Friday, August 23, 2019

Games for Brains: Santorini

Playing Time: 10-20 min
Players: 2-4 (seems best with 2)

I've been working to find good 2 player games to play with Xander while Archer sleeps (or for date nights with my husband since getting out with kids is hard!). This game is fantastic for it!  It is essentially a strategy game, where you have to try to get one of your little guys up to the third level, while preventing your opponent from doing the same.  The base game is easy to learn and quick to play, while being challenging enough to hold our interest.  It also has additional God cards you can play with that give you different play powers, making the game more interesting. The God powers come in two different levels of difficulty and provide a fun way to mix it up.  While we have only had it a couple of months, I'd say it is definitely one of my favorites to play with Xander. I'm hoping to add the Golden Fleece Expansion for his birthday or Christmas.

Brain Value:
First of all, the strategy of the game provides some great abstract thinking! Then, all the God cards are based on Greek gods.  You don't actually get to learn much about the gods, but since Xander LOVES all Greek and Roman mythology, it was a nice bonus to the game. When the different cards are in play, you definitely need to adjust your strategy to accomodate the new powers.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

DIY Color Matching Eggs

I love being able to recycle or repurpose things, so I had fun making these color matching eggs.  I used some left over Easter eggs and some left over white felt.  I cut the felt into some odd shapes and then used fabric glue to attach little felt circles to the eggs.
For a little extra fun, I cut an egg carton in half to put the eggs in.  Archer loves opening it up and taking all the eggs out.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tot School Curriculum for Color Themes & Organizer

Last week I posted about my Tot School Goals for Archer, as we start doing more formal activities.  As I was getting myself organized, I realized it would be helpful to gather a list of all of the materials I needed as we headed into Color Themes.  "Curriculum" is such a big word, but it does seem like the most convenient.

Archer will be about 15-18 months as we do our color themes. I'll come back and add to this list as needed

We have lots of books that teach colors, plus I'll probably get several from the library over the weeks.  (You can never read too many books!!) I plan to rotate them over the weeks. The three I listed are already Archer's favorites, so we will likely read these a lot!

Toys and Games
A lot of kids toys are brightly colored, so we will probably do a weekly toy bin in the theme color.  Here are some other color sorting toys we have that we will use along the way (although tot school color themes could definitely be done without them, so no need to rush out and buy a bunch of color sorting toys specifically).

Little Reader
Art/Sensory Play
Theoretically, I plan to do a different sort of sensory activity each week.  Art is also great fine motor practice! Some activities might require other things, but these are the basics.
  • Play dough
  • Markers, crayons, paint, Do a Dot Markers, etc.
  • Food coloring - I have both liquid and gel
  • Liquid water colors - I have not actually used these yet. They're supposed to be better for than food coloring for rice, pasta, playdough, etc.
Printable Organizer
To get myself ready, I made this Tot School Organizer. It let me organize each week by theme and provides a list of toys and books I need to gather. I also included my goals, so I make sure they're all covered.  There's a place to remind myself of things I needed to buy or prep, or check out from the library.

You're welcome to print and use it, if you find it helpful!

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Colored Foods 3 Part Cards

One of my Tot School Goals is to expose Archer to lots of vocabulary words.  What I found effective when Xander was little was making 3 Part Cards (a Montessori idea) and a corresponding Little Reader lesson. Since I am doing Color Themes and Archer LOVES food, I decided to put together vocabulary materials of different colored foods.

I made sets of both cards and Little Reader lessons for red, yellow, green, brown, orange, white and purple.

Here's an example for yellow:

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Games for Brains: Q-Bitz

Playing Time: 15-25 min
Players: 2-4
In this game there is a card and trays that have little cubes.  The cubes have different designs on them and you use them to recreate the image on the card. You compete against other players to see who can create each design the fastest.  There are three types or rounds.  One where everyone just makes the image on the card, one where you have to roll the cubes until you get the designs you need and one where you only get to see the design card for a short period of time and have to recreate the image from memory. I like that this game is easy to teach and play, so we can get it out with non-gamer friends and family and everyone can still enjoy it.

Brain Value:
We have been wanting to work on Xander's visual spacial skills and this is a great game for it!  Figuring out how to make the designs with the cubes is wonderful visual practice.  Recreating them from memory makes it even more challenging!  He has gotten much better at creating the correct design on the first try, but he is still working on improving his speed.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

4th Grade Afterschooling Goals and Curriculum

Xander is eight and a half and about to enter 4th grade.  Since he has been so far ahead from first entering public school, I've always supplemented at home. Because I was working, we mostly focused on math, with some other subject thrown in. Last year, he did a LOT of IXL.  This year, I've decided to take a much more organized approach to his "Afterschooling".
I wrote out my goals and then figured out the curriculum that would meet it, but he would also enjoy.  Since he does go to regular school all day, I've had to be picky about what I teach him so that he gets free time too.  My goal is about 45 minutes of afterschooling work most days. He doesn't normally have homework from school, but when he had a huge project last year, we just skipped my work for him those weeks.

Here is what I decided to supplement and how:
Visual Spatial Reasoning - While Xander has scored really high on all of his standardized and gifted tests, his visual spatial reasoning is just the tiniest bit behind the other areas of math.
  • Games - We try to play a lot of games together. Several of these include a visual spacial component (Carcassone, Pylos, Q-Bits, Tsuro, Brick Party, Blokus). He also has a lot of solo logic games that work on these skills as well.
General Math - He's always enjoyed math.  Every time we go to the library he comes home with Life of Fred books and he would watch Mathtacular on repeat if I let him. Since he tends to be ahead of where they are at school, I supplement at home.
  • Beast Academy - We just discovered these books and love them! He reads the textbook, which is written like a comic book, on his own. We do the workbook together. (Not affiliate link, just love them) Library Call Numbers - I've started writing his/my list of library books by call numbers and having him find them.
  • Cooking - I plan on having him bake every so often, but halving or doubling a recipe

Logic/Critical Thinking
Logic and critical thinking are some of those skills that spill into everything else, but don't normally get taught directly in school.
  • Solo Logic Games - We have tons of these, so we'll just rotate them weekly.
  • Family Games - We play a lot of games together, but I have no patience for luck only games. As a result, a lot of our games have plenty of strategy and logic.
  • Mind Benders Level 4 - Xander loves these logic grid puzzles. Sometimes he needs some help walking through them, but he can usually figure them out on h is own.
  • The Basics of Critical Thinking book - My goal is to have Xander read just a few pages of this every week. However, I'm sure he will probably sit down and read the whole thing the first week I get it out. I haven't looked through the whole thing, yet, but it seems like a nice approach to critical thinking.

The kid has hated drawing/writing/coloring since he was little. Unfortunately, it is causing him to shorten his answers at school, so that he can write less. He also sometimes writes so quickly, it is entirely illegible. We're working on it, slowly.
I'm a former science teacher, so there was no way I could skip the science. I used the Next Generation Science Standards, which are the national standards, to figure out what he should be learning in 4th grade. From there, I am going to write my own activities and curriculum to meet the standards. I'll share as I go, and probably put the whole thing together on Teachers Pay Teachers eventually.
Keyboarding is not taught in our district until middle school. I originally purchased a subscription to keyboarding curriculum, but Xander didn't really like it. Lately, he has just been using Nitrotype. I don't love it, but he does, so we're going with it.
  • Tuttle Twins Books - Last year, my dad got Xander the entire set of Tuttle Twins books for Christmas. Xander's read all of the books multiple times, but I also want to make sure he's pulling the lessons out of them. My plan is to do a monthly "book club" with him. I'll read the books and write discussion questions for us. It will also be a great way for him to practice his summarizing skills.

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