Why the Tree of Life?

11.29.2005

Five Vowels

K and I have officially started working on reading. On his own, he has been asking me when I was going to teach him to read. He was also noticing words on everything and beginning to ask what they said. So, I went ahead and ordered the reading program that I had decided we were going to use, thinking that I would shelve it if it proved to be too early. Well, we started with the short vowel sound for 'A' on last Friday, and so far, he has really been enjoying it. Our lesson was cut short this morning (which are already only about five minutes long), and he reminded me when we were trying to get settled for nap that we still needed to do the last part. I hope his enthusiasm stays! We've done all the vowels except for ' U', which will be the lesson for tomorrow.

11.21.2005

Let's Eat Cake!


Happy 3rd Birthday to K! He had a great birthday party Saturday. He and his friends played out in the backyard in his new sandbox. E grilled us all hamburgers, and then we had strawberry cake with chocolate icing. Yum!

11.13.2005

D Really Wants to Crawl!


D is getting that belly up a little more every day. He is finding it very frustrating that he can not follow his big brother around. He's even gotten his knees up a couple of times, but only for a second.

The Sandbox is Finished!





It took three truckloads of sand, but the box is filled. K has had a great time playing in it. He has even requested to have his meals brought out to him.

11.11.2005

First Letter

K wrote his first letter yesterday! While I was strapping D into his carseat, K was drawing on his magnadoodle and patiently waiting in his own carseat. Suddenly, he said, "Look Mommy, I made a 'K'!" I excitedly said, "You did?" expecting to see scribble, but when he turned the board around, there was a 'K'! Now, I don't know if he was scribbling and unintentionally made a 'K' and then recognized it as looking like a 'K' or if it *was* intentional... but I'm counting it! :)

11.10.2005

Glassblowing

My sister B and her boyfriend M are glassblowers, and when K, D and I were up in their area a couple of weeks ago, we went up to M's studio to watch them blow glass one evening. The loud noise of the gas fire in the glory hole seemed to make K nervous, and I wasn't sure he was taking any of it in while we were there.

But this past weekend, while the sandbox was being built, K started playing with a long, thin 6 or 7 foot long scrap of wood. When I stepped outside at one point, he was making a low roaring noise and had his stick in the bushes.

"What are you doing?" I asked. He said, "Blowing glass!" Then he added, "It's ok, Mama. It's not hot."

11.09.2005

K brand dryer

K was helping me put clothes into the dryer this morning, and he suddenly stopped and said, "Mommy, this has my name on it!" He recognized the 'K' in Kenmore. :)

11.07.2005

Halloween




K as a fireman; D as the fire (can't you tell?)

Sandbox in Progress


E has been meaning to build the boys a sandbox for months and months. Getting one ready for K's third birthday has been the motivation he needed, so Dad and K spent the weekend digging a hole and cutting boards. K was very happily involved throughout the whole process, and he helped with every step. On Sunday morning, when he was ready before Dad, he reassured E that he would wait for him before he started to work so that Dad didn't miss out on any fun.

11.04.2005

Winnie the Pooh

Many homeschoolers I've talked to have mentioned that they began reading chapter books aloud to their children around the time they turned three years old. As K's third birthday has been approaching, I have been trying to figure out what would be a good first chapter book. I had thought about Charlotte's Web, but I knew that the opening chapter where Wilbur is saved from being killed with an ax would bother him. Every other book that I've been able to think of was also just a little too old for him.

Today, out of the blue, I thought about Winnie the Pooh. I had tried it several months ago with him, and he had shown no interest. So, I shelved it. During lunch, when I thought about it, I mentioned it to K, and he said he didn't want to read it. I told him D wanted me to read it to him, and then I headed to the rocking chair in D's room and sat down with Winnie the Pooh. Of course, K followed. I told him I was going to read to D, but he didn't have to listen if he didn't want to. He said, "Oh, I do!" Oh, ok. :)

He loved it! It's amazing the difference a matter of a few months makes. And it is also amazing how well A.A. Milne captures the three year old boy (someone I wasn't familiar with a few months ago either). Christopher Robin and K have a lot in common. :) D actually sat in my lap through nearly the whole chapter, too.

D's sitting!


D is officially sitting. I took some pictures today and will come back and post them after I get a lesson from E.

Update: Here's a picture! I've now had my lesson in uploading photos... so more to come soon.

11.02.2005

Tea Time

Tea time? With boys? Yes! Even three year olds!

So how does it work?

After nap, I find our special cups, and K picks out our tea. While our water is heating, we set our table, get out our books, turn on the current classical composer that we are listening to (it's Haydn at the moment) and light our candle. We have a little prayer that we say as the candle is being lighted:

Peace be on this house and all who dwell in it,
Peace be on those who enter and on those who depart.

Once we are settled with our tea and snack (sometimes something wholesome, sometimes something sweet), I read us a couple of poems and a nursery rhyme or two. On a little stand, I also have an art print which changes weekly. We may discuss it a little, but mostly it is just there for our enjoyment. K and I have really liked this week's painting: Asleep at Last by Bouguereau. K could really identify. We figure the big brother really wants the mommy to play!

Then, after we have finished our tea and snack, it's back to play.

Eventually, I plan to incorporate little lessons in etiquette, brew a real pot of tea and pull out my china (when else am I going to use it?).

Atmosphere

You may be wondering what exactly could I be doing to home school right now? Well, we're doing quite a lot actually, but all informally, of course. You could certainly say that we are unschooling for the time being. My main goal for these first years is to create an atmosphere of learning. Here are some of the things we have available or set up around the house:

-art table and easel out in the shop with easily accessible art supplies, like different paints and crayons, various kinds of blank paper, and playdough with simple tools for process-oriented art rather than product-oriented art

-music cabinet with various percussion instruments, a piano and a hammered dulcimer (I'm trying to talk Hillary out of Eric's guitar)

-lots of picture books and read-aloud times throughout the day, including poetry

-games like Uno, K's current favorite, for learning numbers and counting

-cd player with copies (therefore non-precious) of our recordings of foreign language songs and classical music

-nature table (to be set up again when our study is finished being remodeled) that holds our bug catchers, field guides, the Birdsong IdentiFlyer, and bits of nature we pick up from outside

-every month I put a new art print in a frame that is hanging on our door in the kitchen and a new magnetic letter, both upper and lower case, up on the refrigerator (all at lower eye-level). Currently, we're on the letter Qq

-if the radio is on, it is usually tuned to our local classical or NPR stations

-we rarely, if ever, watch tv; and the boys never do (though we will probably use it where needed when the boys are older)

- the toys are simple, natural and open-ended, requiring imagination

We try to make it to the library and our group of homeschooling friends once a week. The only formal things that we are doing now, I would say, are trying to listen to the Suzuki Piano 1 cd (I'm going to teach the boys beginning piano using the Suzuki method) and also trying to listen to either French or Spanish some every day so that the sounds are familiar to them from the beginning. We also have a very enjoyable teatime everyday after nap, which I will elaborate on in another post.

E and I try to include the boys in everything we do, from cooking and housework to yardwork