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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa AND Mommy are Watching!

My husband told me this week that he read somewhere that it takes10,000 hours to be "proficient" at something.  I guess that means Olympic level.  Carnegie Hall level.  Completely and totally bilingual?  Then I look at my kids.  How many hours of Mandarin do they have so far?  About 450 hours at Language Stars* for the oldest (if I am counting correctly).  Maybe 200 for my oldest boy and 50 for the youngest.    I just let out a long, tired sigh.  We have a l-o-n-g way to go.  

But, in a way, this is reassuring, too.  It keeps everything in perspective.  How much should they REALLY know?  What should my expectations be?  This fact put a new spin on it.  My kids are about where they should be, saying some words and simple sentences.  Obviously, at 2,000 hours or 5,000 hours, my expectations will be quite different.  But for now, we're good.  They are doing well when you compare a few hundred hours to a few thousand.  

Yet, my expectations are changing a little bit, too.  Most weeks, after my youngest son and I complete our Parents and Tots class, we wait outside for them.  He plays with the waiting room toys and I do some work on the computer.  It just so happens that we are right next to their classroom.  And it's not that I planned that or anything, or that I intended to listen.  I just sit there because that's where the toys are.  But, for the last few weeks, I have heard them speaking English to each other AND to the teacher, despite her encouragement to speak Mandarin.  Despite the fact that they CAN certainly say and respond with simple statements like, "Please give me a red car."  

So, last week I let them know.  "Do you know where I am when you're in class?"  I asked.  "At the store?" my daughter guesses.  "Doing your work?"  my son responds.  "Yes, I'm doing work,"  I say, "But do you know WHERE I am?"  Blank stares from both.  "I am right outside your classroom.  I can hear it when you speak English in class.  I want to hear you speak Chinese."  Wide eyes from both.  They had not expected that one.  

Hopefully, that knowledge (plus a weekly reminder before class) will be as effective as Santa and our Elf on the Shelf, Chippy.  Just knowing that someone is watching/listening will hopefully change behavior.  Especially after I tell them how much Santa LOVES Chinese!  

*We receive 50% off of our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paper Plate Crafts AND Word Families!

I think these turned out so adorable that I just HAVE to share them!  

First of all, let me admit to a LOVE of paper plates.  I love to use them for crafts.  You can literally make anything out of a paper plate!  I have been using paper plates for crafts for years, but never thought of pairing them with word family practice.  Not until I downloaded a Halloween freebie from Susan Moran.  Then I'm like, "Cool!  I can just make it from a paper plate!"  

So, here are 3 of the things we made using her original idea and extending it through 2 more holidays!  

Everyone make -op family wreaths for Christmas!  Aren't these super cute?!

The more advanced readers did the -ate family while others did another short vowel family.
The majority of the class did the -et family on our Halloween spiders.  More advanced readers did -ake words.  

Here's a picture of Susan's original idea and a link to her Halloween freebie.  You should check it out.  Sorry it's so blurry, but you get the idea!  

I hope you enjoy making some of these in your own classroom!  Students enjoy them and they look great hanging around the room!  

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Common Core Math Workbook Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of my Common Core Cut-and-Glue Workbook contest!  It just ended yesterday.   Since there were over 120 entries, I picked 6 winners (1 for every 20 entries, as promised).  Each winner gets to pick one of my CC Cut-and-Glue Workbooks for Christmas or Winter (kindergarten or first grade level).  

The winners are:
Nan, Rachel, Dee, Heather, Nancy, and SueAnne

Each winner has been notified by email and will receive their prize as soon as I know which workbook they want!  

Thanks to all who participated!  Be sure to watch the giveaways section of Teachers Notebook.  I really like to give away items there to promote my store.  My giveaways usually last for 5 days, and I ALWAYS give away 3 at a time so you have a good chance!  

Happy teaching!  

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Common Core Math Fun and GIVEAWAY!

I want to let you know about a few new products I have in my store.  We are having so much fun with them!  I am definitely not a "worksheet" type of teacher, but I see the value in practice and know how necessary it is to have a tangible product to help with assessment and portfolios.  So, I came up with worksheets that are fun and engaging, yet provide valuable Common Core practice.  They're cut-and-glue!  My little ones in the classroom AND at home really enjoy cutting and coloring them and they do a little math in the process!

My son easily understood the concept, too!
I think he liked it that there were only a few problems.
This is a "counting on" page from the Christmas/Holiday set.
When I had one of the sheets up on my computer, my daughter (She just turned 5.) and son (He's almost 4.) saw it and decided that it looked like fun!  I printed off a couple of sheets and away they went!   

I have gotten some great feedback about these packs, so I know other students and teachers are enjoying them, too.  Which brings me to the best part . . .  THE GIVEAWAY!  

There are 4 possible prizes.  You can pick the one you want.  Keep in mind that the First Grade Common Core Math Cut-and-Glue Workbook for Winter has not been posted yet, but it's coming soon!  I'll be picking 1 winner for every 20 entries (with a minimum of 5 winners), so the more people who enter, the more winners we'll have!  

Here are the links to the products, so you can check them out:

Click here to take a look!                                                                                                                
Click here to take a look!  
Click here to take a look!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Class With Daddy

So, my youngest, at 2 1/2, goes with me to the Parents and Tots class at Language Stars* on Thursdays.  I usually leave him at home with Dad on Saturdays, taking my other kids to class and using that time to get my own work done.  But, lately we've had some make-up classes to use, so I've been taking him to class on Saturdays.  Correction:  I have enlisted my husband to take him to class on Saturdays while I still get some work done.  The feedback from Dad is always interesting.  You'd think we were in class with different children.

First of all, let me admit that my youngest is . . . spirited.  Okay, so I spoil him a little, let him get away with things that my other 2 never did in the first place, etc. etc.  (I hope my husband doesn't read this little confession.)  Not that he misbehaves (very much), but he is a very lively little one who likes to act silly, do things all by himself (even when he can't), and have almost everything done "right now" (Even though he only knows about 100 words, those 2 are his favorite.  I have NO idea where he would have learned them.  I certainly NEVER say that.  Again, I hope my husband isn't reading this.).  

Last week, my son and husband get out of class and come in search of Mommy.  "How was class?"  I ask.  My husband gives me a funny look and says, "Well . . . it was okay.  But he was all over the place."  (What does he expect?  Our son is 2.  ALL of them are all over the place.) "Did he leave the room?"  I ask.  "No, he just wanted to climb all over me and go under the table,"  my husband responds. "That's okay,"  I said, smiling.  My husband wasn't smiling.  I guess he had higher expectations of our son's behavior.  

My criteria for a great class is that no one leaves the room.  Maybe some parents think I'm aiming a little low, but when you're talking about a 2-year-old, I think that's pretty good.  At 2, he'll walk around the room, go under the table, but then come back to my lap and sit down to watch the teacher.  When he's done listening, he'll take a break again until a more engaging toy comes out.  But, I do have evidence that he is listening.  He is learning things because he'll repeat what the teacher says when prompted.  When we're talking about how old each child is, he tries to hold up 2 fingers (so he understands).   

That's one of the reasons we're at Language Stars*:   The teachers understand.   Even if my husband (who really hasn't spent time around any children other than our own) doesn't "get" the behavior of a 2-year-old, the teachers do.  They know that the little ones can only sit for short bursts of time.  They know that my son needs to be up and moving around, but that chances are he's still listening (at least enough to know when his favorite cars or rockets come out).  They have activities that are developmentally appropriate, like playing with a little bit of water, matching objects to pictures, or sorting objects.  And, best of all, they know to quickly transition to some fun activities or movement to regain the attention of my short-attention-span little man. 

It might take a while to get Daddy used to going to class (languages are NOT his thing) and used to my son's 2-year-old energy.  But, I am quite determined to help him enjoy the class more with our son and recognize that learning is still taking place.  How else am I going to get some time to run errands?!
This week's topic was transportation.  My son LOVED the colorful vehicles!

As always,
Thanks for reading!  

*We receive 50% off our Language Stars tuition for sharing our experiences on the blog.  

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