Monday, April 25, 2016

Shakespeare for Children {Part 1}


If you find the thought intimidating, well you and me both. I know
of a few moms who read Shakespeare to their children because
Shakespeare is something dear to them. They are intimate with
the works and are merely passing the torch to the next generation.

I, on the other hand, have a very limited knowledge of Shakespeare.
I know of Romeo and Juliet but not much more beyond that.

Now here I am today, a mom of a 6yo, a 3.5yo and a 1.5yo, excited
to be introducing The Bard's works to my little ones.

Here are some books we'll be taking along on the journey:

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb presents
Shakespeare's works as simple stories for the children to enjoy.
The book was first published in 1807, and is said to have started
the sub genre which we now know to be Children's Shakespeare.

Once the kids are nicely settled and eating their afternoon snack,
I pull out Tales from Shakespeare and read a few pages at a time.
I usually start with a recap of what's happened then continue on
past where we ended. Nothing fancy. Just mom and the kids
reading a book and enjoying the afternoon. I'll be honest, I'll be
lucky to get in 10minutes of read aloud time. Patience. Patience.
Patience. It all builds up. When the kids get squirmy, I put down
the book and we're done for the day.

Tales from Shakespeare is available online for free. You may
find the out of copyright version here.

Shakespeare's Stories for Young Readers by E. Nesbit is another
classic Children's Shakespeare book. I posted this next so you
can compare it against the Lamb version. Either would be a good
introductory book for children.

You may find the free out of copyright version here.

I so love Teach Your Child Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. Ludwig
introduces us to some of his favourite passages and explains what's
going on in the text. What's the story about? Why did this character
say such? What key passages should we take to heart? As a
playwright and theatre director, Ludwig's experience translated
into a book that has made the plays come to life.

Our family has been slowly trying to incorporate memory work
into our meal times. We've tried poetry and bible verses. Shakespeare
is getting thrown into the mix as well. Teach Your Child Shakespeare
has great tips on how to go about memorizing Shakespeare. This book
is worth looking into if you want to take this route.

Books you may want to consider, depending on the age and
interest of your child:

I know some moms who're fans of the Shakespeare's retellings by
Bruce Coville. The pictures are beautifully drawn and the stories
are well written. The books remind me of the illustrated classics
that I read when I was a child.

Im sure young children will have fun with The Shakespeare Can Be
Fun! books. The approach of this series is more modern than the
other books mentioned. I'm sure my children will easily relate to
the illustrations in the book. Im tempted to go with this series next.

Mr. William Shakespeare's Plays by Marcia Williams is another
popular modern book that would appeal to children who like
comic books. The text is a bit small so it might appeal to those
who are already confident readers.

There you have it, a few books on Shakespeare for Children.
I hope you enjoy reading the books as much as we do in our home!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More FREE ABC Resources {2016}

Here are a few more ABC Resources we'll be using this year.

Raising Rocks Stars Writing Practice Sheets by 1+1+1

Alphabet Writing Sheets by Wild About Teaching

Alphabet Writing Sheets by Confessions of a Homeschooler

ABC Find It by 1+1+1

Beginning Sounds Coloring Sheets by Measured Mom

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FREE ABC Resources {2016}

This 2016 is going to be an exciting school year for us.

2015 was about laying a good foundation for Pea. Baby R was still a baby
and tagging along.

Our focus was on learning the alphabet, counting from 1-20, learning
basic colors and shapes. We mostly read books. But we did use some
printables from Kindergaten Mom.

Link for FREE Kindergarten Mom ABC Printables

We spent lots of time playing with play dough, legos and toys. We drew a lot
and learned how to use our scissors.

We went outside and played in the garden for every day play.
We continued to go to the playgroup. And went to playgrounds.
We watched learning videos when it was time for Mom to do the cooking.
It was a happy busy year.

This year, we're eager to try out some new resources.

We're drawing inspiration from activities of The Measured Mom.
And starting out with these FREE ABC Resources from This Reading Mama:

Link for FREE Alphabet Worksheets

Link for FREE ABC Printable Packs 

Pea is now 3yo. R is already 1.5yo. How time flies.
And so it is that we press onwards until we're reading, writing
and doing maths.

Some of the things we've been doing in the past can be found here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Calendars

Calendar by scrappystinkyinkymess

2016 is off to a slooooow start.
We had recently gone on an extended holiday and had just gotten back.
The kids' body clocks are still trying to get back to normal.
I'm just playing catch up.

So yeah, I forgot to buy a desk flip calendar. You read that right, Desk Flip.
Apparently, searching for something Desk Top will just lead you
to computer desktop images. Many thanks to MaryAnne and Kristen
for our 2016 calendar.

If you're still here, thank you :)

p.s. Check out scrappystinkyinkymess if you're into book folding.
Wow! So that's how it's done!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sensory Bin: Red

Sensory Bin: Red
Look P,
- a red helicopter,
- a red A
- a red wrench and a red bolt
- a red cog
- red "Legos"
So P, what color is this?

P enthusiastically replies (with the brightest eyes and the widest smiles):

Well, she is in a season of Pink after all!

What's wrong with me?

This is why I never really made sensory bins. M didn't like them. 
I'm guessing P is not interested in them either.

- because all red is probably not much fun 
- because she was in the mood for "developing her gross motor skills" 
(Baby R and I had to go to the bedroom. Tot P tagged along and had a 
grand time making a pillow mountain and jumping around)
- because she'd rather play with something else period. Yes, kids are 
like that.

Maybe this is what she sees?

 I'll give it a few more tries before I decide if sensory bins are a go or no go.
There are other fun ways for P to learn. We can always use other methods
to achieve the same desired learning outcome. None of them will involve a
written exam.

p.s. My apologies for the off shots. We're still in between cameras. Just
making do with what's here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Start Your Pre-K / Kindergarten Home Program

This post is here because I wanted to re-plan for P who's now 2 y.o.
I also have a few friends who're considering homeschooling their kids
who're in the Pre-K / Kindergarten years.

M has gone of to Year 1 at a regular school. He's adjusted quite well.
Of course there are still areas for improvement. But nothing out of
the ordinary for a 5y.o.

Let me start by saying you don't really need to do much. Maintain
a child-friendly home and your child will have plenty of opportunity
to learn and explore at his/her own pace.

Pam has a great post on this.

10 Things we focused on:
1) Love, being and doing good, and living our Catholic faith.
2) Learning good health habits.
3) Learning self care.
4) Reading books.
5) Doing practical math.
6) Learning other age-appropriate skills.
7) Watching educational videos.
8) Using assorted materials for learning: colouring books, paper,
print outs, blocks, puzzles, crayons, etc
9) Exploring personal interests.
10) Play play play.

It really was quite random and ordinary. In a way, I envy those who
have pinterest-worthy pictures. M didn't stay interested in something
long enough so we never had one particular curriculum / activity /
etc. Not enough for me to say that we had a theme. We really just
went along doing our thing - learning and growing as best as we could.

Game changers:
1) Keeping things consistent.
- We blocked off time in the morning just for homeschooling. We made
sure to do 30 minutes of reading plus a learning activity or two.
2) Planning.
- We referred to book lists, maintained a decent monthly "book basket",
always had interesting activities available, ensured that supplies were
adequate, reviewed what worked or not, etc.
- We did basic math in the beginning. We used Early Bird Kindergarten
Math books (Singapore Math) when M turned 4y.o.
3) Choosing a less tech lifestyle.
- We invested in toys so the kids had something to play with. Rotating
the toys was necessary because kids easily tire of a toy. Sharing toys
was always a requirement.
- We kept the t.v. off until it was late afternoon. No hours and hours
of mindless t.v. The kids had no choice but to do something.
4) Playgroup / Outdoor play.
- The children and I would go to playgroup twice a week, weather
permitting. It was a chance for us to go out. The playgroup had toys
and an outdoor playground so they were able to play in a different
- There are other children in the compound and all the kids just play
in the garden. Free weekends would include a trip to the playground.
5) Valuing happy memories.

Additional Resources for you:
- Mother Hubbards Cupboard
- ABC Jesus Loves Me
- DTLK Letter Crafts
- Twisty Noodle Printouts
- Catholic Letter Crafts
- Tot School

Is that all there is to it? Well yes and no. There's more that we'd like
to do. I'm sure we'll never get to doing it all. But as a whole, it's all
been good.

Click here for Book Lists. (future update)
Click here for Supplies List. (future update)
Click here for Organizing Tools. (future)

Are you a working mom? Check out How to Get Your Child Ready
for Kindergarten / Year 1 for a simplified home school program.

Photo Credit: Dennis S.

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Get Your Child Ready for Year 1

How to Get Ready for Year 1?

Recently, I've been asked this question by two different friends with
very different lives. I thought of posting my answers here in case
anyone else is wondering the same.

It serves as a good review for me too. We are starting over. P just
turned two. Tot School is back!


Si is a friend who works full time. Her hubby works with an early
morning shift while she works at night. This schedule allows for
at least one parent to look after the children. They have no helpers
nor family with them.

It is a busy life.

So what can a mom, with such a schedule, do to get a child ready for
Year 1?

Firstly, find out what your school expects of a child entering Year 1.
Some schools will have no expectations of the child. Other schools
have requirements for accepting students: the child already knows their
ABCs, can count 1-20, can write their name, etc.

It would be good to find out a year before your child starts school. The
earlier that you know, the more time that you have to prepare. Focus
on igniting a passion for learning. The skills will follow.

But what if the start of school is just around the corner? Or you're just
too busy managing everything that all you have is a few minutes a day
for "school work"?

My one thing would be: Read with your child.
Enjoy each other's company. Get lost in a good book together. Talk
about what's happening on the page. If time permits, create something.
These are precious years. Love love love. Focus on igniting a passion
for learning. The skills will follow.


My email to Si:

Sorry for the late email. I now reserve library books online so that
we can pick them up by next weekend. It takes around 1.5 weeks
for all books to arrive.

They say it's good to be reading 20 minutes daily with one's child.
That might be too much, you may want to start with 1-2 books
per day. To make it easy for you/your husband --- you can make
it a rule: 20-30 minute learning activity before "fun" tv :)

After a few weeks/months, your child will notice the "high
frequency words" and she can start reading those aloud. Example:
the, is, etc. She might also see phonics patterns on her own.
Example: cat, hat, mat, etc.

We started our daily reading at 2y.o. -- M started reading on his
own by 3y.o. (Other homeschoolers will tell you that it is normal
for kids to start reading at that age.) It could go faster/slower/same
with your child. Whatever the case, if you read to her daily, I'm
sure she will learn how to read. Even if she has started learning
how to read, you will still have to read to her to increase her
vocabulary. The older sibling can help by reading to her too.

Here are some books you might want to start with (all available
at the local library but most have to be ordered in advance as
they are owned by the other branches)
I. Author: Dr. Seuss / Theo LeSieg
(many good books by this author!)
- Hop on Pop
- Dr. Seuss ABC
- The Cat in the Hat
- Ten Apples Up on Top
- The Eye Book
II. Author: Eric Carle
(many good books by this author!)
- Brown Bear Brown Bear
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- From Head to Toe
- Pancakes Pancakes
III. Author: Stan Berenstain
(many good books by this author!)
- Inside Upside Outside Down
- Bears On Wheels
IV. Author: PD Eastman
- Go Dog Go
- The Best Nest
- Are You My Mother

Book Series:
(whatever's available in the library)
- I Can Read
- Step Into Reading
- etc

Youtube Videos:
(each channel has a playlist, just choose: ABCs, numbers,
time, etc)
- alphablocks (search in youtube)
- sesame street (search in youtube)

I. ABC Puzzle
(you can buy it from the dollar store) for her to play with
II. "Magnetic writing board"
III. "ABC Workbooks" / Notebook / Pencil / Crayon
IV. Books with characters / themes
Example: Dora, Disney Characters, etc
Example: Baking, Nature, etc
V. Letter crafts
- you don't need to do/complete all:
VI. On the Montessori order of teaching the alphabet
- this style makes it easier to combine letters that can form words:
How to Teach Your Child the Alphabet
VII. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book
- I've never tried this book. Some people have said it is good.
Something to consider. But personally, I find it too formal.

I rotate activities because children easily get bored. Let's say today
the ABC puzzle is out. The kids will be excited to use it for 1-2 weeks.
When they tire of it, that is kept and out comes the magnetic board, etc.
This also keeps things nice and neat.

Have fun!


Need a practical list of day to day activities that moms can easily do with
their child?

How about you, what suggestions do you have for a busy working mom
who wants to get their child ready for Year 1?

Photo Credit: Shardayy