It has started again, for the 3rd year! Our 24 books of Christmas Countdown. This year I am really trying to keep it simple as my kids already have a pretty hectic life. I considered not doing it this year but they love it so much and started asking about it mid November. I have compiled the list, collected most materials and we hit the ground running today.
As always our first book was “The Elf on the Shelf”. You can check out what we did in 2011 and 2012, but we have to do this book the first of December every year as our elf Frankie comes back to visit. My girls in particular have been very much looking forward to his return. Kaitlyn was even invited to have a sleep-over at a friend’s last night but came home before sleep time because she wanted to wake up here in the morning to see Frankie. In our house it is almost the excitement of Christmas morning.
To keep it ‘kid friendly’ and in the spirit of ELK Kindergarten I invited the kids to work together to make a house for Frankie. I showed them a picture of an idea on spoonful.com and told them they could use whatever they wanted to make Frankie’s house. I had been saving the boxes from all our winter boots so they picked their favourite and from there I let them use anything they could find in our craft centre and introduced them to the Christmas craft bin where I had put a collection of random Christmas craft supplies.
The most amazing part was how well they worked together. For almost 1 hour my three children (aged 3, 5, and 7) work quietly together to build this house. No one yelled, no one told someone they were doing it wrong, they were even complimenting each other – it was pretty amazing. I gave no guidance and the only thing they asked me to do was glue the boxes together at the end.
Their finished project:
At a cottage in Muskoka this week, I enjoyed sitting in a screened porch looking out over the lake, as I read Chapter 1 last night. I enjoyed reading the introduction a few days ago so I had no trouble getting in to the book. Prior to starting I made sure to first read with my girls – Kaitlyn a chapter from The Wide Awake Princess and Eileen a story from her Cars anthology. Michael was not sitting for a story last night but I was not too worried. There are a few distractions here at the cottage and at home where he can pick one of his hundred own books he always brings a book to “Family Reading Time”. Trelease often writes of making reading enjoyable for children and this can’t happen by ‘forcing’ them to sit and listen to a story, to me that seems counterproductive.
Trelease starts chapter 1 with statistics, there are a lot of statistics in this book and a lot of research. The first shows the decline in the number of students who read for pleasure as they age.
“We have 100 percent interest in kindergarten but loose three-quarters of our potential lifetime readers by the time they’re eighteen.”
Trelease has a a good discussion on his thoughts on electronic reading – tweets, email, facebook etc. His points on vocabulary are important and became more concrete when you see the table on page 18 comparing the number of rare words per thousand in different forms of oral and written communication. This kind of sums of the content of this chapter. Trealease goes from discussing the reading problem, discussing what needs to be done to fix it, and then finishes with discussing why this is important (background knowledge and vocabulary).
Key thoughts that jumped out at me and what is rolling around in my head:
- The opening stats discusses not only if children are reading but what they are reading. It states that children are reading less magazines and newspapers than they are books. Do I need to have more varieties of print in my classroom? I have a bin of magazines (Chirp and Highlights) but do I need to have enough variety. Maybe I need to have a bin/area for ‘environmental print’.
- We read the newspaper online in our house – is this good enough modelling for our children? My husband gets one magazine (The Economist) in print and the girls each get two magazines but we don’t have any print copies of the newspaper. Is this something we need to reconsider?
- I don’t need to abandon what I am doing now in my class, I just need to re-jig a few things. “You need the combination of know-how and motivation (pg. 10)
- Background knowledge!!! As a parent this is the one area I feel very confident, our children have lots of experiences and adventures but I teach children from a diverse SEC group that don’t have as rice of background experiences
- Types of vocabulary, I found the illustration on the different types of vocabulary on page 14 very helpful – listening vocabulary, speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary, and writing vocabulary.
Final favourite quotes from chapter 1:
The one prekindergarten skill that matters above all others, because it is the prime predictor of school success or failure, is the child’s vocabulary entering school. (page 15)
The least expensive thing we can give a child outside of a hug turns out to be the most valuable: words. (page 16)
The eventual strength of our vocabulary is determined not by the ten thousand common words but by how many rare words we understand.
With Day 5 the craft came before the book. I was scouring pinterest one night, procrastinating of course, and came across a cute reindeer craft that I thought would be a good ‘weeknight’ craft. I then went through our books to find a reindeer book. In my school box I found Rudolph Shines Again. I think it was from a scholastic package I got last Christmas.
The book is not is no award winner but it is cute. The illustrations are very well done (except for some reason Michael kept trying to find ‘the mouse’), and it is written entirely in rhyme. After Christmas Rudolph returns to be mocked by the other reindeer and this leaves him feeling very sorry for himself and his nose loses it’s shine.
After reading the book we got right down to the craft. You can get complete instructions by following the links here. I found all of the things we needed at Michael’s and in our craft bins. If you want to try it make sure you have very small pom poms for the nose. This was one of those crafts that is was great to have a stocked craft centre. I brought out the bin of misc. google eyes and bells and they picked their favourite. Grandma is a knitter so we raided her stash of wool. The only thing I really had to buy was the plastic candy canes.
This was a perfect craft for Eileen. Easy enough for her to do most of it herself and quick enough to keep her attention. Michael even was able to do some of the wrapping himself.
The finished result. They are super cute and all unique!
What did you watch on T.V. as a child? What was your favourite show?
Tonight after bath time Kaitlyn came out asking if she could watch “Polka Dot Door”. Wow – I wasn’t expecting that one. Then I remembered a few weeks ago she had asked me what my favourite show to watch was when I was her age. All I could remember was being very young in our house in Newburgh, Ontario – where we only got a couple of channels with our bunny ears and watching Polka Dot Door at night after my dad watched the 6:00 news. I am sure that there were other shows, especially as I got older but that is my first memory of television. (I was actually on Romper Room as a child but lets save that for another day).
Kaitlyn expected it to be on Netflix so I found Grampa trying to get it to work for her. They quickly realized it wasn’t on Netflix so I decided to google it and see what I could find. I managed to find a couple of very early episodes (1978) on the TVO archives. I sat down and watched a bit with her. She wasn’t overly impressed but it sure did take me back. There was story time, with the clock and the toys: Marigold, Humpty, Dumpty and Bear. The one thing that was missing was the Polkaroo. After this episode we checked out Youtube and I found her a clip of the Polkaroo. Those songs sounded so familiar (especially the imagine song). I wasn’t sure we would have any luck finding clips to show her but it was pretty cool watching them with her – I promised her we could check out a few more in the morning.
What do you remember watching as a child and what memories do you wish you could share with your kids?