February 10, 2017

Reading Aloud & Playing in the Mud


This past weekend we were able to get away for a few nights to a cabin on a lake.

It was such a relaxing time. We played games, ate snacks, and watched a few movies. Because of the lack of rainfall, the lake is severely low. This lake would normally be way over our heads, but the kids were able to walk across it almost at waist-depth. It was fun to watch them play in the mud. They loved feeling it, hearing it squish around their toes and feet, and seeing themselves covered in it.
They spent the time out of the mud, collecting branches and dried pine needles to build a fort. And we had a small campfire on the last night and made bannock. My kids aren't quite at the 'bannock roasting' stage however, as I found myself left with 5 sticks of bread to try and cook on my own. haha. I think we'll bring marshmallows next time.  :)

Seeing my kids have enough free time to invent their own games and to make fun times in the mud makes me so thankful for the simple life they have right now in Madagascar. Even though I go through stages where I wish there were more structured activities for them to take part in, I'm mostly thankful our calendar is free and open, lending itself to lots of creative playtime and practice at making up good games when boredom strikes.

It may surprise some people to hear that I believe it's good for my kids to be bored sometimes. They must learn how to manage their own time well, and that boredom should not lead them into trouble. It also seems that some of their most creative moments are born out of having plenty of unstructured time of their own.


Current Read Aloud - one we've
enjoyed in the past
A mainstay in our homeschool has been our Read Aloud time. This is where we share a Bible Story or devotional, read a chapter of a novel, and cover a history topic. I have also been thinking about adding a bit of poetry to this time of day. (More about how we incorporate poetry another time.)

We probably spend up to 40 minutes reading aloud together during this time. They have definitely grown into it. And I find their attention spans differ depending on what novel we have on the go. 

Reading aloud has taken on different forms over the years. I've had to adjust the format depending on my kids' ages or attention spans. For a season we would pile into my bed and read aloud before the kids' bedtime. This worked well to keep little wigglers quiet and still. There's something about being under blankets that's calming. For a little while I read aloud during lunchtime. (Mouths full of snacks or lunch also help keep talking to a minimum.) But nowadays, we find ourselves reading aloud in the morning. On the mornings we don't have french lesssons (Tue and Thu), we begin our day with reading. For the other mornings, we get straight into math and phonics while each child takes turns with their french tutor, and then after french, we have a bit of a break and then dive into our read alouds. They are all in a drawing stage (or coloring). I usually let them choose something to print off and work on while I read. At other times, I've let them build Lego quietly, but that's tricky as searching through Lego pieces can get loud... if they want, I let my non-readers look at other picture books while I read.

Some of the books we've enjoyed this year
Reading aloud is probably my favorite part of our homeschooling day. The kids have really grown up with it since we have been reading out loud every day for the past 6 years, so they are very used to it. But we still have days where I'm constantly interrupted with questions about everything except the story or book we're reading! Or where one child needs to go find their coloring book, and then another needs to pee, and yet another wants to go and get a drink. Ah! It's definitely not picture-perfect, by a long shot.

But I value this time of reading aloud so much. I think it has helped to improve my children's attention spans. It has given them practice at sitting with a quiet activity (like building puzzles, drawing or coloring) while listening to someone talk. And the stories have led to building some great memories together. Because we have shared novels together over the years, we have created some points of discussion or even laughable memories. We have re-read some books together, and I love watching their faces as we near a part they remember fondly. I also love the sense of suspense I leave them with after ending a chapter. "Please keep reading, Mom!"  or  "What?! It's finished already?" is music to my ears.  :)

Some of my favourite titles over the years have been:




Wild Decorative Ginger
This has to be one of my favorite plants in my garden--Wild Decorative Ginger. They give off an amazing perfume-smell that fills the living room when I bring them inside. I love how we get to enjoy them two seasons. I get some blooms in November, and then they bloom some more during February and March.

On My Side Table

I wasn't recommended this book. It has just been sitting on my e-reader for a really long time. After I finished Chris Bohjalian's Sandcastle Girls a couple of years ago, I found this title of his on the library. I have spent a lot of time in books set during wartime so far this year it would seem..... 
  • Going Solo
  • Inside Out and Back Again
  • The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
and now this one set in Italy during the final year of WWII. This is strange for me because I don't particularly enjoy movies set in war times, but I seem to be able to handle books a bit better.

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