Saturday, 26 September 2015

Catching up with you: September

We have been having a lot of fun this month.  The boys' activities have started up again, we are taking life slowly and enjoying time with our new baby.  Here are some photos to keep you up to date on what we've been doing...

The boys built and played with our math manipulatives.  The love to play board games, card games and anything counting.  One day I got out all our different weigh scales for the boys to explore.

MJ loves to hold baby JJ.  Both boys are amazing big brothers.  It is a big adjustment for them both to have a little baby in the house and less of mommy's attention.  They are handling themselves very well, and are a huge help to me!

Oh we do love hikes and being outdoors.

Grandpa and Grandma Scott have given each of the boys their own unique drum.  This month we have enjoyed using them for circle time, dancing and making lots of noise!!

We have been very blessed to spend some time with cousins.  Grandma Jackson and Aunty Laura came for a visit.  We've also been to the cottage too.  The boys are so adorable with their little cousin. 

Baby JJ has been very smiley!!  He is tracking moving objects and is getting bigger by the day.

I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be part of Learning in the Woods!  My boys love going to the same location each week (sometimes more than once a week).  We are all learning, including the leaders, about relationships, nature and more.  All of the children who attend are full of joy and curiosity, most don't want to leave after being there for almost three hours!

We have a pass to the local botanical gardens.  The boys and I chose a path that was very hilly and not stroller friendly.  We managed through.  Luckily JJ didn't wake up until the end.

While dropping off a friend at a homeschool field trip, the boys and I took some time to explore the area.  We saw amazing wood carvings, and learned all about the native people who lived in long houses.

TJ and I went on a date together with his giant stuffed frogs (and his cute jammies).  It isn't too often that I get out without the baby these days.  We had a lovely time together.

The cottage is always a favourite place to visit.  TJ and daddy went for a long boat ride, while MJ and I went for a nice walk (baby JJ was asleep in the carrier).  Although we didn't get to fishing, we still cooked dinner on a fire, played in the lake and had a lot of fun with their cousin.

Daddy had lots of work to do up at the cottage.  He took a quick break to hang with the boys.

More fun in the woods.

MJ and some children looking at a bee under the magnifying glass (the bee had already passed on).

The boys are so excited to be part of the promotional video for We Learn Naturally (the umbrella company for Learning in the Woods).  The director let the children use his equipment!  They were all so excited to show him around the forest.  It was a very fun morning for all the children.  We can't wait to see how it turns out.
Our homeschool group has some awesome plans this year.  We meet once a week at different parks and things.  There are also field trips and service projects that my friend and I organized.  We all gathered at our community garden plot to help with weeding.  The children were so helpful and worked well together.  Last week TJ joined the group to do some geocaching and compass work.

We also attend the YMCA for swimming and gym times.  Mommy is busy with office work too.  We also find time for the boys interests/projects, the library and loads of fun!!

Now that fall is here we'll have more adventures to share with you!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Ask yourself, "Why not?"

Can I bring snow inside the house?

Can we actually cook my concoction and taste it?

Can I ....? (you fill in the blank)

Saying YES to our children's requests can be difficult. 
 Our first reaction is most often "no, not right now, maybe later."  
But what if we took a moment to really think about what they were asking.  
Better yet, take a moment to think about your reaction, then ask yourself "why not?"

I have been reading Pam Laricchia's books, which are on sale this month!!! What I read was confirmed by our actions at home.  My husband is doing it all right without having read the books, just by intuition and his awesome parenting!!

One day the boys wanted to use our fire pit and have s'mores.  Unfortunately we had no yummy supplies, so we planed to build a fire the next evening. I had to go out for a bit and returned to find three fires going in the back yard!  Daddy looked up and said, "MJ kept asking me to light his pretend fire. At first I said no, but then I thought why not?"

My boys were so absolutely proud of their creations.  They explored the best way to build the pit using some bricks, and which sticks would burn easily.  We had fun with marshmallows and really connected as a family.

The next morning the boys were outside still in their pajamas working on the fire pits again.  This time TJ wanted his to be bigger!  MJ created several small ones deciding on which design he liked best.  TJ drove the tractor to our brick pile (yes we have one!) to gather more supplies.  They went off in search of sticks to use.  Then wishing aloud one of the boys said he wanted to cook more than just marshmallows over the fire.  I hesitated thinking: how inconvenient it might be, I really had no idea how, what if it turned out badly, the stores were closed today too... "Sure that sounds interesting.  Let's look up some recipes to see how."

Oh their eyes lit up.  Did mommy really say yes to an idea?  

TJ and I looked up some campfire cooking ideas and made a list.  We chose some recipes that looked interesting and doable.  Next we drove off to see if any stores were open.  Being Labour Day, nothing was open.  Since we had already talked about that possibility, we then brainstormed how we could plan dinner using what we had at home. TJ was surprisingly flexible and excited.  He also decided to set up his tent at home and pretend he was camping.

Dinner time couldn't come fast enough for these guys! We decided to try popcorn, hot dogs and s'mores.

 I won't lie, it was rather hot out, breezy, and difficult to keep their little fires lit. I had to run between two fires, the baby and helping them actually cook their food.  It wasn't totally the most easy time for daddy and I, but we both kept positive.  TJ felt badly about how much work we had to do.  I assured him that this was all new to us, an adventure and part of the experience.  I'd never cooked over a fire either so I had to figure it all out.  

We talked about how life must have been years ago when fire was all they had available.  Working as a team also came into play.  Someone had to keep the fires going, another to cook, sharing cooking implements (a good marshmallow stick) etc.

Later MJ sprayed some water on his fire and it went out.  Devastated he ran in to ask for the fire place blower to get it going again.  I was rather tired by now so baby JJ got my attention.  Daddy was kind enough to re-light MJ's fire pit.  The boys played with it for a while longer before evening routine.

Saying yes brought about the best end-off-summer family memories.  We also all got to experience something new because we followed the curiosity of a young child!!

This post is linked to:

My Joy-Filled Life

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

End of Summer Party

A few weeks ago TJ came to me and said he wanted to have a party with his friends.  I've posted before about how he throws parties in the forest for his stuffies.  These little shindigs are complete with snacks, loot bags, games and decorations.  The guests are usually other stuffed toys, his brother and who ever happens to be visiting us that day. This time there were no friends over so we'd have to make some plans....

TJ was very clear that he was going to buy the items for the loot bags.  When I suggested that we could plan an actual party (bigger than his usual forest ones), he was thrilled!  We talked about themes, who to invite, activities, decorations, loot bags, and of course the cost.

Side note:
Now I have been reading a lot about project based homeschooling.  I tried to let TJ have complete control over this party project.  I did make some suggestions and encouraged him to keep working on it (once you actually invite people it's nice to follow through).  I am learning right along with my children here, so I won't say I wish I'd done things differently.  I know now for next time to ask more prompting questions such as "what else do we need for the party?, what is the next step?" rather than telling him what needs to be done.

Real math is counting your own money
I am so very proud of my son!  He decided to pay for the entire get-together.  He did some chores around the house and for others. Knowing that it could take a while to earn what he needed, TJ asked if there was a faster way.  We did some brain storming about how people earn money and he decided to sell some toys.  It would help us purge and be much faster than making items to sell.  So off he went to pick some toys to sell and take photos.  I posted the adds on Facebook for him.

Purchasing his own groceries
The week before the party we went shopping for food, decorations and loot bag items.  We had many days of counting money (each time something sold).  With his list in hand, TJ loaded up his cart and paid the cashier for his purchases.

TJ decided to individually decorate and personalize each loot bag.  With around 15 children coming to the house, TJ had a lot of work ahead of him.  He spread out the bag decorating over a few days, taking time to choose each item for the loot bag based on the kids favourite colours.  He also bought some streamers to hang up all over the house!!

Baking cupcakes by himself
Another awesome opportunity came with TJ reading the directions and baking the cupcakes all on his own.  I was simply his assistant and to monitor him using the oven.  I was asked to colour the icing and decorate the cupcakes because TJ was still working on the loot bags the morning of the party.  Poor TJ's interest was waning so we came up with a plan.  He'd decorate one bag, then help add sprinkles to a few cupcakes.  Going back and forth we finished up everything in no time.

Personalized party bags
The party was a huge success.  All the children played wonderfully.  They all brought snacks to share, and enjoyed the treats.  The sprinklers, water guns, and hose we welcomed on the hot day after jumping on the trampoline for a while.  TJ was a wonderful host.  He welcomed each guest and made sure everyone had something/someone to play with.  Some friends left after two hours while others stayed almost four hours and were very sad to have to leave.

Delicious cupcakes
Real learning takes places with the topics are relevant, meaningful and interesting to the learner.   I know TJ truly learned a great deal from  this whole experience. Besides the abundance of learning, and responsibility that took place, this was a whole lot of fun!!  I love the ideas my boys have and I love to be able to say YES to them!!

Have you said YES to your kids recently?  Share in the comments how that went...

This post is linked to:

Mom2Mom Monday linkup

Twinkly Tuesday


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Guest Post: Super Scissors - A Top Tool in a Preschool Back Pack

I am very excited to have Leslie from Forever Joyful guest posting today.  Her blog has so many wonderful resources and posts about literature.  Today Leslie is sharing about her top tool for preschoolers!!

Super Scissors: A Top Tool in a Preschool Backpack

Scissors are super! I wish I’d known this earlier.

Once my son turned three, I was eager to teach him to read. He was a reasonably willing and capable pupil so I began our successful adventures with the 1998 cassette tape version of Hooked on Phonics. I studied up on classical educational models and focused on memory work. He enjoyed it and was learning so it appeared to be an all-win situation! He had spent his early years in China so we plowed ahead with Chinese lessons. We also did twice-a-day math and daily handwriting practice. Don’t forget our AWANA Club memory verse drills!

Whew! That makes me tired just remembering it. You can tell that we were busy, but can you see what was lacking? SCISSORS!

By the time my oldest was four, he was the academic star of his preschool class, and I was his proud mama. The only problem was this didn’t impress his teacher much. I was all about academics. She was all about life skills and themed learning. I was concerned with fractions. She was concerned with cutting out circles. I didn’t yet have the wisdom to see that having your child cut out a circle then cut it in half (then quarters, then eighths) accomplished both tasks.

Looking back, I wish I’d focused less time on “academics” and more on life skills and having fun! My son's preschool teacher really was right. At the top of my regret list is not having him use scissors enough. (But don’t worry! My oldest has still somehow managed to learn how cut properly, and I won’t make the same mistake with my other children.)

Scissor skills give children at least four important advantages:
  1. Cutting allows children to practice fine motor skills and build strength in their hands that will be used for a variety of tasks later on. Play-Doh, paper, and yarn prove to be perfect cutting materials. You can get fancy cutting worksheets (available for free all over the internet), draw your own shapes, or let your child go to town making confetti out of construction paper. You can use it for a grandparent's birthday celebration later. Grandpa and Grandma will love it!
  2. Cutting enhances eye-hand coordination. This skill is essential for a variety of tasks from catching a ball to zipping a jacket. (Maybe our lack of scissors work was the reason my son was one of the last kids to get his name on the preschool zip list for learning to zip his own jacket!)
  3. Cutting is an enjoyable activity for most children, and they feel proud of their accomplishments. Provide the right tools, and scissors can entertain your children for hours (with appropriate supervision). When children are praised specifically for successfully accomplishing a task, they delight in their new achievement.
  4. Using scissors sets the stage for your child to learn to rub his belly and pat his head at the same time. There is a fancy name for this – bilateral coordination. Bilateral coordination helps your child use both sides of his body at the same time for the same task, an alternating task, or a completely different task. (Scissors work fosters the latter.) Strong bilateral coordination is essential for playing ball as well as playing the guitar!
As you buy your preschooler’s back-to-school supplies this year, don’t forget a quality pair of child-friendly scissors! What fun scissors activities do you love? Please share in the comments.  

I am a devoted wife, mother of three great kids and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. I love long summer days, photography and stealing quiet moments for writing.