Sounding Out Words, and Connecting With My Heritage. Reflections, Week 22

I have had so many thoughts go through my brain this week, many, many of them concerning Elizabeth and our homeschool.  I think that I could make this post it’s own blog, I have so much that I could say, but I’ll edit because I don’t want to overwhelm you. 🙂

Though it was Christmas this week, we did a little bit of school on Tuesday and Wednesday, as our unit only had two lessons left for it to be wrapped up.  I was planning to take the week off, and maybe next because of every thing I have and had to do, but figured that if school “happened” then that was all right as well.  Tuesday I spend most of the day cleaning like a crazy woman, and found in the afternoon while Paul was asleep that I needed a quiet break.  One activity that Elizabeth and I had left for the Christmas unit was having her dictate something to me to write in her journal/notebook, so I asked her if she wanted to do that.  It is one of her favorite things that we do, I think, and for most of the units I have tried to add it every week, though it is only listed in the planner for once a unit. (Ha ha, notice here that we did school as my down time!  That is always revealing, don’t you think?!)  Wednesday, we made an attempt at school, but I was short black watercolor for making the Northern Lights, so we just watched the video about them on the iPad and then Elizabeth painted dinosaurs with watercolors – all but black that is.

One thing that has happened unexpectedly this week has been Elizabeth sounding out words.  In the two cases in which I was witness to her doing it, she knew what the word was all ready before she sounded it out, but never the less, that is a wonderful starting place.  Probably, that is the best way to do it, I think.  First, she sounded out “Little Man” on Paul’s bib one day, and asked me for assistance when she needed it, like for the silent E.  When we first began our formal homeschooling, I did try to push proper letter forming in handwriting a little bit, but when she really resisted that, I pulled back a lot and have just let her go at her own pace.  She is interested in letters, their sounds, and writing, so I am just helping her as she moves forward with learning them, and giving her lots of opportunities and materials to do it with.  One blog article that I especially liked about kids naturally finding their groove in writing is on the blog Happiness Is Here, in which blogger Sara writes about her daughter learning to write of her own motivation, with assistance from her family.  It was one that truly inspired me to let Elizabeth take the lead, and really helps calm those fears that we are taught in public school that this is something that needs to be Taught not guided.

But Elizabeth is guiding herself and going at her own pace.  I have alluded before on Seed To Seedling that I really played little part in her learning her letter sounds, but rather she taught herself in a weekend with a ten-year-old Leap Frog Phonics Radio (who needs Hooked On Phonics when you can just play Leap Frog products?).  I was quite surprised to hear her sounding out the words this week, but very pleased.  I really makes me feel like I am doing the right thing in homeschooling, and doing it properly.  Good job, Mom.  Pat on the back.

Apart from starting reading, this week, we took some time to explore my heritage through our school book, The Christmas Wish, Disney’s Frozen, and making Swedish Coffee Bread with my sister.  The Christmas Wish is set in Norway, which is also the setting of Disney’s Frozen, and my grandmother was half Swedish and half Norwegian.  Recently, Grandma passed away, and so she’s been on all of our minds this holiday season.  While my grandfather was still alive – so more than ten years ago – Grandma had written out the family recipe for Swedish Coffee Bread that her ancestors from Sweden had brought with them when they came to the US.  I had only made it one time before that I can recall, but in the spirit of homeschooling, wanted to do it this year before Christmas.  It is not actually obligatory that it be eaten only at Christmas-time, but has become associated with the holidays in our family.  My older sister was the only one available to make it, so we set a day aside to make a mess of my kitchen and cook up some dough.

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Weighing the dough, gotta have 2.5 lbs.

Unfortunately, the recipe is odd and making a yeasty bread is something that takes experience to get right.  Our dough did not rise properly – and we had made two batches!  But we cooked them up anyway as bread, muffins and the rolls that they are supposed to be.  Elizabeth came to help us roll with the rolling pin, cut the dough into sections, and made one roll with some eyes in a comical manner.  In the end, they turned out tasty, and we had a fun day, made a good mess, and reminisced about our grandparents in a lovely way.

Afterward, the thought was not lost on me that I felt in a totally different and good-feeling place in teaching my heritage to Elizabeth, as we usually focus on her Latin roots because they are physically so far away, yet so close at the same time.  But, it was nice to discuss Norway and Sweden with her, and to call her Swedish – because she is – though she looks like a little Latina.  Her interest in Disney’s Frozen also helped pull it all together, as the movie is set in Norway (maybe Sweden, but the “glog” and “fjord” that Hans speaks of indicate to me that they are in Norway).

Speaking of Disney’s Frozen, Elizabeth’s dress arrived in the mail.  Unfortuantly, the button for the song is faulty, but she was so anxious to wear it that she preferred to keep it and leave it turned on so that it sings every time she moves (aka continuously).  It is pretty, and fun, and I try to belt it out with her, but sometimes you just have to “Let It Go.”

Chime in:  Tell me about your handwriting and reading readiness stories.

Do you have any special heritage recipes that you cook up with your kids during the holidays?

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