Sunday, October 31, 2010
The rather enormous cake. A lot of cake went home with a lot of people, and I hope the folks in The Map Man's office likes cake, because they are getting a rather large chunk of this tomorrow....
"Happy Birthday to you,..."
Toasting marshmallows for S'mores. Mmmmm....
It was quite the chilly night, but the fire kept everyone warm and toasty like..., well, like a marshmallow!
Openings gifts. He took in quite a haul, including books, games, gift certificates, an inventor's kit, and a DVD of the Nutcracker.
Thank to everyone who came out to make J's big day extra special!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
One more week of this (we'll work with 5 and 6 next week) -- seems like this is being stretched out a little longer than necessary, but not only is that my M.O. in general, but it leaves us plenty of time for seasonal fun -- we're on the verge of winter here, we need to take advantage of as much outdoor time as we can get!!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
My confession is this -- I dropped the ball. I fell into the "let someone else educate my kids" trap that I am usually so ready to scorn. I sat back and stopped taking responsibility for implementing what my kids need in order to optimize their development.
I realize that might be hard for some of you to buy. I'm certainly doing plenty of running around and making opportunities available to my kids. In some cases I'm dead-on accurate: the Enki 2nd grade curriculum has been a perfect fit (and I have no doubt 3rd will be the same as we ease into that over the course of the next few months); our Monday Homeschool classes are fabulous; we certainly get plenty of exposure to science and nature and exercise and socialization; our Kids in the Kitchen projects has been a smash hit.
And then there's the whole Spanish thing.
I'm picking up that dropped ball, and I'm running with it!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
What a great classroom, huh? Homeschooling is the BEST!!
Zoo Boy chose to depict a scene from a dream that he had. We had looked at examples of African American quilts that depicted scenes from the bible, from traditional stories, and scenes from their own experience, hopes, or desires.
The block I made is a scene from my own life, a duck on a farmyard pond.
Most of the kids in the class depicted some sort of scene. Some, however, chose to do a pattern, which would have been used in a quilt that was thrown together quickly to provide warmth rather than one that was worked on over the course of time to tell a story. Both methods of quilting were used by the slaves, and it was fun to see all of the original ideas laid out in cloth!
We pulled all of our quilt squares together into a class quilt (still waiting for two more students' squares to complete this one). We'll use the quilt during our presentation on Share Day -- we're putting together a little informational/musical show to share the highlights from our Harriet Tubman story with the Monday Homeschool Classes community, and will be acting out a few scenes. This quilt will be used during scenes in the slave quarter where Harriet lived.
We also learned to tie and wear bandannas, and thought of all the reason why slaves wore them. Zoo Boy liked his so much that he wore his for the rest of the day, here seen building in Keva class with his "head rag" on.
I will again mention how much value sharing our cultural crafts with a group has been for our family. So much so that from now on I will be planning classes around our home study schedule (or planning our home study schedule around classes I can bring to the community). Sharing both the crafts and the cooking (we do a lot of that during class too!) portion of our cultural studies in a community setting brings the culture so much more alive for us, it's definitely one of the best ideas I've had to date!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
We got to the farm in the late afternoon, still enough time to have a hayride out past the pumpkin fields and traverse the smaller of their two corn mazes in the daylight. (If you see me regularly, be sure to ask me about the little lost boy that we helped -- an UNBELIEVABLE experience -- I really wonder about some parents....)
We took a photo of the larger maze entrance before it got too dark to see it. Then the boys played on the play equipment and visited with the farm animals, biding their time until it got dark enough to make doing the maze just a little bit scary.
Finally, the sun went down...
...and the full (well, just past) moon came up, and into the maze we went!
J was a little freaked out at first, and I was patting myself on the back that I had chosen such a mild introduction to nighttime Halloween high-jinx. Finally I convinced him that there was nothing actually dangerous out there, otherwise the owners wouldn't let us come into their corn field. Then he settled down and had a great time, and even joined in with the rest of us in trying to sneak away then sneak up and startle each other.
We found all our checkpoints and punched all of our cards. J's usual keen sense of direction and map following was a little messed up due to his low-level anxiety about being lost in a maze at night, but The Map Man kept us on the right track (wouldn't be much of a nick-name for him if he hadn't!), and we found our way home again, no problem.
Fun night! J declared it awesome! Zoo Boy said it was fun, but maybe something a little scarier for next year. I dunno, I thought this was just about right for our family.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Why is it that people think there's something wrong with children making mistakes?
I've been meaning to do a blog post on this topic, and I was reminded of people's apparent need to prevent kids from making mistakes yesterday while grocery shopping. The boys were doing their weekly shopping for their Wednesday evening meal. We were at the store at a slow time, there was nobody in line behind us, so there was no rush to get us out of there. When the cashier told the boys the total ($16 and change), Zoo Boy looked at his fistful of bills and paused. He was trying to figure out what to give her, and out loud he wondered what bills he should use. The overly helpful (or overly impatient?) cashier jumped in and said "Just give me the twenty." And quick as that she killed a perfectly good learning opportunity right in it's tracks.
While she was making change for him, I reminded him "Don't forget about my card" to get him thinking about picking up my store card, which the cashier already placed on the shelf in front of him, and handing it back to me. Before he could even look to find the card, the cashier grabbed it and shoved it in his face. Kaboom, another learning opportunity shot, and worse yet, an opportunity to practice taking responsibility for borrowed items.
It didn't stop there. I had pushed my cart out of the way (I had done a little shopping as well) so that it would be clear to the bagger than the boys' bags didn't belong with mine. When she turned around to put their first bag in my cart anyway, I pushed it further away and said "no, those are their bags," indicating the boys. She scowled at me, pursued the cart and put the bag in there anyway. I retrieved the bag, and as I was turning to hand it to J, she ducked around my back to put their other bag in the cart too, giving me a smug look. I just shook my head, removed the bag, and handed it to Zoo Boy.
Nope, not done yet! As I headed to the parking lot, I noticed that J was only holding one handle on his bag and that his groceries were listing badly to the side. I very purposely said nothing, because what better way is there to learn to hold your bag properly than having all the contents spill out? Half way to our car, a passing lot attendant pointed the bag out, and went as far as helping J adjust his grip on the bag while J was still looking at the bag and trying to figure out what to do about it. So what did J learn from this? Maybe nothing. Maybe that adults are helpful. But maybe that adults will come to his rescue so he doesn't need to take responsibility for his own actions. He certainly didn't learn that if he holds his bag wrong he's going to lose all his groceries.
I know, I know, the people were just trying to be helpful (well, not so sure about that bagger, I think she was just trying to be a righteous pain in the patootie), and I'm willing to attribute a lot of the worlds' ills to people not being helpful enough, so probably I shouldn't complain about an overly helpful attitude. But it got me thinking -- whatever happened to letting children learn from their mistakes? What ever happened to teaching kids to take responsibilities for their actions? Why is it that adults are so quick to step in and "fix" things for kids, rather than letting them learn from direct consequences?
When was the last time you stepped in to help a child when they would have benefited more from figuring it out on their own?
I think this is something that we, as parents, and especially as home educators, really need to be conscious of. By stepping in to assist our kids, we are taking valuable learning opportunities away from them. Clearly there's a line to walk, you wouldn't want your child floundering to the point of utter failure and discouragement. But what's wrong with a little healthy frustration and learning to work through a problem? What's wrong with building problem-solving skills and accepting that not everything goes the way you planned?
Just a little something to ponder as you sit there with your coffee.
So after making out their ingredient list, shopping for the ingredients, and convincing me that I should pay for the butter instead of them because they are only using a tablespoon of it and I'll use the rest (good point...even tho they really only wanted to have enough money in their budget to buy a sweet dessert), it was time to cook! First, breaking eggs and scrambling them up with a little salt and pepper.
While Zoo Boy went to change his clothes (because he broke his first egg all over himself rather than into the mixing bowl), J cooked the eggs (like regular scrambled eggs, but stopping while the eggs were still slightly wet).
Then he spread the eggs on top of a thin-crust Boboli pizza crust, while Zoo Boy opened the package of cheese.
They sprinkled shredded cheddar cheese generously over the eggs.
Then they used the kitchen shears to cut up slices of breakfast ham, and placed those on the pizza.
Then they added tidbits of pineapple. The pineapple was packages in it's own juice, so I sent them to find a slotted spoon -- apparently they'd never seen a slotted spoon before, so it was an amusing search, as I wouldn't give them any hints until they made a guess. First Zoo Boy pulled out a measuring spoon, and I said "Does that have slots in it?" Then J pulled out a spatula, which DID have slots in it, and I said "Is that a spoon?". They finally found the appropriate item and were able to finish topping their pizza.
Then it was into the oven for 12 minutes. Mmmmmmm....I can't even tell you how tasty this was.
No, the boys didn't eat it, but they did try all the components. J said he liked pretty much every part of it, but wasn't interested in eating it all combined together. Zoo Boy discovered that he really, REALLY hates pineapple. (Yet he swallowed it like a trooper.)
The Map Man and I willingly scoffed up whatever they didn't want to eat.