Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Inspiring Early Readers with Crayons

You can inspire your child towards an interest in story telling, languages, and creativity even at a young age and even just with crayons.

 It all started with a memory.

When I was a little girl (about my two oldest girls ages) I would organize my coloring box with like colors next to each other, and I distinctly remember in one season at that time in my life where I was fascinated with the names of the crayon colors and worked at sounding them out and asking my mom about the funny spellings.

My favorite color then was Periwinkle possibly more for it's interesting name than it's color!

Deciding to buy myself a box of crayons one grocery shopping day recently, I took them home, sat down, and gently poured them out and reorganized them the way I liked.

I then colored in the word "Being" in my journal.
 When my girls saw what I'd done they were so impressed that they were inspired to do their own!

As we colored I read to them the names on the crayons and we laughed at some and approved of others.  Names such as ---

"Wild Strawberry"
"Macaroni and Cheese"
"Dandelion" and the like...
 I made word bubbles for the girls to create their own ribbon rainbow words with my crayons with the instructions to be very careful with them.

 Previously, crayons barely lasted a day and I was always sad to see them so quickly broken and ruined.

 My 7 year old was inspired to practice sounding out the names of the crayons as she saw me talk about the names.  The magnifying glass helped her do this!
If you want to inspire your early readers with crayons YOU need to be interested in those names as well!  

Actually, they are pretty fascinating to read.  It's not a box of red, red, red, red and red.. it's Maroon, Wild Strawberry, Wacky Watermelon, Brick Red, Magenta, and so on! 

 These words paint such a vivid picture if you will let them!  What stories could these crayons tell? Ask your child what they think of when they hear a name?  Who would live there?  How would this place feel?

I recently watched a Periscope to inspire Homeschooling parents to do some "Awesome Adulting" - meaning that we can't stop learning and growing and following our interests and passions because we are so caught up in the curriculum and homeschooling and surviving the days.
Doing more of my own art and crafts that I feel like doing is not only great for me it's even great for my kids to watch!  My Mom inspired me as I grew by just doing awesome things!  It made me want to learn those things too.

 I love seeing art videos that are sped up or the time lapse type and thought it would be fun to create my own coloring a page using ONLY crayons.  Did you know crayons could do this?

My new skill this week was learning to make a time lapse video and put it into Youtube so I could edit it all awesome.  This is what I came up with!

The coloring sketch journal featured is this.


It's been several days and the girls have been gentle with my crayons so I (once again) got them a box of crayons for their own.  First time getting all three a large box though!  And first thing they all did was sit down and organize their colors.  The 7 year old was very interested in the lovely sounding names and the 10 year old was quite taken with comparing the English names to the two other languages underneath each name!

What are other ways you could use crayons to inspire reading and creativity? 

 1.    Reading the names to them and talking about what it makes them think of.  If they can't think of an image or idea then come up with your own!  Make sure they know that this isn't a test and there aren't any wrong answers as you brain storm together and scribble.

2.     Compare the colors that look similar and be surprised and delighted when they look totally different on the page than the crayon looked!  You could talk about the names of those two crayons and discuss if you think the name was accurate or not.

 3.    Crayons can also teach responsibility as you teach them to take care of their art supplies.  Crayons layer really well if you don't push too hard so that's a great way to teach them to be gentle with the crayons.  Show them how to color with one and then color over it again to change the color to something slightly different or totally different!

4.     Come up with a short story game to make up together using their favorite animal toy as the main character.  Like, the toy bunny hopped along through the "Wild Strawberries"  .. Her name was "Razzmatazz"... she had "Periwinkle" eyes.  Pull each crayon out randomly and try to make the name of the crayon fit into the story!  You or your child could even write this down if you like to take it a bit farther!

5.     Draw bubble letter words that they are interested in spelling so they can color them in.  How much MORE fun would that be than copying a dry list of words?  Show them the video that I made below for inspiration!

"The highest form of learning is creating.  Creativity is a sign of true intelligence.  Creating something requires us to use our skills, knowledge and ideas.  First we look, next we copy, then we practice, and finally all we create.  This is the pathway to mastery.  
Little children are great creators, until they are told to follow the instructions, and do only as they are told.  Instead of valuing creativity, which is the highest form of learning, we value the memorization of facts - a lower form of learning that can be measured by testing."  Quote by Sarah Janisse Brown in "How to Homeschool"

To say that children can't have this freedom of creativity in how they learn, that we give to ourselves when we are older as we are learning new skills, is not only unkind, but demeaning and could even be considered cruel for some children.

If we want our children to love learning and be lifelong learners we need to think of more ways to inspire them.  

What inspired you as a child?  What memory do you have like my crayon one?  How could you ENJOY that right now and thus (hopefully) inspire those around you to want to join in on the fun!

Excellent X chalk board with Multiplication!

 The X chalk board!  This has stayed up for a LONG time because of Christmas vacation and all.  I started it with only part of the multiplication chart filled out so it would be easier for them to see at first.  I've talked before about "Math Gnomes" - the way I'm using them is just to give a good visual and story to the math symbols.  So the multiplication gnome is yellow because she is super fast like light!  The addition gnome is green because it adds and is slower like a growing plant. 

 As usual the girls did their own chalk board designs!  the 7 year old chose to do a Fox and the oldest drew Axolotls which I think she learned about from a library book I think.

Life of Fred Math Elementary Series | Educents

 We are still doing "Life of Fred" and loving it!  This website has the best deal for the set above.  We are on "Cats" (the third one in the picture above) and the picture below shows a little thing he had wanting them to memorize some numbers that add up to 11.  I wanted them to be able to picture this in a tactile way as well so I had them string 11 beads onto a pipe cleaner and as they were looking at the numbers that add up to 11 they could move the beads to show this!  There are still 11 beads, but they are just separated differently. 

 While I read them the chapter in life of Fred the girls will often color a few pages in these two books.  The Kitty Doodle one is really too easy for my oldest, but it's just a fun thing to do while she listens so it totally works.

The "Count and Color" have have for my middle and youngest girls.  They are little books and just kind of a nice filler thing to enjoy. 

 My middle daughter has been enjoying the "Schoolhouse Rock" multiplication songs.  ESPECIALLY the figure eight one!  Which you can see on Youtube!  So for her "Movie time" in her homeschool journal she chose to watch these over and over again.  I think she has much of it memorized!

The cat wanted to help with school and I don't mind her being on the table (when there's no food on it!) because I know it brightens the girls school time when the cat wants to join them!

 Both the oldest and middle have been using this book "Multiplication games"  I just have them trade off doing two pages each.  Not quite as convenient as having their own books, but it is a BIG book and is plenty enough for them to share!  It has a lot of multiplication pages to complete (copying this over and over will help them memorize their times tables.)
I encouraged them to use different colors on their multiplication charts as well to help see the patterns in the numbers as they worked!  They would look at the multiplication chart on the chalk board to help them complete it. 
 The opposite pages in this book often have a Logic puzzle to solve (figure out the pattern to finish the missing parts of the patterns on the picture.)  Gets your brain working!

An example of a logic page (they are all different!)
 Sometimes there's a hundreds chart to complete in this book as well.  It's a lot of repetition, but just right to go along with Life of Fred I think.  A few pages to gently help memorization in a right brain kind of way!
 ALSO!  I got THIS BOOK from Usborne and it is working SO well with the multiplication games from the thinking tree!  It's like they were made to go together. 
 It has a bunch of flaps to flip which make it super fun for the girls and the little multiplication tricks are helpful and my husband and I even learned a trick to help memorize one of the times tables we hadn't known about before!
Using this book has helped my middle daughter the most.  She was stressed out at first because she thought she had to already know what went into the multiplication chart and once she understood how to fill it in on her own and that she was just copying the numbers she didn't stress about it anymore.  They will memorize  this easily after copying it so much.
 They can look down the edge of the page at the times table in question and copy it in their Multiplications Games book

 We will continue to use these books after X week is over, but I got them specifically to start during this focus on X time!

 It's really clever how they set this book up!  I had a hard time finding this on Usborne's site for some reason so here's the link for you all to make it easy!
 During life of Fred he was talking about place values and this was a bit confusing to my girls so we had an extra lesson in place values.  I wrote the blank spaces and names above each and had them color the spaces like a rainbow.  We talked about how the places have certain names (or values) and that numbers can beam into these places.  If there isn't a number for it then a zero will hold the space for us.  I also had the girls walk their fingers like people starting at the ones column and repeat the names of each place value to help memorize it.

 We did a bit of cross-stiching (even the 4 year old did this with us, but I can't find the picture I thought I took of her!) which turned into embroidery, which turned into this bunny my 7 year old sewed!  Continuing with her sewing school in little ways like this!  (Next up will be a skirt for Valentine's day!)

 Some Math Gnome playing time.  They like to stack with the blocks and the gnomes like to add and argue and divide and "King Equals" comes in and makes it all right.  ;)

 We also used this game often!!!  And this particular day we used the add and multiply math gnomes to help us out.  It uses counting, adding, multiplying, greater-lesser and some crazy turns if you keep going till you can't do anything else (do the "Bisnipian move only once" but Planet zoomers and black holes can bounce you all over!)
X from OUTER SPACE Board Game
 I had this game when I was their age and it left a huge impression on me!  One, my Mom made it super fun!  And two, I finally learned my multiplication tables.  :)

 The cat wanted to help again!  The girls and I laughed about the gnomes AND the cat In Spaaace (echo echo echo.)

What?  I just wanted to see what was going on...

 And of course you can make cut out cookies for any letter of the alphabet!  With X being a little thin for topics I decided to do some gingerbread type cookies with lots of x's to go along with the theme.
The middle one is getting pretty good at cooking and following some recipes already and doesn't have any trouble understanding fractions so far even though we haven't official learned them yet.  We divide a lot of things by 3 and 4 though.  ;)

So yummy!  I feel like making more!
 And the finished multiplication chart on the chalk board in case you wondered.  :)
Not easy, but I was able to find some books that fit with the X theme (most I got at the library.)  This Animal Antics book of course! I also downloaded a xylophone app for my 4 year old.  Hey, it fit the theme anyway.
 And there you have it!  Lots of focus on multiplication this time.

Of course, in the midst of this there was a month of Christmas and decorating and fondue eating and lots and lots of cheeses and Lego like crazy (As that was most of the gifts!) and reading Christmas books and doing other random projects, roasting marshmallows over candles, stockings, Christmas movies, and then the beginning of January my oldest turned 10!  We went Ice skating for her birthday (which was the most fun ever!) and since then have been working back into the flow of our normal days.  Eating less cheese, and doing more specific school things and especially focusing on multiplication!

Y is starting and we are already doing many projects involving yarn.  ;)