Sunday, April 27, 2014

Map of Middle Earth

Hubby's reading The Lord of the Rings (minus some of the creepy parts) to the kids. My contribution was putting together a nice big map for them to enjoy as Frodo travels south. 

It's so fun every night as they beg for "more story" and I remember being the same age and saying the same thing. :)

"Ethnic" Hair

Yarn extensions and wooden beads. Although they aren't any more authentically African than sparkly yarn and brightly colored plastic beads, they look like they should be. ;)

Mommy, after you take a picture of my hair, take a picture of my two Strawberry Shortcake dolls!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Makin' Tracks

Little Mister and I spent the afternoon at the hobby store downtown and in the wood shop. 

Instead of buying the expensive snap tracks, we mounted each section on a carefully measured piece of wood, held in place with nails and mini hair rubber bands!

With these, we hope to have a fully interchangeable track system. Tomorrow, I need to mount the rest of the pieces, and the controller box. 

Violin Studio Recital

Curly played the first movement of the Seitz Concerto at her studio recital this morning. I'd like to mention, this is a big piece for a nine-year-old but she grappled well with it. Also, she had a fever of 100 last night and she was still pale with circles under eyes. (She came home and went to bed.) Taking all this into consideration, she played really well and I'm proud of her. My favorite part is that she still loves to play. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Princess Crown

I wanted to braid just the back in yarn extensions and save the front for another day. So I used a Dutch braid in a ring. Abi told me it was a princess crown, of course! 

On a side note, I'm trying this "homespun" acrylic yarn alongside the black and I love it! I makes cute little locs, and we chose natural wooden beads. Totally fun. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Geographics and Feeding the Hungry

Lately the kids have been really excited about drawing maps. We got out the APH light box (perk of having adaptive equipment around!) and traced a map that I printed off Google. 

Then they labeled each country. 

(Curly always smiles and poses for the camera!)

Lately, the kids and I have really enjoyed playing games on Free Rice. One of the games is identification of countries on a map. I'm proud to say I know now which country is Turkmenistan, as well as where Ghana is. Little Mister is even better than I am!

The cool thing about Free Rice is that the learning is combined with feeding hungry people around the world. It means a little more when you study countries around the world if we can help a few families while we're at it. :)

Snapshots: Writing

Aaaand, he was writing letters on a little chalkboard, but by the time I got to take a picture, he was playing with the puppy. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Did You Find...?

How did you find my blog?

Stat counter gives a clue based on keywords used in searches. I'm finding this list a little disconcerting... "i am a dirty mom" landed someone on my blog? LOL Also, google has begun blocking most keyword logging, so the list is a lot shorter than it used to be.

82 Hits 87.23% (Keywords Unavailable)
2 Hits 2.13% candyland game fundraiser international adoption
2 Hits 2.13% old carpentry techniques
1 Hit 1.06% aeroplan
1 Hit 1.06% bunk bed plans workshop magazine
1 Hit 1.06% caswell runyan cedar chest
1 Hit 1.06% caswell-runyan company cedar chest
1 Hit 1.06% i am a dirty mom
1 Hit 1.06% lions fences
1 Hit 1.06% my disorganized bathroom
1 Hit 1.06% superhero reading programs

An Unschooling Day

One of the hardest things to communicate to people is what unschooling actually looks like from day to day. Some people think it looks like un-learning. Nope. Some people think it looks like chaos or kids in charge. Nope.

So, that tells a few things it's not.

But what is it?

Well, there are some days when my kids prefer to have a little structure. We have done the unschooling where I give them absolutely free rein all day every day. They have trouble finding enough to keep busy, even busy with stuff that looks like all video games or playing outside. Too many Saturdays in a row becomes too much of a good thing.

So I've been giving them lists lately.

They aren't legalistic "do this or get punished" type lists, and they aren't tied to a time of day. But the kids have all agreed that a few ideas from Mom work pretty well to make the day go by. Curly especially has discovered that she likes to have specific tasks to do, and likes to know that she is working parallel with her peers so that she won't be behind.

Here is what their lists look like today:

Little Mister (aged seven, handwriting: first grade, math fourth grade, reading third grade, Piano book 1)

Curly (aged nine, reading sixth grade, math fourth grade, handwriting fourth grade, violin Suzuki Book 4)

Abi (aged six, reading and math first grade)

Reading practice, math lesson, social studies lesson

Bean (aged four, preschool)

No list. ;)

Today, the neighbors had the day off from school, so the lists pretty much got scrapped in favor of social playtime. Often, Curly's list gets shortened or adapted depending on what else we are doing.

One of the coolest things about unschooling is also observing the learning that goes on when the kids are not "doing school." Everything is learning! No matter what they are doing, there is any combination of exercise, social skills, reading, counting, handling money, writing, analyzing and composing stories, drawing, having conversations about history or other cultures or science, experimentation, doing chores, caring for animals, etc! The list goes on and on.

As a teacher, I am most impressed with the quality of learning that goes on when I am NOT the one directing the activity. Kids often try an idea, but then come to me for help or tips on how to do it. I can then use those teachable moments and we learn together.

It's a spontaneous, flexible, playful, fun, rich way to learn, and we love it. I think the toughest part is communicating to curious friends and family how it works. :)

Snapshot: Trampoline Picnic

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Getting Our Energy Out

First: clean off all the stuff that the trees drop on the trampoline. 

Second: Jump!

Date With Mister


He and I both really, really needed some time together. 

You see, he has three very demanding siblings. 

Also, both of us need Quality Time to feel loved. 

He is the child who will reach out, not just need love from me. So time with him refreshes me, which I can't honestly say about the other kids, much as I love them. 

At the same time, one-on-one time refuels him as well. 

Happy us. 

Bad Braille Makes Me Laugh


This is a poster for a really awful black comedy film called "Blind Detective." Notice the braille above the words on the left side. Obviously the designer of the poster did not know Braille, and didn't expect anyone looking at the poster to know it.

Here's what the letters would say if they were English:

"I love you" with each letter upside-down

But with Braille, turning a letter upside-down makes it into a different letter. So, read correctly, this is what the letters say:

en lopin yom



To my surprise, a group of homeschooled kids met at the park, aged 4 through 20 and without any adult assistance arranged themselves into games of capture the flag, ultimate frisbee and soccer. They played with various ages, including everyone and I heard no arguing or fighting amongst themselves. They used healthy competition to have a really fun afternoon with each other.

I have not hung around with homeschoolers for more than the last few years, but they always surprise me with the quality of their social skills, and the kindness in their interactions with other kids.

Adapting Sunday School


Documenting some of the things I put together to support Abi's teachers and enrich her experience in Sunday School. 

Sun! Warm!


Oh how we all love Spring!!

Golden Gate Roll


Hubby got me this after a rough day. :)

Bean Leading Warmups


Bean got to lead warm-ups in Karate class, which involves remembering a series of activities and counting to ten in Japanese. He did so great! I was really proud of him. :)

Striped Belts


In Karate, Mister earned his Tiny Tiger Orange Stripe belt, which was a challenge for him. Karate does not come easily for him. He isn't naturally strong or fast or flexible, and he's inherited my weird eyesight problem. So he has to work ten times harder at an activity like this. So, his milestones are reasons to celebrate!

Then, Bean and Abi both earned a yellow stripe. I was so proud of all of my Karate kids. 

First Patio BBQ


Friends roasting hot dogs. Nuff said. :)



And that, my friends, is how one turns six!