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Showing posts from November, 2012

What I am Reading...Kinderculture

I usually don’t post about a book until I have finished reading it and can offer an honest review.  However, I just finished the first chapter of Kinderculture, a book that actually caused me to pause and think about what I had just read.  In fact, it made me rethink some things that I have believed in and operated on ever since I was in graduate school and read the works of noted child psychologists and philosophers.   Just yesterday I was chatting with my friend Michele, whose children are younger than mine and attend both public and catholic school.  Her kindergartner's homework is to write complete sentences on assigned topics.  He can’t read yet.  He is five years old.  When I was teaching kindergarten I was mandated to assign homework.  I assigned one sight word a week and made a big deal out of making collages from words found in newspapers and magazines.  This was only 4 years ago but the demands placed upon children are increasing as their ages decrease.   We discussed why …

Writing

Wrapping up our semester...Writing!

I like to teach writing in a workshop format.  I give the girls a reason to write.  Neither one of them likes prompts -- too many bad memories from standardized testing.  Lilah loves to write stories and has a vivid imagination, but Grace despises creative writing and prefers to write either historically accurate pieces of fiction or more technical pieces of non-fiction.  Regardless of their preferences, each girl must be a proficient writer and needs to develop her skills in order to continue experiencing growth and development in their craft. I have come to realize that writing can be a bit tricky.  In school the kids are motivated (either positively or negatively) by grades.  You have an arbitrary deadline and if you meet it and produce a well written, grammatically correct piece of writing you receive a good grade.  If you miss the deadline, forget the grammatical requirements associated with the grade you are in, or don’t hit the key points on a …

Knitting

When your girls go to bed with a skill that they did possess when they woke in the morning,  that is super-duper cool.  
Wake up a non knitter.  Go to bed a knitter.  
Wake up and wear a store bought hat.   Go to bed wearing hand made hat.    She went to bed wearing her hat.  
Lilah learned how to knit on a loom and on needles.   It doesn't get much better than this!

Every Book is a Gift

I am still working on my series about our curriculum and what the girls have accomplished this fall, but we are also in the midst of Christmas preparations.  Friday I took the time to venture to the library to check out Christmas books.  I did not want novels, but rather short, beautifully illustrated picture books that can be read in one sitting. I found old favorites like Madeline’s Christmas, a story that we read all the time when they were little.   My girls have not heard it in so long it has been forgotten.  I found what are sure to be new favorites, like a few stories from the Little House books, some Tomie DePaola classics, and at least one nativity story.  I loaded up my tote with 26 books (I found a great holiday sheet music book for the girls) and crossed my fingers that I would not get scolded for taking out too many in one subject area.   I Instagrammed my trip and when the girls checked their account they figured out what I was up to.  Being an elf in a former life, Lilah …

This Season...

Black Friday is a bit of a big deal in our home.I honestly have no idea how or why it started.I think the girls noticed it through the incessant advertising and wondered what it was all about.Greg, being in retail, took this interest as a teachable moment and took them out to explain what is truly a bargain and what is just slick marketing with a pretty bow.It turns out the three people I live with love to be out in the hustle and bustle, jostling through the crowds caught up in the hunt for a “perfect” gift. Not me.  This is the girls’ time with their Dad.  They stay out ‘till all hours, sipping hot cocoa and snacking on some mall food that I am sure I don’t want to know anything about.  They text me and Instagram me throughout the night, although by 11:00, I no longer notice, since I am snuggled up cozy in my bed with my own dreams of the perfect gift dancing through my head. Girls, your Daddy may work in retail and our livelihood depends on his store selling lots of products, but th…

Electronics

I love that my girls are learning something that I know nothing about -- electronics.  Even more I love that they are learning it in a way that makes sense.  To me electronics is like a foreign language.  It has roots and basic truths that must be learned in order to build further knowledge and understanding.  You would not expect to travel to Italy and become fluent after one lesson right?  I would not expect my children to create something electronic without giving them basic building blocks first. We began our study this summer with snap circuits.  Through snap circuits they learned what electricity is, what it can do and what it cannot do.  They learned how to build a circuit and what to look for if the circuit did not work.  They learned about the flow of energy and what a battery is and does.  Through snap circuits, Grace discovered that she really has an interest in this area and despite feigning indifference, Lilah really enjoys it too!
Moving on from snap circuits the girls lea…

Math Lessons

Yesterday’s post ended up mostly about Lilah’s math program this year.Grace has been working on a different program, the Key To Series.This is the antithesis of Life of Fred.It is a series of workbooks on one topic that move from the basic introduction of the concept to what I would consider 9th grade math levels.




There are different ways to approach this math series.You can do one concept start to finish.You can have all the series and move through the first book of each, then the second, followed by the third and so on. Or you can simple do what feels best for your child.We started this summer with Key To Fractions.Grace completed every book in the series.
Book 1: Fraction Concepts Book 2: Multiplying and Dividing Book 3: Adding and Subtracting Book 4: Mixed Numbers I felt that after Fractions we would move to Geometry.  Grace completed half the series.  

Book 1: Lines and Segments  Book 2: Circles  Book 3: Constructions  We began Measurement.It made sense for us to jump around a bit to mak…

Math: Life of Fred and more

This is the first year I am actually going to be in a place where we can take most of December off from formal lessons (with the exception of math) and spend the month preparing for Christmas.  The girls have worked diligently this fall on their bookwork and I am using this time to summarize their accomplishments.  It helps me focus on what they have done and how to incorporate it into a transcript.   I was asked if the girls, specifically Grace, is going back to school. The honest answer is that we don’t know.  IF she chooses to stay on this path to pursue meteorology as a college major then we know exactly what high school classes she will have to take.  She will carry a full load of lab sciences and difficult math courses.  We have three options for her:  1) explore a home-based traditional curriculum like Oak Meadow.  2) attend traditional high school or 3) explore taking math/science classes at a community college which will give her college credit for some of the classes she take…

Health and Nutrition

This semester we studied nutrition.  We have been focused on nutrition for quite awhile, ever since I read the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which changed my life in so many unexpected ways.  I truly believe that each step we take leads us in a certain direction.  Because I was already on a path towards local grown, organic, non-GMO eating, dealing with Lilah’s food sensitivities to wheat, dairy and egg was not as hard as I thought it would be.  

The girls and I watched every episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  We learned about pink slime, about sugar content in food and drink, and how hard it is to change a system, especially a government run system.  We were shocked that some children could not recognize and apple or a piece of broccoli.  We were not shocked at the average school cafeteria since my girls have vivid memories of theirs and most of those memories are unpleasant. Jamie Oliver caused me to reflect on how I can improve my own relationship with food and how I prepare …

My Notebook

I don’t know if it is due to the start of the holiday season, or if my pace of life has just slowed down to a place where I can spend a few minutes gathering my thoughts while I doodle.....whatever the cause, the outcome is that I can feel my creative juices flowing.   My little notebook, which started off this fall as a place where I would jot down a few things for the girls to do each day has morphed into something that is not only a record of our work but a place where I like to return to throughout the day to capture what really takes place during the hours we spend together.   I do not plan a full day of “lessons”.  I take a look at our calendar and examine how much time we will be inside our home vs. the time required to travel to and from outside lessons.  Then I reflect on what I want to see accomplished, such as math, or science, or reading.  I jot down two or three things.  Just enough to build momentum.  My journal looks very different at the end of the day than it did when w…

Back on the ice

We have not been on the ice for over a year.  First there was this in September 2011.....
And then this in November 2011......
Both were very nasty injuries.  They kept us away from something that we love very much.  My girls have grown up on the ice.  As soon as Grace stepped onto the ice her face lit up with joy. The twists were not forgotten, the jumps came back.  As usual, she was the first one on and the last one off.
Lilah asked about lessons.....oh boy.  Are we going to go down that road again?  I was not blogging when Grace was entrenched in her skating lessons, spending hours and hours in lessons, in practice, in rehearsals.  Spending hours and hours in the car.  Perhaps Lilah can do a learn to skate program here at our favorite rink, to brush up on the skills that I taught her.  She has the potential to be a beautiful skater....
The absolute best part of our skating time is that we have the opportunity to go when the rest of the world is either in school or at work.  There is no…

Again and again and again...

Grace is finishing up Book 2 of of Key To Measurement.  I jumped back to Measurement after Fractions because much of her learning from fractions can be applied to measurement. For example today she did a simple procedure using a Pyrex glass measuring cup and objects to determine volume by water displacement.  One object displaced 3/4 a cup and another 2/3 cup.  In order to determine which had a greater volume she needed to recall her learning about common denominators to compare these two fractions.  Life learning.   This was a great lesson.  I should have stopped.  However she wanted to finish the book and complete the test at the end.  I should have stopped.  I know she knew how to do the problems, but the test began with visual and spacial problems, and those always throw her off.  She is very linear.  She loves calculation.  Ask her to count how many cubes are in a picture and forget it.  Give her the dimensions, even a missing dimension, and she can do it with her eyes closed.   She…

Know what you like, like what you do.

It can be a bit challenging; balancing projects with the work that I would like to see the girl’s accomplish.  I have learned to give the girls enough time and space to work on their projects, because when the energy flows, it usually spills over into the other areas of their learning as well.
Lilah’s LCC blogis doing really well!  Not that we judge success by views but... there seems to be something here that people are interested in reading about!   So Lilah spent some time brainstorming ideas on what to blog about in between LCC meetings.  What will make her readers return to her site?  What else does she want to say?  How can we incorporate her friends into the blogging process?  
Brainstorming opens up the channels of creativity.  She knew she had to write right away!  Once her blog post was complete and published, she was moved to do more writing, this time a creative piece of fiction that she is giving to her little cousin as a Christmas present.   The flip side of this is that on…

Touching Lives One Cupcake at a Time

Projects are funny things.They often pop up out of nowhere.Sometimes they burn brightly then fizzle out and sometimes, if you are very lucky, they burn slowly, and as they gather momentum, fed by new ideas and new inspirations, it is like oxygen feeding the fire until what began as a small spark is now a raging inferno.


LCC started off with an idea generated from a children’s book.  Lilah read the book and asked herself, “what if?”.  I answered her “what if” with a “yes”.  That was all it took.  This weekend was the third meeting of LCC. Each time these girls meet, something new develops.   I am amazed at how little I have to do with this project.  Other than pick up girls if necessary, provide oversight for kitchen safety and drive Lilah to pick up supplies occasionally, I get to sit back and watch my daughter in her element. To prepare for a meeting Lilah: Finds and tests a new recipe.
Creates a beautiful recipe poster for the girls to follow.
Checks her LCC baking supplies against recip…