Monday, March 31, 2014

Trains, Planes, and Patterning Things

What little boy doesn’t have a collection of trains, cars, trucks, or other vehicles? Caleb has all of the above. We were playing together in the camper the other day while Daddy had an event and book signing. As with most days, my toddler is my inspiration. We had all of his Thomas trains pulled out and usually he likes to put all the magnetic ends together to make a really long train, but today, he started putting trains together and mixing the colors. Unintentionally, he created a train combination that was an AB pattern. I spotted this and commented on the colors. 

Me: Look Caleb! What color is this train?

Caleb: Red

Me: What color is this next train?

Caleb: Green

Me: What color is the one after that?

Caleb: Red

Me: And what is the last train color?

Caleb: Green

Me: Let’s say them again. (I point to each one as he names them.)

Me: What color would come next?

Caleb: Red!

Me: Yay! That’s right! Good thinking! You made a pattern!

That one conversation sparked an interest in making more patterns with different color trains. With each success, he excitedly tried new patterns. As he fit together trains, he also, again unintentionally, created an engine, tender, engine, tender pattern. With another little conversation, he noticed what had been created and began to look further than just colors. At one point, he ran to his toy bin and grabbed some cars and trucks. He created a car, truck, car, truck pattern among several others. It was a wonderful experience of fun and learning that day.

On a side note, we had to stay in a hotel last night due to bad weather coming in. As we were unpacking our clothes to prepare for the next day, I noticed Caleb playing again with his cars and trains. He surprises me sometimes with his imagination. He turned the decorative carpet into a cluster of complex roads that he weaved and maneuvered his vehicles around in true boy fashion with sound effects included! Lily is also discovering her world in her own way turning an open cabinet into her own little exploration station.  I hope they can always see what they love in the ordinary things life presents them. 
In my classroom, I used my observations of my students to guide me in know when they were ready to learn something and how I could present it to them, so they could master that skill or concept. As a homeschooling/roadschooling mom, I'm enjoying the inspiring moments my children create that open opportunities for me to teach them something new each day as we play. 

In addition, I wanted to share this inspiration with you, so I created a Train Patterning Product that includes 3 activities to build AB, AAB, ABB, AABB, & ABC concept. I hope you enjoy it!

Have a Blessed Learning Day!

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Top Campground Preferences

This is a list that we have created from stop to stop of our preferences when choosing a campground to stay at. I wanted to share it with you, because you may be new to the camping world and not aware of some of the benefits different campgrounds offer. Your preferences may be different from our family, but it’s good to make a list to make sure the campground you choose will be a fun one for everyone.

Playground on site or close by – We have 2 small children who love slides and swings. Caleb especially loves a sand pit that he can put his tractors in and move the dirt around. Playgrounds that are well maintained and on site are perfect for a daily visit to release some energy for a 2 year old. Playgrounds close by would be a second choice just because loading the kids in and out of the car takes a lot of the fun time away. One campground in Helen, GA offered multiple playgrounds and an indoor play area for the kids in the clubhouse!

Spacious sites - Camp sites often offer options of having a deck, a grill or fire pits and while they are a perk, for our family they are not a must. We just don’t use them often at this time. Some sites offer little space for anything more than a picnic table and some chairs. Instead, we prefer having a site that is somewhat spacious and offers some grassy or sandy area for our children to play in. We look at the maps offered by campgrounds online and try to find a corner lot, one tucked between trees, or near a building. Sometimes these sites offer a little more room. We’ve even been known to Google Earth campground to compare site sizes and locations.

Fun attractions close by – Before choosing a city to visit for fun, we see what they have to offer for fun and educational opportunities. We look for Children’s Museums, Zoos, Aquariums, Historical Parks, Farms, Beaches, and more. On our last trip to Florida, we visited Alligator and Crocodile farm. Click the link to learn more about Gatorama.

Cheap laundry – Whether we stay for a short trip or a long trip, we try to check out the on-site laundry services. We have a small tow vehicle right now (hoping to upgrade in the future) so weight is an issue. Each person only has a limited amount of clothing. In addition, there’s towels and sheets, etc that need to be washed just like at home. Since we’re always on the road, there’s always laundry to do, especially with 2 kids! If we’re not mindful of this ahead of time, laundry can take a big bite out of our budget.

Campground amenities – This is something we mainly look for if we’re planning to stay a few months. While we love our camper because it gives us a homey place to sleep, we want to get out and be active. We often look to see if the campground offers heated or indoor pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and fishing holes. In addition, using amenities such as karaoke, game nights, bingo, water aerobics, bocce ball, etc…is a great way to get out, meet others, and make great friends!

Price – We really don’t like to spend more than $35 a night for a short stay. We have discount memberships like Good Sam Club and Passport America.  There are others that you can join as well.

Safe area – When you’re staying away from home, you always want to feel safe where you are. We look at the pictures offered online of the campground. We Google Earth it to look at the campground and surrounding areas. We check reviews online to see what others are saying. If this research confirms in our minds that this place will be safe for our family, we book it!

Pull thru or back in options – On a normal basis, we don’t mind backing in to our campsite. Andy is quite good at it with me as his guide. We make a good team! That said, when we go on his book tour, we may be pulling into one site at night and leaving the next morning. When we do this, we’d rather have a pull thru since we don’t plan to even unhook from the car.

Full hook ups – This usually includes water, sewer and power, which is all we need. Some sites also offer cable. We don’t have a tv (nor do we want one), so if they don’t have cable we aren’t bummed out.

Wi-Fi – While we carry our own Wi-Fi hotspot around with us, we’re not on an unlimited plan. Some campgrounds offer it free, while others charge you for it. Here’s a note of caution for you… If you don’t have a Wi-Fi hotspot or other internet device and you need it while you are on the road, NEVER rely on the fact that the campground has free Wi-Fi. As you know, the campground Wi-Fi will be affected by your location in the park and how many other people are using it. We have not been to one park where the free Wi-Fi was not frustrating to use at times and usually when you need it most.
Beautiful scenery – When you are camping, you can see many beautiful sites. Why not stay in the midst of a beautiful landscape?

We’re aware not every campground is going to be perfect and offer all of our preferences the way we want them, but we look at each campground and weigh out what we like and what we don’t like. Obviously, there are some non-negotiables like a safe area and a reasonable price. I encourage you to make a list with your family to make the most out of each camping experience.

Do you have a list? Please share, what are your preferences? Did I miss any that you would like to add?

God Bless Your Learning Days!
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