Cardinal Alternative Learning

Infinitely Tweakable Education. Because Learning is a Dynamic Process.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Brain Food

This week looked… different.  Partly because Ua had a day off, which meant extra time for family fun.  Partly because I was waiting for a big stack of books to come in to the library.  Partly because I really felt the urge to try some new crafts with Miss D. Partly because she hasn’t been enjoying our short little writing and reading lessons as much, and I’d rather wait until she hits a more motivated period again.

So we went out, did all sorts of crafts, listened to stories, talked and played, and there was all sorts of learning wrapped up in it all.  I started thinking about how likely it is that our learning will have lots of these ebb and flow periods, diving deep in certain areas while resting in others.  It reminded me of the good advice I heard about feeding a toddler a balanced diet – not to look at how she ate over any one meal, or even day, but over the course of a week or month.  It seems like that may apply for “brain food” as well! Read more…


Keeping It Interesting

I have one of those kids who is constantly asking me, “what can we do now.”  While I may eventually respond with some variation of “figure it out – you’re too creative to be bored for long,” Miss D is only 4.5, and already gets to practice self-entertaining for a decent chunk (1.5-2 hours) most afternoons during her quiet time.  So I’m still working our old whiteboard method – throwing up a bunch of ideas, some technically “academic” and many less obviously so.  Sometimes I throw up stuff for myself, and we trade off, her stuff versus Mommy stuff like laundry or baking.  Other days I just work my stuff in naturally anyway.

We cross activities out as Miss D picks different things to do, and the other day, as she spontaneously marked through something we’d just done, I realized we were probably working in some reading practice as we went.  Otherwise, how would she have known which to cross off?

Resources We Love, March Edition

I am really getting my groove with CSMP as a math program, and I wonder why I don’t hear more about it! Here’s what I love about it:

  • It’s a free curriculum. Free is always good, but something I especially love about free in this case is that it means I feel zero guilt skipping over things I think Miss D has already mastered
  • I have it saved as a PDF on my iPad so it doesn’t even have to be printed out!
  • Despite all this convenience and free-ness, it’s a really good, building-understanding, not-just-computation-or-memorization-but-MATH kind of program.
  • I call it math games with Miss D b/c that’s truly what it feels like. It’s not a problem at all that she isn’t a strong writer yet, because this is anything but a worksheet intensive approach, at least at the K level
  • While I have to adjust for our home (v. school) context at points, that hasn’t felt too difficult. In fact, I can adjust the “stories” behind the math games to fit the books and manipulatives I have, AND (even more importantly) to what Miss D is interested in. So Miss D learned counting-on as an addition strategy with the Incredibles family taking out a series of Omnidroids. Whatever works!
  • While there are some manipulatives to buy, it’s not all at once.

We’re really enjoying CSMP and making progress with just 10-15 minutes 3-4x per week.

What math programs or resources do you like, and why?

Highlights from Miss D’s Week

It was really a lovely, mellow week on the home front, esp. with Mr. A starting to make his naps fewer and longer pretty consistently.  (Yes!)  You already heard about Saturday. Then we had some relaxed family time on Sunday afternoon, and this is what Miss D suggested we do.  Yup, in the 80s during the first week of March!  Fun was had by all (then I bundled Mr. A into super-warm footed PJs).

We’re waiting for the next batch of books to hit the library so we can move onto some state history, but we had a lot of science fun this week! Read more…

Fun Apps for Miss D

Post by Ua

Confession: I was on the iPad bandwagon early on. Before it came out, I was mildly obsessed with what possibilities it would hold for how we interact with digital media. I was thinking about this not only as a teacher, but also as a parent. What tools would help us bring more of the world to Miss D’s fingertips?

The iPad still amazes me in what it provides. Although there’s going to be more to discover, I wanted to share a few of the apps that I have enjoyed using with Miss D:

1. Science 360: This app has some great videos and pictures on a variety of scientific topics.

2. NASA: Gorgeous pictures and very detailed video. Miss D became curious about the recent Mars Rover Curiosity, and NASA had planned ahead with many videos ready to go, as well as animation. Read more…

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