Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sweet Memories

I've spent the past couple of days updating forms, filing curriculum, putting away books and art supplies and reminiscing about memories from the past few years. As each school year draws to a close, I say good-bye to your children for the summer. Most of them I will see over the church, at the YMCA, the pool or county fair. Most of them will be back next year, but there are always a few that move on, some to public high school, some move to new communities, some just grow up, darn it!

Thus the reminiscing. I have some great memories from this year. I hope your children do. Some snippets running through my mind include eager children packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, the chaos of cutting fleece and sewing machines buzzing as we made hats for children in Pakistan, cutting, measuring & messy gluing trying to make models of the Washington Monument, and the White House. I remember giggling with kids as they wrote stories and showcased their humor and imagination. We laughed through Hank the Cowdog books and were sad when we thought Hound Dog Bates was murdered, and later were touched to find out what really happened. We were amazed at the number of stupid pets different presidents had. With your children I have learned about crop circles, possible locations of the Ark of the Covenant, tasted new chocolate concoctions and solved the mystery of the Art Fraud Detective. We've twisted nursery rhymes into mysteries and created I Spy pictures.

Thank you for trusting me with your children. Thanks for allowing me to share in the joy of who they are and who they are growing up to be. Have a wonderful summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Hammock and a glass of Lemonade

Ok, so I have several favorite times of year. Today I would say my favorite is late spring/early summer (but if you ask me in September, I may say football season) There are many reasons I like this time of year so much. Winter is really over!! School is almost out and summer dangles out in front of me like a piece of chocolate on a string. The bugs are not bad yet. It's not very humid yet. The lawn still looks nice. The birds sing in the morning outside my window. Everyone around me is happy, and smiling. I could go on and on.

When the weather gets like this, one of my favorite things is to find a great book and read outdoors. On the deck, (or in my new hammock I got for mother's day) Books and words facinate me. I love how a good author puts them together and I love being taken away to a different world. Right now I am rereading C.S.Lewis's The Last Battle, from The Chronicles of Narnia.

I wrote my mom a short letter for mother's day. In it I thanked her for giving me such a love of reading. She had such a huge part in cultivating that in me. She took me to the library and helped me find books she thought I would like. She read to me and with me. I saw her take time out of her busy day to get lost in book after book.

You are also having a huge impact on your kids and their love of reading and books. Not every kid will spend countless hours lost in a great story, but even if your child doesn't live to read, they can have a great appreciation for a good story.

As summer approaches, I know it will be a little of a battle for me to get my youngest son lost in literature. If I follow my own mom's lead and guide him toward a book he can get hooked into, that will help. The statistics show how important it is.

• Students regress three months in achievement and these losses are cumulative creating a wider gap each year. By the time a student reaches middle school years, the reading loss can add up to two or more years of lost reading achievement (Franzen & Allington, 2003).

Yikes! The good news is, reading only 5 to 6 books over the summer is sufficient to prevent a decline in reading achievement.

Looking for some good ways to encourage your kids to read? The public library has a great summer reading program. New this year, I will be joining the "Principal's Challenge", providing an extra incentive for home school students to read over the summer. Ask Julie at the children's desk for more information.

Also, Scholastic has a summer challenge you can join on their website. You can have your kids journal about what they read. Discuss what they like and don't like about a book. Have them act out or illustrate a scene from a book. They could write an alternate ending or draw out part of the plot as a comic strip. Or... just curl up in a hammock with some lemonade and get lost in Narnia!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Garage Sale Bliss

You can pull into a million driveways and not find a single treasure, but then there is that one garage, the one where you find the perfect thing at a better than bargain price. That's what keeps me going back for more. I am guilty like the rest, of taking something home just because it was cheap, only to take it to Goodwill a few years later, untouched. But then there was the time I found a solid oak nightstand, painted of course, brought it home for a few dollars and then let my son refinish it for 4-H. It now has a prominent place in his room. Or one time, I round the whole set of math manipulatives for Saxon for under $10. Wow! It's the thrill of the hunt that makes the car slow down when I see the familiar array of junk in someone's lawn. As they say, one woman's trash is another woman's treasure!

If you enjoy the hunt, or even if you don't, you don't want to miss the opportunity to look through treasures at one local garage sale this coming weekend. It's at 2501 Olive Street and is being put on by several families. I happen to have the inside track that among the merchandise, Galynn will be selling most of her homeschool curriculum and many great books at this sale. As many of you know, she has home schooled 4 children and has a wealth of materials. You won't want to miss the chance for some great bargains. The doors open at noon on Friday May 8 and it will go till 7:00 that evening. Then they'll be open again for business on Saturday from 8:00 till noon.

I may just see you there!