Beach Time

The Creekside Learning family is on vacation this week. The beach was calling. We answered. 

“Hello, Ocean. I’m here.”

creekside learning

We will be back soon. I have lots of exciting new posts brewing. In the meantime, the Hands-On Science and Preschool: Learning Is Fun! boards are hopping over on Pinterest. Check them out, repin and follow to get more great learning ideas in your Pinterest feed.

Follow along on our travels on Instagram. Creekside Learning

She Can Fly. Oh, Yes. She Can.

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Art Class

We were learning about Monet and Van Gogh, two of the world’s greatest artists, and my 7-year-old daughter asked:

Are there any artists who are women? Ok, I’m on it.

So I introduced her to George O’Keefe.

Then she asked, Are there any great artists who are women, who are alive?  Woah.

So I introduced her to Faith Ringgold.

She was transfixed. She loved Faith’s art. Faith Ringgold, she declared, was her very favorite artist. We didn’t know then, that in just a couple of months she would meet her idol in person.  [Read more…]

Some Days Are Like This

Just so you don’t think that I am always all I-love-homeschool, skipping through the forest with my darling children finding turtles and using a lot of exclamation points to proclaim my love for an obscure but brilliant piece of curricula, let me tell you about this week.

My kids are Out. Of. Control.

They have been fighting from the moment they open their eyeballs in the morning.  They fight over such important issues as whose imaginary cat is or is not sleeping on the green chair. They fight over who owns a particular piece of discarded sticker paper. Garbage. They are fighting over garbage. They argue over who has more orange sprinkles on their toast, who woke up first. They taunt each other by trashing each other’s favorite book and television characters. It’s like a 24/7 Republican/Democratic debate in here. They try to scare each other. They have no sense of personal space. They refuse to bathe.

We went to the zoo and my oldest child, at one point, lifted his leg up to climb into the tiger enclosure but then he saw a sign that said not to do that. A sign. Thank goodness there was a sign.  Because the 400 times I told him stop climbing on stuff prior to that was apparently not a serious indication that our day may possibly conclude with him being eaten or arrested.

The next day, he dropped his nearly finished lollipop on the soccer field, had a fit and attempted to eat it anyway, although it was covered in mulch. I blinked a few times, to make sure this wasn’t my 3 year old, but nope, there was my oldest child standing before me. He’s 8.

My 6 year old daughter has flung herself on the floor and had a fit, including in a public restroom, every time something has frustrated her this week, which is at a rate of about once every 90 seconds. She can’t find her lime green crayon. Her Legos won’t stick together. She hates putting on socks. The remote is missing. Well that one makes me have a tantrum, too. But I digress.

The 3 year old just does his usual thing: takes everyones toys, refuses to share his and spits when he’s mad. He is so very lucky that he’s cute.

Then something really crappy happened. My grandmother died. Not unexpected. She was 95 after all. But crappy nonetheless. Prior to my kids even knowing about that though, they were behaving like someone in another country had insulted their deity with a viral internet video and they were just not going to put up with that.

It’s like living in a war zone here. Is there anyone out there willing to grant me political asylum?

I have talked with them about the need for kindness until I am shrieking and then, well, that’s unkind, so it’s not effective. So this morning I came up with a new plan. I was going to drive to Pennsylvania and sell them to the Amish.

That’s what my grandfather used to tell us when we were misbehaving as kids. He was joking, but I really think he may have something there so I devised a plan, shot down minutes later by my friend Krista, who told me she had already tried this and the Amish wouldn’t take her children. “Try the gypsies,” she helpfully suggested.

I sat on the bottom step, staring at the floor. That’s where my husband found me on his way to work. He offered to bring me a bottle of vodka from the pantry. He’s so helpful like that. Instead I sent a kid to work with him, dropped another at my mother-in-law’s and left a third with my grown-up niece.

I drove to Target and bought new make-up and a novel, ate lunch by myself, then came home and took a nap and ate some chocolate. I felt much better. Now the kids are back and they’re still fighting but it’s okay because I am going to wear my ear buds and listen to Prince for the rest of the day. I see their little mouths moving as they appear to argue over who did or did not wreck the Thomas train set that spans the living room floor (I’m pretty sure it was the dog but she isn’t fessing up). I see them stomp their little feet indignantly at each other but all I hear is “Tell me who in the house knows about the quake? We do! I mean really”  and it’s so very therapeutic.


Becoming a Reader

Guess what my 8-year-old Firefly and I did last night? We finished the very last chapter in the very last book in the Harry Potter series.

We started last fall, reading the first book in the series. And here it is July, and we’ve finished. This has been our read-aloud all these many months.

I think I liked the books as much as he did. We got the first two books from the library, then had to wait for the 3rd to become available last December. This waiting is for the birds, I thought. A few clicks on Amazon later, and I had found a great deal on the boxed set. It nearly killed me to keep those books until Christmas. Totally worth it, though. The look on his face when he opened that box. Pure joy.

It was Harry Potter that made me realize that my reluctant and struggling writer could actually read. We had been plugging away through Elephant and Piggy books and other level one readers, with lots of protesting on his part, any time he was asked to read anything.

Then one night, I was reading Harry Potter to him.  I had a cold and my throat was hoarse, I was coughing terribly. “I can’t read anymore, I’m sorry,” I said.  He grabbed the book from me and started to read it out loud himself. I was stunned. He read slowly and he asked for help with some of the words, but he was reading it himself.

I called for my husband, “Look at this! He can read!”

“Show Daddy!” I said to my 7-year-old son, who was quietly beaming.  “Where did you….How did you…?” I sputtered. He was reading words we had never gone over. How did he know how to pronounce -ight words, like sight and light?

We went back to me reading after I was well again. But then I knew.  He could read.

After we finished reading the very last book of the series last night, he was melancholy and wondered aloud, “What now? No more Harry Potter.” Don’t we all know this feeling? Having read everything that a favorite author has written, that empty, sad feeling.

“You know,” I said, “You could read these books on your own now. At night before you go to sleep, or anytime really.”

He picked up the first book of the series and began to do just that.

Have a Reading Date With Your Child

Our current read-aloud book.  Two cups of something yummy to drink.  A comfy place to sit at a local coffee shop. And my favorite 8 year old.

 Because it’s noisy at our house. Because we get interrupted a lot when reading. Because he loves for me to read. Because we are at the suspenseful part of the last book in the Harry Potter series and he really wants to know what happens to the bad guy, Voldemort, in the end.  Because it’s a great way to have real, quality time with my kid.

The very next day, I find myself at the same coffee shop, only this time with my favorite 6 year old. She just so happens to have an unread library book in the car.  It is wonderful, uninterrupted time, just me and her.

 I think we will be making this a regular habit.  [smile]