I started to brainstorm yesterday for a few simple (I can't really emphasize that word enough) busy bags I could take with me to Ecuador. Since my brain juice is running on low, I resorted to an old standby that Simon played with more times than I can tell. He had a bag with pipecleaners and beads. If I remember right, the beads were dolphins and other cute sea creatures.
Well, it's long gone. And I am all on the big pink girly-girl band wagon right now. You should expect nothing less from a mom who has been buying boy clothes and toys for almost 13 years. I never, ever thought I'd have a daughter. Now that I'm standing right on the brink of bringing Sweet Girl home, well, it's like I swallowed the Pinkalicious book or something.
You only need two things for this busy bag: pipecleaners and beads.
I spent $6 on beads at Hobby Lobby (1/2 price this week). I'm not counting the cost on the pipe cleaners. These poor pink pipe cleaners have been hanging out in the craft box for years.
What's the purpose of this pinkness?
Looking for more preschool busy bag ideas? That's fantastic because my #1 viewed post is The Ultimate Guide to Preschool Busy Bags! So, go look.
P.S. I know this is a choking risk for youngers, so use common sense. No pongas eso en tu boca por favor. (And that little bit of Spanish may have taken every drop of brain juice I had left.) Audios.
I told Jason the other day there are a few academic skills I want to equip our children with. Solid basic math skills. Good written communication. Fluid readers. And I want them to be able to type well without looking at their fingers. I'm not kidding. Typing actually made my short list.
We have tried a few programs throughout the years. Cheap. Free. Nothing stuck because nothing really worked.
But Simon has been asking to learn to type, and I feel that sooner is better than later because they do start hacking their way around the keyboard and forming bad habits pretty early.
We decided to give Keyboard Classroom a whirl.
Did you catch that? Before he starts typing, he voluntarily claims, "And I really like it." That was not scripted or coached.
In two weeks my seven-year-old has gone from not being able to type, to being able to type 17 letters. I feel like I need to add one of those disclaimers you see on weight loss commercials: Results not typical. But maybe they are typical.
The finger guides are a key component of Keyboard Classroom–something that was lacking in other programs we tried. The guides were essential to helping Simon figure out where his hands needed to be on the keyboard. Just today I watched him type a message to his dad on my keyboard (without the guides), and he typed like a pro. So, I know the guides won't be necessary forever, but they are a huge help in the beginning.
The program includes incentives (levels and games). Simon is purely motivated by his desire to type and by leveling up. He told me (proud as a peacock) when he leveled up to Sergeant. Students also earn tokens to play in the arcade.
The program comes with a guarantee. You can read more about it on the Keyboard Classroom website. The cost for the program is $39.95 for one student or $49.95 for 2-5 students. That is a great deal considering I get to check off one of my academic goals for my students! Especially when the program is one that is loved.
Simon completed Reading Chart 8 from the Reading Charts program over a month ago. Now he is a reading champ! He has been enjoying the The Frog and Toad books. Rather than asking him to read each one of these multiple times, I am letting him choose from a basket full of various books.
After Chart 8 I recommend the following:
The Little Bear books by Else Minarik
The Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel
Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel
Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel
Pet Show by Ezra Jack Keats
Hill of Fire by Thomas P. Lewis
After those are complete, I would suggest moving on to Henry and Mudge books.
Congratulations if you've made it this far! Your child will be reading chapter books soon!