karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

Happy New School Year! (Part One)

Happy New Year! School year, that is. Are you excited? Maybe you’re a bit sad to see Summer wave, “So long.” I am . But here in Texas, we’re pretty ready to boot summer out by the end of August. At least, we want to show the heat out and show the Autumn  cool in.

If you teach in the classroom, at home, or both (That’s me!) it’s time. We teachers lead the way.

Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes for educators:

“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated, a child humanized or dehumanized.”

quote by Haim Ginott  Teacher and Child (1976)  Avon Books

We have to come in with a positive attitude. And we owe it to our students to be prepared. One of my favorite books on getting the school year off to a bright start is: The First Days of School (How to be an Effective Teacher) by Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong.

This book shows teachers how to bring their best professional educator selves to the classroom. You will find a treasury of tips on running a successful classroom. These tips include: preparing yourself and your environment, lesson planning, and teaching procedures. If you are clear in explaining exactly what you want the children to do, and you are consistent, you will be your most effective self in the classroom.

Happy Teaching, where ever that may be for you!

🙂 Karona Drummond

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Plastic Eggs are for More Than Egg Hunts

Have you filled any plastic eggs lately? Egg hunting season is in full swing. Enjoy!

You can use the eggs for more than the “Big Day” egg hunts. Here are a few ideas for you. I am sure you will think of more.

1. If you’re a mom or teacher of young children, give your kids some eggs and containers to take turns having their own egg hunts for each other. Supply them with containers to put the eggs in. This can be done inside or outside.

2. Set up a big tub of uncooked rice or uncooked pinto beans. Place plastic eggs in the tub. Encourage your children to
fill, empty, hide and find the eggs in the tub.

4. Set up an egg number-object matching center. Put numbers 1-12 on a dozen eggs. Get something small, like uncooked beans. Have your child fill each egg with the number of beans on the outside of the egg.
For an edible version of this idea, use a small cereal pieces, such as Cheerios.

5. Have your child work on his/her color skills. Use pom poms. Your child can match the pom pom to the color of the egg. Have your child put the matching color of pom pom inside each egg. Then put unmatched colors of pom poms and introduce the word “mismatched”.

6. Make an edible version of the above activity.Use a small colored cereal, like Froot Loops.

7. After you do the Froot Loop activity with counting, involve the sense of smell. Have your chlid close her eyes or put on a blindfold. Can she identify the color of the egg by the matching Froot Loops’ smell? Open the eggs one at a time and “see” how it goes.

8. Next, let your child blindfold you. Can you identify the color of the egg by the smell of the Froot Loops
inside? “Waste not, want not.” You had better go ahead and eat those Froot Loops in the name of frugality. 🙂

9. Simple addition: After you do the number matching activities, try this simple addition activity: Choose 2 eggs with numbers on them and the corresponding number of small objects inside. If you add those two numbers of objects, how many will you have? Empty the contents of the eggs and check your answer.

10. For older children: Work on math facts with plastic eggs. Using masking tape, write a simple math fact on the outside of the egg. Write the answer on a small piece of paper and insert into the egg. Do this with as many math facts as you would like to work on for the day. (Example: all the addition 3s facts) Have your child say the math fact, then the answer. Have him open the egg to check if he said the correct answer.

11. To extend the above activity: Place all the answers to a set of math facts in a pile on the table. Give your child the eggs with the math facts that go with those answers. Have your child put the right answer in the right egg.

12. An oldie but a goodie: Fill a bunch eggs about halfway with rice. Tape up the eggs. Give each child (and yourself)
2 eggs to hold. Put on some happy music. Shake those eggs to the beat of the music! 🙂

Happy Easter!!

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Delighted by Dandelions


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: twowheelsblog.com

The next time I fill out a Secret Sister questionnaire at church, I have a new answer for favorite flower:
“Dandelion!”

Oh, I know. Even my third graders objected when I mentioned my love for the little yellow flowers.
“Weeds!” they declared. “Our parents don’t like them.”

Yes, I suppose a lot of people would like to eliminate dandelions from their yard. But according to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com, dandelions are a good source of pollen to bees and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals to humans. Quite a weed, aye?

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(That’s me in shadow, out on my walk.)
As I was walking on a late winter’s day in Texas, bare trees stared down. Brown grass stared up. But out from the
monotony popped bright circles of pure sunshine, alongside sky-reaching stems topped by snowy orbs made of tiny potential parachutes. Drawn into the game, I playfully kicked the white orbs and watched as the parachutes lifted onto the wind, on their way to start the game afresh.


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: lookatmyhappyrainbow.com

I figure maybe I’m in good company with my love of dandelions. Robert Fulghum, in his acclaimed book of essays, All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,(www.robertfulghum.com) remarks that if dandelions were endangered, plant nurseries would  charge $14.95 a plant and start dandelion societies.

Young children know the joy of dandelions. They pick them by the handfuls. They blow the magical tufts aloft,
wishes soaring.


Image courtesy of Creative Commons: seenobjects.org

Bring some dandelions inside. Drizzle some yellow paint on a few paper towels. Let your kids make dandelion prints.
When the prints dry, the kids can add faces and other details with crayons or markers.

Complete the dandelion fun with a good book or two.

Dandelions: stars in the grass shows the remarkable life of the dandelion plant with crisp, colorful illustrations.

Another picture book: The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony tells the story of a lone dandelion seed reluctant to face the world. It is a story of courage. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Tonight, when I pillow my head, I will pray to be a bit more like the dandelion: a bright spot in a weary world, persevering in the face of adversity, a source of nourishment to the sojourner. And when the time is right, please lift my hopes, dreams, and plans. Please send them soaring to the place they are meant to be.

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Close a Screen, Open the World, Part 2

I LOVE books. Books on screens are okay. And I am glad they are available. But for young children (and for me),no

reading experience is quite as satisfying as a good book. I love to feel the book in my hands and physically turn each page. I love the fact that I can take a book anywhere with no need of an electrical charger or outlet.

One book that caught my attention recently is called Press Here by Herve’ Tullet. Press Here is a perfect picture book: simple and engaging. When I put this book in my library corner at school, everyone wanted a turn.

Press Here starts with one yellow dot on a white background. Each page gives the reader a new instruction to
do to the dot(s). One yellow dot becomes two dots, then three, all in primary colors. By following the tapping instructions, the reader is able to “make” the dots multiply,shift from one side of the other, turn out the lights, and turn the lights back on. Finally, the reader is empowered to clap the dots bigger and bigger until at last, the reader is back to one yellow dot. Then the reader is invited to start over.

This book could be followed up by some creative activities. You could give your child(ren) red, yellow, and blue paint.
Have them make dot art, using a thumb or finger. If you have time, try asking the kids to make one picture, then write
instructions at the bottom of the picture, such as “Press Here”. The next picture shows what happens when the instructions are followed. The children use the book for ideas on what would happen.

Happy reading and painting!

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Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

We are studying fruit in botany these days. Yesterday, my third graders and I had a wonderful time exploring oranges.
We started by guessing what was in a closed bag (oranges, of course). Then each child estimated the weight.

When the bag of oranges were revealed, I asked the class: “If we know the weight of the whole bag of oranges, and we know, the number of oranges, how can we determine the weight of one orange?” Ahhh… long division in action.

I partnered the kids into pairs. While we played music, the kids rolled , then tossed the oranges, promoting friendship, cooperation, and fun.

Next: We studied our oranges:
geometry: What shape are oranges? (spheres) What other spheres can you think of? (balls, the Earth)
geography: We imagined the orange was the Earth. We found the stem of the orange. That was like the North Pole. We found the navel of the orange. That represented the South Pole. We took our oranges and rotated them in the same way that the Earth rotates.

We looked at real globes and found the Equator. We drew the Equators on our oranges. We named the Northern and Southern Hemispheres We noted that we live in the Northern Hemisphere. We found the International Date Line on the Globes. We drew it on our oranges and discussed the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

We drew rough shapes of the continents.

geology We peeled an orange and compared the peel to the Earth’s crust.

We also explored orange buoyancy. We found that an orange will not float in a large, shallow, tub. I asked the class how we could get the orange to float. They said, “Add more water!”

“That might work,” I agreed. “But we can make it float without changing the amount of water.”

“Hollow out the orange!” the students suggested.

“That could be fun. And it might work,” I said. “But we don’t have to change anything about the orange to get it to float. What do we need to change?”

“Put it in a different container!’ the class decided.

With that, I poured the water out of the shallow tub and into a tall, cylindrical container. The orange floated!

We wrote orange adjectives, like: juicy, orange, sweet, round, fruity, bumpy, nutritious, and delicious.

Finally, we feasted on our oranges.

By the way, I do like bananas. But that is a blog for another day. 🙂

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Close a Screen, Open the World -Part One

One of our family goals this year is to turn screens off more often. Television screens, computer screens, I-Touch screens, hand-held game screens. All these screens make me scream! Hee, hee. Here I am typing this blog, staring at my computer screen.

I love email, blogging, and typing my words on a forgiving computer instead of a typewriter that leads me to endless
torrents of correction fluid. I devour a good movie and let it nourish me for days. Screens are part of my life.
But we need a balanced diet of activity.

While I seek the screen/non-screen balance in my life, I search for the balance in my children’s lives as well. When we turn off the screens, we see the world, we hear the voices coming from real humans present with us. We can hear our own voice. Or maybe we can be still long enough to listen until we can hear our inner voice once again.

I came upon a book recently that fits into this screen-closing experience. I browsed through it as I sat in the serenity
of our local library. The book is called: Unbored by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Unbored is jam-packed with all kinds of ways for kids and families to get busy doing, creating, and learning.
I can’t recommend every activity in the book, but there is a lot of great stuff. It’s so full that it is hard to know where to begin. A few examples of the contents are: “Make a Kumihimo Braid”, “Circus Tricks”, Popsicle Stick Harmonica”, “Backyard Forts and Shelters”, and “Make a Secret Book Safe.” Unbored gives bunches of fun facts as well, broken up into easy to read bites.

My screen time is just about up. It’s time to pack up the kids and head to the bookstore. I hope you and yours enjoy your screen time. Then close the screen. Open up the world.

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Let it Snow.

Thanks, Darlene, for some great snow ideas!http://darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/let-it-snow/
We may need to do the popsicle stick craft version here in Texas. This is my Texas Winter Poem:

Texas Winters are Funny
Words by Karona Drummond Tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Texas winters are funny.
Some days there’s snow and there’s ice.
Texas winters are funny.
Some days they’re sunny and nice!

Chorus: Texas, Texas, What funny winters we have, we have,
Texas, Texas, What funny winters we have!

Texas winters are funny.
Listen to the weather reports.
One day you might need your jacket.
The next day you’ll be wearing your shorts!

Repeat chorus.

Case in point: My husband and I got married in February. Guess what? An ice storm was our uninvited guest! Three weeks later, I attended a friend’s wedding held at the exact chapel as ours. It was 90 degrees! Go figure.

Stay warm, y’all!

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A Little Christmas Silliness

 

 

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Are we having Christmas fun yet? Or are we running around in a crazy Christmas tizzy? I am guilty as charged.
But I am trying to have a little fun along the way. I’m taking the Christmas “to-do” list and putting some of it in the Christmas
“to-don’t list.

Christmas To-Don’t List
1. Don’t try to do everything.
2. Don’t go around in a Grump like the Grinch.
3. Don’t forget what and who are most important.

One way I let go of a “to-do” was with the Christmas tree. The Christmas boxes were in the house. The tree was up… and empty.
Neither my kids nor my hubby seemed too keen on decorating. One morning I stared at that big ol’ empty tree. I looked around the room. A large, red set of butterfly wings left over from our (October) costume party caught my eye. I put them on the tree. Then the blue set. Then the yellow ones. Hmmm…

Later that day, I washed my son’s Mohawk knitted cap. When it came time to put it back in his drawer, I decided to let it air out instead. I put it on top of the Christmas tree. I found a pair of my daughter’s sunglasses on the floor. You know where they went. Next, I added slinky arms with gloves attached.

When my husband came into the room, he took a long look at the tree. “I have a pair of boots in the closet,” he said. We put them at the base of the tree.

My daughter came in from playing outside.

“Mom! What have you done to the tree?”
I smiled. “Do you like it?”
“He needs a smile.” She said.

We added a plastic banana grin, then a HUGE plastic carrot nose. We grabbed a Christmas table runner for a scarf.

VOILA! Christmas Tree Man!

Every time I pass that silly tree, I grin or giggle. Maybe we’ll re-decorate it in a more traditional way. (Maybe not.)

Back to my Christmas to-do list:

1.Do what really matters to you and yours.
2.Go around with joy in your heart. God has already given the greatest gift of all.
3. Remember what and who are most important.

God bless you. And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Love,

Karona Drummond

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Venus Flytrap Snap

Ahhh…what could be lovelier than a beastly meat eating plant? Actually a fly-eating plant. “Way cool!” say the kids.
I must agree. But as intimidating as the picture may seem, the Venus Flytrap is actually quite small. Perhaps you saw them in the stores last month. If you and your kids are studying botany, give the little Venus Flytrap a go.

If you go to mycarnivore.com, you’ll find a wealth of information on Venus Flytrap care, as well as care of other carnivorous plants. You can also order seeds and supplies.

Here’s a little poem I made up about the Venus Flytrap. If you want a tune for it, try the “Adams Family” tune. Happy fly snapping! 🙂

Venus Flytrap Snap
by Karona Drummond

I’m a Venus Flytrap
I am green and tiny
Bristly and spiny
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

If you are an insect
Come on in and inspect
My sweet, enticing smell
I betcha can’t tell
That I’m a Venus Flytrap
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Come in if you dare
And touch two tiny hairs
You’ll be in my lair
“Cause I’m a Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Please come on in
I need nitrogen
That’s my vitamin
I’m a Venus Flytrap!

“Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……”

SNAP! SNAP!!

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Helping the Learning Stay in Place

Recently, I had the honor of attending a workshop presented by Kathe Lee. Kathe Lee is a homeschool mom and educational consultant working with universities and families across the country to help students navigate the tricky path from high school to college to career success. If you live in or near the Dallas area and have the opportunity to hear Mrs. Lee speak, I highly recommend it. You can check out her website at KatheLee.com.

I attended the “Love to Learn”lecture. I scribbled notes like crazy. It was such good stuff. One thing that sticks with me the most is:

Kids don’t retain learning if they are frustrated or angry. They retain information when they are engaged in the learning process. Are we keeping our kids engaged? Not everything in life is a picnic. So how do we make learning engaging?

I’m not against workbooks. I use them myself. But if we’re just reading the material and doing the workbook (yawn),are we keeping our children engaged? Can we do better?

Getting your students involved in a hands-on way will help get them engaged, which will in turn lead to better learning retention. A couple of days ago we took a squishy ball like the one above during our spelling lesson. My daughter and I spelled out the words while throwing the ball back and forth. We did this in addition to writing the words and using the workbook. It put a smile on our faces, livened up our day, and helped those spelling words stay in place.

Have an engaging day!

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