Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Importance of Answering Questions

Although it was not my intention to post about all of the questions we answer during the day, this seems to have become a regular part of this blog. These are questions that come up in discussions, during activities, or seemingly out of the blue and they arise out of curiosity and desire to learn.

My daughter learned to read when she was 6 by asking lots of questions (and I made sure to answer her right away). At night before we went to sleep she would ask what "fty" or "pmk" or "urw" said, and I would try to make the sounds as best as possible. Many nights we were all laughing uncontrollably at the funny sounds the 'words' made. When I would read stories, she would ask me to point right at the words as I read them. After a while she would ask "Is this word 'flower'?", or some word that she had heard me say and wanted to find it on the page. Many times it was a word that was repeated several times in the story.

If learning were a river, a question might be a tributary. Answering the question will add to the river. The more tributaries, the larger the river, and the farther it will flow. As long as the questions come, we answer them, and the learning continues to flow.

Here are more questions that came up this week:

Is chess like a war?
What does a bishop look like in real life?
What does a rook look like in real life?
What is a pawn?
Why do people wear a special uniform for karate?
What is the best design for a car so it won't roll over?
Are there any words without vowels?
Are donkeys the same as burros?
What is metamorphosis?
Are mermaids real?
What is passion?
Have I ever done anything that you haven't done?
What is Good Friday?
How far can a koala turn its head?

Usually we try to answer all the questions before I post them, but we are behind this week. Maybe today we can finish up this list. :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Late Afternoon Adventure

The other day the kids asked me to take them to the canyon. My daughter wanted to try to catch an insect in her new butterfly net and my son wanted to take pictures. It was already 5:30 pm and fairly cool out, not the best conditions for finding flying insects (except maybe mosquitoes).

The trail we chose was a steep one and the lower section was in shadow at this point. We would have to hike for about 20 minutes uphill to get to the areas that still had some sun. On the way the handle of the butterfly net broke off (not too promising for its first outing) - my daughter decided to give me the broken part and try to catch things with the short stub left. We did make it to a sunny spot where she wound up catching a small moth. We were able to stick the handle back into the net to make the special 'tent' - one of the reasons we got the net in the first place. We observed the moth for a bit and then released it.

My son took many photos of wildflowers and scenery. There are an abundance of wildflowers this year, right now especially. We saw lupines, paintbrush, poppies, monkeyflower, buttercup, red bud, mule's ears, shooting stars and more that I don't know the names of. Also, the oaks are flowering too - on the hike we saw blooming live and blue oak trees.

To add to the excitement, when we were looking out across the canyon we saw two coyotes climbing down the hillside together! I really enjoy our trips to the canyon. I wind up forgetting my cares and relaxing and enjoying the beauty all around me. We'll have to go back again soon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Photographer

My son has recently become interested in photography. So far he enjoys taking pictures of the outdoors. He has been using a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot camera. Here are a couple of his photos:

Above is a picture of blossoms on our Asian Pear tree and below is a picture of narcissus flowers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hair gel, lying, the brain

I have worked hard at really listening to others when they are speaking to me. When my kids ask me questions, I try to make sure I understand what it is they are asking and then I help find the answer as soon as I can. Here are some questions that the kids have asked in the past few days:

How does hair gel work? (ok, this is kind of scary - it is essentially liquid plastic!)
When were cats first tamed?
Is colorblindness real?
Which of the Beatles are still alive?
Which member of the Beatles was the oldest when they formed the band?
Have I ever lied?
Does our brain control everything we do?
What does 'catastrophe' mean?
What does 'I do declare' mean?

One more question:  Would you go across this bridge?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Little Snow Trip

The other day we headed to the Sierras to do some sledding. It was sunny at our home, and since it had been two days since the last rain, we thought it might be sunny with lots of new snow at the sledding area.  Just as we got to 2000 feet elevation, the snow began, and just got worse.

The weather was cold, windy, and snowing - not good conditions for anything (except maybe sitting in front of a fire drinking hot chocolate). We managed to turn around and head back out of the mountains before they closed the highway. For a brief moment the sun came out and we were able to stop at a rest stop and get some short but fun sledding runs in before heading home.