unschooling

favorite winter things

We’ve been reading chapter books, graphic novels, picture books, novels, read alouds, and audiobooks. We just enjoyed The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

We’ve been practicing cursive for those who find it appealing (Lilah),

Puzzling a cat puzzle,

Going to see the local gymnastics team compete, enjoying waving pompoms to cheer them on,

Playing with friends,

Taking winter walks,

Practicing Aerial silks and hammock tricks,

Game playing: Blokus, Cobra Paw, Exploding Kittens, King of Tokyo, Power Grid, Sid Maier’s Beyond Earth to name a few,

Gift making and hunting,

Enjoying new treasures,

Cookie baking and decorating.

We made soap, which was a fun new project. We tried the melt and pour kind and it was a bit tricky but we figured out how to make molded soaps with smaller soap shapes inside, marbled soaps and we added some home-grown lavender and rose flowers to a few. The kids have requested to do this again.

There’s been Dungeons and Dragons playing,

Finger knitting and crocheting. Look at this beautiful scarf Lilah made for me!

We tried making ice lanterns and ice orbs for the first time to celebrate the winter solstice. Next year we’ll know how to do it better. The lanterns were gorgeous when lit up with candles and stuffed with natural things we collected from the yard and the park. The ice orbs didn’t quite freeze all the way through. The lanterns did freeze but we didn’t leave enough space to create thick enough bases so they were fragile.

We spent time working on the second chapter of Gavin’s book that he’s been writing on and off for a year or two now. Gavin got another big section finished and is happy with it. I’m happy to see that it’s ever so slowly becoming easier and he needs ever so slightly less support.

We’ve been making pom poms and cutting paper snowflakes.

We got to visit with family in Idaho and Washington. There were lovely conversations, meals, games played, explorations and hugs.

We visited a Jim Hensen exhibit and that has sparked a week or two of watching The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show as a family.

The kids tried archery for the first time! They both enjoyed it.

Lilah and I’ve been painting,

And drawing and cutting and gluing and taping and coloring.

 

Gavin made a map for a skit he’s participating in, to use as a treasure map.

We went ice skating with friends, with much twirling and even some backward skating.

Life is good.

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unschooling

Today

We spent hours today working on valentines day cards for an upcoming party.

 

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Gavin is making Star Wars themed valentines and Lilah began making heart-shaped balloon cards (the picture above is the balloons drying in their 3D form) and then changed directions into making heart shaped crayons and putting them on cards. All of them came out looking wonderful and the kids enjoyed the process but it took a lot of time! Last week we did some hunting about to figure out what the kids wanted to do and then went shopping to get materials. This week we started making them and they each made fifty for the party so it was hours of printing, cutting, gluing, taping, breaking and melting crayon bits in heart molds and signing them all. Gavin got more comfortable using our paper cutter tool. Lilah was excited to try it too. We took paper off of old broken crayons and cut them and then melted them in the oven. Oh, and we added glitter. It was a beautiful, messy, fun project.

Gavin worked on his book, really enjoying reading through what he’d already written and making adjustments and then added another paragraph or two. His characters are in a tavern at the moment, trying to gather information.

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Lilah read a new book in the Princess in Black series and very much enjoyed that.

Gavin worked on his Minecraft mansion and Lilah worked on taking care of her crew of animals in Minecraft on the computer.

We folded some laundry.

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Gavin read part of a National Geographic magazine about National Parks.

I did some laundry and made a pot of beans, when I wasn’t helping with other projects.

It was a busy, good day.

Here are a few pictures from the past week or so:

 

Chris and the kids installing a new oven. Now we don’t have an hour or longer preheat time like we’ve been dealing with as our old oven slowly died. Woohoo!

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Improvising a car and tram track with some wood and the furniture

Loving the cat

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Playing at the museum market

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Creating and Enjoying

We’ve been visiting the art museum,

washing dishes,

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making up new ways to play Carcassonne,

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working on his book.

 

He started out writing his book in pencil and was doing really well but then began to slow down, as he became frustrated by mistakes and time and the constraints of paper. I asked if he’d like to type the rest and he was enthusiastically for it. We’ve been avoiding this as hand writing is one of those things that I believe is a handy thing to feel confident at and has slowly, slowly been getting easier as the trauma of trying to write in school fades. However, it was getting to the point in his book project where he wasn’t feeling good about the book project but obviously wanted to keep going. Problems like, he doesn’t like the mess it makes when he needs to erase and he decides, paragraphs in, that he wants to add character descriptions in the beginning and similarly change the tense from past to present all add up to he feels overwhelmed and unable to continue on paper. So, I typed up what he’d written, letter for letter, all mistakes included and he began fixing things and adding to it and the last two days I’ve heard, “Mama, can I work on my book?” and “I think I want to work on the next part.” Wow! What a difference that is from the way it was before, when he had an idea to write about and was so excited and started and then got so mad and frustrated that he would cry and yell and tell me he “couldn’t” and “was too scared”! I’m enjoying his excitement and perseverance and I’m enjoying feeling proud of myself for asking and answering the question, “How can I help him succeed?” I don’t care if he chooses to stop because he wants to, but I certainly do care if he chooses to stop because he doesn’t know how to or feel comfortable proceeding even though he wants to go on. I think we’ve turned a corner.

Yesterday, in the middle of writing he decided he needed to make a map of the area in his story and then used that in his writing. He asked what a good name for a capitol city would be and Lilah suggested Capitol Reef and he thought that sounded good so long as it was by water.

We also discussed how many words are on a page and how that can be different based on so many things, paper size, letter size, margins, etc. He’s still deciding how he wants to lay it out.

We’ve been drawing (cats, kittens, occasional porcupine or Invader Zim)

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enjoying lots of time playing with friends,

going to see Art Dog, a play at our neighborhood theatre with my sister and parents,

 

playing music,

putting up the holiday tree,

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swimming. The kids are getting better each time we go and they ask to go to the pool so they can “practice their swimming” and then they do! Gavin is getting better at moving his arms smoothly and kicking with his legs close together. Lilah is getting better at turning her head to breathe while she’s moving. It’s amazing to see what learning a new skill can look like when it’s accomplished all on their own interest, planning and work. They are really enjoying their progress as well as ownership of their process.

There was a twilight hike for me,

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chocolate bark making (and subsequent eating),

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pop up card making (she pulled out our pop up card book, pored over it, and then asked for materials and away she went),

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cooking (red lentil dal), IMG_7630

 

working on rehanging our basement door (It’s finished now and I am relieved and proud!),

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ice skating for the first time for the kids and the first time in at least ten years for me,

snowflake cutting,

knitting for me.

Our days have been full to the brim with goodness. There is so much to see, learn and share. We’re never lacking for things to do or ideas of things to pursue.

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plural noun: bagels

We played with MadLibs and were all enjoying it very much until Gavin wrote something wrong twice and there wasn’t space left to fit it in and got really upset and decided to take some time on his own.  I am happy that he’s beginning to develop strategies to use to deal with situations he’s having difficulty with.

They built with Gavin’s physics set.

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They built with Magformers.

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We played at the park.

Lilah and I did some yoga.

We tried a new kind of flour in gluten free bagels: cassava (which is the same thing as tapioca except it includes the whole root).

Bagels have a lot of steps. When we put them in the simmering water with sugar, they dropped the bottom and then slowly floated up to the surface. Gavin tasted the water, realized it was sweet and asked if it was the same as what we put in the hummingbird feeder. I told him, “Yes, pretty much except that doesn’t have flour from bagels in it.”

The kids each sprinkled their own bagels with poppyseeds, then we put extra cornmeal and poppyseeds on some and left a few plain.

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They came out a bit gummier than I’d like, but everyone else was pleased. I’ll try without psyllium husk powder next time. This time I added it in case they started coming apart in the water, like they did in our last bagel making attempt.

We watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind together. It’s one of our favorite Hayao Miyazaki animated films. Lilah is very drawn to the main character who works to bring peace, understanding and respect of all living things about.

All four of us walked over the local school playground, kicked the soccer ball around and played on the playground.

The kids and Chris went to scouts and made kites and crowns while I had some time on my own. It was good for everybody.

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Late February

Enjoying the park and the sun.  Spinning is such fun.

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Harry Potter – listening to the books in the car, making it their own with their legos, trains, etc., watching part of the 6th movie.

Spanish game playing.

Puzzling.

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Train track building.

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Watching several TedEd videos.  Learned about Hatshepsut (a female Egyptian pharoah), simple levers and bats.

Visiting the Museum of Natural Curiosity, exploring the maze, pushing building posts into the ground, spinning.

 

Dressing up and acting in winter scenes.  You can see what they are doing in the room and then how they are projected onto the film clip on the screen.  They also spent a lot of time making stop motion animation films with astronauts and octopi.  The animation room is a favorite.

More Spanish game playing.  Enjoying the quests and practicing numbers from twenties through one hundred, simple conversational phrases.

Admiring the city at night from the sky bridge downtown.

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Spiral Scouts, learning songs and playing games.

Rainbow loom creating; trying a new design, getting frustrated, persevering.

Trying out some chinese jump ropes.

Writing a letter. (It was an excruciating proposition, but after empathizing and cuddling, the process and result were alright.  I’ll take it.)

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Planting seeds inside and making labels.  “How do you spell cucumber?”

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Roller skating.

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Reading Dr. Seuss in an impromptu read-a-thon.  (It was snowing huge flakes and I mentioned oobleck.  A few minutes later, Lilah had located Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  Then Gavin pulled out a few other Dr. Suess books.)

Hula hooping.

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Working on cards for Grandpa.

 

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tea for three

There was Rat-a-Tat-Cat playing.

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We listened to Harry Potter in the car.

We did some more building.

The kids spent some time enacting scenes with Hero Factory characters.  “Oh, you defeated the Dark Lord.  You’re doing really well!”

There were oatmeal fraction discussions.  “If we use 1/4 cup of oats and 2/4 cup  of water how much oatmeal do we have?”  “What’s another way of saying 2/4?  I’ll draw a picture of 2/4 of a circle on the whiteboard.”  “One half!”

We used tea pot (our first ever!) for a green tea party.   We were all excited to try out our tea pot and the kids enjoyed trying green tea and peppermint tea and talking about all kinds of tea.

There was a game of Monty Python Fluxx.  Then we watched Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.

We visited the Hill Air Force Base museum.

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The kids enjoyed looking at the planes but ultimately both decided they didn’t really enjoy the museum.  It wasn’t terribly kid friendly.  I’m actually quite excited about this as I think it’s a great opportunity to try something new and then decide, oh, that’s not really my favorite.

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Now we know.  There were a few planes painted with teeth which entertained Lilah and Gavin really enjoyed looking at a huge plane engine which was displayed with the ability to watch the gears turn inside.

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Unbeknownst to me, Lilah had brought her stuffed animal with her from the car (where I usually ask that they stay) and we lost it in a network of huge warehouses two separate times.  Luckily we found it both times but it was frustrating and both of us need to make sure the animals stay in the car before we head out on an adventure.

The kids helped vacuum the house (it’s on our list of chores they can choose to do and get paid for) by choice.  We took the glass over to the recycling center in the park and then collected sticks and bark to build a fairy house as a birthday present for a friend.

The kids each painted a cork as a fairy and then we hot-glued some ribbon as wings on the back.

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Then we started building the house, clipping sticks to the right size and hot-gluing those in a log-cabin style for the fairy house, finishing with an open bark door and bark roof and pinecone chimney.

We stopped for a bit to watch as firemen arrived to put out a small fire nearby.  We got to see the ladder on the truck in use as well as their long hoses.

Lilah had a friend we haven’t connected with since the spring over.  It was so good for them to have time to play!  They explored the house, and then got out the marble blocks.  It’s always fun for me to see what different combinations of kids gravitate toward.

At the same time Gavin had playtime with his friend,and now pen pal, at their house.  He tells me they built a temple with legos, jumped on the trampolines, and ate noodles.

The girls dressed up as villains, made a haunted house, played dead, drew on the whiteboard, made a slide with the bean bag and gymnastics mat.  And giggled A LOT.

After both play dates had ended, we finished the roof of the fairy house, cuddled, read The Wizard of Oz and the Ranger’s Apprentice and then bed.

 

 

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an order of coffee

Today there was Wild Kratts (a television show about animals) watching for both kids first thing.

After breakfast they played with their Hero Factory pieces, building characters and then making stories together.

Lilah worked on writing a letter to a friend and coloring a picture for her.

Gavin and I went on a walk and played Ingress.  Gavin felt really excited to be out and about, just the two of us.  I need to make that happen more frequently.

They had an disagreement over something and Lilah went into the bedroom feeling bad.  I followed her in and cuddled with her and then I asked her if she’d like to read to me.  She said yes and Gavin wandered in soon so she read a library book, an Elephant and Piggie story, to us.

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Lilah and I picked up a friend and they painted and played while Gavin and I had a game of Tokaido.

Then all three played with play dough.  Lilah has very much been taking advantage of having easier access to the art supplies already, even just one day after setting it up.  Woohoo!  They had a restaurant where they took my and Chris’ orders and then made the food and brought it over to us.  The coffee was a little purple and a bit solid (wink), but it was lovely.

Before bed I read another chapter of Wizard of Oz (Lilah’s choice) and Chris read another chapter of Sorcerer of the North in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan (Gavin’s choice) to the kids.

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