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The Pumpkin Patch, Economic Failure and Other Learning Notes

October 15, 2008

I’m going to try to catch up on my learning logs. We haven’t accomplished a whole lot — academically speaking — in the past week. But when I type it all out, it kind of LOOKS like a lot. *LOL* There’s not much new going on — so it’s mostly going to be a matter of “round up the usual suspects.”

Thursday (Week 2, Day 5) — Sunday (Week 3, Day 1)

Soccer, reading, random discussions and all the other usual stuff.

Sarah shared an interesting riddle with Martin and me. She picked it up from a fantasy role playing video game called Neverwinter Nights. If you tell the truth you will be hanged, and if you tell a lie you will be drowned. In order to save yourself, what should you say? (I’ll post the answer later, if anyone’s interested). We also talked about the classic Chicken, Fox and Corn Riddle.

Monday (Week 3, Day 2):

Little Man had a sleepover with Aengus Sunday night, in which I suspect they did everything but sleep. 🙂 Monday morning, I took the girls on a field trip at the Pumpkin Patch, and we met Little Man with Aengus’s intrepid mom and her flock of daycare kids there.

In the car, on the way to the Pumpkin Patch, Sarah and I chatted about the current economic crisis. I tried to explain — as best I could — the events that led to the bail-out and describe how the stock market works. We touched briefly on similarities and differences between the current situation and the events leading to the Great Depression. I framed the collapse of the mortgage industry as a combination of —

1. the government’s well-intentioned efforts to require the mortgage companies to lend money to families with limited means — including high-risk borrowers — so working people can break out of the rental cycle — which forced mortgage companies into poor financial decisions &
2. the acquisitiveness (actually, I suspect “f-ing greed” might have been closer to my exact words) of high-ranking executives in the mortgage industry who made poor financial decisions

I know this is a gross over-simplification, but it was the best I could come up with. These subjects are challenging for both Sarah and me. A QUESTION FOR ALL YOU WISE HOME SCHOOLING MOMS: If anyone has suggestions of different ways of framing this, or of ideas or resources to explore, I would be grateful. 🙂 I seem to be better at chatting about literature and psychology than economics, and I don’t want my kids to be as financially ignorant as I am.

The Pumpkin Patch was fun. It was a gloriously beautiful fall day. The kids got to bottle-feed the calves and take a hay-ride to the field where they chose their pumpkins. The girls and I participated in storytime and made scarecrows while the guys played a Dragons-and-Minotaurs game on the hay maze.  I read about the maze adventure on Adesa’s blog, and I asked James about it. He told me he had invented the game, and he tried to explain the rules to me. But my mind is not as agile as a 10-year-old’s, so he quickly lost me. But have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for James’s friendship with Aengus? They are both kind, smart, imaginative, and not afraid to make up their own rules.

James and Aengus had Homeschool P.E. class. While I was waiting to pick them up, the girls and I hung out at Barnes and Noble and visited Petco. Not exactly a rough afternoon — eh?

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. *LOL* By evening, everyone was exhausted, and there were meltdowns. Everyone did some reading. James is re-reading the first Harry Potter book (listening to it on audiotape). Sarah and I continued You Don’t Know Me by David Klass. Of course, Trishy and I read picture books. I have committed nearly every word of the “Miss Bindergarten” books to memory — I am going to be quoting those damn things on my death bed. 🙂

Tuesday (Week 3, Day 3)

James had a piano lesson around noon, so he spent much of the morning doing FLMP (Frantic Last Minute Practice) He continued listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Having barely recovered from PSOS (Post Sleepover Syndrome) he had a playdate, after music, with another of his best friends. James’s summary of their time together: “We ran around a lot.”

Sarah and James played fantasy role-playing video games, which I am assured have all kinds of redeeming educational value. 🙂

Sarah continued to work on her writing projects — her research on banned books and some character sketches.  We finished You Don’t Know Me and started reading a new book. We worked in Math-U-See Pre-Algebra and played Hangman with her spelling words. We also continued reading and discussing Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused?

Marie and I also watched Something the Lord Made, which she’d ordered from Netflix. I highly recommend it. It is at least somewhat factual, and in my opinion excellent performances, especially by Alan Rickman, elevated it from a canned made-for-T.V. documentary.

Wednesday (Week 3, Day 4)

James and I played Hangman with some of his spelling words. I prompted him to try vowels first, and I gave him clues like (__ __ __ __ __ __ — a synonym for fear). In this way, we reviewed vowels and synonyms while practicing spelling. We worked in Math-U-See Gamma, played Mythmatical Battles, and had a treasure hunt with multiplication and division flash cards (follow the trail of cards to the prize).  He worked on his story.

He also practiced piano. He seemed proud of the fact that he’s learning to play harder pieces, like a selection from Ode to Joy, but that is nothing compared to his pride when he figured out how to make an ear-splitting flatulent noise with the keyboard. “Mom … the loudest fart noise you ever heard!” Raising boys. There’s nothin’ like it!

Sarah had another interview with a librarian for her banned books project, and she worked on some character sketches.

Later, James has Homeschool P.E. and soccer practice — we’re leaving for P.E. now.

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