Category Archives: parenting

More About Guns: Daniel Boone

My second-grader has to write a book report, about a biography.

First of all, the kid just got into reading about two months ago, and now he loves to read, so I am not that happy that it has been made into a chore. How was it made into a chore? He was to take notes on sticky notes of all important events while he read, then transfer these to a notes chart. He now has to make a timeline of the person’s life and prepare a presentation for his class for next Monday.

Well. First he brought home a book about some soccer star, but the reading level was way above him, so I gently suggested something else, even a different book about the same guy. Then Max suggested George Washington.

I swear I was supportive of this. But at the library, I found a book about Daniel Boone at his reading level. I know George Washington is a fantastic historical figure, but Daniel Boone is pretty damn interesting, too. Max liked the idea.

And loved the book. He came out of his room the first day: “Mom! Did you know that when Daniel Boone was only 13 he could build a cabin with his bare hands and trap animals? And he helped the needy by giving extra furs to poor people?”

That’s my boy. But then we forgot about the sticky note thing (I thought he knew, so I didn’t mention it), so when he was several chapters in he had to go back and do all the sticky notes, which annoyed him, since he can’t exactly just skim the pages just yet, so I helped with that, and then he was on his way for the rest of the book, doing his own sticky notes and then making the notes chart.

All kinds of cool things happened to Daniel Boone: when he was a kid he went missing, and when a search party found him two days later he was calmly cooking his (hunted) dinner over a fire he’d built; he sold enough furs to buy his family a lot of land; his daughter was kidnapped by Indians (the book is obviously a little old, and I explained to Max the difference between Indians and Native Americans and why Native Americans here used to be called Indians), and Daniel saved her; and then in a war he got shot in the ankle; and one time he rode a horse so fast and too far and it died. Max was so into this book and this guy (and me too, frankly).

The teacher sent home some examples of creative timelines: a keyboard for George Gershwin, for example, and a cherry tree for (yawn) George Washington. So what is a key fact about Daniel Boone, the frontiersman? He learned to hunt at an early age and was such a sharpshooter that as a youth, people joked he could shoot a tick off a bear’s nose from 300 feet, so his rifle got nicknamed “Tick Licker.”

So if you’re going to make a creative timeline about Daniel Boone, do you draw a trap? A pelt? A log cabin? Or a rifle? (Probably a Kentucky long rifle, because yes, I looked into it, since I have been asked to draw the thing.)

Yeah. So my child will be bringing a big paper rifle into school on Monday, with 17 fascinating events from Daniel Boone’s life marked on it. And I fully support this.

What do you think? Good idea, because my son is really engaged with this book? Bad idea, because we are really jumpy about guns and schools right now? Tell me in the comments!

Creating A Star Chart for Kids

We’ve needed a star chart for a long time. “Just find clip art!” someone (a teacher? therapist?) told us brightly. “Just make one!”

For tired and overwhelmed (and hey, design-challenged) parents, “just finding clip art” can be a daunting task. What clip art? Where do I find it? What do I need to put on the chart? Also, our brief experience with a potty training chart hadn’t been encouraging (not the chart’s fault).

This has, of course, come up again in a recent meeting. Last year the preschool had a neat chart they’d put together. They wouldn’t give us a copy, despite all the meetings and tuition payments and looks of defeat on our faces. Nope, we had to come up with our own.

Fast-forward a year, and we’re told the teacher might share a “home-school chart.” I started to think, again, about all the times we could use a star chart. The morning hell. The after-school routine. Bedtime bedlam. General behavior, table manners, the few small chores they have. WHERE DO WE START?? We also don’t want to have charts everywhere like some kind of maniacal control freaks. Just one small chart to start, please … but one that really meets our needs.

I hit the Internet harder than ever. And found the solution. It’s a site called GoMommyGo.com and frankly it’s kind of a noisy site. But it is extremely useful. You can either download one of the pre-made charts on the site or give the site your email (that’s right — that is all you have to do) and download your own customizable chart. Yes. For FREE you get a word document with a chart format AND a ton of clip art, organized into topics, that you might need. Everything for the morning routine! For after school! Chores! Bedtime! Prayers, washing windows, feeding the cat –you name it, there’s clip art here for you to use!

The chart we downloaded has five rows. That’s good. That’s all a kid can handle sometimes. We settled on a morning routine chart, since 1) mornings are a really hard right now and 2) if we start the day well, maybe the rest will be better?

I made and printed the chart (had already bought shiny star stickers at Staples, but you can probably get them at any drugstore or office supply store). Then we went over it with the kids. If you do something (get dressed, brush teeth) after being told only once, you get a star (you get two stars if you do it without being told). If you get ALL your stars in a day, you can have iPad time or some other child-suggested-in-advance treat after school. If you get all your stars in a week, you can have —

— “A HAMSTER!!!!!” Ben shouted.

Aw jeez no. He’d stopped mentioning it months ago but I guess he still wants one. Ugh.

“Uh, we were thinking some other kind of special treat, like an ice cream party at home, or going out for slushies, or going to see a movie,” I suggested.

“Yeah, a hamster might be after three months of all your stars,” said C.

“No, a week!” said Ben.

“Maybe three weeks,” I said.

[NOTE: SORT THIS STUFF OUT WITH YOUR SPOUSE BEFORE YOU INTRODUCE THE STAR CHART TO YOUR KIDS. Also, don’t forget that if you turned on the boiler fill valve before you started a load of laundry, make sure you TURN IT OFF before you forget all about it and come back upstairs to go over the star chart with your family, unless you really love wasting water, flooding your basement, and hauling buckets of water to drain the boiler. Trust me on this. Also, our boiler turned out to be fine — as our neighbor said, noticing me pouring five-gallon buckets of water on the lawn in the dark, “it’s like an enema for your boiler.” Yes.]

First day, Max tried hard to do everything without being told, which is pretty normal for him. Ben, on the other hand, thought he should get a star for “get dressed” even though C dressed him after we’d spent 25 minutes trying to get him out of bed, because … well, I’m not sure why he thought he should get a star for that, honestly. I still don’t.

The next day went better, as did the day after that. And tonight before bed they reminded me to print a new chart for tomorrow.

Wow. So easy. The chart, and getting them to follow it. Maybe we should also introduce a bedtime chart. The site makes it very easy to make one.

So if you think you need a star chart and don’t know where to start, try gomommygo.com (and ignore the site noise). It’s so helpful!