Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sea Kettle School: Pre-School, Levi (Age 3)

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
-Charlotte Mason

This year we are doing some light preschool activities at home, mostly Charlotte Mason inspired (nature study! living books! narration!).  Levi is just 3 and his main "job" is play, but we are trying to be somewhat intentional about our days; the books we read and the toys and games we play, the habits we are forming. Our aim is to provide him early on with "a feast" of the great ideas, literature, art and music and to foster an insatiable curiosity and love of learning. We don't do every subject every day, and our schedule varies, but here are some of the intentional educational activities we are engaged in these days. 

Most mornings, we wake up and sit at the breakfast table together. Levi enjoys listening to his audio Bible stories, one is The Beginner's Bible and one is a The Bible in Living Sound. He will often pause the tape or cd and ask me or Brian questions about the stories or ask big questions (which I often stumble through answering!). Some mornings I will play hymns (I have a bunch of Spotify playlists) or his Bible memory cds (Steve Green's "Hide Em In Your Heart"). We pray together, I usually start and he will finish with some things he is thankful for. We are excited to start reading through "Little Visits with God" as soon as it comes in the mail. :)
We are working through a list of books for pre-schoolers inspired by Charlotte Mason's philosophy from Ambleside Online (year 0). We own many of these already, but take a weekly trip to the library to borrow others. Some of our current favorites include Mother Goose, A Child's Garden of Verses, The World Treasury of Children's Literature and any book by Beatrix Potter, Barbara Cooney or Robert McCloskey. I will often ask Levi to tell us what happened in the story or draw something that happened in the story- our little beginnings of narrationLevi and Brian read together before bed at night and are reading their first chapter books together. 
For Math we talk about numbers throughout the day as we do our daily tasks. We count, add and subtract as we cook, walk, work, read and play. 
For Science, we work on nature study at least once a week, depending on the week/season. Every Friday we are scheduled to meet with another homeschooling family to go on a nature walk and draw/make observations in our nature journals.  Levi usually does some leaf/bark rubbings and a drawing or two. I write down what he notices about the objects he finds. We also collect things to put on our seasonal nature table. Our current collection includes shells, rocks, pinecones, colored leaves, seed pods and wildflowers.  My parents got Levi a subscription to National Geographic for Kids, so we also read through our monthly issue of that. 
We listen to it, sing it, play it, dance to it.  I play music all day in the background; classical, folk, jazz, rock..whatever! Papa also starts random jam sessions throughout the week and there are a plethora of instruments around the house to play. Levi loves the songs collected by our friend on her amazing treasure-of-a-website, The Little Songster .  These folk songs are so much fun to sing, and Levi's favorites are the "tickle" ones. We also go to a weekly music/story time at our local museum.

Levi has a box of art supplies that he uses for his art projects. Drawing, Painting, Play-doh, lacing cards etc. We spend a lot of time at the Peabody Essex Museum, especially enjoying their excellent special exhibits, maker lounge and expansive children's area. Levi also has free reign over Mrs. James' art bookshelf. :)

We are taking Levi's education a year at a time, but for the time being, home education seems to be a nice and natural fit.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In a mirror, dimly

"Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
I Corinthians 13:12

Acrylic on Canvas
Painted for ArtSpeak 2015

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Around the Kettle: Autumn Edition

Sea Kettle is feeling fabulously fallish these days, with it's magenta mums, baby gourds, wheat-y wreaths, bunches of Japanese lanterns and hand picked, bright and late blooming zinnias. We take advantage of mid-day warmth with nature walks, errands and outdoor adventures, but don't mind cloistering back in at the end of the day.

Orange, cloves and cinnamon are simmering on the stove, apple pie candles are burning, the littles are in socks and sweaters and found cuddling in quilts. While the baby sleeps under soft hand-knit afghans, we tackle piles of library books and make tea and pumpkin bread.  

Nights end close, keeping warm, hand in hand. 

Yes, the Sea Kettlers are gently and happily settling into autumn.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

To Remember - Levi, Age 3

Dear Levi,

There are so many things I want to remember about 3 year old you.

I want to remember your mop of platinum blond hair, all bright and wild next to your summer tanned skin. I want to remember your constantly dirty feet and fingernails, proof of your love of outdoor adventures and going barefoot (just like your Mama). I want to remember your big smiling eyes that remind me of your Papa, your soft button nose and cute gappy front teeth. I want to remember how even though you are looking more and more like a little boy, you still have moments when you want to be all curled up in my arms and need me to cuddle and comfort you like when you were a little baby. I want to remember the tight hugs and how you hold my cheeks when you kiss me. 

I want to remember how smart and curious you are and how you often ask me big questions ("What is it to 'die', Mama? And how will there be an airplane to take us all the way to Heaven? God lives so far away..."). I want to remember how you come up with creative solutions to the questions and problems you encounter. I want to remember how you listen to the Bible on CD during almost every meal and how you already know those important stories so well.  They are still fresh and new to you and your eyes often get wide and you exclaim something like "Oh no! Jesus is going to walk on water!" or "Eve, be careful of that sneaky snake!".  I want to remember how you spend hours talking with your Papa about the books you're reading together (Stuart Little at the moment), about what you did that day and about questions you have about life.  I want to remember our sweet little "school" times together, reading books, doing puzzles, creating art, collecting treasure for our nature table, reading poetry. I want to remember how you happily scoot around Salem on your new scooter, with ease and great form. I want to remember how you constantly stop and give us a cheesy grin and thank us for getting it for your birthday. 

I want to remember how sweet you are with your sister and how you welcomed her into our family without question or hesitation.  She was immediately your baby and you've loved and taken care of her right from the beginning.  I want to remember how you comfort her when she cries, usually be saying her name and singing "jingle bells". I want to remember how you nuzzle your face into hers, kiss her hand and whisper "I gotcha babe, I gotcha babe." and "I love you, Mags".

I want to remember how much I loved your cute and winsome 3 year old ways and how you could so easily make me smile, even when you were being mischievous. Mamas and 3 year olds don't always get along, so I also want to remember how good we are at saying sorry and making up when we lose our tempers and frustrate each other.

I love you sweet boy and am so looking forward to what this next year brings. 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

"The Late Great Summer Catch-Up of 2014" - Labor Day Weekend at the Rock

My sister and her husband invited us to spend Labor day weekend at "The Rock", his family's summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee. The house sits on it's own quaint little island and it is the perfect summery get away with boats, adirondack chairs, birch trees and the beautiful expansive lake surrounding you from all sides. We spent the weekend playing games, boating, cuddling kids, making and eating yummy food and spending slow quality time before the craziness of school started up (4 of us are teachers). A practically-perfect-in-every-way to end summer.

"The Late Great Summer Blog Catch up of 2014" - My 30th Birthday

Mid-August, I celebrated my 30th birthday.  Brian and my sister planned a very fun and special party for me, complete with many friends and family and a photo/letter scrapbook created by 30 (of course!) of my nearest and dearest. It was a wonderful time to celebrate this milestone birthday and I'm thankful for the people who love me so well.