Tree Music

April 22, 2012

Yesterday my oldest was on a roll making stuff.  The theme was musical instruments.  Not anything I proposed but rather something that got in his head and he went with it.  I can not figure out how to manage my photos the way I want and so I am going to make this two posts.

Creation number one required a stick and a tree.  Mr. Oldest spent hours on this sunny afternoon in the tree tapping and making music similar to that of “Stomp”.  I think he found a solution for the fact that I have not been able to get him signed up for drumming!

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Oh the items hanging for the tree are part of another boy game they were playing earlier.  Boys, ropes, trees, and sticks – welcome to my world!

If I can get into my Google account I will post this on YouTube as I did take a video just having technical difficulties with that!


My husband discovered a show on You Tube called Scientific Tuesday.  One evening the boys did a variety of experiments.  They did this one and these ones

I watched and was very concerned that somebody might get hurt.  See my husband is just a boy at heart and some years ago he made a potato gun and also singed his eye brows and eye leashes as he peered down the barrel wondering why the thing had not gone off.  Fortunately he has extremely “lush” brows and eyelashes – though they have not grown in fully they are average length now.  The last set of experiments did involved chemicals and fire so I was on guard.  The milk one was not a problem.

All of the experiments turned out okay and I was excited that my husband was playing the “mad scientist” with his boys.  My oldest is already a science nut and watches Daily Planet every night but the younger one claims that he is not into that same stuff.  Well he sure was interested in this and it got him thinking when we called it “science”!  The twins will love it or not – for now I do not know.

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As I watched the boys doing science, getting excited and wanting more I had to reflect once again on my choice (this year) to follow the curriculum.  I was trying to cheer the boys on while in the back of my head I was thinking, “But we need to cover electricity, and building and the seasons.  We do not have time for spontaneous science.  We have to subjects that need to be covered or else…….or else what?”  In that moment I was reminded of my truth in this homeschooling path.  Plain and simple – we are spontaneous & interesting people and if let alone our children will be too.  We will cover science as it presents itself all around us and it will always be exciting and it will always be fun because we stumbled upon it rather than worked it in.

I guess it really is a life philosophy and I believe that life – as much as we do work hard, should be joyful.  Our learning and life paths including the work will be fun as long as we are on OUR right path.  I am not saying that we do not need to work hard along the way and perhaps do things we do not want to get where we are going but life does not have to be a long, hard, and boring road (which is how I remember school).  I choose to opt out of the long, hard, boring part even if it means electricity gets covered in bits and pieces over the course of the years instead as one solid subject to “cover” that chosen year.  Why not explore instead of “cover”?

Oh and for goodness sakes why all of the worksheets? Did you know that most worksheets in school are to prove comprehension and understanding – and that is all they are for.?  Actually sorry they are also used to keep kids busy.  But as for the proving comprehension can you imagine if every time somebody explained something to you it was required that you had to do a worksheet to prove your comprehension?  Not only that but the other party would grade your comprehension?

Now I did buy an electrical circuit experiment kit and my son has done every experiment in it but I did this because I did make a promise to present these subjects.  As it were this way I have presented is not how the school would have wanted me to present it.  It is the way my son has enjoyed it but that is not the priority – the priority is the reporting.

Remember to let learning be fun.  If you have options and it suits your child OPT out and follow their passions.  As adults we will tell them “do what you love”.  Many adults go to therapy to figure that one out.   Allow them the time to be who they are and work to encourage the interests and the aptitudes.  Let the learning flow and be spontaneous if you can and if you dare!

Candy Packets? Innovation

April 14, 2012

I love these little unusual activities my children partake in.  One day I found my 8-year-old sewing these little packets to wrap his candies in.  He used a pair of boxers that he never wears and pulled out the sewing box.  This is my boy who has been known to make packets for his old toys and knick knacks for everybody’s birthday.  Usually he folds paper this way and that – this was the only time her ever sewed and these were not gifts – just packets?

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I think this ability to come up with an idea, gather the supplies and then execute is slowly drawn out of kids who are in school and guided through every activity.  If lots of time is given for this sort of creativity after school then it can be kept alive but most of us are so busy.

Absolutely different strokes for different folks but I am proud that my kids are so very innovative and creative.

Dreaming Of Trains

April 14, 2012

Somebody is dreaming about trains.  In his dreams he will get a starter train set on his birthday and be on his way to having one of those elaborate sets that he watches on You Tube.

In preparation and just to make sure we understand how definitely he wants this as his next birthday gift he has created a display unit of sorts for his train.

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I love the way my kids can get an idea – find the supplies and execute without prompting and with limited help.  All that was asked of me was to pick up some styrofoam.  He did not build the box but thanks to his carpenter dad it was laying around.  I really did not understand where he was going with this untill it was done.  He knew exactly where he was going.

What do your kids do while waiting for dreams to come true?

I have written about our experience of snow boarding quite extensively in my Fish Tank Mom blog and now I want to share my perspective on the learning aspect of this experience for us.  It has been a team building experience for us, we have learned a variety of basic miscellaneous skills, we have pushed our comfort levels in regards to socialization and we have reviewed lots of safety/stranger safety stuff.  For some background go to

This has been a great bonding and connecting experience for us.  It has also been excellent for teamwork skill building.  Everybody has given support and encouragement to each other.  My oldest Paul and his younger brother Sam have taken on the role of coaching the youngest two.  Damon has become a little more focused on the activity at hand and Alexi is chugging along with excellence.  The boys have learned the importance of sticking together, using kind words and practicing patience.  We’ve all had to communicate about where we are going next and we’ve all had to negotiate to get what we want.  This activity has ramped up the coming together aspect of having four boys.  It is to everybody’s advantage to avoid resistance and to find agreeable solutions so that we can get on with riding – QUICKLY.

We have touched on a variety of basic learning such as reading maps, real snow vs. man-made snow,  temperature and how it affects snow and really endless other miscellaneous things including math.  The map reading aspect is pretty basic as we have been on some pretty small hills and so I suppose we will have to hit the bigger mountains more often to keep the challenge up on this one (so sad).  Observing snow and discussing the snow has been fun – soon we will have to do dome web site research on the man-made vs natural – as of now we simply notice that it feels different. Weather affecting the snow is obvious but still they do “cover” it in school – with books and assignments.  The miscellaneous is simply because we have great conversations on every ride back up the mountain.  We do not always have these conversations when we are so busy at home.  Math again is pretty simple but the little ones have been counting towers but also noticing the numbers on towers and the numbers on the back of chairs.  The older boys have played around with estimating how many chairs in total, how many towers in total as well they have estimated time and briefly touched on km and distance.  Okay well I tried to squeeze the km and distance thing in and they resisted.  Funny how learning that is unintentional is more interested than learning that is forced.

Socialization and independence are not really issues in our house as the boys are all very open and social.  However chatting with neighbors and people at the park is quite different from sitting on a chair lift for that ride up.  That can be awkward and is always different.  The boys have told delightful stories about conversations with a large variety of different people.  They have also been exposed to and talked about those times when they’ve sat on the chair in awkward silence but then also the comfortable silence.  In case you are wondering – all this chair activity is at the smaller hill COP where they are free to ride without the brothers.  That hill is a one chair hill.  I love this socialization because it is with a with a variety of ages, race, and personality.  As well it is socialization outside of the circle of who we have chosen to have in our lives.

We’ve had many conversations about stranger safety and I am a big believer in trusting that vibe.  Most strangers are okay but when you get that bad feeling trust it.  My biggest safety message is never go off alone with a stranger and never accept candy or treats from a stranger.  Chatting on the hill and in the chair lift is completely wonderful – we just do not go off with that stranger after the fact.  If somebody wants to be alone with you – that is simply creepy and unsafe.

I almost forgot one of the most important things these boys are learning on the hill.  They are learning that some days are bad ski days and it is not always tangible the “whys and how’s” of what makes a bad day.  We are working on turning those bad days into short-lived bad moments by acknowledging the negativity but then turning it around.  I coach a lot about how the next run might be better, after lunch might be better, this might not be your day and that is okay next day might be your day.  In between I get frustrated but my main message is “life can get like that”.  The snow can suck and you might fall a lot on certain days – just another day around the corner though.  The boys have learned that they can stay stuck and angry or they can move on and trust that the kinks will work themselves out.

I love natural learning through snowboarding – we are having so much fun while getting that glorious sun on our faces, lots of fresh air and tons of exercise.  The boys can be competitive within themselves and later they can choose to compete if they want.  It is such a great sport because their will never be that pressure and it will always be fun no matter how they choose to approach it.

Life is good!

Have you ever been motivated by somebody else’s goals for you?  Have you ever been inspired and then motivated by something that interested you?  What do you think – big difference?

I have been reading a lot about finding out what motivates my kids so that I can better teach them (the curriculum).  Well what motivates them is curiosity and so how do I motivate and inspire them to do some math facts that are not related to anything tangible in their real world?  Can I motivate them with a sticker and then a bigger sticker and will they be truly enthused to learn?  Or will they later at another time be in a life situation or play situation and naturally learn what they need to learn?  I know the answer FOR our family but can I trust enough? We do our math curriculum – just in case.

Our educational system claims to teach “them kids” and prepare “them kids” and takes the credit with very little left to” them kids”.  And we are all too busy to take a moment to observe any different so away we go following this effort to motivate our children to do what we want them to do.  We need to give them some credit and we need to trust them.  They will love to learn as long as learning is always presented as learning for them.  They will want to learn when left to it.  They will learn and retain more if the learning is through desire for knowledge.  They are simply awesome really.

So what are my kids up to without my interference and direction?  Here is a compilation of learning activities and learning through play at random just photos so you will have to use your imagination. You might notice we spend a lot of time outside and the boys always have busy hands. When we are outside and when we are busy they ask a lot of questions and learn that way.

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More specifically a while back Paul did some science experiments with water which started by him boiling pots of water to help combat the dry air in our house.  I asked him to turn the water down after bringing it to a boil and he was indeed curious how the water would still boil and create steam and so out came the thermometer.  I quickly scribbled up a chart and we started recording temperatures of boiling points and other miscellaneous variations.  Of course we were able to observe all of the water cycle including the freezing aspect as that evening the windows were frozen quite shut.

A while later on this same day Paul moved on to making books – not exactly something most parents would boast about but he made a book of “Sware” words.  After he was done he made copies and presented them to his brothers for sale.  I had to put a stop to that but my point is simply that he did science, a little bit of writing and a little bit of entrepreneur/business skills. He learned and practiced skills because he wanted to.

Samuel was busy doing other things on this day and decided he would create his own eye spy books – inspired by his big brother.  He got a good start on that before moving along to other things – mostly just random play.  Eventually he decided to make his own sandwich bar. The bar had all sorts of ingredients that my boys would not normally put on their sandwiches – like lettuce, cucumber and pickles but because Samuel made the experience so very interesting these boys had one pretty nutritious lunch.

It is endless the things these boys do that teaches and fulfills a well-rounded education.  Most of what I present goes in one ear and out the other.  The real learning is in the play and I am not sure us adults have enough play left in us to be really great teachers.

My children are their own best teachers because from them come great questions – better questions and current to our time questions.  Then we go on a mad hunt for answers – fun learning!