Adventures, Daily Lessons

Life Lessons at the Zoo

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We dropped my mom off at the airport today, so I am now alone with 3 little people while my husband is at work.

So my first order of business was to seek reinforcements by visiting with a friend at the zoo. We hadn’t seen our friend since before the baby was born, and the boys were very excited to both be at the zoo and see their friend.

These orangutans (boys) were LOUD. They yelled off and on nearly the whole time. Finally one of the zoo keepers explained to them that their yelling can disturb the animals (and people) around them. I’d been telling them that for the last hour, but it’s so much more effective (scary) when it comes from a stranger.

This is good, though. I want my boys to be able to tell people if they are made uncomfortable by something; and other people have the right to tell them if we are making them uncomfortable. I WANT the boys to be aware that the people and creatures around us are affected by our actions.

Their fun was not spoiled by this interaction as they were ready to sit down and eat a snack anyways. And, they were blessedly quiet for a little while.

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Math, Projects

Train Whistle Chain – A self initiated project

This is an example of how a child can take initiative in their own growth and learning through play.

When we first made the baby due date counting chain out of paper rings, it was super long. When I hung it between the outer edge of the curtain rod and the middle support screw, Mr. Conductor (almost 4) would pull on it and yell “Whoo Whoo, All aboard!” In fact, he enjoyed doing this quite a lot.

He did notice, though, that the chain kept getting shorter and shorter. Now that we have less than 30 days, the chain is too short to have the desired effect. He told me he wanted to make his own chain so he could keep playing with the train whistle. He picked out the paper, he got his scissors and all the colorful tape.

I showed him that folding the paper first provided us lines to cut by. By the end of the session I couldn’t tell his strips of paper from my strips of paper and he was even folding the paper himself. He also thoroughly enjoyed cutting the tape and putting it on the rings to make them hold together.

We only got about half-way with the chain before his interest flagged and he started cutting zig-zags and being silly, but he worked hard for about an hour while his brother napped. I was pretty impressed.

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Do you remember my preschool goal list from a few days ago? Well check off: Scissor practice, following directions, working on a project for a long period of time, working together, taping, folding, planning, executing, counting, patterns/design, etc. Some of those things weren’t on there? They are important none the less. Also, he was extremely proud of himself and couldn’t wait to show Daddy his new folding skills.

 

About, Parenting

Homeschool Preschool Goals

I read an article on pinterest the other day where a mom explains her preschool routine and goals. According to her research, before you get into kindergarten you should be able to do the following: Count to 20, Shapes, Colors, ABCs and letter sounds, follow directions, hold pencil,scissors, glue, draw pictures and shapes. 

No problem, my almost 4-year-old can do all of those things to some extent. (I still have to help hold the paper and turn it when he uses scissors, and he can only draw circles (faces!) at this point. Mr. 2 recognizes 1-10 and has counted all the way to 8 by himself. He loves colors, numbers, shapes, and letters. Currently he doesn’t always follow directions because he’s realizing he’s his own person and can make his own decisions.

This source lists some more difficult skills which include writing their name, listening to a story and telling what it is about, counting and identifying syllables, rhyming, drawing a picture and telling a story. These are not things that my pre-schooler can do with any confidence.

So even though we are of an unschooling mindset in this house, these are some goals I want to keep in mind. To help my kids achieve these goals I intend to do the following:

  • Read them lots of books
  • Provide open-ended art opportunities
  • Lay out fun sticker and work books to help inspire them.
  • Give them lots of time for playing and exploring and asking questions.
     

I don’t know if the whole syllable thing is important. It’s not a skill I use personally.

I have also asked my two friends what their actual preschool’s goals are, but they are both busy moms and have not gotten back to me yet.

 

Adventures

Big Truck Day

Yesterday in Redmond, Washington, it was Big Truck Day. I found out about this on my local homeschool Facebook group when I asked for ideas to satisfy kids obsessed with trucks. 

Just as an example of how much my 3-year-old loves trucks is that he feeds himself with his front loader and dump truck instead of using the recommended utensils.

Big Truck Day was like a dream come true for both of my boys and they would run from one truck to another scream laughing in excitement. 

There was a garbage truck, and I am super surprised that Mr. 3 didn’t go “Blippi” on us. (His favorite show which talks about trucks and things.)

Next was a ladder fire truck with its ladder reaching to the sky. The fireman gave Mr. 3 a fire truck he’s been wearing a lot.

There was a bus, and Mr. 1 tried to close the doors on everyone. Whoops!

There was a dump truck where Mr. 3 spilled water on the drivers’ seat. I think this was his favorite as he came back to it twice!

My personal favorite was the moving truck by Two Men and a Truck. These guys went above and beyond by turning the back of the truck into a miniature playground with tunnels and inflatable balls. 


Everyone else just had their doors open and an empty truck… like UPS truck with empty shelves. 
My phone overheated or just rebelled against me halfway through so I couldn’t get pictures of the cat adoption van, cupcake car, ice cream truck, backhoe(another favorite), tractor, and many other trucks I don’t even remember the names for. 

It was so much fun for the boys and we caught a short tractor ride before we headed to the bathrooms and then the car to go home. 

When we got home, after naps in the car, the little ones built their own truck show.


It was a beautiful and exciting day and I am definitely going to keep an eye out for similar events!

(Although it was scary when the boys ran in opposite directions, it was totally worth the stress to see them so excited!)

Daily Lessons, Parenting

Being Helpful

My kids love being helpful. I know it can be frustrating when they start sweeping the ceiling, or that vacuuming takes 8 times as long. And yet, it is in our best interest to let them help! They are learning important lessons such as helping and caring for others, taking care of themselves and their belongings, teamwork, problem solving, fine and gross motor coordination, and SO much more.  Continue reading “Being Helpful”

Daily Lessons, play, Projects

Warning: Severe Heat in the Seattle area!

It’s 90 degrees in Seattle. Yowza! How are we keeping cool? We aren’t. One thing that surprised us when we moved here from Texas was the general lack of centralized A/C.

We have a little unit A/C but the kids won’t leave the door closed, so it’s no good to anyone.

Actually, it does a great job of blowing bubbles. Still, if you are paying $200 for a bubble blower… you are crazy and probably insolvent. 

Forgive me, the heat makes me cranky. 

What we are doing is taking it easy and keeping busy. We’ve got some collaging with contact paper, playdoh, painting on the patio, sticking pipe cleaners into things that have holes, and drinking lots of water.


Also, playing with ice until the freezer runs out. I took an idea from my recent follower Heather (thanks!) and froze some of their water resistant toys in a big bowl of water. Mr. 3 poured salt all over it and we played with together for a little while, at least 30 minutes.  

The salt was as old as he is, so I’m not too heart broken about him using the whole bottle. 

How are you keeping cool? 

By the way, I’m super excited to announce… that Mr. 3 has started “reading” to Mr. 1 and finds many opportunities to explain things to him. 

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm”

“No, that’s not a truck, that’s a tractor” 

I love it. I love it. I love it. 

Projects, Science

Clown Fish

Has it been 2 months since I let my children watch their first movie? We watched Finding Nemo over a period of two days, and he now has a few moments of obsession.

He named his dump truck “Nemo” and the front loader is “Nemo’s Dad”.

Today he took it a step further because he saw that the picture on our Big Ocean book is a Clown Fish. He asked me to read him the section on clownfish a few times, and we also looked in our Animal Encyclopedia for additional information.

For a child that is hard to understand, he is REALLY good at pronouncing Anemone.

– Clown Fish live in anemones. They secret an oil that protects them from the anemone stings. They lure food into the anemone and the anemone protects them from larger predators… like that nasty shark in the movie. This is called a symbiotic relationship.

– Clown Fish can lay 400 to 1,500 eggs at one time.

Mr. 3 asked if we could get a fish tank and fill it with clown fish. We talked about how much work and responsibility would be required with that. However, I was inspired by my child’s interest to make our own clown fish!


You will need pipe cleaners, construction paper, scissors, pencil. The glue and stick are optional, depending on how your child wants to play with the fish.

1. Draw and cut out your fish. Glue to a stick if you want to.

2. Fold a bunch of pipe cleaners in half  and loop one of them around the bunch to hold it together. Bend and spread the pipe cleaners as desired.

3. Have a heart attack when your 3-year-old insists on using the kitchen shears to practice cutting.

 

Geography, History

A Mystery in South America

My 3-year-old wanted a granola bar, some nuts, and 2 waffles for breakfast. As he was picking through our container of nuts, he would ask me what kind they were. When he came across the Brazil Nut he asked me where they were from and I told him I guessed they were from Brazil.

I then looked in our Amazing World Atlas book to read about South America and Brazil. I did not find any information about nuts, but Brazil does produce over 3 Million tons of coffee every year.

The thing I found most interesting was the Nazca Desert in Peru. According to the book the Nazca lines were scraped into the desert sand 1500 years ago. Some of them are pictures of animals and plants (“biomorphs”) and some of them are just shapes and lines (“geoglyphs”). The surprising thing? These pictures are so large that you can only see them from the air. How did they get there, and what do they mean? No one truly knows, but there are some interesting theories described in an article written by the UnMuseum. According to the article, the glyphs are actually dated to 200 BC and 300AD, and these are not the only breathtaking large-scale phenomena in South America.

I don’t know about you, but aliens was definitely the thing that crossed my mind first.

Adventures, Math, Science

Garbage Trucks and Sensory Bin Experience

If you’ve been following my instagram, you may have noticed that my kids love garbage trucks. If they hear one coming, they drop everything and run to the window.

Today, we finally did what I have been meaning to do, I took them to the dump! (According to all the signs, it is called a Transfer Station.)

I told Mr. 3 we were going to go and he put on his big  Blippi persona and was so excited that he even went potty without resistance. 

We arrived at the North Transfer Station at about 10:45 and went straight to the special public viewing area. We were there for nearly 2 hours, with only a quick potty break.

Mr.1 ran back and forth from window to window to watch the trucks dump and then be weighed and leave. Mr. 3 nearly drooled on the window when they brought out the monster front loader.

I promised them that we could come back because we didn’t even make it to the playground. I want to find out if they have a recycling sorting facility, because Mr. 3 loves the part in the Blippi show where they sort the recycling. 

They fell asleep in the car ride home; Mr. 1 right away and Mr. 3 shortly after getting a super cool side view of the I-5 bridge. I took this opportunity to calm my hungry stomach with some Starbucks and get the kiddos an easy lunch. For 5.45 you can get 1/2 pbj sandwich, cucumbers, carrots, cheese stick, apple slices, and chocolate covered raisins. Yum. I don’t buy them lunch often, but this one makes me feel good.  

After lunch, Mr. 1 dragged the big plastic box inside. I decided this meant he wanted to play with water. He loves bubbles so I added some dish detergent, and put the box on the patio. This kept the boys busy for nearly another hour. 

I definitely recommend checking to see if you have a local Transfer Station because it was a lot of fun!

By the way, did you know that the large garbage trucks weigh 64,000 pounds WITHOUT garbage? The more common medium size ones we saw today were about 34,000 pounds.

Daily Lessons, Science

Busy Bees

Hello! We have been busy here, doing nothing and everything. Here are some things that I think I know, gleaned from our everyday activities:

A helicopter weighs 10,000 pounds, or approximately 4 school buses! (I overheard this on Mr. 3’s Blippi show. Although Mr. 3 told me it was 1,000, but that doesn’t seem like enough. He does not yet understand the difference for such big numbers.)

A dandelion, with its jagged leaves and yellow flowers, has no business in a strawberry bed! This caused my strawberries to be teeny tiny and very few. When my friend pointed it out, I pulled it out right away and since then the strawberries have been proliferous.

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The kids love going to the garden each morning to help me water and see what they can eat. Mr. 3 and Mr. 1 worked together today to water the apple tree which is across a small creek and takes careful aim to water. Mr. 1 may have gotten sprayed in the side of the face. Mr. 3 then pointed out the bright green leaves as meaning the “apple tree is growing SOO much!”.

Side benefit of having playdates is that your friend can teach your things about your own garden/house or anything, because everyone’s knowledge base is different.

There are 6 different breeds of Giraffe, whose noises cannot generally be heard by human ears.

A difference between a Crocodile and and Alligator is that the teeth stick out of the mouth of the Crocodile. The snout on an crocodile is longer and narrows more to a point. As my husband likes to say the Alligator mouth is “all short like”.

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I hate to jinx it, but Mr. 3 is devoting a lot of energy to being Blippi, from his favorite television show. And he’s “not a baby Blippi, a BIG Blippi”. My favorite thing about this is the fact that he is wearing underwear today and so far has kept it clean and dry. He went to the potty 3 times yesterday, and 4 the day before. I’m trying not to get too excited, but I think he’s finally ready! I will gladly look at imaginary snow chains on the imaginary garbage truck 47 times a day for this. It’s definitely worth it.

Some other things we have been working on that I may share with you later include, keeping a daily homeschool log, and my husband trying out a new work schedule in order to give me a break.

I have been reminded that parenting can be really, really, hard, but it is a beautiful thing to watch your children grow and learn.