As we pulled into the parking lot this week, Pip spotted his “guide” and shouted greetings to her as soon as he was free of his car seat. He was greeted with smiles and friendly greetings. As a mom, that means a lot! The teachers for our forest program prefer to be known as guides. They aren’t sitting them down with a lesson plan of what each child will learn. Instead, they are guiding them through developing their own interests, learning lessons from their own curiosity and being safe while pushing them from their “safe zone”.
It always fascinates me to see what each child gravitates towards when they first arrive. Pip has newfound confidence in climbing EVERYTHING, so he is usually racing to the top of the closest boulder or trying to find a tree ascend. Liv, ever the adventurer, noticed the paints this week and painted a beautiful piece of artwork. On herself.
This week’s science experiment was painting with glue, salt and paints. The older children tested different mixtures to see how they differed and made observations to the group! Pip was proud to bring his home. It may never dry…
Liv took advantage of the older children climbing and enjoyed the class tarp all to herself!
Her hiking skills continue to improve weekly – and she gets more adventurous each week. She’s learning to steady herself and navigate the uneven paths. Never the helicopter parent, the thought of a helmet crosses my mind regularly.
This week I was flying solo, as O had some meetings and couldn’t attend. Can we all say a ‘thank you’ for baby carriers?! Liv does GREAT for the first half, but wears herself out quickly. When daddy is along he takes her down the path and back to the car for a nap. Just mommy and we have to keep trucking!
The children had a particularly exciting tool to try this week… and a very detailed lesson along with it!
As soon as Pip arrived home he told daddy “I used a BOW SAW!!! WE CUT WOOD! A DEAD TREE!!! … not a live one.” Haha!
Gameschooling is teaching school subjects through game play – board games, card games, etc. So teaching geography through Ticket to Ride, colors through Candyland… you get the idea!
Why would one Gameschool?
Games teach so many fantastic skills and, if selected carefully, can teach great educational subjects at the same time! In addition to the obvious skills of turn taking, sharing, cooperation, learning to win/lose… there are some additional developmental skills games can help! My favorite executive functioning skills of self-regulation, perspective taking, problem solving, working memory and planning are involved in almost every game out there. Games can also grow creativity, social skills and both verbal and non-verbal communication abilities! Plus, let’s be frank. As parents, we can often lose sight of having FUN with our kids. Life demands are no joke! Intentionally planning game play into your day can be a welcomed respite and time of connection.
Do you Gameschool?
There are some people who only gameschool, which fascinates me! While we aren’t 100% gameschoolers, it is an intricate part of our homeschooling. We’ve played games with Pip since he was very young, and Liv is already wanting to play Pip’s games with us during the school day!
Because I know the question would be asked… here are some of our current favorite games!
Robot Turtles (Pip)
Early introduction to coding, but no technology involved! I’ve seen Pip’s ability to plan, problem solve and navigate increase exponentially since we began playing this game!
Cariboo Island (Pip) – discontinued
Really, any of the cariboo versions are great, but all are discontinued. So check with local moms, thrift store and consignment sales! This fun “hidden treasure” game let’s you work on letters, numbers and shapes! It’s quick with a built in reward system.
Koala Capers (Pip)
My mom found this one on Zuliliy, but even on Amazon it’s really decently priced! This one allows for a lot of adaptations to make it easier and harder. You are trying to find the most outfits for your koala by rolling the dice and matching the pattern and clothing item to one of the many combinations out! What is also fun is that all the outfits are from different areas of the world. So we get a lot of geography and occupation talk in too!
Shelby’s Snack Shack (Pip)
Think of this as the modern day Hi Ho Cherry-O…. just with a dog and bones! Spin to try and dig up bones, then spin to see how many you can get. Watch out – you might lose a turn, lost your bones, or steal some from a neighbor. MOM NOTE: Don’t put all the bones out if only two of you are playing. It will NEVER END. We typically only put out 20!
Hidden items activities (Liv)
Not a purchase-able game, but just the game she’s into currently. Hiding anything (even family members) gets her excited! And it’s doing a great job of teaching her waiting, turns, and stamina! Plus her giggles are infectious!
Hungry Pelican (Liv)
Pip actually picked this game out as a Christmas present for his sister! It’s a lot of fun to drop the food into the pelican’s mouth and it appears in the stomach! We put all different things in the mouth, not just what came with the toy! It offers a lot of funny vocabulary, wh questions and surprises. Plus, it’s a game even Pip gets in on, so they are learning to play together too!
Want to read more?
Some great blog posts out there on gameschooling include…
Today was day two of Forest School/Nature School (we use the terms interchangably). Some cute photos and takeaways.
Liv is always so excited to arrive at Forest School! Especially when she also gets to wear brother’s hat.
For science, they learned about butterflies and then disolved sugar into water to make sugar plates.
We didn’t see any butterflies, but we did catch a praying mantis who stopped for a drink!
From being hesitant to climb anything week one, to trying everything week two!
He knows the rules to call out “climbing” and wait for an adult to respond “climb on!”
This increased confidence translated to the first tree he attempted to scale independently!
(He did need some help, but his height was a slight disadvantage!)
He wasn’t the only one scaling everything – though she be little….
Today we painted in our journals. For brushes, the children had to search nature!
Liv loved the flowers, her brother preferred his fingers! Haha!
She’s become fascinated with birds lately, and today we “dressed up” as one!
After observing a chipmunk eating these seeds, Pip decided to try some too!
I just love his curiosity… “I do not think they are very good!”
Always the little helper…
I just love how much growth I’ve seen in both kids after just two weeks. This is just a small snapshot of our three hours today! Each week their teacher adds a few more structured activities for them to “opt in or out”. This week we started journaling, next week we begin Yoga. Pip always opts in, Liv usually does as well. We are also soaking up the warm weather. Forest school is all weather, so we will be out here in the rain and snow soon!
I don’t quite remember when Pip first became interested in maps. He would ask to stop and look at the map in malls, the zoo, museums, etc sometime in the past year.
But I remember when it reached a new level…
We were about to go on his first ever camping trip. I had loaded up on camping themed books at the library and we read up on what to expect. One book in particular struck Pip’s fancy. It was Camping: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure by Keith Baker. On one page there is a map that Mrs. Green makes for Mr. Green to help them find their camping spot.
Multiple times a day this book was brought to me so we could read the story and talk (at great lengths) about the map. That’s when his interest in maps became a full on fascination.
I could roll my eyes at this surly short lived fascination. Or I could embrace it. Being a homeschooling family, we embraced it!
We’ve borrowed a plethora of map themed books from the library. Our top five favorites are:
I’ve printed off maps of some of our favorite places and laminated maps from some of our favorite local stops (museums, zoos, etc).
And guess what? I’ve learned more about Pip in the process…
He knows many common map symbols without me ever directly teaching it. “Look mommy! Potty!”
He loves knowing where his cousins all live and being able to point to Virginia and Florida on the map.
He enjoys “planning trips”. Especially with the Disney World maps. He shows everyone who will look where his favorite places are in WDW.
I’m famous for seeing something on Pinterest, thinking it looks easy and then bombing it royally. And heaven forbid I want to take a Pinterest idea and “tweek” it a little! I’m surprised my husband gives any of my Pinterest inspired ideas a second thought, much less a chance. But sometimes, just sometimes, they work!
For Christmas I’ve wanted Pip to have a light table. I’ve read so many great blog posts about them, seen so many fun activities and he LOVES the one at the Lakeshore store. But the price tag on many of them was slightly astronomical. So I hit up Pinterest to see what I could find.
There are a ton of “tubs with lights” adaptations, but I know I wanted something more. With hosting co-op, kid #2 on the way and plenty of play dates hosted here… it needed to do the job well and stand up to the test of time (also known as “toddlers”).
That is when I came upon THIS tutorial. Now, any excuse to drive to IKEA is always welcomed. And over half the supplies are located there. So, over a few months, I purchased pieces to this project. And, on Christmas Eve, Oliver gave it a go. And it was a success! Pip LOVES it!
Disclaimer: We made ONE change. We used this stuff instead of the spray paint frost. Spray paint already acts a bit different at altitude sometimes and the fact that it was below freezing… it just wasn’t feeling like it would be successful.
On to the next Pinterest inspired idea!! [kidding hunny… kinda…]
This week for co-op we combined snack and art – and decorated gingerbread men! As many of you know, Pip is gluten free and dairy free. So I took the responsibility of making cookies for the class. I found this recipe and they turned out quite yummy! My coconut milk wouldn’t solidify, so we used peanut butter for icing and then sprinkles on top. Mmmm!
Another Monday, another fun day at co-op! Today we talked about trains and subways. We discussed what was same and different between them and watched short YouTube videos about each! We had fun using a poster mailing tube as our subway tube to send subway trains through, then placing tracks across the top of the tube for the steam engine train! We talked about above ground, under ground, through.. So many fun concepts!
I’m going to go ahead and say it. I do NOT like how my library organizes the children’s book section. I get that seeing the covers can work well for the littles. But as an SLP, homeschool mom and co-op host… it’s a nightmare! So, I cheat. I go on and request all the books I need for each unit (sometimes using my card, my husbands card and even Pip’s to get enough!). Therefore they are all waiting on a pretty little shelf for me when we show up at the library each week! #winning
A photo posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on
Secrets of the Apple Tree…
(if you haven’t seen this flashlight series by Usborne, you’re missing out! If you decide to buy any books by Usborne, please consider buying it through our fundraiser – your purchase gives books to our school in Rwanda!)
As co-op continues, I add new things to the schedule to challenge and engage our little group. They are masters of our circle and lesson time, while craft time is getting stronger each week. So, today I added a group story and music element to wrap up our school day. The book in this month’s box had them in giggles and learning new vocabulary (like “pike”) while listening for rhymes (a goat in a boat?!). We then finished up with some Jim Gill and Laurie Berkner to get remaining wiggles out before heading home for nap time. Even our shyest member joined in on the silliness today – a first!
Pip is really beginning to color, paint, glue, cut… his crafty side is starting to show! I found some great art journals at Michaels, used my 40% off coupon and we are now keeping track of his fine motor abilities as we journal and create inside our book!