Friday, June 30, 2006

Deutschland hat's geschafft! Einzug ins Halbfinale. Weiter so!!!

We have our own little bit of Fussball Fieber here! No, this isn't our ML but it sure does look like him!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ML doing geography work

ML (2) loves "building" the world! Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

Geography lessons for little ones

We use a lot of Montessori materials in our homeschool and my little guy, ML (2), has really taken to the geography materials! I thought I might describe some of the things he uses which others might find useful during summer vacation with their children.

I love doing geography with my children because they make so many connections with the information they learn. It's so easy for NJ (6) to relate a location in a book we're reading with a place on a map or the globe. If it's a place he's not familiar with, we look it up. We're making this into a habit so it will become second nature.

The first thing I offered to ML was a continents globe - I painted an old 6" globe so that each continent was a different color. The result is a very simple representation of the earth - no text, no country divisions, just continents and blue for the ocean. Then we discussed a few things known to ML about each continent - we live here, here's where Oma and Opa live, here's where Felix went when he visited the kangaroos, etc.

Then I made a felt continents map. This is a large blue piece of felt for the ocean with each continent cut out of stiffened felt in it's appropriate color to match the continents globe. ML and I "build" the world map together. He loves this! He's so proud that he knows where he lives and his little tongue gets tied up when pronouncing "Nord-Amerika" and "Europa." And since he loves this game, he really remembers what he's learned! We also take different plastic animals and put them on the map according to where they live - alligators in Florida, elephants in Africa and India, etc. This is also a huge hit. Who knew learning could be such fun?!

My next big splurge will be a wooden puzzle map of Europe - Allison's Montessori has beautiful ones - and ML loves puzzles. This will be a great opportunity to learn the names and locations of the countries and again put our favorite storybook characters into perspective.

Also, Enchanted Learning has lots of coloring pages which are great for geography - I have managed to pull up an outline map of the Caribbean within 30 seconds! NJ has taken to coloring maps, flags, and state crests. They also have many printables in German which can help save a rainy summer afternoon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A week in Ancient Egypt

It's been a bit quiet here at the Alphabet Garten. The reason being, we spent the past week digging up a little piece of ancient Egypt right here in New Jersey. We were fortunate enough to participate in a homeschool archeology camp run by the fantastic group, The Archaeological Perspective. NJ (6) was knee deep in ancient artifacts, with stories and pictures of Egypt swimming through his head. It was an amazing experience. The kids learned the proper way to dig (no, NJ was a bit disappointed to learn that no pick-axes would be employed), how to map the finds, and most importantly how to put together a story about the people who left the items and how they lived. We had an engrossing lesson in history, geography, culture, with a little math, handwriting and phonics squeezed in by sneaky mom! ("NJ - there are 6 squares to dig in and 12 kids. How many kids will work in a square?!")

If you ever have the chance to work with Geoff "Big Dog" Purcell of The Archeological Perspective, you must jump at the chance! He's a gold mine of knowledge and an inspiring teacher. And guess what else? He speaks German! He runs camps year-round. For more information, visit

Toddler Language Awareness, Part 2

I wrote recently that ML (2) has begun to show an understanding that there's a difference between German and English and that not everyone speaks both languages. I got more proof the other day! He was bringing my (American) mother upstairs and said to her "Come to my (long pause) room." This is huge because I've only ever heard him use the word Zimmer for his room. I could just see the wheels turning in his little head - Mema speaks English ... we're going to my room ... say room and not Zimmer. How cool is that? I'm so glad I didn't miss it :)