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 🙂