Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mom-School books, reviews, how-to, and 7 giveaways!

 These are the 7 giveaway books for 7 people that I have already given away!   But even though the giveaway portion is over you can still see inside these lovely books that everyone is talking about.

You can find these books and others like them at Funschoolingbooks .com
 This book is 268 pages of creative journaling and prompts for us moms to find some snippets of rest and a place with thoughtful ideas to help us find joy in our homeschooling!
 Coloring pages are throughout and the "Reading Time" page repeats several times throughout the book.

When I am working through this sort of book I have about 4 pages at least going at the same time!  So, if I didn't have time or the inclination to finish journaling or coloring in on the reading time page (for instance) I will leave it for another day.  You can skip pages all together as well if it's not your thing.

The idea of this is NOT to give your more to do.  Make it work for you and find what parts you enjoy!  I've realized that I can stay more patient and calm when I am coloring while I sit with my kids when they are doing school or reading aloud.

 A page like this might not inspire you, but what a lovely opportunity to bring a child over and color with them!  They always feel so special when they get to contribute to Mommy's special book.  If coloring a page like this isn't your thing and you have older kids who wouldn't want to do it for you or with you then you can use a page like that to journal around or write favorite quotes or web- addresses that you want to look up later or something.
 I've won a few of the Thinking Tree books myself, but I don't get anything out of this besides passing on my love for these books.  However, the author DID ask some of us "Funschooling fans" to talk about why we flipped our homeschools to "Funschooling" and I was so excited to see my quote in this book!  If you've read much of this blog from the past two or three years or so you'll know our journey to right-brain-dominant, creative, delight directed learning style in our school.  Really, this is always how I have homeschooled, or wanted to homeschool, but just didn't quite know how to make it happen in a sustainable way.  Our days are so much happier using these books.

 Thinking time page, and generally it takes me a long time to finish pages like this.  One day I'll do all the coloring and then another day (for 15 minutes or so) I might write a few things, then a few weeks later after doing a later or earlier page I'll come back to this and write some more.  Sometimes I never finish a page totally.  Again, make it work for you!  This isn't "more to do" it's a resting point to refresh your soul and let you pause.

 If there is a page you just really don't care to do and you have a young child then you can give that page to your little one to scribble all over and they will be so delighted to be your helper.  ;)

 To do list on the left and coloring on the right (well, both are coloring pages really!)  During church on Sundays my husband has even helped me color and it's such a lovely quiet time we can have together, leaning shoulder to shoulder while I hand him random colors and we make a page beautiful.

 Throughout this book there is a "word study" type page to get you thinking about different topics.  Self-discipline like the one above, forgiveness is another, diligence, faithfulness, and so on.
 Many of the drawings in here are sort of lego or minecraft looking, but there are some animals and girly ones like the one above.  I adore this page and I'm sure all my girls will want to help color it.
 Listening Time pages are scattered throughout this book as well.  Listen to a book on tape, podcast, music, children playing at the park, anything goes.

 The "Learn a new skill" pages repeat a few times in this book as well and this could be learning how to make Kefer, or get on Youtube and learn how to cook an Artichoke, or learn that new knitting stitch (I still haven't learned how to do cables though I've made lace and socks and all sorts of other difficult knitted patterns!)  Again, anything goes.  That thing you wanted to learn to do (make bagels?) that you haven't gotten around to (homemade sauerkraut?) and keep putting off (recover some furniture?) A page like this can help motivate you and also record what you are learning.

How many of us focus more on what we don't do than all the amazing things we DO get done?  Record it and celebrate what you are doing! 

This little book is more specifically a Teach By Example sort than the previous one.  So often we use our smart phone or other technology to do everything that our kids can't tell if we are looking up a recipe or reading a book or playing words with friends.  They just see us looking at a screen.  This book is a great way to put some of what we do into a real context again that our kids can actually see.  They can see us being curious and interested as we fill out the pages and prompts! 

 In the video above I flip through the entire book for you so you can see a glimpse of every page!

 Most of the illustrations in this book have a great vintage feel!  And there are some great quotes by famous people in this book as well about mothers and motherhood.
 I adore this kind of "to-do" list so much more than a dry calendar page.  Somehow it feels more doable and less intimidating. 
 The reading time pages look like this.  If you are wondering about the coloring it IS important!  Why you ask?  Well, because we need a processing time for our brains to move the information that we gather and put into our short term memory.  If we read a little bit and then spend some time coloring and thinking about what we just read (or copy a section or take notes) then it gives our brain time to move the things from short term to long term memory.  If we just keep adding information without that processing time then our short term memory is just going to start dumping things!

 A Science page - In this one the directions are to go on a nature scavenger hunt and when you find one on the list take a picture of it till you have done all 10.  How fun would THAT be with the kids!  And honestly, with a learning activity like this to teach through example it is the time to NOT force or trick your kids into doing with you.  If they want to come, then great, but when they see YOU having fun with something like this then likely they will be inspired as well.
 This creative writing page cracks me up.  Each one of the pages like this have an old fashioned picture that you could (if you want) use as a writing prompt. I can't tell if she is wearing an ottoman or lamp shade on her head.  But these pages come a few pages after some "Spring Cleaning Tips" so it makes it even more funny to me.  Anyone else feel like this when they are trying to de-clutter?

 There are several different kinds of Baking type pages that would be fun to do. 
Also several versions of a "math time" type activity!

This next book is for Mom, BUT is also especially for teen girls.  It could be a great thing to do together with your daughter if you are both finding you getting sucked into the internet and forgetting to be in the real world.
Instructions -- if you went straight through it would take 12 days and only 45 minutes per day that you commit to turning off your devices.  I've seen other ways people have tried to get un stuck from the internet and it seemed a bit cold turkey and not sustainable.  The idea with this is that you can begin to sustain a healthy relationship with your device.  Rather than getting sucked in and staying there, you can learn to get on for exactly what you need to do and then get off again so that you can do something fun in the real world. 

 Here is how I colored that first page.  I like to show how I color them sometimes because there are different ways to color.  It doesn't have to be all "inside the lines" type coloring.  It can be super relaxing like the above and just doing the backgrounds.
There are poems all through this book and also quotes by several moms that use the Thinking tree books and love them.
The poem above and below is called "Hopes and Dreams and Real things"

Paper books and clicking clocks
Hiking books, and warm wool socks,
A backpack stuffed with hopes and dreams
And a heart longing for real things.

Clouds above and dancing trees,
Whispered prayers and wild seas.
A little boat, and you with me.
Can't this be our reality?

Firewood and ocean waves,
Determination, strong and brave.
No clicks, no likes, no shares, no saves.
Just you and me, finding our way.

If we leave behind a thousand friends,
Perhaps we'll find each other.
We'll learn how to begin again,
By living real life together.

 I took a picture of myself and then tried to copy myself and then cracked up at how terrible it looked.  The picture below is how I'd fixed it so it was passable!  I showed my husband at the terrible stage and he was really confused at how it totally didn't look at all like me (Think Lucy dressed up like a hobo.) But I got a good laugh out of it anyway. 

 A quote from me got in this book too!  How cool is that?  I said, "We don't need to throw technology out the window, we just need to use it well and put it in its place.  In 20 years I won't look back at my life and wish I hadn't missed out on that social media news tidbit, but I will likely look back and wish I had watched my children more closely and cherished them and listened to them when I had the chance."
 Looking forward to coloring the page above!  Just about half way through the book the 12 days are over and then starts a sections you can use as a reward when you log off your device. 

I am finding so much more peace right before bed when I color for a while rather than check facebook or stare at a screen.  It is lovely and a delightful habit.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Variations on "Poetry Tea Time"

Have you heard about "Poetry Tea Times"-- check out the hash tag #poetryteatime on instagram or look at their website! Also check out their #poetryteatimecontest !

It's not a curriculum or for only homeschoolers.  It's an idea that can be molded to fit any family or interests. 

Here's the idea.
1. Parents (usually) value poetry (or other educational or enrichment type things they could plug into this idea.)
2. Kids value snacks!  Or a special meal of some kind!  (If they aren't into a tea party you could go to Starbucks for Frapps or a frozen yogurt place!)

So, basically you are using snacks or a special drink or "tea party" as the hook to introduce a subject to be enjoyed!  You can do this with math even!  As a kid I remember my mom giving me a little pile of chocolate chips to use for counting with my math page and when I was done I got to eat the chocolate chips.  I don't remember what part of math I was learning at the time, but I remember that feeling of enjoyment even in a subject I didn't really want to do.  That's the idea. ;)  It's a way to make some educational thing enjoyable.  :)

 Getting poetry books from the library is a great place to start because then you aren't out any money if no one likes the poems!  We have been enjoying "Animals Animals" by Eric Carl which has poems by many different authors along with his illustrations.

 Candles are a fun thing to add for a poetry tea time!  We will sometimes even roast mini marshmallows over the candles.  The one above is fun because the butterflies turn around from the heat of the candle.
 My 10 year old above is reading all the poems she'd already learned in her Animals spelling book.  It is a great way to learn spelling words in a holistic in-context sort of right brain dominant learning style way. 

The little one mostly drank tea.  Adding milk and drinking and adding more.  As lovely as a tea time sounds a little real bit in it is of course that you will have to stop and mop up spilled milk every so often.  I cut to the chase and have "tea towels" at the table for those spills.

 The video above is the three of us reading the poems we wrote.  Somehow it turned into a bunny thing. They dictated their poems to me and I wrote a little fast so my handwriting was a tad hard to read I am told.  ;)

 The picture above is of my 8 year old doing her little math book and her "brain games" from the Thinking Tree, but for the actual poetry reading part she read from her spelling book as well.  This book is bigger than the previous one and the poems are longer.  I would say it's a bit more advanced, but I have my older daughter doing the easier one because she likes it and I went with their interest more than level because I wanted them to enjoy poems and spelling at this age without too much pressure.

We all took turns writing our own poems as well!  It was a fun goofy thing and not serious at all.  After reading a poem that had a change in a word into a fake word to make it rhyme in a funny way.  Hence the end "Bunny on Mars? Bunnies every-wares!"

 Our poetry time turned into a read aloud time and the girls worked in their math books and brain games and colored and snacked.
 We are reading through the Princess Academy books by Shannon Hale after reading through all the Narnia books previously.  My oldest two are loving it, but the almost 5 year old is usually wanting her own books as these are a little old for her.
 Our little bonsai tree on the table.  It's true that a poetry tea time feels like a little too much work, but it turns into a delightful thing.  Just know what your kids like and know if they would want a picnic or a fancy tea or a certain special cookie treat or roasting mini marshmallows over candles.  Keep the poem reading relatively short and fun!
 You can do the fancy cups sometimes which can be really fun and we have a little mixer thing that makes frothy milk and chocolate flavored stevia.
OR you can totally do covered cups (for less fear of spilling!) and do really any drink.  Doesn't have to be tea, it can be anything that your kids and you enjoy.  I usually do coffee while they do tea and sometimes they have some coffee as well if it's early enough in the day.

 Special gluten free cookies I happened to find.  Out of a box!  See, it doesn't all have to be from scratch or a big deal to put together.
 This day after doing our poetry tea time reading we moved into our "Brain Games" and I joined in with my "Momschool" to be a good example to them.
 Another day we went to the zoo and on the way home stopped at the arboretum!  I added these pictures because you could totally plan on doing a poetry tea time at a garden or park or anyplace!
And it wouldn't have to be poetry even if that's not your thing.  Maybe the kids need a little special enchantment added to their math time.

Why not sip tea while working on math?  Or bring your art journals and frosties on a picnic!

Note, the "Poetry tea time" or whatever subject and drink you've chosen doesn't have to last a really long time and it shouldn't be a serious dull thing.  Enjoy it and experience these things together.  Think half hour on average and feel out the kids.  If they are getting bored, just skip the poem and talk instead!  Make up funny rhymes for no reason without an agenda except to be together and enjoy snacks and the subject you value.
 Julie Bogart of "Brave Writer" was who first came up with the "poetry teatime" idea and you can add this idea to your life with any resources you already own.  Think of it as a rhythm to add to your week or month.  It's not a pressure thing or a "have to" thing.  It's a place to inspire our kids and us.  A place to simply enjoy being together and enjoy poetry.

Poetry can be in favorite songs, it can be in children's books, it can rhyme or not, and you don't have to be all proper about how you approach the subject.  You can know nothing at all about poems and simply read one that you happen to like!

 The "Thinking Tree" has a new poetry writing book out now as well.  I don't have it yet, but it looks lovely.  I would probably enjoy it more than my kids yet!  I'm sure we will get this later, but I wanted to share it now since it goes along with the subject so well.