Watching: Cranford

Men. They know everything about everything save when it is to happen and how it can be stopped. My father was a man. I think I understand the sex.


Pumpkin Week

Theme: Pumpkins
Letter: r

This is the third year that A and her friend R have gone to the pumpkin patch together. We went two Fridays ago in preparation for last week’s Pumpkin theme. They always have a great time!

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Our schedule got a little turned around last week. Instead of having school first thing Monday morning we couldn’t do it until Thursday. So instead, I had A work on some pumpkin cutting practice worksheets. We made pumpkin pie in the afternoon and got to eat it after nap.

On Tuesday she learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin plant and she painted pumpkins at her homeschool co-op. We spent part of the day working out in the garden digging compost and putting it on the planting beds. A did it all in her Cinderella dress and high heels, of course!

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We had had two weeks off from our little home preschool, so I had some difficulty getting back into the swing of things. So while we talked about our science experiment — filling a pumpkin with dirt to see the seeds grow — we haven’t actually done it yet. Instead our week was full of activities like these:

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Finally on Thursday we got together with R for a formal lesson on pumpkins. The kids got to get their hands inside a pumpkin and also taste some baked pumpkin seeds. They read books about the letter r and other books about pumpkins. Our story time is really starting to be fun, with each of the kids taking turns “reading” a book to me before I read a book to them. We are learning how to sit politely and listen respectfully (and not heckle). We are also learning about being confident and telling stories, even if you don’t really know how to read yet.

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On Thursday evening my husband came home early to carve jack o’lanterns with A in preparation for Halloween. A designed her own:

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Then on Friday we celebrated all day! First we invited our friends over for a Halloween party playdate in the morning. They played outside in the leaves, ate Halloween themed snacks, and had a great time together.

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After nap we got our costumes on to get ready for trick or treating in my neighborhood. A was a cat and her baby sister was Ariel, the Little Mermaid.

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Our friends and their families came back over in the evening to join us on the neighborhood hayride that takes the kids around to all the houses. We had a great day!

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Reading: David Copperfield

Again, Mr. Micawber had a relish in this formal piling up of words, which, however ludicrously displayed in his case, was, I must say, not at all peculiar to him. I have observed it, in the course of my life, in numbers of men. It seems to me to be a general rule. In the taking of legal oaths, for instance, deponents seem to enjoy themselves mightily when they come to several good words in succession, for the expression of one idea; as, that they utterly detest, abominate, and abjure, or so forth; and the old anathemas were made relishing on the same principle. We talk about the tyranny of words, but we like to tyrannize over them too; we are fond of having a large superfluous establishment of words to wait upon us on great occasions; we think it looks important, and sounds well. As we are not particular about the meaning of our liveries on state occasions, if they be but fine and numerous enough, so, the meaning or necessity of our words is a secondary consideration, if there be but a great parade of them. And as individuals get into trouble by making too great a show of liveries, or as slaves when they are too numerous rise against their masters, so I think I could mention a nation that has got into many great difficulties, and will get into many greater, from maintaining too large a retinue of words.

– Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Last week we had no preschool because I was out of town soaking in this beauty:


View from the airplane


New Skete Monastery in the Fall


On a hike


Stacked stone wall in the woods


Wayside Country Store, Vermont

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Leaf Week

Theme: Autumn, leaves, seeds
Letter: u

This week we took advantage of the changing seasons to talk about Fall. First the kids colored a letter u worksheet while R’s mom read books about the short u sound.


I then read Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin. Next we did one of my favorite Fall activities — we made seed bracelets. I gave everyone a bracelet made of wide duct tape, sticky side out, and we headed outside for a nature walk. Along the way we collected any small signs of Fall we could find and stuck them to our bracelets. I like the way this activity makes everyone slow down and notice small things. At the end of our nature walk the kids got to play on our neighborhood’s new playground.


Our Wednesday science experiment was a great success. We made tea bag ghosts: we emptied tea bags of tea, then lit them on fire and watched them fly up into the air! We repeated it several times. On Wednesday we also had the chance to learn all about furnaces when the furnace repairman came out to do our annual winter heating check. A was very interested in what he was doing. Later in the afternoon we met up with neighbors at the neighborhood playground.


Thursday was gymnastics day. She spent a good long time with her Starfall app in the afternoon, then we hopped in the car for a hike in the big state park near my house. A walked almost a whole mile without getting too tired. My favorite part was that she recognized when she needed to turn around in order to make it back to the car without problems. On Thursday we picked up my husband at his office in the evening, which meant that A got to see the big tropical fish tank in his office lobby.

On Friday morning we had a fun play date with her best friends, R and C, and then she got to spend the afternoon with her daddy while I finished preparing for my Saturday craft fair. It was a fun week!

Teeth Week

Theme: Teeth
Letter: o (short o sound)

A’s friend R has already started losing her primary teeth, so we decided to spend a week studying teeth. We read one of my favorite books about teeth, One Morning in Maine, and learned all about how to brush and floss. The kids then made toothy smiles for their new balloon friends. A’s had lost all of its teeth by the end of (the increasingly inaccurately named) nap time.

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On Monday afternoon we tried painting with a toothbrush for our art lesson. She thought that was pretty funny, but ultimately preferred a brush.

On Wednesday she came up with her own science lesson when she discovered the way that liquid makes paper towels transparent. We then introduced her new math curriculum: Team Umizoomi Math Kit. She is really enjoying working in workbooks lately, but she needs to be reminded that pages have to be finished according to the directions and not just colored on.  Other math areas we need to work on include writing numbers, drawing shapes, and recognizing patterns. After all that hard work it was time for the pool, whose open days are definitely numbered for this year.

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Thursday was our triumphant return to gymnastics class! She took gymnastics class for a few months when she was 3 but took a break when her baby sister was born. I was amazed at the increase in her maturity level in just those few months. She had no trouble sitting still for the teacher, and she listened better. She even changed the way she did one skill even though she had always done it slightly wrong before, and all because she listened better this time. She enjoyed herself and I was very proud of her.

In the afternoon we ended up doing an impromptu lesson on blue whales because of a picture she was coloring in a workbook. We watched videos of blue whales, talked about how they breathe, and listened to recordings of their song.

On Friday we met back up with R for a playdate at our local library. I like our library because they have a nice playground outside, so when the kids are done being quiet they can run around and be noisy. It was fun to watch them play together because they both at different times decided to read to each other. Here is A playing library on the playground:

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And here is R reading to her a little bit later when we had gone inside for some water and to cool off:

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On Friday afternoon we went downtown to the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival to hear some music. I am really looking forward to finding more opportunities to go to live music events together.

Baking Week

Theme: Baking and Measuring
Letter: I (short I sound)

A few months ago I asked A what she wanted to do when she turned 4, and she told me she wanted to bake a cake. As a result, this week was baking and measuring week. We got together with R on Monday for our weekly lesson. First they colored a little i worksheet, then I read the book Whopper Cake and R’s mom did a lesson on measuring. There were lentils everywhere! Once they learned the basics of teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups, I brought them into the kitchen and we whipped up a batch of Alton Brown’s biscuits. We used cookie cutters to make them into fun shapes. While the biscuits were baking the kids played with their measuring utensils outside in the water table, which resulted in my not finding my measuring spoons again until Friday. The biscuits were delicious for lunch!

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In the afternoon we tried our hand at making shrinky plastic art in the oven. It worked great! I first found this idea at Dollar Store Crafts years ago but had never tried it. A made a clear one and I made a red one. It was fun watching the cups melt in the oven, then holding our art afterward.

On Wednesday we played with baking soda and vinegar for our science lesson, then made a baking soda and vinegar leavened chocolate cake for her birthday. She enjoyed licking the bowl.

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We skipped outside day (on Take Your Child Outside Week, ironically) in favor of a morning trip to the Natural Science Museum downtown. She had been asking me if we could go for weeks so I put it on the calendar. We have been going to that museum together since she was tiny. I enjoy watching her interact with the same exhibits in new ways as her understanding matures. When we got home she spent her quiet time painting on her new easel. She then helped me start some pizza dough for dinner and we went to an evening liturgy at church.

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That was her last day of being 3. Friday morning we planned a play date party for A and her friends R and C to celebrate turning 4. They got to color their own bowls of frosting and decorate the cake with them, plus some jars of sprinkles and colored sugar I had laying around. We sang to her and she opened presents and we all ate cake. It was a great time!

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Happy birthday to little A, age 4!