Category Archives: General

Unschooling a 4 year old. Or any young child.

This started off as a response to someone in a forum, but I decided to add to it and put it here because it might be helpful to other people, too.

When I had a 4 year old and was looking into homeschooling/unschooling, I was really overwhelmed. I wanted to do right by him and I didn’t quite have faith in the process, but I sure wanted to. What I did know was that a lot of ways of homeschooling required lots of “seatwork” and that wasn’t for him, for various reasons. Anyway, there were a few things that helped me, aside from support groups.

A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten was one of the very first. It was simple and not overwhelming and not too different from how we’d lived life before.

This page BestHomeschooling’s Preschool and Learning Activities page is where I found the link the one above this. Lots of the links on that page are really good.

Sandra Dodd’s page, Young Children and Unschooling, is one that was amazingly helpful. I believe that’s where I found 4/5 Year Old Activities, which was also very helpful.

But a lot of things we did were just things I found or things I came up with. We would roll a ball back and forth and count to 100. We had letter magnets and we played with those. He learned a lot from ABCMouse and Starfall, which he just considered “fun”. He watched the LeapFrog shows – their Talking Words Factory is the BEST and helped him a lot.

As a family, we instituted a board game night every week and that’s been immensely helpful. We went to museums and science centers. Also, we played games like domino addition, where we took turns picked dominoes, adding all the dots on them, and whoever got the higher number got to to keep the domino and the person with the most at the end won.

We looked up answers to questions in books and on YouTube.

We read a lot and went to Preschool Story Time at the library every week for months.

We DID pick up some workbooks at Costco, but he hated them, so we never really did much with them. We worked with things I found through Pinterest, through, through Teachers Pay Teachers. But if it wasn’t fun, we didn’t do it.

Somewhere along the way, I was introduced to Lori Pickert and Project-Based Homeschooling (PBH). I cannot say enough good things about this. Get her book, Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, and take the Master Class, if you can. She also has a PBH Tip Sheet that I’ve found to be very helpful to keep up the enthusiasm. Do this even if your child is not 4 years old! Join the forums to get support.  PBH can be a way of unschooling, too, but you’re helping support specific interests. And even if you decide to do another form of homeschooling – or public/private schooling, for that matter – this can transform the learning process.

They’re only 4 for a year. Each year is different and some of these things are applicable to the other ages, some things they outgrow and move on from. And it differs from child to child.

How to unschool a 4 year old, though, is really how you unschool ANY age: It isn’t so much WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it. Love them. Spend time with them. Be engaged, help them do things. Answer their questions. Better yet, help them figure out how to answer their own questions. Be there for them. Help them feel secure.

Help them learn to how to learn.

Moments from our New Year (2014) celebrations

Joe comes home from work, makes a black-eye pea casserole. Bacon. Spinach. Cheese. It tastes divine.

After hours of Minecraft, we stop to have ice cream with chocolate syrup.

We turn on the fireworks at the Space Needle but the fog is so thick it is hard to see anything. We toast the New Year with sparkling apple cider in plastic cups, to flashes of color amidst the fog.

It is after midnight but we have not yet set off our own fireworks. So climb back onto our Minecraft server to watch bursts of pixelated beauty.

New Year 2014 Minecraft Fireworks

We finally open the last board game from Christmas – Lords of Waterdeep, from me to Joe. The three of us spend a couple of hours playing.

Lords of Waterdeep

Joe and Kai work on a LEGO set – an airplane – while I make “porcupine balls” and a cheese dip with black-eye peas. When we eat, Kai does so without much complaint – he’s been fairly tolerant of new and different food lately, a major change for which I am so grateful.

The guys read while I relax online for a few minutes. Then, they work on the LEGOs again while I grab a few moments to write.

Later, as requested by Kai for his holiday treat, he and I dip strawberries in chocolate. We have extra chocolate so we try to find other things to dip and manage a few prunes before switching to potato chips. These effectively become dinner. Kai is giddy.

In the evening, we watch The Empire Strikes Back, snuggled up on the couch, in the dark. Kai reads the intro script out loud and falls asleep – but only for a few minutes – somewhere in the middle of the movie.

When the movie ends, he stages a mock battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader with an army of Stormtroopers.

Of course, Luke wins.

Goodbye, 2013.

“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” –  Counting Crows (A Long December)

This year has been very difficult for my family. We started the year off with an unannounced cut to Joe’s bonus – something that lasted for six months or so and was not ever fully restored. Money was beyond tight – we were losing money each month.

I had to have surgery to get a tooth pulled.

The boiler system for our building broke and it took several days for it to be repaired.

Our car got totaled in a wreck – thankfully, nobody was injured. But the car had to be replaced. Our other car was older anyway, but now we have a monthly car payment.

A month or so later, Kai’s mother died. Everything changed and additional unneeded stress was added from outside influences regarding her death.

We spent two months without any child support – money that was being used to pay bills. Likewise, we had to add Kai to Joe’s health insurance at about double what it cost to have him on his mother’s (that money had previously been counted as child support).

We took a trip to North Carolina for Kai’s aunt’s wedding – which was nice but was also somewhat stressful in the planning, and we all came home sick. Joe got bronchitis and I got pneumonia. Kai was coughing a lot and “goopy”. The power was out when we arrive home, so we had to kind of force our way into the building. In the middle of this, the elevator broke. Trekking up and down the stairs with bronchitis/pneumonia is a real “treat”. And we were sick for months. MONTHS.

Joe’s mother died.

Our apartment complex has been being remodeled – we lost our swimming pool, had to deal with inaccessible elevators for days on end, and the “noise pollution” was really difficult on Kai and me.

One of our cats started marking things – including the bed, every day, sometimes twice a day. We had to take him to be fixed. (That has, luckily, seemed to stop that behavior.) I’m glad it got done, but that was also a significant expense.

I feel beaten down, like this year was just out to screw us over.

But no matter. The wheel of time keeps on turning.

I have hope that next year will be better.

2014 approaches.

A Day in the Life of an Unschooler: October 14, 2013

One of the hardest questions to answer, as unschoolers, is “What does an unschooling day look like?” The answer, for everyone, is different and it is ALSO different from day to day. So here’s one day. Another day will be different.

Kai got up and waited for Joe to go to work. We climbed onto the couch and I asked Kai what he wanted to watch while I took my shower (this is how his day starts on some day, other days not – but we’ve all been a bit sick around here and so I knew that’s what he’d want to do). He asked for Number Beats, which is this weird little DVD about numbers that he loves (and he uses the rhymes from that sometimes when writing his numbers). He also wanted warm chocolate (which is what he calls hot chocolate that’s just… warm). I tucked his blanket around him and went off to my shower.

When I got done, he asked me to put on an audio book – one of the Hank the Cowdog books, which he’s been into lately. He likes them because they’re silly and because Hank sometimes “says the wrong thing”, which Kai is always all over. He listened to the audiobook while having toast – three pieces, which is more than he usually wants.  He got done eating and played with some of his cars and his LEGO space shuttle on the “NASCAR” track we all made on Saturday on the floor.

October 12, 2013 "NASCAR" track made from tape

This picture was taken on Saturday, while we were all making the track. He’s played with it in all sorts of ways since. I LOVE that we worked on this as a family.

After a while, get decided to climb onto the couch to listen. Then he picked up one of the paperbacks he’s been reading (this was another Hank the Cowdog) so I turned off the audio book. He read for a while, then he decided that he’d like to play some Animal Crossing on my 3DS.

October 14, 2013

Kids read in some of the oddest positions.

We had an in-depth discussion over the new villager (Animal Crossing is a simulation game where you live in a town with a bunch of animal villagers) that had moved in today. He read me some of the letters they’d written him and mentioned it whenever a villagers mentioned me – twice today. One of them mentioned that my birthday was next month and Kai verified that with me. He asked me if HIS birthday was next month. His birthday is in January so I said that, no, he had to go through October, November, AND December first.

October 14, 2013

Playing on the 3DS.

December he associates with Christmas so he started talking about the Iron Man helmet he wanted to ask Santa to bring for Christmas. (Santa, btw, is not, to Kai, a magical being. Oh no. Santa has good tech and, according to Kai, shops at Fred Meyer.) I mentioned that the helmet in question was REALLY expensive (currently anywhere from $99 to $250) so we figured out another one that costs much less (he says it isn’t as good, but it’s still “pretty good” and would make him happy).

He played Animal Crossing for quite some time – maybe an hour or so? I think he was still playing when Joe got home for lunch. Today, we just had simple sandwiches and chips. After lunch, Kai started sorting his money and wanted to find out how much he had. He’s been getting better about identifying and counting coins. And now that he has stuff he actually wants to buy, he’s developed more of an interest in the whole thing.

October 14, 2013

Sorting and counting his money.

Joe left for work for the afternoon and Kai went to his room for quiet time for an hour (it helps us both recharge – now, it’s something he usually looks forward to). About half an hour into that, I made the decision that, yes, we were well enough to go to the library and the store, so I helped him pick out clothes to wear, but he wanted to finish out quiet time first, so we did.

We went to the library where he had a bunch of books on hold. He asked his favorite librarian to help him find a few new ones. He also loves reading IN the library, so I let him do that for a while. While he was reading, I went and grabbed a few other books (he’d asked for new ones for poetry teatime and I grabbed a few for myself).

October 14, 2013

At the Ballard library.

Then, we stopped in to pick up some stuff from Fred Meyer. Kai bought himself a Hot Wheels car (he had to borrow money from me until we got home but he promptly repaid me). He was very excited that it “wasn’t much money”. He also wanted some new pants and gloves – he settled on a camouflage print for both. He’s very excited because he thinks they’ll help him hide better for hide and seek (a game he was thinking of because he’d played it on Animal Crossing that morning) during homeschool park day. Also, he said, “My friends wear stuff like this.” One does, at least.

October 14, 2013

Picking out new pants. He was looking at the mirror – he LOVES mirrors.

I needed to get cough medicine, they are stored in the same aisle as the feminine products, which Kai asked me about. In great detail. We’ve briefly talked about all of that, including a vague explanation of how people reproduce. So, in true five year old fashion, he said, loudly, at one point, “Are you talking about sex? Because sex sounds GROSS.”  And I clarified that, no, that was just for when the woman’s body gets rid of an egg. “You mean a baby.” Well, no… so that was another bit of a talk.

October 14, 2013

With the replacement squash.

In line, he pointed out that one of our acorn squashes was leaking a bit, so he went to grab me another one for me. We’re trying to find a better rhythm for the store and give him a bit more freedom. He just aged out of Playland at Fred Meyer, something he really loved going to, so I’ve been having him help more, letting him go off to grab something that I’m certain he knows the exact location of and waiting till he comes back. It’s typically only an aisle or two away, but it’s good for him to be able to do that, I think.

Then, we stopped by the bank in the store and headed for home.

We got home just a few minutes before Joe, so Kai started reading while I unpacked groceries and started making dinner. When Joe got home, Kai excitedly told him about the toy he bought with his own money, which is very exciting when you’re five.

Right before dinner, Kai started a “game” that seemed to be loosely based on Minecraft. He used blocks to make some tools which “we” had to find – really, he played for me, too. Then we had dinner – butter chicken, one of his favorites.

October 14, 2013

“Finding” tools.

Mondays in our house are “Minecraft Mondays” so that’s what we did for an hour or so. Typically, we stop at 8 (which is what we did tonight).

October 14, 2013

From our Minecraft session. We’ve been playing here for quite some time. Some of the trees are HUGE.

Then, Kai played a bit more of his made up game before I introduced him to “fortune tellers” (some people call them “cootie catchers”).

October 14, 2013

With a “cootie catcher”. He played with this for nearly half an hour. He probably knows how to spell red, yellow, green, and blue REALLY well now.

He wanted to play with that until we went to read stories in his bed where he was joined by one kitty before he fell asleep and one after.

October 14, 2013

Bedtime stories, with guest photobombing by Parker (the cat).

October 14, 2013

Falling asleep with Zelda kneading the blanket next to him.

So, that’s what our “typical unschooling day” looked like… today. Tomorrow, it’ll be different.

Candy Corn Math

I found a wonderful candy corn math pack over at Royal Balloo. We used part of the packet and I also made a quick candy corn timeline for Kai to use. He was SO EXCITED to be able to use real candy corn with this.

First, I showed him how to use the number line I’d made.

Candy Corn Math

Then, he went to work matching up the doubles puzzle. He only had to use the number line for about half of them.

Candy Corn Math

We did some skip counting. By the end, he was counting up in his head.

Candy Corn Math

This was supposed to be one of those puzzles you cut apart and put back together. I didn’t figure that out till later and Kai liked putting the candy corn on it. He’s got most of his addition facts under five pretty well memorized, just from playing with math so much, and he was pretty pleased that he knew most of the ones on the sheet that were above five, as well.

Candy Corn Math

This was a “sorting activity” where you figured out what the answer was and put the addition fact in the right bowl. He was pretty excited about not having to use the number line much to figure it out.

Candy Corn Math

We also did an addition page and a subtraction page – both with a handful of problems on them, mainly visual. There was also a REALLY neat estimation page that I’m surprised I didn’t a picture of.

By the end of it, he was shouting, “Mommy! I’m so good at math! I didn’t know I was and I thought I wasn’t but I AM GOOD AT MATH!” and did a little victory dance. It’s good. If he thinks he’s not good at something, he tends to avoid it. But he REALLY loved this activity.

To finish off, we played a modified version of a “game” he loves called “Some Went Hiding”. I’m not sure where I picked this up, but we play it with all sorts of things. To play, take any number of small objects (in this case, candy corn, but we have also used pencil erasers, pennies, and plastic monkeys). One person turns away while the other hides a few objects behind their back. When they turn back, the person who turns away then has to figure out how many have been hidden. But, this time… we just ate them!

Too many for Kai, though. When he was nice and sugared out, he got a look, and I knew what was coming, “Can we save the rest?” Sure, kid. Not a problem.  So he ran around the house, all sugared up, while I was pleased to see how his math skills were coming along. I try not to push things, but he does really enjoy some of the fun activities and it’s nice to know how things are going, for sure.

I Don’t Know How Else To Say This

Last weekend was one of the weekends that was “not ours” – he was over at his mother’s house and Kai had spent Saturday night at his stepgrandparents’ house.

The call came on Sunday morning. It was Kai’s stepgrandmother.

“Kai is okay. E (Kai’s stepsister) is okay.”

Both Joe and I stared at the phone. I later found out that we’ve both had the same thought: there’s been in an accident. But the kids (Kai and his stepsister) will be okay. So everything will be fine… but something doesn’t sound right.

A second later, the voice says, “I don’t know how else to say this. R (Kai’s mother) is dead.”

And, with that, all of our lives changed.

The last week has been full of challenges. There was no prep for this: Kai’s mother had gastric bypass a year or two before he was born. And what happened was one of the possible complications. Several years later, totally unexpected.

After the call, we immediately jumped in the car and drove down to the hospital. Her room was full of friends and loved ones. They were able to remove the tubes (there weren’t many) before Kai came. The three of us (Kai’s stepfather, Kai’s dad, and I) told him together – his stepsister was there, as well. We told him what had happened (her small intestines folded and became stuck in a hole in her stomach and without blood going through them, they died off and there was nothing the doctors could do). Kai asked a lot of questions for clarification. For a kid of five, they were pretty detailed – like, “Why couldn’t they do a transplant?”

But he wasn’t sure and had to ask, “So… did Mama die?”

I cannot properly describe what it’s like to watch your kid crumple over with grief. We all cried. Kai cried and cried until he couldn’t cry any more and then he hung limply over his dad’s arm for several more minutes. We took him to look at her body – the room was full of her friends and some family. Kai didn’t want to go in but we pulled the curtains aside for him to see the body.

The past week has been a mix of paperwork, family he rarely sees, and interesting ways of working through grief. Tuesday, Kai was in his room, pretending to build a coffin and sing about how he was “Building a coffin for Mama, so she doesn’t have to get burned up,” – he knows she’s being cremated and was angry and devastated because he wanted her buried, wanted a stone marking where she was. But cremation was her request.

On Friday, my parents took Kai and I to Snoqualmie Falls with my nephew. We thought it would be good for him and Joe had gone back to work on Thursday. Kai and I bussed dKai, near an ad with his mother on itown to where my parents were going to pick us up. We ran into an ad with her on it, something she’d done months ago. He wanted a picture, but said he couldn’t smile. I told him that it would hurt for a long time, but eventually, when he looked at pictures of her, he could think of the good times they had together and smile.

Already, last week seems so long ago. The memorial is next weekend.

We went to homeschool park day this last week, where I normally try to send her a few pictures (I tried to send something every day but park days generally got extra). I found myself missing sending her pictures and texting her about what Kai was doing. Kai’s mother and I often didn’t agree, didn’t get along. But we were slowly moving towards some sort of understanding, had (mostly) gotten better at working together – for Kai. Kai recently lost his first tooth. He was here, not there. I was happy to see it and sent her all the pictures and texted her about it as much as I could but one of my first thoughts was, “I wish she didn’t have to miss out on this. I wish none of us did.” And now, there will be so many things she’ll miss.

Hug your loved ones. Tell them you care. You never know when they’ll be gone.

I’m still not sure what else to say or where life will take us from here.

February 2013 Monthly Learning Summary (For Kai)

This month, we stayed at home quite a bit. At least, that’s what it FELT like. But that’s only partially true. I’d say we did more atypical things for us, which made it feel… different. Not bad, just different.

One thing that WAS bad was when the boiler system for our building broke… and it took them two and a half days to fix it. But we all appreciated hot water a lot more after that!

One of the things we’ve been working on is a morning routine. On weekdays, we’re having Kai go to the bathroom, get dressed, and brush his teeth. Right away. On weekends, he can wait a bit. For Kai, anytime you make a change in his routine, it can be a tough transition. We’ve (mostly) got it down without arguments now.

We read SO MANY BOOKS this month. Next month, we’ll be out of the house more, so I know we’ll read less. But he seems to be absorbing a good deal of it.

I’m also going to attempt to get out – and get outside – more often. Kai has been running in the house lots and I think he probably needs more space to get his energy out.

For tracking, I’d like to change this up, but I’m not sure how. We’ll see what happens next month.

Heart Shaped Pancakes For Valentine's Day

Holidays and such:

  • Kai got belated birthday gifts from Joe’s sister. He LOVED that, especially a book she sent him that was about Egypt – its pages formed a pyramid.
  • On Valentine’s Day, he got a couple of little gifts, we had heart shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, and we talked about the holiday, its history, that it can be for ANYONE you love.

February 7, 2013


  • We’ve been reading “Little House on the Prairie” this month. Joe and I showed Kai the areas the Ingals travelled in. We talked about why people would want to move west. We had a lot of conversations about the government “relocating” the Native Americans. We’ve had some hard conversations about racism, as well. We haven’t finished the book yet, but at the end of the month, we finished the Christmas chapter, which is my favorite “Little House” chapter ever. We talked about how the girls were so excited with so little.
  • We talked about the changing seasons and light. We’re working on the “Mystery Class/Journey North” project and have done a lot of talking in regards to that: What makes the seasons? Why are there different amounts of light? How are seasons and light levels different, depending on where you live?
  • We talked about Julius Caesar, because one of Kai’s Valentine’s Day gift was a LEGO mini-fig “blind blister” and he got one that looked like Julius Caesar. I was able to tie that into our continuing talks about calendars.
  • We talked about the meteors that hit in Russia. Kai watched some video footage from that. Later, in play, he reenacted the meteor attacks and used the “breaking glass” elements in his play.
  • We talked about the differences between carnivores/omnivores/herbivores.
  • We talked about mammals, what makes a mammal, and what kinds of mammals there are.
  • We talked about solids, liquids, and gases.
  • Joe and Kai had a very in-depth conversation about scruffing cats. Our cats all react very differently to scruffing. Scruffing Parker is a VERY bad idea – he left his mother too soon to remember it and will try to fight you off (and possibly get himself hurt). The other two: one doesn’t care, the other goes limp. I don’t like scruffing, but it’s something Joe does, so he talked about it with Kai and why he feels it is effective with some cats.
  • The three of us talked about how different families operate differently when it comes to parents’ roles. We pointed out how, in the Little House books, the girls were expected to listen, no questions asked. But, here, we’re okay with him asking questions (usually) and we (usually) tell him why we would like him to do something. We discussed how different parents have different priorities and how that isn’t even necessarily a good or bad thing –  for example, one family might prioritize eating at the table together while another family might not ever do it. This is something that’s really important for him because even between his parents’ homes, rules are different (which can sometimes be frustrating for him).
  • We talked about Buckingham Palace guards (after watching Cars 2).
  • While we were watching Mary Poppins, we talked about nannies, women’s voting rights, accents (particularly British), and one man bands.

February 28, 2013

Games played:

Kai, on the drums.

“Educational games” websites visited:

Playing with Play-Doh.


  • Electric Company (the old one)
  • Videos from Mystery Class
  • Minecraft videos
  • Wild Kratts: wolf, bees, geckos, rhinos, elephants, giraffes
  • Rock N Learn “Read Aloud Stories” DVD
  • Cars 2
  • How juiceboxes are made video
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Misty Mountain (Thomas DVD)
  • Caldecott Books on DVD
  • Transformers
  • Rock N Learn’s Life Science
  • Bill Nye – earth’s seasons, energy
  • Mary Poppins
  • Lots and Lots of Jets and Planes
  • Solid, Liquids, Gas DVD
  • Rock N Learn Earth Science
  • Rock N Learn Human Body

Kai and Joe, playing the SimCity closed beta.

Listened to:

  • “Titanic, Voices From The Disaster” – audiobook
  • “How Things Work” podcast: LEGOs
  • Beatles music
  • Music from video games, including Minecraft and Journey
  • They Might Be Giants, “Here Comes Science” album
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • Head and the Heart

Playing with Zelda.

At home:

  • We’ve been weaning Kai off of naps and have instead been doing “one hour of quiet room time”. Sometimes, though, Kai would put himself to sleep! Mostly, he’d play or, quite often, read. I put some podcasts and audiostories on his mp3 player specifically for these times.
  • Joe and Kai worked on putting together LEGOs and Kai played with his LEGOs. Extensively.
  • Kai pretended to be in “SimCity”. He added in Minecraft elements and talked about how nobody died (from attacks) but how they did have to go to the hospital because they were hurt by the glass from windows breaking.
  • He played with the recorder (instrument) for quite some time one day and requested lessons (that may be a whim – we’ll see).
  • He plays “Superheroes” a LOT, especially Iron Mon.
  • Joe and Kai put together Super Skeleton, which was a gift from Joe’s sister. It has a bunch of named parts. Very cool.
  • Kai helped Joe “fix” (tighten) some of our dining room chairs.
  • I set up a “secret code” for him to unscramble. He had to do some addition problems to do so.
  • Played lots with his cars and trains.
  • Kai has been helping prepare food more.
  • Kai has been unloading the silverware regularly.
  • Did a few worksheets.
  • Worked on “Mystery Class/Journey North” project.
  • Played with Play-Doh.

Video of the month: Addition using a five frame.


Out of the house activities:

  • We’ve been doing storytime at the Ballard libraries on Wednesdays. Kai really enjoys these and they’ve the following topics this month: Chinese New Year, African stories, frogs, and, I think, the one right before Valentine’s Day was about love and friendship. We have something else planned for Wednesdays next month and I’m trying to figure out whether we want to do a different story time or not.
  • Kai’s been going to the Fred Meyer Playland about once a week, while shopping gets done. He really enjoys it and, apparently, often mentions that he is homeschooled if asked about preschool or kindergarten.
  • We went to the Pacific Science center. He looked at DNA activities, did “face matching” – match the younger face to the older one, played at the play area, watched a Beatles laser show, looked at a few things about the body, and watched their “Illusions” live science show.
  • We went to MOHAI with Kai’s friend, “Kidlet”, and her mother. It was a mini-MOHAI day and he and I both enjoyed it greatly.
  • Joe, Kai, and I all went to Coe Play Park for a while one day.


Social activities:

  • Toward the beginning of the month, Kai and I went to a Pokemon game day, hosted by one of the homeschool moms in the area. Kai enjoyed it, but found it frustrating at times. He was younger and newer to the game. It was also a group of boys and they kept talking over each other, which is typical, but not what Kai is used to. However, he really enjoyed playing and it was so sweet of the mom to host the game day and let us come.
  • My dad and stepmother were in town (they live in Arizona), so Kai and I went out to their hotel to spend time, mainly with my dad (as my stepmother was taking care of things to do with her mother’s estate – she passed away last year and they’ve been working on the place). Kai read to him, played, talked, etc.
  • Kai’s friend, “Kidlet”, came over to play. They played a fair bit, including doing cotton ball races (both with a straw and a spoon), tossing balled socks into a laundry basket (which they both REALLY enjoyed), played hospital (involving tools such as pliers!), did a game called “kindergarten yahtzee” where they roll two dice, add them together, and cross off the numbers on their sheet (the first one out of numbers wins), and just generally enjoyed each other’s presence. I’m always amused – these two are SO different but they’re such good friends.
  • Towards the end of the month, my nephew, Jeremy, had his birthday party. He turned 4. Jeremy and Kai are really good friends. Before my sister’s schedule changed, we used to have my nephew every week for a few hours. The boys miss seeing each other regularly. We drove down to their place, about an hour away. They have chickens and horses, which Kai got to see (and we took home fresh eggs). It was also Kai’s first time playing with a pinata – he was frustrated by not being able to see (didn’t see the point of making it harder), but scored a fair bit of candy and had a good time). He met some of my stepfather’s family – my aunt, uncle, and her kids. This was also the first time he’d been in the same room as my mother, my stepfather, my stepmother, and my father all at once! (As well as my mother’s mother.) Actually, it was a bit weird for me – as a kid, my parents fought a lot. The last time all four of them were in the same room was when I was getting married for the first time, in 2002. (And they stayed as far apart as possible!) Seeing them all talk and laugh together was… weird. But good.


Reading to me while I cook.

Books read:

  • Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. NY: Dial  for Young Readers, 1976. Print.
  • Adler, David A., and Edward Miller. Time Zones. New York: Holiday House, 2010. Print.
  • Anderson, Catherine. Apple Orchard. Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2005. Print.
  • Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno’s Counting Book. New York: Crowell, 1977. Print.
  • Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno’s Magic Seeds. New York: Philomel, 1995. Print.
  • Asher, Sandy, and Keith Graves. Too Many Frogs! New York: Philomel, 2005. Print.
  • Badescu, Ramona, Benjamin Chaud, and Claudia Zoe. Bedrick. Pomelo Explores Color. New York: Enchanted Lion, 2012. Print.
  • Bailey, Jacqui, and Matthew Lilly. Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window, 2004. Print.
  • Batten, Mary, and Higgins Bond. Who Has a Belly Button? Atlanta, GA: Peachtree, 2004. Print.
  • Branley, Franklyn Mansfield, and Michael Rex. Sunshine Makes the Seasons. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2005. Print.
  • Brooks, Erik. Polar Opposites. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010. Print.
  • Bryan, Ashley. Beautiful Blackbird. New York: Atheneum  for Young Readers, 2003. Print.
  • Carter, David A. If You’re Happy and You Know It: A Pop-up Book. New York: Scholastic, 1997. Print.
  • Chabon, Michael, and Jake Parker. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2011. Print.
  • Cleary, Brian P., and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. The Punctuation Station. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook, 2010. Print.
  • Cleary, Brian P., and Martin Goneau. Dolphin, Fox, Hippo and Ox: What Is a Mammal? Minneapolis: Millbrook, 2013. Print.
  • Compestine, Ying Chang., and Tungwai Chau. The Runaway Rice Cake. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2001. Print.
  • Davis, Jim. Garfield Tips the Scales: His 8th Book. New York: Ballantine, 2004. Print.
  • Dodd, Emma. Meow Said the Cow. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2011. Print.
  • Dormer, Frank W. The Obstinate Pen. New York: Henry Holt, 2012. Print.
  • Ehlert, Lois. Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count on. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. Print.
  • Emberley, Rebecca, and Ed Emberley. Chicken Little. New York: Roaring Brook, 2009. Print.
  • Eversole, Robyn, and Scott Campbell. East Dragon, West Dragon. New York: Atheneum  for Young Readers, 2012. Print. Another favorite. Has been checked out a few times.
  • Gibbons, Gail. The Reasons for Seasons. New York: Holiday House, 1995. Print.
  • Graham, Ian, and David Antram. You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the First Submarine!: An Undersea Expedition You’d Rather Avoid. New York: Franklin Watts, 2009. Print.
  • Gravett, Emily. Spells. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2009. Print. Fiction.
  • Hamilton, Martha, Mitch Weiss, and Baird Hoffmire. The Big Wide-mouth Frog. Atlanta: August House Story Cove, 2009. Print.
  • Harris, Robie H., and Nadine Bernard Westcott. Who Has What?: All about Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2011. Print.
  • Hong, Lily Toy. Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale. Morton Grove, IL: A. Whitman, 1993. Print.
  • Intriago, Patricia. Dot. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. Print.
  • Jacobs, Paul DuBois., Jennifer Swender, and Selina Alko. My Subway Ride. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2004. Print.
  • Jeffers, Oliver. Up and down. New York: Philomel, 2010. Print.
  • Kimmel, Eric A., and Janet Stevens. Anansi and the Talking Melon. New York: Holiday House, 1994. Print.
  • LaMarche, Jim, Wilhelm Grimm, and Jacob Grimm. The Elves and the Shoemaker. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2003. Print. This one has the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen for this story.
  • Lichtenheld, Tom, and Ezra Fields-Meyer. E-mergency! San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2011. Print.
  • Lin, Grace. Dim Sum for Everyone! New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. Print.
  • Lionni, Leo. An Extraordinary Egg. New York: Dragonfly, 1998. Print.
  • Lobel, Arnold, and Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad Are Friends. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. Print. Started in February. Not yet finished.
  • London, Jonathan, and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy Goes to Hawaii. New York: Viking, 2011. Print.
  • London, Jonathan, and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy’s First Kiss. New York: Puffin, 2000. Print.
  • Long, Ethan. The Croaky Pokey! New York: Holiday House, 2011. Print.
  • Mosel, Arlene, and Blair Lent. Tikki Tikki Tembo. New York: Square Fish, 2007. Print.
  • Muth, Jon J. Zen Ghosts. New York: Scholastic, 2010. Print.
  • Newman, Jeff. Hand Book. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2011. Print.
  • Orona-Ramirez, Kristy, and Jonathan Warmday. Kiki’s Journey. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book, 2006. Print.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope., and Sal Murdocca. Carnival at Candlelight Magic Tree House #33. New York: Random House, 2005. Print. Audiobook.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope., and Sal Murdocca. Season of the Sandstorms / a Merlin Mission. N.Y.: Handom House, 2005. Print. Audiobook.
  • Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Tree House #36: Blizzard of the Blue Moon. Imagination Studio; Unabridged Edition (September 26, 2006): n.p., n.d. Print. Audiobook.
  • Parr, Todd. The I’m Not Scared Book. New York: Little, Brown, 2011. Print.
  • Paye, Won-Ldy, Margaret H. Lippert, and Julie Paschkis. The Talking Vegetables. New York: Henry Holt, 2006. Print.
  • Peters, Andrew, Polly Peters, and James Coplestone. The No-no Bird. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2009. Print.
  • Pinkney, Jerry. Three Little Kittens. New York: Dial  for Young Readers, 2010. Print.
  • Portis, Antoinette. A Penguin Story. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
  • Posada, Mia. Guess What Is Growing inside This Egg. Minneapolis: Millbrook, 2007. Print.
  • Rey, Margret, and H. A. Rey. Curious George Goes to the Hospital,. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966. Print.
  • Rinker, Sherri Duskey., and Tom Lichtenheld. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2011. Print.
  • Růžička, Oldřich, and Tomáš Tůma. Mysteries of Egypt. Richmond Hill, Ont.: Firefly, 2011. Print.
  • Santat, Dan. The Guild of Geniuses. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2004. Print.
  • Schaefer, Carole Lexa., and Pierr Morgan. Dragon Dancing. New York: Viking, 2007. Print.
  • Schaefer, Lola M., and Geoff Waring. Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size! San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2010. Print.
  • Schwartz, Corey Rosen., and Dan Santat. The Three Ninja Pigs. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. Print.
  • Scotton, Rob. Splat Says Thank You. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012. Print.
  • Serafini, Frank. Looking Closely along the Shore. Toronto: Kids Can, 2008. Print.
  • Stampler, Ann Redisch., and Carol Liddiment. The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman &, 2012. Print.
  • Thomas, Shelley Moore., and Jennifer Plecas. A Cold Winter’s Good Knight. New York: Dutton Children’s, 2008. Print.
  • Van, Lieshout Maria. Hopper and Wilson. New York: Philomel, 2011. Print.
  • Wahman, Wendy. A Cat like That. New York: Henry Holt, 2011. Print. This one is ALWAYS a favorite. We’ve checked it out several times across two library systems.
  • Walsh, Joanna, and Judi Abbot. The Biggest Kiss. London: Simon & Schuster Children’s, 2010. Print.
  • Wells, Robert E. How Do You Know What Time It Is? Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2002. Print.
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls, and Garth Williams. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Harper & Bros., 1953. Print.
  • Willems, Mo. My Friend Is Sad. New York: Hyperion  for Children, 2007. Print.
  • Wilson, Karma, and Jane Chapman. What’s in the Egg, Little Pip? New York: Margaret K. McElderry, 2010. Print.
  • Wood, Douglas, and Wendy Popp. Where the Sunrise Begins. New York: Simon & Schuster  for Young Readers, 2010. Print.
  • Yu, Li-Qiong, and Cheng-Liang Zhu. A New Year’s Reunion. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2011. Print.


Feb 4 – Feb 8, 2013: Our Week In Pictures. (Monday to Friday)


Breakfast with LEGO club Jr:
Breakfast Reading

Playing the recorder “his way”:

February 4, 2013


February 4, 2013

Opened a belated birthday present, was thrilled with this book:February 4, 2013

Working in his math journal:

February 4, 2013


Pancakes for lunch!:

February 5, 2013

Silly pancake faces:

February 5, 2013



February 6, 2013

Game night (Pokemon):

Playing Pokemon.


He said this was his “sky” outfit. Later called it his “flying” outfit.

February 7, 2013

New-to-us site,

February 7, 2013


Toast, with sprinkles:

February 8, 2013

Working on the Mystery Class Journey North project:

February 8, 2013

January 2013 Monthly Wrap-Up Post

Kai's 5th Birthday

This month has been one of our more laid-back months since we moved to Seattle. It’s been rainy, wet, and cold, so we’ve stayed home a fair bit.

Bits about this month, in no particular order:

  • Stayed up to greet the new year and watched celebrations from several areas.
  • Started a Minecraft server for the three of us to play together on. Kai seems to really enjoy this.
  • Got visited by my sister, Kristine. Twice.
  • Kai had his fifth birthday.
  • Went to the zoo.
  • Had a birthday party for Kai with extended family.
  • Visited a friend’s birthday party.
  • Started going to storytime at the library again.
  • Went to the “indoor playground” at the Seattle Gymnastics Academy with a good friend.
  • Played at Twirl, a cafe with a HUGE indoor play area.
  • Played several new games, including Pokemon, Mouse Trap, Milles Borne, The Ladybug Game, Tsuro, The Adventurers: Temple of Horus, and Pitch Car.
  • Kai has played on ABCMouse and Starfall quite a bit.
  • We’ve done some “learning activities”, including a “season sort”, digital/analog clock matching, some various worksheets, putting numbers in numerical order (by 10s). Not a full list.
  • LEGOs have been BIG this month. Kai and Joe have spent many, many, MANY hours putting together LEGO things. And we still have some that have not yet been gotten into.
  • Kai’s been helping me cook more.
  • Kai has read a fair bit, some to Zelda and the other cats, some to us.
  • Pokemon and Transformers have been on the TV a fair bit.
  • Kai’s played with lots of cars and his trains.
  • Kai has willing written on his own, several times.
  • At the beginning of the month, we watched ALL of the Harry Potter movies.
  • Kai watched a fair bit of Magic School Bus.
  • Kai’s been playing games on our phones. For a while, he was particularly interested in some of the interactive stories I have on my phone.
  • Played a fair bit with Rory’s Story cubes.
  • Finished up his solar system project, including making videos and a solar system map.
  • My Little Pony is still big.
  • Used the Tumblebooks website.
  • Watch Scholastic “Caldecott Favorites” – they read the story and you can turn on a “read along” version that shows the words.
  • Used the whiteboard a fair bit for drawing and for writing sight words.
  • Played a game about money.
  • Got sick for several days. Nothing serious, but still. Ugh.
  • Pretended we were running a store, several times.
  • Experimented with vinegar and baking soda.
  • Talked a bit about Japan, pointed it out on the map.
  • Talked about knights a bit.
  • Listened to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Ran around with the kitties lots.
  • Kai got to play at the Fred Meyer play place a few times.
  • Read two “long” books: The Castle in the Attic and Call of Cthulhu.
  • Started “Little House on the Prairie”.
  • Watched Godzilla. This led to a discussion about voice actors, dubbing, people in monster suits, how monsters “fly” in old movies (point out the strings), related Mothra to one of the Pokemon that Kai had seen that day or the day before. We also discussed a bit about the culture, about dead things, about things reincarnating.
  • Discussed racism/classism in both Harry Potter and the Call of Cthulhu.
  • Played with play foam and made “monsters”.

And that’s just the stuff involving Kai. He’s at his mother’s house every other weekend, so Joe and I use that time for errands do random stuff.

I also thought I’d post our book list for the month, including audiobooks, but not including any interactive books or books-read-by-the-TV/computer. At some point during the month, I got sick. So, I stopped tracking as much as I should have. Consider this a partial list.

Kai’s January 2013 Reading List