Friday, September 19, 2014

This week in immersive learning: Water & Fire

Cadence created this out of a box of recyclables and some masking tape.  She says she's not sure what it is called, but it is a form of mass transportation and it has a built - in telescope.
In addition to the (quite usual but still) ridiculous amount of reading that has taken place this week, we've had the great fortune to spend a great deal of time out-of-doors this week.

Cadence has reread several boxcar children books, tackled a few new novels, and threw in a few non-fiction books (mostly about small fuzzy animals) this week.  Hazel has been improving her reading and writing skills at an incredible rate lately, consistently sounding out words and continuing her months-old habit of passing the time by trying to guess how random words are spelled.  She will sit quietly by herself contemplating it until she thinks she might have it right, and then approach the nearest grown up (or even sometimes Cadence) and ask, for example, "Is this how you spell heart?  H-E-A-R-T, heart?"  (The fact that she has self generated this spelling-bee-style amuses me very much.)

Anyhow, she is now capable of reading well enough to identify certain words on a page, and can sound out simple words like it was no big deal, but staunchly refuses to try reading any book - even easy reading books like Dog is Hot - if they aren't board books.  I think it is simply anxiety - they seem more grown up and therefore more difficult, and she is afraid to purposefully set out to read one of them.  She would much rather catch herself reading them by accident.

Personally, I find her writing almost more impressive than her reading.  Her penmanship is pretty derned remarkable for a 4-year old, and her understanding of word groupings has skyrocketed overnight.

Hazel wrote a letter to Papa, and wrote "Hazel to Papa" on the back. She pointed out a mistaken squiggle after the 'to', and said the heart means "with love".
Cadence still struggles a little in her writing, and it relates back to a quirk we noticed when she was first learning how to read...she found it much easier, at the outset, to read her books upside down.  Though she rarely does so these days, I do still notice her flipping a book over to interpret a particularly difficult word here or there.  It's because of this that I don't find it all that surprising that she still defaults to writing her letters (and numbers) backwards and/or upside down.  Usually gently pointing out the error is more than enough for her to go back and correct it without any issues, but we are still working on consistently writing them with the correct orientation the first time.

To this end we have been doing more writing stuff at home.  Cadence has been labeling stuff all over the house, (because taping the paper to the thing makes writing down the name of the thing ridiculously fun) and has written in her diary (which I don't read) and several letters this week.  I also asked her to write a story with a beginning, middle, and end, and she produced a fun little page long story called The Hunt.  It's about our cat, Puy, going hunting because she was hungry, catching some squirrels, and feeling good after eating them. She even specified that while Puy lived happily ever after, the squirrels...well, they'd been eaten.

Cadence working on a puzzle.  She was pretty upset with me for introducing her to such a frustrating endeavor.
Around all of that, we had some pretty fun outdoor adventures, too.  At our settled exploration with the 4-H club, the weather was just right for some good river stomping.  A whole gaggle of kids ranging from roughly 1 to roughly 10 worked together to find as many clam shells as they could in & around the shoreline.  By the time the bucket owner's mom called her home and the endeavor was ended, they had filled the thing about halfway - and it wasn't a small bucket. After most everyone else had left, these three found walking sticks and went for a wet, in-the-water 'hike'.

One of the older kids caught some fish with a bucket and brought it over to show the younger kids 

Shell gatherers at work

close up of the shells after they dumped them out of the bucket


Also this week, we attended a block party and got to meet a ton of local families.  The neighborhood kids all bonded in the bounce-house while the grown ups chatted around tables full of homemade goodies, and once the sun went down (and the truck took the bounce house away) everyone gathered for a little bon fire in the street.  Someone broke out some sparklers and small fireworks, and the kids had a blast exploring the brief, volatile nature of the flames.

Hazel manages to look serene even while bouncing.

Callie Bounces! and Cadence does her best not to land on her new friend...


Not bad for a week that also saw the first illness of the new academic year - a nasty head cold that hit hard and fast, which the kids have pretty much beaten at this point, but my poor asthmatic lungs always take weeks to recover following respiratory bugs.

Here's to another busy week!