Sunday, November 30, 2008

house construction

Thanksgiving is over, which means it's time to begin thinking ahead to the winter holidays. Actually, mostly I just try to keep a lid on the excitement that tends to come along this time of year. Every year that gets a little harder. Especially when our beloved Mimi gives the kids a Gingerbread House kit at Thanksgiving dinner.... (thanks, Mom.....)

Not surprisingly, the kids wanted to put it together right away, but I managed to hold them off until today, then sic'd them on The Map Man, who, being a structural engineer, is the obvious choice to oversee all house construction!

Here The Man helps the boys put the finishing touches on this year's house.

And, Ta Da! Here it is! I'm pretty impressed with this year's house! Zoo Boy says we're going to write our last name on that name plate over the front door with red icing, so that everyone knows it's OUR house.

One final piece of business to take care of -- making sure every last drop of icing is out of the icing bag. I sure wish this photo did justice to the sheer amount of icing that is all over Zoo Boy's best shirt....

It didn't take long before J started picking off pieces of the house to nibble on. So I moved it to the oven, telling them it can come out to be "enjoyed" once a day. Hopefully that way I can manage to keep their blood sugar levels under control through the holiday season....

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This year I'm thankful for:

My wonderful children: J's sunny nature, amazing memory, contagious enthusiasm, internal drive, and zest for learning. Zoo Boy's unique perspective, unfettered free spirit, inherent wisdom, sensitivity, and loving nature.

My totally rockin' hot hubby, The Map Man, who has endless patience for doing chores, not getting enough sleep, and enduring my general nonsense.

Our health, our parents' health, our siblings' and their families' health, which allows us to continue to enjoy each other throughout the year.

Our farm and our lifestyle, which provides clean safe food for our family, an enjoyable income for me, and countless daily delights for us all to enjoy.

A job that The Map Man enjoys and does not take him away from his home and his family.

RDI, Enki Education, Sensory Integration Therapy, and a really, really good Speech Therapist.

Good friends to celebrate special times (and ordinary times!) with.

This blog -- a place to share my thoughts and life with family, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers who, for whatever reason, care about what goes on in my little corner of the world.

All the blogs I read, regularly or casually, and the internet lists/groups I am involved with, which help me feel a part of a larger community of kindred spirits.

The promise for a better tomorrow for our country, our planet, our universe.

Sweet puppy kisses and warm pony breath.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Frolicking round the flickering fire,
He fanned the flashing flames.
Fast and furious flared the fire;
Soon all would know his name.

-from "Rumpelstiltskin", a Western European Fairy Tale (modified by Enki Education)

As I mentioned previously, we are only doing one story cycle this week, due to the holiday. So our story for the week was "Rumpelstiltskin", a Fairy Tale that most of my readership is probably familiar with. (Which can be said about most of the tales from Western Europe, as those were the tales most of us grew up on.) The kids of course loved this story, and being a fairly simple tale, there was no problem with recall the next day (which is why I chose this one at this time!). The embedded letter ("F") is extremely obviously in the drawings, and extremely well-supported by the verse, and I felt that observing how the kids worked with this story might help me make better story selections for the rest of the block. J immediately saw the "F" (probably saw it the day we drew it even, but if so, he didn't say). This first drawing is his.

Zoo Boy made a crazy mess of his title, amusing himself greatly in the process. Other than getting me to help him with the initial background (saying "Now you will help me with my drawing, or I will color on you instead!" Nut!!), he did all of his own story drawing, and while he was being fairly goofy about the entire thing, it still looks like a fire, and still has the obvious letter "F" in it. He refused to draw Rumpelstiltskin in the pictures for some reason that I couldn't quite understand, except that he seemed to get that it was the fire the drawing was about, not the little man at all.

The boys' letter Fs. I was actually surprised that Zoo Boy took this part of the activity seriously, because it was the ONLY part he didn't do in an outlandishly silly way. When we got to writing the verse, he started by scribbling a pencil line across the middle of each "forest path" as usual, but then added a bunch of flourishes, such as circling each line and outlining the forest paths themselves.

J's partial verse. I am not the least bit surprised that he didn't write out the entire thing, because he put way too much time and energy into doing just this much of it. Can you see the "F" that starts the verse? It's very ornate and boxed in, "Just like a Fairy Tale letter, " he explained. He then went on to go over each and every letter he drew several times. Finally I asked him WHY he was doing that, and he said to make the letters darker. I asked him if he just wanted a darker pencil color, and he said "No, I'm doing it this way because it's fun. And fancy. Fun and Fancy --both start with "F"! " There was no more discussion on the subject -- I mean, I can't argue with that kind of logic!! Of course, after the second line, he declared his hand to be hurting, and I have no doubt he was telling the truth about that, given that he'd written about three times as much as required! So he read the verse one more time and went skipping off to play.

My story drawing.

So -- what have I learned in my observations on this story cycle?

Well, for one thing, I'm pretty sure that my Adventure Circle is not rich enough in proprioception activities to properly ground my children, especially without having our morning walk to accompany it. We need a lot more jumping, crashing, stomping and bumping to get my kids in their bodies enough to handle a half hour's worth of seat work. So I'll start working on our next circle over the coming weekend, and load it up with what they need. I'm a little shy about dumping the one we just started last week so soon, so I'll probably just add a couple more sensory-rich activities to the existing circle and use it for one more week. But I purposely made it focus on mid-lines and tactile, and that's obviously not what my kids are needing at the moment (or at least I need to sprinkle those mid-lines around more proprioception-heavy work).

Next, J is seriously lacking in writing stamina. I need to put the chalkboard paint I bought to use and get an area for him to work on great big vertical letters to loosen up his arm motion mechanisms -- I think he's just too scrunchy in his writing position.

And finally, I do think that the simpler tales are definitely the way to go with my guys. So I'll take a closer look at what lies ahead in the materials I've already picked out, and put off some of the more complicated ones until next year.

Ahh, the luxury of homeschooling and being able to totally change your curriculum plans to meet your individual children's needs!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the owl in our family

Lucario, Zoo Boy's cockatiel, has been joining us for circle (from the safety of her own cage) every morning. It's quite obviously her favorite time of the day, and she whistles along with the call to circle, joins in with the songs, verses and movements whenever she can. In our current adventure circle, she bobs her head up and down enthusiastically during the repeating verse (and any other song with a good strong beat). When we do "Mouse" she "squeaks" along with us at the end of each verse. Her all-time favorite verse is "Owl", which we do at the end. She enthusiastically calls "hoo hoo, hoo hoo!" at the appropriate time, and pretty much throughout the entire circle. And at various other times during the day when she hopes she can inspire us to start circle again.

In honor of just how much she loves this verse, J decided to re-write "Owl". Here is his new version of the poem, entitled "Lucario":

As day and nighttime fall,
"Hoo hoo, hoo hoo" we hear her call.

Watching us circle round,
Her excitement she has found.

When we sing she copies us,
There's no anger, there's no fuss,

And when our song is done
She sits quietly, she is one,

Perched upon her perch, that's all.
"Hoo hoo, hoo hoo" we hear her call.

Monday, November 24, 2008

week #10 (2nd week of 3rd block)

The kids monkeying around in J's loft earlier in the week.

We were in a bit more of a normal groove this week, although I still pretty much entirely slacked off on Practice Time. Mostly because I've run out of handwriting sheets and can't print any more out until I get a new printer cartridge. But also, I came to the conclusion that doing reading practice with my kids was just silly, given that they spend a higher proportion of each day reading that is probably ideal. However, by the end of the week Zoo Boy started insisting on Reading Practice again, so we went back to it anyway. I think he just likes having my undivided attention when he reads to me (and I don't blame him one bit). As long as it's serving a purpose, I really don't have a problem with it.

In any case, we launched our new Canoe Trip Adventure Circle, which was an instant hit. (Here Zoo Boy gleefully flings himself out of the "tallest oak tree" to crash in a "pile of leaves" at the bottom.) Our curriculum stories for the week were "Vasily and the Dragon" (introducing the letter "D") and "The Luminous Pearl" (introducing the letter "L"). For Nature story on Friday evening, I read "The Mournful Goodbye" as The Map Man and the kids munched popcorn by the fire, and on Saturday we painted our impression of what the geese saw beneath them as they migrated.

The temperatures were ridiculously cold for mid-November, not getting above the mid-20s all week (and with temps at barn chores time well in the lower teens). That brought a sudden end to our morning walks, and the kids spent an hour each morning chasing the puppy around instead. (Which honestly was probably more exercise than they ever got on a walk!).

(Cute little sprite, isn't she?)

Monday was the last day of the fall semester for our Monday Homeschool Classes. We attended the Homeschool Chorus concert (which was really cute!), then J was awarded a certificate in soccer, while Zoo Boy created his final Paws-n-Claws project (a turkey-decorated bucket). I'm sorry to see that class end, I had fun with it, but I have even more fun things planned for those preschoolers (and the older kids!) for the winter semester! (More details to come!) Tuesday we FINALLY got back to Speech and Occupational Therapy sessions for Zoo Boy (after a forced break due to lack of transportation). We focused on motor planning and the "sh" and "r" sounds this week, seamlessly weaving the therapy work into our adventure circle (I should post details on that I guess...). Thursday and Friday the kids had classes about Dinosaurs at the local children's museum. Prior to J's class on Thursday afternoon, we attended a local "meet and greet" session at our town library with other local homeschooling families and 20 or so homeschooled kids about my guys' ages. On Thursday night, J started one of my Puppy Kindergarten classes that I teach at a local dog training center with Grace (our pup). He's very enthusiastic about becoming a "Junior Dog Trainer" (his term!), and is practicing his dog training skills every day, with great success already. Friday after Zoo Boy's class we headed over to the nature center in our favorite park to meet up with our friends T, D and B, and had a nice afternoon of visiting with each other and a couple of the park's resident snakes. Sunday was J's chorus practice -- the show is getting close! There will be extra practices for the next two weeks. From the sounds of things, the group needs it....

(The kids taught Grace to run through their tunnel this week.)

We didn't make much progress with our chapter book, The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden, mainly because I am easily distracted by bright shiny objects (and cute fuzzy puppies). Story Time books for the week were I See Animals Hiding, by Jim Arnosky; How Do Bears Sleep?, by E.J. Bird; and Wild Child, by Lynne Plourde, illustrated by Greg Couch.

This coming week will be a "lite" one, with the Thanksgiving hoorah, I mean holiday, devouring the 2nd half, so we'll only do one story cycle this week. (But it's a GOOD one!! Stay tuned....)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

mournful goodbye paintings

Last night we read "A Mournful Goodbye", an Enki Education Kindergarten Nature Story about the migration of a family of Canada Geese. Today, after a brief recall of the story, we painted our impressions of what the earth looked like below the flying goose family, as "day after day they flew over scarlet and crimson, yellow and gold" on their way southward. This first painting is J's.

This painting is Zoo Boy's. We painted with the "color dancers" method, which means that we left our paper wet rather than sponging it off after soaking, and dipped color onto the page with the tips of our brushes, rather than using brush-strokes to apply it. This allows the color to naturally follow the micro-paths of the water on the paper and interact more "organically" with neighboring colors. Judging from our results, I think the paper was perhaps TOO wet, but the effect is still pleasant.

A really interesting note: although I had 4 colors available -- crimson, orange, gold and yellow -- Zoo Boy chose NOT to use the orange paint. This is noteworthy because of the end result -- he has the most actual orange on his page. Interesting, eh?

My painting. As usual, I liked what the kids did much better than my own work. I am seriously lacking in freedom of creative expression -- I try too hard NOT to create something, and always wind up unhappy with the contrived looking results.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the luminous pearl

Three dips from the Dragon's ladle
calmed the lapping waters.
Deepest love from a little girl
awakens a luminous pearl.
The Dragon King's daughter
finds a lasting love.

-from "The Luminous Pearl", a Chinese Fairy Tale (adapted by Enki Education)

The story for the 2nd half of our week was "The Luminous Pearl", a Fairy Tale from China. In the story, one brother saves a town from a flood by borrowing a magical ladle from the Dragon King, while the other selfishly avoided the troubled town to return faster to the princess both were wooing. Both suitors' task was to bring the most luminous pearl they could find. The selfish brother's pearl was the largest, but the brother who saved the town had a small black pearl that a little girl from the town gave him in thanks for his help, and that was the pearl that became the most luminous, winning the hero the hand of the Dragon King's daughter. Here's J's drawing of the ladle, and the pearl.

Zoo Boy's story drawing. The boys readily saw the letter "L" in their drawings (the ladle) this morning. They seemed a bit confused about a few of the story's details during recall yesterday, so this might be a story we use again next year. That makes two stories in a row they've had a bit of trouble with the recall of, I may resort to either finding simpler stories for the rest of this block, or perhaps introducing a couple of silks as props during the telling to aid with comprehension of key moments. I'll be sitting with that thought for the next few days before deciding what course to take.
The boys' Ls. Neither of them was particularly focused today. In fact, the past couple of days seem to have been challenging for them in general -- there have been a lot of "silly" behavior and even some tears. I may need to step up the physical aspects of our adventure circle on these days when we're not walking in the mornings due to the temperatures -- I'm thinking that perhaps they are not getting enough of their energy needs met before doing the more concentrated work. Again, more to think on.

Given everything else, I wasn't surprised when J showed a lack of stamina for writing the verse. He made it through the first section then abandoned the activity.

My story drawing. This was actually one of my favorite stories of those we've read thus far, adding to my inclination to repeat this one again at some point.


It's been beastly cold this week -- we haven't seen a temperature above freezing yet! Thankfully, the kids were signed up for some museum classes this week to keep their minds and bodies busy despite not spending much time outdoors. This weeks' classes were about Paleontology -- here's a set-up of various species of dinosaurs and information about them.

J helped to assemble this giant Triceratops puzzle during his class.

Both kids did rubbings of fossils, this is J's.

There were several bins set up in Zoo Boy's class so that the kids could pretend to be Paleontologists and unearth some fossils.

Zoo Boy shows off some fossils he found during the fossil-dig.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

canoe trip adventure circle

Here are the details for our current Adventure Circle, which has a premise of being a canoe trip. All songs/verses are from the Enki Education Kindergarten Movement Activities book, unless otherwise noted. Before the name of the song/verse is the targeted type of activity that the song/verse works on. The non-song/non-verse activities that I intertwine with the Enki activities target those same areas, but in a more direct way, as my kids need that type of work (and because Zoo Boy doesn't yet participate fully in the Enki Activities during circle, although he will often do them on his own at other times). This is what makes my adventure circle more of a "remediation circle" than what most Enki-using families are probably doing/need. (For most kids, the Enki activities themselves are enough Sensory Integration work.)

Call: Round and Round

Opening: November (from Enki 1st Grade Movement Activities)

“Today we’re going on a canoe trip! I bet we’ll see lots of animals and interesting things in the river and the woods. Put on your life vests (mime) and let’s launch our canoe!”

Repeating verse: Wild Goose Flight

Move down hall, back, and down hall again to kids’ room.

“What a beautiful Oak forest! Let’s stop here and get out for awhile. Wow, look at all the acorns!”
Mid-line: The Acorn

“Let‘s climb the tallest oak tree to see what we can see!”

Climb into loft.

“What a great view from way up here! Oh look! A squirrel is in this tree with us! I guess it’s looking for acorns.”

Mid-line: Squirrel Running

"Are you ready to get going? Let’s jump down into the leaves!"

Jump out of loft onto bed below.
"Let’s see what’s further down the river. "

Repeating Verse: Wild Goose Flight

Move down hall to living room.

“Hey look! A Swan!”

Base sense/vestibular/proprioceptive: Mama Swan
Repeating Verse: Wild Good Flight

Move down hall to bedroom.

“I see a Beaver!”

Sit on bed.

Proprioceptive: Beaver

Repeating Verse: Wild Goose Flight

Move down hall to living room.

“Oh, what a pretty Beech forest! Let’s get out here and see if we can find any more animals. Look out!!! A snake! Let’s step over it VERY carefully!”

Games and Ropes: Wiggling Snake (“by the river side”)

“Phew! That was a close one!
What’s the noise I hear when we walk? It’s a crunching, crackling sound?”

Point towards ground.

“Oh, look!”

Tactile/Fingerplay: Crackling Brown Leaves

“If we sit really still, maybe an animal will come out so we can see it.”

Sit silently, looking about. “Shhhhh…..”

(whispered, pointing) “Look!”

Tactile/ Fingerplay: Mouse

“That Mouse was SO cute!! I think it’s time to head home, it's starting to get dark. But I don’t want to walk across that snake again, so let’s go a different way back to the canoe. Here, we can go through this cave…”

Crawl through tunnel on one side of table.

“…and we can climb over these rocks…”

Scramble over chairs on other side of table.

“…and now we need to cross this stream. Jump from rock to rock to keep your shoes dry!”

Jump from pillow to pillow.

“There’s the canoe!”

Repeating verse: Wild Goose Flight

Move down hall and back.

“That was a great trip! Wait! What’s that I see?!?! Did it follow us home from the woods?”

Close: Owl

Closing Spiral: Sun is Rising

vasily and the dragon

Deep down in the dark
The dragon dwells.
Dare to ask
And he will tell.

-from "Vasily and the Dragon", a Russian Fairy Tale (modified by Enki Education)

Our story for the first half of the week was the Russian Fairy Tale, "Vasily and the Dragon". Given the kids' difficulty in recalling this one, the content may have been a bit beyond them. For instance, the ferryman has Vasily ask the dragon who his replacement will be, and the dragon says "whoever touches the oar". Later, Vasily's evil adopted father, Marko, grabs the oar to try and knock Vasily overboard, and it fuses to his hands and his feet fuse to the ferry. Yet the kids didn't understand that Marko had then become the new ferryman. There were other situations in the story that the kids didn't "get" either. I am going to mark this story to use again next year -- my guess is another year's maturity will help with understanding some of the subtleties of this and other more complicated Fairy Tales.

(Note in this drawing that J added a "ha, ha!" after Vasily's name, because he thought it was funny that "Vasily" has a "Silly" in it.)

Zoo Boy's drawing. The consonant hidden in the story is, as I'm sure you've long since guessed, "D". J actually didn't see it, but Zoo Boy identified it right off the bat. The Boy also readily wrote out the title, so perhaps the writing strike is over? In any case, he did ask for quite a bit of help in setting up this drawing, but took it over himself once we got the basic shape of the body, adding the head, feet, scales, and funky orange tail himself.

J's letters on top, Zoo Boy's beneath. I found it interesting that J corrected his D to be more uniform. I didn't comment. We're going to work on perfecting letter formation next year, this year I just want the kids to get comfortable using the writing implements, and feeling free to do things with their own "flair". They both need to build stamina with the writing tools before they can be expected to get more exacting with their letter formation, etc.

J happily wrote out the entire verse (which was nice and short). From this point on, the story verses are going to be getting longer. It will be interesting to see how much he chooses to (and is able to) write from them. Again, that's another thing we'll work on (with J) next year (completing the verses). This year his only direction is "write as much or as little of the verse as you would like". He usually chooses to write the entire verse, but I'm not sure that will last with the longer verses. Zoo Boy is still not writing any of the verse -- next year I'll expect him to write at least the first few words, as he is quite obviously capable of that (given that he IS writing the titles on our drawings most of the time). For this year, since he's still techinically not old enough for first grade, I am comfortable letting him do whatever he wants with the work, free from my criticism.

My drawing. This was one of those instances where I liked the kids' drawings much better than my own. J's dragon head LOOKS like a dragon's head -- very fierce with nasty, sharp teeth. Mine looks kind of like Barney -- pretty harmless and cartoony. Even Zoo Boy's dragon looks more ferocious than mine. Ah well, let's face it, I'm more of a flowers and bunnies type of artist anyway....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

week #9 (1st week of 3rd block)

(J reading a chapter book -- one of the Magic Treehouse books, which was a birthday gift -- to Zoo Boy.)

We were all excited to get back to our Language Arts work this week! We worked with the letters "T" and "P", with the Enki Fairy Tales "The Golden Amulet" and "Soonimaya" respectively. After the week (of chaos) off, and in part due to our almost upside-down rhythms this week, we didn't get much accomplished other than the story work. We did no practice work, no painting, no crafts, and no baking. We did a very short, loose formal circle drawing movement activities from our last adventure circle and our co-op community circle, which got the big thumbs-down from Zoo Boy, although J happily participated regardless. Mostly we tried to just walk whenever the weather allowed it.

Monday's homeschool classes are winding down -- this was the next to the last week. The cold has driven the picnickers indoors, so we lost our space to do Community Circle. This was going to be the last week for Community Circle anyway, as it's just not working out how we'd envisioned it when we decided to do it. It was worth a try, though, and I enjoyed working with the couple of families who chose to participate -- I know those few kids are disappointed to see it discontinued, as they all asked me about it. J and I did folk dancing, and he played soccer while I taught the preschool class where Zoo Boy and the other kids made some really cute felt bears. We spent Tuesday afternoon at my parents -- well, the kids did, I spent some of it in the dentist's chair (just a routine cleaning, everything is actually great!). On Wednesday, an internet friend, L, came to visit with her adorable son C and her sister S (who took this photo of us all). We had a nice lunch, and the boys had a good time showing C around the farm, and Butterscotch had a good time giving pony rides (poor Annie felt very left out, however!).

(The kids used a partially completed puzzle to play an intricate pretend saga involving a fire, a candelabra, a Playmobil pirate, and a couple of Pokemon figures. Don't ask me any more about it, as I totally have no idea what it was all about, all I know is that it looked really cool and the kids seemed to know what they were doing.)

Thursday we got some much-needed shopping done (finally bought some pants to fit the ever-growing J!). Friday we hosted some good friends, and it was a relief after our crazy week to just hang out and play (and eat!) all afternoon. We had our usual Friday evening fireside Nature Story, followed by a Saturday theatrical production of that story, "Autumn's Warm Blanket".

(Zoo Boy puts on a simple puppet show -- both kids have been doing that this week, using a chair as a puppet theater, and drum mallets as characters, usually kings, queens, princes, etc. In this particular puppet show, the mallets are a boy and a girl that like to throw a ball.)

I used the "down time" from not having extra "school work" to put the final touches on our next Adventure Circle, this time a Canoe Trip theme. I'll post details as we get going with it (starting tomorrow). I've also been working on some adjustments in our school year's schedule. I've more or less decided to tag an extra week onto this block, taking us through the 2nd week of December, and then go on Holiday Break until the middle of January. It's less than I planned on doing when we started the school year, but I've never gone wrong by taking things slower and doing less, and my heart is guiding me in doing what I think is right for my kids, for me, and ultimately for our family. It does mean that I'll need to do a final block in June, which I was toying with taking off entirely. But with a break after Zoo Boy's birthday in March, it'll break things up enough to not feel like we're doing too much during the 2nd half of our year.

(J experimenting with transposing music, figuring out how to write the notes from songs he knows, then playing them back again. He's becoming fairly proficient in reading music.)

J had his chorus rehearsal tonight. The Map Man took him, and told me that the duet that he was supposed to be doing with another boy in the chorus has sort of fallen through. So he went and signed up for a solo instead. He's chosen "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", which surprised me, as I don't think it's a song he knows in it's entirety already, and not one I've ever heard him singing. So he's got a bit of work to do. The Map Man will get him some copies of the sheet music tomorrow, and I guess we'll just leave it with him and his keyboard to figure out. (Of course, I'm available to help him if he needs it -- I am going to try to find him a recording to listen to, as he'll learn it faster that way. I'm thinking Bruce Springsteen's version might not be the right way to go....) There are only 2 more regular rehearsals, plus a dress rehearsal, before the shows.

Storytime stories this week were In November, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jill Kastner; The Deer in the Wood, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee Graef; and Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnosky. We also started a new chapter book, The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden.

autumn's warm blanket

Our nature story (read by the fire on Friday night, with plenty of popcorn to eat, of course!) for the week was "Autumn's Warm Blanket", from the Enki Education 1st Grade Nature Story collection. For artistic digestion on Saturday, we decided to put on a play about the story. The main characters were Black-Eyed Susan (played by J) and Yarrow, (played by Zoo Boy).

The kids were really excited at the thought of putting on a play, and worked diligently on their costumes. For Susan's petals, J cut out construction paper petals and taped them onto a head band. Zoo Boy glued crumpled up bits of Kleenex on a piece of construction paper to create the small white flower clusters of Yarrow, and attached the entire cluster to a headband. They then cut out leaves to hold, of each flower's type.

Then we worked on the scenery. The story takes place at a field's edge, and Zoo Boy decided to draw the field, while J decided to draw a tree whose leaves would fall upon the sleeping flowers at the end of Autumn. We decided that autumn-colored silks would serve as the falling leaves. I noted that J used the edges of his block crayons to created the trunk and branches, then switched to stick crayons for the leaves, all on his own without any input from me (other than suggestion holding the paper the long way). I drew a field along with Zoo Boy so that he'd have an example to follow. He asked for a little bit of help (hand-over-hand coloring) getting started with his drawing, but for the most part he did it himself.

Our stage is set. It was Zoo Boy's idea to use a sheet as our "curtain", and he selected a yellow one from his bed, as it was the color of the yellow Autumn fields. On the right is Zoo Boy's field, in the middle is J's tree, and on the left is my field. We held a dress rehearsal, then pinned up the "curtain" and waited for The Map Man to get home and serve as an audience.

The final scene -- Susan and Yarrow asleep for the winter under a colorful blanket of autumn leaves. The show was a huge success and drew rave reviews from the critics. Rest assured, this will not be our last production.