Archive for July, 2011

That Makes Cents

July 31, 2011

After my last post, it may sound like Miss Sky is no longer doing “any” math, honestly, though that would be impossible.  We use math every day, just being adults I think we can take for granted that our children already know “why ”  math is so important.

Miss Sky has developed a math phobia and is not shy about letting everyone know just how she feels about it. I, on the other hand, don’t believe that she really hates math, her recent liking of the show Cyber Chase has proven that (she has watched all the episodes several times). I think what she really means is I don’t like “how” we do the math. I see now that my daughter is a VERY visual learner, everything we have done from the book Family Math she has retained(and enjoyed). That is what I mean by her needing to “see” a purpose.

This is also why I have stopped “making” her do the math because I know once she understands for herself that math is everywhere she will no longer hate it. I just need to change the presentation.

So this past week Papa and I introduced Miss Sky to the world of financing. Gone are the days of secrecy, our children now know how much money comes into our household as well as how much money goes out. We talked about budgeting and the importance of saving (Hmm I think there are a few others who could benefit from these lessons ;)).

I thought it would be a good idea if the girls started budgeting their finances, aka their allowance. Seeing where your money goes can be a real eye-opening experience.

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Miss Sky learned about sales tax and how to calculate it. This led into a conversation about what state sales taxes are and what they are used for. Actually, I can’t believe how much Miss Sky learned about our government system and how it works by just talking about money.

We have also lifted all bans off of food, pop tarts are no longer a dirty word. I am not worried about this in the least, our girls know where the majority of their food comes from and the importance of the choices we make to fuel our bodies. The only difference is now there is pop tarts and sometimes Twinkies next to their choice of raspberries and blueberries.

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Giving Miss Sky more freedom in the kitchen has also given her more responsibility. She is in charge of making sure items she wants and needs gets added to the grocery list. This has opened a whole new world to her. “Why are a box of Twinkies cheaper than blueberries? Aren’t blueberries in season? Doritos are buy one get one free, why can’t they have BOGO on strawberries?”

We watched a wonderful documentary made by 2 11-year-old girls called What’s On Your Plate? (you can watch it through Netflix). Even though I have watched Food Inc. I learned a lot from this video like why the school lunch program was started in the first place. This movie helped explain the reasons behind her questions in ways she could understand.

While at the store we paid more attention to where our food came from. Once home we brought out the map of the US to see which item traveled the furthest. We discovered our grapes from California came the furthest (why we are trying to grow them our self) and our blueberries traveled the shortest distance from Michigan. You could literally see the light bulb go off in Miss Sky’s head as to “why” we go to farmers markets and why the apples we pick ourselves taste SO much better than the stores.

You know what made me the happiest though? The fact that not one time did Miss Sky view any of this as a school lesson.

Wishing everyone a great week!


Finding The Purpose

July 27, 2011

Here lately Miss Sky’s most favorite word at the moment happens to be  “Why”, and I, of course, have fallen into the parental trap of  “Because I said so!”. Until recently I was really starting to get quite aggravated with her new-found attitude but then( after having an “aha” moment from my most recent findings of education) I began to think about what she was really asking. Why do I need to wash dishes, why do I need to clean my room, why do I need to do my math workbook page when I already know this? Then I began to think about what she was really hearing from me. “Because I said so” to her means I don’t know, just do it.

To be honest she has a good point as to why she “needs” to do half of the stuff she does. Why do I need to write a report about dinosaurs, you already know what I know about them. Why does she need to do math worksheets without knowing the reason behind them? How can I expect her to understand the reason behind anything if she has never learned any consequences? Why *does *she needs to know about money or fractions? I know the *why* but until she understands it for herself everything to her is pointless. So our next step in the journey of “life learning” is to help her see that purpose.

So what does this mean to us? It means papa and I need to be more supportive in her decision-making. We need to be more trusting that she can make wise choices on her own. It means we need to give her more *freedom*, there I said it.

This for me is the toughest hurdle, to “let go” of my control. I have tons of fears with choosing this new direction. What if they don’t learn, what if they fail, my “what if list “is a mile long. After talking as a family about all these new freedoms, this week  I decided to take that last leap.

I stopped trying to come up with ideas to “make” our days look more academic, I have stopped “making” Miss Sky do any math unless “she” sees a purpose. I even deleted everything off my wish lists (like my 20-page book list, I know crazy but so true) that one of the girls did not put there themselves (i.e. Romona or L. Frank Baum books). Okay, try not to hyper ventilate as I type this. Am I scared? TERRIFIED !!!

But guess what has happened so far?

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Little Sis wanted to read (books of her choice)

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The how to draw books have been in use.

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Board games have been asked to play. Such as Go Fish, Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, and Battleship. Oh and a request that we start a penny jar so we can play poker.

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Coloring books have been made.

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A request for a purse and wallet to help keep track of allowance for purchases they want to make without the “No you don’t need that junk” speech from me. ( Projects from the book Sewing School.)

Becoming members of Animal Jam, in which Miss Sky has been furiously earning up gems to make new purchases for her animals and den (Including participation, all on her own, in the quiz area to earn double the amount and scribbling out math equations to learn how much more she needs to buy them).

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Last but not least independence in the kitchen. Miss Sky has been making her own food (and using the oven herself) as well as adding items she finishes to the grocery list.

Now to see if I don’t wake up screaming next week filled with regret as to what I have done will be the real challenge.

Until then wishing everyone a great week!

Letting Go Is Hard To Do

July 23, 2011

When I first began homeschooling I wrote a  list (more like a book)of everything  I was “not” going to do.

Already having a child in the public school system I saw first hand how a bright vibrant child was slowly drained of her individuality. Now this child is a young lady(21) and starting out on a journey of her own.

Well, I was not going to have this happen twice so with my new list I jumped in and started to home educate my now 10-year-old daughter.We started to join in other homeschooling outings and began to “socialize”  ;). People would ask me what curriculum I was using. I was like I don’t know common sense. Well by the looks I was given I thought maybe I should start doing some research on curriculum. All the while that little voice in the back of my head was saying but wait isn’t that what schools use?

That is when I discovered Waldorf education, now I had experts to back up my common sense theory ( I have since come to the conclusion that I could pretty much use anyone’s theory and make it fit what I believe).

Now don’t get me wrong there are things I love about Waldorf education and I truly believe that if Rudolf Steiner was alive today he would be shaking his head. What I loved most though was the freedom of here this is what I have learned now go and make it yours.

Very soon I began to forget the list “I” had made at the very beginning and replaced it with notes and notes of someone else’s. Before I knew it our home began to look more and more like school, even if it was “Waldorf” school.

All of a sudden we had a bunch of rules where happiness used to be and instead of protecting my child from the world I made her scared of it. Instead of lighting a spark about the world she was born into I put out the flame.

I might not exactly like where we are heading as a society with all this new technology but that does not mean that my children won’t. This is when I start to think about what people thought of Elvis and rock ‘n roll back in the 50’s (man if they could see it now). Would life be better today if rock ‘n roll was never invented? For me? No! Change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Little by little my old list has made its way back out again and I have let go of everyone else’s.

Little by little I have started to say yes and have let go of no.

Little by little my children are finding new passions and I have let go of the words school day, schoolroom, and school year.

Little by little I am beginning to see all of what my children “are” doing and have let go of what they are not.

Little by little learning will no longer be separated from the living and then I will have truly let go.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

Spiders And Worms Are Our Friends

July 20, 2011

A post by Miss Sky

Hi everybody! It’s me again Miss Sky. Boy is it hot here! The rabbits are having a hard time dealing with this weather. We have to put ice in their cages  to help cool them down. Tomorrow is going to be even hotter, I hope they will be alright.

We added earthworms to the soil under the rabbit’s cages. They help to compost the manure (PU!) and keep it soft.

(Oh no looks like someone’s been caught 😦 )

Sometimes flies come into the garage so it is good to keep spider webs to catch them. This spider has caught a carpenter bee and moth. I wonder what will be next?

See you next time bye 🙂 .

How About A Little More Communication Please

July 18, 2011

Something I have learned about Interest-Led Learning is to keep a journal of your children’s interests. Well okay, that is kind of why I started to blog so I think I can manage that.

I have posted how Miss Sky has taken an interest in graphic novels and comic books. Well, she has also taken an interest in the television shows She-Ra(thanks to Mama) and X-men Evolution. I feel so ashamed to admit that I have been getting in with X-men just as much as she has. I don’t think I have ever mentioned I am a complete Sci-Fi nerd. Yes, I waited in line for over an hour to see the brand new Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace. Of course, that was BC, before children ;).

Anywho Miss Sky has always had a great imagination, she actually came up with Animal Girl years ago. It just has never made it onto the page quite yet. So to make a long story short for our next block we are going to do a little bit of writing and a whole lot of imagining. Starting first with the spoken language or what we like to call communication. I mean what are words anyway, and just why are they so important?

Tools we will be using for this block include the books:

*Update* about the writing book, I do not like it. It is too forced and reminds me too much of a school lesson.

I do really like the Word Playbook. There are wonderful games to help understand the importance of words. I have even learned a lot from this book. I put it right up there with the Family math book :).

I should add these 2 books above are for me to help get ideas to use, not to use as reading aloud.

Of course, as one that gets nothing from Amazon for advertising, don’t forget to look for these books at your local library or favorite used bookstores.

First, we made our own “noodle books” the same way we make our MLB. Then, starting with the book Word Play Cafe, we played the game Wordless Waffles as to get an idea just how important words are needed to communicate with one another (sort of like charades). This was too much fun. Next, is the classic movie lovers that Papa and I are, we watched one of The Little’s favorite Chaplin movies The Circus, the other being The Kid but we were more in a comedy sort of mood.

This, of course, can lead to all kinds of other ideas like writing and perform your own silent skit, maybe even videotaping it(It’s been added to “the list”).

For math Monday we did a little geography lesson too. What is the highest mountain in the United States? Mt. McKinley located in Alaska. What is the highest mountain in the world? Mt. Everest in Nepal. The problem? How much higher is Mt. Everest? Miss Sky looked everything up and figured out how to solve the problem. She also found Nepal and Alaska on the globe. This, of course, could lead to a study of mountain climbers and a study of the first team to reach the top of Mt. Everest. Their stories alone are amazing.

Well, that about sums up our day, we plan to continue working out of the book Word Play Cafe for the rest of the week and there may be a few more X-men episodes thrown in as well.

Wishing everyone a great week!

Vacation Holiday

July 17, 2011

What would summer be without loading the family up and heading out on a family vacation ?

I mean could you still call it summer without some form of a long car ride filled with fighting siblings embarked in a marker fight (um Laura :)), or visits to every rest area imaginable ( because this one just might be different since we ARE in a different state after all), then deciding maybe you really don’t need to go after all only to have to go 5 minutes later after pulling out of the nearest one for the next 50 miles.

Yes, a vacation is just what the doctor ordered (I could have done without the sunburn though).

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I have to be honest though and say as much as I like to get away, there is no place like home. 🙂


Plans Are Made To Be Broken

July 11, 2011

Something I have come to realize along life’s journey is that plans don’t always go the way I intended.

I am a planner, my brain is constantly busying itself planning out  perfect projects that “I” think would be great to add to our school day. I have posted about all the time I have spent on-line reading, searching, and bookmarking ideas. Then even with my best intentions our day never works the way I had planned. This is one battle that seems to always get the best of me. Even now after I have switched gears in our homeschooling plans, I am still left with the feeling of “but we have to do this”.

I wrote a post about next years upcoming plans of reading through the Magic Tree House series. We even read the first book Dinosaurs Before Dark and the girls loved it because “they” wanted to read it. I of course had all these great projects laid out like making a volcano and I even bought this plant to do a botany study of ferns. Then they were going to write this great report on their most favorite dinosaur. Well I guess life had other plans. In between that time the girls had VBS, then there were the rabbits, and craft projects to make. Without my consent our study of dinosaurs had come to an end. But, but what about all my great plans?  Then all of a sudden it became quite clear, these were “my” plans and not the girls. They were done, they learned everything “they” wanted to and were ready to move on. It was time for me to move on too.

I think we feel like because we spent all this time and money coming up with all these wonderful plans we “have” to use them. The funny thing about all this is since “I” moved on I can’t believe everything the girls have learned ,without the use of my plans, this summer. Dare I even say that since I let go they are learning more than if we had stuck to my plans.

While at the grocery store Little Sis asked “Why does everybody come here?” as I explained to buy food like we do she then asked” but where does all this stuff come from?”. I am going to be completely honest and say I LOVED answering her questions.

Our garden has also began to reap all of its wonderful bounty and we have been taking it all in. Green and jalapeno peppers have made their way into our menu but by far the best reason, in my opinion, to have a garden is the tomatoes.  Especially the green ones :). We do not buy any tomatoes at all so the anticipation of popping that first red tomato into our mouths can be overwhelming.

Miss Sky asked if she could help fry the green tomatoes, she wanted to know how to make them, so I replied Yes of course.

Then there has been lots of sprinkler play and watching new favorite shows. Little Sis LOVES Super Why but the most exciting news was finding KidZui ( Thank you Cori from Wonder In The Woods!). I don’t mind the idea of my girls playing on the computer but the thought of them being on-line made me a bit nervous. KidZui is a completely monitored internet for children. It only allows them access to children’s web sites and blocks any sites that may have questionable content. I no longer need to be on-line for them to play games like animal jam.

So what plans do the girls have for me this week? We are beginning a L. Frank Baum read-a-thon, starting with where we left off in the Oz series, book 5 The Road to Oz.(They are catching on to my picture-taking.)

Wishing everyone a great week!

Saying Yes (Well Trying To Anyhow)

July 7, 2011

I want to start this post first by saying even though I have been reading some wonderful articles over at Sandra Dodd’s unschooling website (again mostly to help change “my” way of thinking). I am still being very cautious as to not allowing myself to get caught up in taking any unnecessary advice. After all I am (still) the best judge of my children.

Now with that “disclaimer” being mentioned ;), I came across an article that has stayed with me these past few weeks. Always Say Yes, The first time I read it I was like yeah sure whatever but then I started to think of in the past just how many times I have said no. “No, we will study that later, no you can’t do any science experiments they will wake you up to soon, or no screens they will give you brain damage” Okay I am over exaggerating  here but I am sure you get my point. So anyway I thought I would give saying yes a try.

There have been a few changes going on in our home, as far as school is concerned. One very significant change has been to stop purchasing things” I” think my girls will enjoy (like books for example) and letting them pick out what they want instead (Do you know how much money this is going to save me?). Well while standing in line at Jo-Anne’s Little Sis became interested in the magazine Your Big Backyard and asked if she could get it, “yes”. Once home we read it from cover to cover.

*Update* Little Sis, while playing the quiz game on Animal Jam, was asked the question “What animal is called the cow of the sea?”. Thanks to our reading of this months Your Big Backyard, she new the answer.

Circle time has been another one of those changes. Now we gather around the table with a notebook while the girls give me ideas of what they want to do for the day ( I think I might have Miss Sky become the note taker, this would be a great way for her to practice writing and spelling). Little Sis,”Can we make this ?” pointing to her new magazine. Me, “Yes” ( I think I am getting the hang of this ;)).

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Then there was cookies that wanted to be baked (Miss Sky)

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and  handwriting to be practiced from starfall (Little Sis, yes she loves to write)

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She leaves notes all over the house.

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Next there was hide and seek math, an idea I got from this lovely blog.

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Hide gems, in 2 piles, around the house. Give each player a sheet of paper with the symbols you want them to use. For example Little Sis has + and -, Miss Sky has the multiply and divide symbols. Next have them write the number of gems found in the blanks then solve the equation. Little Sis wanted to do this several times and I think we will be playing again tomorrow.

I of course had a project to add to the list as well. It is one of those projects that I have been meaning to get to for some time( I guess writing something on “the list” is not just for children) and the reason for being at Jo-Anne’s (like I really need one).

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A felt board, Papa made me a square frame out of scrap wood and I stapled 1/2 yard of felt around it.

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Now to get some help in cutting out more shapes.

Wishing everyone a great week!

The Art Of Deschooling

July 3, 2011

I have been using summer to help our family deschool. I have to be honest here though and say the deschooling is really for me. I am the one who keeps worrying about how much academics my girls are finishing every year(making my family miserable).

I have also lifted all bans off the television and the computer for both children. We even purchased the Roku from Netflix to use as part of school. At first I thought I would have a problem with this but the more I wrap my brain around how my girls learn best the more I am seeing certain gifts emerge.

For instance Miss Sky has been practicing her typing and is getting rather good. I asked if she wanted to start writing posts about what she is learning by raising rabbits and she was all for it , really excited actually. I also found a children’s interactive game, called animal jam, on the internet. You get to pick out your own animal design and earn gems to purchase things either for your animal or den. Meanwhile you also get to interact with other children who are playing at the same time. This has been a HUGE success with both girls. The site is through National Geographic and is heavily moderated.

She also has been really getting in with the show Cyberchase which I for one can not believe. The show after all is about math. She has been making up her own adventures and different ways to solve problems, using MATH.

Something else I have come to understand about unschooling is just being “available”for your children. Using the television as a “babysitter” is a big reason as to why I have been against it but actually watching what they are interested in “with them” to me is different. Miss Sky has also been getting in with the show Beakman’s World okay really we both are. Miss Sky asked if we could do one of Beakman’s challenges, um YEAH.

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Can you get this stick to break through the napkin at the end of this paper towel tube?

Catch ? The tube is filled with about 6 inches of salt.

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Nope, not even Papa.

So why does the salt not break through the napkin? Well when the salt is pushed through the tube the air or space between the salt granules compacts and puts pressure on the sides of the tube, not the bottom.

Little Sis has been on a reading kick. She wanted to participate in the Double Dog Dare challenge through Boarders. Read 10 books get 1 free. She read her books and picked out the book she wanted. She has also really been getting in with anything Toy Story. She even made her own daycare from Toy Story 3.

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I love her Mrs. Potato Head.

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And she made a Lotso bear family because she thought he wouldn’t be so mean if he had a mom and dad that loved him.

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Then there was PE.

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And game playing

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Where Little Sis kicked our butts in Monopoly. This Child landed on every community chess that allowed her to purchase all the railroads as well as boardwalk and the utility properties. I however wasn’t so lucky as I seemed to pay every tax imaginable.

Last but not least Papa finished our rabbitry.Wishing everyone a great weekend and a Happy 4th of July!