Archive for the ‘unschooling’ Category

School pictures

School pictures.

School pictures last week. It was so fast. We were in and out in 15 minutes, and that was only because I had to stop to use the restroom. Normally we wait awhile. This was a nice change. Except last year we sat and talked with friends while we waited and that was fun, too.


We watched the vice presidential debate. It was like the 1950’s in that we watched it while eating dinner, but we watched it on YouTube and brought the computer into the dining room. So less like the 50’s, I guess.

In 2012 the TV eats in front of you! I mean sits there while you eat. I mean the computer. This joke isn't really translating well.

At this point Margie and I discuss a lot of what’s going on in politics, but Elliott isn’t really there yet. I think it’s important to have this sort of thing on around him, though, so that it’s a natural part of life and when he IS ready, it will already have that space prepared in his brain.

In grammar Margie worked on verb phrases, helping verbs, and linking verbs. She has been reading The Twits by Roald Dahl. In social studies she began learning about the colonization of the Americas. In math she covered Roman numerals, multiplication sequences, and word problems.

In math Elliott worked on fractions and division. In grammar he worked on adjectives, commas, and identifying verbs. In social studies he read a graphic novel about Roanoke and dictated a paragraph about it to me.

But we also took a trip to the tide pools. Saturday evening I saw that a local newscaster was promising a negative tide (very low tide) on Sunday afternoon so we decided to go and our friends decided to join us. It turned out to be a good thing they came along because I would never have been so adventurous myself. We climbed along the rocks all the way around into a little inlet. Along the way we saw tons of hermit crabs, some shore crabs, some fish, tons of seaweed and kelp, and an octopus. I didn’t see him, but everyone else did. Lev even noticed him change colors. He was hunting fish. It was a really incredible day, and I hope to do it again sometime soon. Apparently there willbe about two negative tides a month until May. You can see the tide schedule here.

a bouquet of...  mussels?

me and elliott

my girlie


Margie took this picture:

margie took this one

Elliott took this one under water:

elliott took this one

Read Full Post »

We visited the Fire Department’s open house again today. The kids tried on uniforms and had a hose-dragging race, climbed in a fire truck, toured a van designed to teach you about fire safety (where they learned about hazards, how to use a fire extinguisher, and what a smoky room feels like), toured the firehouse, watched them fire a hose from a tall ladder, made wooden fireboats via the Home Depot, and took a ride on a pretend firetruck. It was a pretty great day with lots learned.

firehose races

and then we sat in a smoky room and elliott wasn't pleased and clearly i was scary

margie making a fireboat

that doesn't look as effective as you think it should

Read Full Post »

When I was in high school we used to have bonfires at Coronado beach a lot. One night I noticed the waves glowing and wondered if I was imagining it. Turns out, nope, a phenomenon known as red tide made up of bio luminescent phytoplankton happens every so often. This week San Diego is experiencing an unusually strong one. Check out this video someone (not me) took last week.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like during the day (from KBPS):

So the kids and I decided to go see the show Friday night. We tried Imperial Beach since it’s closest, but there wasn’t much to be seen at all. So we drove north. All the way to La Jolla. Because this was worth the gas money and the late night out. And there they were. It was pretty incredible, that video captures it very well.

mother nature's audience

We didn’t stay long because the kids were all, “We’re cold” and “Stop torturing us, mommy.” Actually, at first they were so excited I had to tell Margie no less than five times (seriously) to stay near me and not run off like an overexcited dog. Oy. But the cold was a bit much for Elliott and then, when Margie was filling a jar with water for us to play with at home, she got hit with a wave which froze her, poor thing, so we jumped back into the car and warmed her right up.

the moon, her reflection and some sorta glowy waves

When we got home and de-sanded, we tried shaking the jar in the dark bathroom and it did light up. Of course as soon as I decided to videotape it to share with you, it stopped. Those Lingulodinium polyedrum are total jerks. Or dead. One or the other.

Anyway, it was amazing. I’m so glad I took the kids. I’m glad I drove all that way just for a few minutes because it was completely worth it.

Read Full Post »

This week we’ve been pounded by rain to the point that San Diego flooded more than it’s flooded in almost 30 years (and we flood often so I guess this is a big deal?  or not? I’m not sure on that point, actually). This made for a lot of news-watching as the kids and I saw stories about flooded hotels and streets. This also made for no sun-watching on the morning of Yule, which was a little sad, but we had a lovely day anyhow, going out for breakfast at Denny’s and watching the sky, er, lighten up as the sun rose behind all those clouds.

the sunrise

Later that day two of the neighbor girls came over to help make wrapping paper with the stamps we’d carved earlier this month.

making wrapping paper

making wrapping paper

And Elliott made this fabulous plane.

elliott made this plane

Earlier this week we’d made Mother Winter’s home out of a gingerbread house kit from Trader Joe’s. The kids worked together on planning where things should go and they really made a great-looking house together. I made the tree in the front out of tootsie rolls and green round candies, Elliott had the idea to leave green M&M-type candy on the ground as though leaves had fallen.



mother winter's house

Read Full Post »

We are officially on a break before we begin our summer term in July. But that doesn’t mean the learning stops! On Tuesday, as we were headed into Trader Joe’s, we noticed two people stacked on top of each other (truly!) and taking camera phone pictures of a tree. Naturally, we have to know WTF so we took a peek and as it turns out, they were peeking at a next overflowing with three fat baby birds. I grabbed a shot, too (without climbing onto my kids’ shoulders, in case you were wondering). We watched the mom come hang around the tree with a big bug in her mouth. She came and went a few times, but we never did see her feed the babies.

baby birds at trader joes

Today we went to the library for the first of their special summer programs. Last year, my sound would not step foot in the auditorium for some reason and since he’s nervous about loud noises, I wasn’t sure he’d be into a drum circle. But he was. Wholeheartedly. He walked in, right up to the stage where the chairs for the kids were set up, and sat himself down at a drum. Both of the kids loved this and so did I. In fact, I got a little emotional feeling the vibrations of the drums in my body and all around me.

drumming in motion

You can watch a crappy iPhone video here. (How could you say no to THAT?)

One last thing, although it is neither a bird nor a drum. On Monday, while I was reading a chapter of The Hobbit to Margie, Elliott fell asleep on the living room floor, among a mess of Legos. Too sweet.

nap amongst the legos

Read Full Post »

On Sunday we took a walk and came across two ladybugs, one black with red spots and the other more traditionally colored but with more dots than I am used to.

two ladies

black ladybug face

black ladybug bum

We have seen some smaller black ladybugs with two dots before, but none with four dots until now. I also found it interesting that we found these two together and on pavement, not a plant.

We are sending them in to this website my friend Kirsten told me about awhile ago.

Read Full Post »

Technically, we are supposed to be starting back to school now, but I’ve decided that, since I intend to work through the summer, I will start following a year round schedule which gives us one extra week off.  I’m going to blog through this, though, because I will need to record the unschooliness that happens this week for our school records.

First a big announcement – I OFFICIALLY have two readers! ♥ My boy can read just about anything you put in front of him now. I am so proud!

Also in Elliott news, we bought him a calendar (he chose Wallace and Gromit) and we’ve begun talking about days, weeks, and all that fun stuff.

learning the calendar

And a Margie tidbit – her friend Ashley was over here the other evening and was supposed to go home at 6pm. At 5:49, Margie told her she had 11 minutes left. I’m impressed with the quick subtraction she did in her head and more impressed by her concept of time since we have never officially covered it. Score one for unschooling. ♥

Science – my kids are BIG TIME into TMBG’s Here Comes Science right now.  And in all honesty, I consider this one of their best albums – I ♥ it.

(That’s my personal favorite song on the album.)

More Science – Margie and I attempted to see the planetarium show this month, but so did everyone else on the planet. Despite the fact that we made reservations and arrived just after 6:30, by 7pm we were still in line and told that our reservations were void after 6:45. I was a teeny bit pissed as was everyone else in line. It was a mess. They comped us and we left. We did hit the telescopes afterwards, though, and got to see three views (close, closer, closest!) of Orion’s Nebula and also one of double stars – one was golden and one was bluish. I wonder what that sunrise looks like?

Math – Boom Blox is one of the new games we got for the Wii. It involves blowing up towers and requires one to figure out how to create chain reactions and make one tower fall into the next and stuff like that. It also involves engineering when you build your own towers and scenes.

PE – M began swimming on Mondays this week with a new teacher, Lisa. She also started a four week session of basketball in her PE class. (And of course all the play, park days, and etc.)

Language arts – Electric Company for grammar. Reading each day – fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Social Studies – Margie watched some of About San Diego this week with her dad and learned some tidbits of local history. Margie has also been reading and been read to. Her newest book is No Dogs Allowed.

Read Full Post »

Unschooly Thoughts

Here are some of my random thoughts about how I am feeling regarding homeschooling styles right now. I feel like Life is directing me to a more unschooly path and this is copied and pasted from what I wrote to my very favorite online Homeschooling group. Forgive me if it’s disjointed, once I am more settled I will make it “official” up there in the links at the top.

~A few months ago, I was trying so hard (and failing) to stick with a structured learning time. The kids were fighting me, even when it was FUN stuff like singing (you’d think I’m raising a bunch of tiny teenagers!) and I was trying to do everything first thing in the morning so I’d feel “accomplished” even though I take a long time to wake up and it wasn’t easy or fun for me. It suddenly hit me that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that I don’t HAVE to get up early if I don’t want to. Who says I have to be done by 10am? I had been afraid that I would instill bad habits in my kids if we had lazy mornings, but the reality (in my opinion) is that they can change whatever habits they want when they are grown up OR they can (and I hope this is what they do) find a job in which they can live life as they choose – not on someone else’s schedule, unless that’s what they WANT. I was comparing them to the kids in the neighborhood who go to school, feeling (subconsiously) like my kids had to be doing similar things, and that my kids had to be done before the other kids got home from school. But the reality is that they don’t have to do any of that.

~I’m at a time in my life where I am becoming more accepting of the way things ARE than they way I dream them to be. Sure, if life was perfect my house would be spotless and I’d have the perfect place for school stuff, completely organized with plenty of space to get messy when needed. My house would look like a combo between a waldorf school, a library and a magazine with a big empty room JUST for art messes. But that ISN’T my life. My life is this little cluttered apartment where our school space, our art space, and our eating space is all the same space. So if my home can’t be compartmentalized and if that’s OK, then maybe my life doesn’t have to be either. Maybe I don’t need a set time for school, a set time for eating, a set time for cleaning. Maybe I can just let life BE as it happens. In other words, I am finally finding myself able to let go of lots of things I’d been struggling to hang on to for so long.

~I attended an unschooling park day and unexpectedly felt RIGHT about it. Even though no one talked about it, when I got home, I could not stop considering it. I don’t really have more to say on that yet, but I guess it’s intuition? Some sort of draw to it, I feel is right.

~I talked with M’s teacher about it and about how it would work with a charter and she agreed with me that math is the most difficult part. Partly b/c I need to show that we are doing it weekly and moving ahead, but also because it has to apply to her grade level so it’s not like we can sit on it until she’s 13 and then she will decide to learn it. Of course, we also don’t HAVE to be a part of the charter, but it makes so many things possible for us that we would not otherwise have. Again – my fantasy where I can afford everything educational under the sun is not my reality where this charter makes certain things possible for us we could not otherwise afford (her gymnastics classes, for instance, have really made a difference in her skills so far).

~Worry: My kids, yet again, have shown me that they learn all the time and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. It’s like they are on their own schedule and when I tried to introduce a curriculum, it just made them have to fight me to learn at their own pace. But M has shown me twice this week that she’s learning despite order and despite a regularly scheduled curriculum, and it takes the worry away and the worry is what makes me most hesitant to claim unschooling. It seems to take me a long time to let go of ideas that were planted in me by the schooling *I* had and by those ignorant of homeschooling in general (not necessarily negative comments, just being unaware, yk?). I think if I had listened to my kids in the first place, I would have gotten to this point a lot faster.

Anyhow, I know I waver back and forth and so I’m not taking on the titleof Unschooler for awhile yet, but this is where I am at for the moment and it feels good. It feels good to let go.

Read Full Post »