Good-bye YouTube Kids – Hello Free Play

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  After-schooling turned out more to be me killing myself to keep my house at an acceptable level of clean + making dinner + trying to keep the kids clean, and maybe doing homework … Continue reading

Turtle Courses. Reflections, K Week 30

Elizabeth and I wrapped up the farm unit this week, all except one last bit of writing in her journal.  It was a fun yet busy week, both around school and in general. On Monday, we made little ‘animalitos.’  The … Continue reading

Elizabeth’s 3-V Salad

We went to my dad’s house the other day for a low-carb dinner and I was going to make something but didn’t, so Elizabeth decided that she wanted to offer something of her own. In retrospect, this is not the … Continue reading

Of Domestic and Wild Animals: Present and Prehistoric. Reflections, K Week 28

Animals have definitely been on the fore-front this week, from those that roam the outdoors today, to those that live on farms, all the way to those that lived millions of years ago!  It was a wild week! On Wednesday, … Continue reading

Colorful Affirmations. Reflections, K Week 21

I think, when I look back over this past week, the thing that stands out most in my mind is the countless hours that Elizabeth colored.  I personally love to color and colored in my little-kid Disney coloring books through … Continue reading

Fun in a Bag of Nuts!

Elizabeth spotted a bag of mixed nuts in the shell at our rinky-dink grocery store the other day which carries about nothing interesting – but this was interesting!  Unfortunately, we were not having a good day that day, and so I … Continue reading

Fun in the Kitchen, or at Least With Kitchen Items. Reflections, Week 39

May all ready, my toddler is two, and we have almost completed 40 weeks of homeschool!  Time goes by so fast!  This week, we began a new unit, and because I thought that we could just bang it out, Elizabeth got sick and we did two days worth and that was all.  Or rather, we did two days worth of the curriculum activities, but luckily unschooling is always going on around it!

So, we didn’t get much done with the Moving Beyond The Page materials, but we did have fun with food.  First, Elizabeth had gotten a new Ranger Rick Jr. magazine last week, and on the last page, it included instructions on how to make a Frog Salad.  Does that sound appetizing or what?  Well, it didn’t have frog in the list of ingredients, rather it looked like a frog!  Originally, I did not have the listed ingredients, and Elizabeth  most creatively suggested using other ingredients that we did have on hand instead – such as replacing the lettuce with cabbage and the green apple with regular old red ones.  Impressed with her thought process, I agreed, but then we just didn’t get to it, and eventually we got to the store and did purchase the ingredients, so somehow we put it together right.

That’s taking too much credit on my part – I mean to say that Elizabeth put it together per the directions.  I washed the produce and cut up that which needed to be cut (I did have to cut about 5 of the feet because she kept dropping and breaking them), but other than that, she put it all together.


Frog Salad, no meat needed!

And though we had olives, which were suggested for the eyes, she decided to make it a Red Eyed Tree Frog rather than a regular old frog, and gave it red tomato eyes instead.  My kid, definitely my kid. 🙂

The kids then devoured the thing while I was washing the rest of the veggies for my salad, I didn’t even see it go!  It was fun to make, and fun to eat obviously.


Kiwano Melon

After the frog, a Kiwano Melon was tried another day.  Follow this link to learn how to eat one of those!

Lastly, on Friday, when Elizabeth was feeling better and we were decided that we would get back to doing school work, she REALLY REALLY wanted to make the volcano that was described in a book my sister brought her back from Florida along with the dragon fruit plant.  The book is a DK publication, not always my favorite as they seem to be just a bit…out of the ballpark for reality or something.  They are interesting, yet just a bit too over the top or too unavailable or something.  But this one, titled Great Things to do Outside: 365 Awesome Outdoor Activities actually is full of stuff that I think we may actually be able to do; the ingredients are readily available for projects, and they are simple enough that I think a child really could do them.  I think it will be a book that we’ll use over and over, and we may actually set to doing all of the activities described over the next few years.

Anywho, Elizabeth had found this flashy looking activity that had dinos set up around an erupting volcano.  An erupting volcano is like a Disney Channel myth to me on one level, yet I regularly clean with baking soda and vinegar, so pulling it off was not hard at all.  Elizabeth has been asking to do the activity for a few weeks now, but I have been to lazy to do it until the weather was a bit nicer and I desired to put my hands into cold dirt – because you know who was the one that had to form the volcano don’t you?!  So, while Brother was asleep, we prepped everything, then slipped down to the garden, set it up, and let ‘er bubble over!


Aaaahhhh! It’s burning my leg!

It was pretty fun!  It’s still down there, the raccoons are probably gnawing on our dinos right now, who knows?  We didn’t get any other school done after that, but oh well!

Share your thoughts:  What are some fun activities you have done in the kitchen, or with kitchen items…just not in the actual kitchen?


Joining In On The Fun. Reflections, Week 35

One thing I have done over and over again since we began homeschooling was get into it along with my child.  What is ‘it’ exactly?  Whatever we are doing, particularly art projects and play-acting.  Besides art class in elementary, and obviously music, I don’t recall my teachers ever much getting into our work and doing it themselves, I understand that they were busy, but one thing that I have read mentioned over and over in researching homeschooling is that parents are on a journey of learning too and that it is extremely validating to the child learning if the parent is learning right along beside them, working just as they are.  Indeed, working with your child on the same kind of thing that they are doing gives the work relevance, rather than proving that it is just busy work, it shows that it is worthwhile enough to do that the adult would bother to do it as well.


A pumpkin I painted with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth often asks for me to help her color, particularly with markers.  Most of the time I oblige.  Occasionally she is asking me to color with or for her because she doesn’t want to do the work/is feeling lazy, in which case it is occasionally appropriate to finish the coloring for her, and occasionally it is appropriate for her to finish the job herself, other times it is necessary to just put the project away until a different day.  More often, Elizabeth asks me to work with her just for the sake of doing the work together.  It is comfortable to work on a project with a friend, and makes a big job seem less big.  It is friendly to offer to share something that you enjoy doing as well.  Lastly, it is just kind of the routine that I work along with her, it’s what I’ve done since the beginning to get her motivated and interested.

Both while I am planning our “lessons” and accepting her offer to work on the project together, I keep in my mind the importance of honoring different learning styles.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons that I work alongside her as often as I do.  For me, personally, when I was in high school and college, I needed to see a peer do the work, such as in a science lab, before I could even consider beginning, and it was very hard for me to get through the entire thing alone.  I recognized this in college when I felt the overwhelming need to ask my peers how their labs ended up before I could write mine up – it didn’t matter if I had the same outcome as they did or not on the experiment, I just needed to know what they did and how it turned out.  Luckily, when I went into the Peace Corps, I had to learn to just push myself to make mistakes and put myself out there in order to learn Spanish and do my work as the only gringa in my site, and so somehow overcame this impulsion to have to lean on others. As a result, I can now do things myself.  (Actually, I’ve moved to not caring at all about what other people think and do, for better or for worse sometimes.)

But while I am working with Elizabeth, I try to stay sensitive to the idea that she may need to have me do the project right along with her.  It does help a 5-year-old visualize an abstract concept if she can see it in the process.  Generally, she is anxious to diverge from my directions and make up her own creative creation – which is absolutely wonderful, and at times trying.


Coloring chicks on Easter eggs.

Perhaps it is not necessary to work alongside her, but ultimately, I find that it is fun.  I mean, who doesn’t miss coloring detailed chicks on Easter eggs with marker, or painting islands from an areal view, or coloring buildings for a community map while discussing favorite places in a nostalgic way.  It is therapeutic.  I homeschool for therapy.  🙂

So the next time your child asks you to join in on their project – go ahead, you might be all the calmer for it, and it might be that they need you to do it with them.

A great book to check out about learning styles is The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.

Share your thoughts:  What are some ways that you learn alongside your child?