Seeing the Learning

One of the things I enjoy about how we interact with the kids is seeing how much they really do learn without us explicity “teaching” them.

The game we have been playing recently, “Rat-A-Tat-Cat” has shown me snippets of things they know. My daughter, for example can tell greater than and less than beyond just knowing what the numbers are. She can roughly guess if  her hand is better than the others. My son has been terrific at figuring out when he has the best hand and he has also started to add up his sccore in a way I didn’t think to show him (until after he showed me). For background, he has been asking me things like “What is 10 + 6?” and I would say “16”. Then he would say “I bet you can’t stump me” and I would give him one, sticking to the teens. When we were adding up the scores, he shoved 2 of his “5” cards together and said “Here is 10” and then pushed his 8 over and said “Here is 8”, “I have 18 points”.  Now I have followed his lead and been making piles that add up to 10 when possible when we do the scoring.

He has also been playing a lot of “Paper Mario” for the GameCube lately and one of his interests is making all kinds of recipes by Zess T., one of the characters. Basically, you hand her one or two ingredients and she makes them into something else for you. We had always just given her random things to see what she would make. Most of the time, she made “mistakes”, which were not very beneficial (only 1 HP and 1 FP). 

J. found an online recipe book a while back and today my son wanted me to make lots of recipes with him. He can’t read the recipes on the website very well, so I decided I would make him a physical book with the recipes and put pictures above the words so he could use it himself. One of the neat things about “Paper Mario” has been how many words he has been picking up by looking up characters and badges, etc. and I figured this would give him even more exposure to words next to pictures he knows as well as being a useful tool.

Anyway, while I was cutting and pasting, he decided to create his own recipe book book and glue in his own pictures. He hasn’t written much lately and has never really done numbers, so at first he was asking me to write the numbers and he was telling me what ingredients. Then I asked him if we should switch and he could write the numbers and I would say what ingredients. He balked for a moment and said he wasn’t so good with numbers. I reminded him that I had printed some out the other day and he could grab them if he wanted. He ran off to grab the number worksheet (made from here in an ocean theme) that I had made and brought it in. He then drew every single number by concentrating on the pictures and copying them. He cut out the ingredient pictures himself and glued them on too. He was so proud of his work! And I didn’t have to make him do any of it. He was also so polite and grateful the whole time we were working together. He kept thanking me for making the recipe book and hanging out in his room playing “Paper Mario”.

This is our recipe book:

Close Up:

My daughter has been fascinated with the days of the week and what days J. will be home or not, when her birthday will be, when we will be going places. She seems to be getting a very good grasp of the sequence of days without us trying. Eventually, I will be less lazy and put the calender back up. That surely would make it easier for all of us, LOL.

More another time…

I Love the Thrift Store

It feels so calm and good to browse there.

I went with my daughter today, theoretically to get shorts for my son, but really to check out their books and games and whatever they might have in the way of neat fabric. No fabric today, but a pile of loot in the books and games dept.

I have a pretty comprehensive set of boardgames and cardgames listed on my website, most of which I have either played at someone else’s house or that we own. A few I added to the list soley due to the recommendations of members of a gaming forum I like to check out.

Well, I always like stumbling upon games for cheap and you really can’t beat the $1 or under pricetags on most of the games at Unique. Today, I picked up a few that were on my list that we hadn’t played yet…”Guess Where“, “Rat-A-Tat-Cat“, and “Cranium Cadoo“. The kids and I played a game of  “Guess Where” first and had a decent time figuring out what kind of clues to ask. I doubt this game will have much staying power, but at 70 cents and with the age of my kids, we will get our money’s worth. After playing that one, we tried out “Rat-A-Tat-Cat”. I knew the basic premise but was concerned it might be a little too tough for my daughter who isn’t yet 4. Pashaw! She picked it right up, at least the basics and then wanted to play several times throughout the day. Before bedtime tonight, it was the pick for both kids. We didn’t try “Cadoo” yet, but it seemed like we might be able to play as teams if J. joins in.

As far as books, there was a neat one about measuring with a movable measuring tape built right into a track. It lets you measure the stuff on the pages and then electronically sucks the tape back in at the push of a button. I figured the novelty would grab the kids attention and it did. It was my son’s pick for bedtime. My daughter’s, unfortunately for me, was “101 Dalmations” which I have now read to her 3 times since we got it home. I find it really hard to read books with her that I personally am bored with and Disney’s book versions of their movies are among the worse of the lot. To make up for some of her picks, I did score some more Dr. Seuss, a Magic School Bus, Frog and Toad, some Mad Libs, and a few others…and some workbooks for them to draw in/cut up/use for game pieces.

Oh, and I did get some shorts and a t-shirt for my son.

My son’s:

This one was a robot hero he drew for a battle game we made up to use J.’s D&D dice.

This one was to cheer me up when I was having a tough day. He was very proud that he fit all the letters of his name on the hat.

This one is a picture of three of us. On the left is my daughter in bed dreaming about a fish. In the middle is me cooking. On the right is him looking in a mirror that has bottles of lotion on it.  Just try to psychoanalyze that one 🙂

This one is a wizard with a hat and a beard. He is holding fire in both hands because he is magic. All the ovals are force fields that protect him.

My daughter’s:

Me and my daughter.

Her 🙂

Mother’s Day

Well, I managed to come down with a horrible case of food poisoning last night which had me up retching until 6:00 AM and then moved south to make my day not much fun, especially on 3 hours of sleep. The highlight of my day was getting a card created by J. and my son which was really awesome. J. also cleaned up the house for most of the morning which was very much appreciated. The rest of the day is probably better off forgotten.

That is him thinking of me 🙂

More Books and Drawings

I am going to try to keep putting lots of photos and pictures on this blog because I really like having a record of how the kids are changing and what they are doing.

They each made books before bed last night (we have been trying to do calming things while waiting for the sun to go down).

My daughter made a book filled with pictures of girls/women with long hair who all look about the same. Apparently, I am the one on the cover. ALL of the others are her, LOL. I really like the fact that it doesn’t bother her at all to make an entire book about herself. And then she drew a few more on plain sheets of paper and gave them to daddy for his birthday (early). One thing that did come out of the time together watching her draw is that she no longer wants her hair cut. Earlier in the week I had a little bit of panic when she anounced that she wanted her hair cut like her dad’s. His is about an inch all over. We discussed it and decided to wait a day and see if she still felt that way. I felt slightly hypocritical about even worrying about it. My son has grown his pretty darn long several times. Why shouldn’t she have her hair the way she wants it? Anyway, more than a day has passed and I kinda just stalled on it to see if the mood would pass. It has for now. Hopefully, I will be more ready next time. I do have a plan however…to show her an internet site of kids’ haircuts and let her choose one if we go somewhere to get it cut. If she wants me to cut it…well, it will be pretty straightforward.

With all that said, the pictures:

The green one is the book cover. Here are the inside pages:

And the back:

My son’s book tonight was about, you guessed it, Pokemon and their powers 🙂 I really liked how he used similar phrasing on each page. He read it with me and with J. tonight before bed. I am amazed at how many words he picked up while reading with us. Have I said how much I adore Pokemon? I think the idea frees him up so much artistically because he doesn’t have to worry about the pictures looking “right” (like trying to draw a lion and thinking it doesn’t look enough like a lion). Pokemon can be any shape, so he can just run with whatever happens to come out.

Here is his book (J. transcribed the story and drew a few of the pictures):


The kids love money. And they seem to think they are swimming in it due to the money in their Easter eggs from their aunt and from the checks from my grandmothers and from all the change that we have around.

My son decided to be very generous and offer to buy my daughter a doll she wanted from the toystore. Last time we were there, they each had $5 to spend, so she was kinda out of reach, but we learned her name (Binni- she is a Groovy Girl Doll) and I promised to come back another day. They decided today was the day. We poured all our coins out onto the floor and sorted and counted and wrapped them to see if Binni could come home with us today.

To help with the counting, I drew some pictures on a blank book to show how many of each coin would equal $1. I drew out circles for 4 quarters, 10 dimes, and 20 nickels. I just wrote 100 pennies- I am not THAT motivated.

Then we started to count out piles of coins to make dollars. While we were doing this, my son said that we needed to write on the back of the book. He said to write 100 pennies equals a dollar. When I told him I had already put that inside and showed him, he said “Well then write 100 pennies and 10 dimes equals 2 dollars”. I love seeing these connections he is making. I smiled inside to see a bit of the way unschooling works in a concrete way.

When we were done counting, there was extra change beyond the price of Binni and my daughter said that my son should have it to buy something for himself.

I am glad the Playmatters people know us. I did feel a little doofy going in there with a container of rolled coins, but I don’t think it would have been the same had I charged our purchases after all that energy went into them, LOL.

My daughter now has Binni. My son now has a Pappo pirate horse.

Getting Ready for J.’s Birthday

My husband’s birthday happens to be on Mother’s Day this year (same as the year he was born). Initially, I had a bit of stress over this as our weekend is fully packed now with going to look at a property Saturday morning, then heading to a birthday party for one of the kids’ cousins as well as Mother’s day and J.’s birthday on Saturday afternoon. Then, on Sunday we are seeing my mom, step-dad, and grandma as well as my aunts. I was feeling a little wee bit left out. Ok- completely. I mean really, could this please be about ME???

When I finally got over myself, I decided to plan at least something for J. My original secret plan was to sneak into his office tomorrow and decorate it with the kids. I took pictures today and got them printed for the occasion…

Now, it seems he will be in an off-site meeting all day and won’t even be going back to the office until Monday which would be after his birthday. Now I think we are just going to give him all the stuff on Sunday and make sure he takes it to work the next day 🙂

Anyway, here are the pictures:

Oh yeah, and I gave the boy a haircut 🙂

What About Socialization?

We were asked that inevitable question about homeschooling the other night at the Cinco de Mayo party.

My response was that I think homeschooling offers so many MORE opportunities for socialization, especially with children of other ages and adults. I have seen my kids be very easy going and in fact down right chatty with many adults and other kids we run into at the playground, park, store, etc. 

There are so many opportunities that I can’t imagine social life being an issue for our family. At this point, I am already making sure to leave days free just to decompress.

On that note, I guess I will update on what we have been doing/ where we have been going in the last few days. On Sunday, I took the kids over to our friends’ house while J played D&D.  Their kids are younger and my son has had a bit of trouble in the past, but things went pretty smoothly. It was beautiful outside so we spent the time kinda going in and out of the house playing.

Monday, we went down to Fairlawn to see a homeschooling family we met at the zoo last week. There are 4 kids and mine seemed to get along great with them. The kids played in the house for a bit, then we hit the playground and went for a walk. My son finished up by playing on the computer with the boys and my daughter played outside in their playhouse with the daughter. Afterward, we headed over to my dad’s house and got to play for a bit before heading home.

Tuesday, we went to the library for a while to meet up with friends and got out new books, games, and DVDs. My son is back into Pokemon pretty hard core due to the new series starting in June. Luckily, the library had some new Pokemon DVD’s we hadn’t seen before 🙂 Things were great and we played and read books for over an hour when I told my son he could use the computer and then we tried to load up the Pokemon website on the library’s computer. Oh My Gosh….it was the slowest thing ever. It took what seemed like 10 minutes just to load the main screen and we did not manage to load the Pokedex at all. (I will now be forever grateful for our wonderful wireless high speed cable connection) I tried to lead him back over toward the children’s section when our friends showed up. That didn’t go so well and after only a few minutes, he was getting aggressive. We bailed before it could get worse. Later on, the 8 yo girl across the street came over to play until it was time to drop the car off at the dealer to get fixed.

Awesome Cinco de Mayo

We had a blast at the Cinco de Mayo party we went to today! Tons of food, good drinks, and a plethora of kids running around and playing in a bounce house. Add in some sombreros and beads and pinatas with goodies and you have it made. Top it off with a fire pit on the deck and two soundly sleeping children….

Oh – Life is good.

Oh the baking front, although I heard some joking comments about my “healthy” versions of the cookies and brownies, the whole basket managed to empty itself over the course of the night 🙂  During our personal taste testing before the party, my daughter decided she liked the chocolate chip cookies best (with “hidden” wheat germ, whole wheat, almond meal, oats, and white bean puree) and my son liked the brownies (with wheat germ, whole wheat, oats, spinach, and blueberries).

More Things the Kids Have Drawn/Written

Both kids made books the other night before bed.

My daughter decided hers would be about…herself  🙂

She decided that she would make hers about being born first, LOL.

Here she is as a baby. The eyes and lips were made with stamp markers:

Then right in the middle with me and J.:

Then with her brother (he is wearing glasses)

The original picture of my son by himself was ripped out to make room for this one:


My son’s book was about…

I just realized that he is actually giving people bodies now. It was interesting to hear him dictate the last page. His dad offered up the closing line of “Now this book is done” to make it all rhyme. My son nixed it and stuck to his original choice of words.

My son also drew this slick picture of a bird eating a worm.

We also worked together to make up a really gross menu using a suggestion from “Games for Writing” or “Games for Reading” (not sure which). Sometimes when we are bored I just flip through some of the books on the shelf and ask the kids if anything sounds like fun. This was a big hit.

Been a Few Days

We went over to visit with friends and play on Tuesday. The kids both had a great time and my son wound up lending his Lego Star Wars II to his friend, who lent him his Pacman game. 

We headed down to my mom’s house on Wednesday. Here is my daughter with the big felt board at my mom’s house.

After playing in the house for a while, we headed over to a terrific playground nearby where they found another 5 yo boy to hang out with.

After spending so much time out of the house, we stayed home for Thursday and got back to some of the type of activities we used to do inside.

My son decided to draw “new” Pokemon for his own show, Pokemon Crystal and Gem. He wrote the words himself for the first few and then got frustrated, so I wrote the last one. He has been very careful lately trying to be precise with his lines and then trying to stay in them when adding the colors. He made up great stories for each one about what “type” they are and what the male and female versions of each look like. (ie. the Beamfly male has blue feet and the female has yellow)

Emma explored mixing colors with crayons and markers, trying to come up with a new “favorite color” for me. 

We played charades and some money games with coins.

This one is from the book “Monster Money” which has been a favorite around here on and off. Basically, you make 2 lines of the same coins and then while one person isn’t looking, you hide some of the coins from one line under a cup. The person opens their eyes and then guesses how many coins are under the cup.

After playing a few rounds with different amount of penies, we played with dimes and tried to see “how many cents were under the cup”.

It was nice outside. It was also nice to stay in for a bit.

Roots and Shoots at the Zoo

Well, we spent most of our day at the zoo today and the weather was perfect for it or maybe a little too perfect as I got sunburned a bit.

We made it to the Roots and Shoots meeting a few minutes late after having to run by J’s work to pick up my daughter’s carseat. (Apparently we forgot to move it back into the van after they drove J’s brother home on Sunday). Today we learned about toads vs. frogs and got to paint flower pots to create “toad abodes”. The idea is to bury the flower pots halfway in the ground (on their sides) and then put a saucer of water inside to provide a cool, moist environment which toads love. We haven’t put ours outside yet, but we are looking forward to it and then seeing if anything moves in.

Here are ours:

After the meeting, many of us walked or rode the tram up to the playground and met up with some more homeschooling families. It was really nice to see some new faces and my kids seemed to really like some of the other new kids who showed up. We stayed for a while at that playground, then walked down to a climbing rope area to play some more.

We stayed after with one of the families and went to see the animals in the Australian Adventure part of the zoo and the petting area, then headed over to another play area and the gift shop before getting out of there. We managed to spend over 6 hours at the zoo!