November 28, 2008

The First Thanksgiving

Here's a good Thanksgiving web site to check out with your kids while you eat turkey sandwiches and leftover pie. T, R, and I just spent some time looking around and learning things like "each pilgrim family was allotted around 800 square feet--about the size of a small apartment." (But a couple hundred square feet bigger than our apartment in Tokyo. Hmmm.)

(Scholastic Thanksgiving)

November 15, 2008

Know Your Audience

Yesterday in Bible time at preschool I was teaching this story:
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. -Mark 10:13-16
As I taught and the children asked questions, one thing led to another and I found myself trying to explain childlike faith. I was getting blank looks and realized that it was a pointless and impossible task, like trying to teach a fish to swim. Children don't need to be taught how to have faith. They have it already.

November 12, 2008

Dusting Off the Cobwebs

No, I haven't abandoned this blog. Other things, mostly good things, have gotten in the way. This is my first post since June. I won't try to catch up on everything but here are a few highlights.

Summer vacation with grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins on both sides of the family was great! The kids ended up having about six birthday celebrations among all the traveling.

Our children continue to delight us. Every day when D goes to preschool with Tomomi to drop off R, he walks right up to the easel, puts a piece of paper on it, and paints something colorful. The painting only takes up the bottom third of the paper because that's as high as he can reach.

T is learning multiplication. Here is a conversation he and R had this afternoon.

T: Thirteen times one is thirteen. Know what sixteen times one is?
R: Um, sixteen?
T: No way! How do you know all about multiplication?!?!

I've been reading a lot recently. Here's a sampling:
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (because T's reading them and his excitement reignited something in me). This time around Puddleglum in The Silver Chair was my favorite character. Lewis made him so heroic and so comical. He's like a cross between Eeyore and Lieutenant Dan with a touch of what Lucas tried but failed to do with Jar Jar Binks.
  • George MacDonald: An Anthology compiled and edited by C. S. Lewis. There are 365 brief, yet rich readings. Here's an example. "While a satisfied justice is an unavoidable eternal event, a satisfied revenge is an eternal impossibility."
  • Several books on preschool and elementary education like The Schools Our Children Deserve, Any Child Can Write, Teach a Child to Read with Children's Books, Writing with Ease, and How to Teach Any Child to Spell. I've been trying to understand the debate between phonics proponents and whole language proponents. Like most issues where intelligent, well-meaning people disagree hotly, it looks like both approaches have their merits. They can be combined effectively and much depends individual teaching and learning styles. If I have time, I'll write more later about specific things I'm applying to my teaching.
I've recently started using facebook as a way to stay in touch. It seems like a more appropriate place than this to share family events and photos. This blog will be more of a journal of what I'm reading, thinking about, and experimenting with. It won't be updated very frequently so if you want to see what I write, I recommend mousing to the upper right corner of this page and subscribing either for email updates or rss. If you use facebook and we know each other "in real life," let's connect there.