plucky writer

We recently started Poetry Teatime, a Brave Writer Activity. The children loved the first one so much that we decided to do it again, Hallowe’en-style.

DSCN1408 - CopyDd’s project has been making baked desserts recently. For the last tea time, she made lemon tarts…yum! This time she wanted to make a Hallowe’en-themed treat for tea time, and after deliberating she chose to make shortbread cookies with icing. We picked Martha’s shortbread cookies and her Royal icing. A warning about her cookies – read the recipe through first to figure out if you have time for them! Dd is getting really comfortable in the kitchen lately.

We set the table with a candles, including a “dripping blood” one, spooky napkins, and a dreadfully wilted bouquet. Tea was peppermint with honey and sugar cubes, with pumpkin-iced cookies and Hallowe’en candy. Dd’s cookies were perfect!

Even though they can read, the children enjoy it when I read for them. I had picked out a stack of poetry books from the library a few days before.

Ten-year-old ds preferred the poems from Cobwebs, Chatters, and Chills: A Collection of Scary Poems compiled by Patricia M. Stockland. The poems are short and easily read. At the bottom of each page, there’s a little blurb that draws attention to the poem type (haiku, limerick, etc.) or elements including onomatopoeia, rhythm, metaphor, etc. Seven-year-old dd indulged in too much candy and was distracted from poetry by a sore tummy. My favourite was the 1907 book Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc. School Library Journal describes these as “sprightly little rhymes that speak of the foibles of children and the horrible consequences thereof”. Loving British humour as I do, I really appreciated them. They are best for children who aren’t overly sensitive however. Also enjoyable was Vile Verses by Roald Dahl. His poetic critique of Goldilocks and the Three Bears had us amused.

Sharing poetry has proven to be a lovely activity for a lazy autumn afternoon.


Dd has been watching a lot of a TV show about Mermaids today, on netflix.

Ds has been making cool little minifigs with non-standard arms. He figured out that he could use “dowel” pieces through some of the bodies, and has been making various “bionic” arms with weapons and other machine features.

There has been a lot of resistance to structured homeschooling. There was also a lot of anger about deep cleaning their room, and being required to clear off their work spaces in order to do that.

Dd is saying that she is not interested in starting a project. I provided some general ideas, but she said that she would tell me if she’s interested in something. She said that she does not want to pursue the puppet theatre idea right now. Today she watched The Spy Next Door for the third time. It seems like she might be in a “fallow period” right now.

Ds and I talked about the date of his birthday party (my initiation).

We followed up on his question of yesterday about the ingredients of spider silk. We read about the biosynthesis of spider silk on wikipedia.

017He showed me the pile of pennies that are magnetic. He said that there are pennies from the same year that are magnetic, and some that are non-magnetic.

He wrote an email to his dad and stepfather:

I was using a magnet and I discovered that some pennies are magnetic and some aren’t. About one third of all pennies are magnetic. In a group of magnetic pennies, there are:
  • 11 2012s
  • 34 2011s
  • 12 2009s
  • 37 2008s
  • 29 2007s
  • 5 2006s
  • 1 2005
  • 2 2004s
  • 10 2003s
  • 1 2002
  • 1 1999

Ds hurt his shin badly in the physio’s almost padded room today. He had a lot of trouble sleeping last night – woke at 5:30 AM and didn’t get back to sleep.

Ds called me over to look at a spider spinning its web. He wondered what ingredients went into the threads. Tonight, Wolfgang figured out that some of his pennies are magnetic, and some are not. He went through and classified all of them according to magnetic and non-magnetic. We wondered why some are magnetic and some are not.

This morning dd worked on a list of charms (for a charm bracelet) that she likes.

Yesterday I asked her about her puppet theatre project and she seemed uninterested in it. I said she could work on something else. She chose to make lemon bread with her friend, and with my help.

Ds and I did a “quickie” project conference about his birthday party planning project. He decided against a sleepover and worked on the guest list and an idea about watching a movie with his friends. He is quite willing to let me scribe his ideas when I write on a big piece of paper that can be posted. He likes being able to review it and cross out ideas that he doesn’t like.

Today ds talked about wanting a “bug vacuum” for his birthday. He is interested in getting bugs to war against one another. He said that he doesn’t just want LEGO for his birthday – people should have more than one interest. He was clowning with (rather effectively) pretending he was armless – letting his sleeve hang limp.

Ds is suddenly into Scrabble in a big way.

Dd did a very intricate drawing  of her pet shops for me, entitled “Best Friends” – quite precise work. She continues to be very focused on her best friend who is moving away in three weeks. In art therapy today she worked on a sparkly canvas and a lovely sculpture/candleholder with natural elements (bark, twigs, pine needles, etc.).

Ds and dd played Star Wars Monopoly with neighbour friend again. Dd plays on a team with her friend. That game has legs!

They also played police and bad guy outdoors, using a hose as a “weapon”.

Dd is into putting her clothes away and organizing her space.

Ds checked on his crystal solutions, unprompted.

045bDs initiated and played his first game of Scrabble today! He was totally focused and he won! I did allow him to look through the dictionary, which he has never done in my presence before. Cool how the motivation is there when it’s a game.

Today the children got interested in catching spiders and putting them in a jar. Apparently one killed another. Dd is scared of spiders, but fascinated by them.

Then the children, with their neighbour friend, started a game of “who stole the Mona Lisa” complete with detective interviews of suspects.

Later they played Star Wars monopoly together until the bickering got out of hand. Dd and her best friend are fighting a lot – I think it’s because her friend is moving away in a month and there are a lot of tensions over that.

In the afternoon ds got involved in a series of observations related to crystallization and saturated/supersaturated solutions. He made sugar and salt solutions, used his hand warmer (sodium acetate supersaturated solution), and we read about solutions, crystallization, nucleation, exothermic reactions, etc. We also melted sugar and made caramels.


So much has been happening with ds that I’m having trouble keeping up with journaling about it.

With his LEGO, ds has been making large wing structures that are attached to minifigs. They are quite beautiful. He has done them as a series and has been showing his stepdad and I the successive versions. There is an element of playfulness to them because he is playing with scale – he smiles when he shows them to us because he knows that the wings are impractically huge in comparison to the minifig. He asks me questions like “would you want wings that are this big (5′ wingspan)? Would you want wings that are this big (20′ wingspan)?”. He also did this with a gun – making a ridiculously large gun that dwarfed the minifig.

The idea of scale has been coming across in different ways as well. He was telling me that 20 wasp stings would kill a mouse (a factoid that he was aware of?). He decided that, by extension, it would take 1000 wasp stings to kill a human.

Ds has also been trying to make saturated salt solutions to make salt crystals. He got some information from my sister and me, in different conversations, then followed up with initiating his own projects completely on his own – just getting permission to use the stove/materials.

Today he enjoyed leading his sister and cousin in a large culvert damming project at a nearby trail. He has done this many times and never stops enjoying it. But he uses different materials – experimenting with whether it’s better to include rocks or not, etc.

Ds was interested in his stepdad’s dinner story of making a magnesium bomb – he wanted to know what magnesium is. After dinner I showed him my block of magnesium with an attached flint (survival gear) and let him try it. I also showed him the periodic table and where magnesium fits in. This was accompanied by a stern safety chat.

Ds has been showing that his sense of responsibility is growing.

Dd has been in a more mellow mode with respect to initiating projects lately. Yesterday she told me that she observed the pattern that was formed in some soil when a wasp was beating its wings really close to the ground.

I need to observe dd more to figure out what is interesting her these days.

For dd’s puppet theatre project:

  • she didn’t want to look at wood pieces right away
  • she wanted to draw a picture for her project
  • when she drew a picture, it didn’t seem related to her project.

It’s possible that she is not really interested in the puppet theatre any more. I reminded her of her ideas, but I forget to get her to look at her previous drawings and picture.

To Do:

  • I need to ask her if she wants a bulletin board for her project to give her a visual prompt and so that she can review her own work
  • today dd talked about her dream farm and detailed the animals and house floor plan – ask her if she wants to make a project out of that?

Both kids have had an ongoing interest in holding tea parties for the past few days, but there are some control/social inclusion issues going on that I’m not pleased about.

This afternoon they really enjoyed exploring a new constructed wetland with duckweed – noticed gas bubbles breaking surface.

Ds did some interesting work with LEGO – designing a minifig with a propellor on his back, then with a large jetpack with retractable blades at the tips.

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