Tomorrow we begin our month-long interdisciplinary apple unit, so today marked our last “non-thematic” day of preschool for at least the next month.

We started with a pattern tray, using our tessellations.

She was asked to put the next piece in the pattern on the other side of the kitchen twine. We love pattern recognition work as a mind-training tool. Pattern recognition, we believe, is fundamental to learning and understanding all disciplines. Math, science, language, art, music… Strong pattern recognition helps us to see the ways in which all of these disciplines are entwined. Even to navigate life, or to have an awareness of self or human nature, we have to be able to see the underlying deep patterns in thoughts and behaviors, yes?  But for now, we’ll start with tessellations. 😉

After working on completing the patterns, she had some paper and a pencil nearby to do some free tracing of her tessellation tiles.

After this tray, I gave her the whiteboard with three addition equations and multiple choice answers, as well as a whiteboard marker and her counters. My intention was that she work on these as a math “warm-up” on her own (she knows the process for solving addition problems), and that I would use that time to read to Eric and enrich him. Let me say, I am still working on getting Katie to work independently for short bursts. She loves one-on-one, and she searches for validation at each step. My biggest challenge is teaching her this: I want her to know how and when to validate herself, when to check her work for precision, and to have confidence in knowing the process. It turns out: that challenge is bigger than the challenge of teaching her math. I think the trick with home school is to get the child to be comfortable working both one-on-one and without direct instruction for warm-ups. Children at school learn this—due to the sheer population in classes—very quickly. How to teach it at home?

After math (we worked several sums), we moved onto science:

I have almost no pictures for our science experiment today. I taught Katie the term “hypothesis” and how it means “a prediction based on evidence” or “what we think will happen.” The second definition is more kid-friendly, but I am a big believer in giving both the kid-friendly definition of any term as well as a more elevated one. It never hurts, and can only be to a student’s advantage later.

We asked “Where will an ice cube melt the fastest? Outside, in the kitchen, or in the refrigerator?” Okay, this question is a bit awkward because it is a little bit leading…but we were working it through together. We wrote this question in her nature journal/field notebook.

She made her hypothesis (also written in the journal): “I think it will melt outside the fastest.”

Then we designed an experiment in her notebook. Step 1) Set up three bowls of ice: one outside, one on the kitchen table, and one in the refrigerator.” 2) Record the temperature of each place.

Then we looked at the thermostat for the house, the fridge thermometer we have, and the Weather Channel app on the iPad. We recorded all the temperatures.

We set up the ice in bowls, and we talked about the importance of using ice that is all the same size and bowls that are all the same kind, in order to limit the variables. We put the bowls in place, and we spent the next many minutes running between the house and the outdoors checking them, though we agreed not to check on the one in the fridge (since opening the door would introduce warmer air—a variable that would throw off the experiment) until the end of the experiment.

The ice cube outside melted first.

Katie dictated the conclusion: “My hypothesis was the best. The one outside melted because of the sun. The one in the refrigerator wasn’t melting very fast. Next, we should put it in the shade and one in the sun.”

I prompted her to come up with a “next” sort of related experiment, because I think that science experiment write-ups should always include a suggestion for the next level of inquiry, a progression, a call to ourselves or to other scientists. Dr. Handwerker, my 8th grade science teacher, was the first to broach this idea with me as a student. He was an awesome science teacher, by the way, one of my favorite teachers EVER in any subject—so a big shout-out to him. Totally inspiring, you know?

While Eric napped, Katie and I made challah:


And we made marmalade. I began this project yesterday, as the recipe calls for a two-day process. Marmalade is one of my favorite food items, and it can be so expensive. I often see it for close to $5.00. I estimate that these nine jars cost between $1.00 and $1.50 each, with the most expensive ingredient being the sugar (and only because I happened to buy it at Baron’s rather than Ralphs). You see in this picture that one jar is a bit shy—that’s because we have already gobbled a bunch of it on our challah. YUMMMMMMMM squared.

We read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and worked in some logic puzzle workbooks until Eric woke up. Then it was lunchtime for him and time for….

Making an apple basket!

We’re starting our apple unit tomorrow, and I don’t care if it is almost 80 degrees out—it is officially autumn to me. 😉 It is time for apples and fall leaves in my magical world. So an apple basket it was.

Katie (with Eric’s help—he was mostly trying to eat the fake fruit and leaving teeth marks everywhere) arranged this herself, with very conscious minimum input from me. I helped by wire cutting and hot gluing, but she chose the placement and stuck in the flowers and fruit where she intended them to be.

We replaced our summery “M” wreath with something apple-inspired.

In other beautiful news today, my best friend Rosa delivered her son Nolan this afternoon after a 28-hour labor. He was 8.9 pounds and 20.5 (I have to double check that to be sure) inches long. He is here, and I cannot wait to meet him. Snuggling with those cuddly newborn bodies and memorizing every detail of them on the first night is total magic. It goes by way too fast.  I hope she is having a beautiful night with her firstborn!