Workbox Wonder

The holidays have been amazing. For the first time ever, we stayed home. We missed our family. But we didn’t miss the traveling, the traffic, the hustle and bustle, etc. And we greatly enjoyed having Christmas at home.

One night this past week I had the chance to finally put together workboxes for the children. I had seen this idea on many homeschooling website. The general idea is that you put assignments in the boxes for the child and they 1) know how much they have to do everyday and see an end in sight, and 2) can sense accomplishment as they complete each box. There really is a lot more behind it and I haven’t done extensive study on it – so if you want more information go view this blog entry by Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Since I am home away during the day I thought having workboxes set up for the children would help make the nanny’s job easier. And I could be sure they were completing certain activities each day, even though I was away at work. So about three months ago I snagged these 6 drawer rolling carts from JoAnn’s at 70% off – they were right at the front of the store a day it was at the top of my mind or I never would have remembered. This week I put their first initial on the drawer and labeled the drawers 1- 6.

I was hoping there would be a sense of excitement around the drawers. And there definitely was. The first day was like Christmas all over again. Both Petra and Jasper LOVED opening each drawer and wizzed through all the boxes in about 30 minutes. I hadn’t really planned on starting Jasper this early on such a formal system, but I knew he would want one if Petra had one. Sure enough Jasper spotted the letter “J” on one of them and knew it was his.

I filled each drawer with a different activity – but something similar for each child, just at different skill levels. There is definitely a desire between them to do similar activities at similar times. They ended up working through the boxes at the same speed. Here are some photos of what we did: (Yes they are still in their PJs – there was a lot of excitement about starting these boxes! I barely got their breakfast cleared out of the way.)

Petra worked on a Kumon Maze while Jasper did some freestyle drawing on a small whiteboard.

They both worked on puzzles.

Petra worked on early reading skills…she had to plug in the first letter of each word.

While Jasper spent some beloved moments with his tot cars book – which he enjoyed more than ever.

 

I hope that gives you an idea on some of the activities we did the first day. They was also cutting worksheets and a few other things. The excitement has contintued throughout the days, but there has been some issues that I have had to consider. 1) Should I require them to do the drawers in order from 1-6? 2) Should I allow them to get distracted with toys and leave their workboxes uncompleted? If you start something like this with young toddlers I would definitely suggest you think through these questions prior to starting them. I decided to make them take the hard route – they have to do them in order, and  they have finish them before playing with other things. But I have left wiggle room in other places. For instance we might not start them until I know the children appear to be ready to start them. This morning they needed playtime outside first, so that’s what we did. And I might not fill all 6 boxes everyday. In addition, I will probably be adding more games, activities and snacks as I get better at assembling the boxes.

Also, I was very excited this week because Petra completed her first workbook – the Kumon book of Easy Mazes. She LOVES mazes and often asks to do them sometimes several times a day. Here is a picture of the last maze in this book. Sorry about the shine in the photo – I pulled these pages out of the book and inserted them into clear sheet protectors so they could be used with dry/erase markers. She enjoys doing them and will do them as many times as necessary to be sure they are perfect – without touching any walls. I was thrilled this week to go and buy her the next maze book.

 

Petra’s 3rd Birthday

I’m back! I know its been too long. I honestly can’t even begin to describe how busy I have been.

Petra’s 3rd birthday was last month. I wrote this last month and had hoped to get it posted but none of the pictures would download off the camera and then I just didn’t get another chance until now….

Our little girl turned three last week! I cannot believe it. She was looking up at me this weekend with a big smile and bright, happy eyes and I was in awe thinking back to the miracle she is and how blessed with are that God brought her to us.

At three, Petra is a high-energy child. And I can’t quite figure out why. She basically has no sugar in her diet – just the natural sugar found in fruit – and still she is a bundle of NEVER ENDING NEVER STOPPING ENERGY – with a ton of wiggling, giggling, whining, yelling, and just plain loudness to go with it. The only thing I can figure is that all the good food she gets, plus a regular schedule = a high energy child.

At some point during the last year she went from an incredible sleeper to a child that never wants to sleep. She is determined to keep herself awake at night singing and talking to herself, and then as soon as she hears a noise she is out of bed regardless of the time of morning; I think afraid she will miss something.

Her personality is all over the place – from a sweet cuddly daughter one minute to an absolute toddler tyrant the next. She whines, bites, screams, and does all sorts of things that I was sincerely hoping no three year old of mine would ever do. (insert funny statement on how I actually thought my three year old could be perfect). She is what I would call “spirited.”

I have no idea how it happened. I watched a family of seven last year, all the children in a row, and clearly noted that their 2 and 4 year old girls were nice and calm. Sweet and obedient. I asked the father for advice and he said it was all in expectations. I clearly have expectations and she is continually in time out, so where did I go wrong? I find myself reading parenting books each week. She often sits in time out with a silly smile on her face, just as happy as she can be that she is alive. When sent to her room, she relishes in jumping on her bed and singing at the top of her lungs. I can honestly say that 75% of the time when being disciplined she has a “happy heart” rather than any sense of remorse or guilt. I read her a devotional this week of being kind to others and at the end of the story it showed a picture of a grumpy girl and a happy girl (same girl, different expressions) and asked her which girl she would rather play with. She emphatically chose the grumpy girl; twice.

Her high spirits and happy heart often lend to a wonderfully loud and happy home. Her energy level helps her excel. Her quick thinking and verbal skills are phenomenal. She can talk your ears off. We try to use big words around her on a regular basis – so in a normal conversation you may hear words like “terrible,” “decelerate,” and “accidentally” stream off her tongue in complete sentences.

Her high energy level lends to incredible strength and good motor control. We recently increased her gymnastics class from once a week to twice hoping it would help with the energy, and also because she wanted to go more often. She is doing outstanding. She can roll, walk on a beam, flip on a bar, and do so much by herself. But I can tell you what we found impressive was seeing her hang on the bar and bring her legs straight up all the way so her toes touched the bar she was hanging on. Her stomach muscles are crazy strong. She can also jump and land on two feet, stand on 1 foot, catch a ball with both hands, walk across the yard on her hands as a wheelbarrow, do burpees, try to do a pushup, and do a pullup with a little assistance from us.

She can often count 5-6 objects correctly. She quickly recognizes groups of two or three. She can put the silverware perfectly in the drawer – easily distinguishing the big forks from the little forks and so forth.

She has lots of favorites:

Her favorite color is pink.

Her favorite stuffed toy remains Ollie (Oliver ) her gray elephant. She will not sleep at night without him and her pink blanket.

Her favorite songs are Jingle Bells by the Bare Naked Ladies, and Jesus Loves the Little Children.

Her favorite way to sing is LOUDLY.

Her favorite books are science books – a book on Lizards, Lightning and Thunder, etc.

Her favorite food are strawberries, cereal and sandwiches.

Her new favorite treat/reward is gum.

Her favorite activity is talking and talking some more.

Her favorite tot school activities are mazes, cutting and painting with pink paint.

Her favorite clothes are dresses and skirts. The fancier the dress the better. And she loves jewelry and always wants necklaces and rings.

She loves to dance, spin and pretend she is a ballerina. We have not encouraged the ballerina thing at all – this is all on her own.

She loves to swing.

She loves to sit and have you read books to her.

She loves trucks and tractors – but not as much as her brother. But enough to request cars pajamas like his when going to bed.

She loves to sneak and put makeup on.

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Her birthday this year was a lot of fun. She asked me many times throughout the day to sing to her and I gladly did so. For her birthday she asked for us to get her cake and a rainbow (a real one). So, for her birthday this year we bought her a pink Strider bike and matching helmet. We let her open the helmet first and she immediately told us she was getting a bike like Jasper’s and that she knew it because she just opened the helmet. The connection was instant. We knew she wouldn’t LOVE the bike the way Jasper loves his, but thought it was important she also learn to ride one. I am looking forward to the day they are both able to ride down the street with it and I can jog along. (I already have to run next to Jasper) And she also got some pom-poms that she uses to cheer for Jasper while he rides his bike. She loves the pom-poms. We also had some dairy/wheat free cupcakes that we could all eat. They weren’t that good. I need to find a good birthday option that we can all eat.