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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Emotion is in the Eyebrows

One of my goals for this school year is to have more art instruction. This particular post teaches how a simple change to the eyebrows or mouth implies an entirely new emotion. Here is how it is done:

On the back of a paper plate, draw hair, eyes, nose, and mouth. I chose to go simple so the children could copy easily. Make slightly arched eyebrows at least half an inch above the eye.

(This is where I insert the photo I forgot to take.)
Now, Put a new paper plate over the face and hold it against the window so you can see through the plates. Directly over the original mouth and eyebrows (but on the new plate), draw angry eyebrows and a frown. It may help the child if you trace the hairline also.

Let the child color in the hair (they do not need to draw a new nose or eyes since that will be cut out) while you repeat the process with a third paper plate. This time, draw high, straight eyebrows and a circle mouth.

After your child has embellished as much as they want, you can do the next step.

In a straight line, cut out the eyebrows and the mouths of the last two plates. Stack them on the original plate and staple on one side.

Now you get to play!

Here is surprised . . . or singing.

Just by changing the mouth, you have sad.

Now, change the eyebrows and sad becomes mad.

Mad and yelling . . .

Evil . . .

And, of course, happy and obedient.

My children named their little plate people and had them reacting to life's events all afternoon. Take advantage of showing them how a tiny change, like the lifting of the eyebrows, can change perception, reactions, and meaning. Point it out in cartoons, where it is often exaggerated.

Once you have cued the kids into noticing, they will see eyebrows with artist's eyes.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elementary Education and the Computer

There are several schools of thought about young children and computers. I happen to believe that a child needs early exposure if he is going to keep up with the rapid advancements in computer technology. My children start on the computer as soon as they can work a mouse--usually by the end of their second year. Here is how it works in our home:

Logistics and Safety

Each member of the family has their own account on Windows. I, as the administrator, have a lot of control about which sites they enter. I have strict filters installed and each child is regularly reminded of internet safety. They are never aloud to use their own name, give my birth date if one is needed, know not to disclose information like location, and, as an added precaution, the computer is right in the living room so there is always someone peering over the player's shoulder. Even with that, there are sneaky predators. The children do not have their own email account and are quick to tell me if something uncomfortable happens. (For instance, my daughter had a boy come up to her in a game who had a heart above his head. She left the area, he followed her. She put a grumpy cloud over her head and ended the game. She immediately told me about the situation and I praised her for not letting it go too far.) They should be taught that pushing Alt+F4 will close an open screen since some ads or pictures will pop up despite filters. By pushing Alt+F4, they don't have to look for the X, they can just get it off the screen.


There are several sites that are for the youngest players (Fisher-Price, KneeBouncers, and some on PBS Kids, for example) that get them comfortable moving the mouse, clicking on items and learning how to navigate a site--even though they can't read. As they get older, the free educational games on the internet are exhaustive. I spend some time about once a quarter searching sites, updating games based on the child's skills and eliminating the sites that received an icy reception by a child. I have put some of our favorites on the sidebar. Because each child has their own account, I can bookmark only games at their level. Each homepage is specific, too. The five year old, for instance, has PBS Kids for her homepage while the ten year old has NASA. Also, each child has a school folder. During school hours, only the highly regulated games within the school folder may be played. Starfall may be fun, but is way below my eight year old daughter's level. It is not an approved school game for her.

After School

There are several activities that are harmless and entertaining, such as Pixie Hollow. This computer time is earned. Because I have control over time limits (it shuts off at a certain time), I can give them "one hour when you finish the dishes."

You have to put in a bit of time before you give your children access to the computer and you have to know that your computer screen will always have fingerprints on it. I think, however, that they benefit from being familiar and comfortable with a computer for as long as they can remember.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Practice Quick Basic Addition and Multiplication

This dice game is a favorite at our house. It helps all of us recall sums and products with speed, encouraged by competition. It is super simple to learn and can be adjusted somewhat to the students' level. It can be played individually, in pairs or as group.

Addition: Toss the dice and add the numbers before the other guy. The end. Isn't that easy? Two six sided die are perfect for beginners and trains the players to know sums without having to think.

Example: 3 + 5 = 8

You can move up to twelve sided dice (you can find them here) once you have mastered the sixes.

Example: 6 + 8 = 14

Multiplication: Toss the dice and multiply the numbers before the other guy. Again, start with six sided dice and move up to the twelve sided dice when you are ready. To play this game with multiplication, the students ought to have the times tables basically memorized. With frequent play, they will increase their speed speedily! (Ha, ha! Alliteration!)

Example: 12 x 4 = 48

Just a note: please, please teach your families the times tables up to twelve (or beyond). My elementary education only taught to the tens and I still struggle with twelves. We use twelves frequently in both measurement (five feet equals sixty inches: 5 x 12 = 60) and time (seventy-two hours equals three days: 6 x 12 = 72).

Okay, do you does your whiz kid want an even greater challenge?

Obtain four dice in two different colors. First add the similar colors then multiply their sums.

Example: (white) 6 + 4 = 10; (red) 5 + 3 = 8 Then multiply: 10 x 8 = 80

Need to see it again?

Example: (white) 6 + 2 = 8; (red) 5 + 3 = 8 Then multiply: 8 x 8 = 64

You and your children will become proficient at these basic addition and multiplication problems in no time at all. Have fun and don't go too easy on 'em!


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