Friday, April 30, 2010

Daily Journals, Episode 5

Favorites this week include bike riding, play dough, pilates with Mom, and the pull-up bar.

Besides our normal daily routine with some reading, math games, and writing, a few little notes here and a few little notes there of some highlights of our days.

The day with the carnivals  4.23.10 - Friday

 Today Mom and Hunter went on various excursions all over the place. To celebrate the Month of the Military Child, both the daycare center and the youth center had their respective carnivals, attended by this enthusiastic parent-child team.

Hunter had fun at the first carnival, and learned that in the arena of daycare, it's a kid-eat-kid world. Well, at least when it comes to the jump house. A little lesson in assertiveness, i.e., not standing there politely and confused while endless streams of four and five year olds pile in front of you and cut you in line. It's ok to say, please don't cut. Really.

On another note, there was lunch, the fire truck, sand and water play, ball games, inflatables and slides, bubbles, face painting, and quite a few others enjoyed by Hunter. He did not want to leave when they started closing down.

Morning being spent, a break home for a little reading and cleaning, before heading off again to afternoon youth carnival, where Hunter surprised Mom by going down an enormous inflatable slide, no hesitations. Is this the same kid who refused to go on any rides at the fair last summer, even the simplest kiddy rides?

Always full of surprises.

More simple carnvial-style games, fun prizes, inflatable obstacle course, balloons, talent show, playground with lots of other kids (who were a little more civil), and later on dinner at a buffet.

I think the weekend started early.

The day with the science boys  4.24.10 - Saturday

After T-ball, Hunter comes home to build a few creations with various blocks and manipulatives, and then to the movies on base.

Rest of day was spent almost entirely outside, with two other little boys, finding bugs and using hand held microscope to view them, breaking open a geode, playing with play dough, shooting hoops, and finding rocks.

Mom is always surprised at how much the neighborhood kids love Hunter's school things, always running off with his magnifying glass, compass, rulers, etc. Today they were playing with his chess set and math manipulatives.

Learning really is fun, I guess these kids only realize it when they're not in school and don't really think they're learning!

The day with the alien bee  4.25.10 - Sunday

Hunter dove right into play dough creations this morning. Ever since winning a miniature purple can of the playstuff at the carnival he has been molding various productions multiple times a day.

Hunter kept going outside and watering the "plants" (aka weeds) in the yard. Bird watching has become an almost nonchalant daily activity, so often Mom doesn't even notice it. But today Mom had to laugh when Hunter saw some birds over behind the house, pulled out a lawn chair outside of the fence and just sat there watching them peck at the grass for ten minutes.

Mom and Hunter saw some sort of bee-looking creature on the window, which stayed for quite a long time. Discussing what kind of insect it might be, Hunter informed Mom that, since it was not a honey bee, it was an alien.

Apparently, in his movie, they talk about how the bees defend the hive from any intruders or aliens. (Ah, gotta love that science video set!).

The day with the orange seeds  4.26.10 - Monday

Hunter tried to plant his breakfast's orange seeds today in hopes of a fruitful outcome. After pondering, "Why are there seeds in oranges?", he magically put the two and two together and began his gardening expedition.

Enthusiastic, I'm sure.

Later, out of nowhere, Hunter informed Mom that, "When it's raining here, it's raining everywhere else in this country."

Not sure where his logic originated or where that came from (it was not even raining), but Mom and Hunter had a little talk about climates and, coincidentally, the size limits of rain clouds.

Mom and Hunter went to the library today and got some books about volcanoes, rocks, earthquakes, and math. Hunter chose some books he can read and some other picture books, as well as (for the second time) a book about Chinese writing for children.

Guess he must really want to learn Chinese.

The day with a career as batman  4.27.10 - Tuesday

Mom and Hunter played a new matching game with very large numbers today, Hunter's stated subject he wanted to learn about. This was followed by a dino-game rerun from last night, with this little budding paleontologist.

Hunter's quote of the day: "Mom, what do you have to do if you want to be batman when you grow up?"

Mom suspects that, after many dialogues they've had how you have to work hard, learn lots of things, read well, and other various things in order to be an astronaut, or have a good job to support your family, or be whatever you want to be, that Hunter took it to heart. And is trying to figure out the ramifications of this actions-tied-to-career concept in another job prospect, aka, a superhero.

After seeing part of a segment that Mom was watching on extraordinary people about a toddler with a genetic disorder for dense muscle tone, Hunter goes on a strength showing-off spree and starts moving furniture, doing push-ups (he can do push-ups?), attacking the punching bag and finally asking to hang on pull-up bar.

Testosterone, one thinks?

The day with mold  4.28.10 - Wednesday

Hunter begins day again asking for pull-up bar. Lots of energy to burn. And strength to show off.

Hunter gets a first-hand glance at a really cool mold experiment Mom made found forgotten on top of the fridge. Yellow, green, and pink all in one place? A sure gold mine, Hunter was disgusted and fascinated at the same time.

Hunter told Mom another one of his famous stories that involved "strange, strange rhinos" looking "closely at a lion", before charging, of course, because the lion was somehow in offense and the "bad guy" of the story. More tales of safari expeditions with his cousins ensued, complete with "running like crazy", dogs with swords, and fancy sound effects.

While babysitting late at a friend's house, Hunter and Mom watched some really cool shows on the discovery channel about sharks, rats, Ligers, and amazing animal adaptations.

Hunter, obviously not used to TV (no cable television at home), kept saying, "You should buy that!" (egg cracker infomercial) and "I want to try that!" (granola nut clusters) and commenting on the amazingness of many other products flashed at him during the course of viewing.

Ah, another wonderful reason Mom is glad she doesn't have TV.

The day with chickie alarm clock  4.29.10 - Thursday

When Mom told Hunter that he would get to ride ponies tomorrow, Hunter said that when he rides on the ponies, everyone would be so proud of him because he can ride all by himself. And that they would think he was spiderman.

Hunter goes on a fixit binge today, attempting to repair his broken wind-up top. Another random question: "What would happen if we unscrew these scissors?"

Mom, among many other organizing tasks, fixes Hunter's bedside map display, since his old map moved downstairs and a great many of his flag posters have fallen off (gotta love textured walls). Mom is pleased with the colorful liveliness, versus his previous display, and excited to continue in our age-old bedtime habit again.

Hunter, sweet soul, decides to equip Mom with a nerf gun for safety as well as a second alarm clock: a stuffed Easter chickie, the kind that squeaks when you touch its feet or something. "It will work real good for you!" he assures

Ingenious, isn't it?

"And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship"
Exodus 35:31
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Traveling with Dinosaurs through the Land of Nod

We're being chased by Velociraptors near the Pishon river, being hired by Jubal's family in the land of Cush, swimming frantically away from a great Plesiosaurus, and finding gold in the land of Havilah.

And learning about ancient biblical history hasn't ever been more fun, I think.

It's a shame this closet treasure is long out of publication (originally published in 1988) but we played The Great Dinosaur Adventure: an educational game of creation and bible knowledge for the first time all the way through last night and had an awesome time.

The history of the people, places, and events of the first ten chapters of Genesis are woven throughout this fun and educational board game, focusing specifically around the time before and directly after the flood.

Traveling around the board with your dinosaur pawn, you make your way through the lands of Nod, Havilah, Assyria and Cush where the four rivers of Eden flow. The board is filled with pictures of dinosaurs, peoples of the Bible, and other geographically and historically interesting tidbits of this time period of the first two thousand years of human history. Land on an event card and you might get sent on a gem mining hunt in Havilah, running from twelve-inch long dragon flies, or farming with Cain's great grandsons in Assyria.

You also might happen to land on take a card in which you get to draw from a thick stack of dinosaur-themed cards and get a chance at answering some multiple-choice or true or false questions. These range from the scientific method to fossils to the ice age to giant kangaroos and sea monsters, with dozens of topics being covered including geology and archeology, changes in human life span, climate, and animal behavior, loads of information about dinosaurs and other extinct animals, the men of this time period in the Bible, and the biblical account of creation.

He loves the dinosaur theme, and I love having a resource for teaching him about dinosaurs that isn't drenched in evolutionary propaganda. Funny how there is an amazing amount of evidence that dinosaurs and humans indeed existed together, yet it doesn't "fit" with the evolutionist's theory so it is ignored. One simple little site I have enjoyed on this topic is Forbidden History: Dinosaurs and the Bible.

We have been casually studying ancient history over the past year of so, so this will be a splendid and invaluable addition to our learning adventures. So little is known and understood by most Christians about the biblical history pre-Egypt, and even I myself have learned so much in the very recent past. I am deeply excited to be sharing these things with my son and giving him an early understanding of the true account of world history.

And what better or more interesting way to do it than a game, no?

"Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together." 
Job 40:15-17
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Monday, April 26, 2010

Exploring Symmetry (Mathematical Mondays)

In reality, no one can teach mathematics. Effective teachers are those who can stimulate students to learn mathematics. Educational research offers compelling evidence that students learn mathematics well only when they construct their own mathematical understanding.
-National Research Council, 1989

His toys spurred this little exploration on.

It was a little over two weeks ago when I suddenly noticed that all of Hunter's recent tinker toy creations were consistently, perfectly, accurately symmetrical.

And you know me. My mind started ticking and my fingers started googling. What are some fun activities to introduce the vocabulary behind the concept that, he obviously knew [hence the tinker toys], yet just didn't have the words or rules to describe it yet?

A little bit about our blooming adventure.

First we stumbled upon the Illustrated Lesson on Symmetry, courtesy of my google search. Very cool, informative, free. Hunter played this pretty much entirely on his own with very little coaching from me, and wanted to play again the next day. He used the reflecting mirror in The Amazing Book of Shapes to figure out which figures were symmetrical and which ones weren't.

We later learned that there are actually different kinds of symmetry, illustrated with stencils:

Reflective symmetry, aka the dinosaurs, the kind we're most familiar with, which is basically the "mirror image" effect.

Glide reflective symmetry, aka the dogs, same as mirror effect except the reflected image is moved [glided].

Translational symmetry, aka the flamingos, is when an exact copy of an image is moved [translated].

Rotational symmetry, aka the palm trees, is when an exact copy of a figure is moved [rotated] around a center point.

Those red lines in all the drawings? That is the line of symmetry. We learned about that in the before mentioned game, that there are different kinds of lines of symmetry. Sometimes it is vertical, right down the middle, sometimes it's horizontal, sometimes diagonal, sometimes there is more than one line of symmetry. One day we made these folding-paintings (paint one side, then fold and press to "translate" symmetrical version to other side) to illustrate some different lines of symmetry:

Besides using the mirror and our eyes to point out reflective symmetry in a great many things around the house (and find things that were asymmetrical as well), the last activity / craft we did was these "snowflakes" (which thankfully turned out way cooler and more suitable to the season). Ours, after folding them only in quarters, had two lines of symmetry:

It was a really neat little spree of activities. And I think he had fun and definitely explored the vocabulary and depth of the concept more thoroughly.

Math sure is fun, isn't it?

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Matthew 11:25
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rotation Around a Center Point: Math Vocabulary with Scissor Play

"And it shall turn to you for a testimony."
Luke 21:13
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Monday, April 19, 2010

Basketball and Skip Counting (Mathematical Mondays)

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.  
-John Louis von Neumann

Our math explorations and games are really rarely, if ever, formal or planned.

One thing we have been doing lately is using basketball as a means of playing with skip counting and quick, simple addition. Counting by twos, threes, and then a mix of both has been a neat little practice for verbalizing answers to little arithmetic problems.

With his basketball game in the garage, I will hear him shouting, "Fourteen! Sixteen! Eighteen!" as his score on the board goes up, or, when we're in a three-point contest, likewise. We will also go out to the basketball court behind our house, adding up our points as a mix between twos and threes. "What's five plus three?", "Eight plus two?", "Ten plus three?", etc.

He really loves this little habit, as it came about spontaneously and with something he loves (basketball) making for a perfect match. Normally, he doesn't like being drilled. He will, however, gladly shout out any answer with this.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Matthew 11:25
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Coach's Pitch, Competition, and Potato Chips

When did sports and competition become unrelated terms?

I'm really not that big on competition. Really. But Hunter's first baseball game last Saturday was, how can I say it, perhaps just a bit over the edge?

I know they're young. But,
  1. There were no outs. No tagging out, striking out, nothing. 
  2. The kids could swing until they hit the ball, first with the coach pitching to them, then if they couldn't do that they would hit it off the T. No strikes or fouls. 
  3. After the last kid from his team had a turn to bat, they would simply switch sides, and whoever bat last just ran all the way home (all the kids on the bases just ran home too).
  4. The game was on a time basis, meaning that one team batted twice and one team batted three times. So, as you can see from the rules above, no one really won or lost.
I know they're just little kids (5-7 year olds), and I know that the point of the game is to have fun, but is it just me or is all this perhaps just taking it a little too far?

Maybe you're reading this, envisioning me as one of those crazy, blood-thirsty mothers who screams at their kids from the sidelines and gets in a boxing match with the referee for a bad call. And I can promise you, nothing is further than the truth. I am probably one of the most mellow, non-competitive people you will meet, especially when it comes to games and sports. I am passionate about some things, but I have always believed that it's just a game and I really don't care much about winning or losing.

But rewind back to my little rant about the thought of this maybe being just a little too far. Am I just naive about organized sports at this age? Please comment and let me know if I'm just crazy. I mean, I used to play soccer when I was his age but we definitely kept track of goals and knew who won or lost the game. Have the times just changed?

Maybe it's just now that I'm raising a boy, I'm a little more aware of this whole "evil competition" philosophy and it kind of bothers me. I have read, in a wide variety of articles and books, how the whole "feminizing" of education is hurting boys. One of the big ways they do that is by removing competition and focusing on "collaboration", "feelings", etc.

I really don't think competition is evil. I mean, isn't the thrill of Yahtzee or the fun of basketball or so many millions of other things from the idea of winning? It's not about putting other people down or having a victory or death mindset. Just some good old fashioned battles of skill, wit, or luck?

And... After all that about Mommy's over-analyzing the philosophy of competition, I will say that Hunter wasn't bothered by a thing, had two great hits (he was actually able to hit the coach's pitch and didn't need the T) and played third base tagging two [non-counting] outs. And was super excited about the potato chips he got after the game.

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ"
Philippians 3:8
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Twenty Minutes to Two Wheeler

At four years, three months old, I was sure he was more than ready.

It was last summer and I was twittering about teaching Hunter how to ride a bike without training wheels. It seemed natural because, after all, I and all of my five siblings had somehow learned to ride at age three or four, and I had always thought it was somewhat strange to see kids at six, eight, or even ten years old still tottering around with support braces on their bikes.

So I set out to teach him.

Not that I exactly knew how. I couldn't really remember learning how to ride a bike, nor do I remember my siblings going through any sort of instruction. We just all had this little white and purple, twelve-inch wheeled bike that lacked training wheels, and we all in our respective years learned how to operate it sometime prior to our fourth or fifth birthday.

Now fast forward five months later. The initial two-wheeler training was cut short after a summer of wedding planning and cross country moving, and after being in our new home for a couple of months, Brandon bought Hunter a brand new, shiny red bike.

Ah, a classic.

It was a sixteen-inch wheeler, with foot brakes and, as with ninety five percent of bikes of its size, training wheels. The packet said it was suitable for ages five to seven.

He loved his new bike, but tended to fall over. A lot. I couldn't exactly understand how a kid who seemed to be pretty coordinated for his age was so wobbly on a bike with training wheels. I mean aren't those things supposed to, you know, train? Stabilize? Support? Make it so you don't fall over? Was he really so talented to foil even the protective gear?

I figured I would let him get the hang of his newer, bigger bike before making an attempt at ditching the extra wheels. Let him practice the whole peddling, breaking, steering, not falling thing. But fast forward a few more months and, even though he improved somewhat, he still tipped over pretty frequently and I was baffled as to why.

Maybe it was just mother's intuition or a happy accident or whatever, but I started to get the feeling that it was the training wheels who had a problem and not the kid.

Thinking about it, I realized that with the training wheels he was not required to balance at all, so when it actually did come time that bicycle balance was needed (for a sharper turn, for instance), he didn't fair so well. His brain had been receiving false information from the wheels, so when reality gravity set in, over he went.

So a few days ago, I took off the training wheels. I lowered the seat so his feet could touch the ground (this was probably another reason he fell so much that I didn't even realize before: he couldn't catch himself with his feet because the seat was actually quite high) and set him off to ride.

Fast forward thirty seconds later. He was riding. Like he rode for a good one hundred yards, first attempt.

And just a few crashes, a couple tips, and a handful of spills later, he actually was figuring out how to ride the bike on his own, without the crutch hindrance of the so-called "training" wheels.

The next day, aka this video, he rode for a long time, perfecting his newly learned skill apparently. He falls over, far less, than he did pre- quad wheels detachment.

Weird, isn't it?

After this incident I am 100% convinced that training wheels are about as counterproductive to actual bike riding as infant walkers are to actual walking. Next kid I have, I am skipping the tricycle and "training" bikes and going straight to a balance bike (besides, low-riding, lightweight balance bikes are suitable for kids as young as 12 months old, while most kids cannot peddle a bulky tricycle until 2 1/2 or 3). I now realize why all of my siblings and I learned to ride so early. That little purple bike we had was used like a balance bike until we got the hang of that and then started using the peddles. Peddling is easy, if you know how to balance.

Learn something new everyday, I suppose.

"Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble."
Psalm 3:23
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Saturday, April 17, 2010

First Lessons in Money Management

Hunter opened his first bank account today. With about $24 from his bank we went on a field trip to the bank to open his own savings account and begin the first of the bigger steps towards financial literacy, creativity and responsibility.

If there is one thing that is big on my heart, it is teaching my son important life skills like this. You can be an intellectual genius but if you're lazy, or irresponsible, you won't get far in life.

Some things he already knows about money:
  1. Names and values of US currency
  2. A basic understanding of the concepts behind banks and ATMs (that is, that we have to put money into the bank in order to get it back out of the bank)
  3. That you can't just "get" money but have to do something for it, i.e., work (although he still tends to mention every once in a while, "Well we'll just buy it!" as if money grows on trees)
  4. That it's important to keep receipts from your purchases (he loves keeping receipts and thinks its really cool)
  5. And after today, an introduction to the idea that when you keep money at a real bank instead of a piggy bank, it grows because of interest.
But, he obviously still has a lot to learn.

I think this bank account will be a great learning experience for him, talking about interest, keeping track of the account and how it grows, and having financial goals, for starters.

"For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it."
Ecclesiastes 7:12
Hunter is 5 years, 1 month old

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Computers and Word Processing

My dearly beloved son is learning the amazingly interesting and important skill of word processing on Mom's little computer.

Don't let his intense facial expression fool you. It is actually a look of deep concentration as he taps away at completely random letters in the creation of his first Word document.

My idea in this is to let him play with more useful, productive computer tasks rather than just educational games, since they are most often more "entertainment" than "education". For now, word processing and the ever popular "paint" program will be his main activities, but later on moving to more advanced photo and video editing, web design and computer programming. All, of course, as a fun game, and for the most part, teaching himself with me just there to give him a few pointers along the way.

I got the idea from the book, Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single Income Family. Not that I agree with every little piece of the book but it had a lot of useful information in raising responsible and hard-working, creative sons, this computer thing being one of them.

It also may have to do a lot with my own childhood. I used to spend hours carefully drawing elaborate scenes on the paint program. Word processing, too, was a big thing for me, as I literally taught myself how to spell well and write well with this program. You know the little spell check and grammar check? Being home schooled and for a large part of my education, self-taught, that was my biggest teacher in the English grammatical area.

So I'm kind of going along the same path with Hunter, as well. At this point, most spelling programs for his age are just phonics programs - you know, words like cat and sled. And while teaching phonics rules is great - especially for weird letter combinations like eigh and ough - I learned all that stuff in context, by reading it and writing it. And I would dare to say that I'm a pretty good speller, and that with probably less than 2% of the instruction time most kids spent on spelling lessons during their school years.

Unschooling? Sounds like it a little. But for right now, my plan is to just let him at it, encourage him to write words or stories, and show him a few things here and there, a little at a time (like how to change the font, or add a graphic, or change the margins, etc.)

The whole spell check / grammar check thing in this is a huge goal for me, besides the obvious skill of computer navigation and use. After his first time on the program tonight, and him writing a bunch of random letters, before closing it he wrote, "iluvmymom". I showed him how to use the space bar to separate the words and we watched as the computer automatically capitalized the "i", a little lesson in grammar.

Then with just one thing left, the red squiggly line under the word "luv". I showed him how to use the spell check and select the proper spelling from the generated words, and he felt so happy and accomplished afterwords.

Thanks, little guy. I love you too.

"Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee..."
Deuteronomy 4:26
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Month of the Military Child: Sacrifice

April is the Month of the Military Child, sponsored by the Department of Defense's Military Community and Family Policy. It has been celebrated annually since former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger established the commemoration in 1986.

The purpose of the Month of the Military Child is to take the time to remember, recognize, and honor the children of our nation's military, the "unsung heroes" who are serving right along with their parents.

As we are reminded so often, freedom is not free, and all of us (either military-supporting or not) benefit from sacrifices our military men and women make. But what we often don't recognize is the sacrifice that military children make which, is in turn, a sacrifice made for our country.

So I wanted to take a bit of time this month to write a few things about the wonderful men, women, and children that serve our country, both through active and reserve duty as well as the families who support them from home. More coming soon.

"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them..."
Psalm 5:11

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brick by Brick and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning (Mathematical Mondays)

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. 
-Albert Einstein
What is spacial-temporal reasoning? Well first of all, the meaning of each word:

spa·tial [spey-shuhl] –adjective
1. of or pertaining to space. 2. existing or occurring in space; having extension in space
tem·po·ral [tem-per-uhl] –adjective
1. of or pertaining to time.
rea·son·ing [ree-zuh-ning] –noun
1. the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

The best web definition I could find explains spacial-temporal reasoning in this way,

"Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize spatial patterns and mentally manipulate them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations. This ability is important for generating and conceptualizing solutions to multi-step problems that arise in areas such as architecture, engineering, science, mathematics, and art." 

Spacial-temporal reasoning is something that is obviously quite important to mathematics. You have probably heard about it in terms of IQ tests and the SAT exam, but the ability extends much further than the sphere of geometry and puzzles.

Spatial-temporal reasoning is, in fact, everything in mathematics. It is geometry and trigonometry, all the way down to the ability to mentally manipulative two plus two and come to the conclusion of four.

So today I wanted to talk about something that Hunter has really been into these past few days, which is the Brick by Brick game by ThinkFun. It is a little five-piece puzzle that is a lot harder than it looks!

I introduced the game a couple of days ago and at first, he didn't really "get it". After explaining to him how it worked and him still not seeming too interested, I sort of walked him through the first puzzle and showed him how its done and, viola! It had this sort of magic effect that made him want to repeat and repeat and repeat it - building and rebuilding the same puzzle, of course.

The goal of the game is to make a symmetrical, criss-crossed wall out of the five "brick-like" pieces shown to the left. The game comes with sixty puzzles for you to try and figure out how to build, and that is only the beginning.

He seems addicted to his own success. So far, he has figured out how to build two of the puzzles, and keeps building and rebuilding them and asking me to do the same (which is not always so easy).

It is wonderful to aid in the development of spatial-temporal reasoning: Visualizing what needs to be done, manipulating it both physically and mentally, looking ahead at the next step to the solution, and seeing the whole problem as a whole. And best of all? It's really fun.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Matthew 11:25
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Friday, April 9, 2010

The One that Was Another Casual Week

The king bird watching 

Here is our little daily journal from the past week of a few of the highlights of each day.

His most recent obsessions have been his tinker toys, his one hundred bead abacus, and, yet again, bird watching. He has also been working with Brandon with the new punching mitts a lot.

The day with the spray nozzle  4.2.10 - Friday

Had a little bit more of a "normal" day today. With just Mom and Hunter home after quite a long time of not-very-much school, they read some books, played the sliding game, and played Hunter's new favorite word game.

Hunter read quite a few board books today, including Where Does Maisy Live? and Where is Baby's Belly Button? Mom is humored at how much he has been reading all his old board books lately, and she thinks it may have to do with the fact that the short sentences and big words are quite easy to read (therefore giving him a significant sense of accomplishment), along with a sort of novelty effect - that is, he hasn't seen them in a while and so they're therefore "new".

While Mom and Hunter were in the kitchen, Hunter says, "Hey, I know what to do if there's ever a fire, a real one, a real one that's red." He grabs the spray nozzle from the sink, motions towards the flame that is flickering under the pot of water and says, "I'll just come over here, and take this, and spray! Whoosh! Whoosh!"

He is full of humorous little ideas.

The day with the egg hunt 4.3.10 - Saturday

Whole family spent the morning relaxing at home, while Hunter spent most of his time building some pretty cool cities and contraptions with his tinker toys, blocks, and Lincoln Logs.

Went to the store and bought some punching mitts, which were actually a lot more helpful and useful than Mom first expected. Brandon and Hunter used these to work on punches, kicks, elbows, and some other neat things for martial arts.

Went to friend's house for the afternoon and evening and had an egg hunt. Hunter was quite timid at first but eventually became a little more assertive and, in turn got a lot of eggs.

Had Easter dinner with friends, and Mom was reminded to be thankful that she has a food-adventurous, non-picky son.

The day that was Easter  4.4.10 - Sunday

Mom picks up Hunter and they find alligators, lips, rabbits, and other such creatures in the many thick, puffy cumulus clouds that scattered the sky today. Later on, it actually rained a little bit for the first time in weeks.

Mom and Hunter cut up a cantaloupe together and had a great deal of fun with fractions, first cutting the whole melon in half, then fourths, then eighths, then sixteenths, and finally cutting each slice into eighths as well. Mom sees that Hunter seems to do quite well with fractions and wonders why she ever found them so difficult in school.

Hunter tells Mom, "You guys eat my candy like it's your own or something!" with a smile and twitched eyebrow in his matter-of-fact manner. Whoops. Guilty as charged.

Hunter's piggy bank breaks over $20 today, after adding the quarters from the Easter egg hunt. Mom is reminded that she keeps planning to take Hunter to the bank and open his first account. Hopefully soon.

Family has a simple Seder dinner for Passover. It went well. More on that later.

The day with the dog  4.5.10 - Monday

Mom and Hunter went shopping and bought a new reading book. This was definitely a deal because these "early readers" are normally $3.99 a piece, but this one collection book with five stories was $7.99. Hunter read, Run, Remy, Run! (from Ratatouille) in the car.

Mom and Hunter spend a large part of the day playing with the dog and, also, moping. A bit of math and writing are done but other than that, this day was pretty slow and sad.

The dog had to find a new home because, for a short answer, military Child and Youth Programs childcare rules are very strict and as such, made for a not-so-happy life for this much beloved puppy. Mom and Hunter worked together to find a good home for her, and mutually decided on one that included a little boy and two other puppies to play with. But even after just six months with this puppy, it was hard.

The day with somersaults and algebra  4.6.10 - Tuesday

Mom has nightmares about the dog running away from its new home and getting hit by a car.

Hunter, randomly, while getting dressed, says, "Mom, I'm really gonna miss you when I'm gone."

"Why, where are you going?" she asks

"Not now. When I move out, when I grow up. Yeah, I'm gonna miss you."

Mom and Hunter do a little reading together, and work on counting in Spanish. While she makes lunch, Mom asked Hunter to do some somersaults, twenty five to be exact. Nine somersaults through, Hunter comes in and asks how many he has left, and we do a little fridge algebra (9+y=25, is it 11, 16, or 19) to find out. Six more in we break this down into 9+6+10=25.

Hunter is full of his usual questions which tend to lead into interesting scientific discussions. Some that I have remembered to write down over the past few days include, "Mom, how does the water turn on?" "Where do carrots come from?" and "How does the air move the ball?"

The day with the funny spelling 4.7.10 - Wednesday

Hunter decided he wanted to be a king today. He walked around all day with a paper crown from Burger King and a gray and blue foam sword. Mom never quite knows how he will dress himself for the day and he frequently surprises her with some very imaginative attire.

Hunter played more with his abacus, which he has been toying with all week. He tinkers with it quite often, recently counting on it "by twos", moving two beads at a time saying, "one-two, three-four, five-six" etc. He has known how to count by twos for a while, but this little version of "two counting" is new. Mom always wonders what little connections and permutations are going on in his head.

Hunter makes another note for Brandon, this time reading, "I lik to play wis Bradin and dreso wis Bradin" [translation: I like to play with Brandon and wrestle with Brandon]

He cracks Mom up because even though he can read so many words easily and by sight (such as like and with), he still spells words in the most humorously phonetic way. Dreso for wrestle? Perhaps this is why they say kids can be excellent readers and horrible spellers at the same time. Guess Mom needs to work on some ideas for spelling lessons!

Mom works on printing out her "legal" section for her homeschool planner, including the Department of Defense Education Activity Homeschooling Memorandum, the state's homeschooling laws from, and, the last and not really necessary part, the California Content Standards (first grade standards). She realizes it is not truly needed but tends to do things in overkill sometimes.

Hunter thinks he hears "an owl" while he was doing some math, which was most likely some kind of dove. They never did see the bird but had a fun time listening to it and guessing what kind it was.

The day with T-ball practice  4.8.10 - Thursday

Hunter plays word game again, this time with -oy words, which he apparently dislikes due to their shortness in number. Mom realizes how competitive he is (self-competition, that is) when he became increasingly frustrated because he kept "losing", that is, not making words with the given cards.

Mom also realized how much he likes order because throughout the game, he kept making sure all the decks of cards were neatly stacked and the counters lined up. By the end of the deck of cards he had made the words toy, joy, boy, ploy, soy, Roy, and Troy, much less than the 20+ words he was getting with some other endings (such as -ack and -ing).

Hunter plays the sliding game and has been getting very creative with his placement of the units. He will, for example, instead of just lining up the tens and ones, make some interesting design out of them to form ninety three or whatever number he is supposed to make.

Hunter had his first T-ball practice. It was quite an amusing experience, and Mom's worries about him being "the youngest on the team" (the league is for five to seven year olds and he just turned five) were definitely over thought. He was shorter than a great many of the kids but did absolutely fine.

Mom also learned that Hunter doesn't know how to do jumping jacks. It looked remarkably similar to this. Yes, please laugh. It was very funny.

"And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship"
Exodus 35:31
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Basketball Blessing

So, does anyone remember how a few days ago I was writing a post about how we were working on turning our garage into a gym? We had just used what we could scrounge up from our tax return to purchase a punching bag as a sort of family exerciser /stress reliever / physical conditioner. With this new piece of equipment (and the car henceforth being kicked out of the garage) I was getting all sorts of ideas of ways to use this area for a physical excellence room.

Well this morning we got an unexpected phone call from Frito Lay informing us that we had won the grand prize at the commissary (military grocery store) - the Sportcraft Step Back 3 Basketball Arcade.

Now, granted, I did put our name in the drawing but it's one of those things where you don't ever expect to actually win.

Nonetheless we were so excited! We picked it up this evening and spent a while putting the whole thing together and lots of laughs and fun playing it afterwords. It is a really nice and very sturdy set, one of those things were we would have probably never just went out and bought it on our own, but I'm so glad that we got it because it's been a lot of fun.

We were so blessed to be able to get this. It was actually a great workout because we were jumping and dashing around, all three of us playing together in a race against the clock, and it's the kind with a three point line (sensors on the floor mat) so that definitely added to the moving back-and-forth aspect. And Hunter? He was actually able to play it quite well. This was great because even though we have a basketball hoop right by our backyard, it's a little bit too tall for him so he has a hard time making it in.

We are so thankful for this wonderful blessing and new addition to our fun room!

"He will surely... turn and toss thee like a ball..."

Isaiah 22:18
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creative Constructions

Hunter has been getting very creative with his Tinker Toys lately.

There was a time in his life, actually ever since he got these, that the only thing he and his cousin Anthony would make out of these is "swords" (using the poles to whack each other) and the occasional "umbrella" (sticking poles in each opening of one of the yellow pieces, forming a sort of spoke and wheel effect).

But Hunter has suddenly decided to use these to make all sorts of interesting contraptions. "Ships", actually. The one above is from earlier today. Here is Monday's creation:

It is fun watching him suddenly get increasingly innovative with his creations.

I love these and other building toys and all virtually endless possibilities for creativity they provide. Looking forward to seeing what he'll come up with next.

"He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever."
2 Samuel 7:13
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Monday, April 5, 2010

Random Acts of Sweetness

I walked in on Hunter today carefully writing out the following note, which he taped to the door and excitedly announced belonged to Brandon.

"I luv mi mom and Bradin"

I love his little random acts of sweetness.

"...A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."
Proverbs 10:1
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Power of Music

"Music helps you think by activating and synchronizing neural firing patterns that connect multiple brain sites... The neural synchrony ensembles increase both the brain's efficiency and effectiveness."
From Arts with the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen 

I have heard time and time again that studies continue to show that music - both the act of actively listening to it and the act of creating it - has been shown to stimulate more areas of the brain than any other single activity. And as such, music physically grows, organizes, and wires the brain in a phenomenal and powerful way.

The brain grows by use. And music grows the brain such a profound way as to have an enormous impact on mathematical ability, reading, critical thinking and reasoning, and so much more.

As Glenn Doman has long proposed, all brain function is interrelated. You cannot suppress one function without likewise suppressing the others. On the same note, you cannot raise one function without in turn raising the others. When you grow and improve the brain by any given activity, you are also growing it and improving it for all other activity.

Music is a beautiful way to grow your child's brain and improve their ability to learn about and appreciate their world.

"Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works."
1 Chronicles 16:9

Friday, April 2, 2010

The One That Was [kind of] Like Spring Break

This week was a week that ended up being a lot like spring break. We had my twelve-year-old brother visiting. And all the neighborhood kids were off of school. So it was a little different.

We did accomplish some thing though. Hunter read aloud for several hours. We read together a good handful of times. We played quite a few little math games. Hunter continues to be constantly interested in botany and bird watching. And Mom got quite a bit of lesson planning done.

This little journal definitely doesn't reflect every little thing that we did this week (whether educational or otherwise) but just the few little tidbits I remembered to write down. Enjoy!

The day with the new book 3.26.10 - Friday

Mom pointed out that the wildflowers had opened in the sunlight. Hunter was very distraught last night, when he observed that they were closing and "dying". A little lesson in botany and why flowers need sunlight, and some species close during the night, etc.

Hunter watches science movies for a great deal of the morning with uncle David while Mom goes on a laundry and cleaning marathon. Hunter normally joins Mom but relaxed with company for the day.

Hunter decides to read Mom Go, Dog. Go! Mom learns that Hunter is becoming increasingly good at reading unfamiliar words without audible "sounding out". Mom also learns that Hunter knows all the color words.

Hunter over-analyzes book to the extreme while Mom passes the time editing a parts of a bird coloring sheet and producing more math lotto games. "The red dog doesn't like the green dog, but he does like the purple and yellow dog" and "That house looks like it is about to fall" and "What on earth? They are sleeping with their hats on?" and  "I think this pool belongs to him, and he doesn't want the other guys swimming in it" and so on and so on and so on. After reading, Hunter returns to his new book repeatedly throughout the day.

Hunter spends a lot of today playing outside with neighborhood kids. Mom meets the neighbors that live in the house that is attached to theirs, but have been on deployment since we moved in. Can't wait to meet the kids.

Mom sends Hunter to bed and then goes to fetch his sheets from dryer, only to go upstairs and find that Hunter has already gotten new sheets from the closet and is making a feasible attempt at putting them on. Independent little guy, he is.

The day with the army in the bathtub 3.27.10 - Saturday

Mom found Hunter outside with the hose, again. He said, "I am watering this flower [a miniature bloom on a weed]. Mom, how does the tree get water? I need to water the tree." Hunter has quite a fascination with botany lately. Watering the yard, talking about plants, and many similar incidences, are pretty much a daily occurrence.

Hunter announced that he had mastered the "types of triangles" slide on his vintage Vtech World Wizard game. He has been toying with that slide for the past few days.

Hunter spends some time with Mom in the kitchen, counting and playing with numeral magnets, but most of the day outside and/or watching movies with uncle David. Hunter makes quite a creative set-up in bathtub (picture above) with his growing number of water-side toys he now enjoys. Today's new addition: "army guys".

The day with the perfect notebook 3.28.10 - Sunday

Hunter's most strange comment today was probably when, while we were making lunch, he informed Mom that he would like to try mixing ranch dressing and cherry 7-up, "Just to see what happens" (and not eat it, he assured). Mom and Hunter tend to do a lot of kitchen "experiments" and it is quite humorous seeing the things that he randomly decides he would like to try.

Mom and Hunter read the story of Palm Sunday, since it was today. Whole family had lunch on the grill, which later turned into a water fight.

Hunter helped Mom grocery shop (checked off list for her) and got a new notebook, Mead's Stage 3 Primary Composition early creative writing tablet. This is the next step up since the "Learn to Letter" paper he has been working with is too large now, yet he still really needs the type with the "top, middle, and bottom" lines. This notebook is perfect.

Mom attempts giving Hunter haircut with a pair of clippers that are in dire need of oil. Clippers won't cut properly. Mom makes Hunter wear hat until she makes it back to the store.

While Mom works on planning biology lessons Hunter rushed into the room, asked where his new notebook was, excitedly wrote down "St" and then ran out of the room. Mom laughed. And declined to ask what that was about. Hunter later joins Mom in her lesson planning, and did USA puzzle multiple times, read some books, and played more with Vtech World Wizard, this time mostly the planets and constellations slides.

The day with the Easter party 3.29.10 - Monday

It is spring break around here so Mom and Hunter went to an Easter party at the community center with some friends. Hunter enjoys running around, decorating a bag, coloring eggs, hunting for plastic, treat-filled ovoids, eating lunch, and doing some finger plays and songs.

Mom and Hunter use this opportunity of transporting back and forth from center to go on a mile run. Hunter doesn't do so well and complains about lack of water.

Friend comes over for the day and the afternoon and evening are spent running throughout the house with swords, guns, and talk of Buzz Light Year and Spiderman. Got new physical excellence equipment and worked on some punches, kicks, and blocks with Brandon. Opened some more birthday gifts.

The day with the fire extinguisher  3.30.10 - Tuesday

Hunter starts the morning with birdwatching from the school room. "Look at that bird!" Mom and Hunter watch for a while, talking about the reflective, light-bending feathers on its back. "Ah, it flew away!" he moans. "It's ok though, we'll see another one."

Chart weather again and it is actually cloudy for the first time in weeks. Our rain gauge hasn't gotten a drop still and it's been over a month.

Hunter colors, does USA puzzle again (three times), plays math lotto game, reads a few books aloud, and comes up with a Go-Fish style game with his math cards. Mom and Hunter read about rocks and minerals and a little from a science book. Hunter works on coloring more sections of his Book of the Century time line (pictured) while Mom edits old math schedules for friend. Hunter informs Mom that, when the colored pencil is sharpened at both ends, "It looks like a light saber!"

Right before bed, Mom sends Hunter to retrieve a plastic bag from under the sink and hears a spray. "Why did you do that?" I say yell as I rush into the room and see what lays before her.

"I just wanted to see if it worked."

Mom sends Hunter to bed without a story or geography time. Mom googles "How to clean up after a fire extinguisher" and is reminded, though she may sometimes forget, that her five-year-old is definitely not beyond the age of curiosity-led mischief making.

The day with the photo shoot  3.31.10 - Wednesday

While charting the weather today, Hunter tells Mom, "It looks like stairs, doesn't it?"

Mom and Hunter notice that their flowers are on their last line, and note the pollen that is all over the window sill. Talk about pollination, reproduction, and bees.

During lunch, uncle David tries to hide the box of noodles and tells Hunter, "Shh.. Don't tell your Mom" just to be silly of course. Hunter ruins the petty joke and immediately tells Mom. "If someone ever tells me not to tell my mom or dad I tell them right away" he says.

Oh. Yeah. Mom forgot that she had taught him that important little safety measure. Another old lesson is brought up today when Mom and Hunter were reading an ancient history book and Hunter reminds Mom of the modesty of the discus thrower.

Mom and Hunter have a photo shoot today for new blog title. They are graduating to Life with a Kindergartner soon. *Sniff*

Mom and Hunter do some more writing, reading, and math games in the evening. Watch some rented videos for David's last night.

The day that was Passover  4.1.10 - Thursday

It was April fools today. Mom and Hunter toy around with the word jape and play a few on each other.

Mom and Hunter do a little reading and upload some old videos from their early days doing Doman. Mom is excited to edit these and finally get them on the blog. Hunter is extremely amused by himself at age two.

Hunter and mom get out math playing cards and do some equations. They toy with some algebra and greater and less than. Hunter for some reason always wants to do more equations whenever playing this game. Mom has to remember, always stop before your child wants to stop - leave them hungry for more. It seems to be working.

Mom and Hunter also toy around with the Wahoo Word Lab game. Hunter had fun and is still reading quite fast. More on that later.

It was Passover today and Mom was totally unprepared. Mom and Hunter talk about it and watch a short video. Hunter is quite touched by the story, especially the part about him being the first born. Mom works on touching up last year's Haggadah (guide book) and plans tomorrow's Seder dinner.

Whole family kicks off weekend early by going out to see How to Train Your Dragon and going out to dinner, a rare treat they thoroughly enjoyed.

Mom comes home and blogs. Works more on Haggadah and is excited about tomorrow.

Share with the other moms what you're doing with your little one on Homeschool Creations' theme blog Preschool / 5K Corner.

"And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship"
Exodus 35:31
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

Preschool & Kindergarten Corner

I have decided I am going to start participating in the Preschool Corner. It's a little theme blog hosted by Homeschool Creations that I have been following for some time now (the blog at least, not just preschool corner).

Most participants share what they're doing with their preschooler/kindergartner. But since that's kind of what my entire blog is about, I decided to use it as a place to share our daily journal for the week, noting the little things we did and things that were said, and so many of the little details that tend to get buried in my memory. It's sort of a summary of our week and how it went.

I have, on-again-off-again, kept daily journals and attempted to document our activities many times before. But it tended to be so sporadic I never got anywhere with it. So I think this will be a fun way to network and to encourage myself to keep that journal. I know that it will be invaluable later.

"And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship"
Exodus 35:31
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old