Our Natural Learning Day…Yesterday

 

I tried my best to get this post written yesterday, as it is about yesterday, but…we all know blogging is not high on the priority list!

So, yesterday was full of natural learning exploration. The day had a lazy start; the toddler has had nights recently with an hour of nursing, tossing, kicking and hitting me, and nursing, so I’ve been waking up extra tired, and yesterday was no exception. I almost feel like she’s a newborn with my recent lack of sleep! We needed to go to the grocery store that day, so I asked the girls if they wanted to go in the morning or after speech class, and they chose to go after speech, because they wanted to keep playing that morning. Fine by me, as I got to stay in my pj’s longer and take my time.

We made waffles and spinach-fruit smoothies for breakfast. I love when we can start the day with a filling yummy breakfast! The girls spent most of the morning in free play, some of what I saw was: making a “collection” of animals (according to M, a collection is something that you look at and keep), cushion jumping in the living room,  and doll house play.

The "Animal Collection"

The “Animal Collection”

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

M initiated reading practice. She picked out one of her reading books (I will write a post about these reading books another time) and read some of the book with me. She is getting so excited about her reading ability! C requested that we finish the last country in their culture sticker book (Nigeria) so we did that next.

We ate a yummy lunch of sandwiches, veggies, and fruit, and then had quiet time (toddler nap time). M and C chose to watch a Jeff Corwin animal show. The girls wanted an episode on Western Africa (since we just talked about Nigeria), but instead we found an episode on Nepal. I was only able to watch the end of the show (as I had been nursing the toddler to sleep) so I only caught a bit about elephant midwives (birth and babies is a popular topic in this household, both for the girls and me).

Then we brought a little springtime inside with flower paper roll painting. M discovered that you need to press down on the petal flaps to get a good print. M also decided to add stems and leaves with her fingers, and eventually we got out a few brushes to paint the centers of the flowers. C quickly turned the activity into a tactile one and just spread the paint all over with her hands. How great that must have felt!

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Then we cleaned up quickly and went to speech. We have both a new graduate student clinician (we get a new one every semester) and a new faculty supervisor, who is the school’s expert on Apraxia. She is trained in Prompt Therapy (only SLP in Utah with Prompt training) and I’m just so excited to finally have her in charge of M’s therapy (previously she had been consulting our supervisor). The classes just started this week, and they are still just collecting language samples and figuring out what they want to target.

After speech we all went to the grocery store, scoring the only 3-child-cart. I had a huge list to get through, so I bribed the kids with a cookie from the bakery. But it was a successful trip (seriously, its the little things, right?)

When we got home, the girls had more free play, including: looking at a Native American book (M noticed that they carried baskets on their heads); art; more reading practice for M (she found CVC words in a chapter book that she could read); looking at more books; and of course, dance time in the living room.

A winter storm was beginning, so I cooked up leftover chili from the freezer and cheddar biscuits for dinner. Dad left work too late and got stuck in the storm (his front-wheel drive work truck can not make it up into our neighborhood on the bench of the mountain in snowy weather). He parked his truck pretty far away (about 20 minute walk in the snow), so we drove out to pick him up. He did not want us to get him, worrying about a car sliding into us, but it was a short drive and it meant we would all be home sooner to eat our yummy dinner.
After dinner we played board games, card games, and puzzles before bedtime. I was able to keep up with laundry and dishes, and we all went to bed with every room in the home clean (well except the office which is a disaster right now with moving boxes). The girls have been very helpful lately with keeping things picked up…I think we are finally running a smooth household routine!
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Around the World with Sticker Dolls

My girls love the Sticker Dolly Dressing books from Usborne. You can get them at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or through your local Usborne consultant. We’ve done Princesses, Fairies, Ballerinas, Dancers, Bridesmaids and Weddings (to name a few). It has been simply for fun (and great for entertaining the older sisters when baby sis was born), but I’ve also cringed at how materialistic some of them seem to be (there’s one just for Shopping, for example). I really wished the Weddings included same-sex couples and different cultural weddings (instead of just an American view). The Ballerinas book does feature different ballets, which is educational (and since the girls love reading Ella Bella Ballerina books, they are already familiar with some ballets). There are historical fashion books too, which we haven’t tried yet (because the girls gravitate so much to the princess/fairy themed ones), but I’m looking forward to doing this as well (perhaps when we start making historical timelines next year).

I decided to introduce the Around the World book to the girls. It features different world cultures, with a world map to keep track. I honestly wasn’t sure how the girls would react, but the costumes are so beautiful and the girls enjoy learning about geography and cultures, that they are loving it!

Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World

Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World

So far, we’ve met Norwegian Reindeer Herders, Spanish flamenco dancers, a Japanese bride and groom, and Austrians dressed for a folk festival. After working on a page together (there are instructions on the sticker sheet for placing the costumes in order, as well as clothing names), we usually try to find a YouTube video as well (we’ve viewed reindeer being round up in Norway, though the herders were wearing modern clothing, flamenco dancing, and Austrians dancing a traditional dance). The book would be a great base for a cultural study, but I’m happy to just do these little tidbits for now. The girls have been asking daily to do more. Usually, they go through the sticker books in a day or two, but I’ve been intentionally making us do this one slowly.

Where in the World is Grandma: Newfoundland and Labrador

To continue with our study of Grandma’s travels, we added Newfoundland and Labrador to our book. Grandma had given us a newsletter she made of her experience in this Canadian province. We really just did a quick look into Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • We used worksheets from kidzone.ws to color maps of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland provincial flag, and the provincial bird and plant (puffin and the pitcher plant).
  • We read a few books about Newfoundland. Ode to Newfoundland is a lyrical story with brilliant pictures and information. The Mummer’s Song shows the Newfoundland Christmas custom of mummering. I found other great Newfoundland books online, but our local library didn’t carry them; if you’re interested, look into The Killick: A Newfoundland StoryThe Hangashore, and Moocher in the Lun.
  • We read a book about the pitcher plant and other carnivorous plants. The girls were very interested in the idea of meat-eating plants. I’m planning on getting this Carnivorous Creations Kit sometime in the next year or so for more in-depth exploration.
  • We read a lot of books about puffins. PuffinsA Puffin’s Year, and Puffling, were factual stories/informational books, and There Once Was a Puffin and Nothing Like a Puffin were silly entertaining books.
  • And we made puffin beak masks. I couldn’t easily find a puffin craft on the internet, so I basically made this one up!

    Paper Plate Puffin Beak Instructions:

    1. Cut a paper plate in half, and then quarters. Fold two quarters in half. Mark lines on the quarters to color them orange, yellow, and blue. One folded quarter will be the top of the beak, another folded quarter will be the bottom (one paper plate makes two beaks).
    2. Attach the left top beak to the left bottom beak with a paper fastener. Do the same to the other side.
    3. Attach string, elastic, etc to each side of the top beak. (After doing the first one, I realized it’s easier to attach the elastic before attaching the brad fasteners.)
    4. Put it on and pretend you’re a puffin!

Jambo! A Study of Tanzania

Last spring we studied countries through our monthly Culture Club group. We had a lot of fun learning with friends about different countries that the hostess’ visited, had a family connection, etc. The hostess would provide delicious food, usually a craft or coloring page, and a short presentation. We took a break over the summer, and since I thought we would be moving this fall, we haven’t started it again.

I had been thinking about how to study world cultures again, when it occurred to me that the girls can study the countries that their grandmother visits frequently for her job. We started a binder for the project, labeled with a world map showing the countries that Grandma has been to. This is also a great way for them to connect with their grandmother.

First up, Tanzania!

We read an excellent collection of books from our local library:

We colored Tanzania on a map of Africa. We colored the Tanzanian flag, and learned what different parts of the flag represents. We learned how to count to ten in Swahili, and made a Swahili Counting book, counting animals that can be found in Tanzania. We sang a counting song in Swahili. We learned how to say hello (Jambo!), daddy (baba), children (watoto), elephant (tembo), and other Swahili words. I didn’t get out my Swahili dictionary or workbook from my college class because they are packed already and I’ve been too lazy to dig it out.

The girls really enjoyed learning about Tanzania and are looking forward to seeing photos from my mom’s visit. We might still attempt to cook some Tanzanian food, but I haven’t made the time for that yet.

Culture Club: Australia

Last week, my friend did an excellent job hosting our monthly Culture Club. We traveled down under to learn about her grandmother’s native land, Australia.

We drew mini-replicas of the Australian flag and their aboriginal flag.

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We studied Australian geography with the aid of a giant map drawn in chalk on the driveway. We learned about Australian animals with the book Over in Australia. We viewed some Australian artifacts, books, and pictures.

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And of course, we ate a delicious Australian feast!

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Back at home, we read more about Australia with the book, Australia ABC’s (as well as Over in Australia again). I’m glad I had library books this time; it was a great way to go over what we learned in Culture Club that morning. We also did a craft replicating aboriginal eucalyptus bark art, but I’m pretty sure this craft was not realistic in the least. We love doing crafts anyway and the girls had fun.

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Japanese Festival

This past weekend we went to the local Japanese Festival to experience Japanese culture. I was surprised at the number of teenagers/young adults dressed as anime characters. We also saw a lot of traditional dress. We ate yummy food, made kites, and saw a few shows (though we couldn’t stay long enough for the dance show). It was fun, and I’m glad I braved the crowd without help from Dada (who had to work last minute).

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Culture Club: Nicaragua

Yesterday was my day to host our monthly culture club. (I did not get many pictures, because I was busy leading the group, so this post might be bland.) I gave a presentation on my birthplace, Nicaragua.

We first looked at the Nicaraguan flag and made a human replica of the flag (the kids held up different parts of the flag, like a human puzzle).

Then we worked on filling out a giant map of Nicaragua on the wall, that I had made with painter’s tape. We learned about the lakes and numerous volcanoes, some of the important cities/areas of the country, animals, and ways of getting around the country. The kids took turn sticking things on the big map. We pretended to drive in Nica style (fast and honking our horn), rowed down a river, and even weighed ourselves before getting on the airplane, in true La Costena fashion.

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After the presentation, we went outside to make our own volcano erupt (the classic baking soda and vinegar chemical reaction).

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Next, the children worked on a paper volcano craft.

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And them we ate delicious Nicaraguan food! I so wish I had taken a picture of the spread, but there was Indio Viejo (a beef stew), Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), Arroz con Piña (pineapple rice drink), platanos (fried plantains), mangoes and pineapples, and Tres Leches (a cake). Yummy!

We had a lot of fun exploring Nicaragua with our friends. The weather cooperated by making it very hot.

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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