Ask Me About Home @ School

How's Home at School going now 5 weeks later? I'm beat and if there was ever any question in my mind about ME homeschooling MY kids, I certainly got my answer. I suck at this. I'm tired. I'm out of energy and creativity. I really must find more camps for the summer.


Kindergarten Orientation

We had kindergarten orientation this week. Did you hear me? My oldest kid starts kindergarten in the fall. Holy *&^)! As I sat in the room with all these other moms, many who looked like they too were novices of this public school game and many who were long time veterans, I just couldn't get over that I was sitting here. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. Sure the days, weeks, months, years have passed and much of it was a blur, but how did we get to this moment. Will I feel the same at graduation in 13 years? Thirteen years?

Anyway, the orientation went well. I was a bit confused when they showed pictures of the teachers helping the kids to zip their jackets. Apparently this is a skill 5-year-olds usually learn in kindergarten. What? My three-year old can zip her jacket!

Oh, and don't forget the part where Alex wrote with a Crayola marker on the chalkboard. Uh huh...way to make a stellar first impression on the teacher! I guess someone had left the marker on the chalk tray and he thought that meant it was OK to color on the chalkboard. Perfect!


Rocknoceros: PINK!

We have been nothing but PINK! in our house for the past week. Rocknoceros, one of our kids favorite bands, launched its new CD this week. Since they are from Northern Virginia, we were able to attend their CD launch party at Vienna's Jammin Java. Rock on! You really must check out the title song.

Rocknoceros is comprised of Coach Cotton, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bennie. It took my son a while to warm up to these guys for whatever reason. He loves them, but every time he saw them in concert he would cry. I finally figured out why....he felt pressure to dance, apparently. Whatever, kid. My daughter loves them and was up front in her pink dress leading the crowd this past weekend. My son was finally up there rockin' out with the rest of the preschool crowd minus the tears.

So why PINK? At Rocknoceros’ live shows, the band always asks fans about their favorite colors, and invariably, the shouts for “Pink!” are overwhelming. So, due to popular demand (especially from their young female fans), the title track of the new CD reflects the rosy color of little pigs, bubble gum and selected flowers known as perennials.

Our favorites on the new CD include Pink (both my kids think this song is the greatest), Always Tell Your Grandma That You Love Her and Big Wheel. (Really, how fast does a big wheel go?)

Great job guys on the latest CD. Can't wait to catch you at the next concert!


School at Home: Week 4

Last week was Food Week for Home at School. I was impressed by how much BOTH my kids learned. We checked out books on all the food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, fats, meats and milk.

Fortunately, it coincided with Alex starting a cooking class at a the Vienna Community Center. It's called a Fairy Tale feast where they read a story and then make the food. Love the idea!!!

We talked about all the different types of foods and how every food fits into at least one of the categories. Then we took to the Wednesday food ads. Both kids spent at least an hour cutting up food pictures from the circulars, and we pasted them in their corresponding food category. They really thought this was a worthy project. We talked quite a bit about the food pyramid and what foods we should eats lots of and what foods we had to limit. My kids keep coming back to my husband's book "150 Healthiest Foods on Earth." They like to go through this book and see what foods they like and which ones have a star (the super foods!)

Alex and I took a special trip to Whole Foods to see how even the store is organized by food groups--fruits and veggies, meat, grains, etc. Bonus for us was Emeril Lagasse was filming his Planet Green series at the Fairfax Whole Foods. This launched us into a whole other discussion about TV food shows. Which then led to coming home and watching a few on the computer. Alex wanted to know why people had to watch TV to learn how to cook. Good week. Good topic.

This week . . . Safety Week!


An Itsy Bitsy Chance to Explore

One of my first introductions into a more international children's world began during a playgroup in Qatar. The kids played for a while with random toys, and then the moms gathered around in a circle to sing familiar children's songs. I was familiar with most of the songs until I got to "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Except I was in a room full of British moms who sang the song "Incy Wincy Spider." Most of the lyrics are the same, but a few of the words stray and suddenly my eyes had been opened to the possibility of things outside the American world.

Fast forward a year, and we had found ourselves in Sweden. Again, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" made his appearance at a Swedish/English playground this time as "Imse Vimse Spindel." The tune varied a little and the words in were, of course, in Swedish. Quite frankly, this is my FAVORITE version of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Never has a spider climbing up a water spout sounded so adorable and whimsical.

My children's exposure to another language was brief. My son attended four months of Swedish preschool and within 6 weeks he was speaking and understanding it. He was 2 1/2 years old. We were singing all the favorites in Swedish (Row Row your Boat, Ba Ba Black Sheep, Little Cabin in the Wood). I am reminded by a good friend, who is Austrian and a master of languages, how spongelike little young brains are for soaking up other languages. She mentioned something like until the age of 7 children have this natural ability to understand and separate languages. I have no idea how scientific that data is, but I did have a few other foreign language teachers back up that statement.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Two of my friends are extending their current preschool to a a bilingual one: Tiny Explorers. The best part is it's for kids 18 months to three years. This is doubly as awesome because it's near impossible to even find part-time preschool for kids under the age of two let alone a bilingual one. Do I think my son's four-month exposure to a foreign language helped develop his brain at age 2? Yep! I know that being exposed to a foreign language at any age, especially a young one, helps develop and exercise the brain in a completely different way. So yes, it does make your kid smarter.

Tiny Explorers is having an open house next week so if you live in the Northern Virginia (Reston) area and are looking for a school or are even curious about the bilingual factor (which I wholeheartedly applaud), please stop by next week and visit.


School at Home: Week 3

Even though it was spring break this past week, I felt it necessary to do continue with 'home at school' but with an Easter theme. Our week began with an Easter egg hunt with my DC area mom's group. I hadn't planned on going with our busy weekend, but the weather moved the hunt to a better day, and we made a last-minute decision to attend. We are SO glad we did.

I made sure to get over to the library and check out several books on Easter--one about Easter in Sweden (of course), one about an Easter egg tree, a few about bunnies, a few religious ones and even one about Passover (since my grandfather is Jewish and I wanted to give them the basics of a Seder meal.)

Thank God for the Enchanted Learning site which gave me a few worksheets, coloring pages and counting/math activities with Easter-related things included. We finished out the week by coloring eggs, decorating our own Easter tree and baking our traditional Easter bread. So all in all....another good week.

This week, we're moving on to food, nutrition and the food groups.


I can't pass up a good deal. And this one I love. For the next week (April 13-26), if you bring in your gently used Hanna Andersson clothes, they will donate them to the United Way and you can save 20% your purchase. As you know, I love Hanna Andersson clothes. They wear wonderfully, wash perfectly and WAY outlast my kids. The PJs really are worth the money. So I'm glad to see they will put my outgrown clothes to good use and give me a little discount. Love it!


School at Home: Week 2

Yes, we're still alive around here. Sorry that things have been quiet. School at home + moving + spring break + regular daily chores has kept us busy. We had another successful week, but I was relieved to see Friday....if that tells you anything.

Last week's school topic was spring. We had several books from the library on spring (flowers, trees, etc.). As part of the weekly lesson, we took several nature walks including one of Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna (right down the street from our new house!) It is Cherry Blossom time here in DC and nothing can be prettier than pink and white blossoms.

Both Alex and Anna put together a spring book about the seeds and the frog life cycle. And on Tuesday last week--as I was digging up my garden--we found a frog. I took the opportunity to do a quick "frog lesson" before we walked the little guy down to the creek. We named him Eric.

We finished out the week with planting a few plants in our garden. Yes, yes, I know....but it's the week before spring break so it was hard to do 'real' school.


The Wheels on the Bus

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today ranting about my hatred for the bus. Come on over and leave your two cents about how crazy I am!