The boys and I have had a big day today. We left the house this morning around 10:00ish to go mail Father's day cards to Papa. After that, I really didn't have any big plans but had been wanting to look around in my favorite teacher's store, The Apple Tree, so we headed in that direction. We looked at everything and the boys got to play with a few toys they had out, which was great because it gave me some ideas for birthday gifts in the fall. They each picked out a puzzle and it took them a long time to make up their minds.
Then we decided to go out to eat for lunch at Chick-fil-a. We had a good lunch and they got to play and they each got a balloon, which is always a big hit around here.
Then we went by the pottery painting place to see if our Father's gifts were ready and they were so we got to pick them up and they came out great. Ben and Nick each painted a small plate. I painted the background around the edges so that there would be color all over the plate and then they went to town and painted other colors all over the plate. When they were done painting we put their hand print in the middle of the plate. I also used the paints that are raised up (not sure what they are called) and painted Happy Father's Day around the top of the plate and 2009 around the bottom of the plate and then I wrote each child's name next to his hand print. I thought they really came out wonderful. I wrapped them in a box but had not had a chance to hide it before the dad got home from work and the boys were so excited to help him open it that they went ahead and opened it right away. The dad was very happy with his gifts and thought they were very well done, so that was nice.
We didn't make it back home in time to take naps and, wow, what a mistake that was (crying and whining about every little thing). Suffice it to say that things were not very pleasant around here this evening and the boys went to bed early.
I have to share this because I think it is pretty amazing. This morning, I was reading the next steps in the book I am following (loosely) on teaching the boys to read. The next step was writing small words on index cards so I did some of them and showed them to Ben, since he has been working on his blending of letter sounds and seems to be catching on quickly. These are the words I showed him and he sounded each one out, one time, and then said the word: am, an, at, ad, rat, mat, hat, cat, pat, fat, sat, bat. These are the only ones I had written out so far and he didn't miss any of them. When he finished, he said he was tired of this and he got down to go play. (He is 3.75 years old; he will be 4 years old at the end of September.)
Nick is funny. He was up first and was sitting next to me at the counter finishing his breakfast when I was writing the words on the index cards. I started going over a few of the two letter words with him but he was not very interested. He gave a half-hearted effort on one or two and that was about it. But then, when I was going over them with Ben and Ben was getting positive feedback, Nick was all "Me too; I want to do it!". He made an effort to sound out one word and then he was happy and went on about his business. He has picked up a lot purely from wanting to keep up with Ben or to be included in whatever Ben might be doing.
When we are learning phonics or numbers, we do things in very short spurts but they sure pick up a lot in a short amount of time. I have never pushed them. I will introduce something, a new game or something, or ask them if they want to do such-and-such. If they respond positively, we do it until they are done and then we move on. We really have done very little over the past month or two, although they still play with their Leap Frog word maker toy, which is an awesome toy. They have learned a lot from this toy and also from the Leap Frog Word DVD (can't remember the exact name) and the little "computers" that we have. They call them computers but they are just average toys that teach letters, letter sounds and spelling.
Another neat thing that I noticed just the other day is that both boys can now count to 20 without skipping numbers. Also, they can count that many items, which I think is pretty good. This morning they both wanted to do some dot-to-dot books. Nick had the alphabet one and Ben had the numbers one and they were both doing them very well. I was impressed. Clearly they are both very bright little boys... and they are growing up so fast. It really blows my mind.
Nick is still a very coordinated, athletic little guy. I think I might have already said this but he was swinging from one arm, while hanging from the jungle gym thing the other day. I was so surprised.
Gotta go. Hope you had a Happy Friday!