Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fine Motor Skills - Dots Around the Country

My son and I are continuing to work on his handwriting skills this summer and we've created this tracing workbook that features sights from all of the 50 United States!  We are calling it "Dots Around the Country" since there are dots embedded into each one of the pictures.  We use a metallic Sharpie marker to complete each dot picture as well as the handwriting ruled title for each.  There is also a small caption at the bottom of each picture that describes it in some way.

It's a rather simple idea but my son and I have not found nearly enough tracing practice out there on the World Wide Web and very little that appeals to him as an eight-year-old getting ready for third grade.  He loves travel and helped me choose the locations!

Dots Around the Country is available on my Teachers Pay Teacher's Web store for only two dollars! That's like 4 cents a state.
Amelia Earhart: The Mystery SolvedAmelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved by Marie K. Long

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been on an Amelia Earhart kick lately ever since I read Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming. Here I thought that I had learned everything that there was to know about this brilliant flyer by reading lots of biographies of her as a child. She is definitely a person that people use with children to celebrate all kinds of different values.

But Candace Fleming and also the Longs' book paints a somewhat different picture and more complex picture of the woman. After reading both, there is little doubt in my mind that she was incredibly brave and an amazing risk taker and definitely knew how to fly a plane long distances. One of the more challenging aspects of long distance flying was figuring out how to make the fuel last and there were things that a pilot could do to "lean" the mixture and she seemed quite adept at that.

This book by Marie K. Long and Elgen Long, who was a former flyer who often had to fly over Howland Island when he was in the Navy, reveals something that I think is shocking.

She didn't know Morse code. And her navigator didn't either!

Maybe that isn't so shocking to you. After all, Earhart had a radio and did communicate with ground radio stations using her voice almost all the way around the world. But here's the problem. The Itasca, which was the Naval ship tasked with helping her to find and land on Howland Island, her two-mile wide Pacific Island refueling stop, assumed that she did and they had a plan to help her use her radio detection finder to locate it using a Morse code frequency. Even days after she disappeared, many people in the Navy still tried to communicate with her using Morse code.

In this book, Elgen and Marie Long have come up with a solution to the mystery of Amelia's disappearance that makes sense to them based on what they know about her radio, her fuel reserves, and the weather on that day and they make a very compelling scientific argument about where we can find Amelia today.

The book was published several years ago and, so far, no one seems to have taken them up on looking for her in the place where her plane might be.

The book was sometimes a bit of a slog because of the amount of technical information that has to be shared in order for the final solution to make sense but I was immersed in it, especially learning more about how challenging it was to attempt to fly in and out of all the different countries that she had to visit. There were times when she had to be concerned with outrunning a typhoon or how soggy a landing strip was. There were times when she had to be concerned with how to get a part to fix her plane before she could take off again.

Adventurous and will shine a light on the real Amelia Earhart, who might be a bit different from the Earhart that we think we know.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Fine Motor Skills Summer!

Leader Board Superb

My son is headed into the third grade but his handwriting isn't.  At the beginning of the summer, he and I agreed that we would work on his handwriting.  But it has been hard to motivate him to work on it.  I've been trying to help him by creating motivating activities for him to complete including a writing journal, cutting exercises and even tracing.  I'm making my efforts available on my Teachers Pay Teachers web store.

Here's what we've been working on so far!


I wanted to create a summer writing journal that was handwriting ruled but also had prompts that I felt would engage my son as we moved through the summer.  This 33 page collection has opportunities for him to talk about his pets, his neighborhood and his favorite movies and music of the summer.   We both agreed that personalizing the look of each journal for different users would make kids more likely to want to write in them  So we came up with four different themes:  Galaxy, Grass, Wood and DISCO!

There are additional pages in the back for both different prompts and also REVISING some entries along the way.

CUTTING WORK - Cut and Fold : Paris

From Cut and Fold : Paris 
Cut and Fold : Paris
My son's grandparents and cousins are visiting Paris this summer and he wanted to know more about the city where they were visiting.  So we created this fun way to learn more about the Parisian attractions in this activity which is mainly about cutting, a little bit about folding, and a tiny bit about how to use the key of a map.  As you can see from the picture above, I've used some photographs of tourist destinations in Paris and have added cutting lines to it.  My son has been cutting them out and then folding them so that they pop-up from the map that we've downloaded.

I had a fun time creating "Cut and Fold : Paris" because it gave me a chance to research the ten locations that I featured in his pop-up map so that we could talk about them as he was cutting.  I've added a brief explanation of why each location is so important!

I had so much fun, I might just have to complete another one on another major city.