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A Little Learning for the Lit Mama

I learned two new words this week.  It’s cool because it doesn’t happen very often anymore (unless it’s a medical term or foreign language), so I always share the word with my whole family.  Since these two words were from completely different sources and yet oddly related, I thought I’d share them with you.

The first is petrichor.  Know what it is?  (I didn’t even know there was a word for it, let alone that it was petrichor.)

It means ‘the smell of rain.’  I learned this today on the earthsky website, which remains one of my favorite internet discoveries.  You know, that smell when you suddenly know it’s going to rain any minute?  It’s caused by an oil that is released from the Earth into the air before rain begins to fall.  How cool is that?

When Middle was much smaller, we were leaving for a field trip one morning and as he got into the car he said, “It smells like fog.”  I loved the idea of that–the world smelling like fog.  I told him I had always been able to smell when rain was coming, and maybe he could smell when fog was coming.  Turns out, we were both smelling petrichor.  The word comes from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the ethereal blood of the gods).  Heavenly Blood in the Stone?  I love language.

IMG_20150416_203452513_HDRThis cool picture is actually the view from my front porch last night.  This fog popped up with no warning, no petrichor or creeping.  Not there one minute, there the next.  My beautiful husband commented that he had seen this movie, and it didn’t turn out good for anyone.  The whole while I was snapping pics and thinking of the word I had learned earlier in the week.

Deliquesce.

Isn’t that delicious?  Some of you may already know it, I had never heard it.  Deliquesce, as in ‘dissolve into liquid.’  I read it in the novel I’m reading, Archimedes Nesselrode by Justine Graykin, a lovely, magical book that I am completely enamored with and hope will never end.  The line was, “I, myself, might simply deliquesce like a bubble on a summer breeze!”  Again, with language, especially when well-used.  Deliquesce like a bubble on a summer breeze?  I don’t know about you, but that’s how I’d like to go.  I was laying in bed reading and I called for the Littles to get out of bed and come and hear this word.  They liked it as much as I did, and Middle even decided to make it a move in one of his video games.

Everything is a learning experience in this house. Even for me.  So I dare you to use these words today.  If you live nearby, you should have no problem finding a chance to use petrichor.  And everyone should say deliquesce every single day.  Just because it’s fun.

Love wins,

KT

Let Them Lead

When I was a little girl, there were lots of things I wanted to be when I grew up–mainly a writer, but also a detective, a librarian, a professional dancer, a singer/guitarist in a rock band… Well, you can see my interests were many and varied.  I had teachers who encouraged my writing as a skill, but no one really ever took any of my dreams too seriously.  No one told me that back then, all you had to have to be a librarian was a high school diploma.  By the time I decided to go for it, I had to have college and certification to be eligible for the job.   No one Ever told me the steps I might take to become a detective.  And by the time I got to high school, the constraints and social tiers of public school had me just letting go of most of those dream balloons and watching them float away into the sky.

Not writing, of course.  I can’t Not write.  Don’t have that in me.

Anyway, when Middle approached me about 6 months ago and said he wants to be a video game designer when he grows up, I realized I had an opportunity to make his life different.  So I found a wonderful unit study from The Old Schoolhouse called “I Wanna Be a Video Game Designer” from the WannaBe Series. I printed it out, hole-punched it, put it in a binder (you know my love of binders!) with some school paper, and told him to read the unit and start writing down his ideas.

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I swear, that kid never goes Anywhere without that binder.  He has come up with ideas for 3 video games, and has notes on everything from levels to characters to skill trees to settings.  He talks about designing constantly.  He reads magazines and e-articles about designing.  We’ve researched the best degree to aim for in order to be a designer.  He has started to learn coding, though it has been a bit of trial and error, since the little I know about coding comes from writing this blog.

But here’s the thing.  Today, my favorite thing about homeschooling is that whatever my Littles decide they’re interested in, they can learn about it.  Even if I don’t know much about it, I can find resources and peers who can point me in the right direction.  Even if I’m not remotely interested in it, I can act enthusiastic and encourage them to follow that dream to fruition or till it dies of its own accord.  I can set them up to learn extracurricular-ly or I can make it part of our curriculum like I did with chemistry.  They have the time to put real effort into it and as long as they have Mama being their constant cheerleader, they truly can do Anything they put their minds to.

I can’t wait to play Middle’s first video game, even though I don’t even like video games. I believe he will design one. ( If you saw his borderline obsessive behavior, you would too. haha)

Sometimes, as homeschool parents, it is our job to sit back and listen.  Find out what our littles want out of life, even if they are only 10 and 12, or 6, or 3.  Let Them lead us.  The absurd fact that we’re grown-ups does not always make us right.  It doesn’t even make us smarter.  If we listen, we can encourage, and if we encourage, we blow our littles’ lives wide open.  The possibilities are truly endless.  And they don’t have let go of those strings and let their dreams float away.  They cried when they lost balloons when they were small.  Do you think it feels any different to them now?

Love wins,

KT

Making Math Fun!

Use homemade games to teach your littles multiplication and division

Because I struggled with math when I was younger, I have learned that some people just learn it differently.  I am not so good (at least I wasn’t then) at reading directions in a book and then applying them to solving problems.  I have to have an experience to which to apply the math.  Once I have that, I am a calculating fool.  So when I noticed Littlest still having problems doing basic multiplication and division within more complex problems, I fretted and brooded about why he couldn’t get the basic memorization.  I made up worksheets that showed how each times table is basically counting by the number given.  3, 6, 9, 12, etc.  I printed off copious worksheets from other sources for practice.

Still… he wasn’t getting it.  So I brooded some more.  I watched how he behaved while learning other subjects.  And, as always happens when we homeschooling mamas put our minds to a problem, an epiphany occurred.  Littlest learns best with hands-on tools.  Games are his favorite things in the world.  Board games, dice games, card games, video games.  He never has a problem doing math when faced with a game.

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Midway through National Reading Month

You may or may not know that March is National Reading Month.  Of course, you know the Lit Mama, Every month is National Reading Month at my house.  But March is a great time, beginning with the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on the 2nd, to encourage littles to get in the reading habit.

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This month encourages us to remember the value and joy of shared reading, of reading alone, of utilizing our libraries, and of trying a new genre or author.

There are a great many activities to celebrate National Reading Month.  Here are just a few:

1. Visit your local library each week and pick up new books for your littles to enjoy.

2. If you don’t already do so, pick a chapter book and read aloud with your littles for fifteen minutes a day.

3. Hold a book club with your littles, assigning a set number of chapters for each week followed by a discussion of the chapters at week’s end.

4. Set up a contest where the little who reads the most books by the end of the month wins a prize–a fancy bookmark, a book light, or a new book.

5. Pick books with settings in different countries and have a ”read around the world” month.

6. Find an appropriate audiobook to listen to in the car while running errands.

7. For older littles, break out your old picture books and have a carefree day of easy reading!

8. For those not yet reading, use picture books to have fun phonics lessons and letter recognition.

9. Donate well-loved books to less fortunate children so they have the same opportunities to learn and explore your littles have had.

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If you do a Google search, you’ll soon find that there are other months designated as National Reading Month–National Family Reading Month in May, National Book Club Reading Month in October…. Actually, I saw stuff for just about every month.  I like March because of the Seuss tie-in (honestly, who truly does not like Green Eggs and Ham?).  But you could just follow our lead and make every month National Reading Month.  Your littles will be better off for it and even two weeks of reading aloud 15 minutes a day can lead to a habit.

Celebrate reading.  Remind your littles there’s nothing better in the whole world.  All hail the Great Seuss.  And if you have any other ideas about how to recognize Reading Month, please share them with me.

Love wins,

KT