Wednesday, May 16, 2012

7 Snippets From Unschooling - Bikes, songs, and ninjas....oh my!

Unschooling Blog Hop | Homeschool Blog Hop

This week I'm joining in on the Snippets From Unschooling Link-up!

~ 1 ~

This week has been all about the bike and outside play!  The weather has been good besides a few storms and even downright HOT so the front yard is getting a lot of use.  I finally pulled out Dani's bike that we'd been saving for Spring.  It's a blue and yellow 12" bike I found for $15 on Craigslist.  Score!  It's a step up from her tricycle and I'm sure it won't be long before we're pulling off the training wheels.  lol  She also requested a basket for it so she could carry snacks and a drink on her rides.

We also tried out hopscotch for the first time

~ 2 ~

We visited the Teacher Store last week and Dani picked out a large purple magnifying glass.  We also got an ABC and wipe-off calendar poster for the dining room wall.  She checked out some of our seedlings, talked a little bit about how magnifying glasses work, and then she took it with her on a sleepover at Grandma's house.  I figured that would be a good purchase down the road.  She's also been asking me about time and the days of the week which is why I got the calendar and printed and laminated this clock game.

~ 3 ~

Dani started singing the ABC's in the car this afternoon!  She needs a little help starting off, but she's got the 2nd half down totally.  It's funny because we don't really sing that song around here much.  I assume she picked it up from TV (gasp!).  She was a little confused about B and V and asked me to tell her some words that started with those letters.  That helped clear it up for her. :)  She's also been playing games on Starfall a lot more.  She particularly likes their games for letter D and letter V.

~ 4 ~

I am NOT all.  I enjoy music, but I never did more than dabble with a few instruments and I can't sing...but Aaron is very musical and so is my father.  Aaron plays bass, guitar, and trombone and can sing while my dad played banjo, a bit of piano, and clarinet.  The kids seem to take after them in that respect.  Oscar is starting to "dance" and seems to sing along ("Ahhhhhhh ahhhh ahhhh!") to music.  He is particularly fond of Mumford & Son.  Dani is constantly singing and making up songs of her own.  I've heard her singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider and I've Been Working On The Railroad by herself (she particularly likes the part about Dina in the kitchen) and she enjoys singing along with Fun.'s We Are Young in the car.  Other recent listens include Metallica, Moby, Madonna, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Spinnerette, and Basement Jaxx.  Yes, we are a pretty musically diverse household!

~ 5 ~

Socially we have been SUPER BUSY in the last week or so.  Friends, Unschool Group, random kids at the playground, cousins, Great Aunt Bonnie, Grandma...I swear we've played with a ton of people!  Oscar seems to be a social butterfly too...oh boy!  lol

He got to enjoy his cousin's cone, not the ice cream.

~ 6 ~
 This past week I got to explain internal combustion engines to Dani.   I'm a mechanic's daughter so I didn't even have to Google it!

~ 7 ~

As I mentioned before Aaron and I have been playing a lot of Star Munchkin and of course the kids want to join in.  Oscar likes to carry around a small jar of beans we keep for level counters and Dani wants to play too.  Sadly, it's just a bit beyond her ability at the moment, so while we let her help (she draws cards, hands out beans when we gain a level, etc.), I decided to get her a card game of her own to play.  It seems like anything besides Go Fish is for ages 7+....but at Target I happened across something called Fruit Ninja.  Apparently it's based on a mobile game, but I'd never heard of it before this.  It's pretty simple - You cut the deck and try to collect either 7 types of fruit OR 25 fruit total and can choose when to end your turn.  Each time you cut the deck you're taking a risk of drawing a bomb card and losing that turns fruit.  Green cards have less fruit and the least chance of bombs.  Yellow cards have more fruit and more bombs.  Red cards have the most fruit and also the most bombs.  You end up having to consider probability and there is counting and adding involved...oh and you're supposed to say "Hiya!" each time you cut the deck!  lol

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Unschool Homelife #1 - What we're up to lately

I think one of the things I see most online is people asking what unschoolers do...well, that varies.  A lot.  Here's a bit of what we're up to as of late:

 Dani has been on a major art-kick for the past month.  She very suddenly started painting figures and was coloring almost constantly.  She actually dried up an almost-new set of markers from use!  She has also creating robot pictures with foam sticker shapes.  Aaron did one robot with her and she copied it again and again almost exactly.  We also made some other animal robots (bunnies, cats).  Besides her artistic interests Dani also enjoys making up songs, pretending, dancing, cooking with us, reading books together, and watching for big "machines" when we're out driving.  Garbage trucks seem to be one of her favorites, currently.  Lots of big questions from her too!  Lately she's been curious about biology and the human body (blood and bones in particular as well as the reproductive system brought on by newly hatched chicks), weather (why is it raining NOW?), and geography (Dani and her friend Ella were very curious about the map and globe we keep at hand).  I've also been printing off and binding the free books from Progressive Phonics for her as well as letting her play games over at Starfall...then there are the dozens of books we read together on a daily

A painting of Aunt Bonnie, complete with "fingers".

Aaron did the top left, Dani copied it again and again.

Oscar started walking.  He's into everything!  He loves to follow Dani around and explore the house.  Lately he's been doing more babbling and has finally started showing an interest in food....and water!  Water is his favorite, either to play with or to drink.
We've all been spending a lot of time outside since the weather has warmed up.  Dani and Oscar both enjoy the yard, playing in the dirt, and splashing in the pool  Bubbles have also been a big hit this spring.  I put together a mud-pie kitchen for them to mess with as well.

Even rain doesn't stop us!

This year we've done a lot more with gardening.  We would really like to have our own crop of tomatoes to make plenty of Grandma Mary's famous salsa.  It's the best salsa I've ever had!  Dani helped me plant seeds and care for the saplings.  This week we will be putting them in the ground.  We've also been reading about plants and gardening.  I highly recommend Seed, Soil, Sun for a good kid-friendly book about how we grow food.
Newly sprouted.

A bit older and bigger here.
In general we've been doing a lot of stuff out in nature: collecting violets with friends to cook up some violet jelly, collecting shark eggs at the beach, and collecting eggs from our friend's chickens.

Our yard had more violets this year than I have ever seen!

Shark egg sacks from the ocean.

Amanda's chickens. She has newly hatched ones now too!

Speaking of friends...we've got a pretty busy social calendar.  Every 1st and 3rd Monday we meet up with other unschoolers at the park to play or the library if the weather is poor.  On Thursdays we can go to a Homeschool skate at the roller rink (Dani really likes skating!).  We also have a variety of regular playdates and activities we do with friends and family whenever we feel like it (Dani loves to go and do, so this is often).
I LOVE this photo of the girls together.  Ella & Dani have been friends since they were babies.

Dani took to skating really well

Then there's the adults in our home: Aaron and I both have been playing a lot of Munchkin to gear up for game-night with friends.  We've also been reading A Song of Ice & Fire (aka Game of Thrones) which has lead to looking up a number of medieval warfare terms (like "Trebuchet").  I've been doing a 52 book a year challenge, knitting, sewing and folding window stars.  Aaron has been grilling and cooking a lot.  Between America's Test Kitchen and Barbeque University there has been a lot of experimentation going on.

What is YOUR family up to?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Window Stars Revisited

I've posted about window stars before, but a recent purchase of an Origami Suncatcher kit (which I found in-store) has gotten me on a major paper-folding binge.  The instructions are for very simple stars, but they're still fun and it comes with 60 pieces of very nice paper already cut into squares (which I much prefer to cutting from large rolled sheets!).  It even comes with a glue stick and a nice box to keep it all in.

One thing that has kept me from making tons of stars before now was the issue with paper.  Actual kite paper is hard to find.  You HAVE to order it.  Period.  Double sided origami paper holds it's color really well, but it isn't as transparent as I'd like (particularly if you're doing something intricate).  Tissue paper is delicate to work with, fades like no tomorrow, has to be cut down from large unwieldy sheets and, did I mention, it FADES LIKE NO TOMORROW (it's worth repeating)....but it's cheap and readily available.
Figure 28 from Window Stars made from the kit's paper
Which brings me to the paper that came in the kit - it's very nice, the color is even and bright and it seems to hold up well to the sun (so far).  The drawbacks being that I have no clue where to get it besides in the kit, it's a bit plasticity so it doesn't hold a crease or glue as well as other things, and it only comes in 6 colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple).  I was going through it rather fast so I decided it was time to break down and order some kite paper.

Figure 21 from Window Stars made with Folia transparent origami paper
In my previous searches for a good (see "cheap") source for kite paper I heard mention of transparent origami paper.  I decided to revisit that avenue this time and it paid off: Folia Transparent Origami Paper  And the best part....IT CONTAINS 500 SHEETS!!!  Plenty of places carry it, but Supermart was the cheapest ($15!) and the shipping was also inexpensive and it came QUICK.  One of the reviews I read for it before I ordered complained that it was basically colored wax paper which is exactly what I needed.  I had gone so far as to look into how to make colored wax paper.  Yeah...screw that!  I don't have time for such things!  It comes in 10 colors: red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, blue, purple, pink, white, and brown. I may also order some plastic origami paper which I am guessing is probably very similar to the paper that came with the kit.
The view out my "knitting room" window
As for instructions I have Magical Window Stars, Window Stars, Making Folded Stars from Colored Papers, and Origami Suncatchers (kit).  If you're not ready to buy, here are some online tutorials:

GardenMama - A Tutorial For Waldorf Window Stars
Duo Fiberworks - Window Star tutorial
Arwen Art - Waldorf Window Stars / Tissue Paper Stars Tutorials
The Enchanted Tree - Folded Paper Butterflies, Flowers, & Dragonflies & Tissue Paper Hearts

Here are some more stars for your viewing pleasure:

5 Pointed Star from Magical Window Stars made from tissue paper

Pinwheel Star from Origami Suncatchers made with the kit's paper

Figure 23 from Window Stars made with the kit's paper

Our front door and a variety of stars from all 3 books as well as a few improvisations
Happy folding!