Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Learning Lately

Colin has been working on numbers this week. I printed out a counting chart and stuck it on the refrigerator- 1 through 20. The first day, Colin found it, and tried counting, and could only get up to 16 very slowly. I helped him the rest of the way. Every time he passed the refrigerator after that, he would stop and count up to 20. It only took him a few days, and now he'll look at it once a day or so, and count. He's got it! Prior to this, we've counted to 100 a few times in the car, and he has a Curious George movie he watches every once in a while that I think counts to 30, but I've never made a point of teaching him to count, so that's pretty good!

Colin also found a toad yesterday, and noticed the camouflage on its sides and back, and pointed it out to me. I think he talked about it with Brennan, too, because Brennan found a snail today, and brought it inside to show me, and was telling me about its camouflage. We read a book today called How Animals Hide. I think it's a really old National Geographic book. I'm trying to read some of the books we haven't read in a while at bedtimes, because when they pick, they tend to pick the same ones over and over! So, I've been picking some, and they've been picking some.

(Colin also just told me that he learned we shouldn't murder- because it's bad!)

We've also watched some pretty cool videos on The Kid Should See This blog, about shapes, crayons being made, a violin being made (from sapling to finished product), a couple versions of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, a video about this couple that collects plastic from a beach and makes art out of it, a couple videos with bikers doing crazy stunts, how to make puppets, and too many others to name. They've also watched a DVD of Magic School Bus about bugs. Nature theme lately, much?

I'm making a chart of the main constellations to put up somewhere. I want to learn those, and Colin is interested, too.

Brennan is learning the alphabet by sight, and we're trying to reinforce the potty habit, as well as cleaning up messes- that goes for all of them!

Nick is saying a few more words, but not really talking all that much. He's very good at getting his point across, though! And he's finally started pointing for things he wants.

We've also done a little studying about Rosh Hashannah. Colin likes hearing the shofar. Brennan, not so much! I'm going to try to make challah today, if I remember at a convenient time before it gets too late. Either that or honeycake. I don't think we'll be able to do both today, though if it turns out we can, great! I'm at my midday slump, though, so nothing is looking like it's going to get done right now (even though I know I'll feel more up to working later).

That's all for this week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Today Was A Very Pumpkin-y Day!

Today was Friday Dessert Day. And since it's September, and September means Fall, and Fall means Pumpkins, and Pumpkins mean Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting, that's what we made! :) Recipe I found last year and fell completely in love with here:

Colin, at another point today, found some orange fabric in my fabric stash that I'd gotten down a couple nights ago. He pulled it out and said, "Mom! Let's make pumpkins!" My first thought was a resounding NO for many reasons, but I said yes, and it was actually pretty fun. I thought over a couple different possible designs, then started looking online for an actual pattern. I found one that was actually really simple- and made one for each kid!

I used this pattern as the basis, made them a little bigger (I traced my biggest mixing bowl), and then changed the top to make them pumpkins instead of tomatoes. Colin, Brennan, and Kailey all traced the bowl for theirs mostly on their own, then I cut them out, and did the sewing, and they stuffed them. They also chose the fabric to be right side out or inside out, and chose the color for the tops. All three of them wanted theirs the same, leaves out with the green top. Bella's I made leaves out with a brown top, and then Nick's is the one plain side out with a brown top. Aren't they so cute?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thoughts, Contemplations, and Mind-Meanderings

Warning: You're looking inside my brain here. Things may not be completely coherent/worded correctly, or in the order they would be if I were to write out a list of my "educational goals", and some things may be glaringly missing. I'm just jotting down some of the thoughts I have about this upcoming schoolyear, to get them straight in my own head. No bashing, please :)

With the start of a new school year, and this being the first year Colin is actually "of school age", I've been thinking a lot more than usual about what I want my kids to learn, what I want to teach them, and how. I believe, especially at these tender ages, that less is more when it comes to school work. Before I've even started officially "schooling" him, Colin has started teaching himself to read, and knows basic math to a degree. He has me constantly spelling words to him, even though, so far, he can only write his name (which he didn't even want to practice doing, just one day said, "Mommy, I wrote my name!" And he had!) He's taking dance classes, and wants to start several sports- baseball, soccer, and bowling have all been requested within the last week. The kids all love singing, listening to music, and reading stories. But what do I want to teach them?

So far, through reading books by the truckload, our constant field trips, answering their questions in as much detail as they want, and letting them explore and discover on their own, I think they're on track for where they "should" be, if they were getting a boxed-curriculum education. Okay, well, Colin more than the other two. But I don't see how to divide educating one from educating all three, because the other two are going to pick up on what the one learns, to some degree or another. Matthew and I have talked about getting the Math-U-See curriculum for math, when we can afford it (Christmas present, anybody?) I want to up our field trips this year, if possible, or at least expand them a little bit to more than the Aquarium and rounds of the parks! We actually are in the process of getting a trip to Mike's Farm planned with a play group we're a part of. Mike's Farm is a big, well, farm, that does seasonal things- strawberry picking, pumpkin patch, Christmas light show, as well as educational field trips for schools and other groups.

I want them to learn at least one other language. We're starting on Russian, because Matthew speaks it, and that will make it that much easier. He's wanting me to learn Pashto so he can keep his fluency in it, so they may end up learning that sooner or later, too. I would love to learn Hebrew and Greek alongside them someday, and maybe other languages, too. Spanish would be useful, French or German might be nice. Really, whatever languages they take a fancy to. After you get over the initial language barrier it's easier to pick up additional languages. Why not learn as many as possible? Who knows what their futures will hold? Knowing at least one additional language will open up so many more possibilities for them!

Most importantly, I want to teach them to love God, to pray, to memorize Bible verses, and read the Bible. I don't think I've been doing as well on that score as I could be, because I don't think I'm as close to God right now as I could be. That needs to change for me to instill those values in them. We've started reading a missionary story called It's A Jungle Out There, written by a man who grew up in the jungles of South America while his parents worked there as missionaries. The day after reading that he and his brother rode a log down a river and nearly killed themselves, Brennan jumped out of a fallen tree in our front yard, and hurt his leg. Maybe that isn't the best story to read them. But...

I want to teach them courage, respect, compassion, responsibility, perseverance, honesty, self-control, and more. I want to teach them to be virtuous. Most people forget those things when they talk about educating a child. I think they are even more important than teaching the three R's (which most people today also struggle with!) By the time they're grown, I want them to know how to budget, how to cook and keep their house clean, how to write fluently. I want them to always have a book that they're reading. I want them to be men who are respected by those around them. I want them to live their lives completely for God. I'll use whatever means and methods I can to help them learn those things :)