Our Family Playground

I can mark this down as reason #1 I’m glad that I’m always behind the camera. I took these photos of the latest additions to our family playground and I’m very happy to have been on the back side of the camera. I would have hated for everyone to have seen me struggling to do a pull up or toes to the bar.

Instead, Thomas demonstrated for me! What a kind guy!

And the kids were glad to demonstrate as well.

I would say we do a good to great job keeping the children fit, healthy and making sure they get plenty of exercise. We don’t do such a fab job on making sure we get plenty of exercise though. And hopefully this will help. And we are working on improving that.

Thomas added on a bar for the kids, a bar for us, and a place to do some wall balls – all on to the swing set platform. I love it!

I love that it takes very minimal space. That it is super easy to put together. That the cost of it stays relatively low. And it will help us to do some Crossfit WODs at home.

The children are practicing pull ups, straight leg raises, straddle straight leg raises, front pullovers and more. And we can do the same on ours. We all spent yesterday morning on it .
Our next purchase will be a pair of rings to slip over the bar.

We also need some additional equipment for Petra to practice her gymnastics– a beam and mat mainly (and a flat place to put it). That will come with time. Oh, and I need a band to do some pull-ups.

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Happy Birthday America!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

Happy 4th to you all!

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Speak Up!

“Speak Up! Speak up! Speak up!” Jasper was screaming at his sister. He was quite upset that she was reading a super hero book and was reading it too softly for him to follow along and hear the story. He found it so frustrating. That was two weeks ago.

Today, I just about fell out in the car when Jasper, who sits all the way in the far back corner of the car (because he’s the most well behaved of our children in the car), wanted to read a story to me. “Don’t worry” he said, “I’ll speak up.” And so he did. He was belting out the words so we could hear him all the way in the front seat. It was so sweet. So I turned on the video camera and got a clip of him reading too, from his Bob Book Dot.

Not sure you will want to watch all of this video and I have no idea how to cut it and make it shorter. But if you want to watch, here is Jasper reading. We are currently still working on 3 letter words with him – CVC (consonant vowel consonant). Overall we are moving at a slower pace than Petra at this age – mainly because some days he shows no interest in reading to me (and so we probably won’t have a lesson on those days), and also because even when he wants to do a lesson his pants often have ants. =)


Teaching Reading: An Update on Petra

I got a call from Aunt Jenn in South Africa about a week ago asking how Petra’s reading was coming along. I haven’t updated with any video for nearly a year. We started her in the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR) at 3.5 years old  (skipping past the first few sections on letter sounds since she already knew those). Today she is 4 years old and 7 months.

She is still learning to read. She reads softly, which is especially strange considering how loud she really is. And we need to work on commas, periods, exclamation marks, question marks, coming to a complete stop at the end of sentence, etc. But overall, I AM VERY PLEASED with OPGTR and still think that every parent needs a copy.

Some things I have noticed is she is picking up speed. She often reads over words without speaking them for me to hear. Sometimes I have found her reading silently. She is reading words backwards less often (a concern since her biological mom indicated that she was dyslexic). She is doing great phonetically trying to spell words on her own. Today for instance she spelled – wotrmelin, for watermelon.

The two videos below are a short part of a book she read today titled Who Lives in an Alligator Hole a Let’s Read and Find Out Science book by Anne Rockwell that I would highly recommend. The Scholastic Reading Level for this book is 3.8; the Accelerated Reading Level for this book is 4.4 (translates into reading grade level).

She has some trouble reading some of the larger words as you will notice. But we haven’t even covered 2 syllable words yet in her reading lessons. The OPGTR is an exceptional book at teaching phonics sequentially. And before we get to a lesson she usually knows how to read the words already. She should be finishing the book before her fifth birthday in November. Generally speaking I have heard that when a child finishes reading the book they are reading at a 4th grade level. I will post another video when she completes the lessons.

Overall what I love most is that she LOVES reading. She read at least 5 books today, all on her own, just because she wanted to. It just makes me smile to see her sitting with a book, curled up on her bed, reading away.

And there are two more things I want to be sure to mention. Reading lessons are fun and simple. If anything she loves them because she gets one on one time with mom, but she also just loves them. She asks for them regularly. Sometimes twice or more a day. And it only takes a few minutes. You can get a lot accomplished in 5 minutes.

In the meantime, enjoy the following videos. This was a library book – I had never read it to her, and she had never read it. So you can see how she did the first time through. Next time through this same book there will be very few mistakes because she will have learned it. You will notice in the part 2 video she wanted to make sure I was still recording. While this was a challenging read for her, she loved reading it.