Sunday, February 19, 2017

Around the World Preschool Learning

Last fall, we started doing some more structured and directed learning at home. It helped me introduce some new rhythms into our day and also has helped Luke become more prepared for school. However, after weeks of choosing themes, I felt like I was out of ideas and in a rut.

We pressed pause around Thanksgiving, but I wanted to start it up again after months of travel, holidays, and random schedules. But, I didn't want to return to the typical preschool themes. So, I decided that it would be fun to learn about other countries. But, we'd continue to incorporate letters, name writing, math, and science. We've done three weeks so far and I am loving it (and so is Luke). I'm actually learning a lot too, and I love that it is expanding Luke's view of the world.

Honestly, I keep it super simple. I haven't created a fancy curriculum or cute templates. We generally follow this guideline:

-- Landmarks, traditions, and culture
-- Traditional foods
-- How to say "Hello" in the major language of the country
-- Location on the map
-- Books/Visuals/Movies about the country

For example, we started with Guatemala--so this is what we did to learn about Guatemala:

Landmarks, traditions, culture: Tikal/Mayan people and Volcanos: we watched videos about Tikal and made our own volcano. I also brought out my Guatemalan quilt to talk about Mayan weaving.
Traditional foods: We watched a video (thank you, youtube!) about how they make tortillas and then made homemade tortillas. We also did a math exercise with beans. Of course, I had to make eggs, rice, plantains, beans, and tortillas for supper one night.
How to say "Hello" in the major language of the country: Hola!
Location on the map:bought this map on Amazon and put it up in our living room. Luke loves to point out the country we are learning about each week.
Books/Visuals/Movies about the country: I checked out a few books about Guatemala from our local library--this one was a favorite.

Then, we learned about China:

Landmarks, traditions, culture: We focused on the Chinese New Year and the Great Wall of China. We made a paper dragon and watched videos about CNY and the Great Wall. We also made a Chinese flag with red dots and stars.
Traditional foods: We made moon cookies (since the cakes were a little too fancy for me to try to make) and went out to a Chinese restaurant to have dumplings and practice using chop sticks.
How to say "Hello" in the major language of the country: Ni Hao
Books/Visuals/Movies about the country: Our favorites were Ping and The Runaway Wok. Of course, we watched Kung Fu Panda and Mulan :)

We've also done Kenya (it was fun learning about the safari, the Maasai people, and Wangari's trees) and then took a week off.

This week we are starting up again and heading to France (I'm especially excited about the food!)

You could go so many directions with this--such as add an artist, writer, or cultural icon to the list. Or maybe pray for a missionary working in that country during that week. If your kids are older, you could incorporate more history and traditions.

The key for us is to keep it simple + and focus on a few key elements of each country/culture to make it manageable (hello daily life!). Plus, keeping it simple gives Luke the chance to retain information about a few key cultural ideas. It's so fun to hear Luke talk about eating tortillas and beans (Guatemala) and about the rabbit in the moon (from China).

I've also found it super helpful to watch videos on Youtube or even an episode of Super Wings (on Amazon prime) about that country so Luke can have a visual to connect with our activities. For example, after watching the lady make tortillas in Guatemala, he tried to mimic her actions when we made tortillas.

Beyond that, it's super important to us that Luke (and Sam too) to have a global perspective, and for us, this is an engaging way to start introducing that the world is so big, amazing, interesting, and valuable!

I have a Pinterest board going if you are interested in following along or incorporating some culture/country learning into your own daily routine with your kiddos. I'd love to hear about where you explore and what you do!

So, after France, where should we go?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

About Words

These last few months (ok, let's be honest, this last year), my blog has been sparsely populated with a mostly little updates about Sam and then a few here and there posts.

It's not that I intended that 2016 would be the year of drizzly writing--kinda half-there, half-not. It's just that other parts of life and priorities crowded out the words. 2016 surprised me, and in a year where I had a thousand words and thoughts to share, I feel like I wrote down twenty. In a way, it was a relief to let this space sit dormant and quiet--and yet feel the freedom to pop in when I wanted to write or share. Still, I missed the regular rhythm of writing, sharing, and documenting life here.

As I look ahead, I feel a bit on the fence about if I should sit this season out or if I should prioritize tiny moments of writing and revive this space.

Honestly, I'm just not sure.

I often feel that words memorize what my mind cannot. Sure, I can remember thousand of moments, but writing is the avenue in which I can explore them in detail. Since 2010 (yes, the Stone Age of blogging), this blog has been collecting my memories, thoughts, ideas, and ramblings. So, although I don't feel pressure to write here, I feel connected here--my own itty bitty space in the Internet universe.

However, my words don't have to be collected here. They can be scribbled down in a pretty journal next to my bed or on a simple document on the computer. As seasons shift, I feel more protective of my privacy and not megaphoning my words into an already overstimulated world. Also, I realize that many of the thoughts and memories I want to fossilize into writing shouldn't be written in a place as public and forever as the internet.

As I walk into 2017, I've decided that's okay to not have a bullet list and goal sheet a mile long for this blog. I don't need to know if I'll blog fifty times this year or five. Even though I value intentionality, I also value the autonomy to shift gears without feeling like I've flaked out or given up (because I am that person that hates to see a good goal go bad). I'm giving myself the freedom to have a full-fledged blog revival or simply let it be.

So, 2017, let's see what you bring!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear Samuel: 10 Months

Dear Sam,

How can you already be so close to one? Lately, it seems like you are zipping past milestones like they are child's play and seeming so big.  What happened to that squishy newborn that was just dozing on my shoulder?

This month you've graduated from a wobbly walker to a confident one. You still topple over quite a bit (there's quite a bit of evidence of this on your forehead!), but you are becoming quite speedy--probably because you are trying to keep up with your brother. One of your favorite things to do is chase him. You do this adorable giggle and squawk like a bird when you toddle behind him. Luke seems to think it's great fun too. Now that you are walking, he invites you to play more often, and it's fun to watch you two connect and play together.

You also moved over to your brother's room during the night and most naps and have done really well with sharing a room. Even though you sometimes still wake up and cry for a lost pacifer in the middle of the night, you go back to sleep quickly. Thankfully, Luke snoozes through it all. Plus, you've been sleeping in a little longer (most days!), so we think that's a pretty fantastic thing.

Sam, every day you surprise me. You gobble up life (and food), have such a curious personality, and are generally cheery and goofy. Recently, you've learned to wave good-bye, play the tambourine, do little dances, and push toys all over the floor. When you had a little tummy bug and felt sick, you often cried out "Mamamama" when you needed me. You love tickles from your daddy, playing with your brother's hair, and that light up toothbrush. I think you carried around that thing for two days straight :)

As this year draws closer to the end, we often think about how this year turned out differently than we anticipated--it surprised us. But, even though 2016 has given us many challenges, it started out with giving us one of the best gifts of all--


Sam, I hope you never stop moving through life with your curious tenacity and an unstoppable spirit. We can't wait to see where it will take you.

Love you,


(again, I'm a little behind since you turned 11 months today...but oh well!)

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