Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We made the decision a while back to get rid of our satellite TV and just have the free channels. I was willing to give up satellite but not my Tivo- the convenience offered by this gadget not to mention the fact that I never have to watch annoying commercials made it worth the initial investment. Through our Tivo device we get an added bonus- we can instantly watch unlimited movies streamed to the TV through our online DVD rental service. The choices are somewhat limited but there is an abundance of documentaries available and we have taken full advantage of this.

Admittedly the kids usually don't watch the entire movie; documentaries can be a little dry for nine and 10 year olds. However they do generally watch bits and pieces and want to explain and this opens up an opportunity for discussion. These discussions are usually only a few minutes long but I've heard them bringing up things in other conversations so I know they are retaining it.

We've watched documentaries about people, events, science, history, controversial ideas, politics, religion and more. There is no doubt that we are all learning a lot of factual information but the real beauty of this experience has been the way I've seen my kids learn to discern information. They are asking great questions and sometimes even disagree with the information being presented. I love that they are learning that just because an "expert" says something is true that doesn't make it so- they are questioning and forming their own opinions based on the facts that are presented. They are also noticing that sometimes facts are left out to make an opinion seem stronger.

These documentaries have highlighted for me that more and more the focus of our educational philosophy is not on facts and figures but how to interpret those facts and figures. We are learning how to learn, learning how to think.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I am happy to report that Jace seems to be coming out of his shell. Kya has had many playdates lately and he is feeling the need to step up and have a few of his own. He has also become a regular attendee at our weekly playgroup and is having lots of fun while there. I think he still likes to be home, still likes his time to himself but he is also learning that time with others is fun and valuable as well. I was really trying to be okay with the fact that he just might not be a social person but I must admit that I'm tickled pink to see him reaching out to others.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saturday we had a yard sale. We got rid of lots of stuff and made a little bit of money to add to our vacation fund but the best part of the sale was the experiences the kids had and the lessons they learned.

Kya was my cashier, she spent the entire day giving people their change and never faltered. She had so much fun and felt very grown up. Jace declared himself in charge of "customer service" and helped me bag things for people and told everyone "Thank you, have a good day." He also kept track of how much money was in the box, how much was profit and how much 15% of that profit would be since that's what he and Kya got to keep. (I made it 15 instead of 10 to make the math a little more complex, hehe).

They also learned the value of decluttering. At first they weren't excited about the prospect of giving up some of their things but once money was involved they were willing. The unexpected (at least for them) benefit of having more space that is easier to keep organized was a welcome bonus.

But perhaps the best thing they learned was that they spent a lot more on some things than they got back, some were practically given away at such low prices, and some didn't sell at all and were given away after it was over. Kya commented that she was going to be careful how she spends her allowance because when you're done with things you just don't have anything to show for the money you spent. The value of spending wisely. THAT was a great life lesson.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yesterday we visited the Air and Military museum in Springfield. It was an interesting outing and you can read more about at my travel blog. The kids did learn a few interesting things while we were there. Jace discovered that telegraph is really an electric switch and that the sounds are produced when the lever is pushed because it completes a circuit. They both learned a little about the inner workings of an Air Force plane from an veteran by the name of Ollie.

The trip to Springfield is a little over two hours and the car trip proved to be a learning experience as well. Kya used the time to make crafts with some supplies she brought from home. She made a paper hat out of a paper plate and was really proud of herself for figuring out how to do that all on her own. She is so creative and loves expressing herself through art. :) The only technology she brought with her was her mp3 player which has become her almost constant companion. This is in stark contrast to Jace who brought his mp3, dvd player, and Nintendo DS. With all that he really just wanted to play his DS but it was difficult because he kept getting glare from the sun on the screen making it impossible to see. At first he was too frustrated to do anything about it but then he decided to find a way to solve his problem instead of getting mad. He had his Lowe's Build and Grow apron in the car so he found a way to tie it to various places in the car creating a shade for his game. He spent most of the trip playing video games but for about 20 minutes or so he was in full on creative problem solving mode; very cool.

The museum was cool but I also loved the drive- finding ways to entertain yourself and keep your cool when confined to the backseat of a car is wonderful creative exercise and they both did great! Oh, and the only person who ever uttered the dreaded "Are we there yet?" was my husband.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wow, we had a productive day today! We are getting ready for a yard sale and I want to get the house organized so things that we don't want anymore can go to the sale. We cleaned the office yesterday which is where we keep lots of schooly things like art supplies, workbooks, notebooks, etc. The unearthing of materials that have long been abandoned was so great! The kids both found things they liked and had wanted to do but grew tired of or frustrated with before.

Kya found the Junie B. Jones folder I pulled together for her using printables from the website. She had so much fun and even dug out some of her books to re-read and found one that she hadn't read yet. The best moment was when she had to find a walkman in the hidden picture and I had to explain that a walkman is an "old fashioned" mp3 player that played cassettes- kind of like mini VCR tapes (my mom still has a VCR otherwise I don't know how I would've explained THAT, lol).

Jace found a math workbook that I picked up a while back. He had enjoyed another version of it so I thought I'd give it a try but when I brought it home he wasn't all that interested- mostly because he's 10 and they didn't have the 5th grade book but I know his capabilities so I just went ahead and picked up the 6th grade edition. He spent enough time in public school that the grade level intimidated him and he didn't want to try. We laid it aside and I figured I try to find the 5th grade book and just save this one for later. But when we found the book yesterday he was willing to give it a try and while it is more challenging to him than he's accustomed to it is also more fun because of the challenge. I love seeing how he works through the problems with no preconceived notions about formulas or how things "should" be done and figures it out for himself. Kya abandoned her workbook as well but now that she how much fun Jace is having with his she wants me to help her find it.

I LOVE that they do these things on their own but I don't want to leave the impression that I love it anymore than Kya telling me earlier this week that she wants to be a ballerina and practicing her steps around the house or Jace making movies. I love it anytime my kids are engaged with learning new things and I especially love watching them figure things out for themselves. A very good day for that. :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I have another blog!

There is going to be some overlap between here and there but this one is really about our everyday lives and the new one is about our travels, both near and far. Have Kids, Will Travel is my brainchild as I try to move my way into travel writing. There isn't much there yet but I do have an introductory post setting the tone for the blog- I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I saw Jace laying on top of my husbands truck trailer. He was very intent, quiet and still for the longest time. He came in and proudly told me that he'd just seen something that most people only see in pictures- a snake eating a frog. I was horrified, he was ecstatic. Go figure.