homeschooling

Summer's coming

So I planted cantaloupe (it's the same one that's in my banner right now!). In a pot. Because I thought it'd be fun to try - my square foot gardening book says I can do it. We got a cage for it to climb up and I'm fully prepared to fashion slings for the cantaloupes should they get that far.

Cantaloupe 2

We got a doll bed for V from IKEA. It's made of wood. She plays with it a lot but her favorite thing to do is to take it apart. That's also her favorite thing to do with drawer pulls - take them off the drawers and leave them on the table for me to find. Sometimes she puts them back, but really it's the taking apart that interests her.

Cantaloupe

This weekend we joined our local science museum, so V and I can go anytime and look at the dinosaur bones and see what's playing at the planetarium.

I also signed up for Supercharged Science's summer e-camp this morning. I'm going to do it along with her. I think it'll be lots of fun - there are over 130 projects to keep Miss V's hands from getting too idle this summer...

In shop news - have you seen the new look for the shop? I hope it's even easier to navigate and prettier than before. I've got a big shop update coming up on Thursday at 3:30pm Eastern. And I'm going to do something different this time - if you visit on Wednesday afternoon, I'm going to have everything that will be on sale showing as "coming soon." So you'll be able to check out the yarns that are coming on Thursday before the fray that usually occurs with an update. It seems like the sensible thing to do, yes?


Her first real project

V got a helium-filled balloon the other day and when she wanted to tie one of her stuffed cats to the balloon string, she was disappointed to find that the animal didn't float away.

That led to us looking for a toy that would float. There really weren't any that were light enough, so I got out the buttons.

V spent the next hour trying to find the right balance of buttons on the end of her balloon string that would allow the balloon to float around the room, but not all the way up to the ceiling.

I kept thinking this is this her first real homeschooling project!

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I think that because she continued trying to find the right mix of buttons on her own even when I had to leave her to go make dinner. She didn't need my help. She was engrossed in finding the solution to the problem.

And she did. I took these pictures from the floor. The balloon would float up toward the ceiling and then back down toward the ground. We had a fan on (have I mentioned how terribly hot it is here? gah.) so the air currents were moving it around all over the place. Really pretty to watch, despite it being a Hot Wheels balloon.

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Afterward, I asked her if she wanted to write down something about her discoveries, like on Sid the Science Kid, and she was very excited to do that. She drew pictures of the balloon with the buttons on the string and I wrote down her observations. If this is a sign of projects to come, I like it!


Tellus Science Museum

On Saturday, we went to the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, GA.

The first thing we saw was the Foucault's Pendulum. The guide said that there's a small motor that helps balance out the air currents in the building, but otherwise the pendulum knocks down the blocks because of the earth's rotation beneath it. We didn't see it knock down any blocks, but she said to check back when our visit was over to see how many had been knocked down while we were gone.

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We discovered a lot of things about dinosaurs at the museum - like that V is the same length as an Apatosaurus femur.

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These are the claws of an Eremotherium - aka Giant Ground Sloth. These sloths grew to 13 feet tall!

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We discovered that V knows what an ammonite looks like (thanks, Dinosaur Train!)

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V is dwarfed by the Protostega (giant sea turtle).

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Touch this if you dare! Oh yeah, V dared all right.

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When she read this, she touched it some more.

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The "tiny" hand of the T-Rex.

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R looking at the Loch Ness Monster. I've always been fascinated by the legend of Nessie. Seeing an Elasmosaurus skeleton up close was very cool.

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Here V is digging for fossils.

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And here this cute kidlet has discovered a dinosaur fossil!

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In the "My Big Backyard" area of the museum, V found lots to play with. These are spinning magnets - spin one around and the others will spin.

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And at the end of our visit, we found that the earth had rotated enough to knock down four blocks. Pretty cool.

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V would've liked to stay forever, but they were closing for the evening. I see a family membership in our future.

(There are 23 photos total in my flickr set, if you're interested in more dinosaur bones!)


A clear idea

One of the things that's constantly on my mind is homeschooling. Or unschooling. Or some sort of combination of the two. We think V will be a really good candidate for unschooling (though, truthfully, we think all children are) because she is such the go-getter. If she has a question, she needs an answer. And we're happy to help her when she needs it and happy to let her figure it out when she doesn't.

At 4.5, V has been reading for a good year now. I don't think I could say that I taught her to read exactly. I was always better in English class than math or science. R tells me he learned to read in daycare when he was 3. So, genes? All I know is that we've been talking about letters and the sounds they make and the sounds at the beginning/end/middle of words and what words mean and what they look like since before she could possibly understand. But we've never pushed, it's always a fun thing. So now she can read. This is very helpful in the car on trips to see the grandparents - especially since we've been through 2 DVD players now (so annoying).

But just because she can read, doesn't mean she always understands what she reads. And it doesn't mean that she writes. Or that she's doing calculus. She's a regular 4-year-old kid. But still, it's exciting. Because she's fresh. She has no preconceived notions of what learning should be like. If she decides she likes worksheets, we'll get her worksheets. But if not, that's A-Ok with me. There is always another way to learn something.

Yesterday my MIL gave us these bookshelves. They're in the playroom now - which is also where my computer is and I'm guessing the formal homeschooling area of the house. Though I'm sure the actual learning will take place all over, it'll be nice to have a place for the books, pencils, paper, etc.

V set the books on top of the shelves to look like our local library. I have a really hard time not buying every single book I think might interest her, in addition to the ones she wants. So we have a lot. And I want ever-more. Thank goodness for the library!

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I finally have a clear idea for this room. I'd like a twin mattress to use as a daybed/guest bed. Also a chair or loveseat. A lamp or three. A proper desk for my computer. One day I want these shelves as well. And I super-de-duper want this wall map.

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I truly think one of the greatest perks of homeschooling must be doing it how you want to do it, how it works best for your family. Like having a ($5 from a local thrift store! woot!) Hello Kitty table as your desk. And having Movie Fridays. And filming science experiments to post on the internet (one day soon, I hope). Daytrips to roadside historical sites. Or whatever we feel like doing. I found The Organic Sister blog the other day and have been reading it from now to the beginning. While I sometimes wish we could just pack it up and head out, I don't see this happening. But that's what Tara and her family have done and I'm enjoying reading about it. Knowing what I know about school from my own experience (and believe me when I say that this is just the tip of my iceberg), reading what I've read about it, and (so far) feeling the relaxed attitude and yet constant learning that goes on with my own child, I have to say I feel pretty lucky to live in this age of the Internet and all the resources that are available to us.

Just wanted to say that.


Only 10 days, 11 hours, 16 minutes to go!

Did you know it's almost Pi Day? Math geeks & math dolts (like me) alike love Pi Day! Why? Well for the geeks, it's a good chance to revel in the wonderfulness of an unending number (ok, so it's not exactly a number - it's "the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter" but, dude, I don't really know what that means so you'll have to cut me some slack. I told you I was a math dolt! Lizi? You there? Help me out, girl!)!

Ahem... For me, it's just a good excuse to bake a pie. I might even try cutting out a little π in the crust just for fun.

I looked around for some things on Etsy that might make Pi Day even more enjoyable.

My friend Kim makes these cute little Pi guys!

PiGuy

I also found custom made Pi Keds.

PiKeds

Here's a nice looking Pi wallet:

Piwallet

Or a t-shirt for your little math geek in training:

Pishirt

What about you? Do you celebrate Pi Day at your house? What sorts of things do you do? This will be our first year celebrating and I want to do it up right!


What happens when...

Yesterday I asked V if there was anything she was interested in learning more about. She said yes, kittens. So I asked her if she had any questions about kittens and she said yes, she had five questions. I wrote them down for her.

  1. What happens when I'm gentle to a kitten?
  2. What happens when I eat a Rice Krispy Treat and a kitten eats cat food and drinks water?
  3. What happens when a kitten wants to play and I'm throwing it to a kitten?
  4. What happens when a kitten wants the light and I turn the light on?
  5. What happens when a kitten wants to smell some catnip plant?

She wanted to start with the first question, so I asked her if she could think of a way that we could find out what happens when she's gentle with a kitten and that's when she went looking for sweet, long-suffering Grace, V's best friend.

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V petted and hugged on Grace for a while and decided that when she's gentle to a kitten, the kitten will purr and snuggle up next to her. I wrote that down.

For the second question, she decided she could ask me what happens when a kitten eats cat food and drinks water, so I told her the very basics of digestion, which brought up a lot more fun questions.

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After that she wanted to be a kitty cat and play with the cat toy (the best cat toy in the world, by the way - get one before they're gone. They last forever.), so we left the rest of the questions for another day.

I hope this is the beginning of what will turn into project-based homeschooling with V. I'm never sure if I'm doing it right, but practically everything I know about it I learned from Lori at the fabulous Camp Creek Blog, should you be interested in reading more.

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Please join me in Gayle & ELK's Pet Parade! It's the perfect day for a parade!


Strewing words

Since we've moved in and I found our set of Melissa and Doug's Alphabet Magnets I've been strewing words for V daily.

Sometimes she walks into the kitchen and reads the word or phrase right away (recent ones: home, love cat, silly rabbit), sometimes she doesn't notice at all and will start playing with the letters herself, and sometimes she'll ask me what the word is. This morning, she asked me about this word.

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She was in the mood for more, so we talked about how funny it is that gh makes f. It made us laugh. Then I made another gh makes f word.

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Next, she usually wants to find out what happens when you add or subtract letters. We both think this is fantastic fun. This one made us "co-laugh."

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Sometimes she spells words all on her own. She knows a few, but coming right up is her most recent favorite.

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Lately, she pretends she's a kitty cat every day, pretty much all day long.

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She calls herself an indoor/outdoor kitty who likes to take baths.

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From there we just play until she gets bored of the letters.

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Then she's off, meowing about the house.