Daily Lessons, Language, Parenting

The rest of the day

I know that last post was a little hard to read, but writing it out definitely helped me get some perspective and help cement my realization that I just need to be more patient. 

Also, the bad times help us appreciate the good times more, don’t they?

After they woke up from their nap, we ended up having a wonderful afternoon. We did a lot of playing outside. They picked wildflowers (weeds) and rocks in a field near the house, and dug a large hole in our backyard. 


It was really awesome watching them work together on the hole, and getting along for at least 20 minutes. Every once in a while Mr. 3 would say, “Excuse me M—-, I am trying to dig here!” 


I told him he has to speak clearly and slowly to his brother and so now he emphasizes each word, and it’s so funny to hear him talk like that.

Little brother kept trying to climb into the hole.

We also discovered that while raw green beans have a tough shell that is kind of gross to chew, the little pods inside the shell are juicy and delicious. We spent quite some time shelling and eating the green beans in the garden. We compared flavors of the different sized pods.


When we got back inside they took a bath together and then immediately wanted to play in the sand box. 

The 15 month old has made some great vocabulary strides in the last few days. He can say “WOW” when we read Wow, Says the Owl. He can also say “baby” out loud, but I think he was really trying to say Brother, which he also just started signing. 

It’s adorable when he signs brother and walks through out the house (or toy store) looking for his big brother. 

He handed me a bib and said “b b b bib!” 

He is trying to jump and just kind of bounces up and down on his toes.

Big brother on the other hand is working on standing on one foot now. And he does great impersonations of his favorite Blippi shows. And he didn’t ask for the Kindle once yesterday, I think he has accepted my computers are for responsible people speech? 

And guess what? When he pooped in his diaper in the evening, I calmly asked him if he wanted to go potty, and when he indicated “no”, I told him to let me know when he was done and we could get him cleaned up. 

See, I CAN do this wonderful job of taking care of and helping my children explore the world. 

Daily Lessons, Math

Craft Ball Games

2017-06-13_15-16-37_669

My boys love these craft balls, and we don’t even use them for crafts. Both of them will go to our art cabinet and grab the bag and then empty them out somewhere. For $3 they are well worth the cost as they have seen a lot of use.

Two days ago they emptied the bag of 100 pompoms near their colorful stacking cups, and I thought why don’t we try to match up the colors? Both Mr. 1 and Mr. 3 participated for an educational few minutes, and then we somehow ended up in a pompom fight. They loved throwing the balls at each other and me. Today they rolled the balls down the slide and tried to toss them up onto the changing table. Mr. 3 also was putting them in the laundry hamper, and trying to count them as he did it.

I love when they take initiative and come up with games on their own. I also love it when they take my suggestion and I can feel like we tried to do some active learning.

 

Daily Lessons

A Pre [Home] School Week in Review

What did we do?

We tried to spend a significant amount of time outside, since the weather was so beautiful. We took the stroller to the library (over 1.5 miles both ways) and stopped at the playground on the way home. We played on the trampoline and fertilized my garden. We  harvested some green beans and one beautiful carrot. [My favorite is the thyme plant, there isn’t much of it but one tiny leaf has such an amazing smell and flavor.]

2017-06-09_16-22-25_563Mostly the kids played in the sandbox. The picture above shows my two minutes in paradise; getting to read while the children play together.

All of these things help the kids practice their gross motor skills such as walking, running, and jumping. Their fine motor skills were active in learning how to pick the green beans without pulling the entire plant out of the earth. Their senses were engaged in sand box play, making goop, painting [on] the patio.

When we went to the aquarium this weekend, our one big excursion, they spent most of their time at the outdoor harbor seal enclosure. It is surrounded by large stadium style benches and both boys enjoyed walking along the benches and practicing going up and down the stairs. The 3-year-old practiced jumping down and up the stairs, and jumping off of the benches. Then the show started and we watched the trainers work with the seals. (Fact: Harbor seals can hold their breath for 30 minutes!)

What did we learn?

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the children are learning at any given moment, but they are always learning. Whether it is practicing a skill that is new to them or expanding one they already have. Here are some things that really stood out to me for my kids:

Mr 3: Jumping. He’s been jumping off and on to everything. Today he was seeing how far he could jump on his racetrack carpet. If he isn’t jumping, he’s galloping.

2017-06-11_08-49-56_217

Mr. 3 is also improving his tolerance for his brother. We are seeing more moments where they get along and can play together. Mr.3 is also saying things like, “What’s wrong, my friend M—?” when his little brother is crying. There is still some pushing and crying when 3 gets tired, but I do think it is getting better.

Mr. 1 – He is into everything. He spends a lot of time opening and closing the screen door. He also spent nearly an hour with a bottle of bubbles, putting the plunger in and trying to blow the bubbles. He wasn’t successful with the blowing, but he was very interested until he accidentally spilled the whole bottle on the patio.

Mr. 1 is also starting to combine words. He was saying “Hi Dada” when they went on a dog walk together.

Me: I’m learning that if I go too far out of my comfort zone, then I get easily stressed out and start feeling bad about myself again. It’s all well and good to try to be a perfect parent, but if I don’t make small changes then I am setting myself up for failure. We briefly tried no screen time limits and no bed time and it was a nightmare.

I want my kids to be respected and listen to their bodies and tell me what they need, but it’s not a skill that can be learned in two days, but I can’t stay up until 10:30 every night with the 3-year-old.

I have a theory that Mr. 3 most likely doesn’t like going to bed because he doesn’t want to be alone. So we are getting him a big bed so that someone can lay down with him. Usually if say, “I’m tired, will you lay down with me?” he will join us very eagerly.

What did we read?

2017-06-12_15-07-44_249

We have some really AMAZING library books this time! I’m going to limit myself to telling you about 5.

Cars Go by Steve Light – Just simple pictures of cars and onomatopoeia of the sounds they make. Mr. 1 will follow you around the house with this one until you read it at least 3 times. (Amazon – for more info)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this book lately because the sequel just came out, but I’m honestly not that big of a fan of it. Unfortunately, my 3 old always wants to read it when he goes potty. It’s an okay story about how dragons love tacos, and parties, and taco parties.  (Amazon – for more info)

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins – from the creator of Maisy Mouse.. this beautiful and bright book asks you to pretend to be a bird for one day and then takes you through different bird actions from sunrise to sunset. I think it’s adorable, and my 1-year-old really loves the pictures. (Amazon – for more info)

Doctor Ted by Andrea Beaty – This is a cute story about a little bear who pretends to be a doctor. This inspired my 3-year-old to play paramedic with me for a long time. I would fall down and cry for help and he would race over in his truck and then try to tie a ribbon “bandage” around my hurt area. We got to practice body parts, work our imaginations, and try tying knots. Plus, we practiced “calling” 911. (Amazon – for more info)

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood – This is a book about an owl who stays up all day and discovers all the colors around her that she normally doesn’t get to see. It’s a really pretty book and is fun to read. Both of the kids enjoyed this one and have asked for it repeatedly. (Amazon – for more info)

In Conclusion –

We had a great week and hope you did too!

(My week was extra awesome because we had two date nights! For our 4 year aniversary we went indoor sky-diving which was awesome! And then on the weekend we played tennis for two hours and then had lunch after. I’m so happy I could burst. Last night Mr. 3 was being super silly. He keps saying “I’m the babysitter” and then laughing maniacally.)

 

Daily Lessons

A Benefit of School Being Out for Summer 

My initial thoughts about school being out from a homeschool perspective is always, “great, all our favorite places are going to start getting super crowded, now!”. (Sarcastic)

But I am changing my tune to,”great, this is an opportunity for my little kids to learn from the bigger kids that we meet!” (Heartfelt)

Granted, not all experiences will be awesome, that will depend on the older kids. 

We had 3 encounters with older children in Tuesday, and two of them were positive enough to inspire me to write this post.

The first, at the library, involved two older boys at the library desk asking the librarian to help them find some books. While the Librarian was working the computer, the kids were taking an interest in Mr. 3 and Mr. 1. I wouldn’t call it a conversation but they were being friendly and saying hello. Also it is good for us to see other people interested in books!

The second encounter wasn’t even an encounter as I tried to walk away as quickly as I could push my double stroller through the doorway. There was a group of teenagers getting on the elevator and in the space of 1 minute I heard a superfluous amount of curse words. This is not something I want my kids to get comfortable with.

The third encounter was my favorite. We were on our way to the elementary school playground where we came across 2 boys riding skate boards. They politely asked us what time it was and then heard me explain to Mr. 3 about the skateboards. They offered to let him try it out and both boys rushed to make sure the skate board was being held still so he wouldn’t fall. Mr. 3 had one foot on but was afraid to do the other and so we said thank you and went our separate ways. Still, the kids were exposed to politeness, sharing, talking to potential friends and many benefits that I will let Peter Gray explain in his book, Free To Learn.(Sidenote: This is the first homeschooling book I read, and I read it a while ago but it was awesome. It made me feel like not only could I do it, but I should because the benefits to my children are extensive.)

Here is a small taste of what psychologist Peter Gray has to say,

 In age-mixed groups, the younger children can engage in and learn from activities that would be too complex, difficult, or dangerous for them to do on their own or only with others their own age. They can also learn simply from watching the more sophisticated activities of older children and overhearing their conversations. And they can receive emotional support and care beyond what age-mates could provide. These benefits may in some ways seem obvious, but here I’ll elaborate to show how valuable such opportunities are to children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.

The benefits aren’t just for the young children either, the older kids learn to nurture, can reinforce their own knowledge by teaching to others, and just generally feel awesome because they are being admired by such impressionable people. 

Here is to a summer of learning! 

(You can find Free to Learn by Peter Gray on Amazon.)

Daily Lessons

Traveling with Young Children

My kids are no strangers to airplanes. They don’t do too well in the car for long periods of time, but they are great at flying. Here are some tricks we’ve learned along the way!

Young babies are very simple. You hold them on your lap and encourage them to sleep. If they are awake on take off or landing, you want to be sure to feed them to help with the air pressure change. Hold them and bounce them in your arms while standing in the aisles if they get restless.

Once your child is 2 years old you will be required to purchase them a seat on the airplane. I strongly recommend you bring their airplane approved car seat. It should have a sticker somewhere on it that says it is FAA approved.

The car seat will keep your toddler from escaping and even provide a more comfortable place to sleep. Most toddlers are used to falling asleep in the car, so the airplane should not be much different.

Next, be sure to bring some distracting and satisfying games and snacks.

Activities
2017-05-23_10-53-07_956

  1. Play Dough – I use Rachelle’s recipe at TinkerLab and just put a small amount in a baggie. My 3 year old loves playing with his diggers and the play dough and this keeps him very buys at home. Play dough is sticky though, so be sure to bring parchment paper to protect whichever surface you are playing on.
  2. Crayons and coloring/activity book. Great for all ages.
  3. Stickers/Tape – This can keep both my 1 year old and 3 year old busy for a long period of time. You can stick them on the back of some coloring sheets.
  4. Small but well loved books that you do not mind re-reading several times.

For this trip we are bringing Peek-A-Who which is an all time favorite with my 1 year old. We are also bringing Calling All Cars a lego story about a bank robbery. My toddler has been enjoying this series for the last few weeks. Most of the books are hard to read for me because the text can be a little annoying, but this one was pretty good.

Snacks

The best snacks are ones that aren’t devoured in five seconds. You want this to take a while…

Did you know you can bring food through security? You are not allowed liquids but solid food is allowed! 

I like to bring:

2017-05-23_14-24-11_894

  1. Small or cut up pieces of fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, pear, apple. You don’t want to choose things that can get too mushy and sticky such as banana and some peaches. (Not pictured because I want them to be as fresh as possible; I promise I will offer my kids fruit! )
  2. Chex mix. I use Chex cereal and pour in planters mixed nuts – low sodium. Sometimes I add broken pretzel sticks if we have them at home.
  3. Cheerios (plain) for young babies or young toddlers.
  4. Raisins are sticky but my kids love them.
  5. Other easy non perishable snacks such as yogurt melts, fruit chews, granola bars.

Just Remember:

You know your children best, and these are just suggestions to get you thinking. You can even ask them to help pack and choose a few of their favorite small toys (that they might not be broken up about if they get lost)… my kids love doing this.

2017-05-23_08-56-05_984

I hope you have a great trip!

 

Daily Lessons, Science

Kubota Gardens

For our third day of sunshine we decided to try going somewhere new. We went to the Kubota Gardens because we always see the sign on the way to the Museum of Flight. 

Kubota Gardens is a free botanical garden just south of Seattle. It was really pretty with easy hiking and even a stroller/wheelchair path. We walked around for an hour and probably did not see everything. 

The kids were most fascinated with the koi pond. They watched the 4 large fish and 1 duck for quite some time before wandering off and then they asked to see it again before we left.


Mr. 1 was fascinated by all the bushes and flowers and kept trying to pick them. He repeatedly made the sign for plant/flower because he was so excited. (Also the sign for duck and the sign for fish. He quacks like a duck when he sees one!)

The Gardens feel large and there are even parts where you can go in the woods and enjoy the nice shaded areas. 

The park is open to dogs as long as you clean up after them. 

If you live or spend a significant part of time in Seattle, then I recommend you check out these Gardens with your family! They are very peaceful and even though the parking lot was full, we hardly saw any other people. 

The only downsides are that there are no bathrooms (only 2 portapotties) and I do wish they had some way of identifying the different trees and flowers. Maybe I can find a good book at the library for that. 

This was a wonderful little place for the kids to explore. 


About, Daily Lessons

What do you want your children to learn?

“I’ve been to day-school too,” said Alice; “you needn’t be so proud as all that.”

“With extras?” asked the Mock Turtle a little anxiously.

“Yes,” said Alice, “we learned French and music.”

“And washing?” said the Mock Turtle.

“Certainly not!” said Alice indignantly.

“Ah! Then yours wasn’t a really good school,” said the Mock Turtle…

Have you thought about what you want your children to get out of school? What qualifies as a good education for you?

This is a really hard question but I’ve been thinking about it and I came up with a little list. I am sure it will change as my children get older, but it’s a foundation to build on.

  1. Reading and Writing – I want them to be able to read and write at a level that will allow them to do well in a business environment.
  2. Mathematics – I want them to do all the basic math we do daily without a calculator (calculating tips, fractions, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction , basic algebra).
  3. Science – I want them to have a basic understanding of the different branches and how they fit together to make the world work.
  4. History – I want them to understand how our history affects us today, how to learn from our mistakes, and how to protect our futures.

More importantly, I want them to

  1. understand how to take care of themselves. Eat healthy, be safe, take care of their house and belongings.
  2. be good people who help those in need and are always respectful of everyone regardless of color, age, sex, or anything that may make someone different.
  3. know how to find answers to the questions they have. I want them to know where to learn more about the things they are interested in or may need to further themselves in school or work or life.
  4. how to spend/save/give money wisely.

The more I think about this, the longer the list gets, but I am confident they will learn everything that they need to learn and much more besides. I feel that the best place for them to learn all of these things is out in the real world, interacting with ordinary people, and seeing how things work first hand.

What do you want your children to learn?

Daily Lessons, Projects

Construction Site

This post is mainly about construction sites, and a little play dough project follows at the end. 

In Seattle, you can get in free to most major museums on Free First Thursday. That’s the first Thursday of every month. Today we were going to go to the Museum of History and Industry because Mr. 3 wanted to “ride up and down in the elevator” and also because they have an exhibit on building the rail road track in Seattle. It’s pretty fun because the kids get to pretend to hammer in the rail road nails and it makes loud noises.

IMG_6232Well, we made it down to South Lake Union, but we never made it to the museum. We were distracted by an awesome construction site.

The kids were so excited to see a construction site in action because usually we end up being close to one on the weekends, or in the car where they can not see as well.

[Side note: I think this is where the new Facebook buildings will go.]

There were so many things going on at this construction site! My favorite thing was probably watching them work on constructing a larger crane. We saw the white crane lift and move the wheel tracks for the big blue crane, and watched the workers attach it to the body.

We saw two different excavators. The orange one had a jack hammer attachment and was breaking up concrete from what was left of the parking lot. And the yellow one came by and dropped sludge close to us. I admit I shrieked with excitement to see how much came out.

It was pretty exciting and we talked and watched for about 30 minutes about the different equipment and things that we saw. We talked about colors, we counted excavators, we talked about how the workers use team work and planning to get everything done. We probably should have talked about safety (glasses and hard hats, and those bright neon jackets). 

My husband mentioned that he heard from a distant relative who works in construction that there are 162 active cranes in Seattle. I don’t know how accurate that is, but there were at least 5 active constructions sites between the one we were at and our lunch date with Daddy. [We went to Serious Pie & Biscuit, which is amazing and you should try it if you visit Seattle.]IMG_6255

When the kids finally got tired of the construction site we walked around the park at South Lake Union. We saw a gaggle of geese. This was particularly interesting because there were 3 generations of geese there!

You can’t see it in the picture, but there were teeny tiny yellow baby geese floating off to the side. SO ADORABLE! Still, we didn’t get too close because geese can be mean.

And boy do they poop. In the grass, on the sidewalk, in the water. Poop Poop Poop.

Then we went tIMG_6256o look at boats and play around until it was time to go eat.

Mr. 14 months is getting better at walking, and managed to walk a significant distance holding only one of my hands. He’s getting SO close to walking on his own. And of course he had to go up and down the stairs a few times. Neither of my boys ever avoid a staircase if they can help it. Good for them.

We also read some signs about the South Lake Union boating history. They used to build pleasure and fishing boats right there where the park is. And apparently a lot of Salmon swim in that lake, or at least they used to in the 1900’s.

There is supposed to be a thunderstorm this afternoon, but so far we have had the most beautiful day. Sunny and mid 60’s, and I am so thankful that we had such great time.

When the kids wake up, we may play construction site to reinforce some of the things we talked about. We use TinkerLab’s homemade play dough. This stuff is so nice, and the first batch we made last November is still in use several times a week. [All though the color is now brown because it all got mixed together.] We have some small construction trucks and I’m going to add some popsicle sticks and pebbles to clear out.

IMG_6257

Play Dough Construction Site

Requires:

Play Dough (make your own or store-bought)

Optional:

Little Trucks, cut up straws, popsicle sticks, marbles or little stones

Set up the construction site to invite your child’s interest and let them destroy or add to it as they like. 

I hope you had a beautiful day, too!

By the way, those cute little trucks are 5 for $10 on Amazon. Check it out! [Affiliate Link]

 

 

 

Daily Lessons, Science

Tinkering Around

Mr. 3 has been in a tinkering mood this last week. I love to see him building. He still needs help sometimes but he gets the ideas in his head and we try to follow through together. (Mommy, I want to build an airplane! Let’s build a crane!) I love to watch him sitting there with his tongue out (a sure sign that he is thinking) and arranging the pieces the way he wants them to go. He is learning, and there is no doubt about that.

Tinkering has many benefits for children of all ages. I did some actual research on this, and this is what I learned.

  • “Tinkering during play is critical to children’s motor skills by teaching children to use their hands to shape, move, and manipulate,” said Lu Lewis, Creative Discovery Museum’s Early Childhood Coordinator. (http://cdmfun.org/tinkering-offers-valuable-skills-to-kids)
  • Tinkering can help develop their problem solving skills. (Multiple sources). Mr. 3 has been learning this lesson, too. When his garage roof collapses I ask him why he thinks that happens. He will answer “It needs more support”. Then I ask what we can do to support the roof, and he will answer by placing his cars under it as a support beam. 
  • Tinkering is an outlet for creativity, and experimentation. It allows him to build confidence if he succeeds and learn from his mistakes.
  • If children tinker together, it will often times help them build sharing and collaboration skills.

The things our children can tinker with can be as simple as toilet tubes and cardboard boxes. You could use play dough and toothpicks. You could use books or cups or… anything at all!

Mr. 3 likes to build with this Melissa and Doug Wooden Construction Set. I only wish their instructions weren’t on the back of the box, because you have to dump the whole thing to read them.


Mr. 3 also enjoys Playmags magnetic tiles for creating buildings and cargo trains. Mr. 1 is also hugely entertained by the magnets. He enjoys pulling them apart or dropping them into a bucket, or putting them on the refrigerator. I have even used them to distract the wiggle worm during diaper changes.


I also like the Duplo’s because there are instructions to follow, even though we only have 1 small set. Learning to follow instructions is surely an important life lesson, and I appreciate that Mr. 3 can look at the manual by himself and figure out what to do. (Mr. 1 destroyed the paper manual so we had to download it on the Kindle.)


What do your kids enjoy building with?

Daily Lessons, Health

Sunny Day… chasing the frowns away

Seattle feels very behind on the sunny spring time table. It is our 3rd year here but this winter has been the longest/coldest/wettest one yet.

Yesterday afternoon was the first time that the sun was shining, the wind was taking a break, and the temperature was agreeable. 

We walked the dog to the nearby elementary school and tied her too the fence while the kiddos ran around. 

I’m SO glad we went, because both of the boys had a wonderful time. Mr. 3 was fascinated with the older children who showed up later and made me worry I might get in trouble for bringing the dog. He watched them climb and run around, and he followed them around the playground a bit. They were nice and said hello to him.

The 1 year old is not walking yet, but he can take a few steps while holding my hands. We went over and around the playground 3 times like that, went down the big slide together and followed his brother around. He was laughing the whole time. I think he really gained some confidence in the walkin and standing department!


It started to get a little crowded, and I wasn’t sure about being allowed to have the dog so we went home when she started barking at skateboarders.

The boys wanted to stay outside a little longer so we played in the backyard.


Jumping and rolling on the trampoline, Shocking each other and me with the static electricity.

Then 3 wanted to play the “crazy running around game” which I think he must have invented on the spot.

“How do you play?”

“You run around like THIS and then you fall down and then get back up and run around” ( he explains while running and falling down).

I loved loved loved seeing how the good weather made these boys so adventurous and cheerful and I really hope we get more weather like it soon.