We Skip School

…and you should too.

Three Cornered Hug“We’ve been wondering, do you guys get snow days?”, asked our next door neighbor. “No, we take “sun” days.”

We’ve often surprised people with our year-round school schedule. Snowy days–we do play outside. BUT we also do school. There’s no reason not to. Summer days are the same way. Remember those long, boring dog days of summer? We don’t have those. Yes, we go swimming and do theme parks. BUT we also do school. That’s how we fill up the rest of the time when our friends are on vacation, etc.

So, do we ever take time off? Absolutely. You know those wonderful, sun-shiny days, when the temperature is just right? When the smell of the fresh air is intoxicating, and your eyes keep wandering toward the window? That’s when we call up some friends and run away to the park or go hiking. WE SKIP SCHOOL.

There have been other times as well. One beautiful fall, we just randomly took a week off and ran away to Chicago to visit my Aunt. (However, I guess going to the Museum of Science and Industry or visiting Chinatown would qualify for educational experiences.) When my husband has the chance to go somewhere cool for work- we go too. (Again, arguably still school.) When my mom had surgery and needed help, when my sister was in a car accident- WE SKIPPED SCHOOL.

That’s the great thing about homeschooling, the great thing about doing school the way we do: a flexible schedule. There’s such a freedom in it. We can take off and not sweat it. Do I want my child to know that learning is important? YES. However, I also want him to know that enjoying life is equally important. I want him to realize that there’s more to know than what can be learned inside of four walls.

Advertisements

Letterboxing: A Real Life Treasure Hunt

Letterboxing @ Three Cornered Hug

Image by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski; 12frames.eu

Part mystery, part scavenger hunt, part pirate pastime- letterboxing is a great way to get some fresh air and add a little adventure to your hikes.

What is letterboxing? Well, it’s a hobby similar to Geocashing, except that it utilizes a set of mysterious directions in place of the GPS. It’s been extremely popular in England for quite some time, but didn’t catch on in the US until the 1990’s. In short, you hop on to a letterboxing site to find some boxes that have been planted in your area. You will need to make up a neat nickname for yourself (or your group/family), get a “logbook”, and buy or make a stamp that represents you well. Following the clues and instructions found online, you locate a box, which will contain it’s own stamp, a log, and possibly some other cool things. You use your stamp on the log in the box, and use the stamp from the box to record your visit in your logbook. It’s best to put a date next to both stamps.

Later, you’ll have a record of all of the places you’ve visited, and the person who planted the box can see who has been there. This is a great activity (especially for boys) which may help you to see your area in a new way, and maybe find some spots you’ve never seen before. It’s also fun to take your stamp and book on vacation with you to get stamps from different states (or countries!).

*BONUS!* Besides the initial cost of the few supplies, and some gas–letterboxing is FREE!

Here are a couple of sites to help you get started:

http://www.letterboxing.org/ (on the top you can see the tab “Getting Started” which is a good place to….get started)

http://www.atlasquest.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_%28hobby%29 (This wiki has a little more detailed info on the different kinds of boxes, etc. You may want to wait to read this one!)

Once you’ve found all of the letterboxes in your area (or if there aren’t many), maybe you’ll want to go out and plant some for others to find. Now go out there and have fun!

Video

Field Trip: Hammond’s Candies- YUM!

One expected thing we stumbled upon since moving to the Denver area is the Hammond’s Candies factory. Only about 20 minutes from my house, they are busy making yummy goodness all day long- and giving free tours every half hour. Tours that start with a free candy-maker’s hat, and end with a free candy cane right at the door to their store so you can take home a sugar rush in a bag (not free)!

I have to admit, even though I expected it to be fun, it was really so much more than I thought it would be. It’s amazing watching the candy get shiny as it’s pulled and later extruded from the machine, clipped, and bent into canes or twisted into lollipops! It’s thrilling to watch the little candies go through a chocolate waterfall…oh that waterfall…

Hammond’s has been featured on Food Network, Travel Channel, Fox and more!

I know this post may be useless to many of you, but if you’re anywhere in the vicinity, you have to visit Hammond’s. If you’re not, you can check out their website or get a little taste of the fun by starting the video playlist below. One of the vids even features Al Roker and the biggest lollipop ever!

A Boy, a Bike, and a Bribe: Father Knows Best?

Photo Credit: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Photo Credit: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Sweat was running down my…everything. I panted in the hot sun as I ran alongside my son’s bicycle, holding on to the handlebars and seat. As I labored, little Mr. Car Lover, was smiling and looking around from his perch on the bicycle seat, chanting out the names of the different vehicles he saw. “Cadillac Escalade, Honda CR-V, Buick Rendezvous…” I looked down–

HE WASN’T EVEN PEDALING!!!

Argh! Here was my almost 7 year old child, still with training wheels, and no ambition to attempt a two-wheeler. Usually, I believe in letting kids go at their own pace, but there were three problems with this.

1. He was about to need a bigger bike, he was out growing his current model.
2. I was imagining how much harder it would be to run alongside a teenager’s bike.
3. It just seems to me that riding a bike falls into that category of “Things you’re expected to know”.
4. (Who’s counting?) My pride might have played a smallish part.

When his Dad came home one evening, I expressed my frustrations with the whole thing, and so he took matters into his hands. That weekend, he took our son out front and marched back in triumphantly about 20 minutes later, announcing that said son had ridden to the end of the block by himself! “HOW DID YOU MANAGE THAT!?”, I asked incredulously. “Offered him $20 bucks if he could get to the end of the street.”

I was crazed! Not only am I wholly against bribing kids, but he was able to do something I had utterly failed at! And the child wasn’t even very interested in money!

Just the other day, I was reminded of this story which is why I’m telling it now. Looking back, I’d say it’s a good example of the fact that a father’s methods, however different, are not necessarily wrong. In fact, they may be just the thing your child needs. However, I do want to mention that, however effective this was, it’s not something we’ve adopted as a regular practice. 🙂

Image

Beat Summer Boredom: Bird Watching

BirdwatchingBirdwatching is something you would typically think of as an adult activity, but not so. In fact, it was my toddler son who first piqued my interest in birds. One of his first phrases was “Lookittabirds, lookittabirds!” He was especially fascinated in the fall and winter when large flocks keep together and take off when spooked.

As the years have gone on and he’s matured, so has the hobby. We’ve found out that birders usually keep a life list and add to it when they spot a new species, so that was a must. He spends time on The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website listening to calls, and checks out books from the library about the world’s most bizarre birds (and believe me, they’re weirder than you think). When we travel to other places, he looks around for birds we don’t see at home. On a trip to Colorado earlier this year, we had the pleasure of seeing several bird strangers. He was able to use the birding app on his ipod to call them in close, and as they perched nearby and danced around, they held a kind of little “conversation” with him.

One tool he really enjoys is the monocular he got for his birthday this year. It’s handy to and light to tote around. A bird book from the library is equally helpful (although a good birding app will serve the same purpose). Still, you don’t have to have any fancy schmancy things to enjoy birdwatching. Just a few minutes, and some patience will do. See if your kids will get hooked, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find out if I have the proper spelling of schmancy 🙂

Stellars Jay at Rocky Mountain National Park

Beat Summer Boredom: Ultimate Water Rocket!

I don’t mind telling you that my husband is the coolest dad on the block. What makes him so cool? Is it a red sports car with all the bells and whistles? Nah. The suave way he dresses? Not a chance. What is it then? It all comes down to one highly sophisticated toy.

Behold: the Water Rocket!

Water Rocket @ threecorneredhug.wordpress.comOk, so it doesn’t look like much, but this is totally the kind of thing that MacGyver would have used to keep cool in the summer (remember him?). Kids gather from all over the neighborhood to watch my husband shoot it off, and to hopefully get sprayed. The water rocket is even more popular than fireworks come Independence Day. A boy who visits his Grandparents across the street annually remembered it from last year. He begged us to bring over on the 4th. His grandpa, who teaches physics at the university here, is equally amazed– “It’s so scientific!”

If you’d like the plans to make your own, click here to go to the This Old House website. You can get plans and there’s also a video to show you how it’s done. You might tweak it a little. I’m told that it would be better to attach part of the string to each side of the trigger mechanism instead of one side as planned.

Now you too can be the the coolest. Only if you don’t live on my block 🙂