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.)

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.


Play Dough Construction Site


Play Dough (make your own or store-bought)


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

Every day learning – Grocery Store

Taking your kids to the grocery store can be stressful and exhausting. And yet, if you have the time and patience, I would strongly recommend it. There are countless lessons to be learned from tagging along on our daily errands and the grocery store is such a central place for a family.

Some of the obvious lessons the kids will be exposed to include:

  1. Where does our food come from?
  2. An awareness of the huge assortment of foods we can choose from.
  3. They can learn how to pick out fruit that is ripe, how to read the sell-by-dates on dairy and meats.
  4. They are exposed to many different people, some of whom are friendly enough to chat and share ideas with them.
  5. How to take care of ourselves, by making sure we choose healthy food options.
  6. How to follow shopping lists and sticking to budgets.
  7. Being patient while we wait in line to pay.
  8. They will learn that food costs money, and you can talk about where the money comes from and what else we can use it for.
  9. They will learn that there are a variety of jobs and people who do those jobs in the grocery store.

I am sure there are many more lessons that I can not think of right now.

My tips for the grocery store for shopping with little ones is mainly to either let them help by telling them what to grab from the shelf and put in the cart, or distract with a healthy snack. An apple will usually keep Mr. 3 busy for the whole trip. I buy an extra apple and tell the clerk to scan it twice. Sometimes we munch on the fresh french bread, or grapes.

The baby is usually happy in the baby carrier or shopping cart seat, and just likes to hold boxes and things.

Here Mr. 3 is putting some cereal back on the shelf. This teaches him how organization can make finding things easy, and also about taking responsibility for knocking things down.

Helping push the cart and waiting patiently in line. You can see the French bread sticking out… that also helps keep him busy.

What do you do to make grocery shopping easier?


My Inspirations

There are a few people that really inspire me to homeschool and fill me with the confidence that I can do this. (Other than my husband, of course.)

Sara at Happiness Is Here blogs about what it’s like to Unschool her four daughters in Australia. I find her content just so inspiring because it really works for her family and she can explain it all in ways that make anybody feel like they can do it, too. She also promotes respectful parenting which sounds amazing but is REALLY hard to do. I fail at this ALL the time.

Rachelle at TinkerLab and her Art Habit art class has shown me that is possible to make art with children without lasting damage to my house or my nerves. My children really enjoyed the projects she explains in her class and her play dough has lasted us for months. Best of all, it is all online so we can do it whenever it is convenient to us. I strongly feel more capable of providing art time for my children and more urge to do so because their learning and happiness is evident with these activities.

I would love to find more people like these, so suggestions are always welcome.

Daily Lessons

Homeschooled by Kids

Hello! I am a mother of 2 little boys who just turned 1 and 3. I am planning on homeschooling them. By planning, I mean I tell everyone that asks about it that we are homeschooling. I have done only a little research and have no curriculum. The whole process sounds really scary!

Granted, the boys are a wee bit young for official schooling but I will tell you why I am writing now.

I’ve been doing a little bit of research on the idea of unschooling, and in a nutshell it is as simple as “the kids will learn by playing and following their interests.” I love this idea!

This is evident in the way they learn to walk, talk, make new friends, and more! Without official school my three year old is already comfortable with ABCs, numbers 1-10, shapes and colors. He surprises me almost everyday with something new.

For example, today we were practicing learning Daddy’s phone number by singing it to a song, and he was having fun with it and seemed to remember it… at least for a short while. We will definitely have to follow up and practice more.

More importantly, while the kids are learning dump trucks full of information, I am too! Just the other day I learned that wind is caused by cold air swooping in to fill the space where hot air rose from. And I want to know more, just like my kids!

I have a masters degree in Accounting from the University of Texas at Dallas, but I don’t know where to begin teaching my kids, and I don’t remember most of the stuff I learned in school. I’m looking forward to this journey because they will guide me on it and teach me so many things along the way.

I will use this space as a record of our homeschooling, to help keep me motivated and confident by encouraging me to think about the things we talk and learn about in our day to day journeys.