Moments of Triumph and Honesty from a Child's Life

First, a Moment of Triumph:

While I was fixing food today, Kaia called into the kitchen telling me there was a spider in the living room.  I told her I'd come get it in a minute.  She came into the kitchen and asked for a paper towel.  I gave her half a paper towel, and she left happily.  Last week she spent more than five minutes chasing one of those itty-bitty, less than 1/8" wide spiders around the window sill.  I assumed she was repeating that little adventure. 

"It's running away!" she called.

"Okay, I'll come get it," I answered.

Seconds later, "I got it!  I squashed him!  Mommy, do you want to see it squashed?"

"Sure," I answered, expecting it to be a tiny, unrecognizable spec on the paper towel.  Boy, was I surprised.  It was huge.  Really--probably the size of a quarter.  It was squashed, but I thought it looked like a wolf spider.  "Wow, Kaia, you got a big one!  I thought you squashed a little spider!"

"No, Mommy.  It had big legs!" 

Yeah, that was an understatement!  We showed it to her daddy on Skype.  It was that big.

Now, a Moment of Honesty (sort of):

We read The Cat in the Hat today.  After all sorts of adventures with the cat, the narrator concludes with these final lines:

Then our mother came in
And said to us two,
"Did you have any fun?
Tell me.  What did you do?"

And Sally and I did not know
What to say.  Should we tell her
The things that went on there that day?

Should we tell her about it?
Now, what should we do?
Well....what would YOU do
If your mother asked YOU?

And I asked Kaia, "Well, what would you say?  What would you say if that happened to you and I asked about your day?"

Kaia looked very thoughtful for about ten seconds, as if she were really considering her options.  Then she answered, "Well, I would probably just forget." 

How convenient!

Online Science Class for Preschoolers--How Kids Learn

The online science class for preschoolers begins in one week!   Wa-hoo!!  Are you in?  I am so very excited!  Last week I posted the supplies you'll need, and previously I posted about multiple intelligences and teaching young children science.  
Kaia learning about gravity, height, balance, and more!
Today I wanted to spend just a minute talking about how children learn.  

Next week you will notice that most of the lessons include very little "front-loading," or you time when you instruct and your child listens. Instead, most of the lessons are experiments or activities that your child can do with a little guidance from you.  I like to limit front-loading to what is necessary to appreciate the lesson. 

This is because kids (and, in my opinion, adults too!) learn far more when they experience something than when they are simply told something.  During the experiments your child will have lots of things to show you and (most likely) lots of questions for you.  Your child will remember your verbal brilliance if you wait to share it until she is interested and asking questions.  Questions are gold! 

If you will be joining me with a younger child (2-3 years old), you will want to focus on the activities and experiments.  Choose what is developmentally appropriate for your child and have fun!  Older children (5-6 years old) will have more questions and be able to sit for (a little!) more explaining.  The focus should still be on fun and letting your child try (experiment) new things.  Learning is a natural part of the process!

Baby Ducks

Two blocks from our home is a "forest."  Sometimes we walk through the forest to the "park by the lake."  Springtime means this little adventure includes baby ducks.
Three of my sisters have been visiting us during the last week.  This was their first trip through the forest!
Ducks were meant to be fed by kids.  Kaia and Harry both loved crumbling crackers for them!
Kaia even "pet" a duckling. She was so thrilled about it that she jumped up and down in place at least ten times after she touched it!
 I know it looks like Harry is grabbing a duck.  He isn't.  I promise.
Here's a close up of our "ugly ducks."  Does anyone know what this guy is?  The females seem to have more white on their heads and necks.  I hate not knowing their official name.   

Did you know that ducks will eat grass, other plants and seeds, bugs, fruit, fish, and more?  The sides of their beaks are shaped like combs to help strain insects and small animals out of water!  And those cute little ducklings were born in a nest lined with down their mother plucked out of her own breast!

Online Science Class for Preschoolers--Supply List

Only two more weeks until I start my Online Science Class for Preschoolers!  I would be so thrilled if you joined us!  I have tried to make most of the supplies household items--I know some homes don't have toy dinosaurs, but I suspect if you have preschoolers or toddlers you just might have toy dinosaurs also.  I do know, however, that not everyone has two drawers of fossils or a bucket of seashells in their schoolrooms.  I decided to post this list of supplies so you can have time to look through it and pick up anything you might want.  I designed most of the lessons with 1-3 experiments or studies for your preschooler.  If you don't want to pick up the supplies, you can just do other activities/experiments.  This also makes adapting the class for younger children very easy: simply choose the experiments and activities that your child can do.  
I have highlighted in yellow the supplies that I suspect may not be common in homes with preschoolers.  If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  You can also send me an email at

For other posts about the class, see my posts about intelligences and teaching young children science
Week 1: (Dinosaurs!)
  • Scientist Pictures (I will post)
  • I Am A Scientist poster.  (You can print and use my 8 ½” x 11” poster or enlarge it to any size you like.) 
  • Posterboard
  • Markers, crayons, pens
  • Toy dinosaurs
  • Meter stick (or any other 3-foot long object)
  • Paper bags (or be careful and use plastic)
  • Stompin’ Music!  (I used  Dinosaur Song (on YouTube), though I really like We Will Rock You by Queen…)
  • Science Journals.  We’ll be using little books folded out of paper. 
  • Fossilized Egg Pictures
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Plastic knife
  • 12” balloon
  • Two paper bowls
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Water
  • 3-4 pages of newspaper (or construction paper), torn into 1 ½” strips
  • Sponge
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard dinosaur fossils or 3-dimensional dinosaur puzzles (you can create or own or use my patterns)
  • Dirt or sand
  • Excavation tools (shovels, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • Real fossils (you can purchase individual fossils or large fossil kits from AmazonScience Kit, or Ward’s Natural Science)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Water or garden hose
  • Ranger Cookies (I will post a recipe)
  • Examining tools like toothpicks or a fork. 
  • Large cardboard (we used a piece about 1 ½ feet by 1 ½ feet)
  • Vase
  • Flour, salt, water, food coloring
  • Very large mixing bowl and six thick paper plates
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • Toy dinosaurs
  • Optional accessories like plastic trees, little sticks or rocks, etc.

Week 2: Light and Color
  • A mirror you can get wet and/or a mirror you can hold.
  • A bright flashlight
  • A sheet of white paper.  You may want to tape it to a piece of cardboard so it holds itself up.
  • Water
  • Shallow pan.  I used a 9” pyrex baking dish.
  • Clear cup
  • Powdered milk
  • Dish soap, sugar, water
  • Two straws
  • Yarn and scissors
  • Pie tin
  • A bright flashlight
  • Red cellophane
  • Cardboard or cardstock
  • Tape
  • scissors
  • balloon
  • Household objects like doors, books, papers
  • Pie tin
  • Red, blue, and yellow paint
  • Food coloring
  • Ice cubes
  • Color chart (I will post)
  • Milk
  • Dish soap
  • Eye-dropper
  • Paper towels or coffee filters
  • Washable (water based) markers
  • 6-10 paper cups
  • Science Journal

Week 3: Museum/make-up
  • Museum Sheet (I will post)
  • Science Museum
  • Science Journal

Week 4: Oceans
  • 6-8 sponges.  3-4 “pairs” is ideal (you can cut 1-2 in half), some synthetic, some natural
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Water
  • Paper cups
  • Sponge pictures (I will post)
  • Salt
  • 1-5 gallon bucket you can fill with water
  • Toys and other objects that can fit in your bucket
  • Eggs
  • Spoon or something to stir with
  • Small balloons
  • Permanent marker
  • Small plastic bowls
  • Empty metal can, about 10 ounces
  • 3-8 inch deep container that will hold at least a gallon of water
  • Pliers
  • Duct tape
  • Sea shells (lots)
  • Ocean toy animals
  • Rocks
  • Ocean pictures (I will post)
  • 100 foot long piece of yarn
  • About 20 feet of yarn you can cut
  • Ruler
  • Magnifying glass
  • Cardboard
  • Science Journals

Before and After...and more



When Kaia learned that I was getting a haircut, she also wanted one--a nice, short one just like Mom!  I have to say, it has been a lot easier for both of us! 

And, another week has run away from me with very little blogging.  It seems that

Visiting Family
+ A campout
+ A sick child
+ A birthday
+ Travel plans
= no blogging! 

Each item in the equation, though, would make a great post...maybe I'll get ahead during the next week or two!  In the meantime, we are still alive and well and I'm excited to catch up on all your blogging adventures soon!

The First Tomato

Okay, technically it was the third tomato.  But, first or third, we are so very excited about our little tomato plants!  About two and half months ago we planted two "big" tomato plants and one "cherry" tomato plant.  We've already picked two cherry tomatoes.  This picture, taken on Saturday, was our first ripe big tomato!  At least a dozen other big green tomatoes are ripening still and I've found about that many more cherry tomatoes growing.  The plants themselves are over four feet tall and have grown easily.  I especially enjoy the tomato-y smell I get on my hands whenever I water them!  I absolutely love fresh garden tomatoes.  Mmmmm! 

We're also excited about our little corn patch.  I'll have to give them their own post, but we're hoping for a bit of fresh corn this fall too.

Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences, and the Upcoming Science Class

Between Blogger being down for a couple days last week and our wireless router being down for a couple other days, I haven't posted much.  However, I am still planning the Online Science Class for Preschoolers (or kids 2-6-ish) and am excited to share a little bit about my educational philosophy with you! 

I strongly believe that every child has a divine nature and is capable and excited to learn.  I also think that every child is unique in his or her combination of strengths and talents.  I like Howard Gardner's work on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. 

A lot could be said about Howard Gardner.  Because I like short posts, I'll summarize.  Before Gardner published his theory in 1983 (and in many places, even after), educators focused their attention on teaching children through language and math.  Gardner emphasized that there are other areas of intelligence, and that children have strengths in different intelligences. 

What are those intelligences?  Gardner originally chose seven, though others have added to his list.  I usually consider the following eight when I think about teaching children:

  • Linguistic Intelligence--using language and writing
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence--using math, logic, and reasoning
  • Spatial Intelligence--representing space in your mind, using patterns and layout
  • Musical Intelligence--using music and musical patterns
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence--using the mind to coordinate body movements
  • Interpersonal Intelligence--understanding and connecting with other people
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence--understanding and reflecting on oneself
  • Naturalistic--using and relating to things in a natural or outdoors setting
Some kids excel in English or Math.  Some babies talk or walk early.  They are clearly bright and smart children.  But what about the kids who struggle learning to read or the babies that don't speak until they're two years old?  They are also bright and smart children!  They just have different strengths.  I appreciate Gardner's work in pointing out other areas that children can show their intelligence.  (Gardner, by the way, defined intelligence as the ability to solve problems.) 

I think it's important to allow your child to use as many of the intelligences as possible on a regular basis.  That way, you're both aware of where your child has strengths and what might be a challenge.  My online science class uses all the intelligences on a frequent basis. I will even list the intelligences that are used in each lesson at the top of the lesson.  I think it's that important. 

What do you think?  Have you noticed particular strengths in your children, or areas that are particularly challenging? 

To Climb, or Not To Climb

For Harry, the answer is always TO CLIMB!  He has been climbing in and on all sorts of things lately.  Check out these places he has managed to put himself...all by himself.  Of course, getting down from these positions took a little help!

The funny thing is that climbing inside this bucket really stressed him out!  He was perfectly happy in all the other positions!

Science & Preschoolers (& My Online Science Class for Preschoolers!)

It's final!  I've decided to host my Online Science Class for Preschoolers next month beginning on June 6th!  I am so extremely excited!  I will be posting four science lessons during the weeks of June 6, June 13, and June 27.  The lessons will be targeted at four-year olds, but will be easily adaptable for children 2-6.  I will be doing the lessons with 4- and 2- year olds personally.  If you don't have preschoolers or toddlers, please don't get scared away by the preponderance of preschool-aged material in June!!  I still love ya'!  The week of June 20 will be for making up any missed lessons and visiting a science museum.  

Since I am already a little obsessed, I decided to post a short article each Monday related to the upcoming class.  Today, I wanted to talk about Science and Preschoolers/Toddlers.  
Children are natural scientists.  They love to explore and experiment.  Today, within about two minutes, I "caught" a four-year old experimenting with milk and cheese, a two-year old experimenting with scissors and different textures, and a one-year old experimenting with toy screwdriver and a five-gallon bucket.  

Children are driven to learn everything they can about their world.  They want to know what happens and why.  Typical four-year olds can ask "Why?" 300 times in one day!  

Science education for young children should do three things.  It should:
  • Encourage their natural curiosity
  • Engage them in the learning process, and 
  • Build frameworks for future education.
Engaging children's natural curiosity is easy--they are interested in so very many things!  Science doesn't have to be complicated, but it should answer some of the questions they have about the world around them.  It should be fun and exciting!

The learning process is simple.  Kids become familiar with their surroundings as they experience them.  When they learn something new, they relate it to something they already know.  If their little brains can't fit the new information into a category they already have, they build a new framework to store the new material.  Building a new framework means they need to experience it personally and find some way to relate it to other information  they do know.  When I first introduced my daughter to sea sponges (a new concept to her), she held lots of sponges, compared them to cleaning sponges, painted with the sponges, transferred water with the sponges, saw pictures of sponges in the ocean, watched movie clips with sponges in them, and made her own ocean representations complete with sponges.  She can tell you a lot about a sponges now.  

Young children have a lot of learning ahead of them!  When they learn science, their confidence should grow and they should practice building new frameworks.  They should be introduced to a variety of things in a safe, comfortable way.  They should learn new words and new ways to use old words.  They should practice things like measuring, predicting, sorting, and observing.  Very importantly, they should move at their own pace.  When they move at their own pace they gain the confidence and skills they need to keep learning.

To All You Mothers...

Happy Mother's Day,
from us to you!! 
I hope your day was wonderful and filled with love!

Because It's Always Funny When It's Not Your Child...

...and because I know you so want to smile at something today, 
...and because I really do want a record of this so Kaia can laugh at it too (in about 20 years!),
...I'm sharing how Kaia got herself in trouble yesterday.

She was supposed to be doing quiet nap time activities like reading, drawing, cutting, or file folder games while the other kids napped.  Well, she was quiet.  
When I checked on her, this is what I saw:
Yes, that's our living room carpet.
This is how she spent the next 20 minutes:
She said, "This is hard work." 
Was it hard enough?  Time will tell.  Of course, she also gets to spend the next 7 days laying down during nap time.  That was even harder for her little heart to swallow.  But it means she gets a poignant reminder every day for a week.

Here's my favorite part of our conversations about the "beautiful, happy sunflower:"

Me: While you were drawing the sunflower on the carpet, did you any part of your mind say, "Maybe I should not color on the carpet.  Maybe I should do this on paper."?
Kaia: No.  I just thought, "I wonder what will happen..."

As a side-note, I've always hoped my children would be willing to break just enough rules to have fun in life, but never do any real damage.  Happily, this turned out just fine.  The marker came out with a bit of Mommy Help and hopefully she doesn't get too depressed during nap time next week. 

How Much Milk Kids Need

How much milk do kids need?  Lately, I've been thinking the whole milk obsession we have is a bit overrated.  According to the government agency I work with for daycare, kids Kaia's age (4 years old) need at least 2 1/4 cups of milk during the day and kids Harry's age (11 months) need 22-32 ounces of breast-milk or formula during the day.  At Kaia's 4-year check-up the doctor asked, "Is she drinking enough milk?"  I can understand why Harry needs so much.  He is still a baby, after all.  But why so much for a preschooler?

A serving of milk has enough extra calcium added to cover 30% of your daily needs.  It also is fortified with Vitamin D.  Drinking milk is supposed to help children develop healthy and strong bones. America is the highest dairy-consuming country in the world. But, guess what?  There is a higher rate of osteoporosis among Americans than any other developed nation. Somehow, I don't think drinking milk is helping.  And, in the meantime, we're giving our kiddos a lot more fat and calories than they would be getting if they just had water with their lunch.

I found a study published in 2005 in Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed journal.  In it, Dr. Amy Joy Lanou explains that the idea that kids need milk for healthy bones is simply not well supported by scientific studies.  In fact, the scientific support behind kids drinking so much milk is "scant."

It seems that exercise, an active lifestyle, and an appropriate body weight have more of an effect on osteoporosis than milk consumption.  A decent multivitamin and a little sunshine covers Vitamin D.  I'm not saying we should all quit drinking milk. But I do think we should stop stressing when our kids don't drink 2-3 cups a day.