All posts by Vivienne Fischer

History for Kids

After immigrating to the United States eleven years ago, I often heard references to people, places and events that I know nothing about. I did not know much about American History nor European History. I went to school in the Philippines until I graduated from college. We did not discuss much western history. I had a World History class during my senior year in high school but it wasn’t deep enough for me. The focus of our history lessons was the Philippines and other countries surrounding Asia.

Once I quit my job to take care of my kids, I had more time on my hands, and decided to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about American and European history. I bought several books about it. I finished reading the “The Story of the World” series, which is written for children. I liked it a lot because it was told in narrative form.

Currently, my kids and I are listening to the “Who Was…?” audiobook series. We have listened to “Who was Amelia Earhart?” and “Who was Queen Elizabeth?” so far. I asked my eldest kid to write about these people after listening to the audiobooks. It’s interesting to read what stuck to her the most.

I have also read “Who Was Queen Victoria”, “Who Is Malala Yousafzai”, “Who was Sally Ride”, and “Who Was Marie Curie”. So far, I love the books that I have read. Each book is about one hundred pages so it’s not too short or too long for kids. When I was in school, I only recall hearing of one female scientist (Marie Curie), which was only mentioned in passing. So, it was really interesting to read more about her. I also love these books because there are several women in the series. I want my daughters to learn more about accomplished women and I think the “Who Was…?” series will be a good start.

If you are interested in learning or teaching history to your kids, you can start with the recommended titles below.

 

Below is a paper written by my daughter, Katie after listening to “Who Was Amelia Earhart”.

Amelia Earhart

Did you know Amelia’s big dream was to fly a plane? Amelia liked to be the first one to do everything. Amelia wanted girls to be able to fly planes. Then, her dream came true. Amelia finally flew a plane. Amelia had set many records.

How My Kids Develop Math Confidence

When my older daughter, Katie, started kindergarten, she initially did well in math because the first two months were just a review for her. We played some number games during the summer before she entered kindergarten. When the teacher started covering topics that I hadn’t taught her, she started struggling. I recall she came home one day, dejected, and she told me that she was not good in math. So I started tutoring her in math using the Connecting Math Concepts program, and it took us five months to finish. Even before she completed the program, I noticed her excelling at math in school again.

Her school used the Envision 2012 program. It was a lot prettier than the program I used. It had fun characters in their worksheets. It even had interactive videos which the teacher played in class. The worksheets were very colorful. However, the reason my daughter was struggling was because it did not offer enough repetition for the lessons to be internalized. The topics were tackled for a week or two and then the class moved on another topic without reviewing the previous ones. When the topics that were already covered were needed again, the kids had forgotten it already, which added to the frustration as they were covering new concepts.

When kindergarten was over, I started Katie on ST Math. She completed the kindergarten and first grade math curriculum before she started first grade. She liked it a lot as it uses play-based math games. She is now attending a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. Everyone in her class were identified as gifted/high achievers. Although her current math class is more advanced, she is not struggling at all because she was able to internalize the kindergarten concepts.

After my experience with teaching Katie how to learn math, I am now applying what I learned to teaching Jessica. Jessica is only 3-1/2 years old, so I cannot use Connecting Math Concepts (CMC) yet. CMC is quite boring for a young girl to learn math. So, I started teaching her math using games. From the picture below, you can see the number train that Jessica put on the board. I love these numbers. You can do a lot with them. Some days, she sorts the numbers into groups of 1s, 2s, etc. Some days, I’ll ask her for the numbers and if she picks the correct number, I put the number in a bowl. I call it the number soup. She’ll pretend to eat the bowl of soup when she’s done. Currently, she’s learning the numbers from 0-5. When she has mastered it, I will introduce new numbers one at a time.

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I bought this number set from Amazon. You can find the link below. If you have time, you can just cut the numbers from an old cardboard box. I just find buying them easier. It saves me time and they’re also sturdier.

Learning Geometry in Preschool

I have always been interested in Montessori’s play-based learning method. So, I try to incorporate learning through playing in our lessons. One of the games that my kids like to play with are pattern blocks. The kids can copy the blocks from the pattern, or they can come up with their own pattern. I also like to ask give them multiple blocks which they can use to form a big triangle, square, pentagon, etc. They start to exercise their problem solving skills while having fun at the same time. From our playing sessions, they realize that in order to form a new shape (e.g. hexagon), they can use other shapes (e.g. two trapezoids) and combine them in order to form this new shape. 

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Below are the materials that Jessica used in the picture. You don’t need to get these materials. If you have time, you can cut an old cardboard box to make the shapes.

Electronics for Kids

I was browsing Amazon for some toys and found an Electronics playground. I mentioned to my husband that I wanted one when I was in college but couldn’t afford to get one. So, my husband got one for me. He had one when he was a kid and thought that they were pretty cool. Apparently, my daughter Katie thought it was also cool. She asked me to play with it and we worked on the first experiment. I wasn’t able to catch it on video but her expression was priceless when she connected the last part and it sounded off. The experiment starts with simple connection but it gets harder. The instruction is clear so as long as the child can read numbers, he/she can play with this already.

 

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Here’s the link to the Amazon site if you’re interested.

Why Learn Cursive?

I found out that cursive is no longer taught in schools, so I decided to find out if there are benefits of learning how to write in cursive.  One of the articles I read was “How Should We Teach Our Children to Write?“, which, among other things, mentions that cursive helps kids to learn to read, and helps prevent confusion between b and d, and p and q. Katie has had difficulty with b/d and p/q. Also, it’s faster for me personally to write in cursive than in print. So, I decided to try to teach Katie how to write in cursive. After two and a half months, she was able to produce the document below. The article was originally printed using Times New Roman font and I asked her to convert it to cursive instead. It definitely took a lot less time to teach her to write in cursive than to print. But this could also be because she’s a year older when I taught her cursive, and she has already learned to print. I have also noticed that indeed, she does not confuse b and d when writing them in cursive. Jessica hasn’t learned how to write yet, but I will definitely try teaching her cursive first rather than waiting a year like I did with Katie.

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This is the workbook that Katie used, Cursive Writing Program Workbook.

Katie and Jessica talk about History

We just started learning about world history. I figured it’ll be easier for the kids to learn about history if we start from the beginning. They start out with explaining what history is and why it’s important. Followed by the creation of the universe based on the Bible and the Big Bang theory.

Here’s the videos that they had made so far. Please subscribe to our channel if you want to see more videos.

This is the reference that we have used for our videos so far. I’ll add them as we use more.

My Daughter Ate Her Science Project

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“Crystals! Crystals!”, exclaimed Katie excitedly. She was bouncing up and down asking me to make crystals with her. Katie loves crystals. She made a miniature christmas tree last December with my husband by forming crystals. She thought it was cool to grow her own crystals, so she had been asking me to make another one with her.

In order to get Katie interested in science, I try to look for science projects that she would find interesting. When I was a kid, our teacher taught science by giving a lecture on a specific subject, and then we copied the information on the board, then we memorized that information. If we were learning about crystals, then our teacher would show us pictures of crystals and discuss how they were formed. Then, at the end of the week, we would be tested on our knowledge of crystals by answering questions based on the information that we copied from the board. I want my kids to have a lifelong love of learning. I try to find something that would spark their interest and hopefully, dig deeper from there. My kids are not interested in memorizing facts so I try to provide as much hands-on learning as possible to get them excited.

When Mother’s Day came, my husband helped Katie on her science project. The one they made was from water and sugar so it was safe to consume. When the crystals had formed, Katie was very happy to eat her science project.