25 Days of Holiday Activities for Secular Families

A few weeks ago, I came out as an atheist in a very public way.

It was terrifying.

I was a born-again Christian for 15 years. Then, last year, I was a Christian in deep contemplation. I read a lot. Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and Shane Claiborne. After that, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Neal DeGrasse Tyson.

And after that, I was an atheist.

I remember the moment I began to doubt. When Henry was born, I quit my job to stay home with the boys full-time. Gus had just turned 3, and it was the perfect time to get serious about this whole Christian business. We attended a progressive, liberal church (which I made sure everyone knew when they learned I was religious), but I wanted to do more.

And so more we did.

On Monday, Gus sang in the children’s choir at a different congregation. On Thursday, I had women’s bible study. On Friday, we had family bible study. On Sunday, we had church, of course, and I also volunteered in Sunday School once a month.

I loved the community. I loved that we composted our coffee cups. I loved that we talked about social justice.

I didn’t love clapping along to the music. I didn’t love praying out loud.

But that didn’t matter.

Until suddenly, it did.

I began to question my faith on an average morning, sitting on the couch with Gus, a children’s devotional spread open on my lap. It was September 12, and I flipped to the correct page in Gus’s One Year Book of Devotions. I was supposed to read the story and its corresponding bible verse. “Run From Evil,” the page read.

Eh. I flipped the page. I’m not about to teach my 3-year-old that his age-appropriate behavior is evil.

September 13 wasn’t any better.

I kept flipping.

Before long, we were in November, and I still hadn’t found a page I agreed with enough to read.

That’s when it hit me.

I had just skipped over sin, heaven, and hell – no doubt all major tenets of Christianity. Was I on board with any of it?

Fast forward to several months later. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on about faith, god, religion, and science. On this particular evening, Matt and I were watching an episode of Cosmos, the one where Neal DeGrasse Tyson explains how fantastically, beautifully, and wonderfully gigantic the universe is. Either this is true, I thought. Or my concept of God is. It can’t be both. At least not for me.

After a few more months of reading and thinking, I had my answer.

For the most part, I kept my atheism to myself. I called the one friend I knew would give me a whole-hearted, “congratulations!”, but until the day my essay posted on Scary Mommy, only a handful of people knew about my deconversion.

I was afraid to share the news for a lot of reasons, but mostly, I was afraid of:

  • People thinking I was immoral, unethical, or an otherwise bad person.
  • People assuming I had a dark and hopeless outlook on life. (I don’t. Life is beautiful. For me, atheism means greater possibilities and more astounding what-ifs.)
  • People judging my parenting.
  • People not wanting their children to play with mine.
  • Discrimination from the online homeschool community. (Our local homeschool co-op is secular, and some of the first people I came out to were homeschoolers from our group. The online community, however, is mostly religious.)
  • Hurting the religious people in my life.

The day before my essay posted online, I braced myself for the comments section. I was sure to face a lot of criticism. I reached out to a few like-minded friends hoping they might balance out the negative feedback with a few encouraging words.

Little did I know they wouldn’t need to.

As of today, there are 855 reactions to my post. Only 45 are negative. Hundreds of people shared their holiday traditions, both religious and nonreligious alike, and talked about the ways they experience joy and beauty with their children.

In celebration of this diversity of thought, and of the multiple ways we can celebrate beauty, peace, and love with our families, I’ll be posting a collection of secular holiday activities from now until Christmas. I’ll try to choose things we can all get on board with, regardless of our belief systems. I’ve found that people usually have more in common than we think.

Think of it as an advent calendar for the religious and nonreligious alike.

25 days of secular Christmas activities

Pin away, if you’re so inclined. I’d love to see more positive secular and nonreligious posts show up on Pinterest. The kind of posts that show what atheists are for, not against. Things like the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Justice. Compassion. Peace. The search for truth and meaning. Among many other things.

I’d love for atheists and religionists to look at what we have in common, rather than what sets us apart.

Interfaith dialogue is essential right now, more than ever. Which is why, instead of raising my kids in the absence of religion, I’m choosing, as an atheist, to expose them to many different religions and belief systems, including my own. This year, we will talk about Christian beliefs. We will talk about Jewish beliefs. We will talk about Muslim beliefs, and Hindu beliefs, and Pagan beliefs, and Humanist beliefs. I want my kids to understand their neighbors. I want them to explore their options, think critically, and choose the way of life that’s best for them.

As we move through December, check back here for links to secular activities, books, crafts, and other experiences to share with your children this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays, to ALL of you.

The #1 reason why my kids aren’t getting toys for Christmas

Matt and I just took another van-load of donations to the community center. I’ve been KonMari-ing my butt off since last Christmas, and we’re nowhere near simplified. I am drowning in stuff. I swear the things are replicating. They are making love and having babies when I’m not looking. Something must be done before the Christmas haul comes in.

The #1 reason why my kids aren't getting toys for ChristmasThis year, we will be celebrating a minimalist Christmas. Partially because we have everything we need.

But mostly because of this:

 

Gus has a bunch of fancy toys, and all he plays with is a wooden spoon.

In the past week, the wooden spoon has been:

  1. A vacuum cleaner for sucking up mice
  2. A butter churn
  3. A key to a pirate’s treasure chest
  4. A piece of magic chalk that opens portals to new worlds
  5. A cold air dispenser
  6. A chute for feeding corn to a poisonous snake

Having fewer toys makes kids more imaginative, resourceful, and collaborative, among other things.

Minimalism makes parents happier, too.

Here are some more reasons we’re cutting way back on Christmas, and giving classes, passes, and experiences instead of toys:

The kids aren’t materialistic. I’d like to keep it that way.

Gus and Henry have never seen a toy commercial. (Thanks, Netflix.) Due to careful cart navigation, Gus does not fully realize there’s a toy section at Target. When Gus talks about Christmas, he gets really excited about the food. He talks about sledding and ice skating. Presents haven’t hit his radar yet. Why bombard him with gifts and change all that?

Other people need it more than we do.

We live in a house with extra bedrooms. We have two cars. We buy organic groceries. I’m under the impression that right now, more than ever, Americans need to consider how much we have and how much we really need.

The garbage. Oh, the garbage.

Household waste increases more than 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And it’s not like we weren’t throwing much away to begin with. We’re doing what we can to cut down on that, and simplifying our Christmas giving is one part of it.

Last night I stood in the middle of the storage room, surrounded by all the stuff we don’t use but might use later, or maybe we’ll use once a year on a holiday, or we’re saving for sentimental reasons but never look at… and I wanted to tear my hair out. Not literally. (Okay, maybe literally.)

And then Gus came running in with that wooden spoon.

I smiled, took a deep breath, and filled another bag of items for the donation pile.

Are you simplifying your holiday giving this year? What’s working for you?

I’m raising my white sons to be anti-racist allies and feminists. Here’s how.

I’m raising two adorable kids. They’re kind, funny, sensitive, and curious. They’re also white, biologically male, and middle-class. While their gender identity and sexual orientation are unknown to me, my kids have been born into privilege.

A lovely walk with the boys. #homeschool #unschooling #hsbloggers #freerangekids #parenting #education #sahm #sahmlife

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

Kids are so good. We all want them to become good adults, too. But the voices of intolerance in our country are growing louder. I want my kids to reject prejudice, but with hate crimes on the rise and every possible -ism creeping into the national discourse, I’m worried.

It’s not enough to be a good example. It’s not enough to fill their bookshelf with Donovan’s Big Day and I am Jazz and Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside. It’s not enough to wish our neighbors a happy Ramadan when we’re out for a walk. It’s not enough.

If I want my kids to be good allies, I need to teach them how.

This is what my sons are learning:

Listen to others. Their experiences are important.

We need to listen to each other. Even when it’s painful.

Overwhelmingly, white people deny that white privilege exists. It can be hard for us to see the ways we’ve benefit simply by having white skin. That doesn’t make it any less real, however. And by closing our ears to conflict, we do nothing to resolve it.

I’m teaching Gus and Henry to listen during conflicts. Even if they don’t like what they hear. Especially if they don’t understand the other person’s point of view.

I teach this through experience (how I treat them), expectation (how I expect them to treat others), and being explicit (Telling them plainly: “Listen to others. Their experiences are as important as yours.”).

To teach Gus to listen, I listen to him. When he’s in conflict, I can guide him through it. The best way I’ve found to do both of these things is sportscasting.

Sportscasting is making simple observations to help children work through problems without shame, blame, or judgment.

If Gus is crying about bathtime, I can model how to listen by sportscasting the conflict. “You’re really upset about taking a bath,” I can say. “You don’t want to stop playing.” With patience, we almost always arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Maybe he will play for 15 more minutes. Maybe he will take a bath tomorrow. In the long run, he learns what listening looks like. He’s picking up that other people’s opinions deserve respect and consideration. In the meanwhile, he might go to sleep with dirty feet. So what?

Sportscasting can also teach children how to listen to each other.

When Gus threw a banana at Henry the other day, I comforted Henry and sportscasted to Gus: “That banana hit Henry in the head. He’s crying. He’s saying ‘owwie,'” I said and turned to Henry. “Ow, you’re saying that really hurt.”

Gus thought for a moment, and then asked Henry, “Are you okay?” He turned to me and said, “I was pretending the banana was a lasso and he was a horse.”

“Oh, you were playing horse and cowboy,” I continued sportscasting the facts. “Henry’s head has a red bump on it.”

Gus stood, still holding the banana. “You look like you want to throw that banana again,” I said. I directed his attention back to Henry’s perspective. “Henry is crying.”

“I think I should throw the banana in a different direction,” Gus decided after a pause. “So Henry’s head doesn’t get hit.”

Problem solved. With the exception of one exceptionally  mushy banana.

Sportscasting may seem trivial on the large scale. However, I believe if it’s done consistently over time, children learn how to listen even when the conversation is tough.

For more information on sportscasting, and other methods of peaceful parenting, read:

Ask how you can help

Just because you want to help doesn’t mean that you know what you’re doing. All too often, people with privilege join a movement and find themselves in the spotlight, “speaking for the voiceless.”

FYI, people have voices.

Here are just a few I’ve been following: Black Girl Dangerous, Black Girl in Maine, and Chescaleigh

The people who directly experience oppression are the ones leading the movement to stop it. They know the problem best. They live it. An ally’s role is not to “speak for” marginalized communities. Allies listen. They ask how to help. And then they go and do that thing.

Just like before, I’m teaching this to my kids with experience, expectation, and by being explicit.

Experience: When one of my kids needs assistance, I ask first if I can help. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer isn’t what I expect it to be. Gus didn’t want me to get the pickle jar down for him, but he did ask me to carry the step stool to the fridge. Okay. That’s not a problem.

Expectation: When Gus’s friend falls down at the park, I role model how I expect him to respond. Does she want help? “Sasha is frowning,” I might sportscast. “I don’t think she wants a hug. Can you ask her what kind of help she wants instead? She said she wants us to get her mom. Let’s do that right away.”

Explicitly: “Let’s go over right away and ask if Sasha needs help. It’s important to find out if someone needs help. That person knows best what will make them feel better.”

More Reading:

Consent is essential.

“If someone says stop, you stop right away. If you say stop, they have to stop, too.”

Gus has heard me say these phrases so many times that he knows them by heart. It applies to tickling. Wrestling. Throwing pinecones at your brother. Chasing your friend through the sprinkler.

“Just because they wanted to do that last time doesn’t mean they have to do that today.”

“You are the boss of your own body. They are the boss of theirs.”

When Gus tells me he is hot, I don’t force him to wear his sweater. I don’t say, “You can’t be hot. It’s 50 degrees, and I’m freezing!” I will, however, gladly help him warm up if he asks me to. I want Gus to know that I can’t make choices for his body, nor can he makes choices for anyone else’s. These are important lessons for any feminist-in-training. And any human being.

More reading:

Everyone has the same rights…

I’m a firm believer that human rights education is an essential component of any curricula.

We need to know our rights. We need to know that all humans have the same rights. We need to know that rights are inalienable and cannot be taken away. In a country where divisive rhetoric is commonplace and white nationalism has a new place in the White House, it’s imperative that our children learn these lessons well.

I first began talking about human rights with Gus when he was three. There many children’s books that do a fantastic job of explaining the concept, and they’re appropriate for all ages. Here are our favorites:

…but not everyone’s rights are respected.

This is where multicultural literature often falls short. My children’s bookshelf is full of books affirming that all people are wonderful, beautiful, and good. It is harder, however, to find children’s books that explain that, while these statements are true, society has not historically and is not currently treating all people with equality.

Racism is not a past problem that was solved by the civil rights movement. Feminism is not outdated because women won the vote. The struggle for justice for these groups and others is real and ongoing.

I believe that young children can, and should learn about prejudice, racism, and oppression, both historically and where it exists today. By no means do I encourage turning on the news for a four-year-old, but we can thoughtfully inform our children of injustices in age-appropriate ways. We can speak out against prejudice in front of our children. And, as always, we can read, read, read.

  • Teaching For Change has an incredible online bookstore with an extensive selection of anti-bias children’s books. This is by far the best resource I’ve found.

We have a lot to learn.

Being an ally is a process of learning and growing. As parents, we can model this for our children by educating ourselves, evaluating our own effectiveness as allies, and improving when needed.

Right now, I’m working on diversifying my media to hear a broader variety of voices and perspectives. I’m following more people of color on social media. I’m subscribing to blogs written by people from the LGBTQ community. I’m currently reading A Good Time For the Truth, a collection of essays about race written by people of color from my state. I’m attending protests, marches, and meetings. I’m following the news. I’m teaching my kids carefully.

These articles have more ideas of how allies can grow:

This is bigger than us. 

As I’ve written this post, I’ve kept this quote by Audre Lorde at the front of my mind. (I found the quote in an article written by Brittany Dawson on ForHarriet.com):

“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.” —Audre Lorde

Read more: http://www.forharriet.com/2014/12/what-we-need-from-white-allies-in-fight.html#ixzz4Qeeh34fE
Follow us: @ForHarriet on Twitter | forharriet on Facebook

The ultimate goal for social justice education is not to raise my own children the best way that I can. While that’s certainly a motivation, this work must be about valuing all lives. It has to be about stopping other people’s children from being hurt. It has to be about making sure everyone’s child has the same chances in life as mine. Parenting for social justice can make a powerful impact on the next generation, but in order for it to be truly successful, we can’t be doing it out of our own self-interest.

I’m trying hard to listen. If there’s anything you’d like to add to this conversation, please comment below or email me. 

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means that if you purchase something from amazon.com after clicking over from my blog, I receive a very small percentage of the sale, while your price remains the same. Any profits generated from the links in this blog post will be donated to organizations working for racial and economic justice.  

What I learned about America on November 9th

what-i-learned-about-america-on-nov-9It’s November 9. Yesterday Trump won the election.

I had to see if the world looked different today, so the boys and I left the house before 7 with no real plan or place to go.

At the park, we ran into Olivia from music class, eating donuts on a bench with her nanny. “How are you?” the nanny asked me, eyebrow raised, in that faux casual tone I’d grow to recognize throughout the day. It was the way we identified each other, we fellow members of the tribe of disappointed voters. “Well…” I responded, the Minnesota-nice version of “terrified and depressed.” She nodded, understanding me completely.

The baristas at the coffee shop were playing a carefully curated mix of apocalyptic music when the kids and I stopped in for scones. REM’s “It’s The End of the World” came on as I ordered. As we waited for our food, I noticed that people around us were clustering together, shaking their heads, eyes anxious, voices tense. Any other day, there’d be a single-file line of strangers waiting silently for their lattes. Today, nobody wanted to be alone.

Later, Gus asked to go to the local craft store, where wooden cars and hand-knit dolls and fairy houses lined the shelves, and the woman working the counter wore a shirt that read Something Terrible Happens And People Wake Up. “We thought we should go somewhere beautiful today,” I said in greeting, symbolically waving a Me Too flag in her direction. We spent thirty minutes talking. “I turned on Hillary’s concession speech in the store,” she told me, “and everyone here was crying.”

When I woke up this morning, I needed to see if America looked different with Trump as the president-elect.

As it turned out, it did.

Not because anything changed overnight, but because now I can see the country for what it really is. And so can everyone else.

And that is changing us.

Today I saw strangers bucking social norms and making real emotional connections. In a way, it reminded me of how we reached out to one another as the news of the terrorist attacks unfolded on 9/11.

Today, I participated in deep conversations with people I had met only minutes before.

Today, I wasn’t distracted by the trivial or mundane. I didn’t have a single conversation with another adult about potty training or cleaning up my children’s toys. In a stay-at-home mom’s world, that’s almost unheard of.

The future of the country was at the front of everyone’s mind today, regardless of how they voted. People shared ideas on how to make real change, right now, and in the months and years to come. On my social media feed, friends from both sides were calling for unification, kindness, and respect.

I don’t know what will happen after January 20, 2017.

But I do know that today, in one little corner of one American city, I saw signs of democracy awakening.

We haven’t given up our voices just yet.

We’re those long-haired, barefoot unschoolers you’ve heard about.

Actually, my kids don’t have very long hair. But they are almost always barefoot. And we are unschoolers.

Always without shoes. #childhoodunplugged #letthembelittle #learningallthetime #kidsofinstagram

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Our home-based preschool is not one with circle time and weather charts and cut-on-the-dotted-line worksheets. There are no ABC posters on the walls. I don’t plan crafts around toilet paper rolls. I taught “in-a-school-building” (Gus’s term) preschool for long enough to feel confident about ditching these things at home. I’m unschooling my kids instead.

Real quick, unschooling is:

“…allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.” – Pat Farenga, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling

It’s about children taking the lead in their own education, driven by their own interests and curiosity.

Our son has never had an academic lesson, has never been told to read or to learn mathematics, science, or history. Nobody has told him about phonics. He has never taken a test or been asked to study or memorize anything. When people ask, “What do you do?” My answer is that we follow our interests – and our interests inevitably lead to science, literature, history, mathematics, music – all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as “subjects.” – Earl Stevens, The Natural Child Project

We take classes on topics Gus is interested in. Some unschoolers do this, some don’t. But most of all, our unschooling is based on talking, reading, following our questions where they lead us, and doing real work. We’re project-based unschoolers, if you want to get nitty-gritty about it.

You create a space dedicated to doing meaningful work, set up to both attract your child and allow him to work independently.

You offer him an interesting variety of high-quality materials and tools.

You build blocks of time into your routine for project-related learning, making, and doing — time when you are available to support and mentor.

You become a trusted resource who will take him where he needs to go and help him meet his own goals.

He provides the interest and the ideas, so his work is self-motivated. You help him keep track of his plans, intentions, and questions. – Lori Pickert, Project-Based Homeschooling

Our unschool daily routine:

Morning: If I wake up early, I do some writing before the kids get up. If not, I wake up when the first offspring jumps on me or pokes me in the face.

We cook a big breakfast every day, eat together at the table, and then get down to the important business of being bookworms. We do lots and lots of reading, and then the kids play while I clean up the kitchen and get ready for what’s next.

Mid-morning: Around 10 AM, we’re ready for a change of pace.

I co-teach a Spanish class for our homeschool group one morning per week, so when class is in session there are 19 kids under 8 years old yelling “Hola!” in my living room at this time.

On Thursdays, our homeschool group gets together for a field trip or free play, so we might also be touring a fire station, tapping trees for maple sugar, or running wild at the park.

Mid-morning might also find us in a music class, swimming lessons, or dropping Gus off at theater class, depending on the time of the year, but I try not to let activities overlap. We don’t like to have more than two scheduled mornings per week.

If nothing’s scheduled, we do projects. I wrote a whole post on projects here.

Afternoon: Around noon two afternoons a week, Gus takes a nature class, and Henry and I hike at the nature center until it’s time to pick him up.

Another beautiful hike. #childhoodunplugged #kidsofinstagram #outside #sahm

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If nothing is scheduled, we do projects.

Mid-afternoon: After lunch or nature class, depending on what day it is, we all need some time to chill. Henry naps. Gus listens to an audio story in a fort he makes out of couch cushions. I do some writing or laundry. Eventually, we all regroup for more storytime until Matt comes home from work.

That’s our unschooling schedule in a nutshell.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, this probably all looks familiar to you. I’m sure a million parents are doing all this without calling it unschooling. The only difference is that we plan to continue this routine as the boys get older.

What about you? If you’re unschooling, what’s your routine like (if you have one)? If you’re home with young kids, does this look anything like your normal day? 

 

 

Why healthy eating cannot be forced (and what to do instead)

Why Healthy Eating Cannot Be Forced (and what to do instead). http://www.aliceinwonderment.com

Not long ago, we toured a grocery co-op with our homeschool group. The kids sat on stools around a high table, kicking their feet and squirming with excitement as the tour guide passed around a plate of brilliant red blood oranges. Homemade peanut butter was sent around next. And then snap peas. Everyone took at least one bite.

Everyone except my son.

Gus turned his nose up at the blood oranges. He shuddered at the texture of the peanut butter. When the snap peas came by, he looked up at me with mournful eyes and wailed at the top of his lungs, “Where’s the ketchup?”

I swear, we never put ketchup on snap peas before that day.

Healthy eating doesn’t happen easily in our home. I don’t have the kind of kids who chow down on asparagus or ask for seconds of kale chips. True, the boys aren’t eating cookies and Cheetos all day, but I do have the four-year-old who, when he thinks I’m not looking, scoops honey straight into his mouth with a spoon.

As Halloween approached this year, I wracked my brain for a way to get rid the candy before Gus devoured it all. Some of our friends have traditions that encourage their kids to ease up on all the sugar. Some ask their kids trade in their Halloween candy to the “Switch Witch” for a home-baked treat. Others exchange the candy for a new book.

When I suggested these options to Gus, he looked at me as if I had two heads.

Not gonna happen, Mom.

No one wants to be the mom wringing her hands, muttering “artificial coloring… red dye 40…” as the kids count out their candy. Unlike others, who have real and serious reactions to these chemicals, I haven’t seen any proof my kids are affected the handful of times a year they eat this stuff.

And so I laid off.

I knew that if I gave Gus information about healthy eating, like I have been all his life, and modeled good nutrition, he would eventually develop his own limits when it came to junk food.

I knew this.

I just hadn’t seen any proof yet.

This week, when Gus was sorting through his candy for what felt like the hundredth time, he asked, “Which one of my Halloween candy has the most sugar in it?”

One thing I love about project-based learning is that I can never predict where an inquiry will take us.

Here’s what we did:

We researched and charted the sugar content in Halloween candy.

why-healthy-eating-cannot-be-forced-2

Gus wanted to know which Halloween candy had the most sugar. A quick google search led us to this website with information about the sugar and calorie contents of popular Halloween treats.

I wrote the amount of sugar in grams (7 grams up to 15 grams) on notecards and read the values out loud. Gus found the numbers and matched each piece of candy to its correct place. This is numeracy, people!

Can you believe that the fruit snacks had the most sugar? Chocolate bars like Hershey’s and Kit-Kat had the least.

We experimented with candy.

Preschool science experiment with Halloween candy
Preschool science experiment with Halloween candy

After Gus finished charting his candy, we sat back and looked at the results. “Now what?” I asked him.

“I want to squish it up and pour things on it,” he said. “But just the really sugary candy. I want to eat the chocolate.”

You got it, kid.

Gus recently got a set of test tubes that he loves using. In project-based homeschooling, the kid is in charge of the project, so Gus chose his own materials. He asked for baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, play-dough, and lots of bowls.

There was lots of mixing, stirring, and pouring. He used a syringe to squirt liquid and scissors to cut open the wrappers.

We played candy shop and built and delivered lollipops. 

Building with Spielgaben

Oh, the Spielgaben. A hefty investment, and to be honest, I was starting to worry that it was a waste of money. Every time I took out a drawer, Gus would sift through the pieces for a few minutes, then bound away to jump on the couch for, you know, an hour or two.

But then he turned four.

Now, Gus plays with it every day. In the picture above, he’s building lollypops that also shoot magic powers.

STREWING

Strewing is a key element of project-based homeschooling. After observing and documenting Gus’s work, I set out relevant books, media, and other materials to help him expand on his learning. It’s as simple as spreading out a few books or art materials on the kitchen table. Gus, who is always in charge of his projects, chooses when, how, and if he will use what I’ve suggested.

This week, I strewed…

The History Channel’s History of Halloween Video: How Candy Corn Is Made 

We talk a lot about factory-made food versus homemade food. This 3-minute video was Gus’s first glimpse into mass food production. We both thought it was pretty interesting!

Watch it here on History.com.

Cookbooks for Kids

It’s been said that if kids help prepare nutritious food, they’re more apt to eat it. I know that’s true in our house. Gus loves these books. We’ve been making the recipes together since he was two.

Here are some of our favorites.

Preschool cookbook with pictorial recipes
Preschool cookbook with pictorial recipes
A follow-up to Pretend Soup using all vegetarian recipes.
A follow-up to Pretend Soup using all vegetarian recipes.
In-depth book explains the science behind healthy eating and includes several recipes.
This in-depth book explains the science behind healthy eating and includes several recipes.
Catchy, musical book gives the recipe for Bee-bim bop, or mix-mix rice, a traditional Korean dish. Gus and I started making this recipe together when he was just 2 years old!
Catchy, musical book gives the recipe for Bee-bim bop, or mix-mix rice, a traditional Korean dish. Gus and I started making this recipe together when he was just 2 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the end, Gus never did eat any of the sugary candy.

What did your family do with your Halloween candy? And does anyone have any sure-fire ways to get a 4-year-old to brush his teeth? I’d love to know them!