Friday, October 14, 2011

Learning by Heart – Oct. 14, 2011

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
- Henry Ward Beecher

 autumn bouquet M’s finished “autumn decoration”, caught in early morning October sunlight. 
Beautiful, isn’t it?

We’ve settled into a sort of routine, finally.  Mondays we do math.  Tuesdays we do scienceFridays are our field trip days.  These days have been going well, for the most part.  Wednesdays I plan literacy activities, and Thursdays are for art.   But M’s enthusiasm and my motivation just seem to dwindle away on those days.  It does not help that I plan too many things on my own to-do list for Thursdays, making it easier to decide to not get out the paints, or whatever, after all.  And  M is not enthusiastic about any of the literacy activities I plan and I am ambivalent about forcing him at this age.  Will it help him prepare for Kindergarten?  Do I really think it’s age appropriate?  (Truthfully, no!)  Isn’t having fun and enjoying himself more important at 5 years old?  If I could be certain of homeschooling him next year, I would not worry about it a bit and would just let him run and play and forget about any sort of formal learning this year (except for what he loves and would beg for on his own, which is science and art, and some days math).  But, if he goes to school the truth is he will need to know quite a bit literacy-wise in order to avoid all those awful labels that schools love so much. {sigh}

Ah well, on to what we did accomplish this week: 


This week we went on a nature walk in an area near the Mississippi River.  Photos pretty much sum it up, I think.  Next week I’ll try to have a picture of M’s nature basket; he has found some wonderful things this fall!

path to the river I love how the trees form a canopy over the path to the river!

M in front of a giant cottonwood tree M in front of a giant cottonwood tree.

river A peaceful part of the river.


Daddy came too! Daddy came too!

rock wall There was this very cool partial rock wall not far from the water’s edge. 
Not sure what it is for, but M loved it!



M’s favorite dot-to-dots are from a book I found on Amazon:

I may have mentioned this late last spring, but it’s worth mentioning again.  The dot-to-dots in this book all go from 1 to 100 and they are not too difficult, not too easy – just the right amount of challenge and success.  M loves them!  And for the most part, the pictures aren’t easy to guess at, so working a puzzle is worthwhile in order to see what the picture turns out to be.

dot to dotCheck out that tripod grasp! {Love the tattoos too. :)}


More patterns and pattern blocks this week:pattern blocks


The Hit of the Week was learning our phone number. :)  M had so much fun with this!  First I wrote our number out on his whiteboard, and he used 3 colors of dry-erase markers to trace over the numbers (rainbow numbers, we call them):

whiteboard rainbow numbersObviously not our real phone number. :)

Then I showed him how to use our cell phone to press the numbers and push the “talk” button.  He absolutely LOVED this and called me about 20 times that day, then called Daddy when he came home from work. :)

learning phone numberLove that little pointer finger all set to push buttons! :)

We started by sitting next to each other so I could help him with the numbers.  Then we progressed on to calling from separate rooms, then on to calling without looking at the whiteboard at all.learning phone number (2)He did great. :)  By the end of the day he knew our number by heart.  We also practiced answering the phone properly (I called him and he answered). 



M worked with his Snap Circuits set again, and we used a small cup of water to connect the circuit, making a light turn on (this activity was in the book that came along with his set; I was a little hesitant about it at first, but it seemed perfectly safe).  Interestingly, the circuit wasn’t strong enough to make a small motor go.  We guessed that too much of the energy from the batteries (2 AAs) went out into the water, and not enough made it’s way into the rest of the circuit.  The water “watered down” the electricity.  Clever little pun, no? :)


We also baked brownies in M’s Easy Bake Oven (found at a garage sale).  We made two pans – one with a pinch of baking soda, and one with 2 pinches of baking soda (the brownies are tiny; you could do this in the regular oven, but of course you’d need to use the right amount of baking soda for one batch and about half that amount for the other batch.)  baking brownies

The brownies tasted the same, but the second batch rose about twice as high as the first batch (why didn’t I take photos of the final product??!).  This was a great hands-on way to find out exactly what baking soda does.


We also did a couple of heat-related experiments, which I will post about on Sunday, so check back!



This year nearby friends may come over at anytime to play (as opposed to actual “play dates” last year) and because of this I’m no longer placing little activities on M’s shelves like I used to.  His shelves also hold his toys, and I do not want to be taking school activities on and off the shelves all day long.  So I’m now setting one or two things out for him on our art/kitchen table each morning.  Usually these are activities he can do on his own after a little instruction from me, and normally they focus on fine motor skills, often combined with a math or literacy type of work.  He does not do everything I plan for him, and I am really trying to be ok with that and working to find more activities that appeal to him.  This is so much more difficult than it used to be! 

This week he enjoyed…

Making robots, from this kit: :

wind-up robots


Sticking a variety of autumn decor into florist’s foam:autumn decoration activityHe used velcro dots to attach the mini gourds and pumpkins around the outside of the basket.  You can see his final masterpiece in the photo at the top of this post.  It really turned out nice, and this is always a favorite with him.


While I had the velcro out, I gave him a little bucket of craft sticks, old ribbon spools, and plastic lids.  He placed pieces of velcro on each of them (see the original idea here), then enjoyed sticking the pieces together to create little sculptures:velcro activity

One of his creations:oct 2011 035


  And a new puzzle from the dollar store, which we did together:new puzzle       


I found these little linking people at Target’s dollar spot a while back.  I’m sure they are for children younger than M, but I just couldn’t resist getting them.  I set them out for him to just play with.  He enjoyed linking them together, and placed little groups of “happy little people” all around our house (I bought 3 sets, so we have 36 total). :)  linking people   We’ll use these for patterning and math activities too.


That was it for this week!  I’m gathering ideas on helping M learn how to spell our last name, which is quite long, and we’ll be working on this for the next couple of weeks.  Any ideas or tips for this?  I’d love to hear some!

I am linking this post up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up.  Check them out for some great homeschooling posts!

Have a beautiful day! :)

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