Monday, September 26, 2011

Skate Park, Conference, and Train Ride To Minneapolis

I brought the kids to a skate park for the first time with their scooters last week. They've gotten really really good on those scooters so I figured they'd love to go up and down the ramps. They loved it! We were there for over 2 hours, most of it on the skate park and some of it on a big dirt hill in the park. We were the only ones there since it was the middle of a week day. It was so nice!

Over the weekend, I attended part of our state's homeschooling conference put on by MHA for the first time. I walked around the exhibits and attended the Keynote Speaker, Rebbeca Rupp's presentation which was fabulous. She is, among other things, an author and mom of two grown children she homeschooled/unschooled. She was great to listen to. The talk was reassuring those of us who steer away from the "school-at-home" style of homeschooling. She talked about how the more families that choose to homeschool, the more pressure they put on us to mimic what schools are teaching. However, all research that comes out shows that schools would benefit by making school more like homeschooling! Also, all research shows the amazing benefits of PLAY, which has become less and less of something schools make time for as they push toward increasing academics and standardized testing. Rebecca pointed out the importance of kids discovering things on their own, and owning their discoveries. The epiphanies that happen when a child figures out something all on their own. The amazing things that those discoveries lead to. And how kids of all ages need to be able to play, tinker, build, and through this they learn more than any math or science class can teach them. 
Next year I hope to get to attend more of the sessions at the conference. It was really enjoyable! And the kids got to play in the indoor playground with their cousins during it!

For the second part of the day, we rode the train to Minneapolis with our Aunt Gloria! She wanted the kids to join her on the ride as part of the Learn With Me Days we have begun. We went with our cousin Brandi and her kids along with a teenage friend of theirs for extra help with the kids. My kids and I hadn't ridden the commuter train before, so it was all new! The kids faces were lit up through the trip. It was a really fun ride to the city and a nice day for the trip!

Once downtown, we had a two hour layover before the next train home, so we walked around the skyways with the kids and explored. We thought we had plenty of time to get back when we turned around and headed back...however, as our cousin Brandi told my husband, you try navigating six kids through the skyways of Minneapolis! After an exhausting rush pushing the big stroller and carrying kids to make it back to the train station, we ended up missing the train! The next one wouldn't be by for 3 hours and the kids were getting tired and cranky.

As we made phone calls to arrange a way back home, the kids hardly skipped a beat. They began playing games on the sidewalk. They played Duck Duck Gray Duck, Mr. Fox, Tag, and ran around together. Eventually, we walked over to the Pizza Luce where my aunt and cousins got a ride home and my kids and I could sit down and wait for John to come get us. With the best vegan pizza around, Pizza Luce was a pretty nice spot for us to end up! Yup, could be worse.

I was a bit worried about bringing three tired cranky kids into the restaurant by myself and apologized in advance to the server for any disruptions they may cause! The kids did awesome the first half, just coloring quietly and hanging out. So much so that the couple next to me complimented us on how calm everybody was since they had heard my discussion with the server earlier.
The next couple that came wasn't as lucky! The kids hit their walls and started falling apart. I quickly paid and explained the situation to the couple who then stopped making eyes at us and started smiling understanding smiles after I told them we had missed the train and I was doing my best. John came just in time to get us back home.

It was a great adventure of a day. Missing the train, while not part of the plan, was a learning experience all in itself! I asked Ava the next day what she learned from the trip. She said she learned the train had only four cars on it AND that if you walk too far away when you have to be back for the train you might miss your train!!!! Yup! There's learning in everything.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Learn With Me Day

This week Ava had her first "Learn With Me Day" at her Grandma and Grandpa's. We are starting these activities with family members so she has an opportunity to learn with those close to her. Everyone has different skills and talents and activities going on and for Ava to get to be included in on them is so valuable. Ava loves to be with other adults one-on-one so it seemed like a natural fit to incorporate that into her homeschooling.
With her grandma, Ava picked apples from the apple tree, made a cake, went to the park, and also did some art! Then when I came to pick her up, the two younger kids got to do some apple picking too. Ava and her grandpa picked some leaves off the trees and tried to identify them using an app on his phone. She absolutely LOVED her day! I think the first Learn With Me Day was a definite success! She's going to love the other activities that others are lining up. Many family members are getting into this! I'm so happy about it and know that the kids will benefit so much from spending time learning this way.

Ava also started up Art Class again this week, which she is very excited about. And the rest of the week was filled up with library, face painting, math games on the computer, some word building puzzles and games. For the word puzzles Ava worked on identifying vowels and why they're important.

Card games are great for learning math! Ava's favorite card games right now are "War", great for recognizing greater/less than, "10s solitaire" which uses all the pairs that add up to 10, and "Golf", which is good for strategy and estimation. I saw her at the neighbor's next store doing her math dry-erase cards the other day with him too.
We did a lot of reading/spelling on the driveway this week with chalk. Working on the word "my" and silent e's for Ava. It's a fun easy way to learn. I'd make words and the kids would draw the pictures. Also, indoors, we did some rhyming lists and some more phonics this time with "aw" words which Ava was very proud of herself for reading. She also learned about verbs this week which will likely have some fun uses in the future. I'm thinking we can find some fun games to play with action words that all three of the kids will have fun with.

Other significant events: Noah's Birthday and Ava lost her first tooth!

John's friend Dan traced Amora and they made her into a Tooth Fairy along with a note on the driveway.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


We celebrated the Not-Back-To-School week by going to some parks and meeting up with some fellow homeschoolers. We recently got a big parachute so we brought that along to one of the meet-ups which was a hit. I'm thinking we'll definitely get a lot of use out of this parachute. I love how excited all the kids get when we take it out!
The kids got to celebrate not having to get up early and dressed for school. So they all got to wear their pajamas to the park! They loved it!


We also had breakfast at the near-by dam one morning. This was the first time the younger two had been to the actual dam, even though we've played at the park before. All three were amazed and thought it was so fun to have a breakfast picnic while watching the water.

It's been a super fun week for us. I'm feeling thankful this week to have all three kids around this year and that we're starting off homeschooling. Last year at this time Ava was going to Kindergarten at the public school. I feel so fortunate we are doing what seems to work best for our family this year. I'm soaking up every day and love to watch the kids having so much fun too. I look forward to finding all the fun ways to learn throughout the official school year. There are so many opportunities ahead...
Chickens at Wild Rumpus Bookstore

Kitty Tree/Book Shelf!

Amora found a basket of her favorite book series!

Ava making a stepping stone.

Noah learning about his favorite bugs.


Pete The Cat's shoes.