Tuesday, August 29, 2006


What can you learn from a day at the beach and the pool? You can learn to wear your sunscreen, and remember to bring your *real* shovel!

We've been at the beach in South Carolina for almost a month now. It's been completely fabulous for me and for the kids. Mostly we just fooled around in the water, lounged, cavorted, caroused, and leapt about. However, since my children are like all children, whose brains engage even while officially taking time off, I saw them learning all the time, even on a beach vacation. Here's what I mean:

When we left home we were working on a unit on the human body. Here you can see Benny's giant diagram that he made on the beach. He made several of these -- this one I photographed with Sadie standing next to it, for scale. It was pretty huge! He included the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, and a lot of bones:

Every time the tide came up, his slate was washed clean, and he created lots of drawings, both educational and whimsical, on this excellent and huge slate. Drawing on the sand is great for doing math problems too. Try scratching some problems in the sand with a stick -- especially fun if the waves threaten to wipe out the problem before the kids can get to the answer.

Counting the pelicans as they cruised by in long lines became a good way for my two-year-old daughter to practice her numbers. We also counted shells, gulls, sand dollars, and waves. After a month of counting everything on the beach, I can report that she now knows to start with ONE instead of TWO. :D And she can count to twenty, pretty much.

Ahno made sand sculptures on the beach when the tide was low -- a dog, a cat, an alligator. The kids helped with these and made sculptures of their own. Sadie particularly was interested in digging and filling little buckets -- learning her little physics lessons with plastic pails and cups.

Speaking of Sadie, she had loads of fun running from the waves, meeting people, and making up crazy little dance routines. Here she is being a cheerleader. How did she come up with these moves? It wasn't from me -- must have been some kind of collective female consciousness she tapped into. She and Benny talked to everyone on the beach, meeting new people every day. Sadie's vocabulary and confidence in her speech has skyrocketed, and Benny, well, he didn't need help in the confidence department but he did very much enjoy all that quality socialization.

Both the kids took enormous strides in the pool. Benny learned to dive in headfirst and Sadie learned to jump in with the noodle and paddle herself around.

Indoors, Benny discovered the beauty of the captive audience, as he played daily afternoon concerts for the people playing in the pool. He would stand on the back porch, make his announcements, and then run through his whole Suzuki repertoire. This lead to all kinds of good academic stuff, including copying out programs for everyone, writing a letter about it to his violin teacher, and scripting his shows (including his dancing two-year-old sister/monkey).

Possibly the most exciting academic progress that we made this month was Benny's discovery of the Captain Underpants series, and his subsequent excitement about reading aloud to himself (or to his many stuffed dogs) late into the night. I'm sure the homeschooling community will now perforate my head with their hobnailed boots because not only did I let my child read Captain Underpants, but I also let him stay up until *after 10 pm* doing it. Forgive me -- it is too precious to hear him in there reading with such elaborate expression, all about the talking toilets and Professor Poopypants and the rest of it. He loves Captain Underpants. And this is the first chapter book series that has caught his attention. I don't care if it's crude. This is a six-year-old boy who thinks armpit farts are the height of comedy. Captain Underpants for everyone!

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