Sunday, November 26, 2006

hopscotch geography?

ok i just had to share this way cool neato way to learn about the geography of the US!!!

check it out!!

teaching the concept of time

well now, the more my brain goes in this direction, the more ideas i keep coming up with. this is fun! it came to me that the concept of time is a tough one. maeven has been asking how long a minute is, how long a second is, how long a half hour is, etc...we've been trying to explain but realizing that EXPERIENCING things first hand...hands-on, as much as possible, is the best way for children to learn...it occurred to me that a stop watch would be very very helpful with this. so then i remembered that i had seen a klutz kit with a stop watch. so i went on ebay and found it and got one! pretty dang cool! it looks like this. it's the old version, they have a new fangled stop watch now but the old one is fine so i found it on ebay for 10cents! LOL! pretty good deal. anyway i figured this could really help her learn all about time if she's timing herself and us all doing different things and the book gives her things to try to beat her time at. neato! can't wait to give it to her. i may wait for christmas though. we'll see.

learning numbers

so i have to toot my horn when i find something that really works. i have to because this blog is often a big whine fest so i have to put up the good stuff when i can too. :)

so a few weeks ago i just grabbed a piece of paper and told maeven we were going to play a counting game. this because i was realizing she really needed some work on her numbers, because she just wasn't quite getting the concept of counting very high yet. she could, sorta, but not good enough by my thinking...so i wanted to give her some practice and i figured writing practice would be good too because she still does many of her numbers kind of garbled and backwards.

so i wrote 1 and she wrote 2 and then i wrote 3 and so on...we kept alternating...oh we used 2 different colored pens to distinguish the numbers more too. so then whenever we got to a point where she was unsure what was next i went ahead and did it for her and she picked up when she felt she could. usually i only had to do 1 number and she would figure out what was next.

also interesting, and something i'm proud of myself for...i don't like correcting her. it just feels yucky. i don't like to say "no, honey, that's backwards"...it just feels like a slap in the face. but at the same time i don't want her to get in the habit of writing backwards or incorrectly. so what i figure out was that doing this game, all the numbers come up eventually. so even if i'm doing the evens i do eventually get a chance to write some odd numbers because when we get to the 30s, i'm doing 3s and in the 50s i'm doing 5s, and so on...so what i found out is that i don't have to say a word if she writes them wrong. we just keep going and she eventually sees what i'm writing and follows suit. so for the beginning she was writing all her 5s backwards...but once we got to the 50s, and i was writing a lot of 5s with her, she figured out that her 5s didn't look like mine and switched to the correct way about halfway through the 50s. pretty clever girl! :) and clever mommy to just let her figure it out, eh? :) *pat self on back* worked that way for a couple different numbers, i noticed.

and i also figure...that the more practice she gets, the more she will notice when she's doing them backwards. so i just don't say anything. she'll get it. :) so we've played this game twice now and both times she enjoyed it. another benefit is that she can SEE the odds and evens because we've written them in different colors. and when we remember to stop at 10 and start a new line with 11, stop at 20, new line at 21...then she is really seeing the pattern in the numbers. and i know the more we do this the more she'll see the pattern, without any prompting (other than maybe "hey, look at that" from me) and no drilling and no (UGH) worksheets! pretty neat!

i think the 5s will also be obvious this way too...we'll continue to talk about them and...oh i just thought of another idea...perhaps we will try patterning with more than 2 colors...with each of us alternating 2 colors or something like that...have to think about that. that could be really interesting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

unschooling unintentionally

this is a bit of a reiteration of the last post, but bear with me...

so i was thinking about how frustrated i am cuz i'm failing my daughter because i'm not officially doing anything with the curriculum that i bought... it's a great curriculum, it just requires me to do a lot of preparing and learning how to use it and i simply don't have the time...add to that that anytime i try to do an activity with maeven, tyren gets in the way. he literally will not let me leave his sight these days and if i'm doing anything with sister, he has to climb on me, usually crying, and make everything damn near impossible. our first (and only) "wet-on-wet" watercolor painting experience was pretty much a nightmare experience with me trying to keep him literally OFF of her and out of her paints. i even did as was suggested by another mom in my online enki group...i set up a tray for tyren with his own water and brushes and paper so he could "paint" too...but ooooohhhhh noo! not my boy! he would have nothing to do with it. he was totally on to me! he wanted what sister had an ONLY what sister had! so the entire experience was just a stressful mess for me...and loud an particularly annoying for maeven. and frustrating and sad for tyren. so needless to say, we haven't done it since.

"why don't you do it during his nap?", you say? ahh, well that would assume that he actually stayed down for any length of time OUT of my arms. this, sadly, is not the case. i've even gotten to the point that i often don't even attempt to try to put him down, but make my life far easier by just counting his nap time as my computer work time and maeven's quite independent play time. seems to work far better than the cursing under my breath stressed out time of getting involved in something with maeven just to be torn away from it 5-10min into it and not being able to get the baby to stay put long enough to accomplish anything. why even bother trying if its going to not work out?

well so i think we are finally at the point of just giving in to the natural "rhythm" of our day these days...which does not include much of anything that i had envisioned for our first year of homeschooling but is actually, upon further reflection, turning slowly into quite an unschooling experience.

i have always been interested in unschooling but didn't consider myself 100% for it. i can see the value of it but i like planning things too and i do feel there's value in some actual teaching...but since one on one teaching experiences are really pretty much impossible right now with this little spitfire of energy i call my son...things are turning out to go a different direction...

i was recently thinking about how our "schooling" experience seems to be going and have realized that i've turned into an unschooling without meaning to...and i think maeven is the one reaping the benefits!

so her "school week" begins with a science class at the discovery center early mondays, where she just finished a 7 week session on ants (after which she can explain the life cycle and living habits of ants far better than anyone i know and reproduce a quite life-like representation of an ant, complete with all the appropriate body parts!) and just started learning about penguins...then a little socializing with friends, then running around town running errands with Mommy, learning about waiting in line and taking turns at the post office and grocery store or wherever else we have to go that day...finding things on lists and reading street signs and labels and words anywhere and everywhere (yes, she's really getting into reading lately! self-initiated!) and will often make her own list to bring with us and gather her own items...back home so that Bompa can pick her up and take her to his house for "Bompa Woodworking Time"...where they've together completed a birdhouse/feeder and a Maeven-sized woodworking bench, complete with "my own"(Maeven's) tools that Mommy joyfully pointed out she herself used in Bompa's workshop when she was a little girl too! (ahh, the memories...i made quite a cool squirrel feeder when i was not much older than maeven!) their next project is in the planning phases...a toy wooden car for brother for xmas!

tuesdays are more errands and housework, library, and whatever pressing needs we have until nana time, when maeven either goes to nana's house or nana comes to ours...so far they've been doing baking projects...made cookies one week, shortbread another...and are planning on making chocoloate and peppermint dipped pretzels for wrapping and giving as gifts this next week....eventually they will be working on making more crafts such as crocheting, knitting, sewing, and whatever nana and maeven's hearts desire...nana is a jack of all trades so the sky's the limit...

wednesdays, more stuff around the house, going on neighborhood walks, playing in the backyard, until the afternoon when bompa comes to get her to take her to her weekly art class. then home again in time for daddy home from work for play.

thursdays are "nature day" and i try to take the kids to oakhurst (we're just starting this tradition finally...pre-empted by thanksgiving this week) for a hike and exploring oakhurst...a really cute little foothill community less than an hour from here. last week we discoverd a super little nature trail where the lady bugs are congregating by the THOUSANDS in preparation for the winter! maeven was literally scooping handfuls of them! also trying our hand at letterboxing. maeven made her very own stamp and we've found 2 out of the 5 letterboxes in oakhurst already! i swear i'm as excited as she is to find them! we're hooked! can't wait to find the ones in town! there's at least 12 of them!

fridays are our day for our friends play time...we do what errands and housework are needed in the first half of the day til tyren's nap then when he wakes up we eat lunch and head to margaret hudson's property to play with thea, clem, brooke and emma. thea and clem are margaret's grandchildren and the children of my friend jen...they all live on the communal property/gardens that surround margaret's home. lemme tell you this is SUCH a fantastic place for my children to grow up playing at! i'm just thrilled to have this opportunity for them! and i get some mommy time with the other moms, in between keeping tyren from eating dirt and falling into ponds, lol. it's a really fun and relaxing time for all of us. it really rounds out our week. then after daddy comes home on fridays maeven's nana and bompa come and get her for "nana/bompa nite" and its daddy and mommy date nite (which really means, order in and watch tv or a movie on tv...once tyren's older we will get to have our time to ourselves again.)

so after thinking through maeven's basic week...i'm realizing that there's more happening for her than i had originally felt. hence, "unschooling unintentionally." and there are a lot of other things that happen here and there that i didn't mention...like games we play and songs we sing and reciting numbers and writing stories and measuring things and creating art projects (well she does them, i coral tyren)...its not what i had envisioned once we started officially homeschooling...but for now, it is actually really going pretty dang well! now that i stopped fighting what i simply cannot do right now, with this need toddler...we all were able to destress a little and enjoy what we CAN do and are back to learning and enjoying life naturally again.

AAAAAAAAH *huge sigh*

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update on us...

I haven't been able to find time to even think about this blog lately. I'm so busy with everything. I just finished up an event at Mommy Chats the beginning of November and then started another.

I also am still pretty much floundering at home with housework and homeschooling. Tyren keeps me constantly busy and has been driving me absolutely bonkers. He literally will cling to my legs when I get up to try to do anything at all...throw something away, do some housework, go pee, whatever...he becomes a sobbing mess. I have taken to wearing him in a backpack sometimes, to help me to get anything done. But he's now 30lbs and even the backpack wears after awhile! Forget the sling for housework, it just makes me far too sore. It's great for when we are out and about town...I can't survive stores without it! But my frame backpack is my lifesaver at home. When I remember it. I often simply forget I have it. I just end up resenting the little monkey, and getting more and more stressed out by all the things I simply cannot do these days. My house is always a wreck and people, who shall remain nameless, are always criticizing me for my lack of housekeeping skills...which only adds to my stress and resentment. ARGH! I haven't gotten the nerve to ask them to BACK OFF yet, but I tell ya, someday soon I am probably going to just EXPLODE and they will hear it all! I know they mean well...but how in the world does snide remarks and constant critiques help? They just don't get it.

And my poor Maeven. I've been doing all I can to make up for the lack of time I have with her. I can't even usually do anything with her during Tyren's naps because Tyren will usually wake up when I try to put him down so I end up holding him the entire naptime, working on the computer so I'm getting at least SOMETHING done. (Mommy Chats work...which, incidentally, is bringing me in a nice little profit these days, so it's way more than a hobby...this is a BUSINESS...wish I could get that into SOME PEOPLE's heads...because all I get from them is a dismissal of my work as just unimportant silly fun stuff I do, when there's SO much more to it! *sigh*). So to try to make stuff up to her I make sure we have activities for her to do...well they are things I want for her anyway...science class weekly at The Discovery Center (it's a class specifically for homeschoolers, with an ongoing theme, with a teacher I absolutely ADORE)...art class weekly (She's been going there since she was 3! It's handsdown the best thing I've ever invested in for her! She's SUCH and artist and it really helps her bloom!)...weekly Nana time, where my mom is helping with the homeschooling by teaching her things like baking and sewing and eventually knitting and crocheting and such (for now, they are holiday baking)...weekly Bompa woodworking time, where my dad takes her and works with her on woodworking projects (really an awesome thing for her, I'm very pleased that he's doing it! They are working on making her her own woodworking bench, so cool!) ...and then we have playdates weekly with our friends...standing time on Fridays to go to our friend's house that lives on a communal lot of a famous local sculptor and the grounds are just gorgeous and very child-friendly...so she's developing her friendships with the little girls we meet there weekly and getting to roam and explore such a wonderful area...

I also try to take her places like Oakhurst, to go explore nature (have only been once, but we're going to try to go again today...every week I try to take her) and try (key word--try) to read to her more (this is super hard with Tyren, he just makes everything more complicated)...and I REALLY REALLY want to start doing projects with Maeven, but every time we try to do something Tyren makes it impossible and so they've been scratched a lot. We also occasionally do some baking...something I really want to do weekly.

I'm really trying hard to do more for Maeven. I feel good that even though things are not working out with me doing one-on-one with her lately (not for lack of trying! And I will NOT give up!) she still has had a lot of great things going on regardless. Today we are going to try to make it to Oakhurst and dive into the world of letterboxing. There are 3 hidden in Oakhurst and we just love going to that town anyway. We made a kit for her to take with us to San Francisco last week, but never got a chance to search for any of the boxes we had clues to.

Oh did I mention Marine World/San Fran? Woops! Last week was Homeschool Day at Marine World Africa USA (now 6 Flags too). So they were only open to homeschoolers (tickets had to be purchased in advance) and price was greatly discounted. It was AWESOME! The lines were so short, the group was all homeschoolers like us...really really wonderful! Then the next day we went to San Francisco and did all the touristy stuff and explored with my brother (Maeven's favorite uncle) who lives in SF. Really great time had by all! It was Adam, Maeven, Tyren and I and my parents, and my brother. Adam's family was supposed to come too but had work things come up at the last minute, unfortunately. Maybe next year.

Anyway we all had a really wonderful time on our trip and the length was just perfect. We left late on Thursday, came back early evening on Sunday. Only about 3-4 hour drive too. Perfect.

Well I hear crying in the other room...better go supervise.