Friday, April 15, 2011

Just a few jottings…

More of what we've done this quarter, in no particular order....

Sandra Dodd spoke to our homeschool co-op, and stayed at our home fro three days. much talk about what it means to have a houseguest didn't prevent it from being a challenging experience for all involved.

Annalise stamping art, ink drawings and writings using a glass stylus, a quill, and a nib pen.

Observed Skype being used as video chat and as a telephone, which led to an increased interest in creating an account of our own....

Potluck dinner to welcome Sandra held at the Waterford home of our friend Sharon Emerson. Annalise and Jeremiah enjoyed various dramatic, physical and computer games with friends from our co-op, as well as other unschooling friends from MA and VT, whom they do not see as often.

More of our third quarter activities, here, so that i can experiment with moving them to the blog later (this saves every keystroke!).

Play dough day at Live and Learn Co-op: making, dyeing, and creating with play dough. Jeremiah made a structure and a sculpture of an alien; Annalise made several cutouts and figures, and continued for several days, changing characters, adding props and accessories, and creating storylines for her characters to act out.

Live and Learn Co-op maple sugaring day at Five Rivers Nature Center (Slingerlands, NY): exploration of live wildlife and taxidermic specimens; mounted display of bird wings, discovery table with seeds, branches, bones, fur, magnifying glasses, etc.; bird feeder observation; nature trail with guide (explored the process of maple sugaring step by step, including a turn at operating a hand drill to prepare tree for tapping, and tasting and observing the sap at various stages in the process; as well as discussion of maple life cycles, and methods of identifying tree species by bark, branch, needle or leaf, and seeds).

Live and Learn Co-op psychic fair day - precognitive testing; tarot card readings; charging stones with thoughts of loved ones; observing reiki healing; access to a library of mythological, spiritual, and self-awareness books.

Drove our houseguest to Bryn Athyn, Pa. maps, distances, architecture explored.

Visit with the Woodman family in New Jersey. Annalise observed giant sculptures; created many art projects with friend Gabriella, 6.5; played beauty salon; listened as Gabriella's mom read from Ramona and her Mother; trip to thrift store with me, Gabriella and her mom; cooking; creating block structures; and sleepover in Gabriella's room. Jeremiah enjoyed playing retro games on the Woodmans' Wii; mentoring Gabriella and her brother Harry, 4.5 in DSi game play; and navigating the internet to find movies on Netflix. Both children enjoyed Nerf gun wars throughout the house, trampolining, Elefun, Noggin cartoons, and Ponyo.

Visit with the Kelsey family in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Discussion of area as Amish country (kids recently became fascinated with the Amish while watching an Arthur episode featuring the culture, and we plan on visiting Amish sites); explored mounted specimen of a blue morpho butterfly (we have seen them live at the Butterfly Conservatory in Oneonta, NY), and listeed to mom Angel's stories of her former career mouting insect specimens, which often required minute and precise repairs on wings, antennae, and legs; observed the ongoig rehabilitation of Max, a 6 month old, formerly neglected border collie puppy who is learning social skills; bullfrog tadpole observation and discussion of life cycle; exploring a complex pulley machine. Lise play dough and horse play with Bethany, almost 8. Miah played Legos and Pokemon games with Gabriel, age 11.

We attended Journey Through the Body at Colonie Center. Jeremiah and Annalise appeared on live television with WNYT anchorwoman Benita Zahn. Observation of filming, staging, and movement of television equipment. Annalise explored healthy and smokers' lungs (appearance and ability to inflate). Both explored pulse oximetry, had their EKGs taken, a large heart model (Annalise surprised us all by being able to read such words as aorta and ventricle!); took a guided journey through a giant interactive ear; hearing aids through history; checked their hands before and after washing under a germ light; skeletons, bones, and X rays; amounts of sugars and fats in common foods and drinks; digestive tract models and displays; brain models and puzzles; heart disease risk scale; anatomy Jeopardy!

We hosted kids' cousin Cameron, age 10.5, for four days of his school break:
Trip to New York State Museum (Albany,NY): A train and subway system model and maps; phosphorescent minerals; Cohoes mostodon skeleton; NY harbor history; archaeological finds from Albany's earliest European settlement; ancient peoples of NY; NY landscape photo exhibit; Adirondack wildlife; historic carousel; gift shop window shopping.
Visit to SSCYMCA: swimming, basketball, track.

Visited Barnes and Noble bookstore (Colonie Center): Explored books; selected items to purchase using allowance money.

Annalise and I visited the Borders bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY for their going out of business store. Spent considerable time exploring before we settled on a giant pipe cleaner kit. Much play with the pipe cleaners followed: butterfly, clown hat, jewelry, chains, handbags, and animal creations abounded.

Both children made many trips (mostly independently) to their grandparents house (a bit further down our rural road). Visiting with grandparents; observing construction of a sunroom; play with cousins Sam, 6.5 and Nate, 4.5 (hide and seek, horse, cartoons, costumes).

Annalise lost her beloved Sheet while at grandparents. It was a primary coping mechanism for her, and the first days without it were difficult ones for her (especially when she was hurt or tired). After a week, Sheet was found in aunt's minivan (she had driven Annalise home). It has been a happy reunion, but Sheet is no longer quite so essential for coping.

Annalise had her first overnight sleepover with her best friend, Gabrielle, age 6, and her sister Alana, age 7.5, in Schenectady. Made pizza and pancakes, created a character in FreeRealms and a theater in Little Big Planet. Watched Tangled and Netflix movies. Explored skeletal and musculature charts. Hide and seek and treasure hunts; assorted indoor and outdoor play.

Mom purchased a new Android tablet computer, and we have been having fun with assorted apps:
Mom has been reading Alice in Wonderland aloud to Annalise. We have, at this time, gotten into Chapter 5.
Both children (and their cousins Sam and Nate) enjoyed playing Spaghetti and Marshmallows, a game using only the title items to construct structures to reach targets. Jeremiah applied mathematical principles he learned through building with toothpicks and mini marshmallows to build highly stable structures with strongly geometric lines. Annalise used a more whimsical approach, with quite a bit of success.
Annalise briefly played a 15 piece slide puzzle, Speed Anatomy, a gear building game, and a glow puzzle.
Jeremiah explored a few different Japanese language learning applications, and a Pokedex application.

We cared for friends' flock of chickens, cats, guinea pigs, and rabbit while they were away for the weekend. Learned how to feed and handle chickens; encourage them to go into their coop at night; observed their free-range behaviors, including mating; gathered eggs and Annalise and I candled several.
While we were there, I helped tidy areas of the house, and we discussed how this was a gesture of friendship on my part, because it can be hard to face a house you left in a flurry when you return to it, and I wanted them to be able to come home and relax.
The key to our friends' home was new and repeatedly got stuck in the lock. We experimented with several methods of releasing it, finally settling o lubrication with liquid soap (my idea), and a jar lid gripper (Annalise's idea).

Family discussion of our family economics, especially how electricity use and food waste affect our overall budget. Each of us has begun to pay closer attention to ways we can save money.

Annalise made tent stakes and torches using sticks and bits of dried grasses.

Annalise had the joy of discovering our long-awaited crocuses, and purchased and planted gladiola bulbs. I showed her where to find the information she needed on the side of the box they were packaged in.

Live and Learn roller skating trip to Guptill's Arena (largest rink in the world!). Neither child had been to a skating rink before, and there was much learning. Jeremiah discovered that meditating while rollerskating is exhilarating, for him.

We discusses Zen koans and Japanese haikus.

Jeremiah enjoyed reading Pokemon and Teen titans fanfic online, and fan-created FlipNotes via his DSi.

Annalise budgeted for, selected, and purchased a DSi of her own online. In learning to use it, her reading skills are exploding.

Jeremiah continues to enjoy researching items of personal interest to him. He researched Pokemon Black and white several weeks before their release dates, and benefits of early purchase; guided parents through the process of authorizing his Hatena account (which allows him to post his own animations online); and is currently researching both the Nintendo 3DS (which he is also saving toward its $250 price tag); and the XBox 360 (we bought a used one, and need to work through the setup process). As sources for his research, Jeremiah is comfortable asking other children, game store employees, and others for advice, looking online for information, and reading periodicals.

Annalise had a holiday gift card she had been saving, and decided to purchase some new Littlest Pet shop items. Much careful consideration before she made her selections. She then brought them to our homeschool co-op Easter egg hunt, where there was much collaborative play and storytelling involving the assorted characters each child had brought.

Annalise wrote out several equations: 5+5not=11,5+5=10, 10=1not=100, 1+1=2. She used notations to denote equal equations.

Jeremiah's writing skills have exploded! He copied out, by hand, a large volume of text from "What Macy Knows", a YouTube animated story he wanted to share with me. He has also begun writing more complex notes, and independently filling out of forms, completing fill-in-the-blank stories, and online memes and quizzes.

Leaning about worms, snakes, and basilisk lizards via PBS Kids' shows. Attempting to walk on water like the basilisks has become a favorite pastime of Annalise's.

Mom made, and kids sampled, a fresh fruit smoothie using the following ingredients: bananas, fresh strawberries, slivered almonds, skim milk, Greek honey yogurt, honey, Nutella hazelnut spread, broccoli, and mandarin orange nectar.

Trip to New York State museum to meet longtime friends Elsie, 9.5, and Christopher, 7.75. Explored can sculptures constructed as part of a Price Chopper food drive; birds and wildlife of New York; Sesame Street exhibit (watched clip reel history); A train exhibit; NY Metropolis 1890's - 1950's, including tenement and refugee life; Wood engravings and printing press; carousel; Annalise made toilet paper tube art; Jeremiah played assorted math games on Cluefinders 3rd Grade (perimeter, descending order numbers; deductive reasoning using a calendar and three clues to determine the date; word problems; and adding change and several numbers); minerals; solar system; scale model ships; King Kong; NY logging; Jeremiah noticed that there was an electrical outlet just under the water fountain and informed the security staff; creating an electrical charge in microamperes, using a generator; looking at insect mouth parts through a microscope; mastodon puzzle; discussing the Holocaust.

Jeremiah told me that scissors were invented by Leonardo da Vinci.

Jeremiah didn't understand word problems as school presents them. However, he is adept at solving similar real-life problems. So I read the problem (a character has an 8 slice pickle pie, intends to eat 6 slices, and share the remainder evenly between two friends.). Then, I rephrased the problem as 8-6=x, then x divided by 2=y. Once I did this, Jeremiah immediately understood that the words are a rather cruel trick, and the numbers and operations are really all that counts.

Annalise and Jeremiah helped to create a nature centerpiece for our friends' return home. We used a small container of quartz crystals set into a bowl, surrounded by sand dollars, a heart-shaped stone, and a small seashell. Annalise and I discussed sand dollars.

Annalise spotted the oyster shells our friends feed their flock, and we talked about how that gives them extra calcium which strengthens the shells of the eggs they lay.

Annalise renewed her interest in challenging her body. Lots of stretching, balancing, and learning how to lift herself from a seated position while balancing on her hands.

Jeremiah rode the escalators independently.

Lots of running!

Annalise asked about and liked the ice age horse on the mastodon exhibit at the museum.

We spoke about what to do if there was a fire in the house - checking doors for warmth before opening, and our exit plans fro various rooms.

On our way to the musuem, we witnessed crows feeding on a fresh deer carcass at roadside. As we returned home, we noted that the crows had been replaced by a turkey vulture, and we discussed the benefits of carrion eaters.

We also observed 5 wild turkeys (first time this season), and a pair of Canada geese.

Both children watched Fetch! on PBS kids. Featured were voice lessons and measuring watts of electrical usage.

Lots of armadillo talk this week!

Just a few things to list in preparation for the quarterly report.

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