Friday, October 29, 2010

Preschool Week of 10/29

Ok, I'm not sure I can keep up with so much change in my life. Very little got accomplished this week, but we are currently entertaining our last set of visitors, so we'll have our time to ourselves soon. Maybe we can develop a routine? Oh, wait, no, because Crumpet and I are starting another something new next week... I'll fill you in on that soon. For now, my head is just spinning.
A few things did happen this week:
Last weekend, we went to a Halloween bash at the military beach. It was lots of fun, and we participated in a scavenger hunt with friends. Our team won 2nd place, and we won a free night in a cabin on the beach, along with some rounds of mini-golf and a peddle bike rental. We'll all go camping in a few weeks! There was a costume contest and trick or treating during the day too.
Crumpet thought he would be brave enough to go through the haunted forest after dark, but he and his friends lasted about 5 seconds and we had to leave!

Parent Participation Preschool was a nightmare. I knew I shouldn't comment when it was going well... Monday, Crumpet refused to go in until after circle time, and was quite difficult throughout class. Wednesday, we skipped class because it was costume day, and I just wasn't sure Crumpet would cope well with the change in routine. And we just got news that the school is moving to a whole new building in 2 weeks. Really? More change? I'm on the verge of giving up on the school. We've been doing so well the rest of the week, and school is so painful. Any ideas? Should I keep pushing this on him? If we're going to homeschool anyway, does he really need to learn to function in a group like this? Maybe he'll handle this kind of thing better in a few years? Or, should I give it til the New Year and see if he finally settles? Sigh. It would be nice to have a husband to discuss this with!
Crumpet and I went geocaching twice at his request, so we had plenty of nature time. And we went to the Halloween story hour at the library today. It was costume day with trick or treating.
As for book work, very little was done. We did a bit of math, most of which involved working with pennies. Crumpet is beginning to add and subtract in his head without even thinking about it. I convinced him to reread the last Progressive Phonics book, but I'm having him read many of the 'parent' words in addition to the words he read before. He is beginning to be able to read words that don't make phonetic sense by thinking about the context of the words and looking at some of the letters in the words. It's such an amazing process to watch.
I meant to start our Mexico unit so we could be ready for the Day of the Dead next week, but to no avail. Not sure we'll be ready in time.
For now, we are enjoying the little dog who is staying here with his owners (we want a dog, we want a dog so much...), and getting very excited about Halloween. Crumpet has changed his mind 3 times about what he will be, so it's going to be a surprise for everyone this year. I just hope he sticks to something in the costume bucket.
Sorry, this is kind of a whiny, disjointed post. Tired...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Practicing Gratitude: 1000 Gifts

Jamie, over at Jamie's Cottage, has been listing 1000 things she is grateful for, and reading her posts always makes me smile and inspires me to write my own list. But I never do it - I just write it in my head. Today was such a nice day hiking and geocaching with Crumpet in beautiful places that I just can't procrastinate any more. I'm feeling very grateful for my life today, and I want to share! It's a pretty random list that I've been collecting for a while. So here goes:
1000 Things I Am Grateful For:
1) My husband
2) My son
3) My cats
3) Living in Hawaii
4) Turquoise blue water

The Ko'olau mountains
6) The house the military is renting to us
7) The 2 houses we own and can't sell in this crummy economy, but are someday going to be worth something so we have an income when we retire ;0
8) My amazing family
9) The wonderful home we found for the dog we had to leave behind (thanks Mom and Dad)
10) My mostly healthy body
11) Methimazole - the drug which treats the thyroid disease that made my body very sick a year ago
12)Health insurance
13) The US Navy, which offers a pretty stable job to my hubby and allows me to lead the life I love
14) Being able to stay home with my son
15) Having choices about how to educate my son
16) Homeschooling
17) Friends, everywhere
18) All of my travel experience
19) All of the bad things that have happened to me which have made me who I am
20) Moving, all the time. It has made me strong and brave and more curious about the world.
21) My garden
22) Food
23) The internet
24) Books
25) My wonderful Toyota Corolla, which just keeps on going.
26) Being able to afford two cars, so I have the freedom to get out and about.
27) Chocolate crepes
28) Exercise
29) Art
30) My camera
31) Having a box of costumes for Crumpet to choose from for Halloween. He had made a decision and we were all set, and then he changed his mind. But we already owned the required outfit. Phew!
32) My car GPS. Couldn't get anywhere on this island without it!
33) My geocaching GPS.
34) Finding wonderful veterinarians in every place we've lived
35) Skype
36) Animals - all animals
37) Crumpet can read
38) Little boy giggles
39) Crumpet's teacher at preschool
40) Snuggling close with my little man as he falls asleep
41) Cats purring
42) Hot water
43) Air conditioning
44) My internet connection was on the fritz tonight, and I fixed it myself!
45) Scented candles
46) Wine
47) Netflix
48) Rain
49) Couch covers
50) A washer and dryer in the house

It turns out that a thousand gifts is a lot, and I think I'll try to post 50 a week or so. Or more, when the mood strikes. I hope you are also having a day full of things to be grateful for!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Do you remember how annoyed I was last week because Crumpet didn't want to make a mosaic, like the artist Gaudi? Today, we were playing with his Unifix cubes (one of the best purchases ever!) and he said, "Hey Mom, do you remember that artist that made the lizard with the squares? I'm him and I'm making a mosaic (I had to remind him of the correct word)!" And he created a big pile of cubes, which was his mosaic. Hmm, it seems even when he's throwing a fit about not wanting to do something, he is learning...
And here is Crumpet (who has decided pants are unnecessary, sorry...) working with his Geoboard. What? You don't see it? This is what school looked like today - Crumpet was a sloth in a tree, and occasionally climbed down to participate in the educational process.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Preschool Week of 10/21 - a bit of revamping and some Halloween fun

This was a pretty good week all around.
Parent Participation Preschool provided some interesting insights into Crumpet's mind this week... A few weeks ago, his teacher (the best teacher in the world, I have to say...) told him she was sad that he didn't like school and wanted to know how to improve the experience for him.He told her he needed more vehicles... So every day when we arrive, there are more cars and more learning centers involving cars. I know she gets very little money to run this class, and I can't believe what she has done for my little man. It seems to be working. He did incredibly well last week. He was participating in class more, and interacting with the other children. On Monday this week, he was line leader, which he loves. And, we arrived to find 100 toy cars in a box. All of the other kids have counted to 100 for the teacher, and earned a math award. Crumpet won't go work one on one with her, so no award. She has been racking her brains, trying to find a way to get him to do it. She sat down with these 100 cars, and got him to start counting. But that's where it gets interesting. I know he should be able to get to 100, because he knows all the groups of 10's but I've never managed to keep his attention past 50. While counting for the teacher, he made it to 80, but by the end, he was exhausted. He was talking slow, breathing hard, and yawning. He was physically exhausted by the effort. I think it was a combination of having to focus for so long, and also the stress of interacting with a person he still doesn't know that well. Miss Elizabeth has done a lot of research into children's learning patterns, and she was pretty fascinated by him...
Then on Wednesday, it was school picture day. I had warned him, and he was excited, but when it actually happened, he freaked out because of the change in the school routine. He stormed off, yelling "I'm outta here!" and insisting he would never come back to school. Luckily, I could bribe him into class with the cars, and we just don't have a school picture of Crumpet. (Interestingly, I always hated pictures too, and there are no school pictures of me either...) Hopefully, school will get better again next week.

At home, we had lots of fun getting ready for Halloween. I bought this pumpkin decorating set at Target, and Crumpet was so excited that we had to use it right away. Isn't it adorable? (Do wait til closer to Halloween if you decide to use this set - this pumpkin already rotted, and we'll have to replace it. It's too warm here!)
We also made gingerbread cookies and decorated them as skeletons. I saw the idea in Family Fun magazine.
We did some book work, too, and I decided to change a few things.
McRuffy Reading: Each week, we begin a new reader. There are 5 days worth of lessons for each reader, and by the 3rd day, Crumpet is really annoyed to see the same book. He does NOT like repetition... The work involves some worksheets, reading comprehension questions, creative writing, handwriting, and spelling. I've decided to condense each section into 2 days, and it was totally doable this week. We don't bother with handwriting yet. For spelling, I ask him to spell the words at the beginning of the week. So far, he has been getting them all right. If I keep working on it during the week, he starts making mistakes because he's tired of the same words, and won't focus. So, if he gets them right at the beginning of the week, I won't be testing him again. Also, this week, we had our first unit reading'test'. I skimmed through this with him, but didn't make him answer all the questions. I know what he knows, and did I mention, he hates worksheets and repetition?
Progressive Phonics: Crumpet is zooming through the blends. I'm noticing that he forgets some of what he learned in previous weeks, though, because he won't reread the books. I'm going to have to insist on a little repetition in this area, I guess. I really think we could rely on Progressive Phonics as our sole reading curriculum. Crumpet is already far ahead of the lessons in McRuffy. However, I do like the reading comprehension and other extras in McRuffy, so we'll keep using both for now.
Science: We made our own fossils this week! I'll post more about that for Science Sunday.
McRuffy Math: We revisited number rods and place values, and this time around, Crumpet seemed to understand the idea. Getting him to focus and work with me is a nightmare, but I've explained that I will only have him answer half of the questions, if he pays attention and answers them all right. That's usually enough motivation for him to concentrate...

For fun, we went to the Honolulu Discovery Center (children's museum). This was a great place to spend a morning. They have a pretty good exhibit on the human body.
We also went to the water park, and we went geocaching with a friend who brought along a metal detector. Crumpet was fascinated! He now has a lovely collection of bottle caps...

For more preschool posts, visit Homeschool Creations.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Science Sunday - Making Fossils

Crumpet has been talking about fossils a lot lately. When we found this skull last week, he was thrilled to have found his own "fossil".
I decided to show him how a real fossil is made. I found this simple experiment in the book "Backyard Science Experiments" by Q.L. Pearce. We found the book at the thrift store, and it looks like it will be a good resource, especially when Crumpet gets a bit older.
We placed a half inch layer of clay in the bottom of a plastic container, and we smoothed it out. Then we sprayed the clay with cooking spray. Crumpet pressed a seashell into the clay, making a deep impression.
Impression type fossils are called 'trace fossils' or 'cast fossils' and can be footprints, as well as impressions of plants or animals.
Then we made another impression in another container. This time, we mixed up some plaster of paris and poured it over the clay, covering it completely. We let the plaster dry for about half an hour. Then we flipped the container over and released the concoction.
We peeled the clay off of the plaster of paris, and here was the result:
This kind of fossil would have been formed if mud filled in an impression and later dried and hardened. It is called a "mold fossil".
You can use this same process to make molds of footprints found outside, and I think we'll have to try it sometime! Crumpet was very pleased with the results, and now we have even more projects we must save. I spent today checking thrift stores for a cheap bookshelf to house his treasures... They're taking over!!
For more science posts, hop on over to Adventures in Mommydom!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Preschool Week of 10/15

This week, we went to a pumpkin patch with friends. While we were there, we got to enjoy a hayride and a corn maze.
We also went back to the aquarium with friends that had not been there yet, and we went geocaching (post to come on that soon). Parent Participation Preschool went really well. I'm afraid to say anything, but maybe 3 months is the magic number of months Crumpet requires to adjust to something new, and we're turning the corner at last?? (Karate took 3 months..)
At home:
Reading: We finished the Progressive Phonics book on ch, th, and sh blends. At first, Crumpet struggled with the idea of blends, but now he's got it, and the next book in the series is going very smoothly. I really like the way this program works.
McRuffy Math: We did some more work with pattern blocks. Making new shapes from old shapes to create the required designs used to be a bit difficult, but now it is becoming intuitive for Crumpet. We started working on place values using base 10 rods today. I don't know if he didn't understand or just wasn't focusing, but this was rough going. Mostly, he wanted to turn out rods into lightsabers and play Star Wars... What's new??
McRuffy Science: We completed our unit on People and Animals. This was kind of a random unit - we learned human body parts, discussed the anatomy of birds, and talked about animals that are useful to people.
Creative Writing: We wrote some stories using our story starters book. For the first time, Crumpet expanded on what he saw in the pictures and created actual stories. Lots of fun.
So far, Crumpet is handling Daddy's absence really well. This week, we have a male friend staying with us who loves to play rough with Crumpet, and it will be nice for him to have a man's influence for a little while.
For more preschool posts, visit Homeschool Creations!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Field Tripping - Geocaching

I've been wanting to write about our new hobby for a while, but haven't had the time. We went geocaching yesterday with friends, though, and it was so much fun that I just have to write this post in case it sounds like something any of you would be interested in. We introduced these friends to it a few weeks ago, and they are completely addicted.
We are a family that loves to be outside, and we love hiking and exploring. That can be difficult with a 4 year old who likes to be carried everywhere though. Geocaching has changed everything for us. It is essentially a treasure hunt using your car GPS, or any of the very specialized GPS units made for geocaching.
There are caches hidden all over the world, and there are hundreds of them on this island. Most caches are small containers which have a paper log and pen, so you can prove you've been there. Many have cheap little toys for trading, which is what Crumpet loves. If you take a toy, you must leave a toy. I usually buy packs of party favors, and leave one in each cache. There are also tracking coins which you take and leave in another cache further away, and you can follow their journey around the world online if you choose. We haven't taken any of those yet, but we're hoping to get to Japan and then we'll take a few with us!
There are a variety of GPS units that you can use. We started out just using our handheld car GPS. You enter the coordinates of the cache and move around until you reach approximately the correct latitude and longitude. Once you get within 20 feet or so, you just have to look around for piles of rocks:
cool trees:
or some other likely hiding spot. Often, there are hints to help you get closer on the geocaching website.
There are very expensive, hi tech geocaching units and I'd love to have one someday. For now, though we bought a Geomate Jr. (about $80) which is a child's GPS unit made just for geocaching.
I find this much easier than the car GPS unit. When you arrive at a location where you'd like to go hunting for treasure, you turn on the unit and it tells you where the nearest 20 caches are. All you do is follow the arrow on the screen until you reach the right spot. SO easy. I admit that I did not like this unit at first though. It is possible that you will end up climbing down cliffs and walking through ponds (yes, we've done both) if you don't prepare before you leave the house. Now we print a quick map of the terrain and the location of the caches we're hoping to find so we know what to expect and what direction we should try to approach from.
Now, when we go hiking, Crumpet is excited about finding the next cache and forgets about the fact that he's exercising. It's not uncommon for us to go on 3 or 4 hour hikes these days. Of course, there are times when it's nice to take a break on Dad's shoulders, like when you're hiking up a steep rocky path surrounded by cactus... This trail led us to the top of a hill
With this view:

Which is something else we love about geocaching. We have ended up in some phenomenal places that we never would have found if we weren't out geocaching. It's a great way to see unusual, off -the-beaten-track places.
A cache was hidden in this hole:
Everywhere I go now, I wonder 'is there a cache in that hole? Behind that tree?' They really are all around, and you would never know about them... Some are in parking lots, and I hear there is one in the mall here!
There were lots of them near this lighthouse:

If you are interested, have a look at here. All of the geocaches in the world are listed here, and you can keep track of your finds online.
For more field trip posts, visit Live the Adventure.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Geography - Spain

I've decided to take Crumpet on a tour of the Spanish speaking countries of the world. I want him to see how widespread the language is, and to get an idea of how useful it would be to speak Spanish. First, I printed a world map and colored all of the Spanish speaking countries red. Then, we started our travels with Spain.
We looked through the overview book Spain: Enchantment of the World by Lura Rogers. We also wandered through the Spain section of the great There is a huge amount of information here. I showed Crumpet videos on YouTube that I thought would entertain him: one of flamenco dancing and some of La Tomatina, which is a crazy tomato festival in Bunol, Spain which ends up as a huge tomato fight and streets flooded with tomato sauce.
We read The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf again. Then we made our own little bull from a template at DLTK here:
We read a really great book about the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The Most Magnificent Mosque by Ann Jungman is a wonderful story about people of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths working together to save the mosque from destruction.
We made tortilla de patatas for dinner. This was one of my favorite meals in Spain, but it was vetoed by everyone in my house except me. But I'll eat anything... Then we had churros con chocolate for dessert. This was a big hit with my chocoholic child. And me, but I'll eat anything, especially chocolate.
We talked about 2 Spanish artists. Gaudi has been one of my absolute favorite artists since a visit to Barcelona years ago. His work is all over the city, and it covers a huge range of styles. I love this lizard in the Parc Guell:
We jumped from here to talking about mosaics, and I thought we could make our own mosaic art. I found these great sealife squares for making mosaics and I've been so excited to use them. What child doesn't like to cover himself in glue and just make a big hodge podge of colors?? Mine, it seems. He thought this was terrible cruelty and no art was created...
We also talked about Salvador Dali, because we found this great book: Dali and the Path of Dreams by Anna Obiols. This is a really neat book about dreams Dali had as a child which led to his crazy paintings in later life. Really fun, and the artwork in the book is great.

Lastly, we talked about Christopher Columbus and his journey to America from Spain. I did not plan for this to coincide with Columbus Day, but it was nice that it did! We read the book Columbus Day by Christina Mia Gardeski, which was written at the perfect level for Crumpet. It covers lots of details in an easy to understand manner.
Overall, this was a fun, quick introduction to Spain. It did not magically spark Crumpet's interest in speaking Spanish, and I think I'm going to put away the language program for a little while. He is flat out refusing to participate. We will continue our travels to Spanish speaking countries though. Next up, Mexico!
For more geography and history posts, visit Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Preschool Week of 10/8

It has been a busy, busy week here. I'm doing what I can to keep us occupied so that we don't miss Daddy too much. So far, so good. Here's a quick summary of our week:
Saturday, we went to a trial karate class, which Crumpet decided he does not want to join. In the afternoon, we went to a birthday party for one of the girls in his preschool class.
Sunday, we went to the zoo with several friends, and then had dinner with other friends. One of those friends spent the night at our house. It looks like she'll be moving into our house for a week or two because her husband is away for training and she's not used to being alone. That is a theme that will be repeated here frequently over the next few months- it looks like we are about to become Hotel Crumpet for young newlyweds not accustomed to the Navy life. We are happy to have the company and to help people adjust - this is not an easy life. Crumpet is excited to have new people to play Star Wars with... Poor, poor visitors don't know what they are getting into!!
Monday, Crumpet woke up vomiting. Again. Sigh, school is good for the social education that Crumpet so desperately needs, but I'm really tired of the repeated illnesses...
Thursday, we went to the beach, AND we saw the Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean, which they are filming here. Very cool! My pictures are awful because the light was wrong but here are a few:

As for school at home, that went well this week, too.
Reading: We've started the new Progressive Phonics section, which introduces blends. Yay, words with more than 3 letters at last! McRuffy has started introducing a lot of reading comprehension, and we started spelling this week. I was worried about Crumpet's reaction to spelling, but he whizzed through it.
Math:McRuffy introduced addition story problems. I was really excited to see these. I always loved them, but know so many people who panicked at the mere mention of 'word problem'. I'm glad to see them introduced so early so the horror can hopefully be avoided, and they will just be a fact of life for Crumpet.
History: We are reading Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill. This is sort of a shorter Little House on the Prairie, and it's a good introduction to what things were like in America long ago.
Geography: I have been planning to start doing units on the Spanish speaking countries of the world. I'm hoping Crumpet will see how many people speak Spanish and how useful this language could be for him. I've gathered materials and made plans for weeks, but never had the time to start. This week, we finally started with Spain. I'll do a post about it soon. Really. I hope.
Science: We finally got around to doing a couple of fun experiments I've seen around the blog world. We cleaned a penny with coke, and we made raisins dance in Sprite. The raisins were really fun. (I'm trying to get rid of the soda my husband left in the house!!)
Life Skills: We have started a chore routine similar to Jolanthe's at Homeschool Creations. It is working incredibly well so far. Crumpet knows which things he must do every day no matter what, and we've had no trouble getting the toys cleaned up, the teeth brushed, or the bed made in weeks. Most days, he does additional chores to earn money, and he has managed to save enough to buy himself several small toys. He's very proud, and I'm hoping that he will realize money isn't easy to come by. He definitely has stopped begging for everything he sees when we are in the store...
Have a great week! For more preschool posts, visit Homeschool Creations!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Preschool Week of 9/30 - The Week Daddy Deployed

So, last week, we were given 1 week's notice that Crumpet Sr (thanks Natalie, for the wonderful nickname - we use it a lot now, and hubby gets a big kick out of it!) would be deploying for an extended period of time. I put home schooling on hold in favor of family time, but we did continue to go to the co-op preschool. This was mandatory, because Crumpet was line leader Monday, and he loves to be in charge. It is still the only time he enjoys preschool...
Here he is, leading circle time in the morning:
Some of the centers that day were...
Counting and adding using dice and dominoes:
Sink and float experiments:
It was black and white week, so the dramatic play area had masks of black and white animals. Dramatic play is always Crumpet's favorite area:
And, at the end, he got to show and tell the noisy, annoying Star Wars gun that he loves more than anything right now:
Crumpet Sr. was able to come to the beginning of class, and Crumpet was very proud to have him there.

At home:
When Daddy deploys, I send him with a stack of cards to open nearly weekly, and always on holidays that he is missing. I write notes and send pictures, and this time, I had Crumpet make crafts for the holidays we won't be together. It was so odd to be making Thanksgiving crafts in September! And it was a struggle to get Crumpet to complete even these ridiculously simple crafts. He's just not feeling artsy right now!

Both of these crafts came from DLTK's holiday section.
Jack o'Lantern:
Fingerprint turkey:

In other news:
Crumpet has finished the beginner section of Progressive Phonics which we read every night before bed, so we'll be moving up to the intermediate section.
One day when we were out, we saw a phone number. I had Crumpet read it to me, and then asked if he knew his own. He repeated it to me and has it right except for one number! He won't cooperate when we practice at home, so it's good to find out that he almost has it!
We got rain for the second time since we arrived, and it was so exciting that we went for a walk and played on the playground in the rain:
And we had another amazing sea turtle adventure. We were at the beach with friends, and this sea turtle swam right up to us. You aren't supposed to touch them, but this one touched us!
So that was our week of learning. Now we'll be learning about how Crumpet functions without Dad, and whether or not Mom survives. Everyone keeps telling me that a young child's first deployment experience is the worst, and I should prepare for major tantrums. Um, really??? I don't talk about it much here, but Crumpet is an incredibly difficult, angry child, and the tantrums are already something to behold. Worse?! Um, no, can't do it. So wish me luck! And sanity!