Sunday, March 9, 2014

Save the Cursive! And other thoughts and tips on handwriting...

Hello and Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!!!!

I have recently had the privilege of taking over a wonderful first grade class in a private Christian school and I was surprised and IMPRESSED that they exclusively taught cursive handwriting...starting in kindergarten! You might be thinking "Whoa! That is fancy, but not practical. Most kids can't even write print." I get it. Trust me, I do. However, I want to challenge your thinking for a second and introduce you to some new ideas.

First of all, in our global world, it is important to note that most industrialized nations teach their students to write cursive FIRST. In fact, they even have children's books that are written in cursive and print because the children are more familiar with the cursive. Secondly, cursive was taught exclusively in our country until the early 20th century. Yes, as a nation we did have a better work ethic then, but that aside, it is a more practical approach to handwriting. Hang with me for a second, I will explain.

What did Gutenberg invent? Yep, that was the PRINTING press. Print letters were invented for a machine. Cursive was invented for human hands. It actually takes less muscles and coordination to write in cursive than print, which is important for little hands that are less than coordinated to begin with.

Cursive writing eliminates several problems that young children are prone to such as letter reversals (b and d, p and q) and spacing issues. The letters B and D in cursive are different and specific enough that most children do not have issues with reversals. Also, all the letters are connected in a word and we do not have spaces until we write a new word or sentence.

Lastly, our pencil stays on the paper for the duration of a word and students are less likely to develop bad habits and teach themselves an alternate way to form their letters.  We've all seen some goofy letter formation and it makes it nearly impossible to read and slows down the child's ability to write. When learning cursive FIRST, the child will develop better habits, be a quicker writer, and the writing will be much more legible.

Now I am not saying students should never learn print. I also realize that this challenges the way that about 99.5% of our schools do business. But let me tell you, I have seen it in action. The school I teach at is not for gifted and talented students. Most of them are pretty average. but their handwriting is BEAUTIFUL and they are pretty good readers too! Let me show you. I included EVERYONE in my class in these photos, not just the best. This way you can see that it works.

Pretty Cool, Right? Now remember, this is FIRST GRADE! I encourage you to start a dialogue with your peers and do a little more research. A great place to look is through the work of Denise Eide. Her work is entitled The Logic of English. She is much more of an expert on this topic than I and the place that I got most of my ideas for this post. Now, on to something you can do NOW...

Yep, those are poof balls glued to an end of a dry-erase marker! Instant eraser cap! Super easy and super cheap! I hope you make your class some today!

 “Next up on the blog hop is Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog. Kristy has a great post for 
you all about Collaborating Using Google Docs! Just click on the button below to check it out! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February and Last Month's Laundry Detergent

Good Afternoon Internet!
I am so glad you could stop by again! Today, I am going to update you on our New Years unresolution, and finally post the tutorial on my version of DIY Laundry Detergent.

It is naptime in the House of Halls. The scent of earl grey tea and peace and quiet are only interrupted by a chirping cricket in the garage and the gentle hum of my laptop fan. Ahhhhh.....  Well, here we go.

Last month I resolved that we would be eating clean and changing our lifestyle this year. I should have known better. My intentions were good, but my chocolate cravings were weak, followed by Flu season  of 2014.  Praise the Lord, my pregnant self did not get it, but baby boy did, and that put any plans to make drastic changes to a grinding halt. When your usually bouncy, crazy, uncuddly little boy just wants to be held by mama, the last thing on your mind is hitting the kitchen for marathon cooking sessions. But Alas, I am not giving up the quest to be better, we are just going to be searching for smaller, more manageable steps to take in the future. Maybe a 5 a day (fruits and veggies) challenge? I think that would be a great place to start. Anyone want to join me? I will see if I can come up with something for the future.

 Ok, Laundry Detergent.

 Also, if you are using milk jugs or some other jug with a smaller opening, you may want a funnel.

When adding cold water to the warm mixture, you may have some lumpy coagulation, that is why I recommend the immersion blender. You might be able to use a hand mixer if you don't have an immersion blender, but I have not tried it that way. Another way to avoid the blender altogether is to use hot water from beginning to end, but this could cause your jugs to separate and leak- use your judgement.

Also, please note that this product does not contain the stabilizers that are present in commercial laundry soaps. If you store your laundry soap in an area that is not climate controlled, it will be a thin liquid when it is warm and a thick liquid when it is cold, this should not affect the usability of the detergent. I have a top load washer and have not noticed excessive bubbles, but I really don't know whether or not it would work in a front load. If you have one and give it a try, let me know!

Also, I have found that this detergent works *wonderfully* as a spot treater! If you have a stain, rub the detergent right on there and let it sit for an hour or two, works like a charm!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy 2014!

Ahhhh....January. A New Month, A New Day and a New YEAR!!!! I love the new year. The disappointments and failures of the previous year fade into the anals of time, while the endless possibilities of what lies ahead welcome you to plan and dream without prejudice. Usually by this time of the new year, I have a list of how many pounds I want to lose, how many dollars I want to pay off and how clean I want to get my house. All in measurable, unrealistic, numeric goals. This year, I am not planning on setting myself up for failure. Don't get me wrong, I still want to be skinny, debt free and living in an immaculate house, but I am starting to learn that those things are not how I want to measure my success or failures. Life is a process and what we learn and become along the way is what holds true value.
   This year, I simply want to love and care for myself and my family better than I ever have before. For so long I have just survived, barely making it to the weekend, the next break or the end of the school year. Just squeaking out the door to make it to work, church or the store on time. I am ready to thrive. To embrace what matters and really, really love my family.
   There are several areas that my husband and I have really felt needed some adjustments. Our diet being a main one. I am not going on a diet. Although I am considerably overweight, I am also 3 and a half months pregnant with my second baby and don't have the desire or nerves to diet. We also have an almost 2 year old at home and his cute little self doesn't need to diet either. However, there are some things that we have gotten slack with. Fried foods, refined sugars and flours, eating out. Those are all coming to an end. Going back to loving and caring for myself and my family, we need to change the way we eat. I love the blog 100 days of real food. My husband went to high school with the guy whose wife started the blog. That is the reason he started reading it originally and I started reading it because he started reading it.
 They really have some good ideas about eliminating unhealthy, processed foods and replacing it with nurturing, real foods. We are going to start with their 10 day challenge, and go from there, hopefully make it all the way to 100 days of nurturing, wholesome, vitamin rich eating. I can't wait to see how great I will feel when its all said and done. Right now (although pregnant) I am tired, cranky, and sickly feeling and its not just the pregnancy, I have felt this way for years.
   We will be following a modified version of their plan. We have monetary restrictions and can't afford to throw everything out of our cabinets just because it has more than 5 ingredients. We have purchased a lot of organic, healthy items that are full of different seeds, grains and a number of other approved ingredients. That will be our main compromise. Also, gmos are stealthy little critters. We are going to eat what we have in our cabinets, and slowly replace them with non-gmos. Those are very concerning to me, but we will have to take baby steps on this. One example is our corn masa- my son is gluten intolerant, so I like to make corn tortillas. We will use up what we have and replace it with something better. Our improved way of eating will start tomorrow. I am also working on decluttering and organizing or home. I will be blogging about both of those things in the future. Also, I pieced together several recipes for homemade laundry detergent and came up with our perfect mix, I will let you know exactly how I did it later this week! Take care, happy new year and here's to your dreams for what lies ahead!