Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning between the lines

If you asked me during the day yesterday what we were doing, I would probably have answered 'not much' or 'just the usual'.  As usual, I started with a vague idea of how the day might go ... an easy day at home, a bit of school work, reading together, lots of play (inside as it's raining), and as always going with the flow and having a lot of fun.

It didn't seem like much, just an ordinary home Monday, as much as any day here is 'normal'!  Looking back I'm amazed by the scope of what went on between the lines, during our 'ordinary' day:

5:15am     Snuggly little ones in sneak in with me after Pete left for work, neither of them sleepy ... we talk and pray about what we're thankful for.  Jasmine starts a Sudoku puzzle from my bedside table - needs a lot of help, but she has the general idea.  They start a debate about pets ... Jasmine wants a white rabbit, Elijah wants a turtle ... though they know we are not likely to become pet owners any time soon!  I half-sleep, half listen as their thoughts bubble out about care, habitats, natural environments, food (I'll grow carrots, said J.), temperature regulation, cleaning etc ... the possibility of further sleep melts with the rising sun.  Around 7am we drift out to a sunny dining room.

Breakfasts are made to order ... toast with all the colours of the rainbow for Jasmine (a rectangle each of jam, vegemite, peanut butter and honey), a banana sandwich for Elijah, toast for me.  The kids eat and watch cartoons from 7:35 to 8:30am, while I shower, check emails, read blogs, wash dishes ... away from the screen, kids dress, make beds, brush teeth and play.

The kids play variously with dolls, books, bikes and scooters and a big cardboard box, which they wallpaper with paintings done last week.  This ends in tears later in the day, as some paintings rip during removal.  Meanwhile, I start a new blog, Ink Island , to write more about writing, and I write my first post.  It's fun playing with layouts, background pictures and words.  I also finish my previous, jumbled blog post for Chrysalis Island.  My mind is a bit clearer after getting these thoughts down!

We come together for morning tea (fairy floss and nuts) and read about Sarah and Abraham's baby and their praising, from The Little Girl's Bible .  I write Psalm 34:1 on the whiteboard.  The kids copy the verse into an exercise book and draw and label what they praise the Lord for.  Jasmine makes hers sparkle with glitter pens and glitter glue.  Elijah's picture spreads to the next page as he tells us a story as he draws.  He writes on the whiteboard - sunny (Jasmine wants an 'e' on the end, but reluctantly trusts me that it must end in 'y' like baby and puppy).  Elijah draws boxes for a checklist and labels the first one 'litrse' (literacy).

Jasmine does a page of a spelling textbook then starts colouring in and doing patterns inside bubble-writing.  I ask Elijah if he'd like to write about pets or knights, but he says chocolate!  He tells me a title, which he copies from the whiteboard (Chocolate Flavour Inventions).  He narrates a bit while I write (the new chocolates will be sold to raise money for poor people), then he draws and labels some new flavours, which somehow turn into icecreams along the way!

Around 1pm, Pete arrives home and we have lunch (he's home early as today's work was overtime on a rostered day off), toasted sandwiches.  He offers to clean up, so the kids and I sit on the lounge to continue our informal (make it up as we go) unit study learning about Poles and Polar Bears.  We've watched DVDs over the years, and read a few books recently, like Polar Bears Past Bedtime , by Mary Pope-Osborne, and parts of Horrible Geography: Perishing Poles .  We talk about (and I record) what we know and what we want to know .  It's fun and I'm impressed!  We look at the globe and wall map, to see Antarctica and the Arctic.  Then we re-read a picture book, Antarctic Dad , share a few pages from non-fiction Antarctica , and a new picture book Over in the Arctic .  We take a long time to read, as each page is fuel for discussion, dominated by Master E.!

The kids put away a stack of about 30 books they've been browsing.  Jasmine plays boxes/ dots with Pete while Elijah 'reads' Knights and Castles .  From 3-4 pm the kids watch ABC TV (playschool, cartoons).  Pete starts our tax returns, and I read in bed!

While Pete has a well earned rest I keep the kids quiet with a game of Rummikub .  It's their first time playing, and I'm surprised by Jasmine's patience and by how interested and eager they both are.  We play open hands, but by the end they can make their own moves if I give a small clue.  At 5pm the kids call Pete out and we all watch Survive This! on ABC ... an adventurous Canadian survival show for kids.

The kids take turns doing dot to dots in a booklet of A-Z and 1-30 puzzles, easy but fun, and play 'memory' with a deck of picture cards.  Dinner (chicken schnitzel, mashed potato and veges) sparks talk of volcanoes (as Elijah's mash mountain erupts with sauce), and is followed by the final few chapters of our latest chapter book, The Littles and the Lost Children by John Peterson.  Together the kids quickly do a set of Maths Mentals from New Wave Mentals B , and Elijah asks to do more.  They find it fun because it's new today, but I'm thinking "it's too easy, even the next book is too easy, what's the point?" but I do want them to have quick recall and some 'schoolish' skills in case they ever decide to do maths tests, competitions or need to slot into a classroom at some stage.  I have always done maths just for fun, and my kids do seem to be wired the same way.  We'll see.

Time for pyjamas, tooth brushing, tucking in, chatting and praying.  Pete read a chapter of the next book, The Littles go to school .  Then the kids play in bed, read and colour in until about 8pm when they fall asleep.  I go online to renew library books and update the kids' book lists for the Premier's Reading Challenge (both are now finished, Jasmine's first and Elijah's second year).

In bed at 10pm, I'm too tired to read for once (aside from a quick scripture), but I can't sleep.  Several times I flick on the light to jot down notes to myself.  I finally do some maths (double 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc) to switch off my meandering mind, and drift to sleep trying to double 16384 ... finally .... zzzz


  1. Now that sounds like a good day!

  2. Sounds absolutely perfect! Im impressed that the kids are happy to do 'formal schoolwork' after dinner. Obviously they are really enjoying it all.


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