August 28, 2007

The following is from the newsletter of Emma's class (August 2007). I am totally heartened.

...

The Investigators are a very fun and happy group of children. They are always so busy doing different activities in the classroom. They love painting with different textures and creating their own unique object with the supplies. In housekeeping, the children have enjoyed pretending to be doctors and "taking care" of the babies and each other. Another favorite thing to do is play restaurant, where they write down their friends' food orders and serve them food. In the block area, the kids have been experimenting with building ramps and bridges with the blocks for the cars to drive on. They also love constructing houses for the animals! There are many houses that are constantly under construction O. Another area of the room that is quite popular is the small manipulative area, where the children play games, build with legos or the marble maze, put puzzles together, and work with small table top manipulative toys.

One other important area in the room is the writing table. The children have really enjoyed spending time there making cards, books, etc. We are always writing down their words about the pictures so make sure to read them when they get sent home because they truly are great. We have been displaying some of their pictures around the room-the kids have hung them up themselves!

All of these areas provide so many opportunities for math activities, such as measurement, balance, and symmetry, as well as exploration of physical science concepts and pre-literacy skills. Language development is huge in these areas, along with the practice of motor skills and problem solving. It's great to see them work together!

Circletime in the Investigators' Room is always a fun time where we meet to read a book, dance, and sing fingerplays. It is also the time to talk about what we are currently learning about in the classroom. Usually in the beginning of the year, circletime does not last more than ten minutes or so because of the attention span of the kids. I try to keep it brief, yet fun and engaging. As the year goes on, we will expand on it depending on where the kids are at. As of now, we do some dancing, as well as read a book and sing fingerplays (which is a pre-literacy skill). The kids love to sing and they already have some favorite songs! We also briefly (and I mean briefly because once we start talking everyone wants to talk © ) discuss what we are currently learning about. It's always a busy time and the kids enjoy circletime very much.

Our next unit will be all about water!! The Investigators are a very curious group, so we thought we would turn into scientists and experiment with water. We have many math, science, art, and pre-literacy activities planned that pertain to water. Our discussion about water started last week; we talked about how we use it, and what happens when you add things to water. We plan on really diving into it (no pun intended O) the next couple of weeks so please continue to read the board to hear about all of our exciting things we are doing!

, , , , , ,

From Investigators' Newsletter

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The following is from the newsletter of Emma's class (August 2007). I am totally heartened.

...

The Investigators are a very fun and happy group of children. They are always so busy doing different activities in the classroom. They love painting with different textures and creating their own unique object with the supplies. In housekeeping, the children have enjoyed pretending to be doctors and "taking care" of the babies and each other. Another favorite thing to do is play restaurant, where they write down their friends' food orders and serve them food. In the block area, the kids have been experimenting with building ramps and bridges with the blocks for the cars to drive on. They also love constructing houses for the animals! There are many houses that are constantly under construction O. Another area of the room that is quite popular is the small manipulative area, where the children play games, build with legos or the marble maze, put puzzles together, and work with small table top manipulative toys.

One other important area in the room is the writing table. The children have really enjoyed spending time there making cards, books, etc. We are always writing down their words about the pictures so make sure to read them when they get sent home because they truly are great. We have been displaying some of their pictures around the room-the kids have hung them up themselves!

All of these areas provide so many opportunities for math activities, such as measurement, balance, and symmetry, as well as exploration of physical science concepts and pre-literacy skills. Language development is huge in these areas, along with the practice of motor skills and problem solving. It's great to see them work together!

Circletime in the Investigators' Room is always a fun time where we meet to read a book, dance, and sing fingerplays. It is also the time to talk about what we are currently learning about in the classroom. Usually in the beginning of the year, circletime does not last more than ten minutes or so because of the attention span of the kids. I try to keep it brief, yet fun and engaging. As the year goes on, we will expand on it depending on where the kids are at. As of now, we do some dancing, as well as read a book and sing fingerplays (which is a pre-literacy skill). The kids love to sing and they already have some favorite songs! We also briefly (and I mean briefly because once we start talking everyone wants to talk © ) discuss what we are currently learning about. It's always a busy time and the kids enjoy circletime very much.

Our next unit will be all about water!! The Investigators are a very curious group, so we thought we would turn into scientists and experiment with water. We have many math, science, art, and pre-literacy activities planned that pertain to water. Our discussion about water started last week; we talked about how we use it, and what happens when you add things to water. We plan on really diving into it (no pun intended O) the next couple of weeks so please continue to read the board to hear about all of our exciting things we are doing!

, , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
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August 27, 2007

The past two weeks had been busy at work. It had been busy and fun at home. Interests and energy to blog waxed and waned, then washed off among my busy schedule. Therefore, I have a two-week gaping hole in my blog. It happens all the time anyway. It is always hard to self-disapline.

Anyway, in the past two weeks, we have:

1) Watched Contemporary Indian Dance and Tap Dance at the Cultural center. Fabulous dances. Both Annya and Emma enjoyed. Yes, even Annya. In the dim light, Annya stared at the stage throughout the show, her eyes bright and concentrated.

2) Been to the a miniature performance of Cirque Shanghai at the Harold Washington Public library. Again, the show was stupendous. Only too-oo short. It lasted only about 20 minutes, while we waited for about an hour in line to get in.

3) Emma's school was closed on Aug 16th and 17th. On Aug 16th, MB took her to see the show "Bear's Family Tree" at American Girl's place. The show was so-so, a kind of silly adults-playing-little-animals-without much thought or wit. So Emma was rightly not very engaged and MB concluded that the culture a child needs should be real culture, not a supposedly-children's-version.

4) On the same Saturday, the annual Air and Water show. Been there once already, neither Emma nor I was very interested. However, Leo and his mom could not get enough of it.

5) Sunday, I took Emma and Annya to MSI (museum of science and industry). It was a little challenging to take care of them both, walk around with one in stroller or my arms, while trying not to lose Emma. (Some people gave me sympathetic looks, that poor single mother with two little kids. But in a way, aren't I a single mother? Whatever help I can get from Leo is very very limited. Or in a way, aren't I taking care of three kids? with one who never grows up ...)

Anyway, we had a great time at MSI. Love the idea factory, the colors, the settings, the various projects just amazed me.

6) The following week was much more like any other week, we went to work, Emma went to school. Annya stayed with Leo's mom on Tuesday and Thursday, with MB on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She is getting very big now and have a full range of sounds and noises. Sometimes she looks at me or Emma and makes loud loud sounds with varying tones, as if she is arguing about something. Wow, I wish I could tell what is in her mind.

7) Oh, yes, on Thursday, we had an incredible storm. Trees were slashed off, one garage was toppled down, heavy rains poured down, the sky was menacingly dark ... Could not get hold of Leo, I carried Emma home. Both of us were soaked, drenched, totally, completely wet. But to Emma, it was an amazing adventure, she was too curious to feel scared, and she was flooded with a million of questions and sights she has never seen before. Mommy, look, the tree! Look, that man runs so fast, ha, ha... Mommy, is our house down? Will all the lights be blown away? ...

Too bad, no pictures for all the things we've done.

,,,,,

Ah, the past two weeks

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The past two weeks had been busy at work. It had been busy and fun at home. Interests and energy to blog waxed and waned, then washed off among my busy schedule. Therefore, I have a two-week gaping hole in my blog. It happens all the time anyway. It is always hard to self-disapline.

Anyway, in the past two weeks, we have:

1) Watched Contemporary Indian Dance and Tap Dance at the Cultural center. Fabulous dances. Both Annya and Emma enjoyed. Yes, even Annya. In the dim light, Annya stared at the stage throughout the show, her eyes bright and concentrated.

2) Been to the a miniature performance of Cirque Shanghai at the Harold Washington Public library. Again, the show was stupendous. Only too-oo short. It lasted only about 20 minutes, while we waited for about an hour in line to get in.

3) Emma's school was closed on Aug 16th and 17th. On Aug 16th, MB took her to see the show "Bear's Family Tree" at American Girl's place. The show was so-so, a kind of silly adults-playing-little-animals-without much thought or wit. So Emma was rightly not very engaged and MB concluded that the culture a child needs should be real culture, not a supposedly-children's-version.

4) On the same Saturday, the annual Air and Water show. Been there once already, neither Emma nor I was very interested. However, Leo and his mom could not get enough of it.

5) Sunday, I took Emma and Annya to MSI (museum of science and industry). It was a little challenging to take care of them both, walk around with one in stroller or my arms, while trying not to lose Emma. (Some people gave me sympathetic looks, that poor single mother with two little kids. But in a way, aren't I a single mother? Whatever help I can get from Leo is very very limited. Or in a way, aren't I taking care of three kids? with one who never grows up ...)

Anyway, we had a great time at MSI. Love the idea factory, the colors, the settings, the various projects just amazed me.

6) The following week was much more like any other week, we went to work, Emma went to school. Annya stayed with Leo's mom on Tuesday and Thursday, with MB on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She is getting very big now and have a full range of sounds and noises. Sometimes she looks at me or Emma and makes loud loud sounds with varying tones, as if she is arguing about something. Wow, I wish I could tell what is in her mind.

7) Oh, yes, on Thursday, we had an incredible storm. Trees were slashed off, one garage was toppled down, heavy rains poured down, the sky was menacingly dark ... Could not get hold of Leo, I carried Emma home. Both of us were soaked, drenched, totally, completely wet. But to Emma, it was an amazing adventure, she was too curious to feel scared, and she was flooded with a million of questions and sights she has never seen before. Mommy, look, the tree! Look, that man runs so fast, ha, ha... Mommy, is our house down? Will all the lights be blown away? ...

Too bad, no pictures for all the things we've done.

,,,,,

Monday, August 27, 2007
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August 07, 2007

Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All - TIME


The research found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."


Intuitively I know. I also knew this from a talk in NPR two years ago. However, sometimes just cannot help relaxing a little bit. I just cannot play that chatterbox for my little kid, especially when she is only 3 months old, when she can respond with some sounds at the best (not even yi-yi, ah-ah). One-way conversations die down quickly. So which way is more damaging, silence or some TV/DVD?

Fortunately I do not have a TV at home (pathetic).

Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All - No TV please

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All - TIME


The research found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."


Intuitively I know. I also knew this from a talk in NPR two years ago. However, sometimes just cannot help relaxing a little bit. I just cannot play that chatterbox for my little kid, especially when she is only 3 months old, when she can respond with some sounds at the best (not even yi-yi, ah-ah). One-way conversations die down quickly. So which way is more damaging, silence or some TV/DVD?

Fortunately I do not have a TV at home (pathetic).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007
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August 06, 2007








This woman, Niki de Saint-Phalle, is fun. "I often have the irresistible urge ... to make crazy fun things". And the exhibit Niki in the Garden at Garfield park is crazy, fun, spectacular, totally unconventional, (not those arts in the museum, on the wall, somber, serious, you are supposed to worship, yet you just feel bored and like an idiot).

Her nana/woman figures are voluptuous, gigantic, exuberant and utilitarian (situating in the midst of tall trees, they are variably water sprinklers, fountains, or water pots, or even chairs). The colors are so bright, alive and cheerful. The materials are glass fiber, stones, or whatever, I am no artist. And the animal sculptures are extraordinarily fun, cat, seal, a pair of colorful lions and alligator. As if they have been happily waiting for years and years that grass grows around their feet, and they are impatient for kids to touch and climb, to jump up and down, to explore them inside out, be totally at ease with them. How kids love the alligator! How Emma loves the alligator. She climbed on its tail again and again, she tried to climb up along its body, oh, no, too high, too difficult (she is such an timid, cautious kid that I am so glad that she had such fun climbing). She walked inside its tommy. She touched its body, which has scaly sandy skin and smooth glossy bumps (made of green shiny stones(?)).

Emma so enjoyed the sculptures that we back in after we left the first time. In the end, Mary Beth sat down with her in a little kids art program making totems. And me? I took pictures. And I got lots.

(Again and again, I am amazed that being a kid is such fun. And art, something is supposed to so out of reach, is actually so within reach. Creating art can be so easy and can be done in so many ways. Anything can be art, or part of art. Stones, shells, flower seeds, threads, beads. Art can be anywhere. Gardens, parks, home, school. This summer makes me love Chicago. The exhibit makes me want to read a lot more about Niki. And she is so beautiful. Makes me jealous)

, , , ,

Niki in the Garden

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This woman, Niki de Saint-Phalle, is fun. "I often have the irresistible urge ... to make crazy fun things". And the exhibit Niki in the Garden at Garfield park is crazy, fun, spectacular, totally unconventional, (not those arts in the museum, on the wall, somber, serious, you are supposed to worship, yet you just feel bored and like an idiot).

Her nana/woman figures are voluptuous, gigantic, exuberant and utilitarian (situating in the midst of tall trees, they are variably water sprinklers, fountains, or water pots, or even chairs). The colors are so bright, alive and cheerful. The materials are glass fiber, stones, or whatever, I am no artist. And the animal sculptures are extraordinarily fun, cat, seal, a pair of colorful lions and alligator. As if they have been happily waiting for years and years that grass grows around their feet, and they are impatient for kids to touch and climb, to jump up and down, to explore them inside out, be totally at ease with them. How kids love the alligator! How Emma loves the alligator. She climbed on its tail again and again, she tried to climb up along its body, oh, no, too high, too difficult (she is such an timid, cautious kid that I am so glad that she had such fun climbing). She walked inside its tommy. She touched its body, which has scaly sandy skin and smooth glossy bumps (made of green shiny stones(?)).

Emma so enjoyed the sculptures that we back in after we left the first time. In the end, Mary Beth sat down with her in a little kids art program making totems. And me? I took pictures. And I got lots.

(Again and again, I am amazed that being a kid is such fun. And art, something is supposed to so out of reach, is actually so within reach. Creating art can be so easy and can be done in so many ways. Anything can be art, or part of art. Stones, shells, flower seeds, threads, beads. Art can be anywhere. Gardens, parks, home, school. This summer makes me love Chicago. The exhibit makes me want to read a lot more about Niki. And she is so beautiful. Makes me jealous)

, , , ,

Monday, August 06, 2007
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In Emma's school, kids in the 2-3-year-old-class are called adventurers, 3-4-year-old are investigators, then 4-5-year-olds are explorers. (Grand names, big terms. So such impossibly sophisticated words are among the first English words Emma learned.) Anyway, in July, Emma was promoted from an adventerer to an invistigator.

Activities for an invistigator are abundant, more varied, mature and fun. There are even more categories, math, science, reading, dramatic play, music, physical... Everyday, the little white board outside of the room is proudly filled with what-we-do-today activities. Every time when I stop to read, I cannot help but wow. The teacher has talked with the kids about oceans, the earth, they pretended to go to London or the Mars. They do dances. Emma even learned about captain and pirates. Wow. In contrast, the adventurer's room kind of falls apart, since the new teacher is not quite up to the standard.

I am so glad Emma is an investigator now. So is she. She sometimes would remind us that she is an investigator. But she is also eager to go to camp (because Arther goes to camp), she has asked me so many times: "Mommy, when do I go to kindergarten? When do I go to camp?"

An investigator is she

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

In Emma's school, kids in the 2-3-year-old-class are called adventurers, 3-4-year-old are investigators, then 4-5-year-olds are explorers. (Grand names, big terms. So such impossibly sophisticated words are among the first English words Emma learned.) Anyway, in July, Emma was promoted from an adventerer to an invistigator.

Activities for an invistigator are abundant, more varied, mature and fun. There are even more categories, math, science, reading, dramatic play, music, physical... Everyday, the little white board outside of the room is proudly filled with what-we-do-today activities. Every time when I stop to read, I cannot help but wow. The teacher has talked with the kids about oceans, the earth, they pretended to go to London or the Mars. They do dances. Emma even learned about captain and pirates. Wow. In contrast, the adventurer's room kind of falls apart, since the new teacher is not quite up to the standard.

I am so glad Emma is an investigator now. So is she. She sometimes would remind us that she is an investigator. But she is also eager to go to camp (because Arther goes to camp), she has asked me so many times: "Mommy, when do I go to kindergarten? When do I go to camp?"

Monday, August 06, 2007
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