What is it about Fall? I’m not an artist or photographer but yet I find myself talking about “the light” to people. There is something about autumn sunshine that does the most amazing things to the colors around you. I can’t call things blue or green. Right now, I find myself savoring the words burnt umber, cerulean, emerald green, fiery red, mustard yellow. Walking home today, I tried to say the colors I saw. I must have looked crazy as I stopped before a bush, running through all the crayola colors I knew trying to capture this red/yellow hue. But that’s what Fall does for me. More so than spring. Spring here is just two dull two-tone. Grey sky + brown mud. That’s it. But Fall? Fall has so much more to offer visually. And when that crisp azure blue sky hits the hunter green sky line of trees, you just have to stop and admire it. Or at least, I do.
Leina loves writing. She loves stories. She loves check-lists. She loves creating work sheets for her sister. She loves making charts of the weather or her feelings or her toys. She loves to write. However, I have discovered that as much as Leina loves to write, she hates being forced into it. If asked to write 4 sentences for a homework assignment, she will moan and groan and flail her body about for hours. If left alone to do as she pleases, she can pump out a twelve page, self-bound book with illustrations in under 20 minutes. Why? Why! Is it so horrible to have some direction?
Apparently, yes. Yes it is.
So I’ve been looking for ways to sneak in writing lessons without her knowing they are “lessons”. Luckily for me (or unluckily for Leina depending how you look at it), I am very sneaky. Some would even go so far as to call me devious. But I think that’s a bit much really. One valuable ally I recently discovered in my quest for fun writing activities is the book “The Write State: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, From Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories” by Jennifer Hallissy. I must say, this is a fabulously fun book. All of the writing activities are presented at multiple levels from brand new to holding a pencil tots to serious kid authors and everything in between. And these are not “writing topics” Oh no! That would be too obvious. These assignments are cleverly cloaked in the form of games. Leina doesn’t stand a chance. Hee hee hee.
Last night, I pulled out the book and devised my first sneak writing attack. It was old school fun to me but totally new and novel to her. Say hello to your old friend, the fortune teller….
You remember these, right? You pick a color and then open and close the paper puppet as you spell out the word picked. How sneaky is that?!?! You can make it harder by merely coloring in the top square thereby forcing the unwitting child to spell the color from memory. Memory people! Think of the possibilities! Forget colors, how about putting spelling test word on there? Your kid could be learning without even noticing it! The mind boggles, I tell you.
Inside, I used letters as the second tier. I made sure to pick a bunch way at the end of the alphabet which makes my kids have to recite the letters in order over and over. Oh… I love it! And to top it off, I made sure my “fortune” was more that just Yes or No. You can bet I stuffed as many words as possible under each flap!
Both girls adored this little paper finger fun. They loved asking the questions and also telling the fortune. I plan on folding up a blank one of these and leaving it in Leina’s room today. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with on her own.
There are several other ideas in this book I may just try. There are blank “coupons” in the back just dying for a child to fill out. A recipe for invisible ink. A Morse code cypher. I wish I had found this book earlier as there are many ideas for kids who are working on drawing letters and learning A-B-Cs. Sadly, those days are behind us. Sniff. But I think this is a book worth taking a peek at if you are looking for inventive ways to engage early writers. You can check out her blog for more of her ideas too!
Leina was crazy goofy yesterday. I have no idea what bug got into her system but she was running around doing the silliest things. I was crafting away when I heard her yell out, “Mom! Take a picture of me!” She was dressed as this crazy superhero with swim goggles and a cape. It was hilarious. I snapped a few pictures and we giggled as we looked through them together. At the end, Leina turned to me, all serious, and said, “Now mommy, you aren’t going to put these on the computer, are you?”
“Of course not honey.” I replied.
Right now, even as I type, Elmo and Kevin are downstairs demolishing my kitchen. Literally, everything but the kitchen sink is coming out. I’m having a hard time with all the chaos. Nothing is where it should be so trying to find something as simple as a coffee mug requires a crazy amount of work. I’m trying to keep my eye on the big picture but the idea of putting everything away is a tad daunting. Lets just say, I have far too much kitchen stuff. It’s amazing how many things one acquires over three years. I’m taking the opportunity to purge, purge, purge. Yes! Hopefully by the end of the day today, the construction phase will be over and I can begin putting the tattered pieces of my kitchen back together.
While Papa slaves away over our cabinets, Tutu has taken charge of the kids. Everyday they are writing a new story together, drawing pictures or reading library books. Pretty much kid heaven if ever there was one. This frees me to pace around the kitchen anxiously wondering how I’ll ever get all this stuff packed away. Life is good!
I forgot to snap a “before” picture but I’m sure I’ll post an “after” shot. Prepare to be wowed…
So this is the new site. Why, you ask? Mostly because I am a horrible speller. It’s true, really, I don’t mind admitting it. Our old blog program didn’t have a spell check and I was too lazy to type everything in Word first and then paste it over to the website. Instead, I just tried to use short small words that were easy to spell. But man did I want a spell check. So now, voila! Spell check! Isn’t it lovely?
Of course, I’m totally not used to how this blog looks and feels now. It’s all so new and strange and, well, blue. Kevin claims it is a work in progress so I suppose it will eventually morph into something familiar. But right now, it just feels a bit odd.
Anyway, today is the first day of spring break and it is lovely. Blue skies, sunshine, and happy daffodils bobbing in the wind. I took the girls to the zoo where Leina attended zoo camp and Kulia and I wandered about stalking the animals. Actually, that isn’t quite true. Kulia wasn’t so interested in the animals. Really, all she wanted to do was climb on the rocks along the trails. Yup, that’s right. I stood on the side of the trail and watched her scramble up and down a set for four rocks for about 40 minutes. I couldn’t drag her away from those rocks to save my life. All she wanted was to climb rocks. Sigh.
She also decided she really doesn’t like zebras. Come on now kid, zebras? They are totally benign. They don’t have sharp teeth or claws, they don’t smell funny or throw their feces at you, and they are the least exotic animal at the zoo looking like a horse with stripes. But Kulia wouldn’t even walk past their enclosure or look at them. She keep insisting that they were too “sneaky”. Yes, that’s right, the large grazing zebra were declared “sneaky” and soundly rebuffed by my youngest. A love of boulders and sneaky zebras. That’s my baby for you!