Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ourselves: Rest and Restlessness

Do any of us get enough sleep? In Charlotte Mason's Ourselves, she wrote about Rest and Restlessness.
Restlessness makes the body strong.
Restlessness is the part of us that wants to run and jump and dance. It is the part of us that wants to ice skate for five straight hours.

But restlessness may be a hard master.
[I]t is only by going on doing one thing steadily that we learn to do it well, whether it be cricket or algebra; so it is well to be on the watch for the moment when Restlessness, the good servant, turns into Restlessness, the unquiet Dæmon who drives us about from post to pillar[.]

In this section, Mason wrote about the importance of sleep, as well as the danger of sloth. Her solution:

Up and be doing, whether at work or play.
This makes me think of a cool article Jennifer Humble shared recently titled The Physics of Productivity. It included the idea that if we get moving for two minutes (the Two Minute Rule) that we will stay moving, and it's easier to convince ourselves to get moving if we tell ourselves we're only going to be doing so for two minutes.

For earlier posts about Ourselves:
The Soul & Hunger
The Perils of Mansoul

Saturday, November 29, 2014

When Two Vowels Go Walking

To teach vowel digraphs that use the "When Two Vowels Go Walking, The First One Does The Talking" Rule, this is a cute and easy (and fun!) idea.
I made these for my three-year-old today. She got the concept right away and learned a couple of new words. ("Mommy, what's coal?" "Mommy, what's loan?")
You can also incorporate consonant blends!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Field Trip: Imagine U

Trying to reach the gas pedal
These photos were taken at Imagine U Children's Museum in Visalia, California. Outside, there is an old fire truck, small sand boxes for playing paleontologist, and giant foam blocks. Inside, there are costumes, an electric train, a piano, an area for playing dentist and doctor, and a market complete with cash register and play money. Admission is $5 per person, and they offer annual passes for locals. It's a perfect play place for preschoolers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How We Do Preschool

Preschool is not Charlotte Mason (not in the Santa Monica-preschool sense), but we "preschool" anyway.

Over the weekend, a mom asked how we do preschool, how much time we devote to preschool daily, and if we have a particular time set aside for "school."

I started by backwards-planning. I looked at a kindergarten readiness checklist and, because I am preparing her for a Charlotte Mason Year 1, I took that into consideration, too.

Not only do I want her to know shapes and colors, I also want her to be exposed to classical music, to watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, to collect rocks, to learn memory verses, to listen to stories, to sing hymns, to visit museums, etc.

When my daughter was two, I went down the kindergarten readiness checklist, checking off the things she knew and teaching her the things she didn't. One example, we focused on the numbers 1 through 5 using Mathematical Reasoning Beginner 1. Another example, I gave her scissors and bought Kumon Let's Cut Paper books.

Now, we are doing kindergarten in terms of reading and math, but calling it preschool, and when she is in "kindergarten," I'll tell her she's in kinder, but we'll work on skills at whatever level she feels comfortable and challenged.

We do reading lessons and math lessons just about every day, including weekends. For reading, we use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Last night, we completed Lesson 76. For math, we use all sorts of stuff, but our primary resource right now is Mathematical Reasoning Level A.

Lessons are SHORT. We only work for as long as she's engaged. If she becomes distracted, I close the book and stand up, which usually results in her pleading "nonono" and finishing the page she's working on. She can "do" math for 30 minutes. Her attention span for reading is shorter, maybe 15 to 20, but she plays a lot during her lessons. I highly recommend this. During reading, she dances or acts out words or runs out of the room for a prop.

We don't have a set school-time, but reading and math are done in the evening. (During the day, my husband takes our daughter to parks, ballet, Church Mice, co-op, etc.)

We read Bible stories, talk about what she learned in Church Mice, watch VeggieTales DVDs. We do science experiments and read Lets Read and Find Out books. My husband speaks to her in Spanish some of the time, and I'm adding in some more explicit vocabulary instruction. We go to museums for art and history. My husband plays just about every instrument and we've been talking about him starting piano with her using the Alfred curriculum. We're going to see The Nutcracker in December, so we've been dancing in the living room to Tchaikovsky. We completed Lollipop Logic Book 1. She learns a memory verse each month, like psalms, and is currently learning the Lord's Prayer set to music (Readeez's Our Father on YouTube). We work on please, thank you, listening to Mommy and Daddy, and other habits.

This is the gist of how we do preschool.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Best Part of My Day

(a post by my three-year-old)

1)hanging on the slidy thing at the park
2)playing with Brooke-y
3)doing my art

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our Current Read Aloud

I am currently reading A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, a couple of pages at a time, to my three-year-old. The movie comes out in January in the United States, and the trailer looks like it might actually be as sweet as the book.

If you haven't read the book (it's surprisingly not on many reading lists), it is about a bear from Peru. And because I find this an interesting fact, I'm sharing it with you: there is only one kind of bear native to South America -
The spectacled bear (Wikipedia user Cburnett)

Paddington is found by Mr. and Mrs. Brown in Paddington Station. He is all alone, a stowaway from Darkest Peru, in the station with not much more than a hat and a jar of marmalade. And he's so polite.

But he also makes some messes. At the station's buffet, he has an accident involving tea and buns, and gets jam and cream all over his fur. Then, while taking a bath (to wash off the jam and cream), he doesn't know how to turn off the water, so the tub overflows. The tub is too slippery for him to get out and, thinking he is going to drown, Paddington uses his hat to bale out water.

I wonder if Michael Bond based Paddington on a three-year-old?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ourselves: Thirst

In Ourselves ("Thirst"), Charlotte Mason wrote about the importance of drinking water (of which I don't do enough). I'm trying. This week, I started bringing herbal tea bags to school to make during recess and lunch recess, instead of refilling my coffee cup.

"Thirst" is also about the character of Drunkenness...

The chairs and tables out of his house, his children's bread, their mother's clothes, all go to buy drink. The man's time, health, and strength are spent in drink––he becomes homeless and friendless, sick and outcast, for the sake of drink.
...which reminded me of a character in Betty Smith's novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The father in the book, Johnny Nolan, is an alcoholic. I loved A Tree when I read it in elementary school, and I highly recommend it. The lexile is 810, the same as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though Charlie's grade level equivalent is 5.6 while A Tree's grade level equivalent is 7.6. The main character, Francie, is a character that will stick with you. I remember wanting so much for her and being amazed at her hopefulness.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My 3 Year Old's Nativity Drawing

11/15/14 (age 3 1/2)

The original drawing

Mary's hair cracks me up. I think I looked the same way after giving birth.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Field Trip: ICE Santa Monica

My 3 1/2 year old skated FIVE HOURS today! We walked to the outdoor rink on 4th Street, rented our skates ($15 per person, but you can skate from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays - if you have the energy), and went out on the ice.

The smallest skates they have are size 8. My daughter wore a 10, which is larger than her street shoe size, but the same size as her tap shoes.
I do not know what I'm doing on the ice. I've been skating a handful of times, and the last time was in high school. I can skate without falling down. That's it. I can't skate backwards. And I can't stop.

My daughter started out holding the wall with both hands. I explained to her that everyone falls, but you get up and try again. My daughter was fine with this idea. She always surprises me with how brave and determined she is. I asked a staff member if there was a "right" way to fall. (The staff members were all really nice.) She said she didn't know if there was a right way to fall other than with your hands out, but she showed my daughter how to get up after a fall.
Look mom, no wall.
If you want to get close to God, take a three-year-old ice skating. You'll pray over and over Keep her safe. You'll pray And thank you for having kept her safe up until this point. When she falls and you're holding her hand, you'll pray Thank you for not letting me rip her arm out of the socket. When she perseveres, you'll pray thank you for that.
No wall!
A woman - thank you for her too - skated over to my daughter and gave her some tips. She explained that skating was just marching and gliding, and then she offered to take my daughter on a lap around the rink. I had been watching the woman earlier, in awe at how relaxed she looked, gliding across the ice like the fairies in Fantasia, while I had my shoulders up at my ears, worried about falling and people and my child's bones and the texture of the ice and, and, and...

After two hours, my daughter was skating around the big rink, holding hands with me (not the wall), and asking to go in the Tot Spot (the children's rink) alone. At the end of the day, she asked if she could take her skates home. I told her no, but that the staff would keep them safe for her until the next time she goes skating.

"Okay," she said, "but tell them not to let anyone else wear them."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where We Are In Math

My 3 1/2 year old LOVES math. Part of me wishes she loved dollies and pretend food more, but nope. She wants to do math. I had hoped to follow a Charlotte Mason schedule in terms of when we started "schooling" (as in, not for another 2 1/2 years), but my daughter had different plans.

When I read the PNEU programmes, I was attracted to the way Mason believed math should be taught. It was gentle. It was hands-on. The sequence was logical (the PNEU programmes list Pendlebury Arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, simple division...). Little ones learned to add using beans and dominoes. Multiplication facts were learned using money (9 x 7 = 63, and one way to make 63 cents would be with 2 quarters, 1 dime, and 3 pennies, etc.). There was five minutes of drill daily.

I don't believe one must purchase a math curriculum for grades K through 3. That said, I think Mathematical Reasoning is really awesome, and I've written about that here.

My daughter has completed 150 pages of the 250-page Mathematical Reasoning Level A book. For the most part, we go in order, but if she doesn't understand a certain concept, we skip it and come back to it a few days later. Here are a couple of pages from Level A...

I'm not concerned with handwriting right now. She can learn to write Year 1 when she has more fine motor strength. But right now, she's capable of counting items in a set (one-to-one correspondence), and matching sets of items to numerals.

This page was fun because we used real pennies to "buy" candy by placing one penny over each piece of candy. This activity could also be done with real candy (like M&Ms or Smarties) and pennies!

Operation Christmas Child

Thank you to Mary Prather for such a great list of things to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Yesterday, I showed my daughter this video...

She loved it. (She watched it again last night. Twice.)

She said she wanted to make a shoebox for a girl, a three-year-old girl, like her.

I had the day off from work, so we took the bus to the 99 Cent Store. Before we went inside, I reminded my daughter that we were buying presents for her little girl, and not buying things for her. We reviewed Mary Prather's list, and then we went inside.

Here is what my daughter picked out...
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, ducky wash mitt, brush, plastic cups (set of 2), Jungle Book Band-Aids, facial tissue
Necklace & bracelet set, Jake and the Neverland Pirates socks (she insisted on these socks), headband, sunglasses
Puzzle and stuffed puppy
Also in the box: watercolor paint set, crayons, and stickers
There are a couple more items we'll be adding to the box, like a card and a photo. And then we will be dropping it off at the nearest drop-off location.

Again, thank you Mary Prather for helping us get involved!

Monday, November 10, 2014

One of Many Reasons I Love My Husband...

Also note the red paint on my child's ears.
My aunt Stephanie once told me to keep a list of reasons I love my husband. She said to laminate the list so that it couldn't be ripped up. And she said that when I was upset with him, to lock myself in the bathroom with that list. This paint-covered baby is one of many reasons.
Daddy is the stay-at-home parent. Today, while Mommy had to stay after school to do parent-teacher conferences, Daddy took Daughter across town to the home of one of the families in our weekly home(pre)school co-op.
Look at that happy face.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Field Trip: The Museum of Flying

Model of Wright Brothers' plane
Today we went to a birthday party for one of my daughter's little friends. His party was at The Museum of Flying. The museum is filled with all sorts of airplanes and airplane-related exhibits. There are a couple of cockpits, as well as a cockpit simulator, in which children can pretend to be pilots.

My daughter loved being in a cockpit, flipping switches, pulling levers, turning knobs, and steering, and I loved listening to her talk to herself on her make-believe flight.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ourselves 1.3 and 2.1

I daresay you have already found it difficult to make everything fit; but, never mind; what you do not understand now you may understand some day, or you may see a meaning better and truer than that which is intended. 
In Ourselves, Charlotte Mason uses an analogy to compare the soul to a kingdom, in which the government is made up of officers representing the following parts of the soul:
  • Appetites
  • Desires
  • Affections 
  • Intellect
  • Imagination
  • Aesthetic sense
  • Reason
  • Conscience
  • Will
Mason's parceling of the soul reminded me of what I had read about Judaism and the soul. In Judaism, there are five "parts" of the soul: soul (engine of life), spirit (emotional self/personality), breath (intellect), life (will, desire), and yechidah - a translation of which is "only" and, to make it too simplistic, is the part of the soul that is connected to God.


In Part II: Chapter I, Mason writes about the appetite for food. He is "Esquire Hunger." Mason uses this character to discuss some of the following issues:

  1. You shouldn't complain about the food put in front of you.
  2. You should eat breakfast.
  3. You should eat to fuel your body.
  4. Don't spend your allowance on candy.
  5. Do use your allowance to pursue your hobbies.

Reading this section, I thought of my childhood aversion to ingredients like peppers and onions and celery. Every Sunday after church, we went to my grandparents' house for lunch. My grandparents (my father's parents) were Armenian, and my grandmother cooked traditional Armenian foods. She used onions in everything. And she always made a green salad. The salad often included bell peppers and celery and raw onion. I picked out these ingredients and only ate the lettuce, cucumber, and tomato, and got a finger-wagging every week.

I perceived the food at my house and the food at school as normal. My mother, who is not Armenian, did not cook like my grandmother, and the food at school was especially normal. I liked the way the hot items came in an aluminum tray and the cold items came in a plastic one, and how everything was in its own compartment. I liked that nothing touched.

One day at school, my teacher gave us a journal prompt that resulted in me writing about how my grandma's food was "wierd." (It was after I had learned the "i before e except after c" rule.) At home, my father read my journal, and the following Sunday, he read it aloud at lunch. My grandmother was not amused.

Everyone else thought it was hilarious.

At some point - during my teens - I developed a taste for my grandmother's weird food. For peppers and onions and celery, and sumac and raw lamb and fresh mint. This gives me hope that my three-year-old will one day outgrow her very-preschool food preferences (example: still-frozen-chicken-nuggets - nugget-sicles).  Now, I enjoy most foods (sashimi, Ethiopian food, Oaxacan-style goat, everything my Korean-American neighbor makes). When someone makes something using spices I'm not familiar with, I can appreciate the flavors. I can also appreciate the effort that went into making it, and the generosity of the person sharing it.

When you read this section, does it make you think of your own childhood aversions to foods? What were they? How did your preferences change over time? How do you handle your children's food preferences? Or maybe this section makes you think of table manners? Read with me...
Therefore I have said that no one has discovered the boundaries of the Kingdom of Mansoul; for nobody knows how much is possible to any one person. Many persons go through life without recognising this. They have no notion of how much they can do and feel, know and be...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ourselves Chapter 2: The Perils of Mansoul

...a great deal of it is unexplored, and men have not discovered its boundaries. This is exciting and delightful to the people, because, though here and there Mansoul is touched by another such country as itself, there are everywhere reaches which no man has seen, regions of country which may be rich and beautiful.
The above quote is from Chapter 1 of Ourselves, which I posted about here.

In Chapter 2, Mason discusses "the perils of Mansoul." They are sloth, fire, plague, flood, famine, discord, and darkness. As I read this chapter, I thought about the causes of these perils: apathy, pessimism, envy, discontent, carelessness, disorder...

Right off the bat, I can tell you that I work on "looking on the bright side" A LOT.


Two weeks ago, my 3 1/2 year old asked what a spirit is. It was 7:20 a.m., and we were in the car (my husband was driving me to work), and I hadn't had my coffee yet. This is all to say that I was not prepared for this question coming from a teeny-tiny person in her car seat. "Well," I said, "it's the part of you that connects you to God."

"Oh," she said. That answer seemed to suffice.

The following day, she asked what a soul is.

"Well," I started, "it's your spirit."

"But where is my spirit?"

"It's inside you."

"Like my skeleton?"

"Yes. But it's invisible."

"What's 'invisible'?"

I explained to her that when something is invisible, you can't see it. We've talked about how God is everywhere and how we can't see him, but she's three, which means she thinks God lives on the moon and needs to wear shoes when he goes outside.

I'm not sure at what age I first understood that souls are eternal, but I know I knew at six. When I was six, my grandfather (my father's father) died. His funeral was open casket, and I remember my father lifting me up to see my grandfather's body, my grandmother kissing my grandfather's hand, and telling me to kiss it too. I remember kicking and squirming and telling her no because it wasn't my grandfather anymore. It was just a body.

How do you explain 'soul' to a preschooler? One idea that I read said to liken the soul to an astronaut, and the body to an astronaut suit; an astronaut needs a special suit to travel into space, just as a soul needs a special suit (a body) to travel to earth.

Or maybe she got the answers she needed. Invisible. Inside. Connects you to God.

We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.     - Stage Manager, from Thornton Wilder's Our Town

Sunday, November 2, 2014

End of Daylight Savings Lantern Walk

This evening, we met with a bunch of families with young children, brought picnic dinners and homemade lanterns to the beach, and took a walk as the sun set. There was tree climbing, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star singing, dessert sharing, and apple cider drinking.

Ourselves Chapter 1: Mansoul

There are lots of posts that discuss the "how to" of CM, but there is less written about Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies.

It's not an easy read.
I'm curious as to what CMers think about Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies, not from a "Ms. Mason was saying..." perspective, but from a deeply personal one. I'd love to hear not what you think, but how it makes you think, starting with Chapter 1. If you haven't read it, here it is at Ambleside Online. Chapter 1 is short, less than 3 pages.

I chose the image for this post because Mason likens each of our souls to a kingdom. "Mansoul" is an Eden where God walks and talks with the people, where art and music inspire heroism, and where the unlovely parts can be made lovely. The kingdom touches other kingdoms, equally rich and beautiful.

Her description of Mansoul takes me there. I can hear the rippling stream and singing birds. It is a place far away from the 30 report cards I have to do this week, the never-ending household chores, the bills that must be paid. I am surrounded by blue forget-me-nots and yellow marsh marigolds (king's cups). I am in this quiet hazel copse.

The land of Mansoul has everything it needs. I know this to be true - that I have all I need - but it doesn't hurt to be reminded. A lot. When I need a reminder (which is daily, sometimes more), I think about the lives of my father's parents and his grandmother. My great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. She was forced from her home (she was 19, married, and lived in her husband's parents' house), and forced to walk from her village in Turkey to the Syrian desert. Then, in the desert, my great-grandmother watched her young husband die in his mother's lap. Her mother-in-law looked up at her and said, "You're free now. Go." I imagine her looking around, at the tent city survivors had erected, thinking, Go where? My great-grandmother and my grandparents had far less than I have, but they had what they needed. When I start to think how nice it would be to have more space, a second car, etc., and the thinking-how-nice turns into discontent, I walk myself into the desert and stand with my great-grandmother. Me? I have more than enough.

How does Chapter 1 make you think?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Daylight Savings Lantern Making

Daylight savings ends tomorrow morning, so tomorrow evening, we are meeting up with a bunch of other families with preschoolers and going on a lantern walk.

You can turn just about anything into a lantern. We used pressed flowers, a leftover party favor box, scissors, a gluestick, a sheet of white paper, and tissue paper squares.

 1)Glue pressed flowers onto a piece of white paper.
 2)Get a leftover party favor box. (You can use almost anything!)
3)Cut out windows (any shape!).

4)Cut apart the flowers so that each flower is on its own rectangle. Glue the flower rectangles and tissue paper squares inside the box. Put a mini flashlight inside. Viola!
We're ready to walk!