Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dinnertime Helper and Summer List

Yesterday my kids seemed kind of antsy when they got off the schoolbus.  They wanted to watch tv and I wanted them to play.  At first they didn't want a snack and then they did.  Carson wanted to make a pirate map, and a pirate telescope, and a treasure chest.  No one seemed to be happy.  And then I thought of it.  Our summer list.

Now, I am not usually one for bribing my children.  And certainly not with money or toys.  But this summer, I had to have a plan to make sure we got some reading and other school related activities into each day.  So, I created a list we called our summer list.  I'd link it to this blog for you to see all the things we put on our list, but I have not yet mastered the art of linking to a word document.  Maybe I'll figure it out in all my spare time now that my boys are in school (ha, ha).  Anyway, some of the things on our list: Which Way USA (great Highlights program featuring books and maps about each state), Devotional from church, make a list of things that are blue, do your brother's chores, make a list of all the baseball players you can think of, write a letter to someone special.  I told the boys that once they finished their summer list and earned stickers for each activity completed, I would give them $5 to spend at Target.  They also earned $5 for completing a reading sticker chart.  So, at the end of the summer, they had the potential to have $10 to spend for their hard work.

Well, they easily earned the stickers for reading, because my boys read every day.  I feel very lucky to have kids who just like to read.  I guess they come by it honestly since Justin and I love to read as well.  The other chart was a little trickier.  So we did not finish it.  Well, when they got home from school yesterday, there was a Lego magazine from the previous night's mail waiting for them.  They immediately began leafing through it and picking out what they were going to buy with ALL their money.  When I asked what money, they told me the money they earned from their lists, and I had to remind them that they hadn't actually finished their lists.  So, they got to work, ready to knock that list out.  Who said bribery is a bad thing?

Jonah saw: make a maze out of paperclips on the list and his response almost made me fall out of my chair.  "Why haven't we ever done that before?  That sounds like so much fun!!!"  So, I got out a bag of colored paperclips I had been saving for this exact moment and Jonah got to work, creating his maze on the island in the kitchen.  It was time for me to start dinner, so I got busy myself.  And what followed was 45 minutes of intense concentration by Jonah, and curiousity from Carson that turned into his own paperclip project.  Of course, Carson's idea was not a maze, but we turned it into a learning project.  Carson has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, but the point of the activity was that it be a creative outlet, and Carson's idea certainly was creative.

This is Jonah's maze.  If you look closely, you can see the word FINISH spelled with paperclips near the left side of the picture.  START can kind of be seen at the right side.  Jonah asked me to time Carson going through the maze.   He just used his finger to find his way, and then it was my turn.  I offered Carson my watch to time me, but he wanted to count, which was fine with me--I never argue with a chance for my kids to practice counting.  I am certain they learned to count to 30 while we were in a tattoo phase and they had to count to 30 before lifting the paper towel off their arm after applying the press on tattoo.  We had to leave the maze on the counter until Justin got home today so he could have a try.  So far, Carson is the fastest at getting through the maze.

And, here is Carson's masterpiece.  He wanted to make something out of the paperclips, but not a maze.  My rule following child (that would be the first born), was concerned, thinking Carson wouldn't earn his sticker if he did not do what the list said.  I told Carson he could still earn his sticker if he wrote a sentence about the object he made out of paperclips.  Well, he did even better than write a sentence.  He drew a picture to go along with it and his sentence was the start of what is going to be a great story!  For those non-Kindergarten and first-grade teacher readers out there, his sentence says, "Once upon a time there was a cowboy with a metal lasso."  That would be the lasso he made out of paperclips.  And I love his horse.  Clearly he got his artistic abilities from his dad.  And thank goodness. :)

So, I thought there may be some mommies out there, struggling with the same thing I struggle with--how to entertain your kids while making dinner.  Try this one.  You'll be amazed at the fun kids can have with some paperclips!

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