Archive for May, 2009

5/25/09

May 26, 2009

We were at a barbecue/birthday party for most of the day, but before we went, we picked up some fun stuff from Michael’s, the craft store.  The little girl next door came over and they played while I made a magnetic tangram set for Adrian (it was such a hit, I thought he needed something sturdier than paper).  His friend loved the tangrams too, so I made her a set.  When you do this, you have to make an extra, backwards parallelogram because the magnet makes it one-sided.  So even I got a little math lesson today. LOL  Adrian’s favorite puzzle so far is the cat:

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They worked on these little animal and dinosaur models (and we looked up one of the dinosaurs in his library book):

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I got Adrian this peg puzzle.  It took him a little while to understand the concept, but then he was off playing it with no help from me:

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And they played hopscotch:

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And we spent 4 1/2 hours at the party.  I was soooo exhausted by bedtime!  STILL Adrian wasn’t done.  We measured stuff with a tape measure and he did a couple of pages in a kindergarden workbook.

Subjects covered: Math, Reading, Writing, PE.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.

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5/24/09

May 26, 2009

Today was a fun day!  I very much want for my house to be a fun place for Adrian.  With everything going on with Charlie, plus the divorce, I sometimes feel like he’d rather be anywhere but here. 😦  So I bought  an under-the-bed storage container and some play sand.  It’s great for our small space and I can push it under the swing to get it out of the way.  And I got a kiddie pool.  And a jump rope and squirt guns and more bubbles.  $20 and we’re set for the summer!  We had a little issue filling the pool.  My hose isn’t long enough to reach around the side of the house.  I ended up putting the pool under the kitchen window and filling a pot and pouring it out the window. LOL  So here’s the kids having fun…this was Charlie’s first time ever in a pool!

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When Charlie’s nurse got there, we went to Grandma Linda’s house where he played “cornhole”.  Awful name for a game if you ask me, but he had fun.  He’s pretty good at it too!  When it started raining, we went on the porch and Adrian “painted” with water.

The storm was short-lived and it quit raining by the time we got home.  We checked on our garden…no need to water it!  The rain filled up the giant puddle in front of our apartment.  I don’t know why they don’t fill it in.  It attracts kids like bees to honey.  Anyway, we found a big, fat frog living there and Adrian ran back and forth trying to catch glimpses of him for a while.  Then we went upstairs for a nap.  Read a bunch of books first.  He’s still big into learning about our bodies.  I never know how to explain things to him in an age-appropriate way.  Sometimes I think I’m using too-big words, but he soaks it all up.  We bent all the parts of our body we could and found all of our joints, even our itty-bitty finger joints.  I tried to explain what a cell is and how they work and grow and die.  I just have a hard time imagining a 4 year old can understand something like this that he can’t SEE.  But if he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t let on.  He wanted to know *specifically* what the different parts of the cell were.  Oy.  We also talked about reflexes and how they usually a body’s defense mechanism kicking in.  Which brought us back to the frog.  Who jumped about a mile high when he saw us and made a funny yelping sound.  I told Adrian this is like a reflex for a frog.  He saw us as a danger.  To which Adrian replied he was not going to be dangerous when he grew up…he was going to save people from fires!  Well at least I don’t have to worry that I have a future serial killer on my hands. LOL

I printed out a tangram set and some puzzles to go with it.  He really likes this.  I remember doing these in about 2nd grade.  When I was that age, I did the puzzles that were just a silhouette.  Because Adrian is younger, I printed off the “key” pages so he could see how the pieces fit together.  He struggles a little with how to flip the pieces around so they fit, but he’s getting better.  He learned what a “parallelogram” is and even used it in a sentence…”Hey mom, the parallelogram is the duck’s neck!”  Yup, sure enough, it is.

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I got a melissa and doug abacus.  Again, this is something from my childhood that I thought would come in handy through the years.  We praticed addition and subtraction on it.  Just the small numbers.  It might be awhile before he can truly use the abacus as it was intended. 😉

And read more books.  We played a game about likes and dislikes.  We’d pick a person we know and tell each other things they like and don’t like.  It got a little silly when Adrian would say things that were completely untrue.  I tried to teach him to play a game I found in “Family Fun” magazine called “Mrs. Mumbles”.  You wrap your lips around your teeth and say “Excuse me, is Mrs. Mumbles home?”  You look and sound hilarious and the object of the game is to be the last person to smile and show your teeth.  Adrian couldn’t figure out how to get his lips around his teeth though, but he had a blast watching me make a fool of myself.

As we got ready for bed, he started pestering me.  Sometimes when I’m done for the day, he’s just NOT.  He just keeps going and going.  THIS is where worksheets come in handy.  Now I’m not a fan of worksheets.  I really think they are the least productive way to learn, for most people.  But when your kid is begging to be taught and you can’t even keep your eyes open….hand them a worksheet.  So he did one on “beginning sounds”.

And FINALLY went to bed!

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading, Writing, PE.

Total time spent:  About 4 hours.

5/23/09

May 26, 2009

I didn’t get Adrian until 8 pm again today. There was just a little daylight left and with Charlie fast asleep in her crib, we headed outside to play. I think Adrian is starting to expect all this educational stuff from me because as soon as he walked in the house, he tackled me and said, “Come on mama, we have to find something cool to do!” And by that, he meant a fun project. He was excited to see his plants were sprouting. So we counted and identified them and looked at them through a magnifying glass.. He tells *everyone* we have plants growing. He’s very proud. 🙂 We watered and weeded the garden. I’m hoping this teaches him a little responsibility. Of course, I take care of it when he’s at his dad’s, but when he’s here, I want him to see it as HIS garden.  This is much better than a goldfish I think.  There’s nothing to flush if he messes up. LOL   This is his very first bean plant.  We have a total of 8 now:

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So for our first “cool” thing to do…I saved an egg carton and figured we’d plant something in it.  I had planned to start tomatoes or something, but I hadn’t bought the seeds.  Not to disappoint him though, I let him pick a dry dandelion and plant those seeds.  Yes, we planted WEEDS. LOL  I asked him how many we should have once they grow (12) and I asked him how many days he thought it would be before they sprouted.  He said 5.  We shall see.

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We read a bunch of books, as usual.  One was the “Money and Sense” Berenstein Bears book.  We’ve read it like 15 times already.  I’m getting soooo bored with some of these things!  So the whole time I’m reading I’m trying to find a way to make it interesting.  Halfway through we stopped and I taught him to play “heads or tails” with a coin, like the bears in the book did.  It’s funny watching him because he lacks the coordination to catch the coin so he throws it, watches it roll across the floor, runs to catch it, then flips it onto the back of his hand. LOL

I bought him a calendar board.  It has a clock with the minute and hour hands labeled, days of the week, months of the years, 1-31 for the days, seasons, and weather.  This is *perfect* for him.  He wants so badly to learn to tell time.  And he’s fascinated with weather.  Anyway, it has little pegs and arrows.  You put them in place to show the date.  It’s really cool.  I don’t have a pic because it BROKE and I took it to my mom’s so she could fix it.  She has the tiny screwdrivers necessary.  I love wooden toys for the kids.  They seem…sturdy.  Well, just not the generic brand from Meijer, apparently.

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading.

Total time spent: About 1 1/2 hours.

5/16/09

May 17, 2009

We started our day by reading books, as usual. We re-read all the books from yesterday. Today he understood the telling time book a bit more. He can tell the difference between the minute hand and hour hand at least. He knows when the minute hand is on the 12, it’s something “o’clock”. We made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and he told me he has a lot of fun cooking with me. I’ll have to make more of an effort to include him in that. By about 1:00 he was driving me crazy so I set him on the floor with old sales ads, some scissors, construction paper, and a glue stick. I told him to cut out pictures of veggies and paste them to the sheet. He had a blast with it. Not too shabby for a last-minute activity. I’m going to eventually have him do one for each food group. He wrote “VEGGIES” on the top all by himself!

In the afternoon, he played with his friend again and when it started to rain, she came in and I gave them the sales papers again. Poor little girl cried when she had to go home! It’s so funny the things kids find interesting. LOL I told her we could finish up the next time she came over.

Here’s Adrian’s veggies….he’s pointing to his favorite. 🙂

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Subjects covered: Reading, Writing, Math, Health and Nutrition, Art.
Total time spent: About 2 hours

5/15/09

May 17, 2009

Today was one of those days that just went on and on….we fit SO much stuff into the day it was unreal. But we had a lot of fun. When Charlie’s nurse got there, we went to the library and got some books and one video. Then we went to the store and got seeds to plant a vegetable garden. We had to go to grandma’s to borrow the gardening tools. Then we went home and were ready to start digging weeds out of the flower bed and we saw the new neighbors were outside. So we went to say hi. They have a little girl a year older than Adrian and so we got an extra little helper for our garden.

It took two hours to dig out the weeds. Of course I did most of the work. LOL Adrian and his new friend were busy looking for worms. They did find one eventually and tried to put him in a box with no dirt or anything. I’m not sure he even had air. So they got a lesson on what earthworms need to survive. So the worm went back into the garden. They played for a bit while I rested and then we planted the seeds. We planted beans, carrots, pumpkins, and corn. We have a very small bed, so we didn’t plant a lot, but it’s not meant to feed the family…more like just a project for Adrian to learn from. And because it was a dry, hot day, we watered the garden too.

Then we went inside and (after much crying and protesting) I convinced Adrian that we had to eat and rest. So we had lunch and then read a few of the new library books and took a nap. We read a book called “From Seeds to Plants” and I thought it was a bit boring, but Adrian was fascinated. We read “Money and Sense”, a Berenstein Bears book. And I got him a book on human anatomy. He was thrilled and studied the pictures of the skeletons very closely.

After our nap, the nurse left and we chilled out and watched a video. Then read MORE books! The kid loves to read, no doubt. He picked out one on telling time. He liked the pictures, but he didn’t seem to grasp the concepts the first time through the book. And we read a book about dinosaurs. Good thing they tell you how to pronounce the names because most of them I’d never heard of! And we learned about their size and diets. We read a couple of silly books, Circus Dogs, and My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World.

Then it was MY turn to relax. I like to do number puzzles, like Sudoku. Adrian crawled in my lap and started asking questions. He’s always been interested in my puzzles and he likes to fill in numbers randomly, but he’s never been interested in the actual rules…until today. So I explained how you work a puzzle and then I made a 4×4 puzzle for him and helped him fill it out. He still needs a lot of help, but understands the basic concept, I think.

I told Adrian about his blog and I told him I’ll show it to him the next time we go to grandma’s together (we don’t have internet at home). I explained what I write about and I got out my notebook and asked him to tell me everything he learned about today. He surprised me with something I didn’t think to count. He asked me earlier, “When you hear a train, how do you know if it’s really a train or a tornado?” He sounds like he’s saying “tomato” when he’s saying tornado, which was funny the day he was telling my mom that “tomatoes suck your brains out”. We didn’t realize until the next day what he was really talking about. So it took me a minute to figure out what he was asking but it made sense when I understood. Somebody must have told him tornadoes sound like trains. I explained what to look for….rain, wind, hail, a green sky, all of that. And we talked about what to do when there is one. I told him at Daddy’s house and grandma’s house, you need to go to the basement. At the other grandma’s house, you go to the laundry room and at my house, you go to the closet under the stairs. It was actually a short conversation, about 3 minutes, but he must have learned a lot from it, because when I asked him what he learned, that was the first thing he said!

Subjects covered: Math, Reading, Writing, Science
Total time spent: About 4 hours

5/14/09

May 17, 2009

I didn’t get Adrian until 8 pm today. Immediately he wanted food and soon after he ate we went to bed. We did get a couple of books read and when he was eating his raisins, he was singing, “The ants go marching one by one…” and so we pretended the raisins were ants and I showed him what the song means by “one by one” and two by two”. He counted out raisins and put them into lines and made them march across the floor. LOL

After Adrian ate, he asked me to measure him. He’s been excited to see when he grows. And he grows so fast that he sometimes sees a half inch spurt from one week to the next. So I measured him. Still 42″ tall. He asked about the measuring tape and was looking at the numbers trying to make sense of them. I explained about inches and centimeters. We measured a few things around the house, like a screwdriver, his shoe, and his chair.

Subjects covered: Reading, Math
Total time spent: About 45 minutes

5/10/09

May 10, 2009

Adrian wanted to read a lot today. First was another Dora book called “Good Night, Boots!”. He learned what buenas noches, estrellas, excelente, and amigo mean in Spanish. And we went over some other English words in the book. Delicious, rhyme, sentence, and repeat. I was quite proud when, at the end of the book (second time through when we talk about words he doesn’t know), he waved to Dora and said “Good night Dora!” and told me to do the same. I did and he said, “Hey mama! You repeated me!” Way to start using those words immediately!

“Charlie Needs a Cloak” is about a shepherd who needs a cloak for the winter, so we learned the words, shepherd, cozy, crook, flock, cloak, and shear.

“Night, Rabbits” is a cute book that doesn’t make much sense to me. He likes it though. It has a lot of verbs in it, so we acted out hop, nibble, twitch, wiggle, swoop, scoot, thump, bump, thud, tickle, quiver, shiver, shake, slink, scurry, and hum. We talked about how a lot of the words mean similar things. New words: Beware, orchard, and insects.

We made cookies for Mother’s Day. He got to crack the egg, scoop some of the ingredients, stir, and dump in half the bag of chocolate chips. When they were done, we put 4 in each bag for all of his grandmas.

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When Grandma Linda came over, he gave her some cookies and her note from yesterday. They read it together and laughed. A lot. LOL She showed him how to use the shape magnets on his magna-doodle to make pictures. They made balloons, a house, trees, a sail boat, and a car.

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Subjects covered: Math, Reading, Languages, Life skills.
Total time spent: About 2 hours

5/09/09

May 10, 2009

We started our day when Adrian wanted to snuggle in the rocking chair and he started asking lots of questions about our bodies. He said, “I know about our blood and stuff, but what are our skeletons like?” I explained that they are white and hard and look kind of like our teeth. That’s the best I could do with the materials present. Note to self: Pick up a book about anatomy from the library. He’s really been into it lately. He asked what’s behind our skull. So I told him our brain and explained some of what it does. That led to a lengthy discussion about Charlie’s brain injury. He knows she has a “boo-boo on her brain”, but I went into a little more detail, like how our eyes process what we see and send it to our brain and that’s why she can’t see well. I also explained how our brain helps us walk and talk and do pretty much everything and that’s why Charlie can’t do much physically. We talked about our 5 senses. He also asked about what is inside our mouth so I pointed out lips, teeth, gums, tongue and our frenulums. We’ll have to get out a flashlight to look at the rest of it.

Then Grandma Linda came over to drop off something for me and Adrian latched onto her and wouldn’t let her go. He kept coming up with things to say to her so she wouldn’t leave. The funniest was, “Now tornadoes suck up everything and hurt you so don’t go near them That’s a RULE!” So in order to leave she convinced him that anything he needed to tell her he could tell me and I’d write it down so he wouldn’t forget to tell her later. He took it to heart and we spent the next 1/2 hour writing things down. It was really funny. Things like, “Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses everyday and then put them away at night and put your moonglasses on” and “I need an Elmo book. Not one I have to share with Charlie. One just for me.” So after the full front and back list was done, I put it in an envelope and had him decorate it for her.

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We did addition and subtraction with cheddar bunnies.

He practiced writing on his magna-doodle.

We read a Dora book and learned 3 words in Spanish. Azul, hola, and vamanos.

We practiced some ASL. He wanted to do colors, so we did red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white. We also did rainbow and crayons.

He fell asleep about 2 hours early in Charlie’s chair, while watching a Mickey Mouse video.

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He slept almost 14 hours! Poor kid must have been exhausted.

Subjects covered: Math, Writing, Reading, Languages, Science.

Total time spent: About 2 hours

My username…

May 8, 2009

“YesWeSocialize”

Anyone who knows anything about homeschooling understands why I chose this name.  It’s my first answer to the first question that pops out of most peoples’ mouths.  Or some variation of it.  “How does he socialize?”  “How will he get enough socialization?”  “But he dosn’t socialize with enough KIDS!”  Ok, that last one wasn’t a question.  Still common though.

Adrian isn’t even “school-age” yet and already everyone is concerned about him turning into some weird, introverted, homeschooled freak.  Never mind that he’s funny, talks non-stop, is (mostly) polite, loves to tell stories, and goes right up to kids at the playground to make friends.

School is for learning about math, writing, reading, history, ect.  It’s not about educating kids on how to socialize.  You can’t send your child to school and say, “Ok he’s covered for socialization” and never encourage him to make friends, learn to talk to adults, learn to stand up for himself, ect.  And no one I know who sends their kids to public school does this anyway.  From the time their children are born, they are teaching them to talk, communicate, have manners and all that good stuff.  And they don’t stop once the child goes to school.  So why is public school the be all, end all of socialization?

It’s not.  Public school is not the “real world”.  Far from it actually.  In school, we were in a classroom with 20 other kids exactly our age.  Maybe one or  two minorities or maybe even a child with a disability.  We were told to do our worksheets and not talk.  We could read out loud, taking turns, but otherwise could not make noise.  We’d have art and music once a week where we could maybe socialize…a little…unless it bothered the teacher.  Then recess.  Oh god.  Anyone who was not one of the cool kids knows how torturous recess was.  You either had no one to play with or someone was picking on you.  And if you told on them, you’d get in trouble for “tattling”.  In the REAL WORLD, if someone is harassing you and and you call the cops, you are not punished for tattling!  See the difference?

I’m not dissing public school.  It is what it is.  But you can’t claim that sending your kids to school “socializes” them.  They learn more about how to act in society by following you around the grocery store, listening to grandma’s stories, and playing with kids at the park, away from the school setting.

So does Adrian “socialize”?  Sure!  He playes with kids of all ages.  And he’s around a lot of “differently abled” kids.  I don’t really like the word differently abled, but sometimes I don’t know what else to use.  My friend’s little boy is deaf and while he technically has a disability, nobody considers him disabled.  He signs instead of talking but that just makes him different, not lacking in something.  Adrian meets a lot of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and care coordinators.  He has 2 grandmas and a great grandma who love nothing more than to talk to and play with him.  He has neighbor friends.  He meets kids at the park.  He talks to people in the check-out line at the store.  He hangs out with his dad’s friends and my friends.  Oh and he has an imaginary friend.  Her name is Moe. 😀

I don’t get angry when people ask me about socialization, but I do tend to ramble on about it.  Whenever I get a chance to explain, I hope to plant a seed, so when that person is having a discussion about it, maybe they can debunk a few myths for me.

Learning from games…

May 8, 2009

One of my homeschooling goals is to take ordinary, everyday things and make them educational.  Whether it’s preparing a meal, visiting the store, playing, or taking care of Charlie, it can always be made educational.  You have to think about it a bit more, but most of it can be spontaneous.  You don’t have to think about it TOO much.  You just have to get in the habit of looking at activities and saying “how can I use this to teach a mathematical concept?” or “are there any words in this book he may not understand?”

Yesterday started with Adrian dumping out his dominoes.  We’ve never really “played” dominoes.  We mostly make up our own games and just have fun.  I bought him this $3 set from the store in January.  They have up to 12 dots and several colors.  The first thing he wanted to do was make a “sun”.  I showed him  this before and apparently it was interesting enough to remember 3 weeks later.

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Then we made a “house”. More like a hut really. With no door. LOL

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Adrian learned how to add extra supports in the middle so the roof wouldn’t cave in.

Then we moved onto cards. The kind that cost $1. Who said homeschooling had to be expensive? Not me! I take out the face cards and aces for now. He’ll learn those later. Like when he’s ready to play poker. 😉

He already knew the concept of “War”, but the last time we played it, he still didn’t quite grasp “which number is bigger”. Well, he had no problem this time! He was lightning fast and took his cards when he won and gave them to me when I did. And he whooped my butt too! Then I taught him “Go Fish”. He doesn’t understand to keep his cards hidden, but that’s ok. He worked on matching and counting. Then we played “Memory”. He’s played things like this before, but I was impressed that he didn’t just randomly choose cards. He really thought ahead to make his matches. Then I taught him “Speed.” Ahhh, what memories. My little sister and I used to play this game for HOURS in the summer when we were bored to death. It’s really fun when your opponent isn’t a 4 year old. That’s ok, he’ll catch up soon enough. In the meantime, he worked on learning which numbers are next to other numbers. For example, in this game you can put a 4 or a 6 on a 5. It can be on one side or the other. A little more challenging than “War”. 😉

And we read some books of course. “On the Farm” I thought was kind of a baby book, but I was actually able to pick out 5 words he didn’t quite understand. So he learned what investigate, proud, settle, thrilled, and bull all mean. It’s amazing that we use these words all the time and he’ll use them occasionally, but he can’t tell you what they MEAN. He uses “proud” all the time. He’ll come up to me and give me a great big hug and say, “I’m so proud of you mommy!” When I ask him why, he’ll say something like “because you take care of sissy”. I don’t think he means “proud” really, but he knows proud is a good thing, so it works for him.

“Imagination Vacation” is a cute little book that has a lot of opportunities to practice shapes, colors, and counting. He’s proficient in all those things, but he keeps coming back to this book. So even though it’s not “work” for him, we practiced shapes, colors, and counting. He learned the words imagination, excitement, and distance. Again, these are words he may understand somewhat, but he’s never really used them correctly.

We discussed why vitamins are good, and how they can be harmful if you have more than one in a day. At grandma’s, he helped her dig rocks out of the flower bed so she can plant a garden. I heard them talking about how it makes it easier for plants to grow when the rocks are gone.

He spent about 1/2 an hour dumping water from a 30ml medicine cup into an 8 ounce bottle.  He also likes to use a 10ml syringe to fill the medicine cups and then fill the bottles.  I’m not sure how exactly, but he has to be working on his math skills in some way.

He helped me make his lunch and we included all the food groups.

Subjects covered: Math (counting, matching, patterns), Reading (vocabulary), Basic skills (colors, shapes, problem solving), Science (health and nutrition, plants).

Total time spent: About 2 hours.