Archive for ‘1st Grade’

April 18, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Exploring Line

So far I have had the most fun doing the suggested activities from Amy Hood’s fantastic e-zine, Art Together. Her second issue discusses line.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

I’m not usually very good about planning lessons more than five minutes before we’re going to sit down to do them, but when I read Amy’s e-zine focusing on line, it inspired a trip to the craft store. There are lots of activities, information about art materials, and an artist “spotlight” (in this case, Piet Mondrian), but for my young boys, I picked two activities that I thought they would enjoy: 1) drawing with tape, and 2) wire as line. I also knew I wanted to read the short introduction, “Types of Line,” to my seven-year-old so that he would understand why we were doing these activities.

I didn’t tell my children what we were going to do before we went to the craft store. They just enjoyed piling up the new art supplies in the cart, including two fancy rolls of tape that I let them pick out, and some wire that I got in the jewelry making section. (I always keep clay on hand, so we already had that.)

Of course, my seven-year-old wanted to know what we were going to do with all this stuff, so on the way home in the car, I started to explain to him that we were going to explore “line.” And this is where not having time to blog very much doesn’t serve me well because I can’t remember our conversation. But I do remember that it was terrific. We were looking out the windows on the way home and noticing all the lines – the lines of the buildings, store signs, painted lines on the streets, and the light poles. My son was making so many discoveries and connections all on his own – I wish I had a recording of his awesome observations. We discovered that the whole world is made up of lines!!

After that he also enjoyed listening to the introduction in Amy’s magazine, and both boys loved these activities. Below are our creations. To learn more details about these activities, be sure to check out Amy’s e-zine.

Exploring line with tape! My seven-year-old made a leopard with this leopard-print tape.

I think my four-year-old was inspired by his brother. I helped him put on the ears, nose, mouth and feet. Notice he drew spots on it too!

Exploring line with clay and wire was so much fun! I love this butterfly that my seven-year-old did! It was all his idea!

These are my abstract creations. Exploring line with wire and clay.

My four-year-old asked me to shape the clay, and he wanted to do the same thing I did. These are his wire creations. I love them!

Well, that concludes this long series about formal art lessons in our homeschool with the bonus column about our field trip to the art museum, at least until we do our next art project! If you missed any of the earlier ones, they are all listed with links in my introduction: 1st Grade Art Explorations.

April 14, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Making a Color Wheel

So far I have had more fun doing the suggested activities from Amy Hood’s fantastic e-zine, Art Together. Her first issue discusses color. Who doesn’t love color?

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

As Amy points out in her magazine, you can spend a lot of time studying color and the rules that go along with them. For my young children, I wanted to start simple. Before this exercise, we had already done a lot of fun color mixing over the years. My children are familiar with how you can mix colors to make new colors. But I had not introduced them to the color wheel.

Amy has a great tutorial on her website for this exercise, so I’m not going into great detail here. Click here for her instructions.

We made a simple color wheel with only the primary and secondary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. You can’t get these colors from mixing other colors together. The secondary colors are orange, green and purple. You get these colors from mixing the primary colors together. (You can figure out which ones to mix together by looking at the color wheel – each secondary color has its two primary colors that you need to mix to get it next to it.)

This was my very first “formal art lesson.” I wondered if my boys would have the patience to complete the exercise, especially since they are used to painting whatever they want. But when I told them to wait for my instructions, they were very good, and I love their color wheels! I think they make great art for our activity room wall!

My goal here was to simply point out how we can use a color wheel to find complementary colors. Colors that are opposite each other are complementary colors, and when we’re drawing or painting with colors (or even photographing), we can use these colors together to create more contrast. That is, the colors will seem to pop when used together. (I highly recommend reading Amy’s magazine because she goes into more detail about this and offers examples to look at.)

Have you made a color wheel with your children?

April 5, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Tommasso Masaccio

Above: After he had his profile traced, my four-year-old painted it. I love it.

This is the third art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going into great detail about the artist or details on how to do the activity because you can get those details from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it. For each lesson I read the brief introduction about the artist to my son, and we looked up images of the artist’s work online.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

As the book tells us, Tommasso Massacio was famous for his portraits during the Renaissance. He also liked to add details such as hats and jewelry.  This was a fun activity in which we all took turns sitting sideways in front of a wall, and I set up a flashlight so that a shadow of our profiles appeared on the wall.  We taped a piece of paper to the wall and then we traced our shadows.

I traced my seven-year-old’s profile, and he traced my four-year-old’s and my profile. However, that is as far as he wanted to go with this activity. He was not into painting the profiles at all.

But my four-year-old painted his own profile, and I think it has become one of my favorite pieces of art in our house! Look at that color! I love it! I think Massacio would approve, don’t you?

He inspired me to paint my seven-year-old’s profile with lots of color too, which you can see below on the right, although I don’t like mine as well as his. I told my seven-year-old I was painting his brain – indeed, I think that his brain is full of wonderful color and imaginative things!

Above: My four-year-old inspired me to make a colorful profile of my eldest son. (on the right)

Meanwhile, my seven-year-old busied himself with his own art. He’s very much into dragons right now, and he’s been very interested in learning about (and building) the Mayflower too. So he decided he wanted to paint a sea dragon attacking the Mayflower!

My seven-year-old was not so interested in this exercise, so he painted this picture of a dragon attaching the Mayflower.

Please share a link with some of the art you’ve made lately.

March 29, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Fra Giovanni Angelico

This is the second art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going to go into great detail about the artist or details on how to do the activity because you can get those details from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it. For each lesson I read the brief introduction about the artist to my son, and we looked up images of the artist’s work online.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

Fra Giovanni Angelico, according to Discovering Great Artists, was an Italian monk who was one of the greatest painters of the early Renaissance. The book also tells us, “Artists of this era often gave halos to the angels and people in their paintings…. Halos were often made with real gold, not with gold paint. Gold metal was pounded into a very thin sheet called ‘gold leaf’, then glued onto the wall or canvas or varnish. Young artists paint beautiful pictures with “silver leaf” decoration using everyday aluminum foil.

My four-year-old wasn’t interested in this exercise, but from this photo, you can see what my seven-year-old and I did. He did the dragon on the right. (He’s really into dragons right now.) I did the sun.

He made the dragon’s wing out of aluminum foil and then tried painting over it. We discovered that this didn’t work so well. The paint dried and began to flake off. He also messed up something around the feet of the dragon, and I filled in that area with white paint, trying to show him how he can blend his mistakes in, making shadows or light. I think his painting turned out quite nice.

March 25, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Giotto di Bondone

“Motorcycle” by the seven-year-old using egg tempura paint

This is the first art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going into great detail about the artist or how to do the activity because you can get that from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

Giotto di Bondone lived from 1266-1337. He was an artist of the Italian Renaissance.  As the book tells us, “Many paintings of Giotto’s time were made with egg tempera paint on special panels of wood. There were no art stores, so each artist had to make paint by grinding minerals, clay, berries, or even insects into fine powder and mixing this pigment with egg yolk and water.”

Painting by the four-year-old using egg tempura paint

I like Discovering Great Artists because it tells just a little information about each artist, which is all my seven-year-old and four-year-old care to know! (So for older kids who want to delve further into an artist’s life – this is not the book for them.) My seven-year-old does seem to enjoy looking at art by each of the artists on the Internet. (The book does not provide examples of the artists’ work, but there are plenty to be found online.)

We didn’t mix egg yolk and insects, which would have been quite interesting! We followed the book’s instructions and used egg and colored chalk.  I thought the colors turned out quite nice, and we were all pleased with our artwork.

My seven-year-old is prone to outbursts when his art doesn’t look exactly like what he sees in his head. While he was painting his motorcycle, he messed up the back wheel.  I have been trying to encourage him to turn mistakes into something else and also realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Someday I may tackle this issue in a post of its own, but for now I’ll say that I think perfectionist kids need a lot of encouragement, and they need to be shown how other people have made mistakes and work through them, but they also just need time to mature too.

Painting by an adult using egg tempura paint

March 22, 2014

Homeschooling: 1st Grade Art Explorations

When it comes to art, I’m extremely grateful that we’re homeschooling. This may not make me popular, but I have to admit that “crafts” make me cringe.  I rarely look at Pinterest because it makes my head swirl in a bad way.

Don’t take me wrong – I don’t think crafts are bad.  In fact, my kids love them just like most children love them.  My son loves them so much that he likes to look up crafts when he has something in mind he wants to make – I don’t mind that at all. It’s his idea after all, and he’s choosing which craft idea to follow.

I have on occasion (maybe twice?) looked up a specific craft, usually for a holiday like Native American Day. I wanted to teach my son a little bit about Native Americans, and I thought he would enjoy making a “totem pole,” which he did. I have also used crafts and specific art lessons for other reasons, which I’ll explain below.

In general, I don’t like the “Here kids…let’s all make this.” I would much rather give my kids a bunch of paint and paper and let them have fun with it. Let them explore. Experiment. Be creative and come up with their own ideas…not someone else’s idea. If they make a mess, that’s fine with me. (This is one of the reasons that Project-based Homeschooling appealed to me so much. It’s an important tenet in this educational philosophy.)

We are not just bound to paint and paper either. I’ve written about all the supplies I keep on hand, and you can find that here. Also, The Power of Time and Materials is one of my popular posts on this subject.

I realize that most art teachers and facilitators of craft projects would also want exactly what I want… to let these projects lead to the child’s own exploration of art. Get the children excited about creating and making things…. Yes! Exactly. If crafts are used in that way, I think it’s a great idea. But I think they can be over-used, and if the facilitator tries to prevent the child from veering off in another direction (maybe making the craft into something entirely different), that’s bad.

Try putting some art supplies in front of a bunch of children and telling them to have fun. Can they get started on their own? Or do they look at you, helpless because they need instructions? It all depends on how much freedom, time, and materials the children have been given!

I’ve created a room in my house where all our art and craft supplies are accessible to my kids, and at any time, they can say, “I want to paint,” and they can do it. I’ve taught them how to be careful – I usually help them get the paints out, and I have laid down some ground rules such as “the paint stays on the table.” Likewise, I have taught (and I’m still teaching) my kids how to hold the scissors and how to clean up after they are finished.

I’m really happy that by doing this, I’ve fostered some very creative kids. They don’t “create” everyday or even every week, but when I look over all the photographs I’ve taken of their artwork and building projects, I know we’re off to a good start. (And I have a bunch of little child-led projects that I need to blog about. In good time!)

This year my oldest son is in “1st grade,” and I want him to learn more about art. By that I mean formal art – about artists and their techniques. We don’t have time for formal art lessons on a regular basis, but this is a subject that we’ll be building on during his entire education, so that’s okay. And if it becomes an interest of one of my children, we’ll definitely make more time for it.

It’s also important in project-based homeschooling to teach your student how to use tools, different mediums and introduce them to different experiences, so that’s exactly what I’m doing here too. And yes, sometimes it includes a ‘craft.’ See? I don’t think they are all that bad.

I’m going to write about our art lessons in separate posts, but below I’m listing the resources I’ve used and plan to use as we continue our life-long exploration of Art.

  • Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by Mary Ann F. Kohl and Kim Solga – I use the Kindle version of this book, and I like it.  There are lessons and activities about artists starting from the Renaissance and until present time. We have skipped some of them, finding activities that I think my boys would enjoy. (And finding the ones with easy on-hand materials too.) The lessons are simple and short, which is a good fit for my very young children. (This book also has an excellent list of art resources; it’s worth the price just for that!)
    • My main goal with these art lessons is exposing my son to great art. I don’t think he’ll remember the artist’s names (I don’t) or the tidbits about their lives, but it’s a good starting-off place. This book does not contain photographs of the artwork by these artists. I have to look them up online, but I think my seven-year-old and I like that the best: just skimming through some images and seeing something new and interesting. (My four-year-old usually likes doing the art projects, but he doesn’t give a hoot about looking at the art yet.) So far we have studied:
  • Right now my favorite resource for art instruction is Amy Hood’s e-zine {Art Together}. So far Amy has written three magazines, and I’ve purchased them all. They are full of information, activities and encouragement for making art with your children! I have picked activities out of the magazine that I knew my boys would enjoy now, but there’s information in there for deeper study, so I know I’ll be able to return to them in the future. My seven-year-old has enjoyed reading parts of the magazine with me too. My four-year-old just likes to try his hand at the art making. I have not yet had the chance to read her latest e-zine on printmaking (I just purchased it!), but I have read and done these activities from the first two:
    • Making a Color Wheel inspired by {Art Together} Issue One: Color (and I also referred to her very good blog post on the same subject, Make A Simple Color Wheel)
    • Line Art inspired by {Art Together} Issue Two: Line (and I have a great story to go along with this one.)

(I will follow-up with posts about these art lessons and add links as they go up on my blog.)

Future Art Studies

Here are some things I have in mind for future art studies.

  • Oxford First Book of Art – I found this great little introductory book used on Amazon for under $7. Perhaps I need to lay it on the kitchen table and just let the kids discover it! It has some beautiful images of famous artist’s work. It also has some activities and commentary.
  • Museums – My boys are going to have to get a little older (UPDATE: We did take them to a museum!), but I look forward to taking them to some nearby art museums such as the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens. I know the High Museum has Homeschool Days, and the Georgia Museum of Art has some great kid’s programs too. I just haven’t looked at them closely enough yet.
  • And I can’t help but give a plug for home / school / life magazine. (Disclaimer: I’m the senior editor!) We will be offering art resources in this magazine, particularly Amy Hood’s regular Art Start column.
February 6, 2014

Magic Tree House Books

Magic Tree House BookNote: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on February 5, 2014.

For over a year, my husband has been reading the Magic Tree House Books by Mary Pope Osborne to my seven-year-old every night before bed. There are over fifty titles in the series, and currently they are reading #39, Dark Day in the Deep Sea. My son is thrilled because the two protagonists, Jack and Annie, are going to meet an octopus! Though I haven’t read the series with him, I’m privy to many retellings of the stories.

Jack and Annie are a brother and sister, and in the first book, they find a magic tree house and travel back into prehistoric times. In every book, they are sent on an adventure throughout time to different places and even to mythical places.  Through these books, my son has been introduced to Ancient Egypt, Leonardo da Vinci, the Civil War and the American Revolution, William Shakespeare, gorillas in the Congo rain forest and so much more.

The books are a great introduction to history and mythology, and there are even companion non-fiction books that will teach children more about the people and places Jack and Annie meet in their adventures, though we aren’t using those.

Starting with book #29, the books are referred to as “The Merlin Missions.” They are longer and the reading level is higher, so children can continue to be challenged as they grow with the series.

I have heard some criticism from other parents about the quality of writing in the books, which can make them unappealing for adults to read. But my husband has enjoyed reading the series with my son. He says the writing is simple and appropriate for kids, and he considers them to be fantasies and adventure stories for children. He thinks the author does a good job of getting kids excited about history, and he appreciates the author’s attempts at depicting the daily life of everyday people in the time periods the characters visit. From a history professor, that’s not a bad review.

Though we discovered the books while browsing at the bookstore, we only own two of them. My husband has been able to find all the books at nearby libraries by checking online first to find where the next book in the series is located.  No library seems to own all the books, but he has found them all by searching for them at the Winder, Auburn, Statham and Bogart libraries. Since they are short books, he checks out three or four of them at a time. That way they always have something to read each night.

Since I haven’t read the books myself, I thought I would interview my son about them. This is what he said:

Me: Why do you like Magic Tree House books?

My son: I like it because they do all these adventures, and there’s magic, and they meet all sorts of giant animals like a cloud dragon and an octopus and a sea serpent.

Me: What is your favorite book in the series so far?

My Son: Dragon of the Red Dawn, #37

Me: Is there a subject you wish she would write about?

My Son: She already has lots of cool books, but maybe one about going to a volcano and seeing a fire-breathing dragon.

Me: Are you glad Daddy is reading the series to you?

My Son: Yes.

Me: When you finish the Magic Tree House books, what series will you read with Daddy next?

My Son: I want to read Robin Hood with daddy. It’s not a series though.

Me: Anything you want to add?

My Son: They’re really good.

So there you have it from the seven-year-old himself.

Have you or your child read these books? What did you think?

February 3, 2014

Finished 100 Easy Lessons!

(We had a rare snow day here last week!)

Just an update here to celebrate that the seven-year-old finished all the lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I’m really proud of him, and I can sense that he’s become more confident and has a different feeling toward learning how to read. Though sitting down to do his lessons is not his favorite thing to do, I think he’s excited to gradually be able to comprehend the written word.

Not much but a little…I have noticed him reading on his own without being asked to.  Once he sat down with me at my computer as I was writing my column, and he read a sentence that I had written!

So where do we go from here?

Well, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons has a list of books that they recommend starting with, and they offer a word list to go over with the child before they attempt read it. The first few books, I have discovered, are so easy that I’m skipping some of them, but I’ve ordered some of the others from the interlibrary loan system.

While we wait for those, I’m also using something else:

I inherited a Hooked On Phonics set from my aunt who is a retired elementary teacher. She had passed it on to her sister when she retired in case she wanted to use it with her grandchildren, and she never did, so that aunt asked me if I wanted it. Though I’ve heard some criticism of Hooked On Phonics, I never pass on something that is free, so I took it. It’s a huge set, and as soon as I laid my eyes on it, I thought it was too intimidating, and I probably wouldn’t use it. But my son walked into my room as I was looking through it. There are workbooks, tapes, etc. that I will probably never use. (But never say never!)  Then there are these single-page, folded workbooks with just a small piece of fiction or non-fiction on them and some comprehension questions. There must be a thousand of them, and they go from 1st grade level up to college level reading!

Though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, I told my son I was probably going to give the set away. My son wanted to see it. (Maybe the fact that I said I was going to give it away made it more inviting?!) He wanted to see those single-page workbooks, and I said casually, “You wanna try to read these?” He tried reading the first one, and he read it just fine. He said after we finished 100 Lessons, he wouldn’t mind working on these. Who woulda thought?

So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re just going read these little passages (that get bigger as the level gets higher). Before he reads them, I have been typing up a list of words that I think may be hard for him, and we go over them.  Armed with those words, he’s been able to read the passages very well, and they make a short and sweet lesson.

At some point he may get bored with these, but I’m hoping by then, he’ll be well on his way into reading books of his own choice.

(I know my aunt is probably reading this, so THANK YOU FOR THE HOOKED ON PHONICS SET!)

January 30, 2014

Legos

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

Legos is all the rage in our house right now. My seven-year-old is happiest when he is at his table putting some kind of Lego kit together. He doesn’t have very many of them, but I have a feeling we’ll be collecting more of them. I don’t mind.

The first time he wanted to try building with Legos was after he watched one of his friends do it, so last year we got him a helicopter-airplane-boat kit. He can only make one of those at a time, so it’s a lot of fun for him to make one, keep it a few weeks, and then he can take it apart and build another one.

This Christmas he got two new sets. The first one he had been asking for because his friend has one. It’s called the Warp Stinger, but it looks like some kind of mosquito to me. The second one was a complete surprise and came from grandma. It’s a coast guard ship. He loves both of them.

I don’t know why people say children have short attention spans. My son will sit at the table straining his neck and shoulders to put these kits together, and even when I try to get him stop for a break, he wants to keep going like some workaholic. If only he approached his reading lessons with the same spirit! I’m happy he likes Legos, though, because it is a very educational toy.

Any kind of blocks is educational because it’s an open-ended toy that gets a child’s creative mind going. As small children they build motor skills and begin to realize that they can create things in three dimensions. Blocks can be used to learn how to sort and how to learn about patterns. Legos can be used to teach about engineering and technology, and there are even Lego robotic teams that compete in national competitions.

The educational benefits go on and on. The Lego company has a whole division dedicated to getting Legos into the classroom, and they offer lots of instructional materials on their website too. (See https://education.lego.com)

I like them because they keep my boys busy. My seven-year-old will spend a long time putting one of his kits together, and he rarely needs me to help him. Sometimes I wish he would create something original instead of using the kits, but I find it amazing that he’s able to follow those instructions and put 300 of those tiny pieces together. I would never have the patience to do that.

My four-year-old is not old enough for the kits, but he has a big bin of Legos that he likes to play with. He likes to cover a baseboard with the Legos, or either he’ll build a “city.” He especially likes it when Mama will help him, and I have to say that there’s something relaxing about building with Legos. It’s not one of those toys that are fun for kids but mind numbing for adults. Legos are fun.

Recently I was surprised to find out that you can build almost anything with Legos when I stumbled on the website of an artist named Nathan Sawaya. He has several exhibitions that have toured North America, Asia and Australia. He uses Lego bricks to build sculptures of people, objects and even a red tail hawk. He has turned this simple toy into works of art.  Check out his website at brickartist.com.

Hmmm… Maybe next time I feel the urge to get creative, I’ll go for the Lego bin instead of the paper and paints.

Please share Lego creations from your house!

January 25, 2014

Teaching Children About Money

The Math and the Responsibility

When it comes to teaching my son about money, both the math side and the responsible spending side, it seems logical to me that the only way he’ll learn is to use real money. And learning how to count money is very motivating when you are counting your own money!

Teaching Math with Real Money

For math, we’ve done a variety of things. As I mentioned in my 1st grade math post, I have used some workbooks to teach math, and in the past, I’ve used storybooks and even my own stories to teach about math too. (This is something I will continue to do!) For teaching about money & coins, I’ve also done the following:

  • When my son was first learning his coins, I pulled out a piggy bank of loose change, and we sorted them into piles and rolled them into paper wraps.
  • We also have a fantastic little toy cash register. It comes with pretend money, but we can also use real money with it! The boys love playing “store.”
  • For a Christmas present one year, my brother’s family gathered “Coins of America” collectible quarters and sent them to my boys with some storage folders. The boys had a lot of fun putting the quarters into the folder and learning about each state in the process! (A good geography lesson too.)

Teaching Financial Responsibility

To begin the long process of teaching my sons about financial responsibility, the first thing my husband and I have done has been to talk honestly and straightforward about money. We let them know how much things cost. We let them know our house, our cars and food all cost money, and that’s why we have to work.  A great byproduct of homeschooling is that because the boys are home all day, they see firsthand what it takes to care for a home, and they go shopping with us too.  We discuss what we can and cannot afford to buy, and we talk about how we sacrifice some things in order for me to stay home with them full-time and homeschool.

Note: We don’t pound this into their heads. It’s simply a matter of mentioning it once in a while when a question or issue comes up.

Second, I have a little pouch for each of my boys with their names on it. Whenever they are given a little birthday or Christmas cash, they keep the money in the pouch, and they are allowed to spend it on what they want. (My four-year-old doesn’t understand this as well as his big brother.) My only rule is that once they see something they want, they wait one week to buy it. (I thank Lori Pickert for giving me this idea.)

I was afraid that when I began doing this, my seven-year-old would want the first toy he saw in every store. (He was six when I started this.) But he has impressed me by not doing that. He spends his money, and he hasn’t saved much, but he’s thoughtful about his purchases, and he doesn’t want “just anything.” He doesn’t spend all his money in one place. He’s always willing to wait a week too. So far, he has not changed his mind during that week, but I do think over time, it will teach him how not to be an impulsive shopper…. He’ll understand that the product will still be there, if he wants to wait a while.

I’m also hoping that over time, he’ll begin to see a pattern like this: I really wanted that horseshoe crab when I bought it, but now I rarely play with it. (This is something I plan on pointing out to him on occasion too.)  I’m also starting a spreadsheet that will show how they spent their money, and how much they would have had, if they had saved it.

I think having freedom to make his own decisions with his own money is important, and except for asking him to wait, we’ve let him decide what to do with it.

With a few exceptions, we do not buy him toys other than on Christmas and his birthday. Since he has his own money, we let him buy something, if he wants it.

I should also note that we do not give allowances. Housework is something everybody is expected to do. To earn money, however, I have told the boys that they can do extra work that is beyond our regular cleaning routine. For example, I’ve told them they can help clean the walls and base boards for money, and they have done this on occasion….not very well, but that’s not the point to me. (I might give them $1-2 for this, depending on the amount of effort expended.)

Only time will tell if this teaches them to be responsible with their money, but I think it will help. Ultimately, I think children learn from their parent’s behavior regarding money, and if the parents are responsible, the children probably will be too. Modeling good behavior, conversation and real-world experience go hand in hand.

Please share your advice for teaching kids about money in the comments section!

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