Blog o' Graysmiths

Owls October 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 8:45 pm

After a busy day we gathered wood and had a campfire tonight. While reading one of our nature stories, we heard a strange sound. Something like this. We all agreed it was an owl, and then as the noises continued, we realized it was more than one. A truly magical moment, all of us together (a rarity these days with Luke working so much) listening in on a conversation between these amazing wild birds. Tonight, at the computer Atticus and I listened to lots of owl calls and decided it was a Barred Owl – pretty common in North Carolina, pretty special to us.


Language Arts Continued September 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 10:52 pm

Our second letter and Fairy Tale combination was “Jumping Mouse” -a Native People’s legend, a version of which can be read here.   We continued with the three-fold process:

Artistic Digestion (another led drawing):

Can you find the letter in the drawing?  Mine makes it a little more obvious:

Atticus was very, very eager to do the drawing and find the letter, which he easily found:

And our verse:

“Journey afar,” he heard a voice calling,
“Joy awaits in a far-off land.
Jump over desert, jump over mountain,
Jumping Mouse, jump as high as you can.”
(verse from Enki Education)

I made the forest paths smaller, but not small enough for the whole verse.  As you can see, Atticus is still interspersing a lot of capital letters within the verse.  Watching him perform the copywork is pretty amazing.  It clearly challenges him in different ways.  I am glad he is still enjoying it!

Rosemary sort of starts preschool

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 8:54 am

This morning saw a proud Rosemary heading out to Morning Song Home Nursery program in her papa’s car.

There was one thing significantly missing when she left. No, it was not me, it was her brother.  Her very sad, crying brother.  We will be picking her up in four hours…possibly a very long four hours.


Language Arts September 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 10:58 pm

We started first grade off with a language arts block.  Using our Enki curriculum, we will work with fairy tales during the next four-five weeks to bring different consonants to life.  We start Enki’s three fold learning process with open intake, which in this case, takes the form of reading the fairy tale.  As I mentioned earlier, our first fairy tale was “Little Falcon.”   The second step in the three-fold process is digestion, – first we let the story sleep for at least a 24 hour period, then Atticus recalls the story and then works with the story through art.  The next morning we went for a walk and I started recalling the story with Atticus.  He remembered most of it, but required much prompting.  For our artistic digestion, we tried a “led” drawing.  The idea was that I would sit next to Atticus, tell a shortened version of the story while drawing a picture, which he would copy.  This did and did not work.  He did watch and copy as I drew first areas of dark, and then light and then darkened in the forms (I’ll try and post more about this later).  As soon as he figured out what the forms were  going to be(in this case, the mountains, the boy in the story and the gates) he didn’t wait to see what I was doing, but immediately started drawing his own version.  You can see this from our two drawings:

I didn’t say anything though, and after the drawing we went on to other things.  The next day, I told him there was a surprise in the drawing – two letters – and asked if he could find them.  He easily found the G (which I added to his drawing the night before – I felt success this first time was important) and after I prompted him to look at his mountains, found the M.  This is one of the reasons why led drawings work well in working with letters – if the child wants to find the letter in his or her own drawing, they need to follow the parent’s lead.   I will try this a few more times before changing to a different type of artistic digestion.

We also read the verse together from where I had written it down:

I plan on using a chalkboard in the future, but haven’t gotten around to getting one at this point.  You can see in my version where Atticus corrected some of my “mistakes” in making letters 😉  We then went through the third step:  output.  Atticus wrote in his Good Book the two letters:

Interesting layout!  And then he copied as much as he could of the verse from where I had propped it up against the wall.

He loved, loved, loved the copywork and begged me to make the “forest paths” (I prepared the background of the page with yellow and blue paths to keep his work in line) smaller so that he could get more of the verse on the page.  Finally, he was able to “read” the verse by himself – and our first cycle was finished!


Starting First Grade September 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 10:16 pm

I’m going to try and revive my blog with a post about the first day of first grade.  Atticus has been asking about starting our homeschool year for the past month or so and after one false attempt (we originally had scheduled for this past Monday but I was just not ready), we decided September 1st was a good day to start. As we did last year, we read “A Time of Wonder” by Robert McCloskey and presented Atticus with his first grade gift: a set of block and stick crayons in a crayon roll. These will be his main “tools” during his first grade year.  These were not the only new things we acquired for first grade – he has a desk from Grandma and Granddad Smith which belonged to his cousin Tyler and lots of new school supplies, including his current favorite – a scooter board. After Luke left for work, we went for a very short walk and came home to do some movement work.    Our movement work this year includes an awakening (basically something active to wake up our bodies), movements to help Atticus work on crossing his midlines (just google midline crossing to find out why this is important), academic verses (kinesthetic learning), proprioceptive and vestibular movement to work on these base senses and fingerplays (which help with fine motor skills).

After movement, we read our first story for first grade – “Little Falcon.”  Atticus lit the storyteller candle (he was excited to do this and proud that he was old enough this year 😉 and then sat enraptured as he listened.  He clearly was ready to start the many stories that we will be reading this year.   One of my favorite things was the way that he started reciting the verse that flows throughout the story the second time he heard it:

Golden oak gates rise up through the ground,

Guiding the child where gifts can be found.

Alone in the mountains soon magic may grow,

Back through mighty gates the child will go.

– copyright, Enki Education

After the story he asked to draw a picture (with his new crayons, of course) of the golden gates in the story in one of his new “good books” – a huge 14×17 inch drawing pad which we will use for most of our written and drawing work.  Then, it was immediately on to “practice” work.  Enki Education alternates blocks of Language Arts and Math throughout first grade and when you are doing Language Arts, as we are this first block, you generally do math practice.  For this first block he gets to choose whether he wants to play with tangrams, pattern blocks, cuisinaire rods or origami.   He choose the origami, but then he couldn’t find the instructions, so he asked for the pattern blocks.  At first, he was monumentally unimpressed – he kept trying to build up – making towers – and the blocks fell down.  I sat beside him quietly working on a pattern of a flower and finally he caught on and after making his own pattern said “these are really cool.”

He is so happy to have started and so am I!  Hopefully I will be able to post a picture later – Luke took one with his camera phone as my camera’s battery went dead!


Rosemary at Two November 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 11:47 pm

Rosemary at 2 is a constant whirl of activity, sometimes ridiculously sweet, sometimes completely maniac, sometimes clinging to me like a baby monkey, sometimes telling me to “stay there mama” while she waltzes down the driveway.   She is able to express her emotions with ease and tell us exactly what she wants and that she wants it NOW.  Unfortunately, the development of the ability to communicate does not coincide with the development of the ability to reason.  Thus, more unhappiness when she can’t have cake for breakfast-no jacket on in the cold- her drink in a fragile glass cup.   Fortunately, all this insanity is balanced by the utter sweetness of one of her favorite pretend-plays, going to sleep.  She will get in bed, under the covers, close her eyes and snuggle with me.  And I will try my hardest to soak it all in so that when she is 13 I will be able to crawl in my own bed without her and remember.

Her favorite activity of all is playing with her kitchen where she prepares soup and cookies and birthday cake and tea and bagels and…

Close seconds are playing with the wooden trains, swinging on her trapeze and playing with friends.  She is alternately afraid of strangers or anyone she hasn’t seen in a while and then, when she warms up, she is in love.  She will ask for her favorite people if we are going to a place where she last saw them.  And of course, she is totally in love with her brother and wants to do everything just like he does.  Strike that, she does everything that he does.  Which is not the easiest thing to witness.  I definitely did not have to hear Atticus saying “stupid” or “not fair” at this age, nor did he go down the slide that hurled him halfway across the playground (okay, yes, that was a slight exaggeration).

She is more aware of clothes and colors than Atticus was at this age.  Last week I pulled out some socks, realized there were no matching pairs and tried to have her put on socks of two different colors.  Oh no, that was not going to fly at all.  I did manage to convince her to wear two white socks, even though they were not a perfect pair.  She is also more attached to loveys – stuffed animals – than I remember Atticus being.  Her favorites are her stuffed monkey George,

and Paddington Bear, formerly a companion to our friend Francesca who generously gave her to us when she went to college.  Thanks Francesca!

That is all for tonight – tomorrow I will post some birthday pictures.


State Fair

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 11:15 pm

We made it to the state fair this year and had a wonderful time!  Luke took off of work so we could go during the week – definitely the way to go if you can.  No lines for anything and we could get up close and personal with farm animals and produce (not that we don’t do this regularly as it is, but these were PRIZE winning animals and produce).   Atticus rode four rides – the bumper cars, a kiddie roller coaster, the log flume and one of those round and round type rides which always seems to be named something wintery.  He also went in the “House of Mirrors” by himself.   Rosemary and Luke rode the carousel which she just loved.  I can already tell we are going to be spending a lot more money on rides next year.  We ate funnel cakes and cotton candy, but were mostly restrained on fair food – aka, no fried butter 😉

I was definitely not prepared for how big the fairgrounds was and managed to get us completely lost.  We ended up in a section consisting solely of RVs of the folks presenting at the fair.   Interesting, but not quite the thrill we were expecting.   I wasn’t happy with the way wordpress handled the pictures, so they are all up at flickr – enjoy!

My choice for a ride was the ‘Freak Out’ and it was worth every ridiculous dollar I paid for it.  You can go to YouTube and type in ‘Freak Out ride’ if you want to see how truly crazy I am.  Or you can check out this video.  I can’t wait for next year.