Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween fun

The costumes were finished, prompting a battle between a fire-breathing dragon and a vampire, wielding a sword and shield.
On Friday (two days ago), we had 7 hours of downtown Halloween fun.  We met friends for lunch, then trick-or-treated up and down State St..  We also took a hayride around the state capitol building.  By the time we got back to the car, S was having a minor meltdown (and honestly so was I), but she was peacefully sleeping before we even got out of the parking ramp. 
The girls enjoyed trying to balance on a slack line set up by one of the businesses.
Then, (yes, the same day), C, A, and I went to a party with our local unschooling group, complete with bobbing for apples, singing, a costume parade, and lots of fun games.

Then at the end of a loooooong day, the girls all curled up on Papa's lap while he read A Cloak for the Moon.
Today, at a Halloween birthday party for a very good friend, A came as her alter ego:
Happy Halloween, everyone and good night.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The wind has mellowed

This very windy week has been full of baking and halloween prep.  S helped me make praline bars with spelt flour and home-made gluten-free pizza. Yummm.

C got a chance to help demonstrate in her aikido class, and was very proud of herself.  This is her second month studying aikido, and she looooves it.  She happily goes to her classes twice a week.  When she first told me she was interested in taking a class of this type, I was hesitant.  She tends to throw herself into things full force at first and then lose interest very quickly.  Plus, it was a choice between this and an acting class she had wanted to take for a long time (I can't afford both).  But C knew for herself what she wanted, and I have seen her gain a lot of confidence in herself throughout this process.  Yay, I'm proud of her.

It's chilly out, but the wind has finally died down.  No more tree limbs flying through the backyard, so S is out digging in the dirt, right after taking a bath.  I guess we didn't time that very well ;-)  Yesterday, when the wind was still fierce, the girls were out chasing chickens and checking out a llama (who happens to share a name with S).  This was at another homeschooling family's house just out of town.  There were even chickens carried into the house several times, which the hostess handled with good humor.  I'm thankful for the great community of homeschoolers we have here in Madison!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A little about how we unschool

So, what does a baby on a little potty seat have to do with unschooling?  Well, babies learn by being helped, when they are ready for each new thing (and so do bigger kids).  I am not "teaching" or "training" A to use a potty seat rather than a diaper.  I simply notice her cues and set her on it.  She may be making that face or sounding grunt-y, or she might have had a dry diaper for a while, but it is up to me to notice when it's time.  I also did not teach A to roll over, she just started trying one day.  When she got frustrated, I would give her some support or a nudge.  If that didn't work I picked her up and snuggled her or nursed her.  I  never "taught" her because she learned on her own.  This is similar to the way we live our unschooling life.  When C was ready to learn to read, I didn't sit her down and drill the letter sounds into her, or use flashcards for whole word recognition, we just read a lot.  She started to ask questions about the words on the page.  I answered them.  We drew giant letters in the sand, or made letter shapes out of sticks, or bread dough.  Once, we drew large letters in the grass with flour, and walked out the shapes they made, tracing the flour path with our feet.  We also read Dick and Jane and sounded out the words because C liked it and thought it was fun.  If she got frustrated, we gave it a break, or snuggled, or got a snack, and then, one day she was off and reading on her own.
 This is also how we learn science.  Hmm, raking leaves?  Why do leaves turn colors?  (some of the colors are there all along, we just can't see them until the chlorophyll disappears due to lack of sunlight, others are caused by the glucose being trapped in the leaf after photosynthesis stops)
Why do they fall off the tree? (they actually grow a line of cells right where the leaf stem and the branch meet that causes the tree to let go of the leaves which are no longer useful for producing food in colder weather) What happens to them as they decompose?  (here we could talk about the life cycle)  Raking leaves also counts as physical education, right?

Working hard

...and wait for it...
and just because they're sweet.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grandparents visit

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit this weekend and C put on a magic show for them, complete with S as the lovely assistant.  We also visited a pumpkin patch where the girls deliberated and searched until we each had the perfect pumpkin.

With Halloween being only a week away, the girls got right to making jack o'lanterns the next day.  S especially liked sorting out the seeds for roasting, and C carved her own this year.  The family of jack o'lanterns is left to right: S (with the heart nose), Papa (the big traditional one), A (the little smiley one), Mama (OK, I tried for a free-form self-portrait ;-), and C (frowny face).  Now I just need to fix up some costumes and we're all set.  Happy halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Upheaval and cupcakes

The main sewer pipe leading out of our house had to be replaced this week, digging up our rain garden in the front yard and covering the rest of the yard in a giant pile of dirt. C quickly repotted some plants from her garden to save them and also surprised us with a mini bouquet in the bathroom.

Later that day, C and S met with others in their  4H Cloverbud group at Lakeview Community Park.  They made maps of the park.  S intently drew a large flock of geese on her map.

Mapmaking was followed by cupcake decorating.  C took the close-up pic of her yummy creations.  S wants to point out that she decorated her cupcakes "by myself with no help".

Today, S brought me some "opposites" during C's pottery class.  She showed off her light turkey feather and heavy rock.  I love seeing my kids draw connections from what they learn and how they play.  When "education" is an integrated part of life, learning can (and does) happen everywhere.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

S the Ballerina

Parents could sit in at S's ballet class today.  It was really cute.  If you watch this video, be patient, she eventually makes it across the room ;-)

Seasonal activities

Last week we went with our 4H group to Goose Pond sanctuary to help collect thimbleweed seeds for the Madison Audobon Society.  They are going to use these seeds for prairie restoration of a nearby field.  It was very satisfying to collect the seeds and white fluff off of the stem and toss it into our bucket.  C needed a rest in the tall prairie grasses after all of our work.

One of the groups we belong to (Earthscouts) did a fun seasonal activity, stringing soaked kernels of Native American corn onto necklaces.  S was a pro with the needle.
After a busy week, and a fun visit from Gigi and Abuelo on the weekend (good to see you, Ma and Pops) even a yummy organic lollipop couldn't compete with the need for sleep.