Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hot Wheels

He said 'car' almost as soon as he said 'mama'.

The boy was born to ride.  At two, he could make his Fred Flinstone car turn on a dime.

At three, he could make the Red Flier fly.

Radio Flyer 12" Class Red Tricycle 33
He rode this so much and so fast he wore the toes out of EVERY pair of his shoes:

Then it was time for the bicycle.  The training wheels were on and things were going great until that fateful July 4th night, when legs and bicycle wheels tangled and tooth battled concrete and concrete won.  He went from this:


To this:


The biking mojo was gone.  He left the bike virtually untouched for over a year.  We tried to get him to ride again, but his knees knocked and his courage floundered....until Friday.  That day he said to me, "I want to learn to ride my bike."  Without a moment's hesitation, I raised the garage door and took the bike outside.  Forty-eight hours later, he was ready for the BMX circuit.

Earlier that same Friday, we had given him this Lego set as a reward for his diligent violin practice:

Coincidence?  I don't think so.

Whatever it takes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 1

We officially started school this week including all of the elements listed here.  In addition to the basics, we spent a lot of time on science.  While science is not a priority in kindergarten, reading and making connections are.  The Classical Conversations science memory work for the first week was about biomes.  We memorized seven types, but explored three in our reading and other activities.  

First up was deserts and Roxaboxen.

This was a beautiful picture  book set in the Arizona desert.  Unfortunately, it did not charm my children as much as it charmed me, but they remained agreeable while we read it and discussed the plants and animals in the desert setting.

Next we read a "living" book called The Desert is Theirs.  This book was more on the educational end of the entertainment/educational spectrum.  It presented a lot of information on desert life in a wonderful, almost lyrical style.

The Desert Is Theirs

To top it off, we watched a Bill Nye video on deserts.

Second biome:  Tropical Rain Forests

A favorite picture book from our home library set in the Costa Rican rain forest is Jan Brett's The Umbrella.
The Umbrella

It was fun to reread this book focusing on the animals in the context of their tropical rain forest home.  We took advantage of Jan Brett's website and its free printables and made a rain forest mural. Here's the result:

The kids' favorite book of the week was The Great Kapok Tree.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest

The illustrations in this book were beautiful.  The talking animals definitely appealed to my five- and three-year-old children.

The grand finale was a study of grasslands.

We read a chapter book called One Day in the Prairie by Jean Craighead-George.  The book was also highly educational, but, to me, was a little on the dry side.  However, my son actually requested that I read it aloud a second and then a third time.  The tarantula and tornado in the book must have appealed to him.  This was perfect preparation for our own day in the prairie.  We took an hour-long road trip to a 37,000 acre tall-grass prairie.

I'll admit, I'm partial to shade.  But the grasslands set against a bright blue sky were beautiful.  Here's some of what we saw:

Friday, August 27, 2010


He started violin lessons 100 days ago.  Today, he completed his 100th practice.

His violin teacher established the 100 practices in 100 days goal, but we have embraced it.  I love that it's consistent, hard work that's emphasized instead of an end result.

As Shin'ichi Suzuki himself said, "Never hurry, never stop."  I love that philosophy and have officially adopted that quote as the motto for our home education.  So much of what I have read in this book, which was also suggested by his violin teacher, can be applied to teaching a child reading, writing and 'rithmetic as well as the violin.  Here are two more favorite Suzuki quotes found in the book, which is an inspirational and practical guide to parents as teachers:

"Relax, with the determination to make your child great."

"Children like what they can do."

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Kindergarten Looks Like

This is what kindergarten will look like for us...

Once a week we will go to  Classical Conversations ("CC"), a homeschool community offering weekly memory work (includes history, science, geography, math, latin, language arts and history timeline), oral presentations, fine arts, and science experimentation in a classroom setting.  This is our second year, and we love it.  More about that in another post.

For the rest of the week, reading is the name of the game.  I plan to read a lot of things aloud with no immediate expectations beyond immediate enjoyment, but we are also going to work on narration skills as we read with a goal of making connections to our CC memory work.  We'll also spend a significant amount of time improving his reading.  Here's an outline of our days:

Memory work - Classical Conversations

Letters and Numbers for Me 
Read-Alouds - Chapter books from this list plus various and sundry picture books that correspond (more or less) to the topics in the CC history, geography, science and math memory work

Reading - The Beginning Readers on this list

Language Arts - This program to reinforce phonics and introduce spelling

Math - This curriculum

Bible - Memorize Ephesians 6 along with a chronological review of the Bible

Enrichment - Once a week project or field trip

Music - Violin lessons

Physical Education - learn to ride a bike, learn to swim, play an organized team sport

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Breakfast is still on the stove when we hear the hammer of the bus's diesel engine coming around the corner.  It has come quickly, this first day of kindergarten.

I have dreamed about this day.

A little bit of freedom for him...

A little bit of freedom for Mama...

The three of us stay-at-homers down to two...

I turn off the burner, and we rush outside to wave good-bye to the shadowy figures of neighborhood friends on board.

Somewhere along the line the dream changed.

Bus number 5 rumbles on, and we three go on in to eat our oatmeal.  And it is still hot.