homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wait your turn, Mom

About a week ago, Cayden finally got a handle on how to use a computer mouse. Now I can't get him away from PoissonRouge. The site is graphics-heavy, interactive, and designed for preschoolers and I admit, I was skeptical and a bit negative at first. But the results don't lie--the kid LOVES exploring the various activities. He has his favorites, and manages to navigate to some new and unexpected wonder every time.

Neat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hunting

It always tickles me, how kids process and synthesize information to come up with unique perspectives. Such as...

Today Theo went hunting. The daddy next door is a deer hunter, so his buddy has been talking up hunting pretty heavily lately. Okay, I get that. We have also, in our discussions about insects and our discoveries of dead animals, talked about how some bugs' role in the life cycle is to help dead tissue decompose. Check.

So when Theo announced that he was going deer hunting today and I asked him what he planned to do if he got one, he said that he was going to feed it to the bugs.

He even happily suggested that maybe he would go hunting again tomorrow, to feed them again.

Here's the Great White Hunter, armed to the elbow (notice the ammo supply?):

Cayden came along, armed with his security blanket of choice. A front-end loader.
He's a builder, not a fighter.

Have I mentioned that he SLEEPS with his construction equipment? Have I mentioned that we co-sleep? I must sit down and draft a pattern for a fabric excavator...night times are getting far too painful.

Later, we made and tested a slingshot.
Acorns fly great. Sticks, not so much.

And Theo discovered how to make a cross-bow. Now THAT was a neat a-ha moment!

video

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is the green sheep?

This is such a favorite for us that I can't believe we haven't actually purchased a copy yet. Nope. We just check it out of the library every few months.

We love this book. It's simple and charming. I read a for-grownups book by Mem Fox once--Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever--in which she discussed some of her "secrets" for writing for young children. Repetition seemed to be a major key. As far as learning to decode the mechanics of reading goes, I suppose this is a good argument for the "whole language" camp. I'm not going to go there right now. It is an interesting debate (learning to read whole words vs. deconstructing and using phonics), and I probably will revisit it some other time.

For now, though, I appreciate the rhetorical device of repetition simply for the way it is allowing the children to follow a simple narrative and anticipate the next statement.
"Here is the blue sheep/And here is the red sheep/Here is the bath sheep/And here is the bed sheep/But where is the green sheep?"
Not only is it fun to read along together, but we have noticed Theo independently "reading" the book to Cayden, and Cayden "reading" the book out loud to himself.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see my children gain pleasure from books on their own. Oh, cuddled next to mom is great. But doing it on their own is the first step down a lifetime of self-guided experiences.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You're doing what?

I asked Theo and Cayden last night if they'd like to join Daddy and me for a movie in the family room. They were watching a DVD in my bedroom, and declined. Theo said, "But Mom, we're learning about construction equipment!"

Not watching our movie, but learning.

Yeah, that's my boy. :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today's lesson: the water cycle

It's funny where conversations start...and where they lead.

We were playing in the side yard today when Theo noticed a flagman in the road. We went to the front yard expecting to see some sort of heavy equipment (Cayden's obsession. And I do mean OBSESSION. There will be more heavy equipment pictures soon, I assure you.) What we saw was a crew sealing the cracks in the road.

So we stood and watched, and waved at the workmen, and the crew chief came over and chatted with the boys for a minute. Unfortunately, they are both still painfully shy around strangers, so we didn't get the firsthand account of what's going on that we might have otherwise. (He was so open...I am sure he would have opened up if we asked for an explanation.) However, I did take the opportunity to explain to Theo the basics of water expanding during freezing, and how this can damage road surfaces.

Definitely a fact of life in Pennsylvania!

At any rate, it's moments like these that really illustrate the idea that opportunity for learning is often unexpected, and everywhere.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our latest obsession...

Bats.

The kids are totally into bats. I have no idea where this started. A few weeks ago, Theo announced "bat" as his choice of Halloween costume. Not Batman...a bat. And when I got the costume box out of the attic this week, both he and Cayden found black capes and have been "flying" around the house ever since.

We checked out a bunch of books about bats from our local library. We've learned a few interesting things that way. However. I'm fixin' to write a letter to Usborne books, who included an erroneous statement about bats' eyesight (they do SO see well, but thanks for passing along an old wives' tale as fact. Sheesh.)

But the big payoff has been searching for bat videos online. Our favorite site by far is cavebiota.com, where among other things we learned that brown bats can live more than 30 years! Amazing, considering that analagous small mammals (mice, shrews, etc.) have an optimistic in-the-wild life expectancy of about a year. I also found myself literally in tears watching some of the rescue stories over at batworld.com

Homeschooling really is about families learning together. I love it.

Unfortunately, I have misplaced my camera and missed a GREAT photo tonight, of Theo sitting in front of the computer watching a bat video while at the same time looking through one of his library books. Now that's some serious interest!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Calendar

The latest concept that I've introduced to Theo (at least intentionally!) is calendars. It's difficult for a child to wait for a future event. In the past I have used construction-paper chains to count down to special days. At the end of each day, we tear off a link and watch the "days to wait" grow fewer as the chain grows shorter.

This month has a nice double-whammy: Theo's birthday and Halloween. Unfortunately, they both fall at the end of the month. Long wait. This time I decided to suggest a calendar. He took to the idea quickly. He's still a little confused about the left-to-right sequence of days (when I ask him to look for the "2", he's just as likely to point out the twelfth or the twenty-somethingth rather than the second), but he is catching on. And he enjoys crossing off that box at the end of each day. That's something that has always appealed to my own organization fascination, and I'm finding more and more that he and I are "wired" similarly.

The neat and unexpected thing, though, was his "project". He asked me for a hole-punch. I was too busy to stop and ask why, and just got it for him. A few minutes later, he asked me to come see what he had done. He had punched a hole near the bottom of the page, tied a string through the hole, and taped a pencil to the other end of the string. He has never seen this type of arrangement before. I could care less if he reinvented the wheel. I'm thrilled to death that my four-year-old reinvented the wheel. And without assistance. He saw a problem, devised a solution, and carried it out.

I'm a proud, proud Momma.