Riddle Me a Riddle!

What lives in winter,

Dies in summer,

And grows with its roots upwards?

For all of you vocabulary buffs:

Have you ever thought much about the meaning of the word, riddle?

Off the top of our heads, the definition that usually comes to mind for this word is a puzzle or a brainteaser. It’s actually quite a fascinating word, for it has many meanings and can be used as a noun, a verb or a transitive verb.

If you and your children love learning new words, The Free Dictionary by Farlex is a fun site to practice your skills.  You will find sections on: Word of the Day, Article of the Day, Quotation of the Day, English Language Forum, In the News, This Day in History, Today’s Birthday, Today’s Holiday, and even your Horoscope. There are also games that introduce new exciting words: Hangman, Spelling Bee, Match Up, and Words Within Words.

Riddles can even come in the form of songs, such as the traditional American song, “The Riddle Song”.

It is a riddling fact that you can be riddled with riddles. So here goes!

What word can be written forward, backward, or upside down,

and can still be read from left to right? 

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There are so many marvelous books that introduce the world of riddles, jokes and tongue twisters. For the younger crowd on these wintry days when we are riddled with snow, try this one out that comes from Monika Beisner’s Book of Riddles:

I saw a man in white,

He looked quite a sight.

He was not old,

But he stood in the cold.

And when he felt the sun

He started to run.

Who could he be?

Do answer me.

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What's in a snowflake?

As I sit here at my computer this evening with a winter storm warning in effect for my area of New England, I am once again fascinated by how these tiny crystals can impact whole regions of the United States.

Some of you may have read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That story is about actual winter storms that raced across the prairie lands in the winter of 1880-1881. In his book The Children’s Blizzard David Laskin gives an account of the deadly prairie blizzard of 1888 and also gives a very excellent description of the different types of snowflakes there are and what the conditions are that create them.

The Native American Indians had many ways to predict the weather by observing what was happening in the natural world around them for clues. In the 1880’s the weather news was sent via telegraph across the United States from Army base to Army base. The weather often arrived before the news of its coming. Today we have the National Weather Service and technology to help us predict storms and to warn us of storms.

If you are interested in learning more about snow crystals, go to your library and find  Snowflake Bentley. You may also want to visit snowcrystals.com.

Fostering Self-Esteem

 

“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.” 
― Alvin Price

As we enter into the new year and begin to reflect on the old year, it also seems to be a time to look at ourselves and our behavior. How can we resolve to be a better person, parent and home teacher? As homeschooling parents and the primary influence of our children’s lives, it is especially important for us to foster good self-esteem. Bonnie Williams, co-founder of Oak Meadow, shared some thoughts on the appropriate way to do this in her article, “The Opportunity of Children”.

1thumbs-up-girl-for-printAs homeschooling parents, we are in the position of primary influence upon our children’s lives. We can therefore insure that their self-esteem is not damaged in childhood. In turn, we can feel confident that our children will grow to be happy, contributing members of society. Good self-esteem leads to responsible behavior.

 

We learn to love and accept ourselves when we are loved and accepted by those closest to us. Children who must compete with their peers and sit in a classroom of 30 children every day very often do not learn to love and accept themselves, but rather learn to judge themselves harshly. This in turn can lead to crime, anti-social behavior, obsessive-compulsive behavior, depression, anxiety, and disordered thinking. When we are starved physically or emotionally, we do desperate things. Most children (and adults!) have a tendency to look for external factors to resolve their desperation. Drugs, food and other abuses arise out of this internal experience of emotional malnourishment. In addition, a child with low self-esteem often hides this lack of self-confidence behind a mask of bossy and aggressive behavior.

12194786_f260We can see, from the effects noted above, the absolute necessity to protect our children’s self-esteem. I would like to suggest two things that we, as homeschooling parents, can do to help our children maintain good self-esteem:

 

 

  • Teach age-appropriate material in a manner suited to the individual learning style of the child. If your child is not yet ready to read, don’t panic and try to drill him or her. This will only cause your child to feel like a failure. Trust in your child’s innate intelligence and curiosity, and know that he will read when the time is right for him. The same is true for math. Some children take longer than others, but as adults, nobody will ever ask them how old they were when they learned fractions! In addition, if the material that you are presenting does not seem interesting to your child. try presenting it in another manner. Many, many children learn best through doing rather than reading.
  • When we find a quality in a child that we are unable to accept, it’s important to ask ourselves why this quality disturbs us so much. Is it a quality within ourselves that we don’t accept? For example, a child may be hyperactive and drive us crazy. If we were able to focus patiently with that child, would he find it easier to focus? Is it our own inability to focus comfortably that makes us so impatient with our child? When we criticize him, are we really chastising ourselves? Perhaps the child is unable to express his feelings positively and bursts into expression through temper tantrums. We have to look to see how well we express our own feelings, then ask ourselves if we encourage the child to express his. If we don’t express our own feelings positively, then we set an example for him that ultimately drives us crazy.

Not only are we in the position of being able to foster good self-esteem in our children, but we are also able to recover ourselves in adulthood. As our children push our emotional buttons – and they always will – we cannot send them off to school for a respite every day. We must live with our children 24 hours a day. Therefore, it is a little more compelling to find ways to resolve some of these personality conflicts that exist between ourselves and our children. This is “recovery of ourselves in adulthood”. We must take this opportunity to discover more about ourselves and the state of our own self-esteem. Do we love and accept ourselves, are we free to love and accept our children, or are we still reacting to the way in which we were parented? Is it time for us to make new decisions about how we want to parent? These new decisions will flow forth as we become aware of our old reactionary patterns that are no longer appropriate. Each of us deserves the opportunity to create our family unit as a work of art, adding colors of our choice and not somebody else’s!

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New Devices and Apps

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS APP?

This seems like such a common question these days!

If you got a new device recently, it may seem quite a challenge to know what to download to it. My head is spinning with all the apps that are available! Some people suggest things that I think are ridiculous and a waste of time. Sometimes I download something that sounds great and then, after a few tries, I find out it really isn’t. Some lure me to try the app and then I find out it costs money to really use it. (I don’t like to pay!)

Well, I found a terrific solution!

Common Sense Media has reviewed and written about some available apps that might be of interest to you. I think the coolest thing about the Common Sense Media reviews is that each review answers the questions, “What’s it about?” and “Is it any good?” The reviews also give suggestions as to what a family can talk about when the app is used and what age group it’s appropriate for.

Give it a try and put that new device to work for you!