Katie is, and always has been, a true delight to teach. She is interested in just about everything, curious, attentive, loves to hear stories (both fictional and historical), asks thoughtful questions, and is willing to do whatever activities I come up with—a teacher’s dream. A high school teacher, I know almost nothing formally about teaching the younger grades, yet I find that my years of studying pedagogy have helped tremendously with my ability to explain concepts in multiple ways multiple times, put together themed lessons, look for the most engaging ways “into” a subject, and to have patience with the learning process—which is not always linear. All who know me know how often I miss being a teacher in my classroom, but I also know that I would not want to give up this time teaching my own children, either. Now if only I could bring them INTO my classroom and teach them (differentiated, of course) while teaching my high school students… ah, dreams.

I wonder what it will be like for Katie and Eric to grow up with two high school teachers for parents?

Since Katie is still young (3), we tend to follow her interests while still being aware of practicing the basics with her (phonics, number sense, etc). She has been tremendously interested in classic/ancient history for about a year. We spent quite a bit of time with parts of The Odyssey last year (we found a great book from the library which she then received for her birthday that puts The Odyssey into prose form with pictures). She also loves art (especially talking about the mother and children of Mary Cassatt), planets and space, and my somewhat tamed renditions of Tristan and Isolde and Romeo and Juliet.  She loves her globe and wants to spend time with it almost daily. We just checked out a child’s atlas from the library, and she is captivated. Bill, too, was extremely passionate about maps and atlases when he was little—in contrast to my much shakier grasp of geography—so I know this is a trait she shares with him. I am working to augment my knowledge daily so that I can offer her something when we sit down with the globe.

For about a month, Katie has been intrigued by Egypt. While we have explained the current events going on in Cairo, she is mostly interested in ancient Egypt. We’ve found supplementary materials online and we’ve also been able to stream documentaries for her from Netflix on our TV. This past week, though, we decided to see what new material the library could provide. Our Temecula library never disappoints, especially in their children’s section. We are extremely fortunate to have this resource in our city.

Today we had fun exploring more about Egypt:

We found The Egyptian Cinderella at the local library. It tells the legend of Rhodopis, a Grecian slave who married Pharaoh Ahmose II, and it has some basis in reality. Katie loved this story and wanted to dress up as Rhodopis today (the outcome of which you will see in these pictures—I let her borrow some of my gold jewelry). We started talking about ways to compare and contrast it to the version of Cinderella with which we’re most familiar—but we’ll follow up on that another day. Comp/con is a lesson unto itself…

We found some excellent coloring sheets online (“Egyptian coloring pages”) and I broke out a special stash of metallic crayons I’d been saving for some special purpose. They were perfect today as we talked about how wealthy the kingdom of ancient Egypt actually was. The idea of the coloring pages was to intersperse them between reading and other activities…so that she could keep engaged while I attended to Eric. Here, Katie is coloring a picture of a man rowing a boat on the Nile.

Katie is fascinated by the mummification process (who isn’t???), and we went outside to play with some clay. We made mummies, canopic jars (Katie was telling her daddy later all about how the organs from the mummy go into those), pyramids, and Katie had the idea to make the Great Sphinx. Here, she was working on an animal head for the canopic jar (examples were pictured in her book).

Katie with a clay mummy.


We took a break to play some two-square. We talked about how ancient Egyptians, especially the girls actually, used to play with clay balls filled with seeds. We looked at several examples of Egyptian toys. Two-square seemed like a good fit…and something we could set up in a reasonable amount of time. Katie had fun!

Eric, playing two-square. He looks so much like his daddy in this picture…


We took a break and made more progress sewing Daddy’s gift. The cat is really out of the bag now, because Bill came out of his office and took this pictures. Yes, we are making him a quilt. There, it is out. I don’t really like secrets much anyway and can hardly keep them, so that’s very much all right by me!

Katie helped me feed the fabric into the machine, and she learned how to press the stitching button to reverse the stitch (to keep the threads secure at the beginning and end of the line).

I had sat down to sew a row of squares while Katie ate a mid-morning snack, and after she finished she asked to come sit on my lap and help—she really loves being part of it. We talk about “putting the right sides together” and she aligns the squares. She helps to put the foot down, also. Sweet little helper, so curious about everything.

Just as with our studies on Egypt, there is no way to teach her everything about sewing or geography or literature, or art, or cooking, or music, or anything right now—and that’s the exciting part. There is always more…more to learn, more to experience, more to do. Bill and I know that we expose her to activities and subjects that usually are not introduced until much later…and yet, we really believe that children learn and benefit from the exposure itself. Other than for reasons of mature content (as in literature), we have never held back from including Katie in everything we do from the day she was born. As soon as she could hold up her head, she was on my hip helping me to cook…or washing the car…or helping me to brush my teeth… We believe that tasks and subjects can be broken down into understandable bits for anyone, not just older children or adults.

Periodically we check her understanding. Sometimes we have made a lasting impact, sometimes not—-and sometimes when she is tired of our questions, she giggles and plays with us. The other day I was asking her about the space between Spain and Morocco that connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. I know she knows this, because she has answered it before. When we asked what it was called, she joked, “The Strait of Mars!” Ha ha, Katie, ha ha. So much for my formative assessment. 😉 All teachers need to know when to call it a day…

I only know that she really truly knows something when I hear her include it in her play. Then, she is not just regurgitating an answer to a rote question. Today she was dressing up as Rhodopis and was borrowing my gold purse. I heard her saying she was going to the Red Sea to put snails in her purse. I piped in, excited, “Snails? What are you going to do with those?”

“I am going to make purple…purple books! Purple clothes!”

“Ah,” I said, “you are getting the purple ink from the snails to make dye! Who else did that?”

“The Phoenicians!” (We talked a few days ago about how the Egyptians used to hire the Phoenicians to make ship journeys, etc).

So, we have been having fun here in the land of forts and clay and fabric squares in the kitchen and books piled high on the coffee table.

Tonight we take a break as a family during our McGaugh Family Movie Night. We have a pizza ready to pop in the oven, popcorn ready to pop on the stove, and the promise of Superman II.