Tag: fun

January 2010 so far

The theme of January this year is snow.
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Lots of lovely, fluffy, soft snow.
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Snow globe sort of snow.
Snow at Night

And lots of sled riding in snow (ice skating soon I think.)
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And video games.

When the kids are not outside playing in the snow or shoveling the driveway (a new favorite service for Rachel) they are spending lots of time play strategic or exercise related video games.  Lots of Star Craft, Garry’s Mod, and Tales Runner going on here (for after spending time outside) and lots of Wii Resort and Wii Fit Plus  combined with all sorts of pretend play and contests for when it is just too cold to play outside. For example, yesterday the kids set up a plane in the living room to make the flying game in Wii Resort more fun and so everyone could join in.
Playing Star Craft
The Girls
The kids did spend some time watching movies but other than Issac’s current repeat obsession with The Goonies and the kids’ repeat watching of The Gamers: Dorkness Rising there is not so much of that right now. In the meantime we are focused on spending 5 min a day upstairs and 5 downstairs cleaning 1 room as quickly as possible. A good habit to develop and each kid has a chance at a reward for doing their very best. We are trying to develop an attitude of service in a household where chaos is more comfortable than order and schedules and lists DO NOT WORK. This suits us well and keeps the house in relative order. We have also had much less complaining than with our previous attempts at this. (If they complain then they get 1/2 hour instead. And I have also found that they are willing to go the extra mile and really work hard in this time, stretching it well beyond the necessary 5 minutes to get the job done.

In the meantime, the painting is actually coming along now that I have the proper colors. It is coming out different than expected, more solid and less surreal but I am happy with my first attempt at acrylics since high school so far.

A Day in the Life 33: Issac

The girls spent some time with my mother-in-law this morning so Issac had us all to himself. He chattered away happily about all sorts of thinks he was thinking. He watched Shamus play a game for a while then wanted to be with me.

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I asked him if he wanted to help me finish cleaning in my bedroom–Rachel had been into the wrapping stuff and left a mess, not to mention all the stuff that gets tossed in my closet so it is out of the way. A moment later he was gone, eager to get started.

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He emptied my closet then set about organizing it.

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Shoes on the door, boots on the shoe holder, wrapping stuff moved to the wardrobe, garbage to the garbage, hangers to the hook, crutches and knee brace to the bathroom closet.

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He swept and trashed and happily found all the change on the floor amidst the dust and his marbles.

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He then helped me organize the wardrobe so the present and packing closets were organized.

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We moved the wrapping bin to the hall to use for laundry.

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Afterwards we ate lunch together and talked about compound words (he is desperate to read and loves talking about how words look).

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He then showed me how to make various tens and hundreds (he was playing with Cuisiniere rods and discovered the ones, tens, and hundreds theme.

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He helped me make cookies for Daddy.

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When his sisters got home he helped me burn and gathered sticks from the yard to add to the fire.

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Meanwhile the girls played Animal Land (they are being squirrels and chipmunks in their den in this shot.)

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A Day in the Life 3: Unschool vs Traditional School– a Reminder to Self

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This past few weeks have been a time of waffling in regards to various areas of our lives. Shamus and I both have been too easily tossed in the winds as far as our decisions have gone, making a decision we feel God pulling us towards only to second guess a day later. I long to work through them here but some of them I can’t because they are too personal or would border on gossip. The school question, however, I am willing to put out there although I know some will not understand and may even judge me because of it. Before I explain let me tell you that in all of these questions of decision we have been waffling internally yet God is keeping us head on–giving us instant reminders as soon as we begin to waffle. Today was just such a day.

As I have mentioned before, we have a classroom in the basement set up in the traditional classroom style. It is especially good for Rachel to know it is there–it is a reminder that we are responsible for her education and that we take it seriously–even if most of her learning does not occur there. In fact, we haven’t used it in a few months–other than as an art studio where they set up shop with oils and acrylics while I worked on an oil painting.

So, if they haven’t done their workbooks in a few weeks what are they doing with themselves all day? How can they possibly be learning if they aren’t taught? Shamus and I had this very discussion this morning because he occasionally likes them to bring him a workbook page so he can see what they are learning. He is very open to the new style of teaching I have taken on but is nervous because he hasn’t seen any evidence. I suggested he ask them what they are learning or listen to their conversations to see if they are learning anything new. He agreed and went in to have a chat with them. (Because I am under PA tutor law instead of traditional homeschool law I am considered their primary educator–it is because I have a teacher’s certification and 5 years of college that I can do this but it also means that Shamus is not considered their “teacher”. He recognizes this and holds me accountable instead of taking over teaching–though he will likely teach them programming and higher math as they show interest.)

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So what did he find out and what have they been doing?

They spent all of yesterday decorating their room for Christmas. I put up an artificial tree in their room with lights and Christmas balls and handed them reams of construction paper, glue, tape, and scissors. They spent hours cutting and pasting making tons of paper chains and other decorations and taping them around their room. While two were doing that the other one was playing Fate–a D&D type computer game with NO plot. If you have never played D&D and are a Christian you are probably nervous. Don’t be. Most of the game consists of trying to catch different types of fish, fighting evil creatures, and leveling up so you can get better stuff. You have to earn and save money, make wise spending decisions, choose different armor and other items based on percentage bonuses (yes, all three are reading what they need to do and understand percentages and how different percentages of different bonuses affect different functions of their character. Believe me this is tricky stuff that I can barely wrap my brain around–harder than figuring out percent off sales when shopping by a long run because you have to take in multiple affects.) They also had to keep track of how long each child had been on the game to decide who’s turn it was next and Rachel spent a long time helping Issac figure out the basic reading and how percentages work–this had him going around the house reading plenty of other things.

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They also wrote me a grocery list of the items they felt we needed based on what each child liked to eat. They looked in each of the cupboards for things that were missing or that we only had one of and helped me plan the list by making their own. They had to look up spellings or sound out those they were unsure of. And if they wanted it it had to be on the list. (I am talking my big monthly shopping list here–not even a once a week list.)

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We have also been reading about 4 chapters or so of the Elyon books per day–me reading aloud as they old laundry (we were a bit behind on the laundry and this has gotten us caught up.) Issac has also been helping me figure out the colors for a new painting and how they go on the paper. This goes far beyond “what color is this” and into “what color do I need to add to get this to the exact right shade of red.” Also, Rachel taught herself how to make pie crust by messing the first one up and then making the second one right because she didn’t follow the instructions the first time–she made a pie for herself and one for her brother and sister (small ones.) She also took on rice making and several other recipes because I was busy on a project I need to finish up.

Add to that them listening to old radio shows and my old records, playing board games (we played Where in the USA is Carman Sandiego yesterday which degraded into “how fast can you find the state”–I was amazed to see how many Issac knew.) They also watched “Mythbusters” online last night–Rachel just listened and we discussed their ideas of what would and should work and how they tested their theories. There have been many more goings on–including the girls playing Fate while Issac and I went shopping.

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Issac and I had a huge discussion about God’s love for us and whether He loves us even when He allows bad things to happen–for a 6 year old he has a better grasp of this than many Christians. He also helped me keep track of the grocery budget, decide how many of each item we needed to last us a month, and loaded and unloaded the cart. When we returned home the girls put away what we had and helped decide what items we just weren’t eating and those will go to the food cupboard. Putting a month’s worth of groceries away is a big deal (especially for a family of 5) and requires much ingenuity of stacking and storing. :)) We are now off to visit our final grocery store and my grandmother, dropping things off at the food cupboard and picking up some work for myself.

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Writing it all down is a wonderful reminder of how much they are learning and growing and living. (And don’t worry about the video game–they will be sick of it in a few days and have some other project they are working on–they always do. I write this up to them having the freedom to play for long periods of time without someone complaining about it–when you are free to do something as long as you like you get thoroughly sick of it. Believe me, I know. :))

Finally–you may be wondering how God reminded me that the kids are growing and learning a lot? After our discussion this morning I went out. When I got home I suddenly had a slew of unschooling sites in my feed reader with posts about the benefits, including one that linked back to my previous “unschooling” post.

Oh yeah, I forgot.

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*The photos are all from this year–I haven’t had time to take pictures this week but these all reflect things the kids have done this week. 🙂