Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ooey, Gooey Homeschooling Awesomeness

 My children, as in all areas of life, are as different as night and day when it comes to school. They each have their strong points and weak areas, the subjects they love and the ones they suffer through... and neither of them match up with anything. The Oldest picked up reading after about two months of instruction. Littlest One is on year two of painstakingly sounding out Every. Single. Word. But where The Oldest still can't always recall that 8x8=64, Littlest One seems to have a knack for memorizing math facts - and even loves to do it. Flash cards thrill her... The Oldest would rather scrub baseboards.

And so, just when I finally felt like had "This Whole Homeschooling Thing" down, Littlest One came along to dash all my dreams of mastery.

But, as I've worked to find ways to get information to stick in the brains of young children, one concept always rings true: if it involves laughter, fun, creativity, or enormous messes, they will undoubtedly remember what they have been taught. The only problem here is that this means that I have to come up with great ideas each week to keep them actively learning. Not always an easy thing to do. We've done "Memory" type games for sight words, online games for learning math facts and phonics, apps on my phone for sight words and for multiplication drills, and I've spent countless nights searching Pinterest for more fun ideas.

Somewhere between a Pinterest preschool activity and my own brain, this amazing little activity came about, and it's one that's cool enough that it deserves sharing.

I wrote the Eight Sight Words of the Week on little bits of craft foam, using a Sharpie. Then I scattered the bits on the bottom of a glass baking dish:

And then - because I was hoping to win the Cool Mom Award for the day, I managed to bring together fun, creativity, laughter, and an enormous mess, all into one activity: I squirted shaving cream all over the words, filling the baking dish til it nearly overflowed.

Then I handed Littlest One a list of her sight words and a pencil, and set her to work. Her job: find the little foam bits with the words on them, read them out loud, then find them on the list and mark them off with the pencil.

It sounds way easier than it really is. I also didn't let her keep the words out when she had found them - I made her put them back in. This meant she was constantly re-finding and re-reading the words.

The other blessed benefit to this activity: it can take at least an hour. Seriously - go get some laundry done, make some dinner.... take a nap, whatever. Your kid will be entertained. I promise.

Somehow, I assumed The Oldest would find this utterly immature and not be interested at all.
Clearly, I was wrong. She was desperate to get her hands in that shaving cream. So I wrote out a bunch of her most difficult multiplication and division facts and let her have a go at it.
The verdict? Coolest sight word game of the year, so far. The only problem is, now I have to come up with more fun ideas... feel free to hit me up with any you might have!

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