unschooling

99 degree days

We’ve been at the pool, working on swimming strokes together, as well as going down the water slide there. We’ve been going to the water parks too. It’s good to cool down when it’s hot outside.

They’ve been reading oh so many graphic novels and we got some fun math books to check out.

We’re working through a puzzle I got for my birthday with lovely depictions of the constellations on it. The kids and I have had several discussions about constellations and horoscopes as we look at the pictures on the puzzle. Lilah decided she doesn’t want to be a Libra. She’d rather be something that has an animal representation.

We went to a new place in the mountains with friends called Cataract Gorge, an area full of waterfalls that’s several miles down a very rocky dirt road that felt pretty exciting as we were bumping up and down. The kids played for hours in the water. Gavin hauled driftwood around to create bridges, docks, an aircarrier and a huge ship with lots of customizations (smaller sticks tucked into nooks in a large log). The waterfalls were beautiful too.

We met a new bunch of people for a Magic the Gathering club and were disappointed. The kids were mostly too young to really be able to play and the kids that were of similar ages we didn’t hit it off with. I am so disappointed about this as I was really hoping it would be a good regular activity with a group of peers for Gavin. I am considering other options for providing Gavin (both of them) regular time with kids close to their own ages.

Lilah started a Makerspace class, where she does tinkering projects. So far she’s made a nametag with LED lights as eyes and is working on a notebook.

She also tried an aerial arts class, where she does acrobatics on long silk pieces hanging from the ceiling. She loved it so much and we’ll be going back often.

We’ve been enjoying harvesting from our garden. This week we picked two green beans, a jalapeno, a pink banana squash, several small pumpkins, cherry tomatoes, a zucchini, a handful of eggplant of various types, a bunch of lemon cucumbers and some basil and Thai basil. Yum! Lilah and I like to check the honeydew and golden melon progress every few days. The biggest melons are about the size of a kids football now. They are less fuzzy than they were. Lilah built a support for one of the honeydews that was dangling in mid air with some sticks and a rock.

Gavin’s been working on some coding, in a new class and on codeacademy.com. He really enjoys solving puzzles and is enjoying messing around with html and css. He says he likes css better because he’s interested in customizing things.

We listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl while driving. Such fun! The kids have heard them before but didn’t remember them well. I always have adored how Charlie Bucket’s grandparents have matching names: Joe and Josephine, George and Georgina. So much amusement in those stories.

Lilah’s been working on learning to play the chorus of Let It Go from the Disney film and a song from Moana as well as refining her Yellow Submarine on the keyboard. She’s getting quite good!

Gavin’s been building and rebuilding a Lego Mindstorms robot and then programming it to do different things. It’s huge and very complicated and he’s spent hours working at it. He’s really enjoying working on it.

I’ve been painting a bit. I love it! It’s time consuming but I absolutely love every second even when I despise the results. It’s hard to find the time but oh, so important for me to enjoy, for the kids to see me doing (since it’s one of my big life goals, to make art) and then sometimes they join in either just watching and chatting or sometimes painting too.

I learned back in college that when I make art, most of it is destined for the garbage can. I don’t mean I hate it, though sometimes I do, but I mean it takes a lot of practice, of experimenting, of quantity to create a little quality art. And it doesn’t bother me at all now. Long ago, it really did! Now, I just enjoy the process and enjoy those projects that I value the product too. It’s the making that matters to me. I hope the kids enjoy the making in life too.

Here’s my latest work in progress. I’m still struggling with the texture of acrylic on canvas, but I’m enjoying the struggle.

Here’s Lilah’s latest painting (of a cat, naturally).

 

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unschooling

Sunken Cities, Lego Cities, Evolution

Over the past week or so the kids have been playing Spore every morning lately.  So, the rest of the time the kids conversation is including evolution, mutation, tribes and herds.   (It’s a computer game where you start as a tiny sea-dwelling organism and slowly evolve and become a land-dweller.  You get to choose the changes, like type of eyeballs, type of feet, size of torso…, as you slowly level up and your creature changes and develops.)  Usually both of them are leaning together, planning what changes to make next, where to take their creature in search of food, shelter or allies.  Here’s Lilah in a rare moment without Gavin’s sage advice on hand.

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Gavin built a Lego version of Carcassonne, complete with four civilizations, Japan, China, Vikings and Rome.  It has a volcano and a temple, four cities and a river that goes to the sea.  I’m impressed by his building, his creativity and his interest in geography, history and game mechanics.

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We finished reading Madame Pamplemousse and the Enchanted Sweet Shop and are continuing Prairie School.

We looked at a bunch of slides with the new microscope as well as some feathers from our parakeet.

Lilah went to gymnastics.  She even went up to the high bar, the one up higher than my head, swung herself around and up and did her “mermaids” on that bar before swinging down and dismounting.  I was impressed.

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Gavin and Dad played civilization.

We built my new single-serving puzzle.

Lilah’s had a cough for weeks and the air has been really bad here so we’ve been staying in quite a bit.  Yesterday and today the air is finally clear again thanks to some rain and snow.

The kids have been playing with their Hero Factory modular robot toys.

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Here’s a snippet of one of their stories:

G: “I’m following you Earth Leader. All right, Sandstone. Look this is the tricky part of getting down.”

L: “Yeah but remember Kai is good at climbing.”

G: “Yeah he’s good at climbing things but not slippery things like vines.”

 “‘Let’s go to the new city of Earthler which I’ve never seen’, Kai admitted.”
L: “Look, she’s fireproof and waterproof!”
We talked about sales tax because Gavin has been doing chores to earn money and is interested in spending it on a new Bionicle figure.  We discussed how much sales tax is, why it exists and what its for in general and specifically here in Utah.  Then we began talking about when it started and got into the Boston tea party and representation of the people in governments.  It was a pretty great bunch of discussions!
We picked up our Spanish practice again, going over food words, animal words and I learned how to say, “You are so sweet my teeth hurt.”
Gavin finished knitting his hat on the loom.
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Gavin asked recently about Atlantis, if it’s real or not. So I explained that actually there are plenty if cities that have sunk for different reasons and we don’t know if Atlantis is one of those.  Afterward we looked at some great photos of sunken cities and read the brief descriptions of where they are, when they sank and if they know why.  It’s been something that has interested me since I was a kid, so it’s fun to see Gavin interested as well.  I’m glad to know and be able to pass on that there are infinite mysteries left in history, biology, physics just waiting to be discovered and puzzled over.
We went the the Museum of Natural Curiosity and climbed and read and spun and wondered and built and laughed.  My favorite part this time was watching the kids dress up as pirates and put on a play.
Friends.
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Monday

They began their day with coolmathgames.com computer play and Lego games and an episode of Pokemon.

We puzzled.  Another Charley Harper puzzle that we brought out on Friday with a coral reef and undersea animals, was very fun to look at and talk about after our visit to the aquarium last week.  Lilah worked on some pink coral while Gavin worked on an eel and some orange coral.

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We checked our epsom salt crystals and they’re looking good!

I don’t think these crystals will get any bigger but both kids were very excited about growing crystals.  Maybe we’ll start some sugar and salt crystals on strings to grow over a long period.  Maybe we’ll try some borax crystal snowflakes this winter.

A new kids magazine and catalog came in the mail so they read those cover to cover, then switched.

They did some somersaulting and cartwheeling on our gym mat.

We got out my old microscope and looked at some old slides and some table salt.  It was only half working and was very difficult for the kids to use so I think we’ll be trying to get another soon.  Looking at things through the microscope is so much fun and I’d like to do it frequently!

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Soon after checking out some table salt grains and an ant leg, it was time for gymnastics and soccer.  Lilah worked on cartwheels, handstands and bars.  Gavin worked on headers, hard kicks and bringing the ball down and under control.

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Thursday

They started with computer play and Pokemon and My Little Pony watching.

There was lego play and pony play.

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Lilah drew pictures of her friends with their names and hairstyles and favorite colors taken into consideration.

We baked muffins with mixing and recipe reading and chocolate chip allotting.

We puzzled.

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After lunch we headed up to our favorite spot by Storm Mountain and hiked by the stream.  It was cold but beautiful.  We collected maple leaves and I dabbled with a little leaf art.  We decided that Lilah needs a collecting bag to bring with us on walks and hikes.

On the way down we noticed a pine tree full of pinecones.  We wondered if they are the kind with pine nuts so we brought a few home to check out.

When we got home there was sticker sticking fun and then we did some Spanish together – food and animal words.

We finished the Rocky Mountains puzzle.  It was a beautiful and fun one, and we would definitely like another with Charley Harper art on it.  We even noticed several of the species from the puzzle on our hike today!

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