Most of the moon unit I had planned for Katie focused on learning the shapes of the moon at various points of its cycle. On the first night of our moon unit, I brought out these neat little laminated cards showing each phase of the moon.  Imagine my surprise when, as soon as she saw them, Katie exclaimed, “I know what these are!!” As she proceeded to name the basic shapes (new, full, gibbous, crescent, quarter, though she was unsure about which orientations were waxing or waning), I rattled my brains in my head in utter stupefaction. When I asked her how she knew these shapes already, she said, “It’s in my book, Mommy.”

With a bit of probing, I discovered that, indeed, the moon shapes are in her Tangled Tag Reader book, a gift from my friends Steve and Carol last year. Initially, we had read the book out loud together—I hadn’t yet purchased a Tag Reader wand. This past summer, though, a whole Tag Reader wand-and-book set was on sell at Costco. Although I had held out on buying the system in preference of parent-to-child reading, I decided to try it this summer. Katie had been trying to read books on her own (mainly flipping through pictures) when I was busy with Eric. I reasoned that she could use the Tag system to study on her own (it reads each word as you trace under it with the wand, and there are phonics games in each book, as well as other enrichment components) when I was busy with Eric. I still read personally to Katie as close to two hours a day as we can manage, and most of the time, we achieve that.

It turns out, she has been learning much from her Tag Reader books. I was extremely pleased that she already knew the basic moon shapes.

At the same time, I had that moment that occurs sometimes in teaching that “Whoa, they already know this material better than I thought” moment. So, I have tried enriching her knowledge of the moon in other ways, and then I chose to connect it more to an autumn-type unit.  Part of my issue was that I wasn’t as prepped for our moon unit as I should have been (I knew that going in), and I have somewhat jumped ship on it, I must admit. Instead I have redoubled our efforts on language/reading skills in its place and spending a week trying to get my project-oriented and Montessori groove back. I was a bit disorganized with our learning the past week, trying to find my flow again.

After some much-needed lesson planning time on Friday night and a few purchases from Montessori Print Shop, I have found myself reinvigorated and re-inspired.

Although I have expressed this before, one of my biggest homeschooling challenges is keeping Eric engaged, stimulated, and involved while working with Katie. I save most of our advanced material and advanced literature for times when he is napping. I have faith that, as he grows older, they will be able to work more together and it will be easier to differentiate our curriculum.

Yesterday, we worked on painting paper pumpkins. Katie knows that red paint and yellow paint make orange, so that part of the lesson was review for her. Color mixing is new for Eric, though.

The kiddos work on painting their pumpkins. Eric borrowed a pair of Katie’s paint clothes, and they looked like little twins!

I soon realized that, although I can hold down classrooms of 38-40 students, I am not much of a match for a preschooler and a toddler and a big pie pan of paint! That paint spread fast! It all started when Eric figured out how fun it is to put his feet in paint—and Katie followed suit. But there is no learning without a little mess, right? I am a big believer in the need of children to experience every dimension of a project and to revel with all of their senses in it.

Eric ran away with the paint brush and painted his face.

The finished pumpkins: Erc’s is the one on top, Katie’s is the one below. After we painted them, we cut them out (I did that part), and then the kiddos colored the stems with brown crayon, and then they glued on their construction paper leaves. Katie did hers alone, of course, and I helped Eric hold the glue stick. He knew what to do, especially with the coloring, though his dexterity is catching up. For a finishing touch, we made tendrils out of Easter grass and glued them to the stem.

We’ve begun working on a multi-day lesson on the life cycle of a pumpkin. Katie has laminated cards showing each stage, as well as a circular chart. We ordered a book some time ago called Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell. We love it, and the theme works perfectly with this lesson. The story is about a boy who carves his pumpkin and keeps it in the garden after Halloween. He watches it rot and covers the seeds with earth, eventually tending a garden of new pumpkins over the year. I have Katie hold up the life cycle cards at each part of the story, and we have practiced putting them in order. We have at least one more art project to do with this lesson series, and we might get to it today or tomorrow.

We also worked on a pumpkin word search and, as usual, are keeping up with our basic math and language lessons.

For fun, we made a treat last night inspired by our Harry Potter reading: Hagrid’s treacle fudge! Hagrid makes this fudge for Harry a few times, if I recall, mainly around Christmas. I found this recipe for it online. From what I understand, molasses is not true treacle but it is easier to come by in the states, and we had some in our pantry. The kiddos and I found the treacle fudge to be delicious!

A few nights ago, Bill took this picture of the three of us cuddling and reading. Eric has certain books that he loves, and he has started bringing them over to me with more and more frequency. Lately, he even says, “a buh a buh” for “a book.” The sound of the children asking to read is music to my mind and heart.

As I write, Bill is reading to Eric and helping to dress Katie up in a costume she is making out of long scarves and ribbons. I also hear a drum… We are all up in the playroom/kiddos’ rooms area, and it is so cozy. Still, I’d better wrap this up and get dressed myself, especially as Katie just came in to me and announced, “You’re Lupin and I’m Tonks, got it? Tonks and Lupin, okay? This is my outfit for that!”(Lupin and Tonks are characters from the Harry Potter series).

Have a happy Sunday, everyone!