what we’ve been up to

we’ve finally gotten the learning village off the ground and running, and i’m quite proud of how things have been going!

here’s what we did in february:

feb 11–valentine’s day party
feb 17–1st origami club meeting
feb 23–1st bird walk
feb 25–savemart center tour

and in march, things picked up even more:

mar 4–art lab
mar 8–meyer’s farms water bank & wildlife project field trip
mar 9–weather class with kev from KMPH
mar 11–1st group games
mar 17–origami club
mar 23–bird walk
mar 25–children’s museum of the sierra and king vintage museum field trips

throw into the mix the non TLV activities: the SCICON salamander trip in feb, our monthly art club that we go to at this wonderful lady’s house who does monthly art for a very affordable rate, with like 10-12 different projects for the kids to free-flow through (usually with a seasonal theme), the mardi gras parade in the tower in feb and the spring egg fest at the discovery center in march…and we’ve been VERY BUSY!

a lot of the events/activities have been documented with photos uploaded to TLV’s shutterfly site, though i still have some recent pics i need to upload. i also upload our family pics of nonTLV activities on our family shutterfly site.

here’s what we have coming up in april for TLV:

  • art lab
  • margaret hudson studios tour
  • group games
  • origami club
  • bird walk
  • petco field trip

if you’d like to see info on any of our TLV activities ahead of time, you can find them on our google calendar, posted to our website.

and mix in there lots of playdates with friends, at least once if not 2 and 3 times weekly for hours at a time…since i feel very strongly about the value of imaginative play and friendships…particularly in the importance (which i think is just crucial) of my children having at least one very close (“best”) friendship…i make sure that our our friends are very much a part of our daily lives. it helps that most of them are also members of the learning village now, and so participate in our monthly TLV activities as well.

things are really going really well! i have lots more things i’m working on (always).  including getting back on track with the story of the world, vol 2. we finished vol 1 awhile ago, and started vol 2 but got offtrack. so in preparation for the next part of the book, i have been listening with the kids to the early chapters of the book that we listened to before, to refresh our memories, and gathered a ton of books from the library on australian aboriginals and new zealand maori in preparation for chapter 10 on the land down under. got some really neat books!

i LOVE LOVE LOVE our public library system! i usually take 2 and 3 trips to the library every single week…sometimes with the kids, sometimes without…each of us has our own card and we often have all 3 max’d out. (you can check out 25 items per account…so that can be up to 75 library items in our house at any given time!) i check out tons of books of every topic…regularly go to different libraries to browse the shelves (politi, fig garden, cedar-clinton, clovis, woodward park…we LOVE going to different libraries to find new things on the shelves), regularly find ideas for specific books to look up or topics to find books on from reading blogs and facebook pages or from talking to friends or from topics that interest me or the children…but not just books…i check out all kinds of videos (especially educational ones, but also classics and modern fun ones) and music all the time as well…we’re currently listening to Iran: Persian Classical Music, and i also have sitting right next to me, cds from eastern europe, china, and a cd called “cairo to casablanca”, as well as the monkees, shawn colvin, and tracy chapman…i am constantly exposing my kids to all sorts of music from all sorts of genres and cultures.  i particularly like to bring home showtunes or artists that i want my kids familiar with (hence, the monkees, whom i love…and i’m going to get some carpenters next time…also frank sinatra, bing crosby, dean martin, elvis, etc…all sorts of greats)

we are all about books over here. i LOVE that i can research on the net, including the library’s own website (& order the books to be sent to our library for us!) for ideas as they come to me…as my kids show an interest in things (such as the origami obsession maeven has had for the past few months…i actually have found some really cute pictures books with an origami theme, in addition to all the books on folding instructions…still trying to find something on the history of origami & japanese culture), or on topics that i would like to introduce them to.

there’s all sorts of fabulous things in the kids nonfiction section that we regularly check out…especially science books and documentaries (in our library, they have them side-by-side on the shelves). my kids LOVE documentaries! we watch probably 5-10 documentaries every month, at LEAST. because we also watch nova and nature on PBS regularly.

and from the library i always stock up on lots of good quality picture books, for both kids, along with the nonfiction books on just about any subject you can imagine…besides the fabulous science books, i have found biographies on historical figures, books detailing math concepts in a fun picture book format, books that play with words and teach about grammar concepts and even punctuation! been picking up poetry and riddle books lately for maeven, and always have a quality chapter book that we are reading together (we both LOVE me reading to her, so we do it constantly…went through probably 5 or 6 chapter books just in the past 2 months!)

and i keep picking up chapter books for her to read to herself, either that she’s requested or that i saw or heard about that i think she’d be interested in. they don’t always appeal to her (like she got the entire borrowers series when we went to woodward park recently, and she really was interested in them but once we got home, she never felt like picking them up so we ended up returning them after her not even opening them. she’ll probably go back to them again later…this isn’t unusual for her.) but many do. she goes through spurts of reading, just like me. she’ll eat up a dozen books in one month and another month she might crack open one. its really varies.

for writing…i used to give maeven copywork, but lately she just writes stuff on her own pretty regularly, so i have been holding off and seeing what she’s creating. she writes books and notes to us quite a lot actually. she makes her own lists and loves to type as well. she made this really neat bird book where she details info and pictures (drawn by her) of a variety of different bird species.

we are getting into birds again, because of our bird walks, and my kids regularly point out different birds as we are out and about. tyren (at 4 and a half) has even been known to say “mom, look,  a mourning dove!’ or “look! a blue jay!” (to which maeven will correct him, “actually, its a scrub jay”, LOL! that’s my girl!)  we got really excited when we saw the great egret in our backyard recently, and maeven and i were just beside ourselves with joy over discovery a rufous sided towhee outside the learning village! (same day we also saw 2 flickers in the same area! VERY exciting!)

and we have been regularly watching our mama mourning dove outside our family bedroom window, where adam has set up a camera to video tape the comings and goings. discovered them when i looked out last week and saw daddy bird going back and forth bringing nest material to mama dove. she’s got a nest in there and we are itching to check it out but want to wait a little to give her time to get really comfortable. just went and checked and she’s still there, cute little thing. :)

so that, my friends, is this family’s version of unschooling/eclectic homeschooling in a nutshell! despite some misconceptions, there’s nothing lazy or unthinking about it. every day, every week, there is a LOT of thought and reading and research put into most of the things we do. i doubt my husband even has much of an idea of what all i do for our kids every single week. i have spent a tremendous amount of time reading and researching and constantly continue to do so.  probably always will. i want my children’s lives to be incredibly rich and fulfilling. i think through everything and yet we still are able to kind of go where the wind (aka, our interests and drives) blow us. i doubt myself constantly and yet still find myself proud of much of what we do. and detailing it out like this helps me see that we really ARE doing stuff! it often happens so naturally to the point that i don’t always feel like we’re doing much. but man, we really are!

there’s more, i’m sure, but right now i need to go shower…and i’ve rambled on long enough.

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