That Agape Family

Live. Love. Learn.

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What’s the Difference? – Math Concepts

Yesterday was Easter Monday. Unlike the school aged children in our area, who had the day off, I was drilling Little Miss making sure she was learning. Homeschooler’s don’t take a day off! Hahaha, OK, I’m joking. Well, kind of. We generally take a “learn anywhere, anytime” attitude, so it’s true that we don’t “take a day off”, but we are substantially more passive about our learning, as opposed to the lesson plans I was taught to prepare in Teacher’s College.

Yesterday, we decided to try out a few puzzles. Actually, my intentions were to purge that which we don’t play with anymore (I’ve been in a big clear out mood, lately), so I asked Little Miss if she was still interested in some puzzles. Confession: I LOVE PUZZLES. I can easily sit and do puzzles for hours at a time. One time, at a weekend church retreat, I stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning, completing one of popcorn (we had a friendly competition to see which group could finish their puzzle first. They underestimated my addictive spirit). No, I didn’t regret that decision the next day, although I did get an XL Double Double.

Anyway, we started out by trying out the puzzle on top, which has 24 pieces. Little Miss whipped through that one in no time, which I expected because she typically does ones that are around 48 pieces or so, lately. Then, we worked on the puzzle on the bottom, which has 60 pieces. I tried explaining to her that the second one would be a bit tougher, but she didn’t quite understand why. We pushed through, as she got a bit frustrated about halfway through. We had already put the first puzzle away, but she wanted to do it again, so we did.

We looked at the size of the puzzle pieces, and saw that one was larger than the other. Then, we put them next to each other. I counted the number of pieces along the side of the dragon puzzle (4) and then of the Camp Candy puzzle (6) #throwback! Little Miss then had the idea to put one on top of the other, to further compare their sizes:

I thought that was pretty neat. I wanted to purge some stuff. I also wanted a few moments to myself, where I could read my book (you can follow what I’m reading on Goodreads, if you’re interested). But, instead, a moment was naturally created to explore various math concepts (size, number)! This is one of the reasons why I love homeschooling! We don’t have to learn based on predetermined expectations, but instead we can explore as we go. They will learn what they need to learn, when they need to learn it. When learning is done in context, it has that much more meaning.

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Do you homeschool? Have you experienced a learning opportunity that seemingly came out of nowhere?

Canadian Opera Company – Free Concert Series

Have you noticed that I’m a bit thrifty? I love (and seek out) free activities! Today, we went to see the Canadian Opera Company (COC), for their free concert series with Little Miss’ homeschool children’s choir. Today’s concert was an excerpt from their upcoming opera performance of The Return of Ulysses, as well as some ballet. The COC runs their free series throughout the school year, and has performances both during lunch hour, and in the early evenings.

It’s a beautiful set up, and they whet your appetite for the upcoming performances. This is perfect for us, as the excerpt is an hour long, which is plenty for a four year old.

If you are interested in going, the seating is based on a first come, first served basis, and there is a line up. Try to get there an hour or so before show time.

They have a variety of performances as well, like latin music, jazz, ensembles, etc., so be sure to check their calendar to see if anything tickles your fancy.

Blessings!

Liz

Home Depot Workshops

March Break for homeschoolers traditionally means that we try our darnedest to hide away, while our usual hot spots (the Science Centre, swimming pools, and museums) become flooded with children enjoying their time off. This March Break, we decided to try out the Home Depot workshops, which Home Depot offers on the second Saturday of every month, and every day during March Break. Verdict: AMAZING! Now we can tick off “shop class” from our curriculum! Here is Little Miss working on her fully functional periscope:

We also worked on a fire station bank, with 2 compartments, one for “save” and the other for “give”.

You also get these nifty aprons, that I assure you are essential to the experience. After washing  Little Miss’ dress, after our first workshop, I asked her how she managed to get so much nail polish on her dress. It wasn’t nail polish… Pro Tip: Wear old clothes! And be sure to take advantage of those free aprons! You also get a spiffy pin for every project you finish. One girl had to have had over 25! It was pretty impressive.

The project for April is a window birdhouse. Sign up online through your local Home Depot to reserve your spot. This is a nation wide program, so it should be available where you are, as long you’ve got a Home Depot in your area. The recommended age is 5-12, but I have found that they are lenient with the age requirements, as long as you support your child as needed. We had a blast, and I’m sure you will, too.

Blessings!

Liz

Roll With It

The other day, we went to the park. There’s a lovely new park near our house, so with the warmer weather, we headed down. Little Miss was having fun on the various equipment there, when she noticed 3 children rolling down a hill (who needs toys, right?). Well, she marched herself up to the top of the hill, lied down, and rolled down the hill, making corrections to her direction as she went.

It may be hard to see in the photo, but there she is, in her purple sweater. Do you notice something? She’s the only child in the photo. You see, moments before I snapped this pic, the parents of the other children went over and scolded them. Granted, I think the main reason they were reprimanded is because at the top of the hill is a main street, but there’s a sidewalk in between, and they weren’t all that close to it, to be honest. However, there are many reasons parents discourage this type of activity. They may not want their child’s clothes to get dirty, or perhaps they think it’s a silly concept.

But, you know what? Rolling (and spinning around in circles) is good for a child’s development. In her book, Balanced and Barefoot, Angela Hanscom explains how the motion of spinning is key to proper balance development in children. Remember back in the day when we had those awesome merry go rounds? They were a good thing! Our park has this neat little contraption:

Little Miss loves going “faster”! Even Sweet Pea wanted to try this past trip, and she just turned one.

Let them roll! It’s good for them.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. What was your favourite piece of equipment on the playground when you were a kid?

Two Peas in a Pod

I’m an only child. So, when we found out we were expecting another child, we were thrilled, but I was a little nervous, not having any personal experience with having a sibling. Would they get along? Would they like each other? Would Little Miss be jealous with another person in the house? Turns out, things are turning out just fine.

One of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool is so that we can spend more time together as a family. Sweet Pea recently turned one, and if Little Miss had gone off to school this year, as her age would dictate, then they would have missed out on hours (days!) of time together. This fun pic was taken a couple of nights ago, as we were trying to wind down for the night.

We are part of a few homeschooling groups, and I can honestly say that one of things that I have really noticed is the family dynamics of these families. The sibling relationships are so sweet! Of course, they do argue at times, but they truly look out for each other. They genuinely love each other, work together, learn together, and grow together.

We hope and pray that our daughters will become best friends over the years, or continue to be.

This, of course, is not to say that if your children are in school, then they will inevitably hate each other. No, I’m not saying that at all. However, this is just another one of the benefits we have found with homeschooling.

Blessings!

Liz

Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park

Did you know that Markham has an AMAZING indoor bike park? We didn’t either until a friend of ours tipped us off. One fabulous feature of Joyride 150 is that it is FREE for children under 4, after the one time $5 registration fee. Yes, free and unlimited. Free bike rental, and day pass – remember to bring your own helmet, though. They do have them, but those are available for rent. Helmets are mandatory for all riders.

When you walk in, you are greeted with a blue planked beginner area with pump tracks, narrow bike paths, and a little see saw.  Little Miss used a balance bike for the first time, and after about an hour of figuring it out (and some frustration), she didn’t want to leave! We spent about 5 hours there our first time, and she had so much fun! It’s great exercise, too. There is also an area with picnic benches for eating and relaxing.

As you go farther back into the facility (which is HUGE), you find additional paths, ramps, and half pipes. For the more adventurous, they have ramps that lead into foam pits, so you can try out all those crazy BMX tricks. There is also an outdoor dirt ramp portion, but we have yet to be there in the summer, so I haven’t seen them – yet. Another favourite part is the X-Country trail which winds through the whole facility.

Which leads me to my proud mama brag – she rode a 2 wheeler yesterday! We have been to Joyride about 5 times, and each time she whipped around on the balance bike, growing more confident each time. Yesterday was our first time in about 2 months, and she asked about a pedal bike. Daddy had the day off, so I had been pumping her up that he could help her learn, as it’s a little tough to do while wearing a baby, which is my usual attire. Anyway, Sweet Pea fell asleep in on the way, so Daddy stayed with her while we went on in. She started off on the balance bike, but seemed a bit bored with it. Anyway, long story short, we tried out the pedal bike, and she caught on very quickly. The most beautiful part, to me, is that she really did it on her own. Yes, we held the bike a bit to get her going, but she did it. And the look of surprise when she realized how far she’d gone without us was magical.

If you ask her, she’s “still practicing”, but we’re confident she’s got the hang of it. And I genuinely believe it is because of the experience she got at Joyride 150. Thanks for operating an awesome place, guys!

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Do you know of an awesome kids hot spot in or around the T Dot?

Pop Goes Perfection!

Does anyone else feel this way? With Sweet Pea toddling (hanging on to everything, but not quite walking yet), we’ve nicknamed her “Destructor”.

Have a wonderful Family Day!

Blessings,

Liz

She Spilled Her Drink and Then…

Today, Little Miss and I enjoyed a rare lunch date with just the two of us. Usually we have Sweet Pea in tow, so it was nice for it to be just the two of us. So, there we are, sitting in the middle of the food court munching away when she knocks over her drink, all over the floor.

Yes, this happens on a regular basis. And yes, it was precariously close to the edge to begin with. However, I reacted as I try to do – calmly. No use crying over spilled iced tea, right? I went and found someone to clean it up, and I went and got a refill for her. Then, we finished our meal. No fuss, no muss. (We did thank the person who mopped up the mess, for the record).

So we sat there, watching the people go by, enjoying our meal. I began to get a little antsy, because a 4 year old enjoys their meal, and I eat like it’s a race, so I took out the book that came with her Happy Meal (did you know you can get a book instead of an annoying toy? Score!), and began opening it. Can you guess what happened next? I spilled my drink, all over the floor. Actually, directly underneath the “wet floor” sign that was placed there after our last clean up. Boy, was my face red. She spilled her drink, and then I spilled mine!

“How embarrassing!” I said to Little Miss. “That’s ok, Mommy.” What if I had blown up earlier? What if I had gotten frustrated over a simple accident? What would her reaction to my mishap have been then? It’s not often we get to see a reflection of ourselves so quickly, but today I did. And today I was glad I chose grace over chastising.

Blessings,

Liz

That’s Not a Rocket Ship!

Little Miss and I went to the pool today! We had a blast splashing around. We went to Agincourt Pool, which is a lovely, free pool in Scarborough. As we were playing around, a little boy, probably around 3, confidently commanded everyone around him to “get on the rocket ship!!!” No one really followed his directions, so he yelled it a couple more times, each time more convincing than before. A woman beside him (not his mom), said “that’s not a rocket ship, that’s a snake,” while giving me that knowing look.

Agincourt Pool

And yes, technically it was a snake. But to this child, it was his rocket ship, that was his to commandeer. To another child, it might have been a bus, that was taking them to school. He looked at me, and I told him “I like your rocket ship! I think it’s really cool!” And he went back to being his assertive self, trying to get everyone onto his ship before take off.

Let’s encourage imaginative play. As adults, sometimes it’s hard for us to get into the mood, or even to understand why they may create crazy stories. However, it is an integral part of play and development, one which needs to be nurtured, and not squelched.

Let’s “dive in” to imaginative play! (I’m so puny!)

Blessings,

Liz

The Grocery List – Early Literacy

Little Miss has recently turned 4. Naturally, some have started to wonder when will this child start to read? We’ve taken the approach that she will start to read when she’s ready. We’re not doing sight word flash cards, and we don’t quiz her on various letters of the alphabet (well, most of us don’t…).

However, we read a lot. We generally read about 5 books a day, sometimes significantly more, and sometimes less. We really want to encourage a love of reading, and studies have shown that forcing a child to read before they are ready can lead to a dislike of reading. In Finland, they don’t start to formally teach reading until 6 or 7, and they are no farther behind their peers within 2-3 years, and often excel later on.

We read books about the various letters of the alphabet, we point out letters when we’re walking and driving, and we talk about which names start with which letters (Grandma and Grandpa both start with “G”).

As we’re setting the groundwork for reading, one tool we’ve starting using is the Grocery List. I used to have our grocery list on the side of our fridge, so that I could add to it as we ran out of items. However, I often forgot it, so I starting using my phone to log our household needs. This is a screenshot of our grocery list using the app ColorNote:

Grocery List

It’s pretty handy, as the checklist mode will allow you to tap a line, and it strikes it out for you (Little Miss likes that part). As I was adding to our list a few weeks ago, I realized that when I entered “honey” my phone offered a cute little emoji option (see above). Although I like to think that we’ve moved past hieroglyphics as a form of communication, this generation seems to gravitate right back to them. All kidding aside, this has been a great tool to get Little Miss engaged in language, in a practical, experiential way. As we pick up the items on our list, I ask her to cross them out. “Do you see sugar on our list?”, and I emphasize the “s” sound for her. She’s gotten quite good at finding them, and the emoji items are also a confidence booster.

What type of casual learning do you experience in your day to day life?

Blessings,

Liz

P.S. Speaking of experiential (practical) learning, I learned how to take a screenshot for this blog post! I know, how could someone not know that in 2018? Well, that was me until this morning. Yay for continuing education!

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