03 November 2013


One of my favorite things from Montessori is the "Birthday" song.  The child having a birthday holds the earth globe and walks sedately in a circle around the sun (a candle) while singing "the earth goes round the sun" to celebrate.  I've totally corrupted this quiet celebration of another year passing for a lesson on the Seasons with our little group of 2 and 3year olds.  Using a giant yellow bouncy ball (held by one child) and  a smaller earth globe (held by another), I try to teach them a song about the Seasons:
(To the tune of Hi-Ho-Derry-O)
The earth goes round the sun.  The earth goes round the sun.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, the earth goes round the sun.

In Spring the flowers bloom.  In Spring the flowers bloom.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, in Spring the flowers bloom.
(Action: arms go up and out, like growing plants)

In Summer the sun is hot.  In Summer the sun is hot.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, in Summer the sun is hot.
(Action: ASL sign for sun - draw a circle in air with one finger then splash all fingers out)

In Fall the leaves fall down.  In Fall the leaves fall down.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, in Fall the leaves fall down.
(Action: wiggle fingers from high above heads to low)

In Winter it is cold.  In Winter it is cold.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, in Winter it is cold.
(Action:  make two fists near shoulders and shake (like shivering))

The earth goes round the sun.  The earth goes round the sun.  Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O, the earth goes round the sun.

The kids each got a turn to do each part and they never did actually sing the song (it was new to them), but they all liked the actions and got the seed of the idea that the sun changes our seasons on Earth throughout the year.

Our craft project corresponded to the song by showing a deciduous tree at different seasons.

Our activities involved reading different picture books and practicing dressing appropriately for different weather (over their clothes, they tried on snowsuits, swim trunks, umbrellas and jackets depending on what weather I was pretending to see).

There are a million different ways to tweak this to better suit different climates and add to it.  I'd love to hear your ideas.

21 October 2013

Life Changers and Blog Alterations

So as we have slowed down our pace of travel and "normal" life...consisting of homework and playdates...has sped up, I've found my blog needs a slight adjustment in that in addition to covering educational and fun travel with kids, I will start discussing kids' educational ideas and strategies.  After all, my goal is to make my kids' world A Brilliant Place, regardless of where we are!  Hope this may be helpful to all you hard-working moms/dads/role models working towards that same goal with those bright shining little lights in your life.

04 April 2013

Good Books and Small Efforts

I recently read a couple of books for Middle Graders (meaning pre-Young Adult, maybe 5-8th graders) that were really touching. It's rare for a book to make me cry and love it but two did:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate.

These are two completely different books (Wonder is about a "normal" boy with a facial deformity and Ivan is about a Gorilla), yet both books share the same sense of isolation and loneliness caused by something outside the protagonist's control. Yet the strength of their character and the goodness of other people result in beautiful triumph.

My younger kids didn't catch the humor that pervades both these stories, so I would recommend them to strong readers with high level interest. They both (I felt) tackle sensitive issues that not all of my kids are ready for. My oldest (age 10) did great with them and really enjoyed them, although I think Wonder was her favorite. Wonder especially is very insightful to the feelings of all involved. Kids can be so mean; naturally they seem to know everyone's insecurities and weaknesses and often point out physical differences in very loud voices, even if they aren't trying to be mean. I remember a time my daughter turned to a woman at a hotel and asked her why she had such huge nipples. Major embarrassing for everyone (except the perpetrator). She was curious and wanted to understand why she was different in that way. She also asked a woman with facial hair if she was a man...as the parent try to apologize your way out of that one. I think I made it worse. Anyway, until kids learn that we all have something that sets us apart and makes us each different and wonderful in our own ways these awkward moments and occasional meanness happen. These books impressed me in how the feelings of others are effected by our ignorance or questions and how it takes so little to make someone feel good about themselves....and what a precious gift that small effort can be.

I loved these, and unlike most books that get read and passed on (or returned to the library), these have found a permanent place on my bookshelf.