Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Play... with Cardboard Blocks

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." 
George Bernard Shaw 

A construction session with cardboard blocks...

Wouldn't be complete without an innocently dastardly two-year-old

Trying your patience every sixty seconds.

But of course...

Knocking down your structure can very well be the best part.

So let's steamroll and stack and do it all over again.

We Play

"And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded." 
Genesis 11:5
Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Astronomy, Brain Tricks, and Documenting Procedures

Measuring the "size" of the moon in relation to a small paper circle

Remember earlier this year when we had a fun encounter finding out why the moon looked huge, orange, and bright on a particular night? (gotta love Google)

Well earlier this week was another one of those nights and, believe it or not, (ok, so it's not so hard to believe) as I was driving home from a training and saw this awesome-looking moon, I could not wait to get home and show Hunter. I was literally itching in my seat, ecstatic about showing him.

By the time I did get home, the moon wasn't quite as orange but still nonetheless bright and "big" looking, so we ran outside with some school supplies and had a little fun learning about size constancy.

As mentioned in my previous post, the moon doesn't actually "look" bigger or is bigger at certain times than at others, but rather our brain is just playing tricks on us - it's an optical illusion.

We drew a very small circle with a compass, cut it out, and held it in front of us until it was the "same size" as the moon (at least to our eyes, of course).

Taking the same circle cut-out, we laid down on our backs and held the circle up towards the sky. When that same-sized moon is up so far in the sky, we said, it looks further away, and bigger. But when it is down "next to" the trees and houses, it appears bigger. 
Our brain is playing a trick on us, telling us that the moon "should" be bigger, since it appears to be as big as a house when it is near the horizon, but when we look at it up there, it looks like a far-away dot. It is really the same size no matter what.

I think this actually started to hit home for the kid because, when we first went out there, he, in all his excitement, started running towards the moon, saying that the moon was "closer" and that is why it is bigger, of course!

The idea that it was still very far away and that his brain was just playing tricks on him did seem to get him excited. This is also something we have discussed a lot in our drawing program: to really look at what you see, not what you "think" you see. It was fun to relate it and expand on it in other areas, such as this science phenomena.

This was followed by a stop in his new science journal to document the procedure (write about what we did and what we learned) and draw a picture. Using the same cut-out "moons", actually.

And since he loves to draw, this little journal will serve as a nice "memory tickler" when we come back to this page.

If I can just convince him not to rip out the drawing and hang it up in his room.

"In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth." 
Psalm 72:7
Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Friday, August 27, 2010

Physical Excellence Friday: Water Rescue

"Our definition of Physical Excellence includes being able to solve any physical problem encountered during life. This may include saving one's own life, or saving someone else's.
-Douglas Doman, How to Teach Your Baby to Swim
Our swimming goals for this summer didn't used to include water rescue skills, except maybe self-rescue.

But it just sort of came up in the course of our swimming adventures. A lot of what-if's.

Here are some of the beginning water-rescue skills we have been working on:

  • Throw, Don't Jump  The first thing we talked about was the use of the life preserver and other items available to throw out for someone who is drowning or distressed in the water. We talked about why it is dangerous to jump in for someone who is distressed, because in their panic they can cause both of you to drown. 
  • Practice Throwing Assist  We brainstormed different things that could be thrown out to a distressed person to pull them in, including the life preserver with rope, the looped pole (stored near life preserver), and some other unconventional things, such as an out stretched towel or a hose. We also practiced why it is important to kneel or lay down when using a throwing assist, so you don't get pulled in, and to be very careful to throw the item near, not on, the person, so as to not knock them unconscious or cause more damage.
  • Calling 911 No practice calls here, but we have talked about how to get help, specifically calling 911, and the Check-Call-Care procedure of checking the person, calling 911, then caring for them until more help arrives.

In another post I will talk about water safety and Douglas Doman's recommendations for things to teach your tiny child.

We are going to start talking about rescue breathing, CPR, and other first aid procedures from my American Red Cross manual. 

I figure, it's important to learn now. Because you're never too young to learn, and the younger and more frequently you learn something, the more it sticks. 

The more it becomes internal, permanent, and automatic.

And because kids are always full of surprises. So they may just one day surprise us with being a lot more capable than we give them credit for.

Physical Excellence Friday
"He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." 
Daniel 6:27
Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We Play... with Leaves

Hunter and friend he met at a campground, making "leaf soup".

Which later turned into autumn-in-the-summer time leaf pile jumping.

Followed by accompanying sticks which became swords, then guns.

And a later adventures in the "jungle" getting the "bad guys" (or "lions", which apparently live in jungles).

"For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green..." 
Jeremiah 17:8

We Play

Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Socialized to Adulthood

Hunter with my father-in-law, whose side he was glued to for a week
"One of the great modern myths is that children need other children to become 'socialized.' The exact opposite is true. The notion that little children learn how to be civilized from being with each other has little to recommend it. What can a three-year-old teach another three-year-old? Answer: How to behave like a three-year-old." 
-Glenn Doman
Hunter likes adults.

And, in fact, as far as I've seen, he prefers adults to other little children.

Whenever there's another adult in our house, whether it's a visiting relative, a friend come by for dinner, a maintenance man, or a visitor from the office, Hunter tends to flock to them like moths to a street light. He will show off his books or toys or latest invention or drawing, chit-chatting incessantly, often to the point of us having to send him off to give our guest a break from his undivided attention.

Sure, he likes other kids.

He always enjoys leaving mom behind and running around the neighborhood when all his friends get out of school. He has buddies that he looks forward to going over to their house. He has thoroughly enjoyed going to vacation bible school, going to kids programs at the youth center, making friends at the pool, and the list goes on.

But what really caught my attention today is that, Hunter likes and prefers, one-on-one time with adults.

And isn't that the way it should be?

After all, that is what he is learning to be, right?

When I think about my choice to homeschool him, and I think about all the innocently ignorant parents out there badgering me about the infamous What-about-socialization question, I kindly say, thanks but no thanks.

Because I really don't have a lot of faith in a herd of five year olds teaching my son too much about how to be a man. 

I would rather have Hunter learning from those whom he is trying to grow into (an adult), not those whom he is trying to grow out of (a five year old). 

Does it go against the status quo?

Of course.

But I'm used to that by now.

"My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." 
Proverbs 23:26

Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kindergarten Photos

Hunter, five years five months old

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing... Peace begins with a smile."
Mother Teresa

Not Back to School Blog Hop

"And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters..." 
Deuteronomy 12:12
Hunter is 5 years, 5 months old

Friday, August 13, 2010

Welcome to Our School Rooms, Part 1 (Dining Room)

Hunter practicing penmanship at the table

Doing calendar and weather time in a science corner
A poster of the Mohs scale [rock hardness] from an insert in Simon
Basher's Rocks and Minerals: A Gem of a Book

Window art: clear transparencies of the water cycle, cloud types, and
a poster strip of different kinds of weather

Window clings of the planets

Detail of posters near little table

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meteor Stencils?

The other day while we were decorating a recycled frozen juice container to make Hunter's new pencil can, Hunter was going through his pack of stencils to decide which ones would make the cut and said,

"I want to use the crab, the dinosaur, and the meteor."

Don't your stencil kits have meteors in them?

"Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!" 
Job 22:12
Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And the Tables are Turned...

Two five-year-olds, with two very different 
school years ahead of them
"I was happy as a child with my toys in my nursery. I been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a somber grey patch upon the chart of my journey. It was a unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, and of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony." 
Winston Churchill

It's funny how, so quickly, the tables have turned.

The other day I went with a friend to pick up some backpacks and school supplies at a military event.

She started talking about how her son - just three months older than Hunter, but in first grade due to California's December 2nd cutoff date - is likely going to have a difficult time at his new school's lunch period. Which is twenty minutes long, from class dashing to the cafeteria to cleared tables and ready to head back to the grinding room.

There were a lot of other demands of the first grade that she was loathing about.

At once, I thought, Wow. I'm glad my son doesn't have to go through that every day.

Yes, I'm sure Hunter could handle it. Just like millions of other kids do every day. Lines, bells, sitting, waiting, transporting, homework, peer pressure, tests, stress. The works. He'd somehow manage the jungle.

But is that the point? Is that what's really best? What ever happened to childhood?

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
Benjamin Franklin
I've never, quite understood, how the same person who will condemn you for teaching a tiny child "academic" concepts at an early age, never had a second thought about throwing a child into an academic rat race once the child reaches the magic age of five or six.

You are stealing his childhood, so they say. Why can't you just wait until the first grade. There is plenty of time for academics, later.

But I'd rather, for my own son at least, start early.

No, not start the rat race early.

But start learning early.

And then, by the time he reaches first grade, not say that his childhood is magically over.

Not essentially say, "You've had your fun, now your new life purpose is to study for the next thirteen to twenty years."

I'd rather make learning playful, make learning part of real life.

Teach him things. Teach him big things, while he's tiny, while learning is still easy and fun.

So that when all of his other five-year-old friends hop on the big yellow bus for days full of waiting, busy work, waiting, busy work, waiting, busy work, that Hunter can still be playing.

So he can say, "Yes, I spent my preschool years with duplos and presidents and swing sets and math. 

I learned how to read while learning was still a game. 

I learned to love a great many interesting and wonderful things while my wonder was at its highest. 

And now I'm not in a race to catch up and keep up. 

I'm just filling my hungry appetite for knowledge.

I'm living and learning, in real life, with my childhood still ahead of me."
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" 
Isaiah 28:9
Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Speed of Sound... Or Faster

You know what is a fun science phenomena we get to experience every day here on a military installation?

Sound [obviously] and its speed.

Jets fill the airspace in our neighborhood. Occasionally it will be loud enough to rattle the windows. Or make it so you have to pause while ordering from the drive thru at McDonalds. Or produce crying babies and flustered employees from hitting a sonic boom over the Exchange.

But one of the coolest things is how, as we watch a jet (or six) gliding across the horizon in the California sky, the sound of the jet is always a good, well, not sure of the exact length, but always a good distance behind the jet. You hear the jet in one place, but see it in another.

This has resulted in many impromptu discussions on the speed of sound (and light, for that matter, because they somehow tend to go together). 

Mom is not usually all that fancy in planning crafty science experiments but, in short, we've just observed this frequent phenomena, talked about how sound is a wave and has a speed, talked about how sound is actually just vibration (using our own mouths making an "ahhh" note to illustrate) and how our brain interprets the different vibrations and recognizes them as different sounds.

We've also used the whole talking-through-a-paper-towel-tube thing to learn about sound's behavior more.

But who needs paper towel tubes when you've got F/A-18's?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hunter's Kindergarten Curriculum

"The kindergarten children are confident in spirit, infinite in resources, and eager to learn. Everything is still possible."
Robert Fulghum
It is kind of difficult for me to write this post.

Not because I don't want to (I've actually been wanting to for a long time) but because when I think of the word "curriculum", I think of anything and everything that goes into and contributes to ones learning experiences and education.

Which I of course could never just compile into one nice, easy post.

So even though this is definitely not a complete list of every little thing that we will be learning or doing this year, I thought I'd write a general outline of our most basic plans, just for your information and enjoyment, about our fourth year of homeschooling.

(And no, we don't do all this stuff every day)

Language Arts
  • Reading  Basically, read lots of books. We get tons of new 1st - 3rd grade readers from thrift shops every month to add to our growing library of things for him to read. He has kind of started his first chapter books so hopefully, by the end of the year, he will have moved to that stage completely.
  • Handwriting  He is currently doing both regular manuscript and now he wants to do cursive. I think we will use copywork (copying, in his best handwriting, great pieces of literature) and story-writing instead of just alphabet writing.
  • Grammar, Phonics, Spelling  We are just winging it here. We have games to learn some more phonics / spelling rules. And I will be using my old high school writer's resource reference book as a basis to teach him different grammar things, such as all the technical words for those rules all kids figure out on their own when learning how to talk (such as passed tense, suffixes, etc.) and also punctuation and other fun things that come up. He will also be doing a lot of writing on the computer [because he loves to] and make use of the lovely spell check and grammar check.
  • Literature  We read together a lot. And we like to read good, quality books (as well as some silly ones, too). For this we will be getting picture books from the library for the younger kids' portion of the classic children's literature list, The Book of Virtues for lots of poetry, folk tales, fables, even history, and a lot of different longer, more advanced novels [unabridged] that I read aloud to him during the daycare baby's nap time (a lot of them from above children's literature list).
  • Games and Explorations  Lots of play and math explorations. Patterns, games, measurement, fractions, shapes and geometry, more time and money concepts, graphs, experiments, whatever comes up.
  • Biology  This year we are moving on from a main focus in astronomy / earth sciences to turn our sights towards biology. We are using Mom's adaptation of Exploring Creation with Biology, which is technically a high school text but I am taking the concepts and simplifying them to a way he can understand. We will do lots of hands-on activities and crafts.
  • Other  Since this boy loves science we will probably be doing lots of other science topics throughout the year in our free time, including continuing on with his astronomy love and rock-collecting kick (even though that's not technically our "main" focus anymore), reading lots of science books just for fun, our walk through the science encyclopedias, and whatever other interesting things that come up and we want to learn about.
History and Geography
  • Ancient History  We are continuing with our study of ancient history and hope to get much more in depth this year. For the most part we are using the Bible as our core, with James Ussher's Annals of the World, and Streams of Civilization, and lots of books / supplements from the library and web. Our main focus will be from about 4,000 to 500 B.C., maybe going further. We do a lot of crafts and fill in our Book of the Centuries timeline.
  • American and Other History  This is not our focus this year but we do like to read through the stories of In God We Trust: Stories of Faith in American History for leisure and other history story books as well, especially around holidays such as Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, etc.
  • Geography  Besides learning about the countries in our history studies, our bedtime ritual of finding countries, states, bodies of water, capitals, flags, etc. on bedside world map / flag display. Also reading and praying through the children's book You Can Change the World volume 1 of Operation World, and learning about the countries we're praying for.
Art and Music
  • Art  Drawing with Children for realistic drawing, artist study with library books and homemade bits, and occasional different activities and projects from the web (such as Teach Kids Art and Harmony Art Mom) just for fun. Also lots of science and history crafts, and free access to lots of materials to make art whenever he wants.
  • Music  Once I get my keyboard shipped out here we will starting keyboard lessons again (hopefully soon, we miss it). For now we are doing Doman-style music appreciation by listening to pieces of classical music throughout the day and naming its composer, name, and key it was written in. Hopefully starting music theory and perfect pitch again with web resources. Also composer study with our fandex bit cards.
  • Hymns  We like hymns. And they are good quality music, too. We will be learning the full lyrics to a hymn or two every two weeks. Using an old hymn book and Youtube.
Foreign Languages
  • Spanish  We will be doing a lot more with Spanish this year, mostly vocabulary words and sentences, with games from How to Help Your Child with a Foreign Language. I am hoping that with us living in this highly-hispanic area that I can find some Spanish play dates so maybe he will learn to actually speak it. Here's hoping.
  • Other Languages  We'll probably do a lot more words from different languages like we have in the past, just for fun. We've learned different alphabets such as the Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, etc. and are teaching sign language to the daycare babies. Sometimes we learn words from the country we're studying or history topic such as Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

  • Mealtime Reading  I haven't mentioned the our Bible / scripture studies before now because it's really not a separate subject, but incorporated into everything we do. At each meal however, we (ideally) would read the Proverb chapter of the day plus three other chapters at each meal (which takes 20-30 minutes). If we did this at one meal a day, that would get us through the whole Bible once a year. Doing it at every meal gets us through the Bible three times a year. Reading a Proverb a day gets us through the book of Proverbs once a month, with three readings a day, three times a month. He also falls asleep to the reading of the New Testament on his MP3 player. We're striving for more consistency with this this year.
  • Memorization  Ideally the whole mealtime reading enables him to memorize a lot of the Bible, especially Proverbs. The goal is to memorize the whole book of Proverbs (eventually, no time limit here) and be very familiar with the rest of the Bible by going through it so often. He will occasionally memorize character-related verses and I want to start using Bible passages for his copywork. 
Life Skills
  • General  We learn about all kinds of safety, health, and social topics on an ongoing basis through conversation and real life experiences.
  • Character and Responsibility  He helps out a lot around the house and has always enjoyed this, especially if it's something we do together. This year I want to help him get more organized with his chores and also to do them without being told (I can dream, right?).
  • Time Management and Goal Setting  I will be focusing a lot on teaching him time management, goal setting, and organization this year now that he writes and reads well. Earlier this year I bought him his own calendar and alarm clock and I am planning to buy him his own day planner now too, and start helping him set his own goals in both little and big areas. He loves talking about "when I'm a dad" so helping him plan for the future is right up his lane. We are using our own version of workboxes now too, to help him organize the things he can do "on his own" for school and do them without being told or reminded (ideally, right?).
  • Money  We've started to pay Hunter a small sum each week for his contributions to the family business (childcare and odd jobs). I don't really believe in an "allowance" nor paying him to help around the house, but this is his way to be "employed" while learning about money and how to manage it. Right now he is getting paid $5 per week and the goal is to learn about saving, spending, giving, and investing more this year.
  • Speaking and Communication  We are trying to work more on effective communication and assertiveness. Having him practice narration and describing things, reading aloud with inflection, and other "public speaking" techniques to help get him be more "comfortable out of his comfort zone", so to speak. Possibly using From Playpen to Podium.
  • Boy Scouts  He is possibly going to be starting boy scouts this year. Either way we will be doing our own program at home, using the Contenders for the Faith program, specifically Little Contenders. It is basically a Christian version of boy scouts. This is just for fun and we are not using the whole program, but just for ideas for interesting activities to pursue in his free time.
  • Computer Science  I let him play on the computer a few times a week. We do not have any "educational games" but he instead plays with programs such as Microsoft Word and Paint that are fun but teach him real skills. We are also using an old Usborne Computer Dictionary and bit cards to learn about how a computer works and eventually I'll start teaching him proper typing.
Physical Excellence
  • Family Runs  (3-5 times a week). We currently, as a family, run together when we can, usually 2-3 miles (with a walk / run / walk / run pattern). We hope to increase the mileage and straight-running time steadily throughout the year.
  • Swimming  Swimming at the year-round lap pool on the Navy base's gym, once the community pool closes.
  • Vestibular and Other  Various Doman-style vestibular [balance], strength, and flexibility activities. This stuff is as simple as sending him outside to play with a jump rope or doing somersaults in the house, and we have a lot of fun with it.
  • Martial Arts  I hope to start incorporating more martial arts this year. He is learning basic Taekwondo and learning to use the nun chucks (I am teaching him both). Let's hope I can remember how.
Field Trips and Outside Activities
  • Field Trips  I don't have all of our field trips planned, and a lot of them our spontaneous, but we will be doing a lot of on-base field trips this year such as the commissary, the jet hangars, security, fire station, vet, hospital, etc. (with the daycare kids) and lots of local and regional museums and national parks, such as the Sequoias, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and trips to major CA cities.
  • Outside Activities  I mentioned Hunter might be doing boy scouts this year, and he might do a few seasonal sports such as soccer and little league throughout the year. I don't have him do a lot of classes and outside activities because I feel it takes away from more important things - like family time and free time to use his imagination - when used in excess at least.
Using Doman in the older years

Even though it's not specifically stated, just know that it is definitely implied that we will be doing homemade Doman bit cards for pretty much every subject and they will continue to be incorporated into our day. We use bit cards for geography, historic people, reading words, science terms, grammar concepts, foreign languages, math, art masterpieces, and a whole plethora of other encyclopedic knowledge.

And, obviously, still applying Doman's beliefs of short but frequent lessons, joyful teaching, learning as a privilege, etc. This way lessons are quick, fun, and to the point, and often take only a few minutes or even seconds each, enabling us to accomplish at lot on any given day. We also make learning part of everyday routines (such as playing with the world map before bedtime) enabling us to accomplish a lot with little effort.

In our house, learning is the greatest game we play. We do not sit down and do worksheets and flash cards all day. We do so much learning because we both genuinely enjoy it and would rather learn that do anything else. Most of our day is spend in play, fun learning games, and working and talking together.

If you would like to learn more, please subscribe and come back for the following week's blog hops: Our School Room and A Day in the Life. Thanks for reading!

Not Back to School Blog Hop
Go to Heart of the Matter's blog hop to see what other family's are doing this year
"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, 4 months old

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Passing Time with Dinosaurs

Hunter learning about dinosaurs with his World Wizzard while I cut his hair.

Because for some reason in this house hair cuts and car trips tend to big on bits of intelligence and other such encyclopedic knowledge pursuits.

In a Doman house, things just work out that way I guess. :)

"Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away..." 
Jeremiah 7:29
Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Walking through the Science Encyclopedias

Hunter really loves to draw.

And in the past few months, he has become quite keen on writing, too.

So we have decided to combine this along with his interest in science to create a sort of copy work / narrating activity that also involves illustration.

It started out as just reading together for leisure (from some science encyclopedias we got for $1 at a yard sale). But then I decided to go ahead and have him "narrate" what we just read (tell me what we just learned about, in his own words) and he started wanting to draw about it, too.

Which resulted in this...

The aardvark is an african mammal. It digs in dirt and scoops up ants and termit[es] with its tongue. Its scientific name is Orycteropus afer.
Yes, I realize that he misspelled termites and that, for some reason, he put "name is" after its name. But we'll work on that.

The "copy work" aspect is that I write down what he tells me, and then he in turn copies it in onto his story paper (which has unfortunately large lines, making for not too much space to write).

This has been great to work on his drawing (we have been having lessons on drawing what you see and really paying attention to the way the lines go), his comprehension and speaking skills (hence the narration part), and the copy work is to work on his spelling, punctuation, word spacing, and ideally handwriting (although he didn't exactly do his "best" handwriting here, but not too bad).

This is an activity that, if I would have assigned it to him a year and a half ago, he would have hated. But now he actually found it quite enjoyable, and is looking forward to illustrating (and narrating) the encyclopedia entries for abacus and abrasion and absolute zero (good luck on that one, right?).

"...Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua..." 
Exodus 17:14

Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old