The KISS Principle

image

I love looking at pretty, exciting sensory tubs. But when it’s been ages since you made one because you haven’t got time, then KISS. I kinda think the fancy ones are for me anyway.

Probably ought to apply that elsewhere in my life. 😉

Sir Ken Robinson: 10 talks on education | TED Playlists | TED

I loved Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on how schools kill creativity. It’s an absolute classic. I am looking forward to watching these, his top ten talks on education.

http://www.ted.com/playlists/124/sir_ken_robinson_10_talks_on.html

Patterning

image

Patterns are a big deal in the curriculum for younger children. It seems to fade in importance later, which is a shame because it’s underneath so much higher level mathematics. Noticing, playing with, and creating patterns is a stage a lot of children seem to go through. After all, noticing and responding to patterns is what our brains are supposed to do.

And so they do it. Without a worksheet in sight, I am watching Secondus develop and refine his ideas about patterns. There isn’t much for me to do in this process. I am glad I get to observe and record.

A Recovery Program for Homeschool Split Personality Disorder – Homefires.com

http://www.homefires.com/articles/paranoia.asp

Sometimes I think we all go through doubts. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone when we do.

Soap ‘Dough’

Welcome 2013!

image

We started the new year with high intentions of more messy play. It was our first ever Messy Monday!

What better way to start of than my making soap. Messy and clean! This dough comes from the book “Little Kids Mould and Paint” and while you’d have to look at the book for the exact recipe it basically boils down to soap flakes and water. Once it dries – and this has taken overnight and is still going – they can be used to wash hands our whatever you would usually used a bar of soap for.

Kitchen knives

If you are not a believer in children using knives for food preparation, look away.

Right, now let’s talk.

I think knife skills are pretty high up there in the ‘practical life’ stakes. They are necessary and ubiquitous. We all use them everyday. They also carry a whiff of danger that makes them pretty darn attractive as well as being symbols of growing up.

image

First I start with the knives you get in an ordinary children’s cutlery set. Over the years we have acquired a few of these. Ikea always has at least one type, and the good cutlery name brands often make a set too. You can sometimes also find them at children’s stores or occasionally department stores like Big W or Harris Scarfe.

We use these at mealtimes from a very young age. This allows it to be under fairly tight supervision and in a way that the children are using them while being exposed to modelling. We usually cut young children’s food at the table in front of the child rather than presenting them with already cut food, unless that’s how I would serve it to an adult too. Modelling is SO important!

At the same time I start to introduce cutting in playdough play. We have a small plastic knife I use for this, but I actually can’t remember where we got it from. We also use some plastic cutters that are sold for kiwi fruit.

image

All of this takes place before they get to real knives. By the time they pick up a knife designed for cutting real things they have already have great deal of information about how knives are used, a lot of safety information and a sense of knives being just another tool.

So when I have seen a fairly consistant use of knives correctly, and a general willingness and ability to follow instructions, it’s time. When it’s time to chop something hard, I introduce my proper knife. Celery is a good transition item.

Although I explicitly teach all the knife safety rules, this is really when you see if you have been modelling safe knife handling! I explicitly teach how to pass a knife and why we do it that way. I talk about how and why to keep fingers clear of the blade, and about not cutting towards yourself.

image

My go-to knife for children is a vegetable knife. As small as a paring knife, this knife is reasonably easily managed by children, and it has a flat, rounded end that I think is safer for children to use. The knife itself should not be too dull. I know this seems counterintuitive, but a blunt knife requires a lot more force to actually cut, meaning slips of the blade are much more likely and thus there is a higher risk of injury. (If you don’t believe that, try cutting an apple with a dinner knife. How controlled are your cuts?) Another thing to keep in mind is that we may need to check the height of the cutting. A child shouldn’t be cutting too high! Not only does it put the head and neck too close to the cutting area, but a child reaching up to cut can not effectively use body weight to help cut and is likely, again to use more force than they should be. Not to mention it hurts the shoulders!

All my children so far have gone through a ‘smoosh stage’. This is when the joy of cutting out weighs the fun of eating and food gets… umm… diced… but not eaten. My two pronged attack for that one is to offer playdough for chopping while removing the food. I try hard not to stress about the food. It can usually be thrown on top of a salad, frozen and thrown into a smoothie or served on breakfast cereal.

Yes, I do worry that they will hurt themselves. I am a mother, I can’t turn that off. But like all things in life we do our best to make sure they have the skills they will need, then hold our breath and let them try it.

Snack Time Part 2

Technology and Enterprise

I’ve already written about my use of kitchen gadgets. Both the preparation and consumption of food can involve learning the appropriate and safe use of tools. It is great for children to be able to prepare and their own food. It even helps hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skill!

Previous Older Entries