Monthly Archives: June 2012

Time after Time

It seems I underestimated Agatha. I know she can’t really count in sequence yet. At least not passed 10. I also assumed she didn’t know her numbers or letters. It seems I was wrong. She knows most number by sight up to thirty. She can also identify most letters without issue, though certain things like lowercase ‘d’ and ‘b’ as well as ‘W’ and ‘M’ confuse her, but hey I can handle that.

Today we stopped at Chapters and picked up a book about time to read together. She knew all the numbers needed to identify the different hours and minutes not he clock. But more importantly once I showed her how to move the hands to make 1 O’ clock, she was able to move the hands to make any other hourly time. I showed her how to make a half past time, and she could figure it out for the rest. I certainly underestimated her ability to decode time. Now we just need to practice and see if she can begin telling time on her own soon.

Though I really don’t think it will make that big of a difference if she could tell ‘real’ time. She has no concept of time, other than now. It’s only been recently that yesterday came to mean a specific day rather than any day in the past. But five minutes, three minutes, seconds, hours, days, weeks, years. These are concepts that are still very fluid to her. For now she’s learning the vocabulary.

A wonderful book we read to help the girls learn the concept between different lengths of time is : A Second is a Hiccup This is a sweet story in verse that goes over time from seconds through to the length of childhood. It paints a clear picture using ideas children know. scrape your shin – ‘in a month you’ll grow new skin’.

Do you have any books or resources about time that you loved for this age group?


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Measuring the Marigolds

Wow, we’ve been busy the past few weeks. In many ways our busiest days were the ones we stayed home and did nothing.

As we wait for our fence, grass, patio, gardens, and trees we spend the days with our noses pressed to the window dreaming. Today Ella dreamed the weeds growing in our backyard grew into beanstalks. We were able to climb them all the way to space. There were no giants in the clouds though. Because clouds are made of condensed air and nobody can stand on air. Okay then.

We also spend quite a bit of time caring for the plants we have in the house. A grapefruit, a lemon, lime, and mandarin tree. Each tree should have 5 or so fruit on it that’ll be big enough to eat. From caring for these plants the girls have learnt about the different parts of flowers, they’ve loved being little bumble bees pollinating the flowers. They’ve also successfully planted an apple seed from an apple they were eating. Which lead to us getting several pots and growing herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. The different sizes and shapes of the seeds fascinated them.

The citrus trees gave the girls another opportunity. The trees came with a few friends. Besides hundreds of aphids (that we’ve faithfully been squishing by hand every day), they also came with millipedes, pill bugs, and spider mites. We diminished the millipede population very quickly (they were everywhere), killed every spider its and aphid we could find. Added a couple lady bugs to the mix and the girls went to work adding a few pets to our family.

They took our old sugar dish (looks like a  fish bowl) added a few inches of dirt to the bottom, layering the dirt with fallen leaves, blossoms, fallen fruit buds, and anything else they could find that was rotten. We added a spider plant shoot that needed a home and a tomato plant that wasn’t doing very well. They carefully added water to half the terrarium and left he other side mostly dry. They named their new pet pill bug Aliza. It didn’t take long for them to find more. Soon our little terrarium housed four pill bugs. The tomato plant is doing fabulous, the spider plant has taken over the rest of the space, effectively sealing the top. The air below is moist and the dirt stays damp. The perfect environment for pill bugs. The girls can see through the glass to see when the dirt becomes homogenous allowing them to know when to add ‘food’ to the space. In the meantime they have a glass they put all fallen leaves and such until it’s time to feed their little pets.

From here we talked about bugs, what makes a bug? was a pill bug actually a bug? (nope, it’s a crustacean). We talked about bugs, crustaceans, turtles, shrimp, then we moved on to talking about mammals. We spent an hour or so classifying different creatures, then dissolved into fits of being sabre-toothed, crustacean eating dogs. It wasn’t pretty. And there were still six hours until Ryan came home.

Ninjas are deadly and silent. I set up a laser obstacle course out of yarn through our upstairs hallway. The girls had a blast climbing over and under the different strands. Cordelia managed to get herself tied in knots, Chester managed to rip it all down (and get himself tied in knots), Agatha couldn’t tell where her bum was (so it’s a good thing these lasers did not actually slice off the body part it touched), Ella managed pretty well. I’m still working on the overall costume, but did manage to get a couple of black jumpsuits made in a day so the girls have Ninja costumes to play in. Ella wants to start wrestling, but I think if I introduce her to martial arts she might go for that more so now than wrestling. Youtube here we come!

For her birthday Ella received a Mexican cookbook with spanish vocabulary in it. She’s so exceed and wants to learn Spanish so badly. We intended to start her in French (makes sense around here) but think we’ll start with Spanish after all. As soon as we (fill out the paperwork) get funding, we’ll buy the Rosetta stone for Spanish. Ever since she received this cookbook she’s actually started eating food with flavour again! She happily dumped cumin and onion into a pot because her book told her to.

As such she’s really working hard to learn to read and write. She practices writing almost daily, but at this point if she writes a letter it’s just a letter unless Ryan or I give it meaning (within a word). If we spell words for her she can write them down. Certain words she can see and read quite well, but often we have to stop her and actually have her look t the word. She just assumes she doesn’t know it, so doesn’t try until we tell her she either knows it or can figure it out.

As she works on her letters, she also works on her numbers. In fact numbers are very important to her right now. She owns her own store you see. She creates items every day and sells them to unsuspecting passer-by’s   Ryan and me. It started with her asking for a certain number of coins, exact change only. Then moving onto asking for specific coins. She’s slowly moving toward asking for a certain price. Though this is difficult for her. The numbers are bigger than she comprehends yet.

Ella: Mommy this twirly costs two coins.

Me: Which two?

Ella: The ones with the reindeer.

Me: Quarters. This costs two quarters?

Ella: (Beaming) Yes.

I really didn’t think she could count to fifty, let alone try to teach about change for those numbers. And using two quarters to her is easy, fifty cents. She doesn’t have a comparison. As an experiment I did ask if she could count to fifty. She made it to twenty no problem. Then she paused and thought about it. Asked what the next number was. I told her twenty-one. She then guessed twenty-two. I said yes. She then slowly counted twenty-three, twenty-four up to twenty-nine where she paused. I told her thirty, then she went on. Only pausing for the tens to figure out what the number was. We counted to one-hundred ten. in this fashion. She didn’t know it previously, but she knew the pattern and could manage from that point.

Ella: This costs three pennies

Me: Okay. Here’s a nickel. Can I have change please?

Ella: Sorry my store doesn’t work that way.

I explained to her about change. I promised I wouldn’t take her money, but wanted to demonstrate what how change worked. If she liked it, she could make change. Or I wouldn’t buy the item. We took out all her coins we talked about the different coins, how much they cost, size, shape, colour. We then made piles of each one so each pile was worth the same amount. I then showed her how to make change for a nickel from pennies. In the end she wasn’t certain, but her jar had more money than when she started so she’s trying it out for now.

Ella’s been fairly proficient with addition and subtracting. She uses her fingers, or objects to visualize, but she knows the terms and the concepts. Recently we’ve begun multiplying and dividing small numbers as well. Usually in relation to food. She’ll glance at a cake and tell me how many pieces everyone gets. But she can’t tell me how she knows that. So I’ve been helping her figure out how she knows the answer. The whole number we start with is the number of pieces total. Then we get out the same number of plates as people. Before we start we make note of how many pieces she thought were for everyone. Then we divide. She’s usually right. Though now that I’ve pointed out the concept to her I’ve noticed she doesn’t get the right answer as often. But I can see her trying to get the answer.

For the most part everyone seems to do the same thing, just different levels. While Ella’s writing about numbers, Agatha’s counting objects or colouring and Cordelia’s eating markers.

Agatha’s working on letter recognition and writing her own name. We’re also talking about places in the world and where she fits in. I have a couple ideas for projects, just a matter of doing them.

Agatha’s fascinated by Benjamin Franklin and journalists. She’s been creating news daily, writing everything she can down. Her and Ella team up to sell it to us from their news office in the basement. She’s also practicing counting a starting to add and subtract. Though mostly that’s because that’s what Ella’s doing. Agatha’s not interested in ‘actual’ math yet.

Cordelia’s climbing everything and has a ton of words. There is some interpretation needed, but once you know what she’s saying it’s easy to understand the next time she says it. Certain words are clearer than others. Her doggie commands are perfect. “‘Hester Siiiiit” (Hester = Chester) “‘Hester Stttayy” both commands complete with hand signals.

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New Directions

It seems I don’t find the time to blog very often. Or rather the inclination is no longer there. I don’t want to write a blog about how to parent. After all I’m learning as I go. Each of our girls is so different something that works fabulously with one would never work with the other. There are general guidelines and I think I can sum that up in one sentence. Everyone needs to feel safe and respected. As long as both parents and kids, especially parents, remember that then for the most part how you get there doesn’t really matter.

Everyone needs to feel safe and respected

So where does that leave me?

Mostly this will morph into a record of sorts of our unschooling journey. It’s so difficult to keep track of everything we do, what each girl is individually interested in as well as areas we’d like to explore more. There will likely still be parenting and relationship posts on occasion, but I find most of my posts come from a thought niggling in my mind and certain people have taken them out of context. Or rather thought the context had something to do with them. Unless specifically asked, I have never written about you or toward you. Though as parents, it’s likely we’ll all experience similar things on our own journeys.


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