unschooling

always moving, sometimes faster, sometimes slowly

We’ve been busy, with all the little things and a few big ones.

We’ve been

swimming with friends in the hot springs

finishing our audiobook The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo

picking out legos from bulk lots

learning about elections in the U.S. and talking about the process and the people involved

playing Minecraft and building and dreaming so many ideas up for it together

IMG_8832

playing soccer with Dad

playing Connect Four and Carcassonne and Exploding Kittens and WildCraft and Race for the Galaxy and War

working on making a mask from a doodle crate gift Lilah received recently (I think she’s making a wolf mask) with a plastic mask base you shape, then cover in foil and plastic, then cover in paper mache and finally she will paint the dried paper mache mask

 

visiting a brand new library just blocks from our house!!! The kids each got their own library card and checked out books. Gavin brought home a Lego idea book and Lilah brought home a book about rocks.

We’ve been celebrating Grandpa’s birthday with Gavin creating a game for him and building it and writing up the instructions with Dad and then trying it out with Grandpa. He made a board out of cardboard and used little plastic army men and a purple die that he got at the skating rink for this very purpose.

 

We’ve been playing with friends (human and animal) at the farm

practicing gymnastics

 

cleaning our house

building a house for our cats, refining it, observing the cats in it, adding toys and stickers

creating new lego designs based on books and otherwise

enjoying the first warm, sunny days of the year at various parks and gardens, with and without friends. They’ve been having opportunities lately to play with much younger kids (being the oldest) and that has been both fun and challenging. I’m so glad they have these kinds of opportunities!

We’ve been practicing a play at their scout meeting

IMG_8988

doing the important work of playing, navigating challenges with differing degrees of confidence and happiness and enjoying each other and the world.

At the moment I write this, the kids are setting up for a game where each of them has a pillow and an umbrella in their bases and they try to hit the other’s area with a squishy ball.

Standard
unschooling

Doing

We have been

painting,

IMG_6661

drawing,

playing with and caring for a new kitten! A kitten has been Lilah’s fondest wish for years and so after much deliberation we decided she’s at a great age to become a pet care taker and to form a really wonderful friendship with a cat. We told her at her birthday party that she could adopt a kitten. She chose Luna Lovegood, and has been playing with her, feeding her, taking care of her litter box and making beds for her in the doll house. It’s been so much fun to watch them together and to have a kitten in the house. Luna seems to love her new home and we love having her here.

We have been celebrating Lilah’s birthday!

And celebrating more with a tea party in the park with friends.

We have been reading,

hiking,

rafting on a lake which was fun until it was scary and then new plans to try a different way were made,

Gavin’s been trying some photography,

and so have I. Here are a few shots I took with the fall leaves in a pool, and reflections of the trees and myself that I enjoyed.

We have been swimming,

noticing the return of some autumn birds and filling up our bird feeder with seeds,

planning costumes,

building (here is a door with hinges built by Gavin)

IMG_6961

playing soccer,

playing Minetest and Minecraft (Gavin did lots of chores to afford his own account to play Minecraft)

watching short animation videos. We recommend this: Fresh Guacamole by PES.

We have been visiting Logan, Utah to see an Australian Aboriginal paintings exhibit at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art,

watching part of the Democratic Debate and Gavin asking questions about politics, following up with research about the 2 major parties in the U.S. and an article on Time For Kids summing up the Democratic Debate.

picking tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeños and Thai chiles in the garden for chili making (with gloves for protection from chile oil for Gavin).

We have been gathering with other unschoolers for an afternoon of spooky (and less spooky) science in the park.

They made glittery slime, stewed a brew in a cauldron, mixed colors, watched some dry ice bubble fun, watched various kinds of mentos and coke experiments and Gavin set off a really wonderful water and air rocket.

Every day is a good one, even the ones with hard parts. I’m glad to be able to watch my kids maneuver through their days and help if they want it and sit back and enjoy when they don’t (and share my own discoveries and interests when they are open to that, of course.)

Standard
unschooling

Several weeks in May

Gavin has been watching/listening to the google doodles lately.  Today he informed me that today’s “google thing” was about “how girls are as good and the same as boys”.  Thanks, Google!

They rode and walked to the park with my sister for some cops and robbers games.

We had a friend over and played with Legos and marble runs and cars.

Lilah made a beaded necklace to give a friend.

IMG_4869

Gavin wants to write a book about Castle In the Sky so he was practicing the lettering from the front cover this afternoon.

Lilah has been picking bouquets from the yard to enjoy inside.

We spent the day in a city an hour or so away, buying a new to us car.  The kids and I spent most of the day at various parks.

We watched a favorite film, Ponyo, again.

We had a conversation inspired by a coupon saying “Save 20%” so we talked about what that means, how much 20% of $100 and $10 is and if it’s a small or large amount and if it’s worth doing.  The kids decided it is worth using.  Since it’s for the bookstore, I agree!

We visited the aviary and saw the sandhills cranes with an egg!  We got friendly with a parakeet and ran and explored and reveled.

We went swimming.  The kids have been asking about going to a waterpark and we’ve told them that we’d love to, as soon as they can swim.  So, they’ve been asking and asking to go the pool and work on learning to swim.  In some ways, this is their first Big Unschooling learning goal.  So, we went and I found some simple games to develop the skills needed in swimming and we worked on those for a half hour or so and then they went down the slide and played.  But, they both made some nice progress and I think if we keep it up they’ll happily be swimming soon, without me scaring them or forcing things along.  Woohoo!

We went to the library again, this time to try to find a specific book Gavin has his heart set on reading: Galaxy’s Most Wanted by Jon Kloepfter.  After a computer search we found it yesterday and he’s now finished with all 208 pages (the next afternoon).  Lesson for me here is: let the kids choose their own books when possible.  Wow!

Gavin asked us who the main character in Mrs Piggle Wiggle’s Farm is.  What a great question!  I am so impressed by his interest and the fact that he shows a lot of nuanced understanding, asking this because the book has a different main character in each chapter, so it’s really different than most literary situations.  So, we got to talk about how usually the way you can recognize the main character(s) for sure is by the changes they undergo, as a character.

A week after we went swimming the first time, we went again. We did more of the same little games to work on swimming skills and both kids absolutely amazed me!  Lilah is just about able to swim all on her own and Gavin is nearly there and determined to work at it.  He’s able to float now, which means totally relaxing in the water and trusting his body and Lilah is willing to put her whole head under the water to propel herself, over and over and comes up with a huge grin on her face.  I told them both they looked like dolphins and they were so, so proud of their progress.  Woohoo!

Gavin’s been doing soccer games and practice three times a week and has been working hard on his defensive skills.

17818929231_38320970e4_k

Lilah’s continuing gymnastics once a week and is getting better at hand stands, cartwheels and is beginning to work on round offs.  She’s gained a lot of strength in the past few weeks and is more and more able to pull the moves off.

More and more the kids are telling me what they are interested in doing with their time, like Gavin told me he wants to do more science experiments and Lilah has been asking for time to draw (cats mostly) and color (mandalas mostly).  I’m excited about these developments, as my own reflections on learning are that it’s most beneficial when it’s something chosen and pursued by the learner (with help and encouragement often, of course).

IMG_4868

Every day we are working on how to make decisions about our time together without conflicts, and how to deal with conflicts when they come up.  It’s a work in progress.

IMG_4865

 

Standard
unschooling

gardening and other physical explorations

The three of us went to the garden store and picked out vegetables for our garden and some pansies for our porch. Gavin chose some red and orange pansies and Lilah chose some dusky purple.

We finished reading Little House on the Prairie. We don’t have a copy of Farmer Boy (next in the series) at the moment so we started Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald in the mean time.

Lilah went to gymnastics class where they are preparing for their meet.

IMG_4732

We planted the pansies in little pots to brighten our porch and a geranium inside by the window.

We visited the Leonardo again.

Our Harry Potter listening in the car came to a finish as we just listened to the end of the last book so I’m looking for some new series I think the kids would enjoy hearing in the car.

Gavin began his spring outdoor soccer, practicing with his team. Lilah and I watched, did cartwheels and practiced her gymnastics routines and played with our own soccer ball.

Gavin came across a recipe for soft pretzels and asked if we could make them together. He read down the recipe to make sure we had everything we needed and decided with my help, that we did.

We weeded the garden, dug out tree roots and planted the strawberries that Lilah insisted we grow this year, and plant first. She was disappointed that we only had a few plants so I shared that trying something new in the garden is always an experiment.

IMG_4755

They found worms and trash and roots and lots and lots of weeds. Gavin dug and dug and dug with the new kid sized shovel we got.

Lilah asked me why I was rubbing the roots of the strawberries so I explained that the roots need to expand into their new home and if they are a little more flexible, it helps.

IMG_4758

We mixed up the pretzel dough and kneaded and rolled snakes and shaped pretzels. Then they played with Hero Factory characters until the dough was ready to go.

We slipped the pretzels into the bath, hoping they wouldn’t fall apart, like happened in our last attempt. They actually held up pretty well. I think the difference was popping them in the freezer right before boiling.

After a “tea time” with pretzels and green tea we headed off to the roller skating rink.

The kids practiced their tricks, I practiced my decidedly less exciting ones. Lilah was skating and noticed a girl about her size with covered head and long clothes (very colorfully styled hijab)and stared, then smiled. The girl had her roller skates untied and was falling. So Lilah stopped and tied her skates for her. I was very proud and happy to see her in that small moment of connection. She told me later that she’d expected the girl spoke another language but was surprised when she spoke English and so we talked about how there are lots of people here who are not exactly like us but still speak English (and have a lot more in common too.) (Photo is very fuzzy because of bad lighting and pictures while moving.)

IMG_4767

Off to the park we went when we got home to practice Lilah’s floor routine and for a few kicks of the soccer ball before dinner. I read a chapter of Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald to them while they finished up dinner, then a chapter of The Ranger’s Apprentice series in the bedroom before cuddles and songs and dreams.

 

Standard
unschooling

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!

IMG_3170

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.

IMG_3162

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.

IMG_3179

There was a soccer game in the hallway.

IMG_3185

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

Standard
unschooling

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.

IMG_2314

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!

IMG_2349

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.

IMG_2351

Standard
unschooling

Thursday

They worked a  bit on computer coding this morning with Scratch on Hour of Code.

Then there was Lego building and imagining.

Lilah read me an Elephant and Piggie book and Gavin read me Pete The Cat And His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin.

We went to the aquarium.  On the way we listened to a bit more of the Howl’s Moving Castle audio book.  One of the river otters was awake so we watched him swimming.  We saw sharks, shark eggs, shark teeth, crabs and urchins being fed.  We saw lots of cuttle fish, some swimming, some hiding, some almost invisible in the sand.  The octopus was awake but quiet.  We got to see an octopus beak today, from a deceased octopus.  It was only the size of the tip of my thumb but the person sharing with us said it came from an octopus bigger than the one they have now.  She showed us shark eggs and said that they lay them every day.  After that we looked closely and spotted the eggs in the tank with the sharks!

 

There was a huge blue crab who was jumping and dancing.

There were tiny black and white fish who’d just been released from their dad’s mouth after being kept safe inside for 21 days!

We visited the penguins and learned about what they eat and why their feathers looks more like fur.

I learned wood ducks are native to Utah and that they are called wood ducks because they nest in holes in tree trunks instead of on the ground.

We marveled at the huge river fish with scales that are inches across.  We watched the African Grey parrot preen himself and chatter, then squawk raucously when left alone.  While the kids crossed the rope bridge several times, I spotted as many rainbow colored frogs as I could.  Here are two: a  beautiful yellow one the size of a baby’s hand and a striped one the size of the tip of my finger.

IMG_2302

When we got home, we worked out a few puzzles in Chocolate Fix, our sudoku puzzle set.

Then it was time for Gavin and Chris to drive to soccer and Lilah and I to do some salsa dancing at home.

IMG_0007

Standard