Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Just a quick post to say Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great holiday. The blog will resume in 2011!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sight Word Activities for Kindergarten

If you're like me, you are always looking for fun additions to add to normal curriculum instruction. Reading is one area that often gets overlooked when it comes to being creative. So much stress is put on children to read well, that many workbooks designed for younger children are very repetitious and, let's face it, downright boring. But children do need repetition when learning to read; it's the boredom they could do without.

We are currently working on learning our sight words. We are up to a total of 30 words that she can read fluently and without help. My goal is to have 100 words down fluently by the end of the year. I am doing things completely different than with my son. With him I focused mainly on phonics, but failed to give him a solid grasp of a large amount of sight words. This meant that in first grade he could sound out encyclopedia but struggled with generic sight words like blue and come. So with her I'm focusing largely on sight words and we do phonics 2x a week. By first grade she should be reading fluently and we can get more involved with phonics.

Here are some sight word games or activities we do to break up the monotony of sight word drills and general reading.

Spruce Up the Sight Word - I just found this site yesterday, and I love it. They provide a variety of sight words along with strips of decorative items like eyes, legs, mouths, etc... Your child can read the word and then use the provided illustrations to "spruce up" the sight word. Here's an example of Avlyn's sight word "ME."

Games to Make from Kelly's Kindergarten - This site is fabulous. I stumbled across it on my search for fun sight word activities, and I still haven't explored it thoroughly. She has a ton of games to print out and play. One example is the Krusty Krab game. It's meant to be used to teach money, but what we do is put our sight word flash cards word side down. One of us draws a card and reads the word. If we read it correctly, we move a quarter to the next space and the next person reads a word. Play continues that way. If someone misses a word, they have to move back one space. The person who gets the quarter to the other side first, wins a skittle or M&M or whatever little candy happens to be waiting on the other side.

Note: If using this sight, you will need a lot of paper and printer ink, but I think it's well worth it. We use a lot of these games on family game night, which gets the whole family involved in learning.

DLTK's Alphabuddies - This site offers a large letter with fun decorations to turn the letter into an "alphabuddy." I print out all the letters for a particular word and she decorates them. Then I help her cut them out. I then mix up the letters and have her spell the sight word correctly and glue it on a piece of paper. This activity helps with both word recognition and spelling. Here's an example of when Avlyn did the word "FOR."

Hope some of these sight word activities are useful for your preschooler or kindergartener. Happy homeschooling

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Field Trip - Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas

 This week we went with some friends on a field trip to Piggott, Arkansas, which happens to be the location of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum. The first is a 100-year old home, formerly owned by pharmaceutical company owners, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer. Their daughter Pauline would eventually marry famous author, Ernest Hemingway. The home is pictured here to the left. This shows the front porch to the right, and the back entrance of the house to the left. This is actually a side pic of the house. The balcony seen on the second level was accessible by two of the bedrooms in the home. Avlyn really enjoyed telling everyone that she saw a really old house.

The tour guide at the museum was able to bring the tour down to a young child's level. While we didn't learn much about Hemingway, she did show and teach them about all of the antique things in the home and how they were used. Anything behind black ropes was original furniture used by the family in the early 1900's. I know Avlyn enjoyed seeing an old bed warmer and learning about how they used to fill it with hot bricks or tinder to keep the beds warm. I think they all thought the chamber pots and lack of indoor plumbing was a little gross, too.

There is also a studio barn on the property that was designed for Hemingway to write. History says that he wrote a great deal of his book, "A Farewell to Arms," in the barn studio. They're currently creating an exhibit of animals that represent the types of animals Hemingway hunted on his many trips around the world. The kids loved this part.

Afterward, we headed back to the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum, which is a traditionally designed tudor home. It houses an extensive mineral collection, with minerals showcased from all over the world. The tour guides at this house absolutely LOVED having the little kids, and the children were all fascinated by the shiny, colorful minerals. They even allowed them to touch some of the minerals, which is always a hit with kids. The home itself is beautiful, and there are 11-acres that can be explored on the property. We passed because it was bitingly cold yesterday, and we didn't have any mittens or hats with us. But we plan on going back in the spring. I'll post more about that museum then - with pictures.

Overall, it was a very educational experience. I would like to go back and hear the actual real tour, but the staff at the museum was great at catering to our age group and making sure the kids were interested. If you're ever in Piggott, this is definitely an interesting place to stop. The Hemingway museum charges admission, but the mineral museum simply takes donations. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

An original desk from the Pfeiffer family. Did Hemingway sit and write here?

The ceilings in the home are made from pressed tin and then painted.

The top of the stairwell, with the original built in child's gate to keep kids from falling down the stairwell.

One of the bedrooms, with the old bed warmer sitting on top. Avlyn really liked learning about that.

Same bedroom with other original furnishings. Can you see the ghosts in the mirror? ;)

A closeup of the pressed tiles. These actually have faces pressed into them. Can you see them?

Another bedroom. The pots on the floor are chamber pots, used before the family was able to install plumbing. An outhouse was used during the day.

Living area to the right of the front door. The fireplace that was used to heat the house can be seen a bit to the left.

We couldn't use a flash in the house, so this pic came out a little dark. This was the formal dining room, with original furnishings and dishes.

The kitchen, with original stove. Plumbing was added later, so you can see a sink to the right. 

The in-progress animal exhibit. The kids saw lion, leopard, dikdik, and water buffalo, among others. This is the only picture inside the restored barn studio where Hemingway would write. Not sure why I didn't take more. Guess the excitement of the animals overtook me.