karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

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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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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Drum On!

In the little farming community where I grew up, we managed to have a football team and a pep squad. But we were missing something.
A band. And DRUMS! So when I went off to college and attended college football games, I sat by the band. And the DRUMS!

I guess with a last name like Drummond, you might guess I like drums. And you would be right!

Kids and drums are a natural combination.  Give a kid a drum, some drum sticks, and see what happens. Go ahead and put some cotton in your ears first.  I won’t tell. 🙂

Seriously though, if you don’t have some drums around and you are a parent, a homeschool teacher, or even a classroom teacher, please consider letting your kids explore drums. Check garage sales, craigslist, and such. I’ve acquired  3 or 4 “real” drums that way.
In the meanwhile, oatmeal containers and coffee tubs work fine and are quieter. For drumsticks, try pencils or dowel rods.

As for drum books, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins,  is a must read. It starts with just one thumb, one monkey “drumming  on a drum”. Along the way, “Monkeys drum…and monkeys hum.” More monkey business ensues. Next, “hand in hand more monkeys come” until ” millions of fingers, millions of thumbs, millions of monkeys drumming on drums”. The monkey masses depart. The last page again shows one lone monkey, happily drumming with one thumb. The words also bring the commotion to a close, getting smaller and smaller as they thumb out one last “Dum ditty Dum ditty Dum dum”.

Al Perkins has the rhyme and rhythm thing down pat. Eric Gurney’s clearly illustrated, friendly monkeys invite you to read this story again and again.  Try adding a tune. Beat out the rhythm. Have fun!

You can revisit this book with older kids when they learn about onomatopoeia. (on-oh-mot-a-pea-uh). Say that three times fast. Tee-hee! Onomatopoeia is one of my favorite words.It refers to words that are like the sound they make. Some onomatopoeia words in Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb are: drumming, dum-ditty, hum, blow, whack, strum, and zum. And yes.  I did have to look up how to spell onomatopoeia. What a crazy, wonderful word!

One more book about drums that I highly recommend is by Graeme Base. This Australian author is multi-talented. He also illustrates his books…gorgeously. Graeme Base was on a book tour a few years back. He actually made it to my home town in Texas! We had the honor of meeting Mr. Base in person. He signed  books  for us. Wow!

In Jungle Drums, Ngiri Mdogo (means “little warthog” in Swahili) is being teased by the other warthogs because he is so small. And if that’s not bad enough, the “Other Animals” of the jungle hold a parade with prizes for the most beautiful. The warthogs don’t even waste their time entering. Life just isn’t fair!

Wise Old Warthog gives Ngiri a gift: magical bongo drums which will grant any wish. Hmmm….What do you think Ngiri wishes for? How do you think it works out? What if you could have anything you wanted, tomorrow morning, with just a beat of a drum and a wish?  Look in on the littlest warthog and see how it goes. And after you read the story, go back and search for Graeme Base’s cleverly hidden illustrations within the illustrations.

Also consider using drums in your teaching. When I homeschool, my kids and I bang out our spelling words and math facts on the drums. When we finish, we aren’t just smarter, we feel better. We have whacked away the day’s frustrations in a productive and non-violent way.

So go get a drum. And “dum-ditty, dum-ditty, dum, dum,”  DRUM!!!

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A Horse, of Course!

Imagine. You are cowboy. It’s your birthday. Your friends throw you a party. Sounds great so far, right? your freinds give you a saddle. The saddle bears a tag with 2 simple instructions:

1. Find a horse.
2. Enjoy the ride.

You have just two problems. You have no idea what a horse is. And you have no idea where to find one!

In Andy Rash’s rootin’ tootin’ picture book, Are You a Horse?, that’s just the scene. you get to follow
Roy the cowboy through deserts, jungles, and grasslands in search of the mysterious animal known as “horse”.

This book is a hilarious read-aloud. Put on your Texas drawl. (Or in my case, just amplify it 🙂
Try it. You and your audience will grin.

I have used this book with my third graders in science class. While this book is playful and surprising, it can also be useful for teaching. As Roy goes on his quest to find a horse, he learns to classify. He learns that a horse is a living thing. Then he discovers that a horse is an animal, not a plant.He finds out from a snake that a horse is an animal with legs. An owl instructs Roy that horses do not lay eggs. And so it goes until Roy’s persistence pays off.

The ending is a whinny! Have fun with this book!

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Watch That Attitude!

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make 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 is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, artist, and politician 1749-1832

I remember first seeing this quote on a perpetual calendar for teachers that I kept in my preschool classroom. It stuck with me. How true is this quote! If you’re a parent, homeschool teacher, classroom teacher,or a person who lives and works around other people, take a moment to re-read the quote. Wow! I think I need to post this one on the fridge and look at it every day.

We all struggle with attitude from time to time. Too much to do, too little free time, etc. . But I expect the children in my classroom and my own kids at home to display a pleasant, cooperative attitude. What kind of an example am I setting?

I do fairly well displaying a good attitude in the classroom 2 days per week. But on my days at home homeschooling my own children, don’t I owe them just as pleasant a person as I present publicly? Ouch!

Here is a silly poem I came up with to help my kids and myself to banish the “ratty attitude”. It’s yours for the quoting. I hope it gives you a smile and a boost toward creating a cooperative and pleasant climate with your kids and students.

Beware the Ratty Attitude by Karona Drummond

BEWARE the ratty attitude…

It will haunt you
Day and Night!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
If it had teeth
It would bite!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
It is sure
To distort your face.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
Ratty attitude
Is a disgrace.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
If it had odor
It would STINK!!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
A ratty mindset
Cannot think.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
When you see it coming…
RUN!!!

Put away that ratty attitude
And your work
Will soon be
DONE!!!

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Baa, Baa, Green Sheep

At least, the green sheep would say, “Baa, Baa”, if we could just find her. For bleating out loud, where is that elusive green sheep? That, my picture book loving friends, is the question.

If you’re looking for a good picture book, you’ve found one when you pick up Mem Fox’s playful story, Where is the Green Sheep?

What makes a good picture book? Brevity. Clarity. Playfulness. Succinctness.Where is the Green Sheep is less than 200 words total. And yet, Mem Fox worked for months to get those few words just right.

A good picture book is heavily dependent on the illustrations. Judy Horacek’s brightly colored, outlined in black illustrations are the perfect compliment to Mem Fox’s text.

This book makes a great read aloud to one child or a whole class. Picture books don’t have to be in rhyme, and rhyme can be hard to do well. But Mem Fox uses rhyme and rhythm that is music to read aloud. The kids get caught up in looking for the green sheep, and along the way get to meet such loveable characters as blue sheep, red sheep, bath sheep, bed sheep, thin sheep, wide sheep,
swing sheep, slide sheep, and many more. Your child(ren) will be learning colors, opposites, and visual skills. And they will be so caught up in the story, they won’t even realize they are learning!

Mem Fox and Judy Horacek collaborated on this book. It’s not often that the illustrator and the author get to work together. Usually it’s a separate process. I hope to see more from this team. And what is funny to me is, Mem says she doesn’t even like to write picture books! But she’s so “baagone” good at it. (I couldn’t resist 🙂

If you’re a children’s author, educator, or parent, I encourage to to visit Mem Fox’s website. It contains a wealth of information on Mem, her books, and the writing process. Mem even has a video of herself singing one of her books.
Drop by her website at http://www.memfox.net and browse. You’ll be glad you did!

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I admit it. I struggle with organization at home. This homeschool mom has created a beautiful and inviting learning area for her children. Way to go!

Mama Hear Me Roar

The phrase “our school room” is a bit of a misnomer because for Puppy, Lamb and Piglet (6yo, 4yo and 18mo) our school room is just about everywhere.

For seat work, however, we have a central work room – our dining. I debated between having a specific room dedicated to school (upstairs, to avoid our dining looking like a school room), but decided that keeping it downstairs near the kitchen would help me supervise all 3 kids better especially when I have to run to the kitchen periodically to take a pot off the stove or run outside to retrieve some laundry. Our upstairs also gets very hot and humid during the day, so being downstairs is so much more comfortable for everyone.

1. Seat work room

Our 6yo utilises the dining table to avoid the 18mo getting into her work. Next to the dining table we have these white…

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