Monday, August 12, 2013

Kimochis Part 2

Is it working? Are your children doing better? What are some things they have learned? Has it really been worth the money?

Yes, it is working and it is working very well.  I have witnessed my girls using the dialog that they have learned. They have used it on each other, with friends, and with other adults.

Moments:

When they used it with each other:  "I am working really hard on this. Can you please let me finish my turn?"  It wasn't the exact dialog from the book, but it was one of the lessons. The lesson was about letting the other person know what was truthfully on their mind and then giving the person a direction.

With a friend:  One of their friends was sad.  My 3 year old walked over to her and asked, "I see you are sad. How can I help?" That is word for word straight out of a lesson! The friend's mom was already on the task and swooped up her sad child so my daughter never got the chance to help her.  My daughter was glad her friend's mom was there, and came running over to me with a big smile on her face as if she had summoned the other mommy, herself.

Other adults:  One of the first lessons taught about how to properly get someone's attention. If they are not listening to you, you can go and lightly tap them on the shoulder, wait for eye contact, and then proceed with what you need.  I have seen both of my girls do this with other adults and they use it often with me and their dad. It feels very polite and wonderful to have my child calmly tap me on my shoulder while I am reading a book to myself or occupied in a conversation with my own friend.  Pretty big for a nearly 5 year old and 3 year old.

Last night, we went through the first lesson of frustration. It was about how to recognize frustration in ourselves and others.  Tonight was also about frustration but it was how to help or ask for help or how to refuse help, etc.  If you see your friend frustrated, you can ask how you may help. The lesson goes over how not all people like help while frustrated so to learn to be prepared when rejected or ignored if the person doesn't want anything to do with you even if you were only trying to help or be nice. "Hi, I see you are frustrated. Can I help?"  You then teach with your *animals different responses.. It is okay if you don't want any help but you need to be sure to let the person know as nicely as you can otherwise it may cause *Cat to have Sad, Hurt, or Embarrassed feelings.  And if you do need help, be Brave and seek help instead of letting the frustrating feelings over power you into helplessness. There was more but I want to move on.

My girls couldn't get enough of their Kimochis tonight so I flipped to the back to the index of the Manuel and found a lesson about congratulating others when they deserved it. I don't usually flip to the back unless we have friends over and they choose what they want their family to work on. We usually stick with going through page by page. We have been having lots of problems with winning. Who ever is the winner means there is a loser~! It gets loud; I get loud; I have been feeling horrible about it and so have they. So, when I saw that, I thought, "Okay! Here we go."

Lovey Dove goes in the middle with Pride tucked into her. Surrounding her are Mad, Sad, and Jealous.  I pretended Lovey Dove had just won and used the same kind of winner's dialog my girls use. I asked the girls to point to a feeling they may have when they lose. We talked about how to win more generously, how to loose more calmly, how to be okay with having those feelings related to losing, how to be hopeful about winning in the future, and how they would want to be treated when they did win.  We took turns with the different animals winning and all of us congratulating them. We cheered, hugged, clapped, gave best wishes, and showed how to appreciate winning even if it wasn't us who won.  So far, all of the other lessons have been sticking.  And now that we have the correct dialog for winning and losing, I feel this one will stick too. We all had so much fun and the girls really enjoyed the new sensation of cheering and being cheered for.  The answer to the last question from the top of this blog post is, Yes. Yes a thousand times to the tenth power. The cost has been worth it.  Every time I have pulled out the animals (it is about 2-3 times a week) and have done a lesson, it has ended well and the children come away with feeling more empowered and loved. And I think they really enjoy seeing their parents on the floor playing with toys and with them. At first, it was kind of weird and new ...and hard to dive in to give the toys a voice, but I am very used it now and it is a lot of fun!

Piano Wizard lesson How We do it

Timing, Timing, Timing.

It's on the mind lately for lots of parents trying to teach music to themselves and their children out of their own home without an actual Music Teacher.  Nothing can really replace a good mentor in music but I think having a music software to bring our children (and selves) to a certain level before paying someone is a good idea.  If I could send my children to a private school, I would be sure to get my money's worth and not waste it by having the teacher teach my child the ABC's. I can do that myself.

I do not have a background with playing music. I do have a strong background with moving to music. I danced for my life while growing up. By the time I was 11, I started dancing 3 nights a week. By the time I was 14, I was dancing 5 nights a week ranging from 2-4 hours each night. And on Saturday's I taught all different levels for students who needed to make up classes. I may not have a PHD in music, but I have plenty of experience with the concept of moving to music. 

When we get to a new song with our piano software, I use what I learned in dance and apply it to fine motor skills.  There is a process for dancing. First warm up, do floor exercises or bar exercises, work on learning a dance and song, perfecting what has been learned, cool down, stretch, and have Q &A session while stretching. Kind of like a dance theory section.

This is an outline of what we do to learn a song from start to finish using Piano Wizard computer software:

1. Select song we are going to learn having the notes set to #1. for both hands.  This is when little creatures or shapes will float to the top and will be different sizes according to the rhythm of the song

2. We learn the words to the song while it plays for us. If there are no words, we use "La" or clap or both.

3.  After we know the song very well and can sing it, I have my child watch me play.

4.  I go back and select to play with right hand only (start with which ever is your child's dominant hand).  Have child place hand on correct keys. Place your hand on top making sure child can feel your fingers pressing lightly down on theirs when the time comes so you can "pop" the notes together as a team.

5. Play the song together again and again while singing it.

6. Once child is comfortable to play on their own, do so.  If it is too fast, now would be the time to slow it down since child already has a strong foundation for what the song sounds like.  If I slowed it down in the beginning and then sped it up, my child would have practiced the wrong timing from the beginning and it would make it harder for them to ever speed things back up.  Not impossible. Just harder.  When learning a new dance, our teacher always preformed it for us multiple times at the correct tempo with the music before we began.  This helped us to see the end goal and to wrap our minds around it before asking our bodies to learn it.  After the teacher would preform, she would turn off the music and teach us the dance 4 to 8 to 16 counts at a time in slow motion. Then a little faster and faster, and then we would put it to the music.  When we had nearly perfected the section taught,  our teacher would dance the next section at full tempo with the music. Then she would turn off the music, dance in slow motion while she counted out the next 8 to 16 counts depending on how hard the moves were.  We always had a reference of the end goal and already knew the music inside and out before asking our bodies to move to it.

7. After my child would get 100% a couple of times in a row with her right hand, I would raise the tempo back up.

8. After completing correct tempo with one hand at 100% a couple of times, (side note: this can take days. I am listing the order that we do it in our own home. It doesn't have to happen all in a day and rarely does) I set it for both hands.  I play left hand while she plays right hand.

9. Now it is time for my child to learn Left hand

10. I have her place her hand on the correct keys and I place my hand on top of hers making sure our fingertips are matched up and we learn the left hand together.  If my dance teacher could line up her body with mine and make it move when it was suppose to and make it move correctly, she would have in heart beat.  But our bodies are too big. In tap for the younger children, I remember her squatting down and holding legs and moving feet to show, Shuf-fle-STEP! Shuf-fle- STEP. Or, Toe-heal. Toe-heal.  So, since we are working with our little fingers, it is super easy for me to help my children make the connections in their brains for them.  Kind of like how Glenn Doman will have a team of people around a person who can't walk or crawl and have the team move the body for the person in a crawling motion on a count. Thus creating the muscle memory for the person so the brain can learn it.  Make sense? Okay, moving on.

11. I slow down the tempo if needed for her to master left hand. Once she gest 100%, I increase it until she is getting 100% at correct tempo.

12. Once 100% on left hand is achieved, I select for the piano wizard to display notes for both hands.  She plays left and I play right.  This helps her eyes to adjust to all the notes flooding the screen and helps make sense of the temporary chaos. 

13. Then I have her place both hands on the correct keys and place mine on top of hers. We play together a couple of times and sometimes for a couple of days until I know she would feel confident and successful when doing it herself.

14. She plays by herself in level 1 with the notes floating upward and with the characters showing correct rhythm and tempo ( I always select the long icon for this reason), with both hands until she gets 100%

-The program then suggests we change the angle of the program and go onto level 2, 3, 4, until child is "popping" all black notes, etc. We chose to not do it this way for now.

15. She helps me look over the book and we sing it together while I point to the notes so she can read them herself.  Sometimes we make little small color marks or add in some finger numbers. Then she continues to work on the piece herself day after day on our acoustic upright piano using the colored finger numbered score sheet until she makes it sound like she knows it should.  Sometimes I wake up to  her playing at 4 in the morning.  The program teaches her the song and how to play it, but the actual piano and playing it perfectly on the big piano is what drives her.  I never have to ask her to practice once she has moved on to the score sheets at the large piano.  I can tell it is time to move to the next song once she slows down how often she plays or if she starts playing past learned songs. 

With Piano Wizard, we are visually and auditorily downloading information about music. The physical motions and fine motor ability will come if patient, calm and trusting.  First learning something with your two strongest senses will increase your chances of achieving perfect physical response especially if there is a tutor playing on top of your fingers. If this is the case, you will have visual, auditory, and physical body references being downloaded into the brain.  Once your brain knows something, it is only a matter of time before it figures out how to control it's own knowledge.
 Hope this helps you find your own way.  Always remember to listen to your gut and have an end goal in mind.  Modify other's successes to fit your family's needs.  Leave me comments if you have any questions or if you want me to clarify what we do for our family.

Above: Shows notes of different sizes. 3 are quarter "notes" and 2 are less than quarter "notes."  Below: Shows a "note" longer than a whole "note."  Pretty cool. 
 
 
When you hold the keys as long as the note stays in eyesight, you are learning the rhythm of the notes while learning which keys to press!! And it keeps the tempo for you.  As you can see, by the time you have done all of the steps, you and your student should have a very strong grasp as to what and how the music should be and sound.
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15th

Overheard conversation between 4yo and 3yo:

[Recently read a story about making up poems to create magic and grant wishes "Emeraldalicioius"]

4yo: Loved as Doved as anywhere in a Tubbed, Magical grub will help you get rid of dumb. [Waves homemade magical wand] You are NOW SMART!

3yo: E=MC squared.

4yo:What does that mean?

3yo: Umm.. I don't know. It's from the movie "Super Babies," remember?

4yo: Oh, yeah. I remember. Well. I know something smart. The square of the hypotenuse of the right triangle is equal to the two adjacent sides. Remember that from our "Your child can discover DVD's?"

-I think Titzer, Doman, and Brillkids have the real magic wands :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Piano Wizard

 
I pretty much quit the Piano Wizard program shortly after we got it because it was very evident that I needed a real piano in order to make the lessons more connected.  First, you work with the program. Then, you work with a real piano to solidify.  I still very much loved the product but had *no* idea when I was going to get my hands on a piano that I felt comfortable letting my small children pound on.

I have one major rule in my home: If it has too many rules, it has to go.  The last thing I wanted was the stress of constantly telling my children "No, Careful, Stop that!" when the time came for piano lessons all because my piano was too nice.  Obviously, I won't let them do whatever they want and there are some rules with playing,  I just don't like the added stress if there is a slip up and they accidently handle the piano too roughly making a scratch or ding.  Ding in the wood on an old piano? "That's okay, and please try to be careful."  Could I honestly have that same attitude with a baby grand piano? Lol! No way!!! Sure, I would hide it well. But underneath it all, I would be steaming.  That would be a major flaw for our family because it would mean I wouldn't want to do it for the fear of my own anger.  And if Mommy can't teach, lessons don't happen.

Well, Facebook is amazing because a friend wanted to get rid of her piano!!!  It is well worn and very used to children. I had it picked up and delivered and we have been doing daily lessons since.  It's slow going before they are ready to play on the actual piano and read the music notes from a page and yet, we seem to be moving right along. 

Pros about the Piano Wizard:

  1. My children ask to play.
  2. It keeps their attention and pushes them to keep trying
  3. Helps them learn timing by hearing the song over and over and over again
  4. By the time they are ready to sit down to the large piano, they have the song memorized and it makes the experience very rewarding.  So far, Lia can sit down at the piano, look at the music sheet, and figure it out with only a handful of tries.  I am sure it will get more challenging as we move forward.
Here is video of lesson #4

After she finished playing, I asked her if she could sing the song while she played the notes.  It was my first time ever asking her to attempt such a task and I love that I captured her personality as she teaches herself to accomplish her goal.

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st9EVJ1vaIs

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kimochis Part 1

Kimochis Part 1

Definition from site:

What are Kimochis?

Kimochi (KEY.MO.CHEE) means “feeling” in Japanese.

Kimochis® are an engaging and effective way to introduce the fourth “R”—reading, writing, arithmetic, and RELATIONSHIPS—into a child’s life.

The Kimochis® Educator’s Tool Kit is a universal, school-based, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program designed to give children the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. These skills have been identified by leading researchers in the field of social and emotional learning as necessary for school success, academic achievement, positive social relationships and the development of emotional competence. The Kimochis® curriculum incorporates innovative and fun activities developed to teach children how to manage challenging social situations with skill, character and confidence.
The Kimochis® curriculum is used as:
• A Positive Behavior Support Program (PBS)
• A Response to Intervention (RTI) - Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3
• A Character Education Program
• A Prevention and Early Intervention Tool for Bullying
 

A 3 part review of the Kimochis product; part 1 found below.  Specs can be found at Kimochis.com and a cheaper price can be found at FatbrainToys.com.  Sign up for Fatbrain newsletters. They often have great sales and free shipping. 

Pretty-Crazy-Amazing!! Emotional Intelligence Education!!! First day was incredible. The book is the prettiest, most thought out, lesson manual/teacher edition I have ever seen!!!  This is a "Done For You" turnkey curriculum.  I had no idea it was going to be this good or durable.  At first, it made me a little cranky that you can't buy the book by itself on the website, but after receiving the book and going through it, I realized quickly how geared the program is for success.  If I fail with this, I will be a special kind of lazy. 

I am not new to the scene of buying products.  I have lots of products:  good ones, horrible ones, and in-between. I have learned how to search, research, double check, find cheaper sites, sign up for newsletters, ponder, wait for coupon codes, and then make my purchase if it feels right.  Over the course of 4 years, I have zoned in on product buying for EL that will work best with our family.  I was very bummed at the lack of reviews for this product.  They were so general! "Oh, I love it!"  <- Not helpful, btw.  I was overly terrified that I was going to spend $300 on a bunch of stuffed animals.  Well, they are just stuffed animals. They do have a higher quality to them and I would never buy them by themselves... IT'S THE CURRICULUM!  That has me *over the moon.*  Once again, it is turnkey!  I just pre-read the lesson 5 mins before we do the lesson.  I read the lesson while the girls get out the characters and emotion pillows.  By the time they are done, I am ready to teach them. (Also, the curriculum fits ages preschool through 5th grade.) I have seen their eyes light up over many things and I have felt the spirit of learning and teaching many times.  This time was different. The atmosphere was so thick with concentration, learning, attentiveness, and love that I could cut it with a knife.  5 lessons [activities] in and it is still this way.

The first day, I was not home.  I came home a few hours after the product had arrived.  My husband had no idea of my goals for the product or how we were going to use it so he did things a little differently than I would have and I feel that it worked out better because of it.  He let go and went crazy with it!! There were emotion pillows all over the place! AHHH!!!  I really didn't want that!  As he told me, he talked briefly about each emotion with the kids, he handed the emotion over for them to attempt to duplicate his theatrics, and gave them a free pass to do as they pleased. He said they loved to make the polar emotions fight each other.   They were buzzing around the house high on life from just playing with the emotion pillows and not even getting into the back story of the larger characters.  They were still playing with the larger characters but they were more of a vessel for their pillows that they loved so much.  FYI, I think they loved them so much because they had words on them.  The idea of words being on something soft, tangible, and cuddly brought a whole new element to reading that none of us had experienced.

They both strongly requested (the best way to describe near meltdown demands) to sleep with some Kimochis.  My 4.5yo wanted all the good emotions and my 3yo wanted Huggtapus.   The big one (Is what I lovingly call my oldest) gathered all the emotions into a little clear purse, grabbed a hanger, and hung them over her head on our brachiation ladder while she slept. She said, "Look! It's my Upgraded Dream Catcher!!"

Sorry for not rotating this. Just tilt your head :D



5 days in. At the risk of being general:  I love this PRODUCT!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spelling

I was cleaning some of my countertop jars and thought they needed some labeling. I asked my 4yo to do it and she couldn’t have been happier. A list of words she did: Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, testosterone, Camu-camu, and Brahmi. She has never seen these words before!! Especially, testosterone! She gave me a sideways glance after I told her what to write. I said it slowly and told her to try her best because I would know what it was and she got it 100% right!!. After she finished, my 3yo enters the room, READS all the new labels out-loud and then asks to do some of her own labels. She can’t write yet, so I had her draw pics of the ingredients inside on top of the can. And yes, I will take pics! Too cute!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Let Me Get This Straight..?

What happens when your 4 yo is computer literate? I canceled our Netflix account only to wake up to Netflix's "How It's Made" this morning.  How can this be?

"Hey, I thought our Netflix didn't work anymore..?" I asked her.

"Yeah but I logged us back in because you had the password saved and I remembered your email user name."

"But, wasn't it locked up after you logged in? How come you can watch that show?"

"I passed all the different levels and followed the Netflix path. Level one asked me some questions and on Level 2, I clicked a button that asked if I wanted to renew our membership. And then it made it work again!!! Yeahh!!! I beat the Netflix levels!!"

Looks like she earned one month.  Not because I am rewarding this behavior but because the whole scenario is my fault.  And "How It's Made" IS a really cool show!

Now going to change all my saved PW's and cancel my 'One Click Order' on Amazon...  And, I need to remember to log out at night.

#Unprepared For Sure!