Friday, December 19, 2008

Rocket Party!

I can't believe I forgot to write about Ezra's Rocket Party, which he planned for months in advance. As the date neared, he whittled down his invite list to include only his maternal grandfather (Ba), his paternal grandmother (Bubbie), and his paternal Great Aunt Dorie. The rest of us were all excluded because only people who are willing to talk to him for hours and indulge him about rockets 100% of the time were allowed. I did get some photos at the end, though, because the coffee shop to which I was banished was holding a craft fair, and having no car I had nowhere to go but back to our own place.

The rocket party consisted of Ezra first showing his guests (Ba was in a meeting and unable to attend) his collection of best rocket/space shuttle/astronaut drawings, which were displayed on a string along the wall. Then he showed them some Youtube video clips of liftoffs and some photographs of space shuttles and rockets on the computer. Then there was a Q & A session where Ezra sat on a chair facing Bubbie and Dorie, while they sat on the couch and read him their questions (he had asked them to bring a list of questions). He answered each one as thoroughly as he could such questions as "Why was the B2 made?" and "What year was Apollo 11 built?"

I will post photos shortly!

A great time was had by all, of course. Next up: a rocket and space shuttle art show this spring!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Favorite Nature Center!

Here they are, my little unschoolers, who have just thrown many dozens of sticks out onto the pond at Dodge Nature Center. This is, of course, a natural lesson in physics!

More Inspiration!

Well, I am excited to report that I have just finished a cute little book of Byron Katie quotes, and, as expected, it's very supportive of unschoolery beliefs. Check it out. It's called Byron Katie on Parents and Children.

I also got another book recommended by my fellow unschooling blogger, Lisa: The Parent's Tao Te Ching. I can already tell it's going to be really inspirational about unschooling as well!

Well, I have been writing lots of posts and not publishing them because I'm not finished with them yet, but allow me to give a little update here.

Ezra has become very interested in asking me about multiplication, so I am getting him an abacus and some "math manipulatives" for the holidays. I was trying to figure out what kind of math manipulatives to get, and thought to ask Laurel up at the Waldorf-inspired toy store about it. She said Waldorf doesn't use math manipulatives, but they do use beanbags and Kapla blocks. So I am getting some Kapla blocks because I don't even know what you are supposed to do with math manipulatives, but I, myself, could have hours of fun playing with Kapla blocks! There are 200 in the set I'm getting, so that should be plenty to entertain Ezra with his math questions. Plus, he can build tall launch pads, which is probably what he'll do with it most of the time!

Every week we do "family movie night" on Wednesday nights because my husband doesn't get home until 10 p.m., and this week I got 4 episodes of "Lassie" at the library. They were awesome! It was a collection called "A Mother's Love". I highly recommend - I haven't had a t.v. since I moved out of my parents' house, so those of you with cable might not be so stricken if you often watch reruns of Beaver and Donna Reed or something, but it was so refreshing to see this woman with a totally barren kitchen, nothing to do but cook and stand by the door and wait for Lassie to come tell her someone was hurt, and with an ability to ask her son to do something and expect a quick "yes, mother!" in return. Aaaah, speaking of dreamy!

Anyway, we all enjoyed those very much. I especially liked how Timmy almost got mauled by a mountain lion and nobody batted an eye or said "don't go walking in the woods at night!"

Oh, and we finished Where The Red Fern Grows this week. I even got Ottar (2 yo) interested in listening to it. I do think it's the saddest book ever written! As soon as it was over Ezra said, "Can we read it over again right now?" But I have moved on.

This week is the mad rush for Christmas and Hanukkah gift-making. Ezra sewed his first little pillow with a rocket on it (got the idea from Soulemama's book, "The Creative Family"). He is also planning to make a little doll for his cousin Lizzy, and he's already made a flip book for his other cousin, and two t-shirts with rockets drawn on them for a cousin and someone else, and he is planning to decorate a t-shirt to look like an astronaut suit for his brother "so we can be astronauts together," he says. Ezra does continue to wear his NASA suit very frequently, and it's getting kind of scary looking, but whatever! He wore it yesterday when he went to the zoo with some extended family members!

I don't know if I mentioned he is now doing countdowns in Russian. He asked his uncle Mike to tell him, and write down, the numbers from 1-10 in Russian, and he now has it memorized. We couldn't find any Youtube video for liftoffs of the Russian Space Shuttle Buran, so he has just made up his own.

Well, I must be off to go do these art projects with him before Mr. Mischief wakes up!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Miscellaneous Learning Bits

Here is a post I wrote weeks ago, but forgot to finish. So it does re-cover some things I recently discussed, but it's in a different way.


I have not recorded so many things. People have started saying to me, "You will have to get him to start liking other things besides rockets." Then I start saying that he can learn about math, physics, etc. THROUGH rockets - and I point out that he has drawn literally thousands of space shuttles and rockets in the past several months, too. He is quite skilled!

But then these comments were gnawing away at me and I realized why: I was responding wrong. Because he *doesn't* only care about rockets. He asks me addition and multiplication questions all the time. Last night he was actually drilling *me* with multiplication tables. I have no idea why. And I don't even *know* my multiplication tables!

He also, as I said, loves art. He draws dozens of drawings daily, and he also frequently paints and has always been unusually adept (IMHO) at three dimensional art, like clay. (Gets it from his mama!)

He also loves to sing. He has been a performer since he was a baby. When he was about two he used to sing long songs like "The Cat Came Back" in the chiropractor's waiting room, much to the amusement of all the patients. One time he plopped down in the middle of a coffee shop right after a reading and sang it, too. He has a repertoire of about 20 or 30 songs - from The Sound of Music, to Ween, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, John Denver, lots of Christmas classics, lullabies, etc.

He also used to be really good at piano. He was a Suzuki student for over a year and was making excellent progress; however, he burnt out after about 10 months and I feel a little bit guilty because I think it was not the right approach for a 3-1/2-4-1/2 year old after all. It seemed like an excellent fit at the beginning, because he joyfully played almost every day. But once he got interested in drawing, he wanted to pull back and the Suzuki method does not allow that. So we got a little too obsessed with trying to get him to play, and he has hardly touched the piano now since last May. :( Hopefully he'll get back into it soon. But if not, I at least hope it helped to lay a foundation.

He is also writing all the time and asking questions about what things say, or how to spell them. He has memorized how to spell many useful words, such as "explosion" and "Endeavour" and "launch pad."

As stated earlier, we are usually engaged in reading a chapter book together at bedtime, and right now we are almost finished with Where The Red Fern Grows. Off the top of my head, other books I have read him include: Anne of Green Gables, The Yearling, My Side of the Mountain, The Tracker (most of it), Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Pippi Longstocking, and Harry Potter.

He is also learning more about real food than most U.S. kids. Though he is not too into cooking, he does occasionally join me. He prefers baking, which I don't do as much of these days. But he knows what animals all the meats come from, knows a lot more vegetables than I did at his age, and is familiar with all kinds of traditional foods such as kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut, all of which he has helped me make or has at least watched me make.

I guess I could go on and on. . . but I won't.