Monday, June 18, 2012

A lovely day for a ride...

a lovely day for a ride 

We are so fortunate to have a lovely place to ride bikes right across the street, and before the summer season hits we have the place mostly to ourselves. We do occasionally share the trails with neighbors and people running or walking their dogs, but until the gates open in mid-late June this is a great safe place for bike riding and slowly moseying about.


And running.

 And in she goes! 

Every puddle must be explored.

Puddle Jumping 

And every puddle must be jumped.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Random Bits from May

Um yeah, I'm just a little bit behind on photos and updates...


There was lots of t-ball, Lyle coaching and Josh playing.

 Josh at third base

Josh running to third base.

how Lucy watches t-ball games

This is how Lucy watches t-ball.


Though sometimes she prefers to watch it (or not watch it) by climbing fences.

sorting legos

We sorted legos.

 always legos

And then we unsorted them.

 everyone's favorite device

Lucy on everyone's favorite device, though this month I think Josh may have favored minecraft and skype over playing on the ipad.


Tangrams (from a book called, Anno's Math Games)

 a moth napping in our lilacs 

We found lots of little nature surprises around our yard. One of our favorite finds (aside from this moth napping in the lilacs) was a complete cicada shell, stuck to the side of our chicken coop after molting.

 petting baby angoras 

There were animals, of course, and not just our own rabbit and chickens, but a little trip to a local farm.

And of course, a healthy dose of monkeying around!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Nest in Nature

Marcia shares her box turtle find with everyone 

One of our favorite almost weekly treks is to A Nest in Nature. We are so lucky to have this group of parents and children in our lives, and blessed to have Marcia open up her home and her farm to all of us.


Each week Marcia provides the materials and ideas for some type of craft as just one of many options. Our time at NEST is relaxed and open-ended, and yes, sometimes chaotic (often depending on how many people show up!).


There is plenty of time for dress-up play, legos, or just about anything else you can imagine.


Of course there is lots of time spent outside, and the outside of Marcia's home is just as wonderful as the inside. One of Lucy's favorite things to do at Nest is rock hopping on these boulders out front. I have to admit, it makes me a little nervous to watch Lucy scramble and hop from boulder to boulder. I'm usually a few feet away just in case, but this girl is pretty sure on her feet!

 rock hunting 

There is also rock-finding...


...and rock painting.

 box turtle 

And when Miss Marcia (as Josh likes to call her) finds a special treasure, she loves to share it with the children. Whether it is a box turtle, or baby chicks, or tadpoles, or feeding horses (and passing out fistfuls of horse hair to each child), or a walk down to the pond, there is always something to explore and touch at Nest.

 box turtle 

Marcia's gentle and patient hands are sharing this box turtle with everyone. She is a long-time unschooling mama and I am so glad to have her in my life. When I have questions or doubts or frustrations, she is the person to talk to! Her experience and knowledge is so valuable to me.

 the remains of play 

The remains of play.

Thank you Marcia!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Unschooling Tools: For Reading

books books books

There are books everywhere in our house, even piled on the changing table.


There are empty books for writing. Josh used to fill pages and pages with these writing squiggles.

 books books books

The majority of our picture books fill this small shelf.


What started with pages of writing squiggles, eventually became pages of letters and numbers.

 books books books

Our book basket is in our main living space and has current favorite reads and library books in it.


Then came real words here and there, copied from the story he asked me to write out for him. Though, looking at the photo now I see at least a couple of words (water and down) that don't appear on my side. I am guessing that he asked me to spell those out for him, but I honestly can't remember how it all happened (this sample is from months and months ago, maybe close to a year--maybe I need to start dating these things!).

 books books books

Yes, piles and piles of books in our too crowded and disorganized bookshelves.


Then there are word games. Sometimes Josh will ask me how to write or spell something. Sometimes he wants to know if certain words rhyme. Words like fox, stop, north, and login were some of the first words he could read on his own. As you can probably guess, soon after login came things like play, cancel, game, monkeyquest, minecraft, etc.--many computer related words.

 books books books

More books stacked up in our windowsill.

 word games

And more words games after we read several of the Ramona books and tried turning the letter "Q" into a cat just like Ramona does in the book. From there we played around with more Q words and other letters we could turn into pictures. The writing is mine but the ideas were all Joshua's.

Watching Josh go through the process of learning to read over the last few years has been fascinating (at least to me!). Even now, I am not sure how much he can really read. I know it all started with him asking questions about words and letters as we read together. Somewhere along the way we learned the ABC song, and I remember him making the shape of different letters out of toy cars or drawing them in the sand at the beach. Eventually, seemingly out of nowhere, he started pointing out whole words to us. "Why does that sign say north?" Or when we were recently in Boston and looking for a place to eat, he pointed out a pizza joint. I looked over expecting to see a sign with a picture of a pizza, but no--it was just a big sign that said, "PIZZA." And there he is, reading.

He doesn't seem to sound words out (for the most part) but he seems to be incredibly good at figuring out what a word is based on the first few letters, or sometimes using the last few letters as well. He seems to learn words whole, not letter by letter and not by phonics. This is his way, and it is working for him.

When someone asks me if he is reading yet, I'm not always sure how to answer. Well, yes, he does read. I'm not sure how much he can actually read because I have a feeling there is a lot he can do and understand that he isn't quite putting out there for us (and that's okay!). But he's not quite ready (it seems) to sit down and read a book on his own. How many words does someone have to know in order to consider it reading? And is being able to sound out unfamiliar words a part of it? What about comprehension? What about memorizing books we've read dozens of times? How can I know that he is reading independantly?

I don't know, and personally I don't think it matters. I do think it is interesting though, and I am glad that he gets to take this journey in his own way, at his own pace. It is amazing to watch, to be there to answer his questions, to cuddle with him and happily read to him as often as he likes with no pressure for him to perform.

It reminds me of this:
I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

Check out Stephanie's post on Unschooling Tools: For Reading.