My daughter is studying slavery and the first thing I thought of what that our town was a part of the Underground Railroad. Not our particular house (not old enough) but the Jackson Homestead in Newtonwhich is a museum and historic home on the National Underground Railroad Millennium Trail.
Slavery and The South End of Boston
Before we lived in Newton, we lived in an apartment and condominium in the South End. There was a large bronze statue of Harriet Tubman. I’d heard of her, of course, but I had no idea she lived in the South End of Boston.
Although Tubman never lived in Boston, she had links to the city through her network of abolitionist friends, one of whom opened the Harriet Tubman House as a settlement house for black women who had migrated from the South. The house has since relocated, but it still exists today as part of the United South End Settlements program. from Public Art Boston Read more…
With 11.7 million YouTube views, you must see this performance by Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele virtuoso known for his complex finger work. Be sure to watch the last minute where Jake plays a pretty incredible sequence.
My husband gave found Jake on YouTube and my kids loved watching him play, especially my son who plays the guitar. My son then had his guitar teacher, a graduate student from the New England Conservatory, watch the video. His teacher had not heard of Jake but he was also impressed. He told us that Jake used Flamenco guitar techniques on the ukelele so, of course, my son wanted to try it himself.
The second video is instructional. Jake breaks down his fingering techniques. Though he’s very clear on how to do it and makes it look easy, it looks pretty difficult to emulate. Still, my son was inspired by Jake’s accessibility as a performer and watching him play makes my son play his guitar more. If Jake ever comes to Boston — he’s on tour now — we’d make a great effort to catch him.
What do you think of Jake? Did you ever imagine the ukelele could sound like that?
When my son was in preschool, I created this free Kindergarten readiness book for him. I printed it out, bound it into a 3 ring paper folder, and made a copy for each child in his class and the teachers had the kids work on it for a few months before preschool ended.
It is both a keepsake book plus, having gone through the ropes with his two older sisters, a Kindergarten readiness book to capture all the academic concepts I thought he needed for Kindergarten:
April as National Poetry Month has hit our elementary school. Both my kids have been hard at work composing poems at school. My son’s 2nd grade poetry unit did not requiring rhyming and it was modeled after color poems by Mary O’Neill. Poetry gets more challenging in 5th grade as I discovered in our recent Parent Teacher conference.
The 5th grade Parent Teacher conferences have expanded to include the student. PickyKidPix showed me her poem during our Parent/Teacher/Student conference this past week. She did a beautiful job rhyming and illustrating her poem.
5th grade poems have to rhyme! I did not realize that. The first line gave her a bit of trouble so I wanted to see if anyone could help her out.
100 Scope Notesmight be the inventor of this form of poetry but I’m not sure. He has a gallery of Spine Poetry and invites everyone to join in. It’s a fun way to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.
I find poetry to be intimidating. It reminds me of standardized tests, as in the case of my 5th grader, PickyKidPix, as well! The structure and forms of poetry leave me struggling to find the rhythm and rhyming of some poems. Even the punctuation confuses me. Do I pause of there is a line break but no punctuation??!
Composing Spine Poetry for National Poetry Month
So let us embrace poetry together. I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. I invite you to compose your own spine poem and let’s share! Together, we can conquer poetry together in baby steps.
No need to stress out. Just slap some picture book or chapter book titles together and snap a photo on your smart phone. Please send it to scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com and he’ll post it.
See? It’s easy! And let’s get our kids to do one too! After I post mine, I’m going to chase my kids down after school.
This poem is for my little boy who still thinks potty humor is hilarious.
In second grade, the kids travel the globe to study Mexico, China and Ghana. It’s a wonderful social studies unit that culminates in a Mexico Day party that can also be used for a Cinco de Mayo party for kids.
Our teacher set up six stations and had parent volunteers run each station. It took about 3 hours for the party and the unit itself lasted about a month. I was in charge of the dried bean maraca craft.
Map of Mexico
The kids learned about the geography of Mexico.
By the end of the unit, they learned a lot! I liked how they asked questions throughout and found answers. It was all tracked on this chart.
Paper Plate Maraca Craft for Kids
The maraca craft was pretty easy. The tricky part was putting in just a handful of beans and then stapling the folded paper plate without letting any escape. I did the stapling.
My mom friend Loren from Felix Doolittle Fine Stationery sent me these photos with this note about a trip to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts with her 9-year-old son who had just finished reading The Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan. Ancient Egypt and action adventure had suddenly made museums desirable!
Julian also read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, a personal favorite of mine, but an award winning book that I haven’t yet been able to convince my own kids to read.
Museum Outings Bring Chapter Books Alive
She says, “On MLK Day, Felix, Julian, and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). It’s not often that I can convince Julian that a day at the museum is a good idea, but he was just as excited as I was.
Could this statue be similar to the mysterious one in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Read more…
When my kids were younger, I found that Spanish Sesame Street, Plaza Sesamo, entertained my kids while also teaching them Spanish. Songs were also an effective and pleasant way to expose my kids to foreign languages. As my kids got older — 2nd or 3rd grade — they rebelled and no longer would allow Plaza Sesamo DVDs in the car. They preferred silence. Ditto to foreign language CDs.
My point is that there is a window when kids are open to learning foreign languages. Both their brains and attitudes are receptive. As they grow older, not only do they not want to learn, but also making the sounds are more challenging.
I was excited to discover that Sesame Street is now in Chinese with a series geared for teaching kids Mandarin. For a CD of fun songs to accompany your Chinese language experience, try A Little Mandarin by NYC mom Toni Wang.
I’m not saying that this combination will have your kids conversing in Mandarin, but you are laying a foundation both for training their ear and for exposing them to the concept of non-word for word translation. Who knows? This might be the introduction that makes them actually want to learn Chinese when they are older. I’m still shocked that both of my girls are choosing to learn Mandarin as their mandatory foreign language in middle school!
How about you? Are your kids getting exposure to foreign languages? How do you manage this? Please share your tips!!! Read more…
When I think of troubled kids — drop-outs, drugs, and delinquency — who’ve made good, I invariably think of certain celebrity chefs who also happen to write beautifully. Tony Bourdain of the TV shows No Reservations and The Layover. Hisfirst book No Reservations was supposed to be his fifteen minutes of fame. Fifteen minutes isn’t enough though because he’s that perfect balance of funny, snarky and soft-hearted.
Gabrielle Hamilton, chef owner of Prune, also comes to mind. Her poignant memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, chronicles her improbable climb from waitress and drug dealer to chef and author.
My latest discovery via my husband is bad boy Eddie Huang of Bao House. His memoir is a laugh-out-loud kind of book but you might have to be Asian to revel in the uncomfortable and meant-t0-be-secret Tiger Parenting antics that we’ve all endured.
L. Todd Rose’s book, Square Pegs, is a book — part memoir, and part parenting book — that the chefs’ parents might have benefited from. Rose challenges us to rethink education constructs. Square pegs, he argues, are also innovators and visionaries. They are exactly what the U.S. economy needs to compete in the new global economy.
Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, & Out-of-the-Box Thinkersby L. Todd Rose with Katherine Ellison Read more…
Hi! I'm Mia Wenjen. I love children's books (picture books through YA) and sneaking in teachable moments in art, science, math, foreign language and language arts.
I'd love to chat with you. Let's connect! PragmaticMomBlog (at) gmail (dot) com.
Monthly Newsletter with Subscriber Only Giveaways in your Inbox