Aaaaand, let the pictures commence:

My mom and I took the kiddos to our local pumpkin farm again this afternoon. Katie has been eager to try the new gem panning feature the farm added this year. Oh boy, did she have fun! She kept exclaiming afterward, “And I get to KEEP these!”

After collecting the gems, we were able to use a big poster nearby to identify all of the types. Very awesome teaching opportunity. Brother’s strategy was to eat the wooden rails…

The chickens and rooster had been let loose to roam the patch. Eric was in heaven. He loves all manner of animals, and he kept following them and pointing.

My littlest pumpkin


Katie took a pony ride. My little girl is getting bigger and more fearless. Two years ago, she was apprehensive about going on the pony ride; last year, we convinced her and she had a good time. This year, she asked to ride the horses.


She really enjoyed this.


I love her look of sheer delight here.

We took a train ride around part of the farm. Katie and Amie are so cute together!

With Eric

My mom and her grandchildren

Someday we will all coordinate ourselves in looking (yes, with our eyes open, no less) at the camera… Until that day comes, here is the best we could do. 😉

Pumpkin June on the largest pumpkin at the farm.

Pumpkin June, my October girl, and her little brother.

Then I joined in! I bought the pumpkin tucked under my arm. We are going to carve it early, both to examine its innards alongside our pumpkin nomenclature cards and to enjoy an additional few nights with a candlelit pumpkin. Why not? It won’t last until Halloween, but let’s enjoy it now, and we can get a couple more pumpkins right before the 31st.

Home again, Katie and Amie sorted the new gems.

And then: Workshop time!! I have a couple of boxes full of “loose” objects. I have seen Montessori blogs discuss the concept of “loose” object play, and we have done something similar for years. We collect different materials, artifacts, textures, tools, anything… and we keep them in various boxes, to be pulled down here and there for creative play and invention. Threads, plastic boxes, small balls, pipe cleaners, nuts and bolts, small pieces of wood, basically anything can become part of this collection. I like the name Katie created for it better than the term “loose play”—she calls it “having a workshop.” She loves Workshop time.

Obviously the new gems were crying out for Workshop time. We pulled out one of her Workshop boxes, as well as my box of beads and jewelry making tools, and she and Amie began to create. Katie hummed and sang to herself as she worked, and my mom felt inspired to take one of the quartz pieces Katie panned, wire wrap it, and make a necklace for Katie using silver and pearls, and various other black and white and silver beads from the stash. While they let their minds play and invent, Eric visited Boppa outside, and I made our millionth loaf of pumpkin bread this season. The kiddos seriously love it. We had it tonight for dessert, and it also makes a fairly healthy breakfast when paired with other items.

The necklace my mom made. Go, Mom! What a fun keepsake item, too, by which Katie can remember this fun day…

In other news…

Yesterday we finished an art project for our “life cycle of a pumpkin” studies. One way I checked her understanding, other than this project, was to have her be the teacher. I played a student who “didn’t quite get it” and purposely kept rearranging her life cycle laminated cards all wrong. She would then correct me and re-explain it. I have found that this form of assessment works so well with her. I actually picked up this strategy while watching one of her gymnastics coaches over a few weeks: he would often say or do the “wrong answer” on purpose, and all the 3-5 year olds would absolutely jump in to correct him and prove their knowledge. I’ve tried it here in our own classroom, and that strategy works magic. Three to five year olds love to know things adults don’t, and they love to point out corrections. Sometimes when I try to assess her in other ways, I know she knows an answer but every so often just doesn’t want to put on the performance. Especially if we are doing something that is “review”—often then, she doesn’t want to rehash it and looks at me like I am out of my mind for asking her something so easy. I know from my high school GATE population that this is pretty standard fare for some types of GATE students. I was the non-rebellious, let-me-do-anything-to-please-my-teachers type of GATE student, but I know others, ahem, in my family, perhaps one even under my own roof, who much preferred to chart their own intellectual pathways, studied what they wanted to, excelled at it, and to this day don’t always have a love for redundancy. Katie does like to be pleasing, and she is, but she is much closer to being in this second category—a great reason to home school her, because we can soar with the true interests of her mind.

In the meantime, she loves it when I play dumb, and I am able to use that to my advantage to assess what she really knows.

And Eric? Well, he loves to feed himself. Check out that left-handed action. Bill is a lefty, and that shows up in the amazingly creative wiring of his mind. Has Eric inherited this trait of his daddy’s?