Saturday, July 28, 2007

Music Appreciation

The other day, we were sitting in a drive-thru line for an inordinate amount of time. The kids were fussy and I was searching through our huge amounts of CDs for something that might entertain them. I tried an audio book, Air Ferrets Aloft, by Richard Bach, but they weren't very interested. Then I found a CD we had bought a few months ago, African Playground, which is one of the Putamayo Kids series. I put it on and the kids were mildly entertained by it.

Then, of course, I got the bright idea that we should do a unit study on Africa. Heh. We'll see how well this turns out, but I'll at least bring the CD into the house so we can play it some more, we'll look up Africa on our globe, and hopefully I'll be able to find some good crafts. We already have two books at home (well, from the library) dealing with african wildlife: Water Hole Waiting, by Jane Kurtz, and Pinduli, by Janell Cannon.

If that goes well, I'll try to find more stuff to do, we'll see. And if all that goes well, maybe we'll do it with other cultures. We already have Celtic (specifically, Welsh) music, and even have some stories on CD from Hugan the Bard.

Of course, me planning anything like this means the kids won't be remotely interested, but we'll give it a shot. :)

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Friday, July 27, 2007


I found this thread on MDC and it really gave me some reassurance. I'm not really in a period of doubting our choice of avoiding curriculum.. I wholeheartedly maintain that a curriculum would be a huge waste of time and money for us. But I do get worried sometimes about what children in school are learning that my children are not, and the following quote, by Lillian J, should serve to reassure me. She is responding to a woman who worries that her seven-year-old son isn't renacting the Boston Tea Party, writing plays in Latin, or any of that stuff.

It would be rather unusual for children as young as yours to want to pursue learning things as much as you'd like to see. Any of that can and probably will) be learned later. They want to play because that's the stage of life they're in - it's perfectly natural. And is there really any real reason for them to know all that much at this point in their lives about those various things other than making you feel that something is going on educationally? You might ask yourself exactly what it is that you're wanting them to know more about - and why - and whether there's any real reason why they should know it now rather than 2 or 5 or 10 years from now...or ever. If they suddenly got fascinated with insects, for instance, and they wanted read about them, draw them, put on plays about them, etc., would they really grow up being particularly educated about insects, or would it be a vague memory of some fun thing they did when they were little? And wouldn't they really have to study them afresh in order to be really educated about them? And what would it matter? What if their real interests end up being in very different directions? Architecture or music or physics? Would it make a bit of difference that they'd done a unit on insects when they were under eight years old? It seems as it you're doing lots of interesting things with them, and that's what matters - you're keeping the input and inspiration wafting through their lives.

It's not as if I don't think learning and education is important - but I think childhood has its own very important fruits that need to be cultivated.

You wrote "It's not that I don't think he's learning. I know they are all learning. I just get hit with feelings that they - my oldest especially - could be learning more." But why do such young children need to lean so much about things that aren't even a part of their lives yet? What good is that knowledge going to be to them at this point? The play, on the other hand, is vitally important and is building their imaginations to function all the better when true learning about those things is more appropriate. Lots of people complain that they're children whining about being bored and not having anything to do - but yours seem to be happily engaged, and that seems significant to me. That sounds great. They've got many years ahead of them to be learning - in much deeper and broader ways - about the things you're feeling they should be learning now.

Makes perfect sense to me. What on earth would Colwyn do with knowledge about Columbus or about the Mayflower?


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Brief Reprieve

Well, it's raining again. We had a nice weekend, but it rained Wednesday-Friday, and now it's drizzling.

In the meantime, I took these pictures of the kids outside. Well, the first is of Lachlann playing dressups, but whatever. Anyway.. as you can see, the kids love the water and the swings. You can also see that although we start off fully dressed, the boys usually end up in undies and diapers pretty quickly.

Colwyn's asking me to play Koala Brothers with him, so this will have to be a short entry.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Scope and Sequence

I was looking up curriculum today, just for the hell of it, to see if any of it appealed to me (it hasn't in the past). I was struck by how.. unfun using a curriculum would be. What a way to take all the fun out of something. Then, for the hell of it, I looked up the science scope and sequence in Massachusetts for students in pre-k through second grade. Here is what children need to learn before they enter third grade, in its entirety:

1.Sort objects by observable properties such as size, shape, color, weight, and texture.
2.Identify objects and materials as solid, liquid, or gas. Recognize that solids have a definite shape and that liquids and gases take the shape of their container.
3.Describe the various ways that objects can move, such as in a straight line, zigzag, back-and-forth, round-and-round, fast and slow.
4.Demonstrate that the way to change the motion of an object is to apply a force (give it a push or a pull). The greater the force, the greater the change in the motion of the object.

Wow.. I hope I can manage all that by the time my child turns 8.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Free Play

Yesterday afternoon was nearly idyllic. I wasn't expecting much from our afternoon, as the kids had gotten up super early from their naps. But we went outside, I watered the plants, and hooked up the sprinkler pool. The kids played for a good half hour, splashing, pouring cups of water over their bellies, and such. It had cooled off a bit, and the water spilling out of the pool and onto the deck was cold beneath my feet.

After a while, I asked if they might like crackers with Henry's delicious cheese spread, to which they answered with a resounding "yes!" I brought out the snacks and a huge cup of limeade. They ate for a few minutes, then ran out into the yard to play on the swings. For almost forty-five (yes, 45!) minutes straight, they swung on the swings. They swung on their bellies, on their bottoms, and on their feet. They straddled the swings and pretended they were riding horses. They pretended they were airplanes, and Lachlann experimented with balance, leaning all the way back and extending his legs fully. They grabbed onto a rope that was hanging from a branch and flung their legs up into the air, to see how long they could hold on. They climbed into the kiddie swing and took turns pushing each other, willingly and happily climbing out to trade spots.

I sat in the shade, eating crackers and drinking limeade (which I willingly shared with the kids whenever they ran over with a sip), watching my boys play and be themselves.

I'm so glad I can give them this: the time to just be and play and learn and grow.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dinosaur Ladders

The boys were coloring yesterday, and Colwyn told me he wanted to draw a picture of a train. I asked if he wanted to write 'Thomas' at the top, which he did. I wrote it out for him on a separate paper and he copied it onto his, quite well in fact. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture.. maybe I'll add one later. As he was making the 'h' we started talking about ladders, and he decided he wanted to draw a ladder instead of a train. After writing out 'Thomas' he drew his ladder, then said, "It's going to be a dinosaur ladder!" and drew an adorable little stick-figure Apatosaurus next to the ladder.

The upside to spending so much time coloring is that Lachlann is already learning his colors. He'll pick up a crayon and try to identify the color for me (without me prompting him, btw) and is right maybe.. half the time. If I tell him, "Oh, Lachlann, that's a pretty blue crayon," he'll respond with, "Oh, blue, okay."

I'm at work now (days), but when I get home and the kids wake up from their nap, we're going to the library, woohoo! I know, I'm such a geek. I've been rereading all the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the new (last) one coming out and it occured to me as I was reading the other day that I'm setting a good example for the kids. They see me reading fairly often, although the vast majority of what I read is either online (news, blogs, fanfic, etc) or during the hours that they're asleep. But this past week I've been reading more in front of them and I'm pleased that my leisure activity benefits them as well.

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