Monday, October 17, 2011

Help Your Child Learn to Write: Which Stage of Writing is Your Child In?

Stages of Writing for Young Children


Every child will go through stages in his or her writing. Being familiar with these stages will help you see that what behaviors are normal at each stage. Be sure to encourage your children through each writing stage. Each one is fleeting and priceless. Treasure some artifacts from each stage and stick them into your child’s writing file. Looking back on them will help you realize how far your child has come. 

  1. Scribble Writing: This stage involves a child pretending to write letters and then telling a story about their work. They have the idea that written letters and words communicate something, but they aren’t ready to form letters. Children at this stage will write more with pictures than with letters and words.
  2. Random Letters: Letters are written at this stage, but they won’t match the sounds you hear in the words your child is trying to write. Many times children will reuse the letters in their name over and over again because they are most familiar with them.
  3. Beginning Sounds: This is the stage that parents begin to see actual writing. The child will write down the initial or ending sound that they hear.
  4. Inventive Spelling: It is very important to be extra encouraging during this stage as it will help your children write creatively down the road. Children write the sounds that that they hear even though they are not necessarily spelling the words correctly. At this stage, encourage content and not spelling. You will not interfere with their ability to spell. During this stage, pictures are still a big part of their story. It is fine to have your child draw their picture first and then follow up with their writing.
  5. Conventional Spelling: During this stage children are beginning to spell many words correctly. There will be more focus on the writing than the pictures.
Find more information on how to help your children become good writers with my new creative writing book Check it out here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Check it Out! I'm a Published Author!

Those that know me, know that I am not one to put myself out there with bells, whistles and lots of fanfare. Those that also know me would agree that I have been working toward getting published for several years. With renewed effort this dream became a reality this Fall.

Check out my new published book, Creative Writing Works: Ideas for Homeschooling.  This book is needed in the creative writing and homeschool community. Many writing curriculums have left children in a daze of copy work, handwriting and sentence structure.

While those things are  importance components in writing curriculum it is not giving students an actual writing experience. Creative Writing Works: Ideas for Homeschooling is chalk full of simple ways to get children  out of the rote world and be able to think and write more creatively. Its simple. Its easy and it works!

Please pass this along to others that you think could benefit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vote Weis for School Board!

I love it when people set goals, try something new and work hard to achieve them. In this case it is my husband, Dave Weis. He has done this goal reaching before with the creation of Internet Solver. Now he is running for West Des Moines School Board. This is something that he has wanted to do for quite awhile and finally the timing was right. I know he will be bring a wonderful uniqueness to the board with his understanding of schools, technology, business and budgets. He amazes me with his ability to work with all kinds of people and able to makes things happen.

Elections are September 13th, 2011. Voting takes place at your normal voting places. Click here to find out where that is.

Click here to read more about Weis for West Des Moines School Board.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Perserve the Memories, But Keep Your Sanity cont...

As the days zips by into months and years, I have become a big advocate for journaling and reflecting. This is something any of us can do, but have been making a conscious effort to instill it in my children. I believe it helps build appreciation and is a wonderful indication of how much they are learning and growing while they may not see it at the time.

I gave up scrapbooking years ago, but admire moms that can put together these amazing books. It was not an enjoyable hobby for me, and have taken another route to capture this reflection. I also love that my kids are old enough to help with this.

One summer day for the past three years, I have taken an entire day to make each of them a photo book online. Yes, it does take me around 6 hours for three books. This includes downloading all of the pictures, figuring out how to use the new photo shop software and organizing the pictures with captions. I usually use whatever the photo special or deal is at that moment, but have used Snapfish, Mixbook and Picaboo. Reviews on those would be a whole other post, but these sites are becoming more user friendly each year.

In each book, I include each child's highlights from throughout the year. First day of school, birthday, Halloween Costume, Christmas with "the" coveted item, and anything else special they did throughout the year. For example this year was Megan's first year of Academy soccer, Lucy's Tae Kwan Do and Max's first year of preschool, making friends and Bible School.

I also include a few vacation pictures and anything else memorable. At the end of the photo books, I leave several blank pages where they write about their favorite memories. This year Max dedicated quite the space to our new puppy, Duke, Megan wanted to do things she has learned and series of books read. Lucy wanted to write about her inventions and ideas.

They have turned out so amazing. I love how they capture the "given" highlights, but also what they feel is important.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Perserve the Memories, But Keep Your Sanity

Nine years ago when I was a new mom of one, I had high ambitions of recording every single monumental moment in a beautiful white leather baby scrapbook. I knew nothing about scrapbooking, but it seemed like the thing to do with all these conversations occurring from other moms of new babies. Scrapbook while the baby is sleeping! Document those memories! Think of the joy she will have looking back on it as an adult!

To this day I am still caring my memories of the agony stenciling the letters on colored paper and then cutting the letters out to glue on for my titles on the pages. I was completely clueless about what I was doing (alphabet stickers, anyone?!). After getting together with other scrapping friends and going to crop fests, I soon caught on. Oh, the pictures (!), the memories (!), the time...

When my second daughter came along I knew I had to do a baby book for her. I couldn't let Lucy start out with a brand new life already on unequal grounds with her sister. So of course, Lucy got a scrapbook. Megan was growing up by then and we had moved into a toddler one. She would be starting preschool in a year and I was wise in my scrapbooking knowledge to know what that meant.Now the girls had these beautiful individual books, but what to do with all of the family pictures of trips and holidays? Might as well scrap them too…into a family album. You can see how this got slightly out of control very quickly.

The truth was, I didn't really enjoy scrapbooking. Some people spent hours on a single page, but I had more of a "get it done and documented" attitude. To me it was never ending. You are always behind, there is endless thematic sticker shopping and the constant ordering and organizing of pictures. It just wasn't fun for me and this "hobby" loomed in front of me. Then Max came along and I knew something had to change.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer Lovin' turns to Fall Planning

Wednesday brought the start of school and with that back to schedules, routines and running around. I am proud of the conscious effort I made to take a step back from that this summer and let it unfold. Of course they each took some camps and classes because trying new things is important, but there were also plenty of days that we just let the day take us and that's when the imaginations ran.

Favorite games included:

"Rescue League," which I am positive stemmed from the acquisition of Duke. Max was the dog, Lucy the pound owner and Megan the volunteer. I know there was a lot to it, but from what I could tell a lot of it involved putting Max in the dogs kennel, eating cheerios off the floor and slurping water from a bowl. This game excited also excited Duke a great deal.

"Gods and Goddesses" (also known as Mount Olympus Academy). Our new nightly read aloud series with Percy Jackson helped bring this one on. This fascination with the Gods has also firmed up the decision on Halloween costumes. It was decided that Daddy would be Zeus, Mommy, Hera (Zeus' wife), Megan, Aprhrodite (Goddess of Love and Beauty) Lucy, Athena (Goddess of War & Wisdom) and Max, Poseidon (God of the Sea). The final decision hasn't been completely cleared by "Poseidon" who insists he just really wants to be a firefighter again or maybe a dog trainer.

read more here

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It ain't over yet!

Wait...summer isn't officially over until Labor Day right?! These summer memories are direct from the kids and may not make much sense, but felt the need to include.

Lucy's Library
The Hazardous Homemade Mailbox
Max's obsession with mixing oil and milk
Swords bought at the Bell Tower Festival

Things Overheard At the Dunlap 5km Race by Lucy and Papa (who just had back surgery)
"Beware of the Herd of Turtles"
"Oh no, a snail passed us"
"Let's hide behind that tree at the start, let everyone pass us and cross the finish line first!"
"I think that rock is gaining on us"

Chalk the Corners Failure

The Horrific Hideout where we managed to catch poison ivy not once, but twice during the course of summer.

The Hopeless Fishing Trip

The Weis Prom with Outcast Duke

The Offices where no work occurs only messes

Dog Agility Course (Good job, Lucy!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Whole Wheat Waffles

I have a new addiction with these whole wheat waffles and think I could probably eat these every day. They are super easy, freeze well and reheat beautifully in a toaster for quick those quick breakfast needs.

Whole Wheat Waffles

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 TBSP sugar (I use organic)
1 TBSP baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. milk (We aren't huge milk drinkers so I use 1/2 milk and 1/2 water)
1/2 c. oil (can also use half that oil and half applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla

I usually triple this recipe. That may seem like a lot, but then I freeze them in fours in zip lock baggies and they can be popped right in the toaster while they are frozen.

The kids eat them with maple syrup and strawberries, but I usually add some of my favorite chocolate protein powder on top. Something about the syrup, chocolate & strawberries over these waffles makes it the main thing I am thinking about as I complete my morning workout.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Fair Like No Other (cotinued..)

Click here to see Fair Fun #10-#6

5) Discovering the beautifully decorated doll houses in the Cultural Building.

4) Spending over an hour with Megan and Lucy in the 4-H projects as they planned their projects for the next 7+ years. ;-)

3) Megan's tattoo collection spanning both of her arms and Lucy holding firm on the fact that she "doesn't really care for tattoos."

2) The kids obsession with spotting many of the themed cows spread throughout the fair. Favorites included "Dairy Potter" and the Greek Goddess of Dairy1) Seeing baby piglets being born. Incredible timing and total fascination by the kids.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Fair Like No Other

The 2011 Iowa State Fair has been completed by the Weis family and oh how we love, love, LOVE it! This fair will go down in the books as probably the last time we will be able to do everything everyone wants to do in just one day.

I love how the kids are forming memories and having agendas of what they want to do and see. Add this to the "spur of the minute" and "right place at the right time" sites and adventures and it comes down to the basic fact that we just need more time there!

In addition to all of our previous favorites here is why we loved the 2011 Iowa State Fair...

10) Max competing in the Big Wheel Races and the preciousness of not even caring his big wheel was pink and he won a 7th place ribbon (out of 8).

9) The Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show and the fact that there are some very high hopes now placed on Duke. We also loved how all their dogs were rescued from the pound AND the majority of them were cattle dogs. Just like Duke!

8) The kids having their own complete control over what State Fair treat to get (Lucy: Rootbeer Float, Megan: Giant Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, Max (Cotton Candy) and then all preferring each other's & eating that.

7) Proud participants of the Cookie Decorating Contest and basketball shoot out. They loved winning the giant yellow ribbons.

6) All three kids sitting in the passenger seat of a fire engine for 20 minutes just watching a much older fair goer "drive" it.

Click here for Fair Fun #5-#1

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Iowa State Fair: Here We Come!

For the past week, I have been chomping at the bit to get to the Iowa State Fair. We just love it! Of course, we have our yearly must do list that is added to each year. Even though we have our favorites, there is something always new to see. This year is no different and of course I have done my research.

This year we are going on a week day and that seems to offer a different variety of kid activities then the weekend. We will be hitting the cookie decorating contest at Elwell's, milking a cow & seeing a dog show at the Kids Zone. Since we just got our puppy this summer, I know that will be a big hit (it also may spark some interest in dog training...)

This year, we plan on spending more time in the 4-H building since Megan started 4-H this year and will be taking projects next year. They have really fun working exhibits there during certain hours and the kids love making the variety of crafts.

Of course, we must try to uphold our runner up status with the Family Grape Stomp at Grandfather's Barn. If you ask Lucy what her most memorable moment of last year was, she will proudly tell you about the big red ribbon from that.
One thing for sure, we will probably be skipping the deep fried butter on a stick and hitting up the dozens of other yummy treats instead.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nicknames Like No Other...

Since getting Duke "The Diggiest Dog" the kids have been on a campaign to give him a new nickname every day. Some days they are adoring and sweet, other days highlight the frustration of having a puppy. They have been carefully recording the nicknames on a piece of paper on the fridge. In case you were wondering, this is Duke's full name...

Duke Diggey Chewbocka Rambuncti Sniffie Piddly Pants Responsibility Pup Dress Destroyer Dirty Dog Brother Detector Shoe Stealer Hot Dog Carpet Chewer Puppy Pants Mr. Explorer Book Chewer Hanger Lover Puppy Preschool Star!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Big Summer To-Do 2011

I love starting out the summer with a list. Its not your normal "laundry list" of things that you have to clean, repair or buy. Instead its a fun list of things that you want to accomplish over the summer. Of course, this has to be done with input from the kids. After all, it is their summer too. After a school year of running here, there and everywhere we all deserve a change of plan. We all crave the opportunity to do a variety of things and be on a different time frame.

Last year when the kids and I created the list
, I was amazed at home very few of their things were the "big ticket" items. That included trips to amusement parks, water parks and day long trips.

Instead their items included many simple, creative things that involved us being near home. I guess the kids had their fill of being out and about too.

So here it is...

The Big Summer To Do

Star Gazing
Sand Castle Building
Creek Walking
Pioneer day
Climb Trees
Horseback Riding
Pick Berries
Make Sun Tea

Now with one week of summer left, how are we doing?!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Family of 6, Please...

Oh yes we did! This summer we decided to add to the Weis clan with an addition. A four legged addition that is. Dave has been asking for years for a dog and soon the kids were on board. Everyone was ready for a pup except Mommy. Well, maybe deep down I was more ready then I thought. After all I had been driving them weekly to Furry Friends Animal Rescue League for 6 months to volunteer. They had been getting plenty of dog walking, kibble feeding & poop scooping practice and they were still on fire to get their very own.

On Father's Day (and Max's 4th birthday) we told the kids that we were just going to go look at a few puppies. Okay, I admit that "looking" also meant we stopped at Petco on the way and bought a kennel, collar, leash and food....just in case. Well...lesson learned. You don't go to an animal rescue place and leave empty handed. Meet "Norwood" a black lab/heeler mix 8 weeks old. He wiggled his way into our hearts within moments of meeting. Max immediately renamed him "Duke the Diggiest Dog" after a favorite Dr. Seuss book. The name stuck and so has he. :-)read more here