Afterschool Express - A Typical Week at Amanda's House

 What do we do afterschool?  Well, I do believe that it is my job as a parent to educate my child even though she does attend school for part of the day.  The problem is that there is so much that I want to teach and share with our children, that I must choose the things that are most important to our family. 
Every week we try to bake a minimum of 1-2 things.  I believe that cooking with children connects literacy, math, and life skills into an amazing real life lesson that is highly motivating. It also helps promote healthy eating !!! We try to use something from the garden every time we cook.  That way, the kids pick their own vegetables or spices, prepare them, and eat them!  This week we made whole wheat snowman pizzas.  We add chopped cooked Kale to the sauce and other veggies and fruits under the cheese to make this a healthier meal option.  While the pizza was cooking, we made a book about fruits and vegetables to extend the healthy eating lesson! (Do you see her pencil grip?  This is why I am Pinning fine motor and hand strengthening activities here). Kim has a fabulous series of posts called Little Hands that Cook With Books if you are looking for more ideas on how and what to cook with your kids!
Another activity that combines many academic skills as well as creativity is sewing.  My 5 year old decided this week that she wanted to "sew a Minnie dress," for when she goes to Disney World.  Can I resist this tempting request?  Of course not!!!  Thank goodness Simplicity Patterns were 99 cents last weekend!  She picked the pattern, the fabrics, washed them, (I ironed), cut the pattern out, pinned the pattern, cut the fabrics (with my help on the corners), pinned them and helped me run the machine to sew it all together. We worked on it over the course of 2 days.  I am able to help her get started on one step and then go entertain the tot while she works =)  I think it turned out pretty good!  We make a great team!!! (I did try the pattern out the night before so I knew what to do!)
Learning Activities
I try to provide some new learning activities around the house for the kids to interact with.  Some of these are activities that she works on independently and some things are parent directed.  We made these cool Giant Felt Pattern Blocks this week.  After a couple days of free exploring we played a couple different games.

Make a pattern- I would call out the type of pattern and she would make one, then we switched turns.  ABC, AABB, AABC, ABCD....
Mirror Me - I put a ribbon down and had her "mirror" the shape I put down, working on symmetry.
Same Shape, Different Size - Using both our small wooden shapes and the large felt pieces, we would make a picture with the small blocks and try to make the same picture with the giant ones!

Reading and Writing
I aim to read to the kids for at least 15 minutes daily and have them read to me for another 15 minutes daily.  When Elly was little, we read the same number of books as her age before nap and bed.  At 4 years old, she was hearing a minimum of 8 books every day.  Now that she is 5 and interested in longer books, we are having to change our rule to minutes!  She loves to write, so most days I just make sure our art and writing cabinet is stocked.  Sometimes I will leave stickers or some blank cards on the table and she will start writing!

As I just finished my Master of Reading Educating last month, I am not reading quite the volume of professional books and articles that I have been for the past 2 years.  Now that I have a little more time for reading, I am starting to read, Raising Confident Readers, by Dr. J Richard Gentry. It has been on my bookshelf for far too long and is really a fantastic resource for any parent who believes that learning begins at birth and that parents are their children's first teacher. More on this book to come in the next two weeks. If you have the book and want to read it with me, I would love to talk about it together!!!

If you are blogging about all the fun things you do with your grade school kids, we would love to have you link up!!! If you do not have a blog - we would love to hear what you are doing - just leave a comment letting us know all the wonderful things you are doing with your children!!!


Raising a Happy Child said...

Wow, I am amazed that Elly could cut the dress pattern. She is a very crafty little girl. Anna is a lot more likely to ask for board games/books/computer than for arts and crafts, but she also loves helping in the kitchen.

Amanda said...

Isn't it wonderful how each kid has their own strengths =) I am amazed at what Elly can do sometimes too! The pattern was a Simplicity learn to sew pattern that was designed for kids and has lots of long strait edges to cut- but is a bugger to put together. No idea why they would have kids use bias tape - it drives me nuts, so I adjusted the pattern to make it easier for me to sew together. I enjoy crafting a ton and am so glad she does too!

Little Wonders' Days said...

It's nice to see what other families are doing with their kids. Thanks for sharing. She did a wonderful job on her dress.

Michelle said...

Hey Amanda,
I loved reading about what you do with your kids. I've been reading Raising a Confident Reader too. Thanks for adding a link to the BlogFrog community on your blog. I just added a link your your blog on the blog list in the sidebar of Beginning Reading Help.
Here a link I found for pencil grip. There's something there called a writing claw. I thought it looked interesting.

Amanda said...

Thanks Little Wonder Days and Michelle! I am glad to hear you are reading the book too. It is such an amazing resource, but for some reason I just can't get into it and can't articulate why. What have you found helped you really make connections with the book? I find myself just skipping over all the yummy info in the begining to read what I can be doing with my kids at the different stages!

Mom and Kiddo said...

I like reading about what others do at home. That snowman pizza made me smile!

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