Saturday, May 20, 2017

What grade IS she in, anyway?

We started The Kid in "kindergarten" around her 4th birthday. It made total sense: many of her friends were starting Kindy that school year, she was already working at levels higher than that in most things, and she was quite adamant that she was supposed to be starting, too. Since then, we've promoted her one grade level on each birthday. Therefore, her birthday this Sunday marks the end of second grade and beginning of third.


We're moving to California this summer. Land of public charter schools. With enrichment classes that she can take with other kids! She is so excited about this idea. At this point, she has no desire to go to "regular school", but seeing the same group of kids every week for art or music or a book club or whatever it is that gets offered, while being able to continue homeschooling? Absolutely!

By public school cutoffs, she would just be starting second grade this fall. Neither "second grade" nor "third grade" nor any other grade describes where she's at academically. Her physical writing ability is low, her math ability is high, and her language ability is very high. Socially, she's a bit all over the place as well.

So, for now, she's 7. Or, she will be tomorrow, anyway! We'll enroll her as a second grader this fall. On the blog, I think I'll just start referring to her age.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Unfinished Stuff and a New Adventure

Wow, I really haven't been posting.

Tomorrow, The Kid and I are off on a new adventure - four weeks of Spanish school and homestay in Antigua, Guatemala, followed by a week of vacation in Roatan. Should be fun!

When we return, we will have a "class" that I'm tentatively titling Unfinished Stuff. We want to wrap up some of the piles of projects that we (or she) have started and then left languishing. She has several large art projects to finish. We started working through a chemistry set and then stopped. The list goes on and on and on. We filled a sheet of notebook paper listing it all out. So, yeah. Unfinished Stuff.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Drowning in Crafts

The Kid loves crafts. All sorts of crafts. Millions of crafts.

I dislike anything I perceive as clutter, so this is a constant balancing act.

But a few things that she has really taken to:

Finger Knitting. We started with this Klutz book and a couple of YouTube videos to get started last winter, and she's made piles of yarn creations since.

Weaving Loom. She received this one as a gift last winter from her grandfather. It takes a lot of patience, so there's not a lot being done with it. She is working on a scarf for herself that will take her about a month if she works on it nightly.

Knot A Quilt. She was just dying for this, and has gotten a start on it before getting distracted by all the other crafts around. She'll go back to it once the "new" has worn off some of the other stuff.

Green Kid Crafts. This is a monthly craft box subscription. I have mixed feelings about it - $20 and she's usually only kept occupied for a couple hours, so I don't see us continuing past the three months we signed up for. But she's excited every time it arrives.

Quilling. I didn't even know this existed. She was subscribed to Surprise Ride boxes for a while and this was one of their projects. Thin little strips of paper, twisted into tight spirals and glued onto cardstock to make pictures. It can take hours to create a picture, so yay for independent play!

LoopDeDoo. This is a little creation that greatly speeds up the creation of friendship bracelets. The Kid bought it for herself with a 60% off coupon from JoAnn Fabrics. Anyone out there want a friendship bracelet? Or maybe a dozen? If she keeps up at this rate, she'll go broke on embroidery floss.

Next up: Knitting. Like with actual knitting needles. I'm a bit skeptical about whether a six year old can knit, but she was determined to try and bought the knitting needles and some yarn this past weekend with her allowance. I decided to buy knitting needles and yarn for myself and learn alongside, since that's the only way I'd ever be able to help her out if she gets stuck. We decided on dishcloths for our first project - small and useful. I'm thankful for YouTube videos, as that's how we'll be trying to learn. We just have to find time - hah!

The other "Next up": LoopDeLoom. From the makers of the LoopDeDoo, this is their answer to speeding up a weaving loom. This will be The Kid's winter solstice present, along with some more yarn. The same makers also have a monthly craft box subscription, which I think might be next up when we're done with the Green Kid Crafts boxes. Their individual kits look like some of the better ones I've seen in a while.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Games!

The Kid has developed some new patience and strategizing, and so we've been adding to our game shelf! It's so exciting, because the games themselves are much more interesting for an adult to play.

Some of favorite new games:

Ticket to Ride:Europe: This is definitely at the top end of her ability to manage, but so much fun. The board is massive, you have to manage a zillion cards, and you have to really play with strategy and alternatives. But there's cute little trains. And a bit of geography. And the Europe game has the city names written in their native languages.

Qwixx: Simple dice game with a bit of probability thrown in. Take turns rolling and try to mark off numbers in order before others can. From Gamewright, one of my favorite game makers.

Crab Stack: Simple game where you can move your pieces in limited ways, trying to be the last one still able to move at the end of the game. Minimal strategy (unless I'm missing something), but a game takes maybe ten minutes and it's fun.

Double Shutter: A newer twist on the classic Shut the Box games, adding a tiny bit more strategy. The numbers some in a double row, and you can't play the back rown until the tile in front of it is shut.

Gobblet: This is a twist on tic-tac-toe in which the pieces can gobble each other up by playing a larger piece on top. Who knew tic-tac-toe could be made fun again? We had Gobblet Gobblers, which uses a 3x3 gameboard, but The Kid was ready to upgrade to the usual adult 4x4 gameboard recently.

Dixit: You have a handful of cards with generally surreal pictures on them, use a phrase to describe one of them, everyone else finds a card in their hand that might also fit the description, then everyone tries to figure out which card was the one originally being described. In order to get points, you're best off if some people (but not all) can correctly choose your card. Or if someone chooses your card when it wasn't the original one. It took some getting used to, but is now among The Kid's absolute favorites on our shelf.

Dr. Eureka:  Fun, quick visual perception and speed game. You have three "test tubes" and two little marbles of each of three colors. Flip a card and it will have the marbles in various configurations within the tubes and you have to rearrange your setup without touching the marbles with your hands. We've learned for The Kid to play over an empty box lid so we don't spend our time searching for runaway marbles.

Monopoly and New York:1901 have arrived from Amazon, but we haven't even had a chance to break them open yet.

Monday, December 5, 2016

October's Top Books

So, it's December and I've been totally slack in my posting. Logged in and realized I never finished this or posted it, so I might as well give these books credit now as favorites for October!

1. Ballywhinney Girl by Eve Bunting - a story about a girl and her grandfather who discover a mummy buried in the bog in Ireland, told from the girl's point of view.

2. The Greatest Power by Demi - an emperor wants to name a new Prime Minister, so he issues a challenge to all children - return in a year and demonstrate what they believe to be the greatest power in the world.

3. The Bat Boy & His Violin - a father and son story. Reginald loves playing his violin, but his dad doesn't understand and requires Reginald to work as a bat boy for his losing Negro Leagues baseball team. Reginald's playing inspires the team, which in turn manages to have his dad open his ears.

4. How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman - cross-cultural story about two adults learning how to manage a bit of each other's customs, and teaching both to their child. This was a really good find.

Bonus selection! The point of these lists is to spotlight lesser-known books, which this is not. DD read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, which is by far the longest work of fiction she has ever chosen to read. We've done many Beverly Cleary read alounds, but this would work horribly as a read aloud, so I had been saving it until I thought she would be ready to read it. She loved it, and I was reminded how much I had loved it as a child. This is one I had read over and over again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fairy Tale Project: Snow White

I will confess, I dreaded doing Snow White. I dislike the tale, I dislike the absolute helplessness of Snow White, I dislike that it has a group of men needing to protect her. . .

But The Kid knew that the tale existed because friends had talked about it, and she didn't know the story and wanted to include it.

I had only known the Disney version previously, and I was surprised that there was so much variation in the versions. All but one of them still had her as a helpless female protected by men, so I still can't say I like it, but at least it freshened up the tale for me.

We read:

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves retold by Cynthia Rylant - Chosen because it is the most well known version in the United States and she really wanted to know the same story that her friends knew.

Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Quentin Greban - The most faithful to the original Grimm tale, this one is more interesting than the usual version in that the witch tries multiple methods to do away with Snow White.

Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Charles Santore - Pretty much the Disney version, but with absolutely stunning illustrations.

The Seven Dwarfs by Etienne Delessert - A reimagining of the tale told from the point of view of one of the dwarves.

Rimonah of the Flashing Sword adapted by Eric A. Kimmel - If all Snow White stories were like this one, I would love Snow White. This character is amazing, smart, strong, and independent. This version is from North Africa.

Obviously, you could watch one or more of the many movies based on this tale, but The Kid is still a little hesitant about the scariness of most movies, so we skipped watching evil queens.

The Kid mashed together several of the Grimm/Disney versions to create her own. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

August/September's Top Ten Books

The Kid was camping for half of August, so I'm combining these two months.

1. Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein - I had never read this "billy sook", which is a collection of poems in which the first letters of many words are swapped. The Kid read it twice through, once enjoying the sounds, and again to "translate" it.

2. The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter - a great picture book biography focusing on the determination and patience of Jane Goodall, ending with talk of her work on preserving habitat.

3. The Monster That Grew Small retold by Joan Grant - a retelling of an Egyptian tale about conquering fears by facing them.

4. The Rich Man and the Parrot retold by Suzan Nadini - a Persian folk tale about greed and possessions, with a parrot who communicates ingeniously in order to find his freedom.

5. Rimonah of the Flashing Sword adapted by Eric A. Kimmel - a North African version of Snow White, this was nothing like any other Snow White story I've ever read. I detest the piles of helpless women in fairy tales, who are all beautiful and completely selfless but have no spunk, and Snow White is among the worst of these. But this one is a complete badass. Absolutely awesome.

6&7. The Boy Who Painted Dragons and The Girl Who Drew a Phoenix by Demi - these Chinese tales are both about young people who pass through trials to gain virtues in their pursuit of amazing artwork. Phenomenally illustrated.

8. Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa - a tale about two boys who are taking care of the same stray cat, one in the Jewish Quarter and one in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem.

9. Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry by Brian P. Cleary - a nice find. This introduces several poetic devices and styles of poems and then has several fun, whimsical examples of each. An incredibly approachable introduction to poetry terms.

10. Behind the Mask by Yangsook Choi - An awesome Halloween picture book that is not the usual fare, with a Korean-American as the main character.