Sunday, 26 June 2016

If I don't make them, how will they ever learn to _______?


You fill in the blank.

Because we unschool and don't follow a specific curriculum or schedule, people often worry and wonder how my children will ever learn anything.  I have had it suggested to me that my boys take some classes or lessons so that they learn to listen to another adult and learn to sit quietly.  I can see where they are coming from (a traditional view of school settings) but I often wonder why?  Why do they have to?

Anywho I'm getting away from myself here. Today we went to a new church.  At this church the children stay in the service for a while before going to their class.  My boys have only done this once before, a few years back.  My point is that children a fully capable of understanding a situation and know how to behave appropriately.  They can look around to see what others are doing.  They may not be perfect, but they can do their best.  My boys both sat quietly without me between them.  They followed along, drew quietly on the bulletins and were awesome!  I didn't threaten or bribe.  We don't practice this behavior daily.  They understood that we are quiet in church and did their best.  I was one proud mama!!  I also model how to interact with others and they copy.  My boys are very comfortable talking with adults and answering questions for themselves.  In fact they love to chat.  I was so pleased that I fought the urge to stay at home this morning.

Oh, another bonus is that we went to the church down the street so the boys rode their bikes.  I was a little more tired from pushing the stroller to keep up.  I think I'll be getting a bicycle seat for the baby as his birthday gift.

In case you are wondering how these children of mine will learn to read and write without structured lessons??? They are curious and can't help but pick it up.  I read to them, they learn the alphabet and start sounding things out.  some times it takes some direct instruction (and that is okay too). The excitement of getting a word correctly motivates them to keep going.  TJ was so proud the other day to read to us.  MJ is thrilled to be starting to read too!  So we may be slower that their school friends but, it comes more naturally with less of a fight.  And writing happens that way too.   During the service MJ wrote a letter A (he was so pleased with how perfectly he wrote it). This turned into his whole name.  Next he asked how to spell different words and wrote some things down.  No lesson, just doodling quietly during the church service.  The boys also practice their writing with cards, notes, lists and other things that naturally come up in our day.

The lessons that stick with us the longest are the ones that we sought after and wanted to learn.


Don't forget to follow along with our journey on Facebook.
I'd love to hear what you are doing too.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

My kids don't need pretty Pinterest crafts!

I love Pinterest, I really do.  But often my view is cluttered with perfect, neat, prescribed crafts and activities for children.  being creative should be about the process, not the end result!

Looking back over the photos I have taken since my last post, I have noticed that the boys prefer open ended creative toys and loose parts.  They have been spending hours playing lego together, along with making up games with other small toys.  Outside they have been building, creating, and playing on the swing.  It is true about just needing to add water and kids will again play for hours.

Honestly my boys would prefer being in nature to a man-made playground.  Baby JJ love loves to be outside too.  I think our favourite times are spent outside, in dirty, trees and exploring new trails.

Here are some highlights of the past month.










Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tinkering and Loose Parts

I love loose parts and how kids can engage with them.  Rather than prescribing a craft or activity, it is fascinating to see what children will create and make with a collection of loose parts.

Our latest adventure with lose parts were on a larger scale outside.  MJ decided he wanted to build a tractor. The two older boys scoured the yard for bits and pieces.  They asked daddy to look in the crawlspace for anything he could give them.  I also suggested using the extra bicycle and broken scooter.

TJ disassembling the bicycle
MJ's pile of parts

And there began a week full of  creating, imagining, trading, designing, negotiations, building and more!

What started of with MJ's desires led to TJ wanting to join in.  So then they needed to decide who would get the parts and deal with some big feelings there.  Over the course of the week we all worked through several major trades and negotiations.  I was so glad to help them calmly though these discussions.  I am proud of how we managed to come up with trades that made everyone happy.


The boys came up with some really cool creations.

Bike with scooter attached to the front



Stationary bike
playing with loose parts and water
MJ's tractor like creation

Then Daddy found something awesome on the side of the road!!  He called me up with a nervous voice and explained that he had a long story but he was injured.  Luckily he was just down the street so we drove over to discover that he had found a free lawn tractor (with a snow blower attachment).  He also crushed his finger trying to lift it into the truck.

TJ's carrying trailer
Trailer turned into a rickshaw

It was a family adventure loading it into the truck on the side of the road.  Daddy got his finger looked at eventually (he'll be fine although he is in pain and now the finger is infected). Now that this awesome tractor is home, MJ wants to take it all apart to use the pieces to build his own tractor.  We get the feeling he thinks life is like Lego.  We'll see how this plays out.  TJ is super excited that the tractor runs and can't wait to fix it all up.


The awesome new tractor


Any Tinkering happening at your place?  Hope you'll share some ideas with us!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Birthdays!!

This month TJ turned 8 and Daddy had a birthday a few days later. Later this month we have several more parties to attend too!  Spring is such a great party time.

This year the plan was to simplify and have a nice small celebration.  After discussions with the boys and what they wanted I decided not to over Pinterest things instead. I have offered to the boys to do something else instead of a party if they wanted to also.  Both older boys wanted to have birthday parties with their friends.  Of course MJ reminded me that they needed themes so that they could decide what to do for the cakes!

TJ chose an outdoor/camping theme.  He invited several friends and cousins.  All his grandparents wanted to come too and we all had a great time.

We used camping gear and marshmallows on twigs for decorations.  The boys' Playmobil was on the cake table along with a campfire looking cake. 
The take home was a glowstick and compass key chain.


Ikea has cute woodland cookie cutters that we used to make gingerbread cookies.  There was lots of snacks, trail mix supplies and our nature table items on the food table.


Outside we set out toys from the shed to play with like badminton, Frisbee, balls.  There is a sandbox, bubbles and swings too.  TJ created an obstacle course for his friends in the forest and we had a nature treasure hunt.


TJ's actual birthday was two days later.  We still had some cake left over so he ate that for breakfast!! 
Daddy and I saved our gift for this day rather than with the party gifts.  He had been asking for the Playmobil Luxury Yacht for over a year.  Oh boy was he excited and surprised that we bought it for him!! 

We also got the remote control for the yacht.  After playing all morning with his birthday gifts, we went to a pond near my mom's to try out the new yacht.  What a great time we all had!!


Daddy's birthday is a few days after TJ's.  This year I surprised my husband with an afternoon together to do whatever we wanted!  He is such a hard working man and needed a break.  TJ woke up first and baked the cake all by himself.  He also worked really hard on colouring a picture for daddy and warping a gift.  MJ helped me later with decorating.



It took three of us to light all the candles.  TJ wanted to see if we'd set off the smoke detector so he collected up every candle in the house and sent me out for more.  




Daddy and his helpers blowing out the candles!  These boys love their dad so much.  He always makes time for us all and works hard on our family business.  

Our babysitters were an awesome brother/sister team who played with the boys all afternoon.  They were sure busy from what I heard.  Jon and I went antique shopping (looking really).  We had dinner out, rented a movie and then came home.  We'd have stayed out longer but ran out of things to do.  The weather wasn't nice enough to be outside.


I love my family!!!!









Friday, 13 May 2016

Enjoying the Spring

We are enjoying the spring weather.  Hurray it's finally warming up!


I often leave some form drawing on the chalk board for the boys to discover and copy.  Recently I have included some cursive writing into the mix.


During some quiet time I found MJ trying to assemble a clock.  He is so much like his father!  Very mechanically inclined.


Little JJ is very busy and curious.  He has very little interest in his own toys, but is exploring the house and wants to be part of what his big brothers are doing.


One day TJ had a playdate, so the rest of us went for a walk.  MJ reminded me that dandelions smell like summer.  We played with the farm toys he had brought.  Then we pretended that dandelions give you bouncy powers.  He was springing all over the field!



I got a mother's day photo!! It's hard to remember to get photos when I'm always the one taking them.


JJ would rather play with tissue than his toys.  He is growing up so quickly and learning new skills all the time.  He is cruising around the furniture and experimenting with his voice.


Here is MJ again.  I discovered these awesome Lego creations that he had made late at night.


MJ wanted to make a wooden boat.  He had me write him a note and then spent hours working on it.  Daddy is so awesome to join in and help out with some power tools.


This is one very proud boy!  He had daddy spray paint the boat.  It works!  Then he made another one the next day.



Here is JJ having fun with the water table.  It is such a joy to watch little ones explore and discover things for the first time.  We often take things for granted and forget how exciting life can be.


MJ: Look mommy!  Come see how beautiful this is.

Mommy: oh (coming to look at what he is pointing at). I was going to take those weed out so we can plant veggies there.

MJ: Please don't I want to keep them.  They are so pretty.

Mommmy: Oh sure sweetie.  I love the yellow flowers too.

Unfortunatly TJ didn't realize our plan and came over later to proudly show us how he weeded the veggie patch!  Oops.  There are a few left for MJ...


JJ loves all the remote control trucks and robots that belong to the older boys.  He was trying to chase this truck all over the yard.

What's TJ been up to??  He is really been spending a lot of time listening to audio stories.  Right now he has been into Geronimo Stilton.  Every time I go to look for the boy he is in his room playing quietly listening to a story.


I sure picked a good name for this blog!  Baby discovered his fist puddle in the driveway.  Everyone enjoyed watching him play.  Luckily cleaning up afterwards is just as fun.  And then he had a long nap.


Want to see more?  I've posted several videos on our Facebook page.  Hope you'l come join us there.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

It is time...

Life is short

Time passes far too quickly

Many people spend way too much time focusing their time and energy on trivial matters


It is time to consider my priorities

As I sit here this evening I am reminded of how truly blessed I am

I check on my oldest.  He is sleeping peacefully

My middle one is singing along to a cd in his room.  He is surrounded by his toy tractors


Baby is snuggling in my arms.  Hopefully he will soon be sleeping

My wonderful husband is waiting in the family room to spend some time with me

Life is good

I am blessed

I desire to share my blessings with others

God is faithful


Each day is an opportunity to focus on the bigger picture, what really matters in life

It is time to consider how I will spend my time and energy

It is time to choose joy



Monday, 2 May 2016

Have you heard of Math Gnomes?

Think back to when you were younger.  It's okay I'll wait (lol). How did you learn math? Was it boring, abstract, engaging, fun? Do you even remember??

My boys love numbers.  They just picked it up easily on their own.  I can't tell you how or why except that they are naturally curious and for our family math isn't a separate subject in school.  Numbers are just part of our life like letters and reading.  I am very blessed and happy about that!

So the gnomes... I'm getting to that.

A while back TJ mentioned that he missed the stories we used to read (ones from the Waldorf curriculum we have).  We talked about a few other things he'd like to bring back into our rhythm and I asked if I could add in a few things too.  I did ask if he'd be willing to try a bit of structure and school type stuff for a few weeks and then we'd discuss how it's going. He agreed so we did a block of fairy tales.  Basically one day I'd read a story and we'd draw a picture.  The next day he would retell and write a very short summary.  He is very proud of his notebook!

After the fairy tales I planed a math block.  The plan was to review numbers 1-10 and discuss them more, then spend a bit of time on each of the four math processes (plus, minus, multiply and divide).  I also have a workbook that we could use for extra practice.

Mommy's Picture and poem for Plus

So here are where these fun little math gnomes come in.  When you introduce the math processes to children with stories and give them each a personality, the kids can make a special connection and really get engaged.  So basically they are a sweet way to introduce the math processes. Now you could use anything like squirrels or bears too.  I like the little gnomes.

First we used a math number story called The Gnome's Gemstones.  We had read this story about a year before so this time we did two numbers a day.  With each number we discusses different ways to say the number (for example two is double, twice, twins, pair, bi...).  We learned the roman numerals and french too.

Next I had to finally pick a math gnome story to go with. I honestly didn't realize how many versions are out there and all of the stories are great!  I have life time memberships to Waldorf Essentials and Earth Schooling.  But these stories also look good too. I picked the Earth schooling ones now and will get to the Waldorf Essential ones when we get to that point as we are reading through the stories from there in order.
TJ's Picture for plus

I looked on Pintrest to find some poems to go with each gnome and made some changes to them myself.  One day I would tell the story of a math gnome, show my drawing and poem, then the boys drew a picture. The next day we practiced that math process with manipulatives and in a work book.

Back when I used to sell items online I had made a sweet little set of math gnomes, but eventually sold them.  So this time I used game pieces from the game Sorry.  You may be wondering what to do with a math gnome?  Well they are basically just figures in a story if you use toys to act it out.  If you are using counters like gems or stones to help with math problems you can put the math gnome figure out to help remind you.

MJ's picture for Plus
Looking back I'd say the fairy tales were a big hit.  The math started off well and TJ enjoyed the pictures.  He didn't so much enjoy doing math problems in the workbook, so I backed off and didn't push too hard. Both boys prefer doing math in their heads or with counters to help.  Both boys wanted jump in to answer questions.

I wonder what the boys will want to learn about next??