As we continue to work the kinks out of our workbox system, I’m trying to find a system that sets a rhythm for our days, while still leaving Little Bear with plenty of freedom to choose activities that interest her. At present, I’m making the first three drawers — Bible, calendar time, and math or phonics — mandatory, then allowing her to choose among the activities in the other drawers.
Today’s Bible time consisted of reading the story of Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors from My First Hands-On Bible, recalling gifts that we had gotten from other people, and talking about how God demonstrated His love for mankind by giving us the gift of His Son Jesus. During calendar time, I pulled out a box of number flashcards and challenged Little Bear to identify numerals 0-20 in random order. Then, we tackled our academic drawer of the day — reviewing and writing the letter Ss.
Phonics often proves challenging with Little Bear. She knows her letters and sounds and has known them for a couple of years. But she struggles with writing her letters … and she’s a perfectionist. Each time we tackle a new letter of the week, I find myself searching for ways to make our studies interesting while still giving her plenty of opportunities to practice letter formation in a fun, non-threatening manner.
Today’s workbox included a copy of My “s” Sound Box by Jane Belk Moncure, a couple of beginning sound worksheets, modeling clay, and a capital S handwriting worksheet. Little Bear loves the Sound Box readers, and today’s volume was in my opinion one of the best we’ve encountered in the series. The beginning sounds worksheets primarily served as an exercise in following directions and an opportunity for Little Bear to practice her fine motor skills by drawing lines, circling objects, and coloring pictures — all tasks she finds less daunting than letter formation. The handwriting worksheet, however, I knew would be her least favorite activity. So to add some novelty to simple writing practice, I re-introduced rainbow writing. I gave Little Bear a yellow marker, a red marker, and a blue marker, then told her she only needed to do the first row of today’s worksheet, tracing the letter S three times. The challenge, I told her, was that she needed to trace all three S’s in all three colors, going from lightest (yellow) to darkest (blue). … And so she did. Happily. Quickly. And neatly. Markers may well be Mommy’s new best friend!
The modeling clay, of course, proved to be her favorite activity. As a toddler, one of Little Bear’s favorite action rhymes was as follows:
I saw a slippery, slithery snake,
Sliding through the grasses, making them shake.
He looked at me with his beady eyes.
“Go away from my pretty green garden,” said I.
“Ssssss!” said the slippery, slithery snake,
As he slid through the grasses, making them shake.
Today, Little Bear got a chance to roll out some slippery, slithery modeling clay snakes (conveniently shaped like s’s) and put them in her pretty green clay garden:
The highlight of the day, however, came as we embarked on our Solar System theme study. We read What’s Out There?: A Book about Spaceas an introduction to our study, then dove hands first into a tub of squishy, tactile fun and discovery:
Little Bear spent a solid hour digging through the cold water beads and water crystals, finding astronauts and spaceships, stars and planets, meteorites and even a comet. She scooped and poured and arranged to her heart’s content. At last, she allowed that she was done, but only after asking and ensuring that she could play again “tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.”
After play time, pool time, and dinner time, a slightly-bored Little Bear once more explored her “optional” workboxes and discovered a stamping activity. She entertained herself by completing the patterns and filling another page with stamps (engaging in some accidental ink mixing in the process), while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed this week’s episode of “Eureka” on demand.
We wrapped up the day with yet more solar system-themed reading in lieu of more traditional bedtime stories — Little Bear’s choice, not mine: