Friday, June 04, 2004

Cast-Off Day

Up early to get Erin's cast off. The kids were impressed with the cast saw. We tried to meet with the Manager at the hospital who could give us the rubber stamp we need to get started with the Kids' Garden Club ("GRUBS") but she had double-booked herself and was in a meeting. We went to the open-air Friday Market and saw a lot of people we knew. We looked at the work of the aforementioned unschooling mom... wonderful jewelry and watercolour paintings. She says she wants to come and paint our pond sometime.

We came home for breakfast. We decided to make another attempt to meet with hospital-manager-lady. Tried to catch her after her meeting but missed.

We visited with my mom at her house. She's been away for six weeks and has just de-jet-lagged. Fiona is very comfortable with her, perhaps more so than before she left, which is great! Then we went for the celebratory ice cream cone I'd promised the kids for Cast-Off Day. The picnic table spot beside the ice cream store was overgrown with rye-grass taller than my kids. They had fun pulling out grass at ground level and marching around with "pathetic staffs". They used Sophie (height 102 cm) as a measuring post to find some grass that was exactly a metre long.

The cottonwood cotton had drifted off a nearby tree and collected alongside the sidewalk. There was a ton and the kids spent a while collecting as much as they could. They decided they could use it to stuff a doll or soft toy animal for Fiona.

We came home for lunch. After lunch a pal of Erin's came for the afternoon. They played outside on the swings, with the balls and bikes, on the gymnastics bars. Erin was trying out her new arm. She also played some piano. The kids made some limeade. I made them a smoothie. (It was really hot!) They did some glass-painting again. Played on the computer a bit. The toy that's the hit right now is a set of 16 of those green plastic pint-baskets that strawberries come in. They made a castle, a temple, a tower and a series of zoos with plastic animals in their cages. Then there was a dropping game of some sort invented using base-ten rods and baskets and awarding points for certain arrangements of rods in baskets.

The friend's mom came to pick her up and she and I had a long chat about her vision for a local Community Educational Resource Centre. Basically she's talking about a place where people would come together to learn and share expertise and pool resources and borrow and lend. It would offer Sudbury-style schooling for kids who needed schooling, and be a sort of unschooling flashpoint for the rest of the community. You might go there for art and puppetry and basketball, for a LLL meeting, to play chess or cribbage with some seniors, to borrow a microscope or xylophone, to sign out an ancient history book or a phonics game or an audiobook, or to use the science equipment or art space. Pretty terrific stuff. She's actually in the midst of writing a PhD thesis on models of community-based sustainable learning, so for her it's not all a pie-in-the-sky thing. However, I keep returning to the reality that we live in an economically-challenged community with a catchment population of under 1500.

After the mom and her daughter left, my three played outside together happily. They were in the sandbox for ages. Sophie was sieving out stones with abandon and relishing the texture of soft, fine damp sand. Noah built a large tomb / pyramid and had trick entrances to foil tomb-raiders and a whole story about the hero who was the only one who could open the tomb. Erin built a large and impressive booby-trap by digging a very deep hole, laying a couple dozen straight twigs across the top of it, then layering on long grass and finally sand to disguise the whole thing. Then they played some tag games together, and tossed the football around for quite a while. It was really nice to see them spending a couple of hours together focused on the same co-operative activities and games without any input from me.

The Grade 3/4 teacher called and said she'd be happy to have Erin there next Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week is already pretty chaotic and so she specifically suggested just two days at the start of the week. Erin seemed satisfied with that. I told her that was good because it meant we could all go to the Harry Potter movie (which is 90 minutes out of town) on Wednesday or Thursday. I'm really trying to load the dice by gently drawing her attention to all the sorts of opportunities she (and we!) would miss if she were at school full-time.

After supper Erin did more music listening and reading. Noah and Sophie did some math again. There was a smattering of computer play and independent reading. Erin's reading through a big music reference book we have.

I inflated the air mattress outside and piled it with blankets. After it got dark we all lay out there looking at the stars and watching for satellites. The (almost full) moon wasn't up yet, so it was plenty dark. I brought the boombox out and we listened to a couple of chapters of an audiobook ("the Kite Rider", set in medieval China under the Mongol Empire) in the dark, staring at the sky. Then we all went to bed.

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