Thursday, February 25, 2010

an unexpected discovery

As I mentioned on our food blog, the girls and I took a nice walk this morning. We used to walk or bike this paved path across the street from us (that goes for miles in two directions) before it began snowing last fall. Then I just figured the trail was buried under snow and ice, and I would have to wait for spring. Come to find out—It's completely snow free and dry. I think the city plows it with a little tractor, like the ones they use on the sidewalk in our neighborhood.

I ran this by Andy (the city clearing the trail), and he thought, no way they plow it. But then I told him we got off the trail and onto a sidewalk for a while, and the sidewalk was covered in snow and ice! So, I think they do remove it. How cool is that? If only I had known... Oh, well.

On top of the excitement of the dry paved path, was the animal tracks everywhere in the snow on either side in the open space. So neat. Tiny tracks and big tracks—Mice, bird, prairie dog, rabbit, and coyote tracks. And, we saw this really interesting bird, which Zoe found in the bird book when we got home. It's called a belted kingfisher. Since I was completely unprepared, without binoculars or a camera, I found a photo of it online:
This bird had a mohawk of feathers that it flaunted wildly when it sang it's monkey-like call. I've never seen such a cool bird, except maybe the heron—I love heron. But heron are very shy and quiet while this bird was loud and boisterous.

As if the mile we walked each way this morning wasn't enough, the girls and I were back outside hanging out just before dinner, when it was getting cold. That's when I took the top two photos. Believe it or not, Zoe wore nothing but jeans, a t-shirt and a short-sleeved princess dress over top on our walk this morning. Crazy how the temperature changes so quickly here.

Love, Kelly

Click and press the play button to hear this bird.

playing in the snow fort

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

math and more on our
homeschooling philosophy

Doing math naturally, as it relates to real life (If you buy paper, will there be enough money left over to buy crayons?), and just for fun (like playing school) has really paid off.

When I first began homeschooling, I was kind of nervous about teaching math, since at that time I thought the only way people learned anything was if they were taught. It wasn't that I didn't think I could teach math, but more of a practical concern, like, how can I do this without fighting the children on it?

Until recently, math just didn't appeal to Zoe. In the beginning I tried to push it a few times, but it felt wrong so I stopped. Then I read, The Call to Brilliance. This book didn't convince me of anything I didn't agree with, it simply gave me the confidence to stop worrying. It reminded me that children want to learn, that they learn to talk, crawl, walk, and feed themselves without being "taught" how. Like the principle I admired in, A Charlotte Mason Education, says: Children learn by example.

Learning by example is a concept that set me free. Zoe has been homeschooled since kindergarden, and without much structure from me she has learned to read and write. She has learned about history, science, culture and yes, even math, through a lifestyle that appreciates a thirst for playing and learning.

We don't sit down at 8AM every day and open a textbook or follow a school (or homeschool) curriculum. One of my dear friends, Amanda, introduced me to the term, Delight-Driven, a long time ago. This is my favorite of all the homeschooling style labels, if it even is one (perhaps you can't find it written anywhere). Delight-Driven. I love it.

This is why it came to be that on Monday of this week Zoe was playing school with her friend who is two years older than her, and is now doing these big math problems. As you can see from Zoe's notebook above, Abi, who is also our neighbor, and whom we adore, showed Zoe some math. Apparently, at this time, Zoe was ready for it. Tuesday morning Zoe showed me her notebook, and (because I could hardly believe my eyes) we did some more problems together for fun. Wow.

I have no doubt that Zoe and Ashley will keep amazing me by the things they learn on their own—with my guidance—not imposition. We keep busy delighting in the joy of living and learning in a way that we believe in. And it seems to be working ;-)

Floortime with Ashley

happy around the house
& big developments with Ashley

This is the first toy or lovey of any kind that Ashley has ever had, and it is her toy dog, Bernease. (the bond with this toy began several months ago and I couldn't be happier about it) She puts our real dog's old red coat on it, and her halter and leashes. She takes Bernease with her everywhere she goes :-)

click a photo to see it larger
Another first was last weekend, when Ashley saw something she wanted badly in a store. Just as she never had an attachment to a toy until recently, she also never asked for anything while we were out shopping either.

Then, last weekend in Target she did want something... These retro-inspired floral pants =] She made a sudden sharp turn away from us, directly to the spot where the pants hung at her level. She picked them up, held them against her legs, and looked down longingly. Sensing my response, she turned to me and said, "They're not too small, Mommy."

They were in fact too small though, so I (fortunately) found the right size, and woohoo, they were only $10 (phew). She couldn't wait to put them on when we got to the car. Andy says they look just like a tablecloth his grandmother had ;-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

a book and connect-the-dots

Zoe, Ashley, and I are really enjoying a pack of Kumon workbooks that we got at Costco. The connect-the-dots are fun because the kids really can't tell what the picture will become until they've almost reached the number, 100.

Like featuring photos here on the family blog, the videos made by Zoe have proven to be a huge motivation. Everything we've been posting and sharing is extremely exciting for the girls. They are so proud of what they can do, and then they get to talk to family from out of town who have seen their "work." Speaking of which, Zoe is very anxious for me to stop writing and publish this so she can admire it. :-) Love, Kelly

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fancy Zoe and Ashley

Zoe and Ashley are really into Fancy Nancy books right now. Andy's aunt gave one to Zoe last summer I think, and they've been hooked ever since :-) Both girls spend hours studying the pictures and reading the books. They also pretend to be Fancy Nancy:

And Zoe decided to do copywork of one Fancy Nancy book:

Yesterday Zoe got her costume on, made a kind of a nest with smocks on the floor in the pantry, turned on the pantry light, shut the door, and asked me to "Please set the timer for 20 minutes." She set to work copying her Fancy Nancy book, as seen above. When the timer went off she came out dramatically with a, "Phew! Now I can take a break! Mommy, can I please have mint tea with honey and almond milk?" Cracks me up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Zoe is doing copywork of Madeline. Sorry I pronounced Madeline wrong in the video. Also, I will zoom in closer next time so you can see more detail and read Zoe's writing. Love, Kelly

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Zoe and Ashley playing school

Zoe and Ashley are absolutely thrilled about this new concept of creating videos of Zoe playing school. Zoe sees herself as "the teacher" and the audience viewing the video are her students. In this video she is reading her class a story from Time4Learning. Then, through watching her own video she feels proud and it reinforces what she can do. Ashley sits beside her listening, watching and encouraging Zoe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Retelling stories, Charlotte Mason narrations

One of Zoe and Ashley's favorite ways to "play school" is using There is a character called, Ed Mouse, who says, "It's time for learning *and* fun!" when you enter your account. Zoe prefers to think of Ed as, "Meg," and politely tells the mouse, "Good morning teacher Meg Mouse!" It's all part of playing school.

When I first began homeschooling, I read A Charlotte Mason Education, and I would ask Zoe to retell me the story we were reading. They call this narration. Then after a while it became less of a request and more natural, like telling Daddy about the books we were reading at dinner time. Lately, after Zoe does story reading and comprehension on Time4Learning, she likes to turn the computer off and retell the stories to me and Ashley or her dolls. She sometimes pretends she's teaching too.

Then we had this great idea to use Photo Booth on our Mac to record Zoe's narrations. Both Zoe and Ashley get such a kick out of making a video and watching themselves. I'm planning on posting more and more of these as they continue to make them, both from Time4Learning stories and books we're reading. Zoe is really into Fancy Nancy books right now for her own reading, and we're still reading great literature together.

Love, Kelly

Thursday, February 4, 2010