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Archive for the ‘Strewing’ Category

Just because we don’t do “school” doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the things that have been made for school. Come September, all the larger discount stores have dollar workbooks for various subjects that the girls love to play with. Maybe its the opportunity to use dry erase markers or maybe it has more to do with the little pictures of objects for each letter that they enjoy. Either way, they get very excited about them and our 4yo loves to trace the letters. Last year she enjoyed tracing and writing printed letters and this year she meticulously traced a page of cursive letters. We laughed at how the ‘Q’ looked like a 2 (so silly!) and then she drew a heart and her name and another heart and her sister’s name. Our 2yo wrote an upside down uppercase ‘A’ an an ‘H’ (that ‘H’ may have been upside down too). She’s written them right-side up for a little while, but has recently switched to writing a lot of her letters upside down. We tried out several of the picnic tables and a bench or two while we were on a walk one morning at Pinecrest Lake.

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In the spirit of artist/naturalist Andy Goldsworthy, I am attempting my own temporary nature art alphabet. The ‘A’ was made with stones in the sand on the shore of Mirror Lake in Yosemite. Both the ‘B’ made with fallen tree moss and the ‘C’ made with dry pine needles were made at Pinecrest Lake. I’m not sure how long the ‘A’ lasted, but I know that the ‘B’ and ‘C’ were gone within a day. Three down, 23 to go.

I’d like to finish this on our trip and make alphabet books for Christmas presents for the cousins. The girls have had a lot of fun watching me and making their own letters. We also started looking for letters in sticks and rocks and taking photos of what we found just as it was before we got there. ‘L’ and ‘Y’ sticks were really popular with the girls last week. My 4yo was very excited to find two trees crossed in an ‘X’ up at Pinecrest, but we didn’t have the camera on us at the time to document it.

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So, there was no need to “strew” the actual iPad. The girls love it. Their friends have them, or at least their friends’ parents have them, so they already knew what these iPad things are all about. They knew we were going to get one. Their grandma got ahold of a new one before we did and they were jealous. They cried when she took it home with her.

I know that many parents might feel that its another device that can be overdone and I bet they’re right on some level. We’ve had ours less than a week though and I kind of don’t know how we functioned before it. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that we took our first road trip last week and it saved lots and lots of time and space for this overworked, under-slept, passenger seat sitting, navigating, on-the-road mother of three small kids. All I had to do to figure out where we were was push a button and zoom in on the map app. The GPS would pinpoint where we were at inside the RV (in case I forgot which seat I was sitting in).

Back to my original thought though. My husband has installed/strewn several pages of kids apps. Its kind of fun to watch them find the new app icons. The girls love to write their letters and sound out words and play the matching games and counting games and puzzle games and read stories and it just doesn’t end. They play together with it nicely most of the time. They enjoy watching the other play games and figure out what each new app is all about.

For the most part, they can figure the apps out on their own. In less than a week our 2yo has learned all her colors. Before this, my husband was worried that she might be color blind because she so often identified colors incorrectly. She has also started picking up on the fact that letters make sounds. I’m sure that she would have figured this out sooner or later as her sister is always sounding out words, but now when she hears a word like “pig” or if she sees a letter ‘P’ she will shout, “Pig! P-P-P-PIG!”

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Lately, our 2yo has been saying, “I can’t do it, I’m too wittle.” Its adorable and I’m fine with it because she knows what she’s ready to do and what she’s ready to try. She really does. She knows how to ask for help and she’s generally ready to do things on the earlier end of the typical range. It doesn’t hurt to ask though. To show her what’s possible. To help her get excited about what is to come.

At this point, most of what I’ve learned about and from the unschoolers who have gone before us is from the blogosphere. I haven’t read the recommended books and authors (yet). I have heard about strewing from multiple sources. There seem to be varying thoughts and practices. Here is a page from Sandra Dodd’s site on strewing that I have not made it all the way through yet.

A lot of the strewing these days where our 2yo is concerned is done by our 4yo.  It has been exciting to watch one child learn from another and to watch them get each other excited about things. It is also a good lesson on what to do and what not to do with each particular, unique child. Watching them interact and observing what works to get each other interested in a particular subject or game is a school of sorts. I am very much a student of my children. I’m starting to see first hand how much a gift siblings can be, to each other and in one more way, to me.

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