Papa was home again this morning because of the snow and ice on the roads. He made us pancakes again. All of the kids’ activities were cancelled.
Boy was having an ongoing debate with himself this morning about how to share cars with Girl. If they are both playing with them, how do they divide them? This morning he took the ones he wanted most, then offered a number of cars to Girl, telling her (and himself) how cool they were. He kept asking us to come see the cars, so I knew something was up. I asked him if he felt like maybe he’d done something wrong. He said yes. I made the point that Girl would always rather choose her own cars, and the only really fair way to divide things is to divvy, taking turns choosing. (I have always told them that pirates invented divvying because everyone had to agree that the division of booty was fair, or they’d get into terrible sword fights.) I told him that people usually want to be able to choose for themselves, rather than being given (even generously) by someone else. That that is why people prefer democracy to having a king or a queen, even a kind one. In a democracy, people are able to make decisions for themselves, rather than the king choosing for everyone. That that’s what Benjamin Franklin was all about. Boy liked that.
We finished reading the Benjamin Franklin book after breakfast.
And we started a new math book today. I had Boy sit and look at the table of contents, to see what he’d be doing in the next couple of months. I want him to feel ownership, both of the book and of his math learning. We read his textbook together, then he did some exercises.
Girl also wanted to do ‘school’ this morning, so I got out her MBTP box and teaching guide. (‘School’ is what the kids call it when we sit down and do work from a book, either a workbook or activities from a teacher’s guide.) Of course, we are still on week 1! But she is definitely interested in letters now, so I suspect I may be asked for school more frequently. While I was working with Boy, she did a page of upper and lower case A’s each. Then I showed her her first sight word: ‘you’, and we looked for it in a little reader. Every time we came to the word ‘you’ Girl read it out loud. We talked about how letters make a sound, but a word is certain letters, arranged in a certain order, and has a meaning. So if you took a letter and put it somewhere else, it wouldn’t be the word ‘you’ anymore. Boy pointed out that ‘no’ and ‘on’ are the same letters, but different orders.
Then we looked at numbers, and practiced counting up to 20 several times. Then we looked at all of the letters of the alphabet, and practiced making the sounds that they make. We’ve got a long way to go on the letters, but I don’t feel like we are in any hurry. I want her to be in charge. I don’t want to try to make her learn faster than she wants to. At the same time, I want to be available on the days when she wants to sit down and look at letters, or anything else for that matter.
In this unit, we should be reading ‘A is for Musk Ox’ but we had to return it to the library last week. But still, Girl’s activity book included a musk ox craft with yarn and cotton, and musk oxen are cool. So we looked up a picture, and both kids made one:
We looked at the map to see all the cold places that musk oxen live, talked about the fact that the world is warmer in the middle, colder at the top and bottom, named the continents. Later we read about what musk oxen are like, what they eat.
After that the kids dressed up to play outside, and I could see them outside having a great time in the snow with the dog. They got into a fight after about an hour, and Girl said she wanted to come in. Boy stayed out for a bit. When they were both inside I had to make a phone call, and they went into Boy’s room to play. A minute later I could hear Girl yelling and crying. She’d wanted to make a ball run, but Boy said it was his and started pulling her away from it. I yelled at him (too loudly) and made him sit in the bathroom while I took a shower because I said I couldn’t trust him to play alone with Girl, that he’d been being unkind to her, even hurting her.
For the rest of the day, I tried not to have them be alone without one of us watching, and I may continue with that for a few days. Papa and I also decided no tv or screens for the time being. Something’s up with Boy, and probably he needs more supervision and less stimulation until we get it sorted.
And from there I just tried to do what I could to make the rest of the day good. We practiced violin, and then I sat down with Boy and looked at a southwestern pottery book. I was looking for design patterns that we could draw together. I like the mathiness of the pueblo designs, but also I think sketching is a great practice for Boy.
I do it first, so he can see how it isn’t perfect, how I work hard to see what’s going on, and we use the drafting kit to work out the design, but I don’t worry about the lines or the coloring being perfect, how it can be a little messy. I told him that’s what makes a sketch beautiful, its imperfection.
I’m hoping we can work on these designs together all week.