Sunday, January 19, 2014

Letter Walks and other at-home-learning

I love structure; I'm creative; I like kids; I love to read; I love to learn.  This makes me well-suited to teaching.

I never planned to teach as a child or in college.  After college (and my failed attempt at becoming Miss South Carolina - yes that is a true fact), I had a degree in Political Science, minor in French, and no clear path.  I applied to work at the non-profit Teach for America's national headquarters and, on a road trip to New York City, I accepted my first job there.

I learned a lot about the organization and, within the year, applied to become a Teach for America teacher.  I convinced Jacob to join me last minute (he submitted his application about 30 minutes before the deadline) and we were accepted and placed together in the new Hawaii region.
On my last day teaching in Hawaii with my teary-eyed students :(
We spent two years teaching elementary school in Hawaii, one year recruiting for the organization in Washington and Oregon, and I spent another year working for Teach For America New Orleans supporting early elementary school teachers.  In 2010, I joined ReNEW Charter Schools and have worked there ever since, leading or now working part-time on the literacy team.

And now I have a four year old.  And I'm in heaven.  Jack loves to play school.  So I've worked all kinds of lessons into our play.  For Christmas we got an art easel which has given us the perfect spot for our "school."

On Thursdays, I'm home all day with both Jack and Cora, so we create a Landry Home School for the day.  Jack loves the concept of a schedule so that's how we get started. 

 Here are some activities we love:

  • Letter Play - we usually pick a letter of the day, talk about it, pick it out of our letter bag, look for it around our house, write it and talk about its sound.  Cora likes when we sing the ABCs.
  • Letter Walks - we go on a short walk and look for the letter around the neighborhood.  Jack is the searcher and I'm the photographer. (Cora comes along in the stroller).  I use my iCloud to grab the pictures, drop them in Word, and print them out. 
  • Number Games - my aunt gave Jack a set of handmade wooden numbers and we use them to count and label groups.  I make piles of various items (books, dried beans, etc.) and Jack labels them with the correct number.  

We also have made collages like this #1-#10 collage.  (Cora put on all the stickers; Jack oversaw the counting.)

  • Our Values Book - this idea came to me from feeling I needed to be more intentional on teaching values and building character.  I've just started it, but I have a list of values I want to cover (including Kindness, Patience, Gratitude, etc.)  I do a Google image search to find pictures that capture the value.  Jack and I start by looking at and discussing these pictures.  Then we use his books to further understand the value.  For kindness, we looked through his Berenstain Bear books for examples of being kind.  We've not done this yet, but my plan is to bring our big book out at dinner and use it to think about times we saw kindness during the day and to talk about ways we can show kindness the next day.

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