Thrift store treasures and the path toward unschooling

I love a good deal! Recently I’ve had especially good luck. Got a pirate ship for Owen for five dollars, normally $50+. Of course it didn’t have all its parts but that was okay. Got a marble run for Simon for two dollars, normally $30 or more. Then this week I found a huge bag of scissors, pinking shears and other neat cutting tools and a big bag of stamps and ink. Each of those was under two dollars. The boys have loved cutting paper into all sorts of shapes and pieces with the “new” scissors. This led to a discussion on how paper is made which is now our next area of study.
Another big focus is money. Simon is still very interested in all things money! I had him design his own yesterday which led to a store and bank being set up in the playroom. We got a few books from the library about the history of money which we are enjoying. As the book talks about the areas of the world where the first money was used we are able to look at the Globe and talk about geography a bit.
You may notice a change in our activities as we are naturally transitioning to a more unschooling like approach to our “schooling”. It’s amazing the amount of useful and interesting things that come up every day in an unhurried, unstructured learning through living environment!



Whose underwear is that on the floor???

Recently I have been noticing things around the house…underwear on the bathroom floor, a plate left on the table, a coat thrown on the table by the back door, shoes under the coffee table and on and on.  But the funny thing is…they are my things. I’m sure they’ve always been there but only recently have I really taken notice.  I notice them and then I think to myself…”well I just didn’t notice, I was busy, or someone was calling or I needed to get ready for this or that”.

Of course other people in my house leave things everywhere and I notice all the time.  I huff and puff at them and remind them in that strained tone to put this or that where it belongs.  I may have even used that dreaded “how many times do I have to tell you?” expression.  By noticing my things around the house I think I’m beginning to see that my kids are human, and that we’re not so different after all.  I feel like I have “good” reasons for leaving my things around. If I (an adult who has had plenty of time to learn where things are supposed to go, even be the one to decide where things go when not in use) can’t get them in the right spot every time, then how can I really expect my little kids to get it right all the time.  What would I think if they started huffing and puffing at me for my plate on the table or my underwear on the floor?

I have more to say on this subject…realizing our kids are little humans.  It’s something I’ve always tried to practice but only recently have I really begun to dig into it as I notice things about myself and how I relate to the world around me.

Mo Willems…more than just the Pigeon!

We have been having a great time in our house recently with Mo Willems books.  I feel a little silly that it has taken us this long to discover the joy of them.  The main reason is the Pigeon.  I read a few of the pigeon books and just couldn’t get into them.  I did not realize that he had so much other wonderful work that did not involve the pigeon.  We are loving the Gerald and Piggie books.  They are so great for Simon at his current stage of reading.  Lot of easy words, punctuation and inflection to give him a chance to really learn how to read a story, not just words on a page.  We all get a lot of laughs out of the books.  The boys also like to act them out as we are reading.  We are in a Book and Listen to my Trumpet are some of our favorites.  There are also several books with wry humor that the parents can really enjoy.  Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is not to be missed.

I could say more but alas I need to make dinner.  So go explore Mo Willems if you haven’t done so already.  If you have some favorites of your own, please leave a comment and let us know.

Human clock and print making

Simon’s clock skills are getting pretty good. He asked to use our clock numbers to do a human clock this time instead of with the paper hands. He got Owen to be the hour hand and he was the minute hand.
We also did some relief prints with foam egg cartons, veggie trays and paper plates. They had the most fun mixing the colors of course. They came out pretty neat!



New year, first week back to (home)school

Our new year got off to a bit of a rocky start. Rick missed a great New Year’s eve party and New Year’s Day party because of a neck problem (couldn’t really turn his head). Simon and various members of five other families contracted a stomach virus at the New Year’s eve party. But the party was totally worth it, kudos to Karina, Paul, Zoe and Theo for showing us a great time!
Our homeschool start went much better. The boys were ready on Monday and we got through all of the things on our schedule that day. Once or twice this week they even played together nicely for 20 or more minutes at a time!
Among other things we read poetry, made a water xylophone, worked on math equations and learned about prepositions. We also worked on thank you notes for all of the Christmas presents the boys were lucky to receive.
One of the highlights of my week came from our music lesson this week. Something from the “pull it out of your butt” homeschool curriculum plan I’ve been using went really well. I saw someone on a blog talking about using YouTube videos and sharing with children the music of John Williams. Simon, as most young boys do, loves anything Star Wars. First we listened to the Star Wars theme music. I had Simon write down any instruments he thought he heard in the piece. Next we watched a video of John Williams conducting an orchestra playing the Star Wars theme. He was able to see which instruments he was hearing correctly and look at all of the others that were involved in making the music. After that we did the same thing with the Harry Potter theme. Simon is not yet familiar with this but it was a nice contrast to the Star Wars theme, a completely different piece of music. It turned out really neat and I was happy to think of many other ways we could use the same pieces along with other YouTube videos.
Owen really enjoyed using water colors on too of white crayon drawings. He was fascinated as the “secret” messages appeared!
All in all it was a great week, despite our extra cold temps.


Christmas Break!

We had a fun break in the northeast for a couple weeks. We stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Breese and were there for Christmas Day. We also visited Rick’s family in CT, his parents and other sisters were up from Fl and TX to visit Jen, Mike and the girls for Christmas . We packed a lot into the 24ish hours we were there.
My mom had a big open house after Christmas and I saw lots of old friends.
The boys enjoyed playing in the woods and experimenting in the shop with Grandpa! Simon and Rick had to create their own sledding run from leftover snow.
Good times all around but we were glad to get home!