Category Archives: Outings

Watching Paint Mix at Home Depot

On Friday, Kai and I went to the park with one of my sisters, M. She had a couple of hours in-between school and work, so we had lunch at Carkeek Park and Kai played with some other kids before we took her to work.

I wanted to make sure we got her there on time, so we arrived about twenty minutes early.  As I was about to let her out of the car, she said, “Do you want to come see how we mix the paint?” Kai was agreeable, so off we went.

Home Depot was fun and a bit overwhelming to Kai. I don’t think he remembers having ever been to a place like that – we live in an apartment and the last time I remember us going into a home improvement store was in July 2012. That was a third of his lifetime ago!

Something I did not know: house paint mixing is now computerized/automated. This makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about it. My sister, however, talked us through how the paint is mixed, while we watched. (The woman in this picture is not her.) They put the paint in a slot in the computer and various different colors come out and mix into the white paint.

June 6, 2014

Then, they put it into a machine that shakes it. The machines in this picture are for large cans. There’s a much smaller one for the paint samples (smaller amounts you can buy to try it out).

June 6, 2014

After we were done in the paint department, we stopped at the carpet samples. Kai thought they were really neat. He liked touching all the textures and was a bit annoyed that I said we couldn’t pick out new carpet to replace the carpet in the apartment.

June 6, 2014

I hadn’t considered before how much fun a place like this would be for Kai. He also got to touch a lot of tiles, which he thought was very interesting. Towards the end, he got overwhelmed, so that was when we left.

This is the kind of thing that unschooling is all about: to allow ourselves to be fascinated by something that’s often just a chore, something people often overlook.

Unschooling gives us the the freedom to stand around and watch paint mix.

First Mt. Rainier Trip As A Family.

We visited Mt. Rainier for the first time as a family this weekend.

The Family, At Sunrise View Point

The family together at Sunrise View Point
July 20, 2013

Kai has been saying he’s wanted to go and so have I (I’ve always loved going to the mountain), so after Kai went to bed on Friday, Joe suggested we go. We decided to go to Sunrise, which is the highest point on the mountain you can drive to. It’s also a place I’ve only been to once or twice, so it was new for me, too.

On the way, we stopped in to the Kasey Kahne store in Enumclaw. The guys are big NASCAR fans so it was a nice opportunity and Kai got a couple of new cars for his collection – which was GREAT because the stores near us have not had any of the 2013 cars.

At the Kasey Kahne store in Enumclaw

After leaving Enumclaw, we were on our way. We drove for quite a while. Kai spent the time until we got there reading a Garfield book and playing Animal Crossing on the 3DS.  Once we were in the park, though, we had him watch where we were going.

We made our way through the park and stopped at a viewpoint.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

When we were about to take this picture, Kai said, “Daddy, don’t let me fall!”


Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

We read about how mountains are formed from volcanoes.
Discussed tectonic plates.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

Kai pointed out this neat looking beetle.

Then, we got back in the car and drove for another five or ten minutes, up to the top of the sunrise area. We had a surprise lesson in air pressure: on the way up the mountain, we kept hearing a crinkling noise. We finally figured out it was our bag of chips. By the time we’d gotten to the viewpoint, the bag was puffed out pretty far. When we reached the top, it had stopped making noise.

This is why.

Chips That Opened Themselves

Popped Open Due To Air Pressure

We were able to talk to Kai about what caused it to open while waiting in the extremely long line of cars to get into the main sunrise area. After having lunch, we went to the visitor’s center.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

At the Sunrise Visitor Center

Originally, we’d planned to drive there, have a picnic lunch, and then head home. We ended up going on the Sunrise Nature Trail. We only made it about halfway before turning back. Kai was tired but I was having problems with my asthma and feeling like I was going to throw up. We’ll have to plan hiking better next time! Still, it was beautiful, even if we turned back early.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

Joe and Kai, coming up the trail.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

Kai, on the trail.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

Stopping to read the signs.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

On the way back down.

Mount Rainier, Sunrise Area

Kai and Joe, right before we left.

We all had a good time. We’re planning to go back again sometime soon, preparing for hiking ahead of time. I can’t wait!

I Want To Talk About This Blurry Picture And What It Is

I want to talk about this picture.

April 17, 2013

It is blurry, but I was trying to take the shot quickly. It doesn’t matter if it’s clear or not, because you can still get the point.

At one point this Wednesday, three of the kids in our homeschool/unschool field trip group – all either four or five years old  – were looking very intensely at what I assumed to be information about a particular exhibit. I thought Kai might be reading it out loud or something, because he has suddenly found much thrill in reading things out loud for other kids.

I decided to walk over and see what they were up to.

It turns out that it was NOT actually the exhibit that they were looking at. It was the map. They were discussing what animals were where, where they wanted to go next, and how to get there, discussing the merits of each path.

Learning does not always happen in a classroom. Sometimes, learning is as simple as three kids looking at a map while none of the adults are hovering over them.

This is learning. This is life.

A Little Direction Can Be Good (Or: What We Did At The Zoo)

Yesterday, Kai and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo. We’ve gone a lot (we have a membership and live about ten minutes away by car), so this wasn’t too unusual.

Very serious map-studying.

Kai, studying the map of the zoo.

We ended up not meeting up with anyone (typically, we go with other homeschoolers), so I decided to try a couple of new things: we checked out an “early childhood education” backpack and signed Kai up for the nature exchange program.

April 3, 2013

Inside Zoomazium

Kai picked up a map from the front entrance and we headed for Zoomazium. He doesn’t NEED the map. He knows where it is. But he likes USING the map and I think it’s good practice. Zoomazium is the indoor kids’ area. As far as Kai is concerned, the zoo is “Zoomazium, the carousel, and, oh yeah, I guess they have animals, too.” Zoomazium has a small stage, a nature exchange, an area for little kids, a big treehouse (pretend tree with slides in it), and an area for the bigger kids that has a slide and looks like natural rocks. (They’re not abd that’s good thing, too, because the way these kids play, they’d all wind up seriously injured.)

I let Kai play in Zoomazium for a bit before “Creature feature”. “Creature Feature” is a neat presentation for kids, generally in the form of a puppet show or a story with stuffed animals. Afterwards, the kids get to touch an animal that somehow relates to the story. Whenever we go to the zoo, we try to hit up “Creature Feature”. Today, the kids got to touch a baby corn snake (really, they got to touch two).

April 3, 2013

Touching a baby corn snake.

Afterwards, I wandered up to the desk in Zoomazium to ask about the backpacks I’d heard of people being able to check out AND the nature exchange, which I’d seen online.

zoomazium backpack

Zoomazium “Early Childhood Education” Backpack

They have a few backpacks to choose from. They call them “early childhood education” backpacks or something like that. They’re each themed – they remind me very much of a “mini unit study”. The backpack had some stuffed animals in it, asking questions and encouraging the kids to go find them, listing where the animal could be found in the zoo. It had a numbers puzzle that had different animals for each number, an activity the kids could do in the zoo (making tally marks to show what kind of animal covering the zoo animals had the most of – like feathers, scales, fur, etc), and a few other things. But Kai’s FAVORITE thing inside the backpack was the snake skin. We talked a lot about that. I made notes about what he said: “Feels soft. Looks like a beehive. Looks yellowish white. Doesn’t have colors like the snake. Shaped like a snake. Maybe the snake BODY has colors.” His actual favorite part of the backpack was the backpack itself – he kept wearing it and calling himself a “spiky turtle”.

The backpack was nice, though, because we tried to answer the questions on the animal cards. So, it gave meaning to seeing specific animals (he was very sad, though, that the red pandas, which were in the bag, were not on display).

Before we turned in the backpack, we had a bit of lunch and took a ride on the carousel.

April 3, 2013

On the carousel.

When we turned the backpack in, he was able to register for the Nature Exchange. The program is pretty cool. He got 200 points for doing all the backpack activities and talking about them. He was able to “buy” a shark tooth worth 150 points. He LOVES the tooth and has excitedly been talking about going back to get more points (he can also bring things in, do reports, talk to the staff about things, etc. to earn points).

I’ve talked to a few people about these programs and most weren’t aware EITHER program existed. Kai had such a blast, it gave our trip a bit more “direction”, and he’s looking forward to returning – because of these programs. I just wish the zoo would advertise them a bit better so more people could use me.

But this has me thinking that in the future, I might set up some scavenger hunts or plan some other specific activities for Kai.

I’m curious… do any of you have memberships to zoo? If so, what do you do when you go to the zoo? I used to try to see everything every time we went. That left me QUITE exhausted… and Kai kind of cranky. Now, we just do whatever. And I like that. But having a bit of direction was nice, as well.

We’ve Been Doing More Parks

We’ve been trying to do more parks this month. Kai has had a sudden burst of running around and jumping in the apartment and we’re trying to get his excess energy out. It also gives him a chance to play with other kids. Plus, he LOVES parks. We’re a little more than halfway through the month and we’ve been to four so far:

Discovery Park:

Discovery Park

Discovery Park

David Rogers Park (this one was Joe’s idea – we did this on a weekend with him):

It is a troll bridge. He's the troll.

David Rogers Park

Big Howe:

Big Howe (Park)

Big Howe (Park)

Golden Gardens:

Golden Gardens

Golden Gardens

Seattle’s got some BEAUTIFUL parks. It can be a challenge for us to get to them during winter, though, because Kai hates getting wet and, for some reason, most of the parks here seem to not have any rain protection.

Do you have any favorite parks? Kai seemed to love Golden Gardens and asked to go back. The play area there is fairly new – the last time I was there, a few years ago, the play area wasn’t like this. Come to think of it, I don’t know if they even had one!

I got a small sunburn at Golden Gardens! Really ridiculous – it’s MARCH and we were only there for an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. The dangers of being a redhead, I swear. Anyway, I need to get better with putting on sunblock on myself.

How often do you get out to a park? I wonder if it’s a resource more used in the city, since a lot of us don’t have backyards.