Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sensory Sunday: One Base Ingredient, Three Sensory Play Experiences!

At Dollar Tree last week, we picked up two boxes of Pillsbury "Perfectly Pumpkin" cake mix for sensory play... little did I know that I would end up getting THREE separate activities out of those $2.00!

The first is the simplest: Pumpkin Cloud Dough. I learned last year from Growing a Jeweled Rose that boxed cake mix has almost the same texture as cloud dough... That is, it is soft and powdery but also moldable. This has become one of my favorite go-to sensory play activities since the only preparation required is dumping out a bag of cake mix! Therefore, cake mix is one of the things I always check for in clearance aisles or dollar stores. Honestly, when I bought these particular boxes, cloud dough was the only thing on my mind. Monkey is still not quite ready for this particular experience (all he wants to do is empty the dough out of it's container which is a bit too messy even for me!) but Munchkin loves it! This time I added some plastic gourds to set the "autumn" mood as well as various kitchen tools including a whisk and a mini bundt pan.

While Munchkin was playing, I decided to experiment a bit. We loved the foam dough we made for Halloween and I wondered whether I could substitute cake mix for the corn starch and baking soda. I combined 1 part shaving cream with 2 parts cake mix.... And it WORKED!!! Presenting... Cake Mix Foam Dough! The shaving cream smell completely disappeared, leaving only the yummy pumpkin spice smell of the cake mix. The dough was moldable and cut well with cookie cutters. The downside?  After a bit of play, it got somewhat sticky... enough that my sensory snob Munchkin no longer wanted to play. Monkey, however, enjoyed it even on the sticky side!

My last experiment is what I am most excited about, however... I successfully tried another crazy substitution: cake mix in place of flour in a play dough recipe to make Cake Mix Play Dough! The exact recipe we used: 1 cup cake mix, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 cup water. The dough is slightly softer and "wetter" feeling than traditional play dough but it is super smooth and not sticky at all - even to Sensory Snob Munchkin! The best part, though is that the color and amazing scent are already built in!
I can't wait to try these new tricks with different flavored cake mixes... I'm thinking that strawberry play dough sounds delightful! Or maybe gingerbread for Christmas? Yummm....

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Theme Week: Pumpkins

This post is a bit behind, but I am still playing catch-up and unpacking around here. Our last theme week in October was PUMPKINS! I used this to academically tie in to our Halloween decorating fun, but honestly many of these activities could just as easily be done in September or November as part of a fall unit.
Academically, here's what we were up to with our pumpkin theme...
Make a Word and Write the "Room"
These great word work printables are both from A Year of Many First's Falling For Autumn pack. This was not a freebie but since we've used almost every page, it was a great deal! There are a lot of the same "type" of activities though (i.e. 4 or 5 "write the rooms") so we've tried to find ways to mix it up a bit. As you see in the pictures, I pulled Halloween themed chipboard letters for Munchkin to use in "Make a Word." For "Write the Room," our favorite modifier is simply to change locations. We pop the printable on a clipboard and head out. With the "PUMPKIN" page, Munchkin asked to go outside so that he could use his very own pumpkin in our garden as his first "P" word.
Fact Family Work
As part of my quest to increase addition fluency, we have been doing a lot of fact family work. Munchkin's understanding of number relationships is flawless, but he enjoys doing something other than drill sheets (and so do I!) The first of these activities is also from the Falling for Autumn pack and asked Munchkin to match up addition sentences with the same sum (most also shared the same family of numbers).
The next activity, from A Day in First Grade, is part of a FREE pumpkin week pack! This one had Munchkin brainstorming all the possible number sentences from a set of numbers. What I love about this activity is that there are waaaay more cards than spots on the recording sheet. It is also not specifically Halloween themed, so we will be repeating the activity several times with different (and increasingly higher) numbers in our fact families. (Hint: laminate the recording sheet and no copies are necessary!)
Pumpkin Stories
Just a few of the pumpkin books we have been reading. My favorite for Munchkin (first grade) was The Pumpkin Book. It went into the most details about the life cycle and even included information about the history of Halloween! For younger kiddos I like It's Pumpkin Time. The text is short and simple but the book still covers a lot of great info about the life cycle of a jack o lantern! Apples and Pumpkins was another favorite this year since, for the first time, my kids could relate to the story of going to a farm to pick both fall favorites.
Life Cycle Work
We were lucky enough this year to have our very own pumpkins to observe in our garden. It was really neat for the kids to watch flowers turn into green balls, turn into pumpkins. It was even more fun to pick our own pumpkins for Halloween art fun!
In addition to observing the real thing, Munchkin also made a fun model of the life cycle using A to Z teacher Stuff's printable here.  Somehow my picture of this is missing, so I will include their stock photo (though ours was cuter! :-)):

Pumpkin Art!
The two little pumpkins picked from our garden were too small to carve so the boys had fun painting them instead:

Surprisingly, Monkey spent twice as long on his pumpkin as his big brother. Looks like it's time to pull out the paints more often for this one!!!
Jack o Lantern carving was another story entirely... Neither of the boys want anything to do with the "goop" inside the pumpkin... So Mommy does most of the work.

This year, though, Munchkin did a great job of helping to trace out the patterns he chose for his and his brother's pumpkins (Angry Bird and Silly Face respectively). 

Sensory Play
Yummm... Pumpkin Spice Play Dough!!! We made these cute tins as Halloween presents for Munchkin's school friends. The dough is basic homemade play dough dyed orange... but into the dry mix goes 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice... The result is the yummiest smelling play dough ever. Seriously. Munchkin is not always big on sensory play, but he has pulled out his "Pumpkin Spice Dough" over and over again usually commenting "I LOVE Pumpkin Spice!"

More Pumpkin Fun
I had also planned on completing this super-cute pumpkin day investigation activity (from  A Day in First Grade's FREE pumpkin week pack), but Munchkin and his class at "school" did a similar activity so he was not interested in repeating it at home.
The pack has wonderful instruction signs for each station to weigh, measure, and count parts of a pumpkin, though and would be super cute especially in a classroom setting. She also has an adorable mini-book available (also FREE) for kids to complete about their pumpkin. Next year, both of these are on my pumpkin week agenda!
Other Pumpkin Pinterest Finds
(as seen on my October Pinterest Board)
Young and Lively Kindergarten's Ten Frame Roll, Color, and Cover Pumpkins
Frugal Homeschool Family's Elementary Pumpkin Unit Study
A Cupcake For the Teacher's Pumpkin Math Puzzles
Fun-a-day's Geo Pumpkin (I fully intend to try this one once our little pumpkins have enjoyed their front porch showcase for a while!)
Two Teaching Mommies' Pumpkin Pack
The Reading Mama's Pre-K Pumpkin Pack
More Than Math's Pumpkin Sentence Freebie
Frugal Homeschool Family's Pumpkin Patch Writing Prompts Freebie
Kindergarten Lifestyle's Pumpkin Life Cycle Kit

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Modern" Parenting

I try very hard not act when I am angry. I also try to avoid stirring up controversy and above all not to judge others (especially moms!) in their personal journeys. I truly believe that power is in the positive. For that reason, when I first clicked on this article from my Facebook feed, I closed the window after scanning only the first few sentences. I knew the content would upset me and I tried very hard just to virtually "walk away..." But as I continued browsing, checking e-mail, and generally trying to relax, the title of the blog in question would not leave my brain: Why My Kids are Not the Center of My World. So I went back and read the blog post. Twice. Then I wrote an extremely irate Facebook status update. When I realized I was rambling angrily and probably not at all proving my point, I knew it was time for a longer post.

I am not going to tackle this woman's blog post piece by piece. Don't get me wrong, I could... But it would be a very angry, very negative post that would completely ignore my theory of power through positivity. I will, however, summarize her basic thesis - if only to save some of you the pain of having to wade through the negativity there:

Stephanie Metz, a mom from North Dakota, believes that she is doing her children a favor by not making them the center of her - or anyone else's - world. She explains that her boys love to do boy things like wrestle and play with guns as has been the habit of boys "since the beginning of time." She then laments that in today's society she has to worry over whether those actions will get them into trouble at school because we will not let "boys be boys" any longer. Ms. Metz goes on to discuss how bullying used to be defined as slamming someone against a locker and stealing their lunch money, but now we label anyone who calls someone a name a "bully." She illustrates this with a colorful example about how when Sally calls Susie a "bitch," Susie is entitled to a world wide pity party and Sally should be jailed for "acting like a teenage girl."

I am going to stop there for a minute because already my blood pressure is rising... First of all, my boys have no idea what the phrase "boys will be boys" means. They do not wrestle or rough-house any more than most of the girls they socialize with. They do not own toy guns but have never picked up sticks or used their hands to shoot the way Ms. Metz claims is somehow encoded in their DNA... More importantly, I taught jr. high girls for eight years and I can say without a second's hesitation that just because someone is a teenage girl does NOT mean that she will flippantly call another nasty names. Can teenage girls be catty? Absolutely. But so can middle-aged soccer moms. Maybe if someone had taken the time to teach them a little respect and conflict resolution when they were teenagers, we would have a more respectful crop of grown women wandering our playgrounds today. Justifying a disrespectful, cruel, hurtful behavior by assigning it to a developmental phase is like saying I should put my eighteen month old down in a crowd of toddlers and let him push, hit, and bite his way to the toy he wants. NOTHING excuses behavior meant to harm others. If Ms. Metz or anyone else needs more of an explanation, I would point her towards one of the many nationwide studies on how bullying and emotional trauma affects the learning environment. In fact here is a good place to start.

Now, back to the summary of Ms. Metz's post:
It is suggested that society's changing attitudes (such as those towards traditional "boy" play and bullying) are creating a society in which all children feel entitled to complete happiness all the time. This is when she throws "modern" parenting into the mix suggesting that parents who "drop everything" to sit and play with a child who "needs attention" are adding to this sense of entitlement. Ms. Metz feels that this is creating a generation of young adults who will be unable to function in society. She offers examples of a college student failing a paper and melting down because no one has ever made her feel sad, a young marketing executive having an idea shot down and crying over the rejection or quitting his job, and an adult upset over not having someone to cater to his every whim. Then, Ms. Metz provides a long series of examples of how she will prevent her children from this sort of handicap with her personal parenting practices (including sending her children to play together in their room after allotted tv time because though she "misses them" she is "not just a mom").

First of all, I'm not sure how boys playing with guns plays into this at all, but let's roll with it anyway... And none of us are "just a mom" but that's a discussion for another day... Honestly, these arguments are the same ones you hear from anyone pushing early toilet training, sleep training, or generally any child "training" at all... "They have to learn sometime!" "Are you going to let him go to kindergarten/camp/college in diapers/breastfeeding/with a pacifier/in your bed?" In this case Ms. Metz seems focused on parental attention vs. independence and emotional as well as physical self-sufficiency. Regardless, my response is the same: They will do it when they are ready. And they will be ready eventually because little humans are AMAZING! Years of research into human development all points to the same thing: When you foster a sense of safety, security, and respect, children will take those steps (even the scary ones) on their own as they become developmentally ready for them. Why? Because they know they have a safe place to land.

Now, I will be the first to admit that sometimes waiting for that developmental readiness is HARD. I would give just about anything right now if my littlest would just be ready to sleep through the night... or even half the night! A third? But it's not happening. I am very much developmentally ready for more sleep. But after trying a few gentle techniques to encourage it, I've come to the conclusion that he just isn't. Now, I know that Ms. Metz and probably many many others could regale you with reasons why I should force the change... let him cry it out and "learn to self soothe"... but they don't know my child. They don't know that he spent six months screaming or sleeping 95% of the time because he was fighting allergies we didn't understand. They don't know that in those same six months he wore casts and braces on his tiny baby legs making him even more uncomfortable and unable to soothe. They don't know that during the day he is the spunkiest, most independent toddler around: fearless and unfazed by anything...I do. So when he insists at night that he really needs Mommy... I believe him. He won't need me forever. He will eventually sleep and do so further and further from my side. His basic instincts will drive him to become more and more independent at night as well as during the day, just like his big brother who spent 15 months nursing to sleep but now begs for sleepovers away from his parents. However, right now, by not ignoring his perceived needs, I am teaching him that I am always going to be around to listen, to comfort, and to do what I can to make it better.

The idea that attachment parenting or other "modern" parenting is creating non-functional adults is simply ridiculous. Believe me, my kids understand what being sad is like. They know what it means to not get their own way and even to fail at something. No parenting style in the world could protect kids from those realities of the world. Nor should it. Furthermore, my kids know that they make mistakes and that I don't always agree with the choices they make. However, they also know that, regardless, they have people behind them. People who will love them and be proud of them no matter what. This doesn't mean we agree all the time or that things have to be "all rainbow colored unicorns" as Ms. Metz puts it. It means that, unlike Ms. Metz, at the end of the day my kids are absolutely the center of my universe. They are the most important thing in the world to me and there is nothing on earth that could change that... and I make damn sure they know it.

I was amazingly, incredibly, unbelievably lucky enough to grow up with a mother who made sure that I knew two things without a shadow of a doubt: 1. She LOVED me. Completely and Unconditionally. 2. She was PROUD of me. Not because of anything I did or didn't do but because of who I was. Like anyone else, I have had moments where I felt like Ms. Metz's Susie - in need of a world wide pity party - and in those moments, I did not get up and move on because I was taught to "brush it off" as Ms. Metz suggests... I got up and moved on because I knew that 1. People LOVED me and 2. People were PROUD of ME.  It was my safe haven. My rock that let me know that I would always be important, loved, and valued. There is no doubt in my mind that I, along with my brother and my kids, are the center of my mother's universe. And guess what Ms. Metz? I am a fully functioning productive member of society. I was a little late going to sleepover parties, I'll admit. I didn't go to summer camp until I was 16 because being away from home simply wasn't appealing. But I went away to college, graduated (early!), immediately got a job, financed my own master's degree, and eventually moved 1,700 miles from home. I have never thrown a fit or expected my mother to fix a failed grade, a rejected proposal, or anything else. What I do expect is that if I get busy and forget to call, she will. She will also come visit as often as she can, send my kids postcards and Halloween goody bags, and drop everything if I really need her to. But because I am a fully functioning adult - not a preschooler - I don't need that very often.

I'm sure Ms. Metz is trying to do what's best for her family. I really am. I doubt she had the wonderful childhood I did or the amazing adult relationship with her mother that I have with mine. She may never have enjoyed a safe spot to land and for that I feel sorry for her. What I resent, however, is her telling me that I am somehow creating problems for the society of tomorrow because I choose to gift my children with my time, attention, and unconditional love.

I could write more on this... I could tell Ms. Metz how in eight years in a public school, I never had a discipline problem with a child of a parent who was too involved or too loving. I could pull research that in fact shows the opposite - children without involved parents are far more likely to be in trouble in and out of school, not to mention read later, have more relationship problems, and score lower on those almighty standardized tests... but I won't. Because ultimately, I think good parenting for most of us isn't about standards or numbers or studies. It's about instinct. It's the adrenaline that rushes in when our child screams and the smile that comes unbidden to our face when he laughs. My instincts tell me that a baby who cries needs a parent's comfort... and that a teenager called names probably needs and deserves it too.

My apologies for the weighty post - this blog will go back to homeschool fun and cute pictures tomorrow, I promise. For now, this angry mama bear is going to snuggle her cubs who will ALWAYS know that they are the center of her world.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Theme Week: Candy Corn

Candy Corn has been one of Munchkin's favorites for years, so when I started seeing cute candy corn themed activities pop up on Pinterest, I knew we had to do a Candy Corn Theme Week!

I ended up selecting Royal Baloo's Candy Corn Math Pack to use for our math activities this week. There were a lot of options out there (many of which I will link to below), but this pack fit Munchkin's needs fairly well (we are working on addition and subtraction fluency as well as working with counting change) and best of all it was FREE!

We completed a number of the activities in this pack as-is including:

Candy Corn Addition Puzzle:

Candy Corn Estimation Activity:

The pack also included a Roll and Cover Sheet. This is a bit below Munchkin's level so we played with money instead. I give him a set of coins to count and then he covers the correct number. This has been a really wonderful way for us to re-use a lot of our favorite roll and cover sheets recently as well as an easy activity for me to make! 

Munchkin's favorite activity was "Candy Corn Store." This was originally a worksheet in the pack, but the layout confused me so I simply cut out the prices. I placed a real candy corn on each slip and let Munchkin "buy" each one by counting out the correct change.

Of course the best part of all of the activities was eating the candy corn at the end!

Science and Sensory Play
My favorite new science and sensory activity for this unit was Learn Play Imagine's Erupting Candy Corn Foam Dough. The dough is a mix of shaving cream, corn starch, and baking soda and is super fun to play with on it's own. It's a bit like cloud dough but the shaving cream makes it even more moldable. I will definitely be making it again.

Munchkin's favorite part, of course, was squirting on the vinegar to trigger "eruptions." This was the first time we had used a squirt bottle for this type of experiment but it will not be the last! It made the activity last a LOT longer since Munchkin could not simply dump out the vinegar in his over-eagerness. :-)

We also made Growing a Jeweled Rose's Candy Corn Volcano with some homemade playdough, but unfortunately those pictures were accidentally deleted. The activity was fun and the volcano was super-cute, but since I ended up having to mold most of the volcano myself, I felt like it was a bit of a waste of the playdough.

Other Candy Corn Pinterest Finds:
(also found on my October Pinterest Board)

Funky First Grade's Candy Corn Word Family Mobiles
Make Take Teach's Candy Corn Alphabet Matching
Blessed Beyond a Doubt's Candy Corn Math Ideas and Printables
Lory's Page's Candy Corn Fact Families
Kids Activities Blog's Candy Corn Activity Pages
A Night Owl's Round-Up of Candy Corn Treats
Learn Play Imagine's Candy Corn Quick Paints

Mad Science and Sensory Fun!

Our science and sensory play this month has been a lot of fun!!!

We started with an outdoor Mad Scientist's Lab during our visit to Texas earlier this month. This was one of the first times that Monkey (18 months) has really gotten into sensory play so it was fun to see him exploring!

"Zombie Brains"
(Cooked spaghetti tossed with gel food coloring in zip lock bags. I hid Halloween objects inside for the boys to find as well since Munchkin sometimes needs an incentive to sensory play. This was a great outside activity since it eventually dissolved into a "brain war...")

"Mad Scientist Lab"
(This was really just good old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar play, but we took B-Inspired Mama's idea for "Fizzing Eyeballs" and coated plastic eyeball toys in a paste of baking soda and water. Munchkin had a blast dropping them into various Halloween-y containers filled with dyed vinegar. His little brother watched closely, but didn't want to get involved in this one!)

Halloween Water Beads
Back at home, I wanted to continue coaxing our Monkey into some sensory play, so we pulled out some fall colored water beads along with our Halloween toys.

Monkey is super into transfer activities right now so it really wasn't until I gave him another empty container alongside the sensory bin that he got interested...

Big brother joined in the fun too...

And both seemed to enjoy filling and dumping the after-though of a container!

"Witch's Brew"
Ironically, Munchkin's Halloween sensory activity was actually the easiest to prepare. I dumped the contents of the water bead tub into a plastic cauldron and added some water dyed with purple food coloring. It turns out that apparently Munchkin is as interested in transfer activities as his little brother. He never stuck his hands in the cauldron at all, but spent at least 20 minutes (a record for him) spooning the "brew" into various containers. This ended up being the only sensory or science activity he requested to repeat this month!


Mad Science Lab, Round 2
Another round with dyed vinegar and baking soda. This time minus the eyeballs but with some other fun Halloween accessories. This was a quick, open ended lab I threw together as a surprise to have waiting for Munchkin when he came home from school on Halloween.

A Candy Corn Volcano and Candy Corn Foam Dough Eruptions rounded out our science fun for October. Details on those can be seen in our Candy Corn Theme Week! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why I Love Having My Kids at Home

I have wanted to be a Mommy my entire life. I always planned on staying home with my children, but one thing led to another and I spent my first six years of motherhood working 50+ hours a week in a job I loved but funnelled far too much energy into. Maybe that time spent running in five different directions is what makes me so appreciative of the opportunity I have now to focus on my boys. In any case, I love being home with my kids. I have absolutely no desire to ever return to full time employment nor can I imagine ever sending my kids away to a full-time school.  I don't pretend that being a stay at home mom is easy, but it drives me absolutely nuts to scan my facebook feed and see moms complaining about being home with their kids... There isn't anywhere else I would rather be. Here's why:

1. Our days have a rhythm... not a schedule or a to-do list. 
I have spent years battling with "schedules." I hate them with a burning passion because what is scheduled never seems to fit with my current mood. However, I spent years coordinating my work schedule with my husband's, arranging school schedules, childcare schedules, rehearsal schedules, gym schedules, and on and on. I kept FIVE color-coded calendars via my Google account and I sent weekly messages to the team of relatives that it took to keep my family functioning and my children cared for. I will forever be grateful to them for keeping my children out of day care and in loving, one on one family situations, but I do not miss coordinating the chaos at all! This time last year, I set an alarm for 6:30 five or six days a week in order to get dressed and made up, forcibly wake up, dress, and feed both kids and then drop each off at a different location before going to work myself. Now, I set an alarm for 8:00 three days a week just to make sure we are all up in time to throw on some clothes and drive the Munchkin to school. I never have to stress out about what child is going where with whom. That alone has reduced my stress level 93%!!! My kids have never really had schedules, either, but we are all learning the benefits of a gentle routine.

2. I know my children better than anyone else does. 
That sounds selfish, right? You know what? I don't care. I'm their Mommy and I get to be special. ;-) In all seriousness, though, I really enjoy the fact that for the first time, I spend more meaningful awake hours with my kids than their teachers, friends, or other relatives do. We are building a foundation that I hope provides support for a loving, respectful relationship for years to come. On a side note, because of his awesome nurse's schedule, Daddy easily takes #2 in this category.

3. My children have a relationship with each other.
My kids are almost five years apart. If I was working full time and Munchkin was in a traditional school, they would spend 8-10 hours a day, five days a week in completely separate locations. In fact, Aedan's biggest complaint in the one semester he did go to school full time was "I miss my brother." Now, the boys spend 15 hours a week apart, max. It shows. They adore one another and have a deeper relationship than I would have ever imagined possible with the age difference. Again, I feel like they are building an important foundation for future years.

4. We have time to investigate seasons, holidays, and thematic units we all enjoy.
I love planning... parties, curriculum, vacations... whatever. Homeschooling is the ultimate planning challenge. Almost everything we do is thematic. In October, we explored pumpkins, candy corn, and bats. In November, we will be studying the Wampanoags, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving (culminating with a visit to Plymouth)! In December, we will explore holidays celebrating light around the world. Munchkin has recently discovered the library and loves hunting for books each week that fit with our theme. He also frequently requests to pursue topics on his own as well. Recently we have been reading about the Big Bang and learning basic words in Italian by his request. Although he is more than on-track with his grade level (I make a point of referring back to the Common Core Curriculum to check in every couple of months), I think Munchkin gets more out of this style of education (along with his three days a week in school of course!) than he would at a traditional public or private school. By not focusing on standards, achievements, or even assessments of any kind, learning is still an adventure!

5. My children's instincts, needs, and desires are respected.
More important than the lack of standards and testing, I value homeschooling (from infancy on up) because it personalizes the educational experience (and simply the day to day living experience) for my kids. As any teacher will tell you, every decision in a classroom has to be made based on what works best for the majority. So schedules, assignments, and rules may or may not be what is best for one particular child. The best teachers try to individualize to a certain degree, but it's just not possible with typical classroom ratios to truly meet each student's personal needs and preferences. This is yet another reason why I think so many kids get burned out on school so early on. As an adult, I'm honestly not sure if I could function if someone told me what order I had to complete tasks in, where I had to sit, and even when I should eat and use the restroom all day long.... Yet that is exactly what we expect from children in traditional educational settings. At home, Munchkin chooses what order to complete his assignments in. When he needs a break, we take one. In the above photo, Munchkin was working on a "write the room" assignment in which he was supposed to locate and record something starting with each letter of the word PUMPKIN. Munchkin thought of our little pumpkin still on the vine outside and requested to go write outside so that he could use "pumpkin" for his first "P" word. So we went outside. After roaming the yard a bit and completing most of his words, he joined his little brother for playtime and then we all picked tomatoes and the pumpkin from the garden before going inside and resuming our normal "school" activities. I know at some point I may have to develop other guidelines or a stricter routine or schedule but so far we never have trouble completing our planned lessons. Sometimes we do "school" on weekday mornings and sometimes it is a Saturday evening, but because he is empowered and an active part of the process, Munchkin usually asks to do schoolwork, not the other way around.

This same principle seems even more important with my oh-so-independent little Monkey. Monkey has no interest in doing anything that is not his own inclination. As we are beginning to introduce tot-school activities, I am finding how important it is to give him control over the experience. The above photos were taken when I tried to introduce a transfer activity he had LOVED the day before. He clearly had no interest. Instead of pushing the activity, we tried another, which was a huge hit! 

*** Most Importantly: They are only little once. I want to soak up every moment.***
Mother, O' Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek - peekaboo.
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton