Thursday, August 25, 2011

Modern Art, City Life, Books & Friends

 Yet again we find ourselves home from an amazing Homeschool Adventure!
Today proved to be better than expected, which seems to be the trend lately. 
I packed us some lunches yesterday and loaded us up this morning to drive down to the "city".  Funny how things work out ~ we lived down there for a year and drove to another town altogether every week for our co-op.  Now, we've moved to the beach and seem to be driving down town (30 minutes plus) for everything.  We just can't keep it close, can we?  
Anyway, we loaded up for our trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art.  I figured it would be just a little museum gig and we'd eat some picnic lunches at the park. 
Turned out to be fantastic, as usual.  
We got to see the Imaginary Portrait Series by Pablo Picasso. 
  We got to see the Works of Reverend Howard Finster.
    We got to play in the Art Explorium Loft.
      We got to make our own art using Geometric and Organic Shapes.
What I didn't expect was the City aspect of the day.  Turns out, the museum is located in the heart of our city.  
There was a park with a beautiful fountain across the street.  
There were all types of people walking around (some a little scarier than others, if you know what I mean).  
We had to pay for parking ~ who knew that parking meters now take credit cards?  
I didn't.  But, I do now.  
The main branch of our city's library was also located right next door.  We'd never been to that particular branch, and oh what a treat that was!
After our art tour (and adding some money to the meter, of course), we took our lunches up to this beautiful second floor outdoor patio at the library.  There was a long fountain and trees and tables.  The girls could eat and run and play with their friends.  The princess even heckled people down on the city street with her friend. 
After a wonderful lunch with friends and babies and conversation, we headed into the best Children's Library I've ever seen.  It was beautiful and astounding.  
We found books about mermaids and easy readers about horses.  
  We found books about Picasso and Bob Marley and the Eiffel Tower.  
    We found a creation story of dolphins and stories from the ballet. 
      We found a book about Thomas Jefferson, women artists and kitchen science.
After a long and wonderful day, it was time to head home.  
In case you were wondering, we were ten minutes late back to our car, but thankfully didn't get a ticket.
Blessed to be a homeschooler!

Finding your place ...

I am really loving the way that this "school year" is shaping up.

We recently started hanging out with a new Homeschool Group and we are just having the best time ever.  

It is exactly what I wanted in a group. 

    Awesome field trips.
      Babies and toddlers and bigs all together.
        Cool Mommas.
          Park days, beach days, pool days, play days.
            Smiles, fun, friends and laughter.
              Art, History, Science, Nature, Language and Culture. 

This will be our third year of homeschooling.  

So far, we have done both types of Homeschool Groups ~ our first year we were a part of a group that did the "fun stuff" (park days, enrichment days, field trips and nature center days).  Last year we were part of a co-op.  The girls took actual classes ~ three classes every Friday.

We have loved both scenarios, but what I really wanted the Homeschool Group for was for community and friends and socialization and the "fun stuff" (as the Hippie calls it).  We're not big on text books and formal note-taking and lectures and teachers and typical "school" stuff, so while we loved the people at our co-op last year, the group itself really wasn't what we were looking for.  

We wanted field trips and friends and berry picking and nature centers and park days and just plain JOY.

Thankfully, that is just what we've found.

Surrounded by babies and toddlers and Attachment Parents and big kids and JOY.

Joy for all three of us ...
   Friends for the Hippie ...
     Friends for the Princess ...
       Friends for Momma ...

So blessed to be a Homeschooler!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Club Tutu

I guess our "school year" is beginning to gain steam. 

Funny when people ask "So, when are you guys starting back to school?" ... 

I'm always thinking, "Well, I guess some of the "stuff" we do is starting this month, but we've really been "doing school" all along".

I mean, the Hippie reads daily.  
    She reads for pleasure ... fiction.
    She reads for pleasure ... non-fiction.
    She reads for knowledge ... historical events, places, people.
    She reads for knowledge and pleasure ... artists, scientists, topics of interest.

The Princess draws daily.

    She draws horses, every day.
    She draws dogs.
    She draws her family.
    She draws mermaids.

We play games and keep score. 

We read stories aloud.

We watch shows about science and cooking.

The Princess practices reading.

We cook.

We bake.

We paint.

We pretend.

We listen to music, read lyrics and play music on our instruments.

We go places like the library
    and the post office
     and gardens 
      and historical sites 
       and art museums 
        and science museums 
         and friends' homes.

Each girl has started a book ~ the Hippie is writing one (typing one) called "Mermaid Dreams" and the Princess is drawing one about a horse and herself (bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?).

Anyway, I have veered way off topic here.  I guess, what I'm trying to say is that when you set up your home and life to support life-learning, school just doesn't start and stop.  It is on-going. 

But ...

School-like activities do tend to start up in the fall.  

We are looking forward to many of ours.

But, today I wanted to share with you about our very first "Club Tutu".

Club Tutu will celebrate all things Spanish ... food, clothing, culture, dance, games, art, music, movies, history, geography, language. 

The goal is cultural exposure and I'm super stoked about that.

Today was simple. 
Perfect, really.  My good friend, Coco is Cuban-American (among other things), so she figured she'd start with what she knows best. 

She served us a traditional Cuban meal ... peasant food ... 

    Black beans (super yummy)
      Rice with a little olive oil and garlic and Celtic Sea Salt
        Picadillo (we didn't eat this because we are vegetarian, but it smelled good)
          and Tostones 


And, whether the children learned anything or not, Momma did.  

I learned the difference between Maduros and Tostones and how to make both.  I'd tried to make the sweet plantains (Maduros) before and failed miserably.  

Now, I know why.

If you want to make Maduros (the sweet plantains), you need your plantains to be completely black ~ like, so ripe you think you need to throw them away.  

That was my mistake years ago when I tried ... my plantains were not ripe enough.

To make Tostones, you use green plantains.  

Fry them up once, smash them in your trusty "tostonera" (a wooden tostones smasher), run them through a salty ice bath and fry them again ... drain on paper towels and salt them.  


Anyway, kids played, Mommas talked, we learned, we laughed.  The Princess smashed tostones in the tostonera.

Up next, tomorrow ... Art Museum tour and activity. 

So blessed to be a homeschooler ...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Living Math that works ...

This morning was yet another example of how well Unschooling works with the Hippie.

I knew that I had a pretty long "to-do list" today, so I suggested that the girls pick out a game for us to all play together.  "I'll play a game with you guys, which gives you time and then you guys can play and give me some time to get some things done, okay?"

Great plan.  

They brought me Yahtzee Deluxe to play.  

I decided to just sort of help ... or, according to them, I was "on the Princess's team".

This one game was a fantastic MATH LESSON for both children.  

Throughout the game, each girl got to practice addition, multiplication, counting by 2s, 3s, 5s and 6s.  They got to add doubles, think about strategy, probability (where to put that ZERO ... which of these are you LEAST LIKELY to get) and so much more.  

I was pleased as punch to watch as each of my children multiplied 6 x 4 and 5 x 3 and add one number to another to another and so on ... all in their heads.  

Now, if you asked one of them "Do you know your times tables?" or "Do you know what multiplication is?", they may look at you with a bit of a blank stare.  

But, can they DO IT (you know, the part that actually matters)? 

Absolutely.  In the context of something useful and fun ~ a game.

Anyway, I would have been pleased with just that, but I decided to attempt to take it one step further.  

When the game was over, the Princess ran off to draw (her millionth or billionth horse drawing, I'm sure), and I asked the Hippie if she'd like to add up the scores to see who won.

Keep in mind, a month or so ago, I attempted to show her how to "carry" while adding two digit numbers where the ones place added up to more than ten ... she was not having that at all!  

In that context (a worksheet), she freaked out and said I was "blowing her mind".  So, I backed off.

Now, today, I showed her how to add the scores and she did it with no problem, no freaking out, no "blowing her mind".  

She added columns of numbers, she carried numbers ... she did this up to the hundredths place. 

And, did it well.  


She did this:

  15       15       105      70         22       143         6         73      
  25       16       +92    +35         25     +108       12       +35   
  30       15       197     105        50        251       16       108    
+22     +24                               25                    15
  92       70                            + 21                   +24
                                             143                     73

Needless to say, I was one pleased Momma today.  And, the really fantastic thing was that the Hippie was one pleased little learner today!  She was so excited to realize how much she'd learned and done today, with ease.  Especially when I pointed out that it was the same thing she had turned her nose up to only a month ago as being "too difficult" and "blowing her mind". 

So, my plan for the coming year?  I'm leaning towards a Living Math approach ... books, activities, games, fun, cooking, baking and more games and even more fun!  


Well, duh.  Because it works! 

p.s.  In case you were wondering, the Princess won the game .... but, the Hippie won at her own math challenge today!  
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