Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Spring Break"

Okay so technically it was spring break, but of course, learning never stops so there's still plenty going on around here. I remember during a summer break as a pre-teen, my cousin and I were playing a game that required simple addition. Since we were no longer being forced to do math, we decided we weren't doing it at all, so we insisted on using a calculator. It was all fun and giggles about it. But I'm kind of liking the idea of not having the on and off switch in our experience with the kids.

So anyways, this month we discovered a program called ABC Mouse that's geared for Pre-K and Kindergarten and we're doing the free trial. The kids have been on it almost every day since we got it. One of the favorite parts is that they earn "tickets" for the activities and then spend them on stuff for their virtual "room" and "aquarium." This alone has really helped with the concept of saving up as it applies to money. I got to watch Ava come to an understanding of this. At first she spent her tickets up just as soon as she got them, not grasping that if she saved up she could buy something even cooler. After a while, she picked out what she would save for and worked toward it. I loved watching this light-bulb go off for her.
Later, the kids started playing "store" in the living room. "Selling" their toys to eachother over a make-shift counter wall. They hadn't played this before so it was cool to see them apply what they learned from the program into life like that!

 Ava on ABC Mouse learning about Washington where her friend Meira lives!

 Noah doing a Letter A worksheet from the program.

The kids playing Store.

Later, the kids worked on some clay art activity that John brought home for them which they loved. Ava wants to try out the clay art class now at the art center she goes to. She made an awesome frame. Noah made about a dozen clay worms.

Ava found on http://www.coolmath.com/ a very challenging game that has you arrange a room to get a knight out the doorway. It was hard enough that I actually couldn't do a couple of the levels. She however, played through every level, about 25 in all. John and I have really noticed that she is very good at logic and math related thinking. Which is really cool to watch and listen to. She sorts things out well in her mind. You can hear it in conversations with her that she has a very elaborate thought process. Along with that side, she is also very artistic and loves writing too. And she's our social butterfly everywhere we go. She has such a wonderful blend of interests and talents. It's easy for us to forget she's only 5 1/2 sometimes!

 Noah and Amora playing play-doh with their friend Malcolm

Noah has been fascinated lately by a book about Ocean Life I picked up. We have looked at the entire text about 5 or 6 times now. He loves hearing the names of each fish and how big they are and what they eat. He is intrigued by animals, though not the "scary" ones. He loves fish and bugs especially. His other big interest is, of course, cars/trains/monster trucks/dirtbikes etc. Often times he will bring his entire tote box full of cars to bed with him! He's very imaginative and I love to just sit and watch him pretend with his ninja turtles and cars and trains. He could do it all day long. Noah's the home body right now. He loves just hanging out at home playing all day. He's always been a bit more of a loner but he will still hold conversations with everyone we meet when out and about, and loves to ask everyone about a thousand questions about what they are doing (ask many a grocery stocker)!

Homeschool group this week was a fairy-themed birthday party for one of the girls in the group. Ava learned how to make a fairy, Noah played with the boys, and Amora got in some Twister!

 Noah at the Mall Of America by the Cars exhibit.

 John and the kids making the best of the Spring snowstorm!

Monday, March 14, 2011


The first week in March we spent cooped up, getting over a stomach bug so by the following week, the kids were pretty stir crazy. So last week we got out of the house each day of the week to do SOMETHING! It was so nice to get all that energy out!
After Art class and a playdate early in the week, as well as a La Leche meeting, we went to Eagle's Nest indoor playground with friends. There was an open gym also that day so the kids got to jump in the bounce house and get even more energy out! Later in the week we hit the library, went out to my parents where Ava did some more cross country skiing, and the kids made snow cones, and finished off the week with the roller rink with more friends!

One thing I've learned about little kids, now that I'm officially on my third toddler, is they are determined to experience what they feel the need to experience. Not only does learning happen without force, but they have an intense NEED to explore and learn about their world. If you get in there way, watch out!

This was in my mind while at the indoor playground last week. After an hour or so of running around and playing, I was trying to get the kids back in order to get ready to go and Noah spotted a staircase in the building. There's nothing for the kids upstairs there so I asked him not to go upstairs and to come get ready instead. The look on his face...I could see his determination, and his hesitation, knowing that I just asked him not to go. He was needing to see what was up those stairs so bad but you could see his worried thoughts about going against what I asked of him. Oh that look! He darted up the stairs, looking back nervously but speeding up as fast as he could anyways. Like he literally could not help himself. He needed to explore!

I really believe that kids at his age really KNOW what they need and that's why there are so many power struggles and tantrums involved when adults get in there way and try to stop them. I recall when Ava was about two she was taking my keys and making them go into the door lock outside. I was getting frustrated because I really wanted to just get inside the house, I think I had groceries at the time. And the kid had a complete melt-down that I wouldn't let her have the keys. I thought right then, she NEEDS to learn how these work! She sees me use them and it is her job as a child, as one needing to learn to do as humans do,  as an apprentice, to figure out how to do this and how it works. She's not doing it to be difficult. She's doing what humans are designed to do to ensure they learn.
If kids were easy-going and did as they were told, they may not learn anything! I mean, out of our own adult convenience, why would we think twice about giving them our keys, or letting them run off and explore when we clearly are getting ready to leave? (Or go through the kitchen drawer examining everything and stealing the tongs for picking up matchbox cars!). Why would we let them take time to learn about the simple little things we take for granted if we are rushing and busy? But their constant determination, and as they get older, the begging, the arguing, the "attitudes," keeps us willing to compromise and "pick our battles." But they aren't battles. While it may be inconvenient for us, kids know what they need to learn far better than we do!

After handing off Amora, I went upstairs to get Noah. He was standing at the gated ledge, looking down over the floor below him. I sneaked up on him and grabbed him and tickled him, to show him I wasn't upset that he went upstairs. When we finally made it out to the van after Eagle's Nest, I was thanking the kids for being so helpful and getting ready, and Noah looked down shamefully and said, "Well I wasn't good, I ran up those stairs." I explained that I understood and it was okay. But it really shows that he didn't at all want to go against my wishes. He felt genuinely bad about it. A three-year-old's curiosity IS more important as an adult's convenience. Whether we always can see it that way or not!