Mother Goose Day is May 1st!

One of the perks of parenting small children is adding a bit of FUN to the mid-week mundane. The easiest way to do that is through celebrations of silly and special days!

This week stumped me a bit, so I searched online for April/May holidays and discovered that May 1st is Mother Goose Day! What a perfect opportunity to celebrate the silly and explore nursery rhymes with both of my girls.

But first, why should we rhyme with our children?

Our older daughter was unexpectedly born 14 weeks early back in 2008, followed by a 135-day NICU stay. Those first six weeks, I sat by her bedside with a large stack of books–since this was pre-smart phone, I didn’t have Facebook and Instagram to keep me company during the long, long days.
One of the first books I read by the light of Addie’s isolette was Reading Magic by Mem Fox. Ms. Fox is an excellent author of children’s books, and she wrote this excellent book for parents about reading aloud.

Chapter 10 is titled The Magic of Language, and it profoundly impacted the way I think about nursery rhymes. (This is AFTER a degree in Elementary Education/Reading and four years in a classroom.) I’d like to share a few quotes with you:

“Songs and rhymes provide comforting rhythms in children’s early lives and also expose kids to gorgeous forms of language. They are a natural extension to the heartbeat of the mother and the rhythmic rocking of a child in loving arms or in a cradle.”

reading aloud to girls in hospital
“Rhymers will be readers: it’s that simple. Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
Read more about adding nursery rhymes into your routine with this great post from Story Time Secrets!
 The girls and I love to play a simple rhyming game in the car. One of them says a word, and then we all take turns shouting out a word that rhymes. Sometimes we talk about spelling patterns (cat, bat, sat, fat), and sometimes, this happens: shoe–true, flew, Gru, boo.

To prepare for our celebration, we went to the library and gathered up a handful of Mother Goose collections.

(Just a reminder that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

My second grader was SO excited to recognize a bunch of rhymes from her Spelling You See curriculum:

Can you think of any other Mother Goose anthologies I missed?

Be sure to check out our Mother Goose Pinterest Board for more ideas:

Mother Goose Day

Happy Earth Day! ASL and Activities

Signing Time: HAPPY

EARTH, as signed by Dr. Bill Vicars from lifeprint.com

EARTH, as signed by Dr. Bill Vicars from lifeprint.com

Signing Time: DAY

Happy Earth Day from Lone Star Signers!

We have been spending a lot of time outdoors this month: taking nature walks around our neighborhood, walking to and from the town library, and exploring the nearby lake. Both girls have been making daily entries in a nature journal (4-year-old draws a picture, 7-year-old draws a picture and writes a paragraph) and watching spring slowly blossom here in the Midwest.

Teaching our Children to Love the Earth from lonestarsigners.com

We are learning about local birds, trees, and flowers that share our space and participating in a Nature Pal Exchange with another family in Minnesota.

The girls and I look forward to our daily walks; we have a great opportunity for real conversation while looking for small changes in our natural environment. We’re also growing sunflowers in indoor pots, so the girls get to take ownership and learn about taking care of living things.

Of course, we’ll be doing a few fun activities to celebrate Earth Day (check out our Pinterest board), but I want my daughters to love the Earth every day!

And now, some of our favorite Earth-related resources (affiliate links, natch…thanks for supporting us!):

RTS-Extraordinary Earth

Explorer's Set 2

Kidnoculars

Happy Earth Day! ASL and Activities

Want to win a FREE digital copy of the Rachel & the Treeschoolers: Extraordinary Earth music album?*
Leave a comment below:

How are YOU celebrating Earth Day this year?

* Quick casual giveaway ends on 4/22/2016 at midnight (Central time).
Winner will be notified by e-mail.

Preschool at Home: Spring

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, so we are moving on to celebrating the arrival of spring! We’ve heard it’s already in the 90s in San Antonio, but here in Iowa…well, let’s just say that it snowed at our Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday morning. 🙂

Our adorable little town has a thing for tulips, so we’re starting to see them peek up  all around town, from the library to the main square! (We even have a few coming up in the flower bed in our front yard…)

Every day, we take a nature walk around our neighborhood to see what’s changing. The trees and shrubs are still mostly bare, but a few of our neighbors have small buds appearing on their trees. After experiencing our first real winter (and snow on March 19th!), anticipating spring’s arrival seems extra-fun this year!

Preschool-Activities-Easter-Eggs

The girls and I are planning a handful of “preschool at home” activities for the next few weeks. Plastic Easter eggs are a MUST! 🙂

Your little one can match up tops and bottoms (upper/lowercase letters or numerals & dots), unscramble letter tiles to build words, or practice counting to 12 using an empty egg-carton!

This year, we even took our eggs outside for some gross-motor practice! Both girls enjoyed chucking them at a plastic bowl in the driveway. 🙂

Rainbow-Playdough-Invitation (3 of 4)

Of course, my girls love it when we make homemade playdough. This rainbow playdough invitation is one of their favorites!

We have a lot more Spring Fun planned for the next few weeks! You can download our $5 Spring Tot School Unit with more than 40 simple learning activities, available now through April 14th.

Little Learners Spring Unit March 2016-Available

 

Our favorite toys, books, and videos for talking about spring:
(Click on the image for a direct link–keep in mind that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

  • Spring Joy by Liesbet Slegers
  • Mouse’s First Spring by Lauren Thompson

  • Magnetic fishing puzzles from Melissa & Doug

  • Sidewalk chalk

  • Life Cycle of a Butterfly Puzzle from Discovery Toys

Monarch Butterfly-300

  • Baby Signing Time, Volume 3: It’s a New Day

BST3(300)

  • Rachel and the Treeschoolers: Plants & Flowers

RTS-Plants and Flowers(300)

You may also enjoy these posts:

What are your favorite activities to celebrate spring with your little ones?

Rachel and the Treeschoolers: Extraordinary Earth

83c23-treeschoolersfruitsnacks

When it comes to homeschool science for my 4- and 7-year-old girls, all three of us LOVE the show Rachel and the Treeschoolers, created by the makers of Signing Time. Nine episodes have been released so far, and they all come with FREE activity guides to extend the learning.

Several months ago, we helped with the activity guide for Episode 8: Extraordinary Earth.

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Ep. 8 Extraordinary Earth
(Affiliate link to the digital download)
When Chroma Chameleon discovers that her cousin’s habitat is endangered, the TreeSchoolers naturally want to help. With Rachel’s guidance, they discover that there are lots of things they can do to take care of our Earth! Along the way, they learn about

  • Months of the year
  • Seasons of the year
  • Geological formations
  • Natural resources
  • The seven continents
  • Conservation and recycling
  • Being an everyday hero

Our girls created a “handy craft” showing a tree during each of the four seasons. This month, I’d like to work on some of the other activities found in the guide. Spring seems like a wonderful time to celebrate our EXTRAORDINARY Earth!

RTS-Tree-13

Download your free guide today!

Book Update: September 2015

Book Update from Lone Star Signers: September 2015

Hooray for a reading groove! I have been on a fiction kick recently, which you’ll see below. In September, I finished 15 books–just three of them non-fiction. I especially enjoyed The Martian, which was a spur-of-the-moment read toward the end of the month. (I mean, any book turned into a Matt Damon movie is worth my time…)

Books I finished:

(Affiliate links used, which means if you purchase the book, I’ll receive a small commission. Please view my disclosure policy for more information.)

1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker–3 stars
This was a quick read (YA fiction) recommended by Goodreads. I liked the characters, but wouldn’t necessarily read it again.

2. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass–2 stars
I’ve always known about my synesthesia, but didn’t have a name for it until I was in college. I really like reading about other synesthetes’ point-of-view, but this author went WAY overboard with Mia’s descriptions. (See book number 6 for a book that got it right.)

3. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids by Eileen Kennedy-Moore–4 stars
I’m always on the lookout for helpful parenting books, and I felt like this one had a lot of practical tips that have already impacted our family culture.

4. Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke–3 stars
I fell in love with the characters Jack and Elizabeth in “When Calls the Heart” on Netflix, and thought the first book was well-written. Unfortunately, this second book throws “Beth” on a cruise ship with a far-fetched plotline. Hoping for a return to Coal Valley if there is another book.

5. Back to You by Priscilla Glenn–4 stars
After several disappointing fiction choices, I scoured my “to-read” list on Goodreads to find something with great reviews–which led me to Back to You. I enjoyed the friendship-to-love story and the redemption of both characters. Goodness knows I have grown a lot since high school, and I enjoyed seeing that transformation happen in the book. (Please note that this is a romance novel with two somewhat-steamy scenes.)

6. One Plus One Equals Blue by M.J. Auch–3 stars
A novel about synesthesia written by someone who *has* synesthesia! I liked the setting and the characters, but the climax was over-the-top/unrealistic. I know that authors need to put their characters into interesting situations or books would be about…nothing…but sometimes I lose my patience with unnecessary drama.

7. Power of Play by David Elkind–4 stars
Some books come into your life at just the right time. I enjoyed this one, but it has a lot of stinker reviews on Goodreads, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

8. A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play by V. G. Paley–4 stars
This book was nothing what I expected, but a delightful and insightful read, nonetheless. Our schools are changing, and not for the better–bringing academia into Kindergarten (and now preK) is short-changing our children. This book was written just a decade ago, but it’s clear to see how quickly things are disintegrating in the classroom, despite our best teachers.

9. Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway–4 stars
So, you want to know the difference between unnecessary drama and well-timed conflict that moves the story forward? Well, it’s all in how the author handles the relationships…and Ms. Benway did a great job with this one. Long after I read the last page, I kept thinking about the characters. Emmy and Oliver won me over!

10. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion–2 stars
The San Antonio Public Library has recently created the “Express Collection”–a place where you can stumble across the newest, most popular, or buzzworthy books currently available. No holds, no renewals–just pure dumb luck of being in the right place at the right time. This has led to me picking up a few books that I might not have otherwise read, some which I have loved and some which go in the “meh” pile. The Rosie Effect is (in my opinion) not worth the buzz.

11. The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena B. Miller–4 stars
I guessed (by looking at the cover) that this would be a fluff read, but Goodreads persistently recommended it to me, so I finally gave it a try. It took me a few chapters to really commit, but once Katie ended up in camp, I knew I’d see it to the end. Great, meaty historical fiction!

12/13. Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer–4/3 stars
These two books were perfect for a 24-hour stomach bug that hit our house. I was up all night with two sick little girls and these were immediately available via e-book checkout. Probably not something I would have stuck with during the daylight hours, but definitely a good distraction in the middle of the night. 🙂

14. The Martian by Andy Weir–5 stars
I had heard the buzz about this one from just about every blog I read, but who wants to read a book about aliens? It wasn’t until I saw the preview for the movie that I realized this was a story that I needed to know more about…and why I’m so thankful for the Express Collection. I devoured this one in just 48 hours. (I may have skimmed over some of the science stuff.)

15. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West–3 stars
Well. This book reminded me a lot of the Rory/Logan relationship in Gilmore Girls. That’s about all I have to say…except, sometimes I wonder if authors specifically keep their teen female leads bland on purpose so that the reader can easily substitute herself into the role? Something to think about…

My to-read pile just keeps growing–I’m hoping to find the next great title for our November Mom’s Book Club meeting. What are you reading?

Lone Star Signers: To-Be-Read Pile | October 2015