Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photo Assignment #1

Hi its Emma. I did my first PA (photo assignment).

Yes, Emma did type that. Yes, it took a really long time, but whatever, it got her interested in sounding out and spelling words. She also got a mini typing lesson. She is still sitting in my lap snuggling with me. Normally she would be in bed now, but after gymnastics today, she was exhausted and ended up taking a longer/ later nap than I would have liked. 

Oh well.

We printed up Emma's Photo Assignment #1 this morning during breakfast and posted it on the fridge. We then spent most of the day out and about, so Emma never got a chance to discover the list on her own.

A very busy day for us=
1. New battery for the car. Check
2. Adjustable shelving tracks and brackets for Emma's room. Check
3. Staples for some wanted but not necessarily needed supplies. Check
4. Gymnastics for Emma (where she actually participated and did great!). Check
5. Lunch with Da. Check

Then we finally went home. We jumped right into putting up the shelves, and Emma helped me with the stud finder (she loves the noises it makes), as well as measuring and marking. Then she got board and played with her doll for a while. 

Emma got hungry, so she had a snack of pretzels and 5 M&M's. She was unhappy about the small number of M&M's and pouted about it for far longer then I was happy with. She even started to cry a few times, which is when I had her lay down. Nothing drives me crazy faster then a whiny child. The plan was to let her sleep for about 20 minutes, then wake her up.

She was NOT ready to wake up after 20 minutes. So, I decided to let tonight be a late night and let her nap a bit longer. She apparently needed it.

After another 20 minutes, I tried waking her up again and this time instead of tears and anger, she was just out of it. I asked if she would like to help me with dinner or watch some Curious George. She chose George, which was fine with me. It helped her to wake up.

I was still cooking (making a few meals at once takes a little longer, but is really worth it) when George was done, so I asked her if she would like to do a photo assignment.

She was very interested so I showed her the list and explained to her how it works. She jumped right in and started reading the first word, which was 'wall'.

She flew through the first list and really enjoyed it.

Dinner wasn't quite ready and Da was still a few minutes from home, so I asked if she would like to do another list.

"YES!" was her reply.

I should have quit while she was really enjoying it.

She did well for the first few but then started to get bored. She read all the words on the second list but decided 'shin' and 'heel' where boring so crossed them off the list and didn't take any pictures of them.

Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Anyway, I think she really enjoyed the Photo Assignment, but I think one a week (maybe Photo Assignment Friday) would be plenty. Anything more then that and I think it might just get old.

And... Jared has Friday's off from school so it might be fun to incorporate PA's into field trips once a month.

Well, it is time to read some Bella Sara before bed. We are on book #3, and there are currently 11, so we had best get to reading!

Here are the photos from the two PA's she did today. You can find the lists here. Hope you have a great weekend!

p.s. I am headed out of town on Saturday. Unless I can convince Gramma or Da to post, it may be quite for a bit, but I will catch you up when I get home. Who knows, with Gramma around, Emma may be reading when I get back :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photo's and Reading

I found a new site that I love, Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile. I could go on all night about the cool things I have found on her site, but seeing as I have already spent all night pouring over her site, I will just leave it for you to discover on your own.

I found My First Photo Assignment so intriguing I stayed up way past my bedtime adapting it to Emma's current learning desire. Her desire to read.

I thought it was super cute. Given how much Emma likes to take pictures, I thought it might be a neat way to sneak in reading while getting a better idea of how she sees the world.

So, I created a simple list of 10 words that I feel she can read with little or no help.

Tomorrow I will post the list somewhere where she will be sure to see it. With her name on it, I figure she will want to know what it is. I think I might have her take a picture of the list (with the date written on it), then have her head "out" for her photographic scavenger hunt. I will leave it up to her if she wants to read the entire list right away, or if she wants to read one word at a time. As she photographs each "word", I will have her mark it off on her list. When the list is complete, I will have her take another photo of the completed list.

Having her take a before and after picture of the list helps me know where to look for the pictures. Emma tends to take pictures of odd and random things on a regular basis, so this little step will help me out a lot. Plus, if she really gets a kick out of it and wants to do more, having the photos of the lists will make it that much easier to manage when uploading. 

Just in case she does really enjoy it, I have 4 lists ready to go. 

I like the thought of having a theme, although it may end up being boring for Emma when she takes her photos. Trial and error folks, that is how we live our lives.

For the colors, I think the words themselves might be a bit hard for her, so I changed the font color to match the word.

If I stick with this enough, and Emma likes it enough, I may even take her camera disk to the store to print out small photos so she can glue them next to the words.

Hmm, something to think about especially considering that would make a neat addition to her education portfolio.

I will update you on how it works out. Until then, here is another fun and random photo.
Emma and Da having a snowball fight!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Leave Her Be and She Will Read

I may have mentioned at some point that Emma really does not enjoy being taught. If I have not in the past, I will now. I would go so far as to say she almost hates to be taught. She fights it, pouts, and is just a general pain in the butt.

That is, if she knows she is being taught :0)

A few nights ago, as I was putting our broom away (it goes between the fridge and the wall), I rediscovered our old dry erase board.

Inspiration struck.

I grabbed the board, scrounged around for some dry erase markers, and wrote a few word family lists. Nothing crazy, just a few -at, -it, and -ot words. I placed the board back on the fridge, this time front-and-center, and went to bed.

I don't think Emma noticed the dry erase board the first day it was there, and to be honest, I forgot about it as well. But the following day I was sitting at the kitchen table working on something and Emma asked me, "Does this say 'bit'?" as she pointed at the dry erase board.

Me- "It sure does." Then I continued working on whatever.

Emma- "Does this one say 'fit'?"

Me- "It does, good job reading."

Emma went on to sound out and read all of the words I had written down. When she finished, I asked her if she would like to use some of those words to write a sentence. Emma asked what a sentence was, and so we sat on the floor in front of the fridge while I wrote out a few simple sentences explaining as we worked/played. She even wrote a few of the words from her list.

Every other night or so I will update the list on the white board. Last time I even added a few simple math equations (1+1, 1+2, 1+3, etc.).

It is not teaching per se. She decides when and if she wants to learn whatever happens to be written on the board. If she goes a few days without trying to figure out the words, I will write a new set of slightly easier words so she can regain her confidence.

By letting her decide when she wants to sound things out, we are finding that she is willing to sound out odd and random things.

For instance, today was my day 'off' (I took a meditation class then spent some time at the library, then took a crossfit class) while Jared and Emma got some father-daughter time. They read for a bit from the Bella Sara series, then Emma started tickling Da (her favorite thing to do), then went on to play some Bella Sara on line.

Yes, she LOVES Bella Sara.

Anyway, as I was getting ready to write this post, I was remembering that earlier today as I was laying in bed, trying to take a quick nap, I could hear Emma in her room sounding out some words. I loved it.

When I mentioned it to Jared, he was like, "Oh yeah! She was doing that all day. She sounded out 'power', and 'skittles', well, just 'skit' at first because the bag was folded in half, then the whole thing."

So, for Emma anyway, if there is no pressure and she is allowed to read as she pleases, read she will.

This approach may mean it takes her a bit longer to learn 'what is required', and we are fine with that. The achievement will be that much sweeter for Emma because she will learn what she wants, when she wants, not what/when someone else tells her she has to. It will also be sweet for me because I don't have to put up with her whining and complaining, and her general pain in the buttedness.

Well, not where teaching is concerned anyway.

*Here is just a fun picture. Emma on her 5th birthday, sitting next to Da at the movie theater waiting for Tangled 3-D to start.*
(She figured out after last years birthday movie picture that it is very wise to close your eyes when Mama takes pictures in a movie theater)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Reading Continues

As I am not a teacher, I don't know the exact way to go about teaching Emma to read, but I do know that she makes my job super easy.


Because Emma loves horses. One of her favorite computer games is Bella Sara. A person can buy trading cards for Bella Sara and Emma has been collecting them for about 6 months now. Up until now she just liked them because with each purchase you got horseshoes for the game (and most of them have cool horses on them). Today she was playing with them near me while I was busy dealing with some family stuff.

Thankfully I had my mom ears on (you know, the ones where you are half listening to your child but as they are not talking to you, they don't require your full attention).

As I am doing whatever I was doing, I heard, "Duh, duh owe, duh owe wuh."

I finally clued in to what she was saying and I look over at her and she is sounding out the name on one of her Bella Sara cards. I didn't interrupt, but just watched and listened.

Emma- "Duh owe wuh ah, duh owe wuh ah guh, duh owe wuh ah guh eh, duh owe wuh ah guh eh rrr. Dowager!" (The card at the top of the post, and did you realize how hard it is to spell the sounds of the letters?!)

Me- "Emma, that was amazing! You did a fantastic job and you sounded it out all on your own. High five!"

After high fives she moved on to a second card.

 She sure picked some difficult ones to start off with, but it was so much fun watching her eyes light up each time she figured out the word!

She "read" one more (she actually just recognized this one from the picture), and then she was done.

As I mentioned earlier, I was dealing with stuff, so I didn't really press her to do more. Besides, I figure she did well enough on her own and I would just frustrate her at this point.

Once Da got home from school, I mentioned to him (with Emma in ear shot) that Emma head read some of her Bella Sara cards today. His, "Oh yeah!" got Emma excited enough to show him the cards she read. So the two of them sounded out and read a few more. She was game for a few minutes, but it quickly got old for her. This is the card that they read together. It actually had 2 names one it, Cinnamon and Nutmeg, both spices that she got to smell after sounding them out.

So the lesson that she taught me today was when it really matters to her, she will figure it out, but it isn't as much fun when someone else is making her do it.

Oh, and three vaccine shots in her legs makes it hard to concentrate.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Reading Begins

Emma has always had a love for books, words, and letters. Ever since Emma could hold a book, she has never been far from one. It may have something to do with all the reading we do with her, both planned and spontaneous (as in street signs, posters, and other things we see in our day to day travels)

A few months ago we where visiting family in NH when Emma decided to sound out a word she found sitting on a window sill in my sisters dinning room. The word was 'family'. With no help, and no prodding, Emma sounded out and read the word all by herself (makes me think this unschooling thing might just work out). I have to tell you, that is an awesome feeling, and the huge smile on her face made it even better.

Two days ago, Emma decided she wanted to learn to read. She has told me this before, and we had given it a go before, but now seems to be different. She seems to really want to learn to read.

So, we start small. When I read with her, I have her sound out a word or two each page or so. Last night in the tub I brought out the laminated words. Emma read a word, then blew bubbles, read a word, blew bubbles. She did a great job, and I am excited about her learning to read.

Our biggest problem I think will be that she likes to try to guess what the word is instead of sounding the word out. We are working on it.

I think a blog post with no pictures is kinda boring, so on days when I have no relevant pictures to post, I think I will leave you with a picture taken by Emma.
From on of the Bone books written by Jeff Smith