Real moms aren't perfect. Perfect moms aren't real. Don't compare yourself to that perfect mom down the street, in your community, in your circle, or even in your family. Guess what? They're not as perfect as you think they are. They fail just like you. And you know what? It's ok. Cause good moms are not perfect. Yet, they take joy in their strengths and do what they're good at. They admit their weaknesses and work toward change.
They embrace who they are.
We've gone through a number of ideas for creative ways to learn spelling words this year. One of the best we've come across comes from Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations. (The other is sorting each list by phonic rule. More on that next week.)
She offers her Read! Build! Write! worksheets for free download in a variety of different colors. If you laminate the worksheet, you can use it over and over again. The file also includes printable letter tiles, but we have found that felt letter tiles are easier to pick up and maneuver.
At the beginning of the week, I write out her spelling words on slips of paper, about 1.5" x 3" ish... totally estimated. She uses these cards to "say, spell, say" everyday. On our Read! Build! Write! days, she lays a card in the first box and reads it.
Next, she spells out the word using her felt letter tiles. You could also use scrabble tiles, letter magnets, or any other letter manipulative.
Last, she writes the spelling word with a dry erase marker. If it is a word she's really been struggling with, I have her spell it out loud as she writes it.
She then clears the board, erases the word, chooses a new card, and starts all over again. She typically has 10-12 words in each list, so we usually break up the Read! Build! Write! into two days, rather than trying to squeeze it all into one spelling session.
Even if you do not homeschool, this worksheet may come in handy for spelling reveiw the night before spelling test day.
Another idea is to use these worksheets for math facts. Place a flashcard in the Read! box, build the equation with number tiles, and then write out the equation.
Supplies: felt (brown, pink, white or cream, light brown), cardstock, laminator and laminating pouches (optional), printable cards
Ages: 2 - may be too young, 3- will be a good challenge, 4 to 5- ideal, 5+ - simple
This activity makes a great busy bag and is well used in our house by our 3, 4, and 6 year olds. First they choose a patterning card and lay it beside the felt cone. Then they stack the colored scoops onto the cone, making sure they follow the pattern shown on the card they chose. If they need more of a challenge, have them create their own pattern without following a card. Seems simple, but it gives them the opportunity to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
If you would like to make this activity yourself, you will need to print the patterning cards found at Making Learning Fun. I suggest printing them on cardstock to give them a longer lifespan. You can laminate them if you wish to give them more stability.
You will also need to cut the cone and scoops from felt. You will need 1 cone and 4 of each color ice cream scoop.
We went simple this year and cut way back on the number of toys we gifted to our children for Christmas. And miraculously enough, so did the rest of the family. (Thanks you, guys!) So, this year, we are not dealing with the mountain of toy loot, trying to figure out how to fit it into the current treasure trove of toys. But in past years, it's pretty much been a nightmare.
Experts say that children are happier and more creative when they have a tidy and organized space to play with fewer toys. An excessive number of toys overwhelms children and only creates a mess, which in turn hampers their creativity.
I don't really care what sort of scientific research method they used to come up with this conclusion. All I need to do is observe my own children. They are bored, aggressive, and given to fighting when their play area is a mess. I spend most of my time dealing with misbehavior. But when their space is neat and tidy, they play for hours with minimal conflict.
I wish I could say that this knowledge motivated me to sort and purge more often, but unfortunately, that would be a lie.
Perhaps, you're a pro at keeping up with your children’s' toy loot and only need to spend a half hour or less making room for the Christmas trove. Or maybe you're like me, and you're years behind, needing to devote an entire day or two to the process.
Wherever you are on the scale, the last week of the year is a perfect time to tackle the purge. Then you can begin the new year (and endure the winter blues) with more peace and creativity in the play room.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Set up your sorting area.
Gather all the toys into one spot. Leave an empty spot in the middle where you can sit.
Line up toy baskets or containers within arm's reach (or toss reach).
Bring in a trash bag and 2 boxes (labeled "sell" and "give").
2. Be logical and realistic while sorting.
Pull out the obvious trash. (Why is it that I always end up with an entire trash bag of paper plates, granola bar wrappers, toilet paper tubes, and cardboard boxes?)
Pull out the loose toys that belong in sets (blocks, Legos, cars, etc.) Put them in the proper basket or container.
Now sort through the leftover miscellaneous toys. The goal is to keep as few as possible.
Toss the Happy Meal toys. Seriously. There's no need for them. They are consumable toys, lasting only a week at the most. Either trash them or throw them into the "sell" box. They make great "nickel toys" for the "nickel box" in your next garage sale.
Sort through the rest of the small toys. Ask yourself... Does my child love this toy? Does this toy promote creative play? When was the last time I saw them playing with it? If you answer no to the first two questions, and your last answer was a time of more than two weeks, it's time to get rid of it. Give it, sell it, or trash it.
Do the same for the larger toys. You want as few of these as possible, since they take up so much space.
If your youngest child is older than 18 months, put away all baby toys. Give them, sell them, or store them for your next baby.
Once you've sorted through all the toys, look at the number of toy sets you have. Do your children really need a large collection of blocks, Waffle blocks, Mega blocks, Duplos, and Legos? Do they really need 25 puzzles? Is the toy dish and food collection larger than necessary? Downsize. Downsize. Weed out. Weed out. Sets of toys often sell well at garage sales.
3. Involve your children only if it will help the process.
We all want our children to learn to let go, share, and care for the needy. But let's face it, asking a three year old (and sometimes even the six year old) to decide which toys to throw away or give away usually results in screams of panic. Purging is hard enough. There's really no reason to add more drama than necessary.
Need more ideas and motivation?
Over at simplekids.net, Megan Tietz offers practical advice for those who have a hard time letting go of toys with sentimental connections.
If you want to involve your children in the process, Positive Parenting Solutions offers some creative ideas for helping them make honest decisions on which toys are truly their favorites.