Sunday, November 30, 2008

Building Gingerbread Houses

Well, it is officially a family tradition.  For the last 3 years, during the Thanksgiving weekend, we have made gingerbread houses from scratch.  Yesterday, Oliver and I shopped for the candy and came home and baked all the pieces for 3 small houses.  We assembled them until this morning and did a little cleaning up.  The third house was for our friend Aderyl, who we had invited over to decorate with us.   After we were done decorating, Oliver and Aderyl read some Christmas stories together and Benton went back to playing with his trucks.

The decorating was fun and a little messy.  Aderyl was super helpful with the icing and clean up.  I think she had fun decorating her own house too. 

I used a recipe from this book.  The egg white icing recipe was from that book too.  By the way, I got the pattern for a small sized gingerbread house from here

Thanks for checking in on us.  I hope your holiday season is off to a good start too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beach Camping

Late fall at the beach was just lovely.  We drove all day to get to northeast Florida, but it all went pretty well.  We set up camp and it wasn’t long before the sun began to set.  We spent 3 nights on Little Talbot Island.   The campground was a little close to the road, but once we stepped onto the beach, it was easy to forget about the less than ideal camping spot.  It would be hard to come close to the quiet campground we experienced at Lake Conasauga, but the beach was quiet and just warm enough for Dan and the boys to take a dip.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Real Life Learning

We decided long ago that we would homeschool our kids, but I’m a former Kindergarten teacher.  So, I got all this school stuff up in my attic.  At one time I was so eager to get stuff out for the boys and start teaching them.  Fortunately for all of us, Oliver has not been shy about expressing his desire to learn things without much help from me. 

So, I have really tried to just facilitate learning and follow his lead as much as possible.  Oliver has learned so many things without any of that sit-down-schooling you might expect from a homeschooler.  I think we are really more like life learners.

Anyway, some folks wonder how kids will learn their letters, numbers, reading and writing without direct teaching.  The most wonderful part about little guys is that they want to learn it because letters and numbers are everywhere.  They have an innate desire to understand their world and more importantly, it is fun.

There were a few moments this week that I really noticed.  These are the kinds of things I use to write lesson plans for while striving to give the kids some real reason for learning the stated objective (which they were also required to recite if asked by an administrator). 

What a joy to to see Oliver discovering fun in what would be a contrived lesson in a classroom and watch Benton tag along too.

-Oliver and Benton both drew maps -  One morning they found some paper and markers and got started.  They worked on them for 3 days adding to them and telling us all about the rivers and bridges, lakes, beaches and the roads.  They respected each others’ work, but put their maps “someplace safe” when they weren’t working on them.

-Oliver examined a drug store sales flier for a good 30 minutes.  We talked about the prices and products, cents and dollar symbols.

-Oliver grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and asked “How do you write ‘We’ll see you soon?’”  After we worked on that he did a little decorating and we stuck it in an envelope, addressed it and walked it out to the mailbox,

We had a few rough spots, but in retrospect, it was decent week.  Between the illnesses and grumpy little people who kept hitting each other (nothing is perfect), every day presented learning opportunities.  They also went to art group and worked on art projects at home.   Oliver measured ingredients and rolled out dough for the pita bread we baked, dialed his grandma’s phone number, recited our address and proudly answered “Obama!” to the question “Who won the election?” from our insurance agent . We talked about the time on both analog and digital clocks, kept our calendar up to date, counted by tens, counted down from to 10 to blast off and played outside everyday. 

I know this is just the beginning, but right now, I am loving not being their teacher.