Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to it...

Whew, what a busy few weeks...! 

After Deb and her girls left, a friend from grad school visited for a quick overnight trip. He lives in NC now, but visits NM every fall to re-supply his green chile. On top of that, my cousin Dawn and her family were visiting from Hawaii (I haven't seen her since I was pregnant and we were on our last hurrah vacation in Hawaii in 2008). We were able to spend a lot of time with them, which was fantastic. We really, really enjoyed our time with them, especially Neven who proclaimed "cousins are cool" after we had seen them one day. 

We're trying to get back into a routine after our busy weeks (during which we did no structured learning). To make things easier for all of us, I set aside an area in our family room with Neven's desk, kid-themed wall hanging, and a place to hang recently-colored pages and monthly activities calendar. Hopefully this will help set the stage for a more focused environment. Another improvement: I've enlisted some online help from ABCmouse and Preschool ExpressIt's been easy for me to find suggested activities, but hard for me to come up with what I felt was a balanced plan of attack. Hoping these sites will help! I'll post an update in a few weeks in the form of a typical day as thing settle into a relaxed and fun pattern that works for all of us. 

Here are some of the things activities Neven has been up to the past few weeks: 

Not sure where I got this idea, but it turned out to be a really fun activity. Using just a set of blocks, the idea is to build matching structures. To get started, I'd place one block at a time and have Neven follow. Next, I had Neven close his eyes (which added to the excitement!) while I built a tower, then he copied it. Finally, I closed my eyes and Neven built. Of course, getting to knock it down at the end was the best part. 

SEARCH FOR ORANGE the produce section of your local grocery store. Oranges, clementines, grapefruit, carrots, pumpkins. What did we miss? 

Setup: Cut out shapes (squares, rectangles, and triangles) of various colors and sizes out of construction paper. Put out three containers to use as bins. 
To start, I asked Neven to find me a red triangle, a red square, then a red rectangle and we talked about the differences. Then we moved on to finding two orange squares, etc. By the end, Neven was picking out a shape of his choice and telling me the color and shape, then sorting it into the correct bin. 

This idea came from Play at Home Mom. I LOVE the ideas on this website, but one problem I have is using so many materials. Unfortunately, a lot of Neven's crafts will end up in the trash, especially if we're doing something new every day. I love using things that are trash-bound anyway (like oatmeal containers, coffee cans, blueberry containers). PAHM uses a picture frame and gems for this activity; we used the plastic lid from a package of spinach and leaves. The day before, we wandered through the yard, collected leaves, and left them in a heavy book overnight to flatten and dry a bit. Today, we covered the plastic spinach lid with craft glue, used fingers to spread it around, then stuck leaves all over it. We propped up the end result in a window (another perk of using plastic instead of glass, non-breakable if it falls!). It adds some great fall color to our living room. 

We recently visited Wagner's Pumpkin Patch in Corrales, NM on a perfect fall day. We wandered through the corn maze, picked out pumpkins (Neven picked a "baby" one and a yellow one), went on a hayride, braved a scary pipe-slide, and got up and close with llamas, mini-horses, and chickens. Lots of plans for the pumpkins we got at the patch - painting, carving, sensory exploration of pumpkin guts, roasting and counting seeds... Any other ideas?

A few weeks ago, we went to a new park in Santa Fe. After a while of playing by themselves, the kids there (4 yr old boy, 4 yr old girl, Neven, and two 2 yr old boys) started playing together. Their activity of choice? Picking up handfuls of woodchips and throwing them, all of them laughing and having a blast. Situations like this often leave me feeling a bit torn as to what I should do - Should I correct Neven for throwing, even though the other kids are doing it? Should I let him go until someone is unhappy? Should I pretend like I don't see what's going on? (Obviously the last option isn't a good idea, but yet SO tempting...!) One of the other moms* calmly reminded her boys that it is ok to throw, but suggested they throw the woodchips in the opposite direction at the (unoccupied) play equipment. It was a great reminder to me that throwing needn't always be labeled as "bad" and that sometimes it IS ok to do. Where my responsibility lies is in making sure Neven directs it properly. I need to remember that he has a LOT of energy and isn't exactly sure what to do with it, and that he is exploring what his body is capable of doing. I need to help him grow and learn this way, too! *Yes, SA - I'm talking about you... and THANKS! :) 


  1. :) Sometimes I redirect well, and other times I become exasperated and impatient. I LOVE the ways we mamas learn from one another!! The other day my boys were becoming frustrated with one another, and the sharper my tone became to quit picking on the other, the worse they were antagonizing the other. Another mama calmly stepped in and started showing them a pretty piece of grass. My frustration dissipated, their antagonizing dissolved, and all of us became much more peaceful and happy again.

    I am SO appreciating you sharing what you're doing with homeschooling Neven! I keep wanting to add structure to our days... feels like I haven't yet, but I'm inspired by what you share!! :) I'm looking forward to doing something similar with Sebastien and Simon.

  2. Once you fully explore the pumpkin you could bake something from it. Or show how it composts down....

  3. i love how you modified a PAHM activity, I definitely struggle with the waste from her activities, they are 'once in awhile' choices for me. thanks for more great ideas!

  4. Thanks so much for the comments! One of my main hopes for this blog is that it becomes a place for mamas (and dads!) to DISCUSS anything and everything...

    I definitely agree that we can learn SO much from one another! Many times for me, I get caught up in the moment due to frustration and/or exhaustion. When I see another mama parent in the style I believe in (and probably would do, if I was in a perfectly normal state of mind) snaps me back into reality. Sarah-Anne and Deb, you've BOTH done this for me recently, and I am very grateful for it! :)

    Re: a schedule with home-preschooling - Some days I feel totally on top of things, then it seems like weeks before we hit that rhythm again (between outings with friends and Daria's napping schedule)! We'll keep trying and sharing...