Now that Eric is six months old (tomorrow) and definitely on a more or less predictable, yet flexible, schedule, I am finding it a little easier to get back into the swing of giving Katie more structured instruction. She seems to thrive on this time and likes to “play school” with me. I still try to keep it loose—she is only three!—while intending to challenge her, keeping it structured, and giving her some idea of proper school etiquette and behavior. Even if we stay in our jammies to begin our learning (which is fun and more low-key), we must do our basic grooming and tidy our hair—we show respect for education by paying attention to how we present ourselves.

The biggest challenge for me is to teach her while tending to Eric at the same time. The only saving grace here is having practice in my professional teaching career with differentiating instruction and tending to thirty students at once; otherwise, I think I would feel fraught with distraction. He takes a short nap in the morning (very short) that allows us to read a few longer books together uninterrupted; the rest of the time I am setting Katie up on an activity and playing with him while walking around and giving formative feedback. I am still ironing out the kinks (and will be for quite some time).

Morning is a good time for learning, and after lunch we transitioned to working on our quilt, playing with grandparents, and other parts of life.

We started our learning session with reviewing our phonics flashcards. I am still working out my teaching of phonics. I got several good leads from other moms about resources to use, but after Eric was born I found myself not following through on checking those books out. I remember these awesome phonics flip-charts from my elementary school and would LOVE to get those…although it takes more than drilling. How I wish, wish, wish for experience being a reading teacher.

 

Next, we practiced writing our lower case letters. Katie loves these dry-erase-pen-friendly cards from Kumon. She traces the lines they have set up, and she has a blast using the dry-erase pen! We have number cards, also. Love these.

More writing practice.

While Eric was sleeping, we had story time. We ended with this book by Margaret Wise Brown, The Important Book. This was a recent purchase. This book is AWESOME and the possibilities for using it in instruction seem to me to be endless. The author writes a paragraph for each of several objects: apples, wind, grass, spoons, etc. She begins each paragraph with “The important thing about______ is that it______.” She attempts to catch hold of a young child’s subjectivity. For example, she writes “The important thing about an apple is that it is round.” She doesn’t really think so, but it is clear she is goading the reader into a response. Katie loves to take the bait on this. She loves to refute this book and to discuss what truly the most important aspects of the object might be. She told me that the important thing is not that the apple is round, but that you can eat it. When the author wrote, “The important thing about daisies are that they are white,” Katie exclaimed, “No, it’s not! It’s that bees can fly around them!” From there, she talked about pollen and making honey. She was stumped when we got to the paragraph about grass…but we talked about how it is important that grass can be eaten by animals who make milk. I cannot recommend this book enough, and if I were a grade school teacher, I would immediately snatch it up for my classroom.

After reading the book, we got out our special journal/picture paper.

On the back we made a brainstorm. In the middle bubble we wrote, “The important thing about Katherine June is that…” Then I showed her how to make spokes and bubbles, and I wrote down the ideas she came up with about herself:

From there, we wrote a composition together. Katie spoke it out loud, and I wrote it down for her.

Modeling on the book we had read, we began with “The important thing about Katherine June is that…”

Katie’s paragraph:

“The important thing about Katherine June is that she is sweet. She has powers, and she has an Amie. I like to pretend. The important thing about my brain is that I think about you and Amie and me. But the important thing is…Katie loves everything!”

While I went to get Eric dressed for the day, Katie worked on her picture to accompany her paragraph. The red person with the blue eyes and blue hair is herself, and the person next to her is Boppa “with his glasses” she said.

When we came back downstairs, I asked her to tell me about her picture. Then I asked her what she had done well on this assignment and to tell me why she thought she should earn a star sticker on it. It is never too soon to teach students to identify in self-reflection what it is that they do WELL…and to edify that.

Then it was music time!

Eric and I played the drums and other instruments while Katie danced. We used some of our Music Together music and had fun! Then we all danced to The Bangles and 80s Madonna. Of course, Katie loves “Walk Like an Egyptian” from The Bangles. We played it three times in a row, running around, being silly, and hiding and seeking.

It was a fun morning!

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