Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dreams For My Daughter

My daughter brought home from school a copy of On Track: A Parent's Guide To student Success 1st Grade. This is a publication that lists Indiana's Academic Standards by grade level. It also has tips for parents. One of my favorite tips is "Set High Expectations!"

I have big dreams for Alexis. The picture below is part of  the Indiana Academy. It is the only public school for gifted and talented juniors and seniors in Indiana. Someday, I want Alexis to be enrolled in a school like this.

A Mother's Dream For Her Child
  • World class education.
  • Diverse school environment.
  • FREE tuition! (Nominal housing fee; fee waivers and scholarships available.)
  • Average of 10 million dollars in scholarship offers made to the graduating class.
  • 99.9% of the student body matriculates to a 4-year college.
  • Outgoing SAT average that is 400 points higher than the state average and 380 points higher than the national average for graduating seniors.
  • 7 different foreign languages offered.
Oh, how I dream!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Memorizing Math Facts

Math is one area where Alexis likes to resist me. I don't know why she doesn't like math, she is good at it and she doesn't seem to struggle with it. She does need to work on memorizing her math facts so I bought these addition and subtraction flash cards  from the Dollar Tree. We will be practicing our math facts almost every evening using our flash cards.  Then we will use Khan Academy and worksheets from our Big First Grade Workbook as enrichment exercises.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What My Child Is Reading August 27

What My Child Is Reading

Pinkalicious Pinkie Promise- Alexis loves all of the Pinkalicious books. We picked this one up at out school's book fair. In this book Pinkalicious uses all of her friend Allison's pink paint. Allison is upset and Pinkalicious finds a way to make up to her friend.

All the Colors of the Earth- Mamaw and Alexis read this one together as part of our Geography project. This book tells about all the different shades of people's skin all across the world. Even though we all have different color of skin we are all God's children.

This list doesn't include the books read at school and we are still reading Charlotte's Web.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Geography: Learning About France

Alexis received her first postcards in the mail! One from Denmark and one from France. Would you like to take a peek at Alexis's postcards? You can seek a peek at Alexis World Traveler. The nice ladies that sent these postcards wrote very good messages that could relate to a young girl.

Alexis says ever since she watched the movie Ratatouille she has wanted to learn more about France. We spent some time finding France and Denmark on our big world map. Then we went to the Kids National Geographic website and looked at photos of the Eiffel Tower and Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc is Europe's tallest peak rising 15, 781 feet, within the French Alps.
Eiffel Tower

Mont Blanc
We also talked about some of the French words we know such as, bonjour, mademoiselle, oui and bon appetit. We even watched a French cartoon called Le Petit Nicolas, in English "Little Nicholas."

Alexis liked the cartoon and watched the entire episode but she said it would have been better if there were words at the bottom. (It does not have any subtitles.)

We are patiently waiting for more postcards to arrive in the mail. Would you like to send Alexis a postcard? Email me at alexisworldtraveler[at] We would love to receive your postcard or letter with some interesting information about yourself and the country or state you live.

Until next time...Au Revoir!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Verbs, Verbs, Verbs

Alexis found this book at a yard sale for 50 cents. She said "Mom, I think this book would help me learn."  . You don't expect a 6 year old to get excited about verbs, but it sure does make Mommy proud.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Identifying Subjects and Verbs

As you can see from the picture of our whiteboard, we have been practicing identifying subjects and verbs. That may seem like too much for a first grader but I can assure you Alexis does not struggle with this at all. In fact she caught on very quickly and she is eager to do more.

Sometimes I worry that I may be cramming too much into that little brain. I just wish I could get more organized because I know she needs consistency in order to learn and retain this information. So I really need to come up with a schedule and stick to it. At home we will focus on grammar, geography, social studies and math.

As far as school goes, these are the words Alexis is studying this week: at, go, the, on, I. More words will be added and on Friday there will be a spelling test. She is also working on memorizing math facts.

More Great Educational Resources

Last Thursday our school had their yearly open house. I got a chance to see Alexis's classroom and meet her fabulous teacher. As I was touring the classroom, I noticed a list of educational websites near the computer station. One site that was listed we are already using  Starfall 

Also listed was Spelling City, where you can enter your spelling list and practice spelling the words. You can also play fun games and activities with your spelling list such as hangman, missing letter, match it - sentences, and lots of other activities.

Shepard Software Math This site has math games from early math to pre algebra. I haven't spent much time on this one yet but I love free sites with math practice.

Dance Mat Typing I am most impressed with this one. At first, it seemed like first grade was too early to teach typing skills but the more I thought about it the more I liked it. Of course, it makes sense to teach kids typing at such an early age. With technology today, this is a very valuable skill at such a young age. I am embarrassed to admit this but I have never taken a typing course. In school I was not required to take typing so I opted out. It is never too late to learn so Dance Mat Typing is teaching me to type (the proper way).

Alexis has started the Dance Mat Typing at home and has already learned home row in the first lesson. She is excited about learning more.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What My Child Is Reading - August 19

I Love You Stinky Face  "Mama, would you still love me if I were a big scary ape?" or a "super smelly skunk?" a child asks before going to sleep.  Mama reassures the child that she loves him no matter what.
This was a really cute book that we could relate to, because Alexis is always looking for reassurance that I love her. It's so sweet.

I am reading this one to Alexis, we read 1-2 chapters per night. It is our nightly ritual to read before bedtime.

If you visit Alexis's World Traveler blog her mamaw just posted a list of multicultural books we will be reading in the next two weeks.  These books will be part of our Social Studies and Geography Project. It is a pretty amazing project we have over there and Alexis would love for you to stop and say hello.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Writing Prompts And Creating Stories

While blog hopping, I found this great article about using story cubes to encourage children to make up stories.  The game is made up of 9 cubes and each cube has  pictures. Roll the cubes and use the pictures rolled to create a story.

 Red Ted Art Blog has a very good post on how to make your own story cubes using wooden blocks.

I didn't have any story cubes so I used the writing prompts I told you about in a previous post to get my thoughts flowing. The writing prompt was "Would you rather live in an igloo or a tree house and why?" From that prompt I thought up 9 words and had Alexis to tell me a story using all of the words.

My words: Tree house, roller skates, picnic basket, radio, cat, rain, blue, shirt, girl

Alexis enjoyed the challenge.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School Blues

Back To School Photo

You can't tell by the photo but Alexis is really struggling with the idea of going back to school. Bless her heart, she tried to keep her spirits up, but when I dropped her off she started crying. It is so hard to leave her when I know how sad she is feeling. Once she gets settled into her class maybe she will feel better. I really don't want her to go through this on a daily basis. We have a really good public school and I know this is the right thing for Alexis but it just make so sad. So today I am just waiting for the hours to pass so I can pick her up, I hope she has a great day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

School Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day, Alexis will be going back to school. We have enjoyed the summer but now mommy has the back to school blues. Alexis has mixed emotions she says she is excited to meet new people but yet she isn't ready to go back.

First grade is going to be a new and exciting year for her. A week ago, our school district sent us a letter stating that Alexis was identified as a high ability student in the language arts and they will be placing her in a class with other high ability students. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, I pray she has a good year.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What My Child Is Reading - August 13

Down On The Funny Farm A funny story about a man that buys a farm from an old man for $1.00. Soon he realizes that something odd is happening on his farm. His horse crows like a rooster, his rooster barks like a dog, the cat thinks it's a horse and so on. 

Atlas of People This book gives tidbits of information about people all over the world. 

Clip Clop Mr. Horse takes his friends on an adventurous ride going faster and faster.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Am In Love With Khan Academy

Favorite Resource This Week

I just discovered a wonderful free math resource called Khan Academy. Khan Academy covers basic math to calculus. They even cover chemistry and physics.

With Khan Academy you watch a video where Salmon Khan explains in simple terms how to work through a particular math problem. After you finish the video, you do the practice problems. Once you correctly complete 10 practice problems in a row, you are considered proficient in that subject. There is an endless number of practice problems.

Last night, Alexis tried Khan Academy for the first time. She did the addition 1 and addition 2. I was afraid that she would be super bored by the videos but I was pleasantly surprised.

Before now we have been using IXL. In some ways Khan academy is similar to IXL, but with the Khan videos it is like having your own private tutor in the room with you.

So far I am very impressed and so thankful I found this resource.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Swagbucks Equals FREE Books At Amazon!

I have a very valuable resource that I want to share with you called Swagbucks. This is an easy way to get free books from I have been a member of Swagbucks since February and I love it. I have earned over $55.00 in gift cards to use at, that means FREE Books!

Swagbucks is really easy...all you have to do is sign up here and you'll get 30 Swagbucks just for signing up. When you make Swagbucks your default search engine you will earn random swagbucks for doing web searches, which is something I do everyday.

I earn an average of 20-30 swagbucks a day for doing web searches. You can redeem your swagbucks for thousands of prizes, I redeem mine for Amazon Gift Cards. It takes 450 swagbucks to earn a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card. I have been earning 2 of these per month.

Ways To Earn Swag Bucks

  • Internet searches- After you sign up for Swag Bucks download the Swag Bucks tool bar and make Swag Bucks your default web browser (instead of google). Now every time you search you have a chance to win Swag Bucks. I usually win around 20-30 Swag Bucks Daily just by searching.  Tip: Search for websites you visit daily rather than entering the actual web address. For example I visit facebook several times a day. Rather than typing I type in Facebook in my search bar. It requires an extra click to get to facebook but it ups my chances of earning Swag Bucks.
  • Daily Polls- You will win earn 1 Swag Buck just for completing the Daily Poll. (you will find a link to the daily poll in your toolbar under EARN)
  • Surveys- I rarely do the surveys however you will earn 1 Swag Buck just by clicking on the link in your tool bar labeled Trusted Surveys under the Earn tab.
There are other ways to earn Swag Bucks but these are the simplest ways to earn.

That is easy money...and I use it to get me and my daughter free books. If you want to try it you can sign up here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our Geography Project

Alexis's I Am A Citizen of the World Banner

Alexis's study area we created today.
It is very important to me and my family that Alexis learn about cultural diversity. In rural Indiana we don't get many opportunities to experience different cultures so we have to be creative. We are going to travel the globe without actually leaving Indiana.

How do you experience culture without traveling? That is the tricky thing we have done is join Postcrossing, a postcard exchange. I wrote a blog post about this a few days ago. The idea is that we will receive postcards from all around the world as well as send postcards all around the world.

This week we started a unit study on the continents. We bought a world map and created a comfortable study area. We talked about which continent we live on and which continent is the largest. 

Alexis is sending her first postcard to Lithuania, so we looked at Lithuania on the world map. We also looked at photographs on the internet of Lithuania and the people.

Monthly we will be doing more in depth studies of specific countries and cultures. In September we will be studying, in depth, about Native Americans. This will tie in with our current history lessons and we have two Native American events happening within an hour from us. 

For each culture we study we will also make recipes that are popular for that culture. There is a Native American Powwow in September and we will have the opportunity to eat fry bread and Native American Tacos. 

This project is going to demand a lot of organization. But we are determined to experience cultures outside of our rural area. We want Alexis to learn that no matter where you live or what color your skin is, we are all citizens of this world. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and it is ok to be different.

Roly Poly Habitat

We have been studying habitats and we made this habitat for Roly Poly Bugs otherwise known as Pill Bugs. We got the idea from the Scott Foresman  First Grade Science Unit. All I'm gonna say is...our Roly Poly Bugs did not survive.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What My Child Is Reading - August 6

Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride- Based on a true story. Two of America's most famous women who were also good friends, stole away from a White House dinner for a night time flight. This was a great book. I loved the black and white illustrations. 

I Spy Fun House: A Book of Picture Riddles

Froggy's First Kiss- Froggy has his first crush on a cute little frog named Frogilina. Every time he looks at her his insides feel all squishy. Throughout the book he has many small mishaps where he bonks his head because he is distracted by his feelings for Frogilina. When Frogilina tries to kiss Froggy, a scared Froggy decides to give the special Valentine he made to his mommy instead of Frogilina. 

I found this book at my local Goodwill store. This is a good and inexpensive place to shop for used books. We usually get them for 50 cents each.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding Pen Pals To Help Kids Learn Geography

Alexis's mamaw has this brilliant idea about how we could teach Alexis about other cultures.

So here is mamaw's idea:

Each month we will pick a different country and learn about their traditions and customs. We will learn each chosen country's traditions by reading books we find at the library.  During that month, we will devote one day to live according to the customs and traditions of that culture. (Ex. Preparing a meal centered around the traditional cuisine)
    I just love this idea and Alexis is very excited about it. I thought if Alexis had a pen pal it would really add to the whole experience. Alexis says she wants a pen pal from London. I will have to work on that...but for now I signed us up for Postcrossing, a postcard exchange. 

    We hope to get lots of postcards and we are open to receiving letters, too. Alexis will be posting some of her experiences at her new blog 

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    First Grade Writing Prompts

    In kindergarten, Alexis's teacher encouraged her to write in a daily journal. I am saving them all so Alexis can see them when she is older. It is so amazing to read through the journals and to see the progress from the beginning of the year to the end. Spelling and punctuation improved drastically.

    I will admit that I slacked this summer. I didn't encourage Alexis to write in her summer journal as much as I should have and I'm feeling guilty.

    Today I was reading Rowdy In First Grade and I found this link for writing prompts, Lakeshore Learning. They have an amazing writing prompts calendar. I am ecstatic, because this is just what I needed to help motivate Alexis to write more.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    US History: American Indians

    I wanted to work history into our after school lessons so I have been researching several history curriculum.  History Odyssey looks very appealing to me but for now I am going to stick to the free stuff.  The only free lesson plans I have found is Guest Hollow. Although I do prefer a secular curriculum, Guest Hollow does have some good book suggestion. 

    For history I decided to start with the American Indians and work through American history chronologically. We are reading The Birchbark House per the suggestion of Guest Hollow. The Birchbark House is about an Ojibwe family told from the viewpoint of 7 year old Omakayas. The story takes place on an island in Lake Superior. When the white men come and want the tribe to move west, Omakayas realizes life may never be the same.

    We plan to spend over a month studying American Indians, because there is so much to learn on that one topic alone. Also locally there will be an Indian Powwow at Shakamak State Park in Jasonville, Indiana on September 17-18, 2011. We will end our study by attending the powwow and experiencing the American Indian culture first hand.
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