One of my favorite things to do is go on a nature walk with the kids all around our neighborhood to see what seeds or plants we can bring home to grow on our land. We only take things from vacant lots or the forest. We have more than 100 plants, mostly planted around the edges of our 1/2 acre.
Tonight's find was some tall purple flowers and cypress seeds. We saw a whole variety on the tree and I finally figured out why our "acorns" have never grown before. Those little things are the seeds, not the cone part. Aha!
Found on a facebook repost from my friend ARQ from Alejandro Hernandez Reyes:
These last few weeks since moving we've been more unschoolers than not. Raccoon discovered Book 9 "Make and Do" in a set of Childcraft (1968), recently gifted to us. Today's cranky hour project (the twilight zone between Kitty's nap and suppertime) was paper houses. Which inevitably turned into inventing time. Thank you, Childcraft, for a little afternoon peace, except not for the mess in my living room.
Due to Raccoon's food allergies, we never eat at McDonald's. But we happened to be near the one with the largest play area yesterday. So we stopped in, to the immense joy of our kids. As playtime was winding down, the hostess came over and asked us if we'd like a kitchen tour. Yes!
After suiting up, we went behind the counter. My favorite thing was the soda machine (picture below), and at the end, free sodas. The kids liked washing their hands and pulling on the rinse hose above a large sink out back. The King was impressed by all the cleanliness measures and considered it a tour about the danger of germs.
Overall, a win-win for everyone, and the bonus of an unexpected field trip.
When I look back at Raccoon's childhood, perhaps if his kids ask me for stories about when their dad was little, I want to remember Frank. The avocado. Raccoon found him (it?) yesterday in a friend's yard and brought him home. Upon hearing that we could not eat it yet because it wasn't ripe, he named it, made a home for it, and turned it into a pet, much to the delight of his entire Sunday School class this morning. I love Raccoon's joy and how he builds a world for anyone in need. Habitats, cushy avocado rides with seat belts, whatever needs doing he'll find a way. Upon completion, he's off to the next thing.
This afternoon, as Frank's novelty was waning, we drove up to a local volcanic park (not the erupting one!). A small cafe was open with a gorgeous view. The lake in the picture is supposedly 200 meters deep in the middle. On the drive home, I couldn't get over how much material the volcano had deposited in the hilly country. It must have been some explosion, long ago.
The school year is marching on and I feel at peace this year. One new subject is art. We mostly do spontaneous activities, but today I found this book and gave it a try. Raccoon really enjoyed it. (He got tired so I did the palm tree).
Fastest so far thus summer: 15 mph
Today: 7 mph
The wind feels so very strong, I am surprised by these numbers. But it's gusty, not constant. And our instrument perhaps is not so very precise, but it's fun all the same.
Thank-you Grama for our weather station.
Look what we found today! A bush was removed from our back yard and we found this tucked in behind. I wish we could have seen the eggs and babies. It was very ftagile, coming apart as soon as we touched it. Just exploring our 2000 square meters is an adventure every day. I am grateful to live here, even with a volcano as a neighbor.
You have dyslexia, a weakness for reading surrounded by a sea of strengths. The very thing about your brain that makes reading hard is also going to help you be an amazing scientist, inventor, or whatever you decide to be. World-changing.
I am glad we are doing school at home. What matters is not how fast you read but how well you think. You will do just fine with that.
We may still be in time to help you be a fast reader. If so, great. If not, I will read to you, give you hands-on experiences, and help you chart a non-traditional path through this world. I will always be your biggest fan.
Breathe. Just breathe. It's first grade. We don't have to conquer the world this year. I'll settle for learning to read.
Item 1) Overcoming Dyslexia by Somebody (it's been a long evening of names)
I have done a bit of research and it's early yet, but when dealing with Raccoon, I listen to my gut. So I bought the book, which was recommended on a parenting forum I find useful in cases like these. Review to come.
The rest of the night I spent wishing for more money and time. Shake it off. I have enough of both. As my dad would say, "Keep it simple." One thing I ask myself when pining over resources is, "Can I find or make something similar for free?"
We are going to try 3 days a week in July, just language (reading/writing), science, and math, for about an hour. I am going to spend July and August planning our science-based curriculum, which should give me time to breathe. I-n-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n o-v-e-r-l-o-a-d.
I'm going to add in some right brain activities (www.rightbrainkids.com I think that's the site). They are a little out there with some things, but I hope to help Raccoon calm down and focus. Just giving him a pencil can make him anxious.
And... drumroll please... this year I'm introducing the Schedule, made up of 15 minute chunks. I hope it makes me more mindful of how we use our time.
Things left to do:
1) Find a moderate set of First Grade Goals
2) Pull resources I already have
3) Spend some time thinking about Tot School for Kitty.
4) Find a better way to do lesson plans. How to combine online and book resources all in one spot?
More big news: I changed half of our living room into a school area. So far it has a shelf and kid table with two chairs. I'm getting over an allergic reaction to a plant drink a new friend gave me (i.e. lots of vomiting), so not much got done today. I did make and print off our year-long calendar, two months to a page. I taped the 6 pages next to my whiteboard, replacing the ones my mom made me last year. I circle the date if we did school and jot down what subjects we did. It's a great way to track all sorts of things, and to write down ideas or things I want to cover.
Reminders to self: I never heard of the Periodic Table or parts of a cell until high school, and I'm still fine.
School starts Monday.
I finally got around tonight to organizing Raccoon's portfolio of work and evaluations from Kindergarten. It was really nice to add the unfinished things to our first grade pile. Now we have a concrete place to start in July and I don't feel bad about what was left undone at the end of the school year. We'll just pick up where we left off. It must be hard for classroom teachers to say good-bye, knowing that there were things they still wanted to do with the kids but didn't get to, for whatever reason.
So what are our big plans for first grade? A schoolroom, desks, and more Tot activities for Kitty. She'll be approaching 3 in the fall but she already loves to paint and cut and write. I'm wondering about doing subject blocks, like Reading and Writing on Monday, Math and Science on Tuesday, Art and Social Studies on Wednesday, etc. But also incorporating each area into the others, reading during science, writing during math, etc. Or maybe bettet to do a little each day...
I've said this before, but I need more planning time. This is first grade. We're in the big leagues now. :-) But I do need to be more intentional about meeting our goals. I am starting out this year with the end in mind, especially for his reading.
Worst case scenario is that he ends up repeating first grade when we go to the States, which his age would allow, but I feel like he really is going to fly this year. If I can just figure out how to harness all that energy.
First Grade Goal #1
Post a weekly picture update. I did a few last year and love looking at these.
Raccoon's frog trap, a 6 liter bottle with it's top cut off and inverted. We left it in a swampy arra for a week and caught 3 spiders, which are now sitting on my dryer.
Our new reading corner in the living room. It's amazing how moving the bookcase out of my bedroom has made teading together so much easier. The kids and I love it.
I have a smartphone again (happy sigh), so you'll be seeing a lot more updates from me now.
Raccoon has 11 days of school left. I'm planning an Open House/Graduation Party for him on May 24. I am really proud how far he's come this year.
He wrote his name from memory on Mother's Day, the best gift ever.
When I started to plan Raccoon's kindergarten year, I had all of these fun and creative ideas. About October I realized that I'm not a theme person, and Raccoon, as I've always known, is not a sit-and-do-school person. It was not working but we soldiered on to Christmas break. I knew something had to change.
So this is our new schedule:
Monday - Seatwork and Sensory
Tuesday - Science and Inventing
Wednesday - History and Computer
Thursday - Books and Games
Friday - Creative Play and PE
Today was amazing. He did three pages in his math workbook, then we sat on the couch and read two books in week 1 of the Starfall curriculum. They use a stuffed bear as a new student, so I introduced Mousey as our new student, and unlike Starfall's bear, he is very naughty. Mousey is a stuffed puppet I used until Raccoon was three to help role play appropriate behavior. He is reappearing now because Raccoon has gotten it into his head that he can't learn to read. I hope that giving that negative role to Mousey will allow Raccoon to take on a more positive one.
After reading, we did snacktime with a BrainPop, Jr. video and I prepared our art project - noodles, glue, markers, and dot paints. The kids enjoyed it and so did I. When they were done we went out to play, then had lunch and nap/quiet time, all very successfully.
We're off to a great start and I'm looking forward to our new variety. I have some general goals I want to achieve by May, such as cvc reading and counting from 1-100, but I feel much happier about school now, and I think Raccoon will like it too.
Tomorrow is science day, then I want to have a picnic. I know he's going to love that. And I feel good that Kitty is getting a varied Tot school experience as well, joining her big brother for the hands-on stuff. Right now she's working on counting and learning her colors.