and teas.  Well, not quite, but close.  We actually sit by the window and watch the birds eat bits of things we’ve left in the yard, name the squirrels that live in the trees out back, and read stories by the fire burning in the fireplace.

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Today, the sun was out for a bit.  It wasn’t quite so cold.  We needed the woods and we needed it bad.  There was cheering involved.

So, we loaded up our trustee going out bag and went for a trek.  Tucked inside was our copy of I Love Dirt and as soon as we hit the trails we read from chapter two: Bouquet of Color.

Bouquet of Color is an exercise in finding flowers and identifying how many colors we can see.  It’s a purely natural I Spy game.

P1010201   We discovered more flowers we would call purple than I would have supposed.  Lots of purple field pansies, baby blue eyes (that look more purple than blue), and even some butterfly peas.  We saw a lot of pointed phlox, but that is categorically considered a ‘red’ wildflower… so maybe we’re a little colorblind because they looked pinkish purple to us.

Of course, there was a lot of yellow in the form of dandelions, but not as many as I would have guessed.   We found a lot of dewberry patches sporting their telling white blooms, and took note of where they were so we could come forage berries come summer.  Yet, tt seemed Kiddo was still shouting “I see purple!” more than any other phrase.

P1010203We were pretty excited about the blossoms on this tree.  See what they look like up close.  Anyone know what it is?

Click this photo to find out…

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Sometimes on the trail we get distracted from whatever task is at hand and just enjoy ourselves.  Here she said, “I want to put the sun in my mouth!” I couldn’t resist snapping that picture.

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Bug Days

January 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , )

Homeschooling and reading go hand in hand.  I don’t know how people who claim to not be readers attempt homeschooling.  I don’t know how people can attempt to live life not being readers actually.

That being said, I read maybe a little *too* much in the grand scheme of things.  And I’ll find any connections between something I can do while going over something my preschooler can do.

Like bugs and a Brian Kiteley novel.

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So while I’m reading,  “These beetles secrete a chemical, cantharidin, which blisters most skin.”

Kiddo is doing this:

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When I read, “The beetles I caught today had lost their way.  Several hundred Cow Dung Beetles in flight. Miles and miles of food, but not the sort they can digest.”

Kiddo has this action going:

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Still Life With Insects isn’t as much about bugs as it might seem, but at least when Kiddo looks up from her bug studies, there’s an apparent theme in the house while I devour more literature.

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Poetry and Paint

January 27, 2014 at 12:05 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Robert FrostTitle:The Road Not Taken and Other Poems

Author: Robert Frost

Publisher: Dover Thrift Edition

Genre: Poetry

I have a hard time reading poetry silently.  When I’m reading it in my mind, my eyes tend to skip over the words like stones on water.

But aloud – that’s a different story.

Nothing calms us faster in my house (the kiddo and I) than poetry, painting, and a little Alt-J in the background.  I don’t know how I survived sadness and melancholy before Alt-J was a part of my world.

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The latest masterpiece – age 3.

This week we read through a Dover Thrift Edition of Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken and Other Poems.  Like most people, kiddo will probably be far more familiar with The Road Less Taken than any of Frost’s other poetry.  We don’t just read it out loud when we paint, but out on the trails in the woods too.  Poetry is appropriate for painting, Frost is great while tromping on leaves.  He just has a woodsy feel to him.

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Starting a new piece during a poetry day.

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I Love Dirt!

January 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

dirtTitle: I Love Dirt!(52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature)

Author: Jennifer Ward

Foreword: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Illustratator: Susie Ghahremani

I popped in at Half Price Books after a long season off from scheduling book signings.  Tucked low in my employee cube was a book – this book – with a post it note on it from my boss.

“Andi – I thought you might like because of the woods you live by!”

I did like it, immediately.  And bought it with my Christmas money.

The book starts with a riveting foreword about the nature of nature in the United States and how much we have strayed from the outdoors.  Interestingly enough, the more we stray from outdoor life, the more children struggle with obesity, ADD and ADHD, as well as depression.

And the more kids spend outdoors?

“A 2005 study by the California Department of Education found that students in schools with nature immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than kids in traditional class settings.  Similarly, children who attended outdoor classrooms showed substantially improved test scores, particularly in science.  Such research consistently confirms what our great-grandparents instinctively knew to be true, and what we know in our bones and nerves to be right: free-play in natural settings is good for a child’s mental and physical health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, stating in 2007 that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for children.”

P1000640I’m in love with this book.  I already do a lot of nature activities with my child – foraging for starters.  We play outside at the public park, we walk nature trails, we run, we jump, do cartwheels in the grass, hunt insects and lizards, sword fight with sticks, and sing our ABCs at the tops of our lungs by the creek.  As Ward states in her introduction, “There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them.”

All of the activities in this book are pretty much cost free.  The only one I found that requires any kind of purchase is the bird feeding one, and that’s only if you want to do it big and don’t have spare groceries in your house.  The activities are simple, like sprinkling orange peels in your yard or covering pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to bird watch from inside when it is too cold to be outside.

The book is broken up seasonally, so you can hop in and do something no matter when you pick up the book.  Each activity has a prompt or a concept to get your child thinking about the activity and world itself.

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