Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Project, Part II is Part I

My mom is a wealth of office supplies, so she gave me a 3 ring binder and a box of the old computer paper. Remember the kind with holes on the edges that fed through the printer in a one continuous piece? Ah, the memories.

Raccoon had fun helping me tear off the edges, separate the pages, then hole punch them. Voila! His first book was ready for inspiration.

Raccoon decided he wanted to do the illustrations first with crayons. 
He likes to just go for it, then decide later what it is. 
After about ten pages, he was done for the day. 

Another day, I added some new pages and decided to try a different approach. With just one marker, he drew the picture as I sat beside him and I wrote the story he told me underneath. I prompted him a few times by asking, "Then what happened?" and I got him started with "Once upon a time..." So here it is:

Once upon a time, there was a ghost named Alfie.

Alfie wore glasses. His father was watching him. 


There was a sign that said no enter. A man told Alfie he was going to hit him with his big knife.

 So Alfie cut the man's blade off with his knife. Alfie's father was mad. 

(I drew the right page at Raccoon's request, it's the only one 
where he wanted help. I also changed his to the man's for clarity.)

"I'm glad you're safe, but don't do that ever again," he said. 

(It seemed odd to me that Raccoon thought the dad was mad 
so I mentioned the safe part and he incorporated it into the story. 
The "...don't do it again" part is pure Raccoon.) 


 The man set a trap for Alfie. Traps are everywhere! 
A red line told him do not enter that yard. Bad men will take your food and eat it all.

(Raccoon said red but I wrote purple since that's the color the marker was, 
but I thought better of it and changed it back to red to stay true to his story.)

He crossed the line and a shark ate his food. Alfie decided to go home and eat his lunch.

(When I reread the story to Raccoon later, he told me it should be the bad men
who ate the lunch not the shark, implying that the story made more sense that 
way. His first edit, such fun. I still have to go back and change the original.)

Sharing his story with Robin.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brainstorming for Fall 2013

Tonight I am attending my first parent orientation night for Raccoon. He will be going to preschool twice a week for three hours a day. But after this year, my husband and I feel like homeschooling is still the best choice for him. With this in mind, I want to begin figuring out what works for him and what helps him learn.

I LOVE this post about following the lead of the child. One of Celosia's rules is: If it's not working, stop. I haven't even started school with Raccoon and I already feel like my natural teaching inclinations are not going to work. I need a better plan. When Raccoon's hunger to learn is not satisfied, we are all miserable.

So, first, a list of what he likes with ideas of how I could make it school-y:

* taking pictures (he evaluates and chooses what he likes and wants to display, vocabulary, composition, lighting)
* physical activity (following directions through an obstacle course, a walk in the woods, scavenger hunt with labels)
* videos (educational clips, Netflix profile)
* being read to (books, magazines)
* likes freestyle crafts (cutting, gluing, glitter, tape, materials)
* imaginary play (write and perform skits, mini-movies)
* writing in the sand
* sensory play
* social / emotional role play
* field trips with learning pages

I also need to come up with new ways to use what we have. And keeping Robin involved but safe is going to be challenging as well.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Where is that switch anyway!?

This sums up one of my concerns about my son...

"He didn't learn the same. WHEN he learned, he learned FASTER, and deeper than any of the kids we were around. But he also didn't learn consistently like they did. It was like someone flipped a switch and he went from dark to lit up 100 watts all at once. Seeing that he learned so fast really didn't make me worried. (...) What did kill me was waiting for him to get that switch flipped. It never seemed like it was up to me but rather to some random timer switch." from Building Wing Span

Raccoon absorbs information, and remembers it, in amazing quantities, but his perfectionism wars with the flawed repetition necessary for mastery. At this point, I'm not sure when (sometimes I whisper to myself if?) he will speak Spanish (despite living in a fully bilingual home), and many other things that he is not just uninterested in, but actively dislikes. Letters also come to mind.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Days

I have decided that this is our last official summer of Tot School. Raccoon starts preschool twice a week on September 3rd here in the States. Next year we'll be overseas again and starting to homeschool kindergarten, if all goes according to plan. Robin will be starting Tot School at about that time, which is odd to think about now since she's currently 6 months old. At that point she'll be a little shy of two years old. As Gretchen Rubin says, "The days are long but the years are short."

So here's to Tot School and Raccoon's last official post (the pictures are all mixed up time-wise, viva la summer loca!).

Arts & Crafts

My mom gave me these pumpkin sheets when Raccoon 
randomly announced in July that he wanted to make a pumpkin.

He actually wanted to carve one, but was persuaded to do it this way instead.

Thanks to Grama, Raccoon has done many large paintings
this summer, which I have hanging all over the house.

See the tongues sticking out? It's a family thing. Perhaps painting is as well, 
since my mother's father was a painter, among other things. This is the 
beginning of one of my favorites, which I have hanging in my bedroom.

When I see pictures like this, I imagine him as a teen,
long and lean, with his curly hair and gorgeous lashes.

Outside Play

Our wading pool, a yard sale find.

Which became our sandbox, thanks to my mom's inspiration and contributions.

Enjoying play time with his cousins.

A lake about 10 minutes from our house. Raccoon calls it the beach.

Mommy and me moments


Pensive ladies on shore

Raccoon loves horseback riding, just like his mommy.

Raccoon has always enjoyed bouncy houses, but now he gets to play on them
every week at church. This one, however, was outside at the 4th of July festival.

The way life should be.

A perfect summer day, jumping on the trampoline in the sprinkler with Daddy and his best buddy, C.

It wouldn't be tot school without a little dress-up.

 River swimming - it's cold!


Caleb gathered up a stack of thngs from his playroom 
and informed me that he wanted to make a horse.  


I followed his instructions and this is what we built. There 
weren't any spare parts, much to my surprise. It even had 4 legs.


Raccoon's middle name means warrior and he certainly lives up to it with his 
interest in weapons of any kind. His cousin is now his hero for having the 
biggest Nerf gun he's ever seen, and letting him shoot off several rounds.

Grama and Grampa, 4th of July 2013

I think Robin looks so much like my mom.

We are definitely a hat family.


I like this picture because she glows like the angel she is.

Strawberries to celebrate a long-time friend and SB's turtle,
which has now been chewed on by all three of my babies.



Robin's first baby doll, a gift from Grandma Millie (90 years old) at church.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Focusing on Strengths

"It is easy for those working with children with disabilities, including their parents, to dwell upon the deficiencies. But if children experience success in their strength areas, they become more confident in their abilities." SENG August newsletter

A social work major in college, I chose the strengths perspective as the foundation of my approach to family problem-solving. For me, it's the idea that everyone brings something to the table which can be used for the good of all. In homeschooling I hope to use my son's strengths - imagination, curiosity, energy, and marching to his own drum - to also improve his areas of weakness. I think we'll have the most success with project-based learning based on his areas of interest, incorporating reading, writing, and public speaking as means to the end.

Coming soon: a summer and book update.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Museum of the Month

Camlann, a Medieval Village

We watched a longbow demonstration while we waited for the big event - the knights!

 My knight in shining armor

Raccoon loved seeing them in armor, but there was too much talking and 
not enough fighting for him to make it through the 1 hour demonstration.

A real live knight!

Robin, however, was not at all impressed and promptly fell asleep in the baby carrier. 
Raccoon picked me some flowers, my sweet boy.

The highlight for us all (Grama and Grampa came too) turned out to be making
our own beeswax candles by dipping string on a stick into a large cauldron.