Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Anna's Easter Fair

A couple of weeks before Easter, my daughter Anna announced that she was going to have an Easter party. She was going to charge $1.00 for each person to come (she has a little store- so cute- and wanted to set it up at the front door.) I told her it probably wasn't nice to charge people to come to a party, but maybe we could do an Easter "fair?" She liked that idea and quickly made invitations for each of her invitees. Now, I had three teeth pulled around this time and was not very involved in the process until I realized she was serious about making this happen. So after seeing how she had spelled the words on her invitations, I wrote out the words and she re-did them. The attempt was great for a five year-old, but I wasn't sure the recipients would be able to read them!

Anyway, she wrote out all the invitations for "Monday at 6 pm." It turned out that we could not do it the Monday before Easter, but we did have it yesterday, the day after. (Which is nice because Easter stuff is 50% off by then!) We set up 5 "games." One was a long jump. If you could jump to the first line, you got to pick one egg out of the basket. If you could jump to the second, you could pick two eggs. Oh, I forgot to say that Anna gave each guest 5 tickets that she cut up, and you had to pay a ticket to do each game. Another game was jumping on the mini-tramp, and reaching up to lines taped on the wall. (First line- one egg, second line- two eggs, etc.) Then we had two ball toss games, and finally, a trivia question. Once everyone used their tickets, we sat down for "tea" (oreos and grape juice) and allowed each guest to pick an egg that had an Easter trivia question. If they knew the answer, they got to pick an egg. The questions were simple biblical questions pertaining to Jesus' crucifixion. The eggs that they got for prizes had candy or a Snoopy Easter toy that I had collected over the years.

Anna was a wonderful host, and even in the planning stages really amazed me. She had an idea, and while I could have told her no, I realized how beneficial it would be for her to carry out her creative plan. She had to count tickets to make sure that she had enough for each child if they all came. I didn't realize this until later, but she only invited enough guests so that there would be enough tea party supplies. I had been wondering why she didn't invite all her little friends, and only invited three girls that live on our street, and later she mentioned her thoughts on the matter. She is so bright!

It was so much fun, I'm thinking about doing something like this every year. Here is a picture of Anna counting her money. When Anna said she was going to "get ready" for the fair, it was five minutes before it was supposed to start. That is why she is wearing this:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's Spring?

With Easter coming early this year, I am SO messed up. I know it only happened 3 days ago, but how did I miss the first day of spring?! I've been waiting for its arrival all winter, and I totally missed the date! Of course, when we woke up for Easter this morning, it was 30 degrees outside, so it's easy to miss the change in season. We've noticed the days getting longer, and I know what that means.... I won't have to freeze anymore! HALLELUJAH! It also means for some that the end of the school year is coming soon, which for many that also means TESTING. Fun stuff. We school year 'round, which is good, because we haven't done school for two weeks due to me having to get three teeth pulled. The nice thing is that we can take time off whenever we want: if someone's sick, if we have things to do, or if we just want to play a little. The kids are ahead of where they should be, so that makes it even nicer. The funny thing is, I had my teeth pulled a week before "spring break." I planned on having school during the next week (spring break) and my son said- even though he had JUST had an entire week off- "Isn't this spring break?" Lucky for him, I wasn't able to get things together in order to have school, so they really did have a spring break- and then some. Well, I've got way too much to do, so go read someone else's blog...:o)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Choosing a Handwriting Curriculum

Since I have "been there, done that," I thought I might offer a bit of advice when it comes to choosing handwriting material for pre-schoolers or kindergartners. Whether your child will attend public school or stay home with you, choosing the best handwriting curriculum is important.
If your pre-schooler will be attending a local public or private school, go to that school and find out what style of handwriting they use in their curriculum. I did not think about this, and my daughter, who started writing very early (she's very artistic) used whatever pre-school books we had around the house. I had used the same things for my son, and then when I actually selected a handwriting curriculum for them to work out of everyday, the letters were formed differently. The curriculum I chose came from BJU Press, and I liked it because the letters provided a good transition to future cursive writing.
If you will be teaching your child at home, your job may be a bit more stressful, because you actually have to go through the task of selecting the handwriting curriculum that your child will be using. Many parents select their entire curriculum from one source, and they use whatever handwriting materials are included with that curriculum. Other parents pick and choose subjects from different companies and put together their own curriculum. I highly suggest finding a local homeschool conference where vendors will let you go through their books. You might find everything you want in one place, or you may pick one subject from one company, another subject from another company, and so on.
Regarding handwriting, it's also important to note that some curricula, like Abeka, teach only cursive writing, and do so from kindergarten and up. If you are going to choose a curriculum like this, make sure you plan on sticking with it. Many Christian schools also use Abeka, and if you don't plan on keeping your child enrolled in a school that uses it, it's going to be a pain for the child if he or she is transferred to another school where students are printing letters and have no clue what cursive is.
While you may have a child like one of mine, who doesn't write letters unless he has to, you may have a child like my other, who started writing letters for fun. No matter what your child's age, if she is writing letters, it's time to figure out how best to help her, and the best way is always to use the same method or style from beginning to end. So be prepared and see what's out there!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Candy-free Easter Baskets

You've JUST finished the Halloween candy, and it is already time to think about Easter. You pass by the candy in the store, you may have even purchased some to put out with your Easter decorations. Maybe you have even already eaten it all! It is so tempting, isn't it? I remember, "back in the day" when my children were younger, before they knew what sugar was. Life was so simple then! They are now 3 and almost 5...and the battle of sugar began long ago, when people began dangling M&M's, suckers, and taffy in front of them.
We know that sugar is not good for the body. We know that sugar is horrible on teeth. Yet, we continue to celebrate every holiday by showering our children with candy! What is wrong with us? Actually, we have done pretty well, personally, but family members LOVE giving the kids candy. What they don't realize is that if every family member gives them candy...that's a LOT of candy! We usually end up throwing it away before they eat it all, and they never even notice. But if they know where it is, they will sneak into it when they aren't supposed to and I've been known to dump the whole bowl in the trash when I catch them. Candy to children is like drugs to an addict...if they know it's there, they just can't stay away from it.
There will be no candy in our Easter baskets this year. We MIGHT include a small chocolate bunny, but really, we can be more creative than that! We usually think about spring toys, bathing suits, and other things necessary for spring and summer, and to help you get the juices flowing, we've compiled this list. Choose age appropriate items for your children and watch them enjoy!

blow-up beach ball
bouncy balls
bubbles
change purse
color wonder book w/ markers
coloring book
crayons
cross necklace
hairbows
hand puppets
handbag (Use the handbag as the basket!)
jump rope
magna doodle
matchbox cars
play doh or silly putty
sand toys
sandals
sidewalk chalk
small puzzle
sunglasses
swim goggles
swim suit
temporary tattoos
wooden beads/strings
yo-yo
One idea for the family that does an egg hunt AND Easter baskets; you can get one of those make your own puzzle kits at a craft store and put one puzzle piece in each egg. The puzzle can show a picture (for younger children) of where the Easter basket is located. For older children, a riddle or map can lead them to their goodies. Children LOVE this kind of stuff. If you have more than one child, they will not fight over who has the best candy. They will work together on the puzzle so they can find their Easter baskets. You can also make your own puzzle at home, by cutting the picture or paper into smaller pieces.
Have a wonderful Easter, and we hope with these ideas, it is the most fun and healthiest Easter for you yet! Don't forget to tell your little ones what Easter is REALLY all about!

Tom Woods