Category: Everything Else!

Fall, First-Graders, and Fowl

By , October 15, 2012 10:35 am

Fall has arrived.  The leaves were lovely but most have now dropped. The air is cooler, and everywhere there is that wonderful fall aroma of roasting green chiles (one of my favorite sensory experiences here in the Southwestern United States).  My children are eagerly awaiting Halloween.  They are debating costume choices and strategically planning their trick-or-treat route.  My class just enjoyed a muddy, blustery trip to our local pumpkin farm and returned with many lovely round pumpkins

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I have been missing the blog and hope to be back in a few months with some more frequent posts about some fun things I have discovered for my class and for home.  In the meantime I must content myself with this quick, little check-in.

At school this year,  I took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to move up to teaching the Lower Elementary Montessori class.  This older age group (7 to 9 year-olds) have such excitement and enthusiasm for learning. I enjoyed my little ones last year (3 to 6 year-olds), but this year I find I can go into more depth with the material and the children are of course more capable of independent work.  So far I am delighted with my new adventure!

At home we recently moved into a house on more land with a barn and no golf course behind us! That means no 4AM lawn mowers, no rude golfers searching the back yard for lost balls, and most importantly, no “homeowners’ association”  … which means we finally have some chickens!  Chickens are a new experience for us, but we just love our two very friendly and hilarious hens!  The fresh eggs are a nice gift also.

Once my Lower Elementary training course is over in February, I would really love to make more frequent appearances here.  I have found so many wonderful ideas and resources on the internet and via my coworkers, that I really would love to “pay it forward” and share them here for all to borrow.  Perhaps someone will stumble upon the very idea that they are looking for and will have a better day because of it!

~Happy Fall (or Spring, depending on where you live) to all!~

 

 

New Directions

By , October 26, 2011 1:02 pm

 

For anyone alert enough to have noticed that my last post was dated March 18th and it is now October 26th, I can assure you that I am still here on planet Earth! Between a wee taddy bit of “blog burnout” and a new direction in my life, blogging went to the back burner.

The exciting news (for me anyhow) is that I have made a major career shift. Over the years I have been a flight attendant, lawyer, flight instructor, professional pilot, writer, and stay-at-home-Mom. I have now ended my stay-at-home-Mom phase, and have taken a job as a Montessori teacher in a 3 to 6 year-old classroom.

I am just finishing up my Montessori certification, and began work at the start of the school year in August. I have been heavily involved with this little school for eight years as a parent, classroom volunteer, and enthusiastic supporter, so this is an obvious and happy progression for me.  My primary areas of responsibility are Science and Geography/Cultural, which, as you might have guessed by reading my blog, are probably my two most favorite subjects.

So far I am loving my new career.  I feel very fortunate to be spending my days with absolutely the best co-workers and children out there!  I am also excited to personally share many of the ideas from Unplug Your Kids with a wider pool of children.

I have spent a lot of time during my hiatus wondering about the future of Unplug Your Kids. Obviously I have a lot less free time now, and my life focus has shifted a bit.  However I hate to simply abandon the blog, especially after four and a half years of hard work and love!

So the logical solution is to shift the focus of Unplug Your Kids to better align with my present life.  I plan on using Unplug Your Kids as a platform for sharing fun books, teaching ideas, and projects that I discover or create.  Since the blog has really always been about art, science, books, and activities, I don’t think there will be a drastically noticeable change.  There may just be a bit more talk about Montessori than there used to be.

Since many of you who read Unplug Your Kids are homeschooling families, or families seeking supplementary fun and educational activities for their children, I hope that you will welcome this new direction!

Disasters, Kids, Japan, Helping…

By , March 18, 2011 9:47 pm

 

The first thing I did on 9/11 was head down to my local Red Cross to join the giant blood donation line, something I had never done before.  Unfortunately there were not enough survivors to need blood, especially mine that was located way far away in New Mexico.  But of course no one knew that at the time.  I felt shocked, confused, helpless.  The only way to regain an illusion of control over life was to attempt to help in some way.

Children are prone to even more confusion and fear than adults when disasters strike somewhere on our planet.  With very young children, avoiding any TV or radio news coverage in their presence is probably the best solution.

With older children, viewing news together (or, in the case of our family, listening together) and answering questions is a better technique.  Children will hear talk at school that might be sensationalist, inaccurate, or incomplete.  Even those who are home schooled and perhaps more sheltered from school-yard talk, need to learn eventually how to analyze news broadcasts and understand the world.  This will be an important learning moment.

  • Stick to facts.  If there is something you don’t understand, research the answer together.
  • Stress that sometimes media coverage can be exaggerated.
  • Reassure them that such extreme events are rare and that they, and family members, are safe.
  • Brainstorm together ways to help, even if only in a small way.

HELPING (my favorite topic!):

Of course this post is inspired by Japan.  Here are some ways for you and your children to help there:

“Hope Letters will find ways to deliver the messages to local schools and school boards.  The messages may be posted electronically if that is available, placed as a hardcopy journal or broadcasted via local news agencies.  (Hope Letters is currently working to establish these distribution channels.  If you have suggestions, please get in touch with Hope Letters at HopeLettersCanada “at” gmail “dot” com.)”

  • Quick Fundraising Ideas (able to be organized within several weeks at most):

For schools – try bake sales, used book sales (like the one we did for Haiti), a penny war, yard sale, car wash, raffle off something cool (shh… for a good cause, people will buy tickets … even if your prize is really not that cool…), 50/50 fundraiser, guessing game.

For home – How about a lemonade stand, garage sale, birthday parties (donations in lieu of presents), street-side bake sale, car wash.

  • Be sure to donate your money to an official disaster relief organization now working in Japan.

It has been exactly one week since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  It has taken me one week to attempt to comprehend what has happened there.  My thoughts are with Japan.

Thrift Store Success!

By , March 9, 2011 7:27 pm

I am not one of these stylishly-dressed women with elegantly-decorated homes who swear they acquired their every single AMAZING possession via flea markets or thrift stores.  Their homes are usually white, their clothing black.  Do you know what I mean?

What is it with all the decorating magazines that feature “Thrift Store Style.”  Clearly those people are not from “these parts.” (Sorry, I am a bit obsessed with this topic.)

I really like thrift stores though.  I don’t like gambling, but I do get a teeny, tiny electric (gambling?) thrill every time I smell that unique thrift store scent.  I walk into a disorganized, messy, smelly space and see Possibilities (and junk). I have the chance of finding a treasure, the next Hope Diamond, or maybe just some cool books (or junk).

Books are my major weakness.  We have so many and we need no more. Yet I still crave the occasional unexpected thrift store book-find to keep me going.  I discovered  Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Snipp, Snapp, Snurr at the thrift store.  Also, the amazing Cynthia Rylant Cobble Street Cousins series.  I found Science Experiments You Can Eat there too.

Today I went in searching for books for our school’s charity used book sale.  I know, you’re not supposed to SHOP for that!  You are supposed to purge, not acquire.  But I rationalize it this way:  I get the addictive thrill of thrift store book shopping, and when I buy, I have the satisfaction of knowing that my money goes to a good cause.  The books I buy will be sold at a sale benefiting a different good cause!  I am using books to help two worthy charities (and myself because it is fun).

I found a lot of great kids’ books today, but my favorite find was a giant collection of Origami books that had been dropped off mere moments before.  I left the 3D origami books behind (seemed too complicated and time-consuming), but bought nearly all the rest – for $5.00!!  I gave them $10 because it was for our local pet shelter, and it was a much better option for me than adopting yet another cat …

I hope you all like Origami and paper crafts.  I see big inspiration here!

 

Random Acts of Kindness

By , February 16, 2011 12:08 pm

kindness

Apparently it is Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Who knew?

But now seems like an excellent time to teach your children about Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) and the concept of Pay it Forward.  I just gave a successful class on this very subject at my children’s Montessori School and here is what I suggest:

  • Make sure everyone understands what the words “random” and “act of kindness” mean.
  • Read the book Because Brian Hugged His Mother by David L. Rice (illustrated by Kathryn Dyble Thompson).  An excellent introduction to the concept of “Pay it Forward” in a story that children can relate to (NOTE:  I have LOVED this book for a long time.  If you want, please read my review).
  • Suggest some easy things kids can do to make a positive difference in someone’s day.  Here are a few:
    • Smile at someone  :-)
    • Hold a door open for someone
    • Do a daily chore normally performed by a sibling
    • Do a household chore without being asked:  feed dog, do the dirty dishes you see in sink, etc.
    • Leave your change in the soda machine for someone else to find
    • Shovel your neighbors’ steps
    • Plant a seed
  • Have the kids brainstorm some more easy ideas.
  • Let them give it a try.  Give them one week to complete one RAK and report back on what they did and the outcome (how it felt, consequences to them if any, etc.).

HELPFUL LINKS:

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Kid Activities – Acts of Kindness

KindSpring – Kindness Ideas

[Image thanks to Kid Activities!]

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