Monday, June 23, 2014

Manuscript & Cursive - our summer project

I'm kind of a stickler for handwriting. I think it teaches more than just letter recognition and formation but organization and planning - and I'm not alone! This article talks about some differences in brain patterns associated with manuscript, cursive and typing (favorite quote: "When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas."). This article talks about how taking notes by hand is a kinesthetic learning activity which requires cognitive processing verses on a laptop where students tend to take notes verbetum. And this article talks about the benefits of cursive (spoiler: functional specialization that leads to efficiency). There's more but these are a good place to start.

I have 3 kids in public schools here in Virginia and only one of them ever spent time learning cursive (ok - the youngest is just going into 2nd grade). That one had a 3rd grade teacher who is much older. I looked into whether is was still included in the curriculum and it is - it's under English SOL 2.10 and 3.8 but since it's not tested, very little time is spent on it. Studies say that most classrooms (nationwide) devote an average of 1 hour per week to handwriting. I remember spending 15 to 30 minutes each day on handwriting AND my papers always got handwriting grades - I don't know if this was the case with my peers as I went to Catholic schools and hubby went to DOD schools.

So, this summer, I decided that we should work hard on cursive since they weren't getting it in school. I bought 3rd grade lined paper and a cursive handwriting book (from the makers of Handwriting Without Tears - it's not as formal as the cursive I learned and is very - um - vertical - rather than italicized but it's also taught in a verbal manner (for example, "magic c, up like a helicopter, keep going, slide down the pole, bump the line and travel away" is lower case d) which works for my kids, especially my son. I do a week's worth of lettering with dates on the specially lined paper and put it in the workbook for them to do in the morning before they can do what they want.

I recently made this solid elf hat for a neighbor! Visit Hamburke's on Etsy for more styles and colors

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Yes Day - a success!

Several years ago at a Scholastic Book Fair, one of my children chose this book: Yes Day by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

They read it and wanted to have a Yes Day of their very own. So we had one - ice cream for breakfast, their cousin over for the day, some now-forgotten activity that I would typically have said no to without quite a bit of planning, a lot of junk/fast food, a late afternoon trip to the pool and staying up "late" (my kids idea of late is not equivalent to others experience - I think it was 8:30). I picked the day after school got out b/c it seemed like a fun way to kick off the summer and gave them a mini-break between school and summer vacation (who doesn't need something to make transitions fun?). And thus began our summer vacation kick off tradition!

This year was no different except that I turned the tables on them and asked them to tell me in advance what they wanted - they planned breakfast, lunch and dinner, they decided they wanted to go to the pool with friends and invited them and they even shopped for it (I paid, of course).  I love that we have moved to a community where it's safe to lets my kids run around independently and have the confidence to plan something like this.

So on to the rest of summer - summer bridge workbooks, summer reading list, some minor household chores and LEARN TO COOK! Maybe with this:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere but not a drop that I'm drinking

I need to drink more water. I know I feel so much better when I do but I got out of the habit (again). Recently, I noticed that I was taking some ibprofen before bed and in the morning for a dull headache. I've been kind of lethargic and unmotivated. I've been losing my train of thought, forgetting things and being unable to judge length of time passed (I'm not all that great at this to begin with). I've been hungry and no matter when I eat, it's not satisfying. And I've been going thru the $20/tub of lotion at break-neck pace.

One day last week, I did drink a lot of water and had an epiphany - I wasn't drinking during the day! I found that I wasn't even finishing my first 16 oz cup (that's about 1/2 a L - I bought these huge cups 3 or so years ago specifically to drink more water). A little background - I don't buy juice or soda for the house and I don't drink alcohol regularly so my drink choices around the house are water or 1% milk. I'd have my mug of coffee in the morning over breakfast with my husband and then pour a glass of water from the Brita pitcher in the fridge. It would proceed to "sweat" next to me while I drank sips here and there but the majority would still be there 6 hours later when the kids got home from school. Sometimes, I'd have a mug of hot decaf tea in the evenings too.

So I posted on my facebook timeline also joking that I should set alarms (since I am constantly using that feature on my phone). Among the suggestions to find my favorite bottled water to put water bottles in the fridge to ecofriendly reusable bottle alternatives (honestly, guys - having water available isn't the issue, it's actually drinking the cup sitting next to me), one friend said "There's an App for that..." So here I am reviewing water drinking  iPhone apps. There are 2 kinds of drinking water apps - the track your water consumption apps and the find free drinking water apps. I'm looking only at the track consumption apps today.

The one that kept coming up in searches first is Waterlogged Drink More Water, Track Daily Water Intake, Get Hydration Reminders by Daily Water, Inc. It has a nice user interface. The home page tells you your daily goal (which you can easily change by tapping it) and how far you have to go to meet that goal both visually (a water bottle or glass that fills). The scientist in my loves that you can easily switch to metric (which I have). You record when you drink something either by the 16.9oz/500mL bottle or 8oz/250mL glass (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, full) or by entering a volume. You can see what time you logged the drinks by clicking "Edit Drinks" and see a graph of daily water consumption to compare days. It's integratable with FitBit (which I don't have). But the one thing that is missing from the free version of the app is reminders. With the free version, you can set a single "time reminder" (such as everyday at 10:30) to remind you to drink but to set more, you need to upgrade (I can't figure out the price - lifetime subscription is $2.99, unlock reminders is $3.99 so I do have to purchase both?).

The second app that shows up in searches is Daily Water Free by Maxwell Software. There are some things that I like better - the ability to set you serving size, free notification settings - but I don't generally like the home page. It's a grid of 9 glasses (unchanged if you change your goal) which toggle checked (for drank) or unchecked and I'm sure I'll accidentally check or uncheck something. And there are ads that hide your goal too. The other thing that's difficult is that you can only set a single serving size and it's all or nothing unlike Waterlogged where you can enter a volume or choose a portion of a serving. You also can't see what time you logged your serving.

Day 1's results: 2500 mL consumed and I remembered what we needed at the store last night (bread for sandwiches and milk) and made banana bread this morning after drinking my first 500 mL of water this morning.

I'm going to try these out for a couple more days before I move on to App#3...AppCrawlr - you are my best friend!

ShopTalk - these cutie booties are available in an assortment of colors and appliques.

UPDATE: Week 1's progress via Waterlogged (I think I'm going to figure out what each price point means). It's before 10am on June 11, so I'm doing good so far today.