Friday, November 16, 2018

Thinking about school and outer space.

We have officially started the journey to kindergarten for Everett, submitting our first application this week. So far, I have found the process 75% overwhelming and stressful, and 25% who cares, if we have no good options, I'll just homeschool him (says the person who said she would never ever homeschool her kids). 

We will be spending the next few months touring and applying to schools, and then crossing our fingers I suppose. Unless you've been there, it is 100% boring to talk or hear about. 

In the mean time, until Everett is in school five days a week next year, this year we are continuing doing some "school" at home for his preschool year. When he started real preschool, I asked him if he still wanted to do school at home, too, and his response was, "of course, mom!" I was kind of glad he said yes, because it has become something we all enjoy, and it helps give structure to our life. My strengths as a mom lie in more of being a teacher-mom than being a homemaker-mom. I have learned that I am a stay at home mom who needs structure. 

Everett goes to preschool Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then Monday, Wednesday, Friday, we meet up with friends or go on a local adventure, and we fit our "school" time in when we want to and when we can. It's never something we have to do, but something we want to do just for fun. 

The way we planned for our "school" at home time this year was a meeting between Everett and me where I asked him what he wanted to learn more about and do, and this was his initial list for the year: space, ants, teeth, animals, numbers, letters, and art. 

With September spent with a lot of sickness in our family and October involving a lot of travel, then birthday festivities, and then Halloween, it took us two months to make it through our space unit for "school."

Lots of library books we enjoyed:
The Darkest Dark (written by real astronaut Chris Hadfield, this one was probably our favorite)
Waiting is Not Easy (an Elephant and Piggie book)

Girls and space:

Chapter Books:

Day one of school, ready for space learning to begin:
Step one: Become astronauts.
We read all the astronaut books, went on imaginary space expeditions in the spaceship, and made miniature spaceships for astronaut Everett and astronaut Cambria.
Making rockets for astronaut Everett and astronaut Cambria with the best dog ever:

I turned their paintings into rockets. I have a 90-10 rule when it comes to making art with the kids. Ideally, 90% of the time should be them creating, but I’m fine to assist or prepare for the other 10%. I enjoy making art with them, but I don’t want to make art for them while they sit and watch, you know?
With these little spaceships, I broke my own rule. They chose their colors, painted the paper, and helped a little with glue and tape, but mostly I made them and let them take the credit.
Then they actually smiled for a picture at the same time while they were playing with them, so I suppose it was worth breaking my own rule.
Making moon play dough:
We read all the moon books and then made moon play dough. We followed this play dough recipe, because it is the best we have tried (not too sticky). Everett and Cambria took turns measuring the ingredients and pouring them in (which led to an emotional breakdown for both of them because they did not want to take turns). Then, we added black water color while it was still in the cooking pot to make it turn gray like the moon. I gifted the kids some miniature space toys to play with on the "moon." I don't know what it is about miniature things, but my kids love them.
Turning our play dough into the night sky:
We read books about stars, and then turned our play dough into the night sky. We added more black paint to try to make the play dough darker, and we added silver and gold glitter so it looked starry. Since it was now the night sky, I gave the kids moon cookie cutters (circles) and star cookie cutters. We added in some popsicle sticks and toothpicks just for fun. 
Cardboard spaceship:
Really, all my kids need to be happy is a cardboard box. Everett really wanted to make a cardboard box spaceship after reading The Darkest Dark, which is written by a real astronaut, and in the book, he did that as a kid (as have many other kids). My favorite thing about doing "school" at home is when we are learning about something, and Everett comes up with his own idea of what he wants to do or make. 

Solar system:
It took us several days to make this window solar system, but it was fun. We colored on coffee filters with markers, and then Everett sprayed them with water using a spray bottle. Above each sun, planet, or moon, I put an index card, and we wrote interesting facts we learned. Books we read to help us know what the planets look like and information about them: A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, Me and My Place in Space, and The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System.

We read all of our books about rockets and then we made alka seltzer rockets, which is easy and fun.

Bottle rocket:
I summoned Matt's help with this one. They made a bottle rocket using a bike pump.
Stars and art:
We read all of our books about stars and then made spin art stars. This is fun, because my kids can do it almost all by themselves. 

She loved her art so much she gave it a kiss:

We read all of our books about constellations, and then the kids made up their own constellations by arranging mini marshmallows on black paper. Everett did letters and designs, and then once they wanted to commit, they glued them on the paper.
When marshmallows are involved in art, they always sneakily eat them:
Field trip:
For our space unit, I looked into planetarium shows, but they recommend waiting until a kid is five, so our field trip options were limited. Instead, Matt, Everett, and I had a moon and star party in the backyard, put out a blanket, looked at the full moon, and roasted marshmallows. Cambria got to go to the San Diego Air and Space Museum for her field trip while Everett was at school. 

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