“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

While our first week of school has not been totally smooth sailing (Mommy sometimes needs to relax and remember that 1. although she is a classroom trained teacher, she is not in an actual classroom and 2. we do not need to finish every assignment before Christmas), most of the week has been productive, positive, and promising for our little McGaugh Academy. Our online lesson planning guide, Moodle, came online tonight, and I have been rapidly sucking it into my brain. I relish creating our own lessons, and I am terribly excited for next week…The lesson suggestions in Moodle are fabulous, and my mind is already playing with ways to use, extend, and tweak them for our “Around the World” theme.

Our past two days:


Katie took this picture during our “cloudspotting” activity for science, a lesson that went well, I thought, with our hot air balloon motif and our “Around the World” theme. We printed out all of the pictures, pasted them into her science journal, and then identified the cloud types (cirrus, cumulus, etc).



The kiddos also went to gymnastics together for the first time. They loved it. Two age-appropriate classes were being run in parallel, and the kiddos got to use the same three courses through rotation. Periodically Eric would look for Katie and call out to her to see him jump, “My Kate! My Kate!” Although they have their little sibling squabbles at home, it is in a mix of people that I most appreciate their deep and true bond. They stick together when it comes down to it. Beautiful.



Eric was thrilled to receive his end-of-workout stamp. He is truly an endearing child. He sat next to his sister to do the warm up exercises and he was so intent on watching his coach. When she put her hands up in the air, he would do the same.



Both kiddos worked with the hot air balloon numbers 1 – 20 cards I made. I found clip-art online, printed them out, and pasted little typed numbers on them and laminated… Having cards to fit our theme is fun! As we travel around the world, I might make number cards to represent the different countries.



Today Katie and Eric finished painting their papier-mâché hot air balloon.



Then Katie asked to paint some more… For Katie, creating art (specifically painting) is how she relaxes. She’s been having a mix of emotions this week that have to do with growing up and new expectations. A couple of days ago she mentioned the need to make art, and we just didn’t (it seemed ) have time that day. But she really needs that art time, and I need to listen to her. She painted for maybe half an hour on her canvas just humming to herself. She used mostly very cool colors this time, and entitled it “Rainforest.” There are actual thicker drops of paint to represent rain cascading down the canvas and she showed me how she made the “jungle.”



Our finished papier-mâché hot air balloon. I am thinking I could put some little sentence strips in the basket, have Katie draw one out, and then read and copy it… OR…OR!…I could put some journal starters in there. Yesterday she wrote about her favorite place to travel (Hawaii). Either way, it would be neat to incorporate this project into a practical feature of our “classroom.”



Last night as I was drifting off to sleep (yes, nearly all I think about as I am going to sleep are lesson ideas), I was trying to think of a way to get Katie away from worksheets and moving. She is so kinesthetic, and here I was bombing her with language and math worksheets the first two days in order to gather work samples of what she can really do. We varied it a bit on Day 1 and Day 2, but I wasn’t really feeling true to my teaching style either—which tends not to be worksheet heavy. I am strongest in my own teaching style, which tends to be active, creative, thematic, and quirky. I knew I wanted to play a game outside…and I knew I wanted to focus on some of the word families we’re reviewing this week. I had decided to try a riff on four square, when right before I fell asleep I had one last thought, “NO! I will draw hot air balloons….” Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

We drew three gigantic hot air balloons on the driveway. Katie decorated the balloon part, and I drew baskets that had one of three word families written on it (-at, -an, -et).



To play the game, I had her start at the bottom of the driveway and explained that I would say a word. She then had to run to get into the word family balloon that matched the word, and we would pretend she was going to use whatever balloon that was to fly away to Narnia.

Honestly? This was probably the most fun she has had all week. And she was learning. And we were outside. And I was staying true to the McGaugh Academy vision.

For math today, we stayed away from practice worksheets (which tend to be optional anyway), and we just sat down with our textbook on our couch and discussed. I had Katie use her finger to point, circle, and trace….and we were both so much more relaxed and agreeable with one another. She understood the concepts we were practicing (intuiting fewer or more without having to count, just by looking…as well as reviewing pattern sequences), and the change felt good to us.




Katie’s pumpkin continues to evolve. This past week, we watched it turn all the way to orange. I am not sure it will get much bigger, but it is so cute!


Eric and Katie invented their own game this afternoon: bike shop. They wash and dry and repair (with Eric’s tools) their bike and trikes. Keeps them very entertained!

Eric had his annual check-up with Dr. C this morning. He has grown and is now “long and lean” like his sister. I’ve never experienced a child who actually likes the doctor visit so much. We play with the toy medical kit all the time at home, and he felt like he was playing I guess. He did not cry or scream at ALL, not even during his shot (his sister helped distract him for that one). I still always have a moment where I want to cry when I get shots (although I suppress it and definitely don’t), so it was strange to behold a child who is so nonchalant about it. His behavior was uncanny, as I am used to Katie not particularly enjoying her appointments. When the nurse asked to take his blood pressure, he stuck out his arm as we have done at home. He talked happily with Dr. C (“Eric, I am going to check your tummy now” and Eric replies, giggling, “I know!”) He wanted to look at her stethoscope and otoscope, and opened wide when she asked him to. Even the doctor complimented that his compliance was “unprecedented.” He was so stoic, affable, and interested in the whole process. It was the easiest visit to the pediatrician I’ve ever experienced as a mother. I hope he keeps this sanguine approach next year at his annual!