Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lessons On the Floor

The boys and I take time each day to work on something school-related. Usually, though, they don't know that it's schoolwork because they are too busy having fun. They are too busy laughing or creating or getting messy or competing to realize that they are learning new and important things. 
Micah has a lot of head smarts - I think more than a lot of other three year olds. But, actually writing his letters or numbers is an entirely different scenario. I think he lacks the desire to sit still, hold a pencil, and use self-controlled hand movements.

Rather than force letter tracing at the kitchen table, I've given him several opportunities to trace favorite cartoon characters. Although he still needs to work on his letters and numbers, I'm happy that he's learning the value of carefully tracing something in order to get a desired outcome. In time, I know this will translate to more patience when he practices penmanship.
Grady has all his letters and all his numbers down and is working now on proper size and spacing. Again, rather than simply trace textbook phrases over and over, I'm letting him trace coloring book pictures so that he can learn the importance of placement, where to begin and stop, and when colors need to change in order to stay consistent.
I still remember my fifth grade teacher calling me to the front of the classroom, holding up my spelling test, and announcing to the class, "Sarah got all her spelling words right! But, will you all look at her penmanship? Her letters are very difficult to read and not written with correct form and spacing."

That was almost 18 years ago but I think I'm still a little bitter. Who knew. Hopefully my boys can learn better penmanship than I did and without embarrassment from their teacher.
We do a lot of art projects on the floor - coloring, gluing, painting, cutting. There's way more room on the floor than there is on the table and it's easier for me to manage three kids when I don't have to maneuver between chairs and a table.
As simple as painting is, they're learning more than just the skill of painting. (Especially since I'm the one teaching and I'm no artist at all. Good grief I can't even cut in a straight line.)
They're learning the importance of doing things in the right order: paint brush in paint, then on the paper, then in the water to rinse, then blotted on the paper towel, then in a new paint color.

When they do things out of order, it's not a big deal, but it does sometimes result in frustration that "My yellow flower is turning green even though I put my brush in blue paint!" (Oh but wait - now we can have a mini-science lesson about colors too!)
What about you - what are some of your tricks for teaching basic skills in creative ways?


  1. Your post made me laugh, are you sure you didn't go to a chatholic school in the 60's ? LoL I remember being shamed a few times in front of the class about some bad papers. I'm sure they don't do that anymore. Thank the Lord for positive reinforcement!

    You have very lucky let them paint on the floor!! I thought I was being the best Mom, when I put up with playdough. LOL

    Enjoy your littles ones....they grow too fast!
    Blessings to you & yours

  2. Sorry, just realized I spelled catholic, I did give the nuns a run for their money. lol

  3. ha ha...Sarah, I can hear your voice saying all that, "Brush in the paint, then in the water, then blot..." I totally can hear you saying that! Its so good that instead of just free for all playing they are learning while they do it. Life is so much more meaningful and its obvious you are looking for teachable moments ALL the time. Way to go, Mom!

  4. Sarah, you are the BEST mom! I love how that everything you do in teaching your boys is intentional & fun & working towards a goal! And it looks like you've got some really great little artists, too!

  5. Great ideas Sarah! We did tracing pictures the other day. Big A thought it was so fun, Little A is going to have to warm to it. She resists all things school activities like letter writing so I thought maybe she'd take to it. I bet she will after we do it a few times more. I love the learning of proper order with painting too. I just hand A&A 5-7 paint brushes for each color they have, LOL! Of course I guess water color painting requires them to do things in the proper steps so that helps.

    Michelle - having problems posting comments through my google account