puzzling and patterning and owls

It’s getting colder and darker and we are feeling inclined to do things like go through our board and card game collection and give away those we are done with, make designs with our pattern blocks, and drink tea. (“Whatcha making?”, I asked him. “A track for the hotwheel cars!”)

We got a brand new puzzle that Chris got for us because he knows how much we love puzzles and we haven’t done one for months but we were so excited to get down to matching designs and colors and letters and creatures today! It’s a really fun puzzle with monsters of all kinds and monster stores of all kinds. It’s fun to hear the kids sounding out “calamity” and “scalawag” and “wriggles” from the monster store fronts on the puzzle.


We put on some glitter tattoos.


We’ve been having some fun doing math puzzles on the whiteboard. One of us writes a question and someone else solves it. Gavin’s learning it can be much harder to write than to solve! He tried some simple algebra this week and enjoyed that. Lilah and I talked about multiplication in terms of muffins and cookies on baking sheets. That was fun!


We got out a Crime Catchers Spy Science kit that Gavin has had put away since last winter and started doing science experiments to solve the case. Here they are testing the pH of different solutions and checking for secret messages with red tinted glasses and then writing down the message clues.

Lilah made me this wonderful love note. It’s a cat thinking of cat love and saying “meaw”.


We went to visit some Great Horned Owls, collect their pellets and dissect them. There were two owls, high up in the pine trees looking down at all the commotion from time to time. I couldn’t take a picture worth anything of them with my phone camera but a friend took this one! We were able to see them pretty well with our eyes and binoculars though.


We found dozens of pellets, and dissected them to discover lots of rodent and possible mole and shrew bones.

In addition there was a whole lot of playtime with friends!


hot days

Recently we have been enjoying

kaleidoscope play with patterns and mirrors

reading and reading and reading some more

a mining party where we searched for and cracked open geodes, panned for gold and identified gems in a raw state

playing at the museum

puppeteering and castle building at another museum


tree climbing



earthquake testing on different structures

IMG_5291fireworks watching and cuddling with Grandpa

exploring up Storm Mountain with Daddy on a Sunday, trying rock stacking after watching a video of a man nicknamed Gravity Glue who makes huge and amazing rock stacks in Colorado rivers.





moments lately

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been doing:



Playground visit.


Roller skating.  Climbing.  Bouncing.

Math puzzling.  Addition, subtraction and division.  Finally, exploring fractions!


Walk by the Jordan river, counting birds and recording them for the Audubon’s national backyard bird count.  We saw red winged blackbirds, mallards, coots, starlings, geese, robins, and chickadees.


Putting together many pieces of furniture for new craft storage, game storage and moving Chris’ workspace into our room so he’s not in our living space trying to concentrate while the kids and I play.  One of the biggest things I worried about when we began seriously considering unschooling was how to give the kids access to resources at home.  We had and have a lot of resources but they weren’t easy to get to, they weren’t organized, and we didn’t really have good spaces for activities as I wanted to provide.  So we thought about it and thought about what we wanted and then began to reorganize.  There are storage units with tubs for toys in our living room.  One of them doubles as a bench for cuddling or looking out the window.  We just added craft supply storage in bins, so that our supplies are not crammed in cupboards, forgotten about for months because they are so inconvenient to get out and find what you’re looking for.  We also added game storage, open boxes so that games can be seen at a glance but still out of the way.  We adore games so we wanted a good size place to keep them safe but handy.  Not many days go by that there’s not a board game or card game (or three!) played in our house.  Here are the kids putting together a drawer.

Here is our game storage, newly built and populated! Yes, we have a lot of games, and that’s only about half.  The others are out of rotation in the closet.



Here are the storage items we put in over the summer to better prepare our space for easy exploration and enjoyment.  The first picture shows toys in bins and the bench by the window.  The second is more toys, dvds, photo albums, the tv.


Cuttlefish and Number Games

We went to the aquarium.  We saw lots of animals and tested out some new displays.  We spent quite a bit of time with the cuttlefish, observing them.  They are fascinating creatures, very curious.  They come right up to the glass to observe us and one even sort of puffed water at us several times.  We wondered aloud what the tube like part under their head does and I promised to check it out at home.  Later I found it helps to propel them through the water, along with their fin.  They can change color and release ink.  From watching them for awhile, it seems to me to be the spots on their skin that change color, not the underlying skin itself.  We know they like to cover themselves in sand and hide on the bottom of the tank, but today we only spotted swimming cuttlefish.  We also saw the Gentoo penguins, lots of sharks and unicorn fish and jellyfish.

We listened to Harry Potter on the way to and from the aquarium and Gavin asked to watch the movie so we started that when we got home.

The three of us played a Magic the Gathering draft. Lilah and I were on a team since drafting is so complicated that I don’t think she could do it on her own.  She was disappointed but ended up enjoying it and then leaving partway through the game, which is about right for her attention span.

Lilah read me an Elephant and Piggie book: My New Friend Is So Fun.

Gavin and I played Rat-a-tat-Cat and he won with only 4 total.  I had 7.

We headed to Classic Center for some roller skating. The kids practiced skating in a crouch, stopping, turning and jumping.  I practiced not hitting small kids veering wildly on scooters while trying to enjoy skating.  Next time I think we’ll go earlier and avoid the crowds.

Lilah played some Spanish games with number and color words.  They’d forgotten many of the ones they had learned already but they came back fast.  In one of the games she has to spell the words so the visual learning kicks in there.

We got out the Math Dice and Gavin taught me how to play.  It was fun to practice our addition and multiplication.  He’s so good with numbers!


Lilah performed a Chapstick experiment wherein she tried all of her chapsticks together, layer upon layer.  It was hilarious and I told her she smelled like a candy shop.  She’s still a bit sticky.


The kids played Carcassonne with my sister while I went for a short hike and then they played with Legos and jumped on the beanbag.


There was a soccer game in the hallway.


There’s always more fun to be had.  I keep learning that particular lesson, over and over!  It’s a good one.



I’m skipping blogging about some days here and there due to holiday bustle but today was a little bit quieter than it has been.

The kids played on the computer and built lego settings for their story telling.

After breakfast they helped fold clothes, pick up and vacuum to get the house ready for friends later.

Gavin pulled out his lego Hero Factory pieces and built some new “guys”.  One of them was named Huge Foot.

Lilah asked me to read The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman to her.


We took a trip to pick up a gift that we hadn’t already brought home and admired the fountains at the City Creek Center while we did.

The kids worked on some math sheets.  Gavin has forgotten many of his memorized math facts.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I think we’ll practice a bit here and there if he is willing.  The concepts he’s picked up, though, those are still there.  He did some reading from Where On Earth (his kids atlas) to me.  He still tends to skip words and tumble over himself because his brain reads faster than his mouth. At least that’s my guess.

Mid afternoon Lilah and I picked up her friend from school and they started playing with the Hero Factory constructs as soon as we arrived home.  As their chosen characters, they visited the center of Egypt.  They talked loudly and quietly.  They climbed the biggest tree in the world (also known as our holiday tree).


After Lilah’s friend left, it was time for dinner, a quick walk around the neighborhood and then reading some more of Julie of the Wolves, which is still starring in their storytelling play in concepts and setting.



There was more perler bead making, this time they began making pieces to be made into a garland later.


I printed out a few math worksheets for both kids and left them on the table, telling them they could work on them if they wanted to, if it sounded fun.  They both did some during lunch time and then Gavin helped Lilah with hers a bit later on as well.  She would be in first grade this year but is more at a second grade level in math and it makes me happy to be able to meet her where she is with material and interests.


We went roller skating at the other place with the slippery floor and ramps!

When we got home it was time to pick Gavin’s friend up for play time.  They played Connect 4, Chess, The Hobbit lego game, and they built a marble maze.

Gavin was thrilled to see his friend who was over today as it’s been a while since they last played and they have been friends since they were five.  It’s always great to get the two together as they have a long history of fun.



They began with computer play and Pokemon watching.

We watched the construction right outside our house and its’ progress, wondering about what would happen next.


Then we learned how to say good morning in German and Spanish: guten morgen and buenos dias.  And how to say and: und and y.  We decided to try an app to learn Spanish together on my phone.

There was lego play and we read another chapter of Wise Child.

We looked at flowers and plants and animals and talked about different kinds of symmetry.  Lilah drew a flower, with radial symmetry.

I asked the kids if they’d like to do some math and they said yes, so each of them answered a few questions on the whiteboard.  I was wondering if Gavin would remember the greater than, less than symbols.  He did.  He enjoys math very much.  It’s a language that makes sense to him and he especially loves story problems so I try to throw a few his way regularly.  I enjoyed watching his process of division drawn out.  It’s fascinating to see what way a kid approaches a puzzle that can be solved in so many different ways.  Lilah enjoys math puzzling too, especially patterns.

After lunch we looked up the weather on wunderground.com and Gavin wrote down info in his weather journal.  Then we discovered it’s a new moon so we took name suggestions and voted as a family on this moon’s name, inspired by our beloved teacher Leslee’s class the last two years.  Suggestions included: Kitten moon, Owl moon, Hoot hoot moon, Magical moon, Starlight moon, Magic moon, Meow meow moon, Squirrel moon, Woof moon.  We settled on Meow meow moon.  Some stuffed animals got in on the voting.

The kids worked on assembling our vacuum.  On a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day last week our old vacuum broke beyond repair, so we were very excited to have and try our new one.

We tried out the Spanish app, Duolingo.  It was fun, though I’m not thoroughly sold on it being fantastic for young kids.  If we do it together it’s pretty accessible.

We took a trip to the library to return books and find new ones to read and came home with three armfuls, one for each of us.


Gavin immediately dove into a map book where you find treasure by using mapping skills.  After he finished he read about the other related books and requested we try to find them.  Lilah was very interested too and asked to read it on her own as soon as he finished.


We played with density using water, vegetable oil and coins, legos, plastic animals and rubber bands.

Lilah and I went to her gymnastics class where she practiced candlesticks, arabesques, cartwheels and handstands while Gavin played Civilization with Dad and then helped him with dinner.