Archive for January, 2008

The Fairy has been under the weather and getting a massive dose of television. The Hero has been tagging along for the ride.  Try telling the 4yo he can’t watch TV while his big sister lays on the couch moaning and lapping up Cyberchase for 10 hours a day.  Talk about low tide homeschooling.  (If you aren’t familiar with the Tidal Homeschooling reference, check out lovely and wise Mrs. Wiley over at The Bonnie Glen. You’ll never look at your down days the same!)

Last night, the Fairy perked up a bit and was off cuddling with Daddy. So, I seized my opportunity to do a little school with the Hero. No way was he interested in Hooked on Pre-K Super Workbookand Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers,  so I grabbed the Scrabble: Junior Edition. This is the first time we’ve played it since he ‘got’ the whole reading thing. As soon as I opened it, I realized OOPS, it does much bigger words than the CVC words we’ve been working on along with all sorts of phonograms.  Hmmmm. “Well,” I thought “we’ll give it a shot”. 

It turned out great.  In the end, the Fairy and Daddy joined us for a rousing game.  I got to put on my creative homeschool mama hat to explain the phonograms that were confusing. This is actually one of my favorite things about homeschooling.  I do so love being dramatic.  

So, there is ‘boy’ and ‘toy’ on the board so I decided to grab that phonogram and run with it. After a little story and performance (man, I should be on broadway!) we discussed how o and y are friends and they say OY! (with a good accent) and toss their hands up like a Y.  So, he was reading boy and toy.  JOY!

The hero thought this was great fun and we all enjoyed a family game.  Thankfully, the Fairy is feeling much better today and going to out and play with the BOY!  (as I turn to the Fairy reading over my shoulder and say “Get dressed and go out and play with your brother!”). 

With JOY here at Bear-A-Boo Academy,



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I was in a bad mood. My son was in a bad mood. The Fairy, however, was determined to have a wonderous day of school.

 It all started over breakfast while reading about Richard the Lionheart.  As usual, our breakfast history reading results in mommy’s rant about how to parent warring countries (see this post for details).  Today, however, the Fairy decided to take the high road.  “Mommy”, she says “this reminds me of the Valley of Vengance”.  The Valley of Vengance is from a book called A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears.  Very cute. Very different.  I highly suggest you read it! 

 So, in the Valley of Vengance, everyone is getting revenge on everyone else and nobody really knows why they are fighting, but nobody is willing to stop the cycle.  Yes! Thank You! My daughter is very astute to see that this is so much like our warring world in the middle ages and also today.

A bit later, I swoop down to find Greensleeves perfomed on youtube. It was also mentioned in the The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 2: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance, Revised Edition … the World: History for the Classical Child) about Richard (we’re on first name basis by now).  The Fairy remembers that Richard’s friend (Blondel or something like that) supposedly sang the song at towers and dungeouns all over Europe to find his friend. And when Richard sang back, he knew that he’s found his imprisoned friend.  So, we go find lyrics.  For 20 minutes The Fairy and I belt out Greensleeves at the top of our lunges. She was still singing it that night while cleaning the playroom.

Later in the day, the Fairy picks up a junior version of Robin Hood (A Stepping Stone Book).  Instantly, she jumps up and insists I read it.  In the very first paragraph it mentions Richard the Lionheart. ‘Yes, Grasshopper, you learn well!’.  With her curiousity peaked, she sits and reads the whole book. 

 At bedtime, she starts discussing the robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.  She thinks Robin Hood is a great guy.  Or course, I have to bring up the ethical issues of robbing from the rich as well as the problems with the fudal system.  “HEY!” she says “You taught us about that last fall in co-op”.  Why yes, Yes I did!  ‘Oh Grasshopper, you learn so well’! 

Ahh, what a perfect day filled with perfect connections.  Just one more connection though…this one is out of context, but not to be forgotten.  We’ve just finished a book about puffins being returned to an island where they had become extinct.  This took place on an island off of Maine.  So, while eating dinner, the Fairy points to her map placemat and says “Hey, There’s Maine. That’s where the puffins are”. Yep-a roonie!  Thanks to Shelley for a reminder to go buy Puffin cereal. What a yummy connection. 

Making connections at Bear-A-Boo Academy,


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In our co-op, I’m teaching a class. Don’t ask what it’s called. I’ve refused to name it.  It’s something about inventions, creativity, problem solving…Ah, heck. I don’t know what it’s about.  The kids call it Contraptions.  Rotten brats! 😉  How dare they name MY class.

But anyway, it’s a great co-op class. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for one. I teach it to the big kids (7 – 13) because the little kids scare me. They are a bunch of cannibals waiting to tear off my finger nails. Really! you haven’t seen these kids. The Hero is quite a leader and he kicks butt when surrounded by a group of his peers.

Seriously though, the big kid class ROCKS! It all started with a booklet from Mindwares.  I can’t find the booklet on their website, but I’ll try later. And, the booklet itself is currently lost in my post-co-op messy car. 

So, this booklet is a list of challenges and materials for those challenges. If you have a grape, a toothpick, a straw and a rubber band, can you design a car?

Now, I’m known by some, to complicate things greatly!  But I’m working on this.  Four months ago, I took this class idea, complicated it beyond recognition and then, in a moment of brilliance (or fear), simplified it down to be the most simple co-op class in the world.

Here’s the basics. I bough everything I could think of that kids could build with.  Pipe cleaners, paper plates and cups, aluminum foil, practice golf balls,lots of masking tape, paper bags,  golf tees, toothpicks,  (these are quite deadly! Just ask the Fairy) puff balls, fishing bobbers. Ugh, I can’t remember everything. I’ll add to this list later.   And, I bought the cheepo disposable aluminum cooking tins to store it all in.

All these items go out along the wall.  Then the kids gather around me with rapt attention and we discuss some idea around inventions or creativity.  First day, we spent a lot of time on mistakes and how inventors make mistakes all the time…we don’t call them mistakes in this class, if you make a mistake it’s actually a lesson in what DOESN’T work.  Etc etc etc.  We even ate chocolate chip cookies…the yummiest mistake of all time. Um. Well, actually, the Hero, the Fairy and I ate them all for breakfast on the way to co-op.

Other topics we’ve discussed are collaboration, what invention do you look at and say “I could do that”, how many inventions revolve around gross chores. Prototype versus working model and how both are very acceptable in this class.  Hmm. I’ll have to get my folder to remember the rest and it’s lost in the car too.

Then, with much anticipation, I turn the kids loose with the materials and a challenge. The first week the challenge was build the tallest thing you can build.  Another week we found a solution for a gross chore.  Build something that flys. 

They disappear and I talk to my good friend Mama C.  for the remainder of the hour.  We drink coffee, chat and quietly mock the children’s creations while fantasising about how much better our creations would be if only the children would get out of our way.   

The children are deeply engaged in their projects each week and could easily spend more time on them. It’s delightful. They do not get to take their projects home because they eat through my materials like locusts.  So, the only slight issue someone should be aware of with this class is the clean up. Because I’m picky about organization, and also because the kids would use my entire 80$ budget up in one week, this class needs grown-ups to clean up the mess.  The kids could do it, but they’d ruin more than we do and then I’d have to buy more materials.  But, honestly, it’s just another excuse to continue drinking my coffee and chatting with sweet Mama C. 


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Ahhh, history. Nothing like history to teach your children to war with their neighbors and just otherwise behave badly.  We do love studying history though. We read Story of the World over breakfast and then picture books during lessons.

 So, recently, we’ve been reading about the Crusades and all the other bad behavior surrounding Jerusalem.  Well, my mommy’s heart can’t resist tossing out a little parenting lesson. It goes a little something like this…

 ”Alright” In my best parenting voice, “If you two (the Muslim army and the Christian army) can’t get along over Jerusalem, then I will put Jerusulem away.  Nobody can have Jerusalem.  And, if you can’t get play nice with Jerusalem when you get it back, I’ll just throw it away. You KNOW I will. I threw away Atlantis and I threw away Brigadoon. Don’t you think for a second that I won’t throw away Jeruselem because you know I will!”  Now this goes on for probably 15 minutes with the Fairy and the Hero rolling on the ground, insisting that I can’t throw away a country while at the same time begging me for more. 

Now, please, no commentary about me judging these faiths. I’m certainly not judgeing either of them. Personally, I believe that war has nothing to do with faith and only reflects on mankind…and that Mankind would be much nicer if Mommy’s ruled the world.  If you are Muslim or if you are Christian, just don’t go try and take over your neighbors back yard and we’ll get along fine.  And Yes, I do understand that the conflict goes much deeper than that, but heck, my kids know who fights over Jeruseulum, so what do I care what any overly sensitive blogosphere folks think about my monolog.



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My unschooling leanings are coming out to play.  I was very focused and on task for longer this year than I ever have been. YEAH for me!  But now, It’s fading. I don’t know if its the last of the nice fall days pushing me to let the kids run wild. Or if it’s all the halloween festivities going on almost daily.  Could it be that we’ve learned everything we need to learn for the year? or is Mommy just bored.  Most likely the last. 

Eventually, mommy gets bored and loses focus.  I knew it was coming last week when the UPS truck came driving down the road and … DROVE RIGHT PAST MY HOUSE!  I could have cried.  Now, it’s been doing this every day for the last three months, but last week, I wanted, no. Craved, no.  Coveted a visit from the UPS man (or woman).  The squealing brakes, the knock on the door, the rabid dogs barking like an ax murderer is forcing his way in the window, and of course, THE BOX! You know THE BOX. The one that promises deep fulfillment, sheer joy and children who beg to do school…NO! Children who beg to enjoy the family treasures with twinkling eyes and hugs all around. I think my last box even came with warm chocolate chip cookies and a 1/2 caf latte.  Oh yes, The box that contains the books and curriculum that will break mama out of her boredom and revitalize lessons until the June.  Ahh, the box!

Instead, I’ve adopted my mostly Charlotte Mason path which involves lots of library visits but not many curriculum purchases and even less visits from the USP man (or woman).  So, now I’m forced to find motivation within. WHAT? What is that crap? Motivate from within? Grumble.  No one mentioned that when I started homeschooling.  I thought it came with lots of visits from the UPS man (or woman). SOB!

My one motivator is that the Hero is really starting to get reading, words and books. For the first time, he’s starting to point out words, ask ’what does that say’ and beg me to read him Magic Treehouse…Twaddle, Here I come!  Of course I’m motivated by this. So, we do reading, and we do bob books and we do workbooks…not a lot, but enough that I feel content.  And I watch while the Fairy skips math and the Fairy skips rosetta stone and the Fairy skips copy work and while both children skip our daily reading which feels a bit like a chore right now.   And I watch as everything else fades away.  Now worries.  It’ll all come back, probably just in time for the Christmas festivals to start.

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So, Voldemort has been dealt with and my name (um, I mean Harry Potter’s name) has been cleared.  My websites are all happy and complete (yeah, yeah, LAUGH AWAY!). And yesterday we began settling back in to normal life.  Thanks to my frenzied clean on Sunday night and my hubby’s wonderful laundry skills, the house was officially CLEAN when we began our week. SWEET!

All of school went by fairly normally, but the Super-Duper part was the Hero’s (5 in Dec) reading lesson. We’ve been working on letters and phonics. I started with workbooks and zoo phonic characters. He ‘gets’ the zoo phonics really well and he was a workbook freak for about 6 months. Now, he tolerates the workbooks and I make it quick and painless.  I also do homemade games such as phonics bingo, hopscotch reading and forest trail short vowel sound out – dont’cha love that name ;P  BUT, it involves chocolate and is a rose by any other name as sweet as when it’s name is stupid but it involves chocolate?  Excuse me while I lick my fingers from this yummy forest trail short vowel sound out chocolate.

So, anyway, we’ve been progressing with me ’sounding out’ books and him ignoring me as best as he could.  But yesterday, while doing the hopscotch reading which involves hoping on letters which mama put into words…do you take the c. a. t.  path or do you take the c. a. r. path? Make sense? Maybe I’ll photo document it all and show you my brilliant reading plan. Only $100.  And a steal at that. 

While we were working on hopscotch reading, I got distracted by Daddy who happened to be home. So the Hero was left to his hopscotch. I came back to find him moving around his letters and trying to figure out if they made words.  BAT. That’s it! His first spelled word and his first real read word. He put the letters together, then sounded them out and said it. Daddy and I saw the whole thing. What a glorious mile stone. Then while we were doing our daily Bob Book (which I usually sound out and he continues to try and ignore me), he got it. He was reading about every 3rd word and getting it.  It was delightful. I love having readers in the house. 

Multiplication and division can wait till tomorrow, for heroes grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow…so quiet down math and science go to sleep. I’m reading with my Hero and heroes don’t keep.

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Between my new website making obsession and my obsession with my new birthday gift Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix game, I’m forming a deep and personal relationship with my computer. Okay, it’s a bit dysfunctional, but I’m happy in my dysfunction for the moment.

Kids? What Kids?  Oh, you mean those little whiney things that beg me for food and a story.  Laundry…oh, it crawled out the front door and ate the neighbors dogs yesterday.  Dishes? Don’t tell anyone but I just ate my cereal out of my hand, sucking it up in a straw because there are no clean dishes.

If you see me out in the world and I try to ‘click’ your mouse (um, I think that’s really called a nose), please forgive me. I’ve fallen into a deep techno pit and the real world has failed to resemble anything I recognize. 

Is it passion? Is it lack of will power? Is it the cocaine in the keyboard or is Mars in technograde?  Hopefully I’ll figure out a way to walk away from my new best friend (Dictator) soon.  Or, perhaps the electric company will just turn off the power when I forget to pay the bills.  I bet I can do that on-line, huh!

Oh, gotta go…Professor Snape wants me for Occlumency lessons..um. I mean, remedial potion class.

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