Thursday, January 28, 2016

I is for "Inch by Inch"

Today, Little Miss is on her second day with the letter I and so we worked on the concept of inches.  Measurement is still a tricky idea to grasp, so I don't worry too much about how detailed I get here.  The idea is that you are introducing the word, and giving follow up to the use of "inches" to measure.

Yesterday, we talked about inchworms and we watched the video showing inchworms moving along.  Today, I printed out this page from our Letter of the Week packet...

And we cut out the "Ruler" on the bottom.  I showed her the inches and we counted them together, and then we measured the insects together.   Then, she colored in a few of the little bugs.

And then, we watched a book video of Leo Lionni's "Inch By Inch" picture book.  This gal does a fabulous job reading it out loud, if you need a link:

That's about as good as you can get for a preschool follow-up to both inches and inchworms!

The last thing we did today (since Little Miss was still in the mood to do more), was her Matching Game.

As usual, we chatted about each of the pictures and the words they represented as we go.

For all these pages and many more Letter I activities, go to our store where our letter I packet is available:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I is for Inchworms

After Christmas, I thought I would break things up a bit for Little Miss by giving her an introduction to shapes.  So we played with shapes and began chatting about patterns, and this was a nice little break from our letters.  Breaks are beautiful things.

Teaching Tip:  Remember, just like you enjoy a good break, your child does too, and can come back refreshed and ready to go. 

But, our break was now over, and we are at the letter I.  Fun surprises lurked here for us, when I chose to reintroduce Little Miss to the Letter of the Week packets by choosing the Glimmercat Path of Motion Color Sheet and our little Inchworm Craft.

First, let's get the story on our I letter card here.  Glimmercat is surprised by this little inchworm in the picture.  And so she jumps in surprise and lets out a short i sound!  That's the I sound in pig.  So, I explained this to Little Miss and then showed her how to write the big I, starting at the top and going down, and then finishing off with the top and bottom.

Then she jumped in with the coloring.  We also practiced saying the short I sound in a surprised sort of way.  Which is very fun for Preschool.

Here's a little serendipity that was quite a treat.  I had picked up YumEarth Organics Gummy Worms the other day as a treat for my kiddos, so I opened them up (figured it was a timely opening to inchworms), and look at these cute little things!

They look more like Inchworms than any other Gummy Worm out there!  Are they not adorable?  Such a great find for teaching about inchworms!  Now, since inchworms are new to Little Miss, we popped onto YouTube and found this little inchworm gem:

 Isn't that a cute one?  I like seeing the different sizes worms and the funny way they seem to feel the air before they continue on their little inching way.   And we munched on our little gummy inchworms while we watched. 

And then, I printed out our Inchworm Craft.  It looks like this:

And Little Miss cut out the pink worm and slid her pipe cleaner through the holes (with a little help).

And then we slid the little guy along the pipe cleaner so that he moved along an awfully lot like the inchworms in that video.  

And that's all for our first day back.  It was an easy entry back into Letter of the Week, and I think Little Miss is pleased to be back in our regular work, too.

For this and many other crafts and activities, we have a Letter of the Week packet for I available in our store. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Art and Art History for Elementary Students

Our latest upload on the Glimmercat Education store is a bit different than what we have offered so far.  Mainly, this is because my children are still on the younger side and I am creating our curriculum for them as we go.

Caedyn paints like the Impressionists:  In all sorts of weather.

But my son took a very artistic bent last spring as we began studying the Impressionists and I began looking for more information on specific artists so I could pass it along to him.  Funny, I couldn't find a whole lot.  Although, there is certainly Art History available, I wasn't able to find much in the way of lesson plans geared for younger children that still managed to teach valuable information that they could grasp.

In fact, the truth is that I was so disappointed in what I was able to find, that I went to my computer and went after it myself.  There's always a bit of trepidation when entering waters that others have apparently left alone.  You think to yourself, "Maybe they know something I don't..."

But then, usually, you venture in anyway to discover it on your own.  Well, at least I do.  Or did.  Anyway, because I was gearing this curriculum for those who were a little older than my son, I asked a close friend to run through it with her 8 year old daughter who is home-schooled.

And so the photos I get to share with you today include the lovely Maranatha who accomplished one of the three Renoir lessons in a beautiful way.

Here she is, ready to begin.  Lesson 1 of  "Renoir: the Artist Who Loved Pretty Things" requires three print-outs, colored pencils, a paintbrush, watercolors and a paper plate.

After her mother read the lesson called "Renoir's Porcelain", which explains Renoir's early apprenticeship in a porcelain factory, Maranatha practice drawing leaves and flowers on our Art Activity Sheet.  First she drew the outlines as we suggest with colored pencil.  Then, she filled in the flower with watercolor.

Having tested her skill on this practice Activity Sheet, she is ready to move over to designing her porcelain plate...that is, her paper plate.

Again, she creates her flowers first with colored pencil, and then fills in the centers of her designs with watercolors.  And her finished plate looks incredible! Almost as lovely as her happy smile!

Beautiful work, Maranatha!

Also included in this packet are some copyright free images of a few of Renoir's works.  Although these are available online also, sometimes it's nice to be able to look at one that is in your hands.

Here is the image utilized in Lesson 3:

 The blotchy, quick style of painting (synonymous with the Impressionists) is very evident in this piece, and after discussing it, children have another Art Activity sheet to do.

And in this activity, they are to utilize cotton balls and Q-tips in acrylic paint to create the flower image.

Caedyn did a great job making an Impressionistic looking Black Eyed Susan.  And then, again in a follow up lesson, children are encouraged to use the same style of painting for a subject of their choice.

There are three lessons in total, which is quite enough for an elementary introduction to Renoir.  I'll be creating more of these Art Packets in the future.  In the meantime, this one is downloadable for $2.00 at my store:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The ONE Reason You MUST get a Teaching Credential to Homeschool

Dear Parents Who Homeschool:

You are an incredibly brave and heroic group of people, and whatever your reasons (they are as many and unique and individual as the people who make up this group) for taking on the task of educating your children, I salute you for it.   You are taking on a task that you were not "officially" prepared for.  An additional job that you didn't necessarily sign up for when you chose to have children.  You were not given 4 years of professional instruction from experienced professors explaining how to handle classroom management, lesson planning, organizational tips, or educational psychology.

And yet, you are uniquely equipped to handle this occupation.   As you begin your Homeschooling journey, I actually have only one suggestion to offer from my educational background and experience.  Please, remember to...

...ignore The Drips.

I have discovered two kinds of Drips who wish to rain on my Homeschooling Parade.  You meet these two kinds of folks at either your Co-op, Charter School, or Homeschooling Meet-Up.

The first Drip, I'll call "Mrs. Know-it-all"Mrs. Know-it-all  has one child whom she home-schooled for 6 years, half of which was online assisted instruction.  Although you have not invited her input and are not impressed personally by her child (who still lives at home and works at his uncle's restaurant as a dishwasher), she herself feels she has a great deal to pass on to you.  She proceeds to offer home-schooling tips you haven't asked for, insist you use her favorite homeschooling curriculum, and assumes by her attitude that you are a helpless soul and will only be able to home-school by following her infinite wisdom.

The second Drip, we will call "Mr. UsedToTeach".   Mr. UsedToTeach barely waits for you to tell him your name before he explains his prior occupation.  He used to Teach with a capital T.  Professionally.  In a classroom.  And he still has his credential framed on his wall.  He tells you this with much the same attitude of one who wishes to separate the proverbial sheep from the goats, and you immediately understand that you are of a lesser breed, much less intellectual, much less capable, much less likely to ever rise to the title of "Teacher".

The worst by far of these two Drips, is Mr. UsedToTeach.  As members of the human race, we've all had to deal with "know-it-alls" in our various walks of life and we already have our own ways of dealing with them, wherever we find them.  But when you run into that former teacher who is also an intellectual snob, you have found the one person who is most willing to squelch your aspiring hopes of teaching your own children.

I doubt it's intentional.  Likely, it's the natural attempt to justify one's former occupation.  But I apologize to you on behalf of all former teachers for Mr. UsedToTeach and his attitude towards you.  Not all of us wish to squelch you.

The ironic part is that a credential certainly does NOT a good teacher make.  C'mon, we all had one:  that one teacher who despised every student in their classroom and children in general, and who couldn't teach to save their lives.  I know, it's not politically correct to call any teacher, "a bad teacher" but as a former teacher, let me just be honest about the bad apples in the barrel:  they're out there.   Even with that credential hanging on their wall.  Somehow, that classy piece of paper has not improved on their ability to either enjoy kids or teach well.  What's up with that?

You don't have to have a teaching credential to be a great teacher.  And, you don't have to be an innately gifted teacher in order to teach well.  (That just makes everything a lot easier.) 

So back to my first suggestion about ignoring the Drips.  Do that, and then seek out the the real sages who don't need to tout their tips to the local crowds and are busy giving outside the limelight, where nobody sees.   Find the Homeschooling parents whose kids impress you and ask them for their best tips.  They will believe in your ability to teach, as they believed in their children's ability to learn.  They know you have what it takes.  They will encourage and help you every step of the way.

Be confident in your ability to teach your children, in the same way that you have trained them to do everything else you taught them to do.

And what about the title of this blog?  Aside from the click bait virtues of it, there is one time that a Teaching Credential comes in really, REALLY handy while Home-schooling:

For the pure, unadulterated pleasure of refusing to let Mr. UsedToTeach look down on you when he shares his professional background.  Three times now, in this first year of officially home-schooling my firstborn, I have run into a Mr. UsedToTeach.  The third time, I hardly waited for the individual to finish telling me they were a former teacher before I interrupted, "Yeah, me too."

It's such a pleasant, indulgent way for me to shut down any superiority.  It makes that teaching credential (which is stuffed in a box under my bed somewhere) all worthwhile.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Those Little Extras for Teaching Your Child to Read With "100 Easy Lessons"

One of the most popular items in our store has been the downloadable packets (free and otherwise) that are filled with supplemental activities that work hand in glove with the amazing Distar Reading Program, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons".

I used this reading program in my traditional classroom when I taught reading, but since the program is designed for a parent and child to sit down together one on one, I had to modify it quite a bit.  I created quite a few supplemental worksheets and printables at the time, that would work for the classroom experience.

And now that I have begun using this program with my own children, I find that those supplemental worksheets are a lot of help.  So I have been developing more and uploading these to my store, in bite-sized segments.  At this time, we are all the way up to Lesson 50, and offer our packets as a Bundle for cost-saving. 

I have had many requests to create supplements for the entire 100 lessons.  I'm working on it! 

Here's what we have so far:

 This was our first experimental packet, following up the great reception to the freebies we put up.  Now if you are familiar with the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons", you will remember that by the end of lesson 5, there are only 4 sounds to work with:  a, m, long e, and s.

So the worksheets and crafts in this packet are based only on those sounds.  We included a Dot to Dot activity and crafts to keep it fun, but also really helpful are the Writing Practice Sheets that have the paths of motion already included for children that are just being introduced to these letters/sounds.

We call this one "After Five Phonics".  

Keeping the Covers of the packets pretty similar, but with different color schemes, our next release was "After Ten", intended of course, to be utilized after you and your child have completed Lesson 10 in the Distar Program.  At the completion of Lesson 10, children will have been introduced to two more sounds:  r, and t.

Now, very simple words can be formed, and so I tried to get creative with these and make worksheets that would echo the instruction that is received in the program.  In addition to the craft pages and the writing practice sheets, I added a "Finding the Sounds" Activity, utilizing shapes and a "What Do You See?" page where children can illustrate a short sentence that they have read.

This, of course, is "After Ten Phonics".

By this time, I was starting to receive some great feedback, including the news that a 2nd grade Special Ed teacher was utilizing these new worksheets and so I decided to try my hand at a few other new kinds of activities in the next packet, "After Fifteen".

The sounds introduced between Lesson 10 and Lesson 15 are d and the short i sound.

So after creating all the activities I now considered standard for the packets, I also created an "Identifying the Sounds" worksheet and an "Identifying Words" worksheet, so that children could work with newly acquired sounds by connecting the sounds to the pictures represented. 

Now I was having people contact me via my website to ask when and if I would have the other packets completed soon.  This was exciting and also helped me to keep the creative juices going.

After Lesson Twenty, the new sounds include:  th and

"After Twenty" also included another new activity, a Story Time Page, where children can practice their reading comprehension of a very simple story.

Then, came "After Twenty-Five".  Along with the crafts, and the other activities that have already been listed, I added something new to this packet.

The new addition is something I have been wanting to do, when enough of the sounds were there.  After Lesson 25 in the Distar program, children have been introduced to sounds o, n, and f.

With these sounds added to the repertoire, there are now enough sounds to create a Mini Book, that children may read, color, and then take home to share their skills with their parents.

The Mini Book is intended to be cropped to the size of the outer black rectangle, folded into a 1/4 sized paper book, and then read, and colored, if desired.

As we have expanded our packets, the supplements we have created have modified and expanded as well.  We now offer multi-sensory pages for each sound in the first 50 packets. 

  These Multi-sensory pages are not only able to be used for children to find and circle the images that begin with the sound that is pictured, but they can also use manipulatives to fill in the sound.

For instance, this nice big S sound could be used to fill in with string or small stones.  Children have the opportunity to create the letter using manipulatives like these. 

We have also revamped some of our Craft pages, to ensure that children can learn more about the new sounds they are learning through easy, crafts that help explore vocabulary with delightful experiences. 

We can't wait for you to dive in and learn more about these awesome supplements! 

Come visit our store, and look them over in detail. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

H is for House

H is for House!  In your letter of the week program, this is such a fun day to do!  Because every preschool child wants to create their own mini house.  But, let's start at the beginning:

First, we read the Caldecott Winning picture book, "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton.  This is a longer book than I would usually read aloud to preschool, but there are some children that this story just fascinates, since the story is about the passage of seasons and time around the little house and ends satisfyingly. 

Then, we did a little practice with writing H, using the path of motion practice sheet (included in our packet).

And then, we went right to coloring our House Craft.  This is included in our Letter of the Week Packet for H as a colored version, also, but my kids always love the one they can color in themselves.

I helped Little Miss to finish her coloring, and I also cut out the house and roof shape when she was done.  I chatted with her a little about patterns as we colored in her roof lines.

We use tape on this craft because it tape is more helpful in holding the edges of the little paper house together.  Again, I helped a bit with this part.

On this day, Little Miss was ready to be done at this point, so I let her go off and play, but if your child is still raring to go, there is one more activity we have in our packet that has to do with houses.

 This Dot to Dot activity comes together like the above picture shows.  My daughter completed it later and called it her "Winnie the Pooh House", which isn't too far off, I suppose. 

That's all for Day 2!  For a closer look at the Letter of the Week packet for H that we offer in our store, you can pop over here: